Ronald Baatz is a poet whose last book of poems, Bird Standing, was published by Blind Dog Press in Australia.
Five Small Poems
sufficient to bring
the pear to perfection-
cold sunlight in
a cold window
I am still alone
I am singing like a bird
I feel like a fool
but also like a bird
that is singing like a fool
There’s that high
whistling sound again-
maybe the wind passing through
the skull of a
Such a handsome river
with a cold wind
glimmering on its back
like cold fire riding
the opinionless serpent
the whole thing made up
one day when I was
an old man
Pictures of Her Family
I drive her out to her house.
When I see it in the trees I wonder how
a woman can live alone like this, in the
middle of the cold and snowy wilderness.
She invites me in for a drink, a fire.
On the mantlepiece are pictures of her family,
and when I ask her a few questions she tells me
a story about every person, slowly, one after the other.
I ask her why there is no picture of her mother but
this question is met with only an unreadable silence.
In telling me a story about her father, it’s obvious
that she was very close to him. She holds a picture
that shows him standing next to one of his favorite cars.
This picture she holds up to the light, as though trying
to look deeply into his eyes. Perhaps they will
help her remember something that will supply
a meaningful completion to her story about him.
After awhile we collapse on the couch like pigeons
falling out of the sky, only in slow motion.
I pour more wine. She grows quiet, the night gets old.
She does not suggest I leave, however.
I put my arm around her and she places her head
on my shoulder. She falls asleep. Eventually
I have to nudge her, tell her the fire needs wood
and that maybe it’d be best if we both were to
stretch out on the couch. This idea suits her fine,
and within moments of lying down she is asleep,
huddled against me. She murmurs the beginning
of a dream, maybe about her father, who knows.
Since my back is to the fire I’m soaking up
most of the heat. I can only hope that it is
going through me and reaching into her.
I put my fingers through her long black hair,
pushing it away from her face, her throat.
I wonder if her mother was as beautiful.
A More Private Place
At the reservoir I see a raven I’m not familiar with.
Standing on a very thin, very dilapidated fence,
it looks out over the cold choppy waves without a
care in the world. But when it sees me approaching
it lifts slowly and flies away. It travels along the
shore until it comes to a more private place
on the fence, a place I’ve already walked past.
yourself at all
with this aloneness
that has come
as it has always
don’t shed any
tears or toss
trying to see or
trying to understand
nothing will come of it
and only valuable
sleep will be lost
let the leaves
fall and let them