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In the loam we sleep,
In the cool moist loam,
To the lull of years that pass
And the break of stars.

From the loam, then,
The soft warm loam,
   We rise:
To shape of rose leaf,
Of face and shoulder.

   We stand, then,
   To a whiff of life,
Lifted to the silver of the sun
Over and out of the loam
   A day.
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
I WAS born on the prairie and the milk of its wheat, the red of its clover, the eyes of its women, gave me a song and a slogan.

Here the water went down, the icebergs slid with gravel, the gaps and the valleys hissed, and the black loam came, and the yellow sandy loam.
Here between the sheds of the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians, here now a morning star fixes a fire sign over the timber claims and cow pastures, the corn belt, the cotton belt, the cattle ranches.
Here the gray geese go five hundred miles and back with a wind under their wings honking the cry for a new home.
Here I know I will hanker after nothing so much as one more sunrise or a sky moon of fire doubled to a river moon of water.

The prairie sings to me in the forenoon and I know in the night I rest easy in the prairie arms, on the prairie heart..    .    .
        After the sunburn of the day
        handling a pitchfork at a hayrack,
        after the eggs and biscuit and coffee,
        the pearl-gray haystacks
        in the gloaming
        are cool prayers
        to the harvest hands.

In the city among the walls the overland passenger train is choked and the pistons hiss and the wheels curse.
On the prairie the overland flits on phantom wheels and the sky and the soil between them muffle the pistons and cheer the wheels..    .    .
I am here when the cities are gone.
I am here before the cities come.
I nourished the lonely men on horses.
I will keep the laughing men who ride iron.
I am dust of men.

The running water babbled to the deer, the cottontail, the gopher.
You came in wagons, making streets and schools,
Kin of the ax and rifle, kin of the plow and horse,
Singing Yankee Doodle, Old Dan Tucker, Turkey in the Straw,
You in the coonskin cap at a log house door hearing a lone wolf howl,
You at a sod house door reading the blizzards and chinooks let loose from Medicine Hat,
I am dust of your dust, as I am brother and mother
To the copper faces, the worker in flint and clay,
The singing women and their sons a thousand years ago
Marching single file the timber and the plain.

I hold the dust of these amid changing stars.
I last while old wars are fought, while peace broods mother-like,
While new wars arise and the fresh killings of young men.
I fed the boys who went to France in great dark days.
Appomattox is a beautiful word to me and so is Valley Forge and the Marne and Verdun,
I who have seen the red births and the red deaths
Of sons and daughters, I take peace or war, I say nothing and wait.

Have you seen a red sunset drip over one of my cornfields, the shore of night stars, the wave lines of dawn up a wheat valley?
Have you heard my threshing crews yelling in the chaff of a strawpile and the running wheat of the wagonboards, my cornhuskers, my harvest hands hauling crops, singing dreams of women, worlds, horizons?.    .    .
        Rivers cut a path on flat lands.
        The mountains stand up.
        The salt oceans press in
        And push on the coast lines.
        The sun, the wind, bring rain
        And I know what the rainbow writes across the east or west in a half-circle:
        A love-letter pledge to come again..    .    .
      Towns on the Soo Line,
      Towns on the Big Muddy,
      Laugh at each other for cubs
      And tease as children.

Omaha and Kansas City, Minneapolis and St. Paul, sisters in a house together, throwing slang, growing up.
Towns in the Ozarks, Dakota wheat towns, Wichita, Peoria, Buffalo, sisters throwing slang, growing up..    .    .
Out of prairie-brown grass crossed with a streamer of wigwam smoke-out of a smoke pillar, a blue promise-out of wild ducks woven in greens and purples-
Here I saw a city rise and say to the peoples round world: Listen, I am strong, I know what I want.
Out of log houses and stumps-canoes stripped from tree-sides-flatboats coaxed with an ax from the timber claims-in the years when the red and the white men met-the houses and streets rose.

A thousand red men cried and went away to new places for corn and women: a million white men came and put up skyscrapers, threw out rails and wires, feelers to the salt sea: now the smokestacks bite the skyline with stub teeth.

In an early year the call of a wild duck woven in greens and purples: now the riveter's chatter, the police patrol, the song-whistle of the steamboat.

To a man across a thousand years I offer a handshake.
I say to him: Brother, make the story short, for the stretch of a thousand years is short..    .    .
What brothers these in the dark?
What eaves of skyscrapers against a smoke moon?
These chimneys shaking on the lumber shanties
When the coal boats plow by on the river-
The hunched shoulders of the grain elevators-
The flame sprockets of the sheet steel mills
And the men in the rolling mills with their shirts off
Playing their flesh arms against the twisting wrists of steel:
        what brothers these
        in the dark
        of a thousand years?.    .    .
A headlight searches a snowstorm.
A funnel of white light shoots from over the pilot of the Pioneer Limited crossing Wisconsin.

In the morning hours, in the dawn,
The sun puts out the stars of the sky
And the headlight of the Limited train.

The fireman waves his hand to a country school teacher on a bobsled.
A boy, yellow hair, red scarf and mittens, on the bobsled, in his lunch box a pork chop sandwich and a V of gooseberry pie.

The horses fathom a snow to their knees.
Snow hats are on the rolling prairie hills.
The Mississippi bluffs wear snow hats..    .    .
Keep your hogs on changing corn and mashes of grain,
    O farmerman.
    Cram their insides till they waddle on short legs
    Under the drums of bellies, hams of fat.
    **** your hogs with a knife slit under the ear.
    Hack them with cleavers.
    Hang them with hooks in the hind legs..    .    .
A wagonload of radishes on a summer morning.
Sprinkles of dew on the crimson-purple *****.
The farmer on the seat dangles the reins on the rumps of dapple-gray horses.
The farmer's daughter with a basket of eggs dreams of a new hat to wear to the county fair..    .    .
On the left-and right-hand side of the road,
        Marching corn-
I saw it knee high weeks ago-now it is head high-tassels of red silk creep at the ends of the ears..    .    .
I am the prairie, mother of men, waiting.
They are mine, the threshing crews eating beefsteak, the farmboys driving steers to the railroad cattle pens.
They are mine, the crowds of people at a Fourth of July basket picnic, listening to a lawyer read the Declaration of Independence, watching the pinwheels and Roman candles at night, the young men and women two by two hunting the bypaths and kissing bridges.
They are mine, the horses looking over a fence in the frost of late October saying good-morning to the horses hauling wagons of rutabaga to market.
They are mine, the old zigzag rail fences, the new barb wire..    .    .
The cornhuskers wear leather on their hands.
There is no let-up to the wind.
Blue bandannas are knotted at the ruddy chins.

Falltime and winter apples take on the smolder of the five-o'clock November sunset: falltime, leaves, bonfires, stubble, the old things go, and the earth is grizzled.
The land and the people hold memories, even among the anthills and the angleworms, among the toads and woodroaches-among gravestone writings rubbed out by the rain-they keep old things that never grow old.

The frost loosens corn husks.
The Sun, the rain, the wind
        loosen corn husks.
The men and women are helpers.
They are all cornhuskers together.
I see them late in the western evening
        in a smoke-red dust..    .    .
The phantom of a yellow rooster flaunting a scarlet comb, on top of a dung pile crying hallelujah to the streaks of daylight,
The phantom of an old hunting dog nosing in the underbrush for muskrats, barking at a **** in a treetop at midnight, chewing a bone, chasing his tail round a corncrib,
The phantom of an old workhorse taking the steel point of a plow across a forty-acre field in spring, hitched to a harrow in summer, hitched to a wagon among cornshocks in fall,
These phantoms come into the talk and wonder of people on the front porch of a farmhouse late summer nights.
"The shapes that are gone are here," said an old man with a cob pipe in his teeth one night in Kansas with a hot wind on the alfalfa..    .    .
Look at six eggs
In a mockingbird's nest.

Listen to six mockingbirds
Flinging follies of O-be-joyful
Over the marshes and uplands.

Look at songs
Hidden in eggs..    .    .
When the morning sun is on the trumpet-vine blossoms, sing at the kitchen pans: Shout All Over God's Heaven.
When the rain slants on the potato hills and the sun plays a silver shaft on the last shower, sing to the bush at the backyard fence: Mighty Lak a Rose.
When the icy sleet pounds on the storm windows and the house lifts to a great breath, sing for the outside hills: The Ole Sheep Done Know the Road, the Young Lambs Must Find the Way..    .    .
Spring slips back with a girl face calling always: "Any new songs for me? Any new songs?"

O prairie girl, be lonely, singing, dreaming, waiting-your lover comes-your child comes-the years creep with toes of April rain on new-turned sod.
O prairie girl, whoever leaves you only crimson poppies to talk with, whoever puts a good-by kiss on your lips and never comes back-
There is a song deep as the falltime redhaws, long as the layer of black loam we go to, the shine of the morning star over the corn belt, the wave line of dawn up a wheat valley..    .    .
O prairie mother, I am one of your boys.
I have loved the prairie as a man with a heart shot full of pain over love.
Here I know I will hanker after nothing so much as one more sunrise or a sky moon of fire doubled to a river moon of water..    .    .
I speak of new cities and new people.
I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes.
I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down,
  a sun dropped in the west.
I tell you there is nothing in the world
  only an ocean of to-morrows,
  a sky of to-morrows.

I am a brother of the cornhuskers who say
  at sundown:
        To-morrow is a day.
take me to the mountains
where my spirit can roam
take me to mountains
so I can walk on their welcoming loam*

in the mountains the birds sing
such a sweetness of song
this is the rightful place
for my heart to belong

deeply seeded within the soul
the mountain's beautiful hues stay
when I'm amid the fall colours
my joys happily parlay

take me to the mountains
where my spirit can roam
take me to the mountains
so I can walk on their welcoming loam

the mountains call me
with a returning refrain
oh how wonderful being
back home in this domain

for too long I've been absent
from the mountains I treasure
everything about them
has a sheerness of pleasure

take me to the mountains
where my spirit can roam
take me to the mountains
*so I can walk on their welcoming loam
Terry O'Leary Aug 2014
The darkness, now descending, floods the city as it dies
while shadows lurk in legions 'neath the looming Evil Eye.
Its frozen stare envelops all, it penetrates and pries,
denouncing loathed dissenters to the keepers in the sky.

One’s inner thoughts are well descried before they’ve passed one’s lips
and cruelly crushed with grim contempt twixt despots’ fingertips;
but if no taboo-idea’s found, with which to come to grips,
the stymied Eye dispenses pus as fabrication drips.

The Eye peers down upon us now, to conquer and control,
and mark our every movement, whether hiding in a hole
or preening like a purple parrot perched upon a pole.
Our welfare and our happiness? No, certainly not the goal.

While phantoms fade, then reappear within the urban sprawl,
the gloom (adorned with Evil Eyes which pierce the livid pall)
pervades the ache and agony that poets sometimes scrawl
of plenitude to penury, how life endures the fall.

And should the herd dare whisper words of freedom's fragrant bloom
or murmur sighs of worriment at earth's impending doom,
the Evil Eye will squint a bit at those who so presume,
condemning nascent unchained thoughts to wither in the womb.

The Evil Eye bores everywhere, a tattletale to Kings,
who scrutinize their puppet people, strumming on their strings,
extracting secrets of their souls like spiders plucking wings
that flutter with the hangman’s knot as the corpse of freedom swings.

Yes, Princes rule with tungsten fists wherever they may roam
and sip from golden goblets, nectar, sweet as honeycomb
while peons (stripped of mind and soul) stray never far from home,
with faces 'neath the iron boot, ****** deep below the loam.

