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Afia Jun 2018
I feel ugly.
Like,
the dark spots on a full moon.
The burning skin under the crisp sun.
The harsh stain of vibrant colours on a canvas.
The violent shade of the monsoon cloud.
The rustic smell of an old key.
The sad wrinkles on a tree trunk.
The tired stretch marks on a shabby body.
Or,
the birth of a life.
I feel less. I feel pigmented.
I feel lost. I feel strange.
This is my beauty to taste.
To embrace.
For years. people have been reminding some of us that how unattractive they look. Beauty can never be defined according to ''their'' perspectives.
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
for Jennie in gratitude*

For days afterwards he was preoccupied by what he’d collected into himself from the gallery viewing. He could say it was just painting, but there was a variety of media present in the many surrounding images and artefacts. Certainly there were all kinds of objects: found and gathered, captured and brought into a frame, some filling transparent boxes on a window ledge or simply hung frameless on the wall; sand, fixed foam, paper sea-water stained, a beaten sheet of aluminium; a significant stone standing on a mantelpiece, strange warped pieces of metal with no clue to what they were or had been, a sketchbook with brooding pencilled drawings made fast and thick, filling the page, colour like an echo, and yes, paintings.
 
Three paintings had surprised him; they did not seem to fit until (and this was sometime later) their form and content, their working, had very gradually begun to make a sort of sense.  Possible interpretations – though tenuous – surreptitiously intervened. There were words scrawled across each canvas summoning the viewer into emotional space, a space where suggestions of marks and colour floated on a white surface. These scrawled words were like writing in seaside sand with a finger: the following bird and hiraeth. He couldn’t remember the third exactly. He had a feeling about it – a date or description. But he had forgotten. And this following bird? One of Coleridge’s birds of the Ancient Mariner perhaps? Hiraeth he knew was a difficult Welsh word similar to saudade. It meant variously longing, sometimes passionate (was longing ever not passionate?), a home-sickness, the physical pain of nostalgia. It was said that a well-loved location in conjunction with a point in time could cause such feelings. This small exhibition seemed full of longing, full of something beyond the place and the time and the variousness of colour and texture, of elements captured, collected and represented. And as the distance in time and memory from his experience of the show in a small provincial gallery increased, so did his own thoughts of and about the nature of longing become more acute.
 
He knew he was fortunate to have had the special experience of being alone with ‘the work’ just prior to the gallery opening. His partner was also showing and he had accompanied her as a friendly presence, someone to talk to when the throng of viewers might deplete. But he knew he was surplus to requirements as she’d also brought along a girlfriend making a short film on this emerging, soon to be successful artist. So he’d wandered into the adjoining spaces and without expectation had come upon this very different show: just the title Four Tides to guide him in and around the small white space in which the art work had been distributed. Even the striking miniature catalogue, solely photographs, no text, did little to betray the hand and eye that had brought together what was being shown. Beyond the artist’s name there were only faint traces – a phone number and an email address, no voluminous self-congratulatory CV, no list of previous exhibitions, awards or academic provenance. A light blue bicycle figured in some of her catalogue photographs and on her contact card. One photo in particular had caught the artist very distant, cycling along the curve of a beach. It was this photo that helped him to identify the location – because for twenty years he had passed across this meeting of land and water on a railway journey. This place she had chosen for the coming and going of four tides he had viewed from a train window. The aspect down the estuary guarded by mountains had been a highpoint of a six-hour journey he had once taken several times a year, occasionally and gratefully with his children for whom crossing the long, low wooden bridge across the estuary remained into their teens an adventure, always something telling.
 
He found himself wishing this work into a studio setting, the artist’s studio. It seemed too stark placed on white walls, above the stripped pine floor and the punctuation of reflective glass of two windows facing onto a wet street. Yes, a studio would be good because the pictures, the paintings, the assemblages might relate to what daily surrounded the artist and thus describe her. He had thought at first he was looking at the work of a young woman, perhaps mid-thirties at most. The self-curation was not wholly assured: it held a temporary nature. It was as if she hadn’t finished with the subject and or done with its experience. It was either on-going and promised more, or represented a stage she would put aside (but with love and affection) on her journey as an artist. She wouldn’t milk it for more than it was. And it was full of longing.
 
There was a heaviness, a weight, an inconclusiveness, an echo of reverence about what had been brought together ‘to show’. Had he thought about these aspects more closely, he would not have been so surprised to discovered the artist was closer to his own age, in her fifties. She in turn had been surprised by his attention, by his carefully written comment in her guest book. She seemed pleased to talk intimately and openly, to tell her story of the work. She didn’t need to do this because it was there in the room to be read. It was apparent; it was not oblique or difficult, but caught the viewer in a questioning loop. Was this estuary location somehow at the core of her longing-centred self?  She had admitted that, working in her home or studio, she would find herself facing westward and into the distance both in place and time?
 
On the following day he made time to write, to look through this artist’s window on a creative engagement with a place he was familiar. The experience of viewing her work had affected him. He was not sure yet whether it was the representation of the place or the artist’s engagement with it. In writing about it he might find out. It seemed so deeply personal. It was perhaps better not to know but to imagine. So he imagined her making the journey, possibly by train, finding a place to stay the night – a cheerful B & B - and cycling early in the morning across the long bridge to her previously chosen spot on the estuary: to catch the first of the tides. He already understood from his own experience how an artist can enter trance-like into an environment, absorb its particularness, respond to the uncertainty of its weather, feel surrounded by its elements and textures, and most of all be governed by the continuous and ever-complex play of light.
 
He knew all about longing for a place. For nearly twenty years a similar longing had grown and all but consumed him: his cottage on a mountain overlooking the sea. It had become a place where he had regularly faced up to his created and invented thoughts, his soon-to-be-music and more recently possible poetry and prose. He had done so in silence and solitude.
 
But now he was experiencing a different longing, a longing born from an intensity of love for a young woman, an intensity that circled him about. Her physical self had become a rich landscape to explore and celebrate in gaze, and stroke and caress. It seemed extraordinary that a single person could hold to herself such a habitat of wonder, a rich geography of desire to know and understand. For so many years his longing was bound to the memory of walking cliff paths and empty beaches, the hypnotic viewing of seascaped horizons and the persistent chaos of the sea and wild weather. But gradually this longing for a coming together of land, sea and sky had migrated to settle on a woman who graced his daily, hourly thoughts; who was able to touch and caress him as rain and wind and sun can act upon the body in ever-changing ways. So when he was apart from her it was with such a longing that he found himself weighed down, filled brimfull.
 
In writing, in attempting to consider longing as a something the creative spirit might address, he felt profoundly grateful to the artist on the light blue bicycle whose her observations and invention had kept open a door he felt was closing on him. She had faced her own longing by bringing it into form, and through form into colour and texture, and then into a very particular play: an arrangement of objects and images for the mind to engage with – or not. He dared to feel an affinity with this artist because, like his own work, it did not seem wholly confident. It contained flaws of a most subtle kind, flaws that lent it a conviction and strength that he warmed to. It had not been massaged into correctness. The images and the textures, the directness of it, flowed through him back and forward just like the tides she had come far to observe on just a single day. He remembered then, when looking closely at the unprotected pieces on the walls, how his hand had moved to just touch its surfaces in exactly the way he would bring his fingers close to the body of the woman he loved so much, adored beyond any poetry, and longed for with all his heart and mind.
Zeeb Jul 2018
New Orleans has its Oaks, the most beautiful in the world
The Oaks they had an occupant, little squawky squirrel
Squawky squirrel stepped out one day, cross the street he made his way
And if he hadn’t changed his mind, he’d still be here today

The widow sweet Ms. Peters, did receive a call
From a handsome gentleman, who went by the name of Paul
Ms. Peters had been interested, in Paul’s cautious advance
But decided she would wait a while, not to take a chance
Now Paul has found his one and only
Ms. Peters spends her nights quite lonely

Oh yes the case of the pretty pilot
Just seventeen in a flying machine
The weather turned black so she headed back
But her boyfriend intervened

Now close if I may - here's what I say
Trust yourself - the odds break your way
Victor D López Dec 2018
You were born five years before the Spanish Civil War that would see your father exiled.
Language came later to you than your little brother Manuel. And you stuttered for a time.
Unlike those who speak incessantly with nothing to say, you were quiet and reserved.
Your mother mistook shyness for dimness, a tragic mistake that scarred you for life.

When your brother Manuel died at the age of three from meningitis, you heard your mom
Exclaim: “God took my bright boy and left me the dull one.” You were four or five.
You never forgot those words. How could you? Yet you loved your mom with all your heart.
But you also withdrew further into a shell, solitude your companion and best friend.

You were, in fact, an exceptional child. Stuttering went away at five or so never to return,
And by the time you were in middle school, your teacher called your mom in for a rare
Conference and told her that yours was a gifted mind, and that you should be prepared
For university study in the sciences, particularly engineering.

She wrote your father exiled in Argentina to tell him the good news, that your teachers
Believed you would easily gain entrance to the (then and now) highly selective public university
Where seats were few, prized and very difficult to attain based on merit-based competitive
Exams. Your father’s response? “Buy him a couple of oxen and let him plow the fields.”

That reply from a highly respected man who was a big fish in a tiny pond in his native Oleiros
Of the time is beyond comprehension. He had apparently opted to preserve his own self-
Interest in having his son continue his family business and also work the family lands in his
Absence. That scar too was added to those that would never heal in your pure, huge heart.

Left with no support for living expenses for college (all it would have required), you moved on,
Disappointed and hurt, but not angry or bitter; you would simply find another way.
You took the competitive exams for the two local military training schools that would provide
An excellent vocational education and pay you a small salary in exchange for military service.

Of hundreds of applicants for the prized few seats in each of the two institutions, you
Scored first for the toughest of the two and thirteenth for the second. You had your pick.
You chose Fabrica de Armas, the lesser of the two, so that a classmate who had scored just
Below the cut-off at the better school could be admitted. That was you. Always and forever.

At the military school, you were finally in your element. You were to become a world-class
Machinist there—a profession that would have gotten you well paid work anywhere on earth
For as long as you wanted it. You were truly a mechanical genius who years later would add
Electronics, auto mechanics and specialized welding to his toolkit through formal training.

Given a well-stocked machine shop, you could reverse engineer every machine without
Blueprints and build a duplicate machine shop. You became a gifted master mechanic
And worked in line and supervisory positions at a handful of companies throughout your life in
Argentina and in the U.S., including Westinghouse, Warner-Lambert, and Pepsi Co.

You loved learning, especially in your fields (electronics, mechanics, welding) and expected
Perfection in everything you did. Every difficult job at work was given to you everywhere you
Worked. You would not sleep at night when a problem needed solving. You’d sketch
And calculate and re-sketch solutions and worked even in your dreams with singular passion.

You were more than a match for the academic and physical rigors of military school,
But life was difficult for you in the Franco era when some instructors would
Deprecatingly refer to you as “Roxo”—Galician for “red”-- reflecting your father’s
Support for the failed Republic. Eventually, the abuse was too much for you to bear.

Once while standing at attention in a corridor with the other cadets waiting for
Roll call, you were repeatedly poked in the back surreptitiously. Moving would cause
Demerits and demerits could cause loss of points on your final grade and arrest for
Successive weekends. You took it awhile, then lost your temper.

You turned to the cadet behind you and in a fluid motion grabbed him by his buttoned jacket
And one-handedly hung him up on a hook above a window where you were standing in line.
He thrashed about, hanging by the back of his jacket, until he was brought down by irate Military instructors.
You got weekend arrest for many weeks and a 10% final grade reduction.

A similar fate befell a co-worker a few years later in Buenos Aires who called you a
*******. You lifted him one handed by his throat and held him there until
Your co-workers intervened, forcibly persuading you to put him down.
That lesson was learned by all in no uncertain terms: Leave Felipe’s mom alone.

You were incredibly strong, especially in your youth—no doubt in part because of rigorous farm
Work, military school training and competitive sports. As a teenager, you once unwisely bent
Down to pick something up in view of a ram, presenting the animal an irresistible target.
It butted you and sent you flying into a haystack. It, too, quickly learned its lesson.

You dusted yourself off, charged the ram, grabbed it by the horns and twirled it around once,
Throwing it atop the same haystack as it had you. The animal was unhurt, but learned to
Give you a wide berth from that day forward. Overall, you were very slow to anger absent
Head-butting, repeated pokings, or disrespectful references to your mom by anyone.    

I seldom saw you angry and it was mom, not you, who was the disciplinarian, slipper in hand.
There were very few slaps from you for me. Mom would smack my behind with a slipper often
When I was little, mostly because I could be a real pain, wanting to know/try/do everything
Completely oblivious to the meaning of the word “no” or of my own limitations.

Mom would sometimes insist you give me a proper beating. On one such occasion for a
Forgotten transgression when I was nine, you  took me to your bedroom, took off your belt, sat
Me next to you and whipped your own arm and hand a few times, whispering to me “cry”,
Which I was happy to do unbidden. “Don’t tell mom.” I did not. No doubt she knew.

The prospect of serving in a military that considered you a traitor by blood became harder and
Harder to bear, and in the third year of school, one year prior to graduation, you left to join
Your exiled father in Argentina, to start a new life. You left behind a mother and two sisters you
Dearly loved to try your fortune in a new land. Your dog thereafter refused food, dying of grief.

You arrived in Buenos Aires to see a father you had not seen for ten years at the age of 17.
You were too young to work legally, but looked older than your years (a shared trait),
So you lied about your age and immediately found work as a Machinist/Mechanic first grade.
That was unheard of and brought you some jealousy and complaints in the union shop.

The union complained to the general manager about your top-salary and rank. He answered,
“I’ll give the same rank and salary to anyone in the company who can do what Felipe can do.”
No doubt the jealousy and grumblings continued by some for a time. But there were no takers.
And you soon won the group over, becoming their protected “baby-brother” mascot.

Your dad left for Spain within a year or so of your arrival when Franco issued a general pardon
To all dissidents who had not spilt blood (e.g., non combatants). He wanted you to return to
Help him reclaim the family business taken over by your mom in his absence with your help.
But you refused to give up the high salary, respect and independence denied you at home.

You were perhaps 18 and alone, living in a single room by a schoolhouse you had shared with Your dad.
But you had also found a new loving family in your uncle José, one of your father’s Brothers, and his family. José, and one of his daughters, Nieves and her
Husband, Emilio, and
Their children, Susana, Oscar (Ruben Gordé), and Osvaldo, became your new nuclear family.

You married mom in 1955 and had two failed business ventures in the quickly fading
Post-WW II Argentina of the late 1950s and early 1960s.The first, a machine shop, left
You with a small fortune in unpaid government contract work.  The second, a grocery store,
Also failed due to hyperinflation and credit extended too easily to needy customers.

Throughout this, you continued earning an exceptionally good salary. But in the mid 1960’s,
Nearly all of it went to pay back creditors of the failed grocery store. We had some really hard
Times. Someday I’ll write about that in some detail. Mom went to work as a maid, including for
Wealthy friends, and you left home at 4:00 a.m. to return long after dark to pay the bills.


The only luxury you and mom retained was my Catholic school tuition. There was no other
Extravagance. Not paying bills was never an option for you or mom. It never entered your
Minds. It was not a matter of law or pride, but a matter of honor. There were at least three very
Lean years where you and mom worked hard, earned well but we were truly poor.

You and mom took great pains to hide this from me—and suffered great privations to insulate
Me as best you could from the fallout of a shattered economy and your refusal to cut your loses
Had done to your life savings and to our once-comfortable middle-class life.
We came to the U.S. in the late 1960s after waiting for more than three years for visas—to a new land of hope.

Your sister and brother-in-law, Marisa and Manuel, made their own sacrifices to help bring us
Here. You had about $1,000 from the down payment on our tiny down-sized house, And
Mom’s pawned jewelry. (Hyperinflation and expenses ate up the remaining mortgage payments
Due). Other prized possessions were left in a trunk until you could reclaim them. You never did.

Even the airline tickets were paid for by Marisa and Manuel. You insisted upon arriving on
Written terms for repayment including interest. You were hired on the spot on your first
Interview as a mechanic, First Grade, despite not speaking a word of English. Two months later,
The debt was repaid, mom was working too and we moved into our first apartment.

You worked long hours, including Saturdays and daily overtime, to remake a nest egg.
Declining health forced you to retire at 63 and shortly thereafter you and mom moved out of
Queens into Orange County. You bought a townhouse two hours from my permanent residence
Upstate NY and for the next decade were happy, traveling with friends and visiting us often.

Then things started to change. Heart issues (two pacemakers), colon cancer, melanoma,
Liver and kidney disease caused by your many medications, high blood pressure, gout,
Gall bladder surgery, diabetes . . . . And still you moved forward, like the Energizer Bunny,
Patched up, battered, scarred, bruised but unstoppable and unflappable.

Then mom started to show signs of memory loss along with her other health issues. She was
Good at hiding her own ailments, and we noticed much later than we should have that there
Was a serious problem. Two years ago, her dementia worsening but still functional, she had
Gall bladder surgery with complications that required four separate surgeries in three months.

