The poems in "Many Voices" were written during a
period of everyday work-scene, and ever constant search of an inner nature. Years covered are roughly 1950-1980. An 'unpublished' copyright (TXu 605-354)was obtained in November 1993. However further publication was delayed.
As I read these words now, it seems like another lifetime, and I suppose in a way it was. However, I have an affinity for the route of experience that person was traveling.
It is my belief that Poetry is always a representative voice. It is in recognition of this that the title,
"Many Voices" has been chosen. Many of us, participants in Life,
have written this book. I have acted as scribe. Perhaps you will share memories of such 'places and times' in your own Journey.
I wish you Good Passage, Wayfarer friend.
List numbers are for poems.Page numbers are at bottom of each page. Please note bottom page number when printing.
1-Prologue(cont. next page)
11-Promise Of Success
14-Voices Of The Past
23-From Someone, Somewhere
29-Winds Of Change
47-Trees Of Autumn
52-Sonnets And Stars
87-New Year Calendar
Poets write such foolish things, some say;
such sentimental, unimportant things.
But do they understand the secret way
years evolve, within a soul that sings ?
And so - I wonder now how you will greet them,
these small, spare lines of simple, childish art.
And if in days to come you will repeat them,
within the secret sanctums of your heart.
If I speak now of worlds I can't define.
or name, or measure, will it matter much ?
Still - in the years to come, you yet may find,
a certain way of loving, and a touch
not quite so distant as it once had seemed -
and much more purpose than at first you dreamed.
What is this nameless restlessness we feel
descend upon us,(or perhaps arise,
from hidden wells), when all that seemed most real
ripples, and grows misted in our eyes ?
We walk the street. We wander on the beach.
We fumble through the pages of a book.
Yet, some unknown desire eludes our reach -
ethereal hint, that will not take mind's hook.
A wistful listening trembles in the ear.
Soundless music drifts from far away,
too rarefied and delicate to hear.
Something is moving in our house of clay.
Something unfolds its wings, and turns its eyes -
in restless longing - toward forgotten skies.
The delicate lotus in the mire;
Altair's icicle light;
a beach ablaze with sunrise fire;
the scented wind of summer's night;
tokens and talismans for the mind;
catalysts of a secret kind -
evokers of delight.
Traveling like a vagabond,
across the world and time,
rich or poor, old or young,
we each someway combine -
(in moments when we sort and pick)
our sack of treasures on a stick,
and carry along this winding Road -
a gathered, small, and treasured gleaning,
which can transform the heaviest load,
into a quintessential meaning -
as Alchemists, so it is told,
were said to transmute lead to gold.
Through trails of shadow, we may take
this little bundle of recollection,
to warm the mind, when joys forsake,
with subtle hands of Life's affection.
And quietly put our troubles by -
recalling love, in some dear eye.
Or see in all the Stars of night
a thousand suns, until the light,
of a nearer one ascends our sky.
against a sundown sky,
between water and air.
flowing in reflection,
Blue, the morning when the whirr
of spinning sorrows sweeps us clean.
Let the heavy sweets ebb softly,
with the summer's humid green.
Grey, the hours of our grief,
as the chiseled tallness mounts.
Elongated sight remembers,
while the Winter sunlight counts.
Passing in the nested darkness,
warm with life, cold with leaving
as the golden disc descends -
a white moon swims to soothe our grieving.
That winter world, where I stood like the trees,
all through the stoic days.
The quiet air.
The columned streets, and everywhere -
the peace of poverties.
The measured, solemn, silent march of hills in white,
across the ice-encrusted night.
The forest, in its Act of death.
the clicking breath
of branches in the wind, and overhead -
stars,like shining candles,for a world pretending dead.
When they came, I watched them as they curled
along the rim of sky. I saw the flash
I heard the splendor splash
across my world.
They brought me suns of summer's gold, the purr of bees,
and fragrant, laden mango trees.
Their brilliant, blowing waters pressed
against the breast
of my cool shores. The silken sands
turned to brittle stuff beneath the touch of midas-hands.
They play, and all my foolish people fly,
to dance their noisy piping. Hill and plain
is gold and gaudy with their stain.
move on my island as before, and they despise
in me - the quiet winter eyes -
that glide like ghosts among their days.
are drunken, and they chide of 'Kings -
poor in all but flute-thin songs the winter sings'.
(cont. next page)
THE EXILE (cont.)
They counsel it is vain to turn the mind - -9-
to blur the eyes, and image them a dream.
To conjure up some loved, remembered scene,
dilutes the blood with brine.
I can but smile their words away,
and float my love's enchanted stream-
softly seaward to its Dream,
dissolving time, and space, and knowing,
in the flowing.
I can but mind how acorns feed
themselves to oaktrees, from the seed.
Hung from trees, the trophies of their joys,
swing and glitter in the ceaseless sun.
Within my head,I hear the scarlet noise-
Is longing seed enough for starving eyes-
to blossom with the fields, the far-off skies
all exiles roam ?
The endless instances of 'Home' ?
This feast of golden fruit and clime -
assaults me with excess ! Will Time
perfect the Dream ? Prove this too small ?
And bring me Home from wandering -
after all ?
I can remember,
after long,ruthless, heavy-handed,
mauled by the sticky heat-
the first slow splatter of raindrops
in the night -
becoming a pulse of cool drumming,
on corrugated tin.
I can remember
the cool air, rushing through windows,
shaking the house free of its stale collections,
fanning the curtains like wings,
caressing the brow with
cool fingers of mercy.
And the sound of an old train,
whistle-saluting in the distance,
as soothing and comforting
What whispers to us now the storm has passed ?
Air flows, shimmering with a silken light.
Trees stand, washed. Fields are still and bright.
It's 'after-rain'. Yet in the crystal glass,
of subtle sight, there is a difference.
Time has unfurled. The crowded, clamoring shore,
of heavy days and nights, exists no more.
Heart has escaped the weary routine fence.
These are fields the centuries' horses roam.
