A celebration of the collective poetic process, the MLP is being written, couplet by couplet, by readers and writers around the world, and published online by Tupelo Press. Each day we post two lines from which contributing poets draw their inspiration. Participate in the creation of this unique art form as it grows organically. Your contribution is part of its dynamic synergy. Learn more.
but weather calmed me when finally it came.
Yesterday I moved through the newly reopened town
where aftermath after aftermath slowed me.
Sown with the stolen threads of youth, the back-break stoop
of the fallen, every cottoned row: our field of dimming stars & stripes.
(Oh, you’d be frightened, too, to be such a fool
as to imagine weather never coming.)
Though cicada-like I sang my song
and published wide my noise.
Sartre was standing in the sun, murky and figural like a Munch painting,
a book in each hand, as if to say, “These are my wings, I’m a shorebird.”
Whether or not the weather gets hot
each wind worries that the night might not.
The rain unbuttoned all my buttons
and night began the day again.
Black clouds closed my scarlet sky,
but lightning awed me with its passions.
I recognize you from the beats in my heart
You are my soulmate.
Paper shover, pothole filler,
iridescent bird of the gray night.
What calms you? Does it come from inside?
Cloud the color of woodsmoke, upturned leaves.
When it came in its strange luxury of falling petals, light—
in its sudden softness, breezes, breath of every hue.
I am such a fright and weathered,
be a dear fool, come to me calm.
Then the sky and ocean brightened
and I could avoid the blame (or shame).
Still, I want to be embraced by pine birth, cone-spangled,
electrified by full moonlight at the peak of a mountain.
I heard a bird’s three notes, a little set
of steps to a place at the back of my atlas.
Look how the sky splinters into tiny white dazzles
and it rains again inside the house.
Fluttering and shaken, I find myself
chasing updrafts, lost among the fallen.
Farewell, fair weather! I must search every peakless
caldera for my daughter’s dust, her blue moonbeams.
And I want you to come to me for shelter
from whatever storm I’m standing in.
No storm that cannot be replaced,
nor any space—faceless or enclosed.
Then having pondered the standing in, why, and for what reason . . . Know
I’m no longer passive, but beginning to move with elemental forces coinciding, not colliding.
inside hypodermic rain, with chemical / heart / fur
you are arp-shaped movie with swollen teeth
Our bodies: firestorms spun from cyclones spun from
the star, pulsing, we name Derecho. Straight One.
For, whatever the storm I’ll weather it
with the help of your need.
The draft horse of grief is gray.
It pulls the plow regret has made.
I want to give you the whole of creation, a song to embrace,
an ecology of belonging, added joy for the struggle.
Then let’s get out of here, my love, my voice,
my life, my daughter, since we have the choice . . .
From whatever paradise we have lost
We will cull the last unforgiving fruit.
Slim-necked, snowy-white egrets slowly
Are coming back to Capitol Lake, cautiously.
Yes, I wore the old coat, the loved old coat,
but it failed to cloak me for once in its life.
Oh, cloak, my dear fur-of-heart, my faux Mink Pelt—
gnaw away. Shear my hair. Let despair be . . . felt.
I shrug into sky lined with satin,
its pockets stuffed with grief and cloud.
Go, then, good coat, I will you to the Goodwill—
you have outgrown me.
you wear night’s plumage like a vestment of small fires
in blue music, stars stumble through your thousand fingered trees
you sink, sink into rooted darkness, quiet
descent as of snow or ashes
but stars are pointed, can’t enter the trunk holes. Woodpeckers call
in sick. If not, we may be told the upstanding trees are hollow.
The world tumbling with goldenrod & asters, I walk
to find a way out of myself, to harvest the stillness of a pond.
Cheer us then for the trip below—
are no we no there no yet no
October, come on down. Boughs-in-tatters, it’s my pleasure
to lease your pre-owned leaves. The going bargain, to be sure.
i follow the footsteps of rain
night into day the journey to you
Some nights, breathing is the work of strange rivers.
Some nights, the wind cannot be imagined as breath.
Some days one lives for sleep.
But who’s ever dreamed of breathing?
In silence we focus on the midnight Yogis. A comet tail exhales,
the gibbous moon holds her breath, Orion poses with Canis Major.
I hear the astronomer claim that the Sun is really white,
not yellow—Ah! all my love sonnets on sheets of sunshine!
Stung by the night sky, inscrutable, your
Orion is mere figment. Nothing clear, nothing sure.
Vroom-vroom goes the souped-up car, in imitation
Of some cosmic crank, adrift on a map without mountains.
Feeling travels by bus
on a badly rutted road.
the dream reawakens me to remembering
not remembering where I have been or who I love
The grown-ups were sound asleep in their clocks
and they have no way out of their dreams.
As for us? We refused to rouse. Our children, climbing
our mossy towers, tolled “Occupy! Occupy! Occupy!”
Silvery lamentations streamed from my stained pen
Deep in the abyss of my soul, sonorously within.
To know dreams no good dreamers will wear
their looped belts, stars tucked in their tales.
I can always make sense of an animal
like the state of grace preceding the end.
The griefs of loss, the gifts of nature
On a beautiful Monday morning.
Ghazal, “the word for love poetry” // Gazelle, a lovely
leaping antelope // Grace, senseless leap to The Beloved
Then let’s not feed the cat prone to play
the more to speed devouring of its prey.
On my doorstep—a boy wearing a tiger mask.
Do you want a real or a pretend treat? I ask.
On icy naked days when birch’s bare bones grasp a waning sun
I ache for warm sea breeze to whisper free this dust landlocked by barren soul
“Here is the water-verb,” said the gardener to the garden;
“And here is your fruit-noun,” said the garden to the gardener.
Addra gazelles banish motives as they clear
the tall savanna grasses of Topeka or Sudan.
Lost in autumn: the silver-blue dragonfly wings
painted new each time by an August sky.
there were two doors: one to awakening, the other to despair
she took them both
fig. plural “figs”; alias “apple”; personification “Millay”;
Anita’s memory of her first love; hazel eyes; warm lips;
Aye, and such a sudden shunt from defiant to deviant:
If you’re innocent and you know it, raise your hand.
The trouble is, of course, the seep and spurt of love. It is,
it isn’t clearly made compounded of old ironies and crimes.
For instance, the irony of water fountains, pennies
and nickels griming their basins. Every coin, a penance.
Diminished to reflection the ocean cannot crush my bones or feel the rhythm of the waves.
Balance is fleeting, it is art, a moment with love void of hate.
So why not? In the distance between no and yes, in this caravan of bodies
explore what’s ours and right here, a little geography.
Beneath the moon, you are the sea. I am a river entering your mind.
You are my mother, the water, inspiration for my soul.
storm I thrice this shame still lenten
crime unspent torn sky from stone
It is, it isn’t factored from fermented grapes and fizz
or divided by the differences of minus, plus, and times—
My soul, it limps along, cruising the bars
while wearing hats to cover all the scars.
Sweet heart we used to make love, now all we do is fight,
I cry myself to sleep many a night.
Through cracks and cavities over brooks and banks
we crawled through silence as heartbeats sank
Old Kronos’ broken rhymes, the seed and hurt of love,
our rubbled course, it is, it isn’t, clear, appeased by love
And poetry, our own and others’, sustains the way,
the words and thoughts become our passageway.
But this love that you remember—might it be
just what sails the surface of your memory?
Our minds moving through words like
body and desire, tree and belief.
I love you . . . I love you . . . I love you! I scream silent at the God
who made my love granite, to routinely weave a life beyond this night
These times are not smooth rhymes, grief’s weathered face
grows grey, yet blossoms through love’s dappled grace.
This little pile of pebbles, ceramic shards, clouded glass—
remember the mosaic it once was, the twine’d patterns?
Also those utter-hoards, sound-cairns, of old Irish odes:
D’Aithle Na bhFileadh (by David Broderick from Cork).
They were once stars that streamed through a crack in the roof,
dripped off the rafters, and into the bowl of my hands.
Now we wait for a star pointing north to explode,
to shoot straight down into our waiting mouths.
To spill, to share, to see them exposed to a new light,
umbilical atmosphere inverted and above us
The stars felt light in my hand, but I fell to the floor in awe and
my body shivered with delight as my cat froze in his tracks.
This is the month when sky is anxious, a mollusk shell,
a chest cracked open, gulls overhead turning black silhouettes.
Rivers of night run to the shallows now.
Already, these stars slip in the west.
~ the news is uprising, earthquake, tsunami, radiation, one story after another burned at the edges ~
~ the swallow’s still-wet mud nest leans toward September ~ I would have written sooner ~
It was then I understood beauty is a place made possible against a canvas
of existence pulled tight by the brave laughter of children afraid of dark spaces.
(now dare I read my life in my palm or these stars, their form
once stitched against the heaven where weather roots itself)
It would take more than blood had I lost that much
I would need the hillside of ivy
So more black rain dropped on every hot crying face under
our roof light with rust asking about this child
The river fathoms my anger, rips
boulders from the sides of the run.
