Poetry by Robert James Berry

by Robert James Berry

It is Written

In a high thin house
Behind the water gardens

I shall write evening.

I hear the raucous crows
My hands sketch,

Their black wings wetted in the 
Scarlet hemorrhage of sunset.

High in my thin house
I am building words

Impossible mountains wrought from
The horizonís roots

Sheer as the future. Wet-nursed
On clouds and cavernous silence
They tower in twilight.

As mist glints over the water gardens
I braid plaits of midnight
Under my fingers. The dark is

Where words become ephemeral 
Inventions of smoke.

I shall craft in inextinguishable starlight
Make mosaics out of the revenant hours

Until the ceremonies of sunrise 
Blaze like maternal rage
And my page is printed. 


My mother hums veena music

Daydreaming over her belly. 

My fingers are a 
Wonderfully light touch
Testing the crimson-domed sky.

In my wide inland sea
I am heir to incalculable dreams,

At home in a heartland 
Of galloping sound.

The red horizon widens with visions.

When old men grow muddy with time,
And tire of miracles 

I quicken like a tiny fish
Treading water 

Making my own ebullient music,

Fleet rippling allegros
My mother feels. 


As the moon stirs among shattered clouds

Crosslegged in the courtyard
Shawled in silence

Storytellers still as owls
Recite in clear clairvoyant tongues.

The sorrow of their verses
Casts giant silhouettes inside our heads,

Their voices 
Grieving instruments 

That clothe the dark
In a necklace of memories.

Listening to infinity
In the aching simplicities
Of these old masters

I know these bass-throated men 
Are sacred. As prophets summoning gods. 

Seeing Things

The wind moved by some memory
Moans in an ancient language,
Through a dark sea of tangled trees.

The road is swallowed in shadows.
Shadows are like 
Gnawed bones in the dark,

Wolves of coming winter
Hewn from the silent monsters in men.

When the road wends up 
Into ice-fanged mountains

Venomous winter
Crawls in the sheer screes.

Here it is colder than
The graves of all lands. 

Blizzards have blasted tumbled stones 
Into terrible heads

Leaving them to guard the pass,
Ailing faces staring from the snow. 

Only on the lower slopes
The years lie thicker than silence.

As the road twists down into wind-writhen firs
Licked with mist

So the mind follows. Marching a hazy trail
That winds off into ochre lowlands 
At the edge of vision. 


©2000 Robert James Berry

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