These are halls eternal music fills.
Here, all dreams are born and pass. These hills,
that swim in silence, are the Spirit's home.
A delicate bird, soul lifts off and climbs,
freely soaring past the walls of time !
GRANDPA'S TRIP WITH THE KIDS
Five hours of night,
hurtled from town to town.
Whirled through a whoosh-whoosh of passing strangers.
Rat-a-tat of neon lighted cafes, gas stations,
all passing in pell-mell blotches.
Radio frequencies switching mid-note,
tossing the ear like a ball,
through the air.
All evoking (by contrast)
a dim memory
of lackadaisical lanes and rambling arrivals,
already becoming scented with faint, faraway aroma
of myth and legend.
Only in the lighted door of greeting,
the warm welcome of old friends,
does some hint of it remain.
After the rush -
and the slow warmth of cider,
smacks of simpler times.
THE PROMISE OF SUCCESS
The promise of success
is like ice in a glass-
a tantalizing tinkle
all through the cocktail hour.
that you are sipping away
at its dispersing presence,
as it dissolves into the fluid warmth -
it is with dull surprise
you watch dusk gather at the window,
and guests depart, a clutch at a time,
like autumn leaves.
You are left
with a naked tree,
framed in a darkening window -
a poignantly hollow room,
an empty glass, with a few vanishing pebbles,
and a heart and head -
full of vagueities.
A pageantry of consciousness
No alpha state of meditative peace.
Flickering fragments blow,
like ticker-tape streamers,
down streets of sense and nerve.
jostle along parade routes.
Amused and calm,
an inner Presence
even amid the hustle.
as a dim intrusion
through this apathy of days.
The senses sit in their places,
like grim-faced old crones
around a quilting frame,
with laborious stitches,
into designs of color and concord:
VOICES OF THE PAST
Oh you players on the Pipes of Pan,
come and listen one brief moment.
Poets and weavers of music, hear this !
Do not lose heart in shadowy passings.
Make on the hills a shining sound !
Let the waters flow cool and clear !
The fire of Earth should sing, not roar !
We are Wanderers, roaming the Wind.
Every field of summer called us, soft.
Butterflies beguiled our thirsting eyes.
Too soon, they powdered with winds of Autumn.
Too soon, the frosted breath of winter
disenchanted our singing summer,
turning our song to thunderous dread.
As the dark sail of the ship of Theseus,
misunderstanding chilled our music.
Too soon, before we could comprehend.
Dark reverberations reached the heart,
sucumbed in sorrow,
before the saving vision of jeweled winter
dignified our bare - stripped - winter tree - with rich, quiescent purpose,
and rarer music chimed in its silvered boughs.
Let it not be so with you !
Await more full report from Theseus' ship,
homebound yet on the troubled sea.
Wait - for more than a dark sail above the churning waters.
Do not assume too hastily -
nor surrender too soon to despair.
Where was it, on that dim and shaded road,
that wanders hidden down the centuries,
shrouded by the fog of faded things -
through the wilderness and rolling seas -
where was it Man first stopped along the way,
to gaze with questioning eyes on other forms ?
When were those eyes first filled with things he'd say,
and that faint flame of recognition born ?
It must have been a climax of the Ages,
when first that brutish face sent forth a light;
a clumsy smile for one he sensed was special.
It must have brightened up some ancient night.
And, when he'd learned that little joy to capture,
when, and where, and how, did he learn rapture.
The eye sees fragments, and directs the tongue
to slice off theories, intricately wrought;
and so the Whole is cut and dried and strung,
and bought and sold as necklaces of Thought.
Fashions of the mind, that flare and fade,
succeeded by some newer ornament.
However fair, however stoutly made,
none can survive the tides of discontent.
These bear on, in their relentless flow,
the Soul, who cannot wait for theory.
She knows not 'think'. She only knows to 'know'.
And uses 'thought' to set her knowledge free.
We cannot 'hold' - but order and arrange.
There is nothing changeless - except Change.
Fluttering in the purple dusk,
a snow-white moth displays
its anxious search
against a barrier screen.
In anguished longing, with feeble thrust,
it thirsts for the lamp's dim rays,
what its goal would mean.
Forsaking the rain-washed fields, the hush,
of early evening's misted haze,
where a full moon rises, and soon
would light the scene,
it blindly batters with heedless rush,
toward temporal light, in a wistful daze,
unaware it means only confinement,
and wounded wings.
What heritage has time established here,
in misted depths of passing centuries?
What hearts that hoped and bled with troubled care?
What minds that sought time's fleeting victories?
The waters ripple, yielding up their ghosts,
but they are not so spectral as we dream.
Here are eyes of children, human lusts,
ringing laughter, echoing and clean.
Here are hands that wove upon the loom
of distant eras. Here are gentle veins,
that leapt with urgent life. This is no tomb.
This is no charnel pool of dead remains.
This is the cumulative passage of our kind,
alive today within our heart and mind.
It is not disconcern that sits me here,
watching the pale parade of a winter day,
finding in the chipmunk's skittering way
a whimsical. eagerly salvaged sort of cheer;
feeling the spirit break its bonds, as light
of a sun-ray parts the clouds,
or birds take flight.
It is not ignorance. My ears can hear
the ominous rumblings half-a-world away.
I am not blind to sadnesses that play
across the faces of these times. The fear -
that clouds the youthful eye, or haunts the refugee;
the aged, uncertain hands -
they all touch me.
No - it is not disconcern that calls these eyes,
to kneel by prismed light from some far sun,
and record the age-old seasons as they rise,
in childlike rhymes that with life's rivers run.
It is our human hope, older than time,
that gleans from soothing Nature,
Agreed to the role,
we give the city its pulse.
it is a boneyard of buildings,
staring at empty streets;
magnified through hollowness.
We are movement -
sinks downward through dim arteries.
Heat surges against concrete and steel,
rebounding from pavements -
pasted together with city sounds.
