Roy J. Beckemeyer
“beyond the peripheral picture of us
there is absence”—E. Peterson
What’s wrong with being
essential but never central,
being the sultry spice of rind,
never the saccharine plush
of pulp, the tapered oval
translucence of eggshell, never
the vivid sphere of yolk?
You will always be peripheral
to a lover’s macular degeneration,
viewed aslant by those with billiard eyes,
bank off glancing blows into side pockets.
You will always be among the thousands
of extras, the movie set’s background
to the stars, the photograph’s bokeh,
the fringe, the border, the frame
that constitutes all the world’s
“Grief settles in winter trees.” —Stephen Meats
Grief can settle in any season
even the height of summer’s sun
a son can die before his father,
leave July forever a month undone.
Things grow and flower—colors flare,
but I now have one child instead of two.
Birds flourish—fledglings fill the air.
There should be more I could say and do.
Grief has taken root, I think, and will still be around
as Solstice approaches and leaves come to ground,
and will settle, I suspect, in the bare-branched trees,
to leave me numbly circumspect on days like these.
All those moments gone
to rust, to the red iron
oxide of indolence,
corrosive lack of care,
of any sense of commitment,
stain spreading the dead stillness
of those abandoned steel mills,
the hulks of blind autos stacked
haphazardly along Ike’s
Great Idea, the weedy fields
unmowed. Unseized initiative
slumps into obsolescence,
the fractured frame, of wasted time.
What if I declared my love to you
on a frigid morning in January?
I could stand, the sun at my back
beaming its impressions of warmth:
yellow and red skitterings of light
peeking through branches.
We would have on earmuffs
and woolens. You might wear
your stocking cap. Your cheeks
would be Braeburn round, reddened.
My words would take on whole
new meanings, visual onomatopoeia;
you would see me in a new light.
The heart-ring shape of the word
“love” would spin out of my mouth
to become ice-rainbow. Your name
would float into cold air, moisture draping
each vowel and consonant
with crystal luminance.
My whole proposal might hang
in mid-air, linger long enough for you
to send a “Yes” out into the space
between us, the sibilance trailing off
like a contrail, barely tethered between
your teeth, the mingling of our breaths
sparking and scintillating, a flock
of miniscule white birds released
from a suddenly opened dovecote.
“Declarative” is an ekphrastic poem inspired by photographer Kathrin Swoboda’s award-winning pictures of red-winged blackbird singing on a cold morning, his breath condensing and glistening in the sun’s warm light. See the photos at https://mymodernmet.com/red-winged-blackbird-kathrin-swoboda/
Roy J. Beckemeyer is a retired aeronautical engineer / Boeing Company executive. In his post-professional life, he has been a scientific journal editor, a researcher who has studied extant dragonflies and Paleozoic fossil insects. He has described and named from fossils more than twenty new species of Paleozoic insects. He is also a nature photographer, writer, award-winning poet, and poetry and literary reviewer and editor and has done book layout and design. His poems have appeared in half a dozen anthologies and many print and online journals. His debut poetry collection, Music I Once Could Dance To (2014, Coal City Press) was a 2015 Kansas Notable Book. He recently co-edited Kansas Time+Place: An Anthology of Heartland Poetry (2017, Little Balkans Press) with Kansas Poet Laureate Emerita Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg. Amanuensis Angel (Spartan Press, 2018) is a chapbook of ekphrastic poetry inspired by abstract and impressionist artists’ depictions of angels. His latest full-length poetry collection, Stage Whispers (2018, Meadowlark Books), won the 2019 Kansas Authors Club Nelson Poetry Book Award. Visit Roy J. Beckemeyer’s site.