Tuesday, August 4, 2009

With The Utmost Kindness And Calm

A Day Before Halloween
Bertha Halfton’s Lullaby
The Life of Mark Twain
Water Has Taken Me
Rain Work
Nameless Trees
My Home Is The Sea
Just Like A Ghost
No Huckleberry Finn
On A Wet Corner
Ohio Train

A Day Before Halloween

A day before Halloween
there’s a frozen puddle
a window made of ice
I see an orange leaf
held underneath
and I put my own
cold hands in pockets

Bertha Halfton’s Lullaby

Bertha Halfton woke up again to her daughter’s yell.
This was her third time, first at 10, then 11, now it was
midnight, she couldn’t fall asleep and she had to keep
telling her mother. This time it was like in the ring,
when Bertha got up, she stood there in her dark
bedroom wearing the warm pajama version of her
rollerderby uniform, full of steam. She moved,
gaining speed to her daughter’s side. With the utmost
kindness and calm she administered her sleeping hold.
The girl scratched her mother’s cauliflower ears before
she finally fell into sleep.


We went to the bookstore
but spent the whole time
going up and down
on the escalator

For a two year old
that was the height
all that silvery metal
moving like a centipede
the green eerie light
shining from the dark
spaces below
the clacking rattle
of its rise and fall

A half hour travel
wasn’t enough
for a greater marvel
than you could ever
read about

The Life of Mark Twain

There’s a black and white movie
about the life of Mark Twain
it ends with the old man we know
sitting in a rocking chair at night
looking out at Halley’s comet
I remember this because
when my daughter was born
I used to wrap her in blankets
and take her outside to look
through the fog above Seattle
at the blurry shape of that
big comet crossing the sky

Water Has Taken Me

A weekend of hard rain
another pouring morning
I had to get to work
the bus stop waits
through the forest
and Connelly Creek

It was twenty feet wide
but I thought I could
pick stones by dim light
and get over dry

But after a few steps
I was sunk deep in
that realization that
water has taken me

When I got across
I carried the water
with me from there
back to land and
the cul-de-sac
and the road
to the dark
top of the hill
I waited upon

I waited for cars
to pass obliviously
so their headlights
wouldn’t catch me
squeezing the creek
from my feet

Rain Work

I join them at the door
opening umbrellas and
parachuting out

Nameless Trees

“Hello, I’m the Inspirational Speaker. Which way is the gym?”
“Oh yeah…” replied the sallow boy slouched against the brown
Camaro. “It’s not where you think it is...” His arm raised, like a
puppet attached to string. “See those trees? You’ll find
the path.” An emotion almost broke across the boy’s face,
giving him a strange sort of choking look.
“Thanks. I don’t want to be late.” He grinned or tried to,
the boy made him nervous with that look. “See you there,
I hope.” He took off into the woods, sinking his shoes
in the fir needle loam, liking the sudden cold air feeling
on his face.
It was hardly a path at all, low bushes crowded his legs,
vines would trip him if he stepped off. It got strange around him.
He knew his trees to a degree, maples, oaks, birches, ash, cedar,
pines, but there were nameless trees that bent and scrambled
to cover the light and lock him in.
So he slowed and listened and he knew he wasn’t getting
anywhere. It occurred to him, sure he may have been the fool
for being misled here, but even if that was true, here he was,
he had to adapt to it. He could allow a little time to pass.
He heard the spilling rush of a stream somewhere nearby
and what sounded like a rusted wheel turning. He looked for
the source, a little black capped bird so small he could have
cupped it in his hand, or held it on his palm like a compass.
As he reached for it, his arm began to slow, his body stopped
and hardened and his hand froze, held branching out.
The chickadee landed on the smooth bark of his palm,
bobbed and trembled about before its beak settled on
a direction and off it flew.

My Home Is The Sea

That quiet hiss
where bow cuts waves

Up in the beam
with the stars
as my guide

Just Like A Ghost

The screen door bangs
I feel the rattle
the cans fall
off the shelves
groceries roll
onto the floor
so it seems
every little thing
is tied by string
to you
passing through

No Huckleberry Finn

No Huckleberry Finn
necessary today
all the dark clouds
gone away

Even though
I’m prepared today
to take off shoes
and socks and walk
through the overflow

I look forward
to the feeling
silt and stones
under barefeet
I thought
about it
like a poem

It doesn’t happen
the creek won’t do
what I expect
the weather
I walk on
is fine

On A Wet Corner

On a wet corner
the traffic light shines
in a night rain
we all know

It’s late
so feel
going on

to change

Ohio Train

That day
the rain
came down
in a wave
we had to stop
for a train
the ground
making thunder
we took shelter
in the cover
an old caboose
held over us
we watched
all those cars
going by
the wheels
the heavy
metal creak
the horn
far ahead
all that
we waited
a long time
to be done
I held
my son
up to my face
smelling his hair
until my daughter
saw the end
and pointed

writing: allen frost
written: november 3-november 10, 2006

Monday, August 3, 2009