Archive | November 2011

The Nesting Boxes

Gray skyscape closes,
but we still scatter
as the gathering time nears.
On low branches
you mourn the waning light —
sapphire wings wreathe
these hallowed places.
I want to be more than wallflower,
but too-swift movements
recall shyness of early seasons,
and so I go still –
hardened roots and tendrils
explore the soil’s cold crumbs.

But listen!
Today the wind is from the south,
and so we drop soft and sacred notes
to thaw the frozen air.
Soon the snow will mask
these worried veins and ridges,
and our cupped hands will collect
summer breaths harvested
and saved in glass jars
to guard against December’s
hard-toothed edge –
one portion of a promise.

Despite the seeming stillness,
we cannot hide from the vow.
So we must slip something –
a pen,
a book,
thin edge of a fingernail –
into the crack.
Keep the thing from closing in.
Disguise ourselves and wander
down ice-edged paths.
We push away the tempting night.
We keep the watch.

Though the others might favor fire,
we hold to blood and faith.
We will not forsake these wild places.
As the clockworks trace the face of time,
we stand amidst the nesting boxes
that conceal blue feathers, rusted breasts.
Collected seeds fill the hollow hungry gaps.
We watch, and listen —
and when it seems as if
it might slip
into frost-kissed forever,
we join our voices,
dropping soft and sacred notes
to thaw the frozen air.


Moth to the Flame

In this the beginning
Of our dark age,
A late November sun wastes low —
And I, too,
Drawn and gone cold,
Pulling in
With the oncoming winter —
Scent the snow yet to fall.

I covered the river path
But couldn’t stop singing,
Those notes still falling
From red lips —
Pulled the heavy door
To the blue rooms.
And this music drew
Each to each —
It is an unspoken thing,
Beyond understanding.

But you were there.
It took two measures
To forget myself
In the shadow you cast —
Quiet hellos,
Gentle jests —
You lit that damn fire
And now all is confusion,

Have to walk some sense
Back into it,
And tame this before
It leaves me —
And oh, god!
The bluebirds!
Still here and less shy
With no leafy camouflage.
Subtle song
Brings you before me.
Maybe, like me,
They just haven’t learned
To stop dropping sweet notes
When confronted
With the dying fire.

However it happened —
By chance
Or the pulling of
Threads untouched —
My heart dropped four feet
When I saw you there

Now it is the cranes’ time.
The hundreds wheel high.
Their cries remind me
I am just this.
I want it to be
High and holy,
But really,
There is only
What there ever was —
Animal and instinct.

And it is,
How I always knew
It would be —
I am too much air
In danger
From the red flames.
It is fever and folly —
But it keeps me tethered
To this place,
And I am loathe to part
Too soon.

How could I permit this
To pass by?
I must feel it all —
Immerse myself in light
And heat.
You might cast me to ashes
That much sooner,
But like the flame-drawn moth —
Stricken silhouette,
Wingbeat flutter,
Instinctual darkness,
Night stalker,
Eyecorner shadow —
I just can’t quit you.

Old House

Always with the drip-drip-drip —
Cricket echoes,
Window rattles,
Floorboards complain
Under insubstantial feet,
Groaning fire below
And an intermittent,
Water-pulling hum.

Always with the creep-creep-creep —
Cracks and fissures,
Rotten wood,
Climbing creepers,
Spores, seeds
And the box elder
Scratching its way
Into the warm.

Always with the what-was-that —
Corner collections,
Ash and dust,
Wings every where,
Half-seen travelers,
Shadows seek the ceiling —
A portal or trapdoor
Opens onto elsewhere.

Let Them Go

He counts it up to six, begins the song.
Sleight hand adjusts the mix, we sing along.
His words! His words! He works the code
And piles them up beside the road —
Stoic harbingers, unforgotten past —
With words that echo the scars that hold fast.

The poet traces lines before my chair,
But blind, he never finds that I am there.
The ink! The ink! My loving page
Capturing words — the moonlit cage.
His fingers cut the iron bands that cling
The ink dances the silver of the string.

