Poetry: The Price of Refuge (NaPoWriMo) Day Nine

Today, I’m supposed to write a list of things, a poem, in the style of Sei Shonagon. I decided that my list will be a poem in a series of lines taken from the lyrics of some of my favorite songs. I let a theme emerge as I quickly selected lines jumping out at me.

I’m glad these prompts are not graded.

Fantasy could never be so giving,
Oh lord, make it shallow so that
there’s no turning back.
Such are promises, all lies and jest.
Live and learn from fools and from
sages still a man hears
what he wants to hear.
Honesty is such a lonely word
when I’m deep inside me,
the road is long with many
a winding turn,
but listen carefully to the sound,
there’s battle lines being drawn,
this rage that lasts a thousand years.
Every form of refuge has its price,
everybody’s got the dues in life to pay.
It’d be easy to add up all the pain,
the dark is too hard to beat.
Everyone goes south every now and then
to forget about life for a while,
strange how the night moves,
with autumn closing in.
Life’s bigger.
Nobody seems to care and you
can’t find the door
when logic and proportion
have fallen sloppy dead
on a cold Nebraska night,
but try to understand, try,
try to understand.
What does it matter?
Nothing really matters to me.

© Bill Reynolds 4/9/2019

Look both ways in the magic, music, and song.
Mind gaps in the lyrics that matter.

Poetry: Blue on Blue (NaPoWriMo) Day Eight

Today, I’m challenged to think about an argot of a profession and to incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives my poem.

Blue on Blue is an example of a euphemism for a euphemism. It is a way of saying friendly fire – shooting at your own side.

The real-world situation I used was the death of Patrick (Pat) Daniel Tillman on April 22, 2004, from friendly fire by his own men in Afghanistan. I also read Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade before penning this, consequently quoting or adapting phrase from that classic war blunder poem.

Blue-on-Blue

Down Range into the mouth of the canyon
they rode
into the Valley of Death.

Forward, charge for the guns.

Into harm’s way each soldier will
do as they are told.

Theirs not to make reply,
theirs not to reason why,
theirs but to do and die.

They were unaware
that all would not go well
for a hum of the defender’s dude.
As all the world just wondered why,
they drove on,
into the mouth of hell.

Into moon dust places others cared
not to be,
this the second bat, 75th R&R,
Serials One and Two,
and a broken Humvee.

As the shadows of dusk and death
brushed and touched their fear and fight,
a flash burst out and turned onto the path
brave men would here now die,
before that night arrived.

Confusion stormed with shot and shell,
yet into a fire and fight from hell,
they blundered.
A wave and a nod as more shots flashed—
Then,
from a barrel
the missile was launched,
fired into the skull of our hero.

Now our boy, a man lies dead
upon the sad dusty ground,
killed by his own,
in a wild dismay with
that bullet into his head,
A price too high to pay,
and a loss too much to bear.

When we set out to stay alive,
and for others to die,
do we ever ask
or even stop,
and try to reason why?

We kill and we maim,
both friends and the foe,
for some god,
or maybe our country.
Yet somehow,
when it’s like this
it’s nowhere close to the same.
Charlie Foxtrot! Blue on blue.

©Bill Reynolds, 4/8/2019

Look and listen for the voices of the innocent dead.
Mind the gaps and beware of the dark canyons.

Poetry: Too Much (NaPoWriMo) Day 4

Today, the challenge was to write my own sad poem. The sonnet form was to help me – its very compactness might compel me to be straightforward, using plain, small words.

My brother had retired from his job in the WTC North Tower, prior to 911. This reflects his return visit story as he told it to me.

Too Much

His world was changed. A forever new game.
A self that was gone, down with the rubble,
Friends dead, enemies too. Some with no name.
Few bodies found. Just tributes to trouble
Stacked like coffins, empty boxes at best.
One year sooner, this burden he’d have born.
Proud monoliths now dust, ashes and death,
Tombs now shrines to hate, religion, and war.

He stopped and looked up at an empty sky,
His identity lived in rejection.
Innocent of deed, so many had died.
He walked in the familiar direction,
Emotions unknown squeezed him to the bone.
His mind now gone. He turned – could not go on.

©Bill Reynolds 4/4/2019

Look both ways, but sometimes, you just cannot. Gaps can be huge.