She never recovered and had to be placed in a nursing home. Several, in fact, as at first she
Refused food and you and I refused to simply let her waste away, which might have been
Kinder, but for the fact that “mientras hay vida, hay esperanza” as Spaniards say.
(While there is Life there is hope.) There is nothing beyond the power of God. Miracles do happen.

For two years you lived alone, refusing outside help, engendering numerous arguments about
Having someone go by a few times a week to help clean, cook, do chores. You were nothing if
Not stubborn (yet another shared trait). The last argument on the subject about two weeks ago
Ended in your crying. You’d accept no outside help until mom returned home. Period.

You were in great pain because of bulging discs in your spine and walked with one of those
Rolling seats with handlebars that mom and I picked out for you some years ago. You’d sit
As needed when the pain was too much, then continue with very little by way of complaints.
Ten days ago you finally agreed that you needed to get to the hospital to drain abdominal fluid.

Your failing liver produced it and it swelled your abdomen and lower extremities to the point
Where putting on shoes or clothing was very difficult, as was breathing. You called me from a
Local store crying that you could not find pants that would fit you. We talked, long distance,
And I calmed you down, as always, not allowing you to wallow in self pity but trying to help.

You went home and found a new pair of stretch pants Alice and I had bought you and you were
Happy. You had two changes of clothes that still fit to take to the hospital. No sweat, all was
Well. The procedure was not dangerous and you’d undergone it several times in recent years.
It would require a couple of days at the hospital and I’d see you again on the weekend.

I could not be with you on Monday, February 22 when you had to go to the hospital, as I nearly
Always had, because of work. You were supposed to be admitted the previous Friday, but
Doctors have days off too, and yours could not see you until Monday when I could not get off
Work. But you were not concerned; this was just routine. You’d be fine. I’d see you in just days.

We’d go see mom Friday, when you’d be much lighter and feel much better. Perhaps we’d go
Shopping for clothes if the procedure still left you too bloated for your usual clothes.
You drove to your doctor and then transported by ambulette. I was concerned, but not too Worried.
You called me sometime between five or six p.m. to tell me you were fine, resting.

“Don’t worry. I’m safe here and well cared for.” We talked for a little while about the usual
Things, with my assuring you I’d see you Friday or Saturday. You were tired and wanted to sleep
And I told you to call me if you woke up later that night or I’d speak to you the following day.
Around 10:00 p.m. I got a call from your cell and answered in the usual upbeat manner.

“Hey, Papi.” On the other side was a nurse telling me my dad had fallen. I assured her she was
Mistaken, as my dad was there for a routine procedure to drain abdominal fluid. “You don’t
Understand. He fell from his bed and struck his head on a nightstand or something
And his heart has stopped. We’re working on him for 20 minutes and it does not look good.”

“Can you get here?” I could not. I had had two or three glasses of wine shortly before the call
With dinner. I could not drive the three hours to Middletown. I cried. I prayed.
Fifteen minutes Later I got the call that you were gone. Lost in grief, not knowing what to do, I called my wife.
Shortly thereafter came a call from the coroner. An autopsy was required. I could not see you.

Four days later your body was finally released to the funeral director I had selected for his
Experience with the process of interment in Spain. I saw you for the last time to identify
Your body. I kissed my fingers and touched your mangled brow. I could not even have the
Comfort of an open casket viewing. You wanted cremation. You body awaits it as I write this.

You were alone, even in death alone. In the hospital as strangers worked on you. In the medical
Examiner’s office as you awaited the autopsy. In the autopsy table as they poked and prodded
And further rent your flesh looking for irrelevant clues that would change nothing and benefit
No one, least of all you. I could not be with you for days, and then only for a painful moment.

We will have a memorial service next Friday with your ashes and a mass on Saturday. I will
Never again see you in this life. Alice and I will take you home to your home town, to the
Cemetery in Oleiros, La Coruña, Spain this summer. There you will await the love of your life.
Who will join you in the fullness of time. She could not understand my tears or your passing.

There is one blessing to dementia. She asks for her mom, and says she is worried because she
Has not come to visit in some time. She is coming, she assures me whenever I see her.
You visited her every day except when health absolutely prevented it. You spent this February 10
Apart, your 61st wedding anniversary, too sick to visit her. Nor was I there. First time.

I hope you did not realize you were apart on the 10th but doubt it to be the case. I
Did not mention it, hoping you’d forgotten, and neither did you. You were my link to mom.
She cannot dial or answer a phone, so you would put your cell phone to her ear whenever I
Was not in class or meetings and could speak to her. She always recognized me by phone.

I am three hours from her. I could visit at most once or twice a month. Now even that phone
Lifeline is severed. Mom is completely alone, afraid, confused, and I cannot in the short term at
Least do much about that. You were not supposed to die first. It was my greatest fear, and
Yours, but as with so many things that we cannot change I put it in the back of my mind.

It kept me up many nights, but, like you, I still believed—and believe—in miracles.
I would speak every night with my you, often for an hour, on the way home from work late at
Night during my hour-long commute, or from home on days I worked from home as I cooked
Dinner. I mostly let you talk, trying to give you what comfort and social outlet I could.

You were lonely, sad, stuck in an endless cycle of emotional and physical pain.
Lately you were especially reticent to get off the phone. When mom was home and still
Relatively well, I’d call every day too but usually spoke to you only a few minutes and you’d
Transfer the phone to mom, with whom I usually chatted much longer.

For months, you’d had difficulty hanging up. I knew you did not want to go back to the couch,
To a meaningless TV program, or to writing more bills. You’d say good-bye, or “enough for
Today” and immediately begin a new thread, then repeat the cycle, sometimes five or six times.
You even told me, at least once crying recently, “Just hang up on me or I’ll just keep talking.”

I loved you, dad, with all my heart. We argued, and I’d often scream at you in frustration,
Knowing you would never take it to heart and would usually just ignore me and do as
You pleased. I knew how desperately you needed me, and I tried to be as patient as I could.
But there were days when I was just too tired, too frustrated, too full of other problems.

There were days when I got frustrated with you just staying on the phone for an hour when I
Needed to call Alice, to eat my cold dinner, or even to watch a favorite program. I felt guilty
And very seldom cut a conversation short, but I was frustrated nonetheless even knowing
How much you needed me and also how much I needed you, and how little you asked of me.  

How I would love to hear your voice again, even if you wanted to complain about the same old
Things or tell me in minutest detail some unimportant aspect of your day. I thought I would
Have you at least a little longer. A year? Two? God only knew, and I could hope. There would be
Time. I had so much more to share with you, so much more to learn when life eased up a bit.

You taught me to fish (it did not take) and to hunt (that took even less) and much of what I
Know about mechanics, and electronics. We worked on our cars together for years—from brake
Jobs, to mufflers, to real tune-ups in the days when points, condensers, and timing lights had Meaning, to rebuilding carburetors and fixing rust and dents, and power windows and more.

We were friends, good friends, who went on Sunday drives to favorite restaurants or shopping
For tools when I was single and lived at home. You taught me everything in life that I need to
Know about all the things that matter. The rest is meaningless paper and window dressing.
I knew all your few faults and your many colossal strengths and knew you to be the better man.

Not even close. I could never do what you did. I could never excel in my fields as you did in
Yours.  You were the real deal in every way, from every angle, throughout your life. I did not
Always treat you that way. But I loved you very deeply as anyone who knew us knows.
More importantly, you knew it. I told you often, unembarrassed in the telling. I love you, Dad.

The world was enriched by your journey. You do not leave behind wealth, or a body or work to
Outlive you. You never had your fifteen minutes in the sun. But you mattered. God knows your
Virtue, your absolute integrity, and the purity of your heart. I will never know a better man.
I will love you and miss you and carry you in my heart every day of my life. God bless you, dad.
Kuzhur Wilson Aug 2014
When the bakery was bought,
For the sake of novelty, uniqueness, etc,
Called it ‘bitter’

Laddu was bitter
Jalebi ws bitter
Cherry was bitter
Bitter, bitter

What bitterness, said people

The servant got bitter
Sir,
There are no bill collectors to turn away
Flies mock
She at home
Serves bitterness

While sharing the alienation
Which novelty and uniqueness supplied,
With eatables,
Biscuit said

Let’s add the salt of tears,
Eatables will not sell
If bitter

‘Please give me something old”
When the sound of a beggar
Intervened

Myself, who stood for novelty and uniqueness
Told him ‘ you can have this bakery’
translation : Anitha varma
The time was early or late - to us it's all the same/Our minds, a phone, two lovers alone and playing a lover's game.
We had made a promise not to speak or write those special words/Instead we chose to circle around them like a pair of lonesome birds.
Beyond all expectations we stayed true to our oath/Though in more ways than one it was torture to us both.
The day of our meeting was the date we had chosen/To express our emotions and melt lips long frozen.
But Life intervened and our plans were broken/Our love, it seemed, was not meant to be spoken.
Yet still a call was made and the reason why was clear/My patience had run out weeks ago and I simply longed to hear.
The melody of your voice and the thoughts in your head/And the rhythm of your breathing as you lay in your bed.
It isn't long before we start to speak of our vow/Though every fiber of my being begs to say it now.
Then a catch in your voice makes my ears perk up with glee/Could you desire to be first to say them to me?
Somewhere a clock chimes loudly four times/While criminals are out committing their crimes.
You become one of them as The Words leave your mouth/My love is now yours to take - North, East, West, and South.
I'll change and grow but there is one thing I'll always do/And it's whatever it takes to hear you say "I Love You."

For Jénay - My soulmate  
I love you honeybee
Dorothy A May 2012
Trish had an uncanny ability to pick all the wrong ones. Like a friend once told her, “You always try to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!”  If there were a hundred available guys in a room, she always managed to zone in on the worst one there, not the kindest one, not the one with the greatest character or honor. It's like she had a special gift for finding a man—a cursed one—yet she had only herself to blame—not  fate for it—like she tried to point her finger at for her troubles. In this regard, Trish was often her own worst enemy. And none of her bad experiences seemed to deter her from her defeating patterns, for it seemed that having a ****** choice of a man in her life was better than having no man at all.

A Friday night without any date was something she desperately wanted to avoid. At the age of fifty-six, trying to meet men was getting old, as old as she was feeling, lately.

At Pete’s Place, a local bar down at the end of her street, and two blocks over, Trish could at least feel like she was among friends. It was an old hangout that always felt like a safe haven to turn to, familiar territory that she could call her own turf, her home away from home. Often, Trish encountered regulars, down-to-earth faces who have been going to the family-like establishment as long as or longer than she has. Drinking really was not her thing, not more than one or two, at the most. But if anything, if worst came to worst, she could say she was not home alone and left out while the world seemed to go on its own merry way without her.  

Pete’s Place was far from a glamorous hangout, but it had a cozy charm to it that made it irresistible to Trish. In the back were a pool table and a dartboard that provided some harmless enjoyment. With a couple of flat screen TVs, there usually was some sports game to watch. And every other Saturday, there was a DJ conducting Karaoke that always attracted a regular crowd. Trish couldn’t sing a note, but she loved to watch and cheer everybody else on. She just felt so welcome here, so at home, that even if she felt depressed or lonely, the atmosphere eventually lifted her heaviness of heart.  

Entering the bar this time, Trish hardly saw a familiar face at all—that was except for the bartender, Henry, who worked this job since forever. For a Friday night, business seemed surprisingly slow. There was only an older couple watching a baseball game that was at Pete’s Place, a couple that she did not recognize.

“Where is everybody?” Trish asked Henry.

Henry smiled. “Hey, Trish! Good to see ya! Yeah, it is like a ghost town tonight, isn’t it? I guess there are too many good things goin’ on down in Buffalo. I think there are some big boat races goin’ on. And, for sure, there is the jazz festival”.

“Well, I’m here, Henry! Look out, everybody! Let the fun begin!” she said jokingly as she sat herself up at one of the barstools. She looked around. Even the wait staff wasn’t around, obviously gone home early and not needed.

“Would have been nice to go somewhere fun like that. I mean the jazz festival. I like jazz”, Trish said to Henry.

Henry was trying to stay busy by wiping down the bar, cleaning every nook and cranny behind the counter. “You should have called up one of your girlfriends to go over there. I am sure someone would have gone with ya”.

Trish rolled her eyes. “What girlfriends? They are often too busy with their own husbands or men in their life to care about what poor, old Trish Urbine wants to do!”

Henry felt bad for her.  The more she frequented Pete’s Place, the more he knew she was all alone, was in between having some man in her life. And, lately, she was coming quite often to the bar by herself.

“You are not old, Trish! Hell, I am older than you!” Henry exclaimed.

Trish just frowned, not convinced at all by what Henry said. “Not old?” she asked. She pulled a small mirror out of her purse and looked at herself, giving herself the inspection of a drill sergeant. “That is a joke! Look at those bags under my eyes. Look at those crow’s feet, for pity’s sake!  Look at that droopy skin in my neck! Horrible! I am trying to save up for a face lift. I really need it! Been needing it for a while now!”

Henry shook his head. “All you women are alike. My wife does the same, **** thing, the same putdowns to herself. Says she’s fat. Says she’s getting old and ugly. Says this and says that. But let me tell you Trish, after thirty-six years of marriage, I still see her as my sweetheart. I’d have it no other way than with my Bernadette. He patted his belly and added, "Hell, look at me. Believe it or not, with my job, I don’t even drink that much beer. But look at the gut I am getting”.  

Trish scoffed at what he said. Henry looked nearly as lean as he did the first time she met him. He was just being nice. .Under better circumstances, she would have found what Henry said as endearing and charming. To say he still loved his wife as his “sweetheart” was incredibly adorable and rare.

“Hey”, Henry said. “Enough of my jibber jabber. Pardon my manners. What can I get for ya, dear?”

“Just a Diet Coke for me, Henry. I have to watch the calories myself. You know me—don’t want to get frumpy, lumpy and dumpy. At least not more than I am!” Trish smiled. She thought that her self disparaging remarks were a cute way of getting her point across with humor, but Henry couldn’t see anything funny about it.

He filled her glass of pop from the tap and handed it over to her. “Hey, how’s that daughter of yours doing? Is she still living in Albany?”  

Trish cupped her hands up to her forehead and rested her head on them. “She is still in Albany, but she might as be on the moon for all we ever talk to each other”. She looked up at Henry and he could see the frustration written all over her face.

“I didn’t mean to upset you”, he said.

“Oh, you didn’t”, she returned. “I appreciate you asking, but you know the situation with Patti and I. It is either that we are at each other’s throat or we just don’t talk. Truth be told, we haven’t really got along since she was a girl. Once she hit those teenage years—oh, man they were a nightmare! I wouldn’t relive those years for anything!”

Henry rested his elbows up on the bar counter. “Oh, I know what you mean!. My second son, my boy, Steven, and I had a terrible time once he hit about fifteen. Man, him and I bucked heads all the time. Yes, indeed! It could get ugly, and it sure as heck did! But now I’m proud of him! In Afghanistan, fighting for his country—that is somethin’ that makes me glad! Now, I say that I couldn’t ask for better sons. I’m proud of him—of all four of my boys as good, strong men that they are!”  

Trish sipped on her coke, a hurtful look upon her face while reflecting on her daughter, a daughter that she named after herself.  Both were named Patricia, but the same name did not mean two peas in a pod, actually far from it. Trish definitely preferred her name, short and sophisticated—so she had liked to think—and the name, Patti, seemed cute and carefree. But Patti seemed anything but cute and carefree, not like she was when she was very little. But the name stuck with her, as she preferred to be called

“Yeah, but Patti still lives in the past” Trish said. “She still blames me for everything wrong in her life. Nothing has changed, and I am still the bad guy. Trish thought for a second. “Well, her dad, too. He’s bad, too, in her eyes. She always says she raised herself, that she never had real parents. That’s crap because I raised her and I was around—unlike her useless father!”

“Sounds bitter on her part”, Henry agreed. He thought to say that Trish sounded a bit like that, too, but he did not think it was his place to say it out loud.

“Bitter is right”, Trish said in disgust.  

Bartenders have always been seen as good listeners, like the working man’s counselor. People, like Trish, often came in for a drink to try to forget their troubles, and wanting to lean on a trusty soul in need. Henry has seen plenty of this in his twenty-four years on the job, and he has honed the skill quite well, the skill of providing a listening ear. Sometimes he had good advice, but he knew he was no psychiatrist.    

Frustrated, Trish went on. “I mean who else was there for her? When her dad and I divorced, she wanted to stay with him just to spite me! But would he have her? No, he only wanted to be with his under aged, ***** wife!

“And who else would do what I did? When my step dad died, and my mom couldn’t handle my little brother anymore, who was it that took him in? It was me! He was eleven and I was almost twenty-two and living with my boyfriend. I helped to finish raising him, kept him at my place right up to the day that he was grown—and more! And I did it because it needed doing, and nobody else was stepping in! When my sister moved to Colorado, and one of her kids, my nephew, Craig, wanted to stay here to graduate here from high school, I agreed to take him in for two years until he finished high school. And yet I am such a bad, selfish person in Patti’s opinion! It makes me sick to think of how she sees me as her mother!”

Henry poured her a refill of pop in her half empty glass. He knew that Trish was on bad terms with her daughter, that their relationship was shaky and strained. Patti was Trish’s only child, and it troubled him that they didn’t have much of a relationship. Yet Trish did not need pity. She needed to refocus and find a new direction. Henry knew that she has needed a new direction for quite a while now.    

