In Those Days
Weeks had only one Friday. Life was simpler as there was less to anticipate. The grass was no greener but had beautiful tints of deep blue. It did not snow often but when it did some were awed by its silence. The shadows of the day were the ordinary shadows. The orchards were heavy with bees. In summer, children splashed in the shallows of the ponds while the sun stood on its head in the deeper water. The sky was always irresponsibly blue. A field of stones had no special meaning. The cat laid down with the bird as though nothing had happened. The Antemundane was never mentioned. Prisoners in chains wandered freely. The many got up with the sun while the few got up at their leisure. In this at least nothing has changed.
All you have forgotten
have forgotten you
and gather in villages of vague recall,
strangely familiar to one another,
an afternoon in July sometime in the sixties,
nights filled with brooding, fierce ideals,
names of the dead.
They live on without you,
in anatical dusk, leaning on corners smoking cigarettes.
Searching for meaning among stones.
Staggering by the river. Wandering into traffic.
Looking with dread at the dark meonic sea.
Living joyfully. Dying alone.
Anything is possible. You have no idea.
They only look forward.
They do not look back.
It rises from the bored lawns of sleepy cul de sacs,
From the parched throats of long-abandoned wells,
From empty drawers and coffee cups,
From the dust of the dying afternoon,
From the shadow tethered to your heels
And the cool silence of the grave,
Stalking dream and dreamer,
Love and lover,
Deep like a river and with dark intent.
Still Life with Lamp and Table
The spirits of common things
desert you, leaving their dead behind.
You only imagine that you drink from a cup,
that the lamp sits on a table.
You stay up all night. You have given up
counting stars, and lie on your back
staring at the spaces between them.
Say there was a lamp, a table,
say the life had not gone out
of anything. You would still be here, counting spaces,
mourning all that you have lost
and all that you are losing.
Rest in Peace
Father is wearing his uniform,
buttons stretched to bursting.
His casket, draped with a flag,
sails for distant waters.
Taps lingers in the air.
Forgive him his vanity,
he who fought no wars,
gained no glory,
went to bed drunk
and got up logy,
stumbling to reveille,
tugging a boot by its heel.
The garden is full of volunteers,
the hostas, slimed with slugs,
raise their long bare stalks
uncrowned, bricks overturned,
stones upended and glazed green
with what I do not know.
The wheelbarrow rusts on its side,
tire gone flat months ago,
the patio furniture gone gray.
Everything suffers. Night itself
rises like a sob.
I live dark as a root,
one white tendril
digging for the light.
Rick Rohdenburg attended the Writers’ Workshop at Brown University, then spent thirty-five years working as a systems analyst. He did not begin publishing until past sixty. His work has appeared in the Chestnut Review, Laurel Review, Raleigh Review, and others. Now retired, he lives in Atlanta, Georgia.