And peasants pass, parading by to fill the golden urn
with pennies for the afterlife wherefore the faithful yearn,
though screams of babes with empty eyes are never of concern
to those who covet silver coins, eyes cold and taciturn.

To hide the pains of purgatory, far-flung distant shores
(on islands of containment) cache the dingy dungeon doors
and inquisition water-boards that buoy their holy wars,
while sandmen drape our eyes with dust, with rainbow metaphors.

We’ll know the party's over when there's little left to eat
and all the learned scholars, lean, stay silent when they meet -
the Eye, withal, will spawn distrust on matters indiscreet.
The signs are all around us - even sheep no longer bleat.

                        Epilogue
One sightless seer scans the skies and mourns the heretofore.
Nine limbless men descend the stairs to find there is no floor.
Eight tongueless women babble, telling tales of nevermore.
Four earless children drown within the ocean's muted roar.

When hope becomes defiance, ask: Will bedlam soon arrive?
Will doves appear above us all? Or drones to guard the hive
while fed with milk and honey by the Queen and kept alive
to gut the gale below them? Will we let the Eye survive?
Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door.
Andrew Guzaldo c Jul 2018
“You are a cynosure and I a modest demure man,
I cannot be accordant with the crowd you have,
You a cynosure beauty of elegance and wonders,
A woman of higher standards and I very simplistic,

Can such a person take interest in me what may it be,
Is she mindlessly judging me as an equitable man?
By sweet emotions thoughts reflected as irises burgeon,
From her head to toes I kept on admiring this divinity,

Is her heart for love that like a thorn with no rose?
Or mitotically lovely when in love as seen before all,
She would not be able to conform to me it would be I,
Could my simplistically standards sway her to me,

But why do I blame myself that she took a liking to me,
I imagine her hands touch the earth and the roots dilate,
Sprite knows deep quintessence of water and the earth,
We then conjugate together like an equation of loam”
By A. Guzaldo 07/21/2018 ©
By A. Guzaldo 07/21/2018 ©  #105
Seán Mac Falls Nov 2013
.
"I shall welcome the majesty of the ******
Loam, the honour of being the daisies mantle
The goodly fortune to sleep under the golden
Stars who birthed my dream of grace and light.

World, ply my ship and sail it to the seas
Of love, poem and song, I was unworthy
Shaper and so, whereby cold fates decree—
Here lies one, whose name is traced in vapour."
Denel Kessler Jan 2016
We rise
only to fall
angels
gone to ground
in the sweet loam

honor the bones
let silt become
the raw clay
to re-form
our souls
We fail, we fall, we learn, and are reborn...
Nat Lipstadt Jun 2018
Songs of Oregon: No 5 no general impressions specifically

For the Poets of Oregon, each a unique travel guide

no salt n’ pepper shaker of general impressions for the offering,
for now, ubiquitous generalities means inclusionary which means
likely accidental to be exclusionary,
so specifically,
no ‘all in' clauses

just a few specific eye-sights, hoary words, new birth canals,
to be either eaten, resurrected, van-slaughtered, backyard buried,
all are filed nearby in the seed cabinet or the garage freezer,
or on the C drive of your brain

awaiting ideal planting conditions, and the rest,
a series perhaps,
Songs of Oregon?
Someday

someday, when all the big brief poems are fully formed,
earth ripened, mind fomented; oak barrel aged,
harvest-reading-ready,
green trees shoots busting thrusting through
misleading sandy looking soil,
needy for quenching from
aquifers that are gold geyser plentiful,
a hundred feet deep, needy only for a
“please sir, may I have some more,"
they’l be writ

but for now, these below are,
some easy to be specifics,
reveling and revealed, useful takeaways,
specifics pacifics
for those who might be traversing upon
Lewis and Clark’s Oregon Trail:

them multicolored redneck
full bearded boys
and those of the
vinnie, millennial hipsters and aging ex- hippies, also,
full bearded boys  
are indistinguishable!
many of both wear matching bib jeans,
so be careful who you be calling
a hillbilly in open carry country

the forever refilled coffee mug still exists though the price
is now $2 but the coffee is sustainable (I am evidence)
organic, from a rain forest from Timbuktu,
so it gets planted in your bloodstream and then replaced
in the soil & land,
the loam of the soul
by you

in Milwaukee,
they know how to spell Milwaukee but
not in Portland

don’t be shocked at the town naming,
these borrowers got no  i-magination,
that’s surly lacking in Oregon; mthey’ll steal your
Nor’easter or Indian
town or city’s name
with no shame
or comp-unction,
claiming it’s different cause
they made it organically and
then misspelled it,
correctly

think that pointy poem point well made,
god made only one coast (theirs) and
just forgot to put Shelter Island NY  upon it;
threw it up randomly skyward, landed on some
atlantic backwater body

getting there or anywhere in Oregon traffic
about the same as in NYC traffic, thus
the heavens balance the scales of justice with
dramatic automotive irony

in some counties, the school week is a
four day affair, for the children need to repay
their parents birthing labor, by laboring beside them
in the vineyards, on the tractors, learning from
the book and look of their parents
sun aged faces and hands,
life learning
that man must earn his sustenance
with the sweat of ones own brow
and that word;
week,
can be spelt in contradictory ways
but only one is acceptable
out here

do be careful though Oregonians are very willingly to lam it,
(Willamette) if you ask nicely,
pick up normal looking weird hitchhikers
and drive many a mile
in yours, not theirs, but sure,
“going-the-same-way direction”
if you ask polite with just a smile

and the river salmon have hired their own governmental advisors


like I said,
no general impressions
just a private’s brief recollections
from his first tour of duty
abroad
where he was purple heart medaled shot
through ‘n through with
Oregon kindness

some juicy real specifics to follow eventually
someday
songs of oregon No.5
I sometimes fear the younger generation will be deprived
  of the pleasures of hoeing;
  there is no knowing
how many souls have been formed by this simple exercise.

The dry earth like a great scab breaks, revealing
  moist-dark loam--
  the pea-root's home,
a fertile wound perpetually healing.

How neatly the green weeds go under!
  The blade chops the earth new.
  Ignorant the wise boy who
has never rendered thus the world fecunder.
SMOKE of the fields in spring is one,
Smoke of the leaves in autumn another.
Smoke of a steel-mill roof or a battleship funnel,
They all go up in a line with a smokestack,
Or they twist ... in the slow twist ... of the wind.
  
If the north wind comes they run to the south.
If the west wind comes they run to the east.
  By this sign
  all smokes
  know each other.
Smoke of the fields in spring and leaves in autumn,
Smoke of the finished steel, chilled and blue,
By the oath of work they swear: "I know you."
  
Hunted and hissed from the center
Deep down long ago when God made us over,
Deep down are the cinders we came from-
You and I and our heads of smoke.
  
Some of the smokes God dropped on the job
Cross on the sky and count our years
And sing in the secrets of our numbers;
Sing their dawns and sing their evenings,
Sing an old log-fire song:
  
You may put the damper up,
You may put the damper down,
The smoke goes up the chimney just the same.
  
Smoke of a city sunset skyline,
Smoke of a country dusk horizon-
  They cross on the sky and count our years.
  
Smoke of a brick-red dust
  Winds on a spiral
  Out of the stacks
For a hidden and glimpsing moon.
This, said the bar-iron shed to the blooming mill,
This is the slang of coal and steel.
The day-gang hands it to the night-gang,
The night-gang hands it back.
  
Stammer at the slang of this-
Let us understand half of it.
  In the rolling mills and sheet mills,
  In the harr and boom of the blast fires,
  The smoke changes its shadow
  And men change their shadow;
  A ******, a ***, a bohunk changes.
  
  A bar of steel-it is only
Smoke at the heart of it, smoke and the blood of a man.
A runner of fire ran in it, ran out, ran somewhere else,
And left-smoke and the blood of a man
And the finished steel, chilled and blue.
  
So fire runs in, runs out, runs somewhere else again,
And the bar of steel is a gun, a wheel, a nail, a shovel,
A rudder under the sea, a steering-gear in the sky;
And always dark in the heart and through it,
  Smoke and the blood of a man.
Pittsburg, Youngstown, Gary-they make their steel with men.
  
In the blood of men and the ink of chimneys
The smoke nights write their oaths:
Smoke into steel and blood into steel;
Homestead, Braddock, Birmingham, they make their steel with men.
Smoke and blood is the mix of steel.
  
  The birdmen drone
  in the blue; it is steel
  a motor sings and zooms.
  
Steel barb-wire around The Works.
Steel guns in the holsters of the guards at the gates of The Works.
Steel ore-boats bring the loads clawed from the earth by steel, lifted and lugged by arms of steel, sung on its way by the clanking clam-shells.
The runners now, the handlers now, are steel; they dig and clutch and haul; they hoist their automatic knuckles from job to job; they are steel making steel.
Fire and dust and air fight in the furnaces; the pour is timed, the billets wriggle; the clinkers are dumped:
Liners on the sea, skyscrapers on the land; diving steel in the sea, climbing steel in the sky.
  
Finders in the dark, you Steve with a dinner bucket, you Steve clumping in the dusk on the sidewalks with an evening paper for the woman and kids, you Steve with your head wondering where we all end up-
Finders in the dark, Steve: I hook my arm in cinder sleeves; we go down the street together; it is all the same to us; you Steve and the rest of us end on the same stars; we all wear a hat in hell together, in hell or heaven.
  
Smoke nights now, Steve.
Smoke, smoke, lost in the sieves of yesterday;
Dumped again to the scoops and hooks today.
Smoke like the clocks and whistles, always.
  Smoke nights now.
  To-morrow something else.
  
Luck moons come and go:
Five men swim in a *** of red steel.
Their bones are kneaded into the bread of steel:
Their bones are knocked into coils and anvils
And the ******* plungers of sea-fighting turbines.
Look for them in the woven frame of a wireless station.
So ghosts hide in steel like heavy-armed men in mirrors.
Peepers, skulkers-they shadow-dance in laughing tombs.
They are always there and they never answer.
  
One of them said: "I like my job, the company is good to me, America is a wonderful country."
One: "Jesus, my bones ache; the company is a liar; this is a free country, like hell."
One: "I got a girl, a peach; we save up and go on a farm and raise pigs and be the boss ourselves."
And the others were roughneck singers a long ways from home.
Look for them back of a steel vault door.
  
They laugh at the cost.
They lift the birdmen into the blue.
It is steel a motor sings and zooms.
  
In the subway plugs and drums,
In the slow hydraulic drills, in gumbo or gravel,
Under dynamo shafts in the webs of armature spiders,
They shadow-dance and laugh at the cost.
  
The ovens light a red dome.
Spools of fire wind and wind.
Quadrangles of crimson sputter.
The lashes of dying maroon let down.
Fire and wind wash out the ****.
Forever the **** gets washed in fire and wind.
The anthem learned by the steel is:
  Do this or go hungry.
Look for our rust on a plow.
Listen to us in a threshing-engine razz.
Look at our job in the running wagon wheat.
  
Fire and wind wash at the ****.
Box-cars, clocks, steam-shovels, churns, pistons, boilers, scissors-
Oh, the sleeping **** from the mountains, the ****-heavy pig-iron will go down many roads.
Men will stab and shoot with it, and make butter and tunnel rivers, and mow hay in swaths, and slit hogs and skin beeves, and steer airplanes across North America, Europe, Asia, round the world.
  
Hacked from a hard rock country, broken and baked in mills and smelters, the rusty dust waits
Till the clean hard weave of its atoms cripples and blunts the drills chewing a hole in it.
The steel of its plinths and flanges is reckoned, O God, in one-millionth of an inch.
  
