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traces of being Aug 2016
.
Honeybees, birds and blooms unfurl
an enchanting spell
when spring comes by here

Memories waft 'neath burled rustic trellis
where flowered tendrils grasp fleshly
like the newness a love once tenderly embraced

Songbirds in your garden sing
of swooning memories rapture.., of velvet eyes,  
the fragrant spicy nectar hidden within her walls                            

A song of honeyed bees'  sweetest stinger,
and the poignant ***** of intoxicating surrender
lingers, bemused spellbound by a thorny heirloom rose

Sharp beauty beloved like a blameless trap
caught blissfully, breathlessly inbetween
all you wish for and all your wanton needs

Desire 's wellspring an unspoken passion
coquet swollen buds adorn blossoming,
sensual, untamed carnal grace

A picture perfect natural beauty;
sunlit chassé … feathered brush, demure blush
dancing with basket of lace petal’d perfume

For to colour a heart's blank pages
rapt in the poesy a joyous ecstasy ..,
enrapture with rainbow's luscious taste

What seems lost is but a tender vestige unfound
a passing moments innocence lost
to steal away like rumors of gold

These silent reveries seep from a hole in my heart,  
as if ripe strawberries of yore, gently weeping sweetness
when pricked by a thorny rose  

The ides of spring do still bleed a timeless ache
onto the page ... sweet naivety stung
by a mesmerizing dart to the heart

Songbirds in your garden do sing
of sweetest things immersed in nature's nectar
blissful memories sleeping in the petals of a rose




Sung to the wind by a song sparrow — ♪ ♫...✩ ☼✩ ✩☺✩
If only now in dreams of yore
a sky full of stars shine brighter,
a garden of flowers fragrance more pungent,
and songbirds in your garden from yesteryear
sing tantalizingly more beautiful ...,
when you were near

.
Isilwen Grier Aug 2013
We were reapers in a past life
I was the cape and you were the scythe
We pulled the wool over their eyes
And made their dreams death in disguise

Wrapped up lilies reaching for shade,
a familiar tragedy,
even they cannot bear the sun's gaze

Wretched.
Reaching for the wool and the knife
In the heaven-less night

Where the shades of confessions danced,
we walked
But, I was not there to get them to talk
The Reverend and the pew
Never did what they were meant to

Tangled lilies reluctantly reaching for shade
Ashamed to accept the slight--decaying hope
and disparate daydreams
Reaching for the cape and the scythe
For the heaven-less sight

Here lies a city
Of flowers-the lilies
In the dark its clarity profoundly makes
A sunlit city dreary

And, we were reapers in our last life
I, your loveless lover,
you with another spouse
Drove me into despair, dragging
the night-sky into our love
made-up of lies

So, we perfunctorily made death
a heaven-less guise
Death, made out of dreams and lies

Be careful, of love's cape and scythe,
If you're to keep your life.

*Sui Caedere translated from Latin, "of oneself ****"
" Suicide in a Sunlit City."
Em Glass Apr 2013
it wasn't snowing yet, but they'd told us it would.
probably I said something infantile, about how
I could smell it, the frostiness of snowflakes in the
air, because you smiled that knowing smile of yours,
like you were an adult and i was a child and you
didn't have the heart to take my innocence away.

that look always made my heart smile, sadly, and
it also drove me up a wall, partly because it made
me want to hug you close and pity you the
burden of assumed moral superiority, and whisper
that you, too were a child. but mostly because you
were right— I clung to my naiveté while you, you
had already had the good sense to push it away.
it followed you around with sad puppy eyes, but
you knew it and you kept it at arm's length.
you brave, brave soul.

when it did start to snow I wasn't surprised. you
were. you didn't say anything. we were in
a deserted school hallway, listening, removed
from the other kids' cries. we were
delighted too, but the others wanted to run home
early, and we knew the definition
of home better than they. and I can speak only for
myself but it seemed we both wanted only to stay
forever side by side, tucked away in our corner,
me reveling in the softness of love and friendship
and winter, you trying to be there with me but having
trouble leaving your mind, where that sad-eyed
puppy snapped at your heels. it whimpered
but you held your own.

and slowly, we built up moments like this one.
we wallowed in each other and in the coziness
of cloudy days. we read good poetry and
heard good music and took photographs as we
discussed life from our  softer world.
there were moments of such pure white happiness
that they came full circle to being sad,
simply because I knew I would never be that
happy again, and I was not wrong, and I didn't
want to be. and we had
sad moments, too, never ever think I am not
happy to be sad with you.

and slowly, too, your innocence knew its
defeat, and sat obediently at your feet,
and we shared things.
but I was a child, and a weak one at that, and
God knew I was not as strong as you so she
gave me no great suffering to speak of, to
share with you. no way to reciprocate the
vulnerability you gave, and that in
itself was suffering for me.

I regret that I was not good at saying things.
that while
you had to be your own adult and push childhood
away, I clung hopelessly to mine as
I discovered me and watched it slip
from my small hands.

among the plethora of reasons I can give for
bitterly hating sunny days is the
way the sun slanted through the window and lit
up your eyes and swilled particles around
your face like fairy dust on the day you reached
out and pulled my lanyard over your own neck.
look, you said, content. almost proud.
I'm wearing a bit of you around my
neck,
and you wove it through your
sunlit fingers, eyes bright. you tugged on it,
lightly. that's what love does, it strangles
you. and we all want it.


and I gasped at the way that word sounded,
so harsh in such beautiful sunlight on such
a soft face. but I don't want to strangle
you
. I said that. thoughtlessly,
instinctively. I regret it every day. in that regard,
you gave me a strength, but it's no german shepherd—
you are so **** strong.

when your ache tugged and tugged at you,
tore you from reality, or brought you closer to it,
it slipped its finger into that lanyard knot. loosened it.
I could have reached out right then, as you had when you
pulled the sun-soaked string over your head, and
tightened it. tightened us. been a friend.

I didn't tug the knot. if you run.
when you run,
I know that two grown dogs
will follow after you, blocked
from the sun by your receding shadow.
Vicki Kralapp Aug 2012
When I was just a child I went searching for my world,
one of sunlit days, adventure and beauty left unfurled.
Though these days were made to be the a key to set me free
I couldn’t have foreseen the cost that all of this would be.

As I look back on these memories I hoped to have it all,
I believed that love would listen and come answering my call.
I was certain love would find me as I filled my life with song.
Now I’d turn in all these moments for just the promise to belong.

At Oktoberfest with beer halls and the sound of German songs.
The mix of beer and smells of nuts floating through the noisy throngs.
Climbing  on the Untersberg up on Alpines mystic peaks
and attending cocktail parties with Gemany’s elite.

Climbing falls in Ocho Rios with some old and new found friends,
drinking coffee, eating lobster, and enjoying without end.
Driving through the darkened backroads from a day at Negril’s beach,
in a cab with songs of love and Marley counting down the beat.  

In Cancun lagoons were vivid and alive with swarming life,
seas of sergeant majors, parrotfish, and barracuda thrive.
in the Caymans packs of stingrays had become our closest friends,
as we played among them in  a world where the beauty never ends.

The fireworks over Sydney lit the bicentennial sky
while I look upon that moment now with disbelieving eyes.
Waves from the Prince of England as he sat by princess Di
when I left the land down under, well I felt like I would die.

As I watched the sun go down over Uluru’s gold peak,
and the sun rise over Daintree as we picked our morning feast.
digging oysters off the rocks by Nelligan’s foreshores,
I was certain with my best friend that I couldn’t want for more.

Remembering the ocean as I snorkeled though it brief,
in Queensland off the shore on Australia’s barrier reef.
The beauty in Belize nearly took my breath away,
and it seemed to me that God had made this gorgeous land to play.

Camping in the South Pacific beneath the skies and palms.
In the hills of South Dakota we went panning in the calm.
With the Eiffel tower, Louvre and Twilleries rounding out another day
And the visit to the gardens of Monet just made me cry.

It’s surreal to think of all the things I’ve done throughout this life,
and the blessings that I’ve gotten seem enough to make things right.
But the simplest adventure and the one I longed for most
was a man that I could count on and would love and hold me close.
All poems are copy written and sole property of Vicki Kralapp.
Praggya Joshi Apr 2018
Remember that old uphill trail
We used to meander along
With matching footsteps
Under the sunlit canopy of leaves
Carving words for each other
On the bark of aged trees
Who may have known
what would become of us
But nevertheless smiled
acted as a blank canvas instead
And watched the moments
Filled with playful laughter
Peachy smiles
Lingering gaze
Warm caress
Unfold lazily between us
The winds of time
May have blown us miles apart
Our footprints may have long eroded
That sunlit canopy may have withered
And we may walk that trail
Only in our dreams
But those words are yet to fade
they were the voice of our soul
Etched into the lap of nature
And as I run my fingers along its rugged edges
I reminisce about you
And hope that wherever you are
You are thinking about me too
THE HOUSE OF DUST
A Symphony

BY
CONRAD AIKEN

To Jessie

NOTE

. . . Parts of this poem have been printed in "The North American
Review, Others, Poetry, Youth, Coterie, The Yale Review". . . . I am
indebted to Lafcadio Hearn for the episode called "The Screen Maiden"
in Part II.


     This text comes from the source available at
     Project Gutenberg, originally prepared by Judy Boss
     of Omaha, NE.
    
THE HOUSE OF DUST


PART I.


I.

The sun goes down in a cold pale flare of light.
The trees grow dark: the shadows lean to the east:
And lights wink out through the windows, one by one.
A clamor of frosty sirens mourns at the night.
Pale slate-grey clouds whirl up from the sunken sun.

And the wandering one, the inquisitive dreamer of dreams,
The eternal asker of answers, stands in the street,
And lifts his palms for the first cold ghost of rain.
The purple lights leap down the hill before him.
The gorgeous night has begun again.

'I will ask them all, I will ask them all their dreams,
I will hold my light above them and seek their faces.
I will hear them whisper, invisible in their veins . . .'
The eternal asker of answers becomes as the darkness,
Or as a wind blown over a myriad forest,
Or as the numberless voices of long-drawn rains.

We hear him and take him among us, like a wind of music,
Like the ghost of a music we have somewhere heard;
We crowd through the streets in a dazzle of pallid lamplight,
We pour in a sinister wave, ascend a stair,
With laughter and cry, and word upon murmured word;
We flow, we descend, we turn . . . and the eternal dreamer
Moves among us like light, like evening air . . .

Good-night!  Good-night!  Good-night!  We go our ways,
The rain runs over the pavement before our feet,
The cold rain falls, the rain sings.
We walk, we run, we ride.  We turn our faces
To what the eternal evening brings.

Our hands are hot and raw with the stones we have laid,
We have built a tower of stone high into the sky,
We have built a city of towers.

Our hands are light, they are singing with emptiness.
Our souls are light; they have shaken a burden of hours . . .
What did we build it for?  Was it all a dream? . . .
Ghostly above us in lamplight the towers gleam . . .
And after a while they will fall to dust and rain;
Or else we will tear them down with impatient hands;
And hew rock out of the earth, and build them again.


II.

One, from his high bright window in a tower,
Leans out, as evening falls,
And sees the advancing curtain of the shower
Splashing its silver on roofs and walls:
Sees how, swift as a shadow, it crosses the city,
And murmurs beyond far walls to the sea,
Leaving a glimmer of water in the dark canyons,
And silver falling from eave and tree.

One, from his high bright window, looking down,
Peers like a dreamer over the rain-bright town,
And thinks its towers are like a dream.
The western windows flame in the sun's last flare,
Pale roofs begin to gleam.

Looking down from a window high in a wall
He sees us all;
Lifting our pallid faces towards the rain,
Searching the sky, and going our ways again,
Standing in doorways, waiting under the trees . . .
There, in the high bright window he dreams, and sees
What we are blind to,-we who mass and crowd
From wall to wall in the darkening of a cloud.

The gulls drift slowly above the city of towers,
Over the roofs to the darkening sea they fly;
Night falls swiftly on an evening of rain.
The yellow lamps wink one by one again.
The towers reach higher and blacker against the sky.


III.

One, where the pale sea foamed at the yellow sand,
With wave upon slowly shattering wave,
Turned to the city of towers as evening fell;
And slowly walked by the darkening road toward it;
And saw how the towers darkened against the sky;
And across the distance heard the toll of a bell.

Along the darkening road he hurried alone,
With his eyes cast down,
And thought how the streets were hoarse with a tide of people,
With clamor of voices, and numberless faces . . .
And it seemed to him, of a sudden, that he would drown
Here in the quiet of evening air,
These empty and voiceless places . . .
And he hurried towards the city, to enter there.

Along the darkening road, between tall trees
That made a sinister whisper, loudly he walked.
Behind him, sea-gulls dipped over long grey seas.
Before him, numberless lovers smiled and talked.
And death was observed with sudden cries,
And birth with laughter and pain.
And the trees grew taller and blacker against the skies
And night came down again.


IV.

Up high black walls, up sombre terraces,
Clinging like luminous birds to the sides of cliffs,
The yellow lights went climbing towards the sky.
From high black walls, gleaming vaguely with rain,
Each yellow light looked down like a golden eye.

They trembled from coign to coign, and tower to tower,
Along high terraces quicker than dream they flew.
And some of them steadily glowed, and some soon vanished,
And some strange shadows threw.

And behind them all the ghosts of thoughts went moving,
Restlessly moving in each lamplit room,
From chair to mirror, from mirror to fire;
From some, the light was scarcely more than a gloom:
From some, a dazzling desire.

And there was one, beneath black eaves, who thought,
Combing with lifted arms her golden hair,
Of the lover who hurried towards her through the night;
And there was one who dreamed of a sudden death
As she blew out her light.

And there was one who turned from clamoring streets,
And walked in lamplit gardens among black trees,
And looked at the windy sky,
And thought with terror how stones and roots would freeze
And birds in the dead boughs cry . . .

And she hurried back, as snow fell, mixed with rain,
To mingle among the crowds again,
To jostle beneath blue lamps along the street;
And lost herself in the warm bright coiling dream,
With a sound of murmuring voices and shuffling feet.

And one, from his high bright window looking down
On luminous chasms that cleft the basalt town,
Hearing a sea-like murmur rise,
Desired to leave his dream, descend from the tower,
And drown in waves of shouts and laughter and cries.


V.

The snow floats down upon us, mingled with rain . . .
It eddies around pale lilac lamps, and falls
Down golden-windowed walls.
We were all born of flesh, in a flare of pain,
We do not remember the red roots whence we rose,
But we know that we rose and walked, that after a while
We shall lie down again.

The snow floats down upon us, we turn, we turn,
Through gorges filled with light we sound and flow . . .
One is struck down and hurt, we crowd about him,
We bear him away, gaze after his listless body;
But whether he lives or dies we do not know.

One of us sings in the street, and we listen to him;
The words ring over us like vague bells of sorrow.
He sings of a house he lived in long ago.
It is strange; this house of dust was the house I lived in;
The house you lived in, the house that all of us know.
And coiling slowly about him, and laughing at him,
And throwing him pennies, we bear away
A mournful echo of other times and places,
And follow a dream . . . a dream that will not stay.

Down long broad flights of lamplit stairs we flow;
Noisy, in scattered waves, crowding and shouting;
In broken slow cascades.
The gardens extend before us . . .  We spread out swiftly;
Trees are above us, and darkness.  The canyon fades . . .

And we recall, with a gleaming stab of sadness,
Vaguely and incoherently, some dream
Of a world we came from, a world of sun-blue hills . . .
A black wood whispers around us, green eyes gleam;
Someone cries in the forest, and someone kills.

We flow to the east, to the white-lined shivering sea;
We reach to the west, where the whirling sun went down;
We close our eyes to music in bright cafees.
We diverge from clamorous streets to streets that are silent.
We loaf where the wind-spilled fountain plays.

And, growing tired, we turn aside at last,
Remember our secret selves, seek out our towers,
Lay weary hands on the banisters, and climb;
Climbing, each, to his little four-square dream
Of love or lust or beauty or death or crime.


VI.

Over the darkened city, the city of towers,
The city of a thousand gates,
Over the gleaming terraced roofs, the huddled towers,
Over a somnolent whisper of loves and hates,
The slow wind flows, drearily streams and falls,
With a mournful sound down rain-dark walls.
On one side purples the lustrous dusk of the sea,
And dreams in white at the city's feet;
On one side sleep the plains, with heaped-up hills.
Oaks and beeches whisper in rings about it.
Above the trees are towers where dread bells beat.

The fisherman draws his streaming net from the sea
And sails toward the far-off city, that seems
Like one vague tower.
The dark bow plunges to foam on blue-black waves,
And shrill rain seethes like a ghostly music about him
In a quiet shower.

Rain with a shrill sings on the lapsing waves;
Rain thrills over the roofs again;
Like a shadow of shifting silver it crosses the city;
The lamps in the streets are streamed with rain;
And sparrows complain beneath deep eaves,
And among whirled leaves
The sea-gulls, blowing from tower to lower tower,
From wall to remoter wall,
Skim with the driven rain to the rising sea-sound
And close grey wings and fall . . .

