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the world is a dryer.

if there is a washing machine section within our universe, I am unaware of it.

I don't work that rotation. I work the dry shift.

tumble low heat, fluff, repeat.


in almost every dryer known to mankind, some contraption serves as the lint trap. collect all of the lint and excess laundry fluff as it goes through the dry cycle.

in this world, in this universe; if the human race consists of the articles of clothing in the dryer, I am the lint trap.

it sounds almost cutesy when phrased like that. dryer lint is fluffy and soft and the combination of all the different fibers of the various clothing.

I'm the trap, though. the filter.

I must absorb and filter the excess fiber from every article of clothing. if the entire human race is in this dry cycle; I absorb and filter their raveling ends.

it's ******* exhausting.

here's a better analogy. have you ever had your stomach pumped?

they handle this differently now, but when the doctors, nurses, and staff working in the ER would get a patient who swallowed an entire bottle of ****** with a ***** chaser; or a new mother's young son swallowing her bottle of sertaline, they would get to work. one hand activated charcoal, the other hand with a large suction tube.

activated charcoal is what neutralizes the bottle of ****** or the bottle of Zoloft. the charcoal can absorb **** near anything. it pulls out stains and poisons, neutralizing and absorbing.

this is where the tube comes in. the charcoal is harmless on its own, but the ER staff is in a hurry to console (get rid of) the screaming mother; to move the seventeen year old girl with the ****** ***** chaser to the psychiatric unit, and continue their night.

insert the long tube to suction the charcoal out of the stomachs of the two children. this is often haphazardly shoved down the back of the throat, down the esophagus, reaching the stomach. flip the switch, undo what peristalsis cannot. it's not pleasant. gagging, rough, foul, I've been told.

the body is working in reverse order. vomiting may be easier. the suction tube is fighting the natural flow of the body. the esophagus is attempting to push everything down down down, and the tube is fighting back.

I am the activated charcoal found in every ER across the globe. I absorb the poisons that human beings put into​ their bodies.

I can pass someone on the street, and my activated charcoal soul absorbs the negativity, the poison, the hatred, the emotional chaos from that individual.

I often wonder if the person feels lighter, noting the absence of the venom that once crippled them. I never ask. I just keep my gaze down and ignore the tempest ensnared within my activated charcoal lint trap.

there are others like me. activated charcoal hearts, lint trap souls.
an ode to activated charcoal hearts and lint trap souls.

February​ 8th 2017
charcoal smudges and
indistinct hazes of darkness
phrases laced in harshness harnessed
and armed with my conviction
addiction to truth even
when sharp enough to harm you
disarm you
sever limb
from limb
tongue from clever whim
from quipped retort
designed to thwart
off the largest offender
up wind down wind
I don't remember really the direction
from whence one came nor
name nor much anything
other than

charcoal smudges and
indistinct hazes of darkness
phrases laced in harshness harnessed
and armed with my conviction
addiction to truth even
when sharp enough to harm you
disarm you
sever limb
from limb
the smother hot tension seething
wriggling writhing ringing in my head
sirens throwing up red flags
at catch phrases
stated like razor blades
repeated like mantras
she said she said
he said they them,
my head
they said I was lonely
they said I was weak i think i thought
I believed
they loved me
someone told me
I wasn't worth a cent or sense
or that I had no sense
or that I was nonsense
all of it I think I thought all of it
I tense, became tense I tensed
over overwhelming disapproval
even at a distance
for my depreciating assets
the expense of my existence
my penance for loving myself
when it so inconvenienced
those I was living around
was letting myself
think I was worthless
how to count
I have digressed

I guess this is all jumbled concept
an attempt to recreate the conception
of my desecration
of the crumbling of my foundation
of the ashes left
when they, when she,when all of them
broke inside my head
to watch the walls burn
from the inside out
and charcoal smudges with
indistinct hazes of darkness
phrases laced in harshness harnessed
and armed with my conviction
addiction to truth even
when sharp enough to harm you
disarm you
sever limb from limb
sin from sin
from worth
you hurt me
they hurt me
I hurt myself
because I believed you
were telling me the truth.
I became dark

charcoal smudges and
indistinct hazes of darkness
phrases laced in harshness harnessed
and armed with my conviction
addiction to truth even
when sharp enough to harm you
disarm you
sever limb
from limb
kin from
i'm gone now.
think of me as charcoal.
to be spoken aloud.
nja Jan 2019
- darts for charcoal.
Jeune boy is compassionate, secure, loving.
What more could a girl want?
Charcoal boy is mad.
Boy, is he unhealthy, inconsiderate, hurtful, hateful.
Full of everything but love for me
Choose wisely.
Self-flagellation anyone?
Because I can suffocate and choke myself on charcoal, I push jeune away in a bout of responsibility.
Choosing between a boy that is bad for me and a boy that is nice for once.
kms Jul 2014
We marked the deaths on a map in little black tallies,
every day we counted the numbers and they had come to a strong incline.

You sat in the dust by the flames
playing with a cattail
and you asked me
“When will it be over?”

The smoke drifted into open sky above us and I tried to count the stars.

The map was held together by rivers and
and lakes.
And we were held together by a commonplace drive:


The poem in your eyes had no backbone and it was falling apart at the seams and it made you
tired and
sad and

The map is held together by little black tallies on the edges from an old charcoal pencil.
And we are held together by a thread of life that could very well be


Alas, that is out of our reach but we must remember to always
fight! and to stay alive
please keep holding on

Because home awaits with open arms and we are here counting stars and
we must never die.


The mayor warned when we came home to
never leave again
and to
never go again
and I do not understand because
we couldn’t stop that
and you told me that I understand
and that he doesn’t.

Mother looked at me and my scars
and told me to go
and told me that I shouldn’t be home.

And we found a lake from the map marked with a charcoal pencil and stayed there
and you fished
and I found berries.

Every night we counted the stars and
we were connected by constellations.

Every night we were connected by the grass beneath us
pricking the backs of our necks

and we caught the flying stars
and we were connected by constellations.

The notes of the piano rang in open air across the lake
how far can the notes stretch to connect us?  

As the lake grew, constellations stretched
and we never knew what color your eyes were.

Blinded by the bright light from the upcoming sun,
we both ran for cover, turning our backs on each other for the first time in
a while.

The thick trees hid us from the light well enough, but

We kept running.
The sun was catching up
too fast
and we ran for everything we could live for.
(each other)

I ran for you and you ran for me.
That’s all we could do until you laid on the ground,
tired and
sad and

You stopped running so I did too and we both were hungry for what we could’ve had.


When we were still in the war, they let you bring one thing from home.
You brought the idea of hope
and I brought the idea of music
and we mixed together very well.

The nights when we counted stars under the full moon
were the nights when we’d fall asleep with our arms touching.
(A sign that people are alive.)

The dust woke us up when it blew in our open mouths,
and in a shallow breath the tiny things landed on our tongues, woke us up, and
made our eyes cry.

“When do you know to go home?”
I ask myself this a lot because I know that there is no answer.
Human beings like to ask themselves things without answers and then get angry that there is no answer.
Because only they know when they put you back home.
You and I were lucky because we only had a little time in that hell,
but the others weren’t.
The little black tallies from the charcoal pencil weren’t because they

The light woke us up and we knew we had to run
It landed upon our eyelids and woke us up and made us cry.

I think of you as I am running and my bare feet
across the dirt.
I think of you because your hair always was full of the stuff and now all it does is make me cry.


I think we are running along the line on one of your maps.
I think our feet are creating the dark brown streaks on the paper with the little black tallies on them.
And I think that we will never find out
the color of your eyes.

We run back to back for a while
until the light stops us and we hide beneath the tree’s leaves.

I am hungry for our arms to be touching again.
I am hungry to count stars with you and the place we did that was the war,
so could you say that
I am hungry for the war?

I am not hungry for the charcoal pencil,
but I am hungry for the hand that touched it.

I am not hungry for the dirt,
but I am hungry for the person who would lay in it carelessly.

I am hungry for the map so I can see the dark brown veins running across it with bare feet
the dark brown surface of it.

I am hungry to breathe in the commonplace drive that pushed us along the dark brown lines and out of
the war.
And I am hungry for the idea that once was.

That is no longer existent when I am not with you
which is a side effect of
that I did not know about.

I would welcome any side effects that came with you with open arms, of course, because I would still have
I merely did not know about that one, but I am sad to see the idea go.


I wish you the best in all your journeys.
I wish to hear the beat of your heart against the crickets again,
but now I am afraid that the light has caught up with me
and I am afraid that
we will never find out what color my eyes are.

