Bedded in New Soil, We Wait for Spring

Iris germanica mixed

Late February, under melting snow

Bulbs planted in the fall are stirring,

Sending forth broad green shoots

Seeking warmth of lengthening Sun.

No blossoms yet… patience is required,

But stems now stand at attention,

Hoping by May to feel warm breath of wind,

Allowing buds to burst open—

An act akin to giving birth.

 
Years ago, I’d given up.

Every spring the deer advanced;

Intuition sharp as they watched,

Waited until the day before buds of

Daffodils and tulips enlarged to open,

Then took their feast of sweetness.

For years the bulbs would try again next year,

Finally withered from despair or voles.

 
My old friend, Mitch, swore that lilacs

Would flourish in this place

I dare to say I own as home.

He sent me dozens from Missouri—

Fancy ones with beards,

Colors I’ve only seen in paintings at the Met.

Bedded them in new soil,

Purchased last October at the store in plastic bags,

Fertilized, guaranteed to make them happy.

 
They’re planted in trilogies,

Sometimes in groups of fives

So they won’t be too lonely.

Blessed with water,

They sent their roots down into the ground,

Were covered against freezing winds of winter…

Now awaken to survey length of lawn,

Along stone path, downward to the lake.

 
I came here almost twenty years ago,

Escaping from big city’s noise and pain,

Hoping to plant myself again

Among glacial stone ridges of the town.

Now buried like quiet beetle, dark inside the dirt,

Turned up by gardener’s spade,

I still remember whence I came—

Farmers plowed fields with sharp blades,

Topsoil deep from 20,000 years of waiting.

 
I live upon a tiny plot of Earth,

Having given up small Midwestern town,

Farms, friends— as though dying,

Letting go of past so I might create an empty space,

Adventure forth again transplanted—

Find new friends, new gods or at least

New understanding of One God,

Unlearning and learning,

Uprooted, turned and turned each year

Like garden soil or loam upon the fields…

Always turning like a puzzle in the mind.

Magical Moments Are Born in Darkness

magical-moments

All magical moments are born in utter darkness.
And the painful truth is that each moment of our lives
Is the fruit of, not decades, but fifty thousand years
And more beyond our counting….
Thousands of generations of those born naked,
Into darkness they came and into darkness
They now lie as dust carried by winds of Time.

If we could pause Time itself, return
Perhaps for an hour or years,
We’d see displays of love in ancient Egypt,
Bloom as flowers upon the dessert sands,
Not unlike love blossoming in Georgia only yesterday.
Do not palm branches bend to every wind?
Does not each generation think themselves
Living at the apex of all humanity?

What man has not raised children
Without bearing harsh and honest tongue—
Wife and mother sleeping beside him in bed,
Exhausted at end of day, quiet breathing, praying,
Hopeful for night of sleep to come—
Perchance strange dreams that travel lightly in the mind,
Easily forgotten in hunger of rising Sun.

Who is to say whether a day or year is spent
In desire or waste, or whether empty spaces
Become the necessary loss where new seeds grow,
Sprout in cold of winter or heat of summer’s green?
What platform can we build to judge our lives or
Take another to task without mercy?

I ponder my inheritance,
Given on that day when I was conceived—
High odds that what will eventually kill me
Was put in place that very hour within the DNA.
My birthright and bequest was both blessing and curse,
Transmission of the highest, smallest order,
Unknown even now, yet owned as blind heritage.

One day I will feel the underbrush give way,
Slide down into darkened cave
Where every breath will be amazing experience—
Like love, birth and crying in delivery room.
There is no escaping human nature, surely
Our parents taught us that much….
We live inside an unknown order,
And the history of our times is but another shadow.

Byron’s Large But Damaged Heart

Image

Sometimes I sit and think of Lord Byron—
Charismatic and bi-polar,
So insecure about his beauty
He wore curling papers in his hair at night.

Numerous were the women that he bedded,
More than a few men as well.
For days he would only eat dry biscuits, drink white wine,
Then gorge himself on full dinner
Followed later by a purge.

He kept a flock of pet geese, befriended them,
Gave them freedom of his house,
Knowing that one day they would be his dinner.
Yes, poor Byron was quite the winner.

And then to boot, his right leg was club foot,
Which appealed to sympathetic women,
Not to mention men…. But the intensity of his pen—
Poetry poured out upon the page for every age.

He fled his native country when accused—
Incest, sodomy, adultery, pedophilia, rape….
Was mad, bad, and dangerous to know.
He wrote his autobiography,
Which after he died friends read and burned.
Flames preserved his incandescent  mystery….

He died in Greece while fighting for its freedom,
Bled to death by doctors in attempt to save him.
A hero to the Greek, they cut out and kept his heart,
Returned his body to England for the final fight—
Westminster Abbey would not receive his body for moral reasons.