Now fading, we found peace within that dance –
The power of release – calm, casual rants.
Let go! Let go! Body and words
Take to the wind like migrant birds.
The autumn currents carry them back home.
Let go as seers make the gifts their own.

I wrote this on a prompt/challenge from dVerse Poets Pub. The form is called a Staccato. I generally have a hard time with form and rhyme — it always feels like I almost managed to say what I was trying to say.

But no matter…it’s good to try to get past our limits, yes?


You’d think four decades
Were enough,
Yet these lessons
Do not take.
We scramble to shift gears
In a struggle
To sort out
Our sudden, swift decline.

It’s getting away from us now.
And we should have known
To stay low
But the faces and voices
Are like magnets
To the iron in our soul.
Or maybe it’s the moon’s influence
That pulls us up
And across the great divide.

We were giants —
Our shadows cast
Into the valley’s rippled folds.
But we never could adapt
To thinner air.
This time
We were three days at the top
Before to breathe
Became to struggle.

And so we must revert
To the only lesson
That ever held:
Contracting, shape-shifting,
We make ourselves small and quiet.
Like snow,
We yield,
And seek the downward paths
Of least resistance.


I could smell four seasons full
As the code spiraled outward
And a cloud perched
On shifting air.
The high sky reflected
In the marsh —
Color so pure
That mere blue
Cannot suffice.
(It is beyond my power
To convey.)
But for bare branches,
Old leaves,
All the dry and decayed,
You might never guess
At November’s waning.

Hadn’t noticed the wind
Until I stood there in it,
Wondering why the water
Was in such a hurry,
And where it was going
Still uplifted,
I’m riding high on these moments —
That permission to eavesdrop
On grander schemes.
I know,
Like the water,
I too will eventually
Bump up against the banks.
But today even this
Only serves to sweeten.

What is this that contains us?
And where are its limits?
Blackbirds flash red wing
On a flyover.
A lone frog sings from the reeds
To two chickadees,
Curiouser than me.
I climb onto these sights and sounds —
Ride the ever-expanding outward.
We injured, struggling things
Watch each other
As sirens sound an alarm.
Coyote ducks for cover,
But I can feel his eyes
Weighing the effort against the flesh.
And we each think —
If only we were more —
Before being taken back in
By subtle magics.

The canvas sleeps
Under wary shroud,
But she shows me
Colors collected on a palette.
It would take a great uprising
Into the blue forever
To catch her full intent.
And even though
The mind plays tricks —
We are still just smallish,
Furry things.
Though we are few,
We are still here.
We must settle for these moments —
Postage-stamp snapshots
Of the progressing masterpiece —
And sometimes,
If we are lucky,
We get to belong to it, too.

Shared for Open Link Night over at the dVerse Poets Pub. 

A Plea Against Forgetting

These gifts from the minstrels
Arrive in the night unexpected,
Hat in hand,
Hungry at the door.
And it is mine
To lay the plates —
Honeyed bread,
Wine and whiskey.

I am on my knees again —
Requests accompanied by sweet smoke —
To guard against
What I cannot prevent.
Because this moment —
Light bending in fading sun,
Prism eye —
Defines a something beyond the surface,
Reveals irresistible threads
That bind us three.

Time and memory are capricious,
And I can’t explain
How mere seconds
Can conceal so much innocent pleasure,
Or how this could ever be subject
To the habitual forgetting.
But still,
These prayers are necessary.

Engine growls at a high moon.
We are still stomping out the power
That surged through the blue rooms.
I, silent,
I, hands on wheel,
And worried a little
About the light and noise,
Am taken up and in —
The boys were singing,
And my heart bent,
Then broke in the wind’s weight.

And I would carry
That nest of fragile eggs
Forever if I could.
Please, spare these.
If everything else
Must fade,
Must fall,
Must fail,
Let these remain —
Truer than true —
Memories of the minstrels
To carry me through.