. . . Hearing great rain above me, I now remember
A girl who stood by the door and shut her eyes:
Her pale cheeks glistened with rain, she stood and shivered.
Into a forest of silver she vanished slowly . . .
Voices about me rise . . .

Voices clear and silvery, voices of raindrops,-
'We struck with silver claws, we struck her down.
We are the ghosts of the singing furies . . . '
A chorus of elfin voices blowing about me
Weaves to a babel of sound.  Each cries a secret.
I run among them, reach out vain hands, and drown.

'I am the one who stood beside you and smiled,
Thinking your face so strangely young . . . '
'I am the one who loved you but did not dare.'
'I am the one you followed through crowded streets,
The one who escaped you, the one with red-gleamed hair.'

'I am the one you saw to-day, who fell
Senseless before you, hearing a certain bell:
A bell that broke great memories in my brain.'
'I am the one who passed unnoticed before you,
Invisible, in a cloud of secret pain.'

'I am the one who suddenly cried, beholding
The face of a certain man on the dazzling screen.
They wrote me that he was dead.  It was long ago.
I walked in the streets for a long while, hearing nothing,
And returned to see it again.  And it was so.'


Weave, weave, weave, you streaks of rain!
I am dissolved and woven again . . .
Thousands of faces rise and vanish before me.
Thousands of voices weave in the rain.

'I am the one who rode beside you, blinking
At a dazzle of golden lights.
Tempests of music swept me: I was thinking
Of the gorgeous promise of certain nights:
Of the woman who suddenly smiled at me this day,
Smiled in a certain delicious sidelong way,
And turned, as she reached the door,
To smile once more . . .
Her hands are whiter than snow on midnight water.
Her throat is golden and full of golden laughter,
Her eyes are strange as the stealth of the moon
On a night in June . . .
She runs among whistling leaves; I hurry after;
She dances in dreams over white-waved water;
Her body is white and fragrant and cool,
Magnolia petals that float on a white-starred pool . . .
I have dreamed of her, dreaming for many nights
Of a broken music and golden lights,
Of broken webs of silver, heavily falling
Between my hands and their white desire:
And dark-leaved boughs, edged with a golden radiance,
Dipping to screen a fire . . .
I dream that I walk with her beneath high trees,
But as I lean to kiss her face,
She is blown aloft on wind, I catch at leaves,
And run in a moonless place;
And I hear a crashing of terrible rocks flung down,
And shattering trees and cracking walls,
And a net of intense white flame roars over the town,
And someone cries; and darkness falls . . .
But now she has leaned and smiled at me,
My veins are afire with music,
Her eyes have kissed me, my body is turned to light;
I shall dream to her secret heart tonight . . . '

He rises and moves away, he says no word,
He folds his evening paper and turns away;
I rush through the dark with rows of lamplit faces;
Fire bells peal, and some of us turn to listen,
And some sit motionless in their accustomed places.

Cold rain lashes the car-roof, scurries in gusts,
Streams down the windows in waves and ripples of lustre;
The lamps in the streets are distorted and strange.
Someone takes his watch from his pocket and yawns.
One peers out in the night for the place to change.

Rain . . . rain . . . rain . . . we are buried in rain,
It will rain forever, the swift wheels hiss through water,
Pale sheets of water gleam in the windy street.
The pealing of bells is lost in a drive of rain-drops.
Remote and hurried the great bells beat.

'I am the one whom life so shrewdly betrayed,
Misfortune dogs me, it always hunted me down.
And to-day the woman I love lies dead.
I gave her roses, a ring with opals;
These hands have touched her head.

'I bound her to me in all soft ways,
I bound her to me in a net of days,
Yet now she has gone in silence and said no word.
How can we face these dazzling things, I ask you?
There is no use: we cry: and are not heard.

'They cover a body with roses . . . I shall not see it . . .
Must one return to the lifeless walls of a city
Whose soul is charred by fire? . . . '
His eyes are closed, his lips press tightly together.
Wheels hiss beneath us.  He yields us our desire.

'No, do not stare so-he is weak with grief,
He cannot face you, he turns his eyes aside;
He is confused with pain.
I suffered this.  I know.  It was long ago . . .
He closes his eyes and drowns in death again.'

The wind hurls blows at the rain-starred glistening windows,
The wind shrills down from the half-seen walls.
We flow on the mournful wind in a dream of dying;
And at last a silence falls.


VII.

Midnight; bells toll, and along the cloud-high towers
The golden lights go out . . .
The yellow windows darken, the shades are drawn,
In thousands of rooms we sleep, we await the dawn,
We lie face down, we dream,
We cry aloud with terror, half rise, or seem
To stare at the ceiling or walls . . .
Midnight . . . the last of shattering bell-notes falls.
A rush of silence whirls over the cloud-high towers,
A vortex of soundless hours.

'The bells have just struck twelve: I should be sleeping.
But I cannot delay any longer to write and tell you.
The woman is dead.
She died-you know the way.  Just as we planned.
Smiling, with open sunlit eyes.
Smiling upon the outstretched fatal hand . . .'

He folds his letter, steps softly down the stairs.
The doors are closed and silent.  A gas-jet flares.
His shadow disturbs a shadow of balustrades.
The door swings shut behind.  Night roars above him.
Into the night he fades.

Wind; wind; wind; carving the walls;
Blowing the water that gleams in the street;
Blowing the rain, the sleet.
In the dark alley, an old tree cracks and falls,
Oak-boughs moan in the haunted air;
Lamps blow down with a crash and ****** of glass . . .
Darkness whistles . . . Wild hours pass . . .

And those whom sleep eludes lie wide-eyed, hearing
Above their heads a goblin night go by;
Children are waked, and cry,
The young girl hears the roar in her sleep, and dreams
That her lover is caught in a burning tower,
She clutches the pillow, she gasps for breath, she screams . . .
And then by degrees her breath grows quiet and slow,
She dreams of an evening, long ago:
Of colored lanterns balancing under trees,
Some of them softly catching afire;
And beneath the lanterns a motionless face she sees,
Golden with lamplight, smiling, serene . . .
The leaves are a pale and glittering green,
The sound of horns blows over the trampled grass,
Shadows of dancers pass . . .
The face smiles closer to hers, she tries to lean
Backward, away, the eyes burn close and strange,
The face is beginning to change,-
It is her lover, she no longer desires to resist,
She is held and kissed.
She closes her eyes, and melts in a seethe of
1

I am a house, says Senlin, locked and darkened,
Sealed from the sun with wall and door and blind.
Summon me loudly, and you'll hear slow footsteps
Ring far and faint in the galleries of my mind.
You'll hear soft steps on an old and dusty stairway;
Peer darkly through some corner of a pane,
You'll see me with a faint light coming slowly,
Pausing above some gallery of the brain . . .

I am a city . . . In the blue light of evening
Wind wanders among my streets and makes them fair;
I am a room of rock . . . a maiden dances
Lifting her hands, tossing her golden hair.
She combs her hair, the room of rock is darkened,
She extends herself in me, and I am sleep.
It is my pride that starlight is above me;
I dream amid waves of air, my walls are deep.

I am a door . . . before me roils the darkness,
Behind me ring clear waves of sound and light.
Stand in the shadowy street outside, and listen-
The crying of violins assails the night . . .
My walls are deep, but the cries of music pierce them;
They shake with the sound of drums . . . yet it is strange
That I should know so little what means this music,
Hearing it always within me change and change.

Knock on the door,-and you shall have an answer.
Open the heavy walls to set me free,
And blow a horn to call me into the sunlight,-
And startled, then, what a strange thing you will see!
Nuns, murderers, and drunkards, saints and sinners,
Lover and dancing girl and sage and clown
Will laugh upon you, and you will find me nowhere.
I am a room, a house, a street, a town.

2

It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
I arise, I face the sunrise,
And do the things my fathers learned to do.
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet
Stand before a glass and tie my tie.

Vine leaves tap my window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chips in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones.

It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And tie my tie once more.
While waves far off in a pale rose twilight
Crash on a white sand shore.
I stand by a mirror and comb my hair:
How small and white my face!-
The green earth tilts through a sphere of air
And bathes in a flame of space.
There are houses hanging above the stars
And stars hung under a sea . . .
And a sun far off in a shell of silence
Dapples my walls for me . . .

It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
Should I not pause in the light to remember God?
Upright and firm I stand on a star unstable,
He is immense and lonely as a cloud.
I will dedicate this moment before my mirror
To him alone, and for him I will comb my hair.
Accept these humble offerings, cloud of silence!
I will think of you as I descend the stair.

Vine leaves tap my window,
The snail-track shines on the stones,
Dew-drops flash from the chinaberry tree
Repeating two clear tones.

It is morning, I awake from a bed of silence,
Shining I rise from the starless waters of sleep.
The walls are about me still as in the evening,
I am the same, and the same name still I keep.
The earth revolves with me, yet makes no motion,
The stars pale silently in a coral sky.
In a whistling void I stand before my mirror,
Unconcerned, I tie my tie.

There are horses neighing on far-off hills
Tossing their long white manes,
And mountains flash in the rose-white dusk,
Their shoulders black with rains . . .

It is morning. I stand by the mirror
And surprise my soul once more;
The blue air rushes above my ceiling,
There are suns beneath my floor . . .

. . . It is morning, Senlin says, I ascend from darkness
And depart on the winds of space for I know not where,
My watch is wound, a key is in my pocket,
And the sky is darkened as I descend the stair.
There are shadows across the windows, clouds in heaven,
And a god among the stars; and I will go
Thinking of him as I might think of daybreak
And humming a tune I know . . .

Vine-leaves tap at the window,
Dew-drops sing to the garden stones,
The robin chirps in the chinaberry tree
Repeating three clear tones.

3

I walk to my work, says Senlin, along a street
Superbly hung in space.
I lift these mortal stones, and with my trowel
I tap them into place.
But is god, perhaps, a giant who ties his tie
Grimacing before a colossal glass of sky?

These stones are heavy, these stones decay,
These stones are wet with rain,
I build them into a wall today,
Tomorrow they fall again.

Does god arise from a chaos of starless sleep,
Rise from the dark and stretch his arms and yawn;
And drowsily look from the window at his garden;
And rejoice at the dewdrop sparkeling on his lawn?

Does he remember, suddenly, with amazement,
The yesterday he left in sleep,-his name,-
Or the glittering street superbly hung in wind
Along which, in the dusk, he slowly came?

I devise new patterns for laying stones
And build a stronger wall.
One drop of rain astonishes me
And I let my trowel fall.

The flashing of leaves delights my eyes,
Blue air delights my face;
I will dedicate this stone to god
And tap it into its place.

4

That woman-did she try to attract my attention?
Is it true I saw her smile and nod?
She turned her head and smiled . . . was it for me?
It is better to think of work or god.
The clouds pile coldly above the houses
Slow wind revolves the leaves:
It begins to rain, and the first long drops
Are slantingly blown from eaves.

But it is true she tried to attract my attention!
She pressed a rose to her chin and smiled.
Her hand was white by the richness of her hair,
Her eyes were those of a child.
It is true she looked at me as if she liked me.
And turned away, afraid to look too long!
She watched me out of the corners of her eyes;
And, tapping time with fingers, hummed a song.

. . . Nevertheless, I will think of work,
With a trowel in my hands;
Or the vague god who blows like clouds
Above these dripping lands . . .

But . . . is it sure she tried to attract my attention?
She leaned her elbow in a peculiar way
There in the crowded room . . . she touched my hand . . .
She must have known, and yet,-she let it stay.
Music of flesh! Music of root and sod!
Leaf touching leaf in the rain!
Impalpable clouds of red ascend,
Red clouds blow over my brain.

Did she await from me some sign of acceptance?
I smoothed my hair with a faltering hand.
I started a feeble smile, but the smile was frozen:
Perhaps, I thought, I misunderstood.
Is it to be conceived that I could attract her-
This dull and futile flesh attract such fire?
I,-with a trowel's dullness in hand and brain!-
Take on some godlike aspect, rouse desire?
Incredible! . . . delicious! . . . I will wear
A brighter color of tie, arranged with care,
I will delight in god as I comb my hair.

And the conquests of my bolder past return
Like strains of music, some lost tune
Recalled from youth and a happier time.
I take my sweetheart's arm in the dusk once more;
One more we climb

Up the forbidden stairway,
Under the flickering light, along the railing:
I catch her hand in the dark, we laugh once more,
I hear the rustle of silk, and follow swiftly,
And softly at last we close the door.

Yes, it is true that woman tried to attract me:
It is true she came out of time for me,
Came from the swirling and savage forest of earth,
The cruel eternity of the sea.
She parted the leaves of waves and rose from silence
Shining with secrets she did not know.
Music of dust! Music of web and web!
And I, bewildered, let her go.

I light my pipe. The flame is yellow,
Edged underneath with blue.
These thoughts are truer of god, perhaps,
Than thoughts of god are true.

5

It is noontime, Senlin says, and a street piano
Strikes sharply against the sunshine a harsh chord,
And the universe is suddenly agitated,
And pain to my heart goes glittering like a sword.
Do I imagine it? The dust is shaken,
The sunlight quivers, the brittle oak-leaves tremble.
The world, disturbed, conceals its agitation;
And I, too, will dissemble.

Yet it is sorrow has found my heart,
Sorrow for beauty, sorrow for death;
And pain twirls slowly among the trees.

The street-piano revolves its glittering music,
The sharp notes flash and dazzle and turn,
Memory's knives are in this sunlit silence,
They ripple and lazily burn.
The star on which my shadow falls is frightened,-
It does not move; my trowel taps a stone,
The sweet note wavers amid derisive music;
And I, in horror of sunlight, stand alone.

Do not recall my weakness, savage music!
Let the knives rest!
Impersonal, harsh, the music revolves and glitters,
And the notes like poniards pierce my breast.
And I remember the shadows of webs on stones,
And the sound or rain on withered grass,
And a sorrowful face that looked without illusions
At its image in the glass.

Do not recall my childhood, pitiless music!
The green blades flicker and gleam,
The red bee bends the clover, deeply humming;
In the blue sea above me lazily stream
Cloud upon thin-brown cloud, revolving, scattering;
The mulberry tree rakes heaven and drops its fruit;
Amazing sunlight sings in the opened vault
On dust and bones, and I am mute.

It is noon; the bells let fall soft flowers of sound.
They turn on the air, they shrink in the flare of noon.
It is night; and I lie alone, and watch through the window
The terrible ice-white emptiness of the moon.
Small bells, far off, spill jewels of sound like rain,
A long wind hurries them whirled and far,
A cloud creeps over the moon, my bed is darkened,
I hold my breath and watch a star.

Do not disturb my memories, heartless music!
I stand once more by a vine-dark moonlit wall,
The sound of my footsteps dies in a void of moonlight,
And I watch white jasmine fall.
Is it my heart that falls? Does earth itself
Drift, a white petal, down the sky?
One bell-note goes to the stars in the blue-white silence,
Solitary and mournful, a somnolent cry.

6

Death himself in the rain . . . death himself . . .
Death in the savage sunlight . . . skeletal death . . .
I hear the clack of his feet,
Clearly on stones, softly in dust;
He hurries among the trees
Whirling the leaves, tossing he hands from waves.
Listen! the immortal footsteps beat.

Death himself in the grass, death himself,
Gyrating invisibly in the sun,
Scatters the grass-blades, whips the wind,
Tears at boughs with malignant laughter:
On the long echoing air I hear him run.

Death himself in the dusk, gathering lilacs,
Breaking a white-fleshed bough,
Strewing purple on a cobwebbed lawn,
Dancing, dancing,
The long red sun-rays glancing
On flailing arms, skipping with hideous knees
Cavorting grotesque ecstasies:
I do not see him, but I see the lilacs fall,
I hear the scrape of knuckles against the wall,
The leaves are tossed and tremble where he plunges among them,
And I hear the sound of his breath,
Sharp and whistling, the rythm of death.

It is evening: the lights on a long street balance and sway.
In the purple ether they swing and silently sing,
The street is a gossamer swung in space,
And death himself in the wind comes dancing along it,
And the lights, like raindrops, tremble and swing.
Hurry, spider, and spread your glistening web,
For death approaches!
Hurry, rose, and open your heart to the bee,
For death approaches!
Maiden, let down your hair for the hands of your lover,
Comb it with moonlight and wreathe it with leaves,
For death approaches!

Death, huge in the star; small in the sand-grain;
Death himself in the rain,
Drawing the rain about him like a garment of jewels:
I hear the sound of his feet
On the stairs of the wind, in the sun,
In the forests of the sea . . .
Listen! the immortal footsteps beat!

7

It is noontime, Senlin says. The sky is brilliant
Above a green and dreaming hill.
I lay my trowel down. The pool is cloudless,
The grass, the wall, the peach-tree, all are still.

It appears to me that I am one with these:
A hill, upon whose back are a wall and trees.
It is noontime: all seems still
Upon this green and flowering hill.