Once when I saw the curves of fire, the rough scarf women dancing,
Dancing out of the flues and smoke-stacks-flying hair of fire, flying feet upside down;
Buckets and baskets of fire exploding and chortling, fire running wild out of the steady and fastened ovens;
Sparks cracking a harr-harr-huff from a solar-plexus of rock-ribs of the earth taking a laugh for themselves;
Ears and noses of fire, gibbering gorilla arms of fire, gold mud-pies, gold bird-wings, red jackets riding purple mules, scarlet autocrats tumbling from the humps of camels, assassinated czars straddling vermillion balloons;
I saw then the fires flash one by one: good-by: then smoke, smoke;
And in the screens the great sisters of night and cool stars, sitting women arranging their hair,
Waiting in the sky, waiting with slow easy eyes, waiting and half-murmuring:
  "Since you know all
  and I know nothing,
  tell me what I dreamed last night."
  
Pearl cobwebs in the windy rain,
in only a flicker of wind,
are caught and lost and never known again.
  
A pool of moonshine comes and waits,
but never waits long: the wind picks up
loose gold like this and is gone.
  
A bar of steel sleeps and looks slant-eyed
on the pearl cobwebs, the pools of moonshine;
sleeps slant-eyed a million years,
sleeps with a coat of rust, a vest of moths,
a shirt of gathering sod and loam.
  
The wind never bothers ... a bar of steel.
The wind picks only .. pearl cobwebs .. pools of moonshine.
— after Melancholia



She’d have walked through fire for him —
A stranger with a fractured chameleon soul,
Tumultuous depths and misguided hymns,
But promises of patience and a steady stroll.

Stranger still, a fractured chameleon soul,
Restless beneath wind-tremors and silt-clay loam.
But with promises of patience and a steady stroll,
She follows the moon that leads her home

Restlessly. Wind tremors and silt-clay loam,
Burnt umber flicker-beats and faded birches.
She follows the moon, led home
To an abandoned, white-chip-painted church.

Beyond umber flicker-beats and faded birches,
He preached of salvation, but fell privy
Inside the abandoned, white-chip-painted church
Where green was gold and gold was envy.

He preached of salvation, but fell privy
To tumultuous depths and a misguided hymn.
Green was gold and gold was envy —
She’d have walked through fire for him.
Larry Potter Jul 2013
A cumulonimbus caused the gloom that day. It went shedding drops of rain that looked like bead of pearls glittering in the grey autumn sky, vanishing as they plunge on leafless laurel trees and solitary cypresses. He watched them dance to pitter-patter on every umbrella that opened towards the heavens, their colors of rich black calling out to such empathy. Finally, the drops kiss the graze of withered grasses and thirsty dandelions, reviving their foliage and greenness. Slowly, the rainfall collect to become one with soil and mud crawled down to the six feet depression where a coffin was laid. It was white like ivory and carved with elaborate insignias as a token of love and undying memories. Soon, it was all covered with crimson roses that carry the last parting words of the bereaved. The priest waved out his hands above with mournful eyes, lisping his beseeching of earnest favors while spades of loam filled up the burrow. He saw faces of despair around the pit, gasping for reprieve and sympathy. If only the rain could also bring back her life, he implored.

This, in his senses, was belongingness. This, in his heart, was death.

It had been two long weeks since Roxanne’s death and Vincent couldn’t get his feet back on the ground. He still couldn’t believe he had lost her and that their seemingly endless love has flown away from him for all eternity. He’d make believe that this was all just a dream and at some point of this nightmare he would finally be unchained and awakened. Days became niches of shackled memories that kept haunting his love-fletched soul and nights were nothing more than a requiem of lovelorn longings that still linger in his mind. He remembers it all, the feel of her name on his lips, the smell of her hair, and the sound of her laugh. Everything is still as fresh as the dewdrops of June and as vivid as the most cinematic imagery a mortal could immortalize. The ultimate fight of this melodramatic transition was to remain whole when all the strength Vincent has built up begins to crumble by a mere reminiscence of the tragedy that gets freeze-framed from beginning to end over and over again.

It was a rainy Friday evening on the 22nd of May and everyone’s feeling the smell of the weekend rush. Vincent was already at a friend's house party and called Roxanne that he’ll be waiting. Roxanne was driving the Lexus behind a small truck that seemed to plod toward the upcoming red light. She was a few minutes late on her way and watching these two people ahead of her jabber away in that truck was getting her out of her ecstatic  mood. The light turned green, but the truck too slowly moved forward. Roxanne became frustrated as the driver fixated to the right. He visibly gasped at what was just about to come into her view. A brand new grey-blue Chevy Silverado blazed through the opposing stop light to broadside his little truck. Roxanne tried to stop, but her car slid into the Chevy's rear side and went tossing down the highway to an explosion.

All these is what Vincent needs to drown himself to agony. It’s as if Atlas gave up the bearing of the world for him to endure. Wretched and perplexed was he, blaming the world for such a prejudiced conspiracy. How could an angel like Roxanne be bound to such an end? How could an invincible love become vulnerable on the visage of death? But then again, his heart starts to concoct a spell of phantasm, bringing back the most prized memories of him and her together, infiltrating his whole system and gaining power over the bitterness and pain. In this test of sensations, he himself wasn’t sure if this two-edged delusion is a boon or bane. But one thing was becoming clear to him-he cannot be like this for the rest of his life. If this nightmare must be proven real, he must find a way out. Whatever may lie ahead, he must keep going, recreate his own world and be able to break free from the fetters of this mishap that surely promises him nothing but living scars, frustrations and sorrow.

Two years have passed and the town of New Hope has undergone a lot of changes. New coffee shops and cafes run down a block away from the University premise as well as convenient stores and parlors. New establishments stood welcoming and billboards mushroomed the skyway. The streets are crowded with more and more busy people, indicative of a metropolitan evolution of lifestyle. Summer has ended and without a trace, the arid autumn and the frigid winter fluttered to oblivion.

The same is true for New Hope University which, in its current enrollment period, has its student population increased by two thousand. The institute’s remarkable performance rating in board examinations and national competitions attracted other towns to invest their education to the latter. It was nearly the start of class and everyone is busy catching up the enrollment pace. But not Vincent, who, in the first day of inception has already completed the enrollment process. He was ecstatic, more of curious how his life as a senior student could turn into this academic year. He met faces of different kinds-some familiar and some entirely strangers. Those he doesn’t recognize would just pause and pay a smile while others he knew jsut pass by and make him feel invisible. On a ledge in front of his course department’s office he sat. He in himself was New Hope town in human transfiguration- braver, brighter and better. He looked from afar, with eyes playing on the nimble of heads and shoulders of people passing through the corridor. He drenched himself to an illusion of how each head turns toward him with a infectious smile, that once in a while, happiness is sought even in the gallows of solitude. Solitude-it wasn’t a strange name to him anymore. It never was. He was entangled with it on that day the sickles of death took his love away. Somehow, through the passage of time, the wound that was scourged deep in his heart has mended and the thought of being alone became amusing that he has managed to laugh about it over the seasons. He is more human now, away from the devious portal of his mundane imagining.

The daydream was shattered when out of the blue a silhouette of a familiar figure took the stage. She was elegantly tall, with hair of pure ebony lolling on her shoulders. Each step enraptures, and each gentle sway of a hand is a compelling rhythm. She draws closer to where he was and he's left slack jawed. She entered the office and he was back to his senses. Maybe not. What he beheld was something farfetched, something that he cannot comprehend. Vincent saw it all coming back to him. A remnant of his long buried love has come to life. It was Roxanne and it is more certain than breathing. He couldn’t explain what he felt. It was a maelstrom of joy and surprise, of hope and fear. It was the face he yearned to see, so long that the yearning turned to hate and despair. But now that it came to pass, his humanity fell apart. Although he is a mere victim of his own circumstances, the serendipity took a shot straight to his heart and there is nothing he could do about it.

Perhaps there is, and he is now pretty preoccupied. He wanted to know her. He must unknot this puzzle that has challenged his whole conviction. He must find every answer and throw all of its questions behind. Whatever there is that the road has in store for him is not essential anymore. He couldn’t care less to fathom this enigma and once more, find something worth living. But now that he is hanging in midair, he planned to fall back. He jumped out of the ledge and headed out the campus, afraid that she might be at sight and all the strength in him shall subside. He was up all night, thinking of how he could get a chance to meet and talk to her. He had thoughts of crafting schemes, devising methods and inventing tricks.

And nothing of it worked.

The first day of class commenced. New Hope University is buzzing with ecstatic students. Vincent giggled with utmost excitement, carelessly bumping shoulders and brushing elbows with other students in the corridors.  He molested his tattered COR and skimmed for his first class. It is in room 101 scheduled 9:00. He reviewed through the digital clock and he hurried as it ticked to 8:58. Luckily, he is safe from prime tardiness, though he seemed to be the last comer. He seated at the back, knowing that after thirty minutes, he’d helplessly succumb to napping since it is his favorite subject-English 8, Technical Writing.

And so she happened.

It was her, Roxanne’s doppelganger who broke the charts. She was 15 minutes late and unforgivably beautiful with her sequined tee and skinny jeans. She realized what she has gotten into and apologized with the kindest gesture. The professor gave her a hand and led her to the seat beside Vincent. She felt awkward. He was worse. They both sat like lifeless puppets with the puppeteer gone until she broke the silence.

“I’m Katherine,” she muttered. “Katherine Evans, glad to be your block mate”. She took it off with a smile that sent Vincent to hyperventilation. He couldn’t shake her hands. They’re already shaking with butterflies. The poor guy mounted his strength. He could not afford to lose the chance. “Vincent, Vincent Smith”. That was all and a nod. It was rare for Vincent to survive the thirty-minute nap attack but he did this time, although the victory seemed unnoticed. They enjoyed the remaining hour sharing thoughts and ideas with Vincent succeeding in all his attempts to stint his best jokes. He has come to know who she is at the basics-a transferee from Dakota University, a cheerleader and an adventurist. He also looks forward to know more about her in the days to come- hoping that she likes cheese, watching live wrestling fights and attending Sunday mass.

Perhaps she doesn't.

Two weeks was enough a time for the two of them to get closer to each other. They were both open to let the affinity they share to grow and blossom. It was very apparent that the two knew where their relationship is going and they both seemed ready for it.

Months have passed and the two were no more than couples. But Vincent was too overwhelmed of what he had let enter his life. Katherine is no Roxanne. She doesn’t like cheese, wrestling or Sunday masses. She was more self-driven, conceited and unwelcoming. Sooner he realized that he isn’t in love with Katherine, nor will he ever be. He just created his Utopia by painting Roxanne’s memories on Katherine’s facade. He believed to have loved again and he believed in vain.

It was a candlelight dinner at Katherine's and it was all set. She suggested it herself. She would always do this, steering their affair on a one man tag and turning the tides whichever she likes it to be. She seemed obsessed about Vincent, about their friendship, about their bond. This was her biggest mistake: to let Vincent get drowned in her self-consumed devotion.

Vincent is on his way. To break her heart.

When he came, Katherine pranced in glee. She presented the menu. And the drinks too. She was on the midst of telling Vincent her summer getaway plans when he told her to stop and listen. He undid it to her gently by taking all the blames, that it was his butter fingered actions which led them both bruised and bleeding. It was a self-defeating battle preordained by the gods. A tear fell down from Katherine’s eyes, and she didn’t want to show him more. She fled her way out the dining room with a tormented soul, like Aphrodite torn by Adonis, and hurried to her room with the banging of the door. Vincent was left with only the deafening silence, keeping his severed heart together.