I wish you the best in running from the light
but remember that the without light there would be no darkness.

I am sorry to have to tell you that the dust will settle in the rocks and that
the maps have been burned.

The tallies have turned blacker than ever before.
The tallies have turned into ash from the bright flames.

The maps have fallen asleep in the glow of the flames and that
our idea:
has been taken by the wind.

It ran with it, and I tried to catch it, but the wind cannot be caught.
Remember the first breath of the war you took when you stepped outside into the
of the day and remember the glow of the flames.

Remember that people are still living
(Remember that our arms touched on the nights we counted stars)
and remember the constellations that connected us.

I am not sorry to tell you, however, that no matter how far constellations can be stretched,
constellations never can be broken.
They can stretch to heaven and hell and earth and the sky and the dust and to the war
But they will never shatter
because constellations are images the mind has created.

Constellations are made by the mind and stars are tangible.
Constellations connect stars.
We are stars and we all burn in our own flames.


The words from your charcoal pencil make me cry.
I cannot ever count the stars without you
and I cannot ever write poetry in the dust without you.

Your words make me cry and I run

I don’t try to compete with the light because I know we’ve been running with our backs to each other for the

The wind trips me and its fingers comb through my hair on the way down.
dust from the ground tickles my tongue and the wind left something in my brain.
our idea:
has been taken by the wind.

“Are you the dust, now?”
I feel your thumb across my cheekbone and I am
for what we could’ve had.

“Are you the wind, now?”
I feel your hand in mine and you lift me to my feet.
My face is dark brown covered with dust
but as I run the wind cleans it off.

“I have never been so tired,” I tell you.

I am so hungry for you.

I am starving
and I am sick with what we could’ve had.
Paula Swanson Jun 2010
I think that a Bar-B-Q is an extension of a guys manliness.
Or manhood.
Now before all of you start disagreeing with me,
listen to this blondes logic.

When a man goes to purchase a grill
There are many factors a man has to take into consideration.
And they are, in this order, as follow:

1. Propane vs. Charcoal and Charcoal Fluid

2. The size of the grill

3. Rotisserie?

4. Accessories

5. Bar-B-Q covers

Let us take each consideration in turn.

Propane vs. Charcoal and Charcoal Fluid.

Propane men:

Some men want instant gratification.  Twist a **** or two, push a button here and instant heat.  Give it a few minutes to build to the right temperature and BAM!  In with the meat.  Once done, turn a **** or two and walk away.  No muss.  No fuss.

Charcoal men:

Other men are more inclined to take their time.  savor the experience.  They enjoy watching the flames build and turn into a glowing bed of meat searing heat.  When everything is just right, they gently place the meat.  They stand gaurd over it.  Tending to it.  Every once in a while poking it to test if it's ready.  These same men will sometimes sit snuggled around the glowing embers afterwards.  Watching the heat fade and cool.  Then they will ask their woman they had served  "How'd you like your steak babe?"

Charcoal Fluid And Men:

Some men should never be allowed near a Bar-B-Q that requires something to stimulate the flames.  It always ends in disaster and or injury.

Size Of The Bar-B-Q:

O.K.  Now this is a touchy subject for most men.  It has been known to cause envy, jealousy and has broken up a marriage or two.  Men think bigger is better.

When buying a Bar-B-Q , a man thinks about; cooking area, the possible need for side burners, portability, and the all important factor of presentation.  That's right.  How will it look to the neighbors and guests?  Will they be properly impressed with it? Also, can it handle the extra meat when company comes over?  Heaven forbid it should let him down and make him look foolish.


This is an important decision.  Does having your meat spin make it better?  I think that this is more of an individual decision.


Now we have reached a critical point.  How to accessorize.  Of course, every man needs the right equipment to ensure success.  And all of the tools need to have a long reach and be durable.
Tongs, fork, knife, spatula, basting brush.
Some men even splurge and go for a flavor injector.  Now that's a man who cares about his meat.

Bar-B-Q Cover:

Finally we reach the last consideration a man has to make.  To cover or not to cover?

Men!  Always, with out fail, should cover.  It is for their own protection.  And it shows you care.

Thank you.
Just in time for the summer
Ashley Nicole Feb 2015
A lump of coal
Tossed into the fire
Before it even stood a chance
Of becoming a diamond

And all it needed was time
Salma Aug 2019
It reminds me of when my heart burnt and melted for
days and years
and no one saw
Now, it’s like calling the fire department to put out charcoal
Samuel Mar 2011
Charcoal sky
**** me up
Spit me out over an ocean
Let me drift to its bottom
Marvel at the creatures
And remain
With you, charcoal sky
Forever with you
jane taylor Jun 2016
how i have ached to walk amongst the evergreens
encased by dazzling quaking aspen
in my rocky mountain home

i yearn to fall again while skiing
and catch a wisp of icy sky blue
snow powder crystals
on my tongue
******* feelings
rise and fall
as they melt
and disappear

i long to breathe in your scent
sitting on the peak of wooded ridges
amidst slate colored boulders
sea salt combined with cinnamon
laced with wildflowers
crisply filling my lungs

i hunger to once again
behold again your red rock formations
creating tender hollows
through which timid coral sunsets peer

i crave hiking at dusk
into your jagged emerald forests
and sit wistfully mid the columbine
while darkened sunflowers juxtapose
against the jet black emptiness
enticing the stars
to etch enchanting paintings
on inky cobalt skies

hankering to be at the sundance film festival
coyly peeking into restaurants
covertly spying on the movie stars
on old park city main

itching to experience waiting patiently
for a moose to cross the street
its majesty splashing gingerly
sending chills throughout the galaxy
magnificence abounds

i pine to have memories gently cradle me
like worn out patchwork quilts
warmed by incandescent fires
wrapping me in soft colored canvas
the past craving transformation
by an echo that’s now dim

faintly crying out for
an old familiar artist’s brush
that still lingers
to snag times gone by
and paint the future in

amalgamating the antiquated
with the present
luring in
my destiny

i dream to don my fringed leather jacket
and hear my cowboy boots
fiercely clicking
against charcoal shadowed midnight sidewalks
while i watch the harvest moon

i’m parched too see your autumn chestnut leaves
against the bloodshot auburn sky
as cardinal hues give way to glistening winter
melding into tender spring

your summertime birthing
tingles down my spine
as chartreus aspen leaves
morph to golden bisque
enticing ute country
to blow in
copper colored indian summers
with cherry fragrant wind

yutaahih you were called
by the apaches
their historic essence
somehow ingrained within
my every cell
thirsty to lie enveloped
like a long lost lover
in your rugged western terrain

once having left your presence
i return to you now
my heart flutters
with wild anticipation
to see your precious face again

after a 5 year absence, we are returning to utah at the end of this month
Isabella Bachman Jun 2011
The shadows of the trees speak to me with a fearless futility
A chant to step into the transfixing traffic with a tripping twist
Fall beyond the black burnet of their being and see the beguiling burden unfold:

The sky encroaches tightening its grip, making the mind slip
Painted with a varnishing brush dipped in tenebrous charcoal
It drips a tear that plummets a ripple on the skin

A betrayal of the collapsing concealment
A desolate obsidian smeared beneath the eye, across the hand
It heeds the damage of a veil of soot and the pallid bruise of the soul.

A tangled cloud unravels from the pipe like the hum of a spinning fan,
A nocturnal whisper. Its sheen of banishment masked by the drown
Of sirens as two carnations drift down the charcoal water of a river.
Robin Carretti Jul 2018
The burr shaking in a
Bohemian Awakening
(Long) vintage stare how
her words were spelled
out snake tongue (Short)
The Death
Whats Up* Chap of a sport
Whats Up Doc
Going tick tock Mr. Rick
Don't trick this document
Oh! where did it drop
What!! He made the drop
dead gorgeous dress?