Yet suddenly out of nowhere in the sky,
A cloud comes whirling, and flings
A lazily coiled vortex of shade on the hill.
It crosses the hill, and a bird in the peach-tree sings.
Amazing! Is there a change?
The hill seems somehow strange.
It is noontime. And in the tree
The leaves are delicately disturbed
Where the bird descends invisibly.
It is noontime. And in the pool
The sky is blue and cool.

Yet suddenly out of nowhere,
Something flings itself at the hill,
Tears with claws at the earth,
Lunges and hisses and softly recoils,
Crashing against the green.
The peach-tree braces itself, the pool is frightened,
The grass-blades quiver, the bird is still;
The wall silently struggles against the sunlight;
A terror stiffens the hill.
The trees turn rigidly, to face
Something that circles with slow pace:
The blue pool seems to shrink
From something that slides above its brink.
What struggle is this, ferocious and still-
What war in sunlight on this hill?
What is it creeping to dart
Like a knife-blade at my heart?

It is noontime, Senlin says, and all is tranquil:
The brilliant sky burns over a greenbright earth.
The peach-tree dreams in the sun, the wall is contented.
A bird in the peach-leaves, moving from sun to shadow,
Phrases again his unremembering mirth,
His lazily beautiful, foolish, mechanical mirth.

8

The pale blue gloom of evening comes
Among the phantom forests and walls
With a mournful and rythmic sound of drums.
My heart is disturbed with a sound of myriad throbbing,
Persuasive and sinister, near and far:
In the blue evening of my heart
I hear the thrum of the evening star.

My work is uncompleted; and yet I hurry,-
Hearing the whispered pulsing of those drums,-
To enter the luminous walls and woods of night.
It is the eternal mistress of the world
Who shakes these drums for my delight.
Listen! the drums of the leaves, the drums of the dust,
The delicious quivering of this air!

I will leave my work unfinished, and I will go
With ringing and certain step through the laughter of chaos
To the one small room in the void I know.
Yesterday it was there,-
Will I find it tonight once more when I climb the stair?
The drums of the street beat swift and soft:
In the blue evening of my heart
I hear the throb of the bridal star.
It weaves deliciously in my brain
A tyrannous melody of her:
Hands in sunlight, threads of rain
Against a weeping face that fades,
Snow on a blackened window-pane;
Fire, in a dusk of hair entangled;
Flesh, more delicate than fruit;
And a voice that searches quivering nerves
For a string to mute.

My life is uncompleted: and yet I hurry
Among the tinkling forests and walls of evening
To a certain fragrant room.
Who is it that dances there, to a beating of drums,
While stars on a grey sea bud and bloom?
She stands at the top of the stair,
With the lamplight on her hair.
I will walk through the snarling of streams of space
And climb the long steps carved from wind
And rise once more towards her face.
Listen! the drums of the drowsy trees
Beating our nuptial ecstasies!

Music spins from the heart of silence
And twirls me softly upon the air:
It takes my hand and whispers to me:
It draws the web of the moonlight down.
There are hands, it says, as cool as snow,
The hands of the Venus of the sea;
There are waves of sound in a mermaid-cave;-
Come-then-come with me!
The flesh of the sea-rose new and cool,
The wavering image of her who comes
At dusk by a blue sea-pool.

Whispers upon the haunted air-
Whisper of foam-white arm and thigh;
And a shower of delicate lights blown down
Fro the laughing sky! . . .
Music spins from a far-off room.
Do you remember,-it seems to say,-
The mouth that smiled, beneath your mouth,
And kissed you . . . yesterday?
It is your own flesh waits for you.
Come! you are incomplete! . . .
The drums of the universe once more
Morosely beat.
It is the harlot of the world
Who clashes the leaves like ghostly drums
And disturbs the solitude of my heart
As evening comes!

I leave my work once more and walk
Along a street that sways in the wind.
I leave these st
vircapio gale Sep 2012
~


                  sunlit feather,
   frays cut a shadow
of barbed wire






.
this morning i made 'barbed shadow-wire' by turning the 'barbs' of a feather in my car vent into and away from the sun, and instantly thought of Angelou's, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and Dunbar's, Sympathy.  even commutes to work can be poetic.
the fact that 'feather' and 'wire' form a slant rhyme, and that the 'barbed wire' is a kind of metaphor (even though the shadow really looked like barbed wire!)--all this sort of bucks haiku tradition (though some classic haiku do use metaphor and rhyme on rare occasions). and this isn't really a senryu, right, since it's not funny or about... well i guess maybe it could be about human nature.  either way, would be curious as to what haiku float your boat and which ones seem like just a joke ;) even if this is one of them, or doesn't it constitute a flout?
ryn Jan 2015
.
   Curious minds,
      splashing under
       moonlight
       With
      outstretched kisses
     pulsating yellow,
     Over the awestruck
      magical
       rainbow,
         Feverishly tracking each
         supernova
      on sight.


   Resting the moment
    on a
     cresting knoll,
    With
   an audience of several
   time-worn
     rocks.
      Whilst the
        whistling sirens
        in the winds do call...
          Wasting away
        the ticks of
     worldly
      clocks.


        Evading with class,
       all
       heart's turbulence,
        Craters of sadness
          congeal
           in thin air,
             Glamorous amnesia
             falls
          with cadence,
         Eyes wide shut,
         susurrating
          a
           lost prayer.


             Lifeless gazes
               yield
               only
             abrasive tears.
             As erratum
              catches up
                with its
                 gaping maw.
              Hurling
            its anguish
             in
             rips and shears,
              Bleeding out
                of
               singing wounds
             so raw.

             But...
              time carries confident,
                its stock of
                   soothing balm.
                   Latent doses
                 hidden
                within
                 invisible vials.
                  Welcoming vision
                    with its
                    sunlit palms,
                   Staving the longing
                    for the
                    fear of trials.


                      Now hushed
                         remain the remorseful
                        battle trenches,
                        Deprived of their own
                          victims
                           ­ save gaping wounds,
                            Only
                        ­     faint faith
                                commanding
                ­                   corroded limp
                                   forces,
                                 Stirring
                                light away
                               from
                                all
                        ­         agony
                                    and
                   ­                doom.



                              Moonskittles
           ­                 *ryn
.
This has been an amazing experience!!! Big thanks to Moonskittles for the opportunity to share a page with her captivating style of poetry!!!
.
BW Apr 2014
Feel God’s warmth on your sunlit cheek
Inhale slowly and embrace the wonder of life
As the dew stealthily retreats
watch the sun shine shady green into sparkling yellow
so bright even the shadows give up their mystery
See the mighty oaks pull the wind
as the majestic pines disapprove
Watch the stream meander down gravity’s path
Leap into the fountain of temporary youth
Feel the icy wetness overwhelm your senses
See the sun’s glow through the murky haze
Float on the current’s buoyant breath
Feel God’s warmth on your sunlit cheek
Inhale slowly and embrace the wonder of God
Bullet Sep 2020
The sunlit
I’m flying high
Watching the world on fire
We reflect off of the sun
Rising up everyday
Settling down in the evening
It’s odd but we dream all night
The life we will always not live
Till the morning arrives
We then become the stars we’d admire
The sunlit
So I’m singing with it
Onoma Nov 2013
Sunlit water...angelic morse code--
non local, supercharged.
Where undulant ripple, at an angle,
sun at its angle, flashed sparks of
double exposure.
Frenetically shifting focal points,
suffusing an animated luminosity.
A one dimensional constellation
clustered en mass, optic tempo of
ebb and flow.
Sonogram of amorphous light,
whose: white, yellow, green, blue--
integrated auric stipple seemingly
pulled skyward.
Death neared whilst thee afoot...
at second attention the soul's
wrenched from the animal...
transmission complete.
Aura Oct 2010
Our eyes slowly merging
I can feel the gravity pulling
Until they connect
Like two puzzle pieces, they click

I have always been a ball of energy
Making it my business to touch the sky
And spread the sunshine
But when the light transcends
Through the mosaic pieces of our irises
The energies travel through straight tunnels
That merge into one
As the puzzle of our eyes interlock
And now I know
We are both made of the same
Sunlit soul

Like the rise of the sun in the morning sky
You have lifted me up and I feel so high
My heart pulses like the flapping wings of a bird
As I soar through the sunrise
Composed of pastel green, pink, purple, and blue
The tranquil feeling of these colors
Overwhelms me when I’m with you

Three seconds have passed while our eyes have been locked
But time is relative
And with you only the extraordinary exists
Our energies combined create an intensity
That while I can’t resist
Feels quite perilous

The sheet touches our skin
Like the light fluffy cloud we’re in
Now in second four
A smile spreads across your face
As your eyes say even more

The smoothness of your skin excites me
As you glide upon me
Like a slippery fish in the sea
To octopus’ garden we go
To a place only you and I know.
They are always with us, the thin people
Meager of dimension as the gray people

On a movie-screen.  They
Are unreal, we say:

It was only in a movie, it was only
In a war making evil headlines when we

Were small that they famished and
Grew so lean and would not round

Out their stalky limbs again though peace
Plumped the bellies of the mice

Under the meanest table.
It was during the long hunger-battle

They found their talent to persevere
In thinness, to come, later,

Into our bad dreams, their menace
Not guns, not abuses,

But a thin silence.
Wrapped in flea-ridded donkey skins,

Empty of complaint, forever
Drinking vinegar from tin cups: they wore

The insufferable nimbus of the lot-drawn
Scapegoat.  But so thin,

So weedy a race could not remain in dreams,
Could not remain outlandish victims

In the contracted country of the head
Any more than the old woman in her mud hut could

Keep from cutting fat meat
Out of the side of the generous moon when it

Set foot nightly in her yard
Until her knife had pared

The moon to a rind of little light.
Now the thin people do not obliterate

Themselves as the dawn
Grayness blues, reddens, and the outline

Of the world comes clear and fills with color.
They persist in the sunlit room: the wallpaper

Frieze of cabbage-roses and cornflowers pales
Under their thin-lipped smiles,

Their withering kingship.
How they prop each other up!

We own no wilderness rich and deep enough
For stronghold against their stiff

Battalions.  See, how the tree boles flatten
And lose their good browns

If the thin people simply stand in the forest,
Making the world go thin as a wasp's nest

And grayer; not even moving their bones.
BianchiBlue Nov 2014
My dream is not white
as paper, my dream is not
black, as these ink spilled
thoughts, my dream is not
colorless, refracted as light
through my sunlit tears
1
Flood-Tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face
   to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious
   you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning
   home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more
   to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.

2
The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the
   day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every
   one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on
   the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others.

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to
   shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the
   heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half
   an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others
   will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the
   falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.

3
It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many
   generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the
   bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift
   current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the
   thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old,
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air
   floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left
   the rest in strong shadow,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the
   south,
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams,
Look’d at the fine centrifugal spokes of light round the shape of my
   head in the sunlit water,
Look’d on the haze on the hills southward and south-westward,
Look’d on the vapor as it flew in fleeces tinged with violet,
Look’d toward the lower bay to notice the vessels arriving,
Saw their approach, saw aboard those that were near me,
Saw the white sails of schooners and sloops, saw the ships at
   anchor,
The sailors at work in the rigging or out astride the spars,
The round masts, the swinging motion of the hulls, the slender
   serpentine pennants,
The large and small steamers in motion, the pilots in their
   pilothouses,

The white wake left by the passage, the quick tremulous whirl of the
   wheels,
The flags of all nations, the falling of them at sunset,
The scallop-edged waves in the twilight, the ladled cups, the
   frolic-some crests and glistening,
The stretch afar growing dimmer and dimmer, the gray walls of the
   granite storehouses by the docks,
On the river the shadowy group, the big steam-tug closely flank’d on
   each side by the barges, the hay-boat, the belated lighter,
On the neighboring shore the fires from the foundry chimneys burning
   high and glaringly into the night,
Casting their flicker of black contrasted with wild red and yellow
   light over the tops of houses, and down into the clefts of
   streets.

4
These and all else were to me the same as they are to you,
I loved well those cities, loved well the stately and rapid river,
The men and women I saw were all near to me,
Others the same-others who look back on me because I look’d forward
   to them,
(The time will come, though I stop here to-day and to-night.)

5
What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails
   not,
I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine,
I too walk’d the streets of Manhattan island, and bathed in the
   waters around it,
I too felt the curious abrupt questionings stir within me,
In the day among crowds of people sometimes they came upon me,
In my walks home late at night or as I lay in my bed they came upon
   me,
I too had been struck from the float forever held in solution,
I too had receiv’d identity by my body,
That I was I knew was of my body, and what I should be I knew I
   should be of my body.

6
It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw its patches down upon me also,

The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious,
My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality
   meagre?
Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be evil,
I am he who knew what it was to be evil,
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabb’d, blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me.
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not
   wanting,

Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these
   wanting,
Was one with the rest, the days and haps of the rest,
Was call’d by my nighest name by clear loud voices of young men as
   they saw me approaching or passing,
Felt their arms on my neck as I stood, or the negligent leaning of
   their flesh against me as I sat,
Saw many I loved in the street or ferry-boat or public assembly, yet
   never told them a word,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing,
   sleeping,
Play’d the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,
The same old role, the role that is what we make it, as great as we
   like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.

7
Closer yet I approach you,
What thought you have of me now, I had as much of you—I laid in my
   stores in advance,
I consider’d long and seriously of you before you were born.

Who was to know what should come home to me?
Who knows but I am enjoying this?
Who knows, for all the distance, but I am as good as looking at you
   now, for all you cannot see me?

8
Ah, what can ever be more stately and admirable to me than
   mast-hemm’d Manhattan?
River and sunset and scallop-edg’d waves of flood-tide?
The sea-gulls oscillating their bodies, the hay-boat in the
   twilight, and the belated lighter?

What gods can exceed these that clasp me by the hand, and with
   voices I love call me promptly and loudly by my nighest name as
   approach?
What is more subtle than this which ties me to the woman or man that
   looks in my face?
Which fuses me into you now, and pours my meaning into you?

We understand then do we not?
What I promis’d without mentioning it, have you not accepted?
What the study could not teach—what the preaching could not
   accomplish is accomplish’d, is it not?

9
Flow on, river! flow with the flood-tide, and ebb with the ebb-tide!
Frolic on, crested and scallop-edg’d waves!
Gorgeous clouds of the sunset! drench with your splendor me, or the
   men and women generations after me!
Cross from shore to shore, countless crowds of passengers!
Stand up, tall masts of Mannahatta! stand up, beautiful hills of
   Brooklyn!
Throb, baffled and curious brain! throw out questions and answers!
Suspend here and everywhere, eternal float of solution!
Gaze, loving and thirsting eyes, in the house or street or public
   assembly!
Sound out, voices of young men! loudly and musically call me by my
   nighest name!
Live, old life! play the part that looks back on the actor or
   actress!
Play the old role, the role that is great or small according as one
   makes it!
Consider, you who peruse me, whether I may not in unknown ways be
   looking upon you;
Be firm, rail over the river, to support those who lean idly, yet
   haste with the hasting current;
Fly on, sea-birds! fly sideways, or wheel in large circles high in
   the air;
Receive the summer sky, you water, and faithfully hold it till all
   downcast eyes have time to take it from you!
Diverge, fine spokes of light, from the shape of my head, or any
   one’s head, in the sunlit water!
Come on, ships from the lower bay! pass up or down, white-sail’d
   schooners, sloops, lighters!
Flaunt away, flags of all nations! be duly lower’d at sunset!
Burn high your fires, foundry chimneys! cast black shadows at
   nightfall! cast red and yellow light over the tops of the houses!

Appearances, now or henceforth, indicate what you are,
You necessary film, continue to envelop the soul,
About my body for me, and your body for you, be hung our divinest
   aromas,
Thrive, cities—bring your freight, bring your shows, ample and
   sufficient rivers,
Expand, being than which none else is perhaps more spiritual,
Keep your places, objects than which none else is more lasting.

