Your Turn

Photo by Tim Golder on Unsplash

She was lost and late and frantic
when she pulled over to ask me
for directions. And so close!
A block the other way lay her destination.
Discouraged, she had turned off too soon.

Sometimes it happens that way.
And sometimes the road simply ends
and you know you’ve missed
the turn. But when it’s late
in life, and it’s your turn that
you’ve avoided or can’t find,
when it’s your appointment
with fate you think you’ve missed,
or when the path you’re on turns
out to really be someone else’s, say,
who lives there, in that neighbourhood,
who could help you?

None better than the yardless dog
at your heels, growing wilder,
more wolflike by the second,
those nips of dissatisfaction
ripping your good pants,
the barks of disapproval
stilling the nice hand
that would have fed it,
the sickening plunge of your stomach
as you realize this is all wrong,
making you run now, run for the life
you meant to live.

This too first appeared in North Shore Magazine.

 

 

Sometimes, A Heron

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

stands like a bearded yogi
in the willow-edged stream
that runs under the main road
an easy block from the sea,
waiting for his own kind
of traffic.

At that intersection
of necessity and desire,
it is no accident when
the still life breaks from
its green-daubed canvas
with the long, scissored plunge
of his beak, and swallows whole
and writhing, the little fish
that almost made it.

Sometimes, in the rivering
silence between two hearts,
I am stalked by
an elegant longing
and taken suddenly
by its gleaming need
to live.

And hope I do not
reach too slowly
into the sea-deep amber
light of its promise,
like these bare and slender
branches that have crept from
their tangled weep of shadows,
blossoms pending.

This first appeared in North Shore Magazine and is included in my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.

Just in Time

“Just in Time”, Painting by Lenore Conacher

My poem “Just in Time”, inspired by this painting by Lenore Conacher, is now up at https://mockingheartreview.com/volume-2-issue-3/lynne-burnett/ with many other gems. Many thanks to editor Clare Martin for including it! Lenore Conacher was a Gibsons, BC artist whose work I had the good fortune to see firsthand and whose “Time” series led to a collaboration of sorts: 17 poems for 17 paintings!

More Haiku

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

 

daffodils:
a glory of suns
within hand’s reach

***

the arbutus twists
through shadows to catch the light,
shape leaves

***

pouring
from their long green stems:
one red, one white tulip

***

fogbank:
a lonely ridge of trees
has scaled the heavens

***

in a restaurant:
tables apart, blue eyes
feast on brown

***

downtown lunch hour:
all my faces
streaming by

***

How do you open the bottle
when you are
that which is poured?

These also appeared in North Shore Magazine many many moons ago.

Haiku Favourites

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

 

She bangs her son’s runners together,
turns them over.
Sand falls and falls.

***

roadside: all day,
teens in school uniforms
come, heap flowers

***

an old ladder
climbs a small embankment,
steps into the sky

***

in the glade’s cloaked silence
the shade-soaked song of
one bird plays

***

snapdragons clutched
by a rock wall:
mustard on an old man’s face

***

up from a cloud of gravel
peeks the half-moon
of a tire

***

opening the door:
a moth flutters in,
darkness too

***

the pen dips
into a small well of ink:
one by one, stars appear

***

Thought I’d change things up with a few haiku, first published in North Shore Magazine. I’ve missed writing them! More to come….

Kitchen Table

Photo by André Robillard on Unsplash

It has taken many years of being married
to agreement, years of being divorced
from the he in the she of me,
to finally agree it’s alright to disagree,
alright to make a difference of opinion serve,
spreading it between us like a table,
pulling up a chair and leaning on it,
knowing it will take our weight, it will
take our words, brewed just like coffee
and downed to the last strong drop before
we get up, lovers again neighbourly.

Which is why I praise the kitchen table,
the generous block of polished wood
that holds us at its ends, the salt and pepper
in the middle, ready to be shaken over
this altar to our various hungers,
to which we bring the meat
of our accomplishments, thankful
for the click and clack of the other’s cutlery,
for the filled plate we can empty,
squeezing the grape, the lemon, glass raised,
the tang lingering, livening our tongues.

This poem first appeared in my chapbook, “Stealing Eternity”.

Radio Broadcast

Photo by Vincent Chin on Unsplash

Snowflakes feathering the trail
below the highway.  A young
fellow, toqued and sweatered,
strides out of the woods
where he has been camping
for some time.  Now on a search
for empty cans and bottles,
he asks me what I think
of last night’s news (which I,
watching American Idol, missed).

He tells me Iran warned the United
States it would feel the pain
if tough measures were imposed
against the Islamic Republic
for its nuclear program,
and ponders aloud the grave
possibility of a third world war
before drifting away,
back into his solitary life
which, like mine, lives
inside a bigger story
that is always ripe for change.

He knows the Earth he wants
to inherit, having made his
living room into a grove
of trees meadowed with stars,
stars loved more than priests
for their enduring benediction
of light, their twinkling
testaments of hope.
Trees whose raised roots
rope roughly into pews.
The ground that knows
no names, but keeps
a footprint.  Wind
that is a window.

The darkness humming
with a billion unheard voices
when a different congregation
is invited in.

This poem was first published by New Verse News in 2006 and then by
New Millennium Writings as an Honorable Mention in 2012.

Riddle

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

You’ll leave your dreams
for it.  Blossoms have
even burst
open in bliss,
limbs been left shaken.

It hides out of reach
but orchestrates its life
so you know it’s near.
It began when the sky fell
through the tiniest crack—

now that’s a rush of angels
never seen! It could be
a famous conductor’s wand
waving in the air
or your ticket to serenity.

Its odds for striking
the right note
are better than yours
(a real feather
in the world’s cap)

for over and over
it sings an old song
handed down from the first
day it was ever sung—
praising, praising everything.

Say this is for the birds,
and you’d be right,
but then the riddle’s more
how a bigger brain could find less
to praise from its high perch.

Another old favourite, first in North Shore Magazine (2008)

 

Spoon, Knife, Fork

The truth bends
into a spoon
with which you feed yourself
until the bowl
you put it in
is empty.
Then you look
for other bowls
with equally measured offerings.
Meanwhile, life
comes to your table
in platters,
heaped with bite.

The truth is razor sharp.
It slices and divides
until everyone
has a piece of a piece
of the pie.
It is not fair and
not always palatable.
It is forgettable,
dulled when lied about,
the dangerous blade now
of betrayal,
unable to penetrate
a thick skin.

The truth is a telling
fork in the road:
go left,
but if it is not right,
you will catch hold
of nothing.  You will
keep searching,
and never arrive.
Take the path
that is right
and there will be
nowhere left
to go.

This poem first appeared in Northshore Magazine in 2006. An old favourite.

Stealing Eternity

Waking up in the night
before the bugling of birds,
no child’s screams
tracking the 3:00 a.m. train,
no trucks or buses
bellowing into the valley
from the mountain highway,
no siren, for once,
gathering all who can hear
into its grief,

just silence
so deep
it speaks
to your stammering
heart,
sinking past the debris
of words,
washing over you
like a river-rich sea
the rocks.

Your family sleeps, unaware
you are stealing eternity
for an hour.
By the time they rise
you will be ground into sand:
a beach that can hold
the jump and jaunt
and slow toe-kick
of all their footprints,
until evening’s flood-tide.

This is the title poem from my chapbook, “Stealing Eternity”.