Always Know

By RON WELBURN

 

Life knows no embarrassment
than being unprepared,
caught in the rain flatfooted
before ceremonies,
nabbed in the seat of the pants
by the stealth of Coyote.
Knowing when what you need to know
is a leisure and sometimes
our filled baskets have more stones
and herbs than we can identify or use,
needing sweetgrass bindings we couldn’t find.

A renowned composer sitting in the dark
once whispered “Always Know” in a space
left in his off-minor emphasis.
And how can I? You ask,
when the very things I miss keep changing
as if dictated by the seasons
and the ebb and arrival of distorted
migrations of birds?
Always know the changes.
Always turn and listen to the seasons.

 

 

Ron Welburn was born and raised in southeastern Pennsylvania. He writes poems that reflect his Indigenous heritages (Accomac-Gingaskin Cherokee, Assateague, and Lenape), aspects of African Americana, and his love for jazz. From 1976 to 2001, he reviewed recordings for JazzTimes. His poems have appeared in over 110 publications, and he has authored seven poetry collections, the most recent being Council Decisions: Selected Poems, Revised & Expanded Edition. He also held poet residencies under the New York State Council on the Arts. Welburn retired in 2019 after teaching in the English department at UMass Amherst since 1992. But he continues to write.

[Purchase Issue 19 here.]

Always Know

Related Posts

view of valley from mountain

August 2022 Poetry Feature: Nathan McClain—from PREVIOUSLY OWNED

NATHAN MCCLAIN
Had I not chosen to live there— / among the oaks and birches, / trees I’d only ever seen in poems / until then…spruce, pine, / among the jack-in-the-pulpit / (though I much preferred “lady slipper”) / the tiger lily, milkweed, the chickadee / and blue jay, even the pesky squirrel

Park Bench

Translation: Poems by Juan de Dios García

JUAN DE DIOS GARCÍA
He speaks to us of Finnish lakes, of a dialect populated by birds and fruit, of high wooded hills, perpetual snow, a petroleum sky. “In the north they’re raised on melancholy,” he says, “and their dead weigh more than those from here.” He speaks of a Greek father and a war.

car crash

July 2022 Poetry Feature

ZACK STRAIT
Like two passengers / in a wrecked automobile: // our eyes are fixed / on the sonogram screen— // an upside-down window / with no wiper blade // to sweep away the rain— / as the technician // inserts a long probe / and whispers, Come on. // Come on. The storm / approaches slow...