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…

What Do You See in Me?

“What do you see in me?”

You really care.

“Not just my eyes and my figure and hair?”

All of those things are as fleeting as snow.

“So what do you see in me?”

I think you know.

I see the way that you watch

when you think

I am not looking and having a drink.

I see the way that you smile at my faults,

but not at my failings; my wounds get no salt.

I see the way you receive me at night.

Even in anger, you make it alright.

I see the way that you smile at the sun,

holding my hand as we laugh, walk, and run.

I see the way that you cry in the rain,

holding me tight as you’re sharing your pain.

I see the life in you thriving inside,

happy to have him along for the ride.

I see the way that

your heart beats for me.

What do I see in you?

All there could be.

 

Dancer 2

The timelessness of mutual expressions

meet on a city street.

Music inspired the dance inspired the music…

turning in a soulful waltz,

ever intertwined.

Across generations,

across genres,

across skin,

into the soul

they fuse,

and mate,

and make children called

Beautifully,

Artistic,  Virtuosity.

She dances across the notes,

He floats when she leaps,

and the electric connection

has its way with them both,

until it is sated,

and they part,

forever together

as the reverb of melody,

of improvised, wind -borne brass,

and the whispering tap-click- scrape

of slippered steps

fade in echoes,

walking together

across the waking avenues

they both call

home.

 

These Long, Slow, Lovely Sunsets

These long, slow, lovely sunsets

are bittersweet to see.

They mark the passing of time,

the ending of things once held dear,

the seasons,

the deceptively rapid maturing

of children,

as the present day

is stamped by the last rays

into the book of the past.

I watch, and grieve, and rejoice,

and wonder how many more

I have.

But I will also

treasure those

I’ve been blessed to see,

and remember,

knowing that at least

the long, slow, lovely sunsets

will never outshine

the love we leave behind,

when our own light,

now extinguished,

is rekindled

in another place,

to rise anew,

and start again.

 

Words Like Water

Words

gather, build up, swell, and rise

to spill from the mind,

flow through the fingers,

and spill out of  pens, pencils, and keyboards

caught up in currents

of concentration

and creativity.

Words,

free falling in a

joyous cascade of

imagination,

wild and swift as

horses thundering past.

 

Words,

smooth and silent

as owl wings

cleaving

the cold midnight air,

hunting for

just the right one,

plump with meaning,

searching with

keen bright eyes

full of

otherworldly intellect.

 

Words

channeled like water,

fleeting as an eddy,

powerful as tides,

flowing, rushed, and moving

at the

glorious sunrise,

rippling, dappled, and calm

in the

bittersweet sunset.

 

Words

for seeds of fading hope,

and fragile sprouts of love,

sown

in random rows

of longing need,

are poured down

from the poet’s well,

and for a moment

thirst no more,

and grow

a little stronger.

Heart of Steel, Soul of Stone

The heart of the city

is made of steel.

Its soul is made of stone.

It gives no mercy, and has no pity.

It eats the unprotected innocent and spits out

runaways, junkies, whores, and thieves.

It gleams like a glass eye, but like a glass eye,

doesn’t see the harm it causes.

Some write upon its heart to make their presence known,

their absence felt.

The city makes it a crime, and begins its slow erosion

of the anguish of your screaming soul.

It will not remember your name.

It will not care.

It may pay you in cash,

or redeem you in blood.

The choice is yours,

but not really.

 

*Photo by Loes ten Den at Unsplash

Be True

She is leaving now, but perhaps not forever.

Her desire was for better,

but nothing improved.

Life itself eluded her, and the wrong things

occupied her time and body.

There was no longer

anything or anyone

to keep her bound,

and in the incorporeal realm

of her wishes,

not a one came true.

She was not true to herself,

and she would make that right.

It would be today.

It would be right now.

But maybe, just maybe,

not forever.

Land of Dreams, Sea of Reality

It is here where The Land of Dreams blends in with the Sea of Reality.

I scoop the earth-blackened waters of its banks, only to see it slip through my fingers.

In the distance of my fantasy worlds,

Castles crumble.

Palaces burn.

and things that aren’t pretentious about

their brutality

break the spine of humanity

over their knees.

 

The crack of shattered, severed bone sounds like an

exclamation mark on the period of life.

 

No escape.

See? The gift abandons you, as a

faithless priest

his calling.

The candles in the temple are extinguished,

And canticles and prayers rise in supplication,

Only to get trapped in the webs and rooks of

defiled, unholy rubble, and desecrating doubt.

 

The hand trembles with pain,

wrinkles with age.

 

The fight is all-encompassing now,

and strength is leeching, leaking, leaving…

 

The Sea of Reality has the remnants of

wasted time, missed chances, lost loves

in your wake,

even as mines of potential and buoys of pleasure

come into view.

 

The sun perpetually sets on the horizon.

Fog will coat the water’s surface,

and the stars change position and darken

as you navigate.

 

The rudder of the pen skips,

The oar of the pencil splinters and cracks

even as it shrinks.

The laptop lighthouse can no longer illuminate

the safe harbor of your hopes.

 

Mortality and eternity mix and war,

the storm clouds full of nightmares realized,

the cirrus clouds of curried wisps of daydreams

fading to mist in the mind’s ever-changing weather.

 

A dark and silent bay awaits,

with no guiding stars,

no turning of the hourglass,

no sailing with the tide.

 

So then, captain, it comes to this:

Do you run aground, leaping safely to shore?

Do you founder and break on the coral and stone,

clinging to what remains?

Do you let go of the wheel of your life,

drifting into nothingness?

 

Or do you smooth out one last piece of parchment

like a billowing sail,

and once more

take up the stout and stubby oar

for the last voyage?

 

Poetess in the Park

I stopped because she was absolutely riveting.

She actually wore a beret, had fully bought in to the whole scene.

Everything came together as I watched her perform,

as I watched her play the crowd.

I wanted her to hesitate when she looked at me, to stumble over her words, and come to a stop.

But she didn’t.

I understood: The poem was all to her, everything to her.

But to me,

she was the poem,

the art of something so out of the ordinary

it could never fit in.

I wanted to be that vibrant to someone,

for someone to know me so well they’d anticipate

what I’d improvise.

I wished she was my all and everything.

But I never asked her name.