The Water Tower 5

The Water Tower 5

Does the left hand know
what the right hand is doing?

Does the pencil know
where the artist’s hand is going?

Does the artist know
the point of arrival
before he even sets out
and takes his first step
on that life-long journey?

Or does he play the music by ear,
the paint by eye,
the pencil and brush
by the deftest of touches
that follow a path set
long ago in the summer stars
and the winter nights
of longing and strife?

Only the artist knows:
and he might not be telling.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Water Tower 5

Geoff Slater – Painter

Roger Moore – Poet

Starless Night

Starless Night

Night without moon, without stars.
Dark sand dropped filling my mouth.
I walked the lonely bed of a dried up river.
When I stumbled in my dream,
my feet left no marks on the sand.  

Colorless was my path
through shadow and shade
where a thousand figures of darkness
danced before me,
hollow their eyes,
their mouths black caverns.
No flesh decked their bones
and no night birds called.

Footless the earth worm
sighed a sibilant song.
Mindless he drew in a net
full of sorrows, silver fish
darkling losing their sparkle.

The dusky shawl of knitted dreams
wrapped itself around my shoulders
and I picked at knots of tangled memory
that bled like fresh wounds.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Starless Night

The Water Tower 2

Geoff Slater (Photos)
Roger Moore (Poems)

The Water Tower 2

Shall we begin at the beginning
at the water tower’s foot
where the itch of dried flaking skin
is unbearable?

The earth worm coiled around the tower
opens his mouth to devour his tail
and the movement of his scales
scours old paint in an effort to remove
all traces of the former painter’s footprints.

Oh, the defiance of wind, rain, snow, ice,
the hot summer sun, and the tower
sweating year after year,
erasing man’s efforts to control
time and space with created beauty.

But now is the time of endless renewal,
the sun’s return to renew
the infinite cycle of death and rebirth.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
The Water Tower 2


The Water Tower 1

Geoff Slater (photos)
Roger Moore (poems)

The Water Tower 1

Where do we begin? At the end,
with the artist’s vision
of where he wants to go?

Or at the beginning,
even though all artists know that
their beginning is in their end
and their end is in their beginning?

Choose: for there is always choice,
a road taken, a road untaken leading
who knows where
and to what unknowable end.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor
The Water Tower 1

Mirror Image

Mirror Image

I am the one who throws his hands up
into the air to join all the clocks that stop
at midnight, when the moon is full, and ghosts
patrol the streets in search of their loved ones.
I am also the one who leaves this place,
and returns to this place, all places being one.

I think I know who I am, but I have my doubts
when I shave. The razor rasps across my chin’s
dry husks and I see the bare bones of eye-sockets
staring back at me from my bathroom mirror.

Three witches dance on the soap dish. One spins
the yarn, the second measures the cloth, while
the third reaches for the razor that will one day sever
my thread, poor earth-bound, time-worn creature
that I am, born only to one day die.

You too must one day see yourself in that mirror,
oh fraudulent reader, my lookalike, my friend.1


1 oh hypocrite lecteur, mon semblable, mon frère – Baudelaire.

Listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Mirror Image

Comment: A whole week since I last posted. Nothing much has happened. I have been writing, revising, and critiquing the work of my friends, but I have posted nothing. I regret the absence, the current lack of commitment. I guess power losses, T-storms, rain and storm watches have something to do with it. Also the current nature of the world – for avoiding reality, in all its forms, including the poetic, is sometimes the easiest path to take.

Bruised

Bruised

The clematis unfolds its flowers: bruised purple on the porch. Beneath the black and white hammers of ivory keys, old wounds crack open. A flight of feathered notes: this dead heart sacrificed on the lawn. I wash fresh stains from my fingers with the garden hose. The evening stretches out a shadow hand to squeeze my heart like an orange in its skin. Somewhere, the white throat sparrow trills its guillotine of vertical notes. I flap my hands in the air and they float like butterflies, amputated in sunlight’s net. The light fails fast. I hold up shorn stumps of flowers for the night wind to heal and a chickadee chants an afterlife built of spring branches.

Pressed between the pages of my waking dreams: a lingering scent; the death of last year’s delphiniums; the tall tree toppled in the yard; a crab apple flower; a shard of grass as sharp as glass, as brittle as a bitter, furred tongue at winter’s end.

I know for certain that a dog fox hunts for my heart. Vicious as a vixen, the dog fox digs deep at midnight, unearthing the dried peas I shifted from bowl to bowl to count the hours as I lay sick in bed. I sense a whimper at the window, the scratch of a paw. I watch a dead leaf settle down in a broken corner and it fills me with sudden silence. Midnight stretches out a long, thin hand and clasps dream-treasures in its tight-clenched fist.

The lone dove of my heart flaps in its trap of barren bone and my world is as small as a pea in a shrunken pod. Or is it a dried and blackened walnut in its wrinkled shell of overheating air? Sunset, last night, was a star-shell failing to fire. Swallows flew their evensong higher and higher, striving for that one last breath lapped from the dying lisp of day. Its last blush rode red on the clouds for no more than a second’s lustrous afterglow.