“Well, you know I love my daughter”, he replied. “I know your heart must be achin’ bad—real bad. I couldn’t imagine my life without Jocelyn or me not talkin’ to her. She’s the apple of my eye, ya know!  And my boys know it and get that she’s special to me—Daddy’s little girl. With four older brothers, she has always been outnumbered. And myself and the Mrs. never expected her, neither. One—two—three—four, the boys all came right in a row! She came way after, Ben, the last one—a big surprise, I tell ya! But I was tickled pink and couldn’t have been happier to have my little girl”.  Henry smiled warmly, and added, “No matter how old she gets, she will always be my little girl.”

Trish’s mood wasn’t influenced by what Henry said, not for the good. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”

Henry looked a bit embarrassed. “Oh, I ain’t tryin’ to rub it in to ya! No, no Trish!  I’m just sayin’ you should see Patti as someone special, no matter what it is like now. She still is your daughter. And ya lover her! You know ya do! Try to get through to her. Keep on tryin’ and don’t give up hope.”

Trish didn’t look convinced by his little pep talk, so he said, “One day she will have her own children, and realize she will make mistakes, too. You sure will want to see those grandkids. Trust me! I live to see all of mine! ”

Patti sniffed at that comment, putting forth a laugh that seemed so phony and snarky. This behavior was not like her at all, not the bubbly Trish that Henry used to see coming into the bar. “Grandchildren? Are you kidding me? Patti wants nothing to do with men! She avoids them like the plague! Says she doesn’t want to end up like me…married and divorced four times…she says there is no excuse for it. But she uses me all the time as an excuse! I think she is just scared to death of relationships with guys!”

“I thought you were married three times?” Henry asked. He had a surprised look on his face, but then he tried to think differently. “But I don’t want to **** in on your life. It’s your business, not mine to judge”.

“No, Henry, it’s ok. My last marriage lasted only seven weeks”. She turned red in the face now, but she wanted to set it straight. “Patti thinks it is disgusting that I married all those times. My last husband tried to clear out my bank account, and I left him. Patti says she will never marry. She won’t touch a man with a ten foot pole to save her life!”

She paused as Henry stared intently at her, listening. “She does not want to end up like me”, she added, her voice throaty. Tears welled up in her eyes.  

Patti was the product of Trish’s first marriage to a man named Earl Colbert. When Patti was six, her father divorced her mother. Since then, Patti had seen plenty of men come and go. In between her other three husbands, there were too many boyfriends to even keep track of. Trish was also engaged twice, but the engagements were eventually broken off.    

She sat in silence as Henry was still thinking of the right thing to say to comfort her. Soon, two young couples had entered through the door, dispersing the air of awkwardness, and stopping the conversation between Henry and Trish.  Henry continued to clean up around the bar as he waved to them and welcomed their presence. One of the guys came up and ordered a pitcher of beer before joining his friends at a table.

It was no more than a few minutes later that another customer approached inside Pete’s Place. It was Jake. Trish rolled her eyes at Henry. He was a regular here, too, like she was, and about the same age as her.

Jake immediately came up to Trish and put his arm around her. “Buy you a drink, darlin’?” he asked. His breath already smelled of alcohol.  

“Oh, Jake, get away!” Trish scolded him. “You know I don’t accept drinks from married men, so move on!” She waved her hand in the air to clear the bothersome odor of his ***** away from her.

Jack just laughed, and moved to the other end of the bar, his usual spot. Henry kept his calm although he did not like Jake acting like a fool to Trish, or to any of the women who came here. He had to do his duty and serve Jake, but if he had his way the guy would be just a step away from being told to leave. Henry always kept a close eye on how much Jake was drinking, and he often cut him off when it seemed he had his share.

“Whisky, Henry”, Jake ordered. They both knew the routine.

With his whisky in hand, Jake smirked at Trish and asked, “How come you ain’t at that big jazz festival downtown?”  

“How come you ain’t?” she echoed him, sarcastically

“Cuz I don’t have a sweet lady to go with me and keep my company”. He winked at her, and downed a gulp of whisky.

“Oh, you mean like your—wife!” Trish said.  Jake and Trish often bantered like this to each other. “You will never change, Jake. You are a rude and obnoxious flirt, and you ought to be ashamed!”

Jake just laughed her off.  “Sweetie, my wife knows I’m a big flirt. She’s OK with it! She says ‘as long as you are peeking and not seeking, who cares what you do!’”

The two young couples that came in a while ago overheard Jake’s conversation and started to crack up in laughter. It seemed that he was the entertainment for a lackluster evening at the bar, a court jester of sorts. Trish looked at the four, young faces that were laughing at her expense, glanced at Henry in silent agreement that Jake was an idiot, and quickly turned red in the face.

“Jake, shut your big mouth!” Henry intervened. “You lie as much as you belt them down!”  When Jake was more sober, he seemed pretty reasonable, but he was nauseating when he was on a drinking binge.

Henry exited into a room behind the bar for a moment. Jake whispered loudly to Trish, like an impish, little boy who knew he might get caught, but loved the thrill of it. “Psst. Hey, Trish! Look! My wife’s no fun at all! Won’t go out with me no more. The festival is going on all weekend. Just give me your number and I’ll call you tomorrow and pick you up to take you there”.

Trish pretended like she did not hear him, still rattled up a bit, but trying her best to hide it, and Jake soon devoted his mind to his drink.

She turned herself around in the barstool and pretended to watch the baseball game. The scene in the room was still practically the same way since she first arrived. Only now there was an edgier atmosphere with the four younger people in it. The older couple was still sitting together in the corner, intent on watching the ball game. The two younger couples were drinking down their pitcher of beer and talking away. One of the young man had his arm around his girlfriend, gently caressing her back, and the other young couple, that was sitting across from them was holding hands.  

In longing, Trish looked on at the young couples. How she m
I

Out of the little chapel I burst
Into the fresh night-air again.
Five minutes full, I waited first
In the doorway, to escape the rain
That drove in gusts down the common’s centre
At the edge of which the chapel stands,
Before I plucked up heart to enter.
Heaven knows how many sorts of hands
Reached past me, groping for the latch
Of the inner door that hung on catch
More obstinate the more they fumbled,
Till, giving way at last with a scold
Of the crazy hinge, in squeezed or tumbled
One sheep more to the rest in fold,
And left me irresolute, standing sentry
In the sheepfold’s lath-and-plaster entry,
Six feet long by three feet wide,
Partitioned off from the vast inside—
I blocked up half of it at least.
No remedy; the rain kept driving.
They eyed me much as some wild beast,
That congregation, still arriving,
Some of them by the main road, white
A long way past me into the night,
Skirting the common, then diverging;
Not a few suddenly emerging
From the common’s self through the paling-gaps,
—They house in the gravel-pits perhaps,
Where the road stops short with its safeguard border
Of lamps, as tired of such disorder;—
But the most turned in yet more abruptly
From a certain squalid knot of alleys,
Where the town’s bad blood once slept corruptly,
Which now the little chapel rallies
And leads into day again,—its priestliness
Lending itself to hide their beastliness
So cleverly (thanks in part to the mason),
And putting so cheery a whitewashed face on
Those neophytes too much in lack of it,
That, where you cross the common as I did,
And meet the party thus presided,
“Mount Zion” with Love-lane at the back of it,
They front you as little disconcerted
As, bound for the hills, her fate averted,
And her wicked people made to mind him,
Lot might have marched with Gomorrah behind him.

II

Well, from the road, the lanes or the common,
In came the flock: the fat weary woman,
Panting and bewildered, down-clapping
Her umbrella with a mighty report,
Grounded it by me, wry and flapping,
A wreck of whalebones; then, with a snort,
Like a startled horse, at the interloper
(Who humbly knew himself improper,
But could not shrink up small enough)
—Round to the door, and in,—the gruff
Hinge’s invariable scold
Making my very blood run cold.
Prompt in the wake of her, up-pattered
On broken clogs, the many-tattered
Little old-faced peaking sister-turned-mother
Of the sickly babe she tried to smother
Somehow up, with its spotted face,
From the cold, on her breast, the one warm place;
She too must stop, wring the poor ends dry
Of a draggled shawl, and add thereby
Her tribute to the door-mat, sopping
Already from my own clothes’ dropping,
Which yet she seemed to grudge I should stand on:
Then, stooping down to take off her pattens,
She bore them defiantly, in each hand one,
Planted together before her breast
And its babe, as good as a lance in rest.
Close on her heels, the dingy satins
Of a female something past me flitted,
With lips as much too white, as a streak
Lay far too red on each hollow cheek;
And it seemed the very door-hinge pitied
All that was left of a woman once,
Holding at least its tongue for the *****.
Then a tall yellow man, like the Penitent Thief,
With his jaw bound up in a handkerchief,
And eyelids ******* together tight,
Led himself in by some inner light.
And, except from him, from each that entered,
I got the same interrogation—
“What, you the alien, you have ventured
To take with us, the elect, your station?
A carer for none of it, a Gallio!”—
Thus, plain as print, I read the glance
At a common prey, in each countenance
As of huntsman giving his hounds the tallyho.
And, when the door’s cry drowned their wonder,
The draught, it always sent in shutting,
Made the flame of the single tallow candle
In the cracked square lantern I stood under,
Shoot its blue lip at me, rebutting
As it were, the luckless cause of scandal:
I verily fancied the zealous light
(In the chapel’s secret, too!) for spite
Would shudder itself clean off the wick,
With the airs of a Saint John’s Candlestick.
There was no standing it much longer.
“Good folks,” thought I, as resolve grew stronger,
“This way you perform the Grand-Inquisitor
When the weather sends you a chance visitor?
You are the men, and wisdom shall die with you,
And none of the old Seven Churches vie with you!
But still, despite the pretty perfection
To which you carry your trick of exclusiveness,
And, taking God’s word under wise protection,
Correct its tendency to diffusiveness,
And bid one reach it over hot ploughshares,—
Still, as I say, though you’ve found salvation,
If I should choose to cry, as now, ‘Shares!’—
See if the best of you bars me my ration!
I prefer, if you please, for my expounder
Of the laws of the feast, the feast’s own Founder;
Mine’s the same right with your poorest and sickliest,
Supposing I don the marriage vestiment:
So, shut your mouth and open your Testament,
And carve me my portion at your quickliest!”
Accordingly, as a shoemaker’s lad
With wizened face in want of soap,
And wet apron wound round his waist like a rope,
(After stopping outside, for his cough was bad,
To get the fit over, poor gentle creature
And so avoid distrubing the preacher)
—Passed in, I sent my elbow spikewise
At the shutting door, and entered likewise,
Received the hinge’s accustomed greeting,
And crossed the threshold’s magic pentacle,
And found myself in full conventicle,
—To wit, in Zion Chapel Meeting,
On the Christmas-Eve of ‘Forty-nine,
Which, calling its flock to their special clover,
Found all assembled and one sheep over,
Whose lot, as the weather pleased, was mine.

III

I very soon had enough of it.
The hot smell and the human noises,
And my neighbor’s coat, the greasy cuff of it,
Were a pebble-stone that a child’s hand poises,
Compared with the pig-of-lead-like pressure
Of the preaching man’s immense stupidity,
As he poured his doctrine forth, full measure,
To meet his audience’s avidity.
You needed not the wit of the Sibyl
To guess the cause of it all, in a twinkling:
No sooner our friend had got an inkling
Of treasure hid in the Holy Bible,
(Whene’er ‘t was the thought first struck him,
How death, at unawares, might duck him
Deeper than the grave, and quench
The gin-shop’s light in hell’s grim drench)
Than he handled it so, in fine irreverence,
As to hug the book of books to pieces:
And, a patchwork of chapters and texts in severance,
Not improved by the private dog’s-ears and creases,
Having clothed his own soul with, he’d fain see equipt yours,—
So tossed you again your Holy Scriptures.
And you picked them up, in a sense, no doubt:
Nay, had but a single face of my neighbors
Appeared to suspect that the preacher’s labors
Were help which the world could be saved without,
‘T is odds but I might have borne in quiet
A qualm or two at my spiritual diet,
Or (who can tell?) perchance even mustered
Somewhat to urge in behalf of the sermon:
But the flock sat on, divinely flustered,
Sniffing, methought, its dew of Hermon
With such content in every snuffle,
As the devil inside us loves to ruffle.
My old fat woman purred with pleasure,
And thumb round thumb went twirling faster,
While she, to his periods keeping measure,
Maternally devoured the pastor.
The man with the handkerchief untied it,
Showed us a horrible wen inside it,
Gave his eyelids yet another *******,
And rocked himself as the woman was doing.
The shoemaker’s lad, discreetly choking,
Kept down his cough. ‘T was too provoking!
My gorge rose at the nonsense and stuff of it;
So, saying like Eve when she plucked the apple,
“I wanted a taste, and now there’s enough of it,”
I flung out of the little chapel.

IV

There was a lull in the rain, a lull
In the wind too; the moon was risen,
And would have shone out pure and full,
But for the ramparted cloud-prison,
Block on block built up in the West,
For what purpose the wind knows best,
Who changes his mind continually.
And the empty other half of the sky
Seemed in its silence as if it knew
What, any moment, might look through
A chance gap in that fortress massy:—
Through its fissures you got hints
Of the flying moon, by the shifting tints,
Now, a dull lion-color, now, brassy
Burning to yellow, and whitest yellow,
Like furnace-smoke just ere flames bellow,
All a-simmer with intense strain
To let her through,—then blank again,
At the hope of her appearance failing.
Just by the chapel a break in the railing
Shows a narrow path directly across;
‘T is ever dry walking there, on the moss—
Besides, you go gently all the way up-hill.
I stooped under and soon felt better;
My head grew lighter, my limbs more supple,
As I walked on, glad to have slipt the fetter.
My mind was full of the scene I had left,
That placid flock, that pastor vociferant,
—How this outside was pure and different!
The sermon, now—what a mingled weft
Of good and ill! Were either less,
Its fellow had colored the whole distinctly;
But alas for the excellent earnestness,
And the truths, quite true if stated succinctly,
But as surely false, in their quaint presentment,
However to pastor and flock’s contentment!
Say rather, such truths looked false to your eyes,
With his provings and parallels twisted and twined,
Till how could you know them, grown double their size
In the natural fog of the good man’s mind,
Like yonder spots of our roadside lamps,
Haloed about with the common’s damps?
Truth remains true, the fault’s in the prover;
The zeal was good, and the aspiration;
And yet, and yet, yet, fifty times over,
Pharaoh received no demonstration,
By his Baker’s dream of Baskets Three,
Of the doctrine of the Trinity,—
Although, as our preacher thus embellished it,
Apparently his hearers relished it
With so unfeigned a gust—who knows if
They did not prefer our friend to Joseph?
But so it is everywhere, one way with all of them!
These people have really felt, no doubt,
A something, the motion they style the Call of them;
And this is their method of bringing about,
By a mechanism of words and tones,
(So many texts in so many groans)
A sort of reviving and reproducing,
More or less perfectly, (who can tell?)
The mood itself, which strengthens by using;
And how that happens, I understand well.
A tune was born in my head last week,
Out of the thump-thump and shriek-shriek
Of the train, as I came by it, up from Manchester;
And when, next week, I take it back again,
My head will sing to the engine’s clack again,
While it only makes my neighbor’s haunches stir,
—Finding no dormant musical sprout
In him, as in me, to be jolted out.
‘T is the taught already that profits by teaching;
He gets no more from the railway’s preaching
Than, from this preacher who does the rail’s officer, I:
Whom therefore the flock cast a jealous eye on.
Still, why paint over their door “Mount Zion,”
To which all flesh shall come, saith the pro phecy?