You have waited, you always wait, you dumb, beautiful ministers,
We receive you with free sense at last, and are insatiate
   henceforward,
Not you any more shall be able to foil us, or withhold yourselves
   from us,
We use you, and do not cast you aside—we plant you permanently
   within us,
We fathom you not—we love you—there is perfection in you also,
You furnish your parts toward eternity,
Great or small, you furnish your parts toward the soul.
Esther L Krenzin Jan 2019
Through sunlit paths
and raging storms
Arms linked together
in uniform
Jocose laughter
warm smiles
Golden moments
made worthwhile
As the clock ticks
through silken air
Precious seconds slip
to who knows where
Spent with souls
of softened steel
Condensed in flesh
within concealed
Standing together
as harsh winds blow
Hand in hand
strong roots below
Though years may pass
in a blurry haze
We stay together
united--always.
-Esther L. Krenzin-
-Roguesong-
To my friends who never leave my side, who support me when its hard, and smile with me when its easy. You are worth more than you know.
Love you.
unnamed Jun 2018
I can live without you.
In fact, I might be happy to
sit and eat ice-cream all alone,
whilst basking in a sunlit dawn-
a wonderland for one.
Short and sweet


Trans. ALONE IN THE SUN
tranquil Oct 2013
without a care in world
dancing with flirty breeze
she plays along with life
as chirping birds in trees

bathing in sunlit dew
fondling with light i see
in arms of listless wind
you bloom so lazily
Valsa George May 2016
With the peak of spring in the month of May
In the early hours of a pleasantly sunlit day
Two kids sat cuddled on a swing
Feeling as though they were taking on wing

Swinging in the air, they began to sing
Their sweet lay breaking the silence with its ring
They kicked their legs in rising delight
And felt like thistledowns ever so light

Up and down on the swing was fun
They closed their eyes on being face to face with the sun
Felt the swish and sway of the buoyant air
And knew the light tug of breeze on their curly hair

As the air got caught in the frills of their frock
Their eyes gleamed bright in delightful spark
Imagining themselves to be astronauts in space,
An ebullient excitement lit up their face

From a raised angle, they saw the Earth in green folds lie
Watched the surrounding hills standing awfully high
Saw a small stream flowing as a slow moving train
With trees lined up on its banks in unbroken chain

Longingly I watched these children free of all worry and pain
Also their aerial feats, not tainted by any melancholy stain
How I miss these childhood days of innocent fun
As my hours, towards the sunset, quickly run
I envy little children and their care free days......! They leave me immensely nostalgic as I had a joyous childhood in a large happy family !
Sunlit corners are special

Places hidden away
Mother Nature’s treasure
Where the sun peeks through
Greens are brighter
Air is fresh and clear

Sunlit corners are special

Touched by dirt paths
Outside the city
Surrounded by woods and grass
Archways of green and wood
Naturally made

Sunlit corners are special

Places to go for peace
Stillness surrounds
Smells of clover in the air
Offering solace from the frenzy

Sunlit corners are special
Tom Leveille Feb 2014
so i get this idea sometimes
that you enjoy being coy
when it comes to me
to conjure momentary spectacle
& make me wonder
if you paint catharsis
on the doors of a home
you've never lived in
as a memory of our first night together
because i do, i remember you
beaming white on blue
speaking softer than any storm
i ever knew, i often think that maybe
you live that night in your mind
when your pillow is cold
& you can't sleep, it makes me wonder
if you do as i do, and rewrite three years fictionally beginning with a kiss somewhere
maybe a balcony or a quiet car
on the sand or in a sunlit grove close to your home but always a familiar scar on the maps we know we know by heart
i wonder if sometimes
the idea of me loving you is too real
and if it teems under your tongue
to stay observant but distantly intrigued
if by this distance you think it safe
to get a dog and pass time
on the couch with a journal & some wine
what i really wanna know is if your fingernails ever wish to have my skin under them
or if they would boast
about winning a war with my headboard
i wonder if you can imagine me
meeting your parents in your apartment & shaking your fathers hand
as a first of many calloused palm readings
and if you know that i trembled before them
how insignificant i had felt
to not know their daughter
in the way i had envisioned
how i picture such poignant moments
so tangibly sharp that sometimes
i replace  my memories with little stories
i tell myself that i can't count on two hands
the number of times i've seen you
& that i don't feel like a crater
when i recollect our collisions
i want to know if you still find madness
in the words that have always been about you
i wanna know if your imagination of me
looks more like an anniversary or an obituary
My Kite

The view of purplish branches upon the trees and
Looking beyond grassy mountains on the horizon
Bring back memories of my childhood days,
Wading in a nearby creek and flying my kite before a sunlit sky
And then recalling the wind beginning to blow.

Magenta leaves would decorate
Branches of both growing and fallen trees-
Wild geese soared above and deer were running freely
While my kite was carried upward by the wind
As highly as those trees would ever grow.

My kite I believed would carry that mysterious spirit deep inside of me
Into which I had placed all my faith and trust
The tail of my kite seemed to cross the sun, though far above me
I feared the demons’ of the woodlands following me as I walked-
But with strong assurance I pursued my kite wherever it would go.

Dark clouds began to cover the sun one day and
Branches upon the trees were seemingly blackening
While lightening sharply illuminated the sky
I believed a storm was rapidly approaching.
As fright and haunting disbelief inside of my mind began to overshadow.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     .
I have told others that my kite held within my protective soul which was always with me
Because I saw it to be an angel dancing freely in the sky
I believe my kite held inside the spirit of a seraph,
That saved me from all that betrayed and hurt me
As the voices inside of my mind had often told me so.

Years have passed and that wind was always fierce and deceitful-
Breaking the string with which I held my kite-
I sadly watched it as it flew higher and higher towards the sky
Until it disappeared behind those approaching darkening thunderclouds
Vanishing beyond my sight- leaving me frightened and alone below.

Years have also passed since I lost my kite which I believed was my guiding illumination
People would laugh and say my mind had escaped reality
Now I can see that there is no one to save me from those demons of this planet
I still hide the pain of loss of my spirit of salvation behind laughter and a smile
But that does not erase the void I feel inside and that is an unrelenting sorrow.

Claudia Krizay
Nigel Morgan Nov 2012
A thousand peaks: no more birds in flight.
Ten thousand paths: all trace of people gone.

In a lone boat, rain cloak and hat of reeds.
An old man’s fishing the cold river snow.

I am alone in this mountain fastness, on a steep downward path in the deepest shadow. I play with the twelve characters of Lui Tsung-yaun’s poem. How few poems tell of the desolation of winter. The coming of Spring, the passing of Autumn? Yes. But the onset of Winter? Even my sharp memory only recalls a meagre handful of poems to this season: the time of the first snows. Against all good sense I set out from Stone Village too late in the year: now I search for comforting word images to accompany me on this journey. Just below the snowline I pass through a stunted forest of ancient walnut trees almost leafless; the unrelenting wind has dispatched them crinkled brown into the valley below. I see there a winding river. I see its distant lake. I think of this poem known since my teenage years, puzzled over that one could see in one sweep of the horizon a thousand peaks. Here are that thousand and more if the ranks of limestone pillars in these mountains can be counted as peaks. I count them as peaks. And those thousand paths? At every turn there is some fresh way falling into the valley, or a faint trail rising to the heights. But this path I tread asserts itself on the traveller. Its stones are worn and the excrement of passing pack animals sticks to my boots.

Last night a cave, tonight I will reach the village of Psnumako. My former guide provided its name with a disdain he could not hide. When questioned he warned me not to enter without a stout staff against the mastiffs that guard each house, supposedly ******* during the day but apt to break their bonds at the smell of a stranger.

The steep and ever steeper descent brings pain to my knees. At this hour of the day my body would prefer to climb to the heights, but descend I must. The cold, the damp cold begins to stiffen weary limbs. I am tired from a day’s travel, tired from three hard climbs, two descents and this, my third, to complete before nightfall. I enter a narrow gorge loud with clamour of running water, cascade upon cascade flowing from the heights, falling fast to the river soon to interrupt my path. I shall have to force a crossing. What passed for a bridge were two fallen pines lashed together.  Now they lie akimbo a little distant, thrown apart like sticks by the spring flood as the deep snows melt. I must divest myself of boots and lower garments and wade across, stumbling on stones up to my waist in swift waters, terrified under the weight of my pack that I will fall and be swept under and along. To travel alone at such moments is foolhardy, but on this cold afternoon I have no choice.

I am so intent on preparing for this crossing it is only when I reach the end of the path that I notice snow is falling, its flakes sharp and white against the dark-water flow. The whirl and turn of the water mesmerises. Fatigue, fatigue embraces me, a day’s fatigue holds me fast on the river’s stony side. I close my eyes and hear the water rush and place myself into the protection of a mountain charm learnt from a passing traveller. Dwarfed by the size of his burden I see him negotiate a narrow path high above a chasm; he walked trance-like to the intoning of this charm.

It is soon done, the cold crossing, and with a lighter step I walk the remaining leagues to the lake-side and sight of the village. There are the faintest sparks of light amongst the silhouettes of houses. Animals are being brought in from the home fields against the night. A sudden shout, the barking of dogs, and now the snow falls thick and fast.

The guttural dialect here is barely discernable as speech. We are from different worlds this shepherd and I who meet at the stupa guarding the village entrance. This is not a Buddhist shrine but an acknowledgement of some mountain giant of terrifying aspect. The shepherd sees my official insignia and nods, knowing I will require shelter. He utters what may be a welcome, but could be a warning, and leads me forth. The mastiffs leap and bay as I pass between the primitive two-storey houses, animals below, humankind above. He disappears. I stop and wait. He returns with a woman who beckons me to climb the ladder to what may be her home. A widow perhaps? She is alone unless the rank darkness hides a man or child. But there is none. I hear animals move and grunt under the floor, a mat of dirt and straw. There is a sleeping loft, a cooking corner. I can see little else. But I am out of the snow, the biting wind, the cold. She pulls at my cloak, wet and caked with ice. There is a bowl placed in my hands; a rough tea. I speak a greeting, but there is no reply just a rustle of straw as she moves across the room.

The stupor of a journey’s pause is upon me. After three days on the trail to the heights I am numb with fatigue. I need food and sleep. I need rest before a final trek into the wilderness. Beyond Psnumako Lake known paths end. Except for the tracks used by shepherds to move their flocks to different seasonal pastures, there is wilderness. I hope for guidance, for the whereabouts of the sages who, in the winter months I am told, leave their reed huts on the heights for caves in the lower valleys. I shall be patient, remain here a little while. I am now immune to the discomfort and dirt of travel. That is how it is. That is how is must be. I miss only the mental absorption of writing, the caress of the brush on a scroll. In my home in Louyang I keep brush and paper close to hand; wherever I may be I can write, even in, especially in, the privy. If a line comes to me I can write it down. Here there is only the comfort of memory.

To think that in the past I wrote of this mountain wilderness out of my imagination and the descriptions of others. I once thought of these remote places as havens of spiritual liberation.

In the hills there is the sound of zither.
White clouds stay over shaded peaks,
Red flowers shine in the sunlit woods
Rocks are washed in the stream like jade;

How very different is the reality of it all; in this emerging winter world of mist, where the sun rarely visits and most living things have departed, where wind colours silence and one’s footfall becomes consolation. The sound of stone rubbing stone on the path is the eternal present. There have been days when only a distant crow moves in the landscape. Lammergeyers are known in these parts, but I have yet to see one. If there are wild beasts, they shun me.

As this bowl of tea cools in my hands but warms my frozen fingers I form pictures of the past day on its dark surface. Before dawn from the mouth of a river cave I sensed changes in the qualities of darkness that have hidden the heights above me. Then a perceptible line appeared and divided the mountain from the sky. That line became variegated; there were trees bristling on the highest rocks. It appears that at this hour the prevalent mist settles in the valleys leaving the sky clear.

The woman comes to me. She kneels to untie my boots. She looks with a curious innocence at my strangeness, the distortion of my face, the cleft palette, the deformed upper lip, the squint of my left eye. She is kindly as I give her my best smile though my face seems frozen still. There is a whisper, a prayer of welcome possibly. Then she bows her head, unravels a long scarf to reveal a mane of oiled hair, and sets about removing my boots. I see only the top of her head, a severe parting, hair held tightly in wooden combs. I close my eyes to bring to mind the image of Xaoli, so slight in comparison, her butterfly hands flittering into and around my sleeves, her seeing touch mapping out the extent of me, each piece of clothing, only later my face.

My reverie is broken by the entrance of two men. They squat behind the woman and, after taking in my ugliness and my hairpins of office, patiently wait for her to finish and retire. We stand and bow, then sit again amongst the straw.

‘Honoured Lord, I am Yun. You have travelled from Stone Village? And beyond?’

I pass him the Emperor’s seal he cannot read, but remain silent.

‘You are seeking those who live in the heights? The village only sees their servants, young boys sent for a goat or flasks of barley spirit. They bring herbs our women favour. Some have seen their huts when seeking lost animals. Now it is said they are gathered in the caves like animals waiting for the spring moon.’

‘When was the village last visited by their kind?’

‘ Hanlu, my Lord, the time of cold dew, two boys appeared with a pony. There was trading. They brought Chrysanthemum flowers and herbs for two geese and wine. They left scrolls for passage to Stone Village. Now the snows fall we may not see them until the Spring’

‘How far are your summer pastures? Have you any who would guide me there ?’

‘We do not seek these places after the first snows. The sages haunt the region beyond Chang Mountain. Before the 11th moon you might pass into the valley of Lidong where it is believed their caves lie, but to return before the Spring will not be possible.’

‘How many days there?’

‘Allow four. A difficult way, unmarked, rarely trodden, much climbing. There is one here who we could send with you – part of the way, and at a price, My Lord. Dahan travelled two seasons since as groom to a party of six with ponies, but then in late Spring.’

‘I will stay three days.’

‘Just so My Lord. Xiu Li will see to your wishes.’

And they depart, Yun’s companion has remained silent throughout, though searched my face continually. By the door he places his hand against the stout bag that carries my lute. ‘Guqin’, he says tenderly.

This instrument is my pass to the community of the reclusive. I am renown for my songs and their singing. My third-best guqin has not left its bag since Stone Village and I fear damage despite all my care on the path.

Later, as the village mastiffs gradually cease their baying as the quarter moon rises I take this instrument and place it across my lap. Its seven silk strings I wipe with a cloth and gently tune with its tasselled pegs. I then prepare myself through meditation to avoid the intrusion of distracting thoughts. With my eyes closed I allow my hands to seek out and name each part of guqin: from the Forehead of the Top Board, to the String Eyes, the Dew Collector, The Mountain, Shoulder and Phoenix Wings, past the Waist, the Hat Lines and the Dragon’s Beard, to the Dragon’s Gums and thence to the Inner Top Board. I can feel the Pillar of Heaven – the sound post – has moved a little in my recent travels. So too the Pillar of Earth – but with care I move both to their rightful positions. And so on naming the inner and outer parts of each of the two boards that make up the guqin. I begin to regulate my breathing and allow the fingers of my left hand to stroke and touch, to press and oscillate in the manner of vibrato. Zhoa Wenji describes twenty-three kinds of vibrato. I feel in turn each of the hui, the thirteen gold studs that mark the harmonic nodes and allow me to play the guqin by touch alone. In these moments of preparation I hear the words of my teacher: a good player makes sounds that are plentiful but not confused. As the moon reflecting on water, so the sounds are together but not combined. Like wind in the pines, they are combined but also spread out. Such sounds are valued for their lightness. Avoid the addition of inappropriate  "guest" sounds. This is the refined theory of the guqin. To be knowledgeable about music, one must seek this, then one can realize its beauty.

I have tuned to the Huangzhong mode. The song *Amidst Mountains Thinking of an Old Friend
I have brought to mind. I recall the words of The Slender Hermit who says of this piece that its interest lies in holding cherished thoughts, but having no way to tell these to anyone. There are emotions about the present time, longings and laments for the past, but there is no way to express any of this. And so this piece.

In this poor reed hut the room is filled with mist and haze,
how far away are the things I love;
the old plum tree seems exhausted, its flowers about to die,
the mountains are lonely and I am nostalgic for past times.
The moon shines brightly on this lovely evening,
from this distance I think of my old friend and wonder where he is.
The green of the mountains never fades,
but before I know it my hair will turn white;
the moon is waning and flowers wither,
Old friend, I dream constantly of meeting you.
How hard it is to recall the joy of our last meeting!
With the many mountain ranges,
and its hidden tigers and coiled dragons,
I am unable return to you in Chang An.
The road is distant, the tall trees make the road dark,
and the world is vast.

I mourn Aquila and Lyra
separated by the Milky Way like the cowherd and weaving girl,
on the ground we are separated by 1,000 li
in the sky we are each in a separate place,
though our passions remain strong
There has been no warm correspondence,
there is restraint to the bright harmony,
and the flowing streams are swallowed by the setting sun.