Born to die last lip of the spoonfuls
Cut to the chase with my chap lips
More deaths on the rise to deliver 
How love was the
mind controller
Hands out of the grave
couldn't hold her
Like the Boulder Chief head
Hothead on her shoulder
The better herbs of medicine
His racing car hot flame

The Rapsody of her melody
holding on to her life
What a unique wife
Until time changes her moods
Opening up her world of flower buds
A different silence of home goods
We do believe we can be

The Champions

But the fallout of promises
Or jobs never big advances

Oh! Christ
Her chapped lips needed some
time to heal where is her next meal
The heat catching a death of cold
But staying alive the second
wind hot Ferrari Italian drive
Feeling deathly-sick faking
your death was no trick

Who disappeared never
really certain
if it was truly their
Building the fire mountain
Don't keep complaining
where the time went
Death of a cold wishes
not to die
where is our youth
Only takes one amazing birth
Lips kissing the fountain
The fortune teller booth

Who would want her chapped lips
Baby Ruth crunchy bar
down the mountain
The love confused her the
death would be
faster going once or twice up
Guilty trip or the graveyard shift
Hangover ski lift with her
Beeswax for chap lips
Taxman on the number rise flirting
What a good chap
In her coffee cup a little Robin birdie
told you

You made your own grave
time on my side or hanging
by a thread of stitches
Hats off up and away
Getting a green facelift of witches
You lived so far the good life
Feeling so wanted
he cooked your meals
He cleaned up your mess wearing
The Chef Apron 
 *He's Wanted
the sign
All over the world,
his face is wanted
The fool lips the fuller up lips
The heart went out of touch a deathly cold
She is wearing her heart-shaped lips
Doing what she is told
How the world has been
smudged with
Noone knows where here

All her cracks of her lips
The cute button nose
Not Rudolph the Reindeer
The hunt for the ****** nose
Up close and personal
Lip to his lip journal
Such odds of numbers
So many even deaths
like tumblers
Through the loopers
Love and resentment
The world is a village commitment
Mcdonald Man beef and the
melted lady
You got an alert notice
The cast of spells the
fire went high
You couldn't even put it out
The death of a Salesman novice
Papercut snip computer nasty chip
The charcoal grill felt like it burned you
The fires new hires of California
The peace sign
Imagine people with no

Holy water
Whose mind is in order
The Dementia patients
Your own flame so many hot flames
The rest of the world caught a death
of a cold like an old flame

*The Goddess of Venus

The darker edge his cool hummer
Going on a shoot with chapped lips
Who is really keeping tabs

There was nothing to believe in to hold
To restore how do we balance the world
But we are not Gods
Chapped lips caused
such an alarm
All things take time then
it's in harm's way
Someone will understand to pay
Like a settlement
Deathly gray hairs on the pavement
Getting hurt but the best Godly soil
is still their like dirt
There was no reception hell broke
loose riot
Everything was naked sound
No time to sing a duet to
feet on the ground love couplet

That snow drift fall on your face
Who will be where you are in
the next century place

Perhaps your last picture
before you die
How the singer live on
to be remembered
  Why are we not discovered
Can we be saved from redemption
Like you have been squirted on
Like Heinz Ketchup did you catch up
To get his kiss did he feel your death of cold
But never to exist
What is on our bucket list?
This was something I thought of not everything we breath is pure that we adore
times are changing don't you feel your getting a death of a cold to think about it
Forty Days

A Season of Grief, a Season of Rejoicing

November 9-December 20, 2014

For Barbara Beach Alter 
It is Christmas morning in Saco, Maine, where today Bett, Aaron, Emily, Thomasin and our beloved cousin Marie find ourselves gathered to celebrate our first Christmas without dadima (our name for Barbara Beach Alter).  Brother Tom writes that already in India he and Carol with Jamie, Meha and Cayden (the only of her seven greatgrandchildren Barry never held) have celebrated.  Today Marty and Lincoln join us in Maine.

This gathering of documents—notes, drafts of memorial services, poems, homilies—is my christmas present to each of you.  It is a record, certainly subjective, of grief and rejoicing.

John Copley Alter
1:14 a.m.
Saco, Maine 
November 9

Loved ones,
Barbara Beach Alter died peacefully at 2:55 Sunday morning (today).  Bett and I had the good fortune to be there for the final beating of her good strong heart.  She murmured charcoal.  The nurse who was bathing her afterwards noted how few wrinkles there were, and it is true.
For those of you nearby you may if you want visit Mom in her room at hospice this morning (until noon).  Visit? Darshan? Paying respects?
Bett and I plan to be there around 11:00.
Much love to all. A blessed occasion.

November 10

Matthew 5:13-19
Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

yesterday in the early hours my mother died her saltiness
restored all that had through the months of her old
age and convalescence obscured the lens of her life cleaned
away so that for us now more and more clearly
as we hear about her through the memory and love
of so many people her good works shine forth in
their glory but it is to the days of her
convalescence the days of her dementia I would turn our
minds those of us who spent time with her at
Wingate long-term care facility remember that Barbara Beach Alter became
at times fierce in her commanding us that ‘not one
letter, not one stroke of a letter’ of the commandments
should be altered do you remember that those of you
and us who were given the work and gift of
spending time with Barry in those days in that condition

remember for instance how fussy she became about the sequence
of food on her tray how impatient with us for
our trespasses and violations how adamant that we look forward
for instance and not back at her how she would
say stop holding my hand and saying you love me
you have work to do o she was almost impossible
and certainly incoherent and demented in her obsession with law
and procedure fussy impatient imperious I do not forget being
scolded reamed out put in my place for having somehow
failed to do what the ‘law and the prophets’ demand

Barbara beach alter in the days before hospice in the
nursing home and hospital and even if we are honest
in the final years of her life found herself caught
up in the rigidity of her anxious desire to be
faithful to the laws and commandments of her life and
that made her at times extremely demanding to be with

amen and the epistemological confusion of course the clash between
her reality and ours it was all an ordeal for
her and for those of us who kept her company

and yet and yet through it all and now as
that ordeal for her is no longer paramount as she
dances in heaven all the wrinkles and discomfort of her
life removed and forgiven Barbara Beach Alter kept the faith
living in the midst such that those who cared for
her most intimately the strangers all professed your mother blessed

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

So, brother and sister, here are my thoughts about the memorial service(s).
Let’s find a time when we three can be present; that’s the most important thing.  My life is currently the least constrained by agenda and schedule.  And then the grandchildren, recognizing that Jamie may not be able to come.  So, our work is to find our when our kids are able to come. Bett and I are exploring that with our three, each of whom has some constraint: Emily, the cost; Thomasin, the piebaking demands, Aaron school.  But we are flexible.

Much love.


Walking in my mother’s wake today some trees
a gentle breeze some dogs a little boy
the neighborhood and I took joy from interaction

we are at best a fraction in love’s
calculation after all heaven I realize is not
above or below cannot be taught comes naturally

as death does walking in my mother’s wake
I found new allies learned yet again not
to take myself too seriously to be caught

off guard as a matter of principle and
not to insist that I understand but live
in the midst of forgiveness

in my mother’s wake I am reading these books for
some way to continue to knock on her door Wendell
Berry he can tell me some things and William Blake
he can take me closer and I remember she described
me once as an unused Jewish liberal so I am
reading about protestant liberalism but ham that I am also
reading Carl Hiassen’s Bad Monkey and Quo Vadimus that my
daughter left behind and mythologically Reflections from yale divinity school
no fooling Denise Levertov David Sobel Galway Kinnell’s translation of
Rilke some wake

November 11

Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus said, "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

this morning in the wee hours my mother died one
of the wise bridesmaids whose lamp to the end was
full she carried always the flask of oil that is
joy that is the love of the kingdom of heaven
and of the bridegroom a flask always replenished by prayer
by devotion by a humble courageous living in the midst

she expected every day the bridegroom to come in other
words and she was also one who would never refuse
to share even the last drop with somebody in need

and at the end it is so clear the door
into the banquet hall was not closed to her as
it is not closed to any one of us foolishness
is to believe otherwise to believe that the bridegroom will
not come today in the early morning in the wee
hours that is when he comes in the midst of
other plans is when he comes even when we are
doing what we assume to be good work when we
are doing what gives us pleasure our duty joy comes
then unsummoned unpredictable random even according to all our best
laid plans my mother loved so many things her pleasure
included dancing late in her life terminally unsteady she invented
what we loved to urge her to do namely the
sitting jig and we grew up with images of her
Isadora Duncan dancing with white scarves in an enchanted forest

Barbara Beach Alter aka Barry aka dadima bari nani aunt
and daughter wife missionary is now I know dancing a
rollicking boisterous jig on the shores of a lake that
is as her grandson once confided to her god in
liquid form spilly Beach of course also dyslexic executive function
compromised she was but one who loved to be always
in the midst surrounded by loved ones some of them
absolute strangers she shared her oil because for her it
came welling up from an inexhaustible source a deep eternal
well of such illumination and laughter such giddy divine chuckles

for her there was to be no exclusion she would
not find the awful idea of being one of the
foolish applicable to anybody but happily she welcomed into her
midst so many it is hard to imagine how many

so there she is now a bridesmaid dancing for joy
in such elegant clothing with such perpetual brightness

amen hallelujah rejoice

sometimes I think she pulled us all out of the
magic hat sometimes I think she knit us all into
one of her theologically impossible sweaters and then with a
wink she passes through the eye of the needle and
is gone and we are left to play in her
honor endless hands of solitaire sometimes I think we are
no more than the hermeneutics of her life the epistemology
artless she was not her heart like one of those
magical meals for her then a doxology praise then praise
she knows salvation

what is a life’s work it is like a landscape
dotted with oases and gardens for the thirsty and the
lost it is like scraping through dry barren ground and
finding there suddenly not only the theology of paradise but
such seeds your hands ache to begin the planting what
is a life’s work what has been shut for too
long opens what has been shut for too long opens

a life’s work renews itself then with death the kernel
of hope that dies in springtime sprouting is what a
life’s work becomes

