it means we made promises

I embraced her as we left the church forty years ago today, and she has not released my heart ever since…

edit wedding.5309

 

it means we made promises

 

it means we made promises

on the last day of may

both still clean still possible.

 

it means we made plans and babies

and sent them both

to bang against the world.

 

it means we learned to cut

and leave no trace

no blood trail for evidence.

 

it means we gave up on wonderful

and wove a nest

out of ordinary.

 

it means we rattle now toward evening

in our dark compartment

as the engine enters the tunnel’s mouth.

 

it means I can still catch your breath

between my fingers.

 

it means you

can still close my eyes with your lips.

 

it means the fire burns

until the last dry wood is gone.

 

 

 

© 2020 jafink/oldbonesnewsnow.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

 

 

 

first sight

greeneyes

 

do you believe in love at first sight,

they ask? ascending this endless ladder

of lifetimes, each has once been the mother

of the other – and so too must we all then

have been lovers across these countless lives.

how else to explain this knowing, this too-

intimate recognition, this glance from the woman

on the bus that draws the air from your lungs

extracting your heart as she rises and goes

the accordion doors slapping shut behind her

leaving you with nothing but the memory

of those luminous eyes,

never, in this lifetime,

to be seen again.

 

 

 

© 2016 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

 

 

wet dogs

foot

 

maybe mornings like this

are the price we pay

for all those years of compromise

of being barely close enough

to each other. We’ve survived,

at least we share that, such a thin

blanket to cover the cold spots

on cold mornings such as this.

Yet I do like grey winter days

when the wind rattles the leafless trees

and the world turns without shadows.

heading out, my dog looks daggers

up at the clouds — he doesn’t understand

the rain, why he should have to endure

these cold tears falling from a sheet metal sky.

Neither of us has ever been very good

with cause and effect, or the subtle attributes

of time. What choice is there but to carry on,

as we always have, sniffing at the rotten snow

heads down, shaking ourselves dry, nose

to tail as we go – just cold, wet dogs

searching for a place

that’s safe and warm and dry.

 

© 2016 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.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

Invocation

aspens snow-2-2

 

unbounded, indifferent space

the sun, the moon, the stars

this silver globe of sky

each cloud, each breath

of wind, these mountains

the sea, all creatures and every

impossible flower, all

of this is me — the loss

of a single leaf, a breath

the death of a single bird

and I am forever

altered. “it is me”

the old monk said “but I

am not it.” this vast

and luminous sky, this empty

tender heart of sadness.

why, she asked, must it always

be so very, very sad?

With each exhalation,

you give birth to the very world

so breathe gently love, move

carefully, the less we know

the closer we come. The planting now

is done, the circle is formed

the singing at last begun.

In the fields across the road, the cows

slowly begin to dance

 

© 2015 jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

 

 

Memory

green eyes old bones

 

 

 

 

Memory

 

didn’t we kiss for the first time

yesterday, on this too brief passage

through the invisible gardens

of time? the dogwoods

 

by the old dutch church drop all

of their flowers at once, blanketing

 

the ancient graves with white

for a single day each year. memory

 

is all the immortality we’re offered.

this, at least, we must promise one another –

me, I vow never to forget your eyes,

and you, you my love

must always remember my hands.

 

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

the lovely ones

it’s always the lovely ones

who brave this world without a shell,

 

fated to feel everything, to snag themselves

on every thorn, strike every sharp corner

of this brilliant chaotic world.

 

yet they rise and rise again undaunted

wounded but alive, shake themselves off

and look the word straight in the eye

 

then charge headlong, raging, laughing

beautiful and free, straight

 

through the narrow rusty gates

of our hearts

 

©jafink/oldbones.newsnow.com

loss