Maps

Were always lines
cast toward lands
I’d one day see. Whole worlds
rested within a dot,
and there were always more
dots (beyond rivers, past oceans)
marked London, Beijing, Paris, Canberra,
Rome, Reykjavik, an endless catalog
of possibility.

The blue passion of Pacific
Ocean isles, white distance
falling away from Everest,
tan grasses swimming
over African savanna.

Age shrinks hope
to a cold, hard longing
as I flip pages
of vast distance
never crossed.

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Kansas Isn’t Flat

I fell into its ringing distances,
miles chimed by bell clapper heads
of wheat swaying back and forth
to the time of my shallow breath.

Wayside cornflower’s blue flame
scorched my body raw, a cheek flapping
howl hollowed out to the tin buzz
of cheap wind chimes outside the white
farmhouse flecks flying past. No human
caught my slight arc plummeting
past the amber waving walls
on which they walked like flies.

Tumbling through an endless tinnitus
I blacked out and awoke on the silence
of Table Mountain, rose and looked across
glass calm Lake Granby, Colorado.


For dVerse Poets Open Link Night.

Easier to Write than Live

Learning to Bend

. . . can be as a mountain is climbed,
keeping the center of gravity low,
stooped before an ascent to heaven,
before sparking flashes of sleet and snow
driven by bitter wind
in a place of awe and dread
you’ve chosen to go.

. . . can be as a horse is coaxed and cajoled
through weight of days and nights
in narrowed circumstance,
hearing again and again,
“No, not that way, but this,”
with tug of the reins and sugar supplied
by a soothing voice.  Then the soul relents,
one knee bent, pressed to earth,
the other straight, as foreleg levers down
the body’s weight, head bowed.

Bending is sometimes no lesson at all,
enforced by savage club
ever repeating its efficient arc
until blood flows,
until no memory remains
but this steady rain.

We all learn to bend,
willing or unwilling,
to a multitude of ends.
Always, someone or something stronger stands,
making claim.

Learning to bend,
spirit must decide,
sifting the worthy from the unworthy:
whether to yield before greatness,
whether to stand against injustice
though body is made to bow
by a mortal blow.