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Claire Jan 2014
Air

  "I'll tell you what I've told everyone else.  The lake doesn't usually freeze because the air isn't usually so cold.  It was frigid that day.  Or more so, that week.  That year.  It wasn't a good one for Amie, she told me that.  And while the lake consistently stayed warm throughout the coldest of times, even it gave up that day, as had she.  It gave up and froze, the warmth taking Amie with it, lost under the icy surface. I know you know this."

  "Well, you have gotten us off to a good start.  I'm going to ask you some questions. What was Amie like at school that day?"
  
  "As far as I can remember, she wasn't acting in any unusual way.  They all ask me if I saw her smiling or laughing; pouting or crying.  School certainly isn't anything to cherish, nor anything to dread.  Amie wasn't some sort of intellect, she didn't want to be.  Or maybe she did.  She woke up at the outrageous time, walked the gloomy halls and did the infinite amount of meticulous homework-"

"But did you hear her complain?"

" No.  In fact, Amie was so monotonous in everything she did, it was hard to tell if she was truly alive.  She didn't talk, she listened, and to more than just voices.  All it took for people, including you and your coworkers, to become aware of this 'boring' life she lead was, ironically enough, her death."

"Don't say that. We were all aware of her existence in one way or another, and if not, you surely were.  You and her were good friends, is this correct?

"Amie was my best friend.  Not in the way your best friend is yours.  She was my best friend in knowing that I could sit in the same room as her for hours in utter silence.  I didn't even cry that day.  We weren't even close.  Our friendship was exclusive--the only person I wanted to be around was her because she was as human as everyone else but yet she served as my escape from everything human.  Do you know what I mean?  I know why she didn't hesitate the moment she fell through the ice.  And I'm the only one who understands because I am the only one who understood her."

"You said she listened to more than just voices.  What exactly are you implying?"

"I'm saying she could hear the earth breathe.  And you could too, if you tried.  It's all she did and it's all she ever wanted to do.  She was more than in love with nature and its simplicity; she believed that it was everywhere, alive and thriving.  I honestly don't think any person could ever make her feel the way she felt when she sat in an empty classroom.  Or when she laid on her driveway at night.  Or, the most relevant scenario, when she ran her fingers through the water of the lake in her backyard.  Amie may have been my best friend, but that lake was hers."  

"So this lake was clearly very important to her.  How often did she go outside to visit it?"

"Oh, every day.  More often than that on days she was home.  I spent a lot of time there at her house, and most of the time I would only watch as she went.  I think the lake gave her the same kind of escape that she gave me.  It was a beautiful thing and I wouldn't take that lake away from her even if it meant she would still be here today.  You just have to see things in the light that Amie saw them before you try to comprehend exactly what happened that day."

"Listen to me.  Do you know why you're here?"

"I'm here because you think Amie drowned herself.  And listen to me when I say that that's not what happened.  She let the lake drown her.  Willingly, yes, but this is a completely different situation.  You didn't know Amie, none of you did.  Even I may not have known who she was, but I knew her.  And I know that there is no other way she would've wanted to die."

"You're here because a girl is dead, presumably from a suicide.  It was you who, in fact, reported the incident a few moments too long after you witnessed from a window the disappointment in her face when her fingers touched the ice, which cracked beneath her feet at the center of the lake .  You watched and felt the indifference run through her body as the water enveloped her lungs, and this girl drowned.  She lived alone in a house with a backyard lake, and every other person we have brought in here sits down exactly where you're sitting and draws a blank after that.  Nobody knew Amie."

"I know what you're going to say and I've heard it countless times.  She was not depressed!  Haven't you been taking in what I've been telling you?  Despite her lack of interest in everything every human considered interesting, Amie was happier than you or I could ever be.  This is because, unlike us and everyone else in the world, she didn't need people to be happy.  I am like her in many ways except that because I needed her.  Shes gone but i'm ok because i still find her in the littlest things i see or hear, and she taught me how to do that.  She was and still is everything good in my life and subconsciously in yours, too."

"I don't think you have been taking in what I'm telling you.  Please listen to me.  You might not think so right now, but Amie was sad.  she was helpless and broken and without words, no one could hear her cry.  Amie, this girl who loved nature, this girl who didn't need people, who passed all of her classes in school but barely spoke, who lived in a perfect house with her beloved backyard lake, who no one really knew about, this girl is you.  And you're still alive."

"Wait, stop.  What are you talking about? I told you she was my best friend-"

"I know you love this lake and I know you have no one to live for but you have to believe that whether or not you need people, people need you.  You said it yourself.  YOU need you."

"No, I'm fine, I'm here in this room and I'm alive and-"

"You need to swim.  Swim towards the surface."

"I-"

"Amie, you need to press your hands against the ice.  Press it and push up.  Push!"


And suddenly, there was air.
jacky Feb 2014
The first afternoon I can recall,
you grabbed my hand
and took me outside.
You surprised me, I said.
Because that noon
is the first time
I saw that lake.

The second afternoon I can recall,
you called me by name
and we went outside.
I brought you lunch, and
we drank some
mind-boggling liquid
which you stole from that old man
living beside that lake.
We lied on the grass, and
if that was not a dream, I hope not,
I felt your breath with mine, and your lips
on mine.

The third afternoon I can recall,
you went to my bed
and shook me awake.
I was mesmerized to see you again,
but you’ve changed.
The colour in your eyelids, your cheeks,
and your lips was artificial.
If you haven’t spoken, I
wouldn’t be able to recognize you.
Sitting at the edge of my bed,
you’ve said the name of that lake,
and I knew  it was you still.

The fourth afternoon I can recall,
you were 18 and still cried on my shoulder
not because you were hurt, but
because you were happy  getting married.
Flowers, chairs, and a priest
waited  for you beside that lake.
I was about to cry at that moment, knowing
it wasn’t me you were marrying.

The fifth afternoon I can recall,
you yelled at me,
“I can’t live this way!”
I asked you why, but
you didn’t tell me, you showed me.
That kiss beside that lake was wrong.
In all of the reasons why it was wrong,
I found one which is right.
You loved me the way I loved you.

The sixth afternoon I can recall,
you left me
alone beside that lake.
Yes, you loved me, but
as you have said you need to love yourself more.
I can’t hold you any blame for leaving,
I understood, and I lived with the promise
that you’ll come back to me –
in one piece or even in ashes.

The seventh afternoon I can recall,
you were barely alive.
You looked old, with dark circles around your eyes.
You hid them with glittery make-up.
“This lake haven’t changed.” you said.
I looked at that lake,
its beauty and all its glory
looked nothing
next to you.

The eighth afternoon I can recall
was the worst of them all.
You didn’t call, you didn’t leave,
you didn’t cry, you didn’t go to my bed.
And you weren’t barely alive.
Someone wrote me a letter, not you,
to take you where you and bring you back home.
You didn’t find yourself, you’ve lost it
To yhe hero
in your veins, who ate you in your sleep.

This afternoon,
I carry you, with all but  my shattered heart,
inside a jar.
My tears are one with that lake,
but I’ll bury you beside it.
I know you’re happy.
Your soul one with that lake.
I will post this since i feel that this won't get approved by my editor. I just feel it. Well,enjoy yourselves.
Pellucid pearls in northeastern
   North America since planetary birth
comprise Lakes Superior, Michigan,
     Huron, Erie, and Ontario
   (HOMES acronym) dearth
largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth
straddle Canadian–United States

   border tethering partial global girth
constituting 21% of world's surface
   fresh water species hearth
total surface equals 94,250 square miles
   And total volume equals
   5,439 cubic miles immeasurable worth.

Lake Erie from Erie tribe, abridged
   form of Iroquoian word erielhonan “long tail”
Lake Huron named by French explorers
   for Wyandot or “Hurons”
   whence they did sail
Lake Michigan likely from Ojibwa word
   mishigami “great water”

   aka outsize gold quail
Lake Ontario i.e. “Lake of Shining Waters”
   shimmering like hammered coat of mail
Lake Superior coined from French

   “lac supérieur” "upper lake",
   an emerald watery dale
   Ojibwe people called it gitchigumi
   medicinal to cure that, which might ail.

These five lakes each reside in separate basin
form a single, naturally interconnected
   body of fresh water caisson
linking east-central interior
   of North America to Atlantic Ocean
   akin to an escutcheon.

From interior to outlet at St. Lawrence River,
water flows via Superior to Michigan-
   Huron southward to Erie to avoid a shiver
finally released northward to Lake Ontario
   as like a well taut archer with his quiver.

The lakes drain a large watershed
   via many rivers as if a united olympic team
populated with approximately 35,000 islands
   this estimate not x stream
the Great Lakes region contains
   many thousands of smaller lakes,
   often called inland lakes undulating

   in cascading analogous to a fluid ream
Lake Michigan the only one located
   entirely within United States
   while the others border between
   United States and Canada
   essentially a liquid manifolded seam.

Lakes Michigan and Huron
   basically comprise a single lake,
sometimes called Lake Michigan
   Huron, combined doth make

   total area of 45,300 square miles (117,000 km2)
   have the same surface elevation of 577 feet (176 m),
   connected by 295-foot deep Straits
   of Mackinac Islands splayed like a rake.

Approximately 35,000 islands extant
   throughout oceanic like sea
largest among them Manitoulin Island
   in Lake Huron brushing up against Goliath knee.

The second-largest island
   Isle Royale in Lake Superior to boot
both of these islands contain
   multiple lakes them
   selves sacrilegious despoliation
   exceed wages of sin, hence
   further discussion, sans sanctity moot.
James Gable Jun 2016
I’ve come to realise
That I find Lake Klinwel boring;
Ignoring the skies,
The flight of birds
And their curving dives.
This lake, drowned by eyes,
Instead choosing to reflect static towers
That are monuments to Machiavelli,
Where the financially ambitious
And their crisp paper voices spend
Their days, evenings.
Money in the bank for tomorrow
Plan ahead, plan ahead
,
That what the lake said
When I visited.

What freedom
Such a wonder of nature
Has to manipulate and
Reinterpret the harshness
In lines that ascend until they
Scrape the sky,
That tears, simple as tissue.

And all the while,
Cigarette butts,
In an abstract delinquency,
Revise community buildings and council offices
Where surely they dream of hole punch
And green lights and confirmation and deadline for appeal
Whilst bureaucrats administer more paper cuts to the teal-blooded sky and Risk Assessments have given a score to death—
Awarding it a number five.

The lake can surely stay awake
Just long enough to show me ripples
And normality when I drop in a stone,
Just a sound that
Confirms this mind is still my own,
That the waking world is known to me,
Dreams are dreams alone,
They are the ripples reaching the sea
From my daring stone.
To be beside a lake, lyrically alone,
Brings a pain that is most obvious and physical
And so I ask once more for the
Most minute of tides for my sore, tired eyes—
Just a ripple of two to the other side
Where I see a figure,
Where I see blue eyes,
Where I see extravagant dress and
Hair so shapely they say and yet
I couldn't care less.
It could be a wig
But the wind tells me it is not,
And her nose sits among a gang of features,
Knowing surely it turns heads—
Growing heavier with each turned.

The lake spat on my shoe and continued
To reflect the tall commercial towers
Whilst this green space is vast,
Boasting bowers where I sit with a pencil
And I see the birds of paradise
Impressively dancing and dancing impressively.
Sublime in fact!
But I think they are trespassers
We should kindly send them back
Their hearts are excessively small
And no longer in paradise,
Not close to it at all.

I’m done with you, lake!
Lake Klinwell, lazy deceptive mirror!
Are you depressed?
Disenchanted?
Do I notice how you are growing ever thinner?

I heard news that our
Town is crumpling in certain corners,
It’s folding in two like a map closing.
People are dreaming with recurring themes
And the flowers bow their heads
Just in case.

Oh, you are a soft, sensitive lake,
Let me dip my feet.
Do not fear for the town we share,
Do not quake, dear lake,
And enjoy your daylit hours
In the company of the trees and flowers.

I beg you though:
One day,
When I need it most,
Reflect for me a memory:

Diana and I on the corrugated coast,
Careless on the rocks,
I failed to enjoy it at the time through fear
but she leapt, crossed a gap to get to me.
She landed with a kiss.

And if you could add a sunset,
The weather was terrible.
Skyler M Mar 2018
Mr. Lake...hold me.

Mr. Lake...I beg.

Mr. Lake...It's late.

Mr. Lake...Aren't you there?

Mr. Lake...Where's your voice?

Mr. Lake...I need your breath.

Mr. Lake...Don't leave.

Mr. Lake...Are you there?

Mr. Lake...My palms are *****.

Mr. Lake...This is all there is.

Mr. Lake...I can't keep going.

Mr. Lake...Where are you?

Mr. Lake...Set me free.
Joey McNamara Mar 2010
I don't know where I'm going
I'm not even sure where I am
I don't know where I've been
I'm not even sure where I started

It feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
I'm not afraid of anything
For time is mine
It just feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
It doesn't make any sense
The letters do not rhyme

I don't really want to move
Just going with the flow
I don't really want to grow
Just want to stay here and linger

Cos it feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
I'm not afraid of anything
For time is mine
It just feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
It doesn't make any sense
The letters do not rhyme

I don't really want to feel
Just want to stay still
I don't really want to taste
For it all tastes sour

Cos it feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
I'm not afraid of anything
For time is mine
It just feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
It doesn't make any sense
The letters do not rhyme

I don't really want to speak
Just feeling oh so gentle
I dont really want to listen
For theres too much noise

Cos it feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
I'm not afraid of anything
For time is mine
It just feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
It doesn't make any sense
The letters do not rhyme

I don't know where I'm going
I'm not even sure where I am
I don't know where I've been
I'm not even sure where I started
It just feels like swimming
In a lake of solid gold
A poem/song about really not knowing what you want to do with your life,
or just being opposed to change, being happy with the way things are.
© 2010 Joey McNamara
FIRST DAY

1.
Who wanted me
to go to Chicago
on January 6th?
I did!

The night before,
20 below zero
Fahrenheit
with the wind chill;
as the blizzard of 99
lay in mountains
of blackening snow.

