Ryan Warren lives with his family by the sea in Northern California. He is a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, and his poetry has previously appeared in numerous journals including California Quarterly, Poetry Daily, Poetry Breakfast, Amaryllis, Wilderness House Literary Review, Firefly Magazine, Verse-Virtual, and the anthology, Carry The Light. More on his published works can be found at http://www.facebook.com/RyanWarrenPoetry.
of Orion's Belt
the western-most hitch
for his dark pants
is a double star, actually
A and B: bright blue giants
twin suns circling
every five days
each 3 billion years old
and yet still younger
than our own star
born as our own earth
broke apart its supercontinent
first formed its magnetic field
whose light took
916 years to arrive
left as Henry I
was crowned in England
the Crusades raged
Héloïse was born
Abélard's destiny was set
and a picture
of the twin blue suns of Mintaka
went forth across the universe
and was received
by my eyes
almost a thousand years later
and just as I was beginning
to think that important things
were happening around me today
In my previous life I was a leaf.
Or was I Cleopatra? I don't know,
I can't claim her memories.
I have no lingering animosity towards Romans,
no unexplained fear of asps.
But what I do know about is budding,
is spring, is green so brilliant it terrifies
the world that celebrates your greenness.
What I know about is unfolding, damp and limber,
learning how to open to what feeds you.
I have felt the thousand little things
that eat small holes in you
crawl across my darkening body.
How they labor to take pieces away,
leaving you less than you thought you needed.
I know about how the holes seal
darkened at the edges.
Little discs of nothing
punched through you.
How you still go on.
I can remember the warm, yellow days
when everything you collect flows,
as it should, to root and branch.
I know about the joy of buds, appearing,
brighter, tender leaves, unfurling around you.
I have known what it is to see
the brittle, brown leaves dropping before you.
To hear them released, and slowly fall away.
I have felt the drying at my edges,
the weakening at my stem.
Perhaps I was someone else, too.
A serf starving on the Russian steppe,
a Pygmy medicine woman, a potato bug.
Or simply star stuff, the sum total of carbon
the universe was willing to share on a given day.
But then a stiff, fall breeze rustles the ruddy foliage.
Crisp leaves break loose from their beds,
swirling about our heads for a moment,
and again I remember—and again I am with them,
falling back and away, down to the waiting earth.
The Moon Illusion
Lemonwhite and smudged
by ocean haze
I stumble upon
a huge softball moon
the twilit hillside.
Not the cold, bright
the high dark sky
but its bigger, easier
full as my moonshining
eyes as my twilit heart.
Which they say is a lie
an inflationary trick
played on my wanting mind
when the round moon
hangs just above
the lip of some horizon--
and which I can test
by holding up to it
an object of reference,
a dime from my pocket,
to see that, really,
the broad, desirous low moon
and the thin, austere high moon
are exactly the same size.
But why should I believe that?
Does my own size not change--
though never at all
compared to the dime
in your pocket?
Don't I grow
from thin to bursting
to equanimity to tears
within a single day,
without ever changing
the dimensions of my skin?
Leave your dime
in your pocket,
we have enough
objects of reference
and no need to test
the fullness of our hearts.
The chicken is slippery as I strip
meat from bone, slippery from the fat
woven like a thread through the plump carcass
carcass, corpse, body—it’s all context
the chicken arrived roasted, skin crispy and seasoned
herb-covered, smelling delicious, and my job
my job is to strip soft, white flesh from rubbery bone
flesh for soups, for salads, flesh for a week
of meals, and not to sneak too much
too much lures me in as I carefully separate tissue from sinew
fat from meat, muscle from cartilage and fascia
pull apart what bound this bird when it still breathed, not now
now’s not the time to feel nerve, to think of this bird
engineered to be drawn and quartered on kitchen counters
while wildness is wound deep-set in all of our bones
bones I dare not to toss my dog: poised, all coiled tension
untroubled by concern for the bird, his singular focus--
waiting, wolflike, to break open the bones of his desire
A Midwinter Hymn
From Orion’s winter field
we are received
into the clear and cold
the shortest, the darkest
the furthest tilted
on the holy axis
away from the heart
of the circling sun.
hosanna when the cows
the beer fermented.
Feast now and light
now the holy lights
drive out the fearsome dark
light the longest,
light the coldest
begin now the tilting
forward into the light
let the lights be lighted
and let light and love
and joy come to you, and to you your wassail too
and begin the holy holy return
of the sun, of the Christchild,
born this holy Saturnalia,
this festival of lights
begun this Brumalia, this Advent
this Amaterasu, this Choimus,
this Inti Raymi, this Koliada.
Holy, holy Thai Pongal,
holy is this Makara Sankranthi,
this Soyal, this Şeva Zistanê.
Holy is Shab-e Yaldā,
Dongzhi and Korochun,
holy Shalako and holy Goru. This,
this holy Chanukah, this Yule,
carried in by fickle Julenisse,
by merry ghosts, by Ded Moroz,
flown in by La Bafana,
walked in by the Samichlaus,
St. Lucy, St. Nicholas, St Basil
Kleesschen, Tió de Nadal.
born is the King of Israel
come let us adore him.
Adore Matisyahu, Judah Maccabee,
adore ancient Odin, give thanks to Dažbog,
Thank you to wise Father Christmas,
to gentle Santa Claus.
O holy night
when all is calm, bright
mount then the holly, the ivy
mount the greens of mistletoe
bring in the ancient pagan tree.
Light, light, light the ancient
and the scented log
light, light, bring forth the evergreens
and light the 9 holy candles
for 8 holy nights
and remember the reason
for the season of the ending,
the bonedeep and the most ancient,
the beginning, the slaughtering,
the fermenting, the feasting
and the light
the light that weakens
the ending darkness
that light that lights
the starting sun.