We move in glazed atmosphere,
as common to us as our private pulse,
beating on concave hearing.
Engrossed in processes,
we temporarily forget purpose.
purpose is active in process,
with or without our knowledge.
To the city's body,
we are inhabiting spirit.
SLAVE OR KING ?
Remarkable thing,(I have so often thought),
the sun comes up on battlefields all the same,
as on the Sunday beach, the gleaming yacht,
alleys and ghettos, an unpeopled plain.
It must have risen on Actium's waste, despite
Egypt's Queen departing from the scene,
when Antony clutched his heart and turned in flight,
toward the tragic ending of his dream.
It rose, unchanged,on the shambles that was Troy;
on Memphis, where Martin King lay still and cold;
on Dallas, though that dark day's parade of joy
had ended in stark disaster. When all's told -
is that regal sun, really King at all ?
He must rise, whatever - whatever, he must fall.
A placid lake beneath the moon
opens locked doors of the mind.
A certain tone,
a scent wafted on wind,
can resurrect visions and dreams.
in the dark hollows,
caverns of consciousness,
ancient silver, timeless gold,
jewels created by heat and pressure,
glint like sunken treasure,
when touched by a vibrating ray
of searching light.
Our music is stilled.
Our heartbeat slackens.
The ruined cities of our world
are past glories -
no longer recalled by our young.
Rubble in the garden of the gods.
No more comes to us
evening shadows, cool and still -
new moistures falling on our brows -
the scent of fruitful groves.
No more comes to us
sounds of light laughter,
music flowing from the lighted door.
No more -
delicate light of early morning,
faint fanning of wings in the eaves.
By lack we are reminded of love,
other gentle things,
long-ago evenings of peace.
From here, as far as sight,
only rock, mute sand, and distant stars -
to witness our splendor
It was hard to find the lines for awhile. -21-
Sky would not confine itself to air.
There was no Space, open and vast,
with endless components.
Leaves and grass
unwound themselves from trees,
abandoned the yard,
picketed behind its fences.
Fences folded and vanished.
Stark clear, piercing eyes
walked the streets.
There was no alley, no closed corner,
where ego could hide its nakedness.
Only the Soul smiled,
in her mystical fashion.
Pseudo-self clutched at straws of splintered facades.
Mind bemoaned its absence of familiar boundary.
Seasons progressed in order,
but the film flashed by too fast.
No sequence of memory.
Being kneaded into a Whole,
can be rigorous.
Being born is jolting !
We search wildly, and our eyes
wander the hills of grey surmise;
slip like a phantom into the courts
of god-amusements and heavenly sports.
We dream weakly, and our dreams
freeze and thaw,like mountain streams;
alternately locked, then free to spill
wistfully down the mountain's will.
We wake slowly, and glimpse a wave
of something passing, before the grave
expands its sucking mouth to claim
our promising wonder, and our aim.
We go loosely, not in a blaze.
We pass, dimmer than our days;
drift like a ghost out of the night,
and leave like a brown leaf,
floating on light.
a fading mental campfire,
probing the flames,
with dead sticks of argument.
Owls hoot with disconcerned comment.
The poet plays old folk tunes on a harmonica.
Raccoons dance in the shadow.
The almost-empty bean pot,
simmers with lessening joy.
we will sand this one over,
and rolled (each in a private bag),
under an intense vastness of communing stars,
on a planet lit by temple-fire,
reflected in silver.
I never knew them, the days of quiet splendor -
except sometimes in the light of my mother's eyes,
or when, to the cold of our hunger, rich-spread skies
looked down, or my father grew remarkably tender.
I hear them whisper softly in the night -
of lost-year's snows falling on towns of sleep.
In my dreams, the inborn sorrows weep,
for the silent bells, ringing in ghostly light.
But these are things of which we dare not speak.
These are fugitive, vanishing memories.
The old holds no hope. Green fruits freeze.
Summers come like the wounded, bled and weak.
At night, in the poisonous gardens, I hear the bees,
distilling a dark profusion of disease.
Through hollow sound
of empty halls -
echoing footsteps -
ringing calls of children at play,
the distant, tolling bell,
tousled heads of long-ago -
remember - remember -
Pulses cannot hold yesterday.
They cannot sieze tomorrow.
The bellows lungs,
can only spark today's fire.
But mind has secret passages.
hand in hand with heart,
can return to the youthful fields;
ride ponies of pleasure,
under the old, untroubled sun,
and skip into tomorrow,
through blowing seas of dreams.
WINDS OF CHANGE
A Wind of prelude
tests bastions of tradition.
Against huddled edifices of established pride,
it moans in the night,
carves and cajoles.
Wisdom of surging urgency,
trims collision of shattering force,
by artful coursing.
Flow divides briefly for passage,
surrounding the obstacle,
with mild admission of solidity.
Only to regather,
with undiminished strength.
Even the hardest stone,
is winnowed to powder - in time;
the most sturdy citadels -
reduced by winds from the future.
Waters -and Winds -
and Wisdom -
shape all things to their ways - in time -
simply by power of their
Scattered stars on the shore of night,-31-
breathe many wondrous things,
in salted air and silver-white
bouquets of foam the breakers bring.
Huddled in sheltered coves, the gulls
fold their down-soft, air-skilled wings;
sleep on the sound of tides that pull,
and surge with ancient whisperings.
Ageless, the tides withdraw, return.
Ageless, the seagull sails the skies.
Always the stars above them burn,
like a faithful lover's watchful eyes.
There's a pulse of Cosmic rhythm in
ocean's endless ebb and flow.
Waters and stars conceal within
ancient secrets we still don't know...
Life in its full unthwarted mingling,
tinted by glistening sands; the roar
of tides, and the seagull shuttle, stringing,
heaven to sea to the waiting shore.
Mist shrouded peaks of Old-China,
when the poet sang her Soul,
throbbed with a living pulse,
of a Wisdom ages old.
Bamboo and plum tree were signet,
like the mountain,moon, and bay.
