Ray Whitaker – A good day to die

Ray Whitaker LEP&W V2 Dec 2022

Download PDF Here 13th Anniversary
Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two December 2022.

A good day to die, poems by Ray Whitaker.

A good day to die

Driving my car up as far as one could go
in these Idaho wilderness mountains
up roads that I likely shouldn’t have driven
switchbacks the regularity here on forest service roads
and the “up,” always past slopes covered in pines, perhaps going where it
can both be described as existing and not, or neither existing nor not existing
no deciduous trees at all there, no aspens with their snow-white barks,
or red oaks with their unique as a fingerprint leaves.

The tripods all set up
to record the aura, and maybe the occasional raptor
the Olympus camera seemingly right at home
atop this River Of No Return Wilderness mountain
watching the mist move in and over the scenery across the valley floor
the river seems so far below
yet the clouds were moving across, in their wispy way
all to be captured for a posterity only in the eyes of the beholder.

My friend has come with me
he simply wouldn’t be anywhere else
having ridden along with his head out of the window
tongue flapping in the winds blowing by as we climbed
he is nearby the tripod
having explored around the nearby trees, slopes and smells
his German Shepard nose catching it all
now he is waiting, watching me shuttering the view.

After enough photos taken
in hopes that at least one would have captured this glimpse
of a view that extinguished the fires of greed, hatred and delusion
one that we seem to have lost appreciation of, in our regular lives.
My friend goes to full alert, standing up
body rigid, nose pointed, ears at attention forward, up the rise
having learned not to ignore this sign, I look as well, agile to the view
now seeing what my friend has noticed.

There are wolves above us.
Several. Arrayed out in a downward fan,
brown and grey shapes held still standing, watching us
possibly deciding how good a lunch was before them
the wolf assessment of risk management
the white-furred pack leader stands more in front
they are in the sparse pines above us
near the top of the mountain.

Even tho they were a couple hundred yards away,
my friend now standing right beside me
I locked eyes with that pack leader
seemed like an hour we stared at the other
however was only likely minutes
this gestalt, perhaps this wild’s way therein calling out
of a sinner riding into hell, all the while
the grey mist coming nearer, about to swallow the entirety of us.

Put my friend in the car,
camera too,
and walked around to the driver’s side.
I stopped,
fingering my holstered .45 on my leg
touching that security, a mode of self-preservation
the wolves were steady in their quietude, not having moved
waving to the pack, more of a loose salute really

the mist covered the wolf pack just then
there was the loudest silence on the slopes
my friend startled me, nudged me from the open car window
he, having performed his dog version of risk management
reminding me that I was only one
and they were many
ever so slowly, I got in, started burning fossil fuel
heading down, away from that dose of reality.

Up there, really for the view
the looking out over the world, and as well, perhaps
a looking searching for the supramundane experience
like that of an Absolute Truth,
that feeling of closeness to Heaven’s meant
away from the internet, or cell phones
perhaps looking for the feeling as it were a signpost
of where to stop, for a place giving sanctuary.

Mists are everywhere, covering the things we do not want to see.

I would run with the pack if I knew how.

View from webb

We are concerned with
measuring our lives
in tens of years

now the astrophysicists
are measuring our universe
in billions of lightyears

we see our short lives
thru lenses of earthly dictates
and as if this our vision, this only

is the magnificent
way it is
as if there was no other.

How do you get your head around
a billion light-years
or 13.7 of the, or even more

white dwarfs do not refer to a small Caucasian
black holes do not refer to manhole covers
red giants do not refer to very tall Native Americans

blue stragglers do not refer to a Buddy Guy blues tune
mass isn’t a cancer in the liver
and a Type 1A Supernova isn’t a personality trait/

Did the Big Bang
have a baroque choir accompaniment,
or did laughter sound out
among the stars at our earthly ideas, that presumption
of our best human being minds
are the brightest
among it all?

There isn’t an encyclopedic presence
to a space time before the Big Bang
no thick, heavy bound volume

needing to blow the dust off an individual page
as they are turned, to view the next color plate
of the creation, that energy field of our God.


faster than the speed of light
able to leap tall building in a single bound

pale grey, insignificant our sight only fifty miles on the clearest day
when comparing our view off the tallest mountain in Colorado.

Can you wipe your humbled tears away?

© Ray Whitaker

Ray Whitaker has been writing both prose and poetry since he was seventeen. What Ray is writing now is very different from what he wrote those so many years ago. All writers and poets are writing out of “the Self” however there are directions that the self speaks into, that change. Now Ray’s writing is to put foremost in his work, just who he is writing for. He intends on writing for the everyday man and woman. He firmly believes that poems need to reach into the everyday person’s pictures in their minds and engage with those. This is where he aims to make a difference in his creative writing. He’s fulfilled when he sees that his work is provoking thought in his readers.

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