Impermanence                                                                                                   —Richard Jones

Three painters painting a cottage across the street
climb down ladders and clean their brushes,
then sit together on the grass in the cool shade
and eat their lunch in the quiet August noon.
The postman parks his white Jeep on the corner,
swings open the door, pours coffee from a thermos,
unwraps a sandwich he eats slowly, then sits
for twenty minutes doing nothing. Next door,
the music teacher helps a boy carry a cello
down the steep front steps to a waiting car,
then absentmindedly bends to pick a few weeds
from a parched garden that is mostly weeds.
Standing under a tall spruce clearing my head
of ten thousand disappointed desires and dreams,
I think of nothing but the holy things here today—
painters, cello, ladders, the mailman’s leather pouch,
roof tops, weeds, a boy with his mother driving away,
and the small white cottage that tomorrow will be red.


Painting at Night

On a clear night I go outside
to paint the stars, blue Rigel
and yellow-red Arcturus,
erecting my easel and canvas
in the dark, navy and cobalt
deepening like the sky until
I can’t see the brushstrokes.
Then I paint the shiny specks
twinkling above, white dots
I can hardly see in the dark
unless I make big circles.
Then I’ve painted the moon
in the center of the canvas,
a moon reflecting the light
I never believe existed
before I became a painter—
the light shining from my face.


Here on Planet Earth

My cabin was a quirky retreat,
out-of-the-way and secluded,
a quiet place where a man
could find haven and heal.
Woodstove. Well-water kitchen.
One room for playing guitar,
one with light for painting.
Sagging old bookshelves.
Sleeping loft. Writing desk. 
The sad world broken,
the sky cracked in two,
everything was in ruins save
the mountains, a watercolor
perfectly framed by the window.
Notebooks tried to find words
for the beauty seen in hills
and azure crests flowing north
in one abandoned brushstroke.
The problem was deep and great.
Gazing at those blue mountains
I would lose myself in questions.
I know my life is like morning fog—
here a little while and then gone—
but the vows I made then I’ve kept.
The rolling fields and secret path
I walked those many years ago
through autumn woods and snow
were more than a blessing. The path
made life sweet, and sweeter still
for the sake of my madness and sorrow.

photo: Sarah Jones

photo: Sarah Jones

Richard Jones is the author of seven books from Copper Canyon Press, including The Correct Spelling & Exact Meaning. Editor of Poetry East and its many anthologies, including Paris, Origins, and Bliss, he also edits the free worldwide poetry app, "The Poet's Almanac." A new book, Pilgrim on Earth, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon in 2018.

ISSN 2472-338X
© 2017