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Toni Seychelle Feb 2013
The ground beneath the stiff leaves is frozen. The cold, brisk air invades my lungs, I exhale, my breath visible. I step over fallen branches and tugged by thorny vines. A red tail hawk screeches overhead, this is a sign of good luck. There is no path, no trail to mark our way, just an old, flat railroad bed surrounded by walls of shale, blown up for the path of the train so long ago. The only ties to remind of the rail are the rotting, moss covered ties that once were a part of a bridge that would have carried the train over a small creek between two steep hills. I see a fox burrow, and it's escape hatch is one of the hollowed railroad ties. I want to be a fox... The trek down this hill is not easy, thorny blackberry bushes and fallen trees impede progress. At the bottom, the small, bubbly creek is frozen at the edges, traveling under rocks and continuing its ancient path. I look up the hill that I just descended, and wonder how the return will go. Keep moving. The next hill will be easier, there are no thorny tangles, just treacherous leaf litter that will give under my feet if I don't find the right footing. The trick is to dig my boots into the ground as if I'm on steps. These hills are steep. Finally at the top, I look back at this little spring valley, I'm not that high up, but what view. Here, there is a dilapidated tree stand, falling apart from years of neglect and weather. Surrounded by deep leaf litter, there is a patch of rich dark earth, a buck has marked his spot, his round pellets are nearby. The saplings catch my hair as I walk by, and at these moments I am thankful for this cold snap that took care of the ticks. A creepy feeling takes over me, so thankful for this snap. A few feet further, as I watch where I am walking, another tussled bit of earth and I notice some interesting ****. It's furry and light grey; I poke it with my stick and find a small skull when I turn a piece over. Owl. I continue my walk, I didn't come here to play with poo. The last time I took this hike was three years ago, on a similar frigid day. It was a lot easier to make it through the shale valleys. Last summer, a wind storm felled trees and took out power for two weeks. The evidence of that derecho is clear here in this untouched forest. I remembered a tree, which now is a fallen giant, that had lost it's bark. The bark had separated and laid around this tree like a woman's skirt around her ankles. Now the tree lies with it's bark. I pass another tree I recognize whose branch extends out but zig zags up and down, as if it had three elbows. The tree signifies my next move, to descend from the flat railroad bed, down to a creek that flows through the tunnel that would have carried the train. The creek is considerably larger than the last creek I could step across. Descending towards the creek leads me over moss covered rocks and limbs, still bearing snow. Outside the tunnel, the hill walls are large stones, covered in a thick layer of moss, some of which has started to fall off due to heaviness. There's a sort of ice shelf in the creek, it's three layers thick and can support my one hundred and twenty pounds. Laying across the creek is another derecho-felled tree. Some sort of critter has crawled on this, using it to avoid the water below and as a short cut up the hill. His claw marks are covering the the limb, a few are more clear, it looks as if the creature almost slipped off. His claw marks show a desperate cling. I walk through the tunnel, in the mud and water; the creek echoes inside. I look above. There are drainage holes lining the ceiling, one is clogged by a giant icicle. I imagine the train that used to ride over this tunnel, I pretend to hear it and feel the rumbling. The last time we were here, we found cow skeletons. We placed a few heads on branches and one over the tunnel. We stuck a jaw, complete with herbivore teeth, into the mossy wall and a hip bone on a sapling. The hip bone reminded us of Predator's mask in the movie. All these bones are turning green. When I was here before, there was a bone half submerged in the creek; I had taken a picture of it but today, it isn't here. I'm sure it was washed away. After our exploration of the previous visit, we turned back. We are cold again, can't stay in one place too long. I climb through the deep leaf litter and over the rocks back to the railroad bed. Passing all the things I've already seen and spotting things I missed. I find two more fox burrows. They utilized the shale rock and burrowed underneath the jutting formations. Hidden coming from the south, the gaping openings seem welcoming from the north. My friends, the spelunkers and climber, want to descend into the darkness but I remind them, it is an hour to sundown, our trek is hard enough with overcast daylight. Wisdom prevails. We pass a tree, we didn't notice before, that was struck by lightening. The cedar tree was split in two and fell down the shale wall. I see the evidence of the burn and a smoldered residue at the base. Nature has a cruel way of recycling. The downed tree still has snow on it and the path of a raccoon is visible, I like the paws of *****. Though the way is flat, the walls of shale tower above us, limiting routes. At one point I can't see through the fallen trees I have to pass through. I have to crab walk under, crawl over, duck again and find my way around the thorny collections of bare black berry bushes. Finally into a clearing, still surrounded by sharp shale, there is another wall covered in inches of thick, healthy moss. I place my hand, taking time to stroke the furry wall. My hand leaves an imprint. I wonder how long that will last.. Back down the steep hill up and up the thorny tangle. I know I'm on the right path up, I see the fox's hole through the railroad tie, and his entrance burrow up the hill. Going down was definitely easier. The summit is literally overgrown with thorns, there is no clear path through. It is, again, impossible to see through the tangle of limbs and saplings and more thorns. Somehow we make it through. We are close to breaking off this path. We know this by the remains of a cow skeleton that more than likely fell from the top of the shale cliff. Femurs and ribs and jaws abound. On the last trip, we placed a hip bone in the "Y" of a sapling. The young tree has claimed it, growing around it. We add a piece of jaw to the tree's ornamentation and move on. We climb down from the railroad bed to our car - parked on the side of the road with a white towel in the window so that no one suspects a group of people walking through private property, past faded NO TRESPASSING signs.

When I undress for bed later, there are many small scratches up and down my legs from those ****** thorny vines. I'm okay with that, it's better than searching for ticks in my head.
I couldn't write a 'poem' about this hike. It was too full of nature.
CK Baker Jan 2017
Thank you ~
for a life not to trade
blessings, in spades
tight spaces
behind laundry doors
packed closets
and open drawers
gator tails, tarnished brass
cracks in kitchen sliding glass
wet towels, withering plants
foundation filled
with carpenter ants
buckets piled with
shoes and tags
village clothes
and saddlebags
peeling paint
and broken walls
****** seats
in bathroom stalls
clogged pantry
frigid rooms
table scribe
and carbon fumes
comfort capsules
empty tanks
broken limbs
from children’s pranks
**** finger
double tongue
long goodbyes
and sidewalk dung
cluster flies
chavie’ clique
accompanying
the hypocrite
cracked back
and hidden smiles
chalk on board
with mr miles
atomic wedgies
closing doors
wrotten eggs
and open sores
jaw jack
nasty folk
dinner calls
for pig in poke
penny pinchers
double dip
yellow mouth
and silver tip
brown nosers
thick red tape
paper cuts
and pimple nape
gallivants
so out of norm
the joy of life
in basic form
ConnectHook Feb 2016
by John Greenleaf Whittier  (1807 – 1892)

“As the Spirits of Darkness be stronger in the dark, so Good Spirits which be Angels of Light are augmented not only by the Divine Light of the Sun, but also by our common Wood fire: and as the celestial Fire drives away dark spirits, so also this our Fire of Wood doth the same.”

        COR. AGRIPPA,
           Occult Philosophy, Book I. chap. v.


Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow; and, driving o’er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight; the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farm-house at the garden’s end.
The sled and traveller stopped, the courier’s feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.


                                       EMERSON

The sun that brief December day
Rose cheerless over hills of gray,
And, darkly circled, gave at noon
A sadder light than waning moon.
Slow tracing down the thickening sky
Its mute and ominous prophecy,
A portent seeming less than threat,
It sank from sight before it set.
A chill no coat, however stout,
Of homespun stuff could quite shut out,
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.

Meanwhile we did our nightly chores, —
Brought in the wood from out of doors,
Littered the stalls, and from the mows
Raked down the herd’s-grass for the cows;
Heard the horse whinnying for his corn;
And, sharply clashing horn on horn,
Impatient down the stanchion rows
The cattle shake their walnut bows;
While, peering from his early perch
Upon the scaffold’s pole of birch,
The **** his crested helmet bent
And down his querulous challenge sent.

Unwarmed by any sunset light
The gray day darkened into night,
A night made hoary with the swarm
And whirl-dance of the blinding storm,
As zigzag, wavering to and fro,
Crossed and recrossed the wingàd snow:
And ere the early bedtime came
The white drift piled the window-frame,
And through the glass the clothes-line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts.

So all night long the storm roared on:
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of Nature’s geometric signs,
And, when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament,
No cloud above, no earth below, —
A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvellous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden-wall, or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush-pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle-post an old man sat
With loose-flung coat and high cocked hat;
The well-curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its slant spendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa’s leaning miracle.

A prompt, decisive man, no breath
Our father wasted: “Boys, a path!”
Well pleased, (for when did farmer boy
Count such a summons less than joy?)
Our buskins on our feet we drew;
With mittened hands, and caps drawn low,
To guard our necks and ears from snow,
We cut the solid whiteness through.
And, where the drift was deepest, made
A tunnel walled and overlaid
With dazzling crystal: we had read
Of rare Aladdin’s wondrous cave,
And to our own his name we gave,
With many a wish the luck were ours
To test his lamp’s supernal powers.
We reached the barn with merry din,
And roused the prisoned brutes within.
The old horse ****** his long head out,
And grave with wonder gazed about;
The **** his ***** greeting said,
And forth his speckled harem led;
The oxen lashed their tails, and hooked,
And mild reproach of hunger looked;
The hornëd patriarch of the sheep,
Like Egypt’s Amun roused from sleep,
Shook his sage head with gesture mute,
And emphasized with stamp of foot.

All day the gusty north-wind bore
The loosening drift its breath before;
Low circling round its southern zone,
The sun through dazzling snow-mist shone.
No church-bell lent its Christian tone
To the savage air, no social smoke
Curled over woods of snow-hung oak.
A solitude made more intense
By dreary-voicëd elements,
The shrieking of the mindless wind,
The moaning tree-boughs swaying blind,
And on the glass the unmeaning beat
Of ghostly finger-tips of sleet.
Beyond the circle of our hearth
No welcome sound of toil or mirth
Unbound the spell, and testified
Of human life and thought outside.
We minded that the sharpest ear
The buried brooklet could not hear,
The music of whose liquid lip
Had been to us companionship,
And, in our lonely life, had grown
To have an almost human tone.

As night drew on, and, from the crest
Of wooded knolls that ridged the west,
The sun, a snow-blown traveller, sank
From sight beneath the smothering bank,
We piled, with care, our nightly stack
Of wood against the chimney-back, —
The oaken log, green, huge, and thick,
And on its top the stout back-stick;
The knotty forestick laid apart,
And filled between with curious art

The ragged brush; then, hovering near,
We watched the first red blaze appear,
Heard the sharp crackle, caught the gleam
On whitewashed wall and sagging beam,
Until the old, rude-furnished room
Burst, flower-like, into rosy bloom;
While radiant with a mimic flame
Outside the sparkling drift became,
And through the bare-boughed lilac-tree
Our own warm hearth seemed blazing free.
The crane and pendent trammels showed,
The Turks’ heads on the andirons glowed;
While childish fancy, prompt to tell
The meaning of the miracle,
Whispered the old rhyme: “Under the tree,
When fire outdoors burns merrily,
There the witches are making tea.”

The moon above the eastern wood
Shone at its full; the hill-range stood
Transfigured in the silver flood,
Its blown snows flashing cold and keen,
Dead white, save where some sharp ravine
Took shadow, or the sombre green
Of hemlocks turned to pitchy black
Against the whiteness at their back.
For such a world and such a night
Most fitting that unwarming light,
Which only seemed where’er it fell
To make the coldness visible.

Shut in from all the world without,
We sat the clean-winged hearth about,
Content to let the north-wind roar
In baffled rage at pane and door,
While the red logs before us beat
The frost-line back with tropic heat;
And ever, when a louder blast
Shook beam and rafter as it passed,
The merrier up its roaring draught
The great throat of the chimney laughed;
The house-dog on his paws outspread
Laid to the fire his drowsy head,
The cat’s dark silhouette on the wall
A couchant tiger’s seemed to fall;
And, for the winter fireside meet,
Between the andirons’ straddling feet,
The mug of cider simmered slow,
The apples sputtered in a row,
And, close at hand, the basket stood
With nuts from brown October’s wood.

What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
O Time and Change! — with hair as gray
As was my sire’s that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now, —
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o’er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.

We tread the paths their feet have worn,
We sit beneath their orchard trees,
We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
Their written words we linger o’er,
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
And Love can never lose its own!

We sped the time with stories old,
Wrought puzzles out, and riddles told,
Or stammered from our school-book lore
“The Chief of Gambia’s golden shore.”
How often since, when all the land
Was clay in Slavery’s shaping hand,
As if a far-blown trumpet stirred
Dame Mercy Warren’s rousing word:
“Does not the voice of reason cry,
Claim the first right which Nature gave,
From the red scourge of ******* to fly,
Nor deign to live a burdened slave!”
Our father rode again his ride
On Memphremagog’s wooded side;
Sat down again to moose and samp
In trapper’s hut and Indian camp;
Lived o’er the old idyllic ease
Beneath St. François’ hemlock-trees;
Again for him the moonlight shone
On Norman cap and bodiced zone;
Again he heard the violin play
Which led the village dance away.
And mingled in its merry whirl
The grandam and the laughing girl.
Or, nearer home, our steps he led
Where Salisbury’s level marshes spread
Mile-wide as flies the laden bee;
Where merry mowers, hale and strong,
Swept, scythe on scythe, their swaths along
The low green prairies of the sea.
We shared the fishing off Boar’s Head,
And round the rocky Isles of Shoals
The hake-broil on the drift-wood coals;
The chowder on the sand-beach made,
Dipped by the hungry, steaming hot,
With spoons of clam-shell from the ***.
We heard the tales of witchcraft old,
And dream and sign and marvel told
To sleepy listeners as they lay
Stretched idly on the salted hay,
Adrift along the winding shores,
When favoring breezes deigned to blow
The square sail of the gundelow
And idle lay the useless oars.

Our mother, while she turned her wheel
Or run the new-knit stocking-heel,
Told how the Indian hordes came down
At midnight on Concheco town,
And how her own great-uncle bore
His cruel scalp-mark to fourscore.
Recalling, in her fitting phrase,
So rich and picturesque and free
(The common unrhymed poetry
Of simple life and country ways,)
The story of her early days, —
She made us welcome to her home;
Old hearths grew wide to give us room;
We stole with her a frightened look
At the gray wizard’s conjuring-book,
The fame whereof went far and wide
Through all the simple country side;
We heard the hawks at twilight play,
The boat-horn on Piscataqua,
The loon’s weird laughter far away;
We fished her little trout-brook, knew
What flowers in wood and meadow grew,
What sunny hillsides autumn-brown
She climbed to shake the ripe nuts down,
Saw where in sheltered cove and bay,
The ducks’ black squadron anchored lay,
And heard the wild-geese calling loud
Beneath the gray November cloud.
Then, haply, with a look more grave,
And soberer tone, some tale she gave
From painful Sewel’s ancient tome,
Beloved in every Quaker home,
Of faith fire-winged by martyrdom,
Or Chalkley’s Journal, old and quaint, —
Gentlest of skippers, rare sea-saint! —
Who, when the dreary calms prevailed,
And water-**** and bread-cask failed,
And cruel, hungry eyes pursued
His portly presence mad for food,
With dark hints muttered under breath
Of casting lots for life or death,

Offered, if Heaven withheld supplies,
To be himself the sacrifice.
Then, suddenly, as if to save
The good man from his living grave,
A ripple on the water grew,
A school of porpoise flashed in view.
“Take, eat,” he said, “and be content;
These fishes in my stead are sent
By Him who gave the tangled ram
To spare the child of Abraham.”
Our uncle, innocent of books,
Was rich in lore of fields and brooks,
The ancient teachers never dumb
Of Nature’s unhoused lyceum.
In moons and tides and weather wise,
He read the clouds as prophecies,
And foul or fair could well divine,
By many an occult hint and sign,
Holding the cunning-warded keys
To all the woodcraft mysteries;
Himself to Nature’s heart so near
v That all her voices in his ear
Of beast or bird had meanings clear,
Like Apollonius of old,
Who knew the tales the sparrows told,
Or Hermes, who interpreted
What the sage cranes of Nilus said;
A simple, guileless, childlike man,
Content to live where life began;
Strong only on his native grounds,
The little world of sights and sounds
Whose girdle was the parish bounds,
Whereof his fondly partial pride
The common features magnified,
As Surrey hills to mountains grew
In White of Selborne’s loving view, —
He told how teal and loon he shot,
And how the eagle’s eggs he got,
The feats on pond and river done,
The prodigies of rod and gun;
Till, warming with the tales he told,
Forgotten was the outside cold,
The bitter wind unheeded blew,
From ripening corn the pigeons flew,
The partridge drummed i’ the wood, the mink
Went fishing down the river-brink.
In fields with bean or clover gay,
The woodchuck, like a hermit gray,
Peered from the doorway of his cell;
The muskrat plied the mason’s trade,
And tier by tier his mud-walls laid;
And from the shagbark overhead
The grizzled squirrel dropped his shell.

Next, the dear aunt, whose smile of cheer
And voice in dreams I see and hear, —
The sweetest woman ever Fate
Perverse denied a household mate,
Who, lonely, homeless, not the less
Found peace in love’s unselfishness,
And welcome wheresoe’er she went,
A calm and gracious element,
Whose presence seemed the sweet income
And womanly atmosphere of home, —
Called up her girlhood memories,
The huskings and the apple-bees,
The sleigh-rides and the summer sails,
Weaving through all the poor details
And homespun warp of circumstance
A golden woof-thread of romance.
For well she kept her genial mood
And simple faith of maidenhood;
Before her still a cloud-land lay,
The mirage loomed across her way;
The morning dew, that dries so soon
With others, glistened at her noon;
Through years of toil and soil and care,
From glossy tress to thin gray hair,
All unprofaned she held apart
The ****** fancies of the heart.
Be shame to him of woman born
Who hath for such but thought of scorn.
There, too, our elder sister plied
Her evening task the stand beside;
A full, rich nature, free to trust,
Truthful and almost sternly just,
Impulsive, earnest, prompt to act,
And make her generous thought a fact,
Keeping with many a light disguise
The secret of self-sacrifice.

O heart sore-tried! thou hast the best
That Heaven itself could give thee, — rest,
Rest from all bitter thoughts and things!
How many a poor one’s blessing went
With thee beneath the low green tent
Whose curtain never outward swings!

As one who held herself a part
Of all she saw, and let her heart
Against the household ***** lean,
Upon the motley-braided mat
Our youngest and our dearest sat,
Lifting her large, sweet, asking eyes,
Now bathed in the unfading green
And holy peace of Paradise.
Oh, looking from some heavenly hill,
Or from the shade of saintly palms,
Or silver reach of river calms,
Do those large eyes behold me still?
With me one little year ago: —
The chill weight of the winter snow
For months upon her grave has lain;
And now, when summer south-winds blow
And brier and harebell bloom again,
I tread the pleasant paths we trod,
I see the violet-sprinkled sod
Whereon she leaned, too frail and weak
The hillside flowers she loved to seek,
Yet following me where’er I went
With dark eyes full of love’s content.
The birds are glad; the brier-rose fills
The air with sweetness; all the hills
Stretch green to June’s unclouded sky;
But still I wait with ear and eye
For something gone which should be nigh,
A loss in all familiar things,
In flower that blooms, and bird that sings.
And yet, dear heart! remembering thee,
Am I not richer than of old?
Safe in thy immortality,
What change can reach the wealth I hold?
What chance can mar the pearl and gold
Thy love hath left in trust with me?
And while in life’s late afternoon,
Where cool and long the shadows grow,
I walk to meet the night that soon
Shall shape and shadow overflow,
I cannot feel that thou art far,
Since near at need the angels are;
And when the sunset gates unbar,
Shall I not see thee waiting stand,
And, white against the evening star,
The welcome of thy beckoning hand?