I packed two coats,
two suits,
three sweaters,
multiple sets of long johns
and heavy white socks
for a two-day stay.

I left from Newark.
**** the denseness,
it confounds!

The 2nd City to whom?
2nd ain’t bad.
It’s pretty good.
If you consider
Peking and Prague,
Tokyo and Togo,
Manchester and Moscow,
Port Au Prince and Paris,
Athens and Amsterdam,
Buenos Aries and Johannesburg;
that’s pretty good.

What’s going on here today?
It’s friggin frozen.
To the bone!

But Chi Town is still cool.
Buddy Guy’s is open.
Bartenders mixing drinks,
cabbies jamming on their breaks,
honey dew waitresses serving sugar,
buildings swerving,
fire tongued preachers are preaching
and the farmers are measuring the moon.

The lake,
unlike Ontario
is in the midst of freezing.
Bones of ice
threaten to gel
into a solid mass
over the expanse
of the Michigan Lake.
If this keeps up,
you can walk
clear to Toronto
on a silver carpet.

Along the shore
the ice is permanent.
It’s the first big frost
of winter
after a long
Indian Summer.

Thank God
I caught a cab.
Outside I hear
The Hawk
nippin hard.
It’ll get your ear,
finger or toe.
Bite you on the nose too
if you ain’t careful.

Thank God,
I’m not walking
the Wabash tonight;
but if you do cover up,
wear layers.

Chicago,
could this be
Sandburg’s City?

I’m overwhelmed
and this is my tenth time here.

It’s almost better,
sometimes it is better,
a lot of times it is better
and denser then New York.

Ask any Bull’s fan.
I’m a Knickerbocker.
Yes Nueva York,
a city that has placed last
in the standings
for many years.
Except the last two.
Yanks are # 1!

But Chicago
is a dynasty,
as big as
Sammy Sosa’s heart,
rich and wide
as Michael Jordan’s grin.

Middle of a country,
center of a continent,
smack dab in the mean
of a hemisphere,
vortex to a world,
Chicago!

Kansas City,
Nashville,
St. Louis,
Detroit,
Cleveland,
Pittsburgh,
Denver,
New Orleans,
Dallas,
Cairo,
Singapore,
Auckland,
Baghdad,
Mexico City
and Montreal
salute her.



2.
Cities,
A collection of vanities?
Engineered complex utilitarianism?
The need for community a social necessity?
Ego one with the mass?
Civilization’s latest *******?
Chicago is more then that.

Jefferson’s yeoman farmer
is long gone
but this capitol
of the Great Plains
is still democratic.

The citizen’s of this city
would vote daily,
if they could.

Chicago,
Sandburg’s Chicago,
Could it be?

The namesake river
segments the city,
canals of commerce,
all perpendicular,
is rife throughout,
still guiding barges
to the Mississippi
and St. Laurence.

Now also
tourist attractions
for a cafe society.

Chicago is really jazzy,
swanky clubs,
big steaks,
juices and drinks.

You get the best
coffee from Seattle
and the finest teas
from China.

Great restaurants
serve liquid jazz
al la carte.

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they serve is Jazz
Rock me steady
Keep the beat
Keep it flowin
Feel the heat!

Jazz Jazz Jazz
All they is, is Jazz
Fast cars will take ya
To the show
Round bout midnight
Where’d the time go?

Flows into the Mississippi,
the mother of America’s rivers,
an empires aorta.

Great Lakes wonder of water.
Niagara Falls
still her heart gushes forth.

Buffalo connected to this holy heart.
Finger Lakes and Adirondacks
are part of this watershed,
all the way down to the
Delaware and Chesapeake.

Sandburg’s Chicago?
Oh my my,
the wonder of him.
Who captured the imagination
of the wonders of rivers.

Down stream other holy cities
from the Mississippi delta
all mapped by him.

Its mouth our Dixie Trumpet
guarded by righteous Cajun brethren.

Midwest?
Midwest from where?
It’s north of Caracas and Los Angeles,
east of Fairbanks,
west of Dublin
and south of not much.

Him,
who spoke of honest men
and loving women.
Working men and mothers
bearing citizens to build a nation.
The New World’s
precocious adolescent
caught in a stream
of endless and exciting change,
much pain and sacrifice,
dedication and loss,
pride and tribulations.

From him we know
all the people’s faces.
All their stories are told.
Never defeating the
idea of Chicago.

Sandburg had the courage to say
what was in the heart of the people, who:

Defeated the Indians,
Mapped the terrain,
Aided slavers,
Fought a terrible civil war,
Hoisted the barges,
Grew the food,
Whacked the wheat,
Sang the songs,
Fought many wars of conquest,
Cleared the land,
Erected the bridges,
Trapped the game,
Netted the fish,
Mined the coal,
Forged the steel,
Laid the tracks,
Fired the tenders,
Cut the stone,
Mixed the mortar,
Plumbed the line,
And laid the bricks
Of this nation of cities!

Pardon the Marlboro Man shtick.
It’s a poor expostulation of
crass commercial symbolism.

Like I said, I’m a
Devil Fan from Jersey
and Madison Avenue
has done its work on me.

It’s a strange alchemy
that changes
a proud Nation of Blackhawks
into a merchandising bonanza
of hometown hockey shirts,
making the native seem alien,
and the interloper at home chillin out,
warming his feet atop a block of ice,
guzzling Old Style
with clicker in hand.

Give him his beer
and other diversions.
If he bowls with his buddy’s
on Tuesday night
I hope he bowls
a perfect game.

He’s earned it.
He works hard.
Hard work and faith
built this city.

And it’s not just the faith
that fills the cities
thousand churches,
temples and
mosques on the Sabbath.

3.
There is faith in everything in Chicago!

An alcoholic broker named Bill
lives the Twelve Steps
to banish fear and loathing
for one more day.
Bill believes in sobriety.

A tug captain named Moe
waits for the spring thaw
so he can get the barges up to Duluth.
Moe believes in the seasons.

A farmer named Tom
hopes he has reaped the last
of many bitter harvests.
Tom believes in a new start.

A homeless man named Earl
wills himself a cot and a hot
at the local shelter.
Earl believes in deliverance.

A Pullman porter
named George
works overtime
to get his first born
through medical school.
George believes in opportunity.

A folk singer named Woody
sings about his
countrymen inheritance
and implores them to take it.
Woody believes in people.

A Wobbly named Joe
organizes fellow steelworkers
to fight for a workers paradise
here on earth.
Joe believes in ideals.

A bookkeeper named Edith
is certain she’ll see the Cubs
win the World Series
in her lifetime.
Edith believes in miracles.

An electrician named ****
saves money
to bring his family over from Gdansk.
**** believes in America.

A banker named Leah
knows Ditka will return
and lead the Bears
to another Super Bowl.
Leah believes in nostalgia.

A cantor named Samuel
prays for another 20 years
so he can properly train
his Temple’s replacement.

Samuel believes in tradition.
A high school girl named Sally
refuses to get an abortion.
She knows she carries
something special within her.
Sally believes in life.

A city worker named Mazie
ceaselessly prays
for her incarcerated son
doing 10 years at Cook.
Mazie believes in redemption.

A jazzer named Bix
helps to invent a new art form
out of the mist.
Bix believes in creativity.

An architect named Frank
restores the Rookery.
Frank believes in space.

A soldier named Ike
fights wars for democracy.
Ike believes in peace.

A Rabbi named Jesse
sermonizes on Moses.
Jesse believes in liberation.

Somewhere in Chicago
a kid still believes in Shoeless Joe.
The kid believes in
the integrity of the game.

An Imam named Louis
is busy building a nation
within a nation.
Louis believes in
self-determination.

A teacher named Heidi
gives all she has to her students.
She has great expectations for them all.
Heidi believes in the future.

4.
Does Chicago have a future?

This city,
full of cowboys
and wildcatters
is predicated
on a future!

Bang, bang
Shoot em up
Stake the claim
It’s your terrain
Drill the hole
Strike it rich
Top it off
You’re the boss
Take a chance
Watch it wane
Try again
Heavenly gains

Chicago
city of futures
is a Holy Mecca
to all day traders.

Their skin is gray,
hair disheveled,
loud ties and
funny coats,
thumb through
slips of paper
held by nail
chewed hands.
Selling promises
with no derivative value
for out of the money calls
and in the money puts.
Strike is not a labor action
in this city of unionists,
but a speculators mark,
a capitalist wish,
a hedgers bet,
a public debt
and a farmers
fair return.

Indexes for everything.
Quantitative models
that could burst a kazoo.

You know the measure
of everything in Chicago.
But is it truly objective?
Have mathematics banished
subjective intentions,
routing it in fair practice
of market efficiencies,
a kind of scientific absolution?

I heard that there
is a dispute brewing
over the amount of snowfall
that fell on the 1st.

The mayor’s office,
using the official city ruler
measured 22”
of snow on the ground.

The National Weather Service
says it cannot detect more
then 17” of snow.

The mayor thinks
he’ll catch less heat
for the trains that don’t run
the buses that don’t arrive
and the schools that stand empty
with the addition of 5”.

The analysts say
it’s all about capturing liquidity.

Liquidity,
can you place a great lake
into an eyedropper?

Its 20 below
and all liquid things
are solid masses
or a gooey viscosity at best.

Water is frozen everywhere.
But Chi town is still liquid,
flowing faster
then the digital blips
flashing on the walls
of the CBOT.

Dreams
are never frozen in Chicago.
The exchanges trade
without missing a beat.

Trading wet dreams,
the crystallized vapor
of an IPO
pledging a billion points
of Internet access
or raiding the public treasuries
of a central bank’s
huge stores of gold
with currency swaps.

Using the tools
of butterfly spreads
and candlesticks
to achieve the goal.

Short the Russell
or buy the Dow,
go long the
CAC and DAX.
Are you trading in euro’s?
You better be
or soon will.
I know
you’re Chicago,
you’ll trade anything.
WEBS,
Spiders,
and Leaps
are traded here,
along with sweet crude,
North Sea Brent,
plywood and T-Bill futures;
and most importantly
the commodities,
the loam
that formed this city
of broad shoulders.

What about our wheat?
Still whacking and
breadbasket to the world.

Oil,
an important fossil fuel
denominated in
good ole greenbacks.

Porkbellies,
not just hogwash
on the Wabash,
but bacon, eggs
and flapjacks
are on the menu
of every diner in Jersey
as the “All American.”

Cotton,
our contribution
to the Golden Triangle,
once the global currency
used to enrich a
gentlemen class
of cultured
southern slavers,
now Tommy Hilfiger’s
preferred fabric.

I think he sends it
to Bangkok where
child slaves
spin it into
gold lame'.

Sorghum,
I think its hardy.

Soybeans,
the new age substitute
for hamburger
goes great with tofu lasagna.

Corn,
ADM creates ethanol,
they want us to drive cleaner cars.

Cattle,
once driven into this city’s
bloodhouses for slaughter,
now ground into
a billion Big Macs
every year.

When does a seed
become a commodity?
When does a commodity
become a future?
When does a future expire?

You can find the answers
to these questions in Chicago
and find a fortune in a hole in the floor.

Look down into the pits.
Hear the screams of anguish
and profitable delights.

Frenzied men
swarming like a mass
of epileptic ants
atop the worlds largest sugar cube
auger the worlds free markets.

The scene is
more chaotic then
100 Haymarket Square Riots
multiplied by 100
1968 Democratic Conventions.

Amidst inverted anthills,
they scurry forth and to
in distinguished
black and red coats.

Fighting each other
as counterparties
to a life and death transaction.

This is an efficient market
that crosses the globe.

Oil from the Sultan of Brunei,
Yen from the land of Hitachi,
Long Bonds from the Fed,
nickel from Quebec,
platinum and palladium
from Siberia,
FTSE’s from London
and crewel cane from Havana
circle these pits.

Tijuana,
Shanghai
and Istanbul's
best traders
are only half as good
as the average trader in Chicago.

Chicago,
this hog butcher to the world,
specializes in packaging and distribution.

Men in blood soaked smocks,
still count the heads
entering the gates of the city.

Their handiwork
is sent out on barges
and rail lines as frozen packages
of futures
waiting for delivery
to an anonymous counterparty
half a world away.

This nation’s hub
has grown into the
premier purveyor
to the world;
along all the rivers,
highways,
railways
and estuaries
it’s tentacles reach.

5.
Sandburg’s Chicago,
is a city of the world’s people.

Many striver rows compose
its many neighborhoods.

Nordic stoicism,
Eastern European orthodoxy
and Afro-American
calypso vibrations
are three of many cords
strumming the strings
of Chicago.

Sandburg’s Chicago,
if you wrote forever
you would only scratch its surface.

