Unseen Hand of Autumn

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There is an unseen hand

Behind the cooler nights of autumn.

Geese rise and sound their call

Even before the rooster’s cry at dawn.

Summer’s playful heat

Left with lesser light.

 

Early green of spring

Began with flower,

Soon to fall as leaves

Outplayed with speed and strength

To catch the Sun and feed

Slumbering core to grow another ring.

 

September green upon the hills,

Still intent it fades well gauged,

Preparing for finale staged —

Knowing deep within the shorter hours,

Yet one last campaign must be waged,

Knowing in the heart, this time may be the last.

 

Even body’s bones feel weariness of age.

Time for green has lost its heat at last.

Yet whatever reds and golds to come

Will charm the eye with brilliance not outclassed

By any other season—shrub, tree,

Sky so vivid blue, fades to gold as evening comes.

 

Mute swans upon the lake take flight,

Circle round three times before they land again.

Ducks and geese take more direction,

Fear not only winter but now the hunter—

Silently he stands, hides within the rushes

Praying to kill, bring sound of danger,

Sends lead when powder fires upon one spark,

Spreads demand of such ungodly power,

Until barrel and perhaps a life is spent.

 

Send prayer instead those survivors

Hailing darts that bring sudden death—

Friends and neighbors fall mid-flight,

Make havoc of the need to rest or riot.

No good knowledge, not cunning of the mind

Stop coming of dark winter’s edge and night.

 

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The Midas Touch

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Early morning light,
Walk upon black sand,
Fire of volcano from years ago
Burned into the world,
Released the deepest gold
Scattered in the air, the trees,
The grass against blue water’s edge.

Perhaps King Midas, sitting on his throne,
Reached out his hand and touched the Sun—
All alone, he poured such blazing pain,
To survive upon every ocean shore…
Still it smolders in his name.
Alive so many years, he never knew
His touch of gold left his daughter dead.

I Am Grateful But Not Happy….

Clarity Will Come

I will be honest.  I am not happy.

No need to deceive or lie when you’re as old as I…

Now is the time to reveal as much as I can see.

I’ve recently slipped away from death again,

 Just as I did when I was three and was hit by a car,

Wheel grazed against my face when I rolled

Down a hill outside the church.

Thank God, for me, the street of life has been long.

There have been soft pillows when I went to sleep,

But so many lost or forgotten dreams.

 

When I was five, I was thrown

While riding bareback on large trotting horse,

Held onto reins, pulled under beast,

Saw the face of death until hooves

Clipped against my head,

Finally knocked me unconscious.

I let go of reins and fell safely into blackness.

Eight times darkness has come and circled close.

I am like a beef stew, still simmering on the stove,

Invisible chef saying I’m not sufficiently tender,

Apparently for some unfathomed reason

Not yet ready to set upon the Table.

More lessons to be learned–


Battles to be won or lost before peace comes…

 Praise God— I still have work to do!

 

But why should I be happy

When I look outside and see the sky…

Clouds billowing as sails,

Birds as distant yachts upon the roiling seas.

Who will hold my hand as it trembles on the tiller

When I tightly turn to port when day is done,

Gybing across the southwest wind,

Seek a place to anchor for the night?

I will be honest.  I am grateful and I am not unhappy….

And I hope for another year and more…

 

How is the sky where you live today?

Here, limited visibility and the air thick,

Moist heat forcing me inside again,

Curtains pulled against the sun.

Do you see clouds against horizon of your dreams?

When I was young there were no clouds….

The sky eternally blue and I could see forever.

After sunset, fireflies and stars came out.

There were lamps that were lit in evening corners,

Music played late on the radio, and I failed to

Notice love was absent in the house.

 

I will be open— my life is no tragedy.

If you were here, I’d take your hand,

Look softly but intently into your eyes and ask,

“Has someone ever loved you fully?”

When you were young and alone,

Did you often think of death?

Did you ever spend a day outside upon the ground,

Watch blue skies, white rags of clouds

Sucking fantastic sweetness from the searing air?

Even now, do you feel sad when watching sunsets?

 

Did you lose yourself at the age of eight

 While staring into coals of fire at night,

Have fears of hell instilled….  brush your hair,

Striving for a perfect look, insides unseen,

Alone with sleeping pain you hardly knew was there

So many wasted wishes, each one the same —

With every birthday cake a prayer

God would take me Home and not

Throw me into cold flames of Hell.

 

Speak to me.  What is love if we are only birds

Flying as yachts among the clouds that block the sun?

Are there terrible questions that

Must not be asked, for shame,

Unspeakable shame to ask…..?

 Love for me is someone giving a hand to hold,

Yet another chance to stop hiding—

Open all the windows and as light fades into dusk,

Perhaps the promise of an honest kiss.

 

Who knows you well enough to know

What answers you are afraid to seek?

Speak to me, my friend.  I am here.