Brisk wielder of the birch and rule,
The master of the district school
Held at the fire his favored place,
Its warm glow lit a laughing face
Fresh-hued and fair, where scarce appeared
The uncertain prophecy of beard.
He teased the mitten-blinded cat,
Played cross-pins on my uncle’s hat,
Sang songs, and told us what befalls
In classic Dartmouth’s college halls.
Born the wild Northern hills among,
From whence his yeoman father wrung
By patient toil subsistence scant,
Not competence and yet not want,
He early gained the power to pay
His cheerful, self-reliant way;
Could doff at ease his scholar’s gown
To peddle wares from town to town;
Or through the long vacation’s reach
In lonely lowland districts teach,
Where all the droll experience found
At stranger hearths in boarding round,
The moonlit skater’s keen delight,
The sleigh-drive through the frosty night,
The rustic party, with its rough
Accompaniment of blind-man’s-buff,
And whirling-plate, and forfeits paid,
His winter task a pastime made.
Happy the snow-locked homes wherein
He tuned his merry violin,

Or played the athlete in the barn,
Or held the good dame’s winding-yarn,
Or mirth-provoking versions told
Of classic legends rare and old,
Wherein the scenes of Greece and Rome
Had all the commonplace of home,
And little seemed at best the odds
‘Twixt Yankee pedlers and old gods;
Where Pindus-born Arachthus took
The guise of any grist-mill brook,
And dread Olympus at his will
Became a huckleberry hill.

A careless boy that night he seemed;
But at his desk he had the look
And air of one who wisely schemed,
And hostage from the future took
In trainëd thought and lore of book.
Large-brained, clear-eyed, of such as he
Shall Freedom’s young apostles be,
Who, following in War’s ****** trail,
Shall every lingering wrong assail;
All chains from limb and spirit strike,
Uplift the black and white alike;
Scatter before their swift advance
The darkness and the ignorance,
The pride, the lust, the squalid sloth,
Which nurtured Treason’s monstrous growth,
Made ****** pastime, and the hell
Of prison-torture possible;
The cruel lie of caste refute,
Old forms remould, and substitute
For Slavery’s lash the freeman’s will,
For blind routine, wise-handed skill;
A school-house plant on every hill,
Stretching in radiate nerve-lines thence
The quick wires of intelligence;
Till North and South together brought
Shall own the same electric thought,
In peace a common flag salute,
And, side by side in labor’s free
And unresentful rivalry,
Harvest the fields wherein they fought.

Another guest that winter night
Flashed back from lustrous eyes the light.
Unmarked by time, and yet not young,
The honeyed music of her tongue
And words of meekness scarcely told
A nature passionate and bold,

Strong, self-concentred, spurning guide,
Its milder features dwarfed beside
Her unbent will’s majestic pride.
She sat among us, at the best,
A not unfeared, half-welcome guest,
Rebuking with her cultured phrase
Our homeliness of words and ways.
A certain pard-like, treacherous grace
Swayed the lithe limbs and drooped the lash,
Lent the white teeth their dazzling flash;
And under low brows, black with night,
Rayed out at times a dangerous light;
The sharp heat-lightnings of her face
Presaging ill to him whom Fate
Condemned to share her love or hate.
A woman tropical, intense
In thought and act, in soul and sense,
She blended in a like degree
The ***** and the devotee,
Revealing with each freak or feint
The temper of Petruchio’s Kate,
The raptures of Siena’s saint.
Her tapering hand and rounded wrist
Had facile power to form a fist;
The warm, dark languish of her eyes
Was never safe from wrath’s surprise.
Brows saintly calm and lips devout
Knew every change of scowl and pout;
And the sweet voice had notes more high
And shrill for social battle-cry.

Since then what old cathedral town
Has missed her pilgrim staff and gown,
What convent-gate has held its lock
Against the challenge of her knock!
Through Smyrna’s plague-hushed thoroughfares,
Up sea-set Malta’s rocky stairs,
Gray olive slopes of hills that hem
Thy tombs and shrines, Jerusalem,
Or startling on her desert throne
The crazy Queen of Lebanon
With claims fantastic as her own,
Her tireless feet have held their way;
And still, unrestful, bowed, and gray,
She watches under Eastern skies,
With hope each day renewed and fresh,
The Lord’s quick coming in the flesh,
Whereof she dreams and prophesies!
Where’er her troubled path may be,
The Lord’s sweet pity with her go!
The outward wayward life we see,
The hidden springs we may not know.
Nor is it given us to discern
What threads the fatal sisters spun,
Through what ancestral years has run
The sorrow with the woman born,
What forged her cruel chain of moods,
What set her feet in solitudes,
And held the love within her mute,
What mingled madness in the blood,
A life-long discord and annoy,
Water of tears with oil of joy,
And hid within the folded bud
Perversities of flower and fruit.
It is not ours to separate
The tangled skein of will and fate,
To show what metes and bounds should stand
Upon the soul’s debatable land,
And between choice and Providence
Divide the circle of events;
But He who knows our frame is just,
Merciful and compassionate,
And full of sweet assurances
And hope for all the language is,
That He remembereth we are dust!

At last the great logs, crumbling low,
Sent out a dull and duller glow,
The bull’s-eye watch that hung in view,
Ticking its weary circuit through,
Pointed with mutely warning sign
Its black hand to the hour of nine.
That sign the pleasant circle broke:
My uncle ceased his pipe to smoke,
Knocked from its bowl the refuse gray,
And laid it tenderly away;
Then roused himself to safely cover
The dull red brands with ashes over.
And while, with care, our mother laid
The work aside, her steps she stayed
One moment, seeking to express
Her grateful sense of happiness
For food and shelter, warmth and health,
And love’s contentment more than wealth,
With simple wishes (not the weak,
Vain prayers which no fulfilment seek,
But such as warm the generous heart,
O’er-prompt to do with Heaven its part)
That none might lack, that bitter night,
For bread and clothing, warmth and light.

Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us, through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snow-flakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves, and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores.
Of merry voices high and clear;
And saw the teamsters drawing near
To break the drifted highways out.
Down the long hillside treading slow
We saw the half-buried oxen go,
Shaking the snow from heads uptost,
Their straining nostrils white with frost.
Before our door the straggling train
Drew up, an added team to gain.
The elders threshed their hands a-cold,
Passed, with the cider-mug, their jokes
From lip to lip; the younger folks
Down the loose snow-banks, wrestling, rolled,
Then toiled again the cavalcade
O’er windy hill, through clogged ravine,
And woodland paths that wound between
Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed.
From every barn a team afoot,
At every house a new recruit,
Where, drawn by Nature’s subtlest law,
Haply the watchful young men saw
Sweet doorway pictures of the curls
And curious eyes of merry girls,
Lifting their hands in mock defence
Against the snow-ball’s compliments,
And reading in each missive tost
The charm with Eden never lost.
We heard once more the sleigh-bells’ sound;
And, following where the teamsters led,
The wise old Doctor went his round,
Just pausing at our door to say,
In the brief autocratic way
Of one who, prompt at Duty’s call,
Was free to urge her claim on all,
That some poor neighbor sick abed
At night our mother’s aid would need.
For, one in generous thought and deed,
What mattered in the sufferer’s sight
The Quaker matron’s inward light,
The Doctor’s mail of Calvin’s creed?
All hearts confess the saints elect
Who, twain in faith, in love agree,
And melt not in an acid sect
The Christian pearl of charity!

So days went on: a week had passed
Since the great world was heard from last.
The Almanac we studied o’er,
Read and reread our little store
Of books and pamphlets, scarce a score;
One harmless novel, mostly hid
From younger eyes, a book forbid,
And poetry, (or good or bad,
A single book was all we had,)
Where Ellwood’s meek, drab-skirted Muse,
A stranger to the heathen Nine,
Sang, with a somewhat nasal whine,
The wars of David and the Jews.
At last the floundering carrier bore
The village paper to our door.
Lo! broadening outward as we read,
To warmer zones the horizon spread
In panoramic length unrolled
We saw the marvels that it told.
Before us passed the painted Creeks,
A   nd daft McGregor on his raids
In Costa Rica’s everglades.
And up Taygetos winding slow
Rode Ypsilanti’s Mainote Greeks,
A Turk’s head at each saddle-bow!
Welcome to us its week-old news,
Its corner for the rustic Muse,
Its monthly gauge of snow and rain,
Its record, mingling in a breath
The wedding bell and dirge of death:
Jest, anecdote, and love-lorn tale,
The latest culprit sent to jail;
Its hue and cry of stolen and lost,
Its vendue sales and goods at cost,
And traffic calling loud for gain.
We felt the stir of hall and street,
The pulse of life that round us beat;
The chill embargo of the snow
Was melted in the genial glow;
Wide swung again our ice-locked door,
And all the world was ours once more!

Clasp, Angel of the backword look
And folded wings of ashen gray
And voice of echoes far away,
The brazen covers of thy book;
The weird palimpsest old and vast,
Wherein thou hid’st the spectral past;
Where, closely mingling, pale and glow
The characters of joy and woe;
The monographs of outlived years,
Or smile-illumed or dim with tears,
Green hills of life that ***** to death,
And haunts of home, whose vistaed trees
Shade off to mournful cypresses
With the white amaranths underneath.
Even while I look, I can but heed
The restless sands’ incessant fall,
Importunate hours that hours succeed,
Each clamorous with its own sharp need,
And duty keeping pace with all.
Shut down and clasp with heavy lids;
I hear again the voice that bids
The dreamer leave his dream midway
For larger hopes and graver fears:
Life greatens in these later years,
The century’s aloe flowers to-day!

Yet, haply, in some lull of life,
Some Truce of God which breaks its strife,
The worldling’s eyes shall gather dew,
Dreaming in throngful city ways
Of winter joys his boyhood knew;
And dear and early friends — the few
Who yet remain — shall pause to view
These Flemish pictures of old days;
Sit with me by the homestead hearth,
And stretch the hands of memory forth
To warm them at the wood-fire’s blaze!
And thanks untraced to lips unknown
Shall greet me like the odors blown
From unseen meadows newly mown,
Wood-fringed, the wayside gaze beyond;
The traveller owns the grateful sense
Of sweetness near, he knows not whence,
And, pausing, takes with forehead bare
The benediction of the air.

Written in  1865
In its day, 'twas a best-seller and earned significant income for Whittier

https://youtu.be/vVOQ54YQ73A
Julian Jul 2016
Fragile egg-shell mind on dawn’s highway bleeding the segue between times traversed only in momentary dreams or in enduring excursions

We drag our droll and quaint 60s baggage like the luggage of a safari made of concrete girding a cavernous expanse of unheralded ground

With our ears oriented to the floor, we leap out of body never to deplore….never to ignore….never to miss the blue bus of our drafted imaginations, so carefully culled from brash elitism

I trounce the intervening time between being friendless and an ironic end, and an irenic comrade becoming the dearest amazed but always aplomb friend

We simper in our glorious traversal, and though bedraggled through an ornamented cavern we linger just long enough to be celebrated

Then a blues riff emanates from a vapid bar, and finally someone heralds my exhumed memory still rusty with the pavement of encased concrete on an empty or full tomb

So I wander in my mind to that roughshod Paris glassy tincture a romanticized gild of proper sensibility crafted in the tongues of lizards emulating the tongues of serpentine Anglicans

As the power of love transcends the love of power, both are afforded serendipitously upon the stately occasion of a fitful revolt where heads literally rolled and deaths still unfurl from the slippage of a violent malevolent eternity, crafting a new creative way to expedite the smite of preventable scourge

So Jim, I see your picaresque side and your wide-eyed love for a listless ship anointed of a crystal blip just detectable long enough on RADAR to become the statistic to crack the slim WHIP

No wigs are needed at this formality, no figs grow from trees forty-five years buried and almost a full month unsung

Pitiable cretins of an invented insanity, they scoff at my ravenous and portentous heart for its excess and for aligning with an upstart verging on only a specious insanity

Why in all humanity could a month be mustered with every defense of history and yet for it to be so widely flouted as a risible exercise in futility

The irony that the artistic glamor of a past vogue becoming a revival that is often toked only to one song but never to the memorial of great cavernous and commodious imaginations, staggers with dismay where otherwise the mayday would be a disaster but still a great day

Then I look at a triggered-fingered omen of a death so ominous yet so brazenly confronted as the ambassadors of time provide plaudits to a fearless martyrdom

Why such a sad spate, why such a stringent but malevolent fate a malediction on a family whose crest is not crestfallen like rolling waves but ornamented with gravity impounding its own weight

A fugacious tomb, an eternal flame, a swan song announcing an independent authority on a prescient demise mashed and deprived

A single shot rippling through the broadened space between clasped eternity and a histrionic disgrace as a psychological confederate pays lip service to a reiterative applause

A cousin hardly American in a defected record of incendiary plumes of a hoarse hatred of waxen discs and flying discs alike,  climbs out of a bonfire mounted purely out of vindictive spite

Then upon a great white buffalo a wrapped package of Californian love before California ever alighted like something beyond an avaricious dove, saw a rocky park and a hearth of illuminated darkness the singular spark

Captain Morgan knows the jackknife applause of a botched deal morphing into a disbelieved spiel. A shibboleth of enormous mystical weight crashing down from an ethereal abode and heaven heavily saddened cannot hardly appeal

Then a loving spoonful of crystal blue persuasion led me to Ethel’s regimented keepsake and for once in my life nobility and I became a grateful waif. But temerity laughed, splintered spacecraft, and the wooden paws of a bearish applause led to resurgent clarity

Blinking stars shattered by knighted and raw applause punctured the liberated might of a sentient hortatory savior grasped by the internecine wrench of a waxen time

An indie track slides by unnoticed in an aleatory time, and the threadbare whine of centuries of lament becomes a dastardly barn set ablaze with the fury of ancients and the scurry of faineant patents

Perfidy slides in recess, and in gentle forbearance the winged angel lingers like a halo on conifer and spring above a remedial ring

I dial frisky celerity tingling the dangling claws of a raven’s screed and in plunder of all history’s pilfer secrets I eagerly weave a tapestry Indiana Jones himself would be proud to watch

Not the riotous ruin of a mystery tour of verdure crippled by genocide but overcome by the revived life of raised rain razing the moments of indelible pain

But the culmination of a proffered time taken at its word for its every careened bird, for its every brazen gird. The manger of proctored stars calls us home tonight and home forever. Life in quaked timorous stumbles suddenly no longer so fitfully absurd.

The quixotic plundered of pirates and emperors in direct emulation of some crooned pastiche of whittled integrity, surges above any encased blurb and any vain testament to a pyramid rigid in destiny and ragged in desultory and sturdy sincerity

Multiplying the ineffable by the division of arable divorced from edible is too creative to be eaten as pabulum when sparks curdle flickered moonlight crimson and that become golden only to the last laugh of ennobled ragamuffins

Frankly the desert of melliferous gorillas abetting the lark of a heavily vetted camarilla engaged in the sinecure of a rigged wall on a main street to block the tall from the lame bleat. Stocks grazed, costs engaged on a littoral beach at the end of a Bossy promenade

This prayer is a cutthroat collapse of a merry spare, a ribbed ****** waiting to plunge into the antithesis of female despair, but sincere in its restraint that vixens courted in love aren’t courted in litigation of a wagered dare

Ambulances chase Deloreans through the desolate moon-stricken skies of a time agape with fleets of phantasmagoria on a Cliffside too wise to ever mince words or excise cries

Skulking the red-teared caverns of entombed films and lampooned tinctures on a passion vetted only for certain and utter deracinated disguise, I wallop with winged men in a single soul armed to the teeth with inveterate tithes to eternal internments of poached and endangered gazettes

As growth older in wizened skin bets on epithets rather than epitaphs for rinsed peace and triumphant clefts we leap above in orbit of only the bellowing nether of blown tolls and untold souls aggregating the esoteric grasp of Alexandrian tomes

The denumeration of certainty is a carousel of wonder, a splurge of time ripped asunder with majesties of paparazzi scuttled impacts a throttled iniquity of regalia’s indicted blunder frenchified but still clean with inestimable sheens

With twenty-five dollars, a dime an assist and a nickeled reiteration of currency already so personable it is divine and sublime in crazed desist I watch the embroiled natives clash in denatured violence with the warriors of a crossed repast hearkening to an old land much of ire but too much of grandstand to ultimately last

Itching for a holy field husk of peerless ties listed as rumpus and beer, a two-packed smoked by bludgeoned blokes careless in irascible sputters of a muffled doom, a Vegan becomes the author of too many sacrosanct homilies becoming defiled witchcraft brooms dead on arrival too many lionized tombs

In plaudits and the scause of an amplified “what if?” of an olfactory nightmare of petrified fog of effluvium bogged in Wade and in heat it is always clogged, sinewy libations of toasted preemptive revenge become a powerballed hog

A castle in the sky founded on Franklin but scourged of wineskins brimming with a distilled time, a swift repartee becomes the whispered ladder of saints blather becoming not rather other than a Dan Rather spatter

A door breeched by a broached inconvenience of amphigory beyond common reach, I clamber excess and whisk the lingered love into destiny beyond any word other than a beseeched preach of nothing tired but everything inspired of noble love with abundance often to teach

Fireworks of turned tides of fallow tithes to aliens beyond any conceivable bribe the bushwhacker writhes but survives staying alive without even a hint of garbled jive a 27th floor glass elevator is quite a resplendent ride

Wellsprings knowing radical rolled tides of errant dice also themselves guilty of confessional tithes to the monolith of avarice at the nooked cranny of an evaporated time we whine as the police sting the album rained with songs too lugubrious to sing but in their elegy every lonely heart has a propinquity phone of souled resonance ring

Iterative mastery of a mathematics of love, loss decay and the dross of a dental Occidental floss, the sweep of screened queues become questions of inestimable importance to foreign dues on a horse with no name but so consumed with fumes

A fright occultist thriller prowls in a waylaying daylight, masquerading an innocent confection for a rescued triage of a dawn stabbed with knives in our last dying days of trembled plight

He resurrects only the wraiths of detest, squinted at by the putrefaction of summoned cardiac arrest and littered with bullets that somehow can penetrate even impregnable bullet proof vests the wrapped carcass of the mummified husk of ready despair offers itself a ghoulish and raspy prayer

Synchronized in a low roaring swathe of rollercoasters too immersive to ride, the terpsichorean obscurantism of deliberately shattered fragments becoming blurbs dismissed with hijacked deride the carnival of a summer sun becomes the ocean of limitless love becoming endless fun

We forget the drawl of the droll old tales that haunt like specters in the closet and beneath the bedridden valetudinarian of an effrontery of shackled fright, we sprawl the innumerable caverns of prophetic insight afforded by the pantheon of history enter stage left, depart stage right

And with their insight I write and write, I grasp the tusk of democracy and wage an insurrection against the doubt of plodding limitations in otherwise immaculate sight

*** and tyrannosaurus rex, of litigable offenses leading to pardonable arrests, the gated entryway of a poetic splurge leads to the demiurge of a demotic enlightenment and suddenly the frank becomes the frazzled retirement and that haunting hounding bunny transmogrified by a shattered eye averts the car crash that careens ponderous engines out of limitless twilight blue skies.

