Silence

Silence

Words emerge from the silence
of wood and stone. They break
that silence when they are born.

Silence, once broken, cannot
be repaired. A word once spoken
cannot be recalled.

The greatest gift is to know
how to be alone amidst the crowd,
how to sink into silence.

A world of words smothered
at birth and that world, unborn,
dismissed, forgotten, still-born.

A lost world of words whirled
on the silent wind that fans
the unborn fire within you.

The spider web of the mind
blown clear by the wind
that blows unspoken words.

The sultry silence of wood and stone,
the hush of the tadpole swimming
into its own metamorphosis.

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Silence

Wilderness

Wilderness

This wilderness wasn’t a wilderness
until they arrived and called it ‘wild’.

They constructed roads, ran boats
up and down our rivers,
built bridges, fenced fields,
built stone buildings, desecrated
the curves of the land
with square shapes and right angles,
razor sharp lines that ‘tamed it,’
they said, but we said ‘destroyed it’.

Where now the spring salmon runs?
The dam that put the river in chains
drove all those fish away.

Upstream, down stream,
towards the river and away from it,
the four cardinal points
brought ruin to our sense of direction.

Where now the land’s lost soul,
the ancient paths our people walked?

In place of the circles we built from stone,
the stones that pointed the time of sky,
that tracked the seasons,
and planting time and harvest time,
they gave us clockwork clocks.

Yes, they tamed this wilderness,
but they broke it down and we watched,
helpless, as they stole its soul.

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Wilderness

Loss

Loss

By the time I remembered your name
I had forgotten your face,
and then I couldn’t recall
why I wanted to talk to you
in the first place.

Words and phrases bounce,
water off a duck’s back.
They sparkle like a high tide
rejected by the retriever
as he shakes his coat dry
on emerging from the sea.

This book I read is a word parcel,
a clepsydra of droplets,
a rainbow strung with colored beads,
each scouring a bull’s eye
on the world’s taut literary hide.

Mapa mundi of forgotten lands,
I trace dark landmarks
on the back of scarred hands
and wonder why I have never visited
faraway places with strange-sounding names.

Tourist guide to a failing memory,
I track the trails of drifting ships
as their white sails vanish,
blank butterflies from a distant summer,
floating over a darkening horizon.

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Loss

The Cry

The Cry

I had forgotten the who,
what, when, where, and why.
A t first, I didn’t hear the cry,
despondent, squeaky, like a mouse,
timid until it climbed up higher,
inspired by the grief within.

My own heart, paper thin,
could not confine the sobbing
that assaulted my own stronghold,
the oubliette, where everything
lay hidden, but never forgotten.

A pebble on the pond, the cry
rippled onwards and out,
became a whimper, grew into a shout.
What’s it all about, I asked
and took the cry to task
for rippling my pond’s tranquility.

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The Cry







Reunion


Reunion

So sad, the reunion.
Each year, fewer participants,
faces older, hair whiter
(if there’s any left)
grizzled beards,
hands shaking, not just shaken,
memories lost or at odds
with reality, multiple dreams
turning into nightmares.

So much lost, youth,
energy, confidence, contact,
microscopic minds
turned in on themselves,
cognitive cogs
barely functioning.

What really happened
all those years ago?
Nobody remembers.
Nobody cares.
Nobody really wants to know.

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Reunion


Suit of Lights


Suit of Lights

I am a man of straw
shivered by raw winds,
frosted by the cold
enveloping this enigmatic body,
dry bones set rattling.

I walk with two sticks,
a stick man then,
not just a sick man,
as broken as this broken body,
old sack of out-muscled blood.

When the magic hour
descends, earth glows
with a different light,
and my world is transformed,
translucent, bright.

A touch of the almighty,
this beauty suddenly
surrounding me,
blessing me,
and all my doubts,
with this suit of lights.

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Suit of Lights


Eclipse

Eclipse


Was it a total eclipse,
or just a partial eclipse,
that sky the likes of which
I will never see again?

I do not want to see,
let alone experience,
the mushroom cloud
that descends from the skies,
then swells up again
to embrace them,
leaving my ashen body,
a bleak, black shadow
on a brick wall.

Meanwhile, back in my kitchen,
in the lull before the storm,
I wait and wonder if my world
and all within it
will be eclipsed.

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Eclipse


Speaking

Speaking

I speak to a generation
I cannot see
as others in the past
have spoken to me
in languages I had to learn
words in books
hand-written on paper
or carved in stone

who now will listen with their eyes
as I have listened with mine
adding subtracting challenging
sometimes blindly accepting

my world is not their world
nor is their world mine

yet the sun still rises
the same moon
waxes and wanes

hate happens
yet hope and wisdom
still remain

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Speaking



Hollyhock

Hollyhock

Is it a silken purse
made from the pig’s ear
of its seed pod,
or just a single seed
excreted by
an incontinent bird?

Its bruised
evening-sky hues
stretch their emperor’s
imperial purple all too thin.
In the late summer sun
it swallows one errant bee
in its leviathan mouth.

Sole survivor,
from a score of flowers
that once climbed
the seven foot,
eight foot stalk
to sway in the wind,
it stands on guard
against fall cold
and winter’s snow.

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Hollyhock

Comment: I didn’t like the ending to the earlier version, so, when it came to reading it, I rewrote it first instead. I much prefer this version. Apologies to those who read the earlier words.