Pulling the scarf over your nose, rubbing gloved hands together,
you feel a sadness grounded in the greed you stand in.
Like an infant, mesmerized by her delicate reflection,
you begin to see something fresh in the light, constant in the crisp air.
You dance with the other shadows,
you try to find green again.
The phlegm from my throat rose from my lips and oozed into a reservoir on my lower lip
The flavor was sweet and salty, I pretended that it was caramel
Ice on the eaves, the town turns round
in the crystal eye of the mind and snow comes down.
What I say with my body
You pay for with yours
Thinking the ocean needs the land.
Out of context its vastness isn’t so formidable.
What we look forward to: the start of the rains,
smell of earth and molds; promise of green.
Yet, when the snow falls so fast,
There’s no sense shoveling till it stops.
And the pigeons, thousands of them suddenly elevated to uccelli of romance
A riotous bunch of lightness and promise as they lift en masse
What we miss: the wet underside of the squirrel,
the sound of the rain stopping, yesterday’s yellow.
Try orange—first firings of the silent blast,
its fallout whispering on grass.
Is where the tears fell
You hear the voice of who you were before
you know again and again the difference.
You left your imprint, like henna, on the map of my body,
my wild cartographer, my ardent explorer.
In exile again, I sob my old refrain: don’t turn around
around turn don’t do not no o no don’t not do turn around
And the sea will rush riotously forward,
and the rocks will beat it back once again.
I spun ’round: all in my head, a shred, poised, pouncing.
The lone sound lost then found, winding down again, wound.
Every morning I walk the lake path, lone gatecrasher.
Ahead, in stagnate water, Sandhill Crane curtsy, witness.
Your body as weapon.
It caught me quite off guard.
there is among your memories
one that has been lost beyond recall
Churning and changing, we all rattle forward,
forging new pathways to chase our best dreams.
Leaves, now red, fall atop the mound under which lies
our yellow-orange tabby. The azaleas will bloom again next fall.
I will still begin—will let those partitions
strangle themselves with neglect.
They will collapse into the rising earth, ripen
into compost of venerable divisions, ancient schisms.
Enough of this dirt to dirt, dust to dust;
let’s stop shoveling dirt over ourselves.
Breathe me in—slowly—I am the sweet air moving through you
build your world again out of my love
I will climb into a crevice along the roofline
where mockingbirds and magpies won’t enter.
I am the voice, ignorant of the moon,
A bottomless vertigo, the histories I have leapt through
Near streams in the woods surrounded by words and damp earth
Unifier I call frozen water creator of wondrous births
With what blithe faith we lie down at night,
Assuming, in the morning, that all will be light.
and you, how will you remember snow without me? Remember
the Indian mound shaped like a man was cut in two by the county road
I am sorry that the ten thousand things you dreamed of for your grandchild
are now ten thousand tears.
but I will send you recipes for recalling the frozen passages of your butterflied mind;
fold them in two and you will see how to startle your split brain back together again
The morning was heavy with the scent of garlic and warm chiles
a fine mist rose from the leaf-littered grass
There’s a feeling called “home”, an embrace, a refuge
from things divided, withered, torn.
Which homes can endure all the coming storms and plunders?
Bird-de-Coeur answers: my nests of silk, matrix tender.
In the presence of another’s pain, he stood—a soothing void.
One by one the leaves come down.
“I think heaven is not as holy
as kissing you or planting flowers.”
I bought a box of strawberries today. They were ripe & they were tart. I would like
to share them with you. But not the satisfaction—
that is yours alone, yours to savor, yours to fold
into the cartons of memory, recover in the white night of winter
Come February you will dream about red keys,
unsealed music boxes, ballets, demi-plies.
But for now I will joy in rust, yellow, bronze
and not begrudge the trees their needful rest.
As in ‘I saw a last bee and felt for it’
(you needn’t know that, though).
To Earth’s slumbering trees, arbors, woody cradles
stars sing. Stars do sing! Lullabies, nocturnes, aubades.
And we rested beneath ancient Sequoias
wondered how much longer will they survive
Seismic, when the the shift occurs, from looking forward to looking back.
When you become wise, not beyond your years, but for your years.
When then you must make something long: an axe
at the base of something tall or a needle and thread and cloth.
Or choose something small, smaller than a wild strawberry spotted
beneath blue-gray leaves, reaching for that arrow of sunlight.
Slowly, the settle-down of your city of noises, the urge of day
with its freight whistle, bird lilt, car wheels on the asphalt, sighs.
Hydra’s waters are warm, in the September sun
As I await my beloved, after the day is done.
Canvas notes, loom page, floor thread ready
to be touched, transformed, by brush, needle, song, the dancer’s step.
If it’s going to mean something,
it had better mean something . . .
An angel tells, they leave
their sheep, the shepherds see . . . Emmanuel.
Grace throws furthest, a great hurling arc under moon,
one cat’s eye yellow glass prize from clambake Sunday.
Clams that dove into deep fine sand,
their feet like tongues pull gravity.
Tucked beneath a day’s end arm, this treasure, light
hidden from view for a few moments, waiting.
Bodies stretch out the miles between us; ions
leap the chasm. Anyone can fall, few can fly.
But grief is chartreuse lamé wilting in a silk lined coffin, grace
wrapped in papier-mâché is carnival glass, is ringmaster’s token.
Is being awake a natural state,
is being asleep awareness of fate?
winter is the only poet
who speaks with the violin of ashes
Lichen folds in the crux of birch tree
limbs drinking pooled rain and loss.
Time seeps through the crack, bringing us back
to where we once thought we were.
We watch an hourglass, the full hour,
and discover the value of each grain.
toppled, still—a love slipped under wood
stove with tinder burning beside counter crevice
I, split in half by the two doors once entered
spin together this cracked skin of clay I’ve uncentered
to hum and wobble before righting itself, collapse
mere gossip in the body’s long hallways.
The dead arrive in teapots, unhappy
they’ve been foretold. They wanted to surprise us.
I see you, she says. I cannot hide my conscious,
Not even from the dead.
And so it was as is
As if it was never his
And you’ll know it—it’s like . . .
I love you has reached you for the first time.
And the doorknob’s greased axle whispers an echo
Like the clicking off of machines reading one heavy line.
you with the frigid, and no engine churning, through space-time
strawberries to a new planet’s shiver and taste
Child-soldier: He narrates his story like an occupied dream/where tall grass hides
And feeds a vacant gut/where bananas and casabas are to kill for—and to die for.
The fire blooms in the desert, destroyer
of worlds: glass flashed into blossoms, a gasp—
Awash in HD signals. Is it time to pray?
Smooth, unbroken screen. The remote always near.
I distance myself from a million ready-tongue poses
preventing me from remembering you said you’ll always be
Will you be my shelter—my sanctuary—my safe haven
After the ravages of Katrina, still unsettled, still unhealed
Knowing made it worse; anticipating accidental death is for no one
life offers no control when the body’s time is forcibly done
bitterly comes spring. cleaning, we find every garlic bulb
in her winter cupboard has shot green through its skin.
though skin sloughs off, though it falls, in winter months,
in spring, on summer’s hottest days and coolest nights, it stays
the dust of eternity mingling with the dust we become. It
only seems part of us; in fact we are the smaller part
Freshly aired black lace untarnished along the stones of Minister’s Beach
where the Aramaic-speaking stranger no longer persuades in palm greenery
Faced with the horizon long enough, black fades to grey and grey
stones darken. Listen for the footsteps of those who wander.
Across the plains, and the Roadrunner runs and kicks the dust behind him,
“don’t look back,” they say, “keep running! keep running! Don’t wander.”
Shades of pink and buttercup glitter on the fountain top, like
gems of stored memories waiting to be sought.
Rose quartz—a summer romance,
Citrine—that September sun’s unkept promise.
A shadow ladders and lengthens
content with its lonely climb.
Another center stage on a photograph:
dark train trailing busy feet . . .
Rails clacking steel grey faces
Telling a long blue history of America
Someone was counting syllables as if that might help
Something was angering water It was me
in that winter garden of inward-growing snow,
crystalline seeds sowing rows for next year’s timid leaves
That frozen pond a reckoning, even a foreboding
No happy endings will there be, in our tangled history
A telephone in almost every room, each one switched
to the silent setting. Will you never call? Or write me—once.
Distance is a test;
Time is a pest.
When the rain smells like peppermint,
cloud shapes, arctic curtains.
As though a curtain, its unselfish leaves,
could be enough.
Past history and hope dwell in your eyes,
Such glory of love cannot be disguised.
The red bird’s song in quiet trill,
“brave, brave daffodil!”
Imagine talking to a wall
said the shaman to the Circle of Elders
The spirit touched a collapsing wall
Pushing her eagle over the jagged edge
Insanity of dangers, volumes torn, rewritten with a shattered pen:
it’s not right that children vanish.
Is it all slowly changing, forever lasting,
and at the end of time, irrelevant?
