John Browning

2 Poems

wind on the plains

blow wind, blow
cold, strong, surge and howl
rip a thousand miles

whip and whirl
cold, full of ice and snow

across a flat land
roar of the wind, voice of the wind
wails away
wind of the west

my heart full of ice and wind

feel the wind, power beyond power
wrack the land, fix me here
as I am – walk, wait

face-freezing, willful wind
to ice my tears have turned

wind voice of the colossus
without start or end
nature supernatural

when I lean
the wind holds me like a puppet
stronger and stronger

reassuringly threatening
older than
thousands of years
wind given as god

I see I hear the wind from the West
it is I who am temporary
the homeless wind is everywhere
she cites the sightless signs

my hat is lost in the wind
the pin on my hat, gone with the wind
the way of the wind, in the way of the wind
the wind continues
it will keep my hat and pin

I am waiting for a ride in the winter wind in 1968, I
am waiting still
the wind still speaks
window rattling, metal warping, earth-shaking
sky clearing
the dust beneath the wind is half ice half grit

when I read the words “when wilt thou blow”, I laugh
so alone
know that the wind blows
whether I ask
I am alone with the white wind and the white sky

I see but I see not, I only hear the restless wind

seen from above, seen from below
seen and felt aside
wind blow, blow wind

blow now!
blow still!
rise and soar fast and wild
far away

nowhere to nowhere
the great plains
wind that never will stop

the wind has found me here again

Reading Chaucer and Joyce to Parakeets

Jack – blue feathered tempest and
          Jorma –  caged friendly flash of green light
                    love to sing songs that go straight
                              to my heart; (mine to theirs, not so much)

but when I recite Chaucer they rejoice, chirp and sing
I glimpse the trail medieval: Middle English in birdsong
Yet for Finnegans Wake they aver – squawk in loud discord
obvious avian sonic displeasure – modernism
                                                  may not be for the birds

                              o, simple things often are
                    ineluctable,  contrarian
          they exist, just Are
(& are not so simple) 

is the disparity in accord due to my performance?
they live (Jack and Jorma) much more acoustically than I
I intrude blindly into their milieu and they respond
participants in a phenomenology of sound, music, word

Unlike are we to birds
dull are we not to live and thrive in sound and song and colors streaming
our colors mute, our songs discordant, our minds 
clouded, separate
unlikely to know as do they
          the jointure of things

perhaps Chaucer’s bird-sense sustains across centuries
or, maybe something even more than that pertains
perhaps mixtures of sound, feeling and magic matter more to parakeets than to me!
or, maybe they just aren’t Irish

                              birds who sing, birds who also talk
                    in an emptiness of time un-flying, undying
           birds sing my words alit on my finger 
birds and words fly together atwitter

John Browning is a poet weathering current times in Flemington NJ with his wife, his dog and his parakeet. He is a 2020 graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, a grandfather and a work in progress.