the women tell me

Crab

 

 

the women tell me

there is soon to be a baby.

 

I remember calling my brother

upon the birth of my oldest son.

both of our parents were dead,

and I needed to tell someone — he,

however, seemed unimpressed.

 

I see this son now grown, bearded

and strong, busy planning their lives together,

as if such a thing were possible.

 

I can almost feel the life force drifting

like pollen from our branches to theirs,

calling forth small, green buds, the sap

beginning to rise.

 

the flowering crab in the yard

holds dark, withered fruit fermenting slowly

under a weak winter sun, when a solitary robin,

who should have gone south months ago,

brushes the snow from the branches

and gorges himself on the hard, bitter fruit.

 

eventually, he grows drunk, drops into flight,

and spinning once in midair, flies straight

into the darkened glass of the window,

then drops to the ground like a stone.

 

so many deaths

caused by mistaking reflections

for truth, by confusing images

with the unyielding surfaces of life.

 

the women tell me

there is soon to be a baby.

and we shall welcome her

with indescribable joy. we

will surely be impressed.

 

we will do our best

to hold her safe, to teach her to see.

we will stand with her by the window

and watch the comings and goings of birds.

 

perhaps, she will smile and laugh with the birds.

perhaps, with time, she will come to love

these hollow-boned, fragile,

exquisitely mortal, impossible birds.

 

perhaps, with time,

she might even be the one

who teaches us all how to fly.

 

lift with the legs and throw

blackdog

 

lift with the legs and throw

 

it feels like it’s been snowing forever

shifting sheets of white and grey

covering what I knew of the sun

smudging the margins of day

 

into endless hours of night.

three days in, the city plows

have fallen behind, and all the routes out

are lethal. twice today

 

they’ve come to scrape our road

packing dense piles of dirty snow

into the mouth of the drive.

and twice today I’ve booted up

 

to attack that pile, my old dog

mad for the snow, leaping at the shovel

with every throw — lift with the legs

and throw. lift with the legs and throw.

 

just like my dead father commanded

when he passed the shovel to me.

lift with the legs and throw —

but he somehow forgot to tell me

 

that shoveling never ends

there’s always another storm

another plow in the night

coming to choke to drive.

 

this is men’s work –

dark, cold, heavy and wet.

so back out we go —

lift with the legs and throw

 

the black dog leaping

biting at the snow.

lift with the legs and throw. again.

lift with the legs and throw.

 

what choice do we have

but lean into the darkness

and throw?  study the dog –

swallow the storm

 

leap at the sky –

bite at the snow.

 

 

© 2019 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

 

perfectly framed

 

perfectly framed

 

this largely unconscious brain

forever striving to filter

the tsunami of perceptions–

 

wave upon wave of sight,

sound, taste, touch and smell—

the editor, driven to impose

 

some measure of order. everything

is continually arising, always

until you stop, as if someone

 

is whispering your true name —

the rope snaps and you plummet

headlong into the space at the heart

 

of all of this – and suddenly,

its right there –the essence

perfectly framed, the very picture

 

of grace

 

 

photo- summit of Solitude Mountain Resort, December 7, 2018

 

© 2018 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

 

birdsong

we recently lost a friend to cancer, a death that prompted a number of close-to-the-bone poems for me. some so close that I don’t feel like I can share them without causing pain to her family. perhaps this, about a dinner we shared with her husband along the way, might touch on it without going too far…

 

raptor

 

he should get out some, she said, but how?

out of what? into what? knowing as we do

 

that her disease

is consuming their lives together.

 

that she’s at home slowly dying

while we sit here, sharing a meal.

 

we spend the evening speaking of birds

of the intelligence of crows.

 

of how she would watch the eagles

over the lake hunting the ducks.

 

of how she always sided with the ducks

though they rarely survived the attack.

 

of how birdsong at morning

differs profoundly from the songs of evening.

 

of how darkness seems to swoop down

and swallow the final notes.

 

of how in the deepest dark of night

countless birds are said to pass overhead

 

through the highest of heavens,

following the ancient ways north, and then south

 

and then north again. of how this migration

of souls passes completely unseen.

