The Poetry of WingMakers
Released 1998, by James Mahu
I am listening for a sound beyond sound
that stalks the nightland of my dreams,
entering rooms of fossil-light
so ancient they are swarmed by truth.
I am listening for a sound beyond us
that travels the spine’s
invisible ladder to the orphic library.
Where rebel books revel in the unremitting light.
Printed in gray, tiny words with quicksand depth
embroidered with such care they
render spirit a ghost, and God,
a telescope turned backwards upon itself
dreaming us awake.
Never-blooming thoughts surround me
like a regatta of crewless ships.
I listen leopard-like,
canting off the quarantine of bodies
sickened by the monsoon of still hearts.
There is certain magic
in the heartbeat which crowds the sound I seek,
but it is still underneath the beating I wish to go.
Underneath the sound of all things
huddled against the tracking dishes
that turn their heads to the sound of stars.
I am listening for a sound unwound,
so vacant it stares straight with the purity to peer
into the black madness of time
sowing visions that oscillate in our wombs
bearing radiant forms as the substrate of our form.
When I look to the compass needle
I see a blade of humility
bent to a force waylaid like wild rain
channeled in sewer pipes.
in concrete canals that quiver,
laughing up at us as though we were lost
in the sky-world with no channel for our ride.
I am listening for a sound
in your voice,
past the scrub terrain of your door
where my ear is listening on the other side.
Beneath your heart where words go awkward
and light consumes the delicate construction of mingled lives.
I can only listen for the sound I know is there,
glittering in that unpronounceable, stateless state
quarried of limbs so innocent
they mend the flesh of hearts.
Angels must be confused by war.
Both sides praying for protection,
yet someone always gets hurt.
Someone cries so deep
they lose their watery state.
Angels must be confused by war.
Who can they help?
Who can they clarify?
Whose mercy do they cast to the merciless?
No modest scream can be heard.
No stainless pain can be felt.
All is clear to angels
except in war.
When I awoke to this truth
it was from a dream I had last night.
I saw two angels conversing in a field
of children’s spirits rising
like silver smoke.
The angels were fighting among themselves
about which side was right
and which was wrong.
Who started the conflict?
Suddenly, the angels stilled themselves
like a stalled pendulum,
and they shed their compassion
to the rising smoke
of souls who bore the watermark of war.
They turned to me with those eyes
from God’s library,
and all the pieces fallen
were raised in unison,
coupled like the breath
of flames in a holy furnace.
Nothing in war comes to destruction,
but the illusion of separateness.
I heard this spoken so clearly I could only
write it down like a forged signature.
I remember the compassion,
mountainous, proportioned for the universe.
I think a tiny fleck still sticks to me
like gossamer threads
from a spider’s web.
And now, when I think of war,
I flick these threads to the entire universe,
hoping they stick on others
as they did me.
Knitting angels and animals
to the filamental grace of compassion.
The reticulum of our skyward home.
A temptress vision has encircled me like a
willful shadow of a slumbering dream.
Is it the powerful light of purpose?
If I squint with all my strength I may see it.
Always must it be inside of me
like a pilot fish inseparable from its host.
It fearlessly drinks my essence.
Such a bitter taste I muse.
Spit it out upon your table of perfection.
Compare this grain of sand with your galaxy.
This spire of sorrow with your deepest eye.
If my callous mind can see you,
there are no interventions.
No pathway away.
I am a lock-picker.
A fence-cutter of the wicked watchers.
A traveler that has sought
the mystery that eludes all but the outlaws.
The wild-eyed, unrelenting fools of purpose
that remain outside the laboratory of wingless flight.
You are the eternal Watcher
who lives behind the veil of form and comprehension,
drawing forth the wisdom of time
from the well of planets.
You cast your spell and entrain all that I am.
Am I just a fragment of your world?
A memory hidden by time?
A finger of your hand driven by a mind
unfamiliar with skin.
Touch yourself and you sense me.
Visions wild with love.
Splendor that beckons like a secret whisper of gladness
spread on the winds by an infinite voice.
The sound of all things unified.
I am part of that voice.
Part of that sound.
Part of that secret whisper of gladness.
This limitation must end in lucid flesh.
The dream of sparks ascending
quickening the cast of hope.
Avoid the brand of passivity
the signs complain.
Shun manipulation before you are stained.
Spurn all formula and write new equations
in the language of sand.
Heed no other,
nor listen to the seduction of holy symbols
standing before the windows of truth.
Define from a foreign tongue.
These are the battered keys
that have led me to unlocked doors.
Doors that collapse at a mere breath
and behind which
lay more pieces to collect for the Holy Menagerie.
The never-ending puzzle.
All the stars in the sky
recall the purpose of your hallowed light.
Burn a hole through the layers.
Peel all the mockery away.
Enjoin the powers
to answer this call:
Bring the luminous vision
hidden behind the whirling particles
of the Mapmaker.
Let it enter me
like a shaft of light that enters
a cave’s deepest measure.
Ancient fires still burn in these depths.
Who tends them?
What eyes are watching?
Waiting for time’s flower to bloom.
To submerge in the relentless subtlety
that moves beyond my reach
with a jaguar’s stealth.
To dream of elder ways
that leap over time
and leave behind the puzzle of our making.
O’ temptress vision
you steal my hunger for human light.
If there is anything left to hollow
let it be me.
If there is anything left to cage
let it run free.
If there is anything left to dream
let it be our union.
Language of Innocence
When a river is frozen,
underneath remains a current.
When the sky is absent of color
beneath the globe another world comes to light.
When my heart is alone
somewhere another heart beats my name
in code that only paradise can hear.
Is my heart deaf
or is there no one
who can speak the language of innocence?
Innocence, when words
suffer meaning and gallop away in its presence.
I have seen it.
I have loosened its secrets in the blushing skin
when upturned eyes witness its home
and never turn away.
And never turn away.
There is this world
of slumbering hearts and hollow love,
but it cannot carry me to daylight.
My craving is so different
and it can never be turned away.
When I see your face I know you are half mine
separated by the utmost care to remember all of you.
When I undress my body I see that I am half yours
blurred by sudden flight that leaves
the eye wondering what angels carved in their hearts
to remind them so vividly of their home.
When I see your beauty I know you are half mine
never to be held in a polished mirror
knowing the faithful hunger of our soul.
When I watch your eyes I know they are half mine
tracing a trajectory where sensual virtue is the very spine of us.
When I hold your hand I know it is half mine
wintered in kinship, it circles tenderness
beneath the moon and well of water
when the feast is done.
When I kiss your lips I know they are half mine
sent by God’s genealogy to uncover us
in the delicious cauldron of our united breath.
When I hear you cry
I know your loneliness is half mine
so deep the interior that we are lost outside
yearning to give ourselves away
like a promise made before the asking.
And when I look to your past I know it is half mine
running to the choke cherry trees
invisible to the entire universe we found ourselves
laughing in sudden flight
eyeing the carved initials in our hearts.
Sparing the trees.
Bandages of the Beast
There were many random omens.
Sending olive branches with thorns was
only one of your repertoire.
You offered me a book
where all the answers lay encoded in
some strange dialect.
Symbols undulating like serpents restless for food.
If I was windborne as a lambent seed you
would still the air
and I would fall into the thicket.
If I yearned for sweet water
you would pass me the bitter cup.
If I was an injured fawn you would flush me
from the cloister, corner me against cold stone,
and admire my fear.
Everywhere I steer I seek the one look of love;
yet love humbles itself like a mannequin
changing its clothes to accommodate the dressmaker.
Underneath there are bandages of the beast.
Underneath there is the tourniquet of deliverance.
But beneath the shell there is emptiness, so defiant
it is clothed in finery that neither
dressmaker nor beast can touch.
You have mistaken my search as my soul.
Raking through it for clumps of wisdom,
you have found only what I have lost to you.
Held like rootless dreams
I will vanish in your touch.
If you pass your rake over this emptiness
you will feel clumps of my spirit.
You will find me like tiny pieces of mirror broken
apart yet still collected in one spot.
Still staring ever skyward.
Still reflecting one mosaic image.