As he sat out there slowly losing substance, he began to notice a set of picture frames that showed two happy faces, one of them Vincent was able to recognize in just a matter of seconds. But what puzzled him most is the picture's relevance to Katherine. He thought of a reason to make his way out the riddle. He looked closer to the girl beside Roxanne and found a spot of mole that was identical to Katherine's.

Vincent stumbled to a discovery he wished he had never known.

On the night Roxanne met death, she was not alone. She was with company. The girl that happened to live is Vicky Duran, Roxanne’s best friend. She was secretly in love with Vincent. And she was prepared to change her entire life for a streak of a chance that she’ll have what she was living for.

And she almost succeeded.

Vincent, still staggered on how things turned out insane, went to Roxanne’s grave. He shattered from an implosion of mixed emotions and he cried out like a child who lost his treasured toy. He curled on the ground with so much pain and bearing contained inside him. He called out Roxanne’s name with pure longing, bringing back his old self and his memories of that grey autumn, of that unwanted Friday that took her life away.

Footsteps cracked from the ground and Vincent ceased his outburst of melancholy.

“Let me end your misery,” a trembling voice came from behind him. It was Vicky, whose face is neither Roxanne’s nor Katherine’s. It was a face of a hopeless woman, wretched and determined for something. She was wearing rugged clothes and she held a gun on her hand. To Vicky, living is no different from death. She has now understood why the very person she loves has turned away from her when she gave all that she never was. But the realization priced too much of her reality that she cannot anymore take back. She decided to **** him and then take her own life.

She pointed the gun towards Vincent. He jumped at her to take the gun away. They grappled on the ground, the weapon still on Vicky’s hands. Vincent managed to overpower her but she kicked him, tumbling back to the gravestone. A shot was heard from afar with a man’s cry.

It rained that day. Brown withered leaves of tall laurels hovered with the wind while branches of solitary Cypresses dance to every whirl. The breeze whispered to the clouds of grey, a mark of autumn’s return. Vincent crawled to Roxanne's grave. It was a weeping of a true love that echoed away. Raindrops keep descending from the heavens, washing away the blood that kept flowing to the ground of mud.  Perhaps, on the last moments of his life he found happiness, even from a love that was never his to keep.

 

- by Larry Potter
Seán Mac Falls Mar 2017
.
Still pale grey earth is turned,
Deep is the loam moisted,
Lone by the Ploughman.

The rows of the brushed patches,
Sweating the breakneck blood,
Are painted by labours.

Messiah doors out cathedral,
With iron plod anoints the soil,
Exposed unto mercy sun.

His hands are knobbed in stone,
His eyes searing of the star,
His face dark as deep loam.

Each day ablutions of sod earth,
Heaved out tilling unfree wills,
Burdens of harnessed beast.

Dark is the turned loam moisted,
Water flame heat of veined mist,
Seeds sown explode to bloom.

After thorny works, crowned blood,
Sun leaves to wine red fruition,
Ploughman maker is done.
the children with such earthen hands opened the book burning in Sanskrit: twilight of  Summer.
now to their own accord, they must persist in daylight, with the overgrowth arrives
           new verve to rising tendrils.
one by one, leaping out of the unclenched hands of faith, pelts of the world give
     them a renewed bounty of laughter; even the days ring true, a consortium of bells
in the nearby cathedral of Barasoain or wherever perhaps, in the streets where
   a different kind of ashen is imparted: I speak of the languor in sleep.
a gossamer canopy underneath the guava, whose leafing fingers signal them like motherless
   beacons to the sprite of the lissome afternoon – such bodies hemmed in inertia, stay
  there in search for light. blacker the wounds of trees yet insignia the name of memories,
      a river of stallions is the blood of fetal natures and I sing freely with them:
         we are the children of the loam!
for my lost youth, and all the other children I see, ****** in the afternoon.
Auntie Hosebag Feb 2011
“Those who do not want to imitate anything,
produce nothing”.  Salvador Dali -- Dali on Dali

Dreamrise.

The sliced steep slopes of those cliffs could be anywhere--say, Yosemite--buttered by
the same sun, not battered by these calm seas, or bothered
by melting timepieces draped about the landscape.

Why does the artist’s head melt, deconstruct, feather into foreground loam— teeth, tongue,
lips fading nearly without notice, nose pillowed on his own ear?

Is there a reason a single housefly struggles against sky-blue stickiness--imperiled heroine
awaiting the locomotive crush of the sweeping minute hand--or why the bottom
of her golden prison melts in the sepia heat, its silver sisters hung limp
from a branch long dead, or laid carefully
as a blanket over the sleeping
focal face?

What of the copper watch, alone in original form, though a cluster of ants spews from its center
in lieu of hands?

The artist provides no answer, perhaps presuming the question sufficient.

That dead tree—
the only thing vertical, unless you stand beneath the cliffs;
the only thing anchored, unless you allow the cliffs;
the only thing obviously dead, unless those buttered cliffs are someone’s skin—
that tree is Watcher and Scribe, the Presence of the World, and at its base
a face is embedded, of some Bosch-spawned horror, gaze trained beyond
borders, back to the Middle Ages, or maybe on its own shadow.

Straight lines are few enough to count.  The horizon is one, or four, depending on how you tally.
Plain plank painted every hue of blue on the canvas numbers ten—again, depending—could be seven.
And the platform: four, or six?  Are these tricks of the eye or the mind—or math?  By the magic
of perfect draughtsmanship it works out to just the right number.

Note the placement of pebbles—gold right, gray left—for each side of the brain, he dreams; for balance,
for focus, for scale and distortion, placed with precision to escape first notice, the better to manipulate
mind and eye to see what isn’t there:
                                                          ­          the dark,
                                                           ­                          the void,
                                                           ­                                          this universe collapsing,
                                             ­                                                                 ­                                     howling open emptiness,
no stars, no cliffs, no clocks
wormhole of sleep which draws all from there to here,
bloated, belligerent Babylon of black consumes the bottom corner, far removed from ants,
beckoning the dreamer homeward--or Hellward?

In every direction lies fear or fulfillment,
each boundary spreads wide to possibility,
from this static domain where no breeze exists
to mar the surface of an ocean
so vast.
Another ekphrasis piece, this on Dali's *Persistence of Memory*.  Yeah, the one with the melting watches.  That one.
Gary Brocks Aug 2018
We spread our blanket on uneven
ground, bodies embracing in descent,        
                       They lay on the boxcar floor,
                        fingers twisted, clutching slats.
transfixed by the spell of evening,
limbs entwined, interlaced,
                        Barbed wire pressed punctured palms
                        faces creased as old photographs.
We stretched in dawn’s light,
poured coffee out of cups,
and left as it merged with the dust.
                         bones upheave turf and loam
                         fingers grasping, sheathed in soil.

Copyright © 2003 Gary Brocks
180828F

At the time of writing, the war in former Yugoslavia was occurring. Pictures of ethnic extermination camps, barbed write, mass graves, Happeing again. Happening despite the awareness and vows after the holocaust, that such things must never be allowed to happen again. An awareness that had grown stale. Do the horrors of history, even in our ignorance or innocence, ultimately make even the smallest of our acts, some how complicit?
Lou Costello’s
bronze semblance
dipped and danced atop
his granite pedestal
spinning miasmatic tales
of enigmatic hope and
resplendent labor

“the sweet
unbounded
expectation of
hope once
surged down
this city’s streets”
... said Lou

"I was a self made man
until someone thought up
the idea to cast a bronze
caricature of me and
bolt it to this grand rock”

nostalgia
is the boldest form
of fiction
culling from the past
the things hoped for
in the now

“growing up
here
I clipped school,
played ball,
rolled drunks
and fought
nickel ante
prize fights
to get my
daily bread,
I literally
punched my
way out
of this town”

a smith smelts a
batch of liquid bronze
pouring molds full of
a fervent wish
a madman's delusion
a priestly promise
a Pollyannaish illusion?

baskets overflowed
gushing hope, offered
at the holy altars by
honorable workers

it was said that
a morsel of labor
could feed 5000
starved families
breeding hopes as large
as a half cup of water

hope
the size of a
mustard seed sparked
recovery of 1000 sick children
dying from the Asian Flu
at St. Joe's

hope
willed an end to war’s slaughter
which ironically was bad for
Paterson's war profiteers
forcing layoffs
sparking labor actions

hope
ignited conflagrations firing
the resurrection of dead industries
lately there is a lot of hope
circling this one

miracles spring
from the pronounced
lips of trembling hearts

the hopeful amassed
slogging forth on bloodied toes
along razor thin slices
of expectation
hoping to begin again
eager to build anew

new starts sometimes
grow old fast soon
hope expires
winging back home
on broken wings of
misspent labor

hoping for the snow to stop
a lump of coal to last
the labor of a budding crocus
rewarded, breaking through
the hard crust of winters end
blooms for a day then expires

hope is a beggars wish
gods give yearnings heft
prayers earnestly chanted
willing paradigm shifts

prayers of absolution
play the angles
calculating odds
of probabilistic mathematics
a sure thing long shot
the prayers of the
righteous availeth much

we hoped for jobs
we hoped for leisure
we hoped for love
we hoped for labor
we hoped for rest
we hoped for luck
we hoped for a life
wealth health blest

laughing at our follies
crying over defeats
our city a tragic star
a comedy of schemes

our
hope and labor
is the keystone of
our self construction
cornerstone of
a grand city’s edifice
its negation our
deconstruction

tragedy and comedy
invested and spent
falling and laughing
foibles and faith

belief trumps evidence
happenstance slays surety
horror and beauty
compose a life's mural
nothing happens
by mistake

learning and ignorance
fate and chance
the risk of randomness
expiration dates arrive fast

predetermination a bold
conviction, suspicion,
intention a splendid  
kismet  

banality becomes
sublime  
laughter is ******

...the mystery is in
the loam... says WCW
...the finished product
is what I’m after...

“what the
**** are you
doing here?"
the bronzed Louis
gagged

"Hey Abbott
look at these clowns
in the yellow plastic
garbage bags!

bobbing in a sea of
midnight mist

a posse of
neon clowns
donning glad bags
on the most dismal
night of the year

twinkling under the
gloom of my playgrounds
faltering streetlamps

“twinkling targets
easily tracked,
a trained eye,
a steady hand
could pick you off
at a thousand paces
what gives?

“what the **** are
you doing here?

“what the **** am I doin
here for that matter?”

“the second question
is easy to answer,

“I’m Paterson’s
finest son....

...“Wherever he is tonight, I want him to hear me," and went on with the show. No one in the audience knew of the death until after the show when Bud Abbott explained the events of the day, and how the phrase "The show must go on" had been epitomized by Lou that night....

"Mr. Bacciagalupe
he use to live on
Cianci Street

“who’s on first?
what’s on second?
I don’t know is on third?
was a riddle one recited
to get into his speak

“his Ginnie Red was legendary
and no one was ever known to
die from drinking his bathtub gin”

the old world ways
are made new
by the arrival of
new old worlds
supplanting old Italiano

“where is all the goodwill capital
we invested in this place?”

successive generations
thought it best to export
the capital of the
expired generations
elsewhere

it was ferried
across the river,
crossed the
city boundaries,
leaving for Wayne
and the fairer lawns
of Wyckoff and the
greener grasses of
Franklin Lakes

all the old wise guys
died off or were sentenced
to life by their children,
some still doin time in
old age homes in
Rockaway

all the sport clubs
boarded up but their spirit
lingers like an espresso
ring on a post slurp
demitasse cup

“hell my body is buried
in Hollywood but here
I am, holding court in
Costello Park
talking with you
knuckleheads
a baseball bat
my royal scepter
a brown derby
my crown, truly a
King of Nothing,
Lord of All

“the soul of my city is
eternal,  like the comedy
of tragedy or is it
tragic comic?

