Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: A City of Roses Kind of Night

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All photographs by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

Night, canvass for city’s dashes, strokes;
lights, sharp or soft gestures in dark like
greetings tacked onto daylight farewells
as I explore alleys that curl and strike
through each block traversed.
These were scarred caverns, warehouses
where now entrepreneurs set up shop,
and housing, the sips ‘n eats and chic ice cream
along shiny parkways: like a giant bullhorn
it shouts new new new. I regret and accept this.

Every corner hawks its lore, ferments ideas.
Emptied lots host food cart delights,
a window is a doorway to other doors,
old industry is broken into new lines
that frame present and future,
each a step removed from the past.
Rubble can be made cutting edge,
even if not buried under thirty floors.
This big brightness of prosperity
hums in the night like a forgotten
tune reworked; it catches my ear.
I want to hum, too, though progress
may spurn a romance like mine.

But this is my rose; I’ve come to adore it.
My city has brought me to its embrace
through rains (and pain) that shatter air,
heat (and longing) that leaches greenness,
dirt and smog (and anger) that get into my house
like a pestilence. And then those winds–
they play every chime as if made of silver
and gold, spells of joy by day and an
alarm in odd, fang-studded nights.
Some voices that cry out are human flares.
I need this familiar and strange beauty,
even weeping, snarling. Prayer and love in shadows.

I carry my heart on and off the streets
to find people, a glory of sights,
twisty tales with more to come.
We all have our hands out, minds ajar.
No one gets away without something
to tuck into, to take back somewhere.
We slide by one another, eyes sweet

or lost in the kindness of lamp light.
We are who we wish under veil of night
in the deep wells of our city,
inside this Northwestern flower, its
perfumes that wreathe steel and glass,
wonders which will make way for others
beneath the vast presidio of mountains.

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Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Soul Sailing

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Photos of Tillamook River rest area, Tillamook, OR. by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

That light is captured by treetops again.
It shakes free its magic and onto me.
I slide into a leafy river afternoon;
earth refines its song, music for living.
What is this tugging
at the corners of my soul?

It becomes a broad sail shining so I go,
passing by smallest creatures that
know me by my name and I, theirs.
This is easy falling in love,
sun riding wind caressing earth,
more sparks from the universe.
Everything is in this balance.
Whatever has been, shall be sacred,
revealed in cathedrals of earth.

So tell me: why do we hurt each other?
Do the skies wound mountains,
or mountains defy their forests,
rivers bleed cradling lands or
lands shun bits of stones hidden deep?
We claim the same privilege of life;
it seeks not to rend, never to ruin us.

Forget not the Giver who loves,
hold back no small act of honor.
Find the root and its branches;
they anchor us, one to another.
This I recall by glossy waters,
by the greenness of things.

There, light is captured by treetops again.
It shakes free its magic, onto me.
I slide, reach inside a bloom of sun
sheltering a summer sky, soul gliding
like hope to truth, heart to heart.

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Friday’s Photography/Poem: High Desert Enchantment

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(Over the years we’ve spent time in Oregon’s breathtaking high desert and ranch lands. Our state is nearly 45 percent desert despite having lush forests and much rain in the western part. We once stayed at Kah-nee-ta Lodge, a resort on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and owned by Warm Spring Tribes. I felt a stranger in a strange land….but found it all compelling. Enjoy some photos of the area below. You will soon understand the expressions on our faces: true enchantment.)

Winds talk. Shape time. I listen to
stories riding on brittle air,
Native, Caucasian, Hispanic
tales woven and split apart like
strands of rope, bracelets
of bright, hard beads,
rawhide twisted and turned.
I am silenced, prepare for
discovery, too much I do not know.

Those old, old voices mumble,
whisper and entreat. They shear
rock and sand, insistent,
striated with memory of blood
coursing, blood spilling.
A woman like me can be entranced
so slips through mirages, spirits,
springs for healing, treacherous passes.
A landscape erupting with grief.
Desire. Power. Peace.

Raw beauty is strong,
burrows deep in dreaming,
hallowed and dangerous like a charm.
The scents of heat in high desert:
harrowing and pungent so it stings
but brightens the senses. The mind.
Light on rocky buttes, in valleys–
so pure I pray as it bridges earth
to Crooked River, volcanic ridge to beyond.
Chase it, embrace the land’s heart,
magic of juniper, sagebrush,
common woolly sunflower.
Life recapitulating. Surviving.

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Friday’s Passing Fancy/Poem: Summer Comes

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Photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

This time is slight, a guest
appearance between rains,
and so we gorge on light
and encores of color,
sounds and smells pillowing air.
Nothing is luxurious as this
wistful-spring-to-brazen-summer
blue flung far and wide, new
raiment donned for July.

Even trees lift up, limbs swaying
into washes of summer’s breath.
Birds practice acrobatics
inside blazing ultramarine.
Bear and wolf speak of bounty
from mountain to river valley,
noses caught in wind’s netting.

I cover myself in morning,
a cape that clings to my shoulders
undoing winter’s penchant for night.
Feet break free to slide, tap, patter;
hands seek tenderness of flowers
whose blossoms share glimpses of
nectar and mystique, perfumes of God.

July comes with a roar, laugh, leap,
a traveler emerging from coils
of cold and wet, then uncertain June,
from mosaics of silence, shifting shadow.
It unveils such wonders that even
hidebound hearts pause to soften
in this easy, ripening blush of summer.

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Heat and Thunder

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Photographs by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

This is a place where sky strives to
overcome water and aged rust of earth
deepens, decorates shoreline
like copper on bare skin. It rumbles
into sinew and bones. Peepers clamor, chorus.
Dusk is well laden with primal scent of
rock, teeming lake, the sponge of heat.
Day departs on vibrations of thunder.

I remember this canopy of tension,
and how royal summer sun leaves
its marks on flesh and mind,
a deep etching of my bloodline.
Sweat was evidence of industry,
nature’s work and our play, and it
leaked rivulets, gathered as bright beads.
We consented to heat’s demands or fell
into shadowed space, the breezeway.
Coolness swirled as we watched our mother
and a searing iron smooth cotton into fine art.

I know this heat’s oppression, it’s random release.
This place, discharging its cloying essence,
perhaps unforgiving, bound up
in a rapture of prayer, grief, laughter.
Being Southern was our way, a study in
drowsiness, easy talk, dignity and dreaming.
Din of cicadas and bullfrogs background songs,
and peaches so fat with sweetness they
dropped themselves into our hands.

See there: a spear of lightning charges a spot
that is unknown to me but I do yet feel it,
a sizzling clean flash that makes no wound.
Quaking clouds that can turn into killing force
now seem a surprise of reassurance.
This damp red earth cools like my blood,
and light flings its beauty over water’s body,
adornment like silk, a slow dance  of
ardent adieus, night secrets trailing me.

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