Still the accompanist of myself.
out of this fleshy cocoon
I will rise like a golden bird of silent wing
graceful as the smoke of a fallen flame.
I will dream no more of places
Hidden–secreted away in heaven’s cleft
where the foot leaves no print.
I will walk in gardens holding hands
with my creation and creator.
We will touch one another
like lovers torn by death
to say goodbye.
We will lay in one another’s arms
until we awaken as one
invisible to the other.
I will isolate the part of me
that is always present.
I will dance with it
like moonlight on water.
I will hold it to myself in a longful embrace
that beats perfection
in the hymn of the Songkeeper.
when I curl away inside myself
I will dream of you
this flesh-covered-bone of animal.
I will yearn to know your life again.
I will reach out to you
as you now reach out to me.
Glory to covet the unknown!
That which is
is always reaching for the self
that cheats appearances.
Who dreams itself awake and asleep.
Who knows both sides of the canvas
are painted, awaiting the other
to meld anew.
Facing another evening without you
I am torn from myself
in movements of clouds,
movements of earth spinning
like the sure movement of lava as it rolls to sea.
Yet when I arrive from my dream
you are still gone from me
twenty-three footsteps away;
a bouquet of the abyss.
When I look to the east I think of you
softly waiting for me
to chisel you from the matrix
with smooth hammer strokes
from my hands.
Freed of barren, untouched shoulders,
you can open your eyes again
flashing the iridescent animals,
valiant vibrations of your rich spirit.
Your picture is the centerpiece of my table
I stare at you in candlelight,
the windows behind, black in their immensity,
only enlarge you.
Making you more of what I miss.
At night I go among your body
to feel the presence of your heart beating
spun from another world.
You can feel me when this is done
though I am invisible in all ways to you, but one.
A reflection in the mirror.
Beneath your eyes
you see me dancing away the body.
Dancing away the mind.
Dancing away the incarnations
of my absence.
Life carriers spawn in the primal waters
of a giant embryo.
Their progeny will settle in human dust.
Pieces of clay
with tiny thoughts of flight.
Knife-points veiled in turbid cloaks
that shun the light of a tranquil star.
In the remote wilds the life carriers
emerge and perch upon
the shoulders of gray stones.
They signal their desires to fly,
but their homes are suited
for the comforts of rain and earth.
The sky must wait.
(The dirt companion smiles.)
Life carriers deny their ancient pull
from the ground.
Wings sprout like golden hair
sinuous with nature’s artifice.
Ragged feet are left behind.
The earth replaced with vivid sky.
Gravity shines its menacing stare
to hold them
with assertive hands.
are left to rot.
To sink behind the groundless sky.
Earthen faces have dropped their smiles
and lost their smell of fresh dirt.
The dream of flight
has invaded somber walls—
life carriers have bounded
to the other side.
There they meet the next rung
of the endless ladder,
and trade their wings for wisdom’s eye.
One skin may hide another,
I remember this from a poem when I
launched a fire across a field of deadness.
At least, to me, it seemed dead.
I felt like a liberator of life force
renewing the blistered and dying grasses.
Actually, more weeds than grass,
but nonetheless, the flora had flat-lined.
I peeled back skin with holy flame
and brought everything to black again
as though I called the night to descend.
From blackness will arise a new skin
cresting green architecture from a fertile void.
As the flames spread their inviolable enchantment
I saw your face spreading across my mind.
Remember the fire we held?
I hoped it would unfurl a new skin
for us as well.
Forever it will roam inside me
invariant to all transformations and motions.
One person may hide another,
but behind you, love is molting a thicker skin
than I can see through.
No flame can touch its center.
No eyes can browse its memory.
I want nothing behind you in wait.
Seconds tick away like children growing
in between photographs.
I will not forget you in the changes.
Cursed with memory so fine
I can trace your palm.
I can inhale your sweet breath.
I can linger in your arms’ weight.
I can hear your exquisite voice
calibrate life with celestial precision.
One purpose may hide another.
I heard this as the fire died out
to reveal the scent of the wet earth
and growing things.
I could feel my love decompose
returning to the uninhabited realm
where it belongs.
Where all hearts belong when
love is lost, and the code of the mute,
coiled in fists that pound,
reveal the wisdom of another.
Of This Place
Her heart ran
in the wilds of deserted plains.
Sun-etched land barren of clouds
and singing water.
If she listened closely
her hand would call
and signal its thoughts upon her brow.
But in this place
she could only offer her arms to the sky
like a tree its branches
and a flower its leaves.
In this dusty basin,
silence gathered like smoke
clearing the mind of the scoundrel.
The infidel of thoughts.
Blots of yellow leaves and white bark
could be seen hiding in pools of life
surrounded by red rock spires.
Clustered sand monuments held together
by some other life form.
She wasn’t sure.
Perhaps one life is the same as another
only tilted sideways.
Caught from underneath
by some invisible hand that animates
even the coldest stone of this place.
A smile emerged and perched upon her face
drinking the sun’s clear ways.
She could spear
a million miles of air in a glance
and send the window of her flesh
into the cloudless sky.
Upon this ocean a hawk sailed ever closer.
She watched the silver speck
spiral overhead dreaming through its eyes.
Feeling the winds gild her wings
in the softest fold of time.
A tree of pine sent its sky roots
deep within the air to weep its sweetness.
gliding through branches
to every needle in their factory of air.
So strange to feel the pull of earth in flight,
but she knew the antagonism well
in the splendor of this place.
She knew it had settled deep,
lodged like permanent ink
in the heart of her.
Under skin, muscle, bone
it fought the single path.
What madness calls her away?
What dream is stronger than this?
What heart beats more pure?
Of this place,
it is so hard to know which is host
and which is guest.
Which is welcome, which is pest.
Which is found and which is lost.
Which is profit, which is cost.
She gave her prayers
to the skypeople and waited for a cloud –
her signal to leave.
She should return home
before dusk settles in and the golden
eyes peer out against the black code.
In a single breath she held the ancient ways
that never left.
She turned them inside out
and then outside in.
Again and again.
Waiting for her signals in the sky.
If not a cloud…
then perhaps a shooting star.
(Besides, it was too dark for clouds anymore.)
When the first star fell she held her breath
afraid she would miss its spectral flight.
She wondered with whom she shared
its final light.
What other eyes were heaven bound
in that secret moment?
Was this their signal home as well?
And what was it they found
buried so deep in a whisper of light
that none can tell?
She waited with solemn eyes
for more stars to fall,
to gently sweep her away
from the magnets of this place.
If she listened to her hand
it would scratch a sign in the sand for another
to take her place.
It would touch the land
in honor of its grace and wisdom,
and become a tree, rock, hawk, or flower.
Through this night I have slept little.
My eyes, closed like shutters
with slats that remain open,
wait to invent dreams
of some charred reality.
I sense you, but no weight on my bed.
No shift or creaking other
than my own restlessness.
and released to the night
like a mantra slowly drowned in music.
Your presence grew with the music
devouring it in silence.
You came to me so clear
my senses aroused in electric storms of clarity.
The buzz of mercury lamps
alongside rutted roads,
shedding their weightless light.
In all of this waiting for you
no fortress or foxhole bears my name.
I lay on the Savannah
staring at the sun hoping against hope
it blinks before I do.
My wounded cells,
tiny temples of our mixture,
have weakened in your absence.
I can feel them wail in their miniature worlds.
My feet resist their numbness,
deny them their war.
As I lay here alone
waiting to be gathered into your arms,
I ask of you one thing,
remember me as this.
Remember me as one who loves you
Who pierces shells, armor, masks,
and everything protecting
your spirit in needless fervor.
Remember me as this.
As one who loves you unmatched
by the deepest channels
that have ever been forged.
Who will love you anywhere and always.
And if you look very closely at my love
you will not find an expiration date,
but instead, the word, imperishable.
You are not here.
In this moment all that exists is here.
But you are not.
There are so many footprints
leading to my door.
Let us enter, they say.
We cannot sleep in the desert
it is too cold.
Our tears will dry too fast.
Our ears will hurt from the silence.
Let us in.
And so I gather them all up,
swing wide my door,
and step aside as they enter
hoping they will lay in peace beside my fire.
