Two Poems by John Wares

frosted morning, under Tennessee wall, lonely tent
coldest i recall, a night of stares
and the neighbor girls giggle about the shared
lack, the toes, the gloves, the problem
would resolve with more bodies in there,
positive joy, love on waking
hot tea, eggs,
December, sandstone shading
beautiful camp on river, boulders, fog.
hike up, packs expectant with metal
layers shed each few, fifteen, up
to the water drop when shirt falls on moss.
more than could be counted
escaping all the lies below,
a first people’s urge,
climb to the top, look down,
flat shine of sun on rivers’ flow.



sandia, sangre, coast, pigeon, unaka, cascade, smoky, rocky,
     sierra.
what is a mountain if not a dream, a map, lines drawn by a
     five-year-old?
mountains are not high points of the land but the truth,
subsidence and depressions slip into the sea from where i look
     west into wind,
eyes watering, memories are drawn out and slip into the valley
     behind me,
caught on the run back down the trail, only when hurried.
what is a mountain if not a pile of gems, caverns full of
     mystery,
resting place of snow, the pull of gravity, exposure of what
     is real?
then, mountains shadow the uninspired and attract long gazes,
knowing every day the mountain is different, looks different,
will snag different winds and clouds and rain on the east.
the mountain can wake you up, if you aren’t careful, with sun
     tearing open
on bare stone, a glow that suffices to lengthen your hair into
     the moss below,
to awaken the wilder elements.
what is a mountain if not the locus of war, of religion,
of polishing our bare soul?
paper cannot cover these, from a distance smoother
than when bare feet scramble up them, given age.
they grind all eventually, divide, provide, realize.
what is a mountain if not where i’ll see you next?

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