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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On the Planting of Trees


ON THE PLANTING OF TREES

The Chinese say to keep a green tree in your heart
and perhaps a singing bird will come.
Stretching fingertips to the starry skies above,
trees are perhaps silent, but they are far from dumb.

Reaching, praying, whispering in glorious exchange
with their mobile short-sighted human kin,
Trees sweeten our air by taking in what we exhale,
rewarding us with their breath, which we breathe in.

The storms of life make trees take deeper roots,
they have answers for any question a man seeks
they are witness to every change that occurs around them,
And so are the best possible kind of antiques.

To see trees dancing with the moon, framing bursts of stars,
we are gifted with their tender, rugged celebration,
a rooted chorus line holding the power of the universe,
every human beings chance to participate in creation.

Trees are beautiful in their peace; they are wise in their silence.
They will stand here long after we are all gone on to dust.
Beauty will have been added to this corner of the world
that to our children and grandchildren we will entrust.

There is much we can learn from the trees in our lives,
they are as grounded as it is possible to be,
yet they continuously strive to to touch the heavens above,
and without effort they remain uninhibited and free.

Trees are our most intimate contact with nature,
without artifice, never guarded, never coy.
A society grows great when old men plant trees
whose shade they know they shall never enjoy.

Blistering acts of making new life are often held in reserve
for gods in heavens above, or lowly poets in their hovel,
But today we can all partake in the creation of life
With little more than light, love, and a shovel.

So we travel through time when we plant a tree,
Regardless of the why, the where and the how.
The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.
And yet the next best time is right now.

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Treasures of Life



THE TREASURES OF LIFE


The treasures of life you cannot see or touch
Are the things we all hold highest as ideal
So we pay the cost no matter how much.

Worldly matters like debt, toil, loss and such
Are the things most think of as being real,
The treasures of life you cannot see or touch.

To our bosom we hold these in iron clutch
With the strength of tempered steel
So we pay the cost no matter how much.

Scrabbling like mad rabbits in our own hutch
Before the altar of the immediate we kneel,
The treasures of life you cannot see or touch.

Skipping like children playing Double Dutch
We ignore the things we are meant to feel,
So we pay the cost no matter how much.

While our inner lives are meant to be nonesuch -
And the worldy was meant to merely reveal,
The treasures of life you cannot see or touch
So we pay the cost no matter how much

Monday, December 23, 2013

D.K.'s Blues


D.K.'S BLUES

One of the perks
of being dead
is not having to fight
biology.
No more beard,
or waste,
or piss,
just rot.

Death had released me,
then Hunger conquered me.
My hunger is not
a matter of stomach,
but is instead
a cellular scream;
I can feel me deflating,
a sagging sensation.

I don’t think much,
no specific memories.
Vestigial knowledge
of how things work;
rusty cogs of cogency
gearing down.

Don’t talk much,
even though I have a lot to say.
I build scaffolds of words
to bring my thoughts
to cathedral ceiling heights,
but when I open my mouth,
out comes ungodly rot.

Is it part of the
mechanics of being dead,
or do we just have nothing to say
that should be heard
by the quick?
Is the disconnect
between mind and body
the humanity that I lost?

Eating people sucks.

I try self restraint,
I swear I do,
but I just cannot help
but go for the sweet stuff-
the sizzle-pop life buzz
of the brains.
My own head clears,
lights up,
feels less dead.

For a little while.

I steal what they have
to replace what I lack.

Hunger is the real monster,
not me.

Being dead is not so bad,
I’ve learned to live with it.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Had We Met Before



The Gazal is a wonderfully simple and yet complex poetic form from seventh century Arabia.

Here is a bit of data from the good folks over at poetry.org :

The ghazal is composed of a minimum of five couplets—and typically no more than fifteen—that are structurally, thematically, and emotionally autonomous. Each line of the poem must be of the same length, though meter is not imposed in English.

The first couplet introduces a scheme, made up of a rhyme followed by a refrain. Subsequent couplets pick up the same scheme in the second line only, repeating the refrain and rhyming the second line with both lines of the first stanza.