You were not among them.
I looked everywhere for your face
and saw only mimicry.
The blind eye buried behind brain
searching for your heart.
An antenna so alert
there is a peculiar nearness of you
flying inside my body.
I can hold this like a tiny bird in my hands;
fragile, vulnerable, waiting
for my move to decide its fate.
You are not here.
I wish I could reach your skin,
remove the camouflage
tearing it away like black paper
held before the sun as a shield.
Unbundle you from your other lives
and distill you in my now.
You are my last love,
my final embrace of this world
and all the others that drop their prints at my door
are dimmed by your approaching steps.
I can see you will be here soon.
There is victory in my heart
and something invisible yet massive wants to speak.
Reminding me of you and your coming.
Quick, I plead, give me your lips.
Give me your womanly tenderness
that understands everything
so I may lose myself in you
and forget my loss.
If you were here, I would tell you this secret.
But you would need to be staring up at the stars
when I told you, held within my arms
feeling the earth rise up beneath you like a holy bed.
You would need our union to be your ears.
Song of Whales
Your voice lingers when it speaks
like rippling heat over desert floor.
It draws my heart and I find myself
leaning toward its source
as though I know it will take me
where you always are.
It draws me near to your breath—the spiracle that
holds the words of home.
It draws me to the blanket you hold
around your soul you so willingly share.
If you were to dive below the waters
where the whales sing their songs
into the gathering of deep currents
that pull our courage along,
channels that flow free of worldly levels,
you would find me there.
Listening to the voice I hear in you.
Feeding my heart in the waters of deep blindness
where currents flow
mindful of you and your spirited ways.
Sometimes I listen so perfectly
I hear your soft breath forming words
before they are found by you.
Before you can bring them from
the deep blindness to your heart.
I wish I could take your hand
and let it hold my heart
so you could see what I know of you.
So you could know
where we live where we always are.
And you could pull your blanket of words
around us and I could simply listen
to your voice
that honors words
like the songs of whales.
Another Mind Open
There was a fire where smoke gathered
and danced like rivers without gravity
to the rattle of drums.
Sometimes I would look inside the smoke
but it curled away and covered itself
with a cloak so opaque I could only cry.
It became the mask of its consumption.
The dream of its new life.
The victorious skin always changing
There was a fire last night
that proclaimed news of a newer testament
that drinks tears, lies, vile words, even
the deep fears that linger underneath the turncoat.
I usually lurch away when it calls.
To me, it burns too cold
like a skinwalker lost in a body
devoured by time.
Sometimes I would dream it alive
and it would blaze—vibrant sun—
more durable than a grave.
In times of stillness
it would speak like a codicil of some lidless dream
that words could not preserve.
“The time has come to lift your gaze
from the fire’s brightness
and cast shadows of your own.”
The words would echo into oblivion
like stars lost in the swell of the sun’s awakening.
In these flames I see my
consumption fit and proper.
In its smoke
I am stored away like so many jars
in a broom closet.
Waiting to flee.
Drawing my feet to oppose the floor.
Struggling to reach the door inside these jars
of sealed air.
Stories escape the writer’s hand
and pursue me as though I alone held their vigil.
Their very soul.
When indeed these stories have never been told.
They have never found words
to hold though they ceaselessly try.
Fires blind nature.
They invest their life in her death.
But the end is always beginning
toward another end.
And the dreams of the untold
are always pursuing another mouth,
another mind open.
Sometimes I look to the errant expression of hope,
and ask it to bring its flames deeper into my heart.
To burn a clear sense of purpose.
To burn away the fool’s crevice
and enshroud me in its skin of smoke.
Sometimes I offer myself to these flames
and know they listen.
Devising my world.
Reality coalesces around their finery
like a tower of glass enclothes a shell of steel.
Sometimes I feel the flames send me
words, notes, tones.
Products of another kind.
Tiny crucibles of earth that burn so brightly
they can blind the sun’s creatures of whimsy.
And sometimes, without even thinking,
I peek into these flames
when the smoke peels away for an instant.
There, behind the mask,
is my future.
The present in another world.
Calling out for another mouth,
another mind open.
Longing, when the eyelids open
upon the deepest stimulus held by your lips
and the amorous kiss becomes my orbit.
I ache and long to have you with me
so close our skin would melt together
like two candle wicks sharing wax.
I only know that what is of soul
is of longing and ache.
It delivers me to the edge,
the precipice where I look down
and see myself inextinguishable,
longing to be consumed by you.
And in that glittering place
let me stretch with your heart
at full speed, blind and intent.
Let me dwell in you
until I am so familiar with our union
that it becomes part of my eyes.
With memory full,
we can walk home,
in the permanence of longing.
So much a part of the other
that the other does not exist.
Of Luminous Things
Of luminous things
I have so little experience
that I often think myself small.
Yet when I think of you
and your luminous ways
my being swells with hope and prayers
that you will permit the flames to grow.
In mercy, we are torn apart
into separate worlds
to find ourselves over and over
a thousand times aching for the other half.
To dream of nothing but the One between us.
Of luminous things I have squandered none
nor have I held them to my heart and asked them
to dissolve into me.
Yet when I think of you, I desire only this.
And if you disrobed your Self and watched it
watch you, you would see me as clearly as I am.
Not small and unworthy.
Unafraid of fear.
Not uncertain like empty space.
like white light before the prism.
In my thoughts I hold your heart
sculpting away the needless
for the essence.
And when I find it
I will hold it to my heart and ask it
to dissolve into me.
I will know of luminous things
that hurtle through time
bringing us the uncharted, unfathomable
desire we have never spoken.
Words are not curious enough to say their names.
Only love can weep their identity,
and I am so perfectly defenseless
to its music.
Memory, like a root in darkness,
piercing light with its stem
has found me.
Ordering my world
like architecture of feelings
bound to you,
held for you as shields of hope.
In the dispersion of love,
has been our call
answered in the sweetest caress
two can share.
And you wonder if ecstasy will diminish us
like rain the sun or
wind the calm.
When we know one another
in the deepest channel of our hearts
we can only utter one word
cast from this stone’s mind: forever.
When winter calls my name
in the highest desert of light,
I will not despair because I know you
in the deepest channel of my heart
where I understand the word, forever.
Instantly healed by your caressing lips
that unmasks all that has tortured me.
The panting of mouths
tired but astir in passion’s flame
can only cease when I have entered you
I carry you in this flame,
emerald-colored from my dreams of you
beneath the trees within
where your beauty consumed the sun
and snared my soul so completely.
I cannot truly know you apart
from a throne.
Spirits made to shine beyond the din
of boorish poets
that strike flint below water and cry without passion.
I have known you forever
in lonely streets
and the thundered plain.
In wilted villages and cool mountain terraces.
I have watched all of you
torn open to me speaking like a river
that moves on forever.
And I have waited
like the greedy mouth of an ocean
drawing you nearer to my lips
so I can know you forever
as you empty into me abandoned of all fear.
Take me from here to there.
Let the wind blow
my hair and the earth’s skin touch me.
Open me like broken bottles
that bear no drink
yet think themselves worthy of the trash man.
Open me to the clans from which I sprout.
Are they colors separated, cast apart
like memories of drunkenness?
Open me to Africa, Asia, America, Australia.
Open me like a package
of mystery left on your doorstep
in the sweetness of laughter.
Open me to the crudely made lens of love
that screams to be of human hands
Open me to the glance
that comforts strangers like the tender overture
of a mourning dove.
Is the wisdom of horses mine
Is the muscle of wolves
lawless or the healer of sheep?
Is the black opal of the eye
the missing link we all seek?
Open me to the authors of this beaten path
and let them flavor it anew.
Bring them flecks of the rumored and rotten
slum that waits downstream.
Show them the waste of their watch.
The shallow virility that exterminates.
The ignominy that exceeds examination.
Open me to the idols of the idle.
Let me stare open mouthed at the herdsmen
who turn innocence into fear.
Is the plan of the sniper to uncivilize
the nerveless patch of skin
that grows unyielding to pain?
Open me to the stains
of this land that original sin cannot explain.
