one last chance

IMG_5906

 

walking empty streets

in a late season snow, alone — where

have we all gone? what in heaven’s name

have we done?

 

this unnatural natural

silence, the distant cry of geese

returning, desperate for a place

to land

 

a single light in a room at the back

goes dark, while the herd comes down

from the mountains, begins to reclaim

its place. fitfully

 

we sleep and dream of morning

breathing our wordless prayers

 

for warmth

for the resurrection of spring

for a second new covenant

for one last chance

 

to do better

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

laughter and tears

oldbones

 

laughter and tears

 

we were once shiny, undented.

had baby after baby with limitless

perfect futures. we had answers, speed

and never enough time. we

were accelerating. last night

fall came to this mountain,

the face of the grey man

peering through the glass. this morning

we sit beneath a weakening sun

the leaves blowing about our feet

like so many small broken things.

your hand is warm in mine, and just so

am I blessed — so little survives

beyond laughter and tears.

darkness falls.

the trees across the river

draw down their blood in silence,

brace themselves for winter.

 

© 2019 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

winter’s end

 

in these mountains, winter tends to linger, teasing us with spring followed by a new layer of snow…

trees.1262

 

winter’s end

 

each snow covered branch

is  like a phrase in the erratic final chapter

 

of winter, punctuated

by small dark birds, confused

 

by the storyline of the season.

while overhead, three geese

 

skim the treetops, crying out,

lost in this featureless white world,

 

desperately searching, like so many of us,

for a safe place to land

 

 

© 2019 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

the stretch (Detroit ’68)

for the world series, and for boys and baseball…

detroit-1962-2

 

 the stretch (Detroit ’68)

 

it’s bottom of the ninth, two men out

two men on, so I’m pitching from the stretch.

 

he’ll be looking for the heater, so take a little off,

go outside, right at the crack in the second

 

porch step. it’s September, and the Tigers are a game up

with three to play – Freehan is flashing the signs

 

Ernie Harwell’s voice is in my head—“how could the skipper

leave the kid in the game at a time like this?”

 

as I start my motion, the runners go — absolutely everything

comes down to this–down to this lonely kid throwing

 

and throwing again, down to hitting that porch step, down

to this ball spinning now toward home

 

down to the twitch of the hitters’ hands, down to this cutter

finally starting to bite

 

detroit-1962

© 2016 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.com