“Origin,” “Felicity” and “Badwater Basin”

Poetry by Richard Long

“Origin,” “Felicity” and “Badwater Basin”

Origin

I looked through the window of the dead

bar. Marantha was slow dancing

with the semblance of Rāfe. They were

shape shifting like shadows on a wall—

The barkeep said, ‘Anders, it’s time.

There in the recess of memory a ghost

biker looks warmly upon us as we race downhill,

Marantha humming on the handlebar, and Rāfe

on the back rack, facing traffic—a childish dare,

the origin of the end coming fast on the river.

Sometimes I’ll bike to the edge of an ocean.

Or stop in the middle of a lake. Or swerve

to the middle of a frozen pond. Water

shines with ghost light. Deep down

I see the dead riding their ghost bikes.

Felicity

On the far bank of the Colorado, Rāfe

was standing on the pedals of his bike, watching

me cross the river from Yuma to California.

‘Anders, he shouted, I was just in Kansas, I camped

at Pawnee Rock, I carved my name in the sandstone!

You must have missed me humming down the Superstitions.

Then I followed him to the center of the world

where a sundial was out of time because it’s precisely

accurate only once a year at noon on Christmas day.

But still there was time to climb spiral Section 12

of the original Eifel Tower and to follow the pointing

of the gnomon to the chapel on the manmade hill

where Rāfe was standing on the pedals of his bike.

‘Anders, he shouted, can you see the Bridge to Nowhere.

I’m heading there now because there’s nowhere else to go.

Badwater Basin

The rocks were moving over the desert,

the desert was moving under the rocks—

the barren scraping of a salt flat.

My bike and I moved with the desert

and the rock—all an orchestration

of a sharp symphonic scale.

At Furnace Creek, I heard the melody—

a mule and roadrunner listened with me.

Toward us strummed the looming of Telescope Peak.

About the Author

Richard Long

Facebook Twitter Website Instagram

Richard Long is Professor Emeritus of English at St. Louis Community College, now retired in Santa Rosa, California. Since 1996, he has edited and published 2River, quarterly publishing The 2River View and occasionally publishing individual authors in the 2River Chapbook Series. Poems of his have appeared recently in Anti Heroin Chic, Black Coffee Review, Red Wheelbarrow, TravelArtist Hub, and UCity Review.