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Elizabeth Reninger

Rain & Rooster

By November 8, 2012

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There was a period, in the late 90's -- when I was living in Madison, Wisconsin and then Santa Fe, New Mexico -- when I was in the habit of once a year creating a small chapbook of poems: a collection of what I considered to be my best work of the year.

It was an entirely cut-and-paste hand-production kind of project: two poems per each side of 8.5 x 11 sheets of paper, plus a table of contents, photocopied, folded down the middle and stapled, with heavier-grade colored paper for the cover. A labor of love, really -- thirty or forty copies which I'd offer as gifts to friends, during the holiday season.

I recently came across some remaining copies of these chapbooks. Reading through the poems, I noticed how they are, on average, much less well-crafted than something I might write today -- yet express an innocence, freshness and daring that I very much like.

I guess that's the dance, perpetually, with any art-form: how to cultivate one's technical skills, without losing the capacity to perceive with the kind of naked immediacy that allows the juice, the essence of a poem to flow.

Anyway, what follows are a sampling from a chapbook titled Red Sky. The first of the poems -- "Rain & Rooster" -- was inspired by waking one still-dark morning -- in my guest-house in the foothills outside of Santa Fe -- to the sound of a steady rain, and a rooster announcing the coming dawn ...

Rain & Rooster

Still a damp mystery,
the world outside my window
is an ink-well, a fluid darkness
not yet emptied by our
sun's fluent poetry

the rain I know
like an old friend -- less
by appearance than by the cadence
of her voice, the rhythms established
within her sounds and silences

and this young cock
-- a rising masculinity --
also a mystery, struggles and struggles
with his song: a hackneyed version
of Bruce Lee, a leap and cry

each morning to new heights
a cadence in turns reminiscent
of a carnival's din and exclamation
and the punctuated wailings
of a funeral pyre

yet I cannot fault him
for his effort -- gallant and
staunchly undistracted by the weather
I admire, in fact, that
unabashed expression

that total dedication to
bringing forth the truth
of his existence, irrespective
of its seeming imperfection
or the brilliant eloquence

someday soon forthcoming .....




A slow
of the honey jar

the sun spills
her golden light
all through the valley

a meadow filled
with small yellow flowers

becomes the fluid
of heaven spreading
onto the earth this human waking



Crescent Moon

... how that bright
sliver of manifestation rubs against the vast
circular unseen, creating

a cricket's song of praise:
the transparent
wing rubbing against its willing

grateful body .....



First Scent

of lilac in the Spring:
I become her disciple



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