At the Precipice Bar and Grill
Hawk in the far haze glanced
off an updraft, wingspan shearing
the afternoon. I could hardly stand
on the deck, keeping my distance,
whiskey medicinal and gusts
in my ears. Another happy hour
beside myself, saving an empty
place where once you . . . all that
twirl and glitter. I ordered
a double, watched a couple flirt
with the edge, then step back,
turn into arms entwining. Sky
burned every shadow blue.
I felt for your hand, illusion of cool
on my forehead. Leaning on the rail
over the tangle of river below,
I went for a loose end. Only
a fever, this reach into freefall.
for Julia Thomas and John Teel
A wooden Santa stands on the mantel
beside a new candle of Buddha meditating,
face lit from within. O puffy gurus
of giving, we seek whatever peaceful
jollies you shall grant tonight, season
of darkness galore, icy star, tree of needles.
Gray sun down and a full moon rising
against the acid and hijinks of another
American nightmare year-end, we gather
ourselves in the name of all powers,
to sing along beyond irony, with Master
Satchmo: O what a wonderful world.
His wick a shade eccentric, I turn
the Buddha to the mirror where he can
see his own heart’s glow reflected. We’re
background now, contemplating unruly
reverence. If good will can save us, it’s a fair
miracle, and so much night left to burn.
From Hook Light to George’s Head
we’ve rolled around the south like
bearings in a terrarium. Coastal cliffs
long gone black, then one day split
by ice-age sun into rocks that fell
through breaking waves to be ground,
later yet, to rounder shapes, the ever-
insoluble puzzle of shoreline.
Island of rain and retrospect, of ruin
and song, where to is ever also from,
paradox that won’t fit on a road sign.
Today it warns us about twisting along
Corkscrew Hill in the west of Ireland.
We’re less lost than usual, lightweight
breakable souvenirs in our heads, all
we can carry: peat smoke in wind,
rusted harrows, then over the next rise,
herring gulls quock in ripples of grass
by blue Atlantic amplitude. Restless
yes we are, but moved more by two
pasts: the great one preceding all,
ineradicable; and the one born
just now and fleeting in the side mirror.
An overgrown stone wall sweeps by,
blurred curtain closing, closing fast.
Map in no one’s hands, we double
back inland, cruise the narrow fold
of green and gray that is any Irish road.
All poems copyright © A.E. Stringer 2017