The Island Moorea,
In the heat, the sun,
The rhythm of my footfalls
crunching loose gravel road,
The swish of pack swaying
in consort to my measured pace.
Breeze pushing branches of Palm,
Ocean waves breeching shore line long.
Island vehicles passing, occupant's laughing,
a man laboring under large pack, alone walking,
Who could have been freely riding.
Something unthinkable to Island Folk,
in hot tropical places.
Passed along the way several humble homes,
Greetings exchanged with smiling people there.
Not long afterwards, new sound approaching,
crunching gravel, rolling up behind me.
A lovely young girl, perhaps still a teen,
long brown naked legs peddling a bike.
Hair jet black, long to her waist, wearing
a sarong, split up the side,
Shoulders bare and brown.
Dark eyes of wonder, sparkling of youth.
A radiant smile adorning her splendid face.
We went for a time at my even pace,
looking and smiling each in our place.
"Hello there" I said, she giggled, beamed
even bigger. Perfect teeth displayed.
"Why you walk?" She asked in puzzlement.
"To get to where I'm going". I replied
This response producing a pleasant laugh
from the girl. In which I too joined in.
"You go One Chicken?" She asked
I stopped then and turned to her.
"Where is One Chicken?" I questioned
with a grin.
She raised her graceful arm,
one finger pointing up the road.
"One Chicken there." she informed.
It was a store/bar, sort of place,
In the very midst of nowhere.
Indeed more than merely one chicken roamed,
Many chickens were and a pig or two, as well.
All mingling free and doing their thing.
We entered from out of the bright daylight,
into the deepest of darks,
Like in a movie theater you arriving late.
Eyes adjusting slowly to what lay ahead.
A few Island Beers later,
I had acquired several new friends,
The girl my invitation to the party of
already happy people a little drunk on beer.
The Music was mostly of French persuasion,
With a bit of Bob Dylan thrown in.
The Beatles also had a tune or two.
The Liverpool beat resounding down Tahiti way.
Before the light did fail, I shouldered my pack
and walked some distance from Chickens and Pigs.
Found the beach, hung my Hammock for the night.
Built a small fire and opened a can of Spam.
She appeared again about ten,
looking beautiful in the new moon light.
She had washed her hair,
still damp and smelled fresh of Lilacs,
Or some such aromatic scent.
We did not speak, no words were needed,
Made love on the sand, 'till the retreat of the
tide and sand crabs did come out, in their
eerie numbers, to eat what was at hand.
I suppose even us if we let them.
We retired then both to my hammock,
A pretty neat trick if you can swing it.
And we did.
She was so child like and yet,
very much a woman grown.
There was no pretense shown,
no false inhibitions rendered.
These were not limitations of her culture.
A people that live by their emotional impulses.
An open and free spirited people living
passionately within each minute.
It all felt more akin to a dream than real,
All around me there was beauty,
Loving and being loved without hurry,
Free of guilt or even a single expectation.
Living in that wondrous moment,
of uncomplicated human splendor.
Like some Garden of Eden surrender.
In the morning we swam in the sea,
frolicked like kids having a day at the beach.
Made love in the sand, I dozed in the sun.
Upon my awaking she was gone.
I waited an hour or two, packed up my camp,
shouldered my load and returned to the road.
A few minutes later, again I heard the now
familiar crunch of rubber tires,
rolling road surface and there she was,
a straw basket in her Bike's basket,
A huge smile on her unforgettable beautiful face.
We sat in a grove of trees,
among birds singing, insight of the sea,
Upon a Palm log and ate fresh bread and
fruit, drank strong black coffee (French Roast
I presume,) nibbling some marvelous cheese.
We tried to talk, but she understood little of
what I tried to say, my French was nearly
nonexistent, only adding to confusions sake .
She leaned her head on my shoulder,
the way lover's do and tenderly held
my hand within her two,
As if not wanting to let go,
Those gestures said all there was to say,
And we savored each silent moment.
We parted there, she on blue, rusty bike
and me on "shanks mare",
Off in two different directions,
Each out into the depths of our own lives,
Gone just like that. . . And yet,
Indelible, never to be forgotten or replaced.
Moorea do yet visit me, in dreams as real as can be. She never
grows old, nor does the beauty we shared for that one brief moment
in time immortal.
Someplace among the Islands of Tahiti there is a woman in her late fifties,
most likely a Mother, even by now a Grandmother. I hope she recalls as
fondly the American blond man with the big Orange Backpack, that in 1972
she meet upon the road, near "One Chicken" and loved freely and completely
for two days and a night, as that man does so fondly remember her.