Shamefully, it takes too long to realize
eternity is simply a man-made invention
all night storm—raindrops
merging on my windowpane
The long walk begins again
Where who and who and who and who form a multitude.
White noise, what’s in a crowd but a din?
A million in a furrow, what days and lies unfurl, unshadow
but the child learns to speak anyhow, the child says
rabbit. Rabbit? Is it going to be a good life?
Fierce daughters/My womb still aching with the fact of you
As stinging waves swept you to my wild shores
Eyes filled with red blood vessels and glazed with tears
Sweaty hands rub over the lids to no avail
as in wipe clean or burn out? Of course true;
that’s what suns and planets of suns always do.
You go, but I stay here. In the rain, I smell the Chinese restaurant. The owner there
smiles, sorts cash into a drawer and then makes change. He never rings in anything.
Winding a spool of yarn threads constance
While unwinding a spoof treads on chance.
Nothing is strict, nothing straight, the weave is what we do
from instinct out of what we are, what has woven us . . . .
an instant in time, each thread, lying
in thoughtless knowing under the naked light of stories
Again we turn to Poetry, again
we trust in words to make things new.
My left eye is aching to twitch or form
a small resistance of tears against me.
I ignore my parasitic twin’s plea for force-
meat shaped into a smooth-cheeked face.
“Oh, that is how water flows!” exclaimed the composer
and rushed back to the piano and corrected his river.
I saw that white keyed river, playing, by a dock full of laughing yellow boats. Then I thought of the underground day, when I noticed your gait, and now, how I love you so much.
Still the Monday bridges first unknow and then condone
the flow of rivers. Foam crawls up their grimy pylons.
Lost on the dirt road web of silence
She finds her way home without a map
Drifting through her unsifted soul
Berating her agony as a just a subject old
Fires burn toward the city. I hold your hand; a pine ignites,
spreads to another—path to where we live.
The moon is half, has a smudge. We trudge uphill
by a narrow beam. Everyone else is going down.
rejoice in the rain, diamonds from the sky
their drumming sounds like a soft lullaby
therefore beat the drum and hand tighten the bolt
indeed this spring brings an occupied revolt
A thankful heart in golden years
she stayed beside him through the years
She Walked by his side through battles of Life,
War-torn and tattered she remained his wife.
in highs and lows
of laughs and tears
A warm glow of Truth around them has shown,
Together shared Peace few ever have known.
Content they have found their place in the sun,
They see their sands pass as they quickly run . . .
Sun-cursed fields, wilted lilacs
bequeath a finish line.
The dawn wakes reality in our heads,
as the racers begin their lines.
Gathered storm clouds precipitate
summer showers as we consummate
That breeze of sweet free air in the face of men must come to distant shores.
But there is no peace in this world of ours, as long as we fight in wars . . .
Personality is the essence of us all,
Merely cloaked by containers till our shadows fall
Are these fleshy caissons so mindless,
Personality can live on . . . once the shadow is gone.
The time fettered bonds that bind our flesh,
The enigma of Love & Life; do mesh.
We’ve made them up, like we make up our lives,
from what happens along. We happen along.
Are you fearing the next apocalypse?
Come, O, let me leave a kiss on your lips!
Tell the morning to come close—
I want to kiss its cheek.
If you stand just so in September’s rain
you can hear the missing woman’s whisper.
I kissed an apocalyptic fool once,
how surely mourning seeks its own eclipse—
The cemetery spider flung its thread
from a marble Madonna’s lip to her hand.
On my grave the fool will waltz—
so quick is he to bury his faults.
The fool may be king of all he can see—
but he is blind to his own misery.
An eye for an eye?
I blink therefore I am.
Forever is just as far away
as it was yesterday.
Her reverse Midas touch
turned my heart into fool’s gold.
Her ocean eyes—
I drown in their sapphire undertow.
Dusk; the sky blushes—
ashamed to reveal its finitude.
Below he sees as the ancients cry
The hawk circles the pyramids eye
From each according to his fragility
to each according to his greed.
The hawk moves in
As the aura of life forsakes
The taste of prey, sweet as a prayer,
On the tongue of the hungry hawk
The scent of leaf and loam, the universe
in a seed, why would a mouse gaze upward?
We are wild flowers
color in white winter
To parse a solstice night, I tally:
But the colorblind hawk spies
a mouse at our feet
His hands didn’t seem like his anymore;
Such are the hands that go to war.
The question never changes: How does what suffices
abide with what does not?
Hate yourself? Love the world too much?
The mind is a more sinuous ampersand.
Yusef, voice of peace, laments wherefore meteor
showers by day go wrong, wringing. “Rock Me, Mercy.”
Each evening skies sink into seas, and I think:
Please sun, not so soon, I’d rather see you than the moon.
Snow mounded, skirting the roots of the indecent
trees. Ice gripping limbs like the dying to forgivness.
At night, the briar inside her skull
winds round the secret that is not a secret.
How kindness might replace the tally of approvals.
(This doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter, doesn’t matter.)
I take a flying leap through the looking glass
and dream everything backward upside-down.
Beneath this glass meniscus all eyes dim
A shimmering body borne in a song of skin.
Disrobed by illness his head once light
with play was now a stone in my lap
gritty with constellations—the universe
with its barbs in our life lines and heart lines
does not tell us when we will be saved:
we discover this only, only as afterthoughts
Beneath vast skies we swirl in the dust of ages,
tiny clay figures searching for truth.
the worry that memory is a just animal
and we are hemmed in
Poets butt words against each other
Twisting and wringing out meaning
There must be a sliver of light thin as thread still visible seconds before the moon
becomes new if one only knew where in the sky to look, and the instant.
Now, when I remember that night,
both versions arise, feel as real as each other.
Like a chill aftermath of storm-clouds
Pierced through with bright meteors
In our darkest hour the universe knows not our plight nor does it care
Our plaintive cries go unanswered, our dreams give us hope.
Fragrant blue in rampant expanse
The world waits not beyond the beckoning
The intimate whispers of time across horizons
Fade in dusty array with each passage of the morrow
Temperate flares in a two-step charade
Swinging partners from one star to the next
Tattoo of a bird on her left calf; she exists
to remind us of that which has passed.
Stardust streaming from the lips there moving across from me
I seek to hear their celestial song in the words and kisses they promise
A lily sitting on the edge of the flagstone looking at the Sandia
Maybe she hopes to spy a juicy morsel of sunrise and pink
Frangipani spring up to shade me island afternoons.
Like Jonah, I am underserving, and exceedingly glad.
Is this what it means to arrive?
I rake this hungry earth until my footsteps disappear—
Sundown darkens the pink to aquamarine—
A blues show in the sky.
Sanguine sunsets in parallel worlds, one above, one below
Their horizons meet in tender embrace forgetting the forbidden
Backdrop of thunderclouds. We rose in a gondola
to the mountain peak and dined in a cage of lightning.
Orchids and saffron suffusing corners of clouds
Unbuttoned tidepools tasting of raspberries
The lines by Kazim Ali are beautiful
because of their music.
On shore, the flash and crackle of fire.
Is He angry tonight, or blessing us with rain?
Reminds me of an Apache proverb: “It’s better to have
less thunder in the mouth and more lightning in the hand.”
less thunder in the mouth certainly
perhaps music . . .
Dancers of wisdom, like snowflakes, always go for the empty space
Where the toe points and opens arms have plenty of room to spin
twirling round, all dizziness and laughter, and your love for me . . .
i am butterflies, pitterpats and smiles, falling fast.
Thunderous grinding teeth eat lightning bolts for lunch
Raining maw of scurrilous storms in torrents of tongues
The din of science happens without anyone looking,
sunspots flung down the stratosphere like tantrum children.
schmetterlinge, papillons and mariposas
ring the atmosphere of our knowing unguarded
purring eskimo kisses of longing, belonging
a slow dance of textures and tastes beginning, spinning.
twirling in unfettered relief, rounding appetites
of hunger in fingerprints, embraces in bones
your world, counted in sunlight, reflects moments as differing states of trust.
if only you knew nothing of clouds—lightening kills.
concentric circles abounding repetitively overlapping
the layered spheres from dancing while laughing
bones, bare bones unadorned,
naked, nude, lewd, all-undressed up.
bones dressed in clouds waiting for lightning to show
dinner maybe, or kissing, billowing electric ashes
look at me! i am ashes dressed up in muscle and bone
to be forgotten in one hundred years.
the strain of forgetting one more lazy epoch
piling up fossils, counting winds, stacking seas
Where the fool lives in fur-lined warrens
I dive I fall to kiss the sun in androgyny
I don’t know what to tell you not to next,
Spring just here, magnolias in your hair
The mixture of memory and future past
Leaves tiny rivulets of dreaming in colour
i search every degree, three hundred sixty slices to see
where you might not be, and nowhere do you not inhabit
susurration in radial diffraction, falling on the ridges of tides
frissoned and parted, stonier yet, the ears spread out on each side
The mountains are hungry, but their feast is playing north
Dropping needles but not too fast; the sun is so bright
the snow has come in wild footfalls of dancing sprites
whither we go from hot spring nights to frosty morn, our hunger remains
Sentient light dusking on the Charles, snowbound rapture
Strolling boots and cinnamon tea, Toscanini’s ’round the corner
horizons grew abundant where no shore lay, how to count
the endless distances in a sea on a sea began the new tale
listen to the day smiling through the moon,
is there anything better than this shimmering silence?
the sultry splashing, waves on shore, memories shifting in wind
fading, arising, swept into the drift of sand, washed away with now & yes
a fiery tangerine orb of sun piercing through ocean
fog reflecting its scarlet tinsel in seaside villas
We are all wild flowers
color in our winters
hugging the pink plush of a rose petal,
can life ever be this silky?
gravity waves and sonic pulses give us the story
for water clashes. open our ears . . . the music is there
sailing ships on blue, white masts on sky
wind is pink and hazel, sending messages
After the straight-line Derecho, after crushing March snow, Comet Panstarrs’ music shivers
limbs—O give us just what we can hold—sleet embossed message to maples budding red
Caress, warm-palmed this dreaming world,
Lips passing rose-blushed cheeks, inhale.
turn your face to me . . . breathe,
make the dream fragrant.