 

Poetry: Searching for Nothing

wandering the halls, pacing, here,
then there, this way and that – in
corridors between over-decorated
rooms of the hopeless romantic lover
and the stark stripped-bare
reality of a stinking nihilist’s
hopeless shit-house of oblivion,
with its dullness and pointless obscurity

looking for answers in pain
where
too many unreal illusions
are at one end,
and silent nothingness
at the other,
just the bitter taste
of death
following me – chasing me

divining into these closets of insanity,
the brutality of life pounding
and raping each victim as one
reaches for love to taste
no eternal bliss or to miss –
eternal silence, quiet, peace.

©Bill Reynolds 3/28/2019

Look both ways. You need to know what’s coming and going.
Look again to mind the gap.

Poetry: The Tractor

The tractor rests, over near the barn
she’s not minding the cold, snow, and ice of winters
nor the dry pounding heat of summers,
a little rust, peeling paint, heavy worn tires,
little more than time causes the hulk any harm.

Made to plough and cumber a heavy beam, this ox
of steel and rubber carried men to the work
of sowing seeds with a seeder and a drill,
for tilling of soil with tiller and rotary box.

This mammoth hand of farm and ranch alike
pushes and pulls all kind of cultivator and harrow,
she drags wagons full of fertilizer to make
bull and cow shit fly over ditch and burrow.

Pulling mowers and rakes for the gathering of hay,
with bailers in tow bringing seed in to feed,
with tires made heavy with water in and mud out,
that tough old tractor stands ready for more work.

The Case International, the Massy Ferg’ and the old Ford;
the John Deere and the New Holland or Caterpillar rig.
Germany’s Fendt and Japan’s Kubota.
Canada has a claim with Cockshutt tractors.

Maker of the world’s finest cars will not be omitted,
As Italians lay claim to the craft for the harvest
with a Lamborghini (seriously) trattori pulling that shit.

This old boy was just a wee lad
when he grabbed hold of the wheel
for learning to drive in the only front seat
of a farmer named Dixon and his old Massy Ferguson
we all had great fun in the summer’s hot sun
as the day’s work of the land got done,
for the wheat and the hay (and a little play).

©Bill Reynolds 3/11/2019

Poetry: Unbelief

The greatest sin of unbelief

They tried my soul –
and found it guilty
of the greatest sin,
its unbelief.

There it is
for all to see, the bad is there
all about me, can’t you see?
not rape nor torture or the harm
of murder
none of that is my sin.

I killed no gods or goats
all souls still running free
to come and go,
but my only sin – no god
shall I ever know.

How do I dare
to declare
my mind be free,
and so bare. is it not right there?
show me any god,
then might shall I to care.

Condemn my soul,
if you must. but look at me
and you will I trust
see all I can be,
is humanly free.

The day I die and somewhere lie,
you’ll accuse me as others cry,
not of being bad nor good,
but unlike you,
I just did not believe to be true,
my unbelief in god now flows
through as all my being goes.

©Bill Reynolds   1/28/2019

Look both ways. Mind the gaps.

Poetry: How it was

 

we were wine drunk in a sad state
rain fell softly, our feet bare in tall grass
we discovered and devoured everything
it was a time, I wish we could go back to

a place that no longer exists
nothing is the same
we are not the same
like rain runs off an old tin roof

we did our best
we were all winging it
without a book of instructions
we loved and tried and cried

sickness taught us about mortality
and of time
of right and of wrong
of a balance of life based on mystery

life gave us as much as we took
we were brittle, we were broken
we looked deep to encompass pain
to draw a circle around it and around us

the circle around us, that was grace,
I, just a boy, you, a girl, we
to each other, every boy and girl
we had ever had and lost

we wanted to leave, to not exist,
to go leaving no tracks or marks
to be forgotten and not followed,
we yearned only for us to be

we wondered how to live
for ourselves and for life and
because we believed
in each other as one spirit

we wanted to see the sky,
to go home, but how ?
we did not think past us
over our shipwrecked lives

everything was falling and not falling
the next toehold in life was
sore tired hearts and bodies
of the children we were, we are

we lost, unsure of what was real
we didn’t know what to do or to write
or to say or to ask, to only feel a sad
liberating acceptance of a deeper sadness

we were stripped of a dignity in life
of all things tried and failed
all the love we’re ever given
can be invoked long after it’s gone

I’m here
we are here
in this moment, this place, a time
when once there was this: us.

©Bill Reynolds 1/21/2019

Look both ways, but love the past we’ve lost to the cosmos.
Those gaps are gone, sadly.