Peter Fallon Poems

AN OUTLOOK

They have ruffled
the embers of evening
and flap from its flames.
They come like clockwork,
minutes later every eventide,
a loud returning that proclaims

the row of lines in which
they pause, en route to roosting
in the rookery, a place of rest.
They sketch black scripture
in the sky. They watch
from trees where they don't nest -

these pairs and threes, tens
and dozens making thousands -
while I, intent on praise
and mesmerized, wonder what,
as they fly by, they might be
and realize: they are the days.... more »

A FAMILY TIE

She lit the candles
of kindness, one by one,
until her ‘Pray for me'
and my unuttered
‘I will mind you in the only state
time is safe, that is, memory'.

Your haunting by a younger self
tests a courage to keep faith
when so much disappears -
friends to age, the land itself.
The waves that weep on one lakeshore
leave the other wet with tears.

All that was long before I learned
(if I've learned anything)
because I read a sign
that any life might be
the same length as
a strand of twine.

Time, is it? Or time that's left?
The hours in which we partake
are but a trick
of retrospect and longing.
When you left home
it was I who was homesick.

Now what was and is
have separated, but are still twins
within that mystery
of time - or time and place,
as if a place
had but a single history.

For it was not a letting go,
no, more a series
of sheddings.
How often have I quoted her -
you can't dance
at all the weddings.

Now you chase your hearts
and aces the days bequeath
but brittle traces.
We might grow by healing.
Be strong, my love,
in the broken places.

I'd wake and want to give
the ordinary day
its due.
Who enters age amenably?
Who but a lucky few
complete their lives? It's true,

I'd seek the making
of a summer
in a single swallow.
Do good work,
I'd tell myself,
and the rest will follow.... more »

LATE SENTINELS

How would they know whether
they're coming or going
as they swish that way and this
in such fierce weather,

those winter trees between
the window and the lake,
those snappy ashes
and that steadfast evergreen,

its ivy clinging on for life?
The tips of Sitka spruces bend
like sailboats in a storm at sea.
Sturdy sceptres, emblems of strife.

Shrubs stand unshaken in the shelter
of an alcove, under eaves.
Late sentinels - their woodland
cousins flurry in a welter

of distress as when in fright
we start awake and worry
where we are. We scan the nap
by lightning's light.

And so to whom now will we turn,
now that the long nights
lean on us? Now who or what
will guide us as they burn,

those fires of house and hearth,
in guttery flickers?
As if there were no end to plenty
we plundered earth.

Where are they now, those chaste priestesses
who tended embers born from Troy
and kept them lighting year on year
for centuries? For anyone who transgresses

nothing worse than the shame -
not even the mandatory sentence,
that became our task and duty. We had
their trust. They held us as protectors of the flame.... more »

Peter Fallon Quotes

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