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WINNTERPOEM OF THE MONTHCONTESTConversation

Maybe an anchor, this day
of first goodbyes,
what might become
safe from the drift
in tangled grass, tonight
on its knees, bowing
its way toward home.
Now the rain falls fast
on the the lake, a flash
in the gauzy light. Memory
of first meeting gutters
from the roof, rapid, the sound
of stones, a brook from the eaves
to sustain a break from sunlight.

* * *

Whatever I am
is written in the diastole,
what opens when
the heart can hold it,

* * *

when the stars burn
naked on the grass . . .

* * *

the moon reflects
a borrowed light,

* * *

the moon quiet in the leaves,
touching the face
of a stranger trembling
with recognition.

* * *

Purple iris cast among the rocks
refusing to bloom at home,
unlike these weeds in bent grass,
daisies in their poses.

* * *

If all you become is a pleasant sound,
tune to the music of falling, sing
like rain until the seeds wake up
and take off their coats.

* * *

White-washed walls, this blue,
blue day, I walk the labyrinths
in Arcos, Spain, my plaid shirt glowing
yellow, alone in the pueblo.

* * *

What you and I might be
in some other world, a world
where I could reach you
right before you disappear
forever, this blue day.
In the pueblo, following light
as if to discover a new way
to exist in this world,
I hurry on to see what’s next,
what might appear with time
running out. These walls
have stood 1,000 years.
They’ve seen this kind
of ache before. They know
how it ends.

* * *

This morning the smoke tree
caught fire, its blossoms
setting off the starling’s alarm.

* * *

Seeds fall and open,
they rise to find their shape.

One seed, the shelter
we need to wonder.

What belongs here, in this garden,
what takes root in any weather,
this love, the truth.

Can you feel the ache of a rose
that’s closing too soon,
wary of thorns?

For now I have some way
to stretch for a heaven
I can’t yet conceive.

* * *

When we walk in the pines
or in the water, golden light,
loons at dusk,
words I need to hear
greet me with silence.
What scavenges the gladiolas?
See what’s buried there
and stored up for winter?

When all desire withers,
water softening the edges,
letting go of wind in cattails,
the moon its waxing, the sky
never has to say one word
to sing its blue.

The dew and clouds carry on
their daily conversation with lakes
and gravity, what settles
every morning towards this next
ending, the ripest season
when pears hang heavy on the limbs,
when last night’s embers
cool and grey like pages,
a book I finish
far too late to awaken
the imagination.

* * *

Who you’re meant to be empties
like a mirror, a basin summer mornings
when the swans glide toward the grass,
our love in the weeds, the calm birds
swimming oblivious to what we meant.
They graced the marsh with solitude
and did not skim the day for excess treasure,
did not ask for more than what they’d need.

The loss we suffer in a word
misspoken or too soon,
the questions darkened on the tongue.

When I’m stunned and dumb, alone
at the window, a cardinal
pontificates in the branches.
The round world reddens,
quails with anticipation.

* * *

Would you rebuke the wind,
the rose its thorn?

One lily blooms in the garden,
opens to a purple congregation.
The robins usher down the stalks for alms.
What do you believe
when the feeder empties
and God shines forth in hunger?

Appetite opens like the hyacinth
and that word blossoms
on the tongue and falls,
spills its blood and grows.

It loves the sound of lost,
what’s hidden in the wind,
the heron’s stillness by the reeds.

The wind takes us, always,
home, past grass higher
than our heads to shelter
this conversation.

-Charles Coté

——

Charles Coté is the winner of the NinaAlvarez.net + Cosmographia Books Poem of the Month Contest, December 2017.

Charles Coté is a clinical social worker in Rochester New York. His chapbook, Flying for the Window, was published in 2008 by Finishing Line Press. A forthcoming full-length collection will be published by Tiger Bark Press. He teaches poetry at Writers & Books in Rochester, New York.

——

Many thanks to all those who submitted your beautiful and transcendent work.

You can still submit to the Poem of the Month Contest (ongoing), and to the Cosmographia Chapbook Contest (until Dec. 21, 2017).

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Time too is afraid of passing, is riddled with holes
through which time feels itself leaking.
Time sweats in the middle of the night
when all the other dimensions are sleeping.
Time has lost every picture of itself as a child.
Now time is old, leathery and slow.
Can’t sneak up on anyone anymore,
Can’t hide in the grass, can’t run, can’t catch.
Can’t figure out how not to trample
what it means to bless.

-Joy Ladin

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Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota
Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,
Asleep on the black trunk,
Blowing like a leaf in green shadow.
Down the ravine behind the empty house,
The cowbells follow one another
Into the distances of the afternoon.
To my right,
In a field of sunlight between two pines,
The droppings of last year’s horses
Blaze up into golden stones.
I lean back, as the evening darkens and comes on.
A chicken hawk floats over, looking for home.
I have wasted my life.
-James Wright

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When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-Wendell Berry

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Weave in, My Hardy Life

Weave in, weave in, my hardy life,
Weave yet a soldier strong and full for great campaigns to come,
Weave in red blood, weave sinews in like ropes,
the senses, sight weave in,
Weave lasting sure, weave day and night the weft, the warp,
incessant weave, tire not,
(We know not what the use O life, nor know the aim, the end,
nor really aught we know,
But know the work, the need goes on and shall go on, the death-
envelop’d march of peace as well as war goes on,)
For great campaigns of peace the same the wiry threads to weave,
We know not why or what, yet weave, forever weave.

-Walt Whitman

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When we are soft – when the world is underneath us; when we are lost with longing

Be a sparrow.

You knew before you knew all else that this was artifice – and you searched for self-instruction.
You learned to search for what was yours beyond modesty and immodesty.

Be that person again – with a broken wing – if there was ever truth in you, find it now. Be true to that which is best in you, and rides during the Spring, and mounts in its own language. Be true to that which is highest born in you. Let it all be alive in the alchemy.

Be choice. Be free and free, sister, in what was not lost from you – in what was finally heard correctly – in what is not theirs to hold. Your freedom is not theirs. So quick to hear what is not there – so slow to know.

We are here waiting for you. Be beloved. Sky, earth, wind, all.

 

-Nina Alvarez

 

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i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of allnothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)

— e.e. cummings

 

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