Let these symptoms go
like dead, yellow leaves fumbling
in swift, guiltless currents downstream.
Downstream where the slum
lies in waiting.
Downstream where the idols’ headstones
are half-buried in muddy rain.
Downstream where animal tracks
are never seen.
the lens of love is cleaned with red tissue.
Downstream where the herdsmen
herd their flock and beat the drums
promising a new river that never comes.
Downstream there lives
a part of me that is sealed like a paper envelope
with thick tape.
It watches the river like the underside of a bridge
waiting to fall if the seal is broken.
To plunge into the current when I am opened
by some unforgiving hand unseen.
To be drawn downstream
in the gravity of a thousand minds
who simply lost their way.
A thousand minds that twisted the river
away from earth’s sweetness
into the mine shaft of men’s greed.
So it must be.
So it must be.
Open me to the kindness
of a child’s delicate hand
when it reaches out to be held.
Let it comfort me
when my bridge falls and the swift, guiltless currents
pull me downstream
where all things forgiven are lost.
Where all things lost are forgiven.
What is Found Here
What is found here
can never be formed of words.
Pure forces that mingle uncompared.
Like dreams unspoken when first awoken
by a sad light.
What is found here
can limp with one foot on the curb
and the other on the pavement
in some uneven gait
waiting to be hidden in laughter.
What is found here
can open the swift drifting of curtains
held in mountain winds
when long shadows tumble across like juries
of the night.
What is found here
can always be held in glistening eyes.
Turned by silence’s tool of patience.
Like feelings harbored for so long
the starward view has been lost.
I have found the ancient mirror
that leads me.
I have seen its ruthless eyes
that always stare,
burrowing their way to the crown I wear.
I have sensed the holy fire
like a blazing cocoon
that offers no judgments
amidst its power strewn.
I have felt the innocent light.
Of clarity in flight over native land
where we are birthed apart
from one command.
I have touched the gentle eye
that outlasts me.
The huge patience upon my brow.
I have offered all my earthly wisdom
for the symptoms of its tongue;
to drop its seeds into the fields that I plow.
I have seen destiny’s path
gathering its flock
for the journey of endless spaces.
I have watched futures fall with eyelids closed
and the gnawing tears of torn places.
I have seen the Tribe of Light
return the clock to the black pocket
where all divisions occur.
Where weeds secure the humble land
of fires unlit, yet pure.
I have heard the masters of masters speak
to every cell of my body;
cutting new pathways in flesh
like fear’s executioner.
I have watched the galaxies twirl
like star wheels that spiral to the thought
of a holy vision.
I have felt my spirit follow
the one sound that is free.
I have vanished before.
I have taken this body to an inner place
where none can see.
Only feelings can hear the sound of this space.
This sacred place alone
has brought me here to recover the thread.
To see the weaving dance that calls my name
in a thousand sounds.
That draws my spirit
in a single, perfectly round,
Awake and Waiting
Child-like universe emerging from darkness,
you belong to others not I.
My home is elsewhere
beyond the sky
where light pollinates the fragile borders
and gathers the husk.
In the quiet of the desert floor
my shell lingers in the pallid dusk
of a starved garden.
What holds me to this wasteland
when others clamor for shadows
and resist the vital waters?
Where the ripening magnet
holds us blind.
kindling the presence of a timeless world
hunting for memories of a radiant love;
tune their hearts to the key of silence.
It is there I am waiting.
O’ Paradise shore
give me the heart to bear.
Give me the lamp that sings at night.
Give me the wings to strive against wind.
Give me the smile to translate life into light.
Time obliterates the human moment.
No one is absolved
while beauty burns to charred ash
too frail to last
too secret to call.
I will see clearly again
past lives coarsened by time’s reign.
My light will retake its wings;
its evergreen roots will embrace the sane earth
And this tiny fragment,
spinning in silence among giant orbs unseen
will resolve my soul and help me find
the one heart awake and waiting.
I am destined to sit on the riverbank
awaiting words from the naked trees
and brittle flowers that have lost their nectar.
A thousand unblinking eyes
stare out across the water
from the other side.
Their mute voices seek rewards of another kind.
Their demure smiles leave me hollow.
Am I a perpetual stranger to myself?
(The thought brands me numb.)
Am I an orphan trailing pale shadows
that lead to a contemptuous mirror?
Where are these gossamer wings that my
I am waiting for the river to deliver them to me;
to lodge them on the embankment
at my feet.
My feet are shackles from another time.
My head, a window long closed
to another place.
Yet, there are places
that salvage the exquisite tongue
and assemble her wild light
like singing birds the sun.
I have seen these places among the stillness
of the other side.
Calling like a lover’s kiss
to know again what I have known before;
to reach into the Harvest
and leave my welcome.
These thoughts are folded so neatly
they stare like glass eyes fondling the past.
I listen for their guidance
but serpentine fields are my pathway.
When I look into the dark winds
of the virtual heart
I can hear its voice saying:
“Why are you trapped with wings?”
And I feel like a grand vision inscribed in sand
awaiting an endless wind.
Will these wings take me
beneath the deepest camouflage?
Will they unmask the secret measures
and faithful dwellings of time?
Will they search out the infinite spaces
for the one who can define me?
Wings are forgotten by all who travel with their feet.
Lines have been drawn so many times
that we seldom see the crossing
of our loss though we feel the loss of our crossing.
We sense the undertow of clouds.
The gravity of sky.
The painless endeavor of hope’s silent prayers.
But our wings shorn of flight
leave us like newborn rivers that babble over rocks
yearning for the depths of a silent sea.
I have found myself suddenly old.
Like the blackbirds that pour
from the horizon line,
my life has soared over this river
searching for my wings.
There is no other key for me to turn.
There is no other legend for me to face.
Talking to flowers and gnarled trees
will only move me a step away –
when I really want to press my face
against the windowpane
and watch the WingMakers craft my wings.
I have held a vigil for lucidity
out in the horizonless fields where nothing shines
but the light of my fire
and the silver disk of the endless night.
Suddenly, it’s clear that I’m alone in the wilderness
without human eyes to reach in to.
Alone with my treasure of sounds
in the pure silence of arrival.
Beyond the frontier
where borders blur into unknown thoughts
there is a nameless boy—
a drop of pure human light.
Through narrow cracks in the splintered fence
I watch his innocence with envy,
searching for the right meaning of his movements.
The twilight of his smile
nourishes my heart
like crumbs of God’s light.
A longing in my mouth to speak,
and gather this child into my arms
and encipher his nature into mine.
Through the exchange of eyes
glances, purloined and routed into blindness,
our language annulled.
I can only grope towards him
with antenna thoughts
that dance in praise of his youthful beauty.
I am waiting for stones to bloom.
For venomous skies to wander into oblivion.
For tracks to emerge like dust in a beam of light.
Life’s clever poison
is closing the gate.
The cracks are mended — the vision expunged.
And the nameless boy dissolves,
for there was no earth inside him.
My son is two.
I watch him walk
like a drunken prince.
With his body bare I can see
his soul better.
His shoulder blades
gesture like vestiges of wings.
His features stenciled upon pale flesh
by hands that have been before me.
He so wants to be like me.
His every movement like a dusty mirror
or awkward shadow of a bird in flight.
Every sound an echo heard.
Every cell pregnant with my urges.
But my urge is to be like him.
To return to childhood’s safe embrace
and certain honor.
If I return to this place
I hope my eyes will look again upon his face
even until his blades are wings once more.
Until I have circled his creaturehood
and know every hidden cleft
where I have left my print indelible
unable to be consumed.
Until all that he is
is in me and our hands are clasped, forged,
entwined, in voiceless celebration.
Until we are alone like two leaves
high above a treeless landscape
never to land.
He walked a higher ground
like a soul untethered to human flesh.
demanded his searching stop
and match the drifting gait of others.
But his pathway unwound like a ball of string
only to fall in a sentence of light.
Collisions with fate would unrail him
and send him the wishes of obscurity.
The lightning of desire.
The curse of empty dreams.
The witness to unspeakable horrors.
He would laugh at the absurdity,
yet aware of the dark ripples
that touched him.