I lower defunct delphiniums, body after body, into their shallow graves. Night’s shadows weave illusions from earth’s old bones. Rock becomes putty, malleable in the  moonlight. Midnight readjusts her nocturnal robes and pulls bright stars from a top hat of darkness. Winged insects with human faces dance step by step with circling planets and clutter the owl’s path. Night swallows the swallows and creates more stars. The thin moon hones its cutting edge into an ice-cold blade.

Click here to listen to Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Bruised

Poema de Amor

Poema de Amor / Love Poem
Complete version

Mitla is a sacred burial place in the Oaxaca Valley. The caves in the hills above the town are said to lead directly to an underworld from which demons and devils emerge at night and by means of which humans can communicate with the souls of the dead. Mitla, in fact, is often called the city of the dead. Legend has it that if you embrace  a certain magic column in the Palace at Mitla, the time left for you to live can be measured by the distance between your fingers as they reach round the pillar and almost touch. The pillar, they say, grows and shrinks according to the length of the seeker’s life. Petrus,  a rock, in Latin, evolves into piedra, a rock or stone in Spanish: upon this rock will I build my church.

1
We walk on tiptoe round the garden
peeling free the sunlight cloud by cloud

sometimes the heart is a sacrifice of feathers
bound with blood to an ornate altar

petrus
this rock cold against my chest
piedra
centuries of glyphs alive in your face

if our arms meet round these all too human columns
what will become of us?

2
beneath your skin the woad lies as blue as this evening sky
yellow light bends low in the fields below us
each darkened pool a warrior fallen beneath the scythe

the moon paints a delicate circle
its great round open eye stands out
above the rooftops
tonight it bears an eye lid carved from  cloud

our teeth are diadems of whiteness
we tie shadows to our heels
and dance in triumph through street and square

3
daylight bends itself round rock and turns into shadow
we flourish in blocks of fire

dreaming new selves from roots and branches
we clasp each resurrection with greedy fingers
will the moon rise again tonight and will we watch?

dark angel bodies with butterfly wings
our shadows have eloped together

we can see them sitting side by side
bumping knees at a table in the zócalo

4
church bells gild the barrio‘s rooftops
our fingers reach to the skies and hold back light
we draw shadow blinds to shut out the day
night fills us with stars and silhouettes

we dream ourselves together in a silent movie
closed flesh woven from cobwebs
lies open to a tongue-slash of madness

the neighbor’s dog wakes up on the azotea
he barks bright colors as dawn declares day
and windows and balconies welcome the sun

can anyone see the dew-fresh flowers
growing from our tangled limbs?

your fingers sew a padlock on my lips
“Listen to the crackle of the rising sun!”

Click on this link to hear Roger reading on Anchor.
Poema de Amor

House of Dreams

House of Dreams

1

The clematis unfolds

bruised purple on the porch.

Jazz piano:

beneath the black

and white hammers

of ivory keys,

old wounds crack open.

A flight of feathered notes:

this dead heart

sacrificed on the lawn.

I wash fresh stains

from my fingers

with the garden hose.

2

The evening stretches out

a shadow hand.

I feel my heart

squeezed like an orange

by long, dark fingers.

Somewhere,

the whitethroat

trills its guillotine

of vertical notes.

I flap my hands in the air.

They float there,

white butterflies,

amputated

in sunlight’s

net.

3

The light fails

fast, I hold up

shorn stumps

of flowers

for the night

wind to heal.

The pale magnolia

bleeds into summer:

white petals

melting on the lawn

like snow.

Sparrow sings

an afterlife

built of spring

branches.

4

Pressed between

the pages of my dream:

a lingering scent;

the death of last

year’s delphiniums;

the tall tree

toppled in the yard;

a crab apple flower;

a shard of grass

as brittle

as a bitter tongue

at winter’s

end.

5

A leaf lies down

in a broken

corner

and fills me

with a sudden silence.

I revise

our scrimshaw history

carving fresh tales

in the ivory

of new found bones.

6

A vixen

hunts for my heart.

She digs deep

at midnight

unearthing

the dry teeth

you buried

from my borrowed

head.

Click here to hear Roger read this poem on Anchor.
House of Dreams

Fearful Friday

Fearful Friday

“I met a traveler from an antique land
who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
and wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
tell that its sculptor well those passions read
which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
the hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
the lone and level sands stretch far away.”
[Percy Bysshe Shelley]

Comment: Not my poem – I only wish it was – but certainly it expresses some of my sentiments at the current time. What on earth is happening? Who do we think we are? What do we think we’re doing? Where do we think we are going? ‘Vanity of vanities – all is vanity.’

Vis brevis. Ars longa.

Click here for Roger’s reading of Shelley’s poem.
Fearful Friday – Ozymandias – on Acorn

Ghosts

Ghosts

Who are they, these ghosts
who flit into our lives
and leave us foundering
in treacherous waters
as we search for
enlightenment and meaning?

Why do they return,
revenants, to disturb
our peace and quiet,
and to trouble our sleep.

Who are they?
So deep, so distant,
we no longer know them.
Memory’s fish-hook
cannot snag them,
cannot haul them
back into daylight reality
far from night’s net
of silvery dreams.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Ghosts

Comment: I read the poem out loud, copied it to Anchor and Spotify, then found I didn’t like the way it sounded. So, I rewrote it. That accounts for the difference between the sound recording and the revised written text. Fun and games.