Listen by Rick Richardson

The night
so quiet like
a loaf of rising bread
or a letter
to the condemned
while the dead trees
of silence spread
their naked limbs
like a willow by the water
someone’s empty bed
all I know
is this universe
is a swarm of stars
and the moon
that ancient stone
burning like a ship
takes my life
on a journey without me
deaf as sleep
cold as the black sea.

Silhouettes in the garden of the east lawn by Rick Richardson

Who cares about the affairs
of poor women
who work their fingers
to the bone
just ask them
those who have been let down
and taken up
like the hem of a gown
rich ladies wear
at the country club
taking up a collection for the nun
who cares for the orphans
when there is golf
and invitations to dances
to attend in the evening
on the east lawn
by the garden
the master in his white gloves
brushes dirt
off of his evening jacket
and a flash of a silver flask
in the moonlight
like a dagger in the back
of ambassadors
while those authorities on gas
and all of their advisors
go over lists of the uninvited
keeping tabs on who has
and who hasn’t shown up yet
smoking cigarettes
and drinking cold duck
with their fish eggs
as the dark guests
who were never invited
dance alone in the garden
with their silhouettes.

Lost Dreams by Rick Richardson

On a black night
one cold November
the lost Buffalo Soldier
came back to his home
and found his family
dead and gone, white
people were living
in his house with chickens
even though his name
was still scratched on
the prow of the mailbox,
so he unbuttoned his shirt
and waited in the fields
until the moon came up
and shined in the shaving mirror
nailed to a post on the porch
while he smoked remembering
all you have to do is dream
the old king had told him.

Shrouded fields on a memorable day by Rick Richardson

Did you see them take the green fields one by one
– Now line by line on hills in echelon?
Still; holding ground held holy by their sons.
Did you hear them marching to the smoke and drum?
Where bugler called the day to final rest,
Now silence grows like lichen on the stones.
For those who gave their all at our behest,
Our memories alone will not atone.

Do you see the fires burning at a distance,
– And more hallowed ground broken day by day?
Each new stone laid a fading reminiscence;
Each new boquet soon fading into gray.
What better way to honor sacrifice
Than to pause and speak their names aloud
Until the gods of war are pacified;
Until our flag no longer serves as shroud.

Wheat by Rick Richardson

Steady lads
You’re the farmer
You’re the scythe

Sharp like a knife
They’re the wheat
Stalks in the wind

Steady boys
They come again
Time to reap


*Gettysburg, The Wheat-field battle, July 2, 1863; one of the bloodiest battles of the war between the states.

“Harvest of death” photograph by Timothy H. O’Sullivan of Union dead.


immigration reform by Rick Richardson

i still straddle the fence on this
immigration reform manifesto

i see both sides of the story

it’s good to have the grandfather clause
for the immigrants in my bloodstream

– the scrappy scots-irish-ingles-welsh
in me – but too late for the cherokee

behind the old fences of history.

breathing in america by Rick Richardson

it isn’t all black and white
the choke-hold of history

shades of red and brown
paint the scenery, too

the documented imagery
forgotten in the fray

a little big horn playing mournful
songs as the cavalry marches on
to the tune of galleons and guns

no passport required
when the port was young

émigré and immigrant
displacing native sons

who also once were pilgrims
breathing in the sun.

still life by Rick Richardson

artifacts arranged
chronologically –

flint and wood
allied with cordage –

sharp-edged bronze and iron
– a skull with cut marks
beside a copper
-tipped alloy bullet

on the shelf between
war and peace
and anthropology –
an anthology

– details emerge
in the painting
– killing is our nature
and dying

– a still life.

detail by Rick Richardson

a learning experience
– the detailed
timing and precision

– a certain etiquette
in the rise and fall
of hands and feet

i learned the walk
– mirrored on the toe
of a spit-shined boot

shooting imaginary doves
in white gloves –

the proper fold
of the cloth
– tight and taught
with stars above

the tri-fold – not
a trifling thing we’re told

the color of a mother’s tears
and grip of a father’s grief –
the why in the cry of a child

– sad song of the bugler
on a windswept hill
standing in the detail.

Coup de Ric-o-chet by Rick Richardson

Sometimes I say
the kind of words

that should never
touch my breath

Unkind words
better left unsaid

• I bullet them
• for maximum effect
• when they find the mark

I always aim
for the heart

but they end up
bouncing around
inside my head

and exiting
my size 9.5
steel-toed boot


Bridge of the Grand Dragon by Rick Richardson

It only takes one bullet to kill a king
But you can’t kill a dream

The talk is talked
And the walk is walked today

It’s a shame the bridge is named
for a hood who wore a hood

The good General turned grand
in the land and time of dragons

that feasted on Sundays
and still would
if we let them

Or maybe not

Maybe it’s a fitting reminder
A bridge to a kinder
gentler place

Because we’re better than that now
Aren’t we


Rick Richardson is a professional archaeologist and amateur poet who currently resides in the small fishing village of Sneads Ferry, North Carolina.  Rick has been writing poetry for online publishing since 2012.