Winter Poem

Cold Afternoon

snowfall makes no noise,
falls as forgetting falls,
flake after flake.

~~ Miguel de Unamuno, “The Snowfall Is So Silent,” as translated by Robert Bly

We imagine ourselves atmospheric,
waiting for a thick covering of snow
that we know will come.
I build a fire.

We blanket ourselves before it,
fill our space with warmth –
these rooms from which we will see
white flakes fall from the gray sky

through the cold glass of windows
shut tight against the Kansas wind
that seems to seep, still, through
cracks and seams around frames, under doors.

It is like this in winter.
It is like this when skin
shivers at the touch of air
colder than water frozen in the ground.

We settle in, adjust to walls familiar
and worn, to furniture that holds our shape,
to the warmth of our blanketed bodies.
The tea kettle whistles,

steams the windows. Outside,
we could see our breath and imagine
ourselves as storm clouds
shedding snow crystals over the stubbled plains,

as snow clinging to the bare branches of maples,
to the needles and cones of pines,
coating browning lawns, covering
the sidewalks and the streets.

We imagine the quiet and imagine the snow,
imagine a day spent bundled up
in the warmth of each other,
hastening that which we know will come.

© 2010, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved

For Bob Sheldon — Friend, Activist, Murder Victim

From Indy Week.

From Indy Week.

The last time I saw Bob Sheldon, I was in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House protesting the Gulf War. I turned around, and there’s this little guy with that crazy curly red hair beaming a smile at me as big as all life. We hadn’t planned to meet there, but we did. Bob asked me if I had a place to stay.

“We’re all crashing at this house up in Maryland. I’m sure we’ve got some extra floor space for you.”

I worked at a Hilton in Charlotte at the time and had scored a free room at a Hilton in Tysons Corner, VA. When I told him that, he just laughed and said, “Don’t say that too loud. I don’t know how the other kids would feel if they knew that a couple of their fellow activists were staying in a room with a mini bar.”

Bob Sheldon’s murder occured 22 years ago today. For those of you fortunate enough to know him during his all too short life, we lost not only a friend, but a warrior for peace and justice. I thought it appropriate to include this poem today. Wherever Bob is now, if you subscribe to the whole afterlife thing, you know he’s causing some trouble. And laughing.

Here are links to learn more:

http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.indyweek.com%2Fgyrobase%2FContent%3Foid%3Doid%253A15531&h=bd5c0

http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/9142405/

Remembering: For Bob Sheldon

These nights pass in such long hours
even moonlight seems so still
you can almost touch it.

Go ahead.

It won’t bite.
Can’t really hurt you.
Go ahead.

Time again to be alone.
No known comfort exists here before dawn
and radio is the only sound
save the humming of a digital alarm clock
progressed past ticking.

Dead.
Dead.

There, I’ve said it, again,
but writing it down
feels too much like writing you off, brother,
no shit.

Memory fails to bring you in focus
only patches of image come through,
your voice the only constant I conjure
your voice over warm sour mash bourbon
belly-laughing like a kid
on the beat up old couch on your bookstore’s front porch
before wandering out to catch a band
at a bar down the street to dance.

And we knew we’d always dance with you,
but a lousy little bullet got in our way
and you, shot in your head,
are just ash spread over some mountain now.

I would welcome any sound –
a click, a tock –
some signal of passage
other than the silent movement of constellations
and a fractioned sphere past my window

so slow, I barely notice

so slow, I sit alone in dark,
cigarettes my only light except hope
of a sun rolling up in the East.
Through my window, I’ll see it
knowing you can’t,
knowing you won’t.


© 1997, 2008, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.

Poem for Valentine’s Day

Stumbling

I should have outgrown cursing
digital alarm clocks
stabbing me in dark warm sleep
next to you, waking me to rise
into a cold blackness
of hardwood under my feet.

It is a dance with dread, this search
by touch through passion’s shed
clothes for just anything to cover
myself on the January stumble
to the white tiled bathroom floor.

Water steams and bounces off this skin
that only minutes before touched yours
and the feel of you burns through water
into my brain where it will stay all day
never letting fully go,

while I scrub then dry then shave then dress
and wrap a noose around my neck
and before slipping into my coat, you
slip around me and softly kiss my throat

and sacred unsacred rituals
of doing the job mean nothing
as I stare at the clock
counting its ticks and tocks
as the hour’s component parts
reassemble into one whole longing
that never goes away.

© 1997, 2008 by Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.

Spring is Around The Corner

Thaw

In winter, the body knows
it is born to vanish.

Flesh turns to dirt, bones
wash white in March rains.
Life churns, returning
to wet layers of earth.

We – dead and dying, rotten and rotting –
look up to a sun far away and wait,
wait for the body and the solar body
to pull each other closer,
moisten skin with sweat,
heat blood,
crack seeds,
green the dead husk of the world.

In spring, the body knows
it is born to sing.

Previously published in the Winter 2011 issue of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal.
© 2011 by Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.

If I Had a Greatest Hit, It Would Be This

At The Waffle House

Behold, I show you a mystery;
we shall not all sleep
but we shall all be changed
“— 1st Corinthians 15:51

Out of beer and out of time,
last call puts Tyler and I in a place
where mysterious blendings of caffeine and nicotine
work our Budweiser dulled brains awake,
where redneck jukeboxes full of whiskey voices
lament great losses of the true ones
and how we all get stomped
flatter than lonely Texas highways
complete with tumbleweeds and dust devils
simply by love.

So where are the rest of those Hank Williams poets
whose tears fall to the ground like rain
making puddles only bleary-eyed drunks
drinking their way through their blues can see?

When thy cup is empty, it shall be filled.
When she gets around to it and isn’t bellowing side orders
of bacon with those hash browns.

So go ye then on down to a place
where things somehow come to short order
in those small hours before dawn
through fogs of conversation
rambling through coffee steam
and cigarettes piling dead in testament
to a new faith healing
busted hearts in confirmation
that you will never be the same.

© 1997, 2008 Shawn Pavey