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4d · 32
A wooden door is built into the wall
of dry-stacked stone that bounds the little lane
between the elf-mounds. Curious, and small,
the door's ajar, a gate to other planes.
The wood is grey and weathered, like the stones
which grow with moss and lichen, ancient rime.
I put an eye up to the gap. Alone
I've wandered here, beyond my proper time.
A face shows by a hollow in the dusk,
someone familiar, yet so far away...
I turn and see the lane-way, feel I must
continue on my journey. I can't stay.
Above the stars are pentagons of light
while I walk on, across the fields of night.
Inspired by an abstract painting my wife did, which had a quasi-crystaline (approximate 5-fold symmetry) structure, but was better served by a far more eldritch poetic voice.
Feb 9 · 43
Trees and Towers
TJ Radcliffe Feb 9
I swear a good deal more when in the city
my wife observes as we two wend our way
along the street. The towers are kind of pretty:
walls of glass, yet blocking out the day
so down here on the sidewalk dreary shadows
are damp reminders of how far we've come
from towering trees, from open mossy meadows,
from ravens swishing by. Look, here's a slum
a block or two from banking towers and glamour.
I should not fault the place. Variety
is the spice, they say. But such a clamor
of humans challenged by sobriety!
Life here was once quite good to me, but now
I'm just a rustic, pining for his plow.
I live in a small rural community but was an urbanite for many years and recently was back in the city to see a (remarkable, wonderful) show, and my wife said within a few minutes of getting there, "You swear a lot more here." There's a reason for that. I'm at home in the trees. Among the towers, I can flourish, but it's a lot more effort.
Jan 29 · 82
The end of winter
TJ Radcliffe Jan 29
living rill feeds green
ripe grasses catching sunlight
ditch runs with spring rain
Spring comes early here
Jan 26 · 58
The Navigator Speaks
TJ Radcliffe Jan 26
You'll never know how near the edge we came,
sailing past the world that's known to men.
Your ignorance, good Captain, was to blame
for the risks we took. You do not ken
how fragile was the ship, nor how the crew
was suffering in waters cold, beyond
our charts of isles and straits, the seas we knew
were far behind us, out of sight, long gone.
I guided us through danger, reefs and shoals;
the crew were stalwart, never letting fear
overwhelm their courage, though we rolled
upon our beam-ends, bringing shipwreck near.
You'll never know the gauntlet that we ran
to set your feet so gently on the land.
This might be a metaphor for something.
Jan 26 · 68
Forest Floor
TJ Radcliffe Jan 26
The tangled under-story dwells
above dark earth, the ground's foundation:
listen to the tale it tells
while the wind's damp susurration
passes by on raven's wings.
All around us voices sing
of elder days, when on this ground
no human footprint could be found.
The under-story still remembers
life alone beneath the tress
where forest gods might bend their knees
and coax new shoots from winter's embers.
Ready always with the flame
of spring they leap to life again.
TJ Radcliffe Jan 24
You are reading "If On a Winter's Day a Traveller",
perhaps online, or on your phone,
during your commute. The train, the bus,
the streetcar is quite crowded,
jostling and rattling around
as you get your head into the poem.

What lies ahead? The curve of road or track
leads on to darkness, mystery, confused
deep tunnels, full of dusty lights,
or intersections where the traffic snarls
into a knot. There's no way out
but forward, so you go,
in time.

The screen is dark, you've been distracted,
and now the poem is done.
Riff on Calvino's "If On a Winter's Night a Traveller", a novel that describes the experience of reading it.
Jan 21 · 54
Evening Fire
TJ Radcliffe Jan 21
The rain is falling down the winter sky
the fog is wrapped like moss around the house
a fire is burning in the stove and I
am curled up in my hole, an elder mouse
who's seen the wars and lived to tell the tale
who's belled the cat and stolen all the cheese
who's climbed the stair and slid down on the rail
who's lived through summer's heat and autumn's freeze.
That is the past, for now the days are warm
even in this winter-time of life
although I'd take the snows to rainy storms,
for burrowing beneath avoids the strife
of dodging hawks and cats, and also owls
but in the sky the future softly growls.
Jan 20 · 77
January Melt
TJ Radcliffe Jan 20
Scent of springtime wafts around
the road's slow curve as it nears town,
passing through low swampy ground
where the rills are running down
from the forest, deep and drear,
fog enclosing hopes and fears
for the future. Spring will come,
when winter hibernation's run
will end in waking. Life again
will rise from loamy fecund soil,
will prise from time by endless toil
a season's freedom from its chain.
The early snows have come and gone
Wet fields await the deer and fawn.
Deep rich scent of spring today walking into the village. A few days of snow have yielded to rapid melting, and the world already smells like spring.
TJ Radcliffe Jan 19
Behold the ponies in the field
who neither sow, nor do they reap:
they run with unabated zeal
from dawn until they pause to sleep.
They do not worry, fuss, nor fret
that with a hand or two they'd yet
become a horse, majestic steed,
a noble beast of strength and speed
that all admire. A pony's satisfied
with sun for warmth and grass to eat,
a stable's shelter when the sleet
of winter falls, and one to ride
them round the ring, through woods,
to dappled meadows, fine and good.
TJ Radcliffe Jan 18
It's quiet here beneath the waxy leaves
looking through the flowers at the sky
so changeless blue. The faintest summer breeze
stirs the rhododendrons as I lie
within the peaceful darkness, damp and cool.

Voices in the distance, kids at play,
cars along the boulevard hiss by,
furtive couples fumble down the way,
off to learn the meaning of a sigh
by the river's isolated pool.

I close my eyes and feel the Earth beneath
the world above the universe. I fly
to distant lands where dragons form a wreath
around my life, where magic will not die,
and knights defend the helpless from the cruel.

— The End —