Birth

I just learned that an old friend has passed away. We knew he wasn’t well but I don’t believe even he thought time might be so short. It makes me consider how precious life is. In a sense, life is a series of experiences, each of which slips into the past and is impossible to have again. And each day we say goodbye to the person we were the day before.

I’ve been working on this poem already for already for a few days. This seems like a good time to pull it out of the notebook.

BIRTH

Every birth is a condescension of starlight,
a grand confluence of element and intelligence.
Each arrival a litany of the life-long goodbye,
to the first moment, first face and day,
to sunsets innumerable and hurried
in silence by the turning world.
Goodbye then to childhood. Goodbye to first love,
kiss, car, first earthquake. Goodbye to the last
day of school, to the wood duck and whale,
all blankets and cold lakes, all cloudy spring days.
Goodbye to time and the stubborn way
the planet rocks back and forth forever,
creating spring and all its passionate hope.
Goodbye to yesterday and who we were,
misremembering all the possibilities.
Goodbye to our plans for the end of days
and the Nightland coming and everything
to which we haven’t said hello. Oh God!
Goodbye to dogs, goodbye to you and me.

J. Kyle Kimberlin

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“Goodbyes make you think. They make you realize what you’ve had, what you’ve lost, and what you’ve taken for granted.”

Ritu Ghatourey

Our House

Everyone I know is uncomfortable.
Everyone wants a different house,
something with glass walls
where they can be seen in happiness.
But farther from people.
Hell is other people.
A quiet house is needed, in the trees,
with clean lines and good bones.
High ceilings to let it breathe deep.
A stone foundation, a garden for butterflies.
A warm kitchen for late night suffering.
Quiet neighbors, preferably dead,
barely whispering if they must.
A kettle on the stove to exhale memories;
A kettle that won’t forget I was here.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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Leaf and Shadow

A sycamore leaf floats flat
in a puddle on the black street.
It turns slowly in a shadow
that’s been with you all of your life.
And nothing can be done.
Everyone cares but no one comes
to help. Step over it, go on across
so long as the signal allows
into the bright coffeehouse.
The one where the woman
plays guitar sometimes.
Find a table with good light.
Order something with hot milk.
Order warm bread.
Be benevolent with the tip.
Remember all memory is fleeting.
Forget how far you have come in the rain.
The shadow still falls on the notebook,
on every page, despite the lights
overhead and the bright conversations
of others whose children are in school,
who never saw the leaf on the broad
green tree, making shadow; the leaf
that fell and died to bring you here.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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Vanishing Point

I miss you but you’re dead
and I don’t know what that means,
beyond words and their delusions.
Everything is so mysterious.
I can’t go where you’ve gone
until I’m called.
Even then, is it a journey within Being
or a vanishing point?
No one knows but we still have today
this hazy summer ending soon,
the life around us torpid and drunk
with light. Even you belong here,
Being remembered, still part
Of everything so mysterious.

J. Kyle Kimberlin

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Home

There are many names for home.
Safety is one of them, into which we lock ourselves,
or simply the place of all slipping away.

The flowers fading on the table
don’t know they’ve been cut,
affirming only being where they belong.

At home there is always a clock
that no one has wound, compelled
to tick by the steady unwinding of hope.

I have meat ye know not of, Christ said,
meaning a kind of home. Many mansions,
brighter than time and far beyond.

So God is another name for home,
and time because everything here
is a memory, mind returning to another world.

J. Kyle Kimberlin

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Waiting

I have been waiting here, it seems like years.
The tides rise and fall. Old Luna, battered
and pale, barely shines for me at all.
The house is tired now and moans
to lay down its walls like limbs, like fallen
logs across a steam.

What are you waiting for? she cries.
For love, I say. For people to stay
or the courage of one oak on a hill
in tall grass, or the strength to give up.
Waiting is easier.

The house is aligned with the stars
where they’ve fallen, somewhere
in the east. Tonight, there is half a moon
to give me hope. I look up and watch,
waiting for these muses to decide.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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“The function of the imagination is not to make strange things settled, so much as to make settled things strange.”

– G.K. Chesterton

DEEP BREATHING

I breathe Time in and breathe it out.
Draw in a day and the hours
rush out like a breeze over dandelions.
One dog after another rises
from her sleep in a blaze of light,
turns to sigh and lie back down.
So, it must be better not to take
such large gulps of Time; just a little,
like this moment of my pencil
growing dull, or the next in which
you are reading this. Inhaling just
these few poor words,
exhaling forgiveness into the stillness
of some future room, so brightly lit.   

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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Conversation With The Dog


I have some questions for Brookie
who knows what to do
when I go to the couch.
She runs, jumps, climbs
to my chest.
I ask about her day.

Did you have time in the yard
in the sun? And did you see
the squirrels on the wire overhead?
Did you drink your water
and chase the birds to make them
scatter to the sky?

Was there an hour for a nap,
where the sunlight falls
short and slanted to your chair?
And did you, will you, can we
play with your toys? The sun
is setting hard and fast and I
have been too much alone.


J. Kyle Kimberlin
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Fleeting Matters

Speeding arrow, sharp and narrow
What a lot of fleeting matters you have spurned. [1]

We arrive at the time and place
that we think is most real,
most bright and keen,
most worthy of outrage
in all the long distance
that the Earth has come.

Surely these terrors
will matter to history
and our angst will ring
through the years.

We’ve been deceived.
Vision only goes so far and all
that matters must remain.
The soul stirs behind a curtain
in conversation with the dead.
The spirit moves upon the waters
where we sleep.

J. Kyle Kimberlin

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[1] St Stephen, The Grateful Dead

Whitecaps

Someday I will think about you
for the last time.
It might be the last time I think
about anything, or it might be
sooner than that.
It’s hard to calculate the curve,
to plot the diminishing rate
of remembering your hair,
your hugs, the smallness
of your shoulders as you
receded into memory,
upon the obscure arc
of my remaining life.
But I know the point
is out there somewhere,
like the luminescence
of whitecaps in moonlight
on a night of dying wind.

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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To Build a Lighthouse

We have no rocks, no deadly reef,
no need to warn the ships away
but this town needs a lighthouse.
Let’s build one at the base of the pier.

We have a good beach which
should have been named Eternity,
for the way it curves in and out
of Time, and because beyond

these bluffs everything ends or it doesn’t.
It goes on forever, deeper and darker,
or not. No one here can say because
none of us can swim. But seals come here

winter into spring, to show us how. Coyotes
in the hills make a cry of regret. Blue herons
at sundown say everything is going home.
So we should build the light to watch the sea.

Nothing so deep can be trusted at night.
Let’s make it tall and pearl white
like the end of Time and cast its blue
beams out over the currents of dread.

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
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