I let no one see me
watching my mirror.
The dead czar’s towel
hung at attention.
Sooner than forever
As soon as almost now
Select a spoon. Say somehow. Turn a page.
Go to another room to rest.
The uilleann pipe player has many sons, I’ve met one.
Boston Irish, he said, but my dad’s from Dublin, you must of heard of him, he’s Mulligan.
We sat and chat and doe eyes trailed his father, a fine figure of a warrior.
Mystic gut soul, thought lost forever, snaps of erotic pleasure, as he pumped and squeezed down on the box.
I drew in, into, redrew, darkened, erased, drew again.
I drew wings.
Mr. Strothers seeks while selling, house to house
his brushes and powders to hospitable housewives, opening doors.
Jaunting his pipes, squealy squally, weile waile, two fellow fiddles and a rasta guitar,
weaving, hovering, butterfly bobbing, mesmeric transcending trances, keening wailing dances.
Reels that reeled out into verses, seams bursts of streaming flailing sounds,
Like flapping shirts on a woman’s line.
I dream of unfolded maps
offering ways to be found.
Young hearts stammer for their season.
No one comes or cares.
That’s my brother, he’s born over here, my dad went back and forth a lot.
Boston boy is proud tonight.
We ponder paintings of pale yellows and whites
clusters of cups, arranged in still silent scenes.
A glowing gold dome
stands with dark somber trees.
testiment to past human grandeur now engulfed
by a silent requiem of that timeless nature which endures,
The ocean, almost black, almost glass
pushes the white rumbly ship to shore.
The briney scent of steely sea
lures me to its barren beach.
We are the hallowed men
We are the cuffed men
Foam breaks through the sea of steel
depositing offerings of shells and seaglass
Threading through the sea’s offerings
Seeking me inside the shells
sugar yourself with sand and listen to the shells;
they will lead you to buried treasure.
My sweet gritty self slithers through the labyrinth
finds a mirror, reflects in solitude
Interior & chambered: effluvial
spiral into that one optical future
In narrow gaps of busted-boredom,
Its time, shepherd a Novum Organum.
Birthed through the gap, ignite freedom fire,
unshackle the sheep, free all lemmings
A statue to its sculptor: “Make me and I will speak,
listen to me and you will be transformed.”
In the Paris of your interior, the Rodin pulls
the froth of its body into open air—La Danaïde
Night swallows sighs and sadness in shadows of stillness
Except for cacophony in crowded cabarets, caterwauling.
nor love nor music nor surprise
holds me here
I fall through what cannot hold me,
Fling aside the ocean-bird-blush-rose boldly
May infinite light shine upon my naked mass
Through conscious portals like cathedral stained glass
As the Universe swirls to its own Deadhead beat
tripping on the psalms of its magnificence
What seeds of life and death
Hover impatiently, contending?
A broken sky awaits the hand of night
Light music strikes a wild fandango
Chrome chords resonating like tax season
Frozen as Socrates’ ignorance (his wisdom in recognition to it)
Spring’s aroma of forgotten longing returns, awakens.
Gazing at dark moon’s invite, she melts—new passion hearkens.
Sitar harmonizes her striated being, re-forms grand paradigm.
Song of heavens, wild forests, oceans arise: Let sentient beings shine!
In the silence of the night, a new day is conceived;
Holding all of the lush possibilities that one can imagine, and more.
Sei tu my pelo, wildly glow in golden sun
See! Even leaves scatter in dusty breeze, Love’s here!
This haze of days relentless, a slow-moving cloud crawling in place.
Carpet land seas ache unable to call, but car alarms rankle.
Hummingbirds, butterflies, breezes tickled leaves all richly buoyant,
Shot with love in fire circle, our hearts a singular celebrant.
Life celebrants’ desire aches unfolds like brilliant hiding clouds
to tear open conscience of men bent in darkness weaving shrouds.
Darkness envelopes men’s hair face hands, but eyes glisten without tears;
Blue candle flame flickers over shadows that smell rancid with fears.
In summer, the thickness buries us in the simmer of text and sharpness of sun.
While Life clings to the shadows we sort through on our way to the next story line begun.
Had they but listened to voice of inner wisdom, would they be tied?
Would they have grown wings and risen with angels if they hadn’t lied?
Celebrants gaze in crystal bowls brimming with artesian waters pure;
tears burn fiercely sweet mother’s cheeks for two sons chained to darkness’ lure.
Reaching hands into the well, Ma hopes to grab her boys’ wiry arms;
but men who’d wept were pulled to shadow’s depths, sent far away to farms.
What would console this mother when beside herself with grief she weeps;
Celebrants raise candles, sing tales of love’s renewal, so she sleeps.
What mirrors revealed greater than illusions she sees self renewing:
heart unbreakable, eyes of longing, palms open receive dews falling.
Sufferers and martyrs who cared less for loss, time, self and power
now rest, as children of delight arrive in droves for wonder to flower.
That innocence is arising, this darling Celebrants know to be true:
Dark nights might even show wild bursts of light, a rainbow or two.
Mother wakens, smiles to Time’s demands—Now chrysalis has opened.
Genius children guided by all, play-create the newly envisioned.
Rainbows arise on the borders between storm and calm
ephemeral witnesses to beauty emerging from change
With certainty Akashic records reveal harmony prevails;
Celebrants rejoice in wonder—world over, light catches the sails.
Strolling through mostly sunny with potential for afternoon showers;
roaring above the pilots have just announced their final descent.
Systems newly interwoven gift foods, lands abundant and pure;
Elements, animals, humans freely surrender to love’s allure.
Emergence of human spirit propelled by divine cosmic love
matures for our new frontiers to pulse majestic as Spirit Doves.
Thusly, new frontiers arise from foundation of beauteous virtues;
With rev’rence for life, each being wakens, deep purposive Love pursues.
New life! New love! With glee dance they light up in joyous abandon;
Cosmic Mother harmonies undulate skies, even phytoplankton.
Thou hast publish’d a poem of mine (fully) I swear thou art divine.
Must’ve been gift of high heaven surely—did I not see the sign?
Purveyor of million lines, where dost thou wander—of what dream thou?
Dost thou dance in sacred vistas, gardens of peace tear-kiss’d with Tao?
PS: Most of us rarely write in couplets—this seems to have gotten me going.
Many things we don’t do any more, some never. One of them is lawn mowing.
Been playing sweet word symphonies—Do, won’t you join this merry playground?
Come! Return from strange meandering or not—End up in sod-happy mound!
That, and remembering, which like the smell of grass,
Comes wafting up and over my trembling hands.
A rich life of deep search through travel and study,
must have washed the lotus from a pond once muddy.
Such ripples circle wide reaching far into heaven;
As bread feeds body—with smiles does a soul leaven.
In Haiti we wandered through a rain forest and fell
into the Pearl, a pool so clear we couldn’t see it.
All beings that reside awake, breathe as does a poet;
Ah, if we but gazed as Wonder, we would just know it.
What carries you over these 3,000 fathoms of water
other than this visceral boat?
So we wish true millionth line free us from old woes;
Beyond fears sate sweet amity—banish old foes.
‘Tis meet that travel and study create sanctity;
If we haven’t learnt our lesson, more’s the pity.
I am frightened of such weather—a fool
perhaps to be calm in trembling grasses.
Go into the river—drown your silly meander;
I shall play with honey bees and smell oleander.
But what if you forget the way our favorite vines
Rustled in the summer—the color?
And if the days fail to drip
Like wine from ancient stone
The color of summer passes
fading for a new season of vibrance
The primed canvas, the fugitive pigment, the tip of brush like needle,
the turpentine of erasure, the sinking in, the crazed varnish.
