John P. Lackey of Lexington, Kentucky is a painter, printmaker, and writer. Through his art he has worked with Wilco (the band), Larkspur Press, LexArts, Kentucky Arts Council, Kentucky State Parks, Holler Poets Series, University Press of Kentucky, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Garden Gate Records, North of Center Newspaper, many of Kentucky’s wonderful authors, Fillmore Auditorium Denver, Terrapin Hill Farm, and restaurants including Alfalfa, Everybody’s, Clyde’s, Good Foods CoOp, and Mellow Mushroom. He is a juried member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and Kentucky Crafted.
Kingfisher's Tune (A Call to Artists)
Presently, a kingfisher swooped
Motionless around the curve
Of the creek, down stream,
A foot off the water, and as
He passed, he said “Boy,
You better write a poem
This minute, the sun at
Your back, a hill full of
Trees rising up in front
Of you, icicles hissing and
Snorting as they let go and
Crash. That sun won’t always
Be at your back, water won’t
Always be that high or that green.
Sit down on that mossy rock and put
It down on the paper like I told you! Draw
Those droopy trees over there as they bend
And bow and pray and fret over the icy water.
Don’t concern yourself with how many birds of
Prey wheel wordlessly over your head as you relate
My story. This place is a natural depression, one of God’s
Many, and surely leads to bigger rivers and warmer days”.
But the shadows crawled coldly up the far hill, row after row
Of illuminated trees doused and ordinary. The rocks’ cold
Had spread to my bones. The icicles began to hold their
Ground again. Blue sky faded imperceptibly to black.
My thumb and three fingers had grown numb, and
I could only watch and count the seconds it took
For my fumbled pencil to tumble down the
Cliff’s face and into the green water
Below: One, two, three, four, five.
Parting the waves with the edge of her hand,
she peers beneath the surface at the rolling,
tumbling shards of sea glass, and unnameable,
uncountable shells, looking for missing pieces
Of herself, of her brood, calling them home.
“Bid thee, little crab, little clam, frightened
clam, if it’s sand you seek, I leave you be, I
wish you well, but adventures dwell where
I reside, where I come from, and I maintain
you shall be thrilled, shall be whole again,
shall unite with friends, your daring edges
joined with electricity and metal and glass
In patterns unique and vibrant, at angles
sharp and strident, and we shall damn
symmetry to hell, despite our native impulses,
because we’ve been trained to know better.”
The shards and shells and creatures peck
lovingly at her ankles as they roll by, the
sand shrinks from beneath her feet, sullen
and insulted, for you don’t live for a thousand
years without learning a thing or two. Little
gems flash by, calling her name, a faded echo
by the time she gets her grasping fingers to
where the prizes once were. The gulls guffaw . . .
Red doesn’t mean
What you think it means,
Doesn’t hew to your vision
Of Toro the Bull, targets, sin.
Red leaves in the rippling water
The faint taste of pure Autumn.
A weight and depth are given to
Each fist-sized-rock-lined pool,
Knuckle- and tiny toe-sized pebbles
Fill in any gaps, and multiply the
Endless corners. Five thousand
Kinds of brown and gold line the
Creekside chatter, tree trunk elbows
Protrude from the russet clutter but
Not for long, for there is balance to
Be achieved, lessons to be learned.
A crawdad roots for the opposing
Team, backing away from earlier
Statements. Two big wavy Vs of
Cranes coo their way across the
Mid December sky, impressive
In their size and number, black
And white breasts are underlit by
The setting sun, scarlet, johansson.
Red leaves the night sky
A cold blue blanket
On me and you,