“here I remain
omnipresent,
spinning about
frozen forever
in a magnificent
bronze age,
erected to my likeness
beholding me
to stand witness
to this litter strewn park
decorated with corrugated
Big Mac boxes, plastic
Big Gulp tops and discarded
rubbers bagging the ****
of this cities arrested
citizenry”

never actualized
never naturalized
citizenship denied
at the commencement
of ejaculatory flows
of joy

unfulfilled spirit
of citizenship
never to experience
the splendor
of yesterday’s
modernist
metropolis and
Lou’s stand up
routines

“look at that John
over there, that guy
wheezing like a
ruptured blacksmith’s
billow, pounding away
laboring to get off

“the poor little
******* just hopes it
will end soon

it does
**** he’s done

I” knew that guys
grandfather,
getting off
runs in the family
and remains one
of the few things
that draws the progeny back
to the old neighborhood

“you can still glimpse
snippets of the old ways
rising in new ways

“an Armenian
sports club
around the corner
is a new
incarnation of
the old Neapolitan
social clubs that
once demarcated the
neighborhoods

“these days
great grandsons
of once proud
Sons of Italy
come back to the
old neighborhoods
begging for hand-jobs
from crack ******

“welcome to my
burlesque world

“since the Gumbas
moved to Franklin Lakes
the wannabe wise guys
became ***** whipped
dumb *****
making ***** of
themselves with
their painted ****-job
Jersey Housewives

“they ***** their families
out for a bit parts on
MTV and a free lunch
at the Brownstone

“their grandfathers
labored long hours
to assure the well being
of their families in the expectant
hope of a better shot at life
but the children squandered
the hard earned bequest lovingly
bequeathed by reverent forebears

“in the wee hours
one can sometimes hear
a weeping chorus
of concrete Madonnas
musing melodious lullabies
to the sleeping
Lombard's lying
in uneasy repose at
Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

“they twist in their graves
dreaming of a last dance with the
Lady of Unending Sorrows
at weddings for unrepentant
wayward daughters and prodigal sons

“its small
recompense for a
lifetime of an
honest day’s work”

the dashed hope
of squandered labor
begets a city of ruin”

at the
parks northern corner
the Salvation Army’s
rumbling bivouac rests
in a dreamless sleep
its residents
patiently waiting to
inherit this city
abandoned by
nuevo wise guys

this tragedy
is all comedy
the comedic hope
of tragic labor
buried snoring
the millenniums away
awaiting resurrection
day

Lou was getting ******...
“get outta my park

“the artists
in the rehabbed
factories across
the street
are resting

“nothing much
going on there

“if you're hoping
to find some
homeless slogs
head over to the river
you should find some there”....

Music Selection:
Frank Sinatra, High Hopes

jbm
Oakland
3/26/13
Part 5 of extended poem Silk City PIT.  PIT is an acronym for Point In Time.  PIT is an annual census American cities conduct to count the homeless population.  Hope and Labor is the city motto of Paterson NJ, nick named The Silk City.
Don Moore Oct 2016
Winds from far foreign climes beats upon the Lizard rocks
Gulls driven towards the blackest of crags, yet pass over safely inland
In the darkest skies they wheel and spin as if torn by some giant’s hand
White horses gallop crests of waves as they rush towards tiny harbours
There to crash savagely and rend cut stones from their secured places
Men work to save their boats, fighting the storm which mothers sent
Nature conspires to take their very lives as they struggle with her might
Rocks gnash their teeth and boats not safe yet, pass near their faces
Hoping for the safety of their port, men’s white faces line their gunwales
Black, white, red, blue and yellow, boats colours lost within the spray
These same boats that forge the men they carry out upon the sea’s wrath
But now just seek to bring them safely home to their worried wives
Their women stand upon the quay or stare worried from their windows
Churchyards on the hills above seaside villages filled with headstones
Men’s deaths caused by storms in past times of fishing for their living
Leaving spouses, their children to carry on their traditions and religion
Headstones cut from the very granite of the weather worn Lizard cliffs
Menfolk deep beneath the Cornish loam, there to rest for all eternity
Whilst below in the thrashing storm, the families fight once again
Then as quickly as it came, the storm blows out, waters return to placid
Men stretch their aching backs, those hidden from storm turn out
The ******’s mission helps as it can the fractured families
And church maybe rings for those lost out to sea, never to be seen again
There will be time to mourn, and the village will then lament together
And those who are left, they return to their sacred craft of netting fish
Return to shining calm, to ply their trade, to bring food to this isles shore
Writing a Cornish Faery tale presently, and I felt parts of the book would benefit from some prose at the beginning of a chapter...
KEEP a red heart of memories
Under the great gray rain sheds of the sky,
Under the open sun and the yellow gloaming embers.
Remember all paydays of lilacs and songbirds;
All starlights of cool memories on storm paths.
  
Out of this prairie rise the faces of dead men.
They speak to me. I can not tell you what they say.
  
Other faces rise on the prairie.
  They are the unborn. The future.
  
Yesterday and to-morrow cross and mix on the skyline
The two are lost in a purple haze. One forgets. One waits.
  
In the yellow dust of sunsets, in the meadows of vermilion eight o'clock June nights ... the dead men and the unborn children speak to me ... I can not tell you what they say ... you listen and you know.
  
I don't care who you are, man:
I know a woman is looking for you
and her soul is a corn-tassel kissing a south-west wind.
(The farm-boy whose face is the color of brick-dust, is calling the cows; he will form the letter X with crossed streams of milk from the teats; he will beat a tattoo on the bottom of a tin pail with X's of milk.)
  
I don't care who you are, man:
I know sons and daughters looking for you
And they are gray dust working toward star paths
And you see them from a garret window when you laugh
At your luck and murmur, "I don't care."
  
I don't care who you are, woman:
I know a man is looking for you
And his soul is a south-west wind kissing a corn-tassel.
  
(The kitchen ******* the farm is throwing oats to the chickens and the buff of their feathers says hello to the sunset's late maroon.)
  
I don't care who you are, woman:
I know sons and daughters looking for you
And they are next year's wheat or the year after hidden in the dark and loam.
  
My love is a yellow hammer spinning circles in Ohio, Indiana. My love is a redbird shooting flights in straight lines in Kentucky and Tennessee. My love is an early robin flaming an ember of copper on her shoulders in March and April. My love is a graybird living in the eaves of a Michigan house all winter. Why is my love always a crying thing of wings?
  
On the Indiana dunes, in the Mississippi marshes, I have asked: Is it only a fishbone on the beach?
Is it only a dog's jaw or a horse's skull whitening in the sun? Is the red heart of man only ashes? Is the flame of it all a white light switched off and the power house wires cut?
  
Why do the prairie roses answer every summer? Why do the changing repeating rains come back out of the salt sea wind-blown? Why do the stars keep their tracks? Why do the cradles of the sky rock new babies?
Pennsylvania, 1948-1949

The garden of Nature opens.
The grass at the threshold is green.
And an almond tree begins to bloom.

Sunt mihi Dei Acherontis propitii!
Valeat numen triplex Jehovae!
Ignis, aeris, aquae, terrae spiritus,
Salvete!—says the entering guest.

Ariel lives in the palace of an apple tree,
But will not appear, vibrating like a wasp’s wing,
And Mephistopheles, disguised as an abbot
Of the Dominicans or the Franciscans,
Will not descend from a mulberry bush
Onto a pentagram drawn in the black loam of the path.


But a rhododendron walks among the rocks
Shod in leathery leaves and ringing a pink bell.
A hummingbird, a child’s top in the air,
Hovers in one spot, the beating heart of motion.
Impaled on the nail of a black thorn, a grasshopper
Leaks brown fluid from its twitching snout.
And what can he do, the phantom-in-chief,
As he’s been called, more than a magician,
The Socrates of snails, as he’s been called,
Musician of pears, arbiter of orioles, man?
In sculptures and canvases our individuality
Manages to survive. In Nature it perishes.
Let him accompany the coffin of the woodsman
Pushed from a cliff by a mountain demon,
The he-goat with its jutting curl of horn.
Let him visit the graveyard of the whalers
Who drove spears into the flesh of leviathan
And looked for the secret in guts and blubber.
The thrashing subsided, quieted to waves.
Let him unroll the textbooks of alchemists
Who almost found the cipher, thus the scepter.
Then passed away without hands, eyes, or elixir.


Here there is sun. And whoever, as a child,
Believed he could break the repeatable pattern
Of things, if only he understood the pattern,
Is cast down, rots in the skin of others,
Looks with wonder at the colors of the butterfly,
Inexpressible wonder, formless, hostile to art.


To keep the oars from squeaking in their locks,
He binds them with a handkerchief. The dark
Had rushed east from the Rocky Mountains
And settled in the forests of the continent:
Sky full of embers reflected in a cloud,
Flight of herons, trees above a marsh,
The dry stalks in water, livid, black. My boat
Divides the aerial utopias of the mosquitoes
Which rebuild their glowing castles instantly.
A water lily sinks, fizzing, under the boat’s bow.


Now it is night only. The water is ash-gray.
Play, music, but inaudibly! I wait an hour
In the silence, senses tuned to a ******’s lodge.
Then suddenly, a crease in the water, a beast’s
black moon, rounded, ploughing up quickly
from the pond-dark, from the bubbling methanes.
I am not immaterial and never will be.
My scent in the air, my animal smell,
Spreads, rainbow-like, scares the ******:
A sudden splat.
I remained where I was
In the high, soft coffer of the night’s velvet,
Mastering what had come to my senses:
How the four-toed paws worked, how the hair
Shook off water in the muddy tunnel.
It does not know time, hasn’t heard of death,
Is submitted to me because I know I’ll die.


I remember everything. That wedding in Basel,
A touch to the strings of a viola and fruit
In silver bowls. As was the custom in Savoy,
An overturned cup for three pairs of lips,
And the wine spilled. The flames of the candles
Wavery and frail in a breeze from the Rhine.
Her fingers, bones shining through the skin,
Felt out the hooks and clasps of the silk
And the dress opened like a nutshell,
Fell from the turned graininess of the belly.
A chain for the neck rustled without epoch,
In pits where the arms of various creeds
Mingle with bird cries and the red hair of caesars.


Perhaps this is only my own love speaking
Beyond the seventh river. Grit of subjectivity,
Obsession, bar the way to it.
Until a window shutter, dogs in the cold garden,
The whistle of a train, an owl in the firs
Are spared the distortions of memory.
And the grass says: how it was I don’t know.


Splash of a ****** in the American night.
The memory grows larger than my life.
A tin plate, dropped on the irregular red bricks
Of a floor, rattles tinnily forever.
Belinda of the big foot, Julia, Thaïs,
The tufts of their *** shadowed by ribbon.


Peace to the princesses under the tamarisks.
Desert winds beat against their painted eyelids.
Before the body was wrapped in bandelettes,
Before wheat fell asleep in the tomb,
Before stone fell silent, and there was only pity.


Yesterday a snake crossed the road at dusk.
Crushed by a tire, it writhed on the asphalt.
We are both the snake and the wheel.
There are two dimensions. Here is the unattainable
Truth of being, here, at the edge of lasting
and not lasting. Where the parallel lines intersect,
Time lifted above time by time.