The final couplet usually includes the poet's signature, referring to the author in the first or third person, and frequently including the poet's own name or a derivation of its meaning.

Traditionally invoking melancholy, love, longing, and metaphysical questions, ghazals are often sung by Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani musicians.

Examples of poems in the Ghazal form:

Even the Rain
by Agha Shahid Ali

Ghazal of the Better-Unbegun
by Heather McHugh

The Ghazal of What Hurt
by Peter Cole
HAD WE MET BEFORE


Had we met before when you could have been straight with me
We could have married, which would have been all great with me.

The moment I knew that you were going to be mine,
Was the very first time you sat down and ate with me.

Spending mornings slumber tangled in each other’s sheets,
You never once minded going to work late with me.

Asked the Stars, the Tarot, the IChing or cookie’s slip,
asked you to gamble on romance, tempt your Fate with me.

I know you were not one for truth or for its freedoms
You spent your time trying to prevaricate with me.

You will now have to wait until the sun cools to brown
Before Reilley will ever tell you to, “Wait with me."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Christmas Photo



THE CHRISTMAS PHOTO


While I was here, and you were there
There was nothing but Gray
at Christmas revelries. I was alone.

Through crowds of seasonal gaiety
my leaden steps passed un-heeded,
the tears that fell dried without notice.

When once you were mine, I had magic.
Yet there was no trick to undo my loss,
no secret word to stop missing you.

I spat my loathing on the joyous,
turned away from Yuletide revels,
defined myself by the dignity of anguish.

Until I found the Christmas snapshot,
the one where your smile warmed the frame,
delighted by being together.

The memory of your fragrance
breathed life into the photograph
and you were with me once more.

The falling snow around me
created a white canvas for me
to paint my dreams of you upon.

The jingle of carols became angel song
and my Christmas gift was the knowledge
that you had loved me at all.

Friday, December 13, 2013

I Must Be Gone



There are times in every relationship when you feel the thing to do -  the choice to make, plan to follow, the option to prioritize - is to leave. You may or may not be right, but you make the choice, although sometimes the choice makes you.

Once the choice is made, the actions that follow; whether they take a moment or years, whether they happen in tears and blood, or quiet desperation, or whether they come as welcome news to the other half of the equation, those actions inevitably affect others, so how you act is yet another set of choices.

This is an older piece, from February of last year, and was prompted by my friend and neighbor struggling with this very choice.


I MUST BE GONE

There is no mistake; it is now time for me to be gone.
I can tell because there no longer is time to avoid the dusk,
and as I walk, the sad street walks behind me.
I see a tall ghost, carrying my bag,
as patient as only the dead can be,
but taking the first step is horror
even if rainwater hides my tears.

I’ve heard tales of travelers
who say prayers in every language of the world
and find prophesy in the eyes of children.
If you can hear my voice in the storm
then you can stitch your dreams into sails
and find your way home, where you belong.

I must be gone, but it is you who are lost.

I must leave, despite myself, I must be gone,
the hungry clouds and angry trees
force my path to narrow.

Choices made must still be paid,
but let me hold your eyes,
and my reflection upon them,
until I stand before you once more.

But I must be gone.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Mot Bateaux



I love words. Obviously. 

It is a poor poet indeed who does not thrill like a schoolgirl at a rock concert at each new word he learns. Every time I am exposed to a word I've never heard before, I pore over it, pinned to my wax slab, etymologically speaking.

Sometimes the words come fast and furious, bumbling over each in their rush to get the idea across. Anyone who has tried to have a conversation with a fourteen year old girl is familiar with the phenomena.

And some times they bump and sway, like boats in a harbor.



MOT BATEAUX

My words bump and jostle,
boats in an unruly harbor.

Creaky at some times, leaky at others,
often listing dangerously.

Language is a port for ‘ideas expressed’
holding exploration in each and every craft
that sets sail daily for far horizons.

The boats of thought are carried on breath,
tilting at fairwinds and gales alike,
defying the storms, and the odds,
finding wharf in clusters and groups,
strung together into ideas, jokes, dreams.

Yet the dinghies do not envy the cruise ships,
speeders do not condescend to rafts,
arks, barges and gondolas sail with the scow,
each carries the weight it was made for
In the style it has.