China could find tall Truths,
blooming along the Way.
The lost Art of living aware
of a Universal Flow,
allowed her to see the Flower
of common Life - and know.
Dreaming today, I firmly believe they dreamed -
in the primeval forest, amid the roars
of behemoth beasts;they opened the doors
of speculation (crude perhaps) and dreamed.
Dreamed of more friendly fields beyond the peaks,
of warmer havens, far beyond the snows.
Peering and wondering where a warm wind blows,
surely some huddled by cave-doors with strange mystique.
There must have been eyes that kindled with silent dreams,
with restless longings that probed beyond the known.
Gazing across the ocean's folding foam -
huddled around those early fires, what schemes ?
What dreams of the daring, the discontent, the brave,
who could not abide the limits of the cave ?
On avenues of summer
we move beneath parasoled thought.
Plated sunlight on walks is a sheet of glare.
Benches sweat, limp in their filigree.
Trees plead rain.
On avenues of endeavor,
multitudes clink coins
in tambourine sound.
Children of gods,
lost from the street of pillars,
hear the ambrosia sing 'Come home'.
Mountain windows grow golden
with new-won loves.
Guitars on the street
garble their wang and stretch
into the shook-down shade of leaf-heavy trees,
until they hear, in the distance,
rain mount the hill,
and gurgle out into the fading light;
puddles of wet, dark music.
on avenues of night, we lean in the rain,
sighing under our dripping hats.
All you can see in the gathering dark is the lamps,
and the first faint light,
of a star.
All you can hear is the rain,
and the swish of tires on the street.
Palms keep dipping down with shadow fingers,
into the blue transparence of a stream.
Poor thirsty things, their touch in longing lingers,
but cannot hold with fingers of a dream.
And so, my eyes with tender fingers trace
your proud, beloved head, your wistful smile.
They kiss their way across that dearest face,
unnoticed, and grow thoughtful in a while.
The plaintive palms reach down with graceful hands,
to touch that little mirror of the skies.
They scarcely sense, and cannot understand,
that heaven is not bound by where it lies.
And yet, sometimes, when sea-winds rustle by,
they toss their heads and turn, to search the sky.
The storm that sits all afternoon,
on weary haunches, outside the city,
is in no hurry.
It pants a hot and heavy breath,
as if from a long journey,
a gaze flashing in listless strokes;
an intermittent, half-hearted, low growling,
subdued as late-summer's exit.
We move in tempo with its mood.
No rushing to doorsteps, as if threatened.
No blossoming umbrellas along the avenue.
a dim presence of inner yawning;
sedation of summer lethargy.
And yet -
tonight it may rise up,
with belabored ill-temper;
deal our tree-lined assurance one last punishing wallop,
rattle our cages, and bang at false security a bit;
shaking us free of complacency,
before grumbling off,
to greener jungles.
The play of shadows on a summer lawn,
sprinkled here and there with flecks of light,
somehow brings a feeling more forlorn,
than shadows of the darkest winter night.
The amber afternoon is all athrob,
with summer sounds, a song,the droning bees;
a distant laughter, poignant as a sob,
is wafted by, and lingers in the trees.
Yet - as I gaze upon the patterned floor,
where a late, late sun, in still pools lies,
a nameless longing, blown from times before,
flutters, and escapes me with a sigh.
Is it an ecstasy too sweet to bear,
or some unuttered sorrow, lying there ?
A grinding wind grates across the desert.
the friction of its hot breath
buffs scaley exposure to fine dust,
winnowed from rock.
Intemperate glaring gaze
of lidless sun -
strips all of civilized facade,
leaving only bare, weary, determination to survive.
Fine arts and civilities diminish,
replaced by weathered grimaces,
acknowledging the common bondage
of a suffocating
In the breathless, stifling heat
of the fifth night,
stupored eyes rouse
with lightning flashes over distant hills,
advancing banners of cool, damp, air,
crashing approach of thunder.
The fierce absolution of a rushing storm,
becomes violence redeemed.
No longer a threat.
Now, a dark deliverance.
She stood so still in the cabin door.
Despite our speed, I saw enough.
Leaning there in the heat,
poverty piled like a stone fence around her hope,
the girl spoke eloquently.
that the eyes were distant,
cloudy and glazed with longing.
The world moving past her door, was going somewhere.
Somewhere she could not go.
while cars whizzed by, dogs barked a harrangue,
children fretted and cried,
summer gnats agitated the whole tormenting atmosphere.
To her, it was a stewing pot.
There were kind hands there with the girl -
behind her, in a dim, heavy room with no clear air. -
uncomplaining hands,shuffling supper on its way,
performing immediate missions.
That kind of love, she would come to understand, later.
Now - other hands beckoned. Hands not so faithful.
Illusory hands, and far-off voices,
vanishing phantoms she was unable to reach.
That night we stopped in New Orleans.
Awake in the dark, I thought about the girl-
the girl with dreams in her eyes,listening to distant drummers,
while the life of here and now,
courses through days of half-sleep.
And I wondered,
if we aren't all a little like her,
in some ways.
unloose on desert lands.
New rivers flow from the hills.
A reckless wind,
ricochets through valley halls.
The spate flows wildly around houses,
eddying with threatening sound.
as it came,
heavy silence falls.
Only the sliding hillsides groan.
Torrents of muddy water cobble the streets;
dig long fingers into the land.
desert creatures emerge.
Only the water
babbles its waning tirade into dusk,
all else is silence.
The sun withdraws in silent dignity.
Birds fly homeward,through the gathering dusk.
Enfolded in a mauve serenity,
a drifting moon displays her wanderlust.
Hurried sounds of the city fade away.
The highway hums in meditative drone.
A pensive loneliness begins to play
its plaintive theme. Why do we feel alone ?
So wistfully alone ? It has no cause
in actual fact, or visible circumstance.
Amid the crowd, we sometimes sigh and pause.
With dearest friends, we sometimes feel its glance,
like quiet eyes, across a noisy room -
calling us to remembering - too soon.
