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A Storm Called Cassandra

Tomorrow the sun burns the tiniest bit hotter. The rain falls ever so slightly harder. The wave washes an inch farther up the sand. The child has a bit less to eat.   It’s slow motion game of chicken. Except chicken is not quite the right word. Because in chicken, someone blinks. Only nature does not blink. And game is also not the right word. For games have winners and losers, and there are no winners in this.   There is only the sun and the rain, the wave and the hungry child,   and a tiny handful who cry out like Cassandra, into the unfeeling void, their warnings echoing futilely across the barren brown land.     October 5, 2019 Brian Kenneth ...

One Thousand Words

A simple enough assignment. One picture alone at the far end of a distant wing, obscure, exiled. Removed from the masters.   I’d wondered what to expect when I first saw the title, “A Girl Weeps Beside a Basket of Raspberries.” Something modern – a solid red canvas perhaps. A Rothko blur, some Twombly scribblings. But no, there she is, aglow in harsh white museum light. More literal than I had imagined, though vaguely defined, in a not-quite-impressionistic way.   The girl, young, sitting on a park bench, sixteen, seventeen, difficult to say. Her dress of taffeta white, matching bow drawing back black ringlets. After Renoir, but not as good. And there, beside her, sure enough, the basket … but of what? Raspberries if ...

Counting the Drops in a Waterf ...

So, this title has been sitting on my desk for about eight years now, and I still haven’t yet come up with a poem to go with it.   It’s just that I was really taken with the image and I thought, well I’ll write it down so I don’t forget, and I’ll use it later.   I don’t even recall what inspired the image. Probably a line from a novel, or maybe somebody else’s poem.   Because that’s how this poetry thing works. We take ideas from other peoples’ stories, poems, paintings, films, and we try best we can to make them our own. But sometimes, like in this case, we never do manage to come up with a poem worthy of the original image. Which is okay too.   Life is, after all, really just a series of images. So ...

A Most Unexpected Passing

The object of life is to make sure you die a weird death.                                                   Thomas Pynchon   No lingering bedsore festering demise for me—not a chance. Something quick, probably violent, that will make the mortician really work for his money. Something so bizarre, so outrageous that it will get me on the evening news. People will talk about it with their friends for days, shake their heads ruefully.   “Can you believe it?” they’ll say. “One minute he was there. The next minute Who even knew such a thing was possible?”   They’ll need to come up with a whole new warning label just to protect others against whatever stupid thing I did. It will be the sort of ...

What Some Hearts Need

Today is like all the others, gray like a barren winter sea, the sun a pale and heartless orb. And it’s on days like this, that I feel certain my journey is nearing its end.   Only now I see, as I look out to the distant horizon, a whirlwind of outlandish color, trick of the light perhaps, but no less real.   And in that moment I hear a note ring out, then another, and before long a melody that seems to reflect perfectly from off the colors.   And I feel my senses inundated, My fears dissipated like morning fog, an effect so complete that no space remains for those thoughts of a journey’s end or of some hopeless cruel travail.   I just stand and take it in, mesmerized in that unexpected instant, marveling at the ...

Captain Ordinary

(a somewhat less than epic poem)   Captain Ordinary arrives, as if from out of nowhere, in those moments when something unusual seems about to happen.   He is not summoned by the glow of a signal in the sky, for that would be extraordinary, not his thing at all. Just a simple phone call or text message.   Nor does he swoop down from on high or fly in, defying the laws of physics. He arrives in a beige Prius with a small dent on the front right bumper and fast food wrappers crumpled in the backseat.   He does not crash through windows or knock down front doors. Captain Ordinary courteously rings the doorbell and waits there, humming the last tune from the radio, shifting his weight from one foot to the ...

Bedtime

With a brush of my hand I turn the light to darkness. And in that moment, as all the images fade to black, what remains are the bits and pieces my mind has saved up all day for just this moment. Pictures and stories that stumble about, keeping me awake. A panoply of visions and dreams that shun the light of day, but now dance about like newly wakened vampires, only to melt away with the first hint of ...

As I Fade Away

I was there for a time, until I was not. But in that moment between the there and the not there, something arose, almost like a feeling. Or at least I thought that was what it was. Only now, in hindsight, I cannot but wonder if perhaps what I mistook for feeling was not instead something instinctual, beyond my control. Like certain organisms drawn toward light or warmth. That would explain a lot. The ease of it all. The painlessness of slipping ...

Rendezvous

Mirabelle weeps with the coming of dawn. She does not know why. Nor does the dawn. She knows only that she smiles upon the rising sun each morning, and it smiles back, but with a glow reserved and pleasing, saving its harsh glare for later, for those unfortunates crossing open desert or bearing life’s great burdens.   For now the morning is only Mirabelle and her sun. Each morning they meet this way, not because she has anywhere to be so early, but because there is no one else in her life who lifts her up like this, who makes her face glow and imbues her with warmth. And yes, Mirabelle weeps, but it is not the weep of sadness. No, she sheds her tears for the emerging day, and for the joy of a love once only dreamt of, but now made ...

Arrival

It is months, brother. Months we’ve been at this. Nigh on a year even. And are we any closer? We have searched every nook, every dark corner, only there’s no way out.   Indeed, brother, the search is long, arduous, and yet even now there appears in the distance a pure white light that may be our salvation. Lead on, brother and I shall be fast behind. For have I ever left your side throughout our long travail?   Push on. We shall yet be free. Only, Jesus, the light it blinds. And the hands that draw us from the darkness, while oh so cold, seem also to welcome and nurture, as though searching, brother, searching for us all ...