People wait for trains
to enter the city from O’Hare.
Frozen tears
lock their eyes
onto distant skyscrapers,
solid chunks
of snot blocks their nose
and green icicles of slime
crust mustaches.
They fight to breathe.

Sandburg’s Chicago
is The Land of Lincoln,
Savior of the Union,
protector of the Republic.
Sent armies
of sons and daughters,
barges, boxcars,
gunboats, foodstuffs,
cannon and shot
to raze the south
and stamp out succession.

Old Abe’s biography
are still unknown volumes to me.
I must see and read the great words.
You can never learn enough;
but I’ve been to Washington
and seen the man’s memorial.
The Free World’s 8th wonder,
guarded by General Grant,
who still keeps an eye on Richmond
and a hand on his sword.

Through this American winter
Abe ponders.
The vista he surveys is dire and tragic.

Our sitting President
impeached
for lying about a *******.

Party partisans
in the senate are sworn and seated.
Our Chief Justice,
adorned with golden bars
will adjudicate the proceedings.
It is the perfect counterpoint
to an ageless Abe thinking
with malice toward none
and charity towards all,
will heal the wounds
of the nation.

Abe our granite angel,
Chicago goes on,
The Union is strong!


SECOND DAY

1.
Out my window
the sun has risen.

According to
the local forecast
its minus 9
going up to
6 today.

The lake,
a golden pillow of clouds
is frozen in time.

I marvel
at the ancients ones
resourcefulness
and how
they mastered
these extreme elements.

Past, present and future
has no meaning
in the Citadel
of the Prairie today.

I set my watch
to Central Standard Time.

Stepping into
the hotel lobby
the concierge
with oil smooth hair,
perfect tie
and English lilt
impeccably asks,
“Do you know where you are going Sir?
Can I give you a map?”

He hands me one of Chicago.
I see he recently had his nails done.
He paints a green line
along Whacker Drive and says,
“turn on Jackson, LaSalle, Wabash or Madison
and you’ll get to where you want to go.”
A walk of 14 or 15 blocks from Streeterville-
(I start at The Chicago White House.
They call it that because Hillary Rodham
stays here when she’s in town.
Its’ also alleged that Stedman
eats his breakfast here
but Opra
has never been seen
on the premises.
I wonder how I gained entry
into this place of elite’s?)
-down into the center of The Loop.

Stepping out of the hotel,
The Doorman
sporting the epaulets of a colonel
on his corporate winter coat
and furry Cossack hat
swaddling his round black face
accosts me.

The skin of his face
is flaking from
the subzero windburn.

He asks me
with a gapped toothy grin,
“Can I get you a cab?”
“No I think I’ll walk,” I answer.
“Good woolen hat,
thick gloves you should be alright.”
He winks and lets me pass.

I step outside.
The Windy City
flings stabbing cold spears
flying on wings of 30-mph gusts.
My outside hardens.
I can feel the freeze
deepen
into my internalness.
I can’t be sure
but inside
my heart still feels warm.
For how long
I cannot say.

I commence
my walk
among the spires
of this great city,
the vertical leaps
that anchor the great lake,
holding its place
against the historic
frigid assault.

The buildings’ sway,
modulating to the blows
of natures wicked blasts.

It’s a hard imposition
on a city and its people.

The gloves,
skullcap,
long underwear,
sweater,
jacket
and overcoat
not enough
to keep the cold
from penetrating
the person.

Like discerning
the layers of this city,
even many layers,
still not enough
to understand
the depth of meaning
of the heart
of this heartland city.

Sandburg knew the city well.
Set amidst groves of suburbs
that extend outward in every direction.
Concentric circles
surround the city.
After the burbs come farms,
Great Plains, and mountains.
Appalachians and Rockies
are but mere molehills
in the city’s back yard.
It’s terra firma
stops only at the sea.
Pt. Barrow to the Horn,
many capes extended.

On the periphery
its appendages,
its extremities,
its outward extremes.
All connected by the idea,
blown by the incessant wind
of this great nation.
The Windy City’s message
is sent to the world’s four corners.
It is a message of power.
English the worlds
common language
is spoken here,
along with Ebonics,
Espanol,
Mandarin,
Czech,
Russian,
Korean,
Arabic,
Hindi­,
German,
French,
electronics,
steel,
cars,
cartoons,
rap,
sports­,
movies,
capital,
wheat
and more.

Always more.
Much much more
in Chicago.

2.
Sandburg
spoke all the dialects.

He heard them all,
he understood
with great precision
to the finest tolerances
of a lathe workers micrometer.

Sandburg understood
what it meant to laugh
and be happy.

He understood
the working mans day,
the learned treatises
of university chairs,
the endless tomes
of the city’s
great libraries,
the lost languages
of the ancient ones,
the secret codes
of abstract art,
the impact of architecture,
the street dialects and idioms
of everymans expression of life.

All fighting for life,
trying to build a life,
a new life
in this modern world.

Walking across
the Michigan Avenue Bridge
I see the Wrigley Building
is neatly carved,
catty cornered on the plaza.

I wonder if Old Man Wrigley
watched his barges
loaded with spearmint
and double-mint
move out onto the lake
from one of those Gothic windows
perched high above the street.

Would he open a window
and shout to the men below
to quit slaking and work harder
or would he
between the snapping sound
he made with his mouth
full of his chewing gum
offer them tickets
to a ballgame at Wrigley Field
that afternoon?

Would the men below
be able to understand
the man communing
from such a great height?

I listen to a man
and woman conversing.
They are one step behind me
as we meander along Wacker Drive.

"You are in Chicago now.”
The man states with profundity.
“If I let you go
you will soon find your level
in this city.
Do you know what I mean?”

No I don’t.
I think to myself.
What level are you I wonder?
Are you perched atop
the transmission spire
of the Hancock Tower?

I wouldn’t think so
or your ears would melt
from the windburn.

I’m thinking.
Is she a kept woman?
She is majestically clothed
in fur hat and coat.
In animal pelts
not trapped like her,
but slaughtered
from farms
I’m sure.

What level
is he speaking of?

Many levels
are evident in this city;
many layers of cobbled stone,
Pennsylvania iron,
Hoosier Granite
and vertical drops.

I wonder
if I detect
condensation
in his voice?

What is
his intention?
Is it a warning
of a broken affair?
A pending pink slip?
Advise to an addict
refusing to adhere
to a recovery regimen?

What is his level anyway?
Is he so high and mighty,
Higher and mightier
then this great city
which we are all a part of,
which we all helped to build,
which we all need
in order to keep this nation
the thriving democratic
empire it is?

This seditious talk!

3.
The Loop’s El
still courses through
the main thoroughfares of the city.

People are transported
above the din of the street,
looking down
on the common pedestrians
like me.

Super CEO’s
populating the upper floors
of Romanesque,
Greek Revivalist,
New Bauhaus,
Art Deco
and Post Nouveau
Neo-Modern
Avant-Garde towers
are too far up
to see me
shivering on the street.

The cars, busses,
trains and trucks
are all covered
with the film
of rock salt.

Salt covers
my bootless feet
and smudges
my cloths as well.

The salt,
the primal element
of the earth
covers everything
in Chicago.

It is the true level
of this city.

The layer
beneath
all layers,
on which
everything
rests,
is built,
grows,
thrives
then dies.
To be
returned again
to the lower
layers
where it can
take root
again
and grow
out onto
the great plains.

Splashing
the nation,
anointing
its people
with its
blessing.

A blessing,
Chicago?

All rivers
come here.

All things
found its way here
through the canals
and back bays
of the world’s
greatest lakes.

All roads,
rails and
air routes
begin and
end here.

Mrs. O’Leary’s cow
got a *** rap.
It did not start the fire,
we did.

We lit the torch
that flamed
the city to cinders.
From a pile of ash
Chicago rose again.

Forever Chicago!
Forever the lamp
that burns bright
on a Great Lake’s
western shore!

Chicago
the beacon
sends the
message to the world
with its windy blasts,
on chugging barges,
clapping trains,
flying tandems,
T1 circuits
and roaring jets.

Sandburg knew
a Chicago
I will never know.

He knew
the rhythm of life
the people walked to.
The tools they used,
the dreams they dreamed
the songs they sang,
the things they built,
the things they loved,
the pains that hurt,
the motives that grew,
the actions that destroyed
the prayers they prayed,
the food they ate
their moments of death.

Sandburg knew
the layers of the city
to the depths
and windy heights
I cannot fathom.

The Blues
came to this city,
on the wing
of a chirping bird,
on the taps
of a rickety train,
on the blast
of an angry sax
rushing on the wind,
on the Westend blitz
of Pop's brash coronet,
on the tink of
a twinkling piano
on a paddle-wheel boat
and on the strings
of a lonely man’s guitar.

Walk into the clubs,
tenements,
row houses,
speakeasies
and you’ll hear the Blues
whispered like
a quiet prayer.

Tidewater Blues
from Virginia,
Delta Blues
from the lower
Mississippi,
Boogie Woogie
from Appalachia,
Texas Blues
from some Lone Star,
Big Band Blues
from Kansas City,
Blues from
Beal Street,
Jelly Roll’s Blues
from the Latin Quarter.

Hell even Chicago
got its own brand
of Blues.

Its all here.
It ended up here
and was sent away
on the winds of westerly blows
to the ear of an eager world
on strong jet streams
of simple melodies
and hard truths.

A broad
shouldered woman,
a single mother stands
on the street
with three crying babes.
Their cloths
are covered
in salt.
She pleads
for a break,
praying
for a new start.
Poor and
under-clothed
against the torrent
of frigid weather
she begs for help.
Her blond hair
and ****** features
suggests her
Scandinavian heritage.
I wonder if
she is related to Sandburg
as I walk past
her on the street.
Her feet
are bleeding
through her
canvass sneakers.
Her babes mouths
are zipped shut
with frozen drivel
and mucous.

The Blues live
on in Chicago.

The Blues
will forever live in her.
As I turn the corner
to walk the Miracle Mile
I see her engulfed
in a funnel cloud of salt,
snow and bits
of white paper,
swirling around her
and her children
in an angry
unforgiving
maelstrom.

The family
begins to
dissolve
like a snail
sprinkled with salt;
and a mother
and her children
just disappear
into the pavement
at the corner
of Dearborn,
in Chicago.

Music:

Robert Johnson
Sweet Home Chicago


jbm
Chicago
1/7/99
Added today to commemorate the birthday of Carl Sandburg
Lake Michigan is bare again,
because all the boats are taken
out of the docks until spring
time comes around again.

Lake Michigan looks beautiful with
it is blue color and the sun shining over it,
people walk along the beach and the waves
crash upon the beach.

There is nothing more beautiful to me
than Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan is peaceful because there is
nothing in the water, people don't picnic along
the side of the beach and only a few joggers jog
along the side of the beach.
Lake Michigan is peaceful to them and to me.

Lake Michigan will come back to live in May,
when Spring time shows her beautiful face,
when everything is green and growing by
the gardens by Lake Michigan.

But as for now, Lake Michigan she sleeps,
waiting for spring time to come to her
so she may awake.
Sarah Writes Jan 2013
I live at the bottom of a lake
I am a fish
There are gills in my ears
‘Cause there are things my blood needs to hear
I have fins in my mouth and they propel me so far
The only way to stop is to bite down real hard
Sometimes I miss the air, even though I’ve never breathed
I drive around the lake bottom in my little moving machine
I call it a Notcar
I try to find my way to the other side
It’s blue out there or maybe grey

I died at the bottom of a lake today
I ran all out of imaginary air
I fell asleep at the wheel of my Notcar
And drove right into a telephone Notpole
My friends all gathered round my little fish-shaped grave and I learned something
They don’t tell you in books or movies,
That Dead speaks a different language than Alive
So I couldn’t understand a word my fishy friends said
It sounded like this:

I’d always hoped my death would have some meaning
Or that at least my life would
But mostly I just tried to understand things
Like all the different rooms in my brain and why underwater never smelled like rain
I loved a few boy fish, had some very fishy affairs
I loved my friends the most, they were such pretty colors
(Dead sees colors differently than Alive, so now they look like this:                                    )
The day I died was special like every other day which is to say
That it was not Notaverage
And I died in a pretty Notspecial way
And because I can’t hear Alivewords, or see Alivecolors
I’ll never be sure if I left any mark

I live at the bottom of a lake
Most days I think that I’m an alien
On Tuesdays I feel pretty human
The lake I live in died
It left behind little shells in the sand at the playground
And pretty rocks with ripples
It left rings on the mountains but not like rings inside trees
These rings mark a countdown to death, rather than a count out from birth

The lake is a ghost
It sings to me in my sleep, but I don’t speak Dead
At least not yet
And furthermore, I don’t speak lake
I speak a language called Notdeadnotlake
And so do all my friends
Sometimes I wonder why the ocean was so thirsty that it called my lake back home
And I wonder if I’m part of Something Bigger too,
Whether Something Bigger is feeling thirsty
I think I might be part of a big strange creature made out of all the things I sometimes feel like:
Lakesludge and matches and sunshine and fish with sharp little teeth
Notgoods and notbads and spiders and bats
Sadhappys and angryfucks
Starsparkles and earthworms and fairywings and dinosaur bones,
It has really big ears and stubby toes
And all it needs is some alien or Tuesdayhuman to feel complete
Or maybe it’s made of lakeghosts and fishghosts
And wants nothing to do with me
I live in what used to be Glacial Lake Missoula. This poem was inspired by that, a dream I had, and a book I was reading at the time.
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
As a woman, and in the service of my Lord the Emperor Wu, my life is governed by his command. At twenty I was summoned to this life at court and have made of it what I can, within the limitations of the courtesan I am supposed to be, and the poet I have now become. Unlike my male counterparts, some of whom have lately found seclusion in the wilderness of rivers and mountains, I have only my personal court of three rooms and its tiny garden and ornamental pond. But I live close to the surrounding walls of the Zu-lin Gardens with its astronomical observatories and bold attempts at recreating illusions of celebrated locations in the Tai mountains. There, walking with my cat Xi-Lu in the afternoons, I imagine a solitary life, a life suffused with the emptiness I crave.
 