Before the butterfly and its color, he, numb,
Formless, feels his fear, he, unattainable.
For what is a butterfly without Julia and Thaïs?
And what is Julia without a butterfly’s down
In her eyes, her hair, the smooth grain of her belly?
The kingdom, you say. We do not belong to it,
And still, in the same instant, we belong.
For how long will a nonsensical Poland
Where poets write of their emotions as if
They had a contract of limited liability
Suffice? I want not poetry, but a new diction,
Because only it might allow us to express
A new tenderness and save us from a law
That is not our law, from necessity
Which is not ours, even if we take its name.


From broken armor, from eyes stricken
By the command of time and taken back
Into the jurisdiction of mold and fermentation,
We draw our hope. Yes, to gather in an image
The furriness of the ******, the smell of rushes,
And the wrinkles of a hand holding a pitcher
From which wine trickles. Why cry out
That a sense of history destroys our substance
If it, precisely, is offered to our powers,
A muse of our gray-haired father, Herodotus,
As our arm and our instrument, though
It is not easy to use it, to strengthen it
So that, like a plumb with a pure gold center,
It will serve again to rescue human beings.


With such reflections I pushed a rowboat,
In the middle of the continent, through tangled stalks,
In my mind an image of the waves of two oceans
And the slow rocking of a guard-ship’s lantern.
Aware that at this moment I—and not only I—
Keep, as in a seed, the unnamed future.
And then a rhythmic appeal composed itself,
Alien to the moth with its whirring of silk:


O City, O Society, O Capital,
We have seen your steaming entrails.
You will no longer be what you have been.
Your songs no longer gratify our hearts.


Steel, cement, lime, law, ordinance,
We have worshipped you too long,
You were for us a goal and a defense,
Ours was your glory and your shame.


And where was the covenant broken?
Was it in the fires of war, the incandescent sky?
Or at twilight, as the towers fly past, when one looked
From the train across a desert of tracks

To a window out past the maneuvering locomotives
Where a girl examines her narrow, moody face
In a mirror and ties a ribbon to her hair
Pierced by the sparks of curling papers?


Those walls of yours are shadows of walls,
And your light disappeared forever.
Not the world's monument anymore, an oeuvre of your own
Stands beneath the sun in an altered space.


From stucco and mirrors, glass and paintings,
Tearing aside curtains of silver and cotton,
Comes man, naked and mortal,
Ready for truth, for speech, for wings.


Lament, Republic! Fall to your knees!
The loudspeaker’s spell is discontinued.
Listen! You can hear the clocks ticking.
Your death approaches by his hand.


An oar over my shoulder, I walked from the woods.
A porcupine scolded from the fork of a tree,
A horned owl, not changed by the century,
Not changed by place or time, looked down.
Bubo maximus, from the work of Linnaeus.


America for me has the pelt of a raccoon,
Its eyes are a raccoon’s black binoculars.
A chipmunk flickers in a litter of dry bark
Where ivy and vines tangle in the red soil
At the roots of an arcade of tulip trees.
America’s wings are the color of a cardinal,
Its beak is half-open and a mockingbird trills
From a leafy bush in the sweat-bath of the air.
Its line is the wavy body of a water moccasin
Crossing a river with a grass-like motion,
A rattlesnake, a rubble of dots and speckles,
Coiling under the bloom of a yucca plant.


America is for me the illustrated version
Of childhood tales about the heart of tanglewood,
Told in the evening to the spinning wheel’s hum.
And a violin, shivvying up a square dance,
Plays the fiddles of Lithuania or Flanders.
My dancing partner’s name is Birute Swenson.
She married a Swede, but was born in Kaunas.
Then from the night window a moth flies in
As big as the joined palms of the hands,
With a hue like the transparency of emeralds.


Why not establish a home in the neon heat
Of Nature? Is it not enough, the labor of autumn,
Of winter and spring and withering summer?
You will hear not one word spoken of the court
of Sigismund Augustus on the banks of the Delaware River.
The Dismissal of the Greek Envoys is not needed.
Herodotus will repose on his shelf, uncut.
And the rose only, a ****** symbol,
Symbol of love and superterrestrial beauty,
Will open a chasm deeper than your knowledge.
About it we find a song in a dream:


Inside the rose
Are houses of gold,
black isobars, streams of cold.
Dawn touches her finger to the edge of the Alps
And evening streams down to the bays of the sea.


If anyone dies inside the rose,
They carry him down the purple-red road
In a procession of clocks all wrapped in folds.
They light up the petals of grottoes with torches.
They bury him there where color begins,
At the source of the sighing,
Inside the rose.


Let names of months mean only what they mean.
Let the Aurora’s cannons be heard in none
Of them, or the tread of young rebels marching.
We might, at best, keep some kind of souvenir,
Preserved like a fan in a garret. Why not
Sit down at a rough country table and compose
An ode in the old manner, as in the old times
Chasing a beetle with the nib of our pen?
Revolving in oval loops of solar speed,
Couched in cauls of clay as in holy robes,
Dead men render love and war no heed,
Lulled in the ample womb of the full-tilt globe.

No spiritual Caesars are these dead;
They want no proud paternal kingdom come;
And when at last they blunder into bed
World-wrecked, they seek only oblivion.

Rolled round with goodly loam and cradled deep,
These bone shanks will not wake immaculate
To trumpet-toppling dawn of doomstruck day :
They loll forever in colossal sleep;
Nor can God's stern, shocked angels cry them up
From their fond, final, infamous decay.
From the very far dark, deep and beating black,
there’s ghost breath, and blue light after,
where I un-broke myself,
next morning.
I’m under, curled to a pupil
of the bed’s eye,
so I blink the dream out.

Asleep, plants are respiring,
and the loam of their dream
is lifting, thinner.
Then the real interrupts,
erupting as a day,
and shimmering back again.
Like the shore that shares it’s time
between sand and ocean.

A fully open cup
fills up in the moment,
wherein that infinite shrinks,
and the universe grows backwards,
backwards Into,
cold coffee and dog ends.

Strange that.
It's not a nocturne,
It's an echoe of a day,
It's a memory of a memory,
It's a remora on reality.

Strange that.
why when last night,
my ashtray was full of stars.
The clock infinitely deepens
the memory of the dream.

But it’s there,
only just there.
That maybe, perhaps, dreaming of us,
somewhere in the brightest time of the night,
somewhere in sleep,
in the inbetween spaces,
somewhere there,
we left ourselves in mermaid’s purses.
A poem about dreaming.

"He did not know whether it was Chuang Chou dreaming that he was a butterfly, or whether it was the butterfly dreaming that it was Chuang Chou."
Aye, but she?
  Your other sister and my other soul
  Grave Silence, lovelier
  Than the three loveliest maidens, what of her?
  Clio, not you,
  Not you, Calliope,
  Nor all your wanton line,
  Not Beauty’s perfect self shall comfort me
  For Silence once departed,
  For her the cool-tongued, her the tranquil-hearted,
  Whom evermore I follow wistfully,
Wandering Heaven and Earth and Hell and the four seasons through;
Thalia, not you,
Not you, Melpomene,
Not your incomparable feet, O thin Terpsichore,
I seek in this great hall,
But one more pale, more pensive, most beloved of you all.
I seek her from afar,
I come from temples where her altars are,
From groves that bear her name,
Noisy with stricken victims now and sacrificial flame,
And cymbals struck on high and strident faces
Obstreperous in her praise
They neither love nor know,
A goddess of gone days,
Departed long ago,
Abandoning the invaded shrines and fanes
Of her old sanctuary,
A deity obscure and legendary,
Of whom there now remains,
For sages to decipher and priests to garble,
Only and for a little while her letters wedged in marble,
Which even now, behold, the friendly mumbling rain erases,
And the inarticulate snow,
Leaving at last of her least signs and traces
None whatsoever, nor whither she is vanished from these places.
“She will love well,” I said,
“If love be of that heart inhabiter,
The flowers of the dead;
The red anemone that with no sound
Moves in the wind, and from another wound
That sprang, the heavily-sweet blue hyacinth,
That blossoms underground,
And sallow poppies, will be dear to her.
And will not Silence know
In the black shade of what obsidian steep
Stiffens the white narcissus numb with sleep?
(Seed which Demeter’s daughter bore from home,
Uptorn by desperate fingers long ago,
Reluctant even as she,
Undone Persephone,
And even as she set out again to grow
In twilight, in perdition’s lean and inauspicious loam).
She will love well,” I said,
“The flowers of the dead;
Where dark Persephone the winter round,
Uncomforted for home, uncomforted,
Lacking a sunny southern ***** in northern Sicily,
With sullen pupils focussed on a dream,
Stares on the stagnant stream
That moats the unequivocable battlements of Hell,
There, there will she be found,
She that is Beauty veiled from men and Music in a swound.”

“I long for Silence as they long for breath
Whose helpless nostrils drink the bitter sea;
What thing can be
So stout, what so redoubtable, in Death
What fury, what considerable rage, if only she,
Upon whose icy breast,
Unquestioned, uncaressed,
One time I lay,
And whom always I lack,
Even to this day,
Being by no means from that frigid ***** weaned away,
If only she therewith be given me back?”
I sought her down that dolorous labyrinth,
Wherein no shaft of sunlight ever fell,
And in among the bloodless everywhere
I sought her, but the air,
Breathed many times and spent,
Was fretful with a whispering discontent,
And questioning me, importuning me to tell
Some slightest tidings of the light of day they know no more,
Plucking my sleeve, the eager shades were with me where I went.
I paused at every grievous door,
And harked a moment, holding up my hand,—and for a space
A hush was on them, while they watched my face;
And then they fell a-whispering as before;
So that I smiled at them and left them, seeing she was not there.
I sought her, too,
Among the upper gods, although I knew
She was not like to be where feasting is,
Nor near to Heaven’s lord,
Being a thing abhorred
And shunned of him, although a child of his,
(Not yours, not yours; to you she owes not breath,
Mother of Song, being sown of Zeus upon a dream of Death).
Fearing to pass unvisited some place
And later learn, too late, how all the while,
With her still face,
She had been standing there and seen me pass, without a smile,
I sought her even to the sagging board whereat
The stout immortals sat;
But such a laughter shook the mighty hall
No one could hear me say:
Had she been seen upon the Hill that day?
And no one knew at all
How long I stood, or when at last I sighed and went away.

There is a garden lying in a lull
Between the mountains and the mountainous sea,
I know not where, but which a dream diurnal
Paints on my lids a moment till the hull
Be lifted from the kernel
And Slumber fed to me.
Your foot-print is not there, Mnemosene,
Though it would seem a ruined place and after
Your lichenous heart, being full
Of broken columns, caryatides
Thrown to the earth and fallen forward on their jointless knees,
And urns funereal altered into dust
Minuter than the ashes of the dead,
And Psyche’s lamp out of the earth up-******,
Dripping itself in marble wax on what was once the bed
Of Love, and his young body asleep, but now is dust instead.

There twists the bitter-sweet, the white wisteria
Fastens its fingers in the strangling wall,
And the wide crannies quicken with bright weeds;
There dumbly like a worm all day the still white orchid feeds;
But never an echo of your daughters’ laughter
Is there, nor any sign of you at all
Swells fungous from the rotten bough, grey mother of Pieria!

Only her shadow once upon a stone
I saw,—and, lo, the shadow and the garden, too, were gone.