To attend the days with borrowed smiles,
is never enough.
Carrying about an awful emptiness,
while at the core,
like a wistful child at a window,
Such long, deliberate, waiting,
isolate in a vacuum,
unable to attain the traction for release.
Through all the habituals of living;
things done and said, because they seemed expected.
In even the small, throbbing harvest
of spontaneity and protest,
still - that awesome suspension within,
where something ancient suffers to be born,
and the soul remains -
at a masquerade.
Like shadows from a wishing well,
ghosts of the past arise.
No fairy tradition can dispel
their sad,and pleading eyes.
Little hopes, without the strength
to find their way to birth.
A misty procession across the length
of a cold, and barren earth.
No mighty and alarming
host of fiery sins;
just a wistful little army,
of ragged might-have-beens.
But time will prove they can attract,
and glisten like a star.
Collected in some redeeming act -
they have their Avatar.
Walking away, it seemed fantastic clouds
hovered and nestled around the timid glow
of eyes like nestlings, wearing the nest as shrouds;
forfeiting flight in fear of the brown below.
Holding the tongue, a wet and tremulous life,
fluttering weakly against its dark confines,
too weighted with failure to offer the needed strife.
A thousand suns cool for every one that shines.
Standing the ground, the shadow, face to face
with summoned will, will stammer out a plea.
Fling the timid heart into Love's embrace -
though he conquers, he conquers tenderly.
Seeds are falling, falling like summer rain;
soothingly, searchingly, face their yielding time.
Blowing along the wind, tomorrow's gain,
spatters the Earth, with sound of golden chime.
riding along the shore,
threading the thin line ,
between land and sea.
Off the ground,
yet not in the air.
moving through it,
something of its fire within.
Reminiscent of -
a jewel in its setting -
surrounded by, aloof from -
more than a frozen jewel-
motion in delicate balance,
along the brink of two worlds,
on a trembling bridge,
of constantly mingling elements.
Stranger lands than this have climbed the sea,
isles of darkness, carnivals of flesh.
Relentless hands weave light, a hardened mesh,
walling airy strata futiley.
Fiercer winds than this have rattled free.
Stars have spun in colder brittleness,
and powdered beneath redder suns than this,
where fear has crucified timidity.
Tides are endless, no wave is the last.
'Now'is that eternal in-between.
Breath is flow. Ages, whorls of green;
Life swims circles, nothing is the past.
Maelstroms sing a wisdom earthly dumb:
'live rhythmically - stranger worlds will come'.
There, where the silken moonlight flows
in deliquescent rivers,
Suddenly a rose
bends - laden with a dew of dread.
It seems the dead
(as savages surround
the unsuspecting splendor of safaris homeward bound)
slipped up unseen, and hover in the air,
clammy hands suspended, waiting there -
for summer's winds to bear them on -
to where ?
The wine-warm pulse of summer,chills to gloom.
South winds sigh,
one long, last,fragrant breath,
The cricket hushes.
Gardens lie -
silent, where the purpling shadows loom,
and dripping, drooping mosses -
hang like doom.
TREES OF AUTUMN
Trees of Autumn, lords of yesterday,
were gentle in the pathos of goodbye.
They made a golden glory of the way,
in Nature all things pass. A quiet sky
of broad Septembers was a harvest hand,
laid in heavenly splendor on the fields,
and in the golden yielding of the land,
was something of the way a true King yields -
in dignity that leaves the victor bare -
of conquest of a Kingdom. Only stone,
brief, cast-off raiment, and the lifeless stare,
from sullen eyes of subjects not his own.
Poor barren prize, for what had lived, has left.
Victor is vanquished; winner, and bereft.
Something is written on the Scroll of Wind.
Something ancient. A history of Earth ?
No - something of a much more distant birth -
the one of Spirit.
When some magnetic whirl unfurls that Scroll,
and it flies free, with rippling delight,
over seas, desert, prairies, valley halls,
eddying from mountain height,
with vivid power, it unlocks some sleeping sense,
and we can hear it -
tinkling with prismatic sound,
shaking the crystals of a distant knowing -
showering down -
musical and glowing -
quickening ancient memories -
awesome visions we cannot name -
cannot contain -
can only wear,
in silence that is wise,
like a beacon in the eyes.
Downstream from desire, the pace is slow -
filtered light, translated to a gleam
by arching trees aligned in pillared rows.
This passage is the substance of a dream.
Distant mountains, cool in robes of snow,
articulate in silent promenade,
pass like ages known, and yet to know -
glittering with sun, enhance the shade.
Ancestral pulse of those who went before,
whispers through the green-aisled forest halls.
The heart would linger - let the tired eyes close.
Yet, something that pervades it all is more.
In the distance floats the thrush's mystic call.
Winds move on. The silent river flows.
Turning in a wilderness of Time,
memories circle with beating wings,
above lush jungles of latent longing.
Darkly, they are silhouetted,
against a moon of reverie,
settling on the still pool,
they shine in fullness,
So often shoreward,
in the night,
a breath, a spirit, a promise,
bears toward the beach.
in whirling indecision.
Is this flux in itself ?
Or only the land's inertia,
resisting passage ?
Tomorrow's white promise,
surges, glistens with sea-salt,
flickers with starlight -
seeks marriage with Earth.
Rebounds against rock,
which wears away -
SONNETS AND STARS
Yes - we grow weary of sonnets and stars ;
flesh is too subject to troublesome time.
The waning of youth, and the terror of wars,
is not lessened by star-maps and delicate rhyme.
Yet - many a soul in a storm of despair,
has drawn comfort from still, starry skies;
and many a heart that was choking on care,
found a poet's cool water perceptive and wise.
Nectar's too rich for the weak and the fallen.
The world is too cluttered with dissonant clash.
From the pages of Time, old companions are calling,
in empathy's verse, and the heavens' slow flash.
The simple compassion, that says-'I've been there'...
and the orderly stars, can console our despair.
