M Ragland a wonderful writer, photographer, doodler and haiku-er is our featured artist today. M and I met over at Goodreads a few years ago through the writing group I moderate called Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company. His work is inspiring to say the least and beautifully done. You may have read some of his haiku I have posted before. All the photos in this post are his, as well as the poetry.
Poetry and Photos by M Ragland
It was the way she crossed her legs
and ran her fingers on the rim
of the stemmed glass when lights were dim
As though lightning had charged the air,
a haunting music played awhile.
She glanced sidelong with a faint smile,
in the shadows of her dark hair.
The look in her brown eyes was warm
as she approached him at the bar
then walked with him out to his car
in the pallor before a storm.
A swollen sun sank in the bay
and rimlighted a thunderhead,
but what her lips told him in bed,
and what her fingers had to say,
her voice’s smooth, arousing tone,
how she lay in his arms nightlong,
was that, like words of some old song,
he was someone she’d always known.
~A Wolf at the Door~
A wolf rings the bell,
his now-graying hair dyed.
He’s got siding to sell
and a smile a foot wide.
He looks sharp on the walk--
expensive, his tie pin--
and he just wants to talk,
but don’t let him come in!
In a deep, unctuous tone
he’ll say the weather’s nice.
“Are you home all alone?”
Take your grandma’s advice.
No to siding. No hinting.
“Shall we discuss wood,”
he’ll creep forward, eyes glinting,
“Miss Red Riding Hood?”
I shoved the knife back in the drawer
and poured the wine, impatient for
the glance, the quiet laugh, the kiss,
to have been wrong that all of this--
the beeswax candles and the low
strings of a scratched adagio,
the undulations of the night,
a misty, Edenic first light--
means that I’ve spilt what little wine
fate seemed to have foredained as mine;
from the dripped wax one may surmise
how deep the shadows of my eyes.
The flutes are smashed, their remnants strown
into the carpet, as if sown
by a devil whose smiling ruse
is to have me remove my shoes
and dance to turn the carpet red
before I seek an empty bed
and silky dreams of eyes, of arms
that hold me and clasp golden charms
around my neck, on them engraved
the words by which I’ve been enslaved--
his words, and the world’s oldest lie.
For this indulgence, I must die
but only for a moment feel
the long French knife of carbon steel,
in the small drawer where it was shoved,
my fitting end for having loved.
I like to wrap up
in a suave, blanket statement
when things get chilly.
When all that’s left are
my regrets, I’ll give up rum
and French cigarettes.
A shot of Bombay,
a capful of Noilly Prat,
drops of olive juice.
A full moon casts its chalky light
on the spalled bricks of a smokestack
that rises from the ivied black-
ness among pines in the blue night.
quickens to swirling, autumn gusts.
The boathouse, a pale patchwork, rusts.
A net hoop on its frayed rope swings.
I wake. The lofty room is dim.
As though drawn by a musty spell,
I stumble out to the old well.
An owl chortles from some high limb.
I see her. She stands on the knoll,
in lacework shadows of the grove,
gazing forlornly at the cove
that shimmers like a silver bowl.
The wind blows tattered shreds of clouds
across the moon like fragments torn
from antique clothes corpses had worn
in crypts--rotting remains of shrouds.
The hulk of the old cider mill
looms dark behind me, in its glass
my dim reflection in tall grass
as I wander onto the hill.
are what I find with my bare feet
while what I am destined to meet
waits in her frontier dress and boots.
Her long, blonde hair seems almost white.
I feel a cold hand take my hand,
cold, the gold of her wedding band,
her eyes deep cisterns of moonlight.
It was like a scene
from an old film flickering
on a silent screen.
I thought about you
yesterday morning when
I went to take my pills--
heard your buttery voice
in a faraway flash
of nights in a fleabag hotel.
Your husband thought
you were playing bridge.
Yesterday morning, as I
opened up the old, white
built-in medicine cabinet,
with its glass shelves,
I smiled at a dim thud
of your high-heeled pumps--
years and miles distant--
hitting the board floor.
The way she held her cigarette
and looked at me through glowing smoke
as though on an old movie set
became for us almost a joke,
but what her eyes had found to say
when something bleak in them awoke
was not in our tattered screenplay--
the ghost in her luminous eyes
as she glanced down at the ashtray--
and what haunted her soft replies
when she lay in my arms in bed
and, smiling, closed her speaking eyes
clutched me with fingers of a dread
of the things she had left unsaid.
~Things of Hers~
These are the things
that remind me of her:
at the end of summer,
when the air can't decide
just what mood to be in
and schoolgirls, dreamy eyed,
strut with summer-bronzed skin.
From the porches, on chains
still hang the lush ferns
weeks before autumn rains
and the old ash tree turns.
A seagull's echoed cries.
She pauses on the stair,
summer's end in her eyes,
a sea wind in her hair.
to take out the garbage.
There goes the garbage truck
and our garbage is sitting
right there on the kitchen floor.
What were you thinking?
Now it will sit there stinking
Go find some unsuspecting dumpster
that isn't feeling quite full.
you haven't even had breakfast.
Eat out this morning.
I'm sure someone
will have thrown away
And if you find
a nice piece of furniture
or a lamp
while you're diving,
bring it home.
I was hanging upside down in the closet,
trying to stretch my spine
and feeling a little nauseated
from too much muscadine wine.
My wife looked in and screamed at me,
“What are you doing like that?”
She later informed our church counselor,
“My husband thinks he’s a bat.”
Well, all of my friends can tell you the only
bat in the house is my wife,
but I’d never dare to say that out loud
or I’d have to run for my life.
I’d read in the newspaper supplement
where Dr. Oglestine
has a way for spineless people to get
their backbone back in line.
My wife’s friends shake their heads and say
they don’t know what could cause it,
that Myrtlene’s husband has taken to hanging
upside down in a closet.
~And more of my favorite photos from M~
~All photos and poetry are property of M Ragland~