November 12

John 21:15-17
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

I know my mother very much enjoyed having breakfast with
god and that the meals of her nursing home drove
her nearly crazy and that when at last she found
hospice o she again could imagine the feast of heaven
at which Jesus breaks bread with us and speaks with
such clarity do you love me more than these I
know it was questions as simple and overwhelming as this
that dominated her final days do you love me love
being  one of the last five words she attempted to
speak do you love me she wrestled in her last
months with epistemology and psychology and theology and all had
to do with whether she could answer unequivocally you know
that I love you and that she could say of
her life that she had broken bread with god we
all remember in her life those moments when there was
a great gladness an innocent acceptance of what lay immediately
in her presence now those months in the nursing home
tormented her in precisely this fashion that it was hard
to accept to be in the midst of such mediocrity
and woe to be innocent and accepting but now praise
god there she is a happy guest at the great
feast and we left behind bereft can acknowledge that she
loved god in her own fashion as best she possibly
could and do you remember being with her there in
hospital or nursing home and she commanding us to move
beyond holding her hand and saying we loved her and
to feed the sheep to do that work which will
make of this earth this here and now an outstation
of heaven Barbara Beach Alter loved god in her own
fashion as best she possibly could we remember that and
that memory is today like a great network a web
of love and inspiration o we would gladly one more
time hold her hand and say I love you but
we know also clearly I think today what the work
is to love our neighbor as ourselves to work for
peace and justice I think of my sister with her
colleagues in WEIGO and how her sisters have understood her
grief  let us break our fast together then glad for
the worldwide web that in these days is reading the
gospel of the life of Barbara Beach Alter praise god

in exchange for his three denials Peter is given three imperative verbs
this is the commission Jesus after breakfast on the shore of the sea of Galilee gives to Peter
twice he says feed
in the commonwealth of Massachusetts 700,000 people are hungry
1 in 6 americans are hungry
living in uncertainty about their daily bread
more than 18,000,000 in Africa
842,000,000 around the world go to bed hungry

Marty and Tom
The thinking about the memorial service is taking this slow and cautious turn, namely that we have three services (at least), one in Sudbury, one in New Haven (allowing Stan and Chuck and others to come) at First Presbyterian (with Blair Moffett we hope), and of course one in India.
The date frame appears to be somewhere between December 17 and 20, unless you have other thoughts.
The actual cremation happens tomorrow.  Lincoln, Bett, Alexis and I will attend, and then of course there is In the Midst on Friday.
Love you more than tongue can tell.

the thing with a life well lived is that many
people have partaken the way let’s say a river moves
down through any number of different lives all the time
sedulously seeking the shortest path to the sea to steal
a line from somebody or other meandering a watershed within
which so many of us find a way to live
our own lives nourished and for each of us the
river distinct and different white water the slow fertile meander
the delta and we say to each other this is
the composite river

sometimes I feel like a sleepwalker trying to run a
marathon sometimes I feel like a speedbump in a blizzard

an arrow in a wind tunnel sometimes I feel like

a hazard sign in an old age home sometimes I
feel like a tyrannosaurus rex trying to ride a tricycle

and sometimes those are the good days when identity is
strong like an icicle in a heat wave is strong

I try to read wisdom literature at happy hour scotch
and Solomon can’t go wrong I think and sometimes I

feel like crying

November 13

four days ago we were left alone there with your
body after your breathing ceased and the proud stubborn beating
of your heart and in those four days beloved mother
so much I would love to say to you and
share the antics of the squirrel late leaves on the
neighborhood trees music Orion the network the atlas of love
your life has left behind and all the words we
are the gospel of today and I would sit with
you there then in silence as I sit now four
days later vigilant insomniac aware that the kingdom of heaven
is not more complicated than singing than love than dancing

we are all dancing the dance lord siva teaches and
the s
Angelonia May 2018
she had flaked away her memories
and stepped up
with a ponderous heart,
held by two gentle hands;
and saying goodbye, did she,
as she slipped off her skin,
for the moment blood stains
the kumari's tender soul,
bereaved, will she become,
for a goddess never bleeds.

her feet shall never touch
the tattered, naked ground,
for it engulfs and devours
and burns off the kumari's flesh.
holding her pure spirit, and
  accepting a cruel death sentence,
her quivering soul
cupped but a glimmer of hope,
as the fire would flicker
and lash and whip
as her skin flakes again,
and the kumari vanishes.

but, if she remains unscathed,
blood shall be drawn,
and the gods will tremble and
her body will collapse.
the world will consume her
once again.

a kumari's blood,
drawn, now at death,
trembling and alone,
had she sobbed tears of joy,
for no longer the weight
must she bear in her heart,
of being a kumari;
but a kumari is she,
and the world has not chose her,
but she has chosen to be.

she had withered away,
heart no longer ponderous,
she stepped up.
and her wishes from within
passed on to the fearful others,
held by two gentle hands, and
with a gentle flutter of her eyes,
next to her charcoal stained skin,
had her heart stopped;
for her bejeweled crown had been stained with blood,
and the kumari realized that
she had died long ago.
i worked really ******* this
Mateuš Conrad Apr 2016
got so drunk at their little, ahem, initiation ceremony: drank a bottle of whiskey when i heard we were going clubbing wearing lycra shorts... the man with the biggest bulge and the biggest stick... never understood male group psychology... or any group psychology for that matter... it isn't exactly a throng of noblemen following Henry VIII.*

i joined the lacrosse university team
for a bit,
left it when the time came to buy the
equipment - i didn't think getting
smacked by the defenders' longer sticks
was worth it, to be a striker with the shortest
stick - too physical - i thought i'd seek
some other physicality,
got stuck-up on rock climbing, and mountaineering
for a while, nothing serious,
a bit of easy bouldering on the edinbrugh crag,
the one lining the skyline at holyrood park,
the salisbury crag, just west of arthur's seat -
i'm not going to lie about clinging off the
matterhorn or something -
but i did an expedition with the mountaineering
club near Ben Nevis once...
Glen Coe / Coire nan Lochan...
and i figured, with all this talk of light pollution,
well, "pollution", to think that a bunch of
street lamps can blind away the stars of what
former poets spoke of: about the illumination
of the heavens for the blind eye to see...
we camped outside one bothy (basic shelter)
set off fireworks, drank whiskey, played music,
burnt a fire in the bothy...
but to be honest... i was not amused by this whole
theory of light pollution...
i looked up at the sky, and the number of stars
was no greater than the number seen in a bright
lit city... i know they say all those telescopes
amplify the chance of peering into the heavens
at night and see more stars...
but why cite light pollution, when, in a remote
highland hideout the number of stars didn't
increase in number... i've heard a girl from
australia cite that, in the outback she said
more stars could be seen... even without a telescope...
so the scottish highlands are unlike the australian
outback? is it just me... or is it simply *******,
this whole light pollution argument?
it was dark out there like in an **** after black coffee
and charcoal tablets.
Nigel Morgan Jun 2013
She sent it to me as a text message, that is an image of a quote in situ, a piece of interpretation in a gallery. Saturday morning and I was driving home from a week in a remote cottage on a mountain. I had stopped to take one last look at the sea, where I usually take one last look, and the phone bleeped. A text message, but no text.  Just a photo of some words. It made me smile, the impossibility of it. Epic poems and tapestry weaving. Of course there are connections, in that for centuries the epic subject has so often been the stuff of the tapestry weaver’s art. I say this glibly, but cannot name a particular tapestry where this might be so. Those vast Arthurian pieces by William Morris to pictures by Burne-Jones have an epic quality both in scale and in subject, but, to my shame, I can’t put a name to one.

These days the tapestry can be epic once more - in size and intention - thanks to the successful, moneyed contemporary artist and those communities of weavers at West Dean and at Edinburgh’s Dovecot. Think of Grayson Perry’s The Walthamstowe Tapestry, a vast 3 x 15 metres executed by Ghentian weavers, a veritable apocalyptic vision where ‘Everyman, spat out at birth in a pool of blood, is doomed and predestined to spend his life navigating a chaotic yet banal landscape of brands and consumerism’.  Gosh! Doesn’t that sound epic!

