Fool’s Birthday

Not every day
do you pass through a door
without opening it
and behind the iron bolt
find cake.

Not every day
against the slow grinding glaciers,
evaporating seas,
the calcification
of every human heart,
do you sing.

Not every day is a birthday.
Not every slice has something
to blow out.

Back From A Climb

Back from a climb
higher than a sparrow’s fall
from peak to granite sorrow,
the old cold streams still flow,
snow settles over fields and hills,
grackles, finches, feed at feeders,
but we no longer feed,
we no longer flow.

Our lungs are dried.
Our knees ground down.

Trickles within a stride,
ascents within a breath,
soft dreamy drifts,
we slip them on
and shuffle off to bed.
In a room without roof or walls
we toss and turn and draw
the hemlocks closer.
Below the snow
we can’t stop climbing.

A Child Lost

Whoever praised the shore
lied about the tide.
I cried against the lies,
the blankets, the sunblock air,
the strangers who reached down
and touched my hair.

A child lost.
Silent sand.

A child lost.
rolling swells,
broken shells . . .

A child lost
and there he stood,
seaweed streaming.
He never sang
and he was singing.

He was a child,
and he was safe.
But he was a child
I never found.

Some Stones I Could Read

The old man set me to work.

My father lies here.
Yours may too.

Some stones I could read,
others winter worn
as if erased,
or not yet written—

The old man said nothing
about wrongs,
the right, the rest,
only it was just and proper
we pull up weeds, that every Spring
we lay down lilacs

whether we can
or cannot read.

I will tell you a secret.
Soldiers love leaves.

We read what we read,
take what we take.
How many did we bury in the meadow,
how many in shadow,
whispering elms,
ashes, ashes . . . ?

On This Road We Wave

Dust hangs heavy over the road.
A fox fades, a moose looms, a driver waves.
Backlit silhouettes, faceless,
nameless as they near
wave like injured blackbirds their one good wing
and I wave back though knowing
none of this will lift.
Eyeless in the dust
I wave at men. I wave at squirrels.
I wave at moths. I wave at jays.
From his porch
an old man barely standing waves
a catcher’s mitt – disaster orange.
My hand lifts, another flutters.
Our hands, our paws, our wings
flutter, flap, sway—
So few on this road
carry their own light.

Ray Keifetz has published stories and poems in numerous literary journals and presses including Ashland Creek Press, Briar Cliff Review, Gargoyle, Kestrel, the Louisville Review, Phantom Drift and RHINO. His work has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes. “Night Farming In Bosnia” his first poetry collection received the Library of Poetry Award from the Bitter Oleander Press. He currently lives in Northern New Hampshire.