Poems by Bradley R. Strahan

HEAT-STREET FESTIVAL

(July, Austin, Texas)

The smoke-eye consorts

with the music,

with the loud voice

melting the black-top,

with the green thunderhead

nodding over the tree-tops…

-push - push - push -

The smoke-eye begins

to condense,

to break up

into insect eggs,

into needle points,

into tears too tiny to see.

B.R. Strahan

 

WE TURN & RE-TURN

Obsessed with wheels

ever since the man/ape

used a fallen tree

to move a holy stone.

From log rollers

to Roman chariots

rolling over broken

barbarian bones

we've puzzled our brains,

ground our grains,

as we circled around

this wheel of life.

Our songs are filled

with wheel shapes,

cartwheels to carousels

and car wheels.

Philosophers and poets

ponder the wheel

of existence

as the earth spins

beneath their feet

and galaxies

ponderously rotate,

wheels within wheels

we will never penetrate.

Perhaps this wheeling

and dealing

with turning things

is because we know

no matter how

we twist and turn

we will never return.

B.R. Strahan

 

QUADRINA OF THE LOST TRAVELLER

Night of jet engines lands

Him in a city full of dawn.

Day dazzles jet-lagged eyes

Confused by strangely familiar streets.

He strays in search of one street,

Remembered from a distant land,

Where he first beheld the dawn

Ablaze in a woman’s amber eyes.

Now as he searches other eyes,

Still dazed by memory of that dawn,

He stops to stare at streets

Where signs speak tongues of many lands.

Yet no sign speaks from that certain land

Whose missing letters mist his eyes.

He turns against the lie of this false dawn

Emptying his anguish to the foreign streets.

B.R. Strahan

 

THE WRECK OF LOVE

(The stubborn, blind heart goes on singing of

 the landscape and wreck of love. – Joseph Stroud)

The night creature reacquaints me

with the darkness red mouths suck.

All the luck in the world

and I am brought to this:

Flesh creeping off the bone,

love reduced to thoughtlessness.

B.R. Strahan

 

THE MINSTREL

I.

The man

with the guitar on his back,

fiddle tucked

under his chin,

comes whistling down the wind.

He rambles

through open fields,

across suburban lawns,

down Harlem alleyways.

You can hear his chord sustain

above the subway roar.

Barely audible

it floats

on oceans

of swaying grain.

II.

Come and gone again,

Homer and hobo

in Babylon

in Tyre and Rome,

in New York

and Mason City.

He winks and smiles

and passing

drops a verse

like a falling star.

He’s riding the rails

under the mile-long freight,

in the Conestoga,

on a clipper

round the Horn.

His songs out pace the wind.

III.

Right now

he cleans his teeth

with an old e-string,

sitting on a back porch

in the lazy Summer afternoon,

a brown leaf

in his beard,

a feather tucked

under the bridge

of his guitar.

IV.

He has a long chain on,

every link

a name in blood.

He calls them softly:

Orpheus,

and David,

Villon and

Von der Vogelweide,

Woody and Big Bill.

He touches them and they sing.

V.

He’s standing

on a corner

with the blind man

sharing a harmony.

He draws the long blue note

across pavements,

insinuating it

into tenements,

stretching it through

soot-filled air,

until it wails

off the top of the scale.

VI.

He smiles

and pulls his hat down,

gathering darkness.

in his eyes.

With a little jig

he steps off.

Whistling he shatters

the evening air.

He catches the falling music

in his arms

and sweeps down the empty street.

B.R. Strahan

 

STANDSTILL

("My position is that we are never the same in any two instants" -

Dr. Julian Barbour, speaking time's nonexistence in the universe)

Overlay on overlay of faces,

lips parted while words hang

like last fruit

in a windless orchard.

Time has no currency,

pennies in a still pool

where stone nymphs gape

dry mouthed at a sky

like a daguerreotype.

Each thought's a stuck sound

folding over itself:

we are.. are... are....

Yet the arrow seems to strike,

the cursor shift on the stone

tablet of our days.

The rays of sun bound

around this tilting top

as our faces melt

and vanish, as if autumn

truly fell like unwanted apples

to the frost burned ground.

B.R. Strahan