In the hot, dry summer days my maid Mei-Lim and I have sought a temporary retreat in the pine forests above Lingzhi. Carried in a litter up the mountain paths we are left in a commodious hut, its open walls making those simple pleasures of drinking, eating and sleeping more acute, intense. For a few precious days I rest and meditate, breathe the mountain air and the resinous scents of the trees. I escape the daily commerce of the court and belong to a world that for the rest of the year I have to imagine, the world of the recluse. To gain the status of the recluse, open to my male counterparts, is forbidden to women of the court. I am woman first, a poet and calligrapher second. My brother, should he so wish, could present a petition to revoke his position as a man of letters, an official commentator on the affairs of state. But he is not so inclined. He has already achieved notoriety and influence through his writing on the social conditions of town and city. He revels in a world of chatter, gossip and intrigue; he appears to fear the wilderness life.  
 
I must be thankful that my own life is maintained on the periphery. I am physically distant from the hub of daily ceremonial. I only participate at my Lord’s express command. I regularly feign illness and fatigue to avoid petty conflict and difficulty. Yet I receive commissions I cannot waver: to honour a departed official; to celebrate a son’s birth to the Second Wife; to fulfil in verse my Lord’s curious need to know about the intimate sorrows of his young concubines, their loneliness and heartache.
 
Occasionally a Rhapsody is requested for an important visitor. The Emperor Wu is proud to present as welcome gifts such poetic creations executed in fine calligraphy, and from a woman of his court. Surely a sign of enlightment and progress he boasts! Yet in these creations my observations are parochial: early morning frost on the cabbage leaves in my garden; the sound of geese on their late afternoon flight to Star Lake; the disposition of the heavens on an Autumn night. I live by the Tao of Lao-Tzu, perceiving the whole world from my doorstep.
 
But I long for the reclusive life, to leave this court for my family’s estate in the valley my peasant mother lived as a child. At fourteen she was chosen to sustain the Emperor’s annual wish for young girls to be groomed for concubinage. Like her daughter she is tall, though not as plain as I; she put her past behind her and conceded her adolescence to the training required by the court. At twenty she was recommended to my father, the court archivist, as second wife. When she first met this quiet, dedicated man on the day before her marriage she closed her eyes in blessing. My father taught her the arts of the library and schooled her well. From her I have received keen eyes of jade green and a prestigious memory, a memory developed she said from my father’s joy of reading to her in their private hours, and before she could read herself. Each morning he would examine her to discover what she had remembered of the text read the night before. When I was a little child she would quote to me the Confucian texts on which she had been ****** schooled, and she then would tell me of her childhood home. She primed my imagination and my poetic world with descriptions of a domestic rural life.
 
Sometimes in the arms of my Lord I have freely rhapsodized in chusi metre these delicate word paintings of my mother’s home. She would say ‘We will walk now to the ruined tower beside the lake. Listen to the carolling birds. As the sparse clouds move across the sky the warm sun strokes the winter grass. Across the deep lake the forests are empty. Now we are climbing the narrow steps to the platform from which you and I will look towards the sun setting in the west. See the shadows are lengthening and the air becomes colder. The blackbird’s solitary song heralds the evening.  Look, an owl glides silently beneath us.’
 
My Lord will then quote from Hsieh Ling-yun,.
 
‘I meet sky, unable to soar among clouds,
face a lake, call those depths beyond me.’
 
And I will match this quotation, as he will expect.
 
‘Too simple-minded to perfect Integrity,
and too feeble to plough fields in seclusion.’
 
He will then gaze into my eyes in wonder that this obscure poem rests in my memory and that I will decode the minimal grammar of these early characters with such poetry. His characters: Sky – Bird – Cloud – Lake – Depth. My characters: Fool – Truth – Child – Winter field – Isolation.
 
Our combined invention seems to take him out of his Emperor-self. He is for a while the poet-scholar-sage he imagines he would like to be, and I his foot-sore companion following his wilderness journey. And then we turn our attention to our bodies, and I surprise him with my admonitions to gentleness, to patience, to arousing my pleasure. After such poetry he is all pleasure, sensitive to the slightest touch, and I have my pleasure in knowing I can control this powerful man with words and the stroke of my fingertips rather than by delicate youthful beauty or the guile and perverse ingenuity of an ****** act. He is still learning to recognise the nature and particularness of my desires. I am not as his other women: who confuse pleasure with pain.
 
Thoughts of my mother. Without my dear father, dead ten years, she is a boat without a rudder sailing on a distant lake. She greets each day as a gift she must honour with good humour despite the pain of her limbs, the difficulty of walking, of sitting, of eating, even talking. Such is the hurt that governs her ageing. She has always understood that my position has forbidden marriage and children, though the latter might be a possibility I have not wished it and made it known to my Lord that it must not be. My mother remains in limbo, neither son or daughter seeking to further her lineage, she has returned to her sister’s home in the distant village of her birth, a thatched house of twenty rooms,
 
‘Elms and willows shading the eaves at the back,
and, in front,  peach and plum spread wide.
 
Villages lost across mist-haze distances,
Kitchen smoke drifting wide-open country,
 
Dogs bark deep among the back roads out here
And cockerels crow from mulberry treetops.
 
My esteemed colleague T’ao Ch’ien made this poetry. After a distinguished career in government service he returned to the life of a recluse-farmer on his family farm. Living alone in a three-roomed hut he lives out his life as a recluse and has endured considerable poverty. One poem I know tells of him begging for food. His world is fields-and-gardens in contrast to Hsieh Ling-yin who is rivers-and-mountains. Ch’ien’s commitment to the recluse life has brought forth words that confront death and the reality of human experience without delusion.
 
‘At home here in what lasts, I wait out life.’
 
Thus my mother waits out her life, frail, crumbling more with each turning year.
 
To live beyond the need to organise daily commitments due to others, to step out into my garden and only consider the dew glistening on the loropetalum. My mind is forever full of what is to be done, what must be completed, what has to be said to this visitor who will today come to my court at the Wu hour. Only at my desk does this incessant chattering in the mind cease, as I move my brush to shape a character, or as the needle enters the cloth, all is stilled, the world retreats; there is the inner silence I crave.
 
I long to see with my own eyes those scenes my mother painted for me with her words. I only know them in my mind’s eye having travelled so little these past fifteen years. I look out from this still dark room onto my small garden to see the morning gathering its light above the rooftops. My camellia bush is in flower though a thin frost covers the garden stones.
 
And so I must imagine how it might be, how I might live the recluse life. How much can I jettison? These fine clothes, this silken nightgown beneath the furs I wrap myself in against the early morning air. My maid is sleeping. Who will make my tea? Minister to me when I take to my bed? What would become of my cat, my books, the choice-haired brushes? Like T’ao Ch’ien could I leave the court wearing a single robe and with one bag over my shoulders? Could I walk for ten days into the mountains? I would disguise myself as a man perhaps. I am tall for a woman, and though my body flows in broad curves there are ways this might be assuaged, enough perhaps to survive unmolested on the road.
 
Such dreams! My Lord would see me returned within hours and send a servant to remain at my gate thereafter. I will compose a rhapsody about a concubine of standing, who has even occupied the purple chamber, but now seeks to relinquish her privileged life, who coverts the uncertainty of nature, who would endure pain and privation in a hut on some distant mountain, who will sleep on a mat on its earth floor. Perhaps this will excite my Lord, light a fire in his imagination. As though in preparation for this task I remove my furs, I loose the knot of my silk gown. Naked, I reach for an old under shift letting it fall around my still-slender body and imagine myself tying the lacings myself in the open air, imagine making my toilet alone as the sun appears from behind a distant mountain on a new day. My mind occupies itself with the tiny detail of living thus: bare feet on cold earth, a walk to nearby stream, the gathering of berries and mountain herbs, the making of fire, the washing of my few clothes, imagining. Imagining. To live alone will see every moment filled with the tasks of keeping alive. I will become in tune with my surroundings. I will take only what I need and rely on no one. Dreaming will end and reality will be the slug on my mat, the bone-chilling incessant mists of winter, the thorn in the foot, the wild winds of autumn. My hands will become stained and rough, my long limbs tanned and scratched, my delicate complexion freckled and wind-pocked, my hair tied roughly back. I will become an animal foraging on a dank hillside. Such thoughts fill me with deep longing and a ****** desire to be tzu-jan  - with what surrounds me, ablaze with ****** self.
 
It is not thought the custom of a woman to hold such desires. We are creatures of order and comfort. We do not live on the edge of things, but crave security and well-being. We learn to endure the privations of being at the behest of others. Husbands, children, lovers, our relatives take our bodies to them as places of comfort, rest and desire. We work at maintaining an ordered flow of existence. Whatever our station, mistress or servant we compliment, we keep things in order, whether that is the common hearth or the accounts of our husband’s court. Now my rhapsody begins:
 
A Rhapsody on a woman wishing to live as a recluse
 
As a lady of my Emperor’s court I am bound in service.
My court is not my own, I have the barest of means.
My rooms are full of gifts I am forced barter for bread.
Though the artefacts of my hands and mind
Are valued and widely renown,
Their commissioning is an expectation of my station,
With no direct reward attached.
To dress appropriately for my Lord’s convocations and assemblies
I am forced to negotiate with chamberlains and treasurers.
A bolt of silk, gold thread, the services of a needlewoman
Require formal entreaties and may lie dormant for weeks
Before acknowledgement and release.
 
I was chosen for my literary skills, my prestigious memory,
Not for my ****** beauty, though I have been called
‘Lady of the most gracious movement’ and
My speaking voice has clarity and is capable of many colours.
I sing, but plainly and without passion
Lest I interfere with the truth of music’s message.
 
Since I was a child in my father’s library
I have sought out the works of those whose words
Paint visions of a world that as a woman
I may never see, the world of the wilderness,
Of rivers and mountains,
Of fields and gardens.
Yet I am denied by my *** and my station
To experience passing amongst these wonders
Except as contrived imitations in the palace gardens.
 
Each day I struggle to tease from the small corner
Of my enclosed eye-space some enrichment
Some elemental thing to colour meaning:
To extend the bounds of my home
Across the walls of this palace
Into the world beyond.
 
I have let it be known that I welcome interviews
With officials from distant courts to hear of their journeying,
To gather word images if only at second-hand.
Only yesterday an emissary recounted
His travels to Stone Lake in the far South-West,
Beyond the gorges of the Yang-tze.
With his eyes I have seen the mountains of Suchan:
With his ears I have heard the oars crackling
Like shattering jade in the freezing water.
Images and sounds from a thousand miles
Of travel are extract from this man’s memory.
 
Such a sharing of experience leaves me
Excited but dismayed: that I shall never
Visit this vast expanse of water and hear
Its wild cranes sing from their floating nests
In the summer moonlight.
 
I seek to disappear into a distant landscape
Where the self and its constructions of the world may
Dissolve away until nothing remains but the no-mind.
My thoughts are full of the practicalities of journeying
Of an imagined location, that lonely place
Where I may be at one with myself.
Where I may delight in the everyday Way,
Myself among mist and vine, rock and cave.
Not this lady of many parts and purposes whose poems must
Speak of lives, sorrow and joy, pleasure and pain
Set amongst personal conflict and intrigue
That in containing these things, bring order to disorder;
Salve the conscience, bathe hurt, soothe sleight.
Jeff Raheb Aug 2014
Dal Lake

I float on Dal Lake
Suspended
between the thick soupy crisp air of soldiers
water lilies, Kashmiri bread
and the Muslim prayers
that penetrate the hardness of war
chanting Allah Bismallah
Floating Islam
Holy words drenching the air
Drenching the green cloth of Hindu soldiers
Sliding down the cool metal of a rifle
9 years of war
1,000 houseboats lie empty
in the Himalayan fog
Intricately carved furniture
Thick with dust
and the powder of blood and bullets

Himalayan silhouette etched black
against the song of lotus gatherers
Foggy voices like cloud of moon
Lotus lake
Gray of war and desperation
Children beg
1 rupee
1 rupee
1 rupee
Endless monologue
Parched like lotus shaped paddle
They throw flowers to me
endlessly
I throw them back
endlessly

Time passes slowly
like smoke on a lizard’s tail
trailing in the thick, rancid air
of burning meat and maple leaves
Like a shikara
moving over the glass of Kashmir

The sound of a dozen Bangees
floating over the water
Hollow, solemn and mournful
Echoing against the hardness
of the surrounding mountains
The circle of Himalayas
Like a womb
around the prayers of Pachin

In the middle of the lake
I hear the call to prayer
Azan Nemarz Suba
Azan Nemarz Pashin
Azan Nemarz Degar
Azan Nemarz Sham
Azan Nemarz Koftan
From dawn till dusk

Azan
4 mosques
4 singers
4 directions
staggered by a breath
like an imperfect echo

Azan slips into the pockets of island soldiers
Waters the impatience of soldiers on the shore
Steals into the vacant eyes of soldiers in the Mosque
They want to go home to their wives and children
They want to leave the place of prayer, which is not theirs
The place of prayer, which has seen death
The place where God was pushed out
In order to not see the killing
To **** what they don’t see
The place, which was no longer a refuge

Outside

Dal Lake turns to the color of red lentils
cooking in a dented metal ***
In the Shikara boat we eat dal and rice
and throw scraps into the silver water
where it washes up
onto the ***** boots of a soldier
I hear the dull gray click, click of his rifle
as it touches the ground

The prayers have ended
Wide Eyes Jun 2014
Come spring, she leaped across the grassy dune,
Beaming with sheer joy as she hummed a halcyon tune.
Her beauteous almond eyes- the biggest, the brightest.
A bonnie spotted doe in her warm, homely forest

Come summer, by her gushing little lake she played.
When upon a solitary, pensive buck her eyes she laid.
Eyes met across the smiling lake; too soon gazes parted.
While his eyes curiously lingered, hers wandered on ahead.