Thunder rolls, a booming tumult.
Rain beats all. Spiders hide.
Webs woven underground, their silk-fed
lines a menacing hold on prey divined
Course way to find love, through heartbreak’s death-knock,
striking the unlikely chord of ecstasy’s intoxicating relief
Autumn prepares the season to undress, leaves
run through the last fast turn of the color wheel
Technicolor showers await their turn, shrouding
naked tendrils whose well-earned solitude beckons
By light of Full Corn Moon spades speed Earth’s
final work, turning under seed fresh and freely sown
September cicadas still blooming in pockets
of shade—what day will be their last?
When tymbals flex, wings flick. Songs tune to life
made brief, amplifying the dog-day hum of rebirth.
Which rain will cleanse and renew a
parched spirit, angst cleaving stubbornly?
the dwindle down sun in pouring rain
sealing the pockets, seaming the hidey holes
makes impossible a break from earth-dark chambers
where quiet lulled these sleepers some seventeen years
One last break out, shells shed, cicadas crawl, pile
on. The stink of death rising, their time now gone.
Too small the doe’s abandoned like a disappointing gift.
Only that morning cold air braced her lungs.
Too late the white-tails in late-autumn rut raise the alarm.
The hunter, exposed in that single-ecohoed shot, re-aims.
Fires and misses, his heart hollow, his shotgun hot and empty
Hunger rising in his loins, he abandons her for another
A quarrel of crows mocks the missed target. A murmur
of loss, shared, fills the clearing. This is his own last call
A leaf reddens to perfect its separation. I wait
branchless, unable to turn any other color while I live.
October winds interrogate the pines
only to hear their sad case rephrased
I live, and yet the season reminds me how need must be
met—need to exact the shot, up close; need to shelter from the fall.
Limbs bare, like stripped bones, the trees give
me no cover. Every mark moves, unfixed, defiant
And then, November: flesh-colored, shy as a schoolboy,
ferrying fall’s prismatic glory to winter’s prodigies of snow.
Morning’s crust of crystals on grass breaks, the snow line
not the last measure we’ll take of our distance from stars.
Or of the lengths we’ll go to hold the light in our failing eyes.
We read our futures in a skein of geese in ragged formation.
How distance consumes! as though far and near birthed then orphaned us
our grief blind to any shard of light dancing in a frost or dew.
Oh ragged skein of geese, you perfect arrow! How, when I
cannot grope forward a fortnight to one sound conclusion?
Listen then: the geese have gone, leaving their unheard melodies
in small snows that dot staves of tree limbs like grace notes.
Draw a bead on the heart alone. Look how it marks time, skips
and breaks but corrects itself, always assuming a supporting role.
Never-failing heart; beating, skipping, thrashing, reminding the earth
and feeding its inhabitants a strong dose, a thrum-thrumming of truth
that works its way slowly through each aging stand of oak, cherry,
ash, their cell walls thickening, growth rings cycling into dormancy.
A bead like a stone skimming a lake, a child’s tossing
an innocent minute to the past, gaining one from delight.
The heart, though, does fail, luffs its blood to the last algid shore—
imprint this day with a drum/a drum thrum of sweet fevers fair.
Maddrunk/sleep-deprived, she blew bouquet of drugs,
which I stole for a future cocktail of metonymy, blunder and rue.
Moon, lend me your eyes, the wisdom of distance,
soothe with celestial patience this tongue’s saccadic thrall.
What blunder is so grave that no elixir cures regret in love? You who
taste of her bitterroot might yet chance flowering after long drought.
To the ones who came before me,
I feel your cramped spirits moving through my blood.
Artful spirits, that rebirth in the dustgardens of our bones, in calligraphies
of cauliflower, Modigliani necks of squash in autumn arias of sun
My language used to run
Barefooted to your chest
Such is the circus
The circus of Life
I would dance with your apparition, you with mine, if only to reclaim that
hour before dark words unloosed, returning the taste of salt to my tongue.
The balloon of faith will cleanse clogged vessels
All will be set free so abide in peace and grace
Let us pepper our tongues with poppy-opiate and sweet morphines
to reel again those halcyon hours of desire.
ruby-jeweled currants creeping along the roots of a weeping birch,
cornucopias of scarlet petals, bending the stems of the peonies.
To those who shed blood to let me live,
My heart beats on for you
as a farmer, holes for eyes amidst another drought, tends his whistles of wheat
beneath cloudchoirs of otiose odes, ants repairing to armageddon heavens
far from you, and yet of you, as root to earth held fast. I hold out my hands,
palms up, that you might read how far the lines stretch, always toward you.
And will you abide this ancient cartography—tiny cross-hatchings of skin,
rivulets of vein, rippled white lakes of nail? . . . my palms face down, on yours.
Press your case lightly. The space between our then and now allows no words
but what your tongue might shape to salve the patch of worn and intersecting lies.
Always and ever, yes. A quilt of renegade days has frayed our rhyme;
let us loosen our hold, grant fractious seams their time to mend.
O glorious beginnings! — christenings of the virgin psyche!
Each day has its river.
The din of dissonance disrupts sweet dreams. December’s moon rises cold
from a long night’s reverie. Low is the sun when winter’s hand takes hold.
Do dreams, then, spoon with sun and moon? Often have I dreamt
the temperate life, but sense that nightmares know no season.
Chill winds favor no special season. The moon is but the mirror of sun’s own
glare. Day’s side too quickly flips to night’s, its face dark as coal in opposition.
Conjure a world all bright or dark. What words would evince, what tunes?
What phrase or stave births from stasis? Opposition is a fertile womb.
All of one, nothing of the other, and I would sooner surrender. Add fresh laurel
to your crown. The Jade Rabbit waits to mince the last secret herb of immortality.
The laurel resists the cut of it enemy, and time’s own tonic is a pestle in hand.
It’s mid-autumn; let us feast on fat moon cakes while the rabbit pounds.
Embellish your crown if you wish, but that lamb of good has earned
its sweet assurance. Infinity grants no further increment.
Marilyn Monroe played very little golf,
she drove the boys in the caddy shack mad.
Trapped along the path of Zeno’s arrow, no motion is possible
in any direction; our only option is to blossom now.
Ah Zeno, my man! — who’d say blossoming is a to from a from, also impossible;
and consider, if no motion … what could constitute a now? And “now” what?
And what conclusion do we draw by starting from such false premise?
A trap can be sprung, a step taken back. Marilyn flowered in her own time.
rotating snowstorms circle the date.
Petals unfurl, catch the breeze like sails. Small hulls beneath
repeat the race between jade rabbit and molasses terrapin.
If Billie Holiday can’t sing today, Dylan
Thomas will. “Young and close, we listen.”
Young egrets stand close to the edge, tend the tide,
cast mangrove-root nets into the ocean of words.
Dylan lies low in Laugharne, rude Caitlin’s true love the drink. No record
of her taste for Billie’s blues. Death claimed as poetry what youth excused.
Mangroves drink the sea like poets, discard the salt they cannot use—
Dylan lies low between salt sheets. Billie’s blues are salty too.
Salt crusts the eyes that fills your Irish pints. Raise a taller glass to Heaney
and let’s speak no more of the past. The smell of life restores a wagered tongue.
The salt of tears and silt of years must keep the blue seas blue
what better proof behooves that love not true is true?
Who reckons fault with waggish ways? If love not true is true, then love not
false is truer yet. And any heart with heart beats best for words not rued.
Yet daily, others set out on this journey—words of love draw them—
though charts and poems all have warned them: Here Be Dragons.
the day-old newspaper carries away yesterday’s
woes . . . we pray for Sandy Hook victims today
and hang the holly and ivy on the doors we’ll shut against the winter.
Keep a sprig of fresh rosemary near. This is their time to remember.
Knowing what has been, what will doubtless be again,
opening to the world as it is, this the heart of courage
We try and do better, from our remembering, such that what has been
will be not, again; O ours is a grand but stammering planet.
We stutter, yes, and too oft stumble, yet every turn we make to bring us
round again, to face the sun and moon, our light and dark not fixed in place.
I stumble back to that nameless scent halfway between
chamomile and mistletoe: a kiss snatched in a dream.
These, then, are these the Dragons wound ’round our cups of cheer?
If we name them, can we tame them? Depression, Isolation, Fear.
cork your flute. turn your tuba into a plough or dough.
you’ve not seen my temper; that does not prove it Loch Ness.
What musical cookies we bake! Tuba-dough-biscuits for tea—
if unseen, how to tell if Here Be Dragons or Here Be Nessie?
The dragons rest and Nessie plies the deep. Earth quiets and water stills
in this season of waiting. The single star heralds the joy to come.
Of course I could not let it live, and thrive,
my cockroach mirror of memory.
You lack light enough to illuminate the hidden-deep. A mirror
merely mimes in glass what time itself rejects or reasons lost.
The light is only hiding—the unseen is not unknown—the rose, after all,
is red only by deflection—we absorb such rejection and can rejoice.
