Friday 25 February 2022

Five Poems by Matthew James Friday


 

Midwinter Scenes, Pacific City, OR

 

My wife runs off down the beach,

a declining figure becoming a near 

future worry. She runs southwards

where an arcing white whale marks

the Nestucca river fleeing into sea.

 

The waves cry out white manes

toppled by the charging of the high 

tide breaching the lip of the beach.

A few seconds of ferocity flattened

out into a frothing line in the sand.

 

I stand by a fossilised spine spearing 

the sand, darkened by a forgotten 

forest, the storm-stripped trunk too

big to roll in the surf like other logs,

so lays a slowly rotting memorial. 

 

Sanderlings play chase with the surf,

stabbing the just-wet sand until

new waves flurry them up the beach.

They scuttle back through fear, 

robotic legs blur under white bellies.

 

A tired calligrapher paints drooping

lines of geese spelling northward. 

White commas punctuate the space

around Cape Kiwanda’s prehistoric

painted cliff. Clouds begin to clear. 

 

The sun promises to dismiss cynics. 

Midwinter exclaims another year.

The crescendoing percussion of waves 

and surf sucking back on the sand.

The relief of my wife’s returning line.


 

Let There Be Baked White Bread

 

After three failed attempts with my wife,

My father-in-law takes the mantle of teacher.

With the patience of a Biblical Father, He

teaches me to measure and mix the dough,

as precisely as a desperate prayer. The 

mixture made, we must leave it overnight

to be blessed by warmth and the invisible.

 

The next day we inspect my first creation.

Bloated with the hot air of virgin hope,

we flour our hands and He guides me

to roll, prod, fold and form the mound.

The veined globe is ready for the fires,

so we reverentially prepare the oven

and place inside, closing with new psalms.

 

Thirty minutes later, there was light

and a lightly browned white bread loaf.

A sacrament of salt and olive oil to harden

the crust. Ten minutes later, the bread

was truly born and I held it aloft in mittens,

as proud as any Abraham. Knife in hand,

I’m ready to sacrifice all for my people.

 

 

The Bandon Labyrinth 

 

We wander the heavenly golf course

following stone stained trails, searching

for the famous dunes. Appearing lost,

we were granted lifts by golfing gods.

 

A northwestern salamander stutters 

across a damp woodland trail, a toddling

monster dazzled by its lumbering limbs.

We lose ourselves in the wood. March

 

beckons with mulch, winking gorse flowers,

dripping lichen and snatches of sunlight

between moistly rotting trees, collapsing

haphazardly on route to becoming soil.

 

We find a labyrinth modeled on Chartres.

Follow it around and around - no choices,

just patience and arriving at the centre.

that’s the meditative point only realised

 

when we leave.


 

Kingfisher Gift

 

Elevated 

on a trunk of petrified grey wood

near the bank of Deschutes river

is the belted kingfisher.

 

I watch from behind a pine tree.

 

The wind ruffles its accumulating crest.

It looks left and right,

scanning the shallow waters

for any hint or flick or wink.

 

I felt fortunate for 

a few minutes of wings and pen,

so unfamiliar it felt tropical -

an Amazonian moment in Oregon.

 

I shuffled and shot the kingfisher

upstream on clangorous wings.

I was left bereft,

my blank page swirling.

 

 

Joy in Others

 

I wish I was more like my in-laws.

They delight in people’s company.

They set aside time like a forgotten 

currency and spend it listening to

old friends, family, newly met people.

They listen and engulf the other,

applauding stories, rolling laughter,

making the other feel like their world.

The older they become, the more 

they do this, the more I wish I could

make the other feel that vital, sacred.

But then I would have no time to think 

words to express what is missing,

poems to offer in place of apologies.

 

 


 

Matthew James Friday is a British born writer and teacher. He has been published in numerous international journals, including, recently: Dawntreader (UK), The Dillydoun Review (USA), VerbalArt (India), and Lunch Ticket  (USA). The micro-chapbooks All the Ways to Love, The Residents, Waters of Oregon and The Words Unsaid were published by the Origami Poems Project (USA).  Matthew is a 2021 Pushcart Prize nominated poet. 

http://matthewfriday.weebly.com

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