Winding Down as the World Wakes

Morning

It is a simple act,
the brewing of coffee in the chill
of a dark March morning.

My cheap automatic drip machine
belches and spits a grotesque sound
as pleasing as any cello concerto
or crow squawk,
making music to make me wake.

The sun will rise soon.

This sky will move from black to gray
and from the window of this low-rent,
one-bedroom apartment
I’ll see the three-story side of Queen City
TV & Appliance,
its top to bottom cracked wall anointed
with a healing concrete salve and stitched up
by two iron bars bolted into brick.

But now it is only a black slab in invisible decay
in the shadows of new monuments
straining up from downtown Charlotte streets,
scratching at the horizon with jagged spires of steel and glass
shiny like aluminum foil crowns
littering the sky like a playground.

Cars already begin to sputter by on the streets below.
A block away to the West, an ambulance siren screams,
dopplering around a corner.
Buses will soon lumber by
with their high pitched diesel moans and sighs,
short sharp squeals of air brake expulsions.

Ceiling creakings above me signify movement,
an unknown body staggering
into the consciousness of another day.
It is business a s usual:
a toilet flush,
a cascading of pressure-fed water through
a shower nozzle
bouncing off a metal tub.

The sun has risen, silently.

I somehow always expect to hear it creak and groan
in the well-worn motions of a task
so ancient and lasting
that maybe we don’t even notice the sounds;
the universe itself being such a well-oiled,
well-maintained cog works,
its machinations leaving us in a silence
we don’t even notice our own noisy bumbling
through the days and nights of our movement.

And remarkable even yet is the singing of birds,
pigeons and robins,
dingy with the dusts of city living.
Early morning light finds them perched on power lines
through which the juice of coffee makers and electric alarm clocks
flows in turbine generated currents.

The brick wall through my window begins to glow
as only orange and red cooked clay can,
vibrant and dull.

Coffee has brewed and I sip it slowly in new light
where somewhere away from this city
dogwood trees bloom fragrant, crucifix blossoms
and finches and towhees may sing sweeter songs
than the awkward soundings
of mocking birds on telephone lines
in the center of a rumbling city

yawning and cursing itself awake.

© 2008 by Shawn Pavey.  All rights reserved.

 

Universal Fireworks

Leonid Meteor Shower with James

 

I.

 

Our bodies clothed against air cold

      enough to freeze water where it stands,

James and I stand and look skyward, to the northwest,

 

      sipping coffee in the dark of our yard.

 

Crazy enough, we two,

to watch rock burn in the sky

        as the matter and the atoms of the matter

break down,

component parts reassembling

into something altogether new.

 

II.

 

This, we will not see again.

 90 years will pass.

We will not see

this rain of rock

of fire                          of ash

 

mingling with the air we breathe.

 

We will not taste on our tongues burning

sky, crackling energy, as steam

from our breath swirls a silvered

motion away from our bundled up selves.

 

Big as fists, big as elephants’ heads, as small as a grain of sand,

meteors

 

sizzled dark sky two hours before dawn

November’s July 4th fireworks

raining bright fire

down on us,

incandescent particles

exploding into air connecting us

to all that is in

this infinite expanse

where we spin in perfect symmetry.

 

III.

 

90 years will pass,

politicians will die.

Captains of industry                will die.

Priests                                      will die.

And monks.

And James.

And me.

 

Before meteors meet us again,

lighting a dark night with embers,

we will all die.

 

IV.

 

Bringing fire,

meteors will shimmer a dark sky,

 

they will pour upon the earth,

spread dusts from places we have not seen,

 

they will come again

out of darkness as before

 

when the world still steamed in the chill

from its new birth.

 

They will bring with them

fire, a breath they will breathe

into bones and dust and ash,

 

they will breathe into the air, stain the sea,

vapor into clouds a fresh mattering.

 

Who will stand in the cold dark then?

Who will smell the fire in the night?

 

Will they coat themselves against frost and ice,

drink the black coffee of morning before light,

will they delight in a spectacle of fiery mists,

 

will they fix their eyes on heaven?

© 2008, Shawn Pavey.  All rights reserved.

14 Word Poem in Defiance of the 14 Words

I am invited to everything on Facebook and it’s my own damned fault because, you may be shocked to discover, I invite people to events on Facebook. Goose, gander, bed, lying — all that stuff. It’s become such a pervasive issue that, for the last year or more, I ignore event invitations. They just stack up and I ignore them.

But someone who always makes insightful, poignant, and, yes, interesting posts, a Washington Post contributing acquaintance of mine, sent me an event invitation. Only it wasn’t an event, but a project. A woman by the name of Jodi Barnes in Chapel Hill, NC, is going to, on February 14th, that most insipid of Hallmark-fabricated holidays, gather a group of volunteers to stand on street corners in Chapel Hill and hand out poems. The invitation is to write 14 word poems around the theme, “One World, One Race, One Love” in defiance of the 14 Words so commonly associated with the White Supremist movement.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_Words

Jodi and her All Volunteer Love Army will gather on the streets of Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and Carrboro in North Carolina to distribute these small poems to any and all they meet. Here is my contribution:

14 Word Poem in Defiance of the 14 Words

“The Fourteen Words is a phrase used predominantly by white nationalists. It most commonly refers to a 14-word slogan: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” It can also refer to another 14-word slogan: “Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth.” – Wikipedia

Water, soil, and time
cracks acorns,
births trees.

I want this for you, me.

So, if you’re in the Triangle area of NC on Valentine’s Day, look for Jodi’s volunteers. Take a poem. Love fiercely. Defy hate.

Here is the Kansas Renga that I’ve mentioned a few times. I’m number 65, but I recommend reading the whole thing.

Heartland!

No other way most of the time, and yet the light
unscrolling from the milky horizon conceals what will shine
above, around, below us just hours from now on the longest night.

Snow, ice, and rain: what melts or refreezes clings to branches
and grasses. Did you think it would be easy to step outside,
to get on with the day and the weather of a collapsed blizzard?

Not when a beloved watches his life narrow to breath. Not when
the car barely starts, the windshield won’t emerge from its ice,
or the dear ones long gone suddenly feel close as sleet turned to rain.

The veil lifted. On the bare branch, like an inverse star, one bluebird.
— Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg

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For Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins

Eagle Landing
for the Astronauts of Apollo 11

That unrestrained spire riding
Olympic flames of science and prayer
landed two men on land
never before bearing a weight of man
all those miles above the very sky itself:
Apollo’s flaming chariot bearing no gods
but men armored in suits crafted by hands
that never escaped the earth
except only in dreams or in death.

And wasn’t death the risk
that three faced before,
that fourteen others faced after,
that escaping the surly bonds of this mass
on which all of us must always walk
save the twelve who strolled on lunar soil
somehow defies nature’s numerical sense
of the unwritten laws even Icarus
could not escape.

I was only two when
that single white needle of 36 stories
but so much more than even that
stuck ghostly in my brain
with black and white memory
propelling me later to view
the silver face of the moon
through a white cardboard telescope
lying in summer nights on Colorado lawn
praying the deepest prayer a ten year-old could muster
to get a closer look,
oh, please God, let it be so

to only drift later into dreams
of silver darts shooting past the sky,
dreams as sacred as prayers
that even now I pray harder than any boy ever could.

Copyright 2008, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved