Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

An Ill-Meaning Verse for March 15, 2022


His horse's hooves from homeland soil disroot
what few pale blooms of truth remain.
Disputing Putin, Vlad the Invader, rides
with flaccid biceps flapping. Time decides
a tyrant's title; glory rides his brain —
a rigid organ, but still flapping pain
and blood for sweat. By orders, all impute
the lie to truths he tramples. Truths refute
by depth of root. But someone rooted hides
behind him, surely — thinking of March ides.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Winter Solstice, 2021

Times are when we feel warmed, saying goodbye.
Our Crow, on her cold branch, caws out, Hello!
Gray-overcast is this, our midday sky.

The rushing moments hesitate, then go
like dear-departeds, ushered down an aisle
where candles barely glow and shadows grow . . .

sent willingly, though sad, in single file.
Storm-scattered branches lay about, with leaves
hard-frozen in the grass. I wait, a while,

to hear what Crow may say. A whirl upheaves,
brings down. Or did, last year. Yet now when I
see sticks and leaves I ask what Crow believes

the darkened yet-to-be may bring our eye.
Hello! she cries. Hello! I cry. Goodbye!

Thursday, November 25, 2021

How Should One?

How should one observe the Wampanoag Day of Mourning?

I lacked this name for the day until a little ago.

I have felt the usual nonchalance about Thanksgiving. It arrives, then goes. Being far from other family, and lacking the community of friends that made it a memorable day in the calendar in the 1980s, in my Beloit years, Martha and I observe it as a harvest-fest feast day — in our relatively small-appetite way.

Yet what I have done so far today to observe Thanksgiving may mesh with thoughts of mourning the prior caretakers who lived on and with this land.

In my routine before breakfast — when at dawn I put out seeds for birds and a few peanuts for squirrels or, often, jays — I wedged hazelnuts, in their shells, into a maple tree's bark. I added sunflower seeds and dried currants to one birdfeeder's safflower seeds.

Not long before writing this I took a piece of corncob, with dry corn on it, to throw into the farthest-back yard, beyond our tiny woods — thinking of the crow, should one chance by. Smaller birds have been feasting all morning. They include house sparrows — our Eurasian, invading counterparts beneath the feeders.

From the basement steps I pulled a never-eaten but homegrown squash from a year ago‚ to toss into that little wood — in case any creature might still want the seeds within, sometime during the cold ahead.

For these must lie ahead: the cold, paired with a want for warmth within tiny bellies.

I think upon these things and wonder how one might turn our blighting Eurasian presence to a blessing — in a way different from and better than the way in which we nourished this invaded land with spilled blood before 1621 and in all these years since.

With autumnal cheers . . .

Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Solstice 2020



We feared that this might be
our longest sleepless night. We feared to see
the Lightning-Bearer and the Crow —
to feel flames feed on our old failing, oaken strength —
to hear the haunting laugh at our unsilent
blight of madness in a Mammon-blasted land.

Why not just call them Kings, come from afar,
these Two? The Old, the New.
The Two have reconciled themselves to meeting
after centuries of wheeling down
the lines of distant spheres — have reconciled themselves
to putting past the memory, the blame,
if but for one brief Earthly day:

For one was Lord, once, and, asleep, castrated
by the second one, his own goat-suckled Son.
Old Jupiter and Saturn.
Older Zeus and Cronus.

Fire-blistered stands the oak, and severed
falls the mistletoe. The oldest Crow
of all of last year calls
to be reborn the Crow of all of next.

Conjunction, as they call it.
Just to human eyes, we know. Alignment,
glimpsed at gloaming from a waning world defiled
by her own troubled child.

How small, our traveled spheres! And yet they touch
the one upon the other. And they stretch
as far as sight may reach —
not that our eyes see light afar, this night.
The clouds, here, close off every King and sphere and star
despite our knowing just how long they planned
on meeting right there where they are.

We feared that this might be
a night immersed in deeper woe than what is here,
this windy, starless solstice night.
We must not rest, and yet it is that all the same
we know that we must sleep to dream ourselves
from where we were to what must be —
from here to farther where conjoining spheres
hold our enclosing but expanding ways,
our circle-tracing and yet interweaving days.

The oldest Crow of all: we never see
but only hear her. Over years
she calls, to this small night of ours —
then leaves us to our joys, and to our fears.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Poem for November Third:
Planting Garlic

One never knows quite when. November third,
this time. Forking and rooting one long patch,
white hands belie heart's warming, while they scratch
at living for its clove of grace. I heard

a bitter night comes, soon. So — now to grope
in stiff, chill soil, against the stillness near,
or never. Apple leaves cling late, this year —
dusk-green, blight-mottled, holding dear to hope:

small ears, curled, cupped to hear the Delphic lyre
one last time, before falling off — to sleep
down on this narrow bed, perhaps, with sheep
snow-wool pulled high. Nearby I nurse a fire
of twigs. Hands warmed, I plant, then — and I keep
ears cupped, for dying fall. Flames, too, expire.



November Third:
On the sonnet "Planting Garlic"


I usually prefer not to add notes to a poem, but also usually prefer not to place a poem onto my blog — unless it seems of the moment, particularly the ever-so-quickly changing political moment.

I placed my sonnet "The Winter King" here due to Forty-Five's blusterous insanity about building walls, which I thought might abruptly land him in an asylum. So I rushed it, a bit: the poem appeared on this blog, in consequence, in a version not-quite final. A few words in it remained restless, and changed themselves soon enough. As it turned out, I would have had time aplenty to collect rejections for the effort. Forty-Five, who here in my blog writings runs rampage also as Koom-Posh, hid behind presidential immunity, and successfully maintained the Gipper tradition of mentally incapacitated rule.

The poem I will post after posting this note, however, I am not rushing onto this blog. I wrote its first draft very nearly a year ago. It won its place in my morning recitations to myself, so that I reexamined it daily through the year. (Is "morning recitations to myself" at all unclear? Its nature is simple: I recite poems to myself while making breakfast, feeding birds, or gardening.) Several times, during this, I told myself that the sonnet had reached finality. A restlessness in the words would soon again reappear, however. Then, in recent weeks, in October, the words found their way to a resting place.

The sonnet had seemed odd to me, in one aspect — which I left alone, even so — for its mentioning a specific date. November third was the day last year when, at the last possible opportunity, I was planting garlic. That the date made its way into the poem was an accident of the moment. But throughout the following year I knew, thanks to this accident, the exact date when I had been out in the cold, aware of the oncoming deep freeze while also beset by the discomforting feelings of mortality that had been mine since sometime midsummer.

An autumnal pall of uncertainty had fallen over me, well before the season arrived.

By the time the poem came to its resting state in October, of course, the air here in the States blew thickly with thoughts, admonishments, incantations, and dreads concerning November third.

Until the poem was at rest I saw this as mere coincidence. After the words settled, I saw it still as a coincidence.

But as a meaningful one.

The autumnal pall of uncertainty is here, upon all the land — as it has been for nearly four years. The Winter King arrived in 2016, even though the true winter of his soul will not fully enwrap our world until, or unless, he is given chance to unfold it.

But it is cold, now. We need a fire of twigs to warm our hands.

The only possible place where I might put out my offering, my little twig, in time to meet the moment which is upon us, is on my blog.

However few my readers may be, here, they are ones whom I know to be able to place their humanity near just such a twig, to access such warmth as may be there.

May all fully and truly human beings in this country find their own inner self-assurance, as well as their reassurance, by November third.

Cheers . . .