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Larry' Sijo | Linked Sijo

Individual Sijo

Bark on the oak in the backyard
has scars over my scars;
ladder steps lead nowhere now,
swing rope has furrowed the old branch.
How strong it makes us for a while,
the world we make, before it goes.

I pick up that tattered broom to sweep leaves off autumns patio;
When I was a boy I straddled its handle for my horse.
Now that no one is looking, what the hell. . . Hi-Yo, Silver!

A lone stallion stands fetlock high
in the hilltops green meadow;
He tosses his forelock when deisels blare
on the faint highway;
I lower my head because Ill soon
be going where they go.

Solve et coagula, he declared, dissolve and combine,
confident of his alchemy in the face of daunting odds.
He knew what poets learn: choice is our first and final talent.

A welcome weekend at Cedar Key,
relaxing on the dock;
pelicans wait poker-faced
for bait fish we may leave behind.
Bob away, line, while I watch the sun
going back to water.

It's a wood-framed hole in the water, but he calls it a boat;
he guides its roar and rudder through marshes to quiet pools,
where wakened fish, with easy glides, avoid his indifferent hook.

Mama, mama, where do I find
the colors for the rainbow?
cries the small bored voice
whiling away a rainy afternoon.
In the corners of your mind, my child,
then pour them through your fingers.

Eager to please, craving success, she was drawn to the city;
she learned quickly from those willing to turn over a new page:
Early to bed, and you'll meet everyone in Washington.

Dusk shrinks the yard, then our porch,
fireflies light their way to mating;
Crickets still echo the old songs
you hummed when you were here;
Our porch has a new bulb,
but the switch that brings light brings shadow.

Astronomers call it conjunction: Venus approaching Mars,
the illusion of closeness a matter of relative space.
Just so, orbiting man and woman seem sometimes to agree.

August air hangs heavily
over the K-Mart parking lot;
circling so far inland today,
sea gulls search careless leavings;
Blackbirds protest the invasion
From their concrete-island tree.

The royal flamingo, if it must, eats the muck it walks on,
the sedge wren builds a dummy nest to draw the hawk
from hatchlings.
I summon them here, but my lines are not the stuff they feed on.

Sijo Sequences

A Sijo Sequence

Grampa built this old rocker with cherry from our orchard.
Forty years on the front porch before he left to be with God.
Fifty more have come and gone; still I rock with him at sunset.

So, the chair is ninety this year, still hewn cherry thru and thru
except one rocker Grampa broke and made again with maple.
Small, I guess, for modern rears, but it holds the whole family.

We had a yard sale yesterday -- someone asked to buy it:
a dealer from Atlanta who knew good wood and craftsmanship.
Wood he knew all right, but not Grampa, nor me, nor memory.

Out of the Dead Land, Lilacs
A Sijo Sequence

"April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire.".
. . . "Spring," T. S. Eliot

If we say the star is there
when we see only ancient light,
if we say fading photos
bring forth spirits of those now gone,
then your scent on my pillow
turns each absence to illusion.

If we say the wind lives
when we see the pines bend under it,
if fragrances on the wind
keep the cherry blossoms blooming,
what should I say of the scent
of your hair on the winds of change?

All right, wind, you can stop now,
the autumns colors have fallen.
Raking works well without your help,
and snowfalls do not need you.
We'll call for you when April comes
and women dress for spring.