Saturday, September 10, 2022

Three Poems by Ralph Monday

 Book of Tree

She would climb in a white
through feathers of smoke
to watch the rain
smoldered eyes

one day the tree lay

her grandmother
the Old World
saw light and dreams
in tea leaves 
her be not worried
for this is a harbinger
of the dusk of all things
a tree leaves you like
a son, a daughter, a wife,
a mother

bruises she taught were
scrying up like winged
doves through billows of leaf
smoke where the girl
could see all the
sepia and beige evenings

her tongue caught by
a bitter theocracy

The Old Ways

Have been diminished by tiny screens,
where people now look down, the time gone
when most looked up to the heavens.

This is diminishment of mind, of soul, the
spirit dancing in the wind, of flying and
crawling and chittering things replaced by

meaningless text scrawling across lighted
screens like ants walking in file.
The Old Folk in Appalachian hollers

knew how to read the skytext, like now
the moon an upturned bowl gathering
moisture to spill out,

encircled by a one-day ring for the
coming storm that will coat the world in
white after a single turn of the earth.

The Spearhead

The drive to the mountains is alwasy
short.  The return home is brief and my
brother gave me a spearhead, chpped
black flint that he found under a cliff

I held it with reverence, awe, at the
artistic skill of how the stone had been
flaked away, most likely by an antler bone,
slow stroke by stroke.

The stone was an earth necromancer
that brought up drums like the creator's
heartbeat faded away down the past's

Stone and bone.

How many times had
the spear been tipped by an animal's 
blood, or another person?

Stone and bone.

The mountains were the blue smoked back
of a sounding whale.

Stone and bone.

All this blood my own.  My future is my
past.  And held the flint to my ear, heard it


Ralph Monday is Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN.  He is widely published in journals.  Books include All American Girl and Other Poems, 2014. Empty House and American Renditions, 2015. Narcissus the Sorcerer, 2015. Bergman's Island & Other Poems, 2021. The Book of Appalachia (forthcoming), and a humanities text, published by Kendall/Hunt, 2018. Vol 2 of the humanities text is expected in 2022.  Twitter @RalphMonday Poets&Writers

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