Come monsoon, he adored her eyes, her gilded coat, her bushy tail.
The passionate warmth in her eyes with affection made him frail.
Yet, she went on with her blissful life- devoid of any care.
Oblivious of the buck who always stopped to stare.

Come winter, by his side chattering happily she grazed.
Soon, his feelings faded; by almond eyes no longer crazed.
Like currents in the water, apart they drifted and drifted.
New lake. Nonchalant silence. No words were said.

Come fall, she found that he still leaped through her mind.
The emotion she once scoffed in her heart now enshrined.
Eyes met across the smiling lake; too soon gazes parted.
While her dull eyes wistfully lingered, his wandered on ahead.
islam Dec 2013
Don't you find it strange? How your world could shift on its axis and everything you trusted could invert itself in what seemed like no time at all?
                      

A girl who grew up in a desert which was located in a forgotten land had discovered a secret lake after walking for more than 21 hours! She never told anyone where she was going. She only spoke of the lake.
The lake was crystal clear and alluring that the girl felt like drowning herself in it, to just let the water cleanse her soul. But she couldn't even dip her finger! Her finger would barely touch the surface. She tried with her hands... Nothing. Her legs... Nothing. It was as if the lake was made of glass!
So she decided to walk on water. Her feet touched the surface and she took slender steps. Her heart was beating really fast. She closed her eyes and kept walking till' she found herself on the other side of the lake. Relief flowed over her as she opened her eyes and saw that she was still alive. It was as if she walked on glass.
But how?
"No one have the ability to walk on water! There must be something wrong with the lake." She thought to herself.
She pounded down the lake again, trying to see if the glassy surface would break... Nothing.
She tried dancing and she spun like a ballerina... But her dancing efforts went in vain.
So she lay on the surface. A dormant girl.
Her black hair was crowning her small angelic face, her dress was as white and transparent as the glassy surface itself, her legs were bare, and her hands were placed above her head.
"Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this isn't a lake afterall." She said aloud.
She closed her eyes and started imagining how it would feel like to be dead. She felt that it would be similar to lake... No movement or life whatsoever...
Abruptly, the glassy surface cracked. The girl's eyes flashed opened and she jumped, but little did she know that her movement cause the whole surface to crack, to vanish...
The girl no longer felt like standing on something that is fixed... She felt the water pulling her down and down until she drowned.
I was supposed to be sleeping at 4 a.m last night but I thought to myself "How about a short story?"
So yeah, lame me.
SK Jul 2015
when i pass by the lake, i have to stop and stare
how magnificent is it that such a beautiful body of water
is just sitting right there?
whether I'm shopping in Chicago
or hiking in Manistique,
lake michigan is my horizon, its depth is my peak.
i see every shade of blue there has ever been and will be,
i see white caps, forming patterns at the surface.
i wonder what fish are swimming below my feet.
i long to swim in it; to experience it’s vastness; to feel it’s chill envelop my bones
and to feel its warmth guide me back home.
my thoughts are clouded with the lake
and i see it in my dreams.
i think of its wide open rivers and its tiny little streams.
i wish to be near it,
to wake up to its song every day,
but when i rise in the morning,
i’m reminded that i am far away.

when you pass by the lake, you simply don’t stare,
such a magnificent body of water; do you know that it’s there?
if you were in Chicago, would it still be the same?
if you stood in Manistique, would you care that you came?
when you look at the lake, do you see all the blue?
or is every single ripple the same color to you?
do you think about fish, or wish to go for a swim,
or will you stay inside and say “i’ve already been in”.
have you drove by too many times that its escaped from your dreams,
do you find its rivers boring; “it’s not what it seems”.
you’ve seen it all your life, it’s as plain as a tree
is the way you ignore such a beautiful lake, the way you one day will see me?
savvy May 2018
The cold autumn breeze whips through my hair as I sit quietly by my lake. I have my legs dangled over the edge of the dock waiting for
something...anything.

The frosty winter air fills my lungs as I walk calmly around my lake. I have my arms wrapped around myself
watching for
something...anything.

The fresh spring scents make me smile as I lay next to my lake. I close my eyes and silently drift off to sleep
listening for
something...anything

The long summer heat makes me remember the year before as I drift along my lake. I trace my hand along the surface of the water
thinking of
something...anything.

A year has passed and I sit by my lake again. I try to think of what I could possibly have waited for, watched for, listened for, and thought...of. Someone...anyone?

Then, I look next to me and realize that it was all just my imagination. You were who I waited for, who I looked for, who I listened for, and who I thought...of.
You were my lake
Alind Bokodi Mar 2019
She loved the water, but not as much as the water loved her. Reaching for her, struggling for embrace each time she set foot on it’s shores. The lake was vast and held beauty and life of all kinds, but it wanted nothing more than this girl. The girl who marveled at the water’s beauty even when the wind was stinging and harsh and no others would venture away from their homes on such a day.
The lake left her gifts. It collected the wastes and trash that others had abandoned at it’s soft edges and transformed it into treasures of all sorts. Broken bottles, once with jagged edges, were now jewels of the water’s making. Gifts for the girl, they were strewn about the sand.
Each time the girl followed the shore the waves would reach for her feet longingly. The girl would giggle and bound away from the approaching wave, afraid to wet her shoes on such a cold day. As moments passed the girl would venture on, drifting nearer to the water, searching for treasures along the edge of the sand. Each time she did, the lake would reach for her. Again she would giggle.
They played this game each time the girl came to visit the lake. The lake loved the way the girl’s laughter rode on the wind, but as time went by the lake grew more and more blue. Not in colour, but in spirit. Reaching for something it loved dearly without embrace. Only summer brought hope that the girl would venture away from the shore. The lake understood, but oh how the it longed for the coming of summer warmth.
This was inspired by a friend who enjoyed dragging me to the beach in the midst of winter.
Nihl Jun 2013
“And as for you, River, there will be a day when you will flow with blood more than water. And dead bodies will be stacked higher than the dams. And he who is dead will not be mourned as much as he who is alive. Asclepius, why are you weeping? ”

CHAPTER I

The lake house was always a place of good memories. I couldn’t help but remember the countless summers just like this one, where I had spent days down by the lake, beside my father, catching rainbow trout with nothing but a line and a little bread or bait worm. The sound of crickets chirping in chorus at dusk, while just a slither of gold managed to peek over the mountain range that hung like curtains, draped across the horizon on every side. It was our paradise on earth, the Coulter families’ personal heaven. A humble log house nestled in the heavy shadow of the Rocky Mountains. Standing peacefully beside our private little lake, cradled within a thick pine forest. It was our pine forest.
-
We had arrived at the house two days ago, on a particularly overcast Friday afternoon. But the grey sky had parted, and left us with clear blue skies almost as soon as we arrived. Now nothing but the occasional broad, pearl-white, sky conquering clouds would dare to appear. This made the weather perfect for a swim in the lake, as well as an afternoon frying the day’s catch of trout in the fire pit just outside the cabin. I was inside the cabin, stuffing the weekend’s filthy clothes into my pack, in preparation for the long journey home tomorrow morning. Dad was gathering a load of firewood from our great proud pile of logs outside. I always liked adding to the pile the same way I found a mundane joy in saving money, I watched as we built it up into a neat pyramid, then imagined how long it would last us and how many cold nights they would ward off.
After packing my last well-worn flannel shirt into my now plump olive duffle bag the sun had disappeared behind the mountain; leaving a quickly dying amber streaked across the western sky.
I could hear my father’s footsteps as he entered the house, dropping a collection of heavy wood at his feet in front of the fireplace. Then quickly transporting the two best-looking ones straight into the warm mess of crackling flames that kept our cabin warm. I climbed under the covers of my bed and sat with my back against the wall, with a clear view into the living room.
I am Curtis, and George Coulter was my father, a broad man with dark brown hair, a short cropped haircut, bright blue eyes and dark stubble with traces of silver sneaking through. He was a weathered man with a tough 37 years over my easy 16, and always seemed to dress like a cliché lumberjack. Apart from the weathered appearance, sprouting grey hair and working class fashion sense, we were practically a splitting image. My mother would always say that looking at me was like stepping back in time and that every day I looked more like him.
-
“That should keep it going for a while.” George said, obviously exhausted from the events of the weekend and He slowly moved just inside the doorway and leaned against the frame, rubbing his eyes with his right hand before bringing it down to form a soft v shape on his chin.
“I’ve already loaded the truck, so we’ll be able to leave bright and early tomorrow.” He turned his head quickly as if to listen carefully for something else in the room. I found this to be a perfect opportunity to shoot a question I’d been wondering recently.
“Do you think there really is life after death?” I asked him abruptly and he looked straight at me with a quizzical expression and replied “Why do you ask, did someone say something?” I sat up straight on my bed pulled my hands into my lap.
“No, no one said anything. It’s just that I rode my bike by the cemetery last week, and there was a statue of an angel in the middle of all the gravestones, it just made me wonder, you know. Does all that stuff really exist?” I had a lump in my throat and swallowed hard to keep in down. My father sat down beside me at the foot of the bed.
“I think…” He started, still searching for the right words to say. “I like to think that there’s a place somewhere up there for us.” He turned his gaze towards the window and observed the last light in the sky before turning quickly back to me.
“Do you think mom will be up there?” I asked, and his face dropped a little.
“Your mother is up there waiting for us and the first thing she’ll do is tell us to take our shoes off so as not to get the cloud *****.” He said with a slight smile, I laughed at the idea as he continued. “But you don’t have to worry about that for a long time Curt.” He grinned, roughed up my hair, and then forced me into bed playfully. “I’ll do my best to make sure of that.” He rose from the bed and advanced towards the door. “Now get some sleep. I don’t want to have a conversation with myself on the ride back.” He disappeared into the main room and slumped into a lazy boy chair to gaze at the fireplace in the warmth of our now quiet cabin, as my room was filled with the soft lullaby of crackling fire. I turned towards the window and stared out towards the stars, my mind wandering as I closed my eyes. Tomorrow we would begin the long journey home.
-
Without any warning I was startled awake by a terrifying ripping sound. A great rip echoed throughout the house like a plastic bag violently flailing about in heavy wind. I immediately sat up on my bed, and blindly stared out into an ocean of black. A strange loud thumping sound rang from the living room in regular intervals. It had seemed like no time at all had passed since I had closed my eyes, my heart was thundering like the gears on a full-speed freight train and my eyes fed off the darkness in the room, starving for even the slightest idea of a source for the noise. But all I could see was darkness beyond my doorway. I struggled to pull myself back together from my state of screaming fear and cautiously got to my feet.
As far as I could tell the thumping was coming from outside, as I moved towards the doorway and peered into the living room. For some reason the fireplace that should still have been flickering with hungry flames was now dark and dead, as though it had gone cold days ago and the house completely vacated. The warmth that the fire had supplied moments ago had now been replaced with a cruel cold midnight breeze sailing in through the wide open swinging cabin door. The cabin door was clashing against the cabin wall outside in the wind I now knew was the source of the horrifying thumping that my imagination had played so helplessly with. My breath became shallow as I contemplated my situation, how long had I been asleep, and where was my father? I turned to the lazy boy in the living room and noticed it upturned and vacant. My heart started firing again like a machine gun and cold sweat now dawned on my brow. There was no sign of dad, not in the cabin at least. With my heartbeat slowing to the manageable speed of a cruising passenger train, I wondered where he could have gone while struggling to tame the rising feeling of dread as I hurried towards the front door and looked out over the hill and down towards the lake. There was no jagged black figure or human form in sight. A great deal of me was hoping to catch him investigating the same noise that startled me. But he was nowhere near, which made my blood run cold.  
-
The unforgiving night’s ice cold wind stung my ears and pinched my face, my breath trailing off in vapour. “Dad!” I called out, towards the southern wharf down by the water, nothing. Again I called, towards the vegetable patch on the eastern side of the house, nothing. I tapped my fingers anxiously on the door frame before proceeding down the few steps leading into the cabin, closing the cabin door behind me to stop the jarring thump. With that I was engulfed in the darkness and violent wind. Disoriented I called out once more towards the pine forests to the west, “Dad!” my voice cracked from desperation and bounced through the gale, ringing in the distance as if it had been carried by the wind and exploded skyward, amplified by the mountains surrounding the lake.
-
A light! A light darted between the tree line and danced in the darkness before disappearing just as quickly as it came. I stared in awe as the wind found its way through my clothes and now chilled me completely. My bare feet screamed from the cold grass that I tortured them with and I could hear the abhorrent ripping sound bellowing back at me from the distant forest. I stood still, confused and staring hopefully. I heard him, faint at first, but I was certain that I heard my father’s voice on the wind.
“Curt.”
I followed the voice out into the darkness, past the fire pit and towards the western tree line. I waved my arms in front of me pathetically probing the air for something to guide me. My eyes squinted hard to try and make out detail from nothing. “Curt.” Again it whispered from the distance. I stumbled across the field until I reached the outskirts of the woods and I could feel the first cluster great pine looming overhead. The wind and chill was slowly cut off by the wall of trees, as I followed the origin of my father’s voice.
The forest bed was thick with undergrowth and as familiar as this place was during the day, at night it was like another world, a world in which sight had to be thrown to the wind and I was forced to rely on my other senses for navigation. I could smell the heavy musk of the leaf litter, and hear the wind from the field. But I could see nothing more than the glare of the full moon hanging behind the thick clouds and the faint outline of the countless pine trees that shot skyward.

