3 Poems

Sam Rasnake

That First Time


     “like a relic of a holy swim”

                                     – Frank Stanford


Hearing you read these words,
your breath displacing like water
everything I’d learned, your voice
exactly what I imagine the deep

walls of space must have felt when
God spoke the first time in a language
completely new and ancient, like
a fence post leaning toward creek

bank, tiny fish in a shimmer against
cool stone, wind in magnolia leaves
a gift for the sun to ease itself into
while a chorus of cicadas remind

the world of its dark beauty and
summer of its rest, like thread
slipped to the tongue by determined
fingers before being pressed through

the needle’s eye, the sleeve’s tear
waiting for loops to make it whole,
for my life to unwind itself like
a spool left in a closed drawer


                            – for Anna


The water was quite blue, if I’m remembering
the way I should.  I didn’t know you then –
but every moment was a question of impulse
and never truth, of purpose and never choice.

What we thought we knew – even now – could
have been a story if plot were more than boats
we almost hear though never see, and if the silence
drifting inside our heads could ever find the words.

                                                                         – 1959


Poem Resisting Its Contemplations of Grief

Maybe like Salinger – eating slices of avocado
in New Hampshire, snow falling through trees,
the narrow road over the mountains heavy

with time, a winter of silence beyond the bridge,
until somewhere in a room, flowers of smoke
in the air and fingers clicking the keys of an old

Royal typewriter tell the world its stubborn attraction
to last words, a last look out the window, slats and
frame fresh painted, as if staying were an option,

the glass a bit frosted, a final breath clouding the grey
sky but not before one hawk circles a shiver in the field –
I live in the future perfect of will or shall have been


Sam Rasnake’s works have appeared in OCHO, Big Muddy, Wigleaf, Spillway, Santa Fe Literary Review, Poets / Artists, as well as The Southern Poetry Anthology, MiPOesias Companion 2012, Best of the Web 2009, LUMMOX 2012, BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2, and Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011. His most recent collections are Inside a Broken Clock (Finishing Line Press) and Cinéma Vérité (A-Minor Press).

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