Diamond lightning in pristine skies escorts the telegraphic totems of riddled modems from 1967 to 2016 and suddenly all venerable personages converge on a teeming scene of a union unified by a universal dream. To become everything and yet nothing and out of light and darkness to become a beatific beam
Alyssa Underwood Mar 2016
I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
  For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
  When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
  And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
  In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
  And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
  So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
  With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
  Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
  With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
  Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
  A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
  “That fellows got to swing.”

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
  Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
  Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
  My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
  Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
  With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved
  And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
  By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
  Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
  The brave man with a sword!

Some **** their love when they are young,
  And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
  Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
  The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
  Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
  And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
  Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
  On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
  Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
  Into an empty place

He does not sit with silent men
  Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
  And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
  The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
  Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
  The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
  With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
  To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats, and notes
  Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
******* a watch whose little ticks
  Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
  That sands one’s throat, before
The hangman with his gardener’s gloves
  Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
  That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
  The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
  Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
  Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
  Through a little roof of glass;
He does not pray with lips of clay
  For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
  The kiss of Caiaphas.


II

Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
  In a suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
  And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
  So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
  With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
  Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
  Its raveled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
  Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
  In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
  And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
  Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
  Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
  As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
  Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
  A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
  The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
  With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
  So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
  Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
  That in the spring-time shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
  With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
  Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
  For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
  Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer’s collar take
  His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
  When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
  Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
  To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
  We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
  Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
  His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
  Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
  In the black dock’s dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
  In God’s sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
  We had crossed each other’s way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
  We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
  But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
  Two outcast men were we:
The world had ****** us from its heart,
  And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
  Had caught us in its snare.


III

In Debtors’ Yard the stones are hard,
  And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
  Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
  For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
  His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
  And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
  Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
  The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
  A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called
  And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
  And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
  No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
  The hangman’s hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
  No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher’s doom
  Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
  And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
  To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
  Pent up in Murderers’ Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
  Could help a brother’s soul?

With slouch and swing around the ring
  We trod the Fool’s Parade!
We did not care: we knew we were
  The Devil’s Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
  Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
  With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
  And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
  And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
  We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
  And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
  Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
  Crawled like a ****-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
  That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
  We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
  Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
  To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
  Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
  On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
  Went shuffling through the gloom
And each man trembled as he crept
  Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
  Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
  Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
  White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
  In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watcher watched him as he slept,
  And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
  With a hangman close at hand?

But there is no sleep when men must weep
  Who never yet have wept:
So we—the fool, the fraud, the knave—
  That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
  Another’s terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
  To feel another’s guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
  Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
  For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
  Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
  Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
  Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
  Mad mourners of a corpse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
  The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
  Was the savior of Remorse.

The **** crew, the red **** crew,
  But never came the day:
And crooked shape of Terror crouched,
  In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
  Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
  Like travelers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
  Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
  The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
  Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
  They trod a saraband:
And the ****** grotesques made arabesques,
  Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
  They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
  As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and long they sang,
  For they sang to wake the dead.

“Oho!” they cried, “The world is wide,
  But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
  Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
  In the secret House of Shame.”

No things of air these antics were
  That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
  And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
  Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
  Some wheeled in smirking pairs:
With the mincing step of demirep
  Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
  Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
  But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
  Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
  Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
  The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning-steel
  We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
  To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars
  Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
  That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
  God’s dreadful dawn was red.

At six o’clock we cleaned our cells,
  At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
  The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
  Had entered in to ****.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
  Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
  Are all the gallows’ need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
  To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
  Of filthy darkness *****:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
  Or give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
  And what was dead was Hope.

For Man’s grim Justice goes its way,
  And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
  It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
  The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
  Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
  That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
  For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
  Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
  Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man’s heart beat thick and quick
  Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
  Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
  Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
  From a ***** in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
  In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
  Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman’s snare
  Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
  That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the ****** sweats,
  None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
  More deaths than one must die.


IV

There is no chapel on the day
  On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain’s heart is far too sick,
  Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
  Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
  And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
  Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
  Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God’s sweet air we went,
  But not in wonted way,
For this man’s face was white with fear,
  And that man’s face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
  So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
  With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
  We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
  In happy freedom by.

But there were those amongst us all
  Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each got his due,
  They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived
  Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
  Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
  And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood
  And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
  With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
  The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
  And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
  And through each hollow mind
The memory of dreadful things
  Rushed like a dreadful wind,
And Horror stalked before each man,
  And terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
  And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were ***** and span,
  And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at
  By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
  There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
  By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
  That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
  Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
  Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
  Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
  Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
  And the soft flesh by the day,
It eats the flesh and bones by turns,
  But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
  Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
  Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
  With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer’s heart would taint
  Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true! God’s kindly earth
  Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
  The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
  Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
  Christ brings his will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
  Bloomed in the great Pope’s sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
  May bloom in prison air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
  Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
  A common man’s despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
  Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
  By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who ***** the yard
  That God’s Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
  Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit man not walk by night
  That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may not weep that lies
  In such unholy ground,

He is at peace—this wretched man—
  At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to make him mad,
  Nor does Terror walk at noon,
For the lampless Earth in which he lies
  Has neither Sun nor Moon.

They hanged him as a beast is hanged:
  They did not even toll
A reguiem that might have brought
  Rest to his startled soul,
But hurriedly they took him out,
  And hid him in a hole.

They stripped him of his canvas clothes,
  And gave him to the flies;
They mocked the swollen purple throat
  And the stark and staring eyes:
And with laughter loud they heaped the shroud
  In which their convict lies.

The Chaplain would not kneel to pray
  By his dishonored grave:
Nor mark it with that blessed Cross
  That Christ for sinners gave,
Because the man was one of those
  Whom Christ came down to save.

Yet all is well; he has but passed
  To Life’s appointed bourne:
And alien tears will fill for him
  Pity’s long-broken urn,
For his mourner will be outcast men,
  And outcasts always mourn.


V

I know not whether Laws be right,
  Or whether Laws be wrong;
All that we know who lie in gaol
  Is that the wall is strong;
And that each day is like a year,
  A year whose days are long.

But this I know, that every Law
  That men have made for Man,
Since first Man took his brother’s life,
  And the sad world began,
But straws the wheat and saves the chaff
  With a most evil fan.

This too I know—and wise it were
  If each could know the same—
That every prison that men build
  Is built with bricks of shame,
And bound with bars lest Christ should see
  How men their brothers maim.

With bars they blur the gracious moon,
  And blind the goodly sun:
And they do well to hide their Hell,
  For in it things are done
That Son of God nor son of Man
  Ever should look upon!

The vilest deeds like poison weeds
  Bloom well in prison-air:
It is only what is good in Man
  That wastes and withers there:
Pale Anguish keeps the heavy gate,
  And the Warder is Despair

For they starve the little frightened child
  Till it weeps both night and day:
And they scourge the weak, and flog the fool,
  And gibe the old and grey,
And some grow mad, and all grow bad,
And none a word may say.

Each narrow cell in which we dwell
  Is foul and dark latrine,
And the fetid breath of living Death
  Chokes up each grated screen,
And all, but Lust, is turned to dust
  In Humanity’s machine.

The brackish water that we drink
  Creeps with a loathsome slime,
And the bitter bread they weigh in scales
  Is full of chalk and lime,
And Sleep will not lie down, but walks
  Wild-eyed and cries to Time.

But though lean Hunger and green Thirst
  Like asp with adder fight,
We have little care of prison fare,
  For what chills and kills outright
Is that every stone one lifts by day
  Becomes one’s heart by night.

With midnight always in one’s heart,
  And twilight in one’s cell,
We turn the crank, or tear the rope,
  Each in his separate Hell,
And the silence is more awful far
  Than the sound of a brazen bell.

And never a human voice comes near
  To speak a gentle word:
And the eye that watches through the door
  Is pitiless and hard:
And by all forgot, we rot and rot,
  With soul and body marred.

And thus we rust Life’s iron chain
  Degraded and alone:
And some men curse, and some men weep,
  And some men make no moan:
But God’s eternal Laws are kind
  And break the heart of stone.

And every human heart that breaks,
  In prison-cell or yard,
Is as that broken box that gave
  Its treasure to the Lord,
And filled the unclean *****’s house
  With the scent of costliest nard.

Ah! happy day they whose hearts can break
  And peace of pardon win!
How else may man make straight his plan
  And cleanse his soul from Sin?
How else but through a broken heart
  May Lord Christ enter in?

And he of the swollen purple throat.
  And the stark and staring eyes,
Waits for the holy hands that took
  The Thief to Paradise;
And a broken and a contrite heart
  The Lord will not despise.

The man in red who reads the Law
  Gave him three weeks of life,
Three little weeks in which to heal
  His soul of his soul’s strife,
And cleanse from every blot of blood
  The hand that held the knife.

And with tears of blood he cleansed the hand,
  The hand that held the steel:
For only blood can wipe out blood,
  And only tears can heal:
And the crimson stain that was of Cain
  Became Christ’s snow-white seal.


VI

In Reading gaol by Reading town
  There is a pit of shame,
And in it lies a wretched man
  Eaten by teeth of flame,
In burning winding-sheet he lies,
  And his grave has got no name.

And there, till Christ call forth the dead,
  In silence let him lie:
No need to waste the foolish tear,
  Or heave the windy sigh:
The man had killed the thing he loved,
  And so he had to die.

And all men **** the thing they love,
  By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
  Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
  The brave man with a sword!
L B Aug 2018
Pinto?

No, not the wild-spirited, color-splotched mare
with mane streaming like flames-thrown
behind in the wind
Taking desert inclines
with scuffing hooves on rock
catching her balance in mesquite
curbing?
The sage, dust
All
that nature throws in its pathway to knowledge
toward treachery of crosswalks?

“P-l-e-a-s-e  don't slow down!
Stop signs--?
”No!
Just keep going!
Don't slow down now!”

“They'll hear us coming
3 blocks away!”

Pinto?
Clogged carburetor--?
No one much-mentioned
rear-end inferno reputation??
A mere twinge in my signature
Woman-without-a-clue

“Hey, it runs, right?
Gets where we're goin'?”

Kids duck in back seat
so as not to be seen
In the cloud of smoke
We make our approach

Hiss Spitter, Belch, Pop
and--

BANG!

--Like a gunshot

Kids take cover
on street, in backseat
duck down
so not to be noticed...

“Oh Ma!  
MA!!!
Not right here!
Farther down!”

...so not to be seen
...by friends that matter...
in this ride
from hell!
Backfiring Beast--

“Friends”
skitter away
from what will emerge from the smoke and fumes
of high-risk-situation

Kids spill out through jammed door
to unexpected accolades
onto equality's curb
of laughter  
Public school's
wake of exhaust and relief

I drive mercifully away


Start of another school day
True. I swear!  Had this car for a short while in the early 80s when I went back to college.  It met its demise in a front-end collision.  Woman with no license ran a stop sign, plowing me into a utility pole.  The Pinto's reputation for fiery explosions burst across my mind.  I couldn't help but note the clicking hissing sound.  No time to think of my banged-up head.  Door was jammed, but window still rolled down, so I climbed through it in a skirt, no less, and ran.  Car was totaled.  If the collision had been just a little farther back, I might not be writing about it.
Kuzhur Wilson Sep 2013
My poetry, which knew it was
the cry of a lonely bird
on a solitary tree
in my village,
asked Spring its name.

Spring began to speak –

The fruit laden Vayyankatha, her thorny pangs, hijab-wearing  Guf, her minarets, Thondi  blushing red with kisses,  her moist lips, orphaned Adalodakam, Nellippuli in a polka dotted dress, Pulivakawaiting for the breeze, Anjili   head towards the south, yawning Cherupuuna, Pera with the names of grandmas scribbled on her leaves, Ilantha blowing into the hearth, Ilapongu rubbing his eyes, Irippa, Atha laughing noisily,Cholavenga in tattered clothes, Irumbakam, Padappa catching his breath after running, Pattipunna wagging his tail, bare footed Pattuthali, Thekku the noblest among them, Thekkotta, Neervalam  recollecting her last birth, Neeraal, sobbing Neelakkadambu, Pathimukam, lazy thanal murikku, Karimaruthu, Karinkura, Asttumayil, Velladevaram, Kattukadukka, the gluttonous Badam, amnesiac Vazhanna, boredVarachi, Nangmaila, Eucalyptuswith a sprained back, viscous red Rakthachandanam, saffron robed Rudraksham, Vakka, Vanchi,  Parangimaavu nostalgic of his ancestral home, Vari, Nedunaar, Marotti with a hundred offsprings, Malangara, Malampunna ,Nenmeni Vaka trying his luck in a lottery, Nelli with a sour smile.

Kadaplaavu doing sketches with leaves, Kari straying from the queue, Kattuthuvara buying things on credit, Kattutheyila boiling over, Kattupunna with a pus-oozing sore, Kumkumam putting a bindi on her forehead, starving Ventheku, Vellakadambu making a missed call, Kattadi standing aloof, her feeble hands,  flowering Ilanji, her fragrant trunk, sighing Aalmaram, Pachavattil, Pachilamaram  gossiping with the chameleon, Panachi,Pamparakumbil, Kadambu memories adorning her head, Kudamaram carrying provisions for the home,  Punnappa,Poongu, gray hairedChuruli, Chuvannakil  singing a folk song, dark skinned Vattil, Kulaku, Karinjaaval, sozzled Pamparam, Chorappayir, njama, Njaaval  tempting the birds, Njaara, Alasippooscratching his palm, Ashokam  humming a sad song.

Ezhilampala chewing on a masala paan, Peenaari wearing a tie, Peelivaka, Pulichakka with a broken leg, Pezhu demanding his wages, Kumbil, Kurangaadi, Kasukka with a dislocated elbow,Valiyakaara, Vallabham, Chavandi, stunning Chinnakil , Chittal with a failed brake, Vidana, Sheemappanji, the loan shark Odukku, Oda  on musth,fatherless Kadakonna, childlessShimshapa, Sindooram with a flushed face, Karinthakara singing the thannaaro, Vellappayir high on grass, Poothilanji showing off her blossoms, sour faced Kudampuli.

Wet in the rain Kulamaavu, Kudamaavu circling around himself, Pari from the netherworld,Poopathiri in a priest’s robe,  Poochakadambu on all fours, Kulappunna covered in a blanket, Kundalappala checking his astro forecast, Pachotti, ******* Perumaram, Perumbal  thinking of the sea, phlegm clogged Anathondi, Anakkotti, Cheruthuvara, Ilavangam, Thanni,naughty Thirukkalli,  Karappongu, embracing Kattadi, Thudali, Thelli, Kara, Malayathi,Malavirinji, shameless Kashumaavu,mud slinging Karuka, Vedinal, suicide prone Attumaruthu,Attuvanchi  who glides on the stream like a fallen shadow.

Mandaram  dressed in white, Vanna, brazen Mahagani, Karivelam doing the accounts,Jakarantha, Koombala, friendless Koovalam, Kattukamuku with his hands around friends, Kolli, Paruva,Krishnanaal with a crooked smile, Cocoa with no one to turn to, Cork,Palakapayyani, Pavizhamalli wearing necklace and bangles, a lonely Mazhamaram, Mangium, Mathalam exposing her *******, Chemmaram, Pashakottamaram, Malavembu, tearful Chamatha, Vatta, Vattakoombitired of running around, smoking Pine, Porippovanam, Kaaluvnthatherakam, Thembaavu, grinningDantaputri, Narivenga, Navathi, grumbling Mazhukkanjiram,Arayanjili,  Arayal playing a game with the wind.

Choola kissing the sizzling wind, Arinelli, Maavu reciting sadly the poem Mampazham,  Chandana vembu, Peraal stretching its back, Pulivaaka, Unnam, Naythanbakam,Karpooram in a slow glow, Naaykumbil, trumpeting Pongu, outcast Pottavaaka, bursting Poriyal, vagabond Ponthavaaka, Plaavu lost in some thought, Pootham  head covered , Ethappana  greening while yellowing, Manjadi, Mullanvenga, Mullilam lifting his dhoti to expose his genitals, Mullilavu hopping around, Moongappezhu, Neermaruthu saying enough is enough, withered Neermathalam ,Moottikkay, Ithi, Ithiyaal, Vella velam, Kalppayir, Kallar, Majakkadambu singing a lullaby, Choondappana wary of fish bones.

Stooping Punna, Matti scared of her big brother, Paarijaatham watching the midnight movie, Paalakal, Paali,Paarakam doing cartwheels, Viri, Athi showing off  her seeds,Ampazhammassaging his chest, Ayani inlove with her son, Manjakkonna, Manjamandaram in search of something, Chullithi with eyes closed, Kallilavu like an oozing rock, Malamandaram eyeing the vultures,Velleetti cursing the thunder, Venga,Veppu, Vraali, Akil, sighing Acacia,Balsa, Blanka, Beedimaram with a rattling cough,  Agasthi, Cherukonna with a sheepish smile, Kambali, woundedNagamaram.

Pathiri, touching his forehead to the ground, his eyes heavenward, Ankolam ruined by debts,Kattumarotti, Kundalappala, Aattumaruthu,Poovam, Erumanaakku, Karingotta, Vediplaavu his salary still unpaid, Venmurikku, Manjanaathi, Manimaruthu jolted awake, Mathagirivembu, Karaanjili  escorting his daughter, Karakongu,Karappongu, Ilippa on her way back, Ooravu half-awake after a dream and with a sucker smile, Ennappana about to immolate himself, fattened  Ennappine,Azhantha waiting for someone, Chorapatri with a cracked head,Sheemappoola,Poovankara, Malampuli, Puli with sharpened stakes.

Obese Theettipplaavu,Malambongu, Chorimathimurikku, Irippa bailing out his friend, Irumbakamwho lost his job, Kunkumappoo, Karinthaali, Scoot, Rose Kadambu, Aamathali, Aarampuli,Attilippucaught in the crowd, Irul  blessed by the elders, Vellavatti, whistling Mula, Kattukonna in a hat, Kaniiram learning the alphabets, broker Cheru,Kattuchembakam exposing his arm pit,Thandidiyan, Neeroli, Ezhachembakam waiting for her bus, Karimbana in a newly constructed house, Karivenga,Karivali writing a poem, Ungu in a baby frock, Udi, Plasha, Elamaruthupromising to meet later, Chembakam dying to hug.

Vellakil who bathes the kids, Vellavaaka who forgot his umbrella, Attuthekku who failed the exam, lustful Aattunochi,Malanthudali with her legs spread, Malanthengu with chest ****** up,Malamanchadi who is learning to count, Malambarathi exposing her *******, intoxicated Aval, Arana reciting the poem Karuna, insane Alakku who dashes off to the temple, Cheru who cannot stop washing clothes, Kudappana ready to elope, irreligious Jaathi, Silver Oak laughing boisterously, Kattuveppu waiting for the kids, Sumami ******* on a toffee, annoyed Parappoola,frightened Pinar, Ithi stopping her ears at swear words, Ithiyal with lots of smiles, Kovidaram with music in his mind, Ilakkali showing her belly, blossoming Ilavu, Chadachi who ***** sadistically, cool fingered Chandanam.

dominating Charakkonna, office going Cheelanthi, Gulgulu glued to Kochu channel, Gulmohur with dyed hair, Irul with a fuming face, early rising Kanikonna, Kanala who has a sound sleep, Karingali  who pees standing, Kambakam with an ***** *****, Kallavi  beseeching to stuff her up, Karanjili  quivering in lust, calm Karaal, Kaari who hums while *******, Kaavalam who naps after the toil,Thannimaram showing off her petals, Thambakam kissing the ****, Thellipayar savouring a *****,Neerkurunda in post-****** languor, Malaya breastfeeding her kid, bullying Kathi, mad hat Eetti,Cheeni  not remembering his mom,  Kunnivaka showing his gums, Kuppamanja who laughs in sleep, Othalanga swallowing poison, blooming Poovarasu.