Hey, ipse dixit, do dah day
ipsissima verba no more to say
A cliff in the desert, solid bricks of sand, footholds to support the worthy adventurer—
this wall has brought many travellers to the sky.
They, with their arms stretched high above the sandstone mesa,
praise the large green table before them. Still the raven mocks.
The canyon wall is solemn and immutable like a grandfather at rest, supportive of all the life forms that attempt to scale it.
And those who reach its summit see life through the eyes of the newly born.
The ancients climbed for seven hundred years, sheltering stories in stone.
At the Sun Temple the dial turns, season to season, leaving a trail of lifelines.
In the broken corn field the air brightened
and cooled, and I was not to blame.
In the winter of our fast our ancestors’ bones rattled in our kivas. The booming
of foot drums marked time with prayers for rain, and better luck in hunting.
In the cooling fields, none could be blamed for millennial seasons of bright or dark
disasters, thus bore their bones to luck’s merry boon, with joy expectant, and armed.
The orchards of grief are strewn
with the windfalls of pain
You find the wormhole with a single bite, as if every golden represented one
more blemish, as if your chest were open to the air, your heart turning blue.
The scurrying mound of skunk, found by swerving lights,
lent his peppery smell to the quick rain. It was a good night.
Mourning shakes the dew from the fruit
as the ladders lean against each tree
In grandeur the heavens break
I dream of swooning through that glory
Guttershot rainwater crackles in summer flashback
Heatwave soundtrack across itchy fingers waiting to die
Summer flashbacks redden the blue heart, crisp, spackled and spry—fingers
tease twirly tendons of memory’s brocade skies that ply their darling dews.
Let us no longer begrudge our borrowed blues but break what binds.
Winter lifts with parting clouds. Ghost flowers rise in our sky islands.
The ten-year old girl crosses the border alone at night,
Her mother prays, a star falls, the coyote howls . . .
Will we find a seed of Peace in all of this?
Perhaps beneath the bird’s wing?
It’s never really the damage of wind, snow or freezing rain,
it’s always the shattered memories that brings the pain.
Lift the feather as you would a brush to cheek. The underside is bare
of color and yet well-lined, calling attention to another day of flight.
Contentment holds in my sheath, that the horrors of this world would know they are my enemy and leave. But they do not, and they are double-bladed.
There is a sweetness here like cherries heavy with their pit.
Why must I wait ’till seasons hire back the tender contracts of our heart.
Cut the tongue and it will bleed before it heals. Banish your enemy
and he will rise to take another form. No snake resists its own mad charms.
The weather of her feelings
and all her angry dishes.
a silver sound echoing across the golden sky
believe it . . . he still loves you
I must live within you as fire, the burn
of powdered glass pressed into your wounds shot into your veins.
The umbrella keeps the sparks off—
I have rearranged the objects of your collection so they will not be hurt.
Tumbling like a monkey supported by the supple branches,
I sink further under the verdant canopy to land on soft moss below.
Uh uh, uh uh, chides the crow. Not the kind of scold
I mind; my mother (rest her words) careful, careful.
Galloping through a field of grass, I fling myself onto its cushiony bed.
The greens of the Earth nourish me like milk from my own mother.
crows remind us, the old woman knows
all noise is silence in disguise
Coyotes don’t cry foul or bemoan their lot;
They howl fair warning to Indifference.
I exist, I persist that you remember—I would not destroy
you: a memory begs to destroy itself.
Morning, a river in our rooms
our raft of sorrow overturns
A gunshot in the prairie night scattered the coyotes, saving the feral cats
which had pilfered notes from the golden throats of songbirds.
Before the sun crosses the celestial equator, the winds will soften, joining
a chorus of grasshoppers to quiet the mewing at spring’s shooting stars.
Born of dust and gas, the seven daughters of Atlas mount the shoulder
of Taurus, his bright red eye the night traveler’s guide across spring’s sky.
April: will she woo or wilt us, fool or flatter
our bravest hope-shoots, tenderest spindles?
Scanning those lines? Antiquity’s omen;
reprinting the past in Times New Roman.
We search the orchard, as carefully, to see if there is some small
harvest of sweetness to be found.
Sweetness comes thin-skinned or thick, red with yellow undertones,
a hint of green, tart on the tongue or heavy as honey from the hive.
The flesh beneath a rough and sticky skin may blush, turn tender
with the sign of time. The tart’s to taste, the sharp the better bred.
Let go the life-worn tethers—
fair is the heading.
Alas, I lift the canopy and there
the blessed sallow fruit, wind-wrinkled, hangs
I am not God
a reaper, a sower, a grower, a giver
gone to seed, gone to pasture, gone
Beaten, I taste only bile and blood on my tongue, but beg
for you to return with love, and that scent of plum blossoms in your hair
From strips of pain
she fashioned a thick coat.
The cloak drawn close, the pain passes but in broad blades of grass
the fierce growl of grief still shelters like that lie on his tongue.
His tongue, the body’s favorite blade, not made of blossom
or of plum, but of a howling madness from loss not green, regained.
Grief ancient as the first stone cast; his lie older still, sharp-edged
and single in purpose: to strike and settle uneven scores.
Love ancient as the first light cast; heaven’s truth older still, soft-voiced
and omnipresent: singing and filling the space between.
Grief’s no opposite of love, though love might cause it, and darkness
hides what lovers make their light of. Every hurt unhealed hardens.
The colors saturate what once was nothing
For soon it shall be something.
Grief, that scab of love lost, finally falls, leaving its pocks on skin—
Your legs! he exclaimed, blinded by summer’s diurnally dim sun.
Skin’s touch points, never envied, go deep, every layer burned
through, the heat marking off the distance, toe to ankle to knee.
The sky has blue and silk dreams
with the sun’s warm lighted beams.
Dazed we become dreaming in blocks of blue, wild indigo scudding
across false borders where blooms spread thick on sheets of silk.
Southwest winds rumple, uproot, require us to remake our beds
in shifting desert sands. The cactus branch bloodies, its spines barbed.
The howl of wind turns to a soft whisper
The tickle of green in place of violent storm
It is the wolf that whispers at the lowing cow caught in the wire,
the last leaves of goosegrass folded and flattening in the desert kill.
Track back from the last sign of wounding, follow
As far as possible the scuffed, hurt-weighted trail.
The prints are deep at the edge of the world, the scuff marks nothing
but left-over signs. Like shells, the wounds explode on sight: red, raw.
To deceive & dupe the nation, to reduce the citizenry
to thievery, despair, and woe so intelligently is all.
The shoplifted pencil draws a line between cities
the trace jumping faintly at each bartered pulse.
As you hear our tales begin
what stands out at this sit in?
The howl of wind, as has already been said,
and the meticulous undoing of every knot.
The wind no longer whispers, its every sough raised like a white flag,
shredded, making a confetti of calligraphy of too many children’s cries.
As though wind ever whispered—were we ourselves not children then,
green to the grim dittography of some butterfly’s pinned wing?
I remember the chase—early morning, fog—paper
Wings opening and closing in slow beckoning.
I, too, remember—how, like a dry rain, the wings sounded and we, cold,
clustered below cloud cover, sought shelter within the thinning oyamels.
Milkweed blushes under the unfolding splendor.
Gossamer wings stain small fingers around the glass jar.
Childhood mischief, a fluttering butterfly in the jar,
more children losing breath in somebody’s war.
Black and orange swirls, withered wings make
one unwavering dash. Ultimate freedom flash!
Too late, and the orange leaves wither; the lemons in the jar turn rancid
in the light of day. A mother ties three knots round her daughter’s body.
One knot for submission, another for honor—honoring of the dead
traditions. She remains shrouded under the veil. The love knot unravels.
be slow in waking, for the sadness I fear to see
in your eyes, for the silence I cannot bear to hear.
I listen for sounds of a long-necked lute. Ramzi has laid down his stones.
In the dust at the border, lush eucalyptus hide each reflection from itself.
Viola plays on. The sounds in the dust—a wildfire of passion.
A kingfisher follows the trail of light. A baby’s breath in the sand
travels across the desert air. Life stirs on the mountains and valleys.
fading slumber of summer, a thousand eyes of sand burn and pray.
Nude, he sleeps under cover snoring peacefully.
He’s the one I love.
I smile as days of dubiety are spent.
Fill your lungs with the certainty of smile
while the moment lasts; guile lurks behind
scrims where men await fate. The drone breaks the barrier
between earth and sky; a new assault nets but one more lie.
Truth shivers in jeopardy, shrivels in the corner of
arrogance and menace of unhinged humanity.
your tears for things we wish forgotten, but cannot
you weep for my hand to reach for yours, it cannot
Rising above the still hot ashes gray wisps curled
carrying broken spirits to less visible spaces
Obscure places, forgotten ashes, embers flow
unseen, underground. The sea of poppies glows.
after sky, farther than constellations, deep in darkest matter—nothing
else but echoes of ancient tongues stammering old stories again. Again.
