Rick Rohdenburg ~ Six Poems

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

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.