Should we speak plainly or merely in metaphor

As we shamble down the street?

Do you want to hold hands

Or walk two feet apart?  Who are you now?

Are you happy when alone within your skin?

I am not happy; I am grateful and I am not unhappy.

And I am not afraid.

 

There have been too many births and deaths….

Even  those unnoticed are mighty.

More will come before winter snow.

Perhaps we should look no deeper,

But since my youth, I always want to know….

Or would you prefer to sail upon a quiet surface?

 

Can you bare to read the wrinkles on your face?

Shall we sail together upon white-capped clouds,

Say prayers as we fly upon  deep blue sky,

Raging clouds casting shadows at high noon?

Be forewarned, you cannot leave fingerprints in blue.

As gathered darkness comes, will there be answers

To our terrible questions or will the silence reign

Upon dry minds that thirst in prayer for more?

 

Uncertainty of Sparrows

sparrow

Pause in the reading of this poem,
Perhaps as is befitting a spiritual sage,
Which maybe you are, or were in a different age.
Go slowly as we discern the limits of words,
Approach a small, narrow, hallowed place.
Allow the unspeakable to have a voice in your head.

These days, no one knows anymore. No one cares.
But four thousand years ago, people like you and me
Would write questions or draw pictures, stick figures,
Put them in little clay pots, shaped by their own hands,
Place them on the banks of the Nile, wondering
“Do all the gods really exist?
What’s on the other side of death?
Will the floods cover the fields this year?
Wlll we have food on the table?”

They lifted their heads and looked
To white Sun blazing on sands of Egypt,
Waited for an answer to come in dreams
Or hoped for a sparrow to fly,
Deliver a prayer or question to wherever it is
Sparrows fly— on a wish or a hope on wings.
And they prayed sparrow would return by morning
With an answer. To this day, we don’t know if it did.

But I have it from highest authority,
Afore Moses stood before burning bush,
Sparrow was there, hopping from branch to branch,
Building a nest, laying eggs— waiting for God,
Who plotted trajectory of fire,
Until Moses appeared, staggering barefoot,
Stood before unburning flame, scratching his head,
Falling to knees in bewildering silence.
Trust me, by the end of the poem,
It all becomes questionably clear…

For now pause, consider question of questionable significance:
Do sparrows themselves dream? Are they capable of prayer?
On this, even ornithologists are a trifle uncertain,
Though it may not be a trifle matter to sparrows….
What is a falling feather, floating down to earth,
If not a dream or answered prayer? Jung might fully agree.
I once knew an ornithologist, years ago,
Who studied sparrows and still did not know.
To drown the uncertainty, she drank too much,
Becoming even more uncertain, staggering about like Moses,
Scratching her head till it hurt,
Red flaming hair falling out, drifting down
Like little feathers to Earth. Do you begin to see
How this all fits together?

What ancient Egyptians knew, and we have forgotten,
Now falls in broad category of mystery,
And the greatest of mysteries is the mystery of birth,
Death, blazing white Sun, beginning and end of Earth.
Even back then, the sparrow was just one more thing.
But how does it fly, up there in the air,
The air— which covers mysterious Earth….
These days, it’s all a myth to me.

Sometimes it claws at me— looking deeply
Into tiny eyes of a sparrow, wondering
Is this Jurassic eye or the eye of God?
In Egyptian hieroglyphics, trust me,
I learned this in Egypt from a guide
Who swore Isis transformed into a bird,
Flying in search for the body parts of Osiris.
Last of his body she found in the Nile: his penis,
Not less or more, but enough to bring him back to life.
Was there erection, or was it resurrection?

Carved in stone, hieroglyph of bird was often little sparrow,
Meaning small or narrow or sick— owned by the wind,
Pushed high by strong storms, becoming uncertain in flight…
Just like modern ornithologists who sometimes
Drink too much, at risk of losing their hair at night,
Fall down narrow flight of stairs….

Jesus said even the very hairs of your head are numbered.
Fear not: you are of more value than many sparrows.
Yet still there may be uncertain word,
Warning our time is narrow. Listen, I pray,
To little gray bird, in flight or perched on branch—
Carrying a message we need to hear,
Each time it loses a feather.

God Help Us If We Cannot Be Tender

storm in forest
Last night I woke from a dream….
Or perhaps still inside the dream,
Rowing through the woods,
Up old mountain trails on other side of the lake,
Hard work, given absence of water.

It is the story of my life….
When summer storms suddenly rise,
Predicted yet unexpected, surprised
By ferocity of wind from west,
Then gale from eastern shore— lightening,
Thunder of waves crashing on against my door.

Sometimes it is futile to think about life,
To analyze, prepare against serendipitous
Shock of the rising morning light.
But I will not accept the dark.
At most, I accept my position within the dark.

Let me begin again, retrace my steps,
Marking the trail by releasing
Whatever drains out of my heart.
Whatever version I choose to tell myself,
I know I’ve fallen across a truth.
Such is my journey into a brighter light.

