Thursday, September 20, 2018

Early morning, snow teases
the outstretched branches of birch
with help from the wind.
It is cold, but inside the stove’s warmth
cradles the recliner in the lamplight
where he reads poems.
His fingers, thick and calloused,
flip pages enthusiastically.
He notices the shape of his nails,
much like his father’s,
no moons rising.
And like his father had done,
it’s time to contemplate departure.
One day, the stove unlit, will dispense
the damp aroma of creosote,
the book will lie closed
upon the arm of the recliner.
One day, a relative will enter
and acknowledge
that the house is empty,
no warmth, no breath, no poetry,
an indentation upon the seat
next to the book.
The change will go unnoticed
by the snow, wind, ice, and
those few crows meandering
for morsels upon the buried landscape.
He returns to reading,
the words delight him.
What would become of these joys,
he wonders.
Someone should take them.

He asked them
to take the music outside,
listen as they held it toward the sky,
let the wind rattle its stems,
or place the sheet against an ear
to hear a tune
through the hollow of its shell.
He told them to jog
the parameters of the staves,
walk the winding road of its clef
and imagine living there.
Perhaps they could drop a feather
upon the music’s resonance,
follow its float among the timbres
or ski the slopes of musical peaks,
gliding unencumbered into its valleys,
then thank the composer
for varying the landscape
when they left the lodge.
But the class was determined
to stalk each phrase,
analyze chords for manipulation, cunning
and seek the hidden form.
They handcuffed the notes
to the music stand,
even flogged the melody
with a drum mallet,
until it whistled a meaning
never intended.
Her eyes
and the lake
are his memories,
cobalt images of clarity
and purity, running deep.
It was in this cove
where the black spotted loon
dove head first
into the heart of blue,
attracting the tender pulse
of her affection
inciting her
to follow the creature
into the watery sweep
tangled with milfoil
that snarled her hair
while the checkered fowl
dutifully hunted
for its young.
Her blue eyes wide,
blended eventually
with the ripple of current
that swept beneath the surface.
He visited that cove often thereafter,
especially those days
where the sun’s gleam
highlighted the blue ghost
within the restless ripples
that will forever
wrap him in riddles.

He crossed 42nd to get to Fifth
towards mid-town
and just paces in front of him
an old lady pushed a shopping cart
full of identity.
Bags of cans dangled
from each elbow
and clanged as she waddled,
dressed in clothes
worse than a country scarecrow
though her straw gray hair
hung longer,
tied in a tail with brown hosiery
to match her stoic, weathered face
and it pained his heart
when suddenly she squatted
in a deep knee bend,
like she was picking
something off the sidewalk,
and there she froze
as he quickly approached
to help,
unaware of the problem
till a puddle formed
and its river flowed around his shoes
down the curb
and in the privacy of her mind,
she transformed
his sympathy
to confused helplessness.
If there were no rain,
there would be
far too little noise on the roof
or upon the window pane
that would distract us
from the pulse in our inner ear
through the silence at night,
no gutter song to lull us to sleep,
no applause of wet leaves
for thirst-quenching relief.
In a cloudless sky
and barren landscape,
the rain would no longer
astonish our senses
with torrents that flood the riverbeds
then angrily fall from summit’s edge
upon boulders that spray
a foaming mane of platinum.
Car wheels would pass like a cough,
the absence of a splash
that might instigate our adrenalin,
administers calm instead.
The sky would no longer
be crowded with giant gray eyelids
that occasionally coax
the sun to sleep
and allow us to focus
upon the mysterious messages
their odd, translucent shapes impart.
Without the rain,
our very lives would drift instead,
fantasy vapors
against the cobalt blue,
twinkling and as aimless as dust.
He found himself at the symphony
where the sophisticated people milled about,
dropping names while drinking champagne
served in the entrance foyer.
A quite haughty yet beautiful woman
approached him, stepped out of her dress
and sat in the seat next to his,
her attire falling to her ankles.
She stated that only he, presently,
and her husband, not in attendance,
had peeked the enhanced cleavage
created by her push-up under garments.
The spotlight turned from the conductor
upon his podium to highlight
her abundant breasts,
though the diamond necklace around her neck
produced a glare that blinded his stare
and caused him to fall forward
while the orchestra played the Habanera
from Bizet’s Carmen.
He awoke squeezing the ample pillows
upon which he slept.
An hour later, he stared out the window
at the rain drenched lawn
when a black bear entered
his field of vision,
a huge, angry bear, walking upright,
with matted fur from the ensuing cloudbursts
that created a stick-like figure
when the beast turned sideways,
lifted his head toward dark heaven
and roared a window shattering plea
then galloped toward the house for respite,
pounding thunderously at the door
which woke him for the second time this night.
Michael Keshigian, from New Hampshire, has been published in numerous national and international journals, recently including Aji, San Pedro River Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Muddy River Review, Passager and has appeared as feature writer in over a twenty publications with 6 Pushcart Prize and 2 Best Of The Net nominations. His poetry cycle, Lunar Images, set for Clarinet, Piano, Narrator, was premiered at Del Mar College in Texas. Subsequent performances occurred in Boston (Berklee College) and Moleto, Italy. Winter Moon, a poem set for Soprano and Piano, premiered in Boston. (


The Whale in the Sky
To live in a world where
the pale pearl of a cloud might
be filled with the shadow presence
of a whale,
swimming through the sky,
rising and falling in massive
flight, spouting cumulus from a cavern
mounted on its considerable frame,
and meanwhile, on the earth below,
only beautiful animals, no more slithering
creatures tapered at one end and filed
like knives on the other tip,
ready to cut us down, undulating
threats moving with soiled gleam.

On the Stalk
Silent orb resting
on a gum-pink quivering
base, waving side to side
like the arms of a crazed
fan during the World Series.
This appendage brings
to mind questions of how we
come to know the universe.
The sweeping finger, the lapping
dog tongue, the perusing
eye that travels a library?
Fragments of truth studded with
the remnants of perception?
Still yet is the question
of what we sense and its collision
with what really is.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He has a new book of poems, A Five-Year Journey, available from Dreaming Big Publications.

Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...