I tell you you have done her body an ill,
You chatterers, you noisy crew!
She is not anywhere!
I sought her in deep Hell;
And through the world as well;
I thought of Heaven and I sought her there;
Above nor under ground
Is Silence to be found,
That was the very warp and woof of you,
Lovely before your songs began and after they were through!
Oh, say if on this hill
Somewhere your sister’s body lies in death,
So I may follow there, and make a wreath
Of my locked hands, that on her quiet breast
Shall lie till age has withered them!

                        (Ah, sweetly from the rest
I see
Turn and consider me
Compassionate Euterpe!)
“There is a gate beyond the gate of Death,
Beyond the gate of everlasting Life,
Beyond the gates of Heaven and Hell,” she saith,
“Whereon but to believe is horror!
Whereon to meditate engendereth
Even in deathless spirits such as I
A tumult in the breath,
A chilling of the inexhaustible blood
Even in my veins that never will be dry,
And in the austere, divine monotony
That is my being, the madness of an unaccustomed mood.

This is her province whom you lack and seek;
And seek her not elsewhere.
Hell is a thoroughfare
For pilgrims,—Herakles,
And he that loved Euridice too well,
Have walked therein; and many more than these;
And witnessed the desire and the despair
Of souls that passed reluctantly and sicken for the air;
You, too, have entered Hell,
And issued thence; but thence whereof I speak
None has returned;—for thither fury brings
Only the driven ghosts of them that flee before all things.
Oblivion is the name of this abode: and she is there.”

Oh, radiant Song!  Oh, gracious Memory!
Be long upon this height
I shall not climb again!
I know the way you mean,—the little night,
And the long empty day,—never to see
Again the angry light,
Or hear the hungry noises cry my brain!
Ah, but she,
Your other sister and my other soul,
She shall again be mine;
And I shall drink her from a silver bowl,
A chilly thin green wine,
Not bitter to the taste,
Not sweet,
Not of your press, oh, restless, clamorous nine,—
To foam beneath the frantic hoofs of mirth—
But savoring faintly of the acid earth,
And trod by pensive feet
From perfect clusters ripened without haste
Out of the urgent heat
In some clear glimmering vaulted twilight under the odorous vine.

Lift up your lyres!  Sing on!
But as for me, I seek your sister whither she is gone.
They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined—just as found:
His landmark is a kopje-crest
That breaks the veldt around:
And foreign constellations west
Each night above his mound.

Young Hodge the drummer never knew—
Fresh from his Wessex home—
The meaning of the broad Karoo,
The Bush, the dusty loam,
And why uprose to nightly view
Strange stars amid the gloam.

Yet portion of that unknown plain
Will Hodge for ever be;
His homely Northern breast and brain
Grow to some Southern tree,
And strange-eyed constellations reign
His stars eternally.
William A Poppen May 2014
No sickle bar churns
repetitiously clanging two notes
while grasshoppers and field mice
scurry to survive the blade

Now yellow bulldozers with humongous tires
roar like thunder in a rainstorm and
scrape away black loam leaving
clay as red as fresh beets

There is no funeral for the hay meadow
that is dead and put to rest
without a tombstone
I am open to suggestions for a better title.
the ecosystem that young children
wake up on Tuesdays
before dawn to try & save
treading muddy gray roadsides
spiriting away cigarette butts
faded azure beer cans
thin shopping bag ghosts
with tiny gloved hands—
this cracking frost-heave
pavement landscape
is my body

my body is the first gasping crocus
the first chanting insects,
the first murdered fieldmouse
after waking

is the first meal
of a young owl,
all fluff and down and bone,
high in a skinny birch tree
and still a-feared of foxes

my body is hot loam
is fevered asphalt
is a feeding garden
& my soul…

my soul
is the beating sun,
undecayed, though tarnished
by weeks
maybe months
behind curtains of Winter

my soul separate
from my body
for so long…
and yet

it could have dined with God
and married His Daughter
before anyone thought to go looking
Lora Lee Sep 2017
Within the salty swirl of foamy loam
where depths collide with rushing tides
mystical creatures' hearts do roam
their secret desires, they so carefully hide

But one day among crystalline shadows of light
in shades of turquoise and emerald,
two beauties emerge from dark into bright,
and in their meeting a shared destiny heralds.

One with a voluptuous feminine grace,
swaying hips, fullness of ******* and velvet thighs
auburn-haired, with lips made of cherry
and her mellifluous voice her treasured prize.
The other a magical alchemy
of shapely woman and magnificent fish
her violet eyes and iridescent smile
would fulfill Poseidon's deepest wish.
With gemlike scales and long, lithe limbs
a glow lights up her mystic aura
yet behind it a sadness and longing for love
hide behind the coral reef's gentle flora.

Chancing upon each other,
at first hazy shadows
in the blue-green light
the Siren and the Mermaid
started to discover
that they shared a similar plight.

"Are my eyes really seeing what I think?"
breathed the Siren into the salt
"I've never seen a more beautiful creature,
I thought the chances would be nought"
"My name is Nerine," said the Mermaid. "For a sea nymph I truly am
who has roamed the oceans day and night
feeling more empty the harder she swam"
"And I, am Ula," declared the Siren, in a voice like crystals , fine-tuned
"They say that my voice is as clear and smooth as a sapphire
which is why I am called a 'sea jewel.'"
The two embraced and began to talk, speaking of their pasts,
their present and future
and both realized that they wished for spiritual and ****** mates
to mend their hearts that were achingly sutured
"Oh darling," said Ula
"Let us journey to the land of the forests
for surely as they day I was born
we may find our blessing a-waiting us
in the spell of the wondrous Unicorn"

And so a sacred pact was made
as they swore unto each other
that their vigour would not fade
until they found their one-horned lover
and with knowing eyes,
pressed palm to palm
the beauties made their choice
Nerine would give up her tail for legs
and Ula her singing voice

Foreheads together, arms raised in light
their prayer was spun to sky
and suddenly, the two enchantresses
found themselves on land, quite dry

Excited, giggling like nymphets
they jumped and twirled in delight
and set off for the forest green
For their hearts they were ready to fight

I feel their presence first
a Fey being knows another Fey being.
The magic of the Otherworld,
announcing arrival long before seeing.

Into view they came walking along the forest path,
fluid movements hinting at an elemental source.
Chitter-chattering, the same way that finches laugh,
feet strong, steady, never straying from their course.
Two carefree girls, making trails through my Green,
I feel a purpose brooding, so sound out a call.
They stop, gracious, as if surprised to be seen,
whispering these words as on their knees they fall.

“We are Sea-sisters of the ocean,
we are here to follow our notion.
Searching the forest in gentle kind,
for the Unicorn we wish to find”.

Hark! Hear your wild Lord speak,
listen as your mind he frees,
leading you on a fantasy journey,
through valleys and betwixt the trees.
His stories weave a forest dreamscape,
a sylvan land of purest Green,
leading you by a cautious hand,
he'll show you things you've never seen.
Twisted hazel and the mighty oaks,
meadows and glades of sweetest light.
Streams that catch the moons cool rays
and secrets held within the night.
But the Unicorn, a law unto himself,
is one thing this Lord cannot show,
a creature to be sought for alone,
so off through the forest you must go.

Following deer tracks and mystical ways,
strange paths that turn and twist.
Deep into the woods the wanderers stray,
yearning the fabled Unicorn to exist.

Then it happened, inclement weather,
rain soaked the bracken and heather.
So Nerine and Ula, a decision made,
took to shelter in a canopied glade.
The irony was, to them, quite plain,
creatures of the sea hiding from rain.
The forest floor did start to steam,
creating an eerie warm sylvan dream.

And the girls so excited hugged and kissed
as a mighty beast emerged from the mist.
Slowly coalescing and so taking its form,
the raw masculine power of the Unicorn.

I had felt their presence as soon as they touched land,
emerging from the foaming waves, crawling hand in hand.
I heard the echoes on the ether, as they made their Sacrifice,
the resonance throughout feydom as they gladly pay the price.
I knew their wandering had led them a merry crooked dance,
and now they shivered before me, they think as if by chance.
But I am a law unto myself, the Unicorn of the trees,
roaming at will in the forest, showing myself to whom I please.
So these Maidens come from the sea where they were born,
two adventurous girls' brave quest to find the Unicorn.
Nerine and Ula looking awestruck statues in my presence,
rooted to the spot, rigid liked scared and paralysed pheasants.
Their deepest wish fulfilled, they marvel at my existence,
and I in turn marvel at their resilience and raw persistance.
But the Sacrifice means that the sea is no longer home,
tied well to the land, destined now to forever roam.
And what of love, their desires and lust to find a mate?
Well, for Nerine there is no choice, feelings came so late.
Parting from the Forest Lord, latent attraction she had felt,
and knew she would return his way, in his arms to melt.
The Siren Ula was very quiet, looking frightened and forlorn,
her greatest dream had always been to follow the Unicorn.
So now we walk together through glades beneath the Moon,
my primal urge keeps calling for her to sing a tune.

Sacrifice made, quest fulfilled, to her Lord, Nerine has gone.
Ula happily rides me, never once missing her Sirens Song.
And here, for now, is where this story sadly ends,
Nerine and Ula Sacrificed their gifts, forever sister-friends.


© Pagan Paul & Lora Lee (25/09/17)
Thank you, PP, for your time, flexibility and patience! This has been a lovely creative process. The end result was worth waitng for  :)
vircapio gale Mar 2013
below the eyelid-waves,
another iridescence grows.
currents blur the view in pentacles of light
to rhythms of the waning breath
--warping what an artist's vision yields,
the canvas of the mind stretched taut
in hues to coalesce the old and new,
absorb the intertidal volumes
with keener intake,
firmest diaphram to lift the pressure out
and sink into pelagic origins finally,
imbue myself poseidonal,
renew the birth of "love"

i am soaking with it,
open mouthed my cry is swallowed by the sea
i am a kracken echinoidea
******* up the floor
of life exchanging me with joy--
of jellyfish and snail,
burrowed shrimp, eyeful gobies,
clowns in their anemones--
my spires swirling clouds of green
to carpet spotted sky with verdant wake
and springing there,
from crest to crest,
a body undulating foam, it rolls voluptuous to swell
the bioluminescent instant... taken in the vast, full span of time...
to see her born here,
'mid dolphin song and symbol crash of tide
protuberance of shore awash in seeming pleasure of the rhythmic act--
alive the goddess comes, into her flesh--
to widen eyes,
re-establish channels to the heart
as if an aperture of cloud
were opening again,
to end an ancient overcast
and usher down to earth
the lance of starlight that would reach beyond the wrecks of ocean depth...

so too her visage strikes the darker corners of the heart
illumes all buried hopes
of bottom dwelling wretchedness,
and draws the tide above the line,
littoral tresses falling,
steep in pools calcareous and algal
worlds remaking worlds within the contours sexing there
imagined limestone in your many perfect forms,
marble softness swimming in my eyes
awaken appetites of newfound youth again.
the ochre lines that stripe along your curves
let hidden ripeness waft across my passion-eye
and with the grassy dunes i lie, doze in wrack at once--
as arches of my sight are pierced with rays of inner sun
my seabreath muse purveys, inhaled;
i would see you as you are entirely,
disperse myself into aesthetic mist,
become the spray on coastal loam
a sundog floating in and out of forms
become your mullusk lust;
sipuncula embrace of benthic dust
and slip along the textures
of your progenation's flood--
emerge as one and many lives
becoming me, this vision
in your suds, your divination's scree
--the salty rooting of the coastal trees,
the sand, the wave and moon
upon the dancing kelp forestal out at sea...
shining in the winking foam and symbiota sand.
crevice and the length of dyads simulating one,
phallus, *****, and none--
egg and **** bed..
diatoms  flourishing  again...
in you i am the ****** my own gestation obviates
i am effluxion of all lives in balance
on an ever-swaying crestline of irruptive suds--
diaphanous array upon your porous *****'s heave
weaving in and out, continuing to blur
in riven sight and empty heart to fill
the blood containing rapid urgency
to feed, to taste and seek its nourish-all
when after having given up the possibilities of love
and having worn the incompleteness raw,
the obverse affirmation cracks the sky...
at last they burst surreal into the now
and lacking practice courting glory
stumble over habits long attuned to falsities unveiled
and drawn into your undertow,
all cravings wrung into the novelty of merging without end--
arrive, horizonal, and echo from the dawn of being more than one




.
littoral: of or relating to the shore
wrack: masses of dried seaweed, kelp found on the beach
sipuncula: marine worms
benthic: relating to the bottom of a sea or lake or to the organisms that live there
diatoms: algae or phytoplankton essential to ecosystems
effluxion: a flowing outward
Brian Oarr Mar 2012
I am the shy man
you see at 6 AM in Starbucks
umbrella cocked under my left arm like a guidon,
formless and murky as the latte in my cup,
neufchatel slathered on the bageled
cusp of a new day, one bus token removed
from yesterday's office, aspiring
toward tomorrow's and the next day's sunrise,
convinced of nothing printed
in splashy headlines of USA Today.