I remember summer in the hills.
Long roads open, winding through the green,
brown-red dust, soft rains in-between
lunch and supper, the evening still.
Rocking chairs on the porch in southern dusk,
conversation, mosquitos, and the heat...
summer in the hills, and the slow defeat,
emptiness, heavy in the hush.
To polish a moment - how is it done ?
Why is the promise always ahead,
or scuffing along behind ?
We said - 'how dull', and now it is dripping sun.
Arrested in passage,
Time is caught -
sifted like sand through the fingers.
Waves are crashing.
Only memory lingers.
Tides and times,
are the fabric of soul,
vesture of Becoming.
A white moon climbs.
A pulse is drumming - drumming -
of a distant sun,
far, invisible light,
obscure in the day,
when fevers run,
clear and still in the night.
Flowing along the window-sill,
softly golden morning light,
like precious oil begins to spill,
dissolving shadows of the night.
A subtle essence fills the air,
annointing corners of the room,
trickling across this quiet chair,
with dew-washed dawn's remote perfume.
Stirring expanses yawn and stretch.
Sniffing the air, man, bird, and beast,
awaken to splash in tincture left -
by dawn's broken vial along the east.
Dust drifts down the idle roads.
Long days, the hollow windows,
stare blankly into the gardens.
Where music poured from the branches,
and full pools trembled,
beneath many summer moons,
emptiness grows dark and silent.
In the heart -
Hit with the fist of a sleepless night.
Harrangued by a mind that will not rest,
thrusting its garrulous nonsense
into the weary brain.
All the tenants of your body,
bang on the pipes in protest.
The building of your being,
rocks and surges,
with collective confusion.
Rescued only by grey troops of dawn,
raining pellets of weary resignation,
and siren winds,
that scatter the intruders.
Dimly, the light comes.
Fitful, the wind.
Trees, in a spiral of air,
whirl, and sway, and bend.
Dark clouds portend.
A stormy morning,
advances before the sun,
invading the fields, surrounding hills.
Flickering lightning runs
ahead of thunder's drums.
The wild oleander twirls,
thrashes and darkens with rain.
Deep in its rocking branches,
a small bird folds wet wings,
and wistfully sings.
The road into the hills,
beaten and glazed with light,
winds through yucca quills,
The watertank sentinel stands,
silent in rain or sun,
and silently shelters bands
of birds, when day is done.
Distilled from summer, and its reckless flow,
Autumn arrives, with quiet contemplations.
The rubied rose, the wine-warm winds that blow,
through summer's halls, subside to hesitation.
That torrent of luxuriant, flowering dreams,
which crowded the night in wild, entangling vines,
is sighing down; a gently flowing stream,
later to well in pools of mellowed time.
More distant - more mellow - golden rays of sun
soften to tempered light, in wisdom's fashion.
Guardian now of seed, it has begun
to hallow the fields with quiet, cool, compassion.
Touched by distant rays of Timeless peace,
leaves fall in a rain of calm release.
Birds huddle in their nests.
Streets are dark and silent.
The crescent moon
has followed the sun's cloud-cloaked descent,
A restlessness moves us through the rooms,
seeking a calm not delivered by promising beds.
It is the mind that cannot rest;
that whinneys and paws the soil of our solidity.
We are agitated with its wanderlust.
Tethered to a weary body,
both are worn by the conflict,
until - at last - heavy exhaustion
sinks down to hard, numb,
Flakes of Autumn sunlight,
settle on stores and pavement,
of the street.
of Van Gogh light,
adorn the passing crowd;
unaware they are spangled people-seas.
Only the Artist
can spend these.
Out of the tumult of the cities,
they come in weariness,
to the wilderness anew.
Communing again with mountain, stream, and forest;
finding lost dignity in regal hills,
and peace - long overdue.
Hills and streams - companions of the ageless;
quiet, untroubled air,
offers silent solace to the soul,
lifting the dull ennui; the anxious care.
The Winter storm may bring its fury,
carving rock and land, through endless time;
streams may swell and roll; creatures
yet - it is Nature - awesome and sublime.
There is purpose in Nature's ways.
There are conflicts, seasons of frozen fate;
violence, compassion, and death.
yet -she only acts to compensate.
They come again, the weary sons and daughters,
building rustic cabins amid the trees.
As companions, they join the wilderness;
share its creature's wealth; its rhythmic ease.
New Pioneers ! Pioneers of the Soul !
Friends to the land of ages, ancestral, and strong.
A thoughtful, reverent host.
A guarded plume of smoke from a cabin chimney,
signals the sky again;
the Indian Ghost.
The Moon's face, veiled,
in silver and purple sheen,
flashes intermittently on the fields.
her gaze remains serene,
open and calm,
above the watching hills.
move silently through the night;
a robed procession, on pilrimmage,
with their Queen.
The desert flows,
sleepy with cool delight.
Our dreams emerge,
and drift into the scene.
Summer sandals - only these,
speak of the sun-flecked eyes;
the wind-crisp hair.
Summer is gone.
Breakers roll in monotonous grey.
Waters ebb from a winter beach.
Salt-dried wood of the pier,is cold and dull.
Only rustling winds of memory,
move in the mind.
is still and dry.
Only these - cast-off summer sandals,
recall the warmth of one not here,
and summer's time-faded song.
Lonely is a cold, cold well.
Days drift by like leaves.
Emptiness tolls its silent bell.
Pulse and breath are dim and slow.
Spirit flutters, but does not fly.
The heart's lamp is sputtering low.
It does not die.
It's only a dull hiatus in time;
whimsy of season's and tides.
Empathy's thread, resiliently fine,
Sifting to the center,
fine gold-dust of the day.
Small, shining harvest gathered,
from fields of disarray.
Not all the cluttered clinging,
of many pulling strings,
subdues the heart's true longing.
Still, the Spirit sings.
Dripping through the filter,
of the mind's repose,
distilled, the soul's songs glitter,
like dew upon the rose.
