Poetry » Rodney Nelson »


The Way It’s Been

the tide coming in to you on a bay
and the downflow of a mud-plain’s river
have told you over and again
                                    shown you
and again at the lip of a canyon
where the flow is air and the only sound
          so do not try to reply to
or describe it in any language but
admit that tide is tidings
                                    put out on
a raft if you want to holy it and
be lander and islander
          then watch as
the long mountain mainland returns to you

Sufferance Ridge

come to the onset of north at a
huge body of rock with woods on it

take any trail to pneumonia
knowing that no one manned a pick here

owls would put a traveler on the
wrong way in autumn and there are no

other intermediaries so
let a moan out with wolverine and

elk and make the gray of morning a
scarf to be worn in misdirection

go up a sufferance ridge to no
great height and to another beyond

One Fall Down

the radio let me in on
a movie music but how far
the unknown story had gotten
I could not tell
                              did not see what
it meant to caption without words
and yet I might have hummed the tune
the violins took up
          which could
have been heard in any film of
the era
                              no not tune I mean
the melodic matter and then
came sunup behind a chimney
          a windshield deflecting it on-
to my wall where it showed paler
than direct rays would have

                              I had
walked around a sand mine only
the other day and might have thought
about its silicates
          which went
into making the brick and glass
                              and maybe
I had seen the film
          gawking at the love of two in
a molten setting up there and
believing what the violins
tried to add
                              or maybe I heard
only a deflected music
at that one turn of one fall dawn

Travel Dancer

you wanted no other way around
and you took it jigging
          a boy in
a world that seemed to get earlier
and you went gyring to pan the all
of cougar mountains as a bid for
the womanhood of Market City

but now the gigue is up and a pas
de bourrée will not do
          time dancing
ahead without you and you will have
to sit content in Market City
with a photograph of the mountains
not hearing anyone at your door

The Greens

the greens are in and of the afternoon
in June and of the wind and warm
on all the carrying trees and rich
on the ground

          they do not need a campus
or to further a village though one might
have been among them here
                                    and the hooter
in the leaves may be an ocarina