Climbers Homeward Bound, by Robert Walton

Climbers Homeward Bound
by Robert Walton

Like friends parting
For uncertain journeys,
Clouds clasp hands on
An autumn moon.

The lake below muses,
On snow’s return,
Its black waters
Deeper than space.

What games we play
With mute mountains,
With moonlit clouds,
With puckish stars.

Check the anchor,
Clip to the rope,
And step into
Night’s granite belly.

 

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Photo: Climbing partner Dave Gregory took it of me some years back.

Process notes: I’ve been caught by night up high a number of times. I try in this poem to convey the mixed feelings this predicament inspires.

Robert Walton is a retired teacher, a lifelong rock climber and mountaineer. His writing about climbing has appeared in the Sierra Club’s Ascent. His novel, Dawn Drums, won the 2014 Tony Hillerman prize. http://chaosgatebook.wordpress.com/

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Laoshi, by Robert Walton

Laoshi
by Robert Walton

Nameless stream,
Smooth and ancient
As a master’s tomb,
Your black jade whispers
Fall too quickly into rapids’ laughter
For me to catch the
Jest.
But cliffs above,
Robed
In Confucian silks of alpenglow
Glimmer
Like an old man’s smile.
The day’s last light on snow
Must be Li.

Note:
‘Laoshi’ means ‘teacher’ in Mandarin.

‘Li’ – Li is both a concept and a process in Confucian philosophy. It begins with proper social behavior, especially good manners and respect for elders. If practiced, it leads to wider perceptions of nature and harmony with the universe.

Robert Walton is a retired teacher and a lifelong mountaineer. His Civil War novel, Dawn Drums, was honored by two awards: first place in the 2014 Arizona Authors Association’s literary contest and the New Mexico Book Awards Tony Hillerman Prize for best fiction. His poetry has been published in Avocet and other journals.

Was it a breeze, by Robert Walton

Was it a breeze
by Robert Walton

That nudged my study door,
Or a kitten
Busy making things its own,
Or my imagination’s
Ghosts
All pushing together
To remind me that you died
Last April,
Leaving me with creaks and whispers
Only old houses make?
Was it a kitten,
Or a breeze?

Robert Walton is a retired teacher and a lifelong mountaineer. His Civil War novel, Dawn Drums, was honored by two awards: first place in the 2014 Arizona Authors Association’s literary contest and the New Mexico Book Awards Tony Hillerman Prize for best fiction. His poetry has been published in Avocet and other journals.

Robert Walton

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TUOLUMNE SOLITAIRE
 
This river slips slantwise
Over snowy granite,
Flows smooth as smoke
Over hidden edges.
Ripples at my feet
Wear capricious jewels,
Mischievous in moonlight,
Like you.
 
The current’s curves
And star-polished boulders
Blend with the ease
Of long acquaintance -
So our friendship
Has flowed years long,
 
Though you are a girl to me,
Still a girl.

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TUOLUMNE DAWN
 
Breeze off morning rapids
Is a gift trailing scents
Of pine, of lupine,
Of sweet woodsmoke,
But its first touch
Is a blue blade
Pulled by dawn from its sheath of
Ice.
Photographs by Jonathan Walton. Used with permission.
Robert Walton is a retired public school teacher and lifelong mountaineer. His poems and stories have appeared in numerous journals, including the Sierra Club’s “Ascent”. Most recently, his historical novel Dawn Drums was published by Moonlight Mesa Associates.