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Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

If Ever You Slip From Up There

To know you are out there in another
sense, I think that if you ever peek down
you lean too far and slip over layered
cloud tops and hit every soft tuft until
a sliver of sunset sky captures you,
stretches you over the scene to look down
on us, spread out over the sea to where
light goes at end of day, or over
shadows around the peaks of ranges,
or tops of endless trees, a meeting place
just out of reach for us, stuck on the
earthly side of things.

I could burrow into a rocky gap on a coast
or mountainside, wait for light, hope
it’s you staying to warm the night.

Kyle McHale

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Old Furniture

That old wooden clock,
my grandmother’s grandmother’s
keeping hand-crafted time and
still ticking long after we become
objects in bones, like furniture,
and no one knows the color of their skin
or the content of their character.

We think we live in black and white
but it is always Grey
and Baltimore was burning,
that great unspoken poverty,
the ignored, silent epidemic of
American tragedy,
vast, sweeping like the plains
across black ghettos, white trailer-trash towns,
and forgotten people in Appalachia,
we are all toothless and shoeless on some level.

Burning across the land without a hill
or a tree to stop the rising of
an evil beast’s heart
like a toxic Trump
or any other form it could take,
miles from any canyon or ridge
that could stop it.

At least there’s baseball and
sometimes Baltimore is all orange.

So down south where deep rivers
still flow in veins of deep hatred,
in Alabama on a college campus
I heard young men shout from a truck,
“They only brought you niggers
here to play football.”
I think of Langston Hughes composing
his symphony at day break in Alabama
wondering where black kids get
to ride the merry-go-round.

That old wooden clock kept time
during the Civil War in southern Virginia,
time that must have never seemed possible
to end, to change or mend.
My family was at Gettysburg on
both sides, both bled,
one lost an eye so
I’m a half-inch away
from never existing.
The clock sat on a chest of drawers
with a secret compartment in the top
to hide valuables in case of
a union soldiers raid,
perhaps a letter was once there
of a secret friendship between a little
white girl and a little black girl
who knew nothing of war,
who knew only what children should know,
the soft societal fabric of
small-scale love that keeps humanity human.

M.L.K. wrote a letter from jail unsure
of how to raise a daughter in such
a pointless hatred filled place,

so with a heavy heart
I have to stare at the clock,
at the future,
my reflection in the glass of
the picture frames that show
old relatives and the
chaotic twitches of their eyes
from their portraits unsettled
by their wasted blood,
my pathetic hands that
can’t do anything except
write like a coward in a book
all while knowing that
we are not teaching
our children
to hate less
than we do.

Kyle McHale         2016

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A Night on a Train Window

I don’t know that face that’s
over mine, it seems old,
not in years but in time spent,
it stares back, through me and
I stare through it
floating on a night-train window.

I focus on the whites of his eyes
to not see the black of them
and wish I had another drink so
I could forgive, forget the world
flicking by, through my
translucent face, printed smears
of distorted sweeping concrete
and light, black air and purple
silhouetted trees, missing fields
with broken flowers after heavy rain,
and litter angels picking up
what they can find on the streets.

It goes by so fast.
I don’t talk to you anymore,
you are in the past
and I cannot get there.

Am I the train or the dark air,
the seat or the glass,
those eyes or the sadness
of that translucent mess?

Am I the past tracks,
or am the next?

Kyle McHale            2016

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Between Buildings

As children we sought new hiding spots,
explored between houses, down paths,
under benches, through gaps in stone
walls and wooden fences, between
churches and tombstones and stained
glass in day light, sheds and gardens,
between buildings where strange, unseen
flowering vines hid in summer,
unpicked fruit trees blossomed and no one
noticed us, they never even looked,
they wouldn’t have seen us
even if they tried,
even if they wanted to,
we had found the gaps to dance and sing in.