Spring went on,
reeling off names to me.
The rain the sun the wind and the cold
Rolled in one after the other.
Spring kept pulling out
names from its memory.

People got scared of
my poetry gone wild.
They stopped passing that way.

A snake goes slithering away.
A hare finds its own path and dashes away.
A poothankiri, from a bush, flies away.



(Trans from Malayalam by Ra Sh)
1.      Mampazham (Ripe Mango) is the title of a famouspoem by Vyloppilli.
2.      Karuna (Compassion) is the title of a long poemby Kumaran Asan.
3.      Poothankiri – A white headed babbler.
4.      Thanaaro - An obscene devotional song.
Nigel Morgan Oct 2012
When Zuo Fen woke day was well advanced into the Horse hour. In her darkened room a frame of the brightest light pulsed around the shuttered window. A breeze of scents from her herb garden brought sage, motherwort and lovage to cleanse the confined air, what remained of his visit, those rare aromatic oils from a body freed from its robes. Turning her head into the pillow that odour of him embraced her once more as in the deepest and most prolonged kiss , when with no space to breathe passion displaces reason in the mind.
 
The goat cart had brought him silently to her court in the Tiger hour, as was his custom in these summer days when, tired of his women’s attention, he seeks her company. In the vestibule her maid leaves a bowl of fresh water scented with lemon juice, a towel, her late uncle’s comb, a salve for his hands. Without removing his shoes, an Emperor’s privilege, he enters her study pausing momentarily while Xi-Lu removes himself from the exalted presence, his long tail *****, his walk provocative, dismissive. Zuo Fen is at her desk, brush in hand she finishes a copy of  ‘A Rhapsody for my Lord’. She has submitted herself to enter yet again that persona of the young concubine taken from her family to serve that community from which there seems no escape.
 
I was born in a humble, isolated, thatched house,
And was never well-versed in writing.
I never saw the marvellous pictures of books,
Nor had I heard of the classics of ancient sages.
I am dim-witted, humble and ignorant,
But was mistakenly placed in the Purple Palace . . .

 
He loves to hear her read such words, to imagine this fragile girl, and see her life at court described in the poet’s elegant characters. Zuo Fen’s scrolls lie on his second desk. Touching them, as he does frequently, is to touch her, is to feel mystery of her long body with its disregard of the courtly customs of his many, many women; the soft hair on her legs, the deep forest guarding her hidden ***, her peasant feet, her long fingers with their scent of ink and herbs.
 
He kneels beside her, gradually opening his ringed hand wide on her gowned thigh, then closing, then opening. A habit: an affectation. His head is bent in an obeisance he has no need to make, only, as he desires her he does this, so she knows this is so. She is prepared, as always, to act the part, or be this self she has opened to him, in all innocence at first, then in quiet delight that this is so and no more.
 
‘A rhapsody for me perhaps?’
‘What does Liu Xie say? The rhapsody is a fork in the road . . .
‘ . . . a different line’, he interrupts and quotes,’ it describes people and objects. It pictures appearance with a brilliance akin to sculpture or painting.’
‘What is clogged and confined it invariably opens. It depicts the commonplace with unbounded charm.’
‘But the goal of the form is beauty well-ordered . . . . as you are, dearest poet.’
‘You spoilt the richness of Lui Xie’s ending . . .’
‘I would rather speak of your beauty than Xie’s talk of gardening.’
‘Weeding is not gardening my Lord.’
 
And with that he summons her to read her rhapsody whilst his hands part her gown . . .
 
Over the years since he took her maidenhead, brusquely, with the impatience of his station, and she, on their second encounter deflowered him in turn with her poem about the pleasure due to woman, they had become as one branch on the same tree. She sought to be, and was, his equal in the prowess of scholastic memory. She had honed such facility with the word: years of training from her father in the palace archives and later in the mind games invented by and played with her brother. Then, as she entered womanhood and feared oblivion in an arranged marriage, she invented the persona of the pale girl, a fiction, who, with great gentleness and poetry, guided the male reader into the secrets of a woman’s ****** pleasure and fulfilment. In disguise, and with her brother’s help, she had sought those outside concubinage - for whom the congress of the male and female is rarely negotiable. She listened and transcribed, then gradually drew the Emperor into a web of new experience to which he readily succumbed, and the like of which he could have hardly imagined. He wished to promote her to the first lady of his Purple Chamber. She declined, insisting he provide her with a court distant from his palace rooms, yet close to the Zu-lin gardens, a place of quiet, meditation and the study of astronomy.
 
But today, this hot summer’s day, she had reckoned to be her birthday. She expected due recognition for one whose days moved closer to that age when a birthday is traditionally and lavishly celebrated. Her maid Mei-Lim would have already prepared the egg dishes associated with this special day. Her brother Zuo-Si may have penned a celebratory ode, and later would visit her with his lute to caress his subtle words of invention.
 
Your green eyes reflect a world apart
Where into silence words are formed dew-like,
Glistening as the sun rises on this precious day.
As a stony spring washes over precious jade,
delicate fishes swim in its depths
dancing to your reflection on the cool surface.
No need of strings, or bamboo instruments
When mountains and waters give forth their pure notes . . .

 
Her lord had left on her desk his own Confucian-led offering, in brushstrokes of his time-stretched hand, but his own hand nevertheless, and then in salutation the flower-like character leh (joy)
 
‘Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart’.
 
Meanwhile Xi-Lu stirred on the coverlet reminding Zuo Fen that the day was advancing and he had received no attention or conversation. It was whispered abroad that this lady spoke with her cat whom each afternoon would accompany his mistress on a walk through the adjacent gardens. It was true, Zuo Fen had taught Xi-Lu to converse in the dialect of her late mother’s province, but that is another story.
 
Lying on her back, eyes firmly shut, Zuo Fen surveyed the past year, a year of her brother’s pilgrimage to the Tai Mountains, his subsequent disappearance at the onset of winter, her Lord’s anger then indulgence as he allowed her to seek Zuo Si’s whereabouts. She thought of her sojourn in Ryzoki, the village of stone, where she discovered the blind servant girl who had revealed not only her brother’s whereabouts but her undying love for this strange, ungainly, uncomfortably ugly man who, with the experience gained from his sister’s persistent research had finally learned to love and be loved in equal measure for his gentle and tender actions. And together, their triumph: in ‘summoning the recluse’, and not one alone but a community of five living harmoniously in caves of the limestone heights. Now returned they had worked in ever secret ways to serve their Emperor in his conflict against the war-lord Tang.
 
She now resolved to take a brief holiday from this espionage, her stroking of the Emperor’s mind and body, and those caring sisterly duties she so readily performed. She would remove herself and her maid to a forest cabin: to lie in the dry mottled grass of summer and listen to the rustle of leaves, the chatter of birds, the sounds of insects and the creak-crack of the forest in the summer heat. She would plan a new chapter in her work as a poet and writer: she would be the pale girl no longer but a woman of strength and confidence made beautiful by good fortune, wise management and a generosity of spirit. She needed to prepare herself for her Lord’s demise, when their joyful hours living the lives of Prince and Lady of Xiang, he with his stallion gathering galingales, she with her dreams of an underwater house, would no longer be. She would study the ways of the old. She would seek to learn how peace and serenity might overcome those afflictions of age and circumstance, and when it is said that love’s chemistry distils pure joy through the intense refinement of memory.
This short story with poetry introduces the world of Zuo Fen, one of the first female poets of Chinese antiquity.
One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound
except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember
whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve
nights when I was six.

All the Christmases roll down toward the two-tongued sea, like a cold and headlong moon bundling down the sky
that was our street; and they stop at the rim of the ice-edged fish-freezing waves, and I plunge my hands in
the snow and bring out whatever I can find. In goes my hand into that wool-white bell-tongued ball of holidays
resting at the rim of the carol-singing sea, and out come Mrs. Prothero and the firemen.

It was on the afternoon of the Christmas Eve, and I was in Mrs. Prothero's garden, waiting for cats, with her
son Jim. It was snowing. It was always snowing at Christmas. December, in my memory, is white as Lapland,
though there were no reindeers. But there were cats. Patient, cold and callous, our hands wrapped in socks, we
waited to snowball the cats. Sleek and long as jaguars and horrible-whiskered, spitting and snarling, they
would slink and sidle over the white back-garden walls, and the lynx-eyed hunters, Jim and I, fur-capped and
moccasined trappers from Hudson Bay, off Mumbles Road, would hurl our deadly snowballs at the green of their
eyes. The wise cats never appeared.

We were so still, Eskimo-footed arctic marksmen in the muffling silence of the eternal snows - eternal, ever
since Wednesday - that we never heard Mrs. Prothero's first cry from her igloo at the bottom of the garden. Or,
if we heard it at all, it was, to us, like the far-off challenge of our enemy and prey, the neighbor's polar
cat. But soon the voice grew louder.
"Fire!" cried Mrs. Prothero, and she beat the dinner-gong.

And we ran down the garden, with the snowballs in our arms, toward the house; and smoke, indeed, was pouring
out of the dining-room, and the gong was bombilating, and Mrs. Prothero was announcing ruin like a town crier
in Pompeii. This was better than all the cats in Wales standing on the wall in a row. We bounded into the
house, laden with snowballs, and stopped at the open door of the smoke-filled room.

Something was burning all right; perhaps it was Mr. Prothero, who always slept there after midday dinner with a
newspaper over his face. But he was standing in the middle of the room, saying, "A fine Christmas!" and
smacking at the smoke with a slipper.

"Call the fire brigade," cried Mrs. Prothero as she beat the gong.
"There won't be there," said Mr. Prothero, "it's Christmas."
There was no fire to be seen, only clouds of smoke and Mr. Prothero standing in the middle of them, waving his
slipper as though he were conducting.
"Do something," he said. And we threw all our snowballs into the smoke - I think we missed Mr. Prothero - and
ran out of the house to the telephone box.
"Let's call the police as well," Jim said. "And the ambulance." "And Ernie Jenkins, he likes fires."

But we only called the fire brigade, and soon the fire engine came and three tall men in helmets brought a hose
into the house and Mr. Prothero got out just in time before they turned it on. Nobody could have had a noisier
Christmas Eve. And when the firemen turned off the hose and were standing in the wet, smoky room, Jim's Aunt,
Miss. Prothero, came downstairs and peered in at them. Jim and I waited, very quietly, to hear what she would
say to them. She said the right thing, always. She looked at the three tall firemen in their shining helmets,
standing among the smoke and cinders and dissolving snowballs, and she said, "Would you like anything to read?"

Years and years ago, when I was a boy, when there were wolves in Wales, and birds the color of red-flannel
petticoats whisked past the harp-shaped hills, when we sang and wallowed all night and day in caves that smelt
like Sunday afternoons in damp front farmhouse parlors, and we chased, with the jawbones of deacons, the
English and the bears, before the motor car, before the wheel, before the duchess-faced horse, when we rode the
daft and happy hills *******, it snowed and it snowed. But here a small boy says: "It snowed last year, too. I
made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea."

"But that was not the same snow," I say. "Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it
came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow
grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely -ivied the walls and
settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."

"Were there postmen then, too?"
"With sprinkling eyes and wind-cherried noses, on spread, frozen feet they crunched up to the doors and
mittened on them manfully. But all that the children could hear was a ringing of bells."
"You mean that the postman went rat-a-tat-tat and the doors rang?"
"I mean that the bells the children could hear were inside them."
"I only hear thunder sometimes, never bells."
"There were church bells, too."
"Inside them?"
"No, no, no, in the bat-black, snow-white belfries, tugged by bishops and storks. And they rang their tidings
over the bandaged town, over the frozen foam of the powder and ice-cream hills, over the crackling sea. It
seemed that all the churches boomed for joy under my window; and the weathercocks crew for Christmas, on our
fence."

"Get back to the postmen"
"They were just ordinary postmen, found of walking and dogs and Christmas and the snow. They knocked on the
doors with blue knuckles ...."
"Ours has got a black knocker...."
"And then they stood on the white Welcome mat in the little, drifted porches and huffed and puffed, making
ghosts with their breath, and jogged from foot to foot like small boys wanting to go out."
"And then the presents?"
"And then the Presents, after the Christmas box. And the cold postman, with a rose on his button-nose, tingled
down the tea-tray-slithered run of the chilly glinting hill. He went in his ice-bound boots like a man on
fishmonger's slabs.
"He wagged his bag like a frozen camel's ****, dizzily turned the corner on one foot, and, by God, he was
gone."

"Get back to the Presents."
"There were the Useful Presents: engulfing mufflers of the old coach days, and mittens made for giant sloths;
zebra scarfs of a substance like silky gum that could be tug-o'-warred down to the galoshes; blinding tam-o'-
shanters like patchwork tea cozies and bunny-suited busbies and balaclavas for victims of head-shrinking
tribes; from aunts who always wore wool next to the skin there were mustached and rasping vests that made you
wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all; and once I had a little crocheted nose bag from an aunt now,
alas, no longer whinnying with us. And pictureless books in which small boys, though warned with quotations not
to, would skate on Farmer Giles' pond and did and drowned; and books that told me everything about the wasp,
except why."

"Go on the Useless Presents."
"Bags of moist and many-colored jelly babies and a folded flag and a false nose and a tram-conductor's cap and
a machine that punched tickets and rang a bell; never a catapult; once, by mistake that no one could explain, a
little hatchet; and a celluloid duck that made, when you pressed it, a most unducklike sound, a mewing moo that
an ambitious cat might make who wished to be a cow; and a painting book in which I could make the grass, the
trees, the sea and the animals any colour I pleased, and still the dazzling sky-blue sheep are grazing in the
red field under the rainbow-billed and pea-green birds. Hardboileds, toffee, fudge and allsorts, crunches,
cracknels, humbugs, glaciers, marzipan, and butterwelsh for the Welsh. And troops of bright tin soldiers who,
if they could not fight, could always run. And Snakes-and-Families and Happy Ladders. And Easy Hobbi-Games for
Little Engineers, complete with instructions. Oh, easy for Leonardo! And a whistle to make the dogs bark to
wake up the old man next door to make him beat on the wall with his stick to shake our picture off the wall.
And a packet of cigarettes: you put one in your mouth and you stood at the corner of the street and you waited
for hours, in vain, for an old lady to scold you for smoking a cigarette, and then with a smirk you ate it. And
then it was breakfast under the balloons."

"Were there Uncles like in our house?"
"There are always Uncles at Christmas. The same Uncles. And on Christmas morning, with dog-disturbing whistle
and sugar ****, I would scour the swatched town for the news of the little world, and find always a dead bird
by the Post Office or by the white deserted swings; perhaps a robin, all but one of his fires out. Men and
women wading or scooping back from chapel, with taproom noses and wind-bussed cheeks, all albinos, huddles
their stiff black jarring feathers against the irreligious snow. Mistletoe hung from the gas brackets in all
the front parlors; there was sherry and walnuts and bottled beer and crackers by the dessertspoons; and cats in
their fur-abouts watched the fires; and the high-heaped fire spat, all ready for the chestnuts and the mulling
pokers. Some few large men sat in the front parlors, without their collars, Uncles almost certainly, trying
their new cigars, holding them out judiciously at arms' length, returning them to their mouths, coughing, then
holding them out again as though waiting for the explosion; and some few small aunts, not wanted in the
kitchen, nor anywhere else for that matter, sat on the very edge of their chairs, poised and brittle, afraid to
break, like faded cups and saucers."

Not many those mornings trod the piling streets: an old man always, fawn-bowlered, yellow-gloved and, at this
time of year, with spats of snow, would take his constitutional to the white bowling green and back, as he
would take it wet or fire on Christmas Day or Doomsday; sometimes two hale young men, with big pipes blazing,
no overcoats and wind blown scarfs, would trudge, unspeaking, down to the forlorn sea, to work up an appetite,
to blow away the fumes, who knows, to walk into the waves until nothing of them was left but the two furling
smoke clouds of their inextinguishable briars. Then I would be slap-dashing home, the gravy smell of the
dinners of others, the bird smell, the brandy, the pudding and mince, coiling up to my nostrils, when out of a
snow-clogged side lane would come a boy the spit of myself, with a pink-tipped cigarette and the violet past of
a black eye, cocky as a bullfinch, leering all to himself.

I hated him on sight and sound, and would be about to put my dog whistle to my lips and blow him off the face
of Christmas when suddenly he, with a violet wink, put his whistle to his lips and blew so stridently, so high,
so exquisitely loud, that gobbling faces, their cheeks bulged with goose, would press against their tinsled
windows, the whole length of the white echoing street. For dinner we had turkey and blazing pudding, and after
dinner the Uncles sat in front of the fire, loosened all buttons, put their large moist hands over their watch
chains, groaned a little and slept. Mothers, aunts and sisters scuttled to and fro, bearing tureens. Auntie
Bessie, who had already been frightened, twice, by a clock-work mouse, whimpered at the sideboard and had some
elderberry wine. The dog was sick. Auntie Dosie had to have three aspirins, but Auntie Hannah, who liked port,
stood in the middle of the snowbound back yard, singing like a big-bosomed thrush. I would blow up balloons to
see how big they would blow up to; and, when they burst, which they all did, the Uncles jumped and rumbled. In
the rich and heavy afternoon, the Uncles breathing like dolphins and the snow descending, I would sit among
festoons and Chinese lanterns and nibble dates and try to make a model man-o'-war, following the Instructions
for Little Engineers, and produce what might be mistaken for a sea-going tramcar.

Or I would go out, my bright new boots squeaking, into the white world, on to the seaward hill, to call on Jim
and Dan and Jack and to pad through the still streets, leaving huge footprints on the hidden pavements.
"I bet people will think there's been hippos."
"What would you do if you saw a hippo coming down our street?"
"I'd go like this, bang! I'd throw him over the railings and roll him down the hill and then I'd tickle him
under the ear and he'd wag his tail."
"What would you do if you saw two hippos?"

Iron-flanked and bellowing he-hippos clanked and battered through the scudding snow toward us as we passed Mr.
Daniel's house.
"Let's post Mr. Daniel a snow-ball through his letter box."
"Let's write things in the snow."
"Let's write, 'Mr. Daniel looks like a spaniel' all over his lawn."
Or we walked on the white shore. "Can the fishes see it's snowing?"

The silent one-clouded heavens drifted on to the sea. Now we were snow-blind travelers lost on the north hills,
and vast dewlapped dogs, with flasks round their necks, ambled and shambled up to us, baying "Excelsior." We
returned home through the poor streets where only a few children fumbled with bare red fingers in the wheel-
rutted snow and cat-called after us, their voices fading away, as we trudged uphill, into the cries of the dock
birds and the hooting of ships out in the whirling bay. And then, at tea the recovered Uncles would be jolly;
and the ice cake loomed in the center of the table like a marble grave. Auntie Hannah laced her tea with ***,
because it was only once a year.

Bring out the tall tales now that we told by the fire as the gaslight bubbled like a diver. Ghosts whooed like
owls in the long nights when I dared not look over my shoulder; animals lurked in the cubbyhole under the
stairs and the gas meter ticked. And I remember that we went singing carols once, when there wasn't the shaving
of a moon to light the flying streets. At the end of a long road was a drive that led to a large house, and we
stumbled up the darkness of the drive that night, each one of us afraid, each one holding a stone in his hand
in case, and all of us too brave to say a word. The wind through the trees made noises as of old and unpleasant
and maybe webfooted men wheezing in caves. We reached the black bulk of the house. "What shall we give them?
Hark the Herald?"
"No," Jack said, "Good King Wencelas. I'll count three." One, two three, and we began to sing, our voices high
and seemingly distant in the snow-felted darkness round the house that was occupied by nobody we knew. We stood
close together, near the dark door. Good King Wencelas looked out On the Feast of Stephen ... And then a small,
dry voice, like the voice of someone who has not spoken for a long time, joined our singing: a small, dry,
eggshell voice from the other side of the door: a small dry voice through the keyhole. And when we stopped
running we were outside our house; the front room was lovely; balloons floated under the hot-water-bottle-
gulping gas; everything was good again and shone over the town.
"Perhaps it was a ghost," Jim said.
"Perhaps it was trolls," Dan said, who was always reading.
"Let's go in and see if there's any jelly left," Jack said. And we did that.

