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Blue (When Mixed With Red)

We had watched an enjoyable live music performance at the Anaheim Civic Center. A couple of hundred people at an intimate venue enjoyed the show and had a great time talking to the husband and wife performers, the stars of the show.

We hung around a while talking to friends, then headed out to the dark and nearly empty parking lot. There we saw the performers again, re-packing the guitars around their duffel bags in the crowded compact hatchback. Off to the next show …

Blue (When Mixed With Red)

There were no blue notes in his set
Up-beat banjo hints of bluegrass
He stood tall in blue jeans and knit cap
Light dancing off the face of his guitar

She stood beside him harmonized
Her mandolin stepped high above
His smooth blue voice that called her every night
For twenty years

She was counterpoint to him
Beneath her polished presentation
Danced a restless nervousness
That glowed deep red beneath stage lights

The people loved their act
Stood clapping at the end
The small hall had no backstage haven
So they walked along the wall
And stood there in the back
To autograph a few Cd’s

He walked out later in the dark
Past stragglers beneath street lights
And re-arranged the little truck
To get the amp and guitars in
She joined him and they drove into the night
Where red and blue had mixed up a deep purple
That colored in the shades of gray

Copyright © 2011 Francis Kearns

Strip Mall Goddess

You greeted us as we stepped through the door
Across the noisy room at dinner hour,
The careless dreadlock curls that seemed to soar
A necklace that evoked some mystic power

Your calm gaze echoed such serenity
You floated just an inch above the floor,
Brown back and shoulders held with dignity
Were echoes of Egyptian queens of yore.

I searched for steadiness against the wall.
You moved – my heart, constricted, missed a beat
And let out such an aching feeble call.
Your graceful arc of arm revealed my seat.

What noble lives have you passed through before?
”I am your waitress,” yes – and so much more.

copyright © 2011 Francis Kearns

Safe Passage

I could write a poem
about epic adventure,
preparation, struggle,
final overcoming,
the tired entrance into camp,
with dawn just emerging over the far mountains.

But better to write about
a sunny summer day
on a well worn path above Bass Lake
following Willow Creek,
woods green with spring colors,
air fresh and cool and damp
like the moisture of fresh snow melt
still hiding in the dark recesses of the wood,

and the water high with the spring flood,
racing deep and fast through a rocky flume,
smashing into boulders,
foaming in deep whirlpools,
where the east side is hemmed in
by the vertical granite wall,
and the west side is a wide sloping granite shelf
warmed in morning sun,
an inviting deviation from the path
that loops away through still cool wood,

and how we walked along the shelf,
thirty feet from the edge,
and how the seeping water was barely noticed,
the algae clinging to the rock
so slick that we were without warning on hands and knees,
sliding, slowly, down the shelf,
and how each attempt to stand was unsuccessful,
and brought us closer to the roiling water,
and only the most gentle movement
made progress against the slanting rock,
twenty feet of passage
sideways, slow, slow crawl,
measuring each move,

and how the sun shone, and the birds sang on,
and the sound of water never changed.

copyright © 2011 Francis Kearns

You and I Walking

You were re-assembling
the building blocks,
throwing off the mood of troubled youth,
climbing out of scrimping two-job
low rent downtown apartments.

I was stepping out of
the skin of the classroom boy,
reborn to the sun in the garden,
community food banks, anti-war marches
and the smell of machine shop oil.

We shared the wonder of
warm air on a summer night,
strong coffee and alcohol
and the sound of the blues guitar
bending that high slow note
‘till our souls took flight.

I looked for nothing
beyond the spell
but in brief instants saw
as the kitchen window
set your red bandanna
golden hair aglow
a long road
and in the distance
you and I
walking

Copyright © 2011 Frank Kearns

Night Life

At four in the morning
The sound of the truck
Plays out its song at the stoplight.

An ode to just one person
Whose children are still sleeping,
Who had coffee in the dark,
And pulled his jacket tight
Against the chill.

I lay here awake:
Another car turns at the light.
It rounds the corner past my house.
Perhaps he’s coming home
Much, much too late.

My mind floats out
To hear the sounds,
And memories of other nights.
A fire truck shrieks through the dark,
And I am a small child,
Watching headlights grow against my wall,
Then veer across the room and out of sight.

I follow them
Across the town
And down the hill
To places decades gone,
To where my mother hears my cry,
And comes to tuck my blanket
Tight against my chin

The light turns green,
The bark of the truck brings me back
To a lone man up early
At a time when each small man
Is heard above the din.

In the Heat of the Night

A time when all the anchors

Are stripped away, and we are naked

In the Still of the Night

And alone, and floating with our fear,

Floating with our feeling
‘Till the dawn.