Sam Rasnake

Chris Ballantyne, Houses (Fade), 2008
Chris Ballantyne

February Psalm

For a couple of hours, the light snow
drifts, disappears, drifts, disappears, and
the feeble winter won’t make up its mind.

I watch, drink my dark roast, as if I’ll live
forever. I don’t have words for it really—
only holes in the sky my fingers can’t reach
though I stretch and stretch until my bones
crack, until the tendons in my neck hurt.

Nothing. I don’t get there from here.
Maybe Han-shan was wrong. Not possible.

My Father is sick. That shouldn’t be
the only truth, but it is. I think of him—
maybe twelve or fifteen—in the top
of a thick tree on Sandy Ridge, the night
a whir of summer heat. “Counting stars,”
he would say. “Nobody ever knew where
to look, and that suited me just fine.”

I rock, I rock, and will the cold
to my back door, bless its lip of snow
on the porch rail, its brown stubs of grass
doing their best work, the hill, the fence
and the gray with its long thread of wind.

Chris Ballantyne, Citadel, 2006

I Always Knew

                              —Contact Sheet, Candy Darling, by Peter Hujar

The fierce, lonely pillow of silence in
the Columbia University Medical Center,
that early Spring of ’74, had no way of

knowing then the beauty in its deepest crease.
The heart only wants what it believes, only
believes what it knows, only knows what it feels.

There never was enough time or place or show
to tell the truth as it should have been. She was
waiting for the man. Outside the window, down

the darkness, around the hard edges—all streets
were perfection. Even then, there was only then.
There was no call. There was no word for it.

Chris Ballantyne, Intersections, 2006

The Pleasure’s in the Doing

                                            Katsushika Hokusai, Kajikazawa
                                            in Kai Province, woodblock,
                                            c. 1830-1834

As if stirring from sleep,
thick banks of mist wade
the mountain’s easy slope.
Only the peak is real.
Here, an arm of green
cliff over the wave’s
blue cold, and four lines
down into a wash of caps.
Back bent with the current
as though retelling a story
to the wind, the fisherman
waits the tug at his hard
but patient hand. Something
dark slips away into silence,
something beautiful opens
its terrible jaws.

Chris Ballantyne, Untitled__Culvert__Waterfall__2007

Thoughts to Tycho Brahe, in Fractured Sonnet,
from a Hospital Bed, November 2010

Wait for it. Wait for it—
This is the moment of
desperation, a horror
film with no ending—
the maniac on the loose
again, and he knows
your name.
                       The mountains,
are dogged and wild with
their deep broth of darkness—
a storm howling at the eaves,
flailing against the walls
of the ruined hut—
                                    And you
listen for the slamming at
the door, but there’s nothing


Sam Rasnake author photoSam Rasnake is the founding editor of Blue Fifth Review. His works have appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Best of the Web 2009, Wigleaf, OCHO, MiPOesias Companion 2012, Big Muddy, Literal Latté, Poets / Artists, LUMMOX 2012, BOXCAR Poetry Review Anthology 2, and Dogzplot Flash Fiction 2011. His latest poetry collection is Cinéma Vérité (A-Minor Press 2013).

Sam Rasnake’s Blog

Sam Rasnake at Blue Fifth Review

Sam Rasnake at A-Minor Press

Sam Rasnake at Finishing Line Press



One response to “Sam Rasnake”

  1. Maureen says:

    Wonderful poetry feature, beautifully complemented by the artworks.

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