Exile Editions, 1999. ISBN: 1-55096-544-1. 6 x 9, 100 pages. $17.95

Bookman Summary2

Elegies, metaphysics, spells. Combining Wiccan magic subatomic physics, Western and Eastern spirituality, and a strong sense of the earth, these poems lay out the foundation of Rhenisch’s world view.

Bookman reviews2

This rancher, bard and magician, worships the sacred ecology of the land from the trout leaping in the swift-running green rivers and the reflective blue mountain lakes to the clattering swaths of locusts which devour his fields. Everything on the ranch provides Rhenisch’s muse with intellectual fever to create an ongoing painterly agricultural vision. Just don’t make the mistake of putting Rhenisch in the same corral with the other cowboys at the annual poetry rodeo — he’s on an infinitely higher plateau than the grazing herd. Joe Rosenblatt

bookman excerpts2

Shy Deer

On old trails through the scrub,
following the ridgelines in the starlight,
with the land falling out below,
mountain range upon mountain range,
each a deeper blue than the last,
dropping into fog
and the distant sea,
Basho tried to lose language
in the touch of bamboo and tree
and water. It would not leave.

Today, as I attempt to shake my words off
among the muscat-scented petals of the dogroses
like a fish leaping into the sky
to shake a flea from under its scales, I realize
too that language does not leave,
for it is only the words
that give a sense of their absence. Like Basho,
with no other choice before me,
I have gone out to them, and have been accepted,
and like Basho I find it no relief: the light
comes in low, a fast wind off Starvation Flats,
catches the rain on its flank
and transforms it instantly
into platinum fire.

By trying to see through the blue and dancing air,
I have come in the end
only to the simplest necessities:
the river is “river”, mountain is “mountain”,
pines are “pines”: words I have never heard before,
and have never spoken. The sky
plays over my face. What it says
I hear out of a corner of my words — a quick flash,
like a deer slipping out of a clearing.


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