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

Creative Commons Licensed


[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
Creative Commons Licensed

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
Creative Commons Licensed

I Wonder

Is it better to leave a legacy —

a solid house,

a cleared field,

a stack of debts,

a recipe for pie,

a gentle child,

a good story,

a jar of buttons —

or to be swept away with the infinite

anonymous and cast into the stars?

 

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Old Hawks

The red-tailed turns on a thermal
above the wild brushy ground
and cries.

There is nothing you need.
Nothing is precious but time.
Nothing is worth dying for but love.
Nothing is worth living for but peace.
Nothing belongs to you but now.

I have wondered something
for so many years:

Where do old hawks go to die?

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

 

Event Horizon

Scan-023b_back_yard_delano (Medium)

 

I spend my life looking

for the beginnings of the ends of things.

I watch clocks and listen to breathing.

I take notes about the evidence of pain

and pull at the loose threads of heartbreak.

My greatest fear is the great alone;

the event horizon of deep sorrow.

 

– J. Kyle Kimberlin
8.25.2018

Creative Commons Licensed

The Elements

In the forest you belong to the trees
and the trees will behold you
as you come and go.
In the desert you belong to the rocks,
the hard earth, and the sun.
The shadows in the long valley
have shadows and the lights
from the houses reflect
from the asphalt if it rains.

I don’t know which element
we belong to here.
Is it the ocean, or the mountains,
or the broad curves of sand?
To which do we retire when it’s time?
Now there is only the celebrating sky
or the dull overcast of coastal air.
No help for the soul to find its way.
I think that we will have to wait and see.

1230081651
Another in what seems to be a series of poems exploring the concept of place as spiritual corollary. I think it’s interesting that over the years I’ve repeatedly postulated that the place where I live, though beautiful, is less intrinsically spiritual than other places I’ve been. That has to be because I’m used to living here, that I don’t see what I want to find here, beyond the visual. There must be a reason why a vision quest traditionally involves going out, away from the place where the spiritual seeker lives. A vision quest in my own hometown isn’t easy.

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Sleepy Little Dog

I begin to write: the little dog
is sleeping by the door, breathing
the sour dampness of the yard,
her paws moving slightly, dreaming
of rabbits and the taste of grass….

I have come to know this pen,
the weight of it, the point
which must be turned just so.
The cheap gold pitted
by the sweat of my hands.

My pen is hard and cold;
with it, I can write only words.
Your voice and even least
amazing smile are lost
to the physics of thought.

The ink I use is black.
I used all the blue for failing at love.
I thought love was soft color,
carousel horses and a rainy day.
But maybe it’s arc light and violence,
a tiger and a spray of blood.

So I was wrong, and this old
pen is useless, dead
without the rhythm of your step
and the flight of your hands.
But now it’s all I have, because
the dog has drifted off to sleep.

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Note: This is an older poem. It’s been published in print before. But I wanted to share a link and couldn’t find where I had posted it on this blog before. Weird. 

Shimmer

If I had only film for one picture
I would hand the camera
to a stranger passing by
and have them point it back at us.
I don’t want to be left out.
Get us all with the sun
on our faces as it sets
and the sky behind us darkening blue.
Don’t miss anyone, not even
the beloved dead,
captured as a shimmer among the roses.
Not even the lost and unborn,
whose story is twilight
and the streetlights coming on.

 

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

May Gray

The poets are all growing younger
than me, awake as holy light
descends in a gray morning.
The ring neck dove stands
on the peak of the house
and calls for a mate. The sun climbs
and I sleep on, and the black dog
watches over everyone.
Another day of fishing boats
that pass unseen in a dull fog.
The young poets have been up
all night, traveling from light to light.

The gloom of May and the rains
that brought us fear bring new grass
to the hills. I will not be afraid
of storms anymore, or of hatred,
which is nothing. Nor am I afraid
of ghosts. I need someone to
remember with or the memory
is lost. We talk about twilight
in vineyards, and the odor of grapes.

The children are in school today.
I hope they will learn geometries
of love beyond three dimensions;
learn that someday they will live
and talk with ghosts; that pain
can be endured for a moment
or a cause; that change is a promise
that the world never breaks;
that old people never hurry the clock,
even when summer is coming
with a thrum of bees.

 

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed

Memory Fades

 

“Time passes. Memory fades, memory adjusts,
memory conforms to what we think we remember.”
― Joan Didion, Blue Nights

 

So many things I believe I remember.
Like a walk in the forest, the stellar jays,
chipmunks, the sound of a stream.
Like standing in a cold city rain, wondering
how life would go for me when
I was older, when I had the means;
tilting my head back and letting it come.
Like lying on the floor with an old dog
and crying, helpless, the Nightland
pressed to the windowpanes, learning
that time falls away like a waterfall.
Like spending a night alone searching
memory for symbols of meaning
in late summer of a life that eludes
meaning, eludes flowers and wine,
and has settled like mud
into a comfortable bed of memories.
Like not loving you enough.
Like waking up after you were gone.
Oh God, I have slept through my life.

 

 

J. Kyle Kimberlin
Creative Commons Licensed