Aaliyah on the Road


a poem by

Dick Holmes

ISBN: 978-1-59948-582-9, 89 pages, $12, Pure Heart Press



Aaliyah on the Road completes a trilogy. The first two volumes, Flowers Grow Wild and Full Moon Story Night, anthologize narrative poems by a group of imagined characters who meet every full moon night to share their works with each other.

This third volume presents a single poem intermingling the musings and stories of the group’s central character, Aaliyah, as she travels from the East Coast to the Texas Hill Country.

About the Author

Dick Holmes was born in Kansas near a wheatfield and a crow,” goes a line in an autobiographical poem by Dick Holmes. For the past many years, he has lived in South Carolina, where he continues to enjoy the interaction between verbal and nonverbal experience in his poetry writing practice. For him, as for the character Aaliyah in this book, poetry is the fruit of a natural unfoldment beginning with a seed that receptive listening plants in the heart. He is also the author of three other poetry books published by Pure Heart Press—Recipes for Gratitude, Flowers Grow Wild, and Full Moon Story Night. He can be contacted at chardiho@gmail.com.

This morning on Earth, a creature
against all odds able to amble
from place to place, I feel my tongue
flapping away like a blue heron
for some destination beyond reason.

Cause and effect make
a good team for upholding duality,
but outside the mental
contract they’ve made,
binding words, things, and events,
what truth do they embody?

Today is beautiful and true.
That’s why it’s
beautiful and true.


“Lightening up!” I think I hear
a voice cry out in the noisy coffee bar
I’ve just stepped into.

A cry that gets me looking around
to see if I can link it to the crier.

I decide it must have come from
the nimble-fingered barista down the line
making all the specialty drinks.

Must be an expression of his ecstasy
from the intensely focused work
he’s doing, I think.

No time for him now to get bogged down
in the dark and heavy matters of life.

Then, “Is this the Lightning?” I hear
a customer come up to him and ask,
pointing to one of the drinks he’s
set out on the bar to be picked up.

Ah, such is the lightening lightning
pleasure of language setting you up for
a crossover drive right by you to the rim. ◊

Nothing says it quite
so well as Tao’s
Uncarved Block,
but a well is only as deep
as it’s dug.

Looking up
words you want to get
to know well is
one way to uncarve
a carved block.

The salad walks
from place to place,
exploring the possibility
of growing even after harvest.
A taste here, another there
tossed into the bowl.

Wild Will

“I wonder where your
surname came from, Will.
I could research that,
but I’d rather go
straight to the horse’s mouth
about it. Can you tell me?”

“Hmm. I’d never thought of
myself as a horse, but . . .”

“‘My kingdom for a horse!’”

“Well, since you’ve studied me
enough to quote old King Lear,
I’ll give you a few leads
on the subject of my surname.
But if you really want to know
I suggest you go
from my mouth to the Internet
or library. As you’ve probably
discerned, I’m not
that much into names.
After all, what’s in a—”

“‘name?’ Yes, Will, but I’d
love to get your intuitive take
on your name, even if it’s
just from your imagination. I mean,
your imagination, let’s
face it, is at least equal to
whatever scholarship can
come up with.”

“Ah, I see. Well then,
of course, there’s
the obvious shake to it,
and the obvious spear.
And there’s the ambiguity
in that: on one hand,
shake spear to intimidate an enemy
or to inspirit a pep rally,
and on the other,
shake spear as in
trembling before the enemy.”

“Which is it, then?”

“For me, it’s not either/or
but both. And neither, too.
Long gone now, I’m more
shakes pear than shake spear.
I’m a ghostly gust that
shakes loose ripe pears
from limbs too high or far out
for children to reach.

“‘Ripeness is all,’ eh, Will?”

“Indeed.” ◊

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