The thought of this song of mid autumn touches me before its words have issued from my lips. I play the last two lines in harmonics and sing.
Zuo Si was the brother of the courtesan and poet Zuo Fen. This short story is based on a chapter from my novel Summoning the Recluse. The opening poem appears in a translation by David Hinton from his collection Mountain Home.
Robert G Page Mar 2015
by
rgpage

hollow now my world has grown
with age that time has ****** on me.
from carefree childhood days i'd known,
from days of climbing in a tree.

from summer sunlit mornings
from sundays in the park.
i didn't see time's warnings
or see the sun grow dark.

i didn't see the stranger
who followed me one day.
i didn't sense the danger
as i went off to play.

with eager youth i left from home
the world was my shell.
i didn't see the stranger
who'd lead me to my hell.

i'd lifted weights with youthful ease
these weights now known as life.
did what i wanted as i pleased;
i took myself a wife.

and with my wife we had a child
we had a baby boy.
with carefree sundays in the park
he filled our lives with joy.

we watched his life as he grew strong
'til off to war he went.
he told his mom, "it won't be long
until my journey's spent."

and as his ship pulled from the pier
i saw the stranger's face.
with deep set eyes he blankly starred,
he seemed so out of place.

i felt as if i'd known this man
had known him all my life.
in parks where as a youth i ran
and when i met my wife.

it wasn't long our son had gone
my wife had passed away.
and in the war he followed her
just six months to the day.

old and lonely now i sit
and watch the children play.
on carefree sundays in the park
until that final day.

a day in which the stranger comes
and takes me to my rest.
to my loving wife and son
upon my final breath.
Valsa George Dec 2016
Come on my Love! Let us move to the East
Where the sun resurrects after his interim death
Where darkness first gives way to light
And life renews itself every morn

Look to the East beyond those crooked hills
Where poplars grow tall in line
And wild weeds hem the edges of pathways
Where bunnies and squirrels hop and jump
And merrily run round the trees
Where the wind moves whistling through bamboo reeds
Where the laughing cataract leaps down from the rocks
And flow along in silvery rills
Where the languorous breeze plays upon the leaves

Away from the tumult, far from the crazy crowd
With the pandemonium of the world
Hushed to serene silence
Let us move to that sequestered glade
Of perennial greenery,
through the sunlit grove
Where we shall walk hands locked
Till the bright day gives way to dusky night
Inhaling night air in scented perfume
Under the stillness of a star lit sky
Through moon blanched woods, mysterious
Listening to the sweet whispering of our soul
And ‘drinking life to the lees’ from the chalice of love

Oh! Come on,
Let us not tarry…. Let’s go!
I want to see the world through skylit retinas

that are covered at night by a thicker comforter

than the one that rests upon the crevice in my side.

I want the electrical tape that holds my skeleton together

to be replaced with foreign joints

I want the muscles that spiral around my ivory bones

to be built of tough leather rather than the feather

that protects nothing what so ever.

I want the blood beneath my flesh

to be purple rivers that send shivers

down my sticky taped up spine

I want my skin to be more than a blanket

that plays hide and seek with the lever in my skull

instead of crank it.

Maybe then

I'll be an unknown species

Maybe then

I will be discovered

Maybe then

I can peek my fresh eyes out

and be blinded by the sunlit skies

beyond the rocks of my cave.
Drake Brayer Dec 2014
A golden smile, a gilded mane
Soft sunlight, the smell of rain
Singing eyes, the sirens' call
Smiling still, despite the fall
Halo of light, suspended still
Golden flight, yellow daffodil
Porcelain skin, pale as the moon
A vision of life, in the afternoon
Drenched in sun, light and tears
Her gilded lips, are drawing near
vircapio gale Oct 2012
Haiku:

hiking new forests
mountain homes of moss and dew
more roots deepen


berries ripe
dot taiga heath--
alien planet


yellow blazing sun
'packin'rocks'
from maine to georgia


pain born hero
in oven boots of blood and pus--
summit breeze


barefoot hiker
calls herself 'FearNot'--
toes enjoy same mud


snake rises up
fangs gleam at water lair
cold spring quenches all


***** at each view--
water comes in and goes out
like a filter


at waterfalls, swans
alighting air-- noble poise
on the way to sea


gunas intertwine
my sweet mountain hunger paths
bitter taste of bark


sour grass
garnish of an earthen tract
saliva honeyed


strands of spider flight --
i too catch myself making
web after web


"nature loves to hide"
hidden hermit roars of all
strife and fire flux


spider bite at dusk
afterswing of scenting food
shoo the meal away


change becomes the same--
people streams talking pixels
aging static web

symbols set in light
speed of optic living nodes;
clicking finger fibers


websites spin and stick
plastic tropical alphabets
ant waves clean the keys


fueling in process,
living fossils already
drilling seas--on earth


give or take six months,
happy birthday!
two seasons gone


Haibun:*

A mountain poet has come to the city, blisters pushing up his toenails. His smile spans 15 blocks of concrete and rebar. Strangers coo to see his sunshine gait but cough at his aroma. Hospitality is found after all, in parks and in the drunken streams from clubs gregarious for midnight novelties.

poet's apology--
not exactly 'myself' to
license gratitude
when time gifts symbols distance--
terror war towers still fall

Emergencies of all sorts force their way into my mind, as I live, sometimes as I write. Ambiguities serve as fulcrum nooks for meanings incompossible to hide, not being ready to share what can't be shared, obscurity offers the ineffable reprieve to be spoken nonetheless.

peering in the word--
sound signs meta symbol
witty sea of *****

property stings
abstract fights to earth
mixing labor

i found a haiku
on my coworker's desk--
where is the frog pond?

dad drinks alone--
photo recalls sunlit leaf
and beer can stare

opining fire false
freezing hearts with argument--
cold spring, winters warm

It is with the love of a child that I write, wincing harder into that self-given 'Indian-Burn' of cathartic fetish and psychological indulge. Where is maturity, and what use is it when faced with endless ground-zeros? Still open to answers, still unwilling to speak plainly or straight about the blanket crookedness and blissful meander that colors life most vividly. I imagine dacrygelosis understood.

thawing pond
creaks in headstand calm--
autumn air released

night's insight pierce
heralds migraine's ease--
gong of moon or sun

on dead wood, against
live trees, hours of *** by
mycelia blooms--
fragrant rot and sweat collide
skin spotted with forest sun

love signs everywhere--
two trunks spiraled
in a yellow wood

vocal awe resung
this is love! this is love!
deep summer fruit

rub of bark                      
vast forest sways across skin
                        naked expanse
Michael R Burch Nov 2020
Poems about Icarus

These are poems about Icarus, flying and flights of fancy...



Southern Icarus
by Michael R. Burch

Windborne, lover of heights,
unspooled from the truck’s wildly lurching embrace,
you climb, skittish kite...

What do you know of the world’s despair,
gliding in vast... solitariness... there,
so that all that remains is to
fall?

Only a little longer the wind invests its sighs;
you
stall,
spread-eagled, as the canvas snaps

and *****
its white rebellious wings,
and all

the houses watch with baffled eyes.



Flight 93
by Michael R. Burch

I held the switch in trembling fingers, asked
why existence felt so small, so purposeless,
like a minnow wriggling feebly in my grasp...

vibrations of huge engines thrummed my arms
as, glistening with sweat, I nudged the switch
to OFF... I heard the klaxon's shrill alarms

like vultures’ shriekings... earthward, in a stall...
we floated... earthward... wings outstretched, aghast
like Icarus... as through the void we fell...

till nothing was so beautiful, so blue...
so vivid as that moment... and I held
an image of your face, and dreamed I flew

into your arms. The earth rushed up. I knew
such comfort, in that moment, loving you.



I AM!
by Michael R. Burch

I am not one of ten billion―I―
sunblackened Icarus, chary fly,
staring at God with a quizzical eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I.

I am not one life has left unsquashed―
scarred as Ulysses, goddess-debauched,
pale glowworm agleam with a tale of panache.

I am not one life has left unsquashed.

I am not one without spots of disease,
laugh lines and tan lines and thick-callused knees
from begging and praying and girls sighing "Please!"

I am not one without spots of disease.

I am not one of ten billion―I―
scion of Daedalus, blackwinged fly
staring at God with a sedulous eye.

I am not one of ten billion, I
AM!



Finally to Burn
(the Fall and Resurrection of Icarus)
by Michael R. Burch

Athena takes me
sometimes by the hand

and we go levitating
through strange Dreamlands

where Apollo sleeps
in his dark forgetting

and Passion seems
like a wise bloodletting

and all I remember
, upon awaking,

is: to Love sometimes
is like forsaking

one’s Being―to glide

heroically beyond thought,

forsaking the here
for the There and the Not.



O, finally to Burn,
gravity beyond escaping!

To plummet is Bliss
when the blisters breaking

rain down red scabs
on the earth’s mudpuddle...

Feathers and wax
and the watchers huddle...

Flocculent sheep,
O, and innocent lambs!,

I will rock me to sleep
on the waves’ iambs.



To sleep's sweet relief
from Love’s exhausting Dream,

for the Night has Wings
gentler than Moonbeams―

they will flit me to Life
like a huge-eyed Phoenix

fluttering off
to quarry the Sphinx.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Quixotic, I seek Love
amid the tarnished

rusted-out steel
when to live is varnish.

To Dream―that’s the thing!

Aye, that Genie I’ll rub,

soak by the candle,
aflame in the tub.



Riddlemethis,
riddlemethat,

Rynosseross,
throw out the Welcome Mat.

Somewhither, somewhither
aglitter and strange,

we must moult off all knowledge
or perish caged.

*

I am reconciled to Life
somewhere beyond thought―

I’ll Live the Elsewhere,
I’ll Dream of the Naught.

Methinks it no journey;
to tarry’s a waste,

so fatten the oxen;
make a nice baste.

I’m coming, Fool Tom,
we have Somewhere to Go,

though we injure noone,
ourselves wildaglow.

This odd poem invokes and merges with the anonymous medieval poem “Tom O’Bedlam’s Song” and W. H. Auden’s modernist poem “Musee des Beaux Arts,” which in turn refers to Pieter Breughel’s painting “The Fall of Icarus.” In the first stanza Icarus levitates with the help of Athena, the goddess or wisdom, through “strange dreamlands” while Apollo, the sun god, lies sleeping. In the second stanza, Apollo predictably wakes up and Icarus plummets to earth, or back to mundane reality, as in Breughel’s painting and Auden’s poem. In the third stanza the grounded Icarus can still fly, but only in flights of imagination through dreams of love. In the fourth and fifth stanzas Icarus joins Tom Rynosseross of the Bedlam poem in embracing madness by deserting “knowledge” and its cages (ivory towers, etc.). In the final stanza Icarus agrees with Tom that it is “no journey” to wherever they’re going together and also agrees with Tom that they will injure no one along the way, no matter how intensely they glow and radiate. The poem can be taken as a metaphor for the death and rebirth of Poetry, and perhaps as a prophecy that Poetry will rise, radiate and reattain its former glory...



Free Fall (II)
by Michael R. Burch

I have no earthly remembrance of you, as if
we were never of earth, but merely white clouds adrift,
swirling together through Himalayan serene altitudes―
no more man and woman than exhaled breath―unable to fall
back to solid existence, despite the air’s sparseness: all
our being borne up, because of our lightness,
toward the sun’s unendurable brightness...

But since I touched you, fire consumes each wing!

We who are unable to fly, stall
contemplating disaster. Despair like an anchor, like an iron ball,
heavier than ballast, sinks on its thick-looped chain
toward the earth, and soon thereafter there will be sufficient pain
to recall existence, to make the coming darkness everlasting.



Fledglings
by Michael R. Burch

With her small eyes, pale and unforgiving,
she taught me―December is not for those
unweaned of love, the chirping nestlings
who bicker for worms with dramatic throats

still pinkly exposed, who have not yet learned
the first harsh lesson of survival: to devour
their weaker siblings in the high-leafed ferned
fortress and impregnable bower

from which men must fly like improbable dreams
to become poets. They have yet to learn that,
before they can soar starward, like fanciful archaic machines,
they must first assimilate the latest technology, or

lose all in the sudden realization of gravity,
following Icarus’s, sun-unwinged, singed trajectory.



The Higher Atmospheres
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever we became climbed on the thought
of Love itself; we floated on plumed wings
ten thousand miles above the breasted earth
that had vexed us to such Distance; now all things
seem small and pale, a girdle’s handsbreadth girth...

I break upon the rocks; I break; I fling
my human form about; I writhe; I writhe.
Invention is not Mastery, nor wings
Salvation. Here the Vulture cruelly chides
and plunges at my eyes, and coos and sings...

Oh, some will call the sun my doom, but Love
melts callow wax the higher atmospheres
leave brittle. I flew high: not high enough
to melt such frozen resins... thus, Her jeers.



Notes toward an Icarian philosophy of life...
by Michael R. Burch

If the mind’s and the heart’s quests were ever satisfied,
what would remain, as the goals of life?

If there was only light, with no occluding matter,
if there were only sunny mid-afternoons but no mysterious midnights,
what would become of the dreams of men?

What becomes of man’s vision, apart from terrestrial shadows?

And what of man’s character, formed
in the seething crucible of life and death,
hammered out on the anvil of Fate, by Will?

What becomes of man’s aims in the end,
when the hammer’s anthems at last are stilled?

If man should confront his terrible Creator,
capture him, hogtie him, hold his ***** feet to the fire,
roast him on the spit as yet another blasphemous heretic
whose faith is suspect, derelict...
torture a confession from him,
get him to admit, “I did it!...

what then?

Once man has taken revenge
on the Frankenstein who created him
and has justly crucified the One True Monster, the Creator...

what then?

Or, if revenge is not possible,
if the appearance of matter was merely a random accident,
or a group illusion (and thus a conspiracy, perhaps of dunces, us among them),
or if the Creator lies eternally beyond the reach of justice...

what then?

Perhaps there’s nothing left but for man to perfect his character,
to fly as high as his wings will take him toward unreachable suns,
to gamble everything on some unfathomable dream, like Icarus,
then fall to earth, to perish, undone...

or perhaps not, if the mystics are right
about the true nature of darkness and light.

Is there a source of knowledge beyond faith,
a revelation of heaven, of the Triumph of Love?

The Hebrew prophets seemed to think so,
and Paul, although he saw through a glass darkly,
and Julian of Norwich, who heard the voice of God say,
“All shall be well,
and all manner of things shall be well...”

Does hope spring eternal in the human breast,
or does it just blindly *****?



Icarus Bickerous
by Michael R. Burch

for the Religious Right

Like Icarus, waxen wings melting,
white tail-feathers fall, bystanders pelting.

They look up amazed
and seem rather dazed―

was it heaven’s or hell’s furious smelting

that fashioned such vulturish wings?
And why are they singed?―

the higher you “rise,” the more halting?



Earthbound, a Vision of Crazy Horse
by Michael R. Burch

Tashunka Witko, a Lakota Sioux better known as Crazy Horse, had a vision of a red-tailed hawk at Sylvan Lake, South Dakota. In his vision he saw himself riding a spirit horse, flying through a storm, as the hawk flew above him, shrieking. When he awoke, a red-tailed hawk was perched near his horse.

Earthbound,
and yet I now fly
through the clouds that are aimlessly drifting...
so high
that no sound
echoing by
below where the mountains are lifting
the sky
can be heard.

Like a bird,
but not meek,
like a hawk from a distance regarding its prey,
I will shriek,
not a word,
but a screech,
and my terrible clamor will turn them to clay―
the sheep,
the earthbound.

Published by American Indian Pride and Boston Poetry Magazine



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

It is the nature of loveliness to vanish
as butterfly wings, batting against nothingness
seek transcendence...

Originally published by Hibiscus (India)



The Wonder Boys
by Michael R. Burch

(for Leslie Mellichamp, the late editor of The Lyric,
who was a friend and mentor to many poets, and
a fine poet in his own right)

The stars were always there, too-bright cliches:
scintillant truths the jaded world outgrew
as baffled poets winged keyed kites―amazed,
in dream of shocks that suddenly came true...

but came almost as static―background noise,
a song out of the cosmos no one hears,
or cares to hear. The poets, starstruck boys,
lay tuned in to their kite strings, saucer-eared.

They thought to feel the lightning’s brilliant sparks
electrify their nerves, their brains; the smoke
of words poured from their overheated hearts.
The kite string, knotted, made a nifty rope...

You will not find them here; they blew away―
in tumbling flight beyond nights’ stars. They clung
by fingertips to satellites. They strayed
too far to remain mortal. Elfin, young,

their words are with us still. Devout and fey,
they wink at us whenever skies are gray.

Originally published by The Lyric



American Eagle, Grounded
by Michael R. Burch

Her predatory eye,
the single feral iris,
scans.

Her raptor beak,
all jagged sharp-edged ******,
juts.

Her hard talon,
clenched in pinched expectation,
waits.

Her clipped wings,
preened against reality,
tremble.

Published as “Tremble” by The Lyric, Verses Magazine, Romantics Quarterly, Journeys, The Raintown Review, Poetic Ponderings, Poem Kingdom (All-Star Tribute), The Fabric of a Vision, NPAC―Net Poetry and Art Competition, Poet’s Haven, Listening To The Birth Of Crystals(Anthology), Poetry Renewal, Inspirational Stories, Poetry Life & Times, MahMag (Iranian/Farsi), The Eclectic Muse (Canada)



Album
by Michael R. Burch

I caress them―trapped in brittle cellophane―
and I see how young they were, and how unwise;
and I remember their first flight―an old prop plane,
their blissful arc through alien blue skies...

And I touch them here through leaves which―tattered, frayed―
are also wings, but wings that never flew:
like insects’ wings―pinned, held. Here, time delayed,
their features never merged, remaining two...

And Grief, which lurked unseen beyond the lens
or in shadows where It crept on furtive claws
as It scritched Its way into their hearts, depends
on sorrows such as theirs, and works Its jaws...

and slavers for Its meat―those young, unwise,
who naively dare to dream, yet fail to see
how, lumbering sunward, Hope, ungainly, flies,
clutching to Her ruffled breast what must not be.



