Journey to Embarkation

Journey to Embarkation
My first book of poetry. Cover image by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

After the Storm

Athens, Georgia
September 12, 2017

The air is fragrant with leaves and limbs,
snapped by last night’s storm. Fresh green
corpses litter the road with tips of trees.
These would glisten silver in sun. But there
is none. Shall we light a candle and sing?

The unripe crop of a summer canopy
lies strewn across asphalt in a bounty
too soon. A thousand green domes in a
thousand pale caps cling to the crotches
of White Oak leaves. The world grieves.

Nodules bead the broken stems beneath
the leaves of a Southern Red. This would
have been their banner year. Now they will
never be trees. The air is bitter above their
grave. Let them return their tannins to earth.

In the forest, root balls of red clay rise
into new clearings: another Northern Red
Oak gone, upended by weight and wind.
Small saplings of green ash begin their sprint
to light. A ripe pungence fills the air with rot.

Blue-green needles of a loblolly stand
mingle with conelettes of short leaf pine.
They spike the nose with an acrid clean.
Green gum balls litter dirt with a latent
grace. Still air is sweet, but laced with death.

Beyond the gently rolling Georgia hills,
her new growth woods rising over red clay,
her ragged fields recovering from cotton,
her unmarked graves of warriors and slaves —
our world is a shattered, fragrant place.

We live in the wake of weaponized storms.

Beyond our sacred borders I see bodies
littering beaches, and the tortured eyes
of a lost child wracked by what we un-
leashed. The air will not wash clean. Will
we just light a scented candle, and sing?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Heart Scars

Gwinnett Medical Center, 
Lawrenceville, Georgia
August 14, 2017

The surgeon said I have a raw heart,
that where he worked his high-tech
wire would heal and bear no scars.

But all he had were images,
renderings of my left atrium
processed by silicon circuits,
color coded for conductivity,
rogue circuits splotched red
across my pulmonary veins.

They fairly danced with life,
made my heart skip stutter-
step beats. That was before.

Now the big veins stand inert,
gun-metal gray, dull as lead
pipes, bare limbs of an ancient
oak shattered by a blue bolt,
frozen and fossilized — this
the price for too much life.

I walk through new life
with a hole in my heart.
I bear invisible tattoos.

Can a body hit sixty-eight
without a rough mark
clawed across the vitals?
Could a soul survive so long
in the land of incarnation
without the grace of scars?

Technology is miracle. Hospitals
crawl with angels. Doctors patch
bodies for a few more rounds.

But raw hearts ride currents
no machine can measure. Sinking,
I am buoyed by a thousand ‘thoughts
and prayers.’ Flailing, I am borne
again to source or abyss. Surely
I will drown in a sea of grace.