The Clouds Hold the Past

clouds mountains

1.

From a hidden source

somewhere in the mountains

clouds burst forth

as if fed with fire.

A series of slow glowing embers,

supple the clay mutations

that render fully formed figures

connected by luminous wire

and hung from a window’s edge

unveiled in transparent attire

that catches the light

before it strikes the abyss

and is undressed there forever.

2.

The artist conveys the unconscious

visibly in the sky’s mirror

shifting imprints on a wet sidewalk

where dreams stalk the waking

and interpretation is ever-changing

on an ink blot palette.

When a mouth of cloud gapes

to consume the half moon,

there will be one fibrous fingernail

scratching against the darkness,

a sharp talon piercing the mass

while light escapes through the cracks.

Nothing is static nor remains for long

on this borderless screen,

tragic scenes from the past

are replayed on this landscape of glass,

coils of inner state recreate the loop

and you’re held in thrall

while contorted images crawl past,

even here sorrow can find you.

3.

Sifting between the wavering bristles of Cook pine

casting shadows on the rock wall’s sacred design.

Curiosity steals a glance

until pursued through the cloud’s expanse,

seeking refuge, a silky balm

to move across the calm dimensions

and into the waiting arms of the sea.

Disappearing into India ink

like memories set to sink into insignificance,

those fleeting moments disintegrate

into roseate plates

that were the scales of some exquisite snake,

shaking free from the coils,

the clouds now steady

floating feathers in an offering of serenity,

a balancing act over the buoyant sea,

an older me, isolated yet integrated,

our history is one in the same.

One more Ripple in the Rendering

old pali road 051

In scratching the surface suggestion

seeking out a picture,

a glimmering impression of what has passed.

Through the dirt, rumor and broken glass,

the shards of a half-formed story

could be grasped and pieced together

until momentum would collapse the edges

into jagged gaps that

set streams to bleed over wrists in motion.

There’s always a diversion to twist the truth,

new evidence to lift, to unburden the proof.

There’s the sneaking suspicion

that no more is known now than when first ushered in

to the forbidden forest of what is lost.

In scratching the scars over the memory’s repression

the traumatic depression

of rock fall or article,

the writing on the wall

that is a faded scrawl

in the downward spiral towards oblivion.

To comprehend the texture of this revision

requires one’s own muddied thoughts

to be tracked through here again and again.

Confronting the silence between lines,

between the tied up chimes

and pictures in a collective mind.

There’s a conscious untying of the strings

to hear the wind sing

like birds above the oppressive ceiling of forgetting.

The claustrophobic wringing of this fine thread

leads to a dead end

where dried up palms

sound like snake rattles disturbing the calm

of surface waters with phantom paddles.

The cacophony of singing shells

in the shadow of the Pali dwells

from cool heights where they fell

to twist and unravel over a concrete

that knows neither streetlight nor renewal,

only decay in the memory of its evil,

imprinted like tire tracks,

degraded in overgrown cul de sacs.

Imagining the outlines

while the jungle assigns a new border,

a derelict gate to mark the edge of this haunted quarter

where everything unfolds in the fog of half-truths and disorder.

Bit by bit, each detail is fed to the collective fire,

like reams in a typewriter,

the legend has been tapped into the consciousness of the whole.

The rain comes in sheets

to prompt this release,

to dab at the wounds and proceed

even gently

past the banyan sentry

who seems to guard access to the heart of this mystery,

that secret source that will inspire

one more ripple in the rendering

of a story that knows neither beginning nor ending.

Endless yet Incomplete

IMG_5413-Smoky-Sunset
The spirit dreams itself through the land
to stand now gazing
through reflecting pools
at the myriad features
like masks on the wall
in this theater of skin.
Scenes to glow from within
like diamonds in an abyss
appearing endless yet incomplete.

Into purple rest
the sun now retreats over the ridge
kicking up cinders, shooting out prisms
until its first incision
will give life again to these sleepy limbs.
As day breaks the shadowplay,
Aurora will peel away
a ripple in the wave
revealing a wrinkle in the renewal
of birdsong that breaks the barrier
between beginnings and endings
the time babies are born
and elders pass away.

Some live on this edge,
balancing their tragedy every day.
Unable to feel deeply
the empathy between strangers,
the frightening familiarity
in a fear of ending up lonely.
This illusion appears to be
the last mist to lift
from the rift that keeps us separated
by the towering upheaval
that leaves us sifting
through the rubble of the bliss
we once knew had no division.

Aloof Muse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
They’ll fall on her tracks
with a trailing motion,
a multitude of mice
with a towering devotion
following her invitation
a text, the perfect prescription
to bandage the need for attention.
What did you expect from addiction?
What did you reflect in this room full of mirrors?
Fractured clones
lost in the fog of her gaze,
that vacuous place
of depthless perception.
The game she plays is staged
her costumes change
and yet there is this appeal
to empty form and pretense
which reveal her brilliance
to be the absence of light.
Your endless spins
on this black circle
has yielded to a willingness
to be another needy lapdog
anxious for her entrance
gazing into that darkness
with subway expectancy
waiting underground
for this aloof and impersonal vessel
to enter your unsteady station
and lead you away from yourself.

Female Figure by Cathy Connor

Tsunami, what may have been

gpw-20050103l-NOAA-theb2705
In light of imagining what may have been,
tsunami anxiety reveals a place to be more water than land,
flimsy and wafer thin
mole hill made into a mountain,
we may elevate but are we ever truly safe?
Our precious lives on thin strings,
lines of parked cars unraveling like beads
into a sea that comes to strip all to necessity.
It recedes in whitewash,
building on the horizon like a layer of static,
a distant transmission becomes a warning,
a gargantuan trick of the eye
and you have to look twice,
lulled by disbelief,
nature’s brief revelation to the damned.
It now doubles forward
with the force of a cataclysm.
The sound of sirens and countless alarms
scatters the mob at shoreline charmed,
freezing the clocks,
when reasoning stops, there is only survival.

