the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2013 / Spring 2014



Patrick Henry

Pulse Uploading

An impulse stays in mind, as a rare species, poised
For brief sight of: to weave a unique track
On skylines. Then vanish to long winter silence.
When next glimpsed: in the hands of chance. Not choice.
Urges which persist: to outline bold views of the living;
Are framed in plain, dogged, low tracks of one self.
Or near the same, in all met, who must use
Those drab moves, tastes, and words: from hard need
To carry an earthly but timeless sense: always believed
On why we exist. Not just to eat, work, breed, and die:
Gone the way a dead fox looks: lifeless down a ditch.
Lines and pictures: restless strains go on making, in hope
To catch heights of symphonic power. The gift of
Masters of large scales. Flown high. Where the tall stars veer on.


Sparse Epitaphs

(Wilfred Owen. Poet. Died 1918)

A few hard words of our own. Almost all allotted to say
On living. In the brief parts given, before time runs out.
Best build a strong line, or several: if allowed.
How a war poet packed it all in. Sounds dark and deep:
Stand for a life which saved language, as much as a World War;
As he said, on leaving us. Not to let this huge gift down.
How one honours that effort. By living: bold, watchful, fine.
In ways meant to be. Not wasted; crooked. Soft or weak.
Vast figures make waves that float ideals; or swamp in excess.
Better: calm, firm ways: possessed. Well carried out.
Most lives now gone, left no deep marks that high profiles cast.
Their work and times, embedded, in hard worth, used up.
Inscribed on gravestones, down long lines, hard to find.
Don't abuse language; or say nothing; or too much.
Long turning, the globe gathers fierce terms of harm: harsh-toned.
Lithe flights of speech: the best signs a human trail can leave.


Spheres in Motion

A cloud. A star. Dense woodland. Steep sea coast.
Only sights that show. Sound muted. Moves slight and slow.
Wind dropped. No life waking. Time might be
Today. Or a million years ago. No views have changed.

The cloud veers closer, to bring shade or rain
To life crossing dry earth baked by the sun:
Also a star by day, when the blue light goes down.
Spheres seem near our clouds; although light years on.

Life landed from waves. Crossed plains and woods.
Plucked fuel and food. Made sticks into tools or walls.
Struck fire from flint. To sleep by, or tell of times:
Carved on trunks, rocks, or sides of caves,

Where firelight cast shadows, the first image to move.
A sketch started alive. Startling as
Birth grows from the body, to bring another life.
To create, means divide. The earthly body. The stellar mind.

Dawn breaks to day. Walking ten more miles home
No strain. Roads clear. Birdcalls, pure, unseen
Stress of verse dreamed up, keeps step to long strides.
An all-night driver stops for me. Fresh day speeds along.



Back to Poetry