RACHELLE ROGERS

Poetry

Confession

Last night
I had tickets for the symphony—
The Red Violin Chaconne
for which I’d waited weeks and weeks,
but it was bitter cold
and a northwest clipper threatened
to repeat last month’s unexpected
rage of wind and white loosed
sometime between intermission and
the fifth ovation,

so I didn’t go.

Instead, I distracted
with bhaklava and Bogart,
wished for snow enough.

By midnight,
only a fine flurry of gauze
dusted the driveway, hardly an excuse.

Today I watch The Red Violin again
reminded when a soul longs to sing,
the instrument finds it, shapes
its music, ignites it into
one transcendent sound.

* * *
Shaking Like a Mountain


Slipping Through

I want the way the sun,
just before evening, threads
loose and trembling
through pines; want a nuance
slant and brilliant
as one pomegranate seed;
I want to celebrate the bend
of clouds, the purpose rooted
in a yellow moon.

After dark, I wander to that place
where trees divide, the stars
a fiery swirl of long-gone light—
I want that light.
And feeling wings unfold
an ecstasy no waxing sun can melt,
I lift into a blinding sky.

* * *
Finalist North Carolina Poetry Society
Appeared on the NC Arts Council Poet of the Week feature


Turning Time

I

From his bronzed skin
love sparks, lighting in the glass,
the throat, my better judgment.
His scent is innocence
and complication.
Rare knowing grips my bone.
Please not now;
not this demi-man, with eyes
like polished stone.
He watches me.
I stretch my chin, work my fingers
through his black curls, begin
to cut, the way he likes it, neat
and close. Don’t be shy, he says.
I know you, I reply. He smiles.
We talk of falcon gods. I memorize
his face, brush lapis from his brow,
wonder if he’ll taste of lotus fruit
and wild papyrus.

II

Those eyes, our soft-kissed mouths,
that searching hand upon my thigh, a tangle
of jeans and legs and hair, the wild terrain
of intimate geography. Look at us, he says,
so close, so close, still holding back.

III

With his touch, whole decades
fall, and I am new as he and naked
as the sun. My back against his chest,
we sway before the glass. His hands
dance over me. He makes me look.
He tells me zippers are so sexy, slides
mine down. In bed he whispers woman,
and I let him curl his mouth along
the inside of my thigh, my curve of hip,
that place behind my knee, anywhere
he wants. Later, loosing jasmine
from the bedroom sill, I marvel
at my own audacity.

* * *
Appeared in The Pedestal Magazine
as part of a special feature on North Carolina poets


Undone

They’re brazen
these autumn mountains,

flaunting scarlet, gamboge, gold
rich as summer’s ransom.

They dare December
to take them, strip them bare.

When all that’s left seems
spine and sway, taunting fire

flown to dust, they feign defeat.
Then, just as spent death cracks

its icy hold, they primp, and strut
their fancy limbs toward May

* * *
Honorable Mention NC Poetry Society
Pinesong
Mountain Time – A Poetry Anthology


Reflection

It’s winter, just days before Christmas.
Sleet is falling. He stands at the edge
of the median, thin, red-faced, shivering
in worn summer denim. Droplets of near-ice
bead on his matted beard. He holds
a bleeding sign: HUNGRY.
I’ve seen him there before, made excuses
for my indecision—the driver’s side window
doesn’t open, the light’s about to change,
business has been slow. I’ve been warned
the homeless run scams, make hundreds
of dollars a day, buy wine and drugs
instead of food. I can’t imagine choosing
such indignity.

At twenty-five, in Woodstock,
I begged credit at the local market for
a can of tuna, a loaf of bread; lived on only
oatmeal for days and days. I recall my tiny
cottage—uninsulated, faulty plumbing, stained
and fraying carpet over unjoined slats
of pine, the frozen ground visible beneath.
I wondered how my life could come to that.

The drivers before me avoid the man’s
extended hand, desperate gaze. Inching
toward him, I see his eyes are filmy gray, ringed
and swollen. His blue lips quiver. Behind me
horns honk. I think again of Woodstock,
of when the market owner, tight-lipped
and angry turned my credit down. I open
the door, put my last cash in the man’s palm.

* * *
Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women


Not Writing

I

Late October landscape hovers
unfamiliar. Morning bares a turn
and loss of sultry days, the stately slant
of summer browning in a fiery roar.

Shivered peaks squint
high above the sway of unexpected
company—seasoned stories
echoing beneath this shifted sky.

Still, autumn fades to frost, our
mountain bound again by memory,
meted out in skimpy winter time,
when only lowland muses call.

II

Hurry summer! Hurry shameless
rhododendron quivering
against misted ridge;

hurry
Turk’s cap, primrose, dahlias fat
as yellow moons. December

strips me poplar bare, skinny
branches trembling in a hungry
wind, and six months still to haiku

sunrise. Hurry metaphor
and moonwatch, friends long missed.
Gather close as wildwood. Illuminate

this shadowcurl of rhyme.
Hurry brilliant summer!
Graft me from this spindled bone.

* * *
Sow’s Ear Poetry Review


He Left His Shirt

the white one, soft crinkled cotton, sleeves
rolled twice. I put it on; it almost reached
my knees. Held his imprint—wild, tender.
We’d watched a film and afterwards
he cried quietly, one hand over mine,
head turned away.
I supposed his anguish was about things
lost—a home, a wife, the fearlessness
of youth. A faded hour later we remained,
two of us, deep in moonless silence.

* * *
Wildacres Poetry Anthology


Sunday Through A Rainstick

I’m reading Seamus Heaney when the phone rings.
I’ll tell you the bad news first, he says.
I move the receiver slightly from my ear, turn the page.
I’ve been eating my tongue, he says and laughs.
My lower bridge is at the dentist.
Heaney’s words pull me into freer sound—
What happens next is music
That you never would have known…
and I can hear the rainstick sing. Its velvet rattle
rushes, swells between my father’s words, washes
smooth the prickly forest of concern.
…angina in my legs ssshhhhh more insurance
ssshhhhh arthritis acting up ssshhhhh
weekends lonely ssshhhhh cemetery yesterday
ssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………
So what can you do? he says.
Nothing, I say. Nothing.

* * *
Honorable Mention Passager Poetry Contest Issue

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