Rick Masten

Rick Masten is an American poet who was born in Carmel, California, in 1929. He has toured extensively over the last thirty years, reading his poetry in well over 400 colleges and universities in North America, Canada, and England. He is a well-known conference theme speaker and is a regular on many television and radio talk shows. He lives with his poet-wood carver wife Billie Barbara in the Big Sur mountains of California. He has 13 books to his credit, available on amazon.com. We also encourage you to visit Ric's web site by clicking here.

The Deaf

imagine a woodsman
swinging an ax in the distance
the tree speaking out of sync
then nothing
except what is left in your eye
chips still fly but your ears
dumb fleshy things
hang from your head
useless handles frozen stiff

the world around you
fills with dead air
the quiet thickens
till the atmosphere is packed solid
surrounding you like clear wax
and every one there
rides in a limousine
stars of the silent screen
seen through shatterproof glass
the faces glide past
lips moving like goldfish

the trumpet has lost its voice
the sea shell--mute as a dish

my god in a place like this
what do you do with a word
like inconceivable?

spell it she said
hands moving behind the question
in a kind of semaphore
and you talk too fast

later that evening
the poems fell from my mouth
little naked birds crying for life
and who would have known
they were there
had she not taken them into her care
holding them up
till they could fly on their own

and back where this began
the tree came crashing down
and the sound
was the sound
of the deaf applauding

A Farm Accident Years Ago

the horses shied and then wild-eyed
bolted from the field
racing back toward the barn
traces flying
the mower still attached
and running close behind
your father shouting an alarm
as that ugly snapping arm
reached out
taking everything off at the ankle
weeds and corn and hollyhock
and then in slow motion
sweeping through the stems
of two small boys frozen in surprise

and sometime later
in a photograph we find
those grinning little peg legged Petes
proud as punch

though the color and shape
are exactly right
an artificial limb is what it is
and can be put on and taken off
but the story that comes with it
and walks and walks

The Chicago Fire

No one knows what goes on behind the faces,
for I am living in your golden shadow, blinded
by a rush of bright madness, of burning morn-
ing haze, and it is a wonder that I function at all.
Here in Virginia I wander down this quiet after-
noon with friends, and clearly see the dogwood
exploding in a galaxy of gray turning green. At
my feet, tiny flowers, fern and moss are seen in
perfect detail.
Far from the midwest we walk at the edge of
Spring, talking lightly of things, voices in the
trees, and no one knows that I am being con-
sumed by the thought of you.

but now
in another space...
in another time and place
I read the above
like an old newspaper account
of the Chicago fire
having no idea
of what it is really all about

like pain
such things
will not be remembered