Always on Christmas night there was music. An uncle played the fiddle, a cousin sang "Cherry Ripe," and another
uncle sang "Drake's Drum." It was very warm in the little house. Auntie Hannah, who had got on to the parsnip
wine, sang a song about Bleeding Hearts and Death, and then another in which she said her heart was like a
Bird's Nest; and then everybody laughed again; and then I went to bed. Looking through my bedroom window, out
into the moonlight and the unending smoke-colored snow, I could see the lights in the windows of all the other
houses on our hill and hear the music rising from them up the long, steady falling night. I turned the gas
down, I got into bed. I said some words to the close and holy darkness, and then I slept.
Nigel Morgan Oct 2012
The courtesan and poet Zuo Fen had two cats Xe Ming and Xi Ming. Living in her distant court with only her maid Hu Yin, her cats were often her closest companions and, like herself, of a crepuscular nature.
      It was the very depths of winter and the first moon of the Solstice had risen. The old year had nearly passed.
      The day itself was almost over. Most of the inner courts retired before the new day began (at about 11.0pm), but not Zuo Fen. She summoned her maid to dress her in her winter furs, gathered her cats on a long chain leash, and walked out into the Haulin Gardens.
      These large and semi-wild gardens were adjacent to the walls of her personal court. The father of the present Emperor had created there a forest once stocked with game, a lake to the brim with carp and rich in waterfowl, and a series of tall structures surrounded by a moat from which astronomers were able to observe the firmament.
      Emperor Wu liked to think of Zuo Fen walking at night in his father’s park, though he rarely saw her there. He knew that she valued that time alone to prepare herself for his visits, visits that rarely occurred until the Tiger hours between 3.0am and 6.0am when his goat-drawn carriage would find its way to her court unbidden. She herself would welcome him with steaming chai and sometimes a new rhapsody. They would recline on her bed and discuss the content and significance of certain writings they knew and loved. Discussion sometimes became an elaborate game when a favoured Classical text would be taken as the starting point for an exchange of quotation. Gradually quotation would be displaced by subtle invention and Zuo Fen would find the Emperor manoeuvring her into making declarations of a passionate or ****** nature.
       It seemed her very voice captivated him and despite herself and her inclinations they would join as lovers with an intensity of purpose, a great tenderness, and deep joy. He would rest his head inside her cloak and allow her lips to caress his ears with tales of river and mountain, descriptions of the flights of birds and the opening of flowers. He spoke to her ******* of the rising moon, its myriad reflections on the waters of Ling Lake, and of its trees whose winter branches caressed the cold surface.

Whilst Zuo Fen walked in the midnight park with her cats she reflected on an afternoon of frustration. She had attempted to assemble a new poem for her Lord.  Despite being himself an accomplished poet and having an extraordinary memory for Classical verse, the Emperor retained a penchant for stories about Mei-Lim, a young Suchan girl dragged from her family to serve as a courtesan at his court.
      Zuo Fen had invented this girl to articulate some of her own expressions of homesickness, despair, periods of constant tearfulness, and abject loneliness. Such things seemed to touch something in the Emperor. It was as though he enjoyed wallowing in these descriptions and his favourite A Rhapsody on Being far from Home he loved to hear from the poet’s own lips, again and again. Zuo Fen felt she was tempting providence not to compose something new, before being ordered to do so.
      As she struggled through the afternoon to inject some fresh and meaningful content into a story already milked dry Zuo Fen became aware of her cats. Xi Ming lay languorously across her folded feet. Xe Ming perched like an immutable porcelain figure on a stool beside her low writing table.
Zuo Fen often consulted her cats. ‘Xi Ming, will my Lord like this stanza?’

“The stones that ring out from your pony’s hooves
announce your path through the cloud forest”


She would always wait patiently for Xi Ming’s reply, playing a game with her imagination to extract an answer from the cinnamon scented air of her winter chamber.
      ‘He will think his pony’s hooves will flash with sparks kindling the fire of his passion as he prepares to meet his beloved’.
      ‘Oh such a wise cat, Xi Ming’, and she would press his warm body further into her lap. But today, as she imagined this dialogue, a second voice appeared in her thoughts.
      ‘Gracious Lady, your Xe Ming knows his under-standing is poor, his education weak, but surely this image, taken as it is from the poet Lu Ji, suggests how unlikely it would be for the spark of love and passion to take hold without nurture and care, impossible on a hard journey’.
       This was unprecedented. What had brought such a response from her imagination? And before she could elicit an answer it was as though Xe Ming spoke with these words of Confucius.

“Do not be concerned about others not appreciating you, be concerned about you not appreciating others”

Being the very sensible woman she was, Zuo Fen dismissed such admonition (from a cat) and called for tea.

Later as she walked her beauties by the frozen lake, the golden carp nosing around just beneath the ice, she recalled the moment and wondered. A thought came to her  . . .
       She would petition Xe Ming’s help to write a new rhapsody, perhaps titled Rhapsody on the Thought of Separation.

Both Zuo Fen’s cats came from her parental home in Lingzhi. They were large, big-***** mountain cats; strong animals with bear-like paws, short whiskered and big eared. Their coats were a glassy grey, the hairs tipped with a sprinkling of white giving the fur an impression of being wet with dew or caught by a brief shower.
       When she thought of her esteemed father, the Imperial Archivist, there was always a cat somewhere; in his study at home, in the official archives where he worked. There was always a cat close at hand, listening?
       What texts did her father know by heart that she did not know? What about the Lu Yu – the Confucian text book of advice and etiquette for court officials. She had never bothered to learn it, even read it seemed unnecessary, but through her brother Zuo Si she knew something of its contents and purpose.

Confucius was once asked what were the qualifications of public office. ‘Revere the five forms of goodness and abandon the four vices and you can qualify for public office’.
       For the life of her Zuo Fen could not remember these five forms of goodness (although she could make a stab at guessing them). As for those vices? No, she was without an idea. If she had ever known, their detail had totally passed from her memory.
       Settled once again in her chamber she called Hu Yin and asked her to remove Xi Ming for the night. She had three hours or so before the Emperor might appear. There was time.
        Xe Ming was by nature a distant cat, aloof, never seeking affection. He would look the other way if regarded, pace to the corner of a room if spoken to. In summer he would hide himself in the deep undergrowth of Zuo Fen’s garden.
       Tonight Zuo Fen picked him up and placed him on her left shoulder. She walked around her room stroking him gently with her small strong fingers, so different from the manicured talons of her colleagues in the Purple Palace. Embroidery, of which she was an accomplished exponent, was impossible with long nails.
       From her scroll cupboard she selected her brother’s annotated copy of the Lun Yu, placing it unrolled on her desk. It would be those questions from the disciple Tzu Chang, she thought, so the final chapters perhaps. She sat down carefully on the thick fleece and Mongolian rug in front of her desk letting Xe Ming spill over her arms into a space beside her.
       This was strange indeed. As she sat beside Xe Ming in the light of the butter lamps holding his flickering gaze it was as though a veil began to lift between them.
       ‘At last you understand’, a voice appeared to whisper,’ after all this time you have realised . . .’
      Zuo Fen lost track of time. The cat was completely motionless. She could hear Hu Yin snoring lightly next door, no doubt glad to have Xi Ming beside her on her mat.
      ‘Xe Ming’, she said softly, ‘today I heard you quote from Confucius’.
      The cat remained inscrutable, completely still.
      ‘I think you may be able to help me write a new poem for my Lord. Heaven knows I need something or he will tire of me and this court will cease to enjoy his favour’.
      ‘Xe Ming, I have to test you. I think you can ‘speak’ to me, but I need to learn to talk to you’.
      ‘Tzu Chang once asked Confucius what were the qualifications needed for public office? Confucius said, I believe, that there were five forms of goodness to revere, and four vices to abandon’.
       ‘Can you tell me what they are?’
      Xe Ming turned his back on Zuo Fen and stepped gently away from the table and into a dark and distant corner of the chamber.
      ‘The gentle man is generous but not extravagant, works without complaint, has desires without being greedy, is at peace, but not arrogant, and commands respect but not fear’.
      Zuo Fen felt her breathing come short and fast. This voice inside her; richly-texture, male, so close it could be from a lover at the epicentre of a passionate entanglement; it caressed her.
      She heard herself say aloud, ‘and the four vices’.
      ‘To cause a death or imprisonment without teaching can be called cruelty; to judge results without prerequisites can be called tyranny; to impose deadlines on improper orders can be thievery; and when giving in the procedure of receipt and disbursement, to stint can be called officious’.
       Xe Ming then appeared out of the darkness and came and sat in the folds of her night cloak, between her legs. She stroked his glistening fur.
       Zuo Fen didn’t need to consult the Lu Yu on her desk. She knew this was unnecessary. She got to her feet and stepped through the curtains into an antechamber to relieve herself.
       When she returned Xe Ming had assumed his porcelain figure pose. So she gathered a fresh scroll, her writing brushes, her inks, her wax stamps, and wrote:

‘I was born in a humble, isolated, thatched house,
and was never well versed in writing.
I never saw the marvellous pictures of books,
nor had I heard of the classics of earlier sages.
I am dimwitted, humble and ignorant . . ‘


As she stopped to consider the next chain of characters she saw in her mind’s eye the Purple Palace, the palace of the concubines of the Emperor. Sitting next to the Purple Chamber there was a large grey cat, its fur sprinkled with tiny flecks of white looking as though the animal had been caught in a shower of rain.
       Zuo Fen turned from her script to see where Xe Ming had got to, but he had gone. She knew however that he would always be there. Wherever her imagination took her, she could seek out this cat and the words would flow.

Before returning to her new text Zuo Fen thought she might remind herself of Liu Xie’s words on the form of the Rhapsody. If Emperor Wu appeared later she would quote it (to his astonishment) from The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons.

*The rhapsody derives from poetry,
A fork in the road, a different line of development;
It describes objects, pictures and their appearance,
With a brilliance akin to sculpture and painting.
What is clogged and confined it invariably opens up;
It depicts the commonplace with unbounded charm;
But the goal of the form is of beauty well ordered,
Words retained for their loveliness when weeds have been cut away.
O stony grey soil of Monaghan

The laugh from my love you thieved;

You took the gay child of my passion

And gave me your clod-conceived.



You clogged the feet of my boyhood

And I believed that my stumble

Had the poise and stride of Apollo

And his voice my thick tongued mumble.



You told me the plough was immortal!

O green-life conquering plough!

The mandril stained, your coulter blunted

In the smooth lea-field of my brow.



You sang on steaming dunghills

A song of cowards' brood,

You perfumed my clothes with weasel itch,

You fed me on swinish food



You flung a ditch on my vision

Of beauty, love and truth.

O stony grey soil of Monaghan

You burgled my bank of youth!



Lost the long hours of pleasure

All the women that love young men.

O can I stilll stroke the monster's back

Or write with unpoisoned pen.



His name in these lonely verses

Or mention the dark fields where

The first gay flight of my lyric

Got caught in a peasant's prayer.



Mullahinsa, Drummeril, Black Shanco-

Wherever I turn I see

In the stony grey soil of Monaghan

Dead loves that were born for me.
Carlos Molina Mar 2013
Can't sleep, it's always the same.
I get to my room, exhausted, lie in my bed,
Close my eyes and the Sleepless Fairy
decides to take the reins of the situation.

Maybe if I go to my computer and surf for a while
I could doze off. Maybe I'll go out and have a cigarette
to calm the Fairy. No, this insomnia is different. I can't fix it
with simple solutions.

This wakefulness is not due to the anxiety of an exam,
or the diffidence I have for that one girl I can't get out
of my head. This insomnia is that small sparkle of
uncertainty that has abounded my mind for a long time.
That feeling of vagueness, of yearning. Yearning of what?
I don't know.

It is simply that feeling that I'm missing something,
whatever it is. I go around the whole day in my mind,
what am I missing? What am I forgetting?

During the day I'm acquiescent, lucid, happy.
But come night... time to go to bed.
Time to perform the daily check for recent events.
Catalog the occurrences with different feelings,
accommodated to their respective memories.

But there's something missing.

I curse the Fairy and its 1001 tricks that keep me
awake and conscious about that which is in the
subconscious.

Will the day come when the Fairy shows up no more?

As long as that feeling is housed in me, like a parasite
clogged on its new victim, the Fairy will keep visiting.
Slur pee Oct 2016
Drain this rain from my head,
The flood is rising and my eyes are ******.
Thoughts trapped away in wonderland,
Abandoned by the trace of wonderment.
This tissued space is closing in,
I can feel it tear and hemorrhage.
Rivers of red flowing through wrinkles,
Ivory bones crumple and crinkle.
I'll sit alone, on a dusty throne
Inside of my clogged up skull.

-SLuR
alex Mar 2016
the words are water
and they flow,
and they flow,
and they flow,
and they also             get clogged.

the days where
imagination swirls in your head
and there's a nonstop thrum of a drum resting inside
because your mouth is shut,
unable to puke it out,
and the days where
your hands are dry,
pens inkless;

the days where you feel dead,
the days where you
read the title again once you've reached the end.
Valentine Mbagu Oct 2013
As October 1 approaches, HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY……………………
I have enormous tracts of land and vast volumes of water, but cannot feed myself.
So I spend $1 billion to import rice and another $2 billion on milk.
I produce rice, but don’t eat it. I have millions of cows but no milk.
I am 53, please celebrate me.
I drive the best cars in the world but have no roads,
so I crush my best brains in the caverns,
craters and crevasses they crash into daily.
I am in unending mourning, please celebrate me.
My school has no teacher and my classroom has no roof.
I take lectures through windows and live with 15 others in one room.
All my professors have gone abroad, and the rest are awaiting visas.
I am a university graduate, but I am illiterate. I want a future, please celebrate me.
Preventable diseases send me to hospitals without doctors, medicines or power.
All the nurses have gone abroad and the rest are waiting to go also.
I have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in the world;
and future generations are dying before me. I am hopeless, hapless and helpless,
please celebrate me.
For democracy’s sake I stood all day on Election Day.
But before I could ink my thumb, results had been broadcast.
When I dared to speak out, silence was enthroned by bullets.
My leaders are my oppressors, and my policemen are my terrors.
I am ruled by men in mufti, but I am not a democracy.
I have no verve, no vote, no voice, please celebrate me.
My youth have no past, present nor future.
So my sons in the North have become street urchins;
and his brothers in the South have become kidnappers.
My nephews die of thirst in the Sahara and his cousins drown in the Mediterranean.
My daughters walk the streets of Lagos , Abuja and Port Harcourt;
while her sisters parade the streets of Rome and Amsterdam .
I am grief-stricken, please celebrate me.
Pen-wielding bandits have raided everything in my vaults.
They walk the land with haughty strides and fly the skies with private planes
They have looted the future of generations unborn;
and have money they cannot spend in several lifetimes,
but their brothers die of starvation. I want a kit of kindness, please celebrate me.
I can produce anything, but import everything.
So my toothpick is made in China; my toothpaste is made in South Africa;
my salt is made in Ghana; my butter is made in Ireland;
my milk is made in Holland; my shoe is made in Italy;
my vegetable oil is made in Malaysia* my biscuit is made in Indonesia;
my chocolate is made in Turkey and my table water made in France.
My taste is far-flung and foreign, please celebrate me.
My land is dead because all the trees have been cut down;
flooding kills thousands yearly because the drainages are clogged;
my fishes are dead because the oil companies dump waste in my rivers;
my communities are vanishing into the huge yawns of gully erosion, and nothing is being done.
My very existence is uncertain and I am in the deepest depths of despondence, please celebrate me.
I have genuine leather but choose to eat it.
So I spend billions of dollars to import fake leather.
I have four refineries, but prefer to import fuel,
so I waste more billions to import petrol. I have no security in my country,
but send troops to keep peace in another man’s land.
I have hundreds of dams, but no water.
So I drink ‘pure’ water that roils my innards.
I need a vision, please celebrate me.
I have a million candidates craving to enter universities,
but my dungeons can only accommodate a tenth.
I have no power, but choose to flare gas,
so my people have learnt to see in the dark and stare at the glare of Unclad flares.
I am shrouded by darkness, please celebrate me.
For my golden jubilee,
I shall spend 16 billion naira to bash around the bonfires of the banal.
So what if the majority gaze at my possessed, frenzied dance;
drenched in silent tears, as probity is enslaved in democracy’s empty cellars?
I am profligacy personified, please celebrate me.
Why can I not simply reflect and ponder?
Does my complexion cloud the colour of my character?
Does my location limit the lengths my liberty?
Does the spirit of my conviction shackle my soul
Does my mien maim the mine of my mind?
And is failure worth celebrating?
I AM NIGERIAN, PLEASE CELEBRATE ME.
I dedicate this Poem to my Country Nigeria On Her Independence Celebration.
xx Jan 2015
The night's too cold
The fog just clogged
The moon's up high
I forgot it's December

The wind took me
To my bed sheets
I curled, it's cold
I forgot it's December

I can't think of
Words to defy
Why I just keep
Forgetting it's December

I can't find it
Searched everywhere
The place that brings
Cold nights when it's December

I saw your face
Two teardrops raced
So warm but cold
I forgot it's December

Just now I found
You are the word
The reason why
I forgot it's December

I saw the place
Of cold embrace
It was my heart
In the night of December

I remember
Sweet and bitter
Yes, it didn't last
I lost you last December
Ian Cairns Dec 2013
I was raised by a man with broad shoulders and a gentle heart
A sign that my strengths would reside above my waistline
I learned to stand up straight at an early age
Not necessarily to improve my posture like my father had intended
But I believed looking into his eyes would give me an all-access pass to manhood
And by double digits I wanted to reciprocate his masculinity
Nothing would have harmonized my earlobes like the words- You're a man now son

As I grew taller, I finally met the spheres into my father's soul
And much to my surprise, they screamed a sadder melody than I had anticipated
They leaned on crutches, crippled by societal catastrophes
Their stories- captives to cultural constraints
They stared at me blindly as if my presence was backbreaking
My heart was crushed as my father's shoulders shook
And the strengths I once desired were now fossilized by fear

To be a man -society grunts so effortlessly- is to be masculine
And since masculinity and success are socially synonymous
Obviously, success cannot be established without perfection or aggression or oppression

To be a man is to be unbreakable
Because the slightest wrinkle in armor alludes to inability
And combat is unavoidable regardless of swordsmanship

To be a man is to be rigid
Because being fixed in outdated traditions is far easier
Than challenging for innovative conditions

To be a man is to be emotionless
Because passion is pathetic
Sensitivity strikes the community as instability, not authenticity

To be a man is to be strong
Because strength means maintaining control and independence
Not establishing dependability or acceptance

Masculinity still towers over little boys just like me
Presenting textbook answers for real world problems
Masculinity is a skyscraper imposing its will on innocent civilians
By replacing sunlight with systematic shadows
And ripping shooting stars right out of the sky
Masculinity forms internal thunderstorms harboring havoc
For individuals that need more than rainfall for adequate growth
We are not shrubbery photosynthesizing our thoughts into energy
We are not born to throw our feelings into sealed vaults
Our genuine intentions deserve to be delivered on silver platters

Gender roles are one way streets clogged by oncoming traffic
Mirrored headlights approaching complete chaos
There are no maps to point you down the right path
There is no right path
There is no right path
Only roadblocks inhibiting you from any type of progress
Life is meant to be traveled on unmarked ground
Where men and women alike regulate the steering wheel regardless of society's traffic laws
And I long for the day when my son or daughter looks up to me
The day when my son or daughter stands up straight
Looks me in my eyes and sees a portrait painted differently
A soul actualizing strength, not personifying ingenuity
Mikoarenas Feb 2016
I'm haunted by the thoughts that the fur ***** on my sweater will never meets yours again.
I might not show that I care but trust me I do
I probably shouldn't even say this because you won't believe it to be true
I don't want to as much as you but I can't hold my feelings back anymore.
I'm so sorry that I have to say this but I miss you.