It was strange, I could smell him now. I could smell my father laced upon the air, boot-polish and old sweat. The same smell hanging among the trees as the red plaid shirt that he'd use to polish his boots and labour all weekend around the lake house. It was as if he was right beside me, this idea urged me to quickly turn side to side hoping that this was in fact, true. But all I found was more vague lines in darkness, freezing fingers and whipping wind songs from the distant clearing. The smell slowly disappeared, replaced with an eerily familiar, metallic, pooling scent…
My heart thundered at the realization, Blood. I could smell blood swimming in the air, as if someone painted the trees with buckets of human blood. I could taste it on the tip of my tongue the air was so filthy with the scent.
-
My eyes opened wide, panicking at the lack of visual aid as I stopped dead in my tracks. Something felt awkward, space felt strange, warped and twisted. It was like the world was turned on its side. It felt as though someone somewhere had invaded the space I now stood in. And I could feel its presence, I felt its eyes burning a hole in the back of my head, and the hair on my neck stood upright. My heart began racing faster and faster, thumping now like the cabin door, slamming against the wall in the wind. I could feel something out there, watching and waiting. I could feel it getting nearer, getting ever closer and growing. It was as if it was feeding on the shadows and becoming larger, filling the darkness with its horrid presence. I couldn't bare it anymore; I felt it creeping up on me and my skin was crawling. My head screaming for me to turn around but I couldn't move. I felt an impossible grip encompass my entire body and swallow me in darkness. Cold sweat like ice running down my cheeks and my clothes were now saturated.
-
My breath was pounding rapidly in short, sharp bursts as I watched it fog and pillar upwards through the cutting wind. I couldn't hear anything past the roaring noise in my head, raw panic like nails on a chalkboard. My thoughts were like a game of Ping-Pong, bouncing back and forth and I couldn't focus on anything. I felt it slithering at my heels now, like a python slowly constricting its prey, playing with it before a sudden death. A twisted cold breath falling onto my shoulders as every muscle in my body tensed to point where it felt I could explode at any time. I it leaned in closely beside me, with its face hanging inches away from my ear. I could hear its lungs gathering the icewind for speech, and its tongue slithering in between razor teeth, preparing for the first terrifying bite.
-
“It’s so close.” Hisses from its jaws in several thunderous voices spawning from the darkness in every direction, the trees dissolve, the sky falls apart and my entire world collapsed away into pitch black.

N.H.

CHAPTER II
http://hellopoetry.com/poem/possession-two/
You walk through the entrance of a cave
It is dark at first and quiet
You see a glimmer of light
At the end of the darkness is a small lake of water with a waterfall

Lake of diamonds

The water is warm, not too warm
The temperature is just right
The water is deep turquoise
When light from above hits it, it shimmers

Lake of diamonds

You walk into the water and stand in the middle
The bottom is soft, silky sand
As you stand there, the waterfall begins to gently pour over you
You move to let the water run over you

Lake of diamonds

Rays of bright light shine from an opening above
They are golden in color
The water sparkles and glistens  like diamonds as the light hits

Lake of diamonds
Charleigh Huston Dec 2015
'Twas my spring of youth in that lot
That now haunts my mind by that spot
Of which I could not love less -
Wonderful loneliness,
Of the lake's Serenity gown,
With nature circled 'round.

But when Death hath reached its grasp
Upon Serenity's water - poured into his flask,
The sadistic sagacious wind went by
Murmuring the funeral cry -
Then - I finally awake -
To the terrors of Serenity Lake.

Yet I persist that it was not fright!
Simply Death's delight -
Fueled by the Void of Sorrow,
Pierced by Serenity's arrow -
No! - This Love I must define!
The trip to the lake, of thee and thine.

O! - Death's grasp laid in that voracious wave,
Enticing Serenity to be my eternal grave,
Upon that very fatal spot -
Where the two children rot.
For no soul shall ever make,
A Heaven out of Serenity Lake.
R B M Dec 2019
I asked myself to this day
Weather or not I would be the same
If they just stayed together, if they just didn’t split.
I had thought things would get better, that nothing would ever change
But that was wrong
and the longer I care
the more I drown in my salty lake of tears
That’s hidden under my bed from the world who thinks I’m smiling.

I wonder to this day
If only they let me watch as he moved away
Instead of sending us to naptime
And let us wake up to change.
Seeing him a reck and her in joy made me feel broken too
And the longer I care
The more I drown in my salty lake of tears
That’s hidden under my bed from the world who thinks I’m smiling.

I question to this day
If my mom told truth to us or lied to us to get agreement.
She said we were a packaged deal, he’d love us all the same,
Was I just a gullible four year old then
Or was it a truth that changed, I don’t know
But the longer I care
The more I drown in my salty lake of tears
That’s hidden under my bed from the world who thinks I’m smiling.

I worry to this day
If I’d ever get phased out
If one McKay was an up roar
What would the rest be like?
Only the three of us left and we all feel left so lonely and cold
But the longer I care
The more I drown in my salty lake of tears
That’s hidden under my bed from the world who thinks I’m smiling.

I still feel the pain, the morn, and the scrutiny to this day
Even after 10 years have past
Anxiety rules me
Making fear overstay its welcome
Making me care
And pushing my head beneath my salty lake of tears.
That’s hidden under my bed from the world who thinks I’m smiling.


I noticed to this day
That if I don’t care
I won’t feel the pain, the fear, the insane
The triggers might go away
And why these things won’t just go away, I  really do not know.
I do know that the path I took had a lot of broken trees and dying flowers,
And I know that I’m tired of drowning over and over in my salty lake of tears
That’s hidden under my bed from the world who thinks I’m smiling.

But I can’t stop caring
so I continue to drown.
I can’t tell you why, simply because I don’t know myself.
But I think the world thinks I’m smiling because I let them,
Not because they don’t want to read the rest of this boring, dusty book,
But because I put a lock on it and hid the key.
So I care, and care
Until I am submerged by my salty lake of tears,
That’s hidden under my bed from the world who I let think I’m smiling
Javier Garza Jul 2015
On the lake of failure I lay
Looking down at the depths of resentment that's beneath
This lake is called the lake of Selfishness
The name that you gave it
It's polluted with insults and cursed blood
Toxins all around
What once was a beautiful scene
Is now a horrifying tomb

Afloat of this lake of darkness
I hear the norm
"Everything with you is failure"
"You care about no one, you're selfish"
"You're a horrible person"
"You will die alone"

So I look down at the chain that I hold
And I let go
Down you go
To the bottom of the trap you've set
What you've created, begins to choke you

This dying lake is your mark
The death that swims underneath is all yours
Now feel the norm
See the pollution
You begin to drown
You ask for my help
But I'm selfish, a failure, will die alone, and I'm a horrible person
So I let you sink
Down down you go
To the grave you've dug so long ago
Sleep at last
In your lake of hate
L B Jul 2018
For my cousin, Chris Goldrick

Lacing my skates
after walking two miles
in girl-strictured delight
Mom's stories of Sonja Henie--
No, not ever

Lacing my skates
with  snow-ball pompoms
felt skirt
and nylon tights
Cute little hat with matching scarf
My thighs and fingers
already freezing
icy burn
from miles on foot

to get there
the lake where--

I must get out
I must get OUT!

Knowing what
to expect from my body
the quick-twitch of muscle
Could always sense
specific--
gravity of water    
at 22 degrees

Desiring to feel
the motion between ice and steel
Read speed's vibrations through my body
The brain registers relation
to weather's effect
Tell of velocity
possibility of fall
Feel the slash of the blades beneath me
Throw my weight sideways, sudden
to hear that furious hiss
An object in motion tending, dire
to stay in motion

Threatening to stay there
always
in its heights-- of speed
away--

from the crowds of skaters
swirling distant in the lights

Seeking instead
the farthest reaches of Porter Lake
speed and speed and more
to overcome
inertia
of what it is to become
undone

at the outer edges, of humanity
A force  
centrifugal unto myself

Avoiding

Pregnant and slow
with years and babes....

The best
must be broken and tamed
of what it takes to stay free

catching the edges with every stride
catching my toe in the quick
180
spray of frost
to the sudden still

Listen to the frigid chill

and the heave of my breath
tumbling into evidence

Gliding
Once

Forever--

on, into darkness
of woods on frozen water

The wildness of it all

So infatuated with flight
so full of grace

I forgot Sonja

The moon rose
from her seat in the treetops
and applauded
Wrote this immediately from a dream a couple months ago.  With all the heat and humidity, it sounded good to go today.

This dream was an actual relived memory of being 12 years old and skating at Porter Lake in Forest Park of Springfield, Massachusetts.  22 degrees F is minus 5.5 C --Just a reference
ready?

do you wanna go together? come, lets hold hands.

no?

alright.

all that matters is that you do it, okay?

.. are you sure you don’t wanna do it together?

alright..  !

each of your feet slapped flat and hard against the white dusty cliff until your skinny frame shot itself into the sky. we were half naked and suspended above an unfamiliar lake somewhere in texas. well, now it was just me. night was rolling in slow as all hell. the habitual hit from the one hitter didn’t soothe my nervousness. to be straightforward, tossing my body into the abyss is not my thing. i like the ground. i like the stability. planes make me cry. roller-coasters make me cringe. i like to just sit and watch the sky roll over the lake, not risk being harmed by one of its unseen watery perils..

an oval of water burst upward from where you carved into the lake- the explosive hiss of unhappy water yanking me from my brain. sheepishly i gazed over the edge to see what became of you. it appeared you had survived- treading water with one eye locked in an accidental wink, peering up at me. you smiled big and echoed gentle encouragements into the cove below in a soft-spoken southern accent. the hair on your head matted itself to your forehead in strangely stylish curls. “1,2,3, **** it! ”. you kept spitting out deliveries of lake water between wide toothy grins.

minutes were passing and i had hardly moved. talking to myself anxiously, trying still to remain some degree of coolcalmandcomposed while facing these subconscious shadows publicly. i felt sickened by the symbolism of my inner demons confronting me with such an unoriginal yet classic scene. your smile was fading gradually due to your legs growing tired, even though you didn’t let on.

fear, my constant constriction. my choke up. my backout. my way out. but this time i knew the only way out was through. my feet betrayed my brain and ****** me forward and up and off.

i had toyed with some ideas about what form i’d take prior to jumping, but none of them panned out. i claimed an awkward and ungraceful pencil dive and held my nose prematurely. the fall was eternal. the seconds were looping. i could hear everything for a long time. your holler bounced off the walls of the cave. my body heaved into the oblivion of the luke warm lake.

when i emerged i was concerned with my makeup. a tell tale sign i need to work on my priorities.  you were there with me, once i smeared the uninvited water from my eyes, grinning and congratulating me. i felt silly getting praise for something so seemingly simple as letting go..

you held me near in the dark choppy water as we clung to the cove walls of the cliff. color flood my face. maybe adrenaline feels a lot like love.

i finally felt close to you.

i wanted to stay down there a little longer. where there were no distractions. no phones no cigarettes no coughing no traffic talk no sleep no *** no drugs no radio. we couldn’t hide from each other. i wanted to stay and swim and look into you, unabashedly wet and ****** and well-intentioned. graze pale loving bodies beneath the green hue of the lake. but you grinned, cleared your throat and talked to yourself about your footing as we sought a way to scale the rocks back up.

i’m sure i could have said something.
told you how i felt.

but that fear thing..
harlon rivers May 2018
(a travelogue)

He stared down through
the unbroken silence
lapping the shoreline
Water skippers dart around
the rocks and windfall driftwood
settled juxtaposed in cattail reeds
and emerging broadleaf sprouts

A petrified heartwood timber
lie fallow waiting bare barked,
hushed like a pining lover’s
     timeworn love seat,
     rubbed smooth as
     the crystalline waters
     of  half-moon lake

Lingering for a while  ―  
like a hidden stalker,
a perched wildcat waiting
for the full moon’s  
swooning spell to saturate
the thickening dusk quietude;
     arousing the urgent
     call of the wild —
exhaled from the held breath
of the wilderness nocturne
    on half-moon lake

The stillness was scattered
with the soft downy hairs
of the sleeping cattails,  and
the newly shed catkins
a spring gust bestrewed
from a tall resin birch tree
nigh the Sitka willows

     He  sat  quietly ...
     time out of mind ―

tossing his eyes up into the sky;
taking the time to read the stars ―
catching  them  each  again
as they fell into his gentle hands,
to show him who he was

Seeing their sparkly tracers  
trail-out above the cattails,
     from a distance
they resembled falling stars
unable to perceive their own renaissance ―
plashing lightly upon the still-water
     on half-moon lake

A lone shadow glides stealthily
near mid-tarn,.. swimming  
enchantingly with the grace
     of a blackswan
Appearing to glance shoreward
at the glowing low stars
rise and fall, as his eyes
twinkled skyward over
     the moonlit lagoon ―
heavenward of its moonlit ballet;
the lone sleek dark shadow
     slipping through
     a faint circular ripple
stirring the smooth as glass waters ―  
disappearing like a fleeting moment
     waning deep aneath
     a subtle silent wake.