V

But wherefore be harsh on a single case?
After how many modes, this Christmas-Eve,
Does the self-same weary thing take place?
The same endeavor to make you believe,
And with much the same effect, no more:
Each method abundantly convincing,
As I say, to those convinced before,
But scarce to be swallowed without wincing
By the not-as-yet-convinced. For me,
I have my own church equally:
And in this church my faith sprang first!
(I said, as I reached the rising ground,
And the wind began again, with a burst
Of rain in my face, and a glad rebound
From the heart beneath, as if, God speeding me,
I entered his church-door, nature leading me)
—In youth I looked to these very skies,
And probing their immensities,
I found God there, his visible power;
Yet felt in my heart, amid all its sense
Of the power, an equal evidence
That his love, there too, was the nobler dower.
For the loving worm within its clod
Were diviner than a loveless god
Amid his worlds, I will dare to say.
You know what I mean: God’s all man’s naught:
But also, God, whose pleasure brought
Man into being, stands away
As it were a handbreadth off, to give
Room for the newly-made to live,
And look at him from a place apart,
And use his gifts of brain and heart,
Given, indeed, but to keep forever.
Who speaks of man, then, must not sever
Man’s very elements from man,
Saying, “But all is God’s”—whose plan
Was to create man and then leave him
Able, his own word saith, to grieve him,
But able to glorify him too,
As a mere machine could never do,
That prayed or praised, all unaware
Of its fitness for aught but praise and prayer,
Made perfect as a thing of course.
Man, therefore, stands on his own stock
Of love and power as a pin-point rock:
And, looking to God who ordained divorce
Of the rock from his boundless continent,
Sees, in his power made evident,
Only excess by a million-fold
O’er the power God gave man in the mould.
For, note: man’s hand, first formed to carry
A few pounds’ weight, when taught to marry
Its strength with an engine’s, lifts a mountain,
—Advancing in power by one degree;
And why count steps through eternity?
But love is the ever-springing fountain:
Man may enlarge or narrow his bed
For the water’s play, but the water-head—
How can he multiply or reduce it?
As easy create it, as cause it to cease;
He may profit by it, or abuse it,
But ‘t is not a thing to bear increase
As power does: be love less or more
In the heart of man, he keeps it shut
Or opes it wide, as he pleases, but
Love’s sum remains what it was before.
So, gazing up, in my youth, at love
As seen through power, ever above
All modes which make it manifest,
My soul brought all to a single test—
That he, the Eternal First and Last,
Who, in his power, had so surpassed
All man conceives of what is might,—
Whose wisdom, too, showed infinite,
—Would prove as infinitely good;
Would never, (my soul understood,)
With power to work all love desires,
Bestow e’en less than man requires;
That he who endlessly was teaching,
Above my spirit’s utmost reaching,
What love can do in the leaf or stone,
(So that to master this alone,
This done in the stone or leaf for me,
I must go on learning endlessly)
Would never need that I, in turn,
Should point him out defect unheeded,
And show that God had yet to learn
What the meanest human creature needed,
—Not life, to wit, for a few short years,
Tracking his way through doubts and fears,
While the stupid earth on which I stay
Suffers no change, but passive adds
Its myriad years to myriads,
Though I, he gave it to, decay,
Seeing death come and choose about me,
And my dearest ones depart without me.
No: love which, on earth, amid all the shows of it,
Has ever been seen the sole good of life in it,
The love, ever growing there, spite of the strife in it,
Shall arise, made perfect, from death’s repose of it.
And I shall behold thee, face to face,
O God, and in thy light retrace
How in all I loved here, still wast thou!
Whom pressing to, then, as I fain would now,
I shall find as able to satiate
The love, thy gift, as my spirit’s wonder
Thou art able to quicken and sublimate,
With this sky of thine, that I now walk under
And glory in thee for, as I gaze
Thus, thus! Oh, let men keep their ways
Of seeking thee in a narrow shrine—
Be this my way! And this is mine!

VI

For lo, what think you? suddenly
The rain and the wind ceased, and the sky
Received at once the full fruition
Of the moon’s consummate apparition.
The black cloud-barricade was riven,
Ruined beneath her feet, and driven
Deep in the West; while, bare and breathless,
North and South and East lay ready
For a glorious thing that, dauntless, deathless,
Sprang across them and stood steady.
‘T was a moon-rainbow, vast and perfect,
From heaven to heaven extending, perfect
As the mother-moon’s self, full in face.
It rose, distinctly at the base
With its seven proper colors chorded,
Which still, in the rising, were compressed,
Until at last they coalesced,
And supreme the spectral creature lorded
In a triumph of whitest white,—
Above which intervened the night.
But above night too, like only the next,
The second of a wondrous sequence,
Reaching in rare and rarer frequence,
Till the heaven of heavens were circumflexed
Another rainbow rose, a mightier,
Fainter, flushier and flightier,—
Rapture dying along its verge.
Oh, whose foot shall I see emerge,
Whose, from the straining topmost dark,
On to the keystone of that are?

VII

This sight was shown me, there and then,—
Me, one out of a world of men,
Singled forth, as the chance might hap
To another if, in a thu
At night-the light turned off, the filament
Unburdened of its atom-eating charge,
His wife asleep, her breathing dipping low
To touch a swampy source-he thought of death.
Her father's hilltop home allowed him time
To sense the nothing standing like a sheet
Of speckless glass behind his human future.
He had two comforts he could see, just two.

One was the cheerful fullness of most things:
Plump stones and clouds, expectant pods, the soil
Offering up pressure to his knees and hands.
The other was burning the trash each day.
He liked the heat, the imitation danger,
And the way, as he tossed in used-up news,
String, napkins, envelopes, and paper cups,
Hypnotic tongues of order intervened.
Andrew Rueter May 2017
Gather 'round children
To hear the story of
Obsessionman
Our extremely watchful protector

Bitten by a radioactive trumpeter at a young age
He obtained the super power
Of constantly thinking about the moment he was bitten
His power only grew stronger with time
When people told him his power was ****
His power grew
When people mentioned the toxicity of his radioactive waste
His power grew
And when he encountered his arch nemesis; the trumpeter
Everything grew

You should've seen how fast he flew
He soared quicker than
All the ******* he had once considered important
But when flying at such high velocities
Civilians become interlopers
And interlopers become super villains
Which is no laughing matter
Aquaman went comatose
And Comaman got aqua toes
Sacrifices we were willing to make
But then God intervened
And Obsessionman ***** Him
Which we all agreed was kind of ****** up
Decidedly so...

I mean...
What can you say about your hero when he ***** God?
But that's the beauty of Obsessionman
All he requires from us
Is our disgust, indifference, and hatred
To feed his strength
Until the day he is powerful enough
To fulfill his destiny
And face his arch nemesis
The trumpeter
K Balachandran Nov 2015
There flows an  invisible, river of subtle emotions he felt,
separating the immediate reality and the realm of art;
gazing the reclining ****,with a pair of eyes conjured,
he  levitated to the other bank of reality as if by magic,
while she waited and waited,somewhat perplexed,
then her eyes intervened, made him cross over so fast.
karin naude Jan 2014
thank god, above all
me, born in age of female equality evolution
in any other age
me, a slave
confined by financial, educational and social inequality
fueled by power deluded women-peons
leaving mountains and dungeons in passing
tears of blood
shed by disillusioned soul
instinctively knowing,
i can create my own destiny
life time spend achieving
smoothing the road for future daughters
BUT
satans has intervened once more
present daughters do not value
their priceless inheritance
many squander it, willingly
but few remain
with noble footing
instinctively calling out, to higher power
uneducated, still knowing
god exist, he is watching
and my inner strength comes from my creator
who created for a purpose
hail the king of kings
Harriet Cleve Aug 2018
...the threshold of a borrowed day stood before him mocking his manhood. He had refused to die when the levers of death were unleashed.A scorched black skull betrayed the ineptitude of mechanics. Yes, he had tremored and shook violently when the surge of electricity flowed throughout his flesh and veins. The vividness of the images projected from his memory onto his brains widescreen
horrified the very mind which had committed the atrocity of ******.

It was his hand he saw brandishing the footstool and crashing it into the terrified head of his neighbour. The frenzied last minute pathetic attempt of his victim to defend the most vicious injury inflicted with severe hostility. He heard once again the anguished brief scream screeching in the last desperate utterance of his victim. The pulped brain tissue seemed to spatter in microseconds and with it every thought and memory once possessed by this desecrated being
sprayed his face and accused him of wanton cruelty.

The eyes too accused him and stared with bitter intensity until their life force blinkered out and suddenly it was dark.

One brief instant caused him to bite on his tongue and split it in two as the electricity claimed justice shaking his conscience with bitter recrimination, defying him to live and yet live he did.

An unexpected power cut severed the link between life and death.
He was only aware of the eyes of the living in the death cell looking on incredulously at this unwanted twist of fate. The smell of burning flesh was like a taste of the fires of hell and damnation.
He knew too he had survived and took a callous satisfaction in his phyric victory,

As they warden unstrapped the clamps from his wrists and legs he felt a tangible relief. Fate had intervened and taken his side.

Suddenly through the door came a family member of his victim brandishing a wooden footstool as if he had suspected justice would take an absence of leave. Holding it high above his arms he swung it down on the head of the murderer and smashed his brains to a pulp.
A ****** had claimed a murderer and in that moment of terror the air was permeated with the fragrance of rough justice.

Silence settled on the scene and the tragic realisation that violence lay within the grasp of every man who chose to act on mindless impulse.

The power suddenly returned and an arc of electricity flashed in the air. It came too late for all who had come to see righteousness
prevailing.

Tomorrow another man would await the threshold of a borrowed
day.
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
Sacagawea's Capture*

As I strolled the Knife River trail
a dust cloud swirled and fell
and earth lodges appeared by the score
extending from the path to the river banks.

Hidatsa women sang at their chores,
        husking corn -
              beading moccasins -
                     scraping a buffalo hide.

A band of hunters dismounted
and released their ropes -
dropping two deer and an elk
by the hanging rack.

Triumphal shouts from the river
turned all heads to the shore
where warriors, returned
from Shoshone fields,
lashed up canoes and dragged
their human spoils up the rise.

Several squaws reached out
from the gathering crowd
seizing two of the squirming children.

A Shoshone girl with terror in her eyes
cringed as a warrior raised his arm.
"No, tell your Hidatsa name!"
Sobbing she choked through broken tears,
"My name is Sacagawea."

I bolted to breach the walls of time
to face death in her defense
but a new whirling cloud intervened.

When the dust fell away
all the lodges had vanished
with all the Hidatsa villagers.

Kneeling down to the Dakota grass,
I caressed a circular hollow
etched deeply in the silent earth.



August 6, 2010
Lewis and Clark wintered in the Mandan Villages along the Missouri River in present day North Dakota in 1804.  The Knife River flows into the Missouri River just a couple of miles downstream. Several tribes lived together for their mutual security.  The scene in this poem happened a few years earlier.   The French Canadian trapper, Toussant Charboneau, either bought Sacagawea or won her in a card game.  She was pregnant when the Corps of Discovery arrived and Lewis helped "midwife" the birth of her son, Jean Baptiste Charboneau.

When Lewis and Clark found out she was Shoshone they hired her and Charboneau to help negotiate for horses to cross the Rockies.  As luck would have it, the Shoshone Chief that had the authority turned out to be Sacagawea's brother or cousin (the Shoshone language used the same word to define both relations).  Sacagawea's presence with the Corps of Discovery probably saved the expedition from annihilation on several occasions.

The Hidatsa's at Knife river and in other communities lived in large circular houses framed out in tree lumber. The open circles inside were hollowed out into crater-like depressions. Today, the hollows from their houses dot the landscape like the surface of a golf ball.

Knife River is one of the most moving sites I have ever seen or expect to see - ever!!
Mateuš Conrad Aug 2016
i like looking up these shadow-people, the labourers
away from the spotlight, away from easy reference conclusions,
Ludovico Arrighi is among them, as is
the high jumper **** Fosbury - no belly-flop in
the competition after... after 1968 the road signs
told every jumper to expose the back and ***
when overpowering the heights -
Philippe Petit is outside the world, the ultimate
expression of solipsism, what grandeur (previous
attempts, the dyslexic source: the graphemes, æ,
previously i wrote grandeur as: grandeaur,
grandaeur, etc., somehow the syllables of only
vowels can leave you momentarily dyslexic,
when we're talking pure consonant graphemes
we have an aesthetic performed,
sheering can become šeering, whereby the diacritical
input overpowers excess spelling of graphemes,
such examples arise from what became the silent H...
or the surd H... ping-pong with the tetragrammaton...
e.g. dhal - which is said with a macron over the a:
dāl... but the trinity of spelled words gives rise
of neurosis... unless it's a word as conjunction,
the tribunal of aesthetic in keeping language beautiful
will prefer the spelling dhal or even daal rather than
what i proposed). concerning Ludovico Arrighi's
italics type... the skewed rhombus alignment /    /
is prescribed for emphasis... i need something to introduce
something that doesn't stress emphasis, but
sarcasm / ridicule... when i write something,
as i did in Christianity 2.0 (two point oh),
i'd change the direction of the ~wind, i.e. instead of
/    /    for emphasis, i'd like to stress ridicule in the
following direction:    \     .
but that's beside the point, it's like a western with
English not applying noticeable stresses...
for example the English trill, or the French hark...
they should be equipped with diacritical marks
of distinction... some sort of uniformity
of suggestion... the northerners trill (roll)
their R, the French used to, now anything but
a puddle of phlegm... but indeed, easy dyslexia from
pure vowel graphemes... cutting up graphemes
with diacritical incisions (safety, in a persistent vocabulary,
following the method of philosophical methodology -
hence my casual use of diacritics and graφemes -
i.e. when graphemes can't be constructed due
to a lacking of grapheme intention - unlike θ and φ -
supported by their alignment of a twin sound,
the Greeks would never consider applying diacritical
marks on p, t, h - unlike in Polish, where the h
is distinguished into a ch for aesthetic purposes -
e.g. chleb - bread and huj - **** -
but overpowering the vowel graphemes produced
their disappearance and the emergence of diacritical
vowels, e.g. the acute o (ó), which is a U, i treat
the diacritical mark as an incision point for the parabola,
cutting up the omicron, and that seems natural
given that the Greeks already did it without the acute
sign, i.e. the omega (the double u) - ω - again,
aesthetic reasons, the forgotten gallery of words
is there, you just have to forget Chomsky for a while.
but indeed, breaking up graphemes provides us
the necessity for diacritical marks,
the ancient Roman graphemes might have disappeared,
but they're still digitally present: mostly concerning
major words, like onomatopoeia - or encyclopaedia -
graphemes behave differently with the barbarians,
the latter encyclo- example is obviously nostalgic,
the ono- example does a reverse grapheme variation
of oe... but modernity expresses these couples
with individual distinctions - i.e. encyclopaedia
could be written utilising... well not a caron - not quiet
***, and more p'eh - the resurrection of the tetragrammaton
is necessary, i'd have inserted the variation without
minding French, i.e. grave accent on e eating away
the last vowel... or vowels... i.e. encyclopaèdia -
so avoiding the French usage that would cut off the -ia,
i'd insert it for reasons of interacting with a h, p'eh.
Joyce's Finnegan's Wake should have been written like this...
instead, it was written without noticing the diacritical
marks, and therefore made it's pompousness known
by omitting diacritical marks, therefore succumbing to
excessive spelling... or the ruin of Delmore Schwarzt -
nurse! scalpel: sch(sh /sz / š)- -wä(łä)- r(z)'t - drum-kit
wet snare tss't like in jazz.
still i need to define the R being trilled (rolling ball)
akin to the å - but of course the umlaut would do the job
likewise - but it's the aesthetic purpose that's necessary,
i guess umlaut designates an eased concept of
arithmetic included above the sound: i.e. prolonged,
count +2.

but these are but minor points of consideration,
obviously it would take decades to implement, and knowing
human endeavours in this realm, once fixed, once
fixated, nothing will hardly change - due to the already
existing utilisation, whereby it works perfectly to segregate
people... and the fact that there's no linguistic bible to
mind... but talking about orthodoxy and meddling with
dogma, i'm still bothered about the Malachi heresy,
how could it have been implemented?
i mean, a polytheistic concept of reincarnation is the oldest
form of identity theft, isn't it?
monotheism is incompatible with the concept of reincarnation,
this is the weakest spot / the blemish in Judaism...
Malachi is the actual inventor of Christianity and Islam,
he introduced the concept of reincarnation with
the return of Elijah, as mentioned in the New Testament
where Jesus is compared with Elijah...
it's a monotheistic heresy... reincarnation has no place
in monotheism, yet there it is, glaring at everyone from
the page... it was Malachi's error that gave rise to
schism... the litmus test of a monotheism is it's inability to
succumb to schism... well, Christianity is poly-schismatic,
Islam suffered an infection of schism early on...
Jewish schism?  you either practice or don't...
you either don the full attire of a Hasidic jews or you simply
turn your opinions toward earthly matters...
and so much rigour just because they didn't care to
roll the ******* back during ***, all that much work
from snipping the *******... early intervention did the job,
snip the skin off and we have the most ridiculously
funny god in the thought of man, an entire Mongolian
horde of intellectuals have been spawned from his existence...
imagine if god intervened when plastic surgery came around...
wouldn't be so ******* funny by my count.
****! listening to the radio and standing up between sentences
then realising there's no go-back button... it's live...
sometimes the oddities of not being your own d.j. can be
petrifying, when you're working against the river-current
like a Salmon of rhythm.

lastly... i guess this is a major point, in a magazine article
some dung-heap of opinion wrote something
about poetry, in ditto:
a policeman shoots dead Michael Brown in Ferguson,
Missouri in August 2014, Maggie Smith's poem
Good Bones goes viral, it wasn't about Ferguson,
it was about life being short and often terrible -
continues with: poetry is the language of crisis, of
profound thought and deep emotion, it may not be
much read these days, but it is certainly felt...

is that all true? is poetry the language of crisis?
i think that assertion is a load of *******...
it's a bit like using a hammer to paint the civil room's
walls (living room, i call it the civil room) -
if i'm reading poetry i'm not commuting or lying in bed,
i'm perched on the windowsill in a quasi-akimbo pose,
sipping a glass of bourbon with coca-cola and
smoking a cigarette, mindful of never wanting to
wear contact lenses or eyeglasses,
poetry is more than this idealism about it,
that you read poetry to savour the moment of critical needs,
i read poetry because newspaper articles **** me off...
poetry is like newspaper articles when those monstrous
literary ****** get going for months of necessary
attention to finish them... poetry, when drinking
bourbon, smoking a cigarette, quasi-akimbo on the windowsill,
perfect use of spacing, i bet most people who stick
to poetry will have better eyesight when they grow older.
Nigel Morgan Apr 2013
It took him a week to master thought-diversion. He would leave home to walk to work and the moment the door was shut it was as though she followed him like a shadow on snow. If he wasn’t careful the ten-minute walk would be swallowed up in an imagined conversation. He had already allowed himself too many dark thoughts of tears and silences. He saw her befreckled by weeks in a light he had only read about. She would be a stranger for a while, a visitor from another world (until she gradually lost the glow on her skin and the smell of Africa became an elusive memory). He was frightened that he would be overwhelmed by her physical grace enriched by   southern summer and the weight of her experience, having so little to offer in return. So he practised thought diversion: as her shadow entered his consciousness he would divert his attention to China of the Third Century and what he would write next about Zuo Fen and her illustrious brother.