Humanity was a creaseless sheet of blank paper
waiting to be colored and crumpled
into pieces of prey for the beast-hunter.
Why did they wait?
The palette was for their taking.
The “distance” betrayed them.
The shallow grave of the deep heart
killed their faith.
yet could not form the words.
Nor draw the map.
The ancient casts of the empyrean
Paradise lost to the soundless blanket
of the clearest thought,
of the loneliest mind.
Waking this morning,
I remember you.
We were together last night
only a thin sheet of glass between us.
Your name was not clear.
I think I would recognize its sound,
but my lips are numb
and my tongue listless from the
climb to your mouth.
Your face was blurred as well,
yet, like a distant god
you took your heart and hand
and there arose within me
a separate being.
I think you were lonely once.
Your only desire, to be understood,
turned away by some vast shade
drawn by a wisdom
you had forgotten.
So you sang your songs
in quiet summons to God
hoping their ripples would return
and gather you up.
Brighten your veins
and bring you the unquenchable
kiss of my soul.
Drunken by a lonely name
you stagger forward
into my nights, into my dreams,
and now into my waking.
If I try to forget you
you will precede my now.
I would feel your loss
though I can’t say your name
or remember your face.
I would awaken some morning
and long to feel your skin upon mine
knowing not why.
Feeling the burn of our fire
so clearly that names and faces
bear no meaning
like a candle flicking its light to the
Night in bed,
listening to the secret life
outside my window.
of the nocturnal.
Sounds and rhythms of
to the trees that overlook
the native church
like great archways
carved of Roman hands.
The intricate language
of tiny animals
sweeping through the night air
they hold me spellbound.
How can I sleep
without an interpreter?
If only I knew
what they were saying.
I could sleep again.
Sun walks the roof of the sky
with a turtle’s patience.
Circling endlessly amidst the black passage
of arrival and retreat.
Moon can shape shift
and puncture the confident darkness.
The weaker sister of sun
it bleeds light even as it dwindles
to a fissure of fluorescence.
Black sky like a monk’s hood draped
over stars with squinted eyes.
exiled to overspread
the dark lair of the zodiac.
This silent outback where
light is uprooted and cast aside
beats like a tired clock uneven.
It dreams of sunlight passing so
it can follow like a parasite.
Tired of meandering in absence it
wants to live the speed of light and feel its directness.
Wishing to stay alive in light years
and not some recumbent eternity.
Desiring the sharp pain of life
to the dull, numbing outskirts of ancient space.
Darkness follows light like a tireless
wind that pours over tumbleweeds.
But it always seems to outlast the people
if not the light.
Signals to Her Heart
Out where the ocean beats its calm thunder
against grainy shores of quartz and sand,
she strolls, hands pocketed in a flowing gown
of pearl-like luminance.
I can see her with hair the color of sky’s deepest night
when it whispers to the sun’s widow
to masquerade as the sickle’s light.
This is she.
The one who knows me as I am
though untouched is my skin.
The world from which she steps
pounces from mystery,
announces her calm beauty
like a willow tree bent to still waters.
In this unhurt place she takes her body
to the shoreline listening for sounds
beneath the waves
that tell her what to do.
How great is her dream?
Will it take her across the sea?
Does she hear my heart’s voice
before the translation?
She scoops some sand
with her sculpted hands and
like an hourglass the particles fall
having borrowed time
for a chance to touch her beauty.
Her lips move with prayers of grace as she tells
the wind her story;
even the clouds gather overhead to listen.
Her gestures multiply me
with the sign of infinity,
disentangled from all calculations,
adorning her face with a poetry of tears.
I am summoned by her voice
so clear it startles me.
I watch her because I can.
I know her because she is me.
I desire her because she is not me.
In all my movement, in the vast search
for something that will complete me,
I have found her
on this shoreline,
her faint footprints,
signatures of perfection
that embarrass time with their fleeting nature.
I am like the cave behind her
watching from darkness,
hollowed from tortured waves
into a vault that yearns to say
what she cannot resist.
A language so pure it releases itself
from my mouth like long-held captives
finally ushered to their home.
She turns her head and looks
past me as if I were a ghost unseen,
yet I know she sees my deepest light.
I know the ocean is no boundary to her love.
She is waiting
for the final path to my heart to become clear.
And I am waiting
for something deep inside
to take my empty hands
and fill them with her face
so I can know the rehearsals were numbered,
and all the splinters
were signals to her heart.
Space is curved
so no elevator can slither to its stars.
Time is a spindle of the present
that spins the past and future away.
Energy is an imperishable force
so permanence can be felt.
Matter flings itself to the universe,
perfectly pitiless in its betrayal of soul.
You can only take away
what has been given you.
Have you not called the ravens the foulest of birds?
Is their matter and energy so different than ours?
Are we not under the same sky?
Is their blood not red?
Their mouth pink, too?
Molten thoughts, so hot they fuse space and time,
sing their prophecies of discontent.
Listen to their songs in the channels of air
that curl overhead like temporary tattoos
of light’s shimmering ways.
Am I merely a witness of the betrayal?
Where are you who are cast to see?
How have you been hidden from me?
Is there a splinter that carries you to the whole?
If I can speak your names
and take your hands so gentle you would not see me,
feeling only the warm passage of time
and the tremor of your spine moving you to weep.
Space is curved so I must bend.
Time is a spindle so I must resolve its center.
Energy, an imperishable force I must ride.
And matter, so pitiless I refuse to be betrayed.
So I stand naked to the coldest wind
and ask it to carve out an island in my soul
in honor of you who stand beside me in silence.
Lonely, I live on this island assured of one thing:
that of space, time, energy, and matter;
Yet when I think of you in the cobwebbed corner,
Hove led without wings
like a seed planted beneath a dead tree stump,
I know you are watching
with new galaxies wild in your breast.
I know you are listening
to the lidded screams smiling their awkward trust.
All I ask of you is to throw me a rope sometimes
so I can feel the permanence of your heart.
It’s all I need in the face of nothing matters.
I have this memory
of lying atop a scaffold of tree limbs
staring out to the black, summer blanket
that warms the night air.
I can smell cedar burning in the distance
and hear muted voices praying in song and drum.
I cannot lift my body or turn my head.
I am conscious of bone and muscle
but they are not conscious of me.
They are dreaming while I am caught
in a web of exemptible time.
My mind is restless to move on.
To leave this starlit grave site and dance with
my people around huge fires
crackling with nervous light.
To join hand with hand to the rhythm of drums
pounding their soft thunder
in monotone commandments to live.
I can only stare up at the sky
watching, listening, waiting
for something to come and set me free
from this mournful site.
To gather me up in arms of mercy
into the oblivion of Heaven’s pod.
I listen for the sound of my breath
but only the music of my people can be heard.
I look for the movement of my hands
but only wisps of clouds
and crescent light move
against raven’s wings.
Sometimes when this memory peeks through
my skin it purges the shoreward view.
It imposes on the known predicament
with a turbulent bliss
that bleeds defiance to the order.
There is certain danger in the heritable ways
of my people who send me the chatoyant skin
humbled and circumscribed.
My white appetite leached of earthly rations.
Misplaced to the darshan of the devil,
the very same that
maneuvered my people to reservations—
the ward of the damned.
(At least I have no memories of a reservation).
Perhaps it is better
to lay upon this mattress of sticks
with my wardrobe of feathers and skins
chanting in the wind.
Perhaps it would be better still
to be set atop the cry shed and burned
so prodigal memories would have
no home to return to.
I have this memory
of escaping the pale hand
of my master that feeds me
scraps of lies and moldy bread.
My skin yearns for lightness,
but it is the rope that obliges.
I have this memory
of holding yellow fingers,
large and round, dripping with ancient legacies.
Of seeing the rounded belly of Buddha
smiling underneath a pastoral face
in temples that lean against a tempest sky.
I have this memory
of dreaming to fly.
Stretching out wings that are newly attached
with string-like permanence
only to fall in the blunted arms of obscurity.
I have this memory
of seeing my face in a mirror
that reflects a stranger’s mind and soul.
Knowing it to be mine, I looked away
afraid it would become me alone.
