Tree Riesener – Four Poems



not a wooden bamboo tube
of cascading smooth pebbles
nor midnight storm
falling into
the tick-tock clack of a bamboo grove

only coins
falling from your trousers
when you came to bed
after the late movie

metallic cascading rain
but the air was not scented
of warm moist drops

some time later
a call slightly heard
just before dawn

not a mosque moved in overnight
nor summoning sirens
to a de-railed train
a blazing fire

only the radio at five
gradually arousing me
sleepy reluctant
to sweet old gospel music
blessing smell of baking bread
fragrance of arabica

hymn number 382

sweet george herbert
said he would bring
all his fresh cream to the lord

it was a hymn in church 
this twenty-first century morning
looking back four hundred years

I guess it wasn’t easy in those days
milk the cow separate the cream
keep it cool

I remember
when I was a kid
the milkman left bottles on the porch

in wintertime
the cream that rose to the top
would freeze and lift off

the little cardboard circle lid
before our parents got up
we would slice off a disk

of frozen cream
a little circle like the communion wafer
eat it sprinkled with sugar

still that wouldn’t be the way
george herbert got cream 
his would be fresh and foamy in a pitcher

cream must have been a little treat
he liked so much
he thought it would be nice

to share it with someone he loved
a good man george herbert
he knew about blankets for the poor 

things like that so he understood
about cream being something
you could offer god

love letters

I wanted to tell you I loved you
            my english words seemed trite
            too useful
            your eyes filled with tears

I prepared latin
            to tell you again
            you never showed up

got closer and closer
            with catalan finno-serbic uguric
            sound groups vibrated
            full of potential
you left an excuse
on my machine

greek spoken quickly
            some imaginary dialect
            you glanced but turned away

ancient hebrew with invented sound,
sara’s lost language from
ur of the chaldees
            you lingered
            with some tentative
            hope in your eyes

pitman’s shorthand on agile fingers
            you held my hands

khan-destroyed tangut
            sacred now to pain
            some increase of

at desperate last I tried breathing
letters of fire on air
you opened your arms

now we sit long hours speaking silence

we are approaching truth
            watching ready to reach out
            touch lips lightly
            abandon words

sleeping together

so many years
yet every day
I still yearn
for night to come
when I’m alone
lost in dream,
I make a motion
with my left arm
just sort of a curve
into the air
and people in libraries
and on subways
stare at me
think poor thing
she has a condition
but I’m just imagining
that I’m in bed with you
lying on my right side
my left arm curled
around you
you know I’m there
even in your sleep
if it’s winter
you lift up your shirt
so I can touch your skin                                                                             
put your hand over mine
not even waking up
and the night goes on


Author’s Statement on Beauty

The discussion of the relationship between beauty and truth has been going on for a long time.  These two concepts are so entangled that we will never agree on which has more validity, what the relationship is.  To me, both are unreliable.  Truth? Well, as Pilate said, “What is truth?”  Answers give birth to more questions. After thought, I think that for me beauty must be allied to honesty, which is a personal attribute whereas truth is more universal.  Truth: We all grow old, and age can have great pain and suffering.  Honesty: The old can have faces and souls of great beauty. Truth: War is brutal and evil.  Honesty: Some sacrifice their lives in war  to try to protect the innocent. So while the discussion between truth and beauty goes on, I will go with honesty entwined with beauty as a place in which I want to look for meaning.


Tree Riesener is the author of  Sleepers Awake, a collection of fiction, winner of the Eludia Award, Sowilo Press; The Hubble Cantos, Aldrich Press; and EK, to be published in early 2017 by Cervena Barva Press. Her chapbook Angel Fever will be published by Ravenna Press as part of their Triple series in 2017. She has published three previous chapbooks: Liminalog, a collection of ghazals and sijo, Inscapes, poems of interior landscapes, and Angel Poison, thoughts on contemporary society. She is former Managing Editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal and former Contributing Editor to The Ghazal Page. More at: