Red Stone

Note- some poems are prompted by a word or a phrase, perhaps an experience. This was suggested by an impossibly beautiful tree deep at the head of the unfortunately named “Negro Bill Canyon” off of the Colorado Rive near Moab Utah.  

red stone

by the time we reach the top of the canyon

we’ve walked through most of our words

this trail of sand and stone, the solitary blooms

of tattered desert flowers. this deep in the canyon

all light is reflected, shattered light,

passed from rim to rim until it settles like mist

luminous dust, a dry and brilliant rain.

we never know what we’ll find in the deepest canyons

of our lives like these incandescent leaves,

such improbable green, or this stone, the rich red

of freshly oxygenated blood, the red of iron and of time,

of pressure and erosion, the true red of benediction, the hard,

hard red of redemption.


Food – more pieces from Karme Choling, November 2014


BnW mt superior

my mother kept a grinder in the kitchen

for breaking nuts, or making

sausage– I remember the feeling

of jamming pieces of meat

into the mouth of the machine,

watching as muscle, tendons

and the odd small bones were crushed,

feeling the resistance as the handle

paused until the harder bits would break.

Any path worth taking eventually

leads us to a grinder, tearing us gently

limb from limb, crushing

the harder bits, making sausage. They say

that space and time are one,

that this world of appearances is unbounded

and flowing. So I suppose

it’s still happening somewhere—somewhere

she still sits in a blue cotton dress

in a simple white kitchen in Detroit, still

slowly turns the handle,

feeling the resistance, then pausing

as the harder bits are broken,

still watches as muscles, tendons

and the odd small bones

are crushed beyond all recognition.



for my friend Frank Ryan of whom I’m quite fond, though we’ve never actually met — thanks for the poems Frank!




you cant drive a nail

with a pen, or at least I

can’t– 26 letters in just one

of how many alphabets?

the neighbor kid

is kneeling on his back porch

with a rifle. his parents

are divorced but still share

the same house, and this

seems to be confusing,

so his father is trying

to make it up to him

with a gun. the older I get

the less I “get”—nothing

makes much sense

anymore, but I suppose

counting on coherence

is a common enough

mistake. a friend sent me

a book of his poems, one

for each month of the year

of the water snake, each written

on the first day of a new moon.

maybe this was the primordial

mistake, opting for solar

over lunar, a millennium

of repressed cycles of shadow

gnawing at the foundations

of everything. a poem

is a knife with no handle,

all blade, scoring the palms

of writer and reader alike.

and just so are we blood

brothers, consanguineous

across space and time

invoking this most ancient

sacrament of the human heart

our first and last defense

against snakes

and the final descent

into darkness.


© old bones, new snow/J.A. Fink