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.

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.

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.