Rick Avery Poetry



If I Had to Choose My Life

Would I have been who I am or would I have landed in a grassy field,
a child of refugees on the run, or an antelope destined to a different life
outside in the sun? Would I be an insect or an elephant with enormous
patience, loyal and long suffering; a granite dome or a streak of lightning
flashing jagged across a west Texas sky at night, so quick and so bright,
no regrets, no second guessing, just one way to go and then it's gone?
If I had a choice to be someone else or to stick with the current plan,
knowing what I've done wrong and right, how I have lied, cheated,
begged, stolen, prayed, hoped and been rewarded when others
were more deserving; would I give it all back or ask for more,
would I punish myself or sing out loud with tears on my cheeks,
a smile on my lips and a lust like lemmings leading me to the edge
of a cliff, ready to do it all over again? This is the one and only life
I've been given and it opens like a flower even as it closes like a book.
The one way in is not mine to choose and anyway, how could anyone
have the wisdom it would take to make such a choice? How could
anyone possibly know there could be so much to lose, how long
and how much it would cost to build the Great Wall of China
or how vast a universe we live in, how could we imagine one Galaxy
like our own Milky Way or a million more stretching on into infinity?
We are less than the least we can imagine and yet everything and more.
We bring laughter like a river and heartache like a plow, tearing up
our fertile fields of wildflowers and weeds. We choose a house to live in,
some friends to share our thoughts with, some food to eat, some seeds
to plant; and, sometimes a Katydid flies in through an open window
landing on our shoulder, to sing along in our shaped-note choir
reminding us of who we are, how brief our time on earth might be,
how bright the lightning strikes, how enduring is the granite dome,
how complex are the eyes and wings and lives of all the creatures
here on Earth and if I had a choice, good God, I would take these words
and all the rest, in just the way it came. I would not change a word of it
as painful as it sounds, because if I did, who knows, my lovelies,
how fragile is this web of life and I should be lost if I had left out the parts
that carried me to you, however long and troubled the way may have been,
I choose to believe it is worth it in the end; so, let us take our chances
and dip our toes and then our bodies... into this hot springs we call home.

O Give Us a Poem

that carries us away to a place we have always longed for
that takes us back to the place we call home
that sings a song of dancing innocence, brilliant
and beautiful youth thrilled with the mystery of music,
her tiny hand drawing circles in the air as she stumbles
and falls and lifts herself back up to twirl and hop-step
with that smile that brings tears of joy to the windows
of your eyes. Give us a poem to light our way,
to reveal the truths and offer a resolution
to the unanswered questions still rattling around
in the emptiness of unknown purpose, the darkness
of not belonging. Let us discover once and for all
what has always been right there for us to see,
the fading memories of the Texas Horned toad,
the Quail, the Bob-White, the Bobolink, the Loon
the Horseapple and the Digger Pine, the Oriole,
the Otter, the Kingfisher and the clear water
high up in the mountains of New Hampshire, home
to the Beaver and the Grebe, so cold and so clean
you could drink straight from your cupped hands,
taste the beavers' silky pelt, feel the warmth
inside the icy stare, finally revealing the truth
that was never that far from the knowing, never so lost
that the way could not be found, never so alone
that you would miss the tiny miracle waiting inside
the poppy seed destined to join earth, water and light
to burst open like fire, like sun, like a smiling little girl
dancing to the music of the stars. Give us a poem
so we cannot keep from laughing, so we cannot
stop our voices from singing and we cannot keep
our feet from dancing nor suppress our joy

I Took My Time

I took my time and walked away
and just came back the other day.
My old friends did not recognize me.
why should they? I was young then
and now what little hair I have is grey.
My old grey cat was just a kitten then
and now she is just a memory...
that is how long its been
but in spite of all of that, the loss, the pain,
the forgotten dreams,
this old man's body standing over the shadow
of a young mans eternal optimism,
my heart and soul belong to the doctors scalpel
and the pharmaceuticals long reach.
I am dependent once again,
and you my dear, you are the water,
cool clear water of my youth.
I float in your caress.
I swim in your kisses.

Before It's Too Late

Before it's too late,
before too many swimming holes and night herons
before topless women at Barton Spring
and movies on big screens
before a plethora of haiku refrigerators
and Jimi Hendrix references
before another bright yellow goldfinch
or black striped dragonfly,
before unexpected miracles
come to shower us like raindrops again
and before I get another great song stuck in my head
as if a mockingbird has chosen
to join the bluebird sitting on my shoulder
surrounded by the colors of morning sunrise,
high noon and evening dusk
and before another red rose, orange cosmos
or Cranesbill geranium discovers itself
cradled in the palm of my hand
and lifted to my curious nose,
before more sights and sounds and smells
crowd their way into my big old house
of sensuality and serendipity
and before we find so many more new joys
and beauties and songs
than we can safely contain
in these vessels of skin and bones
and blood and hope,
let me just write down this one thought
before it is nothing but a ghost of an imaginary thought
that came to me in a dream
and has long been lost to some other idea
that was better left unspoken,
let me just say this

This Living Thing

This living thing...
that happens each day
and then stops
at some random moment
or not so random...
should one choose to believe in fate,
inviting all danger at any cost,
though most of us choose
to play it safe.
Others plunge headfirst
into the ever after, not knowing
or not believing...
or believing in who knows what...
Maybe they have left a note
explaining themselves.
We hope that if they did...
that it helped somehow.
There are many ways
to choose to leave this world.
Some like the Golden Gate Bridge.
Some prefer less public means.
Some I have known
or wished I had known better,
known what they were thinking when,
known what to say to keep them here
a little while longer, until they found
what they needed in this lifetime,
this living thing, that gives me shivers
at the sight of the white tailed hawk
or the little red-billed Blue Kingfisher.
Maybe there is only this
here and now...
or maybe there is everything
that came before, and maybe
it lives inside our soul
like some whirling dervish
endlessly intoxicated
by the ripples that fan out
across time, obscuring
the clean slate of promises
we inherit from other lifetimes
of learning and loving
and leaving it all behind
like a dusty bookcase
full and hidden away
in an attic somewhere
in a house forgotten
in a distant land, abandoned
and sure to remain there
until decay reclaims the pages,
rewriting history with a quill pen
from a scissortail flycatcher feather.
We cherish our lives.
We are the lucky ones.
We live, love, dance and sing.
We work. We play. We worship.
We are the lucky ones.
We give thanks beyond words.
We do not know how to sing it
so that the whole world knows
we are grateful.
We are humbled, amazed
and bewildered
by how easily we can forget
how wonderful life is
in this one world
we have been gifted with.

all poems © Rick Avery, 2017