Thelonius Monk, “Abide
with Me” – a cigar,
A winter storm, my brother
In surgery in Houston
After driving all night
After two weeks of failed remedies
After sleepless anxiety,
The unspoken, interior fight
Of faith and reason – the shock
Of shock – but now the sax
Is climbing, soaring in jubilation,
The melancholy piano
Underscores it all – helpless
But for prayer we wait alone
A long way away, snowed-in,
Taking comfort as best we can,
Like songbirds flapping in icy wind
Seeking berries to sustain us,
Contour feathers surviving –
“Abide with Me” – “Abide
with Me” – cigar smoke wafting
Days are shorter
than I want.
My cousin Bear
told me to prepare
but I was fooled
by crows at dawn
who come and go
as they please.
I am a building
a nest in the dark.
The voice of an owl perforates night air.
I hear it, feel it while Miles Davis plays
indoors, and I think of two sounds,
two dimensions – out there, in here.
I am between
what I remember
what I had forgotten.
Death hovers in night air: sulking
alive, breathing, penetrating –
the artist is always cringing under
the weight of death – a song
that everyone knows, tunes
we keep hoping to forget.
There is music we often fail to discern.
There must be, there must be.
recently published in whaleroadreview.com
In October dew
curved horns spiral down
to the giving earth,
gentle heads munching
soggy glowing grass
shimmering in sun.
These are not the days
of spooky cattle
to some unseen place
where cowboys get drunk
and waste their money
that made epic films
the myth we desire
affirming our taste
for making heroes
from splintered dust
and desperate pilgrims.
On this gentle slope
these quiet giants
graze a life that some
cowboys would envy.
A man sits riverside
every morning in the early breeze
in the first strokes of sunlight,
the latent moon.
He watches the water flow by him
as if he’s watching nothing,
the water never ceasing
moving past him
quiet except for the occasional splash
or rise along the rocks.
The man, this water, this ritual
of non-doing, this act
of non-being, erasing
a lifetime of senseless toil,
removing a world where all things
rob us, take us away
so nothing is left
except the patient desire to see
what he has never before seen
what he has never allowed to be.
Ken Hada – August 2016
for my friends
Delaware Valley Arts Alliance
Even this old sailor is tired of water.
Down from his lofty perch, sadly
pecking his way through soggy grass,
he shakes off muddy clay clinging
to his claws. The black sheen of his coat
is dulled in drizzle this moist morning
when all earth seems compromised,
its texture mushy, its color blanding
to gray. His cloudy, downcast eyes
betray his limitations, while a fateful
sea rises, drenching, saturating us
with mortality – his cocky voice now
quiet. This is no time for crowing.
I’m excited to be reading at Imanoli Writers Conference, Thursday, June 2 at 10 am, at Chickasaw Arts Building 201 N. Broadway, Ada, OK>
As darkness descends, this time
in-between, when stars are not yet lit,
the moon lingering far away, I sit
like stone, hear whippoorwills,
some in woods north of me, some
to the south, and for the moment,
look up into soft sky, feel how good
it is to be on this planet, on this piece
of earth, this place in Oklahoma,
and for this time, at least, I will not
allow thoughts of a greedy governor
or a corrupt congress – betrayers
of the commonwealth, of common
sense – an eviscerated education,
emaciated common good, enter me.
For these moments I will quietly sit,
practice the old art of wu wei, let
night birds fill me. I welcome night,
ducking too much light, a squinting
fool seeking guidance from stealthy
birds. Their song blending with geese
honking high overhead, a distant dog
barks, cattle lowing, tremoring tree
frogs, cicadas, crickets – bats diving
and darting and I am comforted.
For this time, at least, I am nothing
but an empty cup waiting to be full again.