I am patchwork memories searching for a nucleus.
I am lost words echoing in still canyons.
I am a light wave that found itself
darting to earth unsheathed
seeking cover in human skin.
I’ve set loose the guards that
stand before my door.
I’ve let cells collide in suicide
until they take me.
If there were stories left to tell
I would hear them.
Behind the waterfalls of channeled panic
spilling their prideful progeny
I can stay hidden in the noise.
Being invisible has its cameo rewards.
It also keeps visible the durable lifeform
murmuring beneath the wickedness.
This is truly the only creature I care to know,
with luminous ways of sweet generosity that suffers
in the untelling universe
of the unlistening ear.
When I am found out—after I am gone—
by a stranger’s heart whose drill bit
is not dulled by impersonation,
I will open eyes, peel away skin,
awaken the heart’s coma.
I will set aside the costumed figure
and redress the host
so its image can be seen in mirrors
I set forth with words bugged by God.
When these words are spoken,
another ear is listening on the other side
like lasers their neutral light.
The common grave of courage holds us all
in the portal of singularity,
the God-trail of rebeginning.
Somehow, so seldom, words and images
thrust their meaning into heaven and conquer time.
But when they do,
they become the abracadabra
of the sacred moment.
The pantomime of the public’s deepest longing.
the improbable eyelid glances open,
the skin folds away,
and the heroic eye awakens and remains alert.
Afterwards, the words eat the flesh and leave behind
the indigestible bitterness.
The emotional corpse shed,
an insoluble loneliness.
The cast of separation.
There it is then, my open wound,
eager for forgiveness.
It comes with age like brown spots
and silver hair.
Shouldn’t age bring more than
different colors to adorn the body?
I think it was meant to.
It just forgot.
Old age does that you know.
Too many things to remember here.
Both worlds demanding so much,
one to learn, one to remember.
Can’t we see each other
without wounds bearing grief?
There it is then, my hope for you
to find me and apply yourself
like a poultice to my wounds.
The rest of me is barren too.
Waiting for your arrival
with speed built of powerful engines
that groan loud from a piercing foot.
never stopping even when floorboards are found.
If there was silence in these waters
my wound would dance open
and separate itself from all attackers.
Even this body.
It would look at you
in the orphaning light, diminished of features,
and lead you away to its place of sorrow.
It would ask you to lie down beside it
and wave goodbye
to the coiled currents that tug and pull
to separate us from ourselves.
It would hold your hands,
so masterful in their wisdom,
so mindful of their glory
that it would disappear inside.
In the future, someone,
a friend perhaps, would
read your palm and notice
a small line veering off in a ragged ambush.
Unchained from the rest
of your palm’s symmetry.
A lonely fragment, waving goodbye
to everything between us.
There it is then, my prayer for you
to close this wound
and draw the shades around us.
Deep, black solitude enfolding us,
the kind found only in caves
that have shut out light for the growing of delicate,
Strike the flint that burns
a lonely world
and opens blessed lovers
to the golden grave of earth’s flame.
Listen to the incantation
of raindrops as they pass from gray clouds
to our mother’s doorstep.
Dreams of miracles yet to come
harbor in their watery husks.
Stand before this cage
splashed with beauty and stealth
and arranged with locks that have grown frail.
A simple breath
and all life is joined in the frontier.
Here is the masterpiece of creation
that has emerged from the unknown
in the depths of a silent Heart.
Here is the laughter sought
among rulers of death.
Here are the brilliant colors of rainbows
among the spilling reds that purge our flock.
Here is the hope of forever
among stone markers that stare through eyelids
released of time.
Here are the songs of endless voices
among the heartless dance of invisible power.
There is an evening bell that chimes
a melody so pure
even mountains weep
and angels lean to listen.
There is a murmur of hope that sweeps
aside the downcast eyes of hungry souls.
It is the fragrance of God
writing poems upon the deep blue sky
with pin-pricks of light and a sleepless moon.
It is the calling to souls
lost in the forest of a single world
to be cast, forged, and made ready
for the final dream.
Easy to Find
I have often looked inside my drawers
without knowing why.
Something called out.
Seek me and you shall find,
but when I obey
I’m confounded by memory’s fleeting ways.
Hands immerse and return awkwardly empty
like a runaway child
when no one came after them.
I know there is something I seek
that hides from me so I can’t think about what I lack.
It is, however, and this is the point,
too damn powerful to be silent and still.
Besides, I know I lack it because I miss it.
I miss it.
Whatever “it” is.
Whatever I need it to be it is not that.
It can never be anything but what it is.
And so I search in drawers and closets absent of why,
driven like a machine whose switch has been thrown
just because it can.
I miss it.
I wish it could find me.
Maybe I need to stay put long enough for it to do so.
Now there’s a switch.
Let the powerful “it” seek me out.
But for how long must I wait?
And how will I recognize it should it find me?
There must be names
for this condition that end in
Damn, I hate that suffix.
It all starts with a sense of wonder
and ends in a sense of emptiness.
God, I wish you could find me here.
I’ll tuck myself in a little drawer
right out in the open.
I won’t bury myself under incidentals.
I’ll be right on top.
Easy to find.
Do you need me for anything?
I hope so because I need you for everything.
Of beckoning places
I have never felt more lost.
Nothing invites me onward.
Nothing compels my mouth to speak.
In cave-like ignorance, resembling oblivion,
I am soulless in sleep.
Where are you, beloved?
Do you not think I wait for you?
Do you not understand the crystal heart?
Its facets like mirrors for the clouds
absent of nothing blue.
Invincible heaven with downcast eyes
and burning bullets of victory that peel through flesh
like a hungry ax,
why did you follow me?
I need an equal not a slayer.
I need a companion not a ruler.
I need love not commandments.
Of things forgotten
I have never been one.
God seems to find me even in the tumbleweed
when winds howl
and I become the wishbone in the hands
of good and evil.
Why do they seek me out?
What purpose do I serve
if I cannot become visible to you?
You know, when they put animals to sleep
children wait outside
as the needle settles the debt of pain and age.
The mother or father write a check and
sign their name twice that day.
They drop a watermark of tears.
They smile for their children
through clenched hearts beating
sideways like a pendulum
And I see all of this and more in myself.
A small animal whose debts are soon to be settled.
Children are already appearing outside
waiting for the smile of parents to reassure.
The signature and watermark
they never see.
Of winter sanctuary
I have found only you.
Though I wait for signals to draw me from the cold
into your fire
I know they will come
even though I fumble for my key.
Even though my heart is beheaded.
Even though I have only learned division.
I remember you
and the light above your door.
Bullets and Light
I am adrift tonight
as though a privilege denied
is the passageway
to keep body and soul together.
You have kept so much at bay
I wonder if your enchantment
is to tame passion.
Cornered by your savage artillery
you sling your bullets like schools of fish
darting to a feast,
and I surge ahead tired of being the food.
When I look back
I can see fragments of you
hiding in the underbrush,
stubborn remnants of your vanished heart.
I can still love them.
I can still hold their fragile nerves
clustered with a welder’s tongue
seething light as pure as any ever beheld.
Perhaps I drift away
because of the chasm I see.
Bullets and light.
How strange bedfellows can be.
But you will never confess
nor shed your doubt of me.
I will always remain an enigma hurling itself
like litter across your absolute path.
A sudden shaft of light
that begets a deep shadow
that temporarily blinds.
Hope-stirred eyes have always sought to steal
you from the simian nature
that collects at your feet
and pulls at you like derelict children.
My unearthly hunger drew me away from you,
even against my will, or at least my conscious will.
There was always something calculating
the distance between us.
Some cosmic abacus shuffling sums
of bullets and light
looking for the ledger’s balance,
but never quite locating its exact frequency.
Nature of Angels
Midnight in the desert and all is well.
I told myself so and so it is,
or it is not,
I haven’t quite decided yet.
Never mind the coyotes’ howl or
the shrinking light.
Holiness claims my tired eyes
as I return the stare of stars.
They seem restless, but maybe they’re
just ink blots and I’m the one
who’s really restless.
There is something here that repeals me.
In its abundance I am absent.
