Last updated on April 8th, 2019 at 10:43 pm

Down the Trail

I saw a man with a stick and a hat, and he was walkin’.
He looked like he’d been walkin’ a long long way,
and I asked him, “Where you walkin’ to?”

The man said, “I’m walkin’ to God.”

“You’re walkin’ to God?” I echoed.
“How you gonna know when you get there?”

And he just said, “I’ll know.”

I said, “They say that God is everywhere.”

And he said, “I cannot put no stock in what folks say.
I gotta feel Him. I gotta see Him.
I lost Him, and I will know when I’ve found Him.”

I inquired, “Why you think you’ll feel Him somewhere else,
if you can’t feel Him here?”
“That’s not my business,” the man said.
“That’s God’s business.
I’m just gonna walk till I find Him.
It don’t matter how far, how long.
He’ll show me.”

“Or maybe I’ll change as I walk,” he continued,
“And maybe He’ll show me He is everywhere!
Maybe He’ll show me He been here all along!
That’s ok. That’s fine with me.”

And the man tipped his hat to me
and continued on his way
until I saw him disappear
down the trail.

Homage to an Inner Teacher

Barn with old car - Poems by Max ReifI thought I was alone there
on the farm where we had
the commune, decades back,
the place where
the acid trips finally
caught up with me

and I broke down,
just sitting day after day
in the living room closet
or out in the milk room
of the derelict barn.

I say yes
when you appear,
asking if
I’ll work for you.
You look trustworthy
in your red flannel shirt
with your greased, black hair
and 40-year-old good looks.

You demonstrate just
how to do each job,
then let me take over.
Buckling yourself in
to a bright yellow chairlift,
you paint in an awkward
position partway up
the barn wall,
above some unused
three-foot concrete pipeline,
You make it seem easy.

Next, using a power drill,
you grind away
caked oil and dirt
from a big fixture
of metal shelves of tools.

When I take over
each job I do them
as smoothly as you,
these things
that men do.

I begin to realize
I’m not stupid
the way Dad
used to scream I was
when he lost his temper
as we moved furniture
when I was 10.
I can do anything
I’m patiently shown.

My teacher,
you’ve always been
inside me, and now
you’re giving me
the power and tools
to free myself
from the caked,
grimy shelves
of my own past.

Beyond Friction

Pierre Bonnard painting - Poems by Max Reif

Pierre Bonnard painting


We long
to live in
a timeless world,
but as

the body
moves in space
through time,

it meets
resistance and
we age.


Pierre Bonnard,
I learned yesterday,
his aging, difficult wife
as a youthful goddess
in paintings which depicted
their home as Paradise:

a state he lived in,
or aspired to?


The artist speaks
to the figure on
the Grecian urn,
the Byzantine mosaic:

“Tell me your secret!”
and then recoils—
“Am I talking to my own creations?”

No, no, he shakes his head.
It’s you I’m speaking to,
O Soul behind the world—
so near, so far.

To read this poet’s fiction story on finding God, visit ADIEU, RIVENDELL: Leaving God to find God [Part 1 of 2]»

image 1: Older man through the country road via Shutterstock; image 2: David Adams; image 3: Sailko via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons BY)
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