Before the buildings and bridges fell,
doomsayers would yell out
“Get to higher ground!”
Animals growing restless in their cages
bird silence punctuates the ages
between the impending pause
and the tightening claws
that clamp down and than recede,
baiting the breadth of the sea
to come forward again, but so quickly!

If there was something you could grab hold of
when that muddy bullforce of machine debris
and blood topples all in its path,
sweeping the land free in one gasp,
it laps at the foot of fallen mountains
before returning again
over the scene of the crime so to speak,
that no man’s land
that leaves only street signs like bent bristles,
telephone poles and lines
crucified and adrift against concrete barges,
the swirling wood of toppled garages
merging into one mangled shape.
Who escapes that hulking mass
of steel and glass city
folding in on itself like a fault line rift?
Everything slips into that darkening plain,
each interval more acute,
the leveling destruction, the degree of pain
and in the eternity of time it takes between waves,
what remains is the realization,
that it has just begun.

Bloated bodies bob up
to float spread eagle
like horrible rafts
through the gutted aftermath,
tied in tourniquets of earth,
channeled like a capillary burst,
inside to out, everything is reversed
and when that terrible day wanes
and the ugly liquid drains
what you’ll see resembles massacres on a battle plain
and like the smoldering of trash-heaped dumps
on the edges of humanity,
people will come to comb the debris for loved ones,
to pull a familiar face
from the disfigured disappearing act,
the double feature of disaster and aftermath
merging in an amorphous mass.
making a mockery of innocence, exposing our helplessness,
we felt it quiver
those comfortable strings that hold it together,
revealed as so flimsy
in the light of this tragedy,
how in an instant it can all be ripped away,
swallowed by the crack that reveals this reality
was underneath it all along.

New Years in Manoa

Oahu_Honoulu_EastManoaRoad_3430_photo_byIanClagstone
Twilight reached the Chinese cemetery
simultaneously, a dilapidated bicycle.
The sky set in its crooked frame
the uneven lines of the tombs
and the mountainous backdrop
that looms over everything.
The air smelled of rain and firecracker smoke
hanging like an incense
under a cathedral ceiling,
it was New Years evening
an outside the solemnity of its dark aisles
there was a warzone erupting
against the darkening files
of clouds moving in.
See shapes lighting celebratory sparkles,
as children look on,
faces lit up with laughter,
clapping in rapt excitement
with each explosion,
frozen in the surreal glow of a sudden flare
along the thick rows of hedges,
a snare of light caught in a vault of trees.
It takes its place along the base of a giant Banyan,
limbs in half-light
at the height of the knoll
hollowed out from the emperor’s tomb,
a hallowed room at the very pulse of the valley.
Cradled by the ridges,
energy twitches in clear passages to the sea.

There’s a story to this tree,
this restless portal
with its ominous history,
harboring curses to its charred bark
like a crematory chamber
for the fatal spark
of one who would set himself alight,
gnarled springboard for a streak in the night
which speaks of fireballs
or some such scrawl of mystery,
it is still written there to this day,
fascinating, though it pains me to consider
the blackened ends of this tragedy.

Opting for exit
a prayer passes the lips,
the twisted grimace of a lion’s head,
said to ward off evil.
Passing for wind,
chasing it down valley
rustling the chimes and the neighborhood blinds
blowing clouds out to sea,
only to return again
to take a temporary seat
amongst the jasmine,
to repeat a litany of thoughts,
under a canopy, some sought
refuge from the neon city,
that altar of isolation and stupidity,
the past, the present,
a place to put our drunken offerings
and weave away unrepentant.
Seeking a parallel place
of solitude and clear air,
a place outside the clamoring warfare
of voices caught in a helpless vortex.
A refuge, walled in
content to resist
the endless cycles that come without awareness,
within the circle, another revolution is reached by consensus,
on rickety wheels a new year emerges
from the hallowed vale of Manoa.

Maneuverings

2 Night marchersharry cundell

A channeling of energy
wind reduced to a simple maneuvering
stream over stone
murmuring
mist over peaks
how the spirit leaks into consciousness
a lush canopied recess
senses drunk on a chorus of Thrush
temporal glimpses of light
festooned on the branches
luminescent
beneath the surface thread
a dream flickering
while art is fed through
this transparent spool
filling the vacancy
all that is required of synchronicity
to fit the edges into a discernible pattern.

Beyond haphazard vanity
there is something outside of me
maneuvering switchbacks
steeped in obscurity
sweat on the brow searching for this purity
but thirsty
creatively empty
a written rehearsal
an elegy
for a muse
hot on the heels
of her truancy
a runaway wandering
leaves me wondering
will our highways connect?
Will they reflect in glacial lakes?
On the road to the sun
these continents divide
while memories reside
like skid marks
on a scarred blacktop.

By boot or by car
passing scenes chart the uncertainty.
Akin to being adrift on a choppy sea
a bobbing figure drawn overboard
barely buoyant
against the recurring dark
currents of thought
that do not stop at the edge
but blur the boundary instead.
Here at the end
considering those long ago dead
they’ll trespass again.
Moonlight drives its keys over the Pali
a bright fleeing to the shadows of trees
ancient struggles maneuver through valleys
materialize
out of the corner of the eyes
on paths wound around stream and fall
as the lunar calendar would allow
a disembodied conch to sound
for that transparent crowd
to march down hillsides
to the rise of the drums
under the guise of clouds
they’ll meet the dawn
with dark streaks from torches drawn
against the western sky
not yet awakened
that glimmer in the mind’s eye
where the imagination maneuvers
through a parallel universe.