This is return. The prism is ice,
turning its sapphire on winter walls.
Walking the fields with soft footfalls -
this is return - the forest halls -
this is the fool's device.
We have come back. The bridge of day
straddles a frozen air. The seas
complain in their rolling. Sparrows freeze.
Even the naked, nonchalant trees
are wearing somber grey.
This is return. A senseless thing.
Where is the delicate tint?
The Moonlit gardens ? Lilac scent ?
Where is the tender discontent?
Where are the voices that sing ?
There is no return. Tides have swept
yesterday's joys to sea.
Last year's poppies are pale, but free.
It's different eyes with which we see.
And different dreams where we slept.
My old friend returns. -54-
He is noble, with silvery hair,
smooth as moonlight on a swan's wind.
It has not long been silent with his absence,
yet,in that while the sun shone as in young-leafed days
like the sound of a bell, muffled thinly,
in the electric-silk aura of summer.
Watching his figure recede, in the warm rise of sun-waves,
amid fragrant shadows of yellow-green,
under trees re-imaging from long ago,
I had been washed tenderly away from a sense of loss;
had not the sharp consciousness to comprehend departure,
nor speculate return.
It was later, when the false summer turned thick,
and oversweet to taste, that I remembered,
and lowered sated eyes to retrospection.
Then he was a thin sound on a grey horizon,
scented with the clean cold of snow.
Then, he was quiet winter, remembered in June,
for the blue delicacy of iced light.
He was sanctified (as things usually are)
by the extreme manifestation of his polarity,
and remembered with longing.
This is return. A calm wind precedes arrival.
I see the flutter of his grey cloak on the hill.
Soon, there will be the meeting of eyes,
and a new cycle.
The seed descends.
How to forget the things that did not happen -
the bud that never escaped the itching bark-
that never rode down the moment's slope -
the frozen rivers that never tasted thaw -
the spacial lights that never unfurled their law ?
How to forget the country road that ran -
peacefully parallel the highway's span ?
How to solace losses that cannot be -
the unmourned love that never sang -
the leaf -
that knew no Spring -
the unsown grain -
that finds no sheaf-
no budding - no flower - no seeding -
no grim relief ?
How to heal wounds that were not wrought ?
Dormant dreams ? Unuttered thought ?
Stillborn grief ?
Ah - tomorrow -
brief arc on immensity we approach to accept -
endowing with vibrance and special intent,
your portion of promise.
We devise these things - naming -
and lose our way from essence.
Yet - it is Essence with which we weave.
We are not strangers,
and yet, as strangers move here,
bruising ourselves on sharp corners of separateness -
hurting ourselves forth from a web
of our own weaving.
Face of the Ever-Beloved,
is etched upon Being Itself,
moving as we move -
never to be gathered -
only illuminated - intoned - worn -
Happening in Time and Space,
this portioned living,
is process of momentum,
whereby Being flows, within Itself,
from point to point
A mist of rain
fuzzes lights of houses,
staring like wide-eyed owls,
from their perch on the hills.
The street flows;
a black river,
spotted with water lilies,
of floating headlights.
Yuccas drink deeply in the dark.
Night draws to a stillness,
by faint pulse-beats on the roof,
and in the heart.
Austere, the stars climb on their way,
In full regalia, a planetary procession
as if momentous matters demanded full attendance
of a Universal Tribunal.
From our Mother-planet, we look on,
unable yet to realize deeply,
that we too are part of the stately order,
whether oblivious, or half-aware.
We drift in a dream of isolation,
where brief, shifting glimpses of universal linkage,
move dreamlike through latent awareness.
the varied spyglasses of Earth, are turned heavenward.
Perhaps the wise, childlike awe,
of a few great minds,
looks upward with reverent and eager search,
humble before the vastness;
in conscious participation,
worthy of a Universal Member.
Sky today is clear as new-shined glass,
clean and sparkling as the summer sea.
Columns of airy pillars hold the vast,
and open expanse of blue, so tenderly,
as if there were no terrorists or wars -
catastrophe had not become so common -
the endless trials humanity endures,
so magnified today, that all things human,
were not tainted with this living-on-the-brink!
Today exults ! As if the passing ages
had no power to dim one golden link
in Nature's harmony. Nor all the pages
of violent history could mar the glory,
celestial and terrestial, in life's story.
in the world of action.
Rarely - if ever -
is the fullness of its form
Present in promise.
never wholly where, or as,
it seems to be.
With eye upon the shimmering image,
one must reach indirectly,
to touch the true center.
In the fields now, grass is brown.
Only the most reluctant of birds are seen.
This is the time of passing.
steals forth each morning,
stripping groves and gardens.
Orion opens the gates of evening.
begins his pilgrimmage.
Wind is wild tonight. Sky is deep.
Orion chills us with his brittle gaze.
Leaves are gone. Fields have fallen asleep.
Winter disciplines all with his frigid ways.
All, it seems, but me and that rebel wind.
He is out there, challenging the night,
and I am in here, listening to him,
langurous with love and firelight.
And you are...where ? Out there beyond the bay ?
Walking some street ? Filling some lighted room ?
Hearing the winds of half-a-world away ?
Oh, I am an unborn being in time's womb.
Only a promise, nothing more, I fear -
until I hear your voice, or feel you near.
A misting rain annoints the Joshua Trees.-79-
The desert wears an unaccustomed robe;
soft grey fog, down to its hillside knees,
and huddles errant clouds the night wind drove,
like pounding horses, from the northwest sky,
into the nature-built corral of hills,
where now, in troubled discontent they lie,
or hover, where the slow trough-water spills.
They are not reconciled, this mustang herd.
They crave a freer wind than valley walls
allow - and do not hear the murmured word
of philosophic desert-kind, which falls,
in rhythmic, chanting cadence, through the day.
They whinny, rile, and rear, to break away.
Incognito, the day arrives,
hustled through clouds,
by hastening wind.
From my window,
it is a dim,hurried passing;
inelegant, without fanfare.
