Poetry

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The Poetry of WingMakers

Released 1998, by James Mahu

Chamber Poetry 1

Listening

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.

Running underground

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.

 

Compassion

Angels must be confused by war.

Both sides praying for protection,

yet someone always gets hurt.

Someone dies.

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.

 

Chamber Poetry 2

Temptress Vision

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.

Convergence.

 

I am a lock-picker.

A tunnel-digger.

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.

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.

Felt 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.

Chamber Poetry 3

Half Mine

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.

Chamber Poetry 4

One Day

One day,

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.

 

One day,

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.

 

One day,

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.

 

One day,

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.

Such magic!

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.

 

 

Missing

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

something golden

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.

Chamber Poetry 5

Life Carriers

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.)

 

Circles break.

Barriers overrun.

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.

 

Homeless cages

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.

Another

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.

(Einstein smiling.)

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.

Chamber Poetry 6

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.

She entered,

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.

Imperishable

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.

 

Wandering words

self-gathered, self-formed,

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

beyond yourself.

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.

Chamber Poetry 7

Union

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.

 

 

Chamber Poetry 8

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

yet everlasting.

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 hand,

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.

Enchantment.

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.

Our future.

The future.

The present in another world.

Calling out for another mouth,

another hand,

another mind open.

 

 

Longing

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,

hand-in-hand,

in the permanence of longing.

 

So much a part of the other

that the other does not exist.

Chamber Poetry 9

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.

But luminous

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.

Forever

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,

identical throbbing

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.

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

forever.

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.

Chamber Poetry 10

Downstream

Open me.

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

and lips.

Open me to the glance

that comforts strangers like the tender overture

of a mourning dove.

 

Is the wisdom of horses mine

to harness?

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.

Downstream where

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.

Chamber Poetry 11

Circle

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,

circle.

 

 

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.

 

Far away,

kindling the presence of a timeless world

hunting for memories of a radiant love;

wingless creatures

tune their hearts to the key of silence.

It is there I am waiting.

Alone.

 

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

once again.

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.

Chamber Poetry 12

WingMakers

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

destiny foretold?

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.

 

 

Arrival

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.

Chamber Poetry 13

Nameless Boy

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,

to weep,

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

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

shimmering

high above a treeless landscape

never to land.

Chamber Poetry 14

Empyrean

He walked a higher ground

like a soul untethered to human flesh.

Darkness implored

demanded his searching stop

and match the drifting gait of others.

But his pathway unwound like a ball of string

sent upward

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.

 

He knew,

yet could not form the words.

Nor draw the map.

The ancient casts of the empyrean

withstood definition.

Paradise lost to the soundless blanket

of the clearest thought,

of the loneliest mind.

Separate Being

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.

Continue you.

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

noonday sun.

Chamber Poetry 15

Secret Language

Night in bed,

eyes closed,

ears open,

listening to the secret life

outside my window.

The liturgy

of the nocturnal.

Sounds and rhythms of

swift-footed crickets

giving testimony

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

unfaltering

they hold me spellbound.

How can I sleep

without an interpreter?

If only I knew

what they were saying.

I could sleep again.

Wishing Light

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.

Stewards lost,

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.

Chamber Poetry 16

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.

Nothing Matters

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;

nothing matters.

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.

Chamber Poetry 17

Memories Unbound

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.

Afterwards

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

beaming understanding

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.

 

Afterwards,

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.

Chamber Poetry 18

Transparent Things

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.

Downward pressure

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,

transparent things.

Final Dream

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.

 

 

Chamber Poetry 19

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

phobia.

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.

Beckoning Places

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

of time.

 

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.

Chamber Poetry 20

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.

Hearts astir.

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.

 

 

Chamber Poetry 21

Dream Wanderer

Intoxicated with children’s thoughts

I wonder,

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,

elegant seeds

on a crystalline wind.

Without them

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.

Sheer speed.

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.

Navigable—

even in the murky waters

and cloudy skies of the itinerant traveler.

The dream wanderer reveals

(with a flip of the hourglass of heaven),

as above

so below.

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.

 

 

Forgiver

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

interpreting dreams.

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

forgiver.

 

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.

Chamber Poetry 22

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.

Warm Presence

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

suddenly submissive.

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.

Chamber Poetry 23

Spiral

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

spilling color.

 

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.

Soul’s Photograph

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.

Soul’s photograph.

Chamber Poetry 24

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.