I'm no poet, you all are poets. I'm just an old guy with memories and
little stories to tell. Thanks for letting me share.
He worked in a great Department Store
As the window dresser’s mate,
Carting mannequins, wigs and clothes
From the back through an iron gate,
The store room piled to the roof with props
And the bolts of coloured drapes,
Was dark and damp, and a single lamp
Traced shadows through coats and capes.
The store stood over a hundred years
Was red brick to the core,
And towered above the other shops
Right up to the seventh floor,
They said there were gargoyles on the eaves
That would spout when the gutters filled,
And a Griffin standing with evil claws
That would leave a brave man chilled.
The buyer sat in a closet room
Where he’d watch the assistants work,
And call them in for the slightest sin
If he caught them trying to shirk,
He would warn them once, would warn them twice
He would warn them three times more,
Then send them packing to personnel
Way up on the seventh floor.
Nobody ever came back from there
Not even to punch their card,
Their coats and hats were collected up
And thrown, tossed out in the yard,
The beggars hovered around out back
When they heard the buyer roar,
‘Get your faggoty, skinny ass
On up to the seventh floor!’
Peter Peeps had been sound asleep
In the window well one day,
Trying to quell a head of Moselle
He’d imbibed, with Martha Hay,
A girl that worked on the second floor
With a line of maiden bra’s,
He’d had as much of a chance with her
As a flight to the planet Mars!
The buyer came to the window well
And he saw him sound asleep,
Then yelled, ‘Get up to the seventh floor,
You’re finished, Peter Peeps!’
So Peter sighed, and he took a ride
On the escalator up,
Higher than ever he’d been before,
His heart in a paper cup.
On the seventh floor was an old oak door
In a passageway filled with gloom,
A flickering gaslight either side
As he stepped through, into the room,
A metronome was ticking away
In a long, slow measured swing,
When a man in an old Top Hat approached,
‘Are you looking for anything?’
‘They sent me here to collect my pay,
Is there anything I should sign?’
‘You’ll get no pay from the Firm today
But you’re here, so now you’re mine!’
Peter backed to the old oak door
That had latched as he came in,
There wasn’t a handle on that side
And the man was looking grim.
‘You’ll never get out of here again,
You’ll have to work for your tea,
I’ll fix you up with a ledger, here
It’s eighteen seventy-three,
The seventh floor is a time-warp that
Was set when the store was built,
And all of you shirkers end up here
While you’re working off your guilt.’
He showed him the rows and rows of desks
Like a mid-Victorian link,
With everyone filling the ledgers in
With a pen they dipped in ink,
And there was Roger, and there was Ann
And there was Fiona Shaw,
He’d watched them once, all weaving their way
On up to the seventh floor.
The windows looked down onto the street
But it wasn’t a street he knew,
There wasn’t a horseless carriage there
And the other shops were few,
‘What if I smash the window here
And jump on out to be free?’
‘Then you will be buried before you’re born
In eighteen seventy-three!’
Peter Peeps looks out on a world
That had gone before he knew,
Then turns the page of his ledger back
To eighteen seventy-two,
There are rows and rows of figures there
That were written before his day,
But the one thing that he’s smiling for
Is the arrival of Martha Hay!
David Lewis Paget
After cocktails at Luigi's Bar, and then The Golden Bowl,
I proposed we play a gig of jazz-inspired rock and roll.
We all thought we'd make the fans cry out for encores every night.
But our schemes were dreams that faded in the morning's ruthless light.
My blue guitar should captivate the people every night.
But the dream crumbled, the dream tumbled.
My dream faded out of sight.
Playing keyboards was Patricia. (Never 'Trisha', never 'Pat'.)
She'd a taste for gracious living in her small art deco flat.
She would practice chord progressions, sipping lapsang souchong tea.
Then she played away at weekends with her special friend, Marie.
She trained her dainty fingers to explore new grooves each night.
But the dream crumbled, the dream tumbled.
Her dream faded out of sight.
We had Ritchie on electric bass, with tap-and-pull technique.
Such a clever devil — Ritchie almost taught the bass to speak.
Ralph the drummer's backbeat cymbal crashes measured out the bars.
We agreed the speed — then found we could not play like superstars.
Would the crowd be wowed by passion from my lovely blue guitar?
No, the dream crumbled, as the band stumbled.
Our dream faded overnight.
The Blue Guitar Quartet
was as close as we could get
to our vision for the music of today.
But we bumbled and we fumbled,
our aspirations humbled.