A lone bird watches, from higher vantage.
He too, seems unimpressed.
Only a brief, half-hearted smile of sunlight,
flickers through stern aloofness,
like a token bestowal of grace,
as the gathering roar of thunder
revs to a moving storm.
They came overnight, like a straggling army.
Drawing back the curtains in the morning,
a thin winter light revealed
yesterday's bare elm, cottonwood, and lilac,
draped with dark, fluttering, tattered cloaks.
They made no sound,
but sat silent, hunched along sprawling branches,
like stern, implacable messengers,
bearing weighty news.
All day they sat in the cold still air,
except for brief flights of fractured groups,
exchanging posts for obscure reasons.
The usual fare of bread, rind, seed,
offered to habitual visitors,
did not intrigue them.
Aloof and disinterested,
they looked distantly upon the partaking,
which seemed somehow beneath them,
as if more solemn matters held their allegiance.
Next morning, they were gone.
Early sunlight seemed to clang,
and clang, and clang
in echoing emptiness,
from tree to vacant tree.
I'd like to drift on a day like a quiet lake,
unhurried, watching the wind unfurl a breeze,
and wavelets that scarcely make,
a sound as they stroke the land.
I'd like to walk the sand,
where it's soft and cool,
appointed with weather-carved rock,
green-ferned niches,jeweled with welling pools,
pulsing with feathered flock,
and feel the whisper of freedom gliding by,
till the hovering stillness surges and throbs within,
and the heart can lift, as an integral part, on the wind,
with the grace of birds that arc and turn on high,
against the pearl-cool smoothness of the sky.
Those houses lined in lashing winter rain,
are apathetic studies for the eye.
They lean on the cold, impervious to pain;
stare blankly at the sloshing passers-by.
Traffic lights, aglow in wet procession,
tolling with light the time of go or stay,
cannot, like priests, absolve us by confession.
We must always watch them and obey.
Such careful guardians make the system work !
Rigid as robots riding on a rail,
these define the limits, lest, in the dark,
some renegade grins and saunters off the trail,
and a chaos of sirens, whistles, and glaring light,
descends upon this wind-rebellious night.
Our car pushes its way,
through sheets of winter rain.
A marine flora,
floating headlights and neon,
nears and surges away.
move in hypnotic precision,
across our indistinct horizon.
We are gathered in our eyes, like poised owls,
alert for the unexpected,
in this flowing country of a night.
We move, with others of our kind,
despite the weather,
slowly along the road,
Scattered remarks still hanging in the air.
Remembered gestures drifting through the room.
The ray of light that settled on the stair.
The subtle smile, that brightened up the gloom.
Ages speaking through an old refrain.
Drums and cymbals, poignant violins,
weaving crescendo, pathos, and the strain
of current things,and things that might-have-been.
A whirling spiral, woven of delicate mesh.
Shimmering gold in the glow of seasoned eyes,
that hallows the heart, sanctifies bone and flesh,
transmuting our passage here to something wise.
Old friends and Time, they have a way of gleaning,
from contrast and years - a golden core of meaning.
WINTER MORNING RITUAL
waiting for the school bus,
pace and pose, like actors reciting their lines.
Now and then a clear trumpet of laughter
trebles through freezing air.
enthuse against a grey background,
on a cold November morning,
like torches carried in a ritual.
Their breathing floats before them,
spectral escorts into the day.
After bus-arrival, and hustling assemblage,
the rumbling away is watched,
by a faithful gathering of eloquent eyes,
and wistfully wagging tails.
from their observation perch on nearby trees,
and guardian dogs, gathered at roadside,
slowly depart in scattered reluctance,
for some post of waiting -
until time for return,
then, unerringly, they will reappear.
Oh snowdrift exemplar,
here, along the road,
you layer your weight of whiteness.
so carefully placed,
sags and leans under you.
Only one or two gnarled finger-posts
point out mute protest.
Such soft and delicate falling,
to accumulate to so great a force for change !
But, then -
have always played havoc with fences;
tumbling them with a power little suspected -
So do revelations come upon us -
our self-imagined boundaries.
NEW YEAR CALENDAR
The New Year Calendar looks back at me; -67-
a wintry scene, a solitary tree,
bare and straight. A hill of arcing white.
A cloudless sky, from which one shaft of light
falls starlike through the branches,
in quiet dignity.
Beneath this simple scene,in ordered blocks,
the days are marked and lined,
like little ticking clocks.
What other scenes, one by one, will roll
into the hour, as each begins to toll,
passage through the coming year ?
Clean and clear,
the little squares are waiting,
to be defined in cryptic clues and hints;
summary of a year's events,
in scribbled dating.
Time will project a changing scene:
the tree adorned with Springtime green,
full with Summer's fruit and flower,
golden in its Autumn hour;
scattering seed while cold winds blow.
Bare silhouette in sunset's glow.
Surrendering, till at last it's seen,
as it began, austere and lean -
in silent Winter snow.
A little lemon-rind of moon,
hangs against the dusk,
tingeing sea, sea-grass, and dune,
with faint, satiric touch.
No plaintive call of gull is heard.
The air is neither warm nor cold -
indifferent - as disconcern -
another cycle's growing old.
Ah - but the scene conveys Time's art,
to blend our black and white to grey.
That little lemon-twist is tart.
Tart as wisdom, in its way.
Sequestered in a hollow room,
echoing with drifting thought,
a tiny candle in the gloom,
remembers what it ought.
Summer's leaves are withered now.
Winter's stolid owls hoot -
upon the naked, austere bough,
harvested of fruit.
Yet, small survivors, cast to Earth,
in purposeful descent,
have salvaged all the Cycle's worth,
distilled, for futureward intent.
Though the Winter winds will trim
our tree of flourish and glistening,
the tiny seed protects within,
a pattern for continuing.
...and the Road runs on ...
Good Passage , Wayfarer friend.
Copyright September 2000
"Future Folk" Music
The Future Is Our Movable Frontier