I was at the Dovecot a little while ago, but the public gallery was closed. The weavers were too busy finishing Victoria Crowe’s Large Tree Group to cope with visitors. You see, I do know a little about this world even though my tapestry weaving is the sum total of three weekends tuition, even though I have a very large loom once owned by Marta Rogoyska. It languishes next door in the room that was going to be where I was to weave, where I was going to become someone other than I am. This is what I feel - just sometimes - when I’m at my floor loom, if only for those brief spells when life languishes sufficiently for me be slow and calm enough to pick up the shuttles and find the right coloured yarns. But I digress. In fact putting together tapestry and epic poetry is a digression from the intention of the quote on the image from that text - (it was from a letter to Janey written in Iceland). Her husband, William Morris, reckoned one could (indeed should) be able to compose an epic poem and weave a tapestry.  

This notion, this idea that such a thing as being actively poetic and throwing a pick or two should go hand in hand, and, in Morris’ words, be a required skill (or ‘he’d better shut up’), seemed (and still does a day later) an absurdity. Would such a man (must be a man I suppose) ‘never do any good at all’ because he can’t weave and compose epic poetry simultaneously?  Clearly so.  But then Morris wove his tapestries very early in the morning - often on a loom in his bedroom. Janey, I imagine, as with ladies of her day - she wasn’t one, being a stableman’s daughter, but she became one reading fluently in French and Italian and playing Beethoven on the piano- she had her own bedroom.

Do you know there are nights when I wish for my own room, even when sleeping with the one I love, as so often I wake in the night, and I lie there afraid (because I love her dearly and care for her precious rest) to disturb her sleep with reading or making notes, both of which I do when I’m alone.
Yet how very seductive is the idea of joining my loved one in her own space, amongst her fallen clothes, her books and treasures, her archives and precious things, those many letters folded into her bedside bookcase, and the little black books full of tender poems and attempts at sketches her admirer has bequeathed her when distant and apart. Equally seductive is the possibility of the knock on the bedroom / workroom door, and there she’ll be there like the woman in Michael Donaghy’s poem, a poem I find every time I search for it in his Collected Works one of the most arousing and ravishing pieces of verse I know: it makes me smile and imagine.  . .  Her personal vanishing point, she said, came when she leant against his study door all warm and wet and whispered 'Paolo’. Only she’ll say something in a barely audible voice like ‘Can I disturb you?’ and with her sparkling smile come in, and bring with her two cats and the hint of a naked breast nestling in the gap of the fold of her yellow Chinese gown she holds close to herself - so when she kneels on my single bed this gown opens and her beauty falls before her, and I am wholly, utterly lost that such loveliness is and can be so . . .

When I see a beautiful house, as I did last Thursday, far in the distance by an estuary-side, sheltering beneath wooded hills, and moor and rock-coloured mountains, with its long veranda, painted white, I imagine. I imagine our imaginary home where, when our many children are not staying in the summer months and work is impossible, we will live our ‘together yet apart’ lives. And there will be the joy of work. I will be like Ben Nicholson in that Italian villa his father-in-law bought, and have my workroom / bedroom facing a stark hillside with nothing but a carpenter’s table to lay out my scores. Whilst she, like Winifred, will work at a tidy table in her bedroom, a vase of spring flowers against the window with the estuary and the mountains beyond. Yes, her bedroom, not his, though their bed, their wonderful wooden 19C Swiss bed of oak, occupies this room and yes, in his room there is just a single affair, but robust, that he would sleep on when lunch had been late and friends had called, or they had been out calling and he wanted to give her the premise of having to go back to work – to be alone - when in fact he was going to sleep and dream, but she? She would work into the warm afternoons with the barest breeze tickling her bare feet, her body moving with the remembrance of his caresses as she woke him that morning from his deep, dark slumber. ‘Your brown eyes’, he would whisper, ‘your dear brown eyes the colour of an autumn leaf damp with dew’. And she would surround him with kisses and touch of her firm, long body and (before she cut her plaits) let her course long hair flow back and forward across his chest. And she did this because she knew he would later need the loneliness of his own space, need to put her aside, whereas she loved the scent of him in the room in which she worked, with his discarded clothes, the neck-tie on the door hanger he only reluctantly wore.

Back to epic poetry and its possibility. Even on its own, as a single, focused activity it seems to me, unadventurous poet that I am, an impossibility. But then, had I lived in the 1860s, it would probably not have seemed so difficult. There was no Radio 4 blathering on, no bleeb of arriving texts on the mobile. There were servants to see to supper, a nanny to keep the children at bay. At Kelmscott there was glorious Gloucestershire silence - only the roll and squeak of the wagon in the road and the rooks roosting. So, in the early mornings Morris could kneel at his vertical loom and, with a Burne-Jones cartoon to follow set behind the warp. With his yarns ready to hand, it would be like a modern child’s painting by numbers, his mind would be free to explore the fairy domain, the Icelandic sagas, the Welsh Mabinogion, the Kalevara from Finland, and write (in his head) an epic poem. These were often elaborations and retellings in his epic verse style of Norse and Icelandic sagas with titles like Sigurd the Volsung. Paul Thompson once said of Morris  ‘his method was to think out a poem in his head while he was busy at some other work.  He would sit at an easel, charcoal or brush in hand, working away at a design while he muttered to himself, 'bumble-beeing' as his family called it; then, when he thought he had got the lines, he would get up from the easel, prowl round the room still muttering, returning occasionally to add a touch to the design; then suddenly he would dash to the table and write out twenty or so lines.  As his pen slowed down, he would be looking around, and in a moment would be at work on another design.  Later, Morris would look at what he had written, and if he did not like it he would put it aside and try again.  But this way of working meant that he never submitted a draft to the painful evaluation which poetry requires’.

Let’s try a little of Sigurd

There was a dwelling of Kings ere the world was waxen old;
Dukes were the door-wards there, and the roofs were thatched with gold;
Earls were the wrights that wrought it, and silver nailed its doors;
Earls' wives were the weaving-women, queens' daughters strewed its floors,

And the masters of its song-craft were the mightiest men that cast
The sails of the storm of battle down the bickering blast.
There dwelt men merry-hearted, and in hope exceeding great
Met the good days and the evil as they went the way of fate:
There the Gods were unforgotten, yea whiles they walked with men,

Though e'en in that world's beginning rose a murmur now and again
Of the midward time and the fading and the last of the latter days,
And the entering in of the terror, and the death of the People's Praise.

Oh dear. And to think he sustained such poetry for another 340 lines, and that’s just book 1 of 4. So what dear reader, dear sender of that text image encouraging me to weave and write, just what would epic poetry be now? Where must one go for inspiration? Somewhere in the realms of sci-fi, something after Star-Wars or Ninja Warriors. It could be post-apocalyptic, a tale of mutants and a world damaged by chemicals or economic melt-down. Maybe a rich adventure of travel on a distant planet (with Sigourney Weaver of course), featuring brave deeds and the selfless heroism of saving companions from deadly encounters with amazing animals, monsters even. Or is ‘epic’ something else, something altogether beyond the Pixar Studios or James Cameron’s imagination? Is the  ‘epic’ now the province of AI boldly generating the computer game in 4D?  

And the epic poem? People once bought and read such published romances as they now buy and engage with on-line games. This is where the epic now belongs. On the tablet, PlayStation3, the X-Box. But, but . . . Poetry is so alive and well as a performance phenomenon, and with that oh so vigorous and relentless beat. Hell, look who won the T.S.Eliot prize this year! Story-telling lives and there are tales to be told, even if they are set in housing estates and not the ice caves of the frozen planet Golp. Just think of children’s literature, so rich and often so wild. This is word invention that revisits unashamedly those myths and sagas Morris loved, but in a different guise, with different names, in worlds that still bring together the incredible geographies of mountains and deserts and wilderness places, with fortresses and walled cities, and the startling, still unknown, yet to be discovered ocean depths.

                                    And so let my tale begin . . . My epic poem.

