drunken in my pockets,
the day whispers to the trees that
pin to you, albatross
of a wind-swept sea loosening
feathers and heart-beats in
short, death-caught seconds.


gorgeous girl of height,
your caves are bright mysteries
your light an elephant's graveyard
of grey.


bitter note of earth,
you anchor birth
to our eye sockets, unwrap
mint and honey from the hills.


uneasy mistress,
dark daughter of sight,
sunk into all the corners of the world
you break like string,
you break and i break with you.


vignette of ivy-coloured dreams,
sunny trail, you break my heart and
glue it back, sigh and sigh like a viking raider
conjured out of porcelain
and rose-water.


warrior of distant planes,
dense harbour of a lonely city,
landscape of water, unravelled
in an instant, a velvet
ribbon tied into a bow.

  10h Liz Balise
S Olson

Overcome by this inverted lightning, i storm
into an abbreviated tomorrow, where i flood
into the dreamscape of today, eyes raining

down and inward. i sleep forth into the world
of waking, overcome by the temperament
of this mummified mouth. clawing the dragon
now hungry for my golden intimate currency

our love hides at the ends of my fingertips.
Fire nibbles the soles of my feet through
to my own heart, crumbling me clouded

where i go blind. i am sorry, marooned
on this island, where the corals reach down
from the sky. where stalactites rip the sails
of all incoming boats, the dragon survives

in an ephemeral artery, or in some capillary
where his teeth reign over whatever empire

smothering into, he becomes my face

to she that saves me. i have learned to love,
in that love has shown me it is beyond me;

the dragon follows my fingertips to your hair,
you walk beside me. where i am given i,
but awakened, beneath a golden sky

the dragon suckles everywhere

that i am saved. by the weapon of giving,

we carry an honest love
between our outspread palms

richer in treasure is
the continental freedom of having
washed ashore together.

Have you ever lost something? Just small
little things at first, like your keys or your
favourite pair of jeans. I have lost many
things, I have discarded people and toys
and favourite t-shirts, they lay in corners
of my house -- little tidbits of love that holds
no place in the frozen realms of my heart. When I lose
something important, I ravage the whole house until I am pulling
out nostalgia like a magician pulls handkerchiefs from a hat.
I find, along my journey, old books and memories that never
seemed to exist until the moment of rediscovery, the moment
my heart takes to reflect upon a past that is filled
with abandonment. I guess everyone
has a history of lost things, of small nonessential and old
diary entries from the 50's, and love letters or their high school
The thing that saddens me to my core is that I found you
in my lost things. It was a photograph of you lounging in a
hammock, a god in a world of fire, your hair falling in your
eyes, a beautiful creature of ignited desire, a dead boy caught in
an eternal photograph, frozen forever with a wolfish grin, your eyes so devoid of death, your eyes the bluest of blue. The gods themselves, so filled with envy, so jealous of your mortal heart and gentle smile, took you away. For every moment was like our last, everything so much more brilliant when you are doomed to die.

you will always be lovely, never again will someone ever be as lovely as you. What pains me is I will never be here again. Clutching your picture and wondering how I could forget for even a second. And perhaps this is the greatest pain of it all, to be left here in a world so cruel, while you are gone. I wonder if I will forget you again, if you will rejoin my collection of lost things.

So I bury you in the back pocket of my favourite jeans, and continue to look for my  keys.

A beer can, phone book, a grapefruit
and an Advent wreath
with four candles
in its nest of greens
Two weeks
Two lit
Third one's the Pink
a life three quarters spent?

Next weekend
on Saturday-- The Sabbath
falls in Hanukkah

“Blessed art thou, Lord our God
King of the universe
who dost create lights of fire...”

I'll light that third-- the pink one
like a barbarian wise woman
who traveled too far along life's way
to find a Jewish baby, wrapped in rags

...or, was it the old guy that night
lying in the street
outside a New England bar

“Oh Christ! Ya gotta be kidding!”

Nope, He was there alright

Wallowing in the freezing slush
amid his helpless drunken cries
No cell phones then
Scrapped my pizza plans

On foot alone
waving in frustration  
in the passing headlights
a turquoise, wind-crazed scarecrow

“Someone's gotta stop?
Someone has to help us, don't they?”

Now there are two beer cans
a grapefruit, and a phone book
beside the advent wreath

Third candle lit and leaning out
for hope along the way

In memory of--
Louise McDermott, my daughter's godmother who gave us the Advent wreath.
and Joannie Handleman, my best buddy in music and crime who taught me her family's traditions  and Yiddish expressions.

To those who celebrate, Happy Hanukkah!
  1d Liz Balise

My dreams are
darker than the holler
on a moonless night
and deeper
than the water
in the creek that flows
so cold
inside of me

I need that girl
from Doe Valley
the one called Sally
that I used to see
along the road
the other side
of Iron Mountain
to lie warm beside of me

The one who made me smile
for a little while
and kissed me on my lips
when her Pop was on a trip
selling his crops
while her Mom shopped
over in Mountain City

But those days are gone
and the holler's still long
and dark most nights
when the creek is quiet
and the cold cuts through
my coat when the moon
forgets to shine on Doe Valley.

Such a huge, beautiful sky
Now that the mountains have all
Called in sick.

Plains where valleys were,
Seas withdraw as if in retreat;  
Defeated armies of

Timelessness. Wake of
Soil and stone. Such a
Huge, all embracing heaven  

Not even looking down.
And now, enter her, as I make
Myself comfortable with

My new life of treatments and
A violently shortened lifespan;
The one I always loved from

Within the shadows.
Willing me to live.

A sleeper angel deployed to
Hold the holder;
Double-wing-cover from

The snow. Old love unspoken.
The kind that makes hills run for

Steady and unquestionable;
Tectonic shifts between hearts
Running out of

Tic-tocs and bass lines.
Plains where valleys were. She
Fills craters with her presence

In the room.
Never my girl; always my girl.
Sleeper angel activated.

I see why the seas withdraw.
No wonder the mountains called
In sick.

She raises solar storms with her little finger;
Conducts atmospheric changes with
A sigh.

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