Those gone before, fathers and mothers, the stories we forget
We reinvent the wheels, rejuvenate the earth. We the masters!
Come Remembrance Day, put away the poppies. Who masters
the river runs a red line down the collapsing mountain’s spine.
we wade far from shore in mud, thick as the maple that rings the bordering trees.
The current drags us down just like you did, as if we could start again after we’ve gone under.
We begin anew in that spine of collapsed mountain, in green current called flatland—
to the valley, we are now mountain; poppies hip-hop, their old tongues resound.
For now I am tied to the present, pressing time’s boundary—
Still bound by past experience, owned regrets.
lighting a match off the mountain just to spend fear’s breath
dusk blows out our candles, to savour the smoke, the smell
I crept into the home of the wind, looking for poetry, artists and sin.
When I looked in the kitchen, what did I see but the wind brewing a cup of tea.
The Loo brews its evil brisk, too hot, too strong. Old tongues must cool
with mango ice, rose sherbet, sweet cold milk, then drenching rains.
Watch how the wind blows from ocean to land. Thunder cracks eggs
of the gharial; new rivers flow. Lion-tailed macaques feast with joy.
A million lines don’t have to rhyme
the rhythmic meter takes its time
with wit, wisdom and grace
we will finish the race
Disintegrating into the tiny granules of wonder
forgotten orbs to be absorbed by inner tissues of mortals
Ethereal light kissing their foreheads
washing away the abyss and the freed slaves of Pandora
Unopened and unseen through eyes unknown
hopeful and crushing all in the same
Do I shiver of elation or fear?
Does it matter?
The question loses itself
in the beauty of the rain.
I am drowning in all-togetherness
you won’t look up until I’m whole
But, even before the earth was born
I was a full golden moon
Floating down onto earth
amidst broken branches
Leaves gently grace my tender skin
the crisp wet air we breathe is frozen
Swimming imaginatively through fields of fragile lilies
I dance liquidly through reflected clouds in aquatic mirrors
We must howl into the cold,
awaken the heat of inspiration.
For here, my path breaks and breaks again,
so I must go within for the sound of my own voice.
Stillness is never about silence. You must move like fog, go nowhere
to see the path in front of you. Make your destination where you are.
In this moment, my heart is pounding
My destination yearns for a quiet place within my body.
Yet peace is not yet mine to have or know,
the quivering uncertainty in my heart remains.
A sudden downpour of angry rain and slash of lightning
remind me that this journey is far from being done.
It all started with lace tatted to look like snow
laid softly on grass. We anticipate returning.
If you come next time bring a picnic
basket; the irises will be blooming then
Knee deep in it now
The fears are creeping in
Shadows crawl across my skin
Under a tree, in stillness
In the stillness of the sterile noon
The wisdom of the purple iris blooms
Our voices cast passing shadows
on grounds of silent fears.
Ray walked into my head
Mute and glowing.
The freight of dark
Bargains with mockingbirds and night-herons in other trees
In the fine company of Therese, Ambika, Maureen and legions more;
under the inspiration of William Stafford, I make this poetic journey.
More than eight hundred days, and we are hoarse, words ushered
onto placards—Je suis Charlie—in language bloodied and borrowed.
They’re already dead, those 615,000,000 chickens
whose wings will feed only Super Bowl fans.
Watching endless women taking their own photos:
Selfie after selfie/No self left to photo.
In the selvage of the blizzard’s opaque static,
a blank mind claws, falters, finds nothing left to salvage.
Words well and wheel and whir. The tin god speaks; the hive hungers.
Soon enough the ocean ripples red; plovers wade once more ashore.
Tethered to this world by our crooked sanguine root,
radiant with immaterial white sparks, we ignite
She said, I’m staying with him. I don’t want to be alone.
I said, You can be in a crowed room, alone.
In the treatise of disequilibrium, I swim out past the breakers
that separate this world from that, into the glycerin otherness
But this frenetic stream distracts me—the pillow,
your absence—think, think, of something else …
The Avuncular Colonel has KFC’d
iced and spiced China utterly.
Azure of azimuth/
voweltime for the Moniques, Merediths, Maureens.
Alliteration bails at the break of bellicose banalities
voweling to marginalize midalphabet’s memes
Angles and arcs invent iconic images: edgy emissaries emote. Offshore,
oscillations of ultrasonic ululations yield to the yammers of yore.
The awesome silence at night
of 1.4 billion souls at rest.
Deep in what’s early a wren prepares,
adjusting its lens from the highest limb.
Offshore remote missionaries on edge
angling and arcing the spark of hammers divine.
We won’t come back—nor the wolf that had eaten the elk
that had eaten the aspen sprouts that had peppered the meadow
Spreading out upon the sunset of my mind,
A simple line splitting infinity from the blind
The wail of Gaia;
the Chinese Earth Goddess goes for Gucci.
With the chatty, dark-haired tribes hunting for lunch
eating chicken and rice precisely at noon.
Spring, budding and shedding buds and bedding
The unwintering of the blood.
Yoshino cherry trees’ blood-blushed blossoms swell in granite
lantern light. A queen is crowned in Mikimoto pearls and gold.
The frog-faced dictator with the poor golf shot
smiles and speaks softly to the press; millions displaced and disgraced.
Gems, teak, tea and jade
countless suffering for this trade.
Obscure, sullen, mystique behind the dark sunglasses
a murky vision with the medals—the thug and his monologues.
Worship, like slavery, is foreign to free minds
Life is Fiction: free will invents Us with our own designs.
In the Hell of getting what you want, lies Heaven’s promise…,
but living in a space with your vibrationary kin, grows a true paradise.
The stars are not cruel: the Universe is not violent.
Cruelty has a human heart violence, is a broken man….
For in the bright new meline morning,
birdsong stirs dormant seeds of hope
fuel for the prayers of dreamers
bending in anticipation of welcomed winds of change
Quiet comforts the wildfire Souls striving as Sunflowers!
in a yellow vase, bending light and the future, turning o’er a table in Arles.
The key on that table fits the charred wooden box
that holds answers to immortal questions whispered in secret
The brush falls from Vincent’s hands, and Everest shakes half a world
away. In the scrap of towering temples, tents and timber, stone and dust.
Rising from the smoke and ash of natural and man-made disaster
from toppled temples to anarchic mayhem; justice’s sword
exposing the callous blasphemous beast with six heads
who defied God’s law by disregarding the sanctity of life.
Satisfied apocalyptic anarchy had been averted,
the monsignor set down his rosary ending his 36 hour fast
He ate, sipped wine, gave thanks and rested deep until
serpent vision startled him wide awake. “Ouroboros!”
Biting our tails trying to swallow, serpentine
Rings of bone in a tree full of worms, claret sating
Gravity whorls around long stemmed roses where the red
Becomes the same shape as the wind creating their colours
Malodorous media manipulations confuse corporate culprit blame.
Poets armed with ink filled metaphorical swords rise from the dead.
Limpid green primavera, shoots of bamboo watery clime
Not restless as much as wrestling, frisky élan vital
Embezzlement of dissonance frays the faulty fascination of hearing
Frissoned and flamboyant, listening finds its sway to the front
composing restless metaphors of runaway trains
on corporate backed greased tracks igniting class clashes
nestling wings a portrait in feathery grey snigger over french broom blonde
where fallen juniperberry plum succumbs to débutante magnolia mauve
shedding the last remnants of reflex, and sliced lemons
seeds of fallow pitch, restless melting becomes home
Not all secrets can be burned to ash
in home’s hearth; smoke tells of fire
the names of the dead, tossed about like so many handfuls of rice
some remain fragrant, the scent of their echos, bouquets of memory
You, I and gardenia with me
I think we are more than three!
fractured core for a clown’s face in rock where vireos perch
grass weeping oil slicks, tufted highways of prevalent sorrow
Earth, sky, everything—wearing secret, composed wing-feet.
Sparkle of oil in the oven the marriage of spinach and chick pea.
Whispered secrets revisionist innuendo balancing
Acid in the water till mixed with the oils of discontent
fragrant grey lobbing spices buttered in turquoise jasmine
no turning, no wolving, unbuttoned for closer inspection
Heavily, with a broken pomegranate, the weather carries.
A wound is at the heart of it. And it carries, as on a tray
We plucked grapes, like clusters of purple stars,
Then crushed them, and drank the light within.
feather slots leaves folded pages marked ink drying
wind peeking skirts creased ruffle turning falling away
little girls in pigtails colored like sunlight in a dark sky
why would we not weep, from so much beauty scarred
notice the crickets, how sustenance and longevity align with the small rubbing little bites repeated
heartfelt angst is tiger maul losing a limb unnoticed shock too much to swallow goes by unremarked
gesture of silence cordial despair ravenous fricative curtsy
slicing heavenward gentle nod subtle sigh falling or falling
Falling or failing, who would not countenance a moonbeam’s benediction
from the garlicky breath of the soul’s deep dungeon?
On the prairie side of things, love must be grass, bleached
in the sun, growing from the bodies of lovers forgotten in the field.
