AUBADE

The sun peers through
the skylight, sneaks
catlike up the comforter.
He strokes her cheek,
they are drawn together,
lips touch,
toes twine,
hips press,
fingers trace,
the mattress a world
of infinite gravity.
Downstairs
the cat paces angrily,
the coffeemaker
thirsts for beans.

First Published in the 2005 Scars Publications Poetry Wall Calendar

THE SAINT OF UNCOUNTED NAMES

A desert again,
always a desert
and she the saint
of uncounted names,
her crying eases, no
smile appears for this
Madonna of the coyotes,
her orange-orbed eyes
shuttered against the
slowly retreating sun.
Once her tears watered
the desert sands, mixed
with the blood of a Christ
now long forgotten, trans-
substantiated into a spirit
we formed in our image,
no longer we in his.
The Blessed Mother
watches, holding hope,
holding space, holding
a serenity we cannot
fathom in our search
for divine justification.
She remembers, she mourns,
for what ought to be, and waits
for the windwalkers
to pull the blanket
of stars over her.

First published in Liquid Imagination, Issue 52, October 2022
http://liquidimagination.silverpen.org/

A SEPTEMBER SKY

Lie back, I said to her,
just stare up that way
stare into the sky
without any clear focus.
Do you see him now,
the hunter with his bow
outstretched, the belt
cinched about his waist
locked in his eternal search
for the prey that would free him
from his nightly quest.
And there, I pointed
can you see the great bear
gamboling with her child
or there a goddess reclining
on her heavenly throne.
Now she said, that’s
not it at all, not even close,
look over there, don’t you see
a small child crying out
for her mother,
and there, two lovers
locked in an eternal embrace,
their lips barely touching,
hips pressed together
reclining as one,
and there, clear as day
a cat lying curled
as though sleeping
in the warmth of a hearth.

Publshed in As Above, So Below, Issue 9, August 2022
https://issuu.com/bethanyrivers77/docs/as_above_so_below_issue_9

AT FIRST

The first time
I heard it
I knew
that voice
came from a place
I had never visited,
would never
be able to go.

It penetrated me
reverberated
within me
a harmonic
that shook
me to my core.

She reached
and grasped
what I thought
I had kept hidden,
and as I danced
with my
new bride,
I knew Etta
had led me
to love
At Last.

WRONG AGAIN

As a teenager, like so
many others of our narrow
minded, obsessed gender,
I imagined myself a great lothario,
girls on the edge of womanhood
lining up for my attention.

The absurdity of that dream
was lost on me and my peers,
testosterone drowning it in a sea
of hormones, and we were oblivious
to the real obstacle always
right in front of us, that we
imagined love and sex
in the first person only.

Now that youth and even
middle age are behind me
I still try to recall when I realized
that love requires the second person
singular, and my pleasure is
complete only when
my partner’s is as well.

ONLY ONE LEFT FOOT AFTER ALL

We took private dance lessons,
she already versed in the dance,
a natural grace and flow, and I
moving with seemingly fused hips,
unsteady, bordering on clumsy.

As we went on, it began to come
to me, never graceful, but no longer
embarassing to myself nor her,
and the teacher said I could be
a natural, a kind and gentle lie.

At our wedding we glided around
the floor, a slower Eastern swing,
and when the song ended, I smiled
knowing that I had found the one

THE FATES HAVE IT

It was a chance meeting they thought
although the Fates knew otherwise.
Theirs was a subtly planned world,
leave no fingerprints, always have
an alibi, better still never get caught.

It was a short meeting, a brief
conversation and an ill-meant
promise to stay in touch, numbers
exchanged and as soon forgotten.

He never imagined calling,
nor did she, but he did call
and they did meet again,
and the Fates smiled as
the couple celebrated
their golden anniversary,
both still certain it was all
a simple matter of chance.

A WELL REHEARSED SILENCE

Of course there is something I ought
to say, moments like this require it,
it goes without saying, painfully.

I practiced lines for hours, rehearsed
in my dreams for weeks, knew
for years I’d be rendered mute.

My tongue swells, threatening
to escape my mouth or take refuge
deep within my esophagus.

Your silence is only compounding
my anxiety, how can I, a man
of words, be rendered silent

by the thought of speaking to you,
of telling you that I finally now
joyously have what I feared I wouldn’t ever.

A wife and lover deserves
better than this.

HERE-ISH, NOW-ISH

In this moment we, the two of us,
are here in this precise place
and there are an infinite number
of places we might be.
But we want to be here,
just here, nowhere else.
We are aging, but in this moment
we are exactly the right age
and to be younger or older
would do nothing for us.
When I curl against you
as the morning light struggles
to pierce the pulled blinds
and stroke your arm
my fingers are in the only
place my fingers want to be.
Here, now, together.

SPRING

She says her favorite month
is May, when spring’s grip
is tightest, but most of all
she cherishes the rain.
She is intimate with the rain,
there is a privacy that only
she can concede, if she wants.
She can take a drop of rain
and it is hers alone, she need
only share it with the sky,
it is always clean on her tongue.
She may borrow rain
from the trees, catch it
as it slides from leaves,
or watch it slowly tumble
from the eaves of the house
she remembers from childhood.
She loves walking barefoot
through fresh fallen puddles
as it washes bitter memories
into the willing earth.

First published in Creatopia, Issue 5, Spring 2022
https://creatopia.studio/creatopia-collection-magazine/spring-2022-renewal-magazine/