Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Woodpecker

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

The world needs drummers,

And hollow trees
need to speak of the lives
they have lived.

Listen carefully
for the pause,

that faint collection of seconds when the
resistant insect is extracted and swallowed…

just before the story begins again,

and Death smiles at his own cleverness.

© 2012-2013/Jamie K. Reaser 
Published in "Wild Life: New and Selected Poems" (

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Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Mark

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

At first I wanted to hide them
from the hunters;
These four tawny brown, 
horizontal slashes
with their shreds and peels of
old black birch bark
in which a late-wandering
black bear had written,

“I am here!”

I often keep secrets of the
forest folk,
especially this time of year.

“Shhhhhh!” I wanted to say.

“Shhhhh! These people,
drunk on sorrows
and looking for retaliation for
wounds you didn’t place,
seek to kill you.

These people have forgotten
the proper way
to take medicine.”

But when the rust-gnarled
pickup approached,
thundering down the mountain
slope, throwing twisting red
dust clouds
into the chilled air,

I stepped beside the tree,

and stood, plainly,
at the edge of the road.

You see:

In a split second, I had re-membered
what it is to be human.

You see:

In each one of us
is a deep desire
to leave a mark.

You see:

The one true mark you are
uniquely here to leave
necessitates that you risk
your life in being seen.

The courageous and
the sacred fools
make their mark anyway.

They make their mark anyway
because choosing to be
is our human medicine.

I smiled and waved to these
strangers on the Ridge.

You see:

I wanted to let them know
that they’d been fully seen.

© 2012-2013/Jamie K. Reaser
Published in "Wild Life: New and Selected Poems" (

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Thin Ice

Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser

There is always one winter morning
that is the first winter morning
for ice on the pond.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising to those
who have lived decades
in the north next to still water,

But, for me, it still remains a wonderment,
an ordinary miracle made possible
by elements conspiring
to wake us with befuddling

We have a ritual,
this particular winter morning
and I.

I wait for the sunlight to come,
anticipating the spectrum of colors
dancing among the gas bubbles
trapped in the glassy-crust.

And when it does come,
memory transports me back to my youth:
I am watching small wall-rainbows emerging from
crystalline prisms hanging from lamps
in a home that we once thought
was quiet and tender.

And then I’m in my teens:

The minister arose and ventured
onto the frozen reservoir,
and with the confident stride of a
once-Olympic skater,
drove forward until he found a place
thin enough to free him
of this world.

The imaginary me has stood,
for many a winter,
at the gaping hole left by his
sinking body,

asking questions about beliefs
and vows
and faith.

Now older, I focus on the red-spotted
newts and the snapping turtles moving
in the cold waters below the ice:

No one ever told me they could.
By the rules I was taught,
they can’t.
But they are.

They are there shuffling their thick legs
and looking, golden-eyed, back at me
with not a glint of surprise.

I love this ice, thin as it is.

It reminds me that 
that which can be readily explained 
is sometimes
best left
to wonderment.

© 2012-2017/Jamie K. Reaser
From "Wonderment: New and Selected Poems" (a work in progress)

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