                                                 THE SEAGASP OF ENNLI.
                                                AND REDEMPTIVE LOVE.
Nigel Morgan Oct 2012
Ah the persimmon, a word from an extinct language of the Powatan people of the tidewater Virginia, spoken until the mid 18th C when its Blackfoot Indian speakers switched to English. It was putchamin, pasiminan, or pessamin, then persimmon, a fruit. Like the tomato, it is a ‘true berry’.
Here in this postcard we have a painting of four kaki: the Japanese persimmon. Of these four fruit, one is nearly ripe; three are yet to ripen. They have been picked three days and shelter under crinkled leaves, still stalked. Now, the surface on which these astringent, tangy fruit rest, isn’t it wondrous in its blue and mottled green? It is veined, a ceramic surface perhaps? The blue-green mottled, veined surface catches reflected light; the shadows are delicate but intense.
You told me that it troubled you to read my stories because so often they stepped between reality and fantasy, truth and playful invention. When you said this I meant to say (but we changed the subject): I write this way to confront what I know to be true but cannot present verbatim. I have to make into a fiction my remembered observations, those intense emotions of the moment. They are too precious not to save, and like the persimmon benefit from laying out in the sun to dry: to be eaten raw; digested to rightly control my ch’i, and perhaps your ch’i too.
So today a story about four kaki, heart-shaped hachiya, and hidden therein those most private feelings, messages of love and passion, what can be seen, what is unseen, thoughts and un-thoughts, mysteries and evasions.
Professor Minoru retired last year and now visits his university for the occasional show of his former colleagues and their occasionally-talented students. He spends his days in his suburban house with its tiny non-descript garden: a dog run, a yard no less. No precious garden. It is also somewhere (to his neighbours’ disgust) to hang wet clothes. It is just grass surrounded by a high fence. He walks there briefly in the early morning before making tea and climbing the stairs to his studio.
The studio runs the whole length of his house. When his wife Kinako left him he obliterated any presence of her, left his downtown studio, and converted three rooms upstairs into one big space. This is where Mosuku, his beautiful Akita, sleeps, coming downstairs only to eat and defecate in the small garden. Minoru and Mosuku go out twice each day: to midday Mass at the university chaplaincy; to the park in the early evening to meet his few friends walking their dogs. Otherwise he is solitary except for three former students who call ‘to keep an eye on the old man’.
He works every day. He has always done this, every day. Even in the busiest times of the academic year, he rose at 5.0am to draw, a new sheet of mitsumatagami placed the night before on his worktable ready. Ready for the first mark.
Imagine. He has climbed the stairs, tea in his left hand, sits immediately in front of this ivory-coloured paper, places the steaming cup to his far left, takes a charcoal stick, and  . . . the first mark, the mark from the world of dreams, memories, regrets, anxieties, whatever the night has stored in his right hand appears, progresses, forms an image, a sketch, as minutes pass his movement is always persistence, no reflection or studied consideration, his sketch is purposeful and wholly his own. He has long since learnt to empty his hand of artifice, of all memory.
When Kinako left he destroyed every trace of her, and of his past too. So powerful was his intent to forget, he found he had to ask the way to Shinjuko station, to his studio in the university. He called in a cleaning company to remove everything not in two boxes in the kitchen (of new clothes, his essential documents, 5 books, a plant, Mosuko’s feeding bowl). They were told (and paid handsomely) to clean with vigour. Then the builders and decorators moved in. He changed his phone number and let it be known (to his dog walker friends) that he had decided from now on to use an old family name, Sawato. He would be Sawato. And he was.
His wife, and she was still that legally, had found a lover. Kinako was a student of Professor Minoru, nearly thirty years younger, and a fragile beauty. She adored ‘her professor’, ‘her distinguished husband’, but one day at an opening (at Kinosho Kikaku – Gallery 156) she met an American artist, Fern Sophie Citron, and that, as they say in Japan, was that. She went back to Fern’s studio, where this rather plump middle-aged woman took photographs of Kinako relentlessly in costume after costume, and then without any costume, on the floor, in the bath, against a wall, never her whole body, and always in complete silence. Two days later she sent a friend to collect her belongings and to deliver a postcard to her husband. It was his painting of four persimmon. Persimmon (1985) 54 by 36 cm, mineral pigment on paper.
‘Hiroshi’, she wrote in red biro, ‘I am someone else now it is best you do not know. Please forgive’.
Sawato’s bedroom is on the ground floor now. There is a mat that is rolled away each morning. On the floor there are five books leaning against each other in a table-top self-standing shelf. The Rule of St Benedict (in Latin), The I-Ching (in Chinese), The Odes of Confucius, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (10th C folk tale) and a manual of Go, the Shogi Zushiki. Placed on a low table there is a laptop computer connected to the Internet, and beside the computer his father’s Go board (of dark persimmon wood), its counters pebbles from the beach below his family’s home. Each game played on the Internet he transcribes to his physical board.
He ascribes his mental agility, his calm and perseverance in his studio practice, to his nightly games of Go in hyperspace. He is an acknowledged master. His games studied assiduously, worldwide.
For 8 months in 1989 he studied the persimmon as still-life. He had colleagues send him examples of the fruit from distant lands. The American Persimmon from Virginia, the Black Persimmon or Black Sapote from Mexico (its fruit has green skin and white flesh, which turns black when ripe), the Mabolo or Velvet-apple native to Philippines - a bright red fruit when ripe, sometimes known as the Korean Mango, and more and more. His studio looked like a vegetable store, persimmons everywhere. He studied the way the colours of their skins changed every day. He experimented with different surfaces on which to place these tannin-rich fruits. He loved to touch their skins, and at night he would touch Kinako, his fingers rich from the embrace of fifty persimmon fruits, and she . . . she had never known such gentleness, such strength, such desire. It was as though he painted her with his body, his long fingers tracing the shape of the fruit, his tongue exploring each crevice of her long, slim, fruit-rich body. She had never been loved so passionately, so completely. At her desk in the University library special collection, where she worked as a researcher for a fine art academic journal, she would dream of the night past and anticipate the night to come, when, always on her pillow a different persimmon, she would fall to ****** and beyond.
Minoru drew and painted, printed and photographed more persimmons than he could keep track of. After six months he picked seven paintings, and a collection of 12 drawings. The rest he burnt. When he exhibited these treasures, Persimmon (1989) Mineral pigment on paper 54, by 36 cm was immediately acquired by Tokyo National Museum. It became a favourite reproduction, a national treasure. He kept seeing it on the walls of houses in magazines, cheap reproductions in department stores, even on a TV commercial. Eventually he dismissed it, totally, from his ever-observant, ever-scanning eyes. So when Kinako sent him the postcard he looked at it with wonder and later wrote this poem in his flowing hand using the waka style:
*Ah, the persimmon
Lotus fruit of the Gods
Heartwood of a weaver’s shuttle,
The archer’s bow, the timpanist sticks,
I take a knife to your ripe skin.
Reveal or not the severity of my winter years.
Senor Negativo Sep 2012
You travel between disparate realms
desperate knights, with splintered shield
and cracked helm, black rose on their white backs.

Such void, from which universes are created,
where normality is clay, and plasticity.
Granting merit to my thefts
Your ink spills in torrents,
rapidly alternating colors.
But my black and white photos
they are beautiful too!

I never have known boredom
as a man in my own home,
such is my inability to understand
how you flit and zip,
I only have two hands and two lips,
to try and transform a gift,
from the norm, while a storm sleeps
beneath every syllable.

Countless bodies, devoid of mind
until swooping in they come,
it is not enough that I possess true feelings.

It must be the purity within my tainted stanzas
that counteracts the inadequacy of the volume.
Or some subliminal, or sublingual amplifying agent
or reality distortion involved,
which brings shapeshifting angels
gliding by, leaving tokens of bone carvings,
and charcoal drawings of what I choose to hide,
but simply cannot.
Kara Jean Jul 2016
The moment I feel it
The point I've figured it out
Seconds away from being a whole
A mind in control
The walls,
The house,
My world
begins to sweat
My heart feels irony in my soul dying
I run frantically
There's still time everyday
We scream and pray
Fixated on a break
To bad it's on fire
Others envy as you rise higher
If only they knew your heart was tired
Self-worth never acquired
Still we run
The winding path kissing your morning breath
Nothing changes
Time to admit
Your heart finally turned to charcoal
The darkness has no forgiveness
Somewhere in the middle section
With a world full of alcohol, tears and desires
No one notice you were a crier
You sit in loneliness
Proving you're a ******* fighter
There is still life in the smoldering soul
One day the run won't be so tiring and old
Hope or bitterness hits and you die in emptiness
Cleanse me in a chlorine pool
My white dress floats
Eleganntly holding my figure together as my skin burns off
God screams
No one hears
I sit in a universe I only see
Mother Earth stop haunting me
A dream form made to torment her
Today we lay no longer breathing
Free is still currently a lie we put into our speech
I lay lifeless in a straight jacket built upon fear
Jon Gilbert Oct 2015
Before the screen door factory closed,
we used to go down to the Dairy Queen,
almost every Friday night.

