1975 by Patricia Wallace Jones

1975

There was no warning
that New Year’s Day
would change the world, steal tomorrow
and return it old, etched and gray
as February –
no warning in the afterglow
of champagne toasts and fancy clothes,
wishes strewn about the living room floor
that the flag was down,
corners folded to grace the mantle;
no warning that swallows
had built their home in the chimney flue,
that a stuffy nose and simple cough
would come to mean
I’d never wear the red dress again,
dance or dream for years to come.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

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Editor’s Note: This poem’s difficult emotional punch builds slowly, using metaphor and imagery to illustrate the speaker’s experience, until the last few lines reveal a narrative of years of difficulty rather than just a single moment.

From the archives – Lost Cause In Six Or More Colors by Patricia Wallace Jones

Lost Cause In Six Or More Colors

It is no accident that I am here
where the only lane left has slipped to sea;
here on this fault with no safety belt,
no stay pole or traveler to slow the falling.

When tides run high and the herons leave,
I ride silent, north from Hare Creek
past the old sawmills and dog hole ports,
logging camps where alders lean white,
grieve in the leavings of old growth trees.

Approaching the Bailey bridge, my fear
becomes palpable, rises up from my gut–
heart to throat– while I wait for the flag man
to turn his sign from Stop to Slow, to be
the next one suspended over crews below.

Orange-vested and out-witted, they still try
to tame her. This year with rip rap, PVC
and red clover.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, October 16, 2015 — by Patricia Wallace Jones

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

From the archives – May 30th by Patricia Wallace Jones

May 30th

A year ago I wrote to you
of temple bells, about the silk-tassels,
how they grow like weeds, shimmer
in the wind beneath my window.

After a mild dry winter,
scant spring rain, you sing to me
of homemade tortillas, the sweet
heady taste of vine-ripe tomatoes.

Out of step with your seasons,
these cool windy mornings
my catkins dance early, grey faster,
fall even softer this year than the last.

And to think—
before you came
with this uncommon friendship,
the remarkable beauty
in distant correspondence,
I would have missed this day,
used it for a calendar, a decoration
for my wall if I noted it at all.

 

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, May 30, 2017 — by Patricia Wallace Jones

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Winter Landscape With Deer and Stevens by Patricia Wallace Jones

Winter Landscape With Deer and Stevens

I cannot sing today.
The waves are too big and the wind
is crying a high-pitched whine
that makes me restless, unable to paint,
write, even read much more
than a poem or two.

The windows fog, beat to a rain
so iced and slanted that I can barely see
past Pomo Point where women go
to pray their men home on days like this.

With no palette to capture the morning
stretched taut before me, I become the lines
I read—another weeping woman
until I see them composed on the bluff
feeding on a hint of spring in all that grey.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

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Editor’s Note: This poem’s opening line sets the tone for the narrator’s intensive sadness, but the ending provides a note of hope.

Christmas Passing by Patricia Wallace Jones

Christmas Passing

Dressed in green and arriving by creek
instead of the path, I startle the dogs.
They circle me to protect a man
I assume is a drifter, the bearded one
who built a fire, slept on the beach
on Christmas Eve.

He calls them in, offers me coffee
from a stainless cup, looks to the bluff
and thanks me for the light-strung tree.

We talk a bit, throw sticks to the dogs
until taken by a rise of sea-bound gulls,
flashes of white on a winter front,
we lapse into silence
to let the season pass between us.

I climb home, look over my shoulder,
see only the great heron
closer to me than he’s ever been.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

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Editor’s Note: The close of this poem carries the entire thing.

All Lovers Entitled by Patricia Wallace Jones

All Lovers Entitled

Upon learning of your illness
the sky dimmed.
By morning, fog woman arrived
riding bare, low on the back of a heron.
She was followed by high tide, the sea
fiercely dressed in blue-black moiré,
her best autumn combers.

They are primed, ready to fight
alongside your wife and me
and your muse, since the cradle,
the resolute moon—
with all of us this coming rain.

By early evening I had handpicked
and planted ninety new bulbs,
all of them tulips, Sissinghurst white—
fifty plus eight for your party come May,
the balance for us all to crow on.

by Patricia Wallace Jones, first published in The Flea.

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Editor’s Note: This poem’s use of gorgeous imagery underscores the frantic difficulty of loving someone who has fallen ill.

May 30th by Patricia Wallace Jones

May 30th

A year ago I wrote to you
of temple bells, about the silk-tassels,
how they grow like weeds, shimmer
in the wind beneath my window.

After a mild dry winter,
scant spring rain, you sing to me
of homemade tortillas, the sweet
heady taste of vine-ripe tomatoes.

Out of step with your seasons,
these cool windy mornings
my catkins dance early, grey faster,
fall even softer this year than the last.

And to think—
before you came
with this uncommon friendship,
the remarkable beauty
in distant correspondence,
I would have missed this day,
used it for a calendar, a decoration
for my wall if I noted it at all.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

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Editor’s Note: The internet has given us the ability to easily form friendships with people on the far side of the planet. This poem addresses that sometimes surprising mismatch of seasons, and the gratitude that knowing one another brings.

December Migration by Patricia Wallace Jones

December Migration

She sets her gaze
the way she used to choose
a patch of night and patiently wait
for stars to fall.

One by one they pass,
blow and breech on a Solstice sea.
She is captured, filled with the magic
of moon and giant, gifts unknown
in a glittered past when halls decked
and candles lit, she waited on wishes
instead of whales.

by Patricia Wallace Jones

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Editor’s Note: The deceptive simplicity of this poem belies the complex story behind the narrator’s words. Time passes. Wishes evolve.

Asked, I Cannot Tell You What He Feels by Patricia Wallace Jones

Asked, I Cannot Tell You What He Feels

I can only say how they begin and end–
an arresting cry then a startled look
as vocal chords contract seconds before
his hand flies skyward and legs give way.

Shorty, part Aussie herder, beats me to him;
attacks his pant leg, the perceived intruder
until, freeing a hand, I can shoo her away.

Lumpy, sweet feline familiar, hangs in,
rides them out near his feet alternating
between wide-eyed and yawning.

Within a minute he blues about the mouth,
shakes violently and goes rigid; then comes
the grinding, blood and saliva, the soiling
and it’s over.

He will remember nothing;
may or may not ask why his jeans are wet,
his left eye bruised and tongue is sore.

Gloves are advised but I never use them
convinced that touch can be curative.

by Patricia Wallace Jones, first published in Wordgathering.

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Editor’s Note: This heart wrenching poem speaks to the caregiver in all of us. Love pushes us into difficult wildernesses.

From the archives – Threshold by Patricia Wallace Jones

Threshold

I ask only for a door ajar
so I can peek out, listen to night songs
among foghorns, the dolorous belling
of buoys in wet distance.

Instead, you fling it open to the moon
intent on her morning path, silver thread
spooling but frayed near the end–
open it wide to unleash quiet women
who arrive on the rain, dance and sing
beneath my eaves.

And then as only magic men can,
you peel back the sky, hold to my hips
while I reach out beyond the sill
to rearrange stars, spill spells,
learn what there is in each brief visit.

 

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, August 4, 2015 — by Patricia Wallace Jones

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim