Meditation

Wilted pink tulips

on a vase of tulips:
the pinks     whites     yellows
reaching upward             outward
way over the edge
opened wide to their silken centers               
until              inside out
suffused with the vibrant morning
light
they surrender who they are
with wordless grace
leaving only
small soft footprints
across the kitchen table
should I wish
to follow

Another “golden oldie” from two decades ago, first appearing in North Shore Magazine in 2005.

The Offering

Photo by Ryk Naves on Unsplash

Hymns whistled from a stand of trees,
light that falls in waves across the face
of morning, a gleeful wind that turns
away all thought:

you have only the skywide space
of a single breath to rise, unspoken for.
Any day offering itself to you like this,
would you refuse?

The day you can hold in your arms as yours
is the one that will love you back utterly
through the succulent and the unripe hours,
the one that deposes the future, crowning instead

this moment, the day you know yourself
as the praise of birds, as fully here—and enough—
as four letter words singing
good holy love, amen.

This poem was first published in “Nostalgia” in 2001 and then again in North Shore Magazine in 2004. It’s a good reminder for me on some mornings. 

Always, In Returning

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Always, in returning to the house of my farm-grown summers
I come home to the wild oat, the whole grain of me.  Riding bareback
again through the fields of a long-ago self, who I was rises golden
and green in a warm wind:
                                                      Bud hasn’t gone crazy yet.  Audrey
and Rose still live.  The hayloft babies are hiding in the rafters
of first love, waiting to be born.  The lake’s so deep you can swim
one step out from the bouldered shore.
                                                                          Blind Grandpa keeps
his pockets full of change.  Cackling, he leans on his cane, throwing
every quarter-nickel-dime onto the ground.  He listens as we fall
upon them like scrabbling crows.  Gran scolds but he never stops
making us rich.
                                 Dad shows Bob and I at 5:00 a.m. how to hook
a worm (I’ve been saving them from a dry street death ever since).
Later Gran, with a shake and quiver of strong, baggy arms, scales
and cleans eight small bass in the kitchen sink.
                                                                                       Uncle Jim drives
his tractor in a pressed white shirt.  I slip out the door, running past
rabbit-friendly trees to hide among sky-driven stalks.  Lying down,
I press my body into sweet conversation with the earth.  Here, no
machinations of the soul, just secrets told, flitting like fireflies
through branches of maple, alder, birch. 
                                                                           Who I became is the land
that grew them—a defiant wave of long grass beside a paved road,
a wealth of open sky, water deep enough for a man to drown in,
the flickering light that might save him. 

This poem first appeared in the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art in July, 2017. Deep thanks to then-editors Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik for selecting it.

Poem Up at Recenter Press

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Photo by Fabio Comparelli on Unsplash

My poem LIFE – A Snapshot is now live at Recenter Press Poetry Journal! This poem was written a very long time ago – many thanks to editor Terra Oliveira for including it in Issue 3, alongside other insightful poems. And thanks to fellow poet Robert Okaji for introducing me to this journal, whose purpose is as its name suggests – to recenter!

Night-Light

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Photo by Erik Witsoe on Unsplash

Look how the moon hangs
its luminous sign outside
the bedroom window: the man
with a grin is open for business!

But in your private dark, nothing
so grand – only the chest-warming
glow of a night-light never turned off:
being able to take one good deep
breath after another, and feel
your own durable heart pumping
steadily in unsteady times,
its rivers, rich with blessing,
coursing through a world
that knows the fierce
need of it.

Another older poem which first appeared in North Shore Magazine and then my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.

Changed

Photo by David Gomes from Pexels

Today a friend, old before her time,
passed by—younger, it seemed.
Losing her husband, she had lost
her footing in the world for years,
change—the stranger most feared:
hidden in dark rooms everywhere.

I was struck by her face: wax-white
and smooth, like a cupped candle,
her eyes, calm reflective pools
no longer hooded
or stoned with grief,
as if she had sunk through her own tears

to the cold bottom of that well
until it was emptied
of the one held most dear,
and stood now, looking up,
drinking from the buckets
of light that filled it.

Another older poem, included in my chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.

Oak Tree

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Photo by Andrew Ruiz on Unsplash

Its aged roots like umbilical cords
never severed,
still pushing into the womb
of their earth mother.

Its stalwart trunk
at the centre of the dancing
leaves, belled
with acorns.

Its free splay of limbs
that invite
no posturing of the soul,
human or not.

The buried questions
that find their way here,
some even answered
in a mutely mysterious way.

This is the great oak
whose address I remember
whose gnarly throne of silence
I ascended once in a dark hour

when the moon, with a fatherly hand,
drew an amazing gasp
of stars
down around my shoulders:

the light by which the bark of my body
listened, then became the listening
of lobed leaves
for more than wind or rain,

became the long roots
longing,
until I too reached from the earth that held me,
with praising hands.

This is a poem from my first chapbook “Stealing Eternity”.

Christmas Lights

Photo by Arun Kuchibhotla on Unsplash

Children grown, two out of three gone,
we drag our feet putting outside lights up,
buying and decorating a tree.

We settle for the bushes, a whimsical snaking
of lit Smarties among leaves, get the smallest tree
nobody else wants. That stormy year

our street lost power as Christmas day turned
to evening, and we had a dozen hungry guests
roaming the house, bumping into things.

Because the gas stove had been cooking a turkey
for hours, it continued, and we cheered
the range burners could be lit with a match.

The two gas fireplaces burned more sedately—
fan flow interrupted—and of course there were
candles on the dining room table anyway.

My husband fired up a generator, plugged in
a lamp, stereo and the bulbous bush lights; orange
and yellow cords extended everywhere.

I imagined our neighbours gazing out
from dark windows at the bright cosmos
of our house, the raucous hum of

determination in the air. If Christmas
was all about seeing the light
in each other, it didn’t fail to surprise:

how happy it made me, having a reason
to move closer, peer and be peered at,
glimpse among flickering faces the child

I was before my heart got wrapped in
scar tissue, who once got a letter from Santa
saying he was on his way, and didn’t I

then on the eve of my seventh Christmas
see him tiptoe past my bedroom door!
I miss the girl who believing, saw.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Also, my chapbook “Irresistible” is still available for pre-orders until January 12, 2018. Since advance sales determine the pressrun, such purchases make a huge difference!
In the mood? Many thanks – you can reserve a copy here: 

https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/irresistible-by-lynne-burnett/

 

Such A Blue

Photo by Danilo Batista on Unsplash

I sit down beside my elderly father,
quietly clasp his hand, cross
and then uncross my legs.
Long flight to get here, long
battle with emphysema and
an overworked heart for him.
The hospital door that swings
both ways for me, obdurately
keeps a good soldier in.

Not close enough, this chair,
and impossible for us to hug,
dear dad tied down—
tubes coming and going.
All a man can do to break free
is look out the window,
so I do too, and with him
simply breathe in the blue
of a cloudless sky,

“scattered light,” science says,
that our eyes make into
an unrippled sea—but
there’s never been such a blue
falling through me, so endless
a promise of more
slowly it fills the room,
steadies the listing boat
neaped on a perilous shore.

This poem is included in my chapbook “Irresistible”, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in March, 2018, and available for pre-order  here until January 12, 2018. Since advance sales determine the pressrun, my thanks to all who take a leap of faith and buy my book!