So we slowly put our instruments away.
"The Blue Guitar Quartet
is down, but not out yet.
With practice you will crack it," said Marie.
"Let Patricia be your singer;
she's a musical humdinger,
and as soulful as a solo girl can be".
"She can improvise a blues
based on any riff you choose.
Let's have handshakes and embraces —
this quartet is going places!
Here's to jazz-rock, and The Blue Guitar Quartet!"
no matter what the peak arcs all descend
unto the earth from which they first arose
that's the most certain the most profound trend
even for one who best withstands the blows
of evil fortune or of cruel fate
falls to despair then rises to high state
no epoch should be measured by one rule
yet we insist that far beyond the cool
and shaded halls where measure has its sway
all things are governed by a simple tool
so each becomes the hero of their day
just past its height the moment seems to bend
with all the weight of ages that could close
cold time's long judgment that will never mend
either warm eyes or the dull hearts that froze
from lack of feeling or the heavy freight
of knowledge that would rise and not abate
from the bright ocean to the chiefly stool
while other wisdoms might in time unspool
we were not shown the truth but in one way
which was to lead us all back into school
so each becomes the hero of their day
there's nothing more on which we must depend
between the morning and the next repose
when all the hours will with clean music blend
so that our thoughts will come out sweeter prose
all of our motion take a smoother gait
while vision leave us with no dark to hate
returning light finds each beside a pool
bright with our hopes and in the morning cool
though being clear and apt enough for play
we can be certain that none is a fool
so each becomes the hero of their day
we have been warned against the last misrule
of ancient dodderers sunk in their drool
their grimaces the doltish things they say
enough to know we're past this basic school
so each becomes the hero of their day
You Spurred the News; Of course those Hawks will Feed!
Eager for your Tenders from Branches a-wait
Then re-build your Nest which Molests your Seed
Thus re-play this Circus to Exploit your Fate
Here be the Reason why your Living Heart spends
To be this Noble for your Record break
To mellow those Sounds and settle Dust depends
Hoping your Favoured Gestures dictate your Make
Like all which Stars and Muscles bound Beyond
Urge you like the Ox its Bearing Yoke cope
Though be like us Assume your Self a-bound
Such Fault as None our Own by our Measured Scope.
Just pursue your Craft allow such Peace flow
Perhaps by then your Conscience enters now.
The thought of you kissing her
Is something that stitches up
The lining of my stomach
So the butterflies
Those butterflies turn to ashes
As I force myself to
Swallow your words
Coated with gasoline
Because you and I both know
That it meets well with the
Fire inside my heart
That burns more and more
To the thought of you...
So lucky me because
That thought is measured
By intervals of infinity.
My stomach will forever
Be barren from those
Because you killed them.
If I had the world and time,
ample wine and leisure,
then I might be well content
to give myself to pleasure.
Oh what fun indolence is
with all the world my treasure.
But infinity is not the cloth
of which I'm cut and measured.
The Fates that cut say time is short,
I cannot bide forever.
I preserve my time
in bits of rhyme
so posterity thinks me clever.
A prophet in his own home town
All a brave act,
A futile show.
Minuscule grains of sand,
Statistics on a graph measured by
Who knew that one multiplied by seven billion and counting was equal to math error?
That is, and ever will be unchanging;
At least with our equation.
I now know that the sum of mankind amounts to nothing.
the first dusting of snow
blankets the fall leaves
carpeting the Oak and Maple grove floor.
a distinct snowflake vanguard
paints the imminent winter solstice
daylight wanes …
now measured by moments
and melted candle wax
~ tick tock ~
~ tick tock ~
paces the silence ...
passing time cannot be stopped
only the diminishing firewood pile
reminds that the passing season
of darkness is gauged
by the depth of abandoned fireplace ashes
from whence warmth had come recognizable…
the abundance of the crackling fire,
the flickering glow hypnotizes
into a vulnerable trance.
fighting back the weighty feeling
of a heart growing cold and dormant
as the changing season
after such sublime awakenings ~
…an unnatural sadness accompanies
the frosty wintertide darkness
waning daydreams evanescent light ,
seasons' metamorphosis to winterlude.
a life without light of love shine
is a life to which hopefulness
subtly vanishes ever so slowly
like the snow flurries blanketing
the fallen and decomposing leaves
beveiled by the imminent winter solstice…
…December 16th, 2012
...baby it's cold outside and headed towards single digits
stoke-up the fire and spike the eggnog (!)
*another year has passed in the blink of an eye
yet again , sliding one small bead along the rod ,
in this groove , on my abacus of passed time ;
there is not that much that changes , perhaps we just repeat ...