I lived in a frozen dream land of hope
and whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Before the screen door factory closed,
we used to go to the drive-in theatre,
and watch movies, on Saturday nights.

I lived in a world of triple-features and warm beer
and french fries from the concession stand.

Before the screen door factory closed,
we had a home and a charcoal barbecue,
and a yard, where we'd sit on warm evenings.

I sat in lawn chairs and barbecue smoke
and smiled and waved to the neighbours.

Before the screen door factory closed,
the phone would ring and we would answer it,
and it wasn't the bank, and we'd sleep all night.

Life was peaceful, and it would go on forever,
and never have to change.

Before the screen door factory closed,
Life was good.
Sally A Bayan Jul 2017
It started with a few strokes,
a pointed charcoal,
pulsed...led by the
thumb and index finger, that
initiated a sway of arcs, the contours
of boyish hair, clinging to the nape
a few short strands on a not so wide
very near...........a pair of
not so bushy eyebrows, under which
stared...peeping, smiling
almond-shaped, brown eyes.
then...followed gentle strokes
of perfect highs and lows
of a
hills, valleys, and softened arcs
shaped and manifested character-
high cheekbones....a pointed,
but softened chin,
suddenly, i was
looking at
full, pouting,
luscious lips.
index finger covered tip, to help
define jaws....then slid down lower,
a slick,
propped up by
a shallow clavicle
and gently shaped  shoulders,
that fool judging eyes and minds
they seem small, and weak
and fragile, but, they can carry
tons of worries...determinedly.
fingers angled, pencil tip slowly careful strokes,
and curved lines,
artfully creating
a valley,
'tween two heavenly mountains,
with pinkish brown crowns
conspicuously tensed at the tops...
pencil moved sure...but,
slow in shaping waist...then curved
on rounded hips..sliding inwards
to the a central point,
essential, fundamental, umbilical.
its surroundings raised, as if to protect
a knotted cord...filled with stories...closed,
atop a slightly fleshy belly...
from there, a short distance downward,
led to a hidden flower
the reason...a cradle...a port,
covered by a triangular shield,
squeezed in between
chubby thighs and legs.
lines went lower, narrower...
shaped a pair of fair feet,
with painted toes
ably supporting
a bare maiden


Copyright July 30, 2017
Rosalia Rosario A. Bayan
...just dabbled...then wrote...
Edward Coles Sep 2014
The street-side artist drew your body with
charcoal and claimed the best form of life came
after the forest fire, over a more
fertile land, when the ash-cloud will come to
unsettle your vision from what is laid out
before you. He shaded your ******* in with
his thumb over the blackened lines of hope
that you would come to envisage yourself
in the way each passer-by came to do.
Once you paid up and walked the promenade,
you came to the lighthouse in the distance
as a ship turned to change its course for you.
little red wolf Mar 2012
Sheep are but charcoal
Disguised in cotton
Snowflakes, hardly hidden
Behind never-ending stretches
Of dry-stone walls
Lilies on lily pads, abstract art

The sky is but a mirror
Blown away, twisted and reversed
Splashes and swirls of white
Painted by the wind
Illusions of eyes and limbs
Carelessly splattered across its canvas

We are but the colour-blind
Azure, or emerald?
Strung Jun 2019
I’m thinking all my charcoal thoughts—
Scorching on my mind—
I’m thinking all my crumbly words
Are worth the dark’s dull time
I sit here in the dark
And watch the embers burn
The feelings of the faces here
Mean nothing in the urn.
I sit against cold tiles,
Hiding in the dark
The fire burns me inside out
I’m alone, I’m hurt.
I sit deep in the fire
I have no more bones to give
All my blood is boiling
And my eyes have all but caved
I sit here in the fire
And think my charcoal thoughts
I want nothing else to do
With anything but dust.
Burn the legs and up the arms
I’m done with walking free
Burn the brain, the heart, the soul
I retire to the dream.
Miguel Jul 2018
Women are born with heavy feathered wings
Hands that hide starlit craters
Celestially they spin in infinity and find each other
Stroking the softness, in awe at the wonder of the unashamed mystique
That perpetuates newly hatched faces

A world without the incessant need for reassurance
Which towers intimidatingly over the forest border
Small ordinances that keep themselves airless
No longer striving for the greater force of flight
Clipping away their feathers with garden shears, hosing down the blood

Tuscan architecture abandoned countless ages ago
Ancient in idea and aesthetic
I’ve wandered many miles to reach such exotic visions that have been dead for so long
The heads of kings lined up on the edge of a waterfall
Their bodies still holding onto the swords they clipped their wings with long ago

A little further, a river emerges and spills cold water from the azimuth of God
There was a communicator present at the time of cleansing, unbeknownst to me
To accept ones sins is to be cleansed of them, don’t you agree?
He asked this with shaking shoulders, his robes unraveling to reveal the scars on his chest
One for each pectoralis
I looked away in tragedy

I enter the wooden gate, into the Macedonian fortresses of old
My torso has been replaced with a harp, which I feel these princes pluck so sensitively
I hear the timber echo throughout my chest and vibrate in my throat
My back has merged without consent to a beast that bends backwards
The harp strings have been torn
I am now mute

Raising the weary head of the sleeping dog and the sleeping disdain
I slept in an isolated piece of land untouched by human hands
And sank into the forest floor
In which the grass and all living creatures decided I had left the physical form
My eternal resting place
Austyn Taylor Jul 2014
Bedrooms are intimate. Showing someone exactly where you breathe is special. To see it, they have to worship every breath that goes in and out, even if your exhale is poison.
The walls still smell like you
Last week, I pulled the sheets off the bed. I placed them in the burn pile.

I do not wish to see you.
This week, I painted everything a new color, a darker shade.
I pulled down the Christmas lights and let my stars burn out. I placed them in the burn pile.

I do not wish to see you.
I ripped stuffed animals off the shelves and letters off the dresser. Even the photo album went in the burn pile.
I do not wish to see you.
The flowers off the desk... They were dead anyway.
I do not wish to see you.
Everything in a bedroom is sacred. Not everyone belongs there; you sure didn't. You kissed everything with fiery lips and charcoal dust and I am still sweeping up. I continue to find your ashes in my bed.
I do not wish to see you.
You took everything. You took my air and gave me back poison. I couldn't tell the difference. But the worst thing you took from my room is me.
I do not wish to see you.
I do not wish to see you.
*I put you in the burn pile. I see you in the flames. I see you everywhere.
I start to tear at the drywall.
Personally love this one.
breathing the turquoise like lavender,
and sipping the blue summer.
bitter cold clouds glide and morph lava lather,
floating whispers cut by sweet pineapple sunshine.

soon, a moment, now
rhythms ripple the sky like skipping stones
we jump the music like puddles
splashing in the frequencies.

cobalt bass rumbles the earth hungry,
pumps the air with springing spirals
pushing and pulling the senses,
reverberating through cells.

heavy mud humming, stomping
echoes through our atoms dizzy;
balancing tuned body to innate electricity
the fizz of circulating lemonade energy.

we jump the music like puddles
splashing in the frequencies.

strawberry melodies spilling ribbons,
dolphin leaps of the spaces inbetween beats,
lines of colours overlapping,
colliding, mixing, merging, blending
in with the forest.

washing over souls the life fire sparkles
like a clear water cleansing harmonies,
sound waves crashing against inertia.
phosphorescent glow of re-charged love
for the world, for being, animation

flowing through burnt smoky ashes
of sapphire charcoal skies;
dimmed radiation of chlorophyll emerald days.
the smell of salt, dry bark, fluffy carbon mists,
trembling lights softening the eyes'
grip on outlines, loosening lies.

