J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode, Part IV

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode,
Delivered on Vacation
In the Isles, 2010

Editor’s Preface:
A new, extended version of
Perhaps Riddle’s most famous
Poem, written during a time
Of supposed sanity, and ease.

IV. Snow-Quiet Vienna

Once with Samuel too
In a town ringing
I went…
Towards sounds of fire raging,
Soft ash falling
And falling, churches
I thought too holy to burn,
Burn. Dreams
In that nether world
Of stuff of mists of mirrors. London
Burns, while you
Sleep. Yes,

In a savage land
I walked through days
Of rains and fogs.
Ceaseless wet.
Mud so thick
You sink and sank.

Guards more wild than rivers
We thought to subdue, so
Extreme our dreams
In lands without borders.

I also remember
Last speaking with Mozart.
Time and Death
In noxious rooms.
Silent sounds of
Marching music. While
White and limp
Fingers strum notes to
A death never to
Die. Unable

A body bloated cannot fit
A pale shirt on. Yes,

Dying candles that
Flicker in the winter chill
Let in from a window we forgot
To close. Such
Troubled days such
Rising and sitting, rising
And sitting. Moving
Like shadows on walls in
Snow-quiet Vienna. Songs

Written in the night.
A flourish of pens
By fires of ember
And coal.

Posted as part of Poets United Sunday Pantry.

On Poetry

Such careful crafting.
A poem. It demands
Such careful crafting.

Lines must meet at
The very end of lines.
A period. Or a comma,
Or that mysterious
Semicolon; what do
That odd dashes do?

And… those marvelous
Metaphors, those stirring
Similes sitting like lumps
Of gold in streams we search
For on mountain sides we just
Can’t quite reach. Flowing

And flowing through
Enjambed lines that push
Past pictures of pale
Pleasant pulses of all
Alliterative verse. So

Too those times when rhyme
Fits nicely in line

With this poem… this
Design of words that fit
So-and-so.

Posted as Part of Poets United
Midweek Motif

Star Thoughts

I think of them on
Warm wooden boards by
Deep, cool mountain streams.

Reflections on water that
Flows to a lake lost
In a solemn, star-studded
Wood. These

Stars above cabins locked
For months and for
Years of silence in the
Clapping aspens on passes where
The road is blocked by
Boulders but…

The stars are there. They
Are always there. Guides in
The dark of dreams in caves
Near quiet, unknown
Falls. Stars that light

Paths in pines that stretch
To the town we
Have been searching for,
Have been searching for…
These stars. I

Think of them.

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode, Part III

J. Humbert Riddle’s Birthday Ode,
Delivered on Vacation
In the Isles, 2010

Editor’s Preface:
A new, extended version of
Perhaps Riddle’s most famous
Poem, written during a time
Of supposed sanity, and ease.

III. The Tap, Tap, Tap

In that city of passion
And poets, I mixed broken
Pigments for a shadow that
Clung to the walls, clung…
Painting and painting. Him

Dangling and hovering, him
In one hand a chisel while I
In the dark of Sixtus stare
At the impure light
Of candles at
Bare bodies born by quick,
Imperfect strokes.

An eye, quivering. The
Tap, tap, tap
Of paint dribbling
Onto
The floor. Also,

With Atahualpa once,
I and dirty and played
A game of chess one
Stormy, silent night.

Thunder
Breaking over quiet,
Distant peaks. The
Pound, pound of rain
Working on patchwork pavements
Nearby. While I

Stole his queen while the fire
Snapped nearby. I
Slipping pieces to my
Ripped pocket. The

Tap, tap of rain
Outside. Tap like

When walking
Down back alleys in
That tattered town of London.
Seeing a man –
Up against a wall,
Leaning with a broken sign swinging –

A stranger first I thought,
A man out on the sun,
And rain. Yet,

When the light hit right I saw
A beloved, immortal face
Whistling such a sweet tune,
Whistling such a sweet tune through
Puddles oozing up
Cracked, uncovered feet.
“Dah-ta,” “Dah-ta,”
“Dah-ta”
Floating like magic
Through the air.
Symphonies we cannot hear.
“Dah-ta.”
Tapping and tapping feet in tune.
“Dah-ta.”

Until, on a cold day at Whitehall I
Eyed an executioner
Masked, thinking of
A dull blade, a
Late night fire in forgotten
Forests. Then,
That Stuart of Two Shirts strutting
Out from chipped, sanctified crowns and
Sighing, sighing…

As the crowd gasps,
As the crowd gasps.

Posted as Part of Poets United Sunday Poetry Pantry

The Room

I do not know much
About the room
We thought we found down
That dank corridor
We never took.

It was far they say,
But dark like the day.

I remember we pointed
To it from cross-roads. That
We saw it once when
Rounding broken corners in towns
I cannot find since. The

Sound of a man who calls
To us from road-sides,
His voice in the trees beyond
The river. The noise

Of a door slamming shut
Behind us somewhere.

It was far they
Say and dark like
The day. Or…

The tap on a door at night.
The sudden realization
That it comes from across
The street somewhere, to

A window half-shuttered by
Blinds, with a light on
In the corner. It was far they…

Posted as Part of DVerse Open Link Night

On Stumbling On a Painting

On Stumbling On a Painting,
In the Depths of The Louvre

You paint it so
Well. You…
The clouds –
The storm –
The water so blue it seems
The sky. Yet,

The beach I cannot see,
The beach. The
Shoreline eroded
Away. While

A pale man, a lone
Man wanders with his
Back to us. Footprints

Lost to gray sands we
Cannot see. Only

The sea, the
Sight and soft smell
Of gray at,
The approach…
Of a storm.

Posted as part of Poets United Midweek Motif