Peace in cities is in the wanderings
down side streets, alleys that lessen
the humming of the universe, where
graffiti can be appreciated and life can
be seen, felt in every window and on every
balcony, families sharing meals and someone
sitting out enjoying a beer and a smoke
listening to the radio,
the urban plants do their best to clean the air
between buildings, the only stillness left.

Then there was us in Venice,
it is better than they say,
being lost in Venice means anything
you wish it to mean, there is no
childhood pretending needed.

The apartment we stayed in had a
neglected courtyard between four walls,
over grown, cracked, forgotten, rusty barred
balconies and ripened vines, tattered drying
clothes out on lines, the sun was trying
to touch it all, the climbing plants grew
where it was possible to grow in the gaps
between brick rows out of the beautiful
sinking city and rose like
our heart fires rose.

At night, to look between buildings
into that city slivered sky, chasing
what can’t be seen, perhaps
a star or a place, some dream in the gaps
that dreamers dance between
what’s been built and what’s been felt,
in the veins of the city, or of the heart,
in the center, in between it all at night,
there is always hope for a small glow
of faint warm light.

Kyle McHale     2016

 

 

 

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Fishing on the Bushkill

When all that meant everything
Was a fire burning deep at night,
With friends to share life’s comic air,
The moon above to steal sight.

That was right, that was right, a time
And place suspended still somewhere.
A vault, untouched, unnamed, floating
Above those who wish they could stare.

Protected there my father lives
At that scout camp Resica Falls.
In his teens and full of living,
Hearing that Pennsylvania call.

One summer out there out posting
Past the main camp to staff Fawn Run,
My young father was on the edge,
A place where deep thoughts had begun.

He had time in those woods alone,
And ran his post when campers showed,
He’d often talk of Bushkill Creek,
Of its bronze color and how it flowed.

He’d make a fire, grab his rod,
At evening time he’d fish the creek,
Time spent in that flowing sweetness,
Relying on brown trout to eat.

Like a bear that is so content
To fish and eat and sleep so well,
Under stars from heavens glow,
The years to come no one could tell.

What thoughts my father had before,
Standing there on Bushkill’s shore,
Before he lost love and fought a war,
When life was moments, nothing more?

Did he know what the future held,
Or simply watched the river flow?
Was Vietnam even a thought?
Into that jungle he would go.

Did he know he’d be scoutmaster?
His sons to be and that boy the same,
All destined to be Eagle Scouts,
I knew the man that boy became.

Navigating rivers and life,
In that protected vault of then,
Trout, Brotherhood, Spirit, being
Among the links of boys to men.

Deep in the woods where wild calls,
Links that are not seen, are not heard,
Father’s gone but the Bushkill flows,
He has become that secret word.

Some of his ashes flow there now,
To keep the Bushkill’s spirit safe,
To guard by way of bird and fish,
To strengthen love and heighten faith.

What thoughts my father had before,
Standing there on Bushkill’s shore,
Before he lost love and fought a war,
When life was moments, nothing more?

Kyle McHale      2011

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What is Left?

After death
what is left?
When heart break wins
what remains?
Melting skin and
spirit sweats,
what is there and
what has left?
Broken dreams or
family gone,
so it seems some
more sad songs,
life remains, life remains
but what is left?
One more time or
every time
a mirror shows a
sad soul blind
to all the wonders
that are left,
that are left,
after rage, war, and death.

The world is
still there somehow,
love is left,
love is left,
If only it filled
every breath.

 

Kyle McHale         2014

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Love on its Own

There is nothing love won’t do for itself
When left enough alone and on its own.
A festering burst of blossoming plumes
Of red liquid dripping on long preserved tombs,

Of daisies pushed up through old lover’s dirt,
A long ago tale of harsh loving truth,
That spoke of a journey known by so few,
But when told to others everyone knew

What to do, and what was best and who was who.
For the unknown is what to truly do,
And guided love lasts out the rest,
Like a frozen moment when the sun must crest

On new day’s horizon, an early breath
Stretching far across a valley or sea,
Where ever it happens to be just then,
Love the beginning and love at the end.

Kyle McHale         2013

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