Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

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

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

A Poem for Election Day, November 2022



Hope within me rises like a mist
above our winter chatter.

May it rain like ice
upon our enemies.

May this rising cloud
take on the being which our meeting minds

create: a child of love —
a love which knows that it must hate

unnecessary fire
in even winter time

when all our rising thoughts
may rain betimes like ice.

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.