Sister and brother Zou gradually took on a fictional life. This he fuelled by reading poetry of the period and his daily beachcombing along the shores of the Internet. He built up an impressive bibliography for his next visit to the university library. Even in the Han Dynasty there was so much material to study, though much of it the stuff of secondary sources.

One morning he took down from his library shelf Max Loehr’s The Great Painters of China and immediately became seduced by the court images of Ku Kai’chih. This painter is the only artist of this period of Chinese antiquity to be represented today by extant copies. There was also a possible original, a handscroll in The British Museum. It is said Ku was the first portrait artist to give a psychological interpretation of the person portrayed. Before him there seems in portraiture to have been little differentiation in the characterization of figures. His images hold a wonder all their own.

As David looked at the book’s illustrative plates, showing details from The Admonitions of the Instructress to the Palace Ladies, the world of Zuo Fen began to reveal itself. A ‘palace lady’ she certainly was, and so possibly similar to the image before him: a concubine reclines in her bamboo screen and silk-curtained bed; her Lord sits respectively at right-angles to her and half-way down her bed. The artist has captured his feet deftly lifting themselves out of square-toed slippers, whilst Zuo Fen drapes one arm over the painted bamboo screen, her manner resolute and confident. Perhaps she has taken note of those admonitions of her instructress. Her Lord has turned his head to gaze at her directly and to listen. Restless hands hide beneath his gown.

        ‘Honoured Lord, as we have talked lately of flowing water and the symmetry of love I am reminded of the god and goddess of Xiang River’.
       ‘In the Nine Songs of Qu Yaun?’
       ‘Yes, my Lord. The opening verse has the Prince of Xiang say: You have not come; I wait with apprehension / And wonder who makes you prevaricate on your island / When I am so splendidly and perfectly attired in your honour?
       ‘Hmm. . . so you favour this new gown.’
       ‘It is finely made, but perhaps does not suit the light of this hour’.
       ‘Let the Yangzi River flow calmly, / I look for you, but you have not come.’
      ‘I gaze at the distance in a trance, /  Only to see the grey green waters run by.

        ‘Honourable Companion, I fear you feel my mind lies elsewhere . ‘
       ‘I know you ride the cassia boat downstream.’
       ‘Indeed, my oar is of cassia and my rudder of orchid’.
        ‘I fancy that you build a house underwater, thatching it with a roof of lotus leaves . . .’
       ‘Well, if that is so, drop your sleeves into the Yangzi River and present the thin dress you wear to the bay of Li.’
       ‘I am in awe of my Lord’s recall of such verses . . . I love the Lady of Xiang’s description of the underwater house . . . with its curtains of fig leaves and screens of split basil.’
      ‘But will you send me all the spirits of Juiyi mountains to bring me to your side . . . will they come together as numerous as clouds?’
      ‘My Lord, my nose perspires . . .’
      ‘I offer my jade ring to the Yangzi River / and yield my jade pendant to the bay of Li. / I gather galingale fronds on an islet of fragrant grasses, / still hoping to present them to you. / If I leave, I might not have another chance. / So I’d rather stay here and linger a little longer.’
        ‘I gather the powerful roots of galingale / hoping to offer them to you who are still far away. / If I leave, I might not have another chance. / So I’d rather stay here and linger a little longer
.’
      ‘Even though your nose perspires and your ******* harden . . .’
        ‘Kind Lord, you have taken the wrong role in the dialogue. Surely it is the Plain Girl who gives such advise to the Yellow Emperor.’
        ‘And I thought only men read the Sunujing . . .’
        ‘You forget I have a dear brother . . .’
       ‘With whom you have read the Sunujing! . . and no I have not forgotten . . . he sought permission to travel to the Tai mountains, some fool’s errand my minister states.’
         ‘He may surprise you on his return.’
        ‘Only you can surprise me now.’
       ‘My Lord, you know I lack such gifts . . . I hear your sandals dropping to the floor’.
      ‘I sail my boat ever closer to the wind / and the waves are
stirred like drifting snow.’
     ‘I can hear my beloved calling my name. / I shall hasten so that I can ride beside him.



She seemed so child-like in that singular room of the garden annex. Her head had buried itself between the two pillows so only her ever-curling hair was visible. Opening a small portion of the curtains drawn across the blue metalled-framed French windows, he gazed at her sleeping in the dull light of just dawn. Outside a river-mist lay across the autumnal garden where they had walked yesterday before their tour of the estate. Unable to sleep he had sat in their hosts’ kitchen and mapped their guided walk in the rain, noting down his observations of this remote valley in a sprawling narrative. On the edge of moorland it was a world constrained and contained, with its brooding batchelor-owned farms and the silent legacy everywhere of a Victorian hagiographer and antiquarian. As he wrote and drew, snapshot-like images of her intervened unbidden. She both entranced and purposeful in a physical landscape she delighted in and knew how to read. Although longing to lie next to her he had sat gently for a moment on her bed, feeling the weight of her sleeping form move towards him as the mattress sagged, his bare feet cold on the stone floor. He placed his poem on the empty companion pillow, and returned through the chill of unheated rooms to the desert warmth of the Agared kitchen.


Lying in your arms
I am surprised to hear a voice
That seems in the right key
To sing what is in my heart.

After so many dark
inarticulate hours
I,  desperate
To express this love
That drowns me,
Suddenly come up for breath
(after floundering in
the cold water of night)
to find there were words
like little boats of paper
carrying a tea light,
a vivid yellow flame
on the black depths,
floating gently towards you . . .

Oh log of memory
record these sailing messages
So carefully placed, rehearsed,
Launched and found complete.

Knowing I must not talk of love,
Knowing no other word
(feeling the shape of your knee
with my right hand),
knowing this time will not
come again, I summon
to myself one last intimacy
before the diary of reason closes.


Zou Fen often wrote about herself as a rustic illiterate, country-born in a thatched hut, but given (inexplicably) the purple chamber at the Palace. As the daughter of a significant officer of the Imperial Court she appears to have developed a fictional persona to induce and taste the extremes of melancholy. Otherwise she is mind-travelling the natural world from her courtyard garden, observing in the growth of a tiny plant or the flight of distant bird, the whole pattern of nature. These things fill her rhapsodies and fu poems.

As a young man Zuo Si had wild flights of fantasy. He imagined himself as a warrior. In verse he recalls reading Precepts on the Art of War by Ssu-ma Jang Chu. With a scholar’s knife he writes of quelling the barbarian hordes (the Tibetans) in their incursions along the Yang-tze. When triumphant he would not accept the Emperor’s gift of a title and estate, but would retire to a cottage in the country. Then again, as a student scholar, he describes failure, penury and isolation ‘left stranded like a fish in a pond, without – he hasn’t a single penny in his account: within – not a peck of grain in the larder.’ He was never thus.

Like all good writers sister and brother Zou were the keenest observers. They took into and upon themselves what they saw and gathered from the lives of others, and so often their playful painted characters hide the truth of their real lives. David looks at his dishevelled poetry and wonders about its veracity. He always thought of Rachel as his first (and only) reader; but what if she were not? What would he write? What would his poems say?

*I lie on my back in her bed.
On her stomach, her arm on my chest,
She props herself against me
so that I see her face in close up.
She gazes
out of the window

I don’t think I have slept at all,
My own bed was so cold.
She warms me for a while.

All night
I’ve been thinking
what to say to her,
and now I am too weary
to speak.

I am in despair,
Yet I ache with joy
At having her so close.

I wish I knew who I was,
What I could be,
What I might become.

A voice tells me
that such intimacy
will not come again.
mk Jan 2016
the sun hid behind the clouds
causing the 9am sky to be a dusty blue
with rays of sun peeking through every now and then
it was mid-winter and the air was crisp
it smelt of the new year, full of hopes and dreams, love and life
the two of them were found sitting at a little table at a room-large restaurant
in the crowded, busy city center
she wore a pale yellow shalwaar kameez
with a light brown pashmina shawl draped around her narrow shoulders
to protect her from the frosty wind which blew back her dupatta
he still had sleepy eyes and unmade bed hair
she'd dragged him out of bed a little too early
it had been a long night, and it had taken a lot of strength to leave his blanket in the early morning hours
but looking at her eccentric face right now made him realize he'd leave anything to be with her right now
she asked him what he wanted to eat
and he was pulled out of the trance, staring into her green-brown eyes reflecting in the morning sun
"jo tum kaho" he smiled that little side smile at her, letting her order for him
the smile she had fallen in love with on the very first day
8 months ago, in the middle of summer when fate intervened and crossed their paths
she called the waiter and ordered two cups of chai and asked him to bring her parathas straight off the stove
"and keep them coming!" she yelled after the waiter who walked a few steps away to the tiny corner kitchen wide enough for a single man, maybe two
"keep them coming?" he looked at her, a little skeptical
"trust me on this one" she smiled widely at him, "if you can't eat them, i will"
that made him laugh, he knew she wouldn't be able to handle more than two
but he just smiled & nodded, anything she wanted, anything she desired, he couldn't help but grant her
she kicked off her khussas and scrunched her knees on the plastic garden chair
closing her eyes and inhaling the winter air
he looked at her and thought to himself
she is my breath of fresh air
and somehow, call it a sixth sense, she noticed his eyes on her
"kya dekh rahey **?" she pouted her lips
"bus...tumhey" he laughed
she hid her face in her dupatta
"stop it!" she giggled
he leaned over the table and pulled her dupatta away, lowering his voice as he said
"you're beautiful"
she caught her breath, lost in his mahogany eyes- strong, protective, loving
the waiter interrupted them, placing their order on infront of them
"yay. khaana's here! she yelled
to be honest, she was thankful it had come
she felt embarrassed by the grip his gaze had on her
and she was a little hungry too
she reached for a paratha, immediately pulling away and ****** her fingers
"it's too garam" she made a face
he split the paratha, unflinching, and gave her half
"i'm still stronger than you." she said
"i know." he made a kissy face at her
she wanted to reach over and kiss his pouting lips
but she she pretended as if she as unconcerned and began her food
a paratha and a cup of chai later she put her hands on her stomach
"i'm full"
he looked at the three parathas infront of them, the waiter bringing the fourth as per the order
he shook his head
"tum bhi na."
he told the waiter to parcel the rest of the food as he took the last sip of chai
the caffeine worked its way through his body and he stretched away the sleep
"you're full? chalo, okay, i had planned on ordering gulaab jamuns for dessert. i guess i'll have to eat them alone."
her mouth opened in shock, then, realizing he was joking, she smiled cheekily
"i always have space for a gulaab jamun or two."
he laughed, wondering how she managed to make him fall deeper in love with her as the moments passed
they sat under the shade of the gulmohar tree and ate their dessert in silence
taking in the beauty of the weather, of the city, of each other, of the moment
and as the sun reached for the sky, higher and higher
she reached for his hand
gentle, kind, warm
her touch sent a buzz through his body
"i love you" she whispered
he could only stare at her delicate pink lips as she spoke
realizing he had found within her an everlasting future
he smiled at the thought
he'd never thought he'd fall in love with such a silly, gulaab jamun-loving girl
but now, it seemed like she was the only star in his night sky
his shooting star
his hope
**his love.
the weather is too lovely to not write about a little winter romance! x
-
shalwaar kameez: eastern clothing
pashmina: fine cashmere wool
dupatta: long scarf
"jo tum kaho": whatever you say/want
chai: tea
paratha: eastern fried bread
khussas: traditional eastern shoes
kya dekh rahey **: what are you looking at
bus...tumhey: just...you
khaana: food
garam: hot
tum bhi na: you're really something!
chalo: okay then
gulaab jamun: eastern dessert
gulmohar: royal poinciana tree
Nigel Morgan Aug 2013
It always intrigued him how a group of people entering a room for the first time made decisions about where to sit. He stood quietly by a window to give the impression that he was looking out on a wilderness of garden that fell steeply away to a barrier of trees. But he was looking at them, all fifteen of them taking in their clothes, their movements, their manners, their voices (and the not-voices of the inevitably silent ones), their bags and computers. One of them approached him and, he smiling broadly and kindly, put his hand up as a signal as if to say ‘not just now, not yet, don’t worry’, or something like that.

This smile seemed to work, and he thought suddenly of the woman he loved saying ‘you have such a lovely smile; the lines around your eyes crinkle sweetly when you smile.’ And he was warmed by the thought of her dear nature and saw, as in a photo playing across his nervous mind, the whole of her lying on the daisied grass when, as ‘just’ lovers, they had visited this place for an opening, when he could hardly stop looking at her, always touching her gently in wonder at her particular beauty. In the garden they had read together from Alice Oswald’s Dart, the river itself just a short walk away . . .

Listen,
a
lark
spinning
around
one
note
splitting
and
mending
­it

As he finally turned towards his class and walked to a table in front of the long chalkboard, half a dozen hands went up. He had to do the smile again and use both hands, a damping down motion, to suggest this what not the time for questions – yet. He gathered his notebook and went to the grand piano. He leafed through his book, thick, blue spiral-bound with squared paper, and, imagining himself as Mitsuko Uchida starting Beethoven’s 4th Piano Concerto, fingers placed on the keys and then leaning his body forward to play just a single chord. He held the chord down a long time until the resonance had died away.

‘That’s my daily chord’, he said, ‘Now write yours.’

Again, more hands went up. He ignored them. He gave them a few minutes, before gesturing to a young woman at the back to come and play her chord. Beside the piano was a small table with a sheet of manuscript paper and a Post-It sticker that said, ‘Please write your chord and your name here’. And, having played her chord, she wrote out her chord and name – beautifully.

He knelt on the floor beside a young man (they were all young) at the front of the class. He liked to kneel when teaching, so he was the same height, or lower, as the person he as addressing. It was perhaps an affectation, but he did it never the less.

‘Tell me about that chord,’ he said, ‘A description please’.
‘I need to hear it again.’
‘OK’, there was a slight pause, ‘now let’s hear yours.’
‘I haven’t written one’, the reply had a slightly aggressive edge, a ‘why are you embarrassing me?’ edge.
‘OK’, he said gently, and waved an invitation to the girl next to him. She had no trouble in doing what was asked.

Next, he asked a tall, dark young man how many notes he had in his chord, and receiving the answer four, asked if he, the young man, would chose four voices to sing it. This proved rather controversial, but oh so revealing – as he knew it would be. Could these composers sing? It would appear not. There was a lot of uncertainty about how it could be done. Might they sound the notes out at the piano before singing (he had shaken his head vigorously)? But when they did, indeed performed it well and with conviction, he congratulated them warmly.

‘Hand your ‘chord’ to the person next to you on your right. Now add a second chord to the chord you have in front of you please.’

Several minutes later, the task done, he asked them to pass the chords back to their original owners. And so he continued adding fresh requirements and challenges. – score the chords for string quartet, for woodwind quartet (alto-flute, cor anglais, horn, baritone saxophone – ‘transposition hell !’ said one student), write the chords as jazz chord symbols, in tablature for guitar, with the correct pedal positions for harp.

Forty minutes later he felt he was gathering what he needed to know about this very disparate group of people. There were some, just a few, who refused to enter into the exercise. One slight girl with glasses and a blank face attempted to challenge him as to why such a meaningless exercise was being undertaken. She would have no part in it – and left the room. He simply said, ‘May I have your chord please?’ and, to his surprise, she agreed, and with some grace went to the table by the piano and wrote it out.

A blond Norwegian student said ‘May we discuss what we are doing? I am here to learn Advanced Composition. This does not seem to be Advanced Composition.’

‘Gladly’, he said, ‘in ten minutes when this exercise is concluded, and we have taken a short break.’ And so the exercise was concluded, and he said, ‘Let’s take 15 minutes break. Please leave your chords on the desk in front of you.’