© Christopher Reilley 2010

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Yuletide Wish



A YULETIDE WISH


More than simply a time for fun
Christmas is when we look within,
observing how we treat everyone,
celebrating release from personal sin.

The honest smile on a child’s face,
the warmth of giving in one’s heart,
the one-ness of the human race,
each a fine place for love to start.

Despite the range of beliefs or creed,
without regard for country or skin,
caring is allowed to grow and succeed,
and Love is encouraged to prevail and win.

So give your heart to those whom you know,
and keep in mind those far and wide
who yet have so very far to go
let Peace on Earth reign world-wide.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

And Then There Was You



Ah, the ideal man or woman.  

We all have an idea in the back of our minds, or even right up front for some of us, what our ideal mate would be. Now, some of us never really make up our minds, some settle for less through fear or self-image, some meet this person early in their lives and never look back, God bless them. And then there are the rest of us.

Sure we all have a type, or even two or three, I know I do. But a type is different from an ideal, the criteria is different. But the idea of True Love, y'know "Princess Bride" true love, is when you actually meet your ideal, and the stars align in such a way that, despite the odds, you happen to be their ideal as well! Like getting hit by lightning while scratching a winning lottery ticket, the odds are against it.

I knew that I had met "the One" about a half hour into the first date. She was then, and is today, the perfectly formed container to house my soul.

So I wrote this.

AND THEN THERE WAS YOU

The seduction started before we ever met.

When I would imagine what you would be like
as I dated, I subtracted a bit of this,
added a bit of that,
changed my mind about what I liked,
as I built my own idea
of what would be perfect,
compositing the idea 
from the girls I knew.

Imagination fueled fantasy
as I became aware of sexuality.
I thought of what I would like,
how it would feel
what I would say, and do.

I pictured lust, flaring hot and wild,
tangling and tearing of clothes,
hunger and embarrassment in equal measure,
hands probing, trailing, squeezing,
my skin reacting with warmth,
playing at resistance, serious about exploration.

Insistent intimacy,
overcoming and being overcome.

I thought of penetration -
flesh of one surrounding the flesh of another,
two bodies mingling,
acting and feeling as one,
shared breath hot in our mouths.
Forcefully, tenderly -
vigorously, languidly -
a commingling of opposites.

My mind conjured darkness pierced by light,
a fire in the blood,
our hearts unconfined and consumed,
the end of childish things,
the totality of being human.

All this I held as fact without proof
until you entered my view
and beggared reality, 
showing how small I had dreamt.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

In Our Shaded Spot



Someone I care about just suffered an enormous emotional loss, the passing of a lifetime companion. 

Another someone I love is watching a mate deteriorate, all while dreading the inevitable.

The loss of those we love, whether it take us by surprise or it it crashes and lumbers through our lives until it happens, chews a deep hole into our sense of self, one shaped very much like the loved one we lost.

I can only offer these meager words in comfort.



IN OUR SHADED SPOT

Let me come and sit beside you, let me lean on you once more.
I long to hear your morning laughter, to see your face at my door.
I still recall the way it felt when you reached out and took my hand,
and I still see the smile in your eyes, when you tell me you understand.

Your voice in my life always brought me a rush of friendship’s sweet relief,
but the hole in the world where you should be, is nothing less than grief.
The song I sing for you is one that has no beginning, and I can see no end,
Just as the days unending in which I will remember you as friend.

When tomorrow starts without you, you will not be here to see
the sun rising over the trees, as they silently stand watch over me.
I stand here all alone, and I will be alone once more tomorrow,
but I have known you, and known you well, so there’s no room for sorrow.

The trees in the grove, with leaves and blossoms waving unfurled
encompass what you have brought to my life, my heart, and my world.
From the burning heat of the summer sun, they offer cool, shaded retreat,
catching the rains from the heights of sky, and the world itself beneath our feet.

My days and nights are filled with beautiful memories such as these,
whispered in my ears by winds blowing through our favorite trees,
and as we celebrate the love we shared, we acknowledge what comes, and has gone,
from the roots we now set in our place, to the love that goes on and on.