Poetry: Jason Ryberg

1) Evening Birds

 

With the sunset comes

the first of the evening

birds, with their glassy

 

eyes and piercing blue

notes, bragging about all their

women in the dark

 

places of our quaint

little neighborhood, the sun

now nothing but a

 

residue of pink

and gold on the horizon,

and the stars just now

 

focusing all their

distant gazes upon us

from places that some

 

scientists say are

now just giant holes in space,

that lead somewhere else.

 

 

2) Timing the Thunder

 

We were waiting for

a storm to brew while the moon

played accordion

 

and wore a paper-

boy hat (rakishly angled),

looking down on the

 

empty streets of our

nameless little town that most

people only seemed to

 

remember because

of something horrible that

happened here a long

 

time ago. But it’s

just another Friday night

down here and nothing

 

to do but watch the

lightning on the horizon

and time the thunder.

 

 

3) A Couple Hundred Miles of Here

 

A night out on a Midwestern highway in an old

convertible, beneath a sky crowded over with

numerous constellations, and the dashboard all

aglow with the Drifter’s Under the Boardwalk

or You Send Me by Sam Cooke, from what I’d

bet has to be the last damn station, FM or AM,

within a couple hundred miles of here that still

plays this kind of stuff, is about as good a night

down here on Planet Earth, as one can hope for.

 

 

4) Portrait of Old Man Sitting on Park Bench

As dark spring clouds begin to collect and sag

     with the inverse sadness of the season,

the sun is reduced to little more than a pocket

flash light shining through a thick fog.

 

And someone’s playing

opera

somewhere

out

here

on

what

I’d swear

was an old-

timey gramophone,

with that tinny, echoey tone.

 

And a skinny old man is sitting on a park bench,

sipping from a brown bag and nodding his head

     of wild white hair along with the music.


 

5) There’s Reasons They Call It the Cruelest Month

Just something about a cold, gray day,

wet and windy as hell, in mid-April,

of all things;

 

and maybe you’re just reposing, conspicuously,

in a bookstore / coffee house / bar (or all three,

sequentially, throughout the afternoon),

 

with Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (the whole album

set to repeat on an ancient but ever-reliable ipod and

earbuds found in a forgotten cardboard box in the

back of the closet), providing an interesting backdrop

and running commentary on this rather moody,

atmospheric and unseasonably wintery scene.

 

Happens every year about this time but

we always seem to forget there’s reasons they call it

the cruelest month  (if but the most bi-polar /

passive aggressive, at the very least).

 

But, more often than not, we’re all eventually

reminded by something that this will all be over with,

most likely this time next week, and the hard days

of summer on us soon enough.

*** 

 

Jason Ryberg is the author of eighteen books of poetry,
six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders,
notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be
(loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry
letters to various magazine and newspaper editors.
He is currently an artist-in-residence at both 

The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s 

and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor 

and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection

of poems is The Great American Pyramid Scheme

(co-authored with W.E. Leathem, Tim Tarkelly and

Mack Thorn, OAC Books, 2022). He lives part-time

in Kansas City, MO with a rooster named Little Red 

and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere 

in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also 

many strange and wonderful woodland critters. 


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