curt harler is a cleveland-based writer and poet, as well
as a seasoned spelunker.
WINTER IN THE MIDWEST
I watched the winter creep in
Across the golden bean fields
On the sunset side of Oberlin.
Standing in shirtsleeves,
Sucking up the last dose of winter's sun
When the shadow line of dense, gray cloud
Masked the sun like a painter's cloth
And gold fields became brown under lowering light.
I turned my back to the wind
As my heart turned colder
Than the rushing chill.
I love to note the random musicality
Of wind chimes, tuned to Key of G,
Adagio in the still of summer
Fortissimo as the breeze stiffens
Low F-sharp never heard in the still.
In other states of mind
Such music becomes mere noise
Dinging out the basso rustle of leaves
Blocking the piccolo chirp of the
Black capped chickadee singing a capella.
Music is where the mind's ear finds it:
In the rhythmic pounding of a GE switcher,
The acoustical staff of Severance Hall,
In the garden or on the forest,
In a score of places, all deep inside.
The house, my house, was on the wrong side.
When I returned to the old neighborhood to visit,
someone playfully had moved the stone stoop
away from its rightful place in my memory
to the northern neighbor's side.
My aunts, both, switched size and image
Marty shrank and Dottie grew
in a frolic meant to send me scratching
for rhyme or reason, or perhaps
just to confuse my recall.
The creek, wild with vines and trees
overgrown like a jungle well above anyone's head
now is a slithering of mud banks
three gnarled sycamores and a vast maple,
lacking the mystery I recall.
The oak I planted from green acorns
and could jump over on the way to school
now taunts with branches high enough
that I stretch uncomfortably to reach
its lowest leaf-lined limb.
The hamburger stand sells Antonio's pizza,
the Chinese restaurant morphed into a video shop.
To confuse me further, winding streets
were straightened and sprouted houses already
aged, to bewilder the uninitiated.
Why can I not write poetry
Upon the keyboard?
It must be done with pencil or pen,
Revised, hot, immediate, human.
With lead bumping on textured paper
And words spreading on cards,
Ink smearing on paper
Graphite on fingertips
The organic mess of material
Flowing in with the words
Thoughts turning blue or black
As pen spreads ideas on page
The heat of the mind's moment
Tangible, tactile, tremulating.