Under-stars Off the two-track to nowhere important sun retreats into forest, the day kilned and left to cool, no longer malleable. Yet light dominates veil of night: embellished by myth and meaning bulls and bears roam herded and hunted on overhead canvas painted with pin dipped in glimmer. Father, son converge under dappled dome, dissolve, droplets of dust in an ocean of star-wonder, anchored by occasional trailing beacons – planes, satellites – whispers of self-significance. In the thinning spring eve, they stare, mesmerized by yellow-orange tongues that flicker, crackle, reach out, lick at the darkness, taste the flavors of a precious life. Do they talk? of the Tigers, where fish strike, where black flies bite? Do they dream? of a past fallen away, present unclaimed, future unframed? Do they wonder under canopy of stars what star lies under? ©2017 Kenneth W. Arthur
Category: Poem Page 2 of 4
My only attempt (so far) at a prose poem… had to change the line breaks to make it fit properly on the blog…
Two Who Dare We greeted with the choreography of two hesitant mutts sniffing each other out, surrendering an awkward quick pat on the back and pull away of men embarrassed by intimacy, an almost-waltz at arms length, over before the music began to play. Later we would come to know each other. First with the tango of predator and prey, more interested in a quick roll in the hay than any real affection. Then came the perfunctory contra dance of sun and moon executing steps called out before time began as we came to move in each other’s orbit. Finally, we danced the close waltz of two comfortable friends no longer fearful of a lingering gaze or the spine-tingling graze of fingers that stray. But tonight? Tonight we embrace the idea of each other, relaxing with willful abandon into our authentic selves. Curled on my side next to his supine form with legs intertwined, my arm drapes over his naked chest as we drift between sleep and wakefulness, cloistered under the protective quilt pieced together by his grandmother. The pulse of his heart yokes with the contented beat of my own. Thought flees our stilled bodies as the silky heat of his flesh steals into my soul. I relish the profound perfect imperfections of his anatomy, the bond formed from skin caressing skin. This is the slow dance of two lovers transformed, lost in gentle music, cheek to cheek, floating in empty space as if nothing else existed, having forgotten the necessity of any proscribed movements. We waft through no-time, hearts open and exposed to the elements, heedless of future frosts or withering desert suns. He turns his head and our lips meet, two who dare. ©2017 Kenneth W. Arthur
What Must the Trees Think? Anger that we lumber their siblings? Terror when the ground we frack? Pity that we have brought ourselves to the brink? Befuddlement at our human quibbling? Despair that they can’t fight back? The willow, bent in mourning, weeps for her children and the aspen quakes, whether from fear or rage. I do not know. Having dreamt of brilliant sun and gentle rain, will the trees wake from their deep winter slumber surprised at what has become? Or do they know, from the frog boiling of the earth, what we have done? The revered oak, Mayflower witness, attests to the best and worst we have to offer this earth. How disappointed it must be should it even deign to notice our self-serving exertions. To the Great Sequoia who watches five generations of oak come and go we must be nothing more than malaria filled mosquitos. The Bristlecone Pine birthed high upon mountain before the first stone of the first Egyptian pyramid was laid looks daily into the face of God. It most likely cares not one whit about humanity. I can almost hear, on a quiet day, the trees wheeze and cough, choking on our smog, whimpering at the ill taste of pesticide cocktails as they suck at the ground, a child with straw searching for the last bit of nourishment in the bottom of a glass. ©2017 Kenneth W. Arthur
Stone chapel at Gilchrist Retreat Center, Three Rivers, MI
The Little Stone Chapel 1 Door to the little stone chapel opens. I fall into unknown worlds shouting “There’s gold here somewhere!” Balboa hacks through jungle primitives to reach this monument to emptiness erected from head-sized stones after Medusa seduced an army leaving their decapitated skulls strewn about. She probably beached their hearts – red speckled hearts, black and white hearts, all grays in between, hearts eaten through by fossilized worms, heavy hearts, light hearts, round and good-for-skipping flat hearts, shiny hearts, dull hearts, coarse and smooth hearts – to be collected by small barefoot children and their mothers on warm summer afternoons. Medusa gazes into my heart when I step over the threshold. I’ve got soup starter. What will you bring?
I wrote this one for a poetry workshop. The assignment was to write a non-sensical poem, but it makes all too much sense in light of our current political situation.
All Hail the Pandersquat Along the grundle vodamen slither, sprickety sprocks shroud 'neath the gobblespot and hippity hocks flee the pandersquat passing ghastly as the hoopsnot wither. Rising snuffle thumps have drawn him hither to hoop, holler and blither garblesnot. His bangles and boogles dangle goldrot, drop the yorsier folk in a dither. But one spartled sprocklet towers and truths: “Mister pandersquat,” she upstarts, “your aur snuffles the vermest. Scour that squawker.” “What gespittle and guspah,” he retooths. With crowdly hurrah the vodaman corps sprangle the spree sprocklet off to slaughter. ©2017 Kenneth W. Arthur
After Paradise After Joel Sheesley's painting of the same name. Everything in its place, the carefully ordered refuge from a chaotic world radiates routine. A jail-bar striped comforter locks away passion. Bare floors, stripped and buffed, reflect the veneer of paradise lost. Firmly contained and framed, the reminder we once cavorted naked without shame, reveling in our sexuality, mocks the austerity of the room. The serpent was half right: knowledge of good and evil leads to half death, beyond salvation, beyond hopes of utopian dreams, shedding illusions. Closet doors slightly ajar promise a glimpse of hidden skeletons, a glimmer of still-breathing vitality. Sneakers and slippers, floundering boats in a placid sea, offer the scent of hope, hint at the vibrancy of a morning run, the sensuality of an evening tryst. What might we yet become? A paradise found again, for the first time. ©2016 Kenneth W. Arthur
Man on a Journey After Joel Sheesley's painting of the same name. The man poses in front of the monument, freezes time, preserves a memory to linger over in his dotage. But this isn't the Great Pyramid or the Lincoln Memorial or some significant battlefield. Dressed as if he stepped out of a Masterpiece Theater whodunit murder mystery into the wreckage of misplaced innocence, to stop in the ruins of endured mistakes, next to a ladder to nowhere. His trench coat armor wards off the unseen bogeymen that haunt these neglected, unkempt grounds. His journey has come to this derelict, abandoned building, made him a tourist of his own past, aroused a desire to understand, to be understood. But the drab grey siding reveals no secrets. Busted out, boarded up windows offer no view to the soul of the matter. Only the autumn colors of the almost hidden sweater dispute the peril of revisiting past secrets, leave hints of renewal, possibilities of spring growth to come, tint the edges of a muted existence. ©2016 Kenneth W. Arthur
The Seduction The adirondack stands watch upon the hill, a lonely sentinel overlooking the meadow, the Queen's Guard protecting the palace as ambassadors of the heavens and forest emissaries come to consult. Resolute in the afternoon sun, the temptress tenders her invitation: “Come, come to me, rest your weary feet, survey the peacefulness of my realm. All this I will give you.” At her side, I preside over the resplendent vista, turn to claim my legacy, realize I am not the first. Countless feathered kings and queens have sat upon this throne. Sometimes, to feel like royalty, one has to sit in shit. ©2016 Kenneth W. Arthur