In Dreams of Trains

In dreams of trains

our faces are pressed up against the glass.

Images strung together

through a film reel

of inseparable memory.

In the intervals of freights

passing strings of suppertime light,

we’ll meet by the makeshift fires

like hobos in eternity

on abandoned beaches and under bridges,

amplified by the boxcar musicality

of the past brushing against the present.

Wheels fill the gaps,

the click clack continuity of dreams

becoming the vessels through which trains

connect myriad lives on parallel tracks.

Restless spirits, wayward rambling

to an alarum of shrill yells

that usher in a collision

of chance meetings.

The seared impressions,

through metal and iron,

are the first sparks of insight,

that oncoming light that floods

the narrow rooms of domestication,

a midnight special that breaks the isolation.

We’ll measure the width of impact and expanse

by rails that clear fields and walls,

all the demarcations of a hemmed in life.

The far off grain towers

were the outer reaches

of the imagination

that motion pierces

to separate lives from careful decisions.

Left in the wake of smoke and vagrant coil,

the scent of diesel that evokes travel,

trains were the sudden revision

before all would unravel,

before blackbirds would pick through and scatter

like storm clouds to the periphery,

harbingers of the necessary renewal

that disperses to the four directions

all the stagnant energy.

We’ll gather once again on a tiny sliver of land,

at the end of our youth,

in the mystic continuity of

long shadows and laughter,

in the beach fire’s theater

we become the protagonists

no longer constrained by time.

The ocean waves through the fog,

motioning to the rites of passage

going thousands of miles

if only in consciousness,

towards the far reaches of a folded map

stuffed in the pockets of a weather beaten pack

these disparate lives will always overlap

at the charred edges they’re seared together

in faded photographs

film reels and

windows

Rebirth

In this time of rebirth,

each moment holds

the unbroken cord of illumination.

The simultaneous urge

to fasten words to transformation,

appreciating the night blooming

supple shape of each stream

destined to wander

through a thread of moonlight

that dreams commit

silken to waters

rippling beneath the sylvan leaves

and the animated wind

that heaves through the elders.

It brings the scent of passing showers

tucked into recesses of stone,

this vague and sudden flowering alone

is a dappled light

arrested suddenly,

yet in essence, is forgotten immediately

in the mind that would tarnish perfection

with the rust of future burden,

revealing nothing of the unseen

and subtly binding connection

that comes before a moment’s dissipation.

The Sea Receives

1.

The sea receives

the masquerade of the leaves

the changing glow

of poems in embryo

born on the wind

at season’s end,

the trees are in flames.

Memories remain

the fallen effigies,

reflected on surfaces

Illumination

writes the verses downstream,

where veins and waterways

relieve their light,

filling cracks in the horizon,

like dreams guiding creativity.

2.

At a break in the coral reef

the sea of sound is a symphony,

a chorus of tiny pebbles

being ground into sand.

Calligraphy to the deepest sensitivity

of knowing nothing can withstand

Change.

The passing of time follows the sun.

Various grades of light and expanse,

you cast a line and offer no resistance

to the wind breathing life into the waves

breaking chandeliers,

those crystalized fears

amplified in the solitude

of the beach and the shoreline.

3.

Where the sea meets the sky

there is light and shadow.

A fixed gaze

mixed with sun and spray

plays tricks with the mind,

while the tide calls Aphrodite inside.

Out beyond the break,

my love is buoyant in her own stride,

those moments I agonized

over dreams lost at sea,

of last words and no goodbye.

What has yet to return,

eventually drips back to me.

Weeping behind shades,

tongue tied to eternity,

the waves will answer

in essence what the mind creates

out of turbulence,

how all that has been given

in a moment

can be taken away.

Such is life, love, loss,

scattered between the darkness of thoughts

and the light of letting them go.

The sea receives us

like leaves and tiny pebbles,

the secret source of infinite peaks

as it courses through valleys

in a suspension of belief

that becomes a point of departure.

From the cliff soars an Iwa,

that thief of time,

spreading black wings

it’s shadow and the sea in rhyme

opens a portal.

More spirit than mortal,

we journey to the western shore to find

a leaping stone

where hand in hand over the dark water,

we’ll guide each other into the unknown.