Springtime Prayer
by Michael R. Burch

They’ll have to grow like crazy,
the springtime baby geese,
if they’re to fly to balmier climes
when autumn dismembers the leaves...

And so I toss them loaves of bread,
then whisper an urgent prayer:
“Watch over these, my Angels,
if there’s anyone kind, up there.”

Originally published by The HyperTexts



Learning to Fly
by Michael R. Burch

We are learning to fly
every day...

learning to fly―
away, away...

O, love is not in the ephemeral flight,
but love, Love! is our destination―

graced land of eternal sunrise, radiant beyond night!
Let us bear one another up in our vast migration.



In the Whispering Night
by Michael R. Burch

for George King

In the whispering night, when the stars bend low
till the hills ignite to a shining flame,
when a shower of meteors streaks the sky
while the lilies sigh in their beds, for shame,
we must steal our souls, as they once were stolen,
and gather our vigor, and all our intent.
We must heave our bodies to some famished ocean
and laugh as they vanish, and never repent.
We must dance in the darkness as stars dance before us,
soar, Soar! through the night on a butterfly's breeze...
blown high, upward-yearning, twin spirits returning
to the heights of awareness from which we were seized.

Published by Songs of Innocence, Romantics Quarterly, The Chained Muse and Poetry Life & Times. This is a poem I wrote for my favorite college English teacher, George King, about poetic kinship, brotherhood and romantic flights of fancy.



For a Palestinian Child, with Butterflies
by Michael R. Burch

Where does the butterfly go
when lightning rails,
when thunder howls,
when hailstones scream,
when winter scowls,
when nights compound dark frosts with snow...
Where does the butterfly go?

Where does the rose hide its bloom
when night descends oblique and chill
beyond the capacity of moonlight to fill?
When the only relief's a banked fire's glow,
where does the butterfly go?

And where shall the spirit flee
when life is harsh, too harsh to face,
and hope is lost without a trace?
Oh, when the light of life runs low,
where does the butterfly go?

Published by Tucumcari Literary Review, Romantics Quarterly, Poetry Life & Times, Victorian Violet Press (where it was nominated for a “Best of the Net”), The Contributor (a Nashville homeless newspaper), Siasat (Pakistan), and set to music as a part of the song cycle “The Children of Gaza” which has been performed in various European venues by the Palestinian soprano Dima Bawab



Sioux Vision Quest
by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A man must pursue his Vision
as the eagle explores
the sky's deepest blues.

Published by Better Than Starbucks, A Hundred Voices



in-flight convergence
by Michael R. Burch

serene, almost angelic,
the lights of the city ―― extend ――
over lumbering behemoths
shrilly screeching displeasure;
they say
that nothing is certain,
that nothing man dreams or ordains
long endures his command

here the streetlights that flicker
and those blazing steadfast
seem one: from a distance;
descend,
they abruptly
part ―――――― ways,

so that nothing is one
which at times does not suddenly blend
into garish insignificance
in the familiar alleyways,
in the white neon flash
and the billboards of Convenience

and man seems the afterthought of his own Brilliance
as we thunder down the enlightened runways.

Originally published by The Aurorean and subsequently nominated for the Pushcart Prize



Squall
by Michael R. Burch

There, in that sunny arbor,
in the aureate light
filtering through the waxy leaves
of a stunted banana tree,

I felt the sudden monsoon of your wrath,
the clattery implosions
and copper-bright bursts
of the bottoms of pots and pans.

I saw your swollen goddess’s belly
wobble and heave
in pregnant indignation,
turned tail, and ran.

Published by Chrysanthemum, Poetry Super Highway, Barbitos and Poetry Life & Times



Flight
by Michael R. Burch

Eagle, raven, blackbird, crow...
What you are I do not know.
Where you go I do not care.
I’m unconcerned whose meal you bear.
But as you mount the sunlit sky,
I only wish that I could fly.
I only wish that I could fly.

Robin, hawk or whippoorwill...
Should men care that you hunger still?
I do not wish to see your home.
I do not wonder where you roam.
But as you scale the sky's bright stairs,
I only wish that I were there.
I only wish that I were there.

Sparrow, lark or chickadee...
Your markings I disdain to see.
Where you fly concerns me not.
I scarcely give your flight a thought.
But as you wheel and arc and dive,
I, too, would feel so much alive.
I, too, would feel so much alive.

This is a poem that I believe I wrote as a high school sophomore. But it could have been written a bit later. I seem to remember the original poem being influenced by William Cullen Bryant's "To a Waterfowl."



Flying
by Michael R. Burch

I shall rise
and try the ****** wings of thought
ten thousand times
before I fly...

and then I'll sleep
and waste ten thousand nights
before I dream;
but when at last...

I soar the distant heights of undreamt skies
where never hawks nor eagles dared to go,
as I laugh among the meteors flashing by
somewhere beyond the bluest earth-bound seas...

if I'm not told
I’m just a man,
then I shall know
just what I am.

This is one of my early poems, written around age 16-17. According to my notes, I may have revised the poem later, in 1978, but if so the changes were minor because the poem remains very close to the original.



Stage Craft-y
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a dromedary
who befriended a crafty canary.
Budgie said, "You can’t sing,
but now, here’s the thing―
just think of the tunes you can carry!"



Clyde Lied!
by Michael R. Burch

There once was a mockingbird, Clyde,
who bragged of his prowess, but lied.
To his new wife he sighed,
"When again, gentle bride?"
"Nevermore!" bright-eyed Raven replied.



Less Heroic Couplets: ****** Most Fowl!
by Michael R. Burch

“****** most foul!”
cried the mouse to the owl.

“Friend, I’m no sinner;
you’re merely my dinner!”
the wise owl replied
as the tasty snack died.

Published by Lighten Up Online and in Potcake Chapbook #7

NOTE: In an attempt to demonstrate that not all couplets are heroic, I have created a series of poems called “Less Heroic Couplets.” I believe even poets should abide by truth-in-advertising laws! ― MRB



Lance-Lot
by Michael R. Burch

Preposterous bird!
Inelegant! Absurd!

Until the great & mighty heron
brandishes his fearsome sword.



Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’
by Michael R. Burch

Kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ the bees rise
in a dizzy circle of two.
Oh, when I’m with you,
I feel like kissin’ ’n’ buzzin’ too.



Delicacy
by Michael R. Burch

for all good mothers

Your love is as delicate
as a butterfly cleaning its wings,
as soft as the predicate
the hummingbird sings
to itself, gently murmuring―
“Fly! Fly! Fly!”
Your love is the string
soaring kites untie.



Lone Wild Goose
by Du Fu (712-770)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The abandoned goose refuses food and drink;
he cries querulously for his companions.

Who feels kinship for that strange wraith
as he vanishes eerily into the heavens?

You watch it as it disappears;
its plaintive calls cut through you.

The indignant crows ignore you both:
the bickering, bantering multitudes.

Du Fu (712-770) is also known as Tu Fu. The first poem is addressed to the poet's wife, who had fled war with their children. Ch'ang-an is an ironic pun because it means "Long-peace."



The Red Cockatoo
by Po Chu-I (772-846)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A marvelous gift from Annam―
a red cockatoo,
bright as peach blossom,
fluent in men's language.

So they did what they always do
to the erudite and eloquent:
they created a thick-barred cage
and shut it up.

Po Chu-I (772-846) is best known today for his ballads and satirical poems. Po Chu-I believed poetry should be accessible to commoners and is noted for his simple diction and natural style. His name has been rendered various ways in English: Po Chu-I, Po Chü-i, Bo Juyi and Bai Juyi.



The Migrant Songbird
Li Qingzhao aka Li Ching-chao (c. 1084-1155)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The migrant songbird on the nearby yew
brings tears to my eyes with her melodious trills;
this fresh downpour reminds me of similar spills:
another spring gone, and still no word from you...



Lines from Laolao Ting Pavilion
by Li Bai (701-762)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The spring breeze knows partings are bitter;
The willow twig knows it will never be green again.



The Day after the Rain
Lin Huiyin (1904-1955)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I love the day after the rain
and the meadow's green expanses!
My heart endlessly rises with wind,
gusts with wind...
away the new-mown grasses and the fallen leaves...
away the clouds like smoke...
vanishing like smoke...



Untitled Translations

Cupid, if you incinerate my soul, touché!
For like you she has wings and can fly away!
―Meleager, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

As autumn deepens,
a butterfly sips
chrysanthemum dew.
―Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Come, butterfly,
it’s late
and we’ve a long way to go!
―Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Up and at ’em! The sky goes bright!
Let’***** the road again,
Companion Butterfly!
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ah butterfly,
what dreams do you ply
with your beautiful wings?
―Chiyo-ni, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Oh, dreamlike winter butterfly:
a puff of white snow
cresting mountains
―Kakio Tomizawa, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Dry leaf flung awry:
bright butterfly,
goodbye!
―Michael R. Burch, original haiku

Will we remain parted forever?
Here at your grave:
two flowerlike butterflies
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

a soaring kite flits
into the heart of the sun?
Butterfly & Chrysanthemum
―Michael R. Burch, original haiku

The cheerful-chirping cricket
contends gray autumn's gay,
contemptuous of frost
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Whistle on, twilight whippoorwill,
solemn evangelist
of loneliness
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

The sea darkening,
the voices of the wild ducks:
my mysterious companions!
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Lightning
shatters the darkness―
the night heron's shriek
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

This snowy morning:
cries of the crow I despise
(ah, but so beautiful!)
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation by Michael R. Burch

A crow settles
on a leafless branch:
autumn nightfall.
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Hush, cawing crows; what rackets you make!
Heaven's indignant messengers,
you remind me of wordsmiths!
―O no Yasumaro (circa 711), loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Higher than a skylark,
resting on the breast of heaven:
this mountain pass.
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

An exciting struggle
with such a sad ending:
cormorant fishing.
―Matsuo Basho, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Does my soul abide in heaven, or hell?
Only the sea gull
in his high, lonely circuits, may tell.
―Glaucus, translation by Michael R. Burch

The eagle sees farther
from its greater height―
our ancestors’ wisdom
―Michael R. Burch, original haiku

A kite floats
at the same place in the sky
where yesterday it floated...
―Yosa Buson, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch



Critical Mass
by Michael R. Burch

I have listened to the rain all this morning
and it has a certain gravity,
as if it knows its destination,
perhaps even its particular destiny.
I do not believe mine is to be uplifted,
although I, too, may be flung precipitously
and from a great height.

"Gravity" and "particular destiny" are puns, since rain droplets are seeded by minute particles of dust adrift in the atmosphere and they fall due to gravity when they reach "critical mass." The title is also a pun, since the poem is skeptical about heaven-lauding Masses, etc.



Ultimate Sunset
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

he now faces the Ultimate Sunset,
his body like the leaves that fray as they dry,
shedding their vital fluids (who knows why?)
till they’ve become even lighter than the covering sky,
ready to fly...



Free Fall
by Michael R. Burch

for my father, Paul Ray Burch, Jr.

I see the longing for departure gleam
in his still-keen eye,
and I understand his desire
to test this last wind, like those late autumn leaves
with nothing left to cling to...



Leaf Fall
by Michael R. Burch

Whatever winds encountered soon resolved
to swirling fragments, till chaotic heaps
of leaves lay pulsing by the backyard wall.
In lieu of rakes, our fingers sorted each
dry leaf into its place and built a high,
soft bastion against earth's gravitron―
a patchwork quilt, a trampoline, a bright
impediment to fling ourselves upon.

And nothing in our laughter as we fell
into those leaves was like the autumn's cry
of also falling. Nothing meant to die
could be so bright as we, so colorful―
clad in our plaids, oblivious to pain
we'd feel today, should we leaf-fall again.

Originally published by The Neovictorian/Cochlea



The Folly of Wisdom
by Michael R. Burch

She is wise in the way that children are wise,
looking at me with such knowing, grave eyes
I must bend down to her to understand.
But she only smiles, and takes my hand.

We are walking somewhere that her feet know to go,
so I smile, and I follow...

And the years are dark creatures concealed in bright leaves
that flutter above us, and what she believes―
I can almost remember―goes something like this:
the prince is a horned toad, awaiting her kiss.

She wiggles and giggles, and all will be well
if only we find him! The woodpecker’s knell
as he hammers the coffin of some dying tree
that once was a fortress to someone like me

rings wildly above us. Some things that we know
we are meant to forget. Life is a bloodletting, maple-syrup-slow.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly



Kin
by Michael R. Burch

for Richard Moore

1.
Shrill gulls,
how like my thoughts
you, struggling, rise
to distant bliss―
the weightless blue of skies
that are not blue
in any atmosphere,
but closest here...

2.
You seek an air
so clear,
so rarified
the effort leaves you famished;
earthly tides
soon call you back―
one long, descending glide...

3.
Disgruntledly you ***** dirt shores for orts
you pull like mucous ropes
from shells’ bright forts...
You eye the teeming world
with nervous darts―
this way and that...

Contentious, shrewd, you scan―
the sky, in hope,
the earth, distrusting man.



Songstress
by Michael R. Burch

Within its starkwhite ribcage, how the heart
must flutter wildly, O, and always sing
against the pressing darkness: all it knows
until at last it feels the numbing sting
of death. Then life's brief vision swiftly passes,
imposing night on one who clearly saw.
Death held your bright heart tightly, till its maw―
envenomed, fanged―could swallow, whole, your Awe.
And yet it was not death so much as you
who sealed your doom; you could not help but sing
and not be silenced. Here, behold your tomb's
white alabaster cage: pale, wretched thing!
But you'll not be imprisoned here, wise wren!
Your words soar free; rise, sing, fly, live again.

A poet like Nadia Anjuman can be likened to a caged bird, deprived of flight, who somehow finds it within herself to sing of love and beauty. But when the world finally robs her of both flight and song, what is left for her but to leave the world, thus bereaving the world of herself and her song?



Performing Art
by Michael R. Burch

Who teaches the wren
in its drab existence
to explode into song?

What parodies of irony
does the jay espouse
with its sharp-edged tongue?

What instinctual memories
lend stunning brightness
to the strange dreams

of the dull gray slug
―spinning its chrysalis,
gluing rough seams―

abiding in darkness
its transformation,
till, waving damp wings,

it applauds its performance?
I am done with irony.
Life itself sings.



Lean Harvests
by Michael R. Burch

for T.M.

the trees are shedding their leaves again:
another summer is over.
the Christians are praising their Maker again,
but not the disconsolate plover:
i hear him berate
the fate
of his mate;
he claims God is no body’s lover.

Published by The Rotary Dial and Angle



My Forty-Ninth Year
by Michael R. Burch

My forty-ninth year
and the dew remembers
how brightly it glistened
encrusting September,...
one frozen September
when hawks ruled the sky
and death fell on wings
with a shrill, keening cry.

My forty-ninth year,
and still I recall
the weavings and windings
of childhood, of fall...
of fall enigmatic,
resplendent, yet sere,...
though vibrant the herald
of death drawing near.

My forty-ninth year
and now often I've thought on
the course of a lifetime,
the meaning of autumn,
the cycle of autumn
with winter to come,
of aging and death
and rebirth... on and on.

Originally published by Romantics Quarterly as “My Twenty-Ninth Year”



Myth
by Michael R. Burch

Here the recalcitrant wind
sighs with grievance and remorse
over fields of wayward gorse
and thistle-throttled lanes.

And she is the myth of the scythed wheat
hewn and sighing, complete,
waiting, lain in a low sheaf―
full of faith, full of grief.

Here the immaculate dawn
requires belief of the leafed earth
and she is the myth of the mown grain―
golden and humble in all its weary worth.



What Works
by Michael R. Burch

for David Gosselin

What works―
hewn stone;
the blush the iris shows the sun;
the lilac’s pale-remembered bloom.

The frenzied fly: mad-lively, gay,
as seconds tick his time away,
his sentence―one brief day in May,
a period. And then decay.

A frenzied rhyme’s mad tip-toed time,
a ballad’s languid as the sea,
seek, striving―immortality.

When gloss peels off, what works will shine.
When polish fades, what works will gleam.
When intellectual prattle pales,
the dying buzzing in the hive
of tedious incessant bees,
what works will soar and wheel and dive
and milk all honey, leap and thrive,

and teach the pallid poem to seethe.



Desdemona
by Michael R. Burch

Though you possessed the moon and stars,
you are bound to fate and wed to chance.
Your lips deny they crave a kiss;
your feet deny they ache to dance.
Your heart imagines wild romance.

Though you cupped fire in your hands
and molded incandescent forms,
you are barren now, and―spent of flame―
the ashes that remain are borne
toward the sun upon a storm.

You, who demanded more, have less,
your heart within its cells of sighs
held fast by chains of misery,
confined till death for peddling lies―
imprisonment your sense denies.

You, who collected hearts like leaves
and pressed each once within your book,
forgot. None―winsome, bright or rare―
not one was worth a second look.
My heart, as others, you forsook.

