Night Poem V

The night brings its own openings,
its own fissures of chance,
to those initiated in its bittersweet fruits.
On a bridge strung from dark star to dark star,

youth blooms from the icy flow,
and I am thrust from my memories,
and I am shown the beginning of my life.
And trembling,

I am filled with the beauty of
what is to come,
and the immensity of my soul.
The galaxies full of sadness,

that until now waited,
embrace me like a comrade,
while the night sings in a riot of stones below.
And I am now the sensation

no one could describe,
and I am equipped for my life
with a blindfold of journeys,
and I wear a robe of mountains.

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Japanese Speech Contest

The miracle of speech,
sitting amidst these young voices,
hearts beating on their tongues,
and the need to say anything,

the flower’s need to bloom,
the body’s need to resist the open sky.

In this foreign language they falter,
breathlessly,
and I think of antelopes tottering
in muddy reeds,
lions in wait beyond us all.

I think of the first words we ever said,
when our world formed like a
fragile bowl,
those first, dangerous hatchling stutters,

the first time we stood on two rootless feet,
the first time we danced with the flow of others,
the first time we dug in
against the blue and baying tide.

Did we know then what they planned for us,
these declarations of independence,
the words of these young ones here,
painfully forming the contours of the heart,

these songs that lead us to the listening edge,
and demand we give form to our vaulting lives.

II

You, girls of becoming,
forever breaking forth into new branch,
becoming youth’s glistening barb,
the burning in the defeated flame,
and messengers in the ear of summer.
There are blue distances we cannot break,
and there is a sadness in the hollow of love.
You, girls of becoming,
who leave through the rooms
burdened with a sand of bliss,
you are becoming, at last,
a refinement of shadow,
a birth of moss.

My Thirty Hearts

Thirty years old,
I speak to my thirty hearts
that I’ve scattered like confetti afternoons
to the corpulent sky.

Some are snagged in sharp clouds,
some free, floating past
the loosening trees,
some return like balloons,
but I speak to them all.

My five year old heart,
Stub-toed,
Stumbling into rainy days,
receiving them like a leaf,

soggy cats rubbing his swift shins,
and the world bent down on knees
offering immensities
to tiny hands,

fragile hands, like a leaf,
yet brutal as the dawn.

My twelve year old heart,
eyes and tongues and ears
consuming youth,
as wicks consume the air,

wide oceans like
blue fry pans sparking,
and trees slung with tire swings

and little golden girls
budding in his mind,
warm lips, hearts of ochre,
pencil cases filled with scented rubbers,
and voyages down unreal Niles.

My seventeen year old heart,
wants roaring Beethovens,
eyes that sing,
mornings burdened with music,

the tall arms of schoolgirls
he could have touched,
their glistening ears dripping song,
song everywhere,

and the aroma of summer,
sweat, unbathed time,
he’s smattering his inward stars
across the beaming curb,

and the mad strides of youth
already almost at the school gate.

My twenty one year old heart,
cuts the stems one by one,
the sad stamens of home,
the tender, raw fingers of mothers
doing heartache for the first time.

The boy tethered to his one selfish beam,
learning what the men will teach
for a price,
he learns love instead,

opened on the shingles of taste,
the bed he’s made for her to unmake,
life described by revolving sheets,
and night’s lips,
and the broken tongues,

and the things she gives,
growing from the wounds she keeps,
and the forgotten school,
and the discovered sky.

My thirty year old heart,
given away in a reckless bedroom,
leaves only a note with a smudged address.
Tacked to streets,
I go hunting after lost time
not yet past me.

And my heart somewhere, kept by another,
wrapped in a faded golden paper,
stuffed away in a weeping drawer,
with scissors, fingernails, pencil shavings,
a taxidermist’s stuffed child.

And maybe sometimes taken out,
cupped in tears,
walked in lonely gardens of memory
with an old love,
then put away in rainy cupboards.

Katherine

You were the girl

who had come from so far,

with infinite messages,

infinite letters to unfold,

to commit to heart.

Over unharnessed peninsulas,

bearing scents, spices,

markets, sails

up to the dock of my soul,

you brought such things

to open me.

You were a wind,

overwhelming, full of sea,

against which I closed my

assaulted eyes.

Yet the onrush crashed

through the unaccustomed streets,

flinging open windows,

pantries, mailboxes,

and the wounded bark

of the still young trees.

Ageless wind, ageless storm

had entered you,

and you were majestic beyond your years,

and you had come,

yes I know it now,

to crack open the

shell of the boy,

to be the violent

sun he could not withstand.

You approached,

beautiful, naked,

breasts of dark heat,

and he howled anyway,

raged against the

loss of the child,

the safety of childhood

now caught in your

annihilating eyes.

But even in this raging

new shoots burst forth,

painful as birth is always,

the seeds of a

verdant undergrowth,

of infinite thrusting vines.

Under your abiding palm,

which grew gentler, rounder,

a forest sprung from the boy;

vigorous animals prowled there,

dark birds dared to probe

the peaks of night.

And at last you had,

as one who reaps like the wind,

a man to lie beside.

 

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014