Simultaneous Interaction

To hurry or to hesitate would blemish

the simultaneous interaction of the lines.

The strokes of a steadier hand that paired

the smoother translation of words already written,

soon is burdened with rhyme and corrupted by revision.

Left in an unfinished state, one poised for visitation,

is waiting on a train in a rural place,

where the air is heavy with anticipation.

The scent of burning brush,

the sound of the cicadas before dusk

fades seamlessly into the call of nocturnal tree frogs.

The depot is a clearing amidst the confusion,

in the thickest of swamps, somewhere south

submerged like cypress in black pools of thought.

You’ll fill them with headlights, beaming into the abandon

like a thrust of insight and silence in tandem.

The indecipherable attempts to apprehend

what in essence retreats or withstands being hemmed in.

Peeling back layers of reclamation,

a transformation of what lies within, as opposed to the surroundings,

unraveling congruent lines, convoluted and captive,

from the kudzu vines.

In the places ideas get lost, those intervals between words

that murmur like the cover, where sentences run on tracks

just to end abruptly in nowhere.

You get a perfect picture of that border and wonder

Is this where creativity resides?

Being? Non-being?

Careening through this landscape of collision,

and the shape shifting textures

superimposed on the vision.

Somewhere there’s a clearer picture than mine,

an expression that yields to

the simultaneous interaction of the lines

running unimpeded through the forest

until they’re found in far away outposts of the mind

and in the glimmer of distant tracks.

Blurring Ancient Lines

1.

The nature of these ancient lines

is akin to convergence,

those brackish coastal transitions at the source of the stream.

I see them go down the way the unconscious empties into sleep,

revealing through the overlapping currents of dreams

reflections in a dark pool

a spool for the moon in the muliwai,

like a glimmering fish on the end of a line,

a texture in the undulating sky.

It is sustained through dawn

and her capricious rays

of insight in this variable space

absorbing the heaviest of thoughts

like the shore and the assault of the waves.

2.

Descending grooves at twilight,

the edges of streams yield to the unseen.

Blurring the line between the material and the spirit,

a surfacing replicated on the known,

releasing faces trapped in stone.

On the inverse of trees

the ripples of rain are received

like information from an alternate place.

The energy of a chant transforms water

and through alchemy

gives breath to long dormant entities.

Pulled through the roots to re-emerge

somewhere in the back of the valley,

a fissure in time, the essence of nature.

3.

Ancestral voices speak without water

in the quiet places, the dark haired recesses

accessed by stream beds

like ancient thruways

for the imagination to invent

“What’s back there?”

Pondering from the periphery,

so black there in the distance,

like a portal, an instance of mist

is a meandering medicine on the tips of the ridge.

Pulled by the wind through the fan palms

imprinted in clouds

bloodied by sunsets and tossed

to the landslides of green moss

over primordial rock.

From a certain perspective,

you see that the light writes its history

in petroglyphs and myths on the surfaces.

It reveals the bird man to the blind,

the dog guardian in grail,

the snake that swallows its own tail.

There is the realization that in modern times

the ancient can still prevail,

can still lie here in parallel

in a world disguised by a thin veil

with symbols to decipher the enigma of their presence.

In the Aftermath of Storms

In the aftermath of storms

there is the longing to unravel illusions,

to decipher the necessity of distance,

that invisible enemy between us.

Freed from the confinement of ceilings,

where the heaving chest of the night

was a heavy wind bearing down on the windows

and rooftops like a red phoenix unfurled

in the imagination.

Highlighted by lightning, it undergoes a rebirth.

The needle point of the Hongwanji Temple

was plugged directly into the sky,

harnessing the weather, grounding the energy,

scattering leaves to run marathons

all night through the empty streets.

Nothing bends to the will of nature like the trees.

Shaking free of what is unnecessary,

you’re left with the essence and the spirit.

In the aftermath we can verify

that the riots that leave debris

weren’t merely an aspect of sleep.

Through the kaleidoscope of canopies

we see the sky is no longer in tatters.

Limbs stretched and battered,

still stand rooted to resistance.