But I, though I loved you from afar
through silent dawns, and gathered rue
from gardens where your footsteps left
cold paths among the asters, knew―
each moonless night the nettles grew

and strangled hope, where love dies too.

Published by Penny Dreadful, Carnelian, Romantics Quarterly, Grassroots Poetry and Poetry Life & Times



Transplant
by Michael R. Burch

You float, unearthly angel, clad in flesh
as strange to us who briefly knew your flame
as laughter to disease. And yet you laugh.
Behind your smile, the sun forfeits its claim
to earth, and floats forever now the same―
light captured at its moment of least height.

You laugh here always, welcoming the night,
and, just a photograph, still you can claim
bright rapture: like an angel, not of flesh―
but something more, made less. Your humanness
this moment of release becomes a name
and something else―a radiance, a strange
brief presence near our hearts. How can we stand
and chain you here to this nocturnal land
of burgeoning gray shadows? Fly, begone.
I give you back your soul, forfeit all claim
to radiance, and welcome grief’s dark night
that crushes all the laughter from us. Light
in someone Else’s hand, and sing at ease
some song of brightsome mirth through dawn-lit trees
to welcome morning’s sun. O daughter! these
are eyes too weak for laughter; for love’s sight,
I welcome darkness, overcome with light.



Prodigal
by Michael R. Burch

This poem is dedicated to Kevin Longinotti, who died four days short of graduation from Vanderbilt University, the victim of a tornado that struck Nashville on April 16, 1998.

You have graduated now,
to a higher plane
and your heart’s tenacity
teaches us not to go gently
though death intrudes.

For eighteen days
―jarring interludes
of respite and pain―
with life only faintly clinging,
like a cashmere snow,
testing the capacity
of the blood banks
with the unstaunched flow
of your severed veins,
in the collapsing declivity,
in the sanguine haze
where Death broods,
you struggled defiantly.

A city mourns its adopted son,
flown to the highest ranks
while each heart complains
at the harsh validity
of God’s ways.

On ponderous wings
the white clouds move
with your captured breath,
though just days before
they spawned the maelstrom’s
hellish rift.

Throw off this mortal coil,
this envelope of flesh,
this brief sheath
of inarticulate grief
and transient joy.

Forget the winds
which test belief,
which bear the parchment leaf
down life’s last sun-lit path.

We applaud your spirit, O Prodigal,
O Valiant One,
in its percussive flight into the sun,
winging on the heart’s last madrigal.



Breakings
by Michael R. Burch

I did it out of pity.
I did it out of love.
I did it not to break the heart of a tender, wounded dove.

But gods without compassion
ordained: Frail things must break!
Now what can I do for her shattered psyche’s sake?

I did it not to push.
I did it not to shove.
I did it to assist the flight of indiscriminate Love.

But gods, all mad as hatters,
who legislate in all such matters,
ordained that everything irreplaceable shatters.



An Illusion
by Michael R. Burch

The sky was as hushed as the breath of a bee
and the world was bathed in shades of palest gold
when I awoke.

She came to me with the sound of falling leaves
and the scent of new-mown grass;
I held out my arms to her and she passed

into oblivion...

This is one of my early poems, written around age 16 and published in my high school literary journal, The Lantern.



Lines for My Ascension
by Michael R. Burch

I.

If I should die,
there will come a Doom,
and the sky will darken
to the deepest Gloom.

But if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

II.

If I should die,
let no mortal say,
“Here was a man,
with feet of clay,

or a timid sparrow
God’s hand let fall.”
But watch the sky darken
to an eerie pall

and know that my Spirit,
unvanquished, broods,
and cares naught for graves,
prayers, coffins, or roods.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

III.

If I should die,
let no man adore
his incompetent Maker:
Zeus, Jehovah, or Thor.

Think of Me as One
who never died―
the unvanquished Immortal
with the unriven side.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.

IV.

And if I should “die,”
though the clouds grow dark
as fierce lightnings rend
this bleak asteroid, stark...

If you look above,
you will see a bright Sign―
the sun with the moon
in its arms, Divine.

So divine, if you can,
my bright meaning, and know―
my Spirit is mine.
I will go where I go.

And if my body
should not be found,
never think of me
in the cold ground.



The Locker
by Michael R. Burch

All the dull hollow clamor has died
and what was contained,
removed,

reproved
adulation or sentiment,
left with the pungent darkness

as remembered as the sudden light.

Originally published by The Raintown Review



Keywords/Tags: Sports, locker, lockerroom, clamor, adulation, acclaim, applause, sentiment, darkness, light, retirement, athlete, team, trophy, award, acclamation


Keywords/Tags: Icarus, Daedalus, flight, fly, flying, wind, wings, sun, height, heights, fall, falling, ascent, descent, imagination, bird, birds, butterfly, butterflies, hawk, eagle, geese, plane, kite, kites, mrbfly, mrbflight, mrbicarus
Christian Bixler Sep 2015
To her side I laughing fell,
there in the violets, and in
the warmth of summers noon.
Love burned in my straining
breast; light reflected in the beauty
of her smile. We ran in that pagan
sunlit idyll; Life, the race and the
scented joy, as we ran in the grass,
in the light, and in laughter. Lovely, she,
in sunlit grace. Our joy the limit of
life and sky.

Still lovely, she, in death, as in life.
Lovely still, as she is laid to her rest,
down among lilies and lilacs and silk,
and amidst the tears of the living, bereft
in their joy, of the life and the youth and
the laughter that was she. I cry out in a
broken voice, "Allele! Remember the joy
and the summer and the wind in the trees!
Remember the long days laughing in the
shade of the oak, of the leaves and the
breeze and the waterfall splashing! Go not
softly into the dark tomorrow. Take your life
with you. Do not end in the darkness, alone,
in the darkness." Whispered the last, voice rough
in sorrow. And I wept, there, in the summers starlit
dark.
Forgive me. A dark mood is on me, now.
I

What new element before us unborn in nature? Is there
        a new thing under the Sun?
At last inquisitive Whitman a modern epic, detonative,
        Scientific theme
First penned unmindful by Doctor Seaborg with poison-
        ous hand, named for Death's planet through the
        sea beyond Uranus
whose chthonic ore fathers this magma-teared Lord of
        Hades, Sire of avenging Furies, billionaire Hell-
        King worshipped once
with black sheep throats cut, priests's face averted from
        underground mysteries in single temple at Eleusis,
Spring-green Persephone nuptialed to his inevitable
        Shade, Demeter mother of asphodel weeping dew,
her daughter stored in salty caverns under white snow,
        black hail, grey winter rain or Polar ice, immemor-
        able seasons before
Fish flew in Heaven, before a Ram died by the starry
        bush, before the Bull stamped sky and earth
or Twins inscribed their memories in clay or Crab'd
        flood
washed memory from the skull, or Lion sniffed the
        lilac breeze in Eden--
Before the Great Year began turning its twelve signs,
        ere constellations wheeled for twenty-four thousand
        sunny years
slowly round their axis in Sagittarius, one hundred
        sixty-seven thousand times returning to this night

Radioactive Nemesis were you there at the beginning
        black dumb tongueless unsmelling blast of Disil-
        lusion?
I manifest your Baptismal Word after four billion years
I guess your birthday in Earthling Night, I salute your
        dreadful presence last majestic as the Gods,
Sabaot, Jehova, Astapheus, Adonaeus, Elohim, Iao,
        Ialdabaoth, Aeon from Aeon born ignorant in an
        Abyss of Light,
Sophia's reflections glittering thoughtful galaxies, whirl-
        pools of starspume silver-thin as hairs of Einstein!
Father Whitman I celebrate a matter that renders Self
        oblivion!
Grand Subject that annihilates inky hands & pages'
        prayers, old orators' inspired Immortalities,
I begin your chant, openmouthed exhaling into spacious
        sky over silent mills at Hanford, Savannah River,
        Rocky Flats, Pantex, Burlington, Albuquerque
I yell thru Washington, South Carolina, Colorado,
        Texas, Iowa, New Mexico,
Where nuclear reactors creat a new Thing under the
        Sun, where Rockwell war-plants fabricate this death
        stuff trigger in nitrogen baths,
Hanger-Silas Mason assembles the terrified weapon
        secret by ten thousands, & where Manzano Moun-
        tain boasts to store
its dreadful decay through two hundred forty millenia
        while our Galaxy spirals around its nebulous core.
I enter your secret places with my mind, I speak with
        your presence, I roar your Lion Roar with mortal
        mouth.
One microgram inspired to one lung, ten pounds of
        heavy metal dust adrift slow motion over grey
        Alps
the breadth of the planet, how long before your radiance
        speeds blight and death to sentient beings?
Enter my body or not I carol my spirit inside you,
        Unnaproachable Weight,
O heavy heavy Element awakened I vocalize your con-
        sciousness to six worlds
I chant your absolute Vanity.  Yeah monster of Anger
        birthed in fear O most
Ignorant matter ever created unnatural to Earth! Delusion
        of metal empires!
Destroyer of lying Scientists! Devourer of covetous
        Generals, Incinerator of Armies & Melter of Wars!
Judgement of judgements, Divine Wind over vengeful
        nations, Molester of Presidents, Death-Scandal of
        Capital politics! Ah civilizations stupidly indus-
        trious!
Canker-Hex on multitudes learned or illiterate! Manu-
        factured Spectre of human reason! O solidified
        imago of practicioner in Black Arts
I dare your reality, I challenge your very being! I
        publish your cause and effect!
I turn the wheel of Mind on your three hundred tons!
        Your name enters mankind's ear! I embody your
        ultimate powers!
My oratory advances on your vaunted Mystery! This
        breath dispels your braggart fears! I sing your
        form at last
behind your concrete & iron walls inside your fortress
        of rubber & translucent silicon shields in filtered
        cabinets and baths of lathe oil,
My voice resounds through robot glove boxes & ignot
        cans and echoes in electric vaults inert of atmo-
        sphere,
I enter with spirit out loud into your fuel rod drums
        underground on soundless thrones and beds of
        lead
O density! This weightless anthem trumpets transcendent
        through hidden chambers and breaks through
        iron doors into the Infernal Room!
Over your dreadful vibration this measured harmony        
        floats audible, these jubilant tones are honey and
        milk and wine-sweet water
Poured on the stone black floor, these syllables are
        barley groats I scatter on the Reactor's core,
I call your name with hollow vowels, I psalm your Fate
        close by, my breath near deathless ever at your
        side
to Spell your destiny, I set this verse prophetic on your
        mausoleum walls to seal you up Eternally with
        Diamond Truth!  O doomed Plutonium.

                        II

The Bar surveys Plutonian history from midnight
        lit with Mercury Vapor streetlamps till in dawn's
        early light
he contemplates a tranquil politic spaced out between
        Nations' thought-forms proliferating bureaucratic
& horrific arm'd, Satanic industries projected sudden
        with Five Hundred Billion Dollar Strength
around the world same time this text is set in Boulder,
        Colorado before front range of Rocky Mountains
twelve miles north of Rocky Flats Nuclear Facility in
        United States of North America, Western Hemi-
        sphere
of planet Earth six months and fourteen days around
        our Solar System in a Spiral Galaxy
the local year after Dominion of the last God nineteen
        hundred seventy eight
Completed as yellow hazed dawn clouds brighten East,
        Denver city white below
Blue sky transparent rising empty deep & spacious to a
        morning star high over the balcony
above some autos sat with wheels to curb downhill
        from Flatiron's jagged pine ridge,
sunlit mountain meadows sloped to rust-red sandstone
        cliffs above brick townhouse roofs
as sparrows waked whistling through Marine Street's
        summer green leafed trees.

                        III
                        
This ode to you O Poets and Orators to come, you
        father Whitman as I join your side, you Congress
        and American people,
you present meditators, spiritual friends & teachers,
        you O Master of the Diamond Arts,
Take this wheel of syllables in hand, these vowels and
        consonants to breath's end
take this inhalation of black poison to your heart, breath
        out this blessing from your breast on our creation
forests cities oceans deserts rocky flats and mountains
        in the Ten Directions pacify with exhalation,
enrich this Plutonian Ode to explode its empty thunder
        through earthen thought-worlds
Magnetize this howl with heartless compassion, destroy
        this mountain of Plutonium with ordinary mind
        and body speech,
thus empower this Mind-guard spirit gone out, gone
        out, gone beyond, gone beyond me, Wake space,
        so Ah!
        
                                        July 14, 1978
amrutha Sep 2014
Take my hand onto your sun-kissed palm
Let us flee, the sunshine so warm
Your beautiful black eyes under the sun
Holding oceans of orange morning light
In you, I spend myself
Reincarnated every first second of daybreak
Like the sun rising up the horizon
Glory locked between your fingers and mine
As the moonlight shyly falls onto us
The night steals the morning light
And when I look into your eyes this moment
I still see the golden sunshine.
For Sir Pradip. :)
God bless.
As evening falls,
The walls grow luminous and warm, the walls
Tremble and glow with the lives within them moving,
Moving like music, secret and rich and warm.
How shall we live to-night, where shall we turn?
To what new light or darkness yearn?
A thousand winding stairs lead down before us;
And one by one in myriads we descend
By lamplit flowered walls, long balustrades,
Through half-lit halls which reach no end. . . .

Take my arm, then, you or you or you,
And let us walk abroad on the solid air:
Look how the organist's head, in silhouette,
Leans to the lamplit music's orange square! . . .
The dim-globed lamps illumine rows of faces,
Rows of hands and arms and hungry eyes,
They have hurried down from a myriad secret places,
From windy chambers next to the skies. . . .
The music comes upon us. . . it shakes the darkness,
It shakes the darkness in our minds. . . .
And brilliant figures suddenly fill the darkness,
Down the white shaft of light they run through darkness,
And in our hearts a dazzling dream unwinds . . .

Take my hand, then, walk with me
By the slow soundless crashings of a sea
Down miles on miles of glistening mirrorlike sand,--
Take my hand
And walk with me once more by crumbling walls;
Up mouldering stairs where grey-stemmed ivy clings,
To hear forgotten bells, as evening falls,
Rippling above us invisibly their slowly widening rings. . . .
Did you once love me?  Did you bear a name?
Did you once stand before me without shame? . . .
Take my hand: your face is one I know,
I loved you, long ago:
You are like music, long forgotten, suddenly come to mind;
You are like spring returned through snow.
Once, I know, I walked with you in starlight,
And many nights I slept and dreamed of you;
Come, let us climb once more these stairs of starlight,
This midnight stream of cloud-flung blue! . . .
Music murmurs beneath us like a sea,
And faints to a ghostly whisper . . . Come with me.

Are you still doubtful of me--hesitant still,
Fearful, perhaps, that I may yet remember
What you would gladly, if you could, forget?
You were unfaithful once, you met your lover;
Still in your heart you bear that red-eyed ember;
And I was silent,--you remember my silence yet . . .
You knew, as well as I, I could not **** him,
Nor touch him with hot hands, nor yet with hate.
No, and it was not you I saw with anger.
Instead, I rose and beat at steel-walled fate,
Cried till I lay exhausted, sick, unfriended,
That life, so seeming sure, and love, so certain,
Should loose such tricks, be so abruptly ended,
Ring down so suddenly an unlooked-for curtain.

How could I find it in my heart to hurt you,
You, whom this love could hurt much more than I?
No, you were pitiful, and I gave you pity;
And only hated you when I saw you cry.
We were two dupes; if I could give forgiveness,--
Had I the right,--I should forgive you now . . .
We were two dupes . . . Come, let us walk in starlight,
And feed our griefs: we do not break, but bow.

Take my hand, then, come with me
By the white shadowy crashings of a sea . . .
Look how the long volutes of foam unfold
To spread their mottled shimmer along the sand! . . .
Take my hand,
Do not remember how these depths are cold,
Nor how, when you are dead,
Green leagues of sea will glimmer above your head.
You lean your face upon your hands and cry,
The blown sand whispers about your feet,
Terrible seems it now to die,--
Terrible now, with life so incomplete,
To turn away from the balconies and the music,
The sunlit afternoons,
To hear behind you there a far-off laughter
Lost in a stirring of sand among dry dunes . . .
Die not sadly, you whom life has beaten!
Lift your face up, laughing, die like a queen!
Take cold flowers of foam in your warm white fingers!
Death's but a change of sky from blue to green . . .

As evening falls,
The walls grow luminous and warm, the walls
Tremble and glow . . . the music breathes upon us,
The rayed white shaft plays over our heads like magic,
And to and fro we move and lean and change . . .
You, in a world grown strange,
Laugh at a darkness, clench your hands despairing,
Smash your glass on a floor, no longer caring,
Sink suddenly down and cry . . .
You hear the applause that greets your latest rival,
You are forgotten: your rival--who knows?--is I . . .
I laugh in the warm bright light of answering laughter,
I am inspired and young . . . and though I see
You sitting alone there, dark, with shut eyes crying,
I bask in the light, and in your hate of me . . .
Failure . . . well, the time comes soon or later . . .
The night must come . . . and I'll be one who clings,
Desperately, to hold the applause, one instant,--
To keep some youngster waiting in the wings.

