a brilliant day

 

V8.4984

 

a brilliant day

mountains, flowers, lakes

 

then a red truck pulls out blind

 

no time for thought,

tires screaming on hot blacktop,

the car sliding, too fast, too fast,

no room

 

a white face in the window

a man turning, surprised

 

we bear down, burning fifty

to zero in thirty feet and somehow

we slide right,

rock to a stop

just

short

 

the whole thing flashes faster than thought

 

the face glares at me,

slams his truck across traffic

and disappears

 

we look at each other

seemingly fine

no harm, no foul?

 

driving home, my right arm

shakes like current

sizzling in a frayed wire

 

in the dark garage

I close my eyes,

the hot engine ticking down in silence

 

 

our lives continue

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

such a fool

 

after all these years, you’d think I might have learned a thing or two…

 

ball

 

such a fool

 

what becomes of our memories

when we die? do they simply vanish

with the last flickering spark?

 

so many years of careful assembly

and rearrangement – why would the gods

invest so much in something so frail?

 

maybe instead we pass a kind of key

to those we leave behind

so that as long as they remember us,

 

our life’s collection

of learning and stories, heartbreak and joy,

remains connected, alive, flowing

 

in waves of what we call wisdom,

what we call beauty, accessible to any and all

with a beating human heart.

 

as I wander, hands in my pockets,

I absently jingle my enormous ring of keys,

and across the heavens the ancestors

 

and all of those who went before me,

rejoice at this music, beginning to dance and sing

at the warm pleasure of still being known.

 

then one by one, they look down at me

and start to laugh, shaking their celestial heads

in wonder, that despite a lifetime afloat

 

in this ancestral sea of wisdom

I insist on remaining

a complete and utter fool.

 

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

rising

Jafamfjaf

 

rising

 

either there are no angels

or we are all of us angels, rising

by degree. when I left you,

 

you were supported by pillows

billowing like clouds. now,

sitting on the plane

 

watching rain glaze the runway,

I wonder if you’re awake, your eyes

searching for familiar faces

you can no longer see; I wonder

 

if I will ever see you again.

 

gathering speed, we begin to climb,

both of us passengers, rising

alone, separately, together,

 

rising

on differently feathered wings,

rising

into radically different heavens.

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

 

enough

 

my only brother, Joe, died the day after I wrote this, at age 78. perhaps this is why so many of my poems recently have concerned death. voyage well my brother…

siblings 7.22.19 2904

 

enough

 

a poem arrived last night

so heavy with death I couldn’t lift it

and I couldn’t in good conscience

drop it on anybody else.

so for now, there’s just this –

an unseasonably warm spring day

robins building a nest on the porch

the constant quiet joy

of the good woman I married

nearly forty years ago. And for now

 

this is enough.

 

enough to hold me warm at night,

enough to allow me to ignore,

for a time, the pulsing sadness

that flows beneath the surface

of this happiness,

like blood beneath the skin

carrying its own form of richness

throughout this aging body,

even though I know that one day

this blood will stop, and with it must end

all of the sadness, all of the joy,

leaving only a space,

a sharp inhalation,

then a long vanishing sigh.

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isolation

IMG_9561

 

Isolation

(a partial inventory of things for which I grieve

in this time of pandemic)

 

Hugs and hands and friendly kisses.

A bar of soap in the dish, unremarkable and dry.

Going out to breakfast, pancakes and eggs, bacon

chatting with the waitress while waiting for you.

Driving to a meeting in town, boring, endless,

ordinary. College basketball. Baseball season.

Missing easy shots in tennis and losing my cool,

as if it mattered. Golden mornings passed

in silent meditation, my feet cold

on retreat, loving and being loved,

the soft sound of all of us breathing together,

as if it mattered. Being cold, being hot, wind,

rain, snow and sunburn. Sacred places,

Yosemite, The Grand Canyon, Dolomiti skies.

Cinque Torri at sunset, then again at dawn.

Parisian museums. Parisian meals. Parisian coffee.

Paris.

Venice in the morning. Eating gelato in Rome.

Eating more gelato in Rome.

Aging simply but still feeling young.

Not being classified as vulnerable.

Not being classified.

Not needing to sanitize the keys in order to loan the car

to my son. Seeing my sons. Holding them.

Seeing my infant granddaughter. Holding her

even if it still makes her cry.

The illusion of safety.

The familiar smell of my personal cocoon.

Never having to consider case counts, respirators

or exponential curves.

Believing myself to be harmless to others (or mainly so.)

Belief in a particular future.

The future.

The freedom to ignore a simple cough.

Taking a single breath for granted.

Believing that time is continuous, endless and free.

Ignorance of the gray man stalking the streets

counting breaths.

A committed belief in Death

as an abstraction.

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.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

 

 

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

 

love and death

 

 

books-3

I spent the afternoon

reading poems before the fire, alternating

between Rexroth on love and Harrison

on death – one after the other, first love

and then death, and then love

and then again death – but then

I began to cheat (as I sometimes do)

going from love to love when I’d had

too much death, or death and death again

when love had become too much. love

and death, diastole and systole. I wonder

if I just keep reading until the poetry

exhausts itself, will this all end with death?

or will death’s cold hand yield in the end

to the exquisite supplications of love?

 

 

© 2016 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com