Friday’s Poem: Light Reveals

What have you heard?

That the gift of light fades at end of sunset?

That it recedes in metered rush

from sea and prairies, mountains, piney spires;

across the smudge of dazed cities

or the huddle of villages bent inward?

It is alive, the light, and shows off truth.

It stretches, seeps, spreads thin–

but does not fade like a frayed blue skirt

or dimming eyesight of an old woman.

No, it laps at my bare feet, scrolls across daunting skies.

It plies swamp, desert hollow, drifting ice with its glory,

then eases up with barest strokes,

each a bright exhalation upon earth. A sweetening of light.

I was struck dumb by light as a child

while hidden in the maple, gazing inward,

skating over frozen water, rising from muddy lakes:

there, see that light casting itself,

holding all close and letting go, floating

as if made of feathers, as if whispering powerful secrets.

I wanted to be opened, remade by this.

To be on intimate terms with sun and lightning,

stars and moon. More. And since it is easy

to surrender to beauty, so have I been.

I find it. Or it finds me. Us.

What do you believe? That it leaves us?

Light does not vanish, it pauses then arcs,

saturates what we cannot see; ruffles the soul,

agitates this veil of skin as it leads us into

more shifting and shining in those hard places

we lay our heads, plant our feet, keep on.

This house of magic is where we weep and rejoice.

Where life ignites, scatters, glimmers, alters,

its prismatic colors a vision that turns

inside out notions of every single thing.

Light can then transfuse the heart, these

veins and arteries all lit up like pathways

to a surprise party where love awaits.

Friday’s Poem on Saturday: Poetica, Again

Sometimes there is no poem within reach.

You look for bounty and see dust;

despite splashes of color and light

there surfaces a rock hard notion

that the billions of places where people rise up

and lie down meet each bone and spirit

with denial and pain, prayers as ash on the tongue.

Leftover dreams are torn into dark ribbons,

and time is not a deep enough well to bury regret.

One cannot wear dark ribbons a whole life;

one cannot have bones that cry out

and a spirit that goes mute forever.

Wells overflow, time is curtailed–then what?

It is so much to ask.

So it is that a vagabond poem pauses

in its evolutions and locates

a heap of sorrows and it roots around,

finds a fissure, the loose seam,

an unlocked trap door

and makes itself at home.

It opens curtains and windows

so the sky can parade its splendor

and birds dive in and slip out trilling.

It shuffles debris and braids

a quilt of discarded pieces

as if they were shining silk or clean wool

and then carries its bulk to a resting spot. Lays it out.

The poem knows ways to make a hollow habitable

for the soul rubbed down to almost nothing,

and apply balm to a voice abraded by life’s grime.

Such souls lean on the back doorstep until

a small radiance of invisible words

flares, and poetica in motu welcomes in

the worn one so doom is chased off,

the quilt of stitched dreams tucked about it just so.

As with any rescue, this poem has work to do.

Because a poem is a miracle maker,

even when simple minded,

even if barely noted and put on a shelf,

forgotten in another dawn.

It will stay on, anyway, and

if no longer needed and tossed out,

it will again find a lost one or old traveler,

the terrified or bravado-driven,

the besotted or unloved.

The dust, it seems, is more than dust,

and poetry rises from what is left over,

often mistaken for little of note.

Friday’s Poem: When it Comes to This

When it comes to this-

dark diamonds of grief glinting

in the melee of the world–

there is little left to say.

So I take my self north to more land,

and listen for its secrets.

Well of sky opens, a depth of blue

that can drown or nourish.

Earth lays its rough-edged silk

to the wound that bleeds inward.

The pond releases frog-moss-leaf breath as

heron’s wings disperse a mist of light,

glimmering blue that turns sorrow

into an iridescence.

And I come to the tree that spreads its beauty

about birds, insects, old, old dirt.

Four hundred years here, a white oak.

A giant broken, bent and lustrous,

anchored still for what may come.

She offers branches, knows the hollows I inhabit.

I sit in the sunshine waiting for God.

Her majesty sings a rhythmic hum

and the universe echoes:

tap and release, crack and spill,

sigh, shudder and bow.

I lean against her creaking strength

as even children do, bereft of nothing.

I lean into

what is left

when it comes down

to only this.

I sit in the sun with God.

Friday’s Poem on Saturday: Life Undone

It’s life within a life of life cycles,

an identity of layers like nesting dolls

not always expertly fitted,

a change from this day to night to next.

It’s being on the job always, feet swollen,

pressing their ache against the floor,

eyes lit with congeniality, banish any pain with

that long-trained endurance,

and easy tolerance meant to welcome.

At home, time to mother-father,

kids whipped up with more need of love,

cat and dog taking turns begging,

all the dishes empty, then fuller, then empty.

When the home is still and the worker

leans into weariness, a bottle comes out.

Or maybe a lone soul is in search of more,

or less, so a corner stop, and the way

back home is easier.

The bottle of brilliance, glass brimming amber gold,

a luxury and necessity, dreamy, devastating.

That drug that frees, a harsh magic.

Cat and dog watch, eyes pretending sleep,

wary, bored, puzzled. The way drink lights up

a human, pills a dessert, powder sifted in…how this

softens then creases a face and a self into parts

like a map, pleasure to oblivion to dangerous lands

all in the span of unfolding.

They sleep, fitful.

They all slip under a deep sky that harbors

music strange and known,

and elegant branches capture stars

then part to release them to velvet belly of night,

and the beginnings of dawn just a shiver,

a pointed call in the distance,

as if calling to a beloved softly, urgently.

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

(So strangely, as I was writing the last lines last night, we got a terrible call.

I could not have known in the usual way. .So I am not revising again.

A granddaughter has died too young and hard. So I leave the poem as I wrote it.

I may not be writing next week. Though writing often saves me.

Grief cannot be spoken in this language today. Hold close those you love.)

Friday’s Poem: Spring Visitation

The magnolia stirs you with fantastical flowers

and just like that some loose part of you

scurries off and becomes a child, wanders under

rustling green canopies, blossoms fluttering

atop your shoulders like scented butterflies.

Then there is a building, a stand-in for a homely castle.

It beckons you, so you pause.

The oval of stones is formidable; the steps

are welcoming, and when a man

who was sitting and in his own reverie leaves,

you approach, eyes half-blind in sun’s shine.

It is not the castle of a childhood domain

made of birches, nor a garden of serpentine paths

and a scarlet bridge across a lotus pond. Nor even

the backyard with pines and the Kwanzan cherry tree

dazzling with fat, fluffy blossoms that decreed winter over, done.

It is not like stone churches where you

were given to shivers of visions as music soared.

But this sturdy oval means more than its simple parts,

a resting place for, say, an explorer-empress

with attendant froggy friend, a chorus. The gathered

trees are nodding with beauty, and living breezes

skimming grass, leaves, water, skin.

She–the child you were or wanted to be–

reaches the threshold, turns to smile,

slippers on feet glistening lilac and gold

as she steps up. And vanishes.

It is a tear in the veil of time.

A chimera you cannot see long.

A reminder that recalls all the innocence

that sings in the small vessel of a child.

The moment is a kind hand hovering

over your head like a benediction from afar,

and you hold it close and move on.