It took 145 years for the Abbey to allow a plaque
Placed in Poet’s Corner in memory of his name.
Oh, the shame, the lasting shame—
Yet who among us has swum the Hellespont,
Written fourteen volumes of love poetry—
This destructive, horrible man was a villain,
And yet what large heart and enormous pain he carried….
First modern celebrity, dead at thirty-six.

Few Are the Days I Do Not Weep

few-are-the-daysOh my child…. My daughter.…
Few are the days I do not weep for you.
I see such ache of love and loneliness that fills your heart—
Each day, each day it seems to grow, then passes away.
But this is life, the sum and depth of it as all alive must face.
Walking along empty streets, you hesitate and look,
Falter when your mind is focused on anger or despair.
I see it in your eyes. I see the whole of your soul in you.

Each afternoon I see the appointed hour of desolation,
Watch as it sinks its claws into tender flesh—
I see and yet am helpless to protect you.
You do not wish to return home, even if you could.
The world lies at your feet and to return to the past
Would be to exile too many treasured dreams.
In truth, I know you’ve found the Earth too wide,
Too deep, too filled with glory for your free life to bear.

You know I, too, have stumbled on unfriendly streets,
Grown mad with furious and wild desires—
Earth seems too small to satisfy all we long for.
We who have been crazed by hunger and known
Waning of gathering days, we walk the streets,
Hallways, pathways seeking for greater love
Than small and confining loves we’ve lost.
This, too, is life, where each must seek the depths.

So many forgotten faces. So heavy the waste of time…
Yet still we stand on cloudless nights to gaze
Upon bright stars, seeking a cinder more kind than Earth.
We do not belong here and never have and cannot return
Through closed doors or greater knowledge.
No tears, no prayers, no god will grant our foolish wishes.
If there be God, let us hope for a larger God
Than would merely end our dazed and clouded vision.

Each of us alone must contend with thorns of spring.
Adder and asp will always be the same—
We cannot hope to escape our human nature.
But even if alone, play your music every night;
Look within your heart, not for comfort, but Silence.
Only then can you swim from shallows into the Deep,
Only then can you begin to make this world
The finest place to be.

Where the Glory Comes From

where-the-glory-comes-from
For hours, lying in absolute darkness,
I traveled as though on ocean voyage—
Sensing nothing, hearing nothing,
Slow rocking of the skiff, alone as
Waves sloshed against my cradle.

A long and eerie voyage to a far off land
Where light had no source,
No Sun dawned to warm the air.
And finally here, upon shore of vastness,
The Dark Man came so very close we almost touched.

I felt that I had met him many times before,
Yet did not know his name—
Nor if he had a name at all.
Strangely, I was not afraid, in spite of all the work
Remaining to be done. Yet there was regret.

Only on this voyage to utter darkness
Did I finally see I was but a grain of sand,
Exuberantly clinging to breath, barefoot,
Gazing out farther than eye should be allowed to see….
And I knew I had so much more to understand.

I have strong desire to live and love—
And where the glory comes from, I cannot say,
But it is here about me, surrounds and upholds me,
As though I’ve been given wings to rise, to gaze
Upon the world and for the first time,
Be aware and give words to what I see.

Walking Alone in Winter Woods

Walking Alone in Winter Woods

Sometimes in winter
I walk alone, deep within the woods.
Cold wind whispers through bare branches
When late in afternoon
Darkness begins to grow.

Of course, I shiver—
Fight against a bitter fear
That clings upon the heart
With quiet piercing chill.
How changed it is from when
Summer woods were lush and green.

Yet even in this silence
Found in opening of the year,
Wild music soft as clinking crystal ice;
Rustling of dead reeds that wraps
Around river’s frozen bend.

Sitting upon the bed of snow,
I yearn to catch deep meaning
Brought by biting wind that blows,
Sense a subtle bond that links,
Lingering among old trees.

Some may think this a barren time.
For me it is close to paradise—
This fading glint of dazzling light
Against a silent world of white
Stretching endless to horizon of my sight.

All This Has Happened Before

all-this-has-happened-before

When you bow your head and fall to your knees,
Knowing day departs and darkness will be long—
Open the unblinking eye within,
Live close to open water, down where blue heron stands,
One leg holding body steady, without a sound
Watch wild beasts on the hill and serpents in their den.

Of course your soul will resist and regret
When walking on steep path, thirsting, wanting sleep
While wondering if dawn will come again.
Guard your heart and never trust his clever lies.
Be angry that cripples have seized the throne,
Ensnaring all who dream of gold in the tall dark tower.

Hope comes when the eye begins to see in the dark,
Knows the purity of cold despair.
In years to come, mind will enter itself again.
Until then, trust that gods still hear your cries.
And never, never grow accustomed to the dark.
All this once happened before, and worse.