July 2016

poem25 Jul 2016 07:42 am


the old man told her bedtimes stories of when he was a child
not much older than her and the flames cupped him
on the way home
you’d miss the open air, they told him
and Glinna believed him when he said he never did
nor the blue marble, the swirling clouds, and terra firma
it was my job already, he said, and I was not afraid
of the stars, not anymore
than I was afraid of the light that showed me the way
down the darkened hallway
and back to bed
where I dreamed of the moon, possibly transferring
to Mars, and I got my wish, you see; I’m here

and out the window, she looks
Phobos and Deimos
in the face, and Glinna is no more afraid
than the old man was
who cared for her
in Asaph Hall

the other beds are empty
their one time occupants but shadows now
splashed upon the wall
and the ink smears
their names on the contract signed by their parents
gone too into the harsh environs
buried in the rust-orange clay
not unlike their ancestors in the mines of Wales
or buried at sea
consumed by fishes and dreams of California gold
it makes no difference, in the end
it was a speck in Brownian motion that she saw
at the bottom of a telescope
if only she could go there and see
where Man had begun
to struggle
and to die, but the crushing weight of it all
she couldn’t bear
no, she couldn’t bear
it was better here, with the old man
and the toys of peace, if only
she had other children
to play with

in time, in time, the old man said; but then
he’d be gone, like the others
and she’ll have grown
to take his place

poem18 Jul 2016 07:46 am


Queenly robes,
the arms of lovers,
even skin’s soft, elastic grip
she no longer can recall.

Lurching from alley to avenue
she clumps her clumsy way,
murmurs muffled beneath
numberless folds of linen
brittle as uninked papyrus.
She has forgotten words.

she is empty,
nothing within
except the heart
missing its metronome.
She does not tick in time
with the rest of the earth’s hours.
Like dream-people, she does not breathe;
the absent sound of inhale and exhale
dizzies her,
makes the world awry.
How could you miss so much
something you’d never really noticed?

This long wandering takes its toll:
she sloughs off wrappings
like a snake its skin,
yet no new supple self
emerges audacious and unblemished
in the wake of loss.
Her denuded brown feet
shrivel, mortified,
flesh laid bare in the most intimate revelation.

Another inch of cloth shreds;
with its end’s unwinding
an amulet for luck in the afterworld
clinks to the pavement.
She hears it
but its music has no meaning;
She doesn’t bend to retrieve it.
It would contain no clue
to what she’s searching for:
her name,
even the most trivial memory—
whether faience beads or carnelians caressed her neck,
a dear friend’s laugh,
the taste of figs,
was there a child?—
something of life,
something of self to hold onto.
Nothing comes.
Her wrappings trail her in the dirt
like the ribbons of a careless dancer.

Fumes of myrrh and cassia rise,
another amulet clinks to the ground,
as she unravels.

poem11 Jul 2016 08:04 am


Atenlea is a peaceful place,
but still a place of man,
& deep inside, man fears nature’s fury.

So, from the very first distant clamber
they take note.

It starts as a distant murmur of tumbling rocks
that perks ears & lifts heads.
A clatter of rockslide
where no rocks are loose.
Soon it grows into the rumble
of an earthquake or tornado.

Like a field of busy mice suddenly met
by a family of hungry cats, they flee.
Slow & weak
trail behind the scatter of raucous panic.
In minutes Atenlea is left
with those few who cannot run, the left behinds.

Gradually they limp & crawl
to benches that line
the north side of the town square.
Seven humans gathered
to fight fear & meet fate.
They console
& ready themselves for anything.
Anything except what greets them.

The noise & trembling ground
are no work of nature.
They come with the Cobblestone Dragon.
Hard round sections of his being
clatter & rumble & roar
& freely roll within.

His long thick tail follows
as horizontal avalanche
as he walks slowly & deliberately
placing each step carefully
to avoid destroying the city
or the retinue of unhearing creatures
that surround him.

Fully in the town square, he stops.
Seven stare, blinking & unsure,
confused at a dragon with an entourage
as diverse as a fever dream, cleaning
the tracks of the Cobblestone Dragon.

Quietly the dragon speaks.
He asks who & why. Surprised
the seven speak haltingly at first.
But as the strangest town meeting ever
wears on
they find sharing life stories easy.

When they are through, silence falls
until one timid & bent-legged child
asks the dragon for his story.

Silently he ponders
his troubled but welcome existence.
He travels once more
the long road of his past.
He begins where he was conjured,
pieced together from commonest remains.

charged with life
he was born thrashing & roaring.

All fled, even she who birthed him.
He was alone.

Until he met other dragonkind
he didn’t even know
how slow & awkward he was among his kin.

Only with time did he understand
the dignity denied him in creation.
That realization began the quest
to gain what was missing.

On the way he learned that
every dignity, like every face
is unique.

Ages have passed since then
but he finds no rest.
And now
recalling his long & difficult life
he is certain he has no words
to make these humans understand.

His magics
like the stones of his creation
are of the smallest & commonest kind,
but he believes they will suffice.
From within comes a vision
charged with the heat of his desire
& tailored to each who see.

Visions would be enough but he does not stop.
He ignores the drain of his exertions
& reaches within once more.

With a touch
he heals these humans
who have given
to his heart & knowledge.

For a time he rests
but his desire never fails.
His quest resumes
with a slow walk away from the city.
Little has changed
save that his retinue
has increased by seven.

Days after his departure
the populace struggles home
amazed to find Atenlea intact.

The clever among them
find traces of the dragon’s passing.

Eventually, seven are missed.

Conclusions are drawn & stories told.
Throughout the countryside
guards & lookouts are posted.
Those brave enough, are sent to scout
but they find nothing.

In time danger fades & memory grows.

Seven stones are set in the graveyard.
Songs are written.
Tears are cried.

And as years pass
the day’s events become
but one more chapter
in the bloody legend
of the Cobblestone Dragon.

poem04 Jul 2016 09:12 am

the god of deep, dreamless sleep
     the goddess of crisp waking
        the god of cool, morning light

the goddess of salt and sanded waters
    the god of wave-tumbled pebbles
        the goddess of low tide treasures

the god of dappled shade
    the goddess of that breeze in those trees
        the god of the story those winds tell

the goddess of groggy heat
    the god of sweat raised and razing
        the goddess of ice on that skin

the god of bread pulled from the oven
    the goddess of summer-warm blackberries
        the god of the peach trail down your chin

the god of recall
    the goddess of remembrance
        I am alive I am alive I live