With that announcement almost everyone got out their mobile phones, some leaving the room. He opened the windows on what now promised to be a warm, sunny day. He went then to each desk and photographed each chord sheet, to the surprise and amusement of those who had remained in the room. One declined to give him permission to do so. He shrugged his shoulders and went on to the next table. He could imagine something of the conversation outside. He’d been here before. He’d had students make formal complaints about ‘his methods’, how these approaches to ‘self-learning’ were degrading and embarrassing, belittling even. I’m still teaching he thought after 30 years, so there must be something in it. But he had witnessed in those thirty years a significant decline in musical techniques, much of which he laid at the feet of computer technology. He thought of this kind of group as a drawing class, doing something that was once common in art school, facing that empty page every morning, learning to make a mark and stand by it. He had asked for a chord, and as he looked at the results, played them in his head. Some had just written a text-book major chord, others something wildly impossible to hear, but just some revealed themselves as composers writing chords that demonstrated purpose and care. Though he could tell most of them didn’t get it, they would. By the end of the week they’d be writing chords like there was no tomorrow, beautiful, surprising, wholly inspiring, challenging, better chords than he would ever write. Now he had to help them towards that end, to help them understand that to be an  ‘advanced composer’ might be likened to being an ‘advanced motorist’ (he recalled from his childhood the little badges drivers once put proudly on their bumpers – when there were such things – now there’s a windscreen sticker). To become an advanced motorist meant learning to be continually aware of other motorists, the state of the road, what your own vehicle was doing, constantly looking and thinking ahead, refining the way you approached a roundabout, pulled up at a junction. He liked the idea of transferring that to music.

What he found disturbing was that there were a body of students who believed that a learning engagement with a professional composer, someone who made his living, sustained his life with his artistic practice, had to be a confrontation. The why preceded, and almost obliterated, the how.

In the discussion that followed the break this became all too clear. He let them speak, and hardly had to answer or intervene because almost immediately student countered student. There evolved an intriguing analysis of what the class had entered into, which he summarised on a flip chart. He knew he had some supporters, people who clearly realised something of the worth and interest of the exercises. He also had a number of detractors, some holding quasi-political agendas about ‘what composition was’. After 20 minutes or so he intervened and attempted a conclusion.

‘The first rule of teaching is to understand and be sympathetic to a student’s past experience and thus to their learning needs, which in almost every situation will be different and various. This means for a teacher holding to an idea of what might, in this case, constitute ‘an advanced composer’. I hold to such an idea. I’ve thought about this ‘idea’ quite deeply and my aim is to provide learning opportunities to let as many of you as possible be enriched by that idea. You are all composers, but there is no consensus about what being a composer is, what the ‘practice of composition’ is. There used to be, probably until the 1970s, but that is no more. ‘

‘You may think I was disrespectful in not wishing to engage in any debate from the outset. I had to find a way to understand your experience and your learning needs. In 40 minutes I learnt a great deal. My desire is that you all go away from each session knowing you have stretched your practice as composers, through some of the skills and activities that make up such a practice. You all know what they are, but I intend to add to these by taking excursions into other creative practices that I have studied and myself been enriched by. I also want to stretch you intellectually – as some of my teachers stretched me, and whose example still runs through all I do.

Over the next seven days you are to compose music for a remarkable ensemble of professional musicians. I see myself as helping you (if necessary) towards that goal, by setting up situations that may act as a critical net in which to catch any problems and difficulties. I know we are going to fight a little over some of my suggestions, the use of computer notation I’m sure will be one, but I have my reasons, and such reasons contribute towards what I see as you all developing a holistic view of composing music as both a skill and an art form. I also happen to believe, as Imogen Holst once said of Benjamin Britten, that composing music is a way of life . . .

With that he walked to the window and looked out across that wilderness of green now bathed in sunshine. He felt a presence by his shoulder. Turning he suddenly recognised standing before him a young man, bearded now, and yes, he knew who he was. At a symposium in Birmingham the previous summer he had talked warmly and openly to this composer and jazz pianist in a break between sessions, and just a few weeks previously in London after a concert this young man had approached him with a warm greeting. Empathy flowed between them and he was grateful as he shook his hand that this could be. She had been with him at that concert and he remembered afterwards trying to recall his name for her and where they’d met. She was holding his arm as they walked down Exhibition Road to their hotel and he was so full of her presence and her beauty no wonder his memory had failed him.

‘Brilliant,’ the young man said, ‘Thank you. Just so much to think about.’

And he could say nothing, suddenly exhausted by it all.
Alexander K Opicho
(Eldoret, Kenya;aopicho@yahoo.com)

Here is a toast for valentine
Valentine in all seasons perennial
Where angst of money for love  
Cradled utopian capitalism,
It is once again in the city of Omurate
In the south most parts of Ethiopia
On the borders of Kenya and Ethiopia
Where actually the river Ormo enters Lake Turkana,
There lived a pair of lovers
With overt compassion for one another
The male lover was an origin of Nyangtom,
A cattle rustling Nilotic kingdom
While the female lover was a descendant of King Solomon
The Jewish children which King Solomon aborted
Because their mother was an Ethiopian African
They now form substantial part of the Ethiopian population
Their clan is known as Amharic, they speak subverted Yiddish,
These lovers were good to one another
Sharing secrets and all other stuffs that go with love.

Both the lovers were fatherless
They had lost their fathers through early death
They only had the mothers, who were again sickly
Their mothers coughed a whole night with whoops
And when in the wee of the night, when temperatures go low
The mothers breathe with wheezing sound
Like peasant music from African violin,
They didn’t eat with good appetite
They always left irritating chunks on the plates,
But they all puked mucus from their mouths
And of course with a very sickening regularity.

The menace of sick mothers intervened with love freedom
Among the inter-compassionate lovers
They did not have time for real active love
I will not mention recurrent missing of ceremonies
Fetes that are bound to go with valentine day
The lovers were bored to their teeth
They don’t knew when gods will come to unyoke them.

Especially the male lover, was most perturbed
His mother looked sorriest
With a scrofulous look on her old aged African face
She looked like a forlorn erstwhile cattle rustler
She ever whined in pain like a trapped hyena
Her son the male lover even began apologizing
To the female lover for such environmental upsets
Hence an African proverb that;
No love is possible with impaired judgment.

One day in the wee of the night
With no electricity nor any source of light
Darkness engulfing each and every aspect of the city
Confirming the hinterland of Africa
The female lover woke up from the sleep
And she never heard the usual wheezing breathes
That her mother often made in such hours,
Feat of suspicion gripped her
She jumped out of her bed to where her mother was
On feeling her, she found her dead, cold like a black member
She was already past the rigor mortis stage of death process
African chilliness had frozen her like a poikilothermic creature.

She wept but not in the uproarious groan
In that instinctive Jewish shrewdness
She did not announce nor inform her lover of her mother’s death
She only washed and groomed the cadaver of her mother
She made a headscarf around the head of dead mother
She even placed reading glasses on her face
On her mother’s dead torso she wrapped a dress
The most expensive of all bought from Egypt,
In the same wee of the night
She carried cadaver of her mother on her shoulders
The way a poor Nigerian farmer would carry a stem of banana
And walked slowly by slowly for a distance of a hundred kilometers
Down ***** into Kenya towards the city of Todanyang in Turkana County
Todanyang was a busy city, but silent and minus people in the night
The king of this city was called Lapur the son of Turkanai
And the law that Lapur passed in this city was archaic
It was; an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a Jew for a Jew
A pokot for a pokot, a samburu for a samburu
It was simply the law with nothing else
Other than clauses of measure for measure
And clauses of *** for tat instantaneously administered,
On reaching the market she placed her mother standing
Being supported on a sign post at the bus stage
In pose similar to that of an early morning traveler,
She sat a side like a prowling spider awaiting foolish fly
They way an African ***** exposes its red ****
And when the hen comes to peck
It traps and closes the head of the hen
Deeper into its ****,
At that bus stage there was a hotel
Owned by a Rwandese refugee
From the foolish clan of the Hutu
He had ran away from the genocide
In his country, he was also the perpetrator
And thus he was a runaway from the law *** hotelier
His name was Chapuchapu, meaning the quick one,
When Chapuchapu opened the hotel for the early customers
The female lover walked into the hotel
With innocence on her face like all the Jews
She placed an order for two mugs of coffee
And two pieces of bread
When Chapuchapu had placed food on the table
The female lover shrewdly instructed Chapuchapu
To go and hold the hand of the woman standing at the sign post
To bring her into the hotel for morning tea,
Chapuchapu in his unsuspecting charisma
With a mad drive to make money that morning
He dashed out as instructed with his foolish notion
That the customer is the queen, which is not
He grapped the standing cadaver with force
On pulling her to come along
The cadaver tumbled down like a marionette
Everything falling away; headscarf and glasses
Chapuchapu was overtaken by awe
The female lover was watching
Like the big brother in the Orwellian satire, 1984.
When the cadaver of her mother fell
She came out of the hotel
Screaming like a hundred vehicles
Of St John Ambulance
And two hundred Kenyan vehicles of fire brigade
And three hundred Kenyan cash transfer vehicles,
She was accusing Chapuchapu for being careless
Careless in his work that he had killed her mother,
Swam of armed humanity in Turkana loinclothes
Began pouring in like waters of Nile into Mediterranean
Female lover improved the scale of her screaming
Chapuchapu like a heavyweight idiot was dumbfounded
Armed people came in their infinite
Finally king Lapur arrived on his royal donkey
That his foot soldiers had only rustled
From Samburu land a fortnight ago,
The presence of the king quelled the hullabaloo
The king asked to find out what had happened
Amid sops the female lover narrated how
Chapuchapu the hotelier had killed her mother
Through his careless helter skelter behaviour
The king sighed and shouted the judgment
To the mad crowd; an eye for a……….!?
The crowd responded back to the King
In a feat of amok value;
For an eye you mighty Lapur son  ofTurkanai,
The stones, kicks, jabs began rainning
In volleys on an innocent Chapuchapu
Amid shouts that **** him, he came here to **** people
The way he killed a thousand fold in Rwanda.

The sopping female lover requested the king
That his people wait a bit before they continue
Then the king waved to the people to stop
Chapuchapu was on the ground writhing in pain
When the King asked the female lover what was the concern
She requested for pay from Chapuchapu not people to **** him
Chapuchapu accepted to pay whatever the price that will be put
Female lover asked for everything in hundreds;
Carmel, money, Birr, sheep, goats, donkeys, cows
Name them all they were in hundreds
Chapuchapu and his family were saying yes to every demand
And they rushed to bring whatever was said
The payments exhausted Chapuchapu back to square zero
The female lover carried everything away
The cadaver of her mother on her shoulder
She disappeared into the forest
and buried her mother there.

When she arrived home she found the male lover
He looked at her overnight change in fortune in stupefaction
He didn’t believe his eyes, it was a dream
Sweetheart, where have you gotten all these?
Questioned the male lover
Sweetie darling there is market for dead women
At Todanyang in the Turkana County of Kenya
I killed my sickly mother and carried her cadaver
As a trade ware to Todanyang
Whatever I have that you are looking at is the proceed,
Can my mother fetch the same? Asked the male lover
Of course yes, even more
Given the Africanness of your mother
African cadavers fetch more than the Jewish ones
At Todanyang market,
The male lover was now overtaken
By strong urge for quick riches
Was not seeing it getting evening
That day for him was as long as a whole century
He was anxious and restless more tired of a sickly mother
When evening fell he was already ready with the butcherer’s tools
He didn’t have nerves to wait till the wee of the night
As early as eleven in the evening he axed his mother’s head
Into two chunks of human skull spilling the brains in stark horror
Blood streaming like a rivulet all over the house
The male lover was nonchalant to all these
He was in the full feat of determination
To **** and sell his mother to  get the proceeds
With which he could foot the bills of valentine day.

He stuffed the headless blood soaked torso
Of his mothers cadaver in the sisal bag
He threw it to his bag
And began going to Todanyang
The market for human dead bodies
He went half running and half walking
With regular whistling of his favourite poem;
Ode to my Jewish lover
He reached Todanyang in the wee of the night
No human being was in sight
All people had gone as it was late in the night
He then slept in the open with dead body of his mother
Stuffed in the sisal bag beside him
Wandering night dogs regularly disturbed him
As they came to bite at smelling curdled blood
But he always scared them away.
As per the male lover he overslept till five in the morning
But when he woke up he unhesitatingly began to shout
Advertising his ware of trade in foolish version;
Am selling, the body of my mother, I have killed,
I killed her myself, it is still fresh, come and buy,
I will give you’re a bargain price,

When the morning came
People began crowding around him
As he kept on shouting his advertisement
Also Lapur the king came
He was surprised with the situation,
He asked the male lover to confirm
Whatever he was shouting
The male lover vehemently confirmed,
Then the law of an eye for an eye
Effortlessly took its course
Lapur  ordered his people, in a glorious royal decree
To stone the male lover to death
And bury him away without ceremony
Along with his mother in the sisal bag
In the wasted cemetery of villains
The same way Pablo Neruda
Had to bury his dead dog behind the house,

On hearing the tidings
About what had befallen her lover
The female lover had to send out a long giggle
Coming deep from her heart with maximum joy
She took over the estate of the male lover
Combined with hers,
All the animals and everything she took,
She made her son the manager
The son whom she immaculately conceived
Without any nuptial experience in the usual Jewish style
And their wealth multiplied to vastness
And hence toxic valentine gave birth to capitalism
The Raven Queen came from simple country roots
No royal silver spoon did she carry
Raised by unpretentious witches holding great wisdom
Old Gertrude, Esmeralda and Tregarry

Three witches known as spiritual leaders of the valley
Of lowly peasants and abundant woods
Raised her up simply infused with a fiery spirit
Proclaiming the law of the land to be good

Two faces reigned within the leaders and peasants
One which was shown to The Law
The other kept hidden as they lowly bowed to the wind
Praising the moon and icy snow as it thawed

A tale of hidden woe these three leaders carried
Unbeknown to the Raven Queen
Of her true heritage and the tainted gold they kept
From the night Old Death intervened

Old Death quietly crept in on her birthing night
Stole her sweet mother away
Yet for a fee the wise leaders took her in to love
Knowing who she would be one day

An eager student their young queen became
Learning the wisdom of the truth
Quite an apprentice in the ways of the wind
She became early in her youth

All at once the fiercest Winter ever known to the valley
Brought in terrible winds and bitter snow
The young queen watched as the peasants trembled
As savage wolves entered their fold

Great hunger came to the valley along with Old Death
Dissension was called into play
Soon, each of the leaders knew the time had come
To teach her the dark side of their ways

She was pulled from light into the darkest shadows  
To embrace her own true destiny
Her dark light shone through the woods and the valley
Bringing the savage wolves to bay

Fear of the Raven Queen’s light spread from the valley
Coursing through the veins of The Law
Sending in fierce horsemen thundering with vengeance
Her own lifeblood they came to draw

She answered their thundering with her own call
Heads for heads, raging fire with ice
Saving the ones who took her under their wings
Returning their tainted gold at a price
Copyright *Neva Flores @2010
www.changefulstorm.blogspot.com
www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/Changefulstorm

*My version of an old tale...............
blushing prince May 2017
There are two types of secrets
the ones sworn under oath never to tell anyone
whispered in crowded hallways
and while getting cold water from the corner store
and the ones you weren’t supposed to hear
the ones tossed in the dark, the ones forbidden
under the fingernail sensitive
top of the tongue scalding, threatening to
taser your skin with the weight, the electricity
that these words hold suspended in thick air
every Sunday evening I would listen to the
perfect consonants through the wall
the sacred sermon my mother and father would ritualize
the stories from before child, B.C
it would start with a question, so daintily pressed through
gleaming teeth
and he would bellow triumphantly about the hero within him
the time he intervened between two bloodied men with
pulpy faces touching with the grace of dancing gods  
his fists gracefully gliding between a pool of face
and can’t we calm down, and can’t we breathe the hot asphalt
of the day, the gravel of car exhaust ******* out
our sweat, I think you can
and these men with missing teeth and missing souls
would spit but their heads would level and my
heart would soar up through the ceiling, flutter right out
through
but these fairy tales were also horror stories
about the time the man was a boy and his father would
chase after him with a crowbar never to return home,
running barefoot through the hot concrete of the streets
causing blisters to appear like water balloons
popping them like the lungs that burst that day
but nothing but tears exploded out of them
and I thought I understood
the legend of the damsel in distress
my mother waiting by the door, waiting for the burns to fade from
her skin, waiting for the roof to cave in like the feelings
she promised she would swallow with cough medicine
and funerals are only birthday parties when you’re surrounded
by death, oh to be young
but then the secrets started to venture out of the confines of
my home, spilling out of my bed to become
real stories I told myself at school when I didn’t have
a Band-Aid for the scorching burn of sitting all alone
so I started living them, as I sat huddled in the bathroom
envisioning a toy cowboy stranded in the middle of the
bathtub, repeatedly soaked to make his clothes almost sun
bleached and his smile submerged, blotting, erasing
teaching myself that there’s no such thing as free will
when decisions are made for you
and this toy cowboy with his gun perched politely on his hand
Ready to deal some bullets or a handshake,
I never knew which but it didn’t matter
when there wasn’t conversation exchanged and
I wondered if he tried to escape when I wasn’t looking
did he feel like a goldfish in a bowl
his reality distorted, the glass too thick to realize
there was more than loneliness, more than
constant drowning, that being cold wasn’t a
state of being
no I don’t think so
that was the big secret you see
listening when one has nothing to say
you pick things up like lost puppies
or thumb tacks left on the floor
or you lose them like bobby pins and self-made money
my memories, my worst enemy
coming to an empty house at age 13
no home-made meal like pressing my face against
the carpet, being stealthy quiet
until I heard sound downstairs
the neighbors, the clatter of dishes being distributed
around the dining room table
laughter and television news about the ****** of a
teenager being shot outside his front yard
and this was my bread and butter
screaming of kids wrestling about who gets the
bigger piece of cake
the movement of chairs, the kissing of feet
walking from one room to the other
and although these mumbles didn’t tell their story
it told mine
the living room turning from bruised peach
to melancholy blue, solitude buzzing
through the creme brulee walls of my parents
studio apartment,
the tapping of a faucet, the slight erratic breathing
of a pipe leaking gas nearby but I survived
there are two types of secrets told
the ones you’re supposed to listen to
and the ones you forgot you knew
I have a friend who still believes in heaven.
Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks to God.
She thinks someone listens in heaven.
On earth she's unusually competent.
Brave too, able to face unpleasantness.

