Beneath a Starless Sky

Beneath a starless sky they sail.

The black waves sing a song.

They serenade the ebon sky,

their voices loud and strong.

The ship of seasoned sailors

chose to brave them all the same.

Beneath a starless sky they sailed

for fickle fortune’s fame.

The waning crescent moon no help

to navigate the sea.

It watched the skimming bow cut kelp

and rose indifferently.

The sailors didn’t count the cost,

and so they paid the price.

The black waves and the crescent moon

had caught them in a vise.

The ship went down,

the sailors drowned.

The town folk whisper why.

The crescent moon,

celestial scythe,

will cull your soul

to die.

The Words We Leave Behind

No more impassioned pleas of poetry

to pour into the ears of poisoned people.

Fattened snakes, they peer through narrow slits

for more morsels than they can consume.

They can’t hear their vomit splatter on

the opulence they claim to own,

luxuriating in their greed

though they rot the same as street urchins.

The clashing of cultures and colors

consume the country.

The passion of misguided zealots

wars with

the passion of misguided fools,

though they have

more in common than not.

The poets read to rooms bereft of thought and innocence.

The writer’s craft crashes,

crushed by corporate creeds of false benevolence,

revealing itself a malevolent presence sitting on

the writer’s hand.

We are blind to the irony of a gated community,

and when there’s no one left to bear the blame,

we will hurl each other out to be first in a

wasteland of liberty.

Our words will be the legacy of our spirit’s journey.

The words we leave behind will be the journals

of our departed souls.

For now, for better, for worse,

for a future we won’t see,

we write in the darkness,

ever moving toward the light.

Ethereal Thread

All that holds me

to this earth,

bound and abandoned,

are hope, dreams, and love.

A threefold cord, they’ve told me,

is not easily broken.

Nor should it be,

but the struggle

unravels

the way we’d like this

to end.

Clinging to life

by ethereal thread,

I hope it holds my dreams,

and love not sever it.

Wilting

The force behind the hand grows tired.

The field where words roared and played

is barren of life,

full of bare trees, hard soil, muddy snow,

lost time, and regret.

I own the irretrievable

and the unacceptable.

My idle hands have doomed

my legacy to obscurity.

I tell myself

I do not care,

and wonder why

I’m weeping.

Gaps

Gaps and false starts,

dying dreams,

fading hopes.

They tell you it is never too late

but time lays waste to the body

and heaven burdens

the spirit of man

with a choice.

But men have their own minds,

follow their own hearts.

Sometimes good comes out of it,

but mostly nothing remains

save the charred and smoking corpses

of love, hope, and plans.

Shrine

With shades of orange and pink, the rising sun smoothed the jagged edges of the snowcapped moutains, rendering them deceitfully gentle for a time.
Topping his final rise, the bedraggled soldier Olnan saw the shrine in front of him, not too far away now. Taking time to rest, breathing deep of the fresh, chilled air, he took a moment to admire its beauty.
As he admired it, a memory came unbidden, but not unwelcome.
************
His father was holding his hand. He seemed happy enough, but his breathing was labored at this high altitude.
“Are you well, father?”
He smiled at the note of adult concern in his son’s voice. “Yes, Olnan. I’m fine. We’re here now. All is well.”
“Do you want me to go in with you?” He was curious to see the inside of an actual shrine.
“Of course I do. It’s time for you to learn the rituals I perform that honor the ancestors.”
“Like …. ” Olnan took a moment to figure it out. “… your grandfather?”
His father laughed with pride. “Yes, Olnan! Well done! Yes, like my grandfather, but also those who came before him. We owe them a great debt we can’t repay. They went through many things to settle us here, and faced hard times.”
Olnan beamed at the praise.
His father lapsed into silence, but didn’t move. Olnan knew when that happened that he was supposed to wait; Father was remembering something unpleasant. When he spoke again, his voice was husky with emotion.
“But they didn’t give up.”  He looked down at Olnan. “Let’s go, son.”
Still holding Olnan’s hand, they entered the shrine.

*****************

Olnan felt warmed by the memory, and sadness at the empty space beside him now hit him unexpectedly hard. He took another moment to gather himself.
And now, my father has become an ancestor, and I’m not yet a father myself.
He took the offering pack that held the ritual’s needs off his back and held it instead.
It seemed even now that he could see his father there at the door, motioning for him to come inside.
Taking a deep breath, he walked toward the shrine, smiling through his tears.

   One day, my children…