Scorched Tones

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Where solid ground joins the night,

it shares in the solitude

to complete the passage of light.

The full moon was looming

to translate the darkness

into something immutable.

Tracks and terrain,

the lightning framed by trees,

bright flares on the road to nowhere.

A charred skin,

the strange shapes that were foreign,

are floating to find the ocean bottom.

 

The places you once were,

seen from above sacred remnants left there.

Scorched tones over all the miles it would clear,

lifted from predictable confines.

A timbre to allign you with something larger,

poised to witness

the first light on the dark outlines,

the shadow of a crater

the expectant shoreline.

From the deep, an utterance

A breath that broke the wave with foam

The OM that shook the universe

<The forming

The warming of molten lava

driving the ages out of forgetting.

The momentum meets you like an idea,

like thoughts beyond the last inlet

that hit the rocks before disappearing.

 

Following sounds down to the edge of pages.

Translucent white oceans

bright and turning over

the foam-shimmered stars piercing

the sea flowing ink from the well.

Resuming its journey,

like wayward lovers

who meet in eternity.

Overlapping in colors

disguised as one merging

memory of a setting sun.

Taste the salt on your tongue.

So close and yet you have not begun

to touch the wind and feel the flow

of feathers falling like embers from the unseen

enveloping wings

that will not disclose or decipher the meaning,

for nature is both separation and cohesion.

 

The moth realizes it’s drowning

in the wax of indecision.

Is this what it means to be safe?

To frantically flutter

until surrendering to exhaustion?

To whatever it is you write

in the blind light of the flame

that sees you through the night?

You are led through narrow passages.

In ancient quarters and in darkened corners,

there’s a seductive presence.

Features are revealed in a moment’s matchlight,

smoke lingering in neon effervescence.

What is left besides cigarette ends

in the evening arabesque?

The isolated design of these markings,

words at the end of an invitation

crossroad within a chapter abandoned.

How long can a spark linger?

A wallowing flicker

to follow footsteps into ash?

The story of fire spread over land,

kindling the torches

passed from hand to hand.

The wind whispers softly past

the ragged shapes in the swirling sand.

Born of freedom

Born of vagrancy

Born into customary migrations

of colorful veils

giving birth to dances

of moonlight on barren lava fields.

Once this time has lapsed into the creation of new land

you’ll find these tracks molded into the black

are the only impressions that last
of a flow that both holds and alters everything.

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From a Train Window

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Thoughts on departures and emerging trains,

the depot excitement of a bustling platform,

everyone clutching belongings

but nothing uniform

in this mad dash for the silver lining

Sunset Limited at last opening

under an art deco clock,

to carve and unlock

a new town out of morning tracks.

The lightness of leaving,

perhaps for good,

new memories to incubate

in the womb of this current

that whisks you away

through mountains that only rise

to separate you from that former self,

know there will be another platform

on which to take a stand.

