The Tavern Guitar

“Stand where I am standing,” he said,
“across from the wine colored window.”
The man was full of spirits, I could tell.
I was tired from the road and in a funk,
sick of wine and, well, I thought
that I might drink his words
and by his breath get drunk.
“See?” he said, “a frosty mirth of dust
lights up the strings of this guitar.
Don’t touch! No. But linger
to observe, instead, the gentle curve,
the well-wrought head
and neck of richest virgin wood.
See the seasoned grain,
the fine nut color it retains.
Breath deep its musky air–
put your nose up close, just so,
the stench of wine is thick in here.”
I obeyed. The man seemed pleased.
Until I breathed the dusty air too much
and sneezed.

“Careful, man! Take care! for I have had it tuned.
And it is said that when the moon
is of a certain disposition,
there will approach a wandering soul
–a musician!
who will shake the strings of dust
and release the well-kept timber,
release the whole of what we know and feel
is locked inside this case of cork.
Oh, he will know his work. He must.
And what he will release, we
will capture in our ears, we
will hold inside our heads
until our very deaths rob us of its sense.
We must be careful of our breaths
around this delicate instrument.”

“I beg your pardon, sir,” I said,
wiping my nose on my sleeve.
“Take no offense, but do not say we.
For before another moon has risen,
whether it be disposed to good or ill,
I must leave.”

“That is of no consequence, I think.
Now, have a swig–drink, man, drink!–but see there–
there!–the opal glimmer of the bridge
which in this stained glass tavern light
is God’s hopeful, drunken touch!”

“I do not see it,” I said, rude, sober.
“Not as such.”

A little space

A little space here
which I have walked into
where love resides but lies hidden,
gathers dust.  A quiet space
where love resides but relaxes
and changes its clothes.
I can’t make it out.
The light is uncomfortably dim,
but comfortable almost in the non-knowledge
that love resides,
that it rests in a chair, which squeaks,
and carries on its business.
Answers letters, pays bills,
and sleeps.
A small space,
but freedom to move,
and a window, thankfully, hopefully,
upon the world.


[Full disclosure: this is poem #6 in a series of poems mentioned here.]

Stepping Out

Stepping out through the door of his house, which was swollen by the moisture and did not shut properly, casting off his shoes to thrust his feet in the uneven grass, which, dead and alive, was a chorus of mute tones, browns and reds and greens, casting off his sleepiness with a shudder as he stepped beneath and then out from beneath the newly leafed deciduous trees into the sunshine, casting off his shirt, casting off his boredom, turning, arms outspread breathing in, out, casting off his ambitions, casting off his intelligence, casting off death, casting off his ideas like the clothing he cast off until he was nude, falling in faith and not knowing that he had ever fallen before like that on his back in the grass, casting off his language and his memory and his poetry, he was as mutely eloquent as a lion basking and blinking in the mid-day sun.

[Stepping Out appeared in Vine Leaves Literary Journal Issue #11]