So I shouted at the desert spirits,
tell me your secrets
or I will tell you my sorrows.
The spirits lined up quickly then.
Wings fl uttering.
I heard many voices become one
and it spoke to the leafless sky
as a tenet to earth.
We hold no secrets.
We are simply windows to your future.
Which is now and which is then
is the question we answer.
But you ask the question.
If there is a secret we hold
it is nothing emboldened by words
or we would commonly speak.
I turned to the voice,
what wisdom is there in that?
If words can’t express your secret wisdom,
then I am deaf and you are mute and we are blind.
At least I can speak my sorrows.
Again the wings fluttered
and the voices stirred
hoping the sorrow would not spill
like blood upon the desert.
But there were no more sounds
save the coyote and the owl.
And then a strange resolution suffused my sight.
I felt a presence like an enormous angel
carved of stone was placed behind me.
I couldn’t turn for fear its loss would spill my sorrow.
But the swelling presence was too powerful to ignore
so I turned around to confront it,
and there stood a trickster coyote
looking at me with glass eyes
painting my fire, sniffing my fear,
and drawing my sorrow away in intimacy.
And I understood the nature of angels.
Intoxicated with children’s thoughts
why are souls so deep and men so blind?
How can souls be eclipsed
by such tiny minds?
Do we love the damp passageways of Hell?
Where every drop of pale water
that falls from the cavern walls
is unwashed music etched in silence…
My favored dreams have disappeared
astride the backs of eagles.
With wings sweeping downward, lifting upward,
they are carried away like finespun,
on a crystalline wind.
I am divinely barren
like an empty vessel denied its purpose.
I can only stare into the silence
ever listening for heaven’s murmur.
Knowing that behind the darkening mist
angels are building shelters for human innocence.
Shelters torn from something dark
and gravely wounded.
Havens resistant to all disease.
I thought I was endowed
with a promised beauty
that would free the neglected dreams of a demigod.
That would untie their feeble knots
and release them into light’s caress.
But the glorious reins
that had once been mine,
tattered and stained with blood,
have slipped from my hands in disuse
as a web abandoned to a ghostly wind.
I can still reach them.
I can feel their shadow across my hands.
Their power, like an electric storm
wandering aimlessly without fuel,
soon to be exhausted.
This piece of paper
is torn from something dark
and gravely wounded.
It is the mirror I hold up to the blackened sky.
A devious sacrifice.
Leaping from star to star
my eyes weave a constellation.
My thoughts in search of the endless motherload.
My heart listening for the sound
of unstained children dreaming.
The dream wanderer looks back at me.
Calls my name in a whispered voice.
Beckons me with an outstretched wing.
“Fly! Your favored dreams await you!”
The voice boomed like thunder swearing.
My wings trembled with forbidden power
as they searched the wind’s current
for signs of release.
Currents that would carry me
to the high branches of trees
suckling the sun in fields beyond my kingdom.
In a moment’s interlude
I unfolded my wings and vaulted skyward,
into the blue vestibule.
Rivers beneath were brown veins
swollen on earth’s legs,
or savage cuts that bled green.
The sun sliced holes in the clouds
with tender spears of crimson light.
The moon was rising in the eastern sky—
an oyster shell
pitted by time.
Lonely winds would rush by
searching for an outpost of stillness.
The earthen dungeon
peered up at me with contempt
like a nursemaid relieved of her duty.
I forgot the ground.
I canceled gravity.
Balanced against aboriginal hopes and fears
I became the shaman who dances
in the spirit waters of ancestors
plucking words and meanings from the cumbrous air.
I thought only of the dream wanderer…
the holy wind that rekindles
my exquisite longing for raw truth.
To seize it like medicine
in a sleepless fever hoping to be healed.
The halcyon spire!
The dusty places of purity.
These wings are torn
from something dark and gravely wounded.
They carry me to my favored dreams
and choke the inertia of indifference dead.
Their strength is perfectly matched
to my destination.
One more mile beyond these trees,
I would fall like a fumbled star
into the moat of a starving world.
My favored dreams will wander again.
In time they will soar to trees of a richer kingdom.
My wings will again follow their flight,
track their heartbeat
and build a quilt of a thousand dreams intermingled.
One more turn of the infinite circle.
The dream slate revivified.
even in the murky waters
and cloudy skies of the itinerant traveler.
The dream wanderer reveals
(with a flip of the hourglass of heaven),
Create your world and let it go forward
entrusted to the one that is all.
The leavening will prevail.
It is the lesson I learned
with my wings outstretched beneath
the glaring sky.
It is the rawness I seek
untouched by another’s polish.
Last night we talked for hours.
You cried in unstoppable sorrow,
while I felt a presence carve itself into me
source and savior of your dragging earth.
You feel so deeply,
your mind barely visible
staring ahead to what the heart already knows.
I see the distance you must heal.
I know your pacing heart bounded by corners
that have been rounded and smoothed
like a polished stone from endless waves.
For all I know you are me
in another body,
slots where spirits reach in
to throw the light
Prowling for crowns.
Are there ways to find your heart
I haven’t found?
You, I will swallow without tasting first.
I don’t care the color.
Nothing could warn me away.
Nothing could diminish my love.
And only if I utterly failed
in kinship would you banish me.
Last night, I know I was forgiven.
You gave me that gift unknowing.
I asked for forgiveness
and you said it was unneeded;
time shuffled everything anew
and it was its own
But I know everything not there
was felt by you and transformed.
It was given a new life, though inconspicuous,
it wove us together to a simple, white stone
lying on the ground that marks a spot of sorrow.
Beneath, our union, hallowed of tiny bones
beseech us to forgive ourselves
and lean upon our shoulders
in memory of love, not loss.
Blame settles on no one;
mysterious, it moves in the calculus
of God’s plan as though no one thought
to refigure the numbers three to two to one.
The shape stays below the stone.
We walk away,
knowing it will resettle
in our limbs
in our bones
in our hearts
in our minds
in our soul.
In the Kindness of Sleep
I visited you last night when you
were sleeping with a child’s abandon.
Curled so casual in sheets
inlaid by your beauty.
I held my hand to your face
and touched as gently
as I know how
so you could linger with your dreams.
I heard soft murmurs that only angels make
when they listen to their home.
So I drew my hand away
uneasy that I might wake you
even as gentle as I was.
But you stayed with your dreams
and I watched as they found their way to you
in the kindness of sleep.
And I dreamed that I was an echo of your body
curled beside you like a fortune hunter
who finally found his gold.
I nearly wept at the sound of your breath,
but I stayed quiet as a winter lake, and bit my lip
to ensure I wouldn’t be detected.
I didn’t want to intrude
so I set my dream aside
and I gently pulled your hand from underneath
the covers to hold.
A hand whose entry into flesh
must have been the lure that brought me here.
And as I hold it
I remember why I came
to feel your pulse
and the beating of your heart in deep slumber.
And I remember why I came in the
kindness of sleep—
to hold your hand, touch your face
and listen to the soft breathing
of an angel,
curled so casual in sheets
inlaid by your beauty.
I once wore an amulet
that guarded against the forceps of humanity.
It kept at bay the phalanx of wolves
that circled me like phantoms of Gethsemane.
Phantoms that even now
replay their mantra like conch shells.
Coaxing me to step out and join the earthly tribe.
To bare my sorrow’s spaciousness
like a cottonwood’s seed to the wind.
Now I listen and watch for signals.
To emerge a recluse squinting in ambivalence
inscribed to tell what has been held by locks.
It is all devised in the sheath of cable
that connects us to Culture.
The single, black strand that portrays us to God.
The DNA that commands our image
and guides our natural selection of jeans.
Are there whispers of songs flickering
in dark, ominous thunder?
Is there truly a sun behind
this wall of monotone clouds
that beats a billion hammers of light?
There are small, flat teeth that weep venom.
There is an inviolate clemency
in the eyes of executioners
while their hands toil to kill.
But there is no explanation for
voyeur saints who grieve only with their eyes.
There is only one path to follow
when you connect your hand and eye
and release the phantoms.
This poem is a shadow of my heart
and my heart the shadow of my mind,
which is the shadow of my soul
the shadow of God.