 

of how, in the end, there is so very much

that each of us must ultimately take on faith.

 

 

© 2018 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

 

 

when i came here

may the new year bring you peace, companionship and adventure…may all beings be happy!

cropped-dawn-patrol-2.jpg

when I came here, I believed

it was the mountains that called,

 

and so they do – Dogen told us this

hundreds of years ago.

 

these mountains walk.

these blue mountains always

 

walk. How slowly we must see

to see this. the morning sky

 

speaks softly running west to east,

reaching to embrace the mountains –

 

fog and rain,

the blue white brilliance of snow.

 

everything is a sign

to those who would see. Winter

 

is here. the grasses of summer

are brittle and brown

 

beneath my feet. Up ahead,

a dozen mountain bluebirds

 

break cover as one, each

a singular sliver of blue, each

 

a slice of heaven, rising,

spiraling up into this limitless sky,

 

reaching

for the embrace of the mountains,

 

yearning

for the blue-white brilliance

 

of snow

 

© 2018 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com/jfinkimages.com

 

 

message

message

for jessica, who showed us all that gentle does not mean weak…

 

Message

we got your message in the morning

that she’d died the night before

on the other side of the world. tears

 

mixed with iceland’s rain. so cold

so very far away. Every one of us

is so very far away

 

© 2017 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com/jfinkimages.com

 

Let Us Come Together

This Spring and early Summer, I’ve been struck by the richness of community, the simplicity. With heartfelt gratitude for family and friends…

letuscome

let us come together

 

let us come together here

on the rocky spine of this world

 

let us suspend all judgment

of ourselves and of those

we would hold as friends

 

let us watch the shadows

of the clouds as they race

across this darkening land

 

let us hold this hour

in the companionable silence

of those collected here

 

let us ask for nothing more

 

than the warmth of these hands

than this breath

than the tender, fragile heart of this day

 

let us cherish one another

and in this,

 

let us be glad

 

 

© 2017 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com/jfinkimages.com

 

 

Home

This was written for the wedding of my oldest son last month. Life…

reception

 

Home

 

the man on the radio

said children first learn

there are three dimensions-

 

height and width and, of course

length, like a shoebox, or a house.

and only later do they learn

 

of the fourth dimension, time

the one that lends meaning

to all the others – standing here today

 

as we watch you prepare

to begin building your life together

I am acutely conscious of time

 

of how the immediacy of youth

can ripen of its own accord

into patience

 

of how we begin by thinking that love

is something that happens to us

like a bee sting, or an unexpected fall

 

and only later do we see that love

is something organic, that if we’re lucky

is something we might grow

 

to inhabit, like an atmosphere

or more, something that might

come to infuse us, like blood.

 

the older I become, the fewer things

I take to be certain. But some few things

I do know. I know that keeping score

 

is never helpful. I know that love

for one another is cultivated

through an appreciation of small things.

 

I know that even amid the uncertain winds

of this life, in this you might find shelter —

that if you are willing to work together

 

with patience, and with love,

and perhaps with some small measure of grace,

you must certainly succeed

 

in constructing of your lives a home.

 

© 2017 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

 

 

 

Wild is

frost

Wild is

(on the last flocks of November)

wild is small sharp sounds
rising through black, bare-limbed trees

wild is the weak
slant-light of morning

wild is uninvited, intrusive
discordant

wild is sudden

wild is imperative, urgent

wild is now and now
and now again

wild is a restlessness
a knowing
a coming together

wild is long fluid lines
spilling across an azure sky

wild is ragged and unstable

wild is perpetually adapting

wild is a fathomless
round eye

wild is feathers and fat,
muscle and hollow bones

wild is the cry of the straggler
desperate to catch up

wild is the cold hard fate
of those left behind

wild is thousands of wings

wild is the flock rising as one
over stubbled fields

wild is the wind

wild is the coming storm

wild is the snow
falling now in silence

to sanctify this precious

darkening world

 

 

© 2016 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com