Poems

Dreama reads “Iced Tea Recipe“

by Dreama Frisk

Iced Tea Recipe

On a hot West Virginia afternoon,
Take one handful of black tea;
Throw it into a blue crock;
(Blue rim worn off from sharpening
The butcher knife);
Fill crock with boiling water;
Pour in sugar;
Mix and stir;
Breathe the steamy sweetness.

Send the children down the railroad track
To borrow ice
From Maxine.
Remind them to run straight back.
Never mind balancing on the rails
Or running over the ties
Makes the little one dizzy.

Pour cooled tea
Over precious ice.
Listen to ice crackle.
Drink.

A Home Here

Mayen Marchar walks toward my desk,
Under fluorescent light,
Under white, jarring glare.
Tall, bone thin Mayen,
With one front tooth
Sliced diagonally across,
Walks and walks, toward us all.
From running and starving,
And, running,
On a grassy plain,
In the war in Sudan.
Running, running,
Leaving his mother, Ayuen,
Alone in her house on its stilts.

Running and starving,
He comes to live in refugee camps in Kenya.
Tall, bone thin Mayen
Comes to live with us all,
Side by side
With West Virginia’s soft dipthongs,
Dropped endings, shy words.
Unanswered prayers.

He comes running, back fifty years ago,
To sit with me on my grandmother’s front porch
On McCann’s Run holler,
She rocks back and forth in her rocking chair.
Her box of snuff in one apron pocket
And my childhood in the other.
On the porch steps, Mayen sits,
His boney knees bent in front of him.
He tells her of running, running.
Of losing his father, Maker.
She tells him of losing her son, Carl, in World War II,
Another, Walter, will die in Vietnam.
And they keep their eyes ahead on golden meadows,
Surrounded by stripped mountains.

Mayen Marchar has a home here.

The Song Sparrow

On a rain drenched garden bench
Atop an ivy covered knoll,
The Song Sparrow
Sits and sits
For minutes and minutes
In her solitary rest.
Dark streaks on her ivory breast
And down her ruddy brown back,
The Song Sparrow;
Not tempted by suet,
Fed well from seeds at the feeder,
And insects on the ground;
Sits and sits
For minutes and minutes.
She neither nods her head,
Nor flicks a feather.
Calm and silent,
As others scratch around;
She looks ahead
Over creation,
Sure of her morning song.

Wildness

There is a wildness in me,
As in the trees and birds that sing their song
No matter how sweet the song.
Uncharted, ungraphed, unplanned
Wildness.
As in the creek that swelled and hurled its way
Down the hill,
While the laurel bloomed in a storm by the mill.
I will not be shaped.
I will not be still.
I give vent to the wildness in me,
To baying and to howling,
To singing and to loving.
It was at my source, my heredity,
This wildness in me.

In Requiem

In Requiem

Sunrise comes unheralded tomorrow;
Ungreeted;
The horizon unsurveyed
From the dogwood’s knoll;
Tinkerbell lies in repose
Where she once reigned;
Aloof and queenly.

Nature’s work of art
Has gone the way of flesh.
Grief is flesh
For her feline grace.
She who lived keenly each day
Will not breathe tonight’s
Cold air;
Will not walk gingerly
In this year’s snows.

Good bye, old friend.
Memory’s treasure is full
Of your sights and sounds;
My hand resting on your black fur.

We shall clean your feeding spot;
Put a stone on your back yard
Burial plot.
Lover, work of art, and friend.

In Place Of My Heart

Last night I doused my house
With a can of kerosene;
Twisted a decision into a taper,
And lit the pyre into a wall of flames,
But felt no heat from the fire.

Now amidst the still warm ashes,
I sit and stare.
Kicking at smoldering ashes here and here.
In place of my heart is my furry, gray cat,
Purring in my lap.

Big Al Carter

Big Al Carter
Alexandria Black History Museum (Virginia)
photo by John Frisk

The Glory of it All

Funeral Poem for Big Al Carter

In a cold, Christmas sky,
A low, lying crescent moon
Hangs between stands of tall, forlorn pines.
Their perpendicular forms
Point upward to a star filled sky.

Between the moon and the glowing North Star,
Big Al, is your venue:
You pull your chair closer
To your easel,
Your apron covered with paints,
Drapes about you,
Your horn close by for instant inspiration,
Your two feet restored,
Firmly planted in the sky.
You turn from your painting
To look at us,
And chortle, then your huge guffaw
At the glory of it all.

You hand Gabriel your horn;
Then, a few more brush strokes
As your painting takes form
Of the man you paint so often.
Gabriel plays the sweetest jazz
There among the stars,
In the darkness,
At this holy time of year.

The crescent moon recedes
In the first light of day.
Only a patch of morning sky
Now hangs between the pines.
We had you as long as we could,
We come to say good bye.

God speed, Big Al.
Take back your horn,
Play your song
Big Al, write your poem,
Paint the sky.