watching the cycles of patterns
tumbling colours through a mill rotating,
and the silence of listening
when the music comes to an end.
Something I've been working on for a long time on and off since 2015.
Terry Collett Apr 2012
Lisbeth stands watching
The artist as he prepares
To sketch. Her elder sisters
Stand in shadows whispering.
Her younger sister plays
With her doll on the floor.
Their father said to do as
The artist instructed and
Don’t misbehave or be rude.
The artist stares hard his
Dark eyes searching their
Every move and expression
And body gesture. The elder
Girls mutter in shadows
Their hands over their mouths
Their blue eyes like shallow
Pools. Ready? The artist
Asks putting charcoal to
Paper his fingers blackening.
Lisbeth says just as we are?
The artist nods. His grim
Features express do not disturb.
The youngest sister plays
Ignoring the artist her eyes set
On the game at hand. The girls
In shadow turn their profiles
Set to mystery their hands on
Their abdomens like guardians
Of virtue. Lisbeth wonders as
She watches the artist’s stiff
Moustache and beard the slow
Movement of his mouth as he
Mouths words and stares hard.
The last artist employed some
Year before younger and less
Brutal in expression and manner
Had drawn them each in private
Rooms and set them down on couch
Or bed and kept their images inside
His head. He was dismissed and the
Drawings destroyed and nothing said.
Lisbeth had thought it just a game
Something done as lover might in
Private corners or lonely spots on
Quiet nights. The artist sketches.
His blackened fingers move and
Made their mark. Their images
Captured. The scene set. One sister
In the shadows yawns the other
Stares in still contempt. Lisbeth
Poses as young girls do. Nothing
To show of interest and nothing
Hid no secret self no other you.
That’s it the artist says we’ll begin
The painting another day maybe
Next week if all is well. The girls
In shadow look away and resume
Their secret games. Lisbeth studies
The artist’s blackened fingers as
He rolls the charcoal sketch and
Puts away. He gazes at her standing
By herself a glimpse of smile and
Glimmer in her eyes like small fires.
He closes the tired lids of eyes
And smoulders down his old desires.
Elizabeth May 2014
there was an indignant smudge
in the lower left corner unsettled
loftiness inside the message you sent
dripping with a misled shadow
breathing out suspended charcoal
you didn't notice

I sat in my room in disarray
headphone music spilling sideways
over the sides of the counter
dripping with a misled reason
breathing out a suspended sigh
you didn't notice

tomorrow I'll be gone
I don't want you to miss me
you'll be further than before
dripping with a misled mystery
breathing out your own
suspended question mark
I won't notice
She's just a ghost,
hovering over me.
I'm sitting here,
waiting for her.

She's just a mask,
hanging on the wall.
Trees grow and fall,
just like our love.

Under the light,
you can see scars.
Don't dig too far,
you'll regret it.

We fell in love,
we fell in deep,
up to our knees.

We slowly sank,
we couldn't breathe,
love's a disease.

Quiet got loud,
you ran from the noise.
You had no choice,
you had no hope.

When you failed to die,
you prayed for hope.
But God said nope,
and finished the noose for you.

You were ****** dry,
as was your soul,
burnt like charcoal.

You chose to die,
but you weren't alive,
the whole time.
Copyright Barry Pietrantonio
Gangothrii Aug 2018
It’s an odd romance,
Yet it felt so right,
The charcoal that paints the pristine whites.
Like the scratches and scores across the flawless skin,
The smell of graphite sunk in her skirts,
A touch so rough, yet she yearns.

The creator smiled in delight,
The satisfaction shown in the depths,
From the soul the words formed,
Strung to a garland that met the lead.
The curves and lines the charcoal drew,
Made her quiver in pleasure and pain.

The creator dwelled in these sounds and sights,
Of the romance between his pen and paper.
Like water for a parched throat,
The words soothed many souls.
Write is all I love to do,
A delicious *******,
Between me, my book, and my pen.
jovix Jun 2015
puffs so alluring
three dimensional
but you're not
i want to touch your creamy exterior
but all i get is moisture
your shading is ravishing
symmetrical paint thing
wisps of stratus horse tail ice
dusty cumulus marsh of mallow
your nimbus is what i dream
charcoal colored opaque
mixed in with a little blue
you make it hard
not to stare
at you
so eager as light shines off
your behind
you'll soon be mine.
overcast clear
Kaiden A Ward May 2019
The stars have abandoned the sky,
leaving only gravestones of darkness
to mark their passing.
My tight pressed lips,
against Your tangent hips.
Our hands yield
to the symphony of surrender.
Lay your defences down,
Let our hearts pour out.
Scantitly clad souls,
Semi naked hearts,
Ever so vulnerable.

There are things
far more important
than ourselves.
There are things
that we love too much.
that it hurts.
even to let go.
In our midst,
it is each other.

''May I have the final dance under
this perishable moonlight ?''
Jack Davies May 2016
Glowing embers
Trickle down my spine,
I've got charcoal fingers
And a molten mind.

Soul of smoke
Gone up in flames,
I've got charcoal thoughts;
Watch them burn away.
cr Oct 2014
my skeleton never liked me
very much. it cracks in unusual
places, ribcage poking out of its
skin prison, the frailty of it
breaking beneath the musical
whispers of the wind through hollow
spaces.  i see

light bursting beneath the flash
of a camera and my skin
incinerates - do not look do not touch
do not look - and the charcoal in
my lungs is set on fire. i wake up
with ash beneath my tongue
far too often. my skin

despises me now that i have
bruises in places no one could
kiss better. there's this scar above
my right knee, which dislocates when
my life falls out of its socket, and it
reopens and blood pours from the
renewed wound too often. i think

i have a body that likes to believe it is dying.
i get injured a lot
James Amick Aug 2013
Yes. I wielded the knife.

Coated with my word poison, I plunged it into your soul and the dagger spread like cancer through you, I could see it metastasizing every time you tilted your head to let your hair cover your face.

If I could take that blade and plunge it into my own heart now, I would before my next beat.

I would take back the cancer and smile as the tumors fought for residency inside of me, if I knew that you would be in remission from my cruelty.

Sometimes it takes three months for the recoil of punches thrown to take its effect. When it does, laying on your basement couch, trawling through an online poetry forum, your knuckles will fracture and your finger bones will cleave in two like firewood.

I doused you with the lighter fluid I spit and set you ablaze with the words I wrote. I watched your tears turn to ash.

And then I lit another match.

I turned my back as you smoldered, now your anger fed the flames I sparked.

Now my bones are brittle and dry, my marrow now tinder for you to set aflame.

Burn me with the hellfire I put you through, I need this self-assigned penance, and you deserve to watch me burn.

Take the charcoal that remains and draw yourself in perfect mirrors, sketch out the picture of yourself that I should have showed for you.

I once promised you that I would, remember?

I am so sorry.

I stood there, the whole time, with a water bucket in my hand.

I had your reflection, and I spilled it on the floor.

Set me on fire, let the crackling of my bones beneath the weight of the flame be the lullaby as you sleep.

Ten thousand apologies are nowhere near enough.
M Apr 2014
I burn too bright for my own good
fuel my own fire
scar my own skin
my body ignites and blazes away
the outer shell
I am more than what I have been
I have walked through hell.
I am the might; and I burn thin
through what's good for me
and I am charred, at the end of the day
but even charcoal ignites again.
Morgan Nov 2016
your gusto

ripping through my veins

'merican flags
trump supporters
platinum beer
fireworks flaring
fires visible atop seedy peeled-paint rvs

technicolor lights amped up on edgy recreational vehicles


covered in dirt and filth

eating meat

sizzled atop  
flames atop
charcoal bricks and lighter fluid

complimented by krafts brand
mac n cheese

i am apart of it
you know
your triumph burns sticky, out of my skin

guiltily i came into being

birthed inside charcoal sediments and lighter fluid

scratching, writhing, biting

at the mercy
of a hyper-paint / subtle-death encrusted
Penelope Winter Apr 2017
Blackbird baby
Wings of charcoal
You think the sky is falling.
Your lonely song
Straddling the wind
Searching for an audience.
The home you grew up in
Had white walls and high ceilings.
Pure and sheltered.
You thought the room was shrinking,
Pinning your wings to your sides.
But baby
You were just growing.
Destined to break down the door.
To let the art of your dangerous spirit
Use the clouds for a canvas.
Blackbird baby
You've been raised by doves.
They've passed on their sparkling reputation
But it doesn't suit your matte feathers.
You're a whole other kind of beautiful.

Blackbird baby
Wings of charcoal
You think the sky is falling.
You feel so alone
You don't see how they envy you.
Your mind is a weapon, my dear.
Never doubt it for a moment.
Your body is a treasure, my dear.
Love it like nothing else.
Your time is valuable, my dear.
Don't waste it on what brings you no joy.
These lessons you have yet to learn.
You see only the thunder in the sky.
But there's a world of rainbows to be discovered.
Blackbird baby
You find it so hard to believe
That you are loved.
But you are everything to me.

Blackbird baby
Wings of charcoal
You think the sky is falling.
You see pieces of it hit the ground.
The end in sight.
Let me hold you.
Let me hold your whole world
So tightly that all the pieces of the sky
Fit back into place.
Afraid of what could go wrong
You pin your own wings to your sides.
Force of habit.
But without them
How will you fly?
Blackbird baby
Open your wings for me.
Show me your dance of ebony
Like a silouette on the sunset.
Blackbird baby
Hatch from your prison

And soar.
For one of my best friends. Sometimes she thinks she's so alone and forgotten. She finds it so difficult to open up. No one has taught her how to fly.

— The End —