Surrender without agency of ended breaths. knees knocking on death’s door
Freedom to be while being as we are but not as they are, no peace in any moor
Oh but mendacious moon! whore that borrows, never returns:
greedy thing of mouths. But for you, more stars.
Maybe me, who saw that bold, bloodless white sitting like a ingenuous cygnet
on a fustrum of ageless lake, and could not bear to ruin that gift with a wrinkled
Maybe you, who saw nothing the evening I saw the cygnet
or what I thought was so white, so bold, sitting in a curve so white
Moorings fixed unsalted and tossed aside, remnants of regions, catacombs and chambers
The ventricles of every heart leavened, maybe not for now but for when, rising arises
Today the world is a whirligig full of toy children larking mad with summer.
So let us love, knowing the outrageous wound proves it beyond all cannon.
When rising arises and setting sets, therein lies the poem at the end of the world—
an ageless lake’s infusion—and grief is its loamy floor, forgiveness its tear-pocked shore.
let us love, fragile and iridescent as we are, though it be a reach
for light-combing fingers … a newborn wind, folding into the sky’s cradle.
It is no hyperbole to say you saved me,
you an ocean away now gazing at the very same moon,
that moon by which we pled love’s fullest phase, yet having loved, did
cast fools’ shadows on the sun, the crescent waning till light was done.
No stargazers, we miss Jupiter’s bold race toward Venus, the brighter
of the two. Our distance is the sky’s width, our closeness dark illusion.
Oh my senses—eyes and ears darling and daft, which learn of such illusion!
Awful, awful moon, I say. Give me Jupiter’s blood wound—or nothing at all.
Too narrow, I wish my arms
into constellations and fly
Deluded, we believe we will eat cake in tomorrow’s morning,
forget the soaking shoreline that sucks our salty ankles.
The insouciance of the rose in summer.
Long for the dusty pines at the edge of beauty.
Quick, herd Sagittarius, Aquarius, the Dipper too into a swelling pillowcase to keep this sparkle,
some sip of it to save and warranty we’ll need no purchase of regrets.
It is raucous waves which wash our memories clean
and push us toward future’s enduring embrace
Southern fire at twilight
the volcanic, pure rose pink skies pinked to perfection.
But the horizon swells to swallow fire, the tide retreats,
and day lies charred, weeping in night blindness.
You singed my lips and burnt your watermark.
In barefoot abandon I dove into the sea.
Shimmied off sped-past plots of careful thought, and flightless form
and so a diluvial self was born—me, a sublunary breathing apparatus.
The worst weather occurred after I fell for you—
a dark cloud’s descent into hail.
halos, after all, are not made from dust, but ice, compact
and wound through the tornado’s reckless wandering.
and days full of storms and floods, gales and granite,
breakers and sand, are a fickle friend
and a pearl dawns in the yawning oyster sky
only after long night of perturbation by grit
A soap opera ends in a neon blue haze of pixels,
Notches on a Roman candle counts burnt fingers from times the Sun failed.
I had never seen a more masculine gesture;
The cow’s milk gushed, splattering the bucket with cream.
In her vision, there were no more mammas, no more cows, no more life giving teats.
Desperate, some came to milk the bulls and found only blood, waste, and thirst.
And so undernourished underlings came to weep willows,
came to hold slick slumber in the corners of their eyes
Antarctica penguins steal pebbles from each other’s nests
Raucus, smelly, adorable little versions of us they circle blue ice
repeatedly, until the glacier cracks and collapses under our weight;
and the depth of despair drowns their morbidity in our choir of insanity.
The shackles on my wrists begin to rust away;
Away, those iron-wrought parasites dissolve.
Feeling returns, and the open nerves’ fear of feeling.
Oh, was there ever such hope without a blind spot of pain?
But pain, that anguishing vacancy, far better than the sucking vortex
of the black hole, and feeling re-emerges with an acoustically perfect sound.
Daybreak without a lingering why of night? Belief in blue
and the circus of stars around us? Time: ouroboros; long walk
short-piered, the width of the globe, running
one step ahead of the thaw, two steps behind
Wither—yes, my bones will dry out too—I count the hairs left on my head.
A bird skull in the yard—the pecking order of time.
Though through longing, you can forget the past,
The present, and longing for hope, the future.
Echoes of a guitar’s sweet strum herald the dawn
and the sound of hope on my star-dusted lips.
Howls meander through the woods, a harvest moon—
The creatures, their stares are just for me.
To harvest the stars and strums, the howls and hopes
By moonlight or to let them fall overripe to earth?
Stalking the equinox slavering for storms
Slivers of ice start to work on the moon
So I ask again, who hasn’t been fooled or frightened
by soft rain in the night, the falling sky and falling moon.
You don’t care if I’m cold out here—
it’s your turn tonight with the electric blanket.
I’ll sausage into a mummy bound in fleece, warm
as metabolism smolders, snuggle the sofa’s crease.
I fear you’ve seasoned all too well, mistake fall’s start then race pell-
mell to bid Joaquin his eye to shut but waters rise and rise—a glut!
Graduate of dust: as is your style, you bite the bullet—
you bite it in two & in two again.
Halves of a whole, we smile at retro,
jazzing to the local radio station with the Tuesday stars.
The harvest of the mind
a canopy for life.
The canopy’s rent: what’s filled, empties. Better to open eyes
and heart and arms than thresh and sort mixed meanings.
Replenish the root of the soul
Forgetting what was lost.
Embrace earth while stretching starward
secured by one continuance, informed by dark’s expanse
Another storm another chance to see
our friends—surprise!—not what we thought they’d be
black balaclavas, that mask of mayhem that disrupts our dawn,
the deepening, deafening demand to defeat grown strong.
None bet bullets for a song at le Ba-ta-clan. Miles from that music,
a bowed and bankrupt city mourns. It’s one more American mass.
In silence now, we are as ancient sky-gazers, Westward-led,
the night’s full moon casting light on one star-mapped birth.
When it is mid-winter, a little snow on the ground, it is good to stop and breathe
the voices of the ancients, your people who dream with you in your dreams.
I am mesmerized by shifting patterns low light makes
on mossy rocks beneath the surface
Yet waves be stilled, and thieves take the Metro.
Otherwise, our truths might change to this, that the earth no longer tilts.
Sometimes that’s all we can hope for—
a midday melt in March, a cloudless sky.
Hearts spilling, joy fulfilling, amazed at the sight.
Forever changed and with a new mission, set on fire by the Light.
In a world rife with uncertainty, we learn the north pole has shifted
The knowledge purples the air we breathe, and our laughter hurts our hearts.
Not our usual quick-ticking-six-second “moments” of silence,
but the gentle hushhhh of a full, true moment unfolding …
The world clatters with glass jawbones; we are flung
from the cold ring of the horizon into each tomorrow.
if my eyes were a prison of winters that snowed
you would be the water that froze me into an arrow
petals of the peonies have fallen to the table
the muscles tighten around the bones
A baby bursts forth, her robust cries ringing through the hospital room,
she gasps, she kicks, and she fights the chill in the air, fights for warmth
The questions breathing me into the woodlands
were all I could ask for.
Seven times, we circle around the fire
A vermillion stop, and then we climb higher
One boot plants, the next a skateboard on loose stone.
Up is defeated. Face meteor-smashes rock into bone.
yesterday, I was cracked open like a Moa egg in skilled hands, gently unscrambled, honey-orange yolk, surrounded by plasma as clear as birth.
clouds cluster a darker shade of slate, still
you fashion dandelions, tiny suns, around your wrist
He burst into song and joined the summer lullaby
trilled by the unseen choir of shadows.
Finishing the line is what we are about.
The places we search are the places we know.
But the mind’s eye casts its light on dark interiors, compartments
hidden in dreams we never ask to have, cannot recall on waking.
Like seedlings we emerge from night soil, cowled and bowed like saints
in search of a halo, mystified by the symphonic spread of our own limbs.
So I hang this heavy head between these heavy shoulders
And pray I’ll be okay
How many moments of silence and lines of poetry
will it take to guide this world’s old soul to peace and empathy?
Our discourse has come down to this—a curse with good intentions.
Hope, fate and bitterness. And then again. Again.
The rain may fall, but now,
I wait in the stillness of time.
Peking cabbage and lamb’s lettuce, I grow my own little prayers
little green hymns to Amaterasu our sun
My heart is breaking is my plight
Love comes softly in the moonlight
Foolhardy lover of dirt and conspicuous affairs
I send the letter on the bones of my heart
Look for answers in the black holes of doubt, feign nothing
more than words whose meanings you’ve split like atoms.
Everything is filtered through honeymoon eyes,
like the pigeons in the piazza who squabble and die.
Lullabies course in our veins,
It’s the lapping of the moon’s milk.
Offered a kaleidoscope,
we insisted upon a Viewmaster.
The world limns into view:
fractals (feverish, fractured)
I step into this bright silence
the grass still green the ground frost hard