All through the storm we cling to our positions,

like A’ama crabs to the black rocks of heavy restrictions.

They’ll insist we go nowhere until the next wave passes.

Gripped and transfixed by satellite images,

those slow moving monsters drawing near to tiny islands.

Dwarfed by the unconscious,

we’ll look to the deep to justify the fear.

In the aftermath everything is eerily quiet.

Real or imagined, the scars on the land are evident,

even the incoherent ramblings

of those who sleep in doorways

have taken their grievances elsewhere.

No cars on the road, though the gas stations never closed,

no stoplights to slow the ride straight through to Chinatown.

Looking among the markets and the overturned fruit,

following the scent of jasmine incense in the pursuit

of something material, something alive.

The once bustling city is now like a fish on ice.

The harbor ships, anchored and tied down.

Silent are the masts above gang planks

where no congregation awaits.

It’s a landscape of closed gates,

a vacant wasteland of boarded shopfronts.

In the aftermath there’s a longing

for the lively din of a cafe.

To sit and eavesdrop

on the espresso pounding words into type,

breathing life into the spaces

dominated by the headlines

if only to defy and cut through the lies between us.

They say the storm just missed us,

minimal damage but there will be another,

there’s always another excuse to shelter

and from each other maintain the distance.

Down by the shoreline the ocean offers no resistance.

Passing its amorphous border

to become absorbed in something larger

than discordant thoughts.

A suspension of will

to an entity no longer paternal,

it never insisted it was protecting.

In the aftermath of being besieged,

it is ironically the sea,

once seen as the source of the calamity,

that now brings a sense of serenity.

The sea exists somehow parallel,

and through the embrace of the elemental

it has the power to transform

in the aftermath of any storm.

Aihualama in Darkness and Light

aihualama light shade

1.

During the day, when darkness gathers in the shade

and waits for the sun to wane

between clefted rock and fan palm shadowplay

spilling like an ink over the forest floor,

there is a filling in the cracks

the way the pen interacts

with light and dark to facilitate the change.

The light that is shapeshifting from view,

tempers the fade with a golden hue,

arresting for what seemed an eternity

in the ebb and flow of the afternoon.

 

2.

In the labyrinth of dim-lit paths and somber corners,

the myth of Kahalaopuna permeates.

From the highest reaches of thought

from ridge lines shaped into a profile,

it spreads over a solemn ramble

between the cathedral rows

of red bark and flickering candle.

The mottled rays

strewn and stained beneath the canopy,

lends an ambient glare

to the incense that hangs in the air

with a hint of Eucalyptus.

The notes of a passing stream

snaking between the variations of quiet.

Light and shadow, sound and echo,

a white-tipped thrush

brushes the dark with sudden communication

fluttering from limb to limb

until the last of its sound

gets lost in the silent film,

muffled in the dense coils of Banyans.

 

3.

When the forest is an internal state,

every step is a thought

every left lends fabric to the dream

of the self that fills the space

between darkness and the birth of words

between rockfall and the scars of collision

between the origin of mystery and the orator’s revision.

A swarth of light brings a reprieve

from the weight of time and entrenched belief.

With the rain a renewal,

as paths switchback towards a view

of a knife’s edge over the void

on which you ascend, as if on a thread,

returning to that of substance again.

 

4.

Myth, from a hidden source in the jagged cliff,

would course through grooves of rock and softened earth.

Like a lifeblood for the roots,

nourishing the pursuit of the past

in cool heights and shimmering pools.

The wind scattered patterns of leaves,

plaited wrinkles on the sylvan streams,

whispering from behind the chaos of the falls

a rhythm in ceaseless shhhhhh,

a gaze in vertical awe

where the light retreats , the waters fall

from the mossy contours, from a stoic face

that will not betray the location of burial caves

nor their processions.

By singing shell and sacred moon,

by torch and by trail,

they’ll pass through Aihualama,

through cottages of the plantation era,

even Tudor mansions

offer no obstruction,

as the past and the present is bridged

by a moment’s reconstruction

luminous in the darkness of time

is the light of memory.

Dawn Emerges

dawn untitled

In the serenity of a mountain morning,

dawn emerges from a darkened robe.

