Monday, July 25, 2011

An Old Field Encounter

Photograph by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia
Botanical Garden, Athens, Georgia
October 16, 2010; revised July 2011, September 2014

It was just an old field. I have been back
more than once, perplexed
at how very ordinary in the light
of midafternoon, or morning, 
or the light-not-light of gloaming. It’s gone.
Whatever was is not now. It seems
a shame, the untame rush replaced
by shrug and stolen glance
at time, the slow ride home
for reheated leftovers to sustain
my aging. It was fall

     when I went wandering
blazed paths through pungent hush
of hickory, beech and white oak stands 
to forest edge at right-of-way, cut
straight across the curve of hills where
I stood blinking back the light

     by the sun-splashed shores
     of an old field grown wild
     breaking over asphalt slabs
     which once went somewhere
     beyond the post hole fence
     that vainly holds back green
     swells of sumac and thistle
     tangled in turbulence
     sparkling in the silent roar
            of  a thin place
            onto an emerald sea
     in the presence of which
     I would remove my shoes
     wash my soul in sunlight
     and float the timeless warmth
            to a new heaven
                   and a new earth

But that was all and over soon, just slant
of light and insect drone, no still small voice
that could be heard above the buzz
and background trill, so was it somehow up
to me to say out loud what hangs in air?
     All flesh is grass, its beauty as
          the flower of the field
that dies with fall – been said by better
than one who wanted just right then 
no more than now and this sweet earth 
of distant laughter, lovers strolling, 
stoic mother gently holding 
sleek cell phone and squirming child. Right
there beneath the freshening breeze
a shadow passed inside of me:
     You hear your heart
         not that of mine.
I found it best to follow back
the well-worn path that’s cut around.

I did not hear then a voice
there was no other voice but mine –
just jumbled words set in my mind
like taking sun and sending roots, like
softening ground and healing scars,
flowers dying, weed fields thriving. Who
can say where words come from
but now I really want to know
did Moses ever think to go
back to bush to watch for fire
and hear the holy words again?
He did not deign to verify, 
went down to Egypt, back to reeds, 
to sea, to Sinai, but for me:

What I know I know too well, like
what the ways of science tell,
so some fall soon I will return.
I’ll go back armed with leather bound
field guide to flora, open mind to watch 
weeds. Perhaps I’ll learn their proper names –
the way cool starry night fuzzy top vine
must be known to a branch of botany. Perhaps
I'll catch the roar, and this time listen
to the silence inside.

Old Hipster Slow Rockin’ Blues

Bob and Michelle read blues
at Athens Word of Mouth

Athens, Georgia
July 24, 2011

Old hipsters rock
     on front porch chairs.
Oh, yeah, they rock
     their front porch chairs
Spring breeze blows cold through thinning hair.
Or none at all. Hey that ain't fair. You think I care?
Rock on.      Rock on.

Old hipsters rock
     and roll all day.
Yeah, hipsters rock
     and roll and play
Hot gui’tar babe’s on back porch stage.
Come play with me. Sweet harmony! I’ll take the lead.
Swing on.      Swing on.

Old hipsters roll
     themselves to sleep.
Old hipsters roll
     their own in sleep.
They dream of Dylan, dream of Hair,
Some still smoke weed, some say their prayer.
Hey, what it takes. That works for me. Come’ere, let’s spoon.
Roll on.           Roll on.

Old hipsters got the blues tonight
And not just any blues, they got
Your long hair thinnin’, Rogaine spendin’
Midnight munchin’, vitamin crunchin’
Knees a-crackin’, head’s flash-backin’
Hip throwin’, memory goin’
Mind fadin’, Medicaidin’
Slow rockin’ aging hipster

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Between Birdsong and Boulder

Photography by David Noah,
Winterville, Georgia.
Athens, Georgia
June 14, 2011; revised September 17, 2014

Somewhere above an unseen bird
puffs up and girds his half ounce frame
to sing a territorial claim
with ancient notes that pierce the dawn. 
Some precious seconds pass in song,
a moment more and echo’s gone
subsiding in the summer breeze. 

The insubstantial fades away; 
before a thought, it all recedes
to pressure waves where chaos breeds.

Somewhere in time a youthful earth
contracts her planetary girth 
and clears her molten throat to sing 
bouldersThree hundred million years 
and more, extruded magma from her core
some two miles down became this rock
which anchors moss to woodland floor.

Though passive mass persists today, 
through centuries it, too, recedes
to blowing dust where chaos breeds. 

Somewhere in shifting entropy 
new riffs arise in life’s old song 
with notes of animated dust 
evolving in the space that’s formed 
from light blue sky of summer morn
to dark brown smells of humic soil,
from child’s first laugh to granite stone.

Here between the pensive ache 
        and passive weight of what must be, 
chaos breaks – the soul is freed 

to stalk the fleeting, ferret meaning, 
        fiercely singing to the night. 
of life bestride the borderlands 
                of birdsong and boulder.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Summer Morning's Leave

Athens, Georgia
July 9, 2009; revised March 5, 2015


Last night I held your body
        frail, light
        limp from effort,

Until, finally, sleep
        blessed comfort, sleep
        deep sleep, deepening still

While I marked each hour of darkness
        counting your breath
        on the back of my hand

And your pulse in my fingertips
        as steady through
        the night

Breath eased, your heart
        held, you still
        here.  Still.


Early morning is my time
        when the world turns fresh
        and days open doorways –
        To run the rolling land

Pressing breath against pain
        cresting hills, clearing lungs,
        the good earth passing fast,
        to glide with Gaia,

Slow dancing tai chi in grass
        bare feet stained green
        finding balance
        in fleeting moments

Feeling the free flow of time
        rushing through my veins
        still in the flush of strength, still
        grasping for grace.


In the vigor of youth you
        held my premature
        body gently, firmly
        against death, and
        carried me home.

Steady through the years you
        loved one woman
        well, and with her,
        raised up family
        to love and play.

You lived solid, you
        completed duty
        with discipline,
        softening through
        decades of devotion.

And in the stillness of age,
        dear man, you
        accepted decline
        with dignity,
        and in the letting go
                found grace.


I return to your side
one final time, where
forever now
we stand in sacramental hush
heads down, eyes
in solemn witness, so
still, this world
in which I hold your worn-out body
vainly against death
and feel the final brush
of love in your sandpaper chin, still
warm yet now
against my salty face.


You took your leave this summer morning.


Now, early morning is our time.
        I will carry you in my muscles
        in my wind, in my balance
                in my spirit

Until they, too, fail
        and you, once again,
        carry me