We found a caterpillar dying in the dirt, greedy ants crawling over it.
I'm always moved by disaster, always eager to oppose vitality
But timid also, quick to shut my eyes.
Whereas my friend was able to watch, to let events play out
According to nature.  For my sake she intervened
Brushing a few ants off the torn thing, and set it down
Across the road.

My friend says I shut my eyes to God, that nothing else explains
My aversion to reality.  She says I'm like the child who
Buries her head in the pillow
So as not to see, the child who tells herself
That light causes sadness-
My friend is like the mother. Patient, urging me
To wake up an adult like herself, a courageous person-

In my dreams, my friend reproaches me.  We're walking
On the same road, except it's winter now;
She's telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial music:
Look up, she says. When I look up, nothing.
Only clouds, snow, a white business in the trees
Like brides leaping to a great height-
Then I'm afraid for her; I see her
Caught in a net deliberately cast over the earth-

In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set;
From time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall.
It's this moment we're trying to explain, the fact
That we're at ease with death, with solitude.
My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar doesn't move.
She's always trying to make something whole, something beautiful, an image
Capable of life apart from her.
We're very quiet. It's peaceful sitting here, not speaking, The composition
Fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air
Going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering-
It's this stillness we both love.
The love of form is a love of endings.
Mateuš Conrad Nov 2015
when a nation implodes into a civil war,
it is heresy for other nations to intervene,
i didn’t hear of the french intervention
in the english civil war...
or a german intervention in the french civil war...
****** didn’t invade spain, and no african
nation intervened in the american civil war...
or mongolia invading russia via siberia
to save the tsar...
but i guess the concept of
                          globalisation changed all that,
when western nations forgot that they have
professional armies... while syria
         has a liechtenstein / gibraltar army equivalent...
former postmen, cooks, bakers butchers and lawyers
turned professional “footballers;”
i can draw you a dairy cow in crayons if you like,
oozing blood: if this view is too complex to digest -
they do it with passion...
                your soldiers do it for a paycheque, get it?
Dorothy A Mar 2017
It’s a horrible feeling when you belong to nobody, and nobody belongs to you. When you don’t matter to a single soul—there is no worse feeling in the world. That feeling nagged Clem throughout much of his life. He used to walk around, wounded and broken inside. Though what he felt inside may never have shown on his tough armor that he wore in public, Clem often felt his life pretty much meant nothing. So how did he ever get to where he was today? How did he get to be so blessed? It amazed him.

Born in 1917, Clem Manning never thought he’d ever make it to one hundred years old, yet here he was. Today was his special day, though he didn’t want any fuss over it all. But he was living with his daughter, Violet, for the past few years, and she wouldn’t have it any other way but to put together a celebration to remember. With a houseful of people, some inside, some in the backyard, and some on the front porch, Clem could say that he no longer felt that he belonged to nobody and nobody belonged to him. It was a beautiful Arizona day, and the distant mountains were ablaze in a fiery purple.  It was a day made for birthdays.  

Seeing one make it to one hundred was rare and amazing sight to witness. To make it this long meant you beat the odds.  Most of all, it was amazing to good, old Clem, himself. His parents died young, long before he could remember them. If others in his family lived longer, he never would have known. The only kin he knew of was his aunt and her husband. They may have taken him in, but he certainly never felt wanted. Both of them slapped him around, punished him by locking him in closets, and prevented him from eating meals when he was bad. They also neglected his needs of decent clothing and a good bed. He had a beat up mattress on the floor or nothing but the hard floor, itself, when he was being punished.  Thankfully, somehow someone intervened, and he ended up in a boy’s home. That place wasn’t a whole lot better when it came to dodging a hard hand, but he was kept clean and with a full belly.

Clem ran away when he was fifteen from that place, and that was in the throes of the Depression. From there on, he fended for himself. His days of experiencing hunger from living at his aunt’s house helped him to be street smart. The petty thievery he learned to master—just to manage to stay alive—continued on beyond childhood.  Like many men, down on their luck and traveling the country, he rode the rails illegally. Just how did Clem survive to be so old, anyway? In his hobo days, he’s been shot at, chased by police, and bitten by dogs. He also almost drowned once in a rapid river, and had a bout with double pneumonia that made him downright delusional and on Death’s door.  

But when the second world war came about, life became easier for Clem. He found his sweetheart, Bess, married her and settled down out west. He wanted to fight in the war, but a hernia disqualified him from joining. His life was surely spared then, for many of his friends were drafted in the army, went overseas, but never made it back alive.    

It sure has been one heck of a life. Resting in his easy chair, he was thankful he still had his wits about him—had a sound noggin—and that he could see and hear still alright—with the help of coke bottle glasses and a hearing aid. Everything that surrounded him was a grand sight to look at, knowing that he helped to create all this hustle and bustle of people in his presence, those here simply to honor him.

He and Bess had three of their own children, Hank, Violet and Daisy, and they also adopted two more, Ted and Sam. It was during those days in the home for boys that Clem saw some of the luckier ones go to good families, selected by potential parents that could give them the secure homes they desperately wanted.  Clem was never picked but picked over. Because he never got that chance, he swore he’d help out those just like him, ones who felt unwanted or ignored, ones that belonged to nobody and nobody belonged to them. He did just that very thing and strove to become the best dad he could possibly be. This was a learning experience for him, and his mistakes were his teachers. Nobody showed him how to be a father, but Bess was his rock and his ally. How he longed to be with her, again.

Clem outlived all of his friends. He lost his sweet Bess fourteen years ago, and buried one of his children—his beloved firstborn child, and it wasn't easy to bury Hank. It should have been the other way around.. There were now thirteen grandchildren, and he never did remember how many great grandchildren that there were, but they were all here now. It was a miracle to have everyone under one roof, as there was family scattered all across the country. He smiled to himself as he thought about how everyone took the time out of their busy lives just for one, old geezer.  

“You better matter to someone right now”, Clem once told a good friend, “Cuz one day you’ll be long gone, and you’ll be lucky if anyone knows your name. It doesn’t matter if you are loved by one hundred people—or one person. That’s how I see it, anyways”.  

With his wife’s relations, and his children and their families, Clem knew the family tree had plenty of branches on it. His life did matter in this world. One of his grandchildren, Amber, mapped a tree out, and she made it all seem so spectacular, and put together like a royal family’s would be. Sketched around the details was a tree done in colored pencil—vivid greens and browns that were eye catching to even a old man with weak eyes—and today it was on display for everyone to inspect and talk about.  

Clem knew very well that his days were waning, that soon he’d just be a memory in the minds of his children and his grandchildren—probably not his great grandchildren who would barely remember him, if at all. Someday, he’d just be a name in the family records of that famous family tree. Like he said to his friend, his name would barely matter to anyone some day. He was simply Clem Manning, a guy who got a break in life and dodged disaster. Maybe only the good did die young, or perhaps he was just too stubborn to die.

But this wasn’t a day for having a sourpuss or for dwelling on the hard things. This was a day to remember for everyone, more than just a birthday for a lucky, old guy that beat the odds. Clem couldn’t eat much of the food made for his birthday feast—too rich or not appealing to his declining appetite—but he promised to have a nice sized slice of cake. It was red velvet with cream cheese frosting, his favorite.

Happy Birthday to you…happy birthday to you…happy birthday, dear Cle-em

Da-ad

Grand-pa

Happy Birthday to you!

There was lots of applause, cell phones out and cameras snapping for picture taking, as Clem tried to blow out the three candles—1-0-0. Thankfully, he had a bit of help from the little ones up close, for Clem wanted to still show nothing was going to beat him, especially three, little, measly candles. But those weren’t just measly candles. They represented so much of who he was.

He still couldn’t believe he made it to see this day. How on earth did he pull it off, anyway?
duane hall Nov 2018
I once had a lover, we'll call her Louise
Very attractive but  so hard to please
She was a red haired beauty with emerald eyes
I fell head over heels I cannot deny
She told me she loved me but that was a crock
When a  new beau came a strutting she took the walk
She told me our love would last  forever
She told me a lie, she thought she was clever
My heart was in pieces, all tattered and torn
At that point I wished I'd never been born
Years  passed by when out of the blue
She called , for what reason I hadn't a clue
My heart had healed but still had a scar
She thought she could play me - like a guitar
We arranged for a place that we both could meet
The next time I saw her my heart skipped a beat
By this time she had gone through so many men
She wanted to start all over again
The candle still flickered, my heart screamed out yes
She was quite a temptation to that I  confess
But my head intervened, I wasn't taking this pill
Too many times I'd been through this drill
Although I desperately  wanted to comply
The game was over, it was her turn to cry.
gunnar bebee May 2015
I don't know if it's a poem or not but whatever.

I dated a girl
It was for popularity
Her sister intervened
Her mom broke us up.
2 months later I was the happiest I've ever been
If not for her mom
I would never
Have met my
soulmate
Marquis Hardy Apr 2015
In My Sole
It was just a normal day that we happened to be together. Your hand in mine-us side by side, and then you broke away. You broke away to stare at something from far away so it wouldn't be self conscious of you peering into its soul. You stood there looking so intently at something I couldn't see. I couldn't see what you perceived for I couldn't believe that there was something you saw that I couldn't conceive. So I stopped...I smiled and I took a picture. I took this picture of you staring in the distance with this half acquired smile... a moment in time that I would be sure to keep with me forever. The moment penetrated my soul ever so deeply that I decided to keep the picture somewhere it could affect even the ground I walk on. I keep the picture in my sole... In the sole of my shoe so no matter where I go I'm walking with you.




Faded Photograph of a Photographer
In an old...
wallet
box
attic
was an old faded photograph of a photographer.
Meant to be...
left alone
put to rest
forgotten
it was since then brought back by nostalgia and the impossible life that was now to be lived without you.
You liked to be...
behind
smiling through
holding the camera
as you were the photographer but not this time, as you were the photographed...
In front of
smiling at
holding a pose
while I became the photographer, photographing you, the freshly captured photographer in the faded photograph.
In an old...
dream
heart
memory
you never faded but remained the still whole of a perfect silhouette.
The perfect photographer preserved in the perfectly faded photograph for...
love
life
forever.




The Imprint
I just stood there watching from feet away floating in a time that was once my own, and watching a moment form before me that I burned into my memory. I watched a much younger version of myself sitting with you in all of your perfect imperfections. I wanted to talk to you again, to hear your voice be directed toward me for one last time, but I knew that was something that I could not do for I had already had my moment. If I intervened everything could change, and I would be stealing away precious time from a younger me that would never be ready for anything shorter than forever with you. Instead, I kept my safe distance and watched as the two of you got up from our bench that we spent hours on talking or just sitting in silence. The look on his face-the look on my face was a priceless glance as the two of you walked with interlocked hands in a silence as perfect as a symphony. You then seemed to notice something out of the corner of your eye as you began to glance toward my direction. I drew back at first before remembering that I was not something that could be seen by you, but merely a ghost in time. You broke away from his hand and you continued toward where I floated, and you just stared right at me as if you could see me-as if you could feel me. With your half acquired smile I finally felt like I was home again, and I watched the younger version of me capture a perfect picture of you. With that I was once again in our old attic, holding that old photo, that was taken that old day, imprinting a forever timeless love. A love that would live on in my soul for...
love
life
forever.
My friends, I would like to present to you, 'The Imprint Collection'. This is a work that has been in progress since 2013. The first piece, 'In My Sole' was written with no ideas of ever having anything else follow it. The following piece, 'Faded Photograph of a Photographer' came along in 2015 and was meant to be somewhat of a sequel to 'In My Sole'. 'The Imprint' is the last bit to make it all go in a full circle and was finished at the beginning of April 2015. 'In My Sole' was inspired by a girl that has also inspired a majority of my work that has trended on my page and to her I extend a thank you and the dedication of this collection. I hope you take the time to enjoy this work as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Thank you,


Marquis A. Hardy
MMV Abad Aug 2010
Just a familiar face
Right across the place
Once or twice, our eyes locked
Uninterested, no spark
Then, fate intervened
Our paths became one
Different as we are
Still not a glitter
We spoke a little
Simple questions
Short responses
The feeling of unease
Something about your voice
Its beauty up so close
Your solemn gaze
A captivating stare
With your divine scent
My heart skipped a beat
Can’t wait for tomorrow
To be near you once more
Maybe you’re a sorcerer
A love spell caster
How I long for you
I’m in love with you.
Copyright *MMV Abad @ Jun 4, 2009
Hal Loyd Denton Feb 2012
At Heaven’s window I knelt to pray what do you say when you are dwarfed by Christendom’s vast portal
What cries from hearts of the faithful in anguished burdened prayer they assailed such Holy veneration

Common tongues caught up in awe and adoration found oratory’s fount how they created an unequaled
Spell it clung to holy symbols and pictures that hung on the walls it tore away time itself revealed the
Secret mystery of holiness’s true heart and meaning the sky strained to carry the weight of words so

Profound any and all armies would fall before their mastery to question one’s self at such depths would
Make you defenseless to all obligations you crossed grandeurs stronghold you intervened no less into

Matters that only prophets are obliged to discuss you have fashioned with words great bastions to
Supersede they mock the infidelity and foolishness of many kingdoms Royalty is not just to wear fine

Robes but to center the mind on those richest of finds and then return to mankind and spread them as
Star dust in the lowly places and see the birth of equality and liberty flourish from the lowest to the

Highest that honors not one but all lead at all points root out ignorance that is the cause of all shame
With words that are akin to the words that created worlds this is what you are caught up in there is no

Time for idleness go and spread this word to the four corners of man’s domain we are heroes yet made
By the very words that are possessed and won at altars the planks of mortals that build a stairway to

Glory the earth yearns and dies while you tarry the breach long ago in Eden now the dream is to be
Fulfilled by holy men and women strong enough to face this most demanding challenge forget self catch

Fire with holy zeal burn only for others the world will change from carnage to gifts that bestow
Abundant Life we have never lived in a world that we could make by surrendering our dreams for stellar
exploits
Stephen E Yocum May 2017
Today was unusual,
while crossing a rocky
path, my 42 year old
son reached back offering
his hand to steady my
steps of progress.
A small thing at first glance.

When for all these years
it was me holding his hand,
guiding his path.
Age has intervened,
Now our roles have reversed,
as it does, as it must.

Accepting this reality
the only path to choose.
Eric De Sousa May 2013
You the are ripple in a pond that once lay still.
And I wonder if the wind could speak would it ever reveal
why the sky sheds such a solemn tear?
Mountains will roar Loud and Fierce;
But the pond, it always lay still.
Through thunderous storms and endless downpours
it remained serene.
A peaceful pond,
until you intervened.
That single clouds tear sparked a ripple that would never disappear-
a ripple that refuses to adhere to the known laws of this sphere.
As if the roots of the tree grew above the tallest leaves
so high it could see beyond the seven seas;
my world, upside down.
As if the beating of a bold heart broke through the skin to show all its scars;
My pond, unsound.
Grasped by your ripple.
Unable to breathe.
Unable to drown
K Balachandran Apr 2016
He was then just twelve or thereabouts,
The precocious filly in unconcealed heat,
who incessantly professed love to him
every time  looking  as if she is
either getting asphyxiated
or in acute spasm of some kind
gave him pains regularly,
in no way love related,
in that tender age she was
such a fire ball to let her anywhere near.

Then he had to let his kitten out of the bag,
he fancies someone else, not her,
this one was none other than
the one she loved to hate, day and night!

She exploded all over the place , in a second!
a sort of guy fawkes day fire works! no less!
spewed fire and brimstone, reservred at hand
caused by frustration,an only child really knows

he told her, it's a sin
sticking a pin on her antagonist's chin
and then pricking him with it again,
and again without any logical reason
letting blood to make a dotted line behind them.

He could see pre- menstrual strain,
playing havoc, build up her anger,to a level higher
he was sympathetic to such plights
a girl has to deal with alone,
and all the while to be concealed, from the eyes of others
he  did everything to cool her temper.
Once in control of her volatile emotions,
she smiles and tells in a matter of fact tone;
"If a grown up, I would have sure
got both of you killed for betrayal,
count lucky,you two, I am still a kid
though menstruating and look ripe,
mum and dad won't approve
culpable homicide, by their only kid"

He was stunned by the glimpses
of the criminal mind yet did appreciate,
her excellence in circumspection. bless her!

