My Father Becomes the Wind

  Poems by R. D. Drexler
    isbn 0-9636959-1-6
    Coe Review Press Chapbook Series #1
    32 pages, staple-bound, $4
Poems copyright © 1995 by R. D. Drexler
Contact CRP for permission to reprint.

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a selection from "Koan"

This morning
As he does every morning
Richard Nixon, clad in saffron,
His wavy, brylcreme-laced hair long gone,
Walks the twisted paths of Kinkakuji,
Lost in contemplation
To the world and himself.

His life now
Is taken up by meditation,
Exercise to strengthen both
Body and spirit,
And simple food.

At this point Richard Nixon falls into the green pool in front of the Golden Pavilion. He floats face down for more than a minute in the light green algae-laced water, like a large saffron turtle. The other monks look on with detached curiosity. Several tourists, however, are upset. A man, undoubtedly an American, rips off his coat and shoes in the chilly morning air and plunges into the pond. He executes a perfect racing dive slicing the green water like a bayonet. He swims to Richard Nixon, turns him over, wraps his arm around his chest and hauls him to shore. The tourists cheer. The monks look on.

Bottom Land

At sun set I come upon bottom land --
Box elder, willow, deer in the leaf meal
Glade -- turkey & red squirrel, underbrush
I throw down my pack, the sweat cold between
My shoulder blades. At sunset I listen.

All falls still -- a sudden intake of breath.
Through the black ribs of scrub oak the evening star
Glints. Black bats dart. The single night hawk falls
Almost to earth. And in the blackberry
Thicket -- red-orange, grizzly-like -- the moon.

From the pine -- rowed like corn -- the screech owls
Discuss death & loneliness. Bittern
Gloat. Corncrake croak. I listen to murmurs
Behind this intercourse, to the blackness,
The eddy & sweep of the Milky Way.

I listen to my father as he splits
Wood for the supper fire. On the lake loons
Glide -- calling to the shore -- as my father,
Carrying the blackened dinner pail, floats
To the rough beach to plock/splash for water.

I strain toward his face as he turns back
To the fire. His unfocused features
Glow -- yellow, flickering. Tear-blind, my eyes
Surge with loneliness to step, to answer,
But, deaf to those tears, the blackness floods back.

And I am left in darkness. Shadows cast
By the now white moon snake through the willow
Glade. Deer feed in the middle distance. I
Shoulder my pack. It presses the cold sweat
To my skin. I turn back toward return.

Revised: September 20, 1997.
Copyright © 1997 by Terry Heller.
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