When all the clear lines blurred,
he knew it had been so long ...

     but hearken !
… an interceding
     long drawn out wail  
     echoed  a feral ache
     across the stillness,
     breaking the silence ―

as the shadow reappeared;
     his tears surrendered
to the undulating call of the wild;
he felt the spirit of the sole Loon,
     as black and white
     as the moonlit night,
stir deeply in his wanting heart ―
     lay bare the silence
in lengthy yodeled psalms
to the god of the moon

Diving down deep yet again,
keeping the light he’d been given,
vanishing into the lifespring
sanctuary of half-moon lake


harlon rivers ... May 2018
travelogue: 4 of some more
Notes: i'm certainly aware i've not been here as often and active as i once was. **** happens and so does life, and it will ... so much so, the travelogue chronicles felt worthwhile for a moment, the first 4 were from the 1st 3000 mile leg of a 6000 mile and 6 month round trip road-trip journey ―

All apologies to those that found the length of my work tedious.   When i've tried to make the ink go other than where and how long it flows naturally ― i fail and stifle, paused in my own sown silence.   Too predictable to continue to ignore ― peace
Sara Macey Nov 2012
I’m stumbling through a black abyss,

Surrounded by this nothingness,

Mirroring the emptiness,

inside my soul.



Along the way I find a lake,

A lake upon the path I take,

And near the lake there lies a sign,

Just before the water’s line.



And this is what the sign does say

,The sign I find upon my way:

“Here lies the gateway to the soul,

So look within if that’s your goal.”



So I kneel within this black abyss,

And gaze upon the lake’s surface,

My reflection meets my eyes,

A face I do not recognize.



And as I look upon this face,

Despising she who took my place,

I feel my anger over flow,

And finally I let it go.



“You ignorant and petty fool!

You errant-minded, useless tool!

Oh look at you, what you’ve become!

Don’t you see how far you’ve fallen from?”



My reflection does not answer me,

Just stares back out so emptily,

A sight that draws forth unshed tears,

And rekindles all my greatest fears.



“What happened to the face I knew?

What happened to the real you?

You are everything you once opposed!

You are a fraud! And everyone knows.”



My reflection simply stares at me,

It does not move, nor answer me,

Nor does it return my shout,

It does nothing, just stares back out.



“You are the reason for the emptiness!

You are the reason for this black abyss!

For everything that’s trapped me here!

You are the face behind my fear!”



Then looking down upon this lake,

This lake upon the path I take,

I realize it is no lake at all,

Only a mirror upon the wall.
Mikoarenas Sep 2015
That bottle was the treasure, those pills were gold and I was the dark blue lake that was going to consume them.  
One by one, week by week.    
The lake added to its gold.      
It multiplied until there was enough to fill the treasure that was once empty.  
The lake destroyed passing ships to acquire this gold.
Ships that loved and adored this lake.  
It did this because that was the only act it knew how to do.
It knew no other way.
This lake felt guilty for the actions it had committed.
It took the treasure it worked so hard to get and consumed it into the lowest darkest depths it could find.
The lake bashed and bashed at It's  restraints until they all broke down.
That lake flowed out until it soon dried out and the only thing left was the empty treasure.
Don't really like this poem but it's all I've got for now </3
She first appeared from the vapors of Lake Tyrian
An apparition clad in azure mist
Shrouded in the sheerest veil of antique lace
Bands of burnished gold upon her wrists

She had wild champagne locks of untamed curls
Swirling down to her waist
Reaching out to caress gentle breezes  
As if, to give pursuing chase

Her splendid feet completely bare of dress
Seemed to freely glide
Across the hazy vapors of Lake Tyrian
Her beauty held in pride

I felt no alarming fear inside my heart
Towards the lovely gliding maid
Until I saw slowly emerging from Lake Tyrian
A sword’s glistening blade

My gentle heart skipped a fleeting beat
Swiftly freezing in icy fear
So afraid the lovely maid of Lake Tyrian
Would see me standing there

Watching the sword rise up into her delicate hands
My heart stopped in dreadful fear
Yet, as she had first appeared in the hazy vapors
The maiden of Lake Tyrian, disappeared
Copyright *Neva Flores @2010
www.changefulstorm.blogspot.com
www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/Changefulstorm
Harley Hucof Aug 2014
Come with me
To the ancient lake
I ll hold your hand
Dont be afraid

Come walk with me under the stars
We ll sing, dance and make love
Come with me
To the ancient lake
Where the knwoldge shall be gained

Come with me and spend the night
We will never be apart

Come my love swim with me
our love will last an eternity

Walk with me to the ancient lake..

Words of Harfouchism
Paul Butters Aug 2016
On the East Coast of England there’s a small resort
Called Cleethorpes, where I happen to reside.
And out towards the Pleasure Park
A short way from the shore
There is The Boating Lake.

I love to go there on a still, sundowning evening
When the parking is free.
To walk those walkways around the lake,
Dreaming I’m on Starfleet Academy Campus.
Walkways flanked by lawned hillocks and shrubs.

The lake is fringed by red-flowered reeds
And punctuated by ducks and geese.
Families and couples roam about
As I sit in meditation
Watching and listening
To the central fountain play.

Such a tranquil scene,
Far from the madding crowd.
Go over the bridge and cross the mini-railway line:
Before you reach the saltmarsh and the sea
You’ll find a stretch of shrubbery and trees
A haven for the birds
And for me,
As I walk my favourite path.

The lake is thus a prelude
To some splendid growth
As nature does its thing.

Serene and tranquil everything
A spiritual feeling
As I meditate
Beneath multi-layered clouds
Under endless sky.

Paul Butters
One of my favourite haunts.
He fell in the lake,
the native boy,
who lived in island shaped like a ring
An island abundant in magic fruit
From trees whose roots drink from the lake

He fell in the lake,
the native boy
who had just become a man
Still young and curious
He questioned who he was

A boy who helped those who needed
A man who stood against unfair odds
A son who managed the hut with his father
A friend to "she"
Though he secretly loved her

He fell in the lake,
the native boy
The lake in which the indigenous believed special
that bore the fruit that granted long life
that solidified the scattered ashes of the dead
   into smooth blue pebbles
...that brought oblivion to those who touched a mere drop

He fell in the lake,
the native boy
Crossing the bridge, with a flower at hand
Preparing a speech to his closest friend
"I've loved you for a while, I must confess"
But he'd take it with him through the broken planks

He fell in the lake,
the native boy
It pulled him to the bottom
He tried to hold on to each memory
But each one...forgotten

He fell in the lake,
the native boy
Nigel Morgan Jan 2013
In the morning the wind is vicious, tossing vigorously the woodland on the heights above the village. The sky is a hanging of grey and charcoal black bands of cloud. On horseback and in her male attire Zuo Fen is led by the village guide up the steep forest path. She is already questioning the past, the accounts she’s read of the annual transhumance to this remote spot that give no answer to its sudden abandonment. It seems the Emperor made himself incommunicado for the latter part of the third season. The palace inventory shows local provisioning, and the most carefully chosen companions. They also describe how season-by-season the habitation was enlarged in order to accommodate further and different visitors. Poets and musicians were particularly favoured and would accompany the Emperor to select locations to add a delicate resonance of word and sound to the natural world.
​         As the travellers came out of the forest a wilderness of rock and moorland stretched before them, relentlessly upward. The path was now vague and Meng Ning was perplexed at how his guide had brought him across this terrain in the near darkness of the previous afternoon. The ponies often stumbled here and in the high wind he had to stop himself from looking behind to check his Lady’s progress. Eventually the ascent became less precipitous and a clearer path asserted itself, and in the near distance a pile of stones marked the summit. There, Meng Ning alighted to see Zuo Fen walking purposefully beside her horse leading her maid for whom this was an unaccustomed adventure. Together they approached him as he surveyed the panorama that to the west revealed Lake Psumano, a silver thread of water curled between the thick forests.
​        In silence Zuo Fen handed the reins of her pony to Meng Ning and with a signal to the village guide strode off on the descent to Eryi-lou.
 
‘We are to wait here until my Lady is out of sight,’ said Mei Lim’s smiling voice. ‘Then we may go forward.’
 
Mei Lim sat firmly in the saddle, as though assuming command of this small party. This now comprised herself, Meng,Ning and two rough-spoken men from the village each leading a pack-horse of luggage and provisions.  
 
‘You know I travelled as far as Stone Village on my Lady’s visit to the Tai Mountains. I would have gone further but she required me to stay. She is a woman who is in love with the wilderness, who will walk out in any weather to greet it lovingly. You should have no fear for her. She is a strong woman.’
​          Meng Ning nodded, declining to speak, afraid to disturb the rough music of the winds that seemed to press on them from all directions. Such is the journeying spirit, he thought, and looking into the distance realized Zuo Fen and her guide had disappeared from view.
          ​Soon the autumn forest had been regained and Zuo Fen and her guide began the descent to Eryi-lou. The path here was well made and marked at regularly distances with small stone columns. The whirlwind, that had buffeted the travellers since their departure, was now being played out in the highest treetops leaving ground level to echo like a large hall as the trees above swayed, groaned and cracked sharply in the heights. Soon vistas of the lake began to appear. They were still high above, the path frequently winding in steep loops across the hillside. Suddenly they found themselves looking down almost precipitously onto rooftops, a maze of buildings falling in tiers, joined together with walkways and terraces, many invaded now by trees and undergrowth: the Emperor’s summer palace of Eryi-lou.
​          Here, Zuo Fen bade her guide turn back. She would now imagine reclaiming this place of her waking dream, alone. When she felt confident her guide had retreated up the path she removed the pins from her hair, loosened her cloak, took off her stout boots of Yak leather. There would be more later.
 
​Barefoot, she began her descent to the palace eventually finding a staircase to one of the terraces from which she began to survey the palace. She found many of the rooms as she had dreamed them, small guest apartments with open spaces where doors and windows might have been, and hangings of the richest almost translucent silks, torn, faded, some covering the ground. The detritus of twenty autumns had blown through these spaces: plant material had taken root in between the planks of the raised wooden floors. Miraculously, there were rooms almost untouched by nature, just piles of leaves providing a matted covering.
         ​In one room somewhat larger than its surrounding structures Zuo Fen feels a special and continuing presence. A veranda-like structure occupied its lake-facing wall. This room, almost a hall, had been recently swept. There is a faint memory of incense as she comes close to the wooden walls. She paces the area until she feels guided to a spot where perhaps a formal chair has long ago been positioned. From there she can see the leaves but not the trunks of the trees as they swirl about in the continuing wind. A long vista of the silver lake spreads itself across the hall’s panorama. But the space enjoys shelter from the prevailing wind and has a stillness and silence all its own. Here, after removing her cloak, her thick riding trousers, the woolen garments that bound warmth to her, she kneels in her shift, closing her eyes to feel the room, the palace, its surroundings, come close to her all but naked body in its repose.
       ​Losing all sense of time it is only the gentle covering of her shoulders by Mei Lim that wakes her from her reverie.
 
‘Gracious Lady, we are installed in rooms kept for the use of official visitors. The guardian here is a young woman with a small child. She would like to welcome you when you are dressed and have eaten.’
 
And so, being led by her maid, Zuo Fen is taken to a distant suite of rooms suited to the autumn weather. There are recently lit braziers, and fitted doors and windows provide a little protection against the relentless wind and the damp cold. Mei Lim reassembles her lady’s wardrobe, and having dressed her, places a hot infusion into her cold hands. The afternoon light has barely a few hours left, but already the cold deepens. This will be a hard place to spend the night, a palace built for the third season – the summer of the solstice, a time of laughter and of fire, and the phoenix red.
 
Meng Ning is also imagining the palace in its summer dress when to wake at dawn would be witness to the sun flooding the partially cleared forest from its heights. The palace is lit up by vibrant reflections off the lake and the very roofs of the many buildings pulsate and shimmer with the heat of a cloudless day. The women of the palace are deep in slumber, their maids with silent tread reclaiming their ladies’ dignity after a night which may have seen much experimental congress of men and women amidst the subtle music of the qujin, the drinking of local wine, the close inspection and divination of the heavens reflected in the still lake, and the elaborate trading between memories of poetry and folk tale.  Even without such imaginings, to be here, and in the company of the illustrious Zuo Fen is the richest gift in a life otherwise stunted by ceremony and courtly intrigue. Zuo Fen has clearly taken Emperor Wu beyond custom and, though briefly, fashioned moments of love and friendship. To witness this woman at close quarters, this artist of the brush whose selection of characters holds both charm and innocence is wondrous. Even in these cold quarters he is warmed by the thought of her presence and the journey they will make tomorrow along the lake shore – to the Red Slate Path.