"I can get you arrested for the conspiracy to ****"
intervened his ferocious sweet heart.
"You don't even a moment consider,
this poor chap is younger than us both,
you tell me what prevents him and I
falling for each other, not just a predilection this
for wild ***, hormone driven at this age,
as your ****** up mind would want you to think,
now tell me how  it betrays you , miss hothead?"

She demanded, the other was still in rage
"Lawyer materials show early promise"
now he muses  amused, looking back  at the episode,
two brilliant legal eagles , announcing the intent!


"my only sin your honors, consider
is to be in love  or not falling in love?
Am I not entitled to have my choice?
though I may be an underage kid?"

When time tells you it's tale,  you sit pop eyed!

Now and then he catches up with those two , belligerently brilliant,
thinking criminally so early they easily acquired legal plumes,
legal eagles in same law firm, fighting for other things, not love
even now both treat  him badly, for being what he continues to be
a media vulture, flying above tearing in to their cases ferociously.
Stephen E Yocum Jan 2014
To Salinas we had come,
Over a hundred miles from home,
The smell of turned earth and crops in the fields.
To the wedding of my cousin two days hence,
She was a lovely girl and I was very fond of her.
She was Mom’s oldest brothers’ only daughter.
All Mom’s family had come to attend the event.

Sleeping at an Uncles house,
Loud angry voices awakened us.
At only age seven, still a sound sleeper,
The voices actually frightened me awake,
Like a nightmare dream gone wrong.

Cursed shouting and some pushing,
Adults in night dress, robes and slippers.
The brothers and Dad still fully dressed.
In the middle of all that turmoil was my father,
Surrounded by Mom’s three larger brothers.
Dad was not a drinker,
But the Uncles had taken him out,
And drinking was not something new to them.  
One of them was nearly a professional at it.
Some years later he even died of it's effects.
The brothers were not normally mean spirited,
Yet always very protective of their little sister.
Perhaps they thought that,
No man, not even my Father,
Was good enough for their only sister.
A mistaken belief, that lasted for years.

A silly dispute had ensued,
My father’s pride was hurt,
A punch or two was thrown,
Landing where I do not know.  
Now, at two in the morning,
My Dad was ready to go home,
Nothing would stop him doing so.
Had any one tried further,
Someone was bound to get hurt.

My Mother intervened,
The car was hastily loaded,
As Dad sat behind the wheel.

My older brother and I still in our PJs,
Huddled in the back seat of the car,
Our eyes big and scared appearing,
For these were not normal events in our lives,
Before that night or since.

Mom desiring to be calm,
Attempting to reason with her husband,
A man having had too much to drink and
Suffering a bad case of wounded manly pride.
They were not two people used to conflict,
With each other, or anyone else.

The car was going far too fast,
This back in the days before seatbelts,
The fences and power poles were,
Speeding by in a blur of indistinct shapes,
Acted to further the unreality of that night,
Deepening my childish fright.

Suddenly the car swerved to the left,
And Mother screamed something,
The left front wheel struck an immovable object,
Our Chevy bounced into the air,
And my head smacked the ceiling.
The Rear wheel then hit and mounted,
The same hard object and once again,
For a moment I and my brother were in the air.

Our car was brought to a sudden stop half on,
Half off a concrete Traffic Lane Divider,
With three of us in that car, all crying.

I shall never forget the look
On my Father’s face,
As he peered into the back seat,
A truly remarkable expression,
Fear mixed with utter disgrace,
He stared at us for a moment,
Then turned his head forward.

In the rear view mirror,
I could see his eyes,
I watched them, as they turned to liquid.

My mother checked her sons quickly,
And then slid over to my Dad,
She whispered something,
I could not hear.
They sat there silent for a while,
My Father’s head lowered,
My Mom’s arm around his shoulder.

After a few minutes,
Dad opened his door and got out.
Mom leaned over the seat and comforted us.
Then got behind the wheel,
She almost never drove,
But backed the car off the concrete island,
Drove the three of us back to her Brother’s home.
My Dad swallowed up by the blackness of the night.

A few day later we returned to our home,
My Father was there waiting for us.
For the second and only other time in his life,
I saw my Father weep,
As on his knees he held us all tight to him,
He pleaded remorse and for our forgiveness.

I never saw my Father intoxicated again.
And of course we all forgave him.
I had learned something new that day,
My Father was not truly made of steel.  
As no mortal man ever is.
Stephen E Yocum Jan 2018
Once I was young and strong,
Consumed with compelling
desires of Horizon Lust,
traveling forth long and far.

Time and age has intervened,
now I stand alone and wait
high above on the city gate,
Silent sentry to all of those young
lives that venture forth to explore
horizons of their own, and those
weather beat ones like me
returning to rest and remain.

Accepting as I must, that I shall
never again roam too far afield  
from my place upon the gate,
Content with a life well lived,
to languish now upon this place.

Horizon Lust is for the young.
Oh, if only we possessed our
acquired wisdom of age
back in our youth.

Now a heart and mind
full of memories along
with a tranquil place by
the home fire hearth is enough.
Though I would not be
who I am, with out pushing
out to discover what's there..
Diane Dec 2013
The cacophony of voices pushing and shoving, everyone seemed
to be taller than I was and they all seemed to know what to do.
The teacher showed impatience with my tiny body. It was clear
that she liked the kids whose last names were Johnson and whose
parents owned farms on Highway 15.  They all went to the
Methodist Church in town.

I wished I was blonde with a raspy voice like Doreen.

I showed my plaid cotton tennis shoes and sang “Old **** Tucker”
while dancing my best country jig for show-and-tell. This was when
I learned that it was “Dan Tucker” and that “****” was a bad word.

My daddy said ****, and he wore work boots with stiff golden laces
that crisscrossed onto metal fasteners half way up his calves.
The boots kept time when he played guitar; eyes and mouth smiling
and laughing over some absurd thought he had the temerity to speak
out loud. Daddy was the most interesting person I knew. He quit
school after 8th grade, but understood humanity more than most.

I felt good about singing my song and proud of myself for having
mustered up the courage. I did not have fancy toys or artifacts from
family vacations like the other kids.

I had never heard kids call each other names until I made the
acquaintance of the school playground. It was strange how they
ganged up on the boy they said was hyper and had ***** eyes.
I did not know what either of those things meant, but I knew it
made him sad and made me afraid to talk to him. They said I
looked like a ghost, I did not know if that was good or bad.

Doreen was not afraid of the ball, and that made her okay. My Mom
decided to pick a friend for me, but I did not like Linda. She did
not know how to play with dolls; she just looked at them.
Linda was tedious.

The boy with ***** eyes made more sense to me.

He lived in the yellow house that had a dog that would bite and
scare the nice people away. I finally talked to him in 6th grade
on the hour long bus rides home. Once, an older boy named
John snapped a rubber band on his eye over and over until it
swelled completely shut, my friend just took it, crying, until the
bus driver intervened. John’s older brother played with guns,
and John was scared of him, and older brother was scared of father.

We hated when the brothers rode the bus.

I decided that most boys were mean and that to be a boy must be
terrifying. One year, ***** eyes almost drowned during gym class
the other kids said he tried to **** himself. They thought it was funny.
Girls will never know the horrors of the 8th grade boy’s locker room.
When he was 15 he crossed in front of a semi on his moped, they
found his foot half a mile away from his body.  I wonder if the kids
thought that was funny too.

I was too afraid of my emotions to go to the funeral.

Ghost to ***** Eyes: I am sorry that they hurt you Vincent,
and sorry that I am scared to see your innocence reduced
to road **** in a coffin.
Having gone back "home" for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I drove over the spot where Vincent was killed, and past his house where...things seemed to be difficult. Life should have been easier for you Vincent, I hope it is now, wherever you are. Namaste.
Stephen E Yocum Feb 2019
She was my classic first love,
a 60's Gidget, cute as a button
big dimples and ribbons
in her hair. Charming and
the life of every party.
When she was happy her
whole face reflected it,
especially her smiling
iridescent green eyes.

Together we shared most of
our firsts, talked of the future
and beyond, but like all sweet
dreams, real life intervened.

Many years have passed, yet
strong memories remain and
every once in a while within
a vivid dream of deep slumber,
she and I are again sixteen,
enchanted and in first love.

Waking is always an unwanted
intrusion.
Memories and dreams, what would
we do without them?
Diane Jun 2013
The cacophony of voices pushing and
shoving, everyone seemed to be taller

than I was and they all seemed to know
what to do. The teacher showed impatience

with my tiny body, frozen in fear by the
giant circular stone apparatus where

twenty children washed their hands. It was
clear that she liked the kids whose last

names were Johnson and whose parents
owned farms on Highway 15. They all went

to the Methodist Church in Town. I wished
I was blonde with a raspy voice like Doreen.

I showed my plaid cotton tennis shoes and
sang “Old **** Tucker” while dancing my

best country jig for show-and-tell. This was
when I learned that it was “Dan Tucker”

and that “****” was a bad word. My daddy
said ****, and he wore work boots with

stiff golden laces that crisscrossed onto
metal fasteners twelve inches up his calves.

The boots kept time when he played guitar;
his eyes and lips smiling and laughing over

some absurd thought he had the temerity
to speak out loud. Daddy was the most

interesting person I knew. He quit school
after 8th grade, but understood humanity

more than most. He wore cowboy boots
when he played the fiddle, and if he said

****, then it must be okay. I still felt good
about singing my song and proud of myself

for having mustered up the courage. I did
not have fancy toys or artifacts from family

vacations like the other kids. I had never
heard kids call each other names before

I made the acquaintance of the school
playground. It was strange how they

ganged up on the boy they said was hyper
and had ***** eyes. I did not know what

either of those things meant, but I knew it
made him sad and made me afraid to talk

to him. They said I looked like a ghost, I
did not know if that was good or bad.

Doreen was not afraid of the ball, and that
made her okay. My Mom decided to pick a

friend for me, but I did not like Linda. She
did not know how to play with dolls; she

did not make up stories about their lives
or pretend to be their mommy, she just

looked at them. Linda was tedious. The
boy with ***** eyes made more sense

to me. He lived in the yellow house that
had a dog who would bite and scare

the nice people away. I finally talked to
him in 6th grade on the hour long bus rides

home. Once, an older boy named John
snapped a rubber band on his eye over

and over until it swelled completely shut,
my friend just sat and took it until the

bus driver intervened. John’s older brother
played with guns, and John was scared of

him, and older brother was scared of father.
We hated when the brothers rode the bus.

I decided that most boys were mean and
that to be a boy must be terrifying. One

year, ***** eyes almost drowned during
gym class, the other kids said he tried to

**** himself. They thought it was funny.
Girls will never know the horrors of the

8th grade boy’s locker room. When he
was 15 he crossed in front of a semi on

his moped, they found his foot half a mile
away from his body.  I wonder if the kids

thought that was funny too. I was too
afraid of my emotions to go to the funeral.

Ghost to ***** Eyes: I am sorry that they
hurt you Vincent, and sorry that I am

scared to see your innocence reduced
to road **** in a coffin.
Outside Words Nov 2018
Munching, crunching on a bone,
The trolls of Langwood growl and moan.

Through feral mutterings and drivel,
They gulp and choke down last night's grizzle.

In their cave on rocky mountains high,
Their scaly skin cracks from air so dry.

Once human men poisoned by greed,
Transformed into ogres for their misdeeds.

They prayed on people of modest means,
Until our good sorceress intervened.

She protects our land and keeps us safe,
From warlords and bankers filled with hate.

Condemned to live long foul lives,
The trolls of Langwood miss their wives.

For they now resemble their truer selves,
Forever denied the beauty of men and elves.

© Outside Words
590

Did you ever stand in a Cavern’s Mouth—
Widths out of the Sun—
And look—and shudder, and block your breath—
And deem to be alone

In such a place, what horror,
How Goblin it would be—
And fly, as ’twere pursuing you?
Then Loneliness—looks so—

Did you ever look in a Cannon’s face—
Between whose Yellow eye—
And yours—the Judgment intervened—
The Question of “To die”—

Extemporizing in your ear
As cool as Satyr’s Drums—
If you remember, and were saved—
It’s liker so—it seems—
Mateuš Conrad Mar 2017
war took mine, i was sold  playing tenchu
on level 6... just before i was to
assassinate this ***, and he practised all
his bow skill in private, then it was made public
by a ninja... i only completed final
fantasy 7
with a walk-through...
i hate the fact that i stuck to
the schooling narrative...
  but hose were the PS1 days,
those days are gone, gone gone gone,
bye bye gone...
                 the **** was that?!
an oscar for best actor at the gladiator premier?!
why isn't more gaming mentioned in poetry?
where is raziel, and the the legacy of cain:
soul reaver, and the story about how he
squashed his brothers:
dumah, melchiah, rahab, and zephon?
oh look: the geek in me!
                 100 years from a youtube video...
i'm bound to do the bristol d'uh and say:
i've never been to south america...
nor ever...
                        me go sort out this avalanche
if that's o.k. with you, hmm?
this is the thrill you get when seeing peoiple
play a reincarnation of gameboy,
i.e. candy-crush saga... if you moved beyond
the PS1 universe you won't get it...
if you remember PS1 games, you'll probably
remember SEGA and sonic,
and age of empires 2, and sim city 3000...
**** me! but you won't probably remember the
weathergirl... who was becky mantin
when this was written...
           odd, that little gray box of saturdays
and sometimes sundays, but definitely
saturday mornings...
                    it gone... and i don't feel like owning
an update of it, because games have become
overtly narrative prone, they only allow thise gameplay
that's too narrated... i switch on the console
and i want mario bros. calculator type of dynamism...
instead i get this really complex story
when i should be reading a book...
   no, really, when did gaming become so
****** engrossing that i try to become distracted by
brick walls?
           when did i or when didn't i take to playing
chess? well... when i started playing dominos
with 6 cigarette stumps and a black hardcover
philosophy book... maybe around then.
books i great, believe me...
but this nook of counter-arcade games?
i woke up at 9am as if about to go to school
and played that japanese fetish for hours...
so much if our culture in nearing the post-20th
century culture was axis... it was almost all japanese...
you can't take that fact out and replace it
concerning: god intervened at Giza and yawned
at chichén itzá...
because you would... still, i thankfully retired
from the gaming experience (when did PS2 come out?
i wanted it for about 2 years and still didn't
get it)...
    1998? 1997?
                      thankfully i get to mention computer
games like novels... SEGA mega drive?
yep, owned that.
                   and yes, i can cite an ATARI,
and ****, **** **** me!
   that original NINTENDO?!
              and that shooting mallard simulation
against a screen of televisions that could
still issue you with van der graaf static
   of "levitating" hair?
(when televisions were still 3D and played
you remnants of the big bang
       in televised black and white khrrr sound,
all dicta fidgety, like looking through the eyes
of a bluebottle fly)... or
    the original prince of persia?
     those two dimensional ferns rotating round and
round when approached in the original tomb raider?
oh forget the cone-****-madonna...
shaid the ish cream van man to shaun shoonery...
cheap ****: said the dead with charlie
at the head of their horde of entertainment's flops.
i retired from the gaming world though,
left it when PS1 expired...
and morphed into PS2...
           i'm half sad and half saying: i can understand
candy crush, because i can understand
the origin: TETRIS.
like i can understand why i can't do crosswords,
my father just said: even i can't do them,
the clues are all a bit of a wanking to comprehend...
it's as if they only based them on the thesaurus...
   we're good on sudoku though, that can be solved
without problems...
        i miss those games though,
i finished final fantasy 7 with a walkthrough
though... tenchu was also fun to complete,
crash bandicoot? anyone remember him?
           now for not faking it...
                                     i'm glad that's over,
i'd hate the gaming experience as i hate interactive
t.v. thesedays... all this pause and rewind?
  thanks to it i sometimes press the STOP
button when listening to the radio and wonder
why it just keeps running... oh right: this isn't
a c.d. transmission... funny though, the gaming experience
translated into t.v. really has made advertising
ultra competative or utterly useless....
   you just end up pausing before a break, and then
scrolling past the advertisers' airtime...
next thing i'll be buying is when they make
an advert for shoepaste.
Desiree Ramirez Nov 2011
Genuine conversations
were passion's static overblown
through classical lover's eyes.


i.
Confessing unrevealed tries
in variation with grieving cries.
Sighs and moans were touched
and savored everyday, at the same place.

ii.
Unexpected completions
were deviously divulged over
The temptress' despair, while cardboard
arrogance compressed within aluminum kisses.

iii.
Chemical liquids were drawing attention,
fingertips quivering at the sight of your eyes.
Palpable tension cutting through the styrofoam walls,
that we gently established to separate this sweet seduction.

iv.
Demolition began once playful vengeance intervened.
No longer did the requiem delay its flow and crunch,
for its succulent grin was painted on his chest
and carried on his hands.

v.
Cards were drawn to encaustic wax papers,
captivating lover's delight.
With sudden frustration, we searched evanescently,
for a piece of carton to hide from the fiery rains.

vi.
While puzzled Questionnaires were imprinted on catatonic embraces,
we both gnawed on the bone for answers;
barking gently at our feet, we tangled with uncompromising pretenses,
giving ourselves multiple aberrations with heartbreaking waves.

Tonight I cuddle the thorns and the knives,
contemplating lethargic affections,
infected with veracity's confection,
ignoring the ideal that I fell unfulfilled.

— The End —