Two Poems by Ralph Monday

by: Ralph Monday

At the heart of these two poems by Ralph Monday is the notion that while we are in and of the natural world, its ultimate meaning escapes us. The weakened winter sun “is a prophet speaking with gas & atoms” but “no one hears/ the fiery sermon” because our desired sense of connection to ourselves, others, and the world so often fails to “fill [our] mouth with eternity’s/ dream.”

Winter Solstice, 2017

One could tear the pages from a book,
nature’s psyche and read the frozen
pumpkins, still in the fields, as moons circling far planets,
the treeline black & white undeveloped sticks
calling for the sun’s return that prefers to remain
anonymous where its thin heat does nothing to the cold
traveling from the moon. Bent as it is in solar improvisations
forced upon it by the texts of men, its light sweeps
through the long dark in asymmetrical lances in courtship
for three months until crossing the equator’s threshold.
Then, as now, it is a prophet speaking with gas & atoms
to London, Athens, Istanbul, Jerusalem where no one hears
the fiery sermon: only the cold dark among the trees,
chittering wide-eyed animals, the rock, the root, the rooster
waiting at dawn.


What Would I Say?

If I could talk to you like the wind
+++++speaks to the tree, truly sit down
++++++++++over tea, if I could unlock my tongue

as deciphered cuneiform tablets
+++++pulled from Sumerian sands, or understand
++++++++++like I did when the teacher wrote the lesson on the

board, what would I say?
+++++I would utter out poor words & think of rose
++++++++++petals, of fine antique china brought out for

special occasions, of 1950s sitcoms
+++++composed of innocent laughter, of spring without
++++++++++winter, autumn without summer, of

music & poetry & Dickinson’s sad
+++++white dress, of all these things—and more.
++++++++++I would say that you are of those who

walk on still waters, those who speak in spiritual
+++++whispers, of women walking through
++++++++++shadowed primal forests with

delicate fingers knowing the meaning of bark
+++++that shapes the boat for the journey.
++++++++++I would say to you come sit in the

Joshua tree & I will dress you in Methuselah’s
+++++wisdom. Sew a skirt from Joseph’s many
++++++++++colors & like a ballerina make

pure Salome’s dance. I would
+++++bring a platter of figs, dates,
++++++++++crimson pomegranates to drip

salvation’s ambrosia juice upon your
+++++lips & make a tunnel from one point
++++++++++to another—from the heavens stitched

to Earth’s bounty—but leave the swollen
+++++apple, the unturned leaf.
++++++++++I would say West is the land of

shade, east where your eyes turn to a
+++++mounting promise known only to
++++++++++you. I would say lie down in a

field of stone, take the grass as a
+++++groom & fill your mouth with eternity’s

I would say I have said
+++++enough. What is it
++++++++++that you say.


Ralph Monday is Professor of English at Roane State Community College in Harriman, TN., and has published hundreds of poems in over 100 journals. A chapbook, All American Girl and Other Poems, was published in July 2014. A book Empty Houses and American Renditions was published May 2015 by Aldrich Press. A Kindle chapbook Narcissus the Sorcerer was published June 2015 by Odin Hill Press. An e-book, Bergman’s Island & Other Poems was published by Poetry Repairs in March of 2017, and a humanities text is scheduled for publication by Kendall/Hunt in 2018.


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