I am the strong man
who smiles at the concept
of growing *******, watching women
surrender their eggs, take on new testicles.
I would eagerly belly
your child, assume your burden,
let you envelope me with velvet
***, dream submissive destiny
in the absence of Bodhisattva's caress,
if delicious debauchery empowers you.

I am a Boy Toy on the half-shell,
a nascent embryo filled with dread
of wombs which recently had bound me.
You offer deliverance. I am seed
in your fertile loam-brown soil.
I germinate sinking roots in your mind,
fully conscious I will flower,
a stubborn hybrid planted for your pleasure.
I am a pilgrim without a rock,
the twilight sky beneath your periwinkled heavens.
thomas Nov 2015
The late afternoon sun shines amber rays upon a silent grasshopper.
A profound event is under way.

In the woodland's soft loam, mama grasshopper has planted her eggs, the ****** of a brief, worthwhile life.  Having evaded field mice, mantids, lizards, snakes, and birds, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED - almost.

In this little patch of sunlight, it is her time to "donate" to Mother Ecosystem.  It's an honor she shares with the butterflies, bees, squirrels, gnats, toads, termites, foxes, deer, hawks, robins, ants - and let us not leave out microbes and fungi.

Now sugar ants have discovered her and are dismantling, tugging, dragging her away in parts, reminiscent of an automobile salvage.  

Wayward workers stumble into ant lions' pits and become meals themselves.

The old, hollow white oak log, once mighty King of the Forest, is prostrate and bare.  Yet, with its last molecule, it continues giving.  Within its hollow, a disparate multitude is moving about, hiding, hunting, chewing, defecating, sleeping, reproducing and dying. 

In decomposition, the oak's material essence  melds back into the earth as nature's great Round River,*  an incomprehensibly slow, invisible tide.

It is late spring and waves of woodland sounds are pulsing through the community.  Cicadas shrill chorus fills the air. Distant flocks of song sparrows and warblers combine in a cloud of chirps. Above it all is the sharp tapping of a  woodpecker.

A charred fence post has become prime real estate:  a coveted,grand perch for phoebes and jays, and for a fence lizard, an elite high rise station for sunbathing and attracting a mate.  Mating azure damselflies dance in the air above the lizard.  They alight for a moment - snatched!  Above, a circling red-tail hawk eyes the lizard.

Across a draw stands an abandoned farm, tragic end result of disrespect for the land.  Goodbye sweet, precious loam, created over millennia.  You are being carried away with each rain.  Where, on where are you going?  
To brooks, rivers and the sea.

On a bleak ridge, a few oak tree survivors huddle together as they endure relentless grazing.  This parcel of land has nothing to offer anymore.  If you were to listen to the wind, you might hear its whispers of dispair.

But here, in this vibrant, buzzing woodland community where the land breathes life, there is home, food and an ideal place for all.

*  Words coined by Aldo Leopold, pioneer American ecologist, conservationist, and educator
I

In my beginning is my end. In succession
Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended,
Are removed, destroyed, restored, or in their place
Is an open field, or a factory, or a by-pass.
Old stone to new building, old timber to new fires,
Old fires to ashes, and ashes to the earth
Which is already flesh, fur and faeces,
Bone of man and beast, cornstalk and leaf.
Houses live and die: there is a time for building
And a time for living and for generation
And a time for the wind to break the loosened pane
And to shake the wainscot where the field-mouse trots
And to shake the tattered arras woven with a silent motto.

In my beginning is my end. Now the light falls
Across the open field, leaving the deep lane
Shuttered with branches, dark in the afternoon,
Where you lean against a bank while a van passes,
And the deep lane insists on the direction
Into the village, in the electric heat
Hypnotised. In a warm haze the sultry light
Is absorbed, not refracted, by grey stone.
The dahlias sleep in the empty silence.
Wait for the early owl.

                                    In that open field
If you do not come too close, if you do not come too close,
On a summer midnight, you can hear the music
Of the weak pipe and the little drum
And see them dancing around the bonfire
The association of man and woman
In daunsinge, signifying matrimonie—
A dignified and commodiois sacrament.
Two and two, necessarye coniunction,
Holding eche other by the hand or the arm
Whiche betokeneth concorde. Round and round the fire
Leaping through the flames, or joined in circles,
Rustically solemn or in rustic laughter
Lifting heavy feet in clumsy shoes,
Earth feet, loam feet, lifted in country mirth
Mirth of those long since under earth
Nourishing the corn. Keeping time,
Keeping the rhythm in their dancing
As in their living in the living seasons
The time of the seasons and the constellations
The time of milking and the time of harvest
The time of the coupling of man and woman
And that of beasts. Feet rising and falling.
Eating and drinking. Dung and death.

Dawn points, and another day
Prepares for heat and silence. Out at sea the dawn wind
Wrinkles and slides. I am here
Or there, or elsewhere. In my beginning.

II

What is the late November doing
With the disturbance of the spring
And creatures of the summer heat,
And snowdrops writhing under feet
And hollyhocks that aim too high
Red into grey and tumble down
Late roses filled with early snow?
Thunder rolled by the rolling stars
Simulates triumphal cars
Deployed in constellated wars
Scorpion fights against the Sun
Until the Sun and Moon go down
Comets weep and Leonids fly
Hunt the heavens and the plains
Whirled in a vortex that shall bring
The world to that destructive fire
Which burns before the ice-cap reigns.

That was a way of putting it—not very satisfactory:
A periphrastic study in a worn-out poetical fashion,
Leaving one still with the intolerable wrestle
With words and meanings. The poetry does not matter.
It was not (to start again) what one had expected.
What was to be the value of the long looked forward to,
Long hoped for calm, the autumnal serenity
And the wisdom of age? Had they deceived us
Or deceived themselves, the quiet-voiced elders,
Bequeathing us merely a receipt for deceit?
The serenity only a deliberate hebetude,
The wisdom only the knowledge of dead secrets
Useless in the darkness into which they peered
Or from which they turned their eyes. There is, it seems to us,
At best, only a limited value
In the knowledge derived from experience.
The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been. We are only undeceived
Of that which, deceiving, could no longer harm.
In the middle, not only in the middle of the way
But all the way, in a dark wood, in a bramble,
On the edge of a grimpen, where is no secure foothold,
And menaced by monsters, fancy lights,
Risking enchantment. Do not let me hear
Of the wisdom of old men, but rather of their folly,
Their fear of fear and frenzy, their fear of possession,
Of belonging to another, or to others, or to God.
The only wisdom we can hope to acquire
Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.

The houses are all gone under the sea.

The dancers are all gone under the hill.

III

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,
The captains, merchant bankers, eminent men of letters,
The generous patrons of art, the statesmen and the rulers,
Distinguished civil servants, chairmen of many committees,
Industrial lords and petty contractors, all go into the dark,
And dark the Sun and Moon, and the Almanach de Gotha
And the Stock Exchange Gazette, the Directory of Directors,
And cold the sense and lost the motive of action.
And we all go with them, into the silent funeral,
Nobody’s funeral, for there is no one to bury.
I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing façade are all being rolled away—
Or as, when an underground train, in the tube, stops too long between stations
And the conversation rises and slowly fades into silence
And you see behind every face the mental emptiness deepen
Leaving only the growing terror of nothing to think about;
Or when, under ether, the mind is conscious but conscious of nothing—
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
Whisper of running streams, and winter lightning.
The wild thyme unseen and the wild strawberry,
The laughter in the garden, echoed ecstasy
Not lost, but requiring, pointing to the agony
Of death and birth.

                              You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
    You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
    You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
    You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
    You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

IV

The wounded surgeon plies the steel
That questions the distempered part;
Beneath the bleeding hands we feel
The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.

Our only health is the disease
If we obey the dying nurse
Whose constant care is not to please
But to remind of our, and Adam’s curse,
And that, to be restored, our sickness must grow worse.

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.

The chill ascends from feet to knees,
The fever sings in mental wires.
If to be warmed, then I must freeze
And quake in frigid purgatorial fires
Of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars.

The dripping blood our only drink,
The ****** flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood—
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.

V

So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years—
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate—but there is no competition—
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

    Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.
There is a time for the evening under starlight,
A time for the evening under lamplight
(The evening with the photograph album).
Love is most nearly itself
When here and now cease to matter.
Old men ought to be explorers
Here or there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
Mary McCray Apr 2013
Dead men walking do not know
how a ticking clock impersonates a metronome
endlessly blathering on about Michelangelo
until a buzzer shakes up a heart in Rome.

How a ticking clock impersonates a metronome,
tucking in pieces and smoothing out sheets,
until a buzzer shakes up the dogs of home,
biting down all the same bones the under-worm eats.

Tucking in pieces and smoothing out sheets,
the grubs of this world push out the loam,
biting down the same bones the under-worm eats.
The only walls of a whispering dome

where the grubs of this world pull out the loam
endlessly blathering on about Michelangelo.
The lonely halls where the whispering roam,
dead men walking do not know.
Knee deep in forms this week from The Ode Less Traveled.
Janette Jan 2013
So fine,
the slender votive silence
of palms, open
to the torn banners of rain,
so tender,
such surrender
in the gesture of hands...

You pour so much
of your red earth,
to soothe and loosen
the tongue from its leather tomb
and adorn me
with a lighter burden,
too much mine, at one
with the dark, lavish earth
in all its sorrow, spun
of the sleek commotion of silk
and vanilla linens... I leaned
into the ******* of my wings,
honed from those muscular
fairy-tale dreams...

My mouth,
learned solely on a valentine's
shiny white kiss of hemlock,
humming into the cells
of the spellbound body, quelled
by vigilance, your lips
teach me now, how to go softly
over the red earth of dahlias,
in all their everlastings, your hands
deep in the soil, reap...

The resonating grail of memory,
kept in its rich loam
and coals spread over
my mouth of red, red clay,
so swells its golden hue
of rose and rhododendron,
too much mine, rising
its fevers in the fawn brown
of eyes, closed ...

Over this long,
shuddering quiet,
you come
in all your calico
to calm
the votive silence
of palms, cupped
in the earth of your hands,
so much mine....

— The End —