God, a shadow of some unknown, unimaginable
cluster of intelligence where galaxies
are cellular in the universal body.
Are the shadows connected?
Can this vast, unknown cluster reach into this poem
and assemble words that couple at a holy junction?
It is the reason I write.
Though I cannot say this junction has ever
been found (at least by me).
It is more apparent that some unholy hand,
pale from darkness, reaches out and casts its sorrow.
Some lesser shadow or phantom
positions my hand in a lonely outpost
to claim some misplaced luminance.
The phantom strains to listen for songs
as they whisper.
It coordinates with searching eyes.
It peels skin away to touch the soft fruit.
It welds shadows as one.
I dreamed that I found a ransom note
written in God’s own hand.
Written so small I could barely
read its message, which said:
“I have your soul, and unless you deliver—
in small, unmarked poems—
the sum of your sorrows, you will never
see it alive again.”
And so I write while something unknown is curling
around me, irresistible to my hand, yet unseen.
More phantoms from Gethsemane who honor
sorrow like professional confessors
lost in their despair.
I can reach sunflowers the size of
moonbeams, but I cannot reach
the sum of my sorrows.
They elude me like ignescent stars that fall nightly
outside my window.
My soul must be nervous.
The ransom is too much to pay
even for a poet who explores
the black strand of Culture.
Years ago I found an
Impression—like snow angels—left in tall grass
by some animal, perhaps a deer or bear.
When I touched it I felt the warm presence of life,
not the cold radiation of crop circles.
This warm energy lingers only for a moment
but when it is touched it lasts forever.
And this is my fear:
that the sum of my sorrows will last forever
when it is touched, and even though my soul
is returned unharmed,
I will remember the cold radiation
and not the warm presence of life.
Now I weep when children sing
and burrow their warm presence into my heart.
Now I feel God adjourned by the
source of shadows.
Now I feel the pull of a bridle,
breaking me like a wild horse turned
I cannot fight the phantoms
or control them or turn them away.
They prod at me as if a lava stream should
continue on into the cold night air
and never tire of movement.
Never cease its search
for the perfect place to be a sculpture.
An anonymous feature of the gray landscape.
If ever I find the sum of my sorrows
I hope it is at the bridgetower
where I can see both ways
before I cross over.
Where I can see forgeries like a crisp mirage
and throw off my bridle.
I will need to be wild when I face it.
I will need to look into its
unnameable light and unravel
all the shadows interlocked like paper dolls
and cut from a multiverse of experience.
To let them surround me
and in one resounding chorus
confer their epiphany so I
can hand over the ransom and reclaim my soul.
When all my sorrows are gathered round
in an unbroken ring I will stare them down.
Behind them waits a second ring,
larger still and far more powerful.
It is the ring of life’s warm presence
when sorrows have passed
underneath the shadows’ source
and transform like the dull chrysalis
that bears iridescent angels.
Inside there is something gnawing
with silken jaws and wax teeth.
It holds me still in pureness
like a circle whose middle
is my cage.
While you went away from me
I was ever tightening my circle.
A spiral cut in glass.
A flower’s bloom dropping petals.
A winnowed ball of yarn
I see the inside of your thigh
brilliant in its smoothness,
and I spiral ever closer to your edge.
Paper cut touching I burn
bleeding without pain.
How could I spill so easily
without knowing why?
When I hear your voice
there is no quenching this ache
to hold you.
Like one who draws near and then forgets
the story they came to tell,
I circle you waiting for thread’s tautness
to draw us ever closer
though I know not how.
The final luxury is the kiss
of your boundless heart.
The final beauty so pure
all else limps behind blissfully in your wake.
Drawing from your shadows
the light of saplings
lurking on the forest floor.
If I could unbutton you,
take your dress down
I would see a map of my universe.
A phantom limb, grown from
my body like wings sprouting from a chrysalis
reaches for you.
It is the hand of clarity
desperate for your skin
so powerfully bidden
as though a shimmering block of light
cut from black velvet,
stood before me.
And all I could do was to reach out
and touch it,
not knowing why,
but utterly unafraid.
Who will find me
in the morning after
the winds rush over the barren body
that once held me like a tree a leaf?
Who will find me
when mercy, tired of smiling,
finally frowns in deep furrows of ancient skin?
Who will find me?
Will it be you?
Perhaps it will be a cold morning
with fresh prints of snow
and children laughing as they
lay down in the arms of angels.
Perhaps it will be a warm evening
when crickets play their music
to the stillness of waiting stars.
Perhaps it will be the light
that draws me away
or some sweet surrender that captures me
in its golden nets.
Who will find me
when I have left and cast
my line in new waters trickling
so near this ocean of sand?
Listen for me when I’m gone.
Listen for me in poems
that were formed with lips mindful of you.
You who will outlast me.
Who linger in the courage I could not find.
You can see me
in these words.
They are the lasting image.
The Pure and Perfect
Someday the messengers will arrive
with stories of a nocturnal sun
despondent, burning implacably
in the deepest shade of a thousand shadows.
They will tell you of the
serene indifference of God.
They will draw you by the hand
through bruised alleyways
and prove the desperation of man
rejected from the beauty of an unearthly realm.
The news will arrive
as a tribute to the death of oracles.
Sparing words of purpose
the messengers will announce the
cold fury of realism’s cave.
Someday, the messengers will send their thoughts
through books that have no pulse.
You will be accused of weakness
that drowns you in servitude.
A queer rivalry will beset you
and your life will crawl like an awkward beast
that has no home.
And you, my dearest friends,
who are truth—who were all along,
will renew your devotion
to a powerful image in a distant mirror.
You will listen to these stories
and tear at your silent heart
with animal claws that are dulled
by the stone doors of time.
Where the unattested is confirmed
your vestige-soul is stored.
It will strengthen you
and cradle you in the light
of your own vision,
which will be hurled like lightening
through twilight’s dull corridor.
The messengers will cry
at the sound of your rejection.
They will scream: “Do you want to be a
lowly servant and lonely saint?”
Mutants of the light
are always tested with doubts
of a swollen isolation
and the promise of truth’s betrayal.
Listen without hearing.
Judge without pardon.
The grand parasite of falsehood
will prevail if you believe only your beliefs.
Someday, when all is clear to you—
when the winds have lifted all veils
and the golden auberge is the locus
of our souls—
you will be tested no more.
You will have reached destiny’s lodge
and the toilsome replica of God
is jettisoned for the pure and perfect.
A Fire For You
On this, the shortest day of the year,
I have journeyed to the Great Plains
to build a fire for you.
The night air is cold like a cellar
cut from ancient stones.
But I found some wood among the deserted plains
buried under the grasses and dirt,
hidden away like leaves
that had become the soil.
After I cleaned the wood by hand—its dirt beneath
my nails and the fabric of my cloth
I sent a flame
combusted by the mere thought of you.
And the wood became fire.
There were hermit stars that gathered
overhead to keep me company.
Your spirit was there as well
amidst the fire’s flames.
We laughed at the deep meaning of the sky
and its spacious ways.
Marveling at the flat mirror of the plain
that sends so little skyward,
like the hearts of children denied
a certain kind of love.
You played with spirits
when you were young among these fields.
You didn’t know their names then.
I was one.
Even without a name, or body,
I watched your gaze, unrelenting to the things
that beat between the
two mirrors of the sky and plain.
I believe it was here also
that you learned to speak with God.
Not in so many words as you’re now accustomed,
but I’m certain that God listened to your life
and gathered around your fire
for warmth and meaning.
In the deserted plains he found you set apart
from all things missing.
Dear spirit, I have held this vigil for so long,
tending fires whose purpose I have forgotten.
I think warmth was one.
Perhaps light was another.
Perhaps hope was the strongest of these.
If ever I find you around my fire,
built by hands
that know your final skin,
between the sheets of the sky and plain,
I will remember its purpose.
In barren fields
that have long been deserted by the hand of man
I will remember.
In the deepest eye of you
I will remember.
In the longest night of you
I will remember.
On this, the shortest day of the year,
I have journeyed to the Great Plains
to build a fire for you.