I could have written this today , as well as last December
... or perhaps another abacus bead's manifest destiny
... that just makes me melancholy on this particular day ...
" blue river " by Eric Andersen
...performs solo vocal & solo piano ... this song takes me to a place I like to go ~
Original member of "The Band"
Photographs by Avedon
This was written in a friend's home in the Berkshire Mountains, on a Saturday morning, a few years ago. Up early, I went exploring their bookshelves and found a book of Richard Avedon's photographs of average Americans out west. Google "richard avedon photos of the american west" - then read the poem. Please, for without seeing the faces, for this will make all the difference. In the Berkshires, it is always chilly there, even in the summer sun. This and other obscure references are better detailed in the notes.
Join my warmth and
as the nine o'clock sun,
a 45 degree steeplechase
but still not
of the prior eve,
that hides in,
deep wooded hillocks
Join my warmth
and my chill!
head kicked awake,
entranced and revolted,
excited and repelled,
emotive, yet, stilled.
For oh so casually,
this heroic city dweller,
brave and fearless
retrieves a book,
to find a new route
thru time and space
to the center of his brain.
Photographs by Avedon,
of my fellow Americans,
the Have Nots,
These uncommon people
with whom I share
these drifters, the carneys,
the would-have-been cowboys,
busted blackjack dealers,
rattlesnake gut n' skinners,
coal and copper miners,
the hay truck drivers,
dirt so deep in
their pores ingrained,
colors and bloodies their souls,
browns their veins,
are the ones that
go off first to
in my name.
In this far corner of our
shared contiguous space
United States of America,
top of the line here
secretaries and maybe even,
But their eyes,
oh their eyes!
Words I do not own
to fair share with you,
the clarifying gaze
of measured dignity and
that marks and unites
these disparate and dispirited
vessels of humankind.
the noon suns finally,
raises my body temperature
browns my surface...
Yet, nothing eradicates
this god damn chill
in my soul
or calms my consternation,
as black and white
my comfortable existence,
as I ponder
All photographs are accurate but none tell the truth
The Evil Son at Passover
asks ever so sly,
what have they to do with me?
It is the Sabbath.
We luxuriate in our rest.
Rest is the greatest luxury
What is this Sabbath?
Heschel's cathedral -
in space and time,
and one enters
when and where
Do my distant,
(both in space and time)
share my Sabbath?
Are they allowed
or is it endless exertion,
severity and deprivation,
all and every day
of their lives?
Constant risk every day.
Who cannot fail to see the
precipitousness of life
edged in the lines of their
hearts and minds?
Day to day hardens them
and teaches the
Is the prudence of
their morning bitter pill
they must swallow
to carry on?
Among the resolutions
to claim a
life fulfilled is this:
How to end this poem,
close this can of worms,
accidentally kicked open.
Will sunset end these
of which you have
more personal variations?
(what about the ...)
Perennials flower everywhere,
along the Tigris,
even in Kabul and Somalia,
along the highways
to the mecca of
Perennials flower everywhere.
In warmth and cool,
in time and space,
they flower in my heart and
my brain and in
my prayerful tears.
flowing down my cheeks,
as I lay me down to sleep,
to dream these of
even celebrated tween
holy and common,
light and dark,
the six weekdays
between sacred and secular
between me and
my American Brothers
of the American West.
just one thing
to be true:
The Sabbath Cathedral is
open to all,
you choose to
I await you,
my American cousins,
with wine and bread
holy of holiest words
of comfort and sooth.
I will wash your feet and
lay you down to
in my heart.
we will be joined,
in warmth and chill.
August 29, 2010
* "In The American West" by
** many of the phrases in this stanza were taken from an article "The Few, The Proud, The Chosen" in Commentary, September 2010
^ Abraham Joshua Heschel, a modern Jewish Philosopher. Elegant, passionate, and filled with the love of God's creation, Abraham Joshua Heschel's The Sabbath has been hailed as a classic of Jewish spirituality ever since its original publication-and has been read by thousands of people seeking meaning in modern life. In this brief yet profound meditation on the meaning of the Seventh Day, Heschel introduced the idea of an "architecture of holiness" that appears not in space but in time Judaism, he argues, is a religion of time: it finds meaning not in space and the material things that fill it but in time and the eternity that imbues it, so that "the Sabbaths are our great cathedrals."
^^ Havdalah is the ceremony to celebrate the end of the Sabbath, and realize the distinctions between the holy day and the workweek, the day and the night, light and day...