( to be continued )
There are few places,
Sweet Sumner Maiden,
Where I Feel you half as much.

Soft light of fading dusk,
Reflecting off gentle waves,
Of the deep dark well of the lake.

I call to you, Sweet Nimue,
The gentle waves rippling,
Like your hair in a gentle breeze.

I call to you, Sweet Maiden,
The fiery sunset blazing,
Like the gold and fire of your hair.

I call to you, Sweet Nimue,
The deep water, black and quiet,
Like the dark depths of your secrets.

I call to you, Sweet Maiden,
The gentle breeze across water,
Your soft breath on my skin.

I call to you, Sweet Nimue,
The waters so gentle I see a sword,
Raised up by your hand, O Lady of the Lake.

I call to you, Sweet Maiden,
Send your wind,
Rising across the water,
A soft breeze,
A mighty gale,
Raise the wind,
My sweet Nimue,
Lady of the Lake,
Corn Maiden,
Bringer of Wind,
Consuming fire,
The wind across your lake,
The power of your joy,
The power of your anger.

I call to you, Sweet Nimue,
Sweet Maiden,
My Lady of the Lake.
Steelhaven Nov 2015
We held hands by the lake. Mine a spindly, spidery manacle of ice. Yours a mellow, soft glove of eiderdown.

We held hands by the lake as it froze over and we glided across with blades strapped to our feet. Moving like a pair of swans sheathed in steel and silver.

We held hands by the lake as flowers peeked out to say hello to the rain that fell upon our fingers intertwined. Where we traded hearts as you picked one for me and I for you.

We held hands by the lake as the days grew longer and our lives grew shorter. Where every heave of your chest was a promise of a forever lost to the summer heat.

We didn't hold hands by the lake as the trees cried golden snowflakes that fluttered down an invisible stairwell into piles of honeyed amber and I was alone, alone, alone.
AD Mullin Oct 2014
I was playing a game with my kids the other day

I asked:
What do you use to see?
She said 'your eyes'
He said 'your brain'
Both right
Next I asked what do you use to hear?
She said 'your ears'
He said 'your brain'
Both right, again

The wisdom of children!

The game ended there but it got me thinking about what we use to feel
The most straight forward answer is our skin
Your brain is what processes the sense of touch so that has to be included
What about your heart?
Where does it fit into the big scheme of things?
Isn't the heart the space where we process feelings?

I have to loosely define things and often turn them upside down
ruminate
reorder my worldview to make it copacetic
I'm pretty sure that I often walk in two worlds
If my mind is simply locked in the western paradigm then people look at me like I'm bizarre
I'm not joking when I say they've wanted to lock me up because of my views
When I allow my mind to get locked into this western paradigm,
I sometimes even feel like I belong in lockup.

That's even worse than being held against your will
You're being held because you've lost your will

So I play with definitions to better suit my needs

When you do this however, there is a risk
Last summer I unlocked a spectre as I drank deeply and greedily from Crypt Lake

Crypt Lake is a real place on this planet
How did it get it's name (you might ask)?
According to the Blackfoot, placenames aren't given,
they come from place

Let's contextualize ~ this is all part of the journey
The physical leads to the spiritual and vice versa
To get to Crypt Lake you have to enter Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park
Found in the southwest corner of Alberta and the northwest corner of Montana
Once through the gates you have to catch a boat at a certain time
You have to be in the physical plane of existence at this point otherwise you're not getting on that boat
Once you get to the trailhead, then you can start to drift

That's what I did
As I walked, I let the stories come into me
I let them flow through me
They were sitting there waiting to be told
A spruce, arm in arm, with a pine
Hawks circling overhead
An ever present alertness for our bear brethren
Always open to the wildflowers
Indian paintbrush (I have red hair could I be considered an indian paintbrush?)
Pollinators flitting about
Oh, the water

Listen to the stories the water told:
First we come to Hell Roaring Falls
Next Twin Falls
Next Burnt Rock Falls
And to reach the Crypt, we have to pass through a mountain tunnel
Opening up to Crypt Falls
and finally Crypt Lake

This is a regular heroes journey if you allow it to be
I was in that place in my mind where I allowed it to unfold as it may

This is a place that's also known as the Crown of the Continent
Not far away is Chief Mountain, Turtle Mountain, and Crowsnest Mountain
Also Writing-On-Stone and the Milk River and Sweetgrass
These are holy names, this is a holy land

What I saw at Crypt Falls was the backbone of the continent
I saw the backbone of Turtle Island

I was floored
I had been on a continent wide spirit quest a few years previously
There was talk that the Deed for Turtle Island was coming due
And maybe it would be produced at one of these gatherings
We all waited but nobody produced it

I ruminated on that idea for a few years
I'm pretty sure that the Deed was there
Those who held it, just didn't realize

I learned something at the Crypt
I wanted answers and I made an assumption
I assumed that the water held the answers
So I drank deeply, even greedily from the Crypt

Right there in the international peace park, on the crown of the continent
With the Old Chief and the Crowsnest not far away
Writing-On-Stone just a sashay away
What about writing in calcium?
If I were the earth, I would encode important information in something
Transmutable

Not blood.
Bones

What I learned up there on the mountain as I gulped down knowledge from the Crypt was that the deed is written into the bones of the land and into the bones of those borne of that land

This is indigenous knowledge

It's in the water, the water is the medium for the message
The bones are the stock
But just like a double helix
A genetic sequence is an expression of time and place
On a certain spacetime continuum this innocuous looking structure
(take a look in the mirror)
Has all the necessary answers
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypt_Lake_Trail

http://www.crownofthecontinent.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_Mountain

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_Mountain_%28Alberta%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowsnest_Mountain

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writing-on-Stone_Provincial_Park

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_River_%28Alberta%E2%80%93Montana%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Grass,_Montana

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_Island_%28North_America%29
Nigel Morgan Jan 2013
The sun rises tentatively through the forest heights behind the palace. In the pre-dawn light Jia Li has secured water and fuel for her visitors and despite the attentions of the pack horse men, who have returned from an evening at her village the worse for drink, she settles to feed her infant child. Meng Ning enters to seek her counsel. She already guesses his intentions and answers his brief questions with confidence. She knows the route to the Red Slate Path, perhaps four li distant. The path is clear, though little used. It is not a place those of her village visit, though she has learnt that the path itself defies nature’s attempts to cover its existence.
    Zuo Fen is standing on the terrace as Meng Ning returns to the Emperor’s Hall. She has slept deeply, is refreshed after a period of meditation and, despite the cold, has been washed and massaged by her maid. She appears dressed for walking, her boots, fur cloak and hat in purposeful combination. As she surveys the lake flocks of wild geese and duck chatter and squabble as they float on the surface. There are some experimental flights, pairs of duck taking off to fly in wide arcs only to return to the same stretch of water from where they rose in tandem. Soon the geese will leave to fly across the forests and moorland for distant harvested fields where they will spend the day foraging. Meng Ning points to a distant peninsula jutting out from the northern shore of the lake. Behind it, he says, lies the cove of the Red Slate Path. Perhaps there they will be able to understand more keenly the why of this mystery.

‘At such a distance,’ says Zuo Fen, ‘the detail of a boat would be quite lost. I imagine the peninsula acting like a pointing finger to its floating form. There is already fashioning within me a possible story that might explain this mystery.’

She smiles warmly at Meng Ning who bows his head rather than stare into her jade green eyes. She moves closer to his standing posture, taking his left hand secure but tense against the balustrade of the veranda. Lowering one leg before the other she slowly kneels, removing her hat, loosening her fur cloak that now spreads itself of its own accord beside and behind her. With both hands behind her neck she lifts her long hair found to parted and tied in simple peasant fashion. Raising her hands to full-stretch her sleeping hair warm from the bare skin of her back slowly cascades forward and across each of her ******* to curl like two cats in the bowl of her robe.

‘Mei Lim is with Jia Li’, Zuo Fen says curiously and with a voice Meng Ning has not encountered before. ‘I fell to sleep dreaming of your kind presence and the joy of being touched and kissed.’ He cannot see her face as she speaks, only the quivering fall of her hair across her kneeling body. ‘I awoke feeling your breath on my cheek and so brought your limbs to entwine with my own.’ He now senses the delicate unguents of her body; they compass him about, his hand falls from the balustrade to touch her hair.

Finding her right ear his fingers describe its shape, its sculptured relief of folded forms and crevices. He is becoming faint with something outside passion that requires him to go beyond her ear and flow of hair about his fingers. He unties his cloak, letting it drop behind him. He removes his boots and outer garments. She follows his example. He moves to her side, adopts the position of the swallow resting on the wind. They face one another.  To the accompaniment of their breathing, her hands begin a dance in the space between their lower limbs as though they are birds turning and falling in flight. Unlike the courtesans he sees at court her nails are short, her fingers long. Then, it is as though her hand holds a brush forming characters and she begins to write on his body with short deft movements this way that way describing her flight of passion. Some intuition tells him to allow this, and not to seek repricocity, as it seems from her breathing that these very actions give her the greatest delight, bring her to the edge of the first coitus. Eyes closed, he moves his nose into a glancing embrace with her own, feeling there a semblance of perspiration, that tell-tale sign of a woman’s readiness for the deeper embrace. She responds to this with sighs and swift movements of rapture that envelope him, and now, as she quickly brings her limbs into a right conjunction, he places one hand beneath her, the other to recline her body gently to the floor, her cloak becoming a pillow for her head.
    He now looks directly at her, her face expressionless as though all thought and feeling has entered her body in preparation to receive his own. She does not blink. There is a moment of great stillness, a great wave of calm breaks, moves forward and pulls back – and again, again. In an instant he will enter her Jade Gate to caress and kiss and move where only his Lord has visited. He knows that once there he will seal his own fate . . .
     It is the talk of poets that women are often at their most sensitive to love’s attention in the morning hours, and that this was, for so many reasons, the most impractical of times for men. Zuo Fen herself had written fu poems that took the reader to the most intimate moments of a concubine’s experience in the morning hours, those times when alone the body gathers to itself its essential nature, and is often caressed with the woman’s own hand and thoughts. To understand such circumstance, to hold its sweetness as an abiding taste during the formalities of the day, only to release its flavour in the pleasure hours of the night, was a manly attribute, said to be treasured, indeed honoured by women.
      When Meng Ning withdrew Zuo Fen lay for some while letting the unaccustomed circumstance and its location only gradually allow a return to conscious and present thoughts. She pictured now her journey to the Red Slate Path, Jia Li, her baby on her back, striding beside Meng Ning, then herself and finally Mei Lim - who would have entreated her mistress to be allowed to accompany her. There was the glade, a small bowl in the hillside where it was just possible to see a small cave from which, glistening, the broken patterns of the slate path fell after half a li into the lake. She would investigate the cave. She would walk to the water’s edge, where the trees stepped into and reached over the lake to lay a carpet of fallen leaves. Then to see the path gradually, gradually disappear into the depths.
    Whilst Zuo Fen, with her eyes closed, projected her thoughts forward in time, with accustomed tact Mei Lim left those accouterments a woman needs after the attentions of a lover. She feared for the young man, though she knew her Lord prized too much his Lady of The Purple Chamber to effect jealousy or display anger.
    As the sun cleared away the thin cloud and approached its zenith the company broached the crest of the hill above the glade. It was, Zuo Fen had to admit, just as she had imagined lying prone and in disarray in the Emperor’s hall. In silence, and in the company of her imagination, she now paced from cave to path to water, and standing at the very edge of the lake’s bank focused her mind to envisage the events of twenty years past.
     It was as though a rhapsody was already formed. She found herself recounting the tale in her world of characters where there is only present time. She felt her hand describe them with the flow of her brush, heard the sound of its movement across the thick parchment. She was slow to notice that Meng Ning had disrobed and was entering the water. Without a word she watched him move through the carpet of floating leaves, some sticking to his nakedness, and onwards, slowly, following the submerged path until his torso then only his shoulders were visible. She then knew what he hoped to find, even after the passage of so many years.

She saw it all, suddenly. The sorcerer Yang Mo and the Emperor’s second wife descending the Red Slate Path as a cavalcade of fire and smoke, loud flashes of light, noises of brass and clashing metal enveloped the glade and the boat itself. The watching company witnessed for a moment the couple disappear under the waters only for their collective sight to be shrouded in a climaxed confusion of the sorcerer’s devices and effects.

When, finally the smoke cleared, the boat and the lovers had vanished.

Zuo Fen watched Meng Ning disappear from view. She imagined him, as the pearl fishers she had heard tell of, diving down to the depths, holding his breath to seek what might remain of the illusory boat. But time passed beyond the possibility of what she knew could be endured by human-kind. The surface of the water remained unbroken. The division of open water made by Meng Ning in breaking apart the carpet of floating leaves was already reforming itself.
   Removing her cloak and her boots, and unpinning her hair, Zuo Fen stepped into the water. A memory floated towards her of bathing in the lake near to her summer retreat. Water held no fear for her, only now the cold consumed her. Her loosed hair, and her elaborate untied robe settled on the water’s surface: to surround her like a lily pad, she the budding flower at its centre. She felt her feet still firmly on the Red Slate Path, her chin now resting on the water’s surface. Whatever had happened to Meng Ning she knew her action to be compliant. She had immersed herself with the very element that had brought him either death or, as she knew in her heart, a most honorable escape.

— The End —