Just hug me one more time so I can get it out of my system.
It ended in a flash so these chemicals haven't had their chance to leave.

I can't do it myself so please help.
I've gone weak and emotionless and I don't know what to do anymore.
I've stopped crying and it's weird because that use to be a daily routine.
Am I getting better? Or am I getting worse?
I use to be able to tell but now that I can't feel anymore, I'm not sure anymore.

So please hug me and help me so I can flush these chemicals and not feel clogged anymore.
nisha soliyha Jul 2016
His mind is all clogged up with excruciating thoughts,
and as he screams in agony, he knows no one could hear.
For those who did, they are what you call demons.
Those demons that stayed in him, and those that lingers around him.

He's lost and he's trapped in his own dark world, and no one is there to help.
Sydney Ann Feb 2015
Writer's block has clogged my mental pores
Oily ignorance I cannot ignore
Technology is fogging up my mind
Leaving me no time to unwind

I looked in the mirror today
And guess what I saw

My ugly, stunted imagination's face
Full of gross digital zits
I'm really starting to miss
My former wit
I've got to get out of this keyboard-y place
it was warm
for a winters eve
unusually warm
but damp very damp
birthing a persistent
midnight mist that
crawled over everything

avenging
halogen angels
flitted down from
streetlight perches
skidding through
bare limb bars
of broken trees
roped in by sagging
telephone wires

skulking
seraphs
joined
ebullient
neon auroras
laughingly
brake dancing,
jittering away on the
pock marked rims
of hip hop streets

the fine drizzle
descending from the
black urban heavens
splayed holy water
over the bodies
of anything
that moved; and
layered mounds
of transparent beads
on all inert things
chiding those yolked
to weighty burdens
to seek relief of
a much needed
breaking point

our
slouching city
mired in a cycle
of a prolonged
historical rut
beavers away
to lift the lid
on tomorrows
tipping point
in a desperate
labor to stop
tripping over
itself...

a dinged up
Sentra’s
flashing spinners
twisted round
our dark corner
nearly clipping
our troop

inside the
yakking low-riders
scuttled along,
their hidden ***** eyes
cruising the stoops
and cyclone alleys
scoping opportunities
for the next
jolly hustle
to feed
a growing
angry fix

tonight
Mother Nature was
running a *****
to the wall third shift,
manufacturing a
stationary low
of gagging precip
churning volumes
of Vulcan smoke
conjuring
convective spirits
from all the
dim places

emanations lit
the balmy January air
rising from
stubborn gray patches
of despoiled snow
and rancid ponds
organic gutter water
composting
in distilled pools
awaiting leakage
through flotsam
clogged sewage grids

Paterson’s
litter police
could close the
city’s budget deficit
if all infractions
were properly cited
and paid in this
neighborhood

this queer elixir of
rising vapors from
evaporating snow
escaping the cracks
lining the bowels of
mordant streets
joining descending
screens of billowing mists
blurs boundaries of light,
diffusing temporal time

people and things
lose precise definition
reducing sentient beings
to moving silhouettes of gray
photographic negatives
framed in dribbling palettes
of pastel hues

our
5th Ward mission
planted in the
hub of a neighborhood
still holding on...

Old WASP’s
of St. Paul’s
long ago
winged away
from this
princely
Episcopate
principality

the abandoned
conical nest, its
chambers filled with
the mud of 50 dead rectors
precariously clings
to its shivering
boulevard corner

its endowment depleted
its earthly treasure rusting
grandiose Tiffany windows
remain the last legacy of an
opulent faith now
shamefully rattling away
in moth eaten frames

once icons of
adulatory reverence
the final sparkling asset
of a distressed religion
begs to be monetized
by flummoxed vestrymen
yearning to extend
a stewardship
over a dissipating
ESL flock

distress in the hood
parades down Broadway
in all directions

a few blocks east
a shuttered
Barnert Hospital
transfigured into an
urban enterprise zone
for health-care privateers
working overtime to
extract federal
corporate welfare
rent subsidies
dutifully fulfilling
fine print obligations of
Obamacare legislation

Old Mayor Barnert’s
namesake synagogue
once hard by
City Hall
is long gone
its absent footprint
now centered by
a thriving
White Castle

near Broadway’s end
on the outskirts
of Eastside Park
Art Deco Emanuel Temple
the last anchor
for the city’s Judaism
lies vacant
awaiting a renewed
purpose

fraught with irony
a thriving Islamic Center
stands juxtaposed
across the street
from the old
Hebrew Temple

we wonder what
will emerge
from the
hallowed chrysalis
of decommissioned
Emanuel?

rumors of a
Great Falls Art Center
trickle like a leaking faucet
failure to secure a mortgage
in the post credit
bubble pop economy
dams the possibly
of a new centers
coming to fruition

will
the city’s
changing
demography of
reverent Muslim’s
genuflecting
across the street
take time away
from prayer to
patronize a venue
offering decadent
bourgeois jazz and
risqué reviews
of retro Borscht Belt
vaudeville?

when Constantinople
became Istanbul they
converted the Christian
churches into mosques

when the Inquisitioners
drove the Moors from
Granada they converted
the Grand Mosque to
the Cathedral of the
Incarnation

what incarnations
will this city’s
twilight bring?

As Byzantine
begets
Constantinople
begets
Istanbul
the links
in the Silk Road
spanned west
to the new world
of mechanized looms
powered by
Great Falls
raceway water
and a distribution
and procurement
chain anchored
by the Morris Canal

Capitalist
modernity
begets
our Silk City
it also bespeaks
its demise

in the courtyard
of St. Paul’s
a muffled chorus
trawls the thick air

a posse of pimps
done wrangling
their stables
of $5 ******
sing reveries to
the evening haul

midnight lullabies
of corner crooners
lift a Capella hosannas
from the dark armpit
of an alley behind
the Autozone

“i said
you say
what can make
me feel this way
my girl”

juiced pimps
cashin in
livin large on
a skanks
50 cent haul

the trade in flesh
of distressed
human capital
remains a
growth industry

Music Selection:  
Temptations, My Girl

jbm
3/1/13
Oakland
Part 1 of extended poem Silk City PIT.  PIT is an acronym for Point In Time.  PIT is an annual census American cities conduct to count the homeless population.  Paterson NJ is nick named The Silk City.
Michael W Noland Aug 2012
2 better days
of better ways
too bigger dreams
in better words
to the express
of my renditions
in wish-less missions
to infringe in fantasy
as i write out the years
of fearless tears
and scream
in happiness
and chant
of the blasphemers
laugh
in the murmurs
of drunken
entrepreneurs
admiring
sewer structures
plucking
the sutures
of my missed maneuvers
clueless
in my bruise-less
cutsss
toofwisss
and still strutting my luck
in abrupt
catastrophes
compliant
to the clause
of impunity
to rhyme-less scrutiny
to sooth the dream
for today
bolstering
the blame
of melancholy messiahs
playing pariah
on xbox
they gonna fry ya
through savvy ****** talk
with their mouth on your ****
but their ears on the block
to fulfill the onslaught
of a distraught
goofball
in lock
about to drop
calm
in happy bombs
of debilitating
shock
you cannot
talk
when you are
smiling
you cannot galk
when you are
smiling
violently
happy
with ******
knives
fixed to enrich
the lives
of the many
i have plenty
in the trunk
just bend down
and look
ill blend in the boom
of bass
thump
ding
the second thump
closes the trunk
strap up
with me
be blunt
don't want
a ninja on the run
in the sun
of reputation
1 finger away
from
nation-less
the mostest patientest
lyrifi$t
a bu3ro$hit
to 0bl1terat3
the glUt3nou$
of thy most muTtonest
of ch0ps
i cropp3d
the plopp1ng rainb0ws
of raindrop$
and Stopped  .
thE hoPped up ho0ligaNnry
of my N1njary
in my socks
sometimes i rock
but mostly not
i wont stop
until outlined
in chalk
until the froth
from my lips
blinds me
in trips
crossed
with a 5th
into thine own
obscurity
from the groan
of maturity
and the **** flapping
of insecurity
i try lyrically
to be free
and stop rhyming
at least stop whining
just trying
to do my thing
dost thou heart not sing
when im plowed
within the silver lining
devout
with a little shining
came hither
to where the sliding turned to slithering
delivering
my ministry
of infantry
infamously
into comedy
applauding me
in my idiocy
its daunting
in simplicity
marinade me
in a massacre
or a major disaster
watch me blow my ***
in haughty claims
of clogged
alpha/beta waves
enslaved
to a pre paid card
and charged
for helping a man up
in a corrupt
city of butts
entrusting
my paychecks to the *****
of never was
im riding the short bus
until she blushed
and brushed
the *** from her mouth
im gross
a little weirder than most
i boast
in defeat
i facebook
over tweet
as if there be a choice
as i crumple
the invoice
and rejoice
in knowing
i know nothing
i'm [Esc@ping]
Viromnibus Oct 2014
The world where I stood was a desert
thirsty for a pint of rain;
longing for a kiss that never came.
Not until you did.

Everything started with a droplet of your essence,
Out of nowhere. Unexpected.
YOU... yes you MANIFESTED.
Without notice, you took me by surprise.
A beautiful surprise I say.
For the first time in a while I felt,
my worries washed away by your presence.
Hot sand turned mud where then I lay.

In those moments I lost,
all anxieties brought by drought.
When through the years I thought
I'd never touch the rain I ought
to ardently pray for every night.
Imbued I was with your* "love".

clothes soaked. body wet. soul drunk.

your name the promise I mutter through the drizzle.
This body jived to the beat of a million sizzle.

Moments passed faster than it seemed.
I, taken away by lust of a parched soul.


I slurped. I gulped. I glugged.

as much as I could, never thinking of
what I would drink in the latter.
When the land runs dry;
when then again,
I'm deprived of water.

So then, what caught me by surprise,
left without a word... woah,
SURPRISE!
everything turned back the way it was;
an arid heart in a blink of an eye.

But what makes me wonder is this delusive sense,
of your cooling touch amidst this false pretense;


I smell–
Your scent stick to my chest like perfume odour.
My nostrils clogged with the aroma of your neck.
A waft that distorts the senses of this
consumed man.

Thoughts of you linger long after you are gone...
*Like the fragrance of rain that stays after the downpour.
A poem
for her.
or maybe
for myself.

#MovedOn
SDC Sep 2014
I took Death out to dinner last night,
dressed up
in my favorite costume.
Dripping diamonds
and champagne tear-ducts--
I clogged my pores
with soggy make-up.

We wined and dined
and wore out our shoes--
I told him my secrets
He nodded and listened.

We shuffled down side-streets
and looked into mirrors--
I shivered in darkness
He drew me in nearer.

His body a bone-yard
Lovely but broken--
I heard his soft breath
I felt fingers stroking.

But crawling back homeward
Aching and tired--
We parted by day-fall
I watched him shrink inward.

With farewell promises
to meet again soon--
I swallowed the sunrise,
I cursed out the moon.
2014
wehttam Jun 2014
May be I’ll start writing, today.  
The story of Zen Zero.

I realized that all good things come to an end.  The tears, the affairs, and even the faintest revelation about my relationship to the Emperor of Japan.  I’ll need help and... well, the truth can be tolled.  It can be that the faintest belief, that we as free people are subject to the king, our God.
A king stands in truth as our kin.  The love that has existed for a thousand years, about justice, permanence, and legend are here.
It all started 7 years ago.  According to the book of John, the 3rd book.  The face of his majesty does have an Imperial Guardian.  In any colour, red, black, blue, white, and even green.  Each color resembles the color of trust.  
I started training in the Emperor's garden at the age of negative 6.  Before my mother can conceive her unborn child in a marriage.  Like the burning of Shin Cho' Palace.  
"Oh, how they forget so quickly, the truth?" says my mother.
They forget so quickly the majesty and power of the Emperor's memory of Mother Japan.  In his Majesty's eyes, how many lovers stir the colors of benevolence.  Where and when does it exist and stop for us as an American patriot sold to slavery for spy’s.  All of his subjects do will and listen to the cry of patience in his family’s quarters.  
My father at the time of his marriage did not know the Emperor's name, I had asked my mother in her heart if she knew the king.  They are no longer married.  They had tried to burn down the Emperor's Palace with a marriage.  But I had already existed, in the love of my family at a wedding joining men and women.  I remember some singing, all though in my mother’s ears, really bad singing. In her head or mine at the wedding, whichever is greater.  Maybe the song was worthless or was the singer already lifting her fingers to strike matches on the bamboo fortress of the young emperor.  
They have had many statesmen destroy the dream that Japan has.  Through lies, corruption, and *******.  Each of the last three I had to conquer to be his Majesty's Justice.  I did not earn the right to judge any such subject or people, it was given freely at that time to children.  I had learned to love the Emperor, even in my own desire to please him and her.  
The lies were towering revelations about the coming of man in God's kingdom, and how the will of imperial veils never existed for the properties of mankind.  The corruption was the setting of dowers or dowries for the subject of lost families, in the forbearance of lucher escaped only by the luck of liars.  And then the dreams of revelry, owned by the ungodly and chaste men of the burning palace, whether sediscious, or whether the fables absolving time in the palace to a judgment had already met the Emperor.  
All of the priests (pre-ests) had to pray; for the remaining time of eternity, for the true judgment of his Majesty's subjects. It was to be taken from the subject of srys to the Emperor's Knight.  
To many were lost in the munitions of war.  Laws that govern and sanction truths were not available to those of absolute corruption.  Stalwarts, stonewallers, and stoners were becoming of the anti-gentry.  The laws were never to be discouraged by zeal, or by trial.  The laws had to represent the ability of love to change time even if the object of factions destroyed the old way.  They had taken the truth to prepare Neoteny for where the first Imperial Guard had placed his head.  The first Imperial Guard, that I became before birth had taken his own head with a weapon made by treason.  
My mother’s dress was made out of spider silk.  A giant spider played Chinese checkers with the Imperial Guard for my head also.  Never the less, the palace, this time was not burned.  The dress was made out of falling stars and spiders silk.  She had found the Emperor's tailor and traded my soul for the wedding.  The pictures that were retrieved from the wedding of my mother and father have ruminated in antiquity since the time until by birth my life.  The seers and srys wanted my head to take up the Emperor's chalice.  His cup, filled with my blood, Simian blood.  
I did not want to go through with it, birth and death before becoming subject to royalty.  Seeing the world before consummation, as I had was never thought of, it was seen as impossible unless by treason we had chided a woman of royalty.  
I have seen the last major asteroid go through our galaxy before it had ever had been a present particle of mutiny.   It proved to the child (myself) in gestation, between man woman at the wedding that time will pass just as quickly before my mind’s eye as it had at the day of Pentecost.   More than 500 billon people were to be saved by God rather than by a humble dismantling of a defense lawyer.
I had seen how flowers are made by tiny Zen Zero bumble bees going to and leaving from daisies and roses, and orchids.  How each seed takes roots and as do the munitions for treason and tears; how each man whom chooses to change their name because of treason begins to understand change when his wife chooses his name.  (The reference is to Zero attacks, suicide attacks.)  How the time and life and essence of life begins in literacy as a language of love.  Every old man on earth can help me write the scripts, but can the country of old men help me change the prophet?
As long as there is war in the palace there will be treason?
The spirit of the samurai was trying the youth in the palace.  From the first born male to the last lady in quixic geisha.  All uniques were to be placed before the Lord for appointment.  Any dreams of or visions of truth were a breach of solemnity lost by the virginity of the family.  The parents of each state were subjects to the Emperor's people, and to the chosen for freedom and slavery.  How many shining knights were to remain in the Emperor's house?  The uniqueness was subject only to the reason of the generation of the age.  Not many of my men had anything left after the life of the quill or pen of the Knight Meteyi had begun to take its place with the heads of loyalists.  His sword remains in the hand of the Majesty of Japan.  No knowledge, no lore, no president, no kin, or liars can stop his reign.  As if the last days of our youth were spent dismantling the bombs we had made during the last few battles over crude extravagance.  Oil, crops, metals, space, as space became a way to admire men in statehood was the example of treason to the following.  Democrats and Republicans began to try as is a trail of laws to and from changes for the people without a loyal subject to observe in service to a Nation.  Freed men became a bureau of Federally Bureaucratic Investigative subjections.  Whether the phone would sense its use and had no service.  Men tried by srys had needed no way to communicate, they were objects, objections, and objective to democracies.  Any and all of the western knowledge of good or evil was not earned in monasteries, it was as it were seen in-between a marriage of a man and a woman and the consummation of the first born to be the king in his own mind. Centrally, intelligence and agency became a lost paradox.  The palace could be burned through neoteny, the truly lost man or woman had to be part of the worm.  The earthworm had to dig up the lost and the prophet from its own humanly death.  

Chapter 2
The dress as simple as it was, was taken off and laid in a box for saving.  It was to travel through time in the Emperor's Palace to serve has a mold, a pattern for quilting lovers of the family tree through the history of love.  After the child was conceived in love, the dress is worn and then placed back into the box for time travel. From a generation of mothers to another generation of lovers. No man was to wear the dress as an idea, thought or wisdom.  The reproach, the dress, and the marriage is virtue encoded into a structure of life   The wisest man let the Emperor dream life into the belly of prophets through the dress.  The smartest scientist understood the impeccable reason of lust and gave all to his bride for the grave that the earthworm had trusted.  The publican had the dress made as a dowry to the tribe of Roman man.  And the Emperor breathed life into the woman with a few breaths at the wedding.  The subjects, the publicans had tried the Emperor for their bride, by making the flowers lean toward their lovers.  They had tried to tell the knight of the Emperor's Palace that the sun had also retired due to mutiny in the ranks and castes of statesmen.  The son will bend light into the palace of wisdom, and the subjects do grieve the stories from prophets.  
At exactly 10:03 central eastern standard time, the states men forgave themselves of suicide and left to burn the palace.  
Each dressed as royalists.  The burning of Chinju Palace is the last thing I remember before giving up to the sound of a 3 or 4 year old woman singing.  The next thing I remember is being dropped on the floor in the delivery room to a rattle and brattle of childish whims.  Like, the sound of laughter, but only as a fury of deceit, the singer was hurt when I had asked her to join the wedding ceremony.  She excused herself of the ceremony as was or were not subjects to the birth of the kings men in harmony.  

She tried, and wanted to steal the dress.  