Along the Bron- Yr- Aur borders

and ever changing folds

she tempers the coals

with the cool breath of night,

keeping hillsides from burning

and transforming everything to gold.

 

You are the marriage of opposites,

the light strands sequenced in a braid,

two faces coiling through sleep,

the sun coalesced with the shade.

In the mushroom clouds of this shifting

through the zeitgeist of these times,

you pull a blanket over the fear

that hangs in the air

as sure as the expectancy of a new day.

Your dexterous fingers turn the page,

luminous as a laser

that naturally knows the way

through misshapen clouds.

Through the Tao of sculptural precision,

you reveal the light parts,

the porcelain in night’s revision.

Bear witness to this masterclass in adapting,

the emerging image by degrees.

 

It is true that you dwell there,

though I cannot know you as my pupil.

For you taught me to listen through the distortion,

to see the crystal coursing

through every passing action.

In the crane’s graceful transitions

on the banks of the estuary,

you’re the wings of white light

ascending from the dark of the periphery.

A neck disappearing

with a feather and a ripple,

slender, underwater,

gathering in the edges

of a timeless brook

invigorating with the medicine

of soft murmurs and whispering,

breaking the noxious transmission of

virus and confusion.

 

Dawn is the calm amidst danger

that leaves its imprint everywhere.

A balm over the psychic wounds

we perceive clearer

as she pulls from her pouch a sacred mirror

smooth as an undisturbed lake.

Everything under the sky

now unmasked can dab their face.

Reborn daily, healed through creativity.

If only temporarily, this reprieve

penetrates the anticipation

without force or fist but gently disguised

in mist that asks nothing of the ridge,

all along Wa’ahila she dances.

I watch this from a distance

her entrance, these footprints,

the undisturbed parchment

where the spirit finds nourishment.

Simultaneously quick and deliberate,

she remain undefined,

opening her book of changes

with words written brightly,

then fading on subsequent pages,

always scattered by the wind

towards the horizon

as the day begins in the creases

where the night grows dim.

 

One Word Left in the Fog

wine glass

Standing by the window,

her face pressed into

the primitive shapes that

the night tattooed in frost.

Her breath against the glass obscures the field,

like the emptiness before the first thought revealed

with a finger, one solitary word left in the fog,

Alone.

It is a labor to remember

the last letter

left in an empty box.

The faceless stranger,

her only visitor,

adds to the stack of morning papers

strewn in the hallway, a kind of intermediary

to the threshold she would no longer go beyond.

With a sigh she picks one up.

“This world is no longer mine but I’ll go along.”

The illusion becomes entertainment.

The passage of time, amplified at the end of life.

Like the ancient tree that loosens its leaves,

shaking free of the debris that years have left behind.

Independent? For nothing grew in your shadow.

A defining tenet, now stretched with solitude

and the absence of birds who have yet to return.

There’s an eerie quiet to the canopy these days,

like the aftermath of a storm.

The port is empty, all the boats are pulled in.

There’s barely a soul to witness

the moon stranded in pools of rainwater,

filling empty flower pots.

She could almost smell the wet soil

beneath the disheveled rosebush.

There’s a pale fingernail of light

that clutches the edges of dark liquid.

Seeking a glimmer at the bottom of the glass,

she begins to lose her grip the deeper she goes in.

Dark thoughts swallow down,

dim light on lips,  dawn’s another sip.

The will, like a lifeline,

when you’re drowning one day at a time.

Another slip into the refuge of dreams,

classical music, stained windows and high ceilings.

The angels and their voices singing Ave Maria

by morning have become the chortle of crows,

their mocking accompanies

the graveyard fingers of dead trees

scraping at the screens in the wind.

 

When movement is like a broken machine,

thoughts become mechanical

in the pill swallowing routine bouts of hypochondria.

Looking in the mirror, has her hair grown whiter?

No longer

Appointments,

she cannot go anywhere.

Is Shangri La the solace of distraction?

The statuary silence of friends in picture albums?

The light of a visage upon opening each page

becomes a surrogate visit

within the yellowing of age.

Where mouths do not speak nor expressions change.

Without new memories,

these effigies will pass

one by one

into the darkest corners of the basement,

through a door seldom used and slightly ajar.

