About Alan Reynolds

Poet born and raised in North Carolina and now after a sojourn in England a long-time resident of the Netherlands. More than 4,000 poems, many published in US and UK literary magazines and on CD and in books.

Up Sand Downs

He tried to step on the wind. When that worked he was off to the races.
He went for a walk on the edge of the known constellations.
He saw there was more everywhere. He headed home star-burned.
He forded the stream of forgetfulness more times than he noticed.
He drove down gaunt angels who said they were seeking a chauffeur.
He upended, defending their honour, dire mendicant beings.
He ended up writing down fables his words turned to fact.

Cicada Song

I hear old news: each new cicada’s song
repeats scraped notes with no change I can hear.
Fidelity a million years can’t wrong
rings through the muted trills that reach my ear.
When dinosaurs watched forest birds appear,
cicadas sang this song. These are the notes
that serenaded Celts who shaped these moats
in years when Rhône and Nîmes had Stone-Age names.
While I react to terror’s newest ‘votes’
cicadas string their chants on ancient frames.

I’ve read a plane’s been downed, all fliers dead;
each death a tragedy surviving news
that seeks and signals madness, till it’s read
and superseded. Widows take first views
of loneliness, and red-cold rage pursues
newly-childless parents as they wait,
unseeingly, at the arrival gate
for this, another flight that won’t arrive.
Cicada song and human news both grate
upon my ears, and ask why I’m alive.

I walk alone into the careless wood
and claim some shade, sit on a rough-stone wall
I share with ants and katydid. I should
find peace. It’s hot. Cicadas call
in rhythms in which angry bombers could
imagine calls to action; or a parent might
hear announcements cancelling that flight
her children should have missed. They’re dead.
Old news. Cicadas stop their song at night:
the silent time that we survivors dread.

FAV Reina Pool rendition of Alan Reynolds Cicada Song

Wee Human Beasts

Here’s why the other human beasts abhor us.
It’s a common trait we have from common parents
so common we have other mannerisms
like war and murder our kind traces back
to when we were one family razing cane,
each of us thinking he or she is able
to get out after setting fires in stables.
We’re sure we prosper sponsoring insane
wars somewhere else, feel we evade the pack,
and packs of lies, and sponsored barbarisms,
each certain it’s the other who’s the tyrant,
and the only god’s the one who roots for us.

Harps and Violent Inns

The hearts and violins they’re passing out
don’t hold a candle to the ones we burned.
The fountain has cracked. Red rust leaks from the spout
beside the pool where once our bodies turned
as one creating underwater sun.
The courtyard where we danced is sharply paved
with broken glasses. We broke everyone.
The vineyard where in spring we misbehaved
has been cut down. I find the blackbird’s nest.
The broken glass reflects the empty shells.
I try to smile, pretending it is best
that you’re not here to hear the muffled bells
that toll the march of autumn through the plain
as the shells give up their colours to the rain.

presented June 2001 in The New Formalist ISSN:1532-558X

The Gardens near Waterwall Edge

Sometimes sounds soar up from earth through space
to the edge of Heaven that God has water-walled.
This morning’s listeners heard an old disgrace:
‘Kill a commie for Christ!’ fanatics bawled,
and Christ, for all His years, was still, appalled.
‘I preached and lived and died for peace and love
but people still graft talons on my dove.’

Shapes shifted in the gardens where He walked.
While some gave witness, others shied away,
too overcome by how raw evil stalked
this Christ who’d died for everyone one day
and everyday thereafter; saw him sway,
beseech some One, get answers that they lacked
the grace to hear yet. Watched His straightened back.

When He walked on, they started a debate.
For some this was Valhalla. One of them
suggested lightning should disintegrate
the criminals whose creeds brought pain to Him.
A painful silence. Finally the dim
as well as all the brighter understood
why He must suffer fools and knaves for good.

Evening Star

He knew then that he had lost it,
couldn’t recall the name of the star
even when looking at the familiar face
on the screen.
            Remembered to come in on time,
turn on the TV to the remembered channel,
recording the film he remembered would start then.

‘Sun Dance And Billy The Kid?’ ‘Bob Newhart?’

He had sat in the star’s car in Westport,
a Porsche Spyder disguised in a Beetle body.
He’d talked twice with the star’s wife at parties
in the loose rhythms hip people affected,
all playing their bits, their parts,
getting down
in alligator shirts with long tails
and Madras Bermudas that really ran
when washed.
            Watched the star (‘Robert?’)
get his fingers broken with a pool cue by Fat Jack,
in those black-and-white films they called
‘movies’ then — there, in Fairfield County
where small planes flew low on weekends
and sprayed the big houses and lawns
with Beefeater London Distilled Dry Gin.
            ‘Don’t mix, stir twice,’
some bonding idiocy (‘James?’)

Drinking nine bone-dry martinis,
then crashing the road-closed signs
in what seemed a slow and controlled drift,
one toppled concrete signpost spearing
the roadster’s floor plate but missing
his star-crossed foot. Sparing him.

Know a good lawyer? Have the name yet?

‘Paul’ something. Sounds ecumenical. The
good pope, sort of human (‘John?’) hadn’t lived
long in office. Nor had the Camelot king
who ruled for the best and the brightest.

Twenty minutes into the film, and he still
can’t recall it: the name of that Star.

A White Russian Christmas

I know, when I see the white cattle egrets
tending the late December fields,
grazing like guinea fowl, gyring like gulls.

I know, when the rains drive straight across,
rinsing blood from the memories,
drenching the log where I cut back thorns
to sit and watch the birds and rains.

Behind the cattle egrets, red broad cows
stand down the horizon,
russet frames for miniatures
of empty portraits in the sky.

Portraits as troubling and graciously vague
as those of long-dead grandsons made
on future daughters by drunken soldiers
killed before next payday.

I know, but know a little rinsing
will irritate me more than cure:
the welcome of an opened door
spoiled by anxious questions.

The red cows turn their horns toward me.
Thorns fragile enough to break
on my finger’s bone, but not before,
slash back at my knife and hand.

– – + + + – – –

I let myself inside the field.
The grass, felt-pressed by sheep,
springs up around my ancient boots
mimicking marches I remember.

Marches like those being made
in Grozny on this Boxing Day
where the only wholly silence is
that of the usually vocal West.

The evil empire bombs soldiers
drunk on ‘kill the infidel,’
a draught drunk in our daughters’ blood
for so many aeons that we are glad

when an empire somewhere draws the line,
then bombs those transfixed on that line flat.
Recording both sides’ transgressions,
gods wish each side good genocide.

I walk the fields the sheep have grazed
and clean my boots in welcome rain.
I thank the gods for Gore-Tex
and pretend to hunt the cattle egrets.