April 5, 2017

Three Poems by Robert Ronnow: "White Waits," "in a Day," and "Absolutely Smooth Mustard"

Robert Ronnow's most recent poetry collections are New & Selected Poems: 1975-2005 (Barnwood Press, 2007) and Communicating the Bird (Broken Publications, 2012). He lives in Williamstown, Mass. Visit his web site at www.ronnowpoetry.com.

ink-traditional Chinese painting-Pixabay

White Waits

"A blank, unpainted space. It is considered one of the identifying characteristics of both Chinese and Japanese painting. Blank space is not simply unpainted areas; it is important to the composition of a painting and carries the same "weight" as the painted areas, often serving to set off or balance the painted motifs. As early as the 10c in China, ink landscape painters attempted to capture the spirit of the scenery around them; in their paintings blank space functioned as ‘spirit’ ki." --JAANUS

Rather than put myself in the sky which is so
complete with blue and clouds, I make a space
in a line of people climbing a trail in the mountains.

All night I work on my thinking and waiting
until at dawn I see the iron clouds shift sunlight
and listen to the years changing my life with a laugh.

I say thank you to all the influences that a plant
like me goes on growing fearless as a daisy.
I need no robes, I wear baggy underpants in the morning.

By afternoon I am transformed by the light from my beard.
Some girls think I’m cute. At first I’m shy but soon
I take my wooden chair among a bunch of kids from Waltham.

At night I fall in love with the first person to stop
his car. Because I am a well of love for my lady.
The drone of stars slowly changing places in the sky.

When I fall asleep by the river it is like I’m dead.
There it is. I use my coat for a pillow and lay my head
at the root of a tree. Shade my eyes from the sun, white waits.

In a Day

The one power that a man can have is in
the perfection of himself. He changes
with the weather but of this he’s unaware.

A churlish man and his teacher are walking
along a road when he is suddenly instructed
to look down a side street. Spring trees in leaf.

I go in front of the mirror and observe
the changes to come in my face. I turn
my chair so I can see out all the windows.

What is right fits the time perfectly. It
is all out of my hands. In this the peace
is supreme. Yet my hands embrace the pot.

In the morning the air is cold and clear
at the river. Then clouds and the confusion
in people. At dusk the sky is clear again.

Absolutely Smooth Mustard

There is absolutely nothing to do. Some people
fall in love. I go have a cheese sandwich
with mustard. Watch skyscraper lights from
the bed. Look at the books and decide to read
none of the dry words. The cheese sandwich is
good, and orange juice. It’s cold in the kitchen
so I go back to bed even though it’s Spring.

Some people go dancing in fish net stockings.
They find a good time–but exactly what this means–
it’s not more important than a star. Quite
what is this waiting. Tonight I could disappear
and the world might not miss me until next year.
I remember passionate nights with some of the women
I’ve known. Two sides of a smooth stone.

© Robert Ronnow

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