The music changes tone . . . a room is darkened,
Someone is moving . . . the crack of white light widens,
And all is dark again; till suddenly falls
A wandering disk of light on floor and walls,
Winks out, returns again, climbs and descends,
Gleams on a clock, a glass, shrinks back to darkness;
And then at last, in the chaos of that place,
Dazzles like frozen fire on your clear face.
Well, I have found you.  We have met at last.
Now you shall not escape me: in your eyes
I see the horrible huddlings of your past,--
All you remember blackens, utters cries,
Reaches far hands and faint.  I hold the light
Close to your cheek, watch the pained pupils shrink,--
Watch the vile ghosts of all you vilely think . . .
Now all the hatreds of my life have met
To hold high carnival . . . we do not speak,
My fingers find the well-loved throat they seek,
And press, and fling you down . . . and then forget.

Who plays for me?  What sudden drums keep time
To the ecstatic rhythm of my crime?
What flute shrills out as moonlight strikes the floor? . .
What violin so faintly cries
Seeing how strangely in the moon he lies? . . .
The room grows dark once more,
The crack of white light narrows around the door,
And all is silent, except a slow complaining
Of flutes and violins, like music waning.

Take my hand, then, walk with me
By the slow soundless crashings of a sea . . .
Look, how white these shells are, on this sand!
Take my hand,
And watch the waves run inward from the sky
Line upon foaming line to plunge and die.
The music that bound our lives is lost behind us,
Paltry it seems . . . here in this wind-swung place
Motionless under the sky's vast vault of azure
We stand in a terror of beauty, face to face.
The dry grass creaks in the wind, the blown sand whispers,

The soft sand seethes on the dunes, the clear grains glisten,
Once they were rock . . . a chaos of golden boulders . . .
Now they are blown by the wind . . . we stand and listen
To the sliding of grain upon timeless grain
And feel our lives go past like a whisper of pain.
Have I not seen you, have we not met before
Here on this sun-and-sea-wrecked shore?
You shade your sea-gray eyes with a sunlit hand
And peer at me . . . far sea-gulls, in your eyes,
Flash in the sun, go down . . . I hear slow sand,
And shrink to nothing beneath blue brilliant skies . . .

     *     *     *     *     *

The music ends.  The screen grows dark.  We hurry
To go our devious secret ways, forgetting
Those many lives . . .  We loved, we laughed, we killed,
We danced in fire, we drowned in a whirl of sea-waves.
The flutes are stilled, and a thousand dreams are stilled.

Whose body have I found beside dark waters,
The cold white body, garlanded with sea-****?
Staring with wide eyes at the sky?
I bent my head above it, and cried in silence.
Only the things I dreamed of heard my cry.

Once I loved, and she I loved was darkened.
Again I loved, and love itself was darkened.
Vainly we follow the circle of shadowy days.
The screen at last grows dark, the flutes are silent.
The doors of night are closed.  We go our ways.
The Terry Tree Dec 2014
In fields you walk with cloven wanderlust
With blankets carried on your back as fleece
Protecting fellow sheep-fold innocence
From devious behavior in the flock
Smiling as you bleat and stride as golden
Reflecting rays like sunlit drops of milk

A lamb of God your knowledge is your milk
Your curiosity breathes wanderlust
A message from the ancient one baas golden
Engraved upon your heart and curls of fleece
Observe the blessed range within your flock
Stray not for you may lose your innocence

A fog in hills may blind your innocence
Beware the wolf will take more than your milk
And with each day you bond among your flock
Behold the beauty of group wanderlust
We thank you for your warm and cherished fleece
That soothes us as earth's twilight breaks golden

Glory to the impossible golden
For myths of your spiritual innocence
Merely trumpets what liberates your fleece
The holy grail is your chalice of milk
Discovered in a cave of wanderlust
Restful within the shadow of your flock

What joy is raised in stables of your flock
An offering of ritual golden
Pasture of thirsty hearts in wanderlust
You teach us to hold fast to innocence
How precious is the richness of your milk
Our comfort is to rest our heads on fleece

A new dawn to behold an age of fleece
A new dusk to protect an ancient flock
A new day to preserve the gift of milk
A new memory to hold futures golden
A never ending age of innocence
A satiated age of wanderlust

Fruitful wanderlust of black sage fleece
Shepherds innocence to a white cloaked flock
Prepare ye golden moments with thine milk

© tHE tERRY tREE
Poetic Form | Sestina
A sestina is a form of poetry that uses a method of repeating words at the end of each line. It has 6 stanzas of 6 lines each, with an envoy (or tercet) of three lines to conclude the poem.
A Mareship Sep 2013
A million bitten off breaths
Hang quietly.
I’m close enough to hear
her thudding -
A jarring noise that parts
a cloud of frothy swans.

We’ve all seen photographs
in Wildlife Books –
I’m sure you can conjure up
the moment a water bird
lances a sunlit river
with the very tip of its beak
to gobble a fish.
It’s a difficult photo to take,
It’s all over so quickly -
The fish caught,
The river moving, moving,
Still.
But here she is in front of me,
That bird,
Suspended with one
Foot in this world,
And the other
In another.

Her toes grind up the
Spotlight,
Trampling into
the moon and balancing there,
(I'm surprised the stage
is not full of chalk.)
It's not beautiful,
Not ghostly,
But all visceral meat glistening,
Fitness, strength, survival,
Like nature…

No need to take a photo,
She is a picture that my mind has
Tricked me into taking.

So perhaps that’s talent, darling..?

Or
Perhaps it’s something else, with a name I never knew.
Well, as you say, we live for small horizons:
We move in crowds, we flow and talk together,
Seeing so many eyes and hands and faces,
So many mouths, and all with secret meanings,--
Yet know so little of them; only seeing
The small bright circle of our consciousness,
Beyond which lies the dark.  Some few we know--
Or think we know. . .  Once, on a sun-bright morning,
I walked in a certain hallway, trying to find
A certain door: I found one, tried it, opened,
And there in a spacious chamber, brightly lighted,
A hundred men played music, loudly, swiftly,
While one tall woman sent her voice above them
In powerful sweetness. . . Closing then the door
I heard it die behind me, fade to whisper,--
And walked in a quiet hallway as before.
Just such a glimpse, as through that opened door,
Is all we know of those we call our friends. . . .
We hear a sudden music, see a playing
Of ordered thoughts--and all again is silence.
The music, we suppose, (as in ourselves)
Goes on forever there, behind shut doors,--
As it continues after our departure,
So, we divine, it played before we came . . .
What do you know of me, or I of you? . . .
Little enough. . . We set these doors ajar
Only for chosen movements of the music:
This passage, (so I think--yet this is guesswork)
Will please him,--it is in a strain he fancies,--
More brilliant, though, than his; and while he likes it
He will be piqued . . . He looks at me bewildered
And thinks (to judge from self--this too is guesswork)

The music strangely subtle, deep in meaning,
Perplexed with implications; he suspects me
Of hidden riches, unexpected wisdom. . . .
Or else I let him hear a lyric passage,--
Simple and clear; and all the while he listens
I make pretence to think my doors are closed.
This too bewilders him.  He eyes me sidelong
Wondering 'Is he such a fool as this?
Or only mocking?'--There I let it end. . . .
Sometimes, of course, and when we least suspect it--
When we pursue our thoughts with too much passion,
Talking with too great zeal--our doors fly open
Without intention; and the hungry watcher
Stares at the feast, carries away our secrets,
And laughs. . . but this, for many counts, is seldom.
And for the most part we vouchsafe our friends,
Our lovers too, only such few clear notes
As we shall deem them likely to admire:
'Praise me for this' we say, or 'laugh at this,'
Or 'marvel at my candor'. . . all the while
Withholding what's most precious to ourselves,--
Some sinister depth of lust or fear or hatred,
The sombre note that gives the chord its power;
Or a white loveliness--if such we know--
Too much like fire to speak of without shame.

Well, this being so, and we who know it being
So curious about those well-locked houses,
The minds of those we know,--to enter softly,
And steal from floor to floor up shadowy stairways,
From room to quiet room, from wall to wall,
Breathing deliberately the very air,
Pressing our hands and nerves against warm darkness
To learn what ghosts are there,--
Suppose for once I set my doors wide open
And bid you in. . . Suppose I try to tell you
The secrets of this house, and how I live here;
Suppose I tell you who I am, in fact. . . .
Deceiving you--as far as I may know it--
Only so much as I deceive myself.

If you are clever you already see me
As one who moves forever in a cloud
Of warm bright vanity: a luminous cloud
Which falls on all things with a quivering magic,
Changing such outlines as a light may change,
Brightening what lies dark to me, concealing
Those things that will not change . . . I walk sustained
In a world of things that flatter me: a sky
Just as I would have had it; trees and grass
Just as I would have shaped and colored them;
Pigeons and clouds and sun and whirling shadows,
And stars that brightening climb through mist at nightfall,--
In some deep way I am aware these praise me:
Where they are beautiful, or hint of beauty,
They point, somehow, to me. . . This water says,--
Shimmering at the sky, or undulating
In broken gleaming parodies of clouds,
Rippled in blue, or sending from cool depths
To meet the falling leaf the leaf's clear image,--
This water says, there is some secret in you
Akin to my clear beauty, silently responsive
To all that circles you.  This bare tree says,--
Austere and stark and leafless, split with frost,
Resonant in the wind, with rigid branches
Flung out against the sky,--this tall tree says,
There is some cold austerity in you,
A frozen strength, with long roots gnarled on rocks,
Fertile and deep; you bide your time, are patient,
Serene in silence, bare to outward seeming,
Concealing what reserves of power and beauty!
What teeming Aprils!--chorus of leaves on leaves!
These houses say, such walls in walls as ours,
Such streets of walls, solid and smooth of surface,
Such hills and cities of walls, walls upon walls;
Motionless in the sun, or dark with rain;
Walls pierced with windows, where the light may enter;
Walls windowless where darkness is desired;
Towers and labyrinths and domes and chambers,--
Amazing deep recesses, dark on dark,--
All these are like the walls which shape your spirit:
You move, are warm, within them, laugh within them,
Proud of their depth and strength; or sally from them,
When you are bold, to blow great horns at the world
This deep cool room, with shadowed walls and ceiling,
Tranquil and cloistral, fragrant of my mind,
This cool room says,--just such a room have you,
It waits you always at the tops of stairways,
Withdrawn, remote, familiar to your uses,
Where you may cease pretence and be yourself. . . .
And this embroidery, hanging on this wall,
Hung there forever,--these so soundless glidings
Of dragons golden-scaled, sheer birds of azure,
Coilings of leaves in pale vermilion, griffins
Drawing their rainbow wings through involutions
Of mauve chrysanthemums and lotus flowers,--
This goblin wood where someone cries enchantment,--
This says, just such an involuted beauty
Of thought and coiling thought, dream linked with dream,
Image to image gliding, wreathing fires,
Soundlessly cries enchantment in your mind:
You need but sit and close your eyes a moment
To see these deep designs unfold themselves.

And so, all things discern me, name me, praise me--
I walk in a world of silent voices, praising;
And in this world you see me like a wraith
Blown softly here and there, on silent winds.
'Praise me'--I say; and look, not in a glass,
But in your eyes, to see my image there--
Or in your mind; you smile, I am contented;
You look at me, with interest unfeigned,
And listen--I am pleased; or else, alone,
I watch thin bubbles veering brightly upward
From unknown depths,--my silver thoughts ascending;
Saying now this, now that, hinting of all things,--
Dreams, and desires, velleities, regrets,
Faint ghosts of memory, strange recognitions,--
But all with one deep meaning: this is I,
This is the glistening secret holy I,
This silver-winged wonder, insubstantial,
This singing ghost. . . And hearing, I am warmed.

     *     *     *     *     *

You see me moving, then, as one who moves
Forever at the centre of his circle:
A circle filled with light.  And into it
Come bulging shapes from darkness, loom gigantic,
Or huddle in dark again. . . A clock ticks clearly,
A gas-jet steadily whirs, light streams across me;
Two church bells, with alternate beat, strike nine;
And through these things my pencil pushes softly
To weave grey webs of lines on this clear page.
Snow falls and melts; the eaves make liquid music;
Black wheel-tracks line the snow-touched street; I turn
And look one instant at the half-dark gardens,
Where skeleton elm-trees reach with frozen gesture
Above unsteady lamps,--with black boughs flung
Against a luminous snow-filled grey-gold sky.
'Beauty!' I cry. . . My feet move on, and take me
Between dark walls, with orange squares for windows.
Beauty; beheld like someone half-forgotten,
Remembered, with slow pang, as one neglected . . .
Well, I am frustrate; life has beaten me,
The thing I strongly seized has turned to darkness,
And darkness rides my heart. . . These skeleton elm-trees--
Leaning against that grey-gold snow filled sky--
Beauty! they say, and at the edge of darkness
Extend vain arms in a frozen gesture of protest . . .
A clock ticks softly; a gas-jet steadily whirs:
The pencil meets its shadow upon clear paper,
Voices are raised, a door is slammed.  The lovers,
Murmuring in an adjacent room, grow silent,
The eaves make liquid music. . . Hours have passed,
And nothing changes, and everything is changed.
Exultation is dead, Beauty is harlot,--
And walks the streets.  The thing I strongly seized
Has turned to darkness, and darkness rides my heart.

If you could solve this darkness you would have me.
This causeless melancholy that comes with rain,
Or on such days as this when large wet snowflakes
Drop heavily, with rain . . . whence rises this?
Well, so-and-so, this morning when I saw him,
Seemed much preoccupied, and would not smile;
And you, I saw too much; and you, too little;
And the word I chose for you, the golden word,
The word that should have struck so deep in purpose,
And set so many doors of wish wide open,
You let it fall, and would not stoop for it,
And smiled at me, and would not let me guess
Whether you saw it fall. . . These things, together,
With other things, still slighter, wove to music,
And this in time drew up dark memories;
And there I stand.  This music breaks and bleeds me,
Turning all frustrate dreams to chords and discords,
Faces and griefs, and words, and sunlit evenings,
And chains self-forged that will not break nor lengthen,
And cries that none can answer, few will hear.
Have these things meaning?  Or would you see more clearly
If I should say 'My second wife grows tedious,
Or, like gay tulip, keeps no perfumed secret'?

Or 'one day dies eventless as another,
Leaving the seeker still unsatisfied,
And more convinced life yields no satisfaction'?
Or 'seek too hard, the sight at length grows callous,
And beauty shines in vain'?--

                                These things you ask for,
These you shall have. . . So, talking with my first wife,
At the dark end of evening, when she leaned
And smiled at me, with blue eyes weaving webs
Of finest fire, revolving me in scarlet,--
Calling to mind remote and small successions
Of countless other evenings ending so,--
I smiled, and met her kiss, and wished her dead;
Dead of a sudden sickness, or by my hands
Savagely killed; I saw her in her coffin,
I saw her coffin borne downstairs with trouble,
I saw myself alone there, palely watching,
Wearing a masque of grief so deeply acted
That grief itself possessed me.  Time would pass,
And I should meet this girl,--my second wife--
And drop the masque of grief for one of passion.
Forward we move to meet, half hesitating,
We drown in each others' eyes, we laugh, we talk,
Looking now here, now there, faintly pretending
We do not hear the powerful pulsing prelude
Roaring beneath our words . . . The time approaches.
We lean unbalanced.  The mute last glance between us,
Profoundly searching, opening, asking, yielding,
Is steadily met: our two lives draw together . . .
. . . .'What are you thinking of?'. . . My first wife's voice
Scattered these ghosts.  'Oh nothing--nothing much--
Just wondering where we'd be two years from now,
And what we might be doing . . . ' And then remorse
Turned sharply in my mind to sudden pity,
And pity to echoed love.  And one more evening
Drew to the usual end of sleep and silence.

And, as it is with this, so too with all things.
The pages of our lives are blurred palimpsest:
New lines are wreathed on old lines half-erased,
And those on older still; and so forever.
The old shines through the new, and colors it.
What's new?  What's old?  All things have double meanings,--
All things return.  I write a line with passion
(Or touch a woman's hand, or plumb a doctrine)
Only to find the same thing, done before,--
Only to know the same thing comes to-morrow. . . .
This curious riddled dream I dreamed last night,--
Six years ago I dreamed it just as now;
The same man stooped to me; we rose from darkness,
And broke the accustomed order of our days,
And struck for the morning world, and warmth, and freedom. . . .
What does it mean?  Why is this hint repeated?
What darkness does it spring from, seek to end?

You see me, then, pass up and down these stairways,
Now through a beam of light, and now through shadow,--
Pursuing silent ends.  No rest there is,--
No more for me than you.  I move here always,
From quiet room to room, from wall to wall,
Searching and plotting, weaving a web of days.
This is my house, and now, perhaps, you know me. . .
Yet I confess, for all my best intentions,
Once more I have deceived you. . . I withhold
The one thing precious, the one dark thing that guides me;
And I have spread two snares for you, of lies.

— The End —