Richard Harteis

family photo

Autumn on the River

     "Downriver, other dogs take up the work.
      They are clearing a path for the barges of cold
       and silence which the creatures are expecting."

               William Meredith, "Winter on the River"

My head drinks in the pillow,
the phylactery is full. The provident
geese have all flown town,
the lazy swans dawdle on, oblivious.
The cricket plays to an empty house.
A battalion of bees has commandeered
the humming bird feeder. School busses
careen around the countryside like
yellow dragons. Red bleeds into the maple
bright as a warning flag: Here she comes,
here she comes. Better get off the tracks.
Autumn comes barreling down
with barges of ice sure to follow.

Time to buy some No More Tears
and shampoo my baby-thin hair.
Time for a cap and scarf, time to air
the moth balls and assess the damage.
Time to repair, transplant and harvest,
time to nurture the heart
till spring once more revives.

family photo

The Cricket Sings the Blues

Que Sera Sera

Eat, drink and be merry,
for tomorrow we diet.

We danced the night away
under the electric moon.
Music was as easy as
crossing your legs,
love, a non-stop friction.
Stars exploded anywhere we
looked across the majestic sky.
We seized every minute of the day.
We ate our fill, at will, from
the earth's resplendent bounty
and we lost ourselves in the
endless kiss of summer.

Now fall comes roaring in
in his pimpmobile
to shut down the party
and collect the rent. 
It's all soggy confetti
and stale beer. The drummer's
split, the fiddle repossessed.
All we can muster is an
arthritic squeak for the bored
clean-up crew mopping the floors.
No place left to crash, the sun
bears down like a nasty hangover.
crows line up in their black robes
and caw from the tops of trees:
"get your ass out of the garden,
and get a job" to we, who only lately
were the very definition of delight!
     Oh man . . . .

Wind Over Water
 (A country song)
Like a wind over water
The tide in the sea
Your spirit still moves me
Though the world has stopped turning
Since you are not here.

When the wheat field is waving
And the clouds dance above
Your love it protects me 
from pain and the grave

So blow on me darling
Rekindle my fire
Let memory take us
The heart's full desire

We'll walk in the valley
The mountain's high bliss
I give you my soul dear
This eternal kiss

You live deep inside me
like the core of a tree
that reaches to heaven
and grows tenderly 

I'll carry you darling 
for days and for years 
time hasn't the power 
to dry up these tears

For like a wind over water
The tide in the sea
You spirit still moves me
and the world will start turning
When you reappear

The Lone Swan 

makes his radiant way
on a ribbon of light that 
mirrors the sky's proud flag: 
red, gold, silver, lavender.

Such a brave white chest  
gliding effortlessly 
on the water, concealing  
the great paddles pulling 
against the current below.  

Where is he traveling in the 
fading light? Where is 
his legendary mate? Not even
his reflection for comfort, 
oblivious to his beauty. 

Tonight no fox will ruin his nest
no hunter trespass his sleep. 
Tonight he'll ascend the ladder 
of light cast across the water 
to lay his breast against the moon, 
to wrap his wings about his lover
and blanket the dreaming world below
in the sweet consummation of their shadow.


Richard Harteis' latest book, The Revenant (Little Red, includes a series of elegies for his late partner, the poet William Meredith, and poems for his dog Daisy who has become a channel to the other side.  He is president of the William Meredith Foundation and lives in West Palm Beach and Uncasville, Connecticut, where his home has recently been added to the State Registry of Historic Landmarks and established as the William Meredith Center for the Arts. In 2008 a 35-mm film was produced based on his memoir, Marathon (W.W. Norton).



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