She will not go down there anymore

for fear of falling in the dark,

what does she have left to hold onto?

She remains rooted to the kitchen table,

nodding off again.

Her face pressed up close to the empty glass.

Upon waking, she’ll view the room through this prism.

Everything still spinning, the ceiling circular,

closing in to the claustrophobic sensation of being trapped.

She sees her reflection, light is refracted but nothing is raised.

She can only bury her face

and stare plainly at her own mortality.

Through this glass darkly,

full of spirit but no less lonely,

the days lose their bearings in the fog

the ticking wall clock,

the liquid corrosion of

a dripping faucet

amplify the sensation

of time slipping away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dusk, A Farewell

birrd sunnset

At dusk we bid farewell.

Restlessly stirring the days inside sounds,

making deranged concoctions in the clouds.

In subterranean wells, sirens are drowned by rain,

wind is amplified in the brain, sailing through sleepless nights.

Expelled into the horse latitudes of idle hours,

if only they could be painted like brilliant flowers,

a motley of colors to distinguish golden horizons

from the sea at large.

A farewell to your craft, adrift in ideas.

Eyes of red navigation,

the body a black expanse, to submerge, trawling deeply

for the coins of sunken ships and elusive silver fish.

Beneath these surfaces

the mystical coincidences are accumulated in song.

You’ve dreamt underbelly,

words radiating starboard from the hull.

From the bridge a farewell.

A hawk leaves the inlet

with talons clutching the metallic scales of an alewife.

With a glint in the sun, the imprint is seared into memory,

like a piercing cry

we’ll recall later from a different frequency.

The antennae of rooftops witness

many farewells of undetermined suffering,

almost human, the sound of the sun falling.

A bird of unknown origin,

leaving no wake as it plunges into the ocean.

The trajectory of its body, a descending shade,

with each moment the shadow increases

further into the loneliness of De Chirico courtyards.

 

Dusk, a farewell.  The world spinning out of control.

Grinding to dust all the ambition that burned cities bright,

pressed into a daily toll, a number that will always grow.

It was through creativity that we learned of community.

These gatherings are not forgotten,

nor can they be swept into isolated piles

of suspicious eyes with no smiles.

Vulnerable, the tiny flames with no kindling.

Blow on the ends of our hope

before extinguished candles become smoke

and the landscape grows cold with sorrow.

A farewell to plans, time lapsed lives

that no longer strive but are slowed, compartmentalized.

Twilight is no longer spent applauding fireworks.

The future is no longer a bright sparkler

reflected in everyone’s eyes.

The gaze has been averted to a decapitated flower

that appears so much smaller as it sits on the water

before  being taken under.

A farewell, the illusion of distance in beacon light.

A sweeping seascape of change with no compass,

the coming of an age born out of chaos without counsel,

save all those books and albums.

We’ll witness the weight of industry overwhelming humanity.

In shrinking spaces the imbalance is amplified,

navigating the collapse, like one of the damned,

with sanitized hands and covered faces,

peering into a void with no features,

like empty theaters.

It’s a tragic scene, is there any room left for heroism?

A silver lining in defeat?

Intrigue for imagined patrons

watching from empty seats?

Run the credits, words engraved in stone.

Save the last gasp for the projector,

exhausting its last reel of film alone.

 

Dusk, a farewell. Trains departing depots.

Wheels screetch, no one speaks,

voices swallowed in tunnels of what’s to come.

No parting kisses from the distance

or faces stuck to windows

like in old black and white photos,

waving handkerchiefs of goodbye.

The darkening of eyes adjust

to the damp unfamiliarity

we’re meant to breathe in.

Breathe again, the end comes to everything.

Yet, fear of the eventual end

is inherent in the fear that this may never end.

Is there light at the end of this tunnel?

Will the sun rise tomorrow over the ocean?

Will rain fill rivers to maneuver these bends

without our mouths consuming the land?

Without these thoughts can the bird songs

still hold sway in the chaos that canopies them?

Will they find the sky ceilingless,

or a desperate color

in the flutter of wings?

Will they glide on the wind

and the infinite it brings?

Time will tell, for now farewell.