Glistening in the Dark

GlisteningStrength is needed to endure,

To stare into the overbearing darkness.

I do not speak of the flaming sunset,

Nor the glory of morning full of hope.

I refer to the long cold of winter gloom

When presidents and potentates strive forth,

Chaos rules and truth cannot be told.

 

Most among us get depressed,

Cannot face the loss of light,

Eyes closed to even the North Star

That orients world of wonder

From thickness of the dark,

Foretelling of sickness and doom.

 

Stand solitary, give attention

To all the various signs and visions….

Focus eyes upon whatever sparks may gather.

They are barely visible, these glistenings.

Consult both fools and wise ones,

Those who hunt alone in the High Country.

 

Learn to lean into the wind that blows

Across oceans toward hidden leeward shore.

Study the emptiness of deep space,

Breath deeply of the cold air, stay awake—

Do not allow your eyes to close or dilate

Lest you miss the omen of the single star that glows.

Fierce Beauty

Fierce BeautyWalking a black lab at night is a wonder
When snow is two feet deep,
More so when sallow Moon
Slowly begins to turn bright silver,
And all the world is hushed.

High above drift shadows of clouds,
Lake half frozen as it holds
Its covey of swimming ducks,
Shoulders of hills watching over
Fierce beauty that blankets Earth.

Lights from cars miles away,
Like halos of saints or angel wings fluttering,
Cast haze upon the naked trees.
But it is late March, snow upon fallen logs
Only visiting, like frogs will do come June.

The air is cold, but not frigid,
More like gnarled hands of an old woman,
Sitting alone in winter’s chill, remembering
Her wedding dress, forever white—
Still shining in the fading light.

Ready for Spring

Ready for Spring

Sometimes when you’re all ready for Spring,
Daffodils and tulips ready to bring—
Suddenly clouds move down from the North,
Winter returns with incredible force.

Blizzard comes with howling wind,
Two feet of snow makes all the trees bend,
Then ice to make the shoveling hard,
Only drifts visible throughout the yard.

Again and again, life changes direction.
Even prayer fails in attempting correction.
So trapped inside with intense spring fever,
Remain in the lodge along with the beaver.

Run, Young Bull

bull-at-sunset

Run, young bull, out upon the greening fields,

Dance black against the blazing sky

As though the madrigal’s tune is

Felt upon rough hide, sharp hooves tapping out

Code faster than blacksmith’s hammer hits the steel.

Let life flow as fingers of rain upon your

Massive marbled ribs, before the butcher

Comes to thrust quick blade, trembling into heart.

 

Enjoy your prime, Sweet One, before man

Obliterates life and stalks of corn

Reach high in sultry July heat.

Life for you, far too short for young bulls.

But do not fear the Spring,

Beware that time when hay is gathered

In bales and staked against the winter’s breath,

When Eagles fall still at noon,

Serpents bury into ground.

 

For now, put your shoulder to the ash,

Scratch hard against the solid bark;

Forget lament that old river knows in its flood.

Run out naked on broad range,

Feast upon the gentle rapture of full moon.

Kiss the pebbles in the stream

When drinking in the midday marvel’s heat.

Have no fear when breathless lark

Begins to sing the end of spring.

 

But when the Sun begins to carve

Toward southern realms,

When year aches from amputated months—

Gone within raw wind as memories lost,

Where sometimes seems more simple just to die

Than survive cruel thrust of knife….

Forgive me, but useless is the wordless prayer

That takes no notice of your bleeding heart.

 

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 iris

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.