If nothing else is obvious, surely we agree
How rare and special life is,
Despite how cunning nature seems to be
At finding our weakest spot.
God help us if we cannot be tender.
Do not feel nothing
As a way of avoiding too much pain.

Row deeper into the trees and sit in silence;
Listen to the wash of water falling from leaves.
Everything moves as the speed of Time
Comes as strong wind into our lives.
Steady yourself and rest within that quiet space
At the center of disruption that seems to last forever.

Night Has Been Long & Wind Is Strong

Strong Wind

All through the night, the wind picked up,

Growing in speed, leaning on door,

Pushing against old rusted hinges—

And I stood within my room,

Hesitant, not knowing, unsure

If I wish the door to open or keep it shut.

 

I thought the door was locked,

But through the keyhole came strong wind,

Bringing with it vastness of the world,

Spilling into small room

Until it worked its way into wounds

Still bleeding these many years.

 

I am almost certain—  yet not quite sure,

The wind called out my name,

Whispering wordlessly in the dark.

Whether I had worn clothes or not,

I now stood naked…  animal scars

Visible from gashes on my heart.

 

Only then, did I see him standing,

Waiting outside the window, unwearied,

Prints of his hands all over everything.

A voice said, “This is how he cares.”

Deep within my Soul, a letting go took place,

Eyes finally open to see what was apace.

 

Love is a portal. Love is a door

Through which tempest wind blows.

Though you press your palms

To keep the door shut, the wind still hunts,

Finds keyhole present since birth,

Floods you with light, then substance and worth.

 

Owing to strong wind, I now know his name,

See him standing, caring patiently—

I could never make this up.

Could this be God? Am I ready?

Will I go easy when door is rusted shut?

Can thirst be quenched from falling rain?

 

The Weight of the World

weight of the world

How much weight of the world

Do you carry on stooped shoulders,

More heavy than you’d care to know…

Will you ever learn to let it all go?

Or will that wait until you place your head

On the pillow of your final bed?

 

The wonder of this world

Is that you get your own strange

Yet also special life. After all,

Each day you can live inside of yourself,

Looking out through dual eyes,

Or closing them at night to dream….

 

How much weight of the world

Do you carry on stooped shoulders,

More heavy than you care to know…

 

And in some imagined spaces,

Perhaps behind your eyes,

Deep within where you sink or rise,

In that spaceless spot, we sense

Both magnus and minimum opus

Spectacular yet small and ironically vast,

As is the Universe itself.

 

Will you ever learn to let it all go?

Or will that wait until you place your head

On the pillow of your final bed?

 
ds
For today, I want to give you the Ocean,

And even the idea of Ocean,

Washing feet on warm sandy beaches,

Rough cleansing, the waiting urge,

So often kept in check, but now you are free—

Want to swim. And swim. Further Out.

 

How much weight of the world

Do you carry on stooped shoulders,

More heavy than you’d care to know…

 

 

My wish, my prayer for you as you hear these words,

Is that you run wherever the wind blows you.

Raise your face to gaze upon

Heavens of exponential blue,

White clouds merely cumulus accumulating

To shade you of the flaming exhalation,

Wordless exaltation pouring out of the eyes

Of Old Buttery Sun, a sign in the eye

Of something luminous that will last.

 

Will you ever learn to let it all go?

Or will that wait until you place your head

On the pillow of your final bed?

 

Do not only sip from the glass—

Drink deeply of the sun and the light,

Of night and of grief, of joy when you weep,

Inhabiting secretly inside you,

Occupies more than one space at a time,

Boundaries useless or at least permeable,

Requiring fortitude and resolve

To be “this” and not “that”.

Almost endless is hidden potential

In this world where each of us,

Even the tiniest entity,

Is important to itself,

Where everything must explore

Its own edges, know when to stop,

To hesitate, think, pause to dream as you sleep.

 

How much weight of the world

Do you carry on stooped shoulders,

More heavy than you’d care to know…

 

We have as yet said nothing

Of that which is silent and discreet,

Often moves within where things overlap,

Where we have buried memories,

Waiting to speak, waiting to speak.

There are some words when spoken,

Cannot be taken back, some voices

When allowed to speak, refuse to shut up.

And so many times we’ve torn apart with bare hands

So many things, so many good things.

 

Will you ever learn to let it all go?

Or will that wait until you place your head

On the pillow of your final bed?

 

There are those times

When we are surprised by an almost

Imperceptible wind that blows across our faces,

We lift off with wings from bodies

That have never been taught how to fly,

Weighted as they are, encrusted

Deep inside our veins, all those

Bright wounds of our existence.

 

How much weight of the world

Do you carry on stooped shoulders,

More heavy than you’d care to know…

Will you ever learn to let it all go?

Or will that wait until you place your head

On the pillow of your final bed?