Chapter 3
There was mostly nothing in the womb. Except Dogma.  My father, as dogma.  He would whisper to her in bed and they would giggle about never understanding anything ever again.  I excepted NAME for my name.  They didn’t know if a boy or a girl were to be born.  I could know the difference at the time of their conversation.  I then realized that the 3 years prior to conception were perfect.  And I, the Emperor's Knight, was tolled.  Tolled the way bells sound and the way people love to hear the news.  The way light has no existence in the womb, I was tolled the way Sandalphon treaded upon the tribe of Israel.  
Lying was not invented yet, well,... while in the womb, but I had heard some whispers in the darkness.  The camera couldn't fit in, I called and tolled the camera from the womb, in between to friends.  I called the camera, Dragon.  The dragon is the trust moving in-between true and time.  The Dragon, Meteyi had told me that we were going to write everything.  From the believe that martial arts were stronger than prayer, and to the reason that it was not true.  Factually, there was nothing but prayer and no martial artist had a sword bigger than the lie of the Emperor's dragon.  The dragon said, to my father,..."The world is to die for, and not enough."  The dragon also said to my mother,..."The purpose is in your belly as a rainbow in disgust."  He, the dragon almost couldn’t believe that I had mentioned to hymn that there was no way out of this without a dream so relax and let me fit in.  The doctor had to have heard of the loyalist dream of a birth right.  Basically, I didn’t want him to slap me for the first breath.  I hurt bad, like out of a sarcastic Scotlandish parody.  Many, many, many, men quit trying to go through the sry after that.  My mother creeped up to me after my kin had asked the doctor to pick me up off of the floor.  She smiled and handed the birth certificate to the nurse and read my social security number to my father on the phone, he was on duty at the Air Force Base.  My ears were still clogged with seminal fluid, but I could feel her dream a name into my soul.  She can know the Emperor's knight.  After a few moments, my cry as chide by the Emperor, into being a whisper of life.  From that moment on in my life, I could not cry ever, as a child cries.  Otherwise I could be a whisper.

Chapter 4
Every chance at change that had gotten to us was used by running from the dragon.  He liked Batman and hated Robin but new to fathers, knew that hatred kept something’s safe from the palace. The palace could never get filled by whispers.  The whispers only object to democracy and help the camera.  The daguerreotype was possibly the only thing that couldn’t lie.  It was considered lye to gossip worshipers.  Gossip may have started the war on bugs.  Like bugs in ceaseless noise are prayer or whispers, like gossip.  When bugs stop whispering, some seemingly are bad with superstition and others are horrible with bugs.  
The next few years, were also perfect.  I had no idea who else, I could be.  Absolutely perfect, the Emperor subjected us to love.  I could **** all day, eat as much as I wanted and was warned when they thought, like a whisper.  When it was time to eat, when it was time to bath and when it was time to be quiet and sleep were similar to whispers.  Diapers were not invented yet, I had to invent them.  My mother used to get sick from the pain of laundry and sleeping with me.  When the diapers were *****, she wash them and place them back on my ****.  Like a good, palace guardian, I used them up.  The new diapers had an air of mutiny to them, the disposable ones.  We never kept trash in the house.  The signs that we have had a king for dinner were never to be seen, but everyone had the right to change pants.  
Many of the ideas in life shared before birth were not existent after birth.  It was not until my family had meet the Emperor that... we needed to love God by learning to pray.  

Chapter 5
When we met the Emperor, it was easy to say that no whispers were used.  Other things were.  A memory, not a book was here.  There was no time, the palace he made for me was from God and a lot of people wanted in.  The Royal subject was the Emperor's first knight, my father's.  I had to memorize time, which in turn was not mine.  The actual Emperor thought, that I, am a poet of sorts.  We spelled the word memory in the sky together without words, whispers, or gossip.  The next few years were spent dyeing as tap or a drill bit would being to make a hole for fastening life to the surface of my families.  Called a tap and die, the whole of life must be treaded through time without a spry attempt to vacancy.  After the Emperor, my mother and father did not know that meeting the pope was bad.   The Emperor is good.  

Chapter 6
Mainly my ability to learn, had started to fail.  There was not need to have ability.  But walking was hard.  When I stood, I was pushed through, walking.  Like a battle of balance and superstition.  Crawling had no sense, being picked up made things silly.  When wanting to be here, and not knowing how to get there through crawling, here I was a a chubby fat knight.  Father used lemons on my taste buds and cracked when he knew not how I loved them.  He had to make work to pay bills and I learned that without a whisper.  So we would sh
Chapter 8 to follow after inspection.
Marian Oct 2012
Part I

The house is as haunted as its name,
The house really isn’t the same!
The people in it are dead and gone,
The trees and bushes are not cut;
There is a graveyard past the woodshed hut.

The graveyard is covered with leaves and moss,
Leaves that the wind has tossed,
To be tossed again no more;
One day like them in the sky I’ll soar;
Only to be known as them no more.

The rain is streaming down,
And there they are lying safe and sound,
While the rain beside them pours all around.

Low! A car pulls up to the house,
Yet there they are still lying as quiet as a mouse,
The lightning flashes and hits the ground;
With a loud and bellowing sound;
Yet the still it do not hear;
Even though it is loud and clear.

Why can’t you it hear?
Don’t you know its loud and clear?
We are the dead do you expect us to hear,
The things that to you sound loud and clear?
We are the dead and you are alive and you can hear things we can’t,
Don’t you know you’re waking the dead? Go away you little scant.

The rain is coming down in torrents,
Yet there they are lying dormant;
I thought this house would look better in Spring,
But no, not even when the birds begin to sing.
                                                        
­Part II

There is darkness everywhere,
There is lightning in the air;
There the lady ghost sits in her chair,
Look at the car sitting by the house over there.
The skeleton in the locked trunk,
By now hath stunk,
Until he could stink no more. . .
In that trunk sitting by the attic door.

Is he the dead that must be respected like the others,
Fathers, daughters, husbands, wives, and Mothers?

Must we be so quiet as a mouse,
That we aren’t heard in that dark old house?

Must we so soon go away?
And never again here we stay?

There is an air of creepiness about the place,
And they that are buried there do not run the humane race.

They were cold ever since that night,
When their family saw and told the sight.

Yet they so alive alive seem,
To me it is but a dream,
While I sit beside the clogged up stream
This place is haunted, I could scream!
Yet I keep it all in,
I can hear that dead old hen,
Still clucking her evening song,
Almost all the night long.

And while she’s dead I know she’s not,
It was her I loved a lot!

The big old rooster isn’t here though to scare her anymore,
Perching up on his perch behind the door,
He was a Rode Island Red,
And he isn’t here because the butcher cut his head
"I am so sorry," now I said.

      *
__Marian__
Matthew Aug 2014
There was a
girl, girl
dyed her
hair, hair
got
red, red
got every-
where.

Her hair
bled, bled
down the
drain, drain
clogged
up, up
the red came
again.

She tried to
keep, keep
her passion
tame, tame
the
beast, beast,
who always
stained.

But after many
nights, nights
spent al-
one, one
drove her
out, out
of her
home.

She followed
him, him
and his white
shirt, shirt
got red
quick, quick
-ly he was
hurt.

She tried to
flee, flee
so he could
live, live
a happy
life, life
without
strife.

but,

The man
smiled, smiled
a pinkish
grin, grin
-ning because his
hair, hair
was her's
twin, twin
hair was
blue, blue
like the
sea, see
his hair runs
too,
and
two
plus one makes a purple
family.
There is a specific type of poem that has lines that begin and end with the same words. I completely forget what it is called, but this is sorta that sort of thing.
m Feb 2018
;fear

We felt it, with our hands pressed tightly against our child-chests.
Boom
Boom
Boom.

It sounded nothing like a heartbeat,
But explosions being let off in the distance.
And it smelt nothing like fear,
It smelt like sweat and dried ***** caked onto torn pajama pants.

We grew to know the insides of our mouths,
with our soft gums clutched between our teeth -
We learned that our voices were safer kept stowed away there.

We picked at their hands like we picked at our scabs,
Because pulling off healing skin,
felt like pulling off a rooted burn,
And prying off desperate fingers from off our bones,
Meant prying off something that terrified us.

This was our strength;
This was our paralysis.

We felt it, with our ears pushed against the door,
Please
Please
Please

It sounded nothing like a pleading mother
But warm air, creeping through vents with a sudden force.
And it smelt nothing like fear,
It smelt of fresh blood, kissing the lips of a weeping woman.

We worshipped knives like they worshiped our baby-soft skin,
Because cutting open ourselves meant cutting out what they left inside,
And watching the filth flee
down our wrists, down our knees,
Felt like draining water
Out of a clogged tub.


It felt nothing life fear
It smelt nothing like decay
It was a continual clutch of the knife against their throats

This one's for you, daddy
Puff Jan 2015
Our bodies moved together like a coil of love drunk lies. Together we made sure that everyone knew of our existence . We clogged the air with moan filled whispers and cleansed the floors with our sweat drenched bodies. The star light sky's became our infinite kingdom.
Non existent memories.
Irate Watcher Sep 2014
The definition of evolution
is survival of the fittest,
or those that fit best
in their environment,
even if its air
is hydrogen
they breathe it and
strain polluted water
for particulates.
The atmosphere's
clogged with smog
and greenhouse gases
I have not evolved
to breathe yet.
Flames melt my
soul for consciousness.

The world is a
popularity contest,
and I just don't fit in.
In memoriam
C. T. W.
Sometime trooper of the Royal Horse Guards
obiit H.M. prison, Reading, Berkshire
July 7, 1896

I

He did not wear his scarlet coat,
For blood and wine are red,
And blood and wine were on his hands
When they found him with the dead,
The poor dead woman whom he loved,
And murdered in her bed.

He walked amongst the Trial Men
In a suit of shabby grey;
A cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay;
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every drifting cloud that went
With sails of silver by.

I walked, with other souls in pain,
Within another ring,
And was wondering if the man had done
A great or little thing,
When a voice behind me whispered low,
‘That fellow’s got to swing.’

Dear Christ! the very prison walls
Suddenly seemed to reel,
And the sky above my head became
Like a casque of scorching steel;
And, though I was a soul in pain,
My pain I could not feel.

I only knew what hunted thought
Quickened his step, and why
He looked upon the garish day
With such a wistful eye;
The man had killed the thing he loved,
And so he had to die.

Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some **** their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

He does not die a death of shame
On a day of dark disgrace,
Nor have a noose about his neck,
Nor a cloth upon his face,
Nor drop feet foremost through the floor
Into an empty space.

He does not sit with silent men
Who watch him night and day;
Who watch him when he tries to weep,
And when he tries to pray;
Who watch him lest himself should rob
The prison of its prey.

He does not wake at dawn to see
Dread figures throng his room,
The shivering Chaplain robed in white,
The Sheriff stern with gloom,
And the Governor all in shiny black,
With the yellow face of Doom.

He does not rise in piteous haste
To put on convict-clothes,
While some coarse-mouthed Doctor gloats,
and notes
Each new and nerve-twitched pose,
******* a watch whose little ticks
Are like horrible hammer-blows.

He does not know that sickening thirst
That sands one’s throat, before
The hangman with his gardener’s gloves
Slips through the padded door,
And binds one with three leathern thongs,
That the throat may thirst no more.

He does not bend his head to hear
The Burial Office read,
Nor, while the terror of his soul
Tells him he is not dead,
Cross his own coffin, as he moves
Into the hideous shed.

He does not stare upon the air
Through a little roof of glass:
He does not pray with lips of clay
For his agony to pass;
Nor feel upon his shuddering cheek
The kiss of Caiaphas.

II

Six weeks our guardsman walked the yard,
In the suit of shabby grey:
His cricket cap was on his head,
And his step seemed light and gay,
But I never saw a man who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw a man who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
Which prisoners call the sky,
And at every wandering cloud that trailed
Its ravelled fleeces by.

He did not wring his hands, as do
Those witless men who dare
To try to rear the changeling Hope
In the cave of black Despair:
He only looked upon the sun,
And drank the morning air.

He did not wring his hands nor weep,
Nor did he peek or pine,
But he drank the air as though it held
Some healthful anodyne;
With open mouth he drank the sun
As though it had been wine!

And I and all the souls in pain,
Who tramped the other ring,
Forgot if we ourselves had done
A great or little thing,
And watched with gaze of dull amaze
The man who had to swing.

And strange it was to see him pass
With a step so light and gay,
And strange it was to see him look
So wistfully at the day,
And strange it was to think that he
Had such a debt to pay.

For oak and elm have pleasant leaves
That in the springtime shoot:
But grim to see is the gallows-tree,
With its adder-bitten root,
And, green or dry, a man must die
Before it bears its fruit!

The loftiest place is that seat of grace
For which all worldlings try:
But who would stand in hempen band
Upon a scaffold high,
And through a murderer’s collar take
His last look at the sky?

It is sweet to dance to violins
When Love and Life are fair:
To dance to flutes, to dance to lutes
Is delicate and rare:
But it is not sweet with nimble feet
To dance upon the air!

So with curious eyes and sick surmise
We watched him day by day,
And wondered if each one of us
Would end the self-same way,
For none can tell to what red Hell
His sightless soul may stray.

At last the dead man walked no more
Amongst the Trial Men,
And I knew that he was standing up
In the black dock’s dreadful pen,
And that never would I see his face
In God’s sweet world again.

Like two doomed ships that pass in storm
We had crossed each other’s way:
But we made no sign, we said no word,
We had no word to say;
For we did not meet in the holy night,
But in the shameful day.

A prison wall was round us both,
Two outcast men we were:
The world had ****** us from its heart,
And God from out His care:
And the iron gin that waits for Sin
Had caught us in its snare.

III

In Debtors’ Yard the stones are hard,
And the dripping wall is high,
So it was there he took the air
Beneath the leaden sky,
And by each side a Warder walked,
For fear the man might die.

Or else he sat with those who watched
His anguish night and day;
Who watched him when he rose to weep,
And when he crouched to pray;
Who watched him lest himself should rob
Their scaffold of its prey.

The Governor was strong upon
The Regulations Act:
The Doctor said that Death was but
A scientific fact:
And twice a day the Chaplain called,
And left a little tract.

And twice a day he smoked his pipe,
And drank his quart of beer:
His soul was resolute, and held
No hiding-place for fear;
He often said that he was glad
The hangman’s hands were near.

But why he said so strange a thing
No Warder dared to ask:
For he to whom a watcher’s doom
Is given as his task,
Must set a lock upon his lips,
And make his face a mask.

Or else he might be moved, and try
To comfort or console:
And what should Human Pity do
Pent up in Murderers’ Hole?
What word of grace in such a place
Could help a brother’s soul?

With slouch and swing around the ring
We trod the Fools’ Parade!
We did not care:  we knew we were
The Devil’s Own Brigade:
And shaven head and feet of lead
Make a merry masquerade.

We tore the tarry rope to shreds
With blunt and bleeding nails;
We rubbed the doors, and scrubbed the floors,
And cleaned the shining rails:
And, rank by rank, we soaped the plank,
And clattered with the pails.

We sewed the sacks, we broke the stones,
We turned the dusty drill:
We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns,
And sweated on the mill:
But in the heart of every man
Terror was lying still.

So still it lay that every day
Crawled like a ****-clogged wave:
And we forgot the bitter lot
That waits for fool and knave,
Till once, as we tramped in from work,
We passed an open grave.

With yawning mouth the yellow hole
Gaped for a living thing;
The very mud cried out for blood
To the thirsty asphalte ring:
And we knew that ere one dawn grew fair
Some prisoner had to swing.

Right in we went, with soul intent
On Death and Dread and Doom:
The hangman, with his little bag,
Went shuffling through the gloom:
And each man trembled as he crept
Into his numbered tomb.

That night the empty corridors
Were full of forms of Fear,
And up and down the iron town
Stole feet we could not hear,
And through the bars that hide the stars
White faces seemed to peer.

He lay as one who lies and dreams
In a pleasant meadow-land,
The watchers watched him as he slept,
And could not understand
How one could sleep so sweet a sleep
With a hangman close at hand.

But there is no sleep when men must weep
Who never yet have wept:
So we—the fool, the fraud, the knave—
That endless vigil kept,
And through each brain on hands of pain
Another’s terror crept.

Alas! it is a fearful thing
To feel another’s guilt!
For, right within, the sword of Sin
Pierced to its poisoned hilt,
And as molten lead were the tears we shed
For the blood we had not spilt.

The Warders with their shoes of felt
Crept by each padlocked door,
And peeped and saw, with eyes of awe,
Grey figures on the floor,
And wondered why men knelt to pray
Who never prayed before.

All through the night we knelt and prayed,
Mad mourners of a corse!
The troubled plumes of midnight were
The plumes upon a hearse:
And bitter wine upon a sponge
Was the savour of Remorse.

The grey **** crew, the red **** crew,
But never came the day:
And crooked shapes of Terror crouched,
In the corners where we lay:
And each evil sprite that walks by night
Before us seemed to play.

They glided past, they glided fast,
Like travellers through a mist:
They mocked the moon in a rigadoon
Of delicate turn and twist,
And with formal pace and loathsome grace
The phantoms kept their tryst.

With mop and mow, we saw them go,
Slim shadows hand in hand:
About, about, in ghostly rout
They trod a saraband:
And the ****** grotesques made arabesques,
Like the wind upon the sand!

With the pirouettes of marionettes,
They tripped on pointed tread:
But with flutes of Fear they filled the ear,
As their grisly masque they led,
And loud they sang, and long they sang,
For they sang to wake the dead.

‘Oho!’ they cried, ‘The world is wide,
But fettered limbs go lame!
And once, or twice, to throw the dice
Is a gentlemanly game,
But he does not win who plays with Sin
In the secret House of Shame.’

No things of air these antics were,
That frolicked with such glee:
To men whose lives were held in gyves,
And whose feet might not go free,
Ah! wounds of Christ! they were living things,
Most terrible to see.

Around, around, they waltzed and wound;
Some wheeled in smirking pairs;
With the mincing step of a demirep
Some sidled up the stairs:
And with subtle sneer, and fawning leer,
Each helped us at our prayers.

The morning wind began to moan,
But still the night went on:
Through its giant loom the web of gloom
Crept till each thread was spun:
And, as we prayed, we grew afraid
Of the Justice of the Sun.

The moaning wind went wandering round
The weeping prison-wall:
Till like a wheel of turning steel
We felt the minutes crawl:
O moaning wind! what had we done
To have such a seneschal?

At last I saw the shadowed bars,
Like a lattice wrought in lead,
Move right across the whitewashed wall
That faced my three-plank bed,
And I knew that somewhere in the world
God’s dreadful dawn was red.

At six o’clock we cleaned our cells,
At seven all was still,
But the sough and swing of a mighty wing
The prison seemed to fill,
For the Lord of Death with icy breath
Had entered in to ****.

He did not pass in purple pomp,
Nor ride a moon-white steed.
Three yards of cord and a sliding board
Are all the gallows’ need:
So with rope of shame the Herald came
To do the secret deed.

We were as men who through a fen
Of filthy darkness *****:
We did not dare to breathe a prayer,
Or to give our anguish scope:
Something was dead in each of us,
And what was dead was Hope.

For Man’s grim Justice goes its way,
And will not swerve aside:
It slays the weak, it slays the strong,
It has a deadly stride:
With iron heel it slays the strong,
The monstrous parricide!

We waited for the stroke of eight:
Each tongue was thick with thirst:
For the stroke of eight is the stroke of Fate
That makes a man accursed,
And Fate will use a running noose
For the best man and the worst.

We had no other thing to do,
Save to wait for the sign to come:
So, like things of stone in a valley lone,
Quiet we sat and dumb:
But each man’s heart beat thick and quick,
Like a madman on a drum!

With sudden shock the prison-clock
Smote on the shivering air,
And from all the gaol rose up a wail
Of impotent despair,
Like the sound that frightened marshes hear
From some ***** in his lair.

And as one sees most fearful things
In the crystal of a dream,
We saw the greasy hempen rope
Hooked to the blackened beam,
And heard the prayer the hangman’s snare
Strangled into a scream.

And all the woe that moved him so
That he gave that bitter cry,
And the wild regrets, and the ****** sweats,
None knew so well as I:
For he who lives more lives than one
More deaths than one must die.

IV

There is no chapel on the day
On which they hang a man:
The Chaplain’s heart is far too sick,
Or his face is far too wan,
Or there is that written in his eyes
Which none should look upon.

So they kept us close till nigh on noon,
And then they rang the bell,
And the Warders with their jingling keys
Opened each listening cell,
And down the iron stair we tramped,
Each from his separate Hell.

Out into God’s sweet air we went,
But not in wonted way,
For this man’s face was white with fear,
And that man’s face was grey,
And I never saw sad men who looked
So wistfully at the day.

I never saw sad men who looked
With such a wistful eye
Upon that little tent of blue
We prisoners called the sky,
And at every careless cloud that passed
In happy freedom by.

But there were those amongst us all
Who walked with downcast head,
And knew that, had each got his due,
They should have died instead:
He had but killed a thing that lived,
Whilst they had killed the dead.

For he who sins a second time
Wakes a dead soul to pain,
And draws it from its spotted shroud,
And makes it bleed again,
And makes it bleed great gouts of blood,
And makes it bleed in vain!

Like ape or clown, in monstrous garb
With crooked arrows starred,
Silently we went round and round
The slippery asphalte yard;
Silently we went round and round,
And no man spoke a word.

Silently we went round and round,
And through each hollow mind
The Memory of dreadful things
Rushed like a dreadful wind,
And Horror stalked before each man,
And Terror crept behind.

The Warders strutted up and down,
And kept their herd of brutes,
Their uniforms were ***** and span,
And they wore their Sunday suits,
But we knew the work they had been at,
By the quicklime on their boots.

For where a grave had opened wide,
There was no grave at all:
Only a stretch of mud and sand
By the hideous prison-wall,
And a little heap of burning lime,
That the man should have his pall.

For he has a pall, this wretched man,
Such as few men can claim:
Deep down below a prison-yard,
Naked for greater shame,
He lies, with fetters on each foot,
Wrapt in a sheet of flame!

And all the while the burning lime
Eats flesh and bone away,
It eats the brittle bone by night,
And the soft flesh by day,
It eats the flesh and bone by turns,
But it eats the heart alway.

For three long years they will not sow
Or root or seedling there:
For three long years the unblessed spot
Will sterile be and bare,
And look upon the wondering sky
With unreproachful stare.

They think a murderer’s heart would taint
Each simple seed they sow.
It is not true!  God’s kindly earth
Is kindlier than men know,
And the red rose would but blow more red,
The white rose whiter blow.

Out of his mouth a red, red rose!
Out of his heart a white!
For who can say by what strange way,
Christ brings His will to light,
Since the barren staff the pilgrim bore
Bloomed in the great Pope’s sight?

But neither milk-white rose nor red
May bloom in prison-air;
The shard, the pebble, and the flint,
Are what they give us there:
For flowers have been known to heal
A common man’s despair.

So never will wine-red rose or white,
Petal by petal, fall
On that stretch of mud and sand that lies
By the hideous prison-wall,
To tell the men who ***** the yard
That God’s Son died for all.

Yet though the hideous prison-wall
Still hems him round and round,
And a spirit may not walk by night
That is with fetters bound,
And a spirit may but weep that lies
In such unholy ground,

He is at peace—this wretched man—
At peace, or will be soon:
There is no thing to m
almat011 Mar 2019
I give you a well-deserved medals: for the record for the beauty of the world, a record for the entire beauty of the universe, the medal: in the beauty of a well-deserved
the history of humanity, a medal for the record for medals: the record for medals for the beauty and charm, popular beauty of the country, the Nobel Prize for the mind and beauty, a badge of honor the beauty of the world, the order of sexuality, honorary star for a charming, world cup: it is the most beautiful written girl in the world, here you can see your name is written here, and at the very most honorable medal: for the most rare beauty in the universe. Honorary statuette: she a beautiful girl in the whole universe, and that the certificate confirming that you are and will be the only beauty in the universe, the gold medal for the luxury of, so the prize for Miss beauty, certificate of honor for the most honorable cutie, that's crown: the beauty of the world, and that's the title of most beautiful girl in the whole universe. And the key to my mind, Mego heart and my soul. Hmm) I think it was your kisses gone men in the highest spheres of Nirvana. Oh what are you beauty, beauty-lyapotaaaaa. Hell yeah) I think ****, ****, **** ... cool) clap) clap) common, dance, cos it a hardest ram-bam-bam, geah) honey hottest stunning, gorgeous stunner. You're crushing mega, amazing, amazing. You are very delicate, beautiful music. ****** features are so gentle, refined, elegant, noble, gentle wasp, turning waist. Stunner, stunning beauty, amazing instance, attractive beautiful, stunning gorgeous, exquisite fine, amazingly cute, charming, adorable, charming, delightful wonderful. Tasty and delicacy. Hot top model. Ooooh)) no, do not take offense to this truth, but I want to say, I want to admit. What comes from you powerful ******, ****** energy that attracts so much to you. And only from you buzzing with excitement as the man's blood boiling. Are you always stay on any non-off and no one goes away. Looking at you, you know that you are all that a man needs. It sounds gently sweet and so nice. Miss sweet candy, coquette. Ideal forms a figure at you, say envious and ha ha) from the gun in their faces, in their own words chpa), Yeah) You look around, everyone is looking only at you, everyone wants only you. You probably can not see for sure, but every one of them wants to stay with you forever. You are everywhere and always ranked first in the top of human values in men's hearts. When you show up rivals suffer fear and crash) their last hopes turn to dust) hiding in their burrows, feeling your swing. You are all passionately loved, elegant nice yo, the main prima, beautiful nymph, to be with you is an honor and it is visible. Stylish, advanced, progressive, active, aggressive, and all the other girls from this becomes in the soul merzsko and nasty, insulting, lit from you as lava male libidooooooo) Yes, you are a real hit yo) Men's brains and heart are clogged your videos and photos. You Ultra-TURBO-Gipper-mega-soup-dupa- ****. This **** as you want throughout kiss and kiss, caress, and always vechnoooooo) inflamed, exciting, seductive, sensual beautiful, **** and appetizing. Nothing attracts like your **** image, impelling hot excitement, desire, you are my only passion, healing. No, no, I do not run for beauty, and reach for only you, go with you. Sweet, hot beast. Sweeter than the flesh of thy tender nothing happens. Sweet Life is just next to you. You are so beautiful that even giddy with love for you. You're powerful desire, passion, eternal obsession. I have hallucinations, it seems to me that I can only see you everywhere. You're the sweetest fruit in the entire universe. I like you on a lifetime dream. Without you my whole life continuous mourning. You're the coolest. You're **** Babe. You're the first and last beauty in this world, you're what I strive and reach for in this life. You are my ****** tension. You are infinitely beautiful. I just love Subconsciously you in the depths of the soul is filled with all of you and I sometimes katzhetsya always loved only you, only you always looked for. Often I see you in my dreams and there in your open arms I'm happy because you're near me. I just want to be yours always and forever.
hot cutie, you have a cool body, honey, your image is impressive, amazing feeling, vufffffffff) all the time just for you and I think, to me you all the time is not enough. You look amazing. You are the most beautiful phenomenon of the universe, I think so. I'm madly in lust only be yours foreeeever)
Author: Musin Almat Zhumabekovich
Martin Narrod Feb 2014
The Checkout Line

I wish to speak with you
ten years from now, you'll be ten years behind.

The words and meanings you carry in your pants, the pick-pocket steals your hopes from time.
and the visions of empty trash receptacles
with their late evening drunken lovers' bouts, at restless end tables. And the bums with their ******* attitudes **** covered clothes, and soiled minds

the clarity of the curbside drunk, picking up shades of filtered cigarettes of twilight scandalous
pickup lovers in their evening best.

And to talk with you ten years from now, you'll be ten years behind.

They're Green Beret head ornaments
detailing the porcelain platforms of Delft
Lining up for one last line to carry them into another faded sunrise at dawn's forgotten memory of yester night
and they walk their gallows holding pride fully their flags of exalted countrymen.

The republic of teacups of literary proficiency.
Wearing the necklaces of paid tolls to an afterlife they find in the miniscule car crashes of engagement with a grinless driving mate in a neighboring car in its pass into the forethought of turned corners.
Where they befell the great disappointment of failure in the frosted eyes of their fathers' expectations.

Who carried the shame of their mother's incessant discontent through short skirts, and high heels.

Who disapproved of the **** whom wore the sneak-out-of-the-house-wear clothing line, and traveled by night over turbulent asphalt by way of sidecar through turn and turnabout hand-over-hand contracts of lover's affection, and slept in tall grasses of wet nightfall with views of San Francisco, and were trapped in the inescapable Alcatraz and Statesville of unconsenting parents and their curfews,

through trials and trails of Skittles leading to after school Doctor visits in the basement of a doting mother, whilst she sits quietly in her exclusive quilting parties with noble equities of partners in knowledge, listening to Edith Piaf and the like,

All the while condemned to time, trapped in the second hand, hand me downs of the 21st century, decades of decadent introverts with their table top unread notebooks, and old forgotten score cards, and the numbers of scholars of years past,

and to talk with you ten years from now will be my greatest pleasure, for you will be....ten year's behind.


They push the sterile elevator buttons, and descend upon the floor of scents flourishing from their crowded family rooms, only aware of distinctive flavors, in their middle eastern shades of desert gumbo,

Who speak ribbit and alfalfa until midnight of the afternoon, sharing fables of slaughtered giraffes and camels that walked from Kiev to Baghdad in a fortnight,

Who are aware the power is out, but continue to scour for candles in a dark room where candles once burned, where candle wax seals the drawers of where candles can be found. Where once sat gluttonous kings and queens in Sunday attire waiting for words of freedom from the North.

of Florence, Sochi,Shanghai
of Dempster, Foster, Lincoln
of Dodge, Ford, Shelby

Of concrete fortune tellers in 2nd story tenement blocks with hairy legs, and head lice, wearing beautiful sachets of India speaking ribbit and alfalfa.

On their unbirthdays they walk the fish tanks wearing their birthday suits to remind them who serves the food on the floors of the family room fish mongers tactics.

The old men wear gargoyles on their shoulders.

Lo! Fear has crept the glass marbles of their wisdom and fortune, blearing rocket ships and kazoos on the sidewalks of their Portuguese forefathers.

Where ancestry burns cigarette holes in the short-haired blue carpet, where Hoover breaks flood waters of insignificance across hard headed Evangelical trinities.

Who share construction techniques one early morning at four, where questions of Hammer and **** build intelligence in secondary faces of nameless twilight lovers, who possess bear blankets, and upheavals, finely wired bushes of ***** maturity. Eating *** and check, tongue and pen.

Where police caress emergency flame retardants over the fire between their legs, wielding the chauvinistic blade of comfort in the backseat of a Yellow faced driving patron.

With their innocent daughters with their nubile thighs, and malleable personalities, which require elite words and jewelry. Wearing wheat buns, Longfellow, and squire.

Holding postmarked cellular structure within their mobile anguish.

Who go curling in their showers, pushing afternoon naps and pretentious frou-frou hats over tainted friendships with their girlfriend's brothers with minimum paychecks'.

Through their narcissus and narcosis, their mirrored perceptions of medicinal scripture of Methamphetamine and elegant five-star meat.

Who amend their words with constitutional forgiveness, in their fascist cloth rampages through groves of learning strategies. And the closets, cupboards, and coins
with rubber hearts, steel *****, and gold *****,

Tall-tales of sock puppet hands with friendly sharing ******* techniques, dry with envy, colorful scabs, and coagulation of eccentric ****** endeavors, With their social lubricants and their tile feet wardrobes with B-quality Adidas and Reeboks gods of the souls of us. Who possess piceous syndromes of Ouiji boards in their parent’s basements.

When will fire burn another Bush? Spread the fire walls of Chicago, and part grocery store fields of food. Wrapping towels under the doors of smoke filled lungs, on the fingernails of a sleepover between business executives with the neoprene finish of their sons and daughters who attend finishing school, with resumes of oak furnishings,

And I long to talk with you ten years from now,
For you'll be talking ten years behind.

Who profligate their padded inventories breaking Mohammed and Hearst,
laying the pillows of cirrus minor
waiting for the rain to paint the eyes of the scriptures which waft through concrete corridors,
and scent the air with their exalted personas,

With the different channels of confusions, watching dimple past freckle, eating the palms of our tropical mental vocations to achieve purity from the indignation of those whom are contemptuous for lack of innocence in America,
this America, of lack of peace,
of America hold me,
Let me be.

Whom read the letters off music, blearing Sinatra and Krall, Manson where is your contempt?

Manson where is your manipulation of place settings?, you deserve fork and knife, the wounded commandments that regretfully fall like timber in an abandoned sanctuary of Yellowstone,
Manson, with your claws of the heart.
Manson, with your sheik vulgarity of **** cloaks exposing your ladies undercarriage,

Those who take their pets to walk the aisles of famished eyes,
allowing the dorsals of their backsides to wonder aimlessly through Vietnam and Chinaman,
holding peace of mind aware of their chemical leashes and fifteen calorie mental meals, holding hands, unaware of repercussion,

With their vivid recollections of sprinkler and slide, through dew and beyond,
Holding citrus drinks to themselves, apart from pleasure, trapped with excite from sunsets, and in-between.

Withholding reservation of tongue to lung.
Flowing ribbit and alfalfa, in the corridors of expected fragrance.

and to speak with you of ten years from now, will be a pleasure all my own, for you will be talking ten years behind.

They walked outside climbing over mountains of shrapnel, popped collars
and endless buffets of emotion,
driving Claremont all the way to art gallery premiers
and forever waited for plane crash landings
and the phone calls that never came

Glowing black and white cameras
giving modelesque perceptions to all-you-can-eat eyes
giving cigarettes endless chasms of light

Colored pavement trenches and divots
cliff note alibis
and surgery that lasted until the seamstress had gone into an
endless rest
and
empty cupboards

Classic stools painted with sleepless white smoke and bleached canvas rolling tobacco with the stained yellow window panes of feral tapestry and overindulgent vernacular

Like a satiated cheeseburger weeping smile simple emotion
on November the 18th celebrations
and Wisconsin out of business sales

Too much comfort, stealing switchboards from the the elderly, constantly putting gibberish into
effortless conversation.

Dormant doormats, with the greetings that never
reached as far as coffee table favelas,
arriving to homes of famished
furniture, awaiting temperate lifestyles and the window sill arguments from pedantic literacy

Silver shillings and corporate discovery clogged the persuasive
push and shove
to and from

Killing enterprise
loquacious attempt at too soon
much too soon
too soon for forever

Wall to wall post-card collages
happy reminders of the places never visited by drinks in the hands of
those received

Registered to the clouded skies of clip board artists
this arthritis of envy
of bathtub old age
wrinkled matted faces
logged with quick-fixes, anemia, and heart-break

disposed of off the streets
of youth, wheeling and wailing
rolling down striped stairs
of shock and arraignment
holding the hand rails of a wheelchair
suitcase
packed away in a life

Down I-37
into the ochre autumn fallen down leaves
and left memories behind
their green Syphilis eyeglasses

weeping tumuli
recalcitrant
mulish, furrow of beast and beyond

yelling, screaming, howling
at the prurient puerile tilling
of sheets

****** the voices of words
and vomiting the mind into the pockets of the turbulent perambulations
expelled from meat-packing
whispering condescension
and coercing adolescent obsessions
with fame, glamour, and *****

Creeping out into the naked
light of the Darger scale janitorial
closets, carrying the notorious gowns
of red wine spells, backpacks, and pins

henchmen, plaintiff, and youth

All the while
ripping at the incantations of the soul
whispering ribbit and alfalfa
in the guard-rail scars
of the dawns decadent forgotten
AA Phi Sep 2013
first,
a raccoon wrapped within its own intestine.
the asphalt is its grave; i swerve to miss it.
we shared the same air, maybe even a
common ancestor.
someone moved too fast to care.
its the ones with
fast cars and slow minds
pretty faces and ugly intent
artificial kindness but genuine hate
i'm not your friend
just a similar sense of self
it is
fat priests playing golf
lottery ticket paradises
restaurants
embellished mechanized slaughter
fake laughter and even faker love
shopping mall environmentalists
lexus-driving christians
paychecks, TV, lawn mowing sundays
drink yourself to death
please.
the least among us in control
deprived of the mind
the stench of their egos
and their hypocrisy
the gasoline, the cash, and the forced smiles
as i write people die
children die
i'm like many
the fool who knows
but does nothing
the one who doesn't know
that's the good person
the moral person.

second,
a rant, a ******* rage
the days are stale, self-actualize, the Earth remains the same
dry and motionless
middle-class frustration, planetary confusion,
the ***** of the Earth,
capsized like dying branches
in a wal-mart state of mind,
stupid slobs, rodent minded social egoists
over-organized, clean freak object fetishists
the evolutionary dollar sign
they bay at the moon, it's made of cheesecake
phase transitioning,
you blood clot, Earthly blood clot,
you don't know art
now there's ancient blood on my hands
smokeless, plantless, Earthless blood
detached from Gaian consciousness
stain on the mind
confused, clogged pathways,
clogged with
self-righteous mind flood
piles of ***** tissue,
waning and waxing
force feed me your ******* please
because i have no idea how to answer
in this cultural blood bath
it is the
end of time
the end of mind.

:aaphi
horns squawk
   rainforest avenues
  
  exoskeleton
of cars
   arteries clogged
with unlovely   taxi cabs

fat  green  fruit
for sale
     five languages
merge into a knot
hisses    kiss    vowels
   kiwis apples pears

   black guys   basketball
debt rises like      blood pressure
stocks tumble
    but we walk
brogues clop on concrete

count  brick after  brick
sun cascades
   over roof slates
mind cracks in slabs

   (you say
Monroe      stood here)

   heat quivers
men are dominoes
suits    for the office
   a funeral

designer sneakers
   daddy paid for
pigtails   cheap thrills
  violet octagons
  on a stranger’s neck
(behind the closed doors)

today
I drink purple water
     aubergine lips
remind me
of a Tuscany Superb

   list the names
Houston   Charlton
Leroy   Sullivan
Perry   Cornelia
Dominick and Jane

(ladders lead
                away from me
                close to
you)

and back again
Written: June 2014.
Explanation: A poem written in my own time that sort of accompanies previous piece, 'Fresh.' While I am continuing with the beach/sea series, I am also taking more of a look into the 'city' side of things too. This poem, like 'Fresh', is not about any specific person, but was partially inspired by someone.
A 'Tuscany Superb' is the name of a type of dark purple rose, while the names listed towards the end all refer to streets in New York City.
Shang Nov 2013
i am afraid we have begun to dissociate,
unable to dissolve, I dissipate

we lavish emotion, laugh laudably
and cry with our larynx ripped out of our throats

i just need a little attention

'cause it's midday
and the midwife has a migraine,
with spoiled milk and clogged drains,
laundry a mile-long with tenuous children
tense with grimace and gray

we believe uncertainty for the hopeless and expectations for the great

the subtle hum
followed by slithering smirks
followed by snarls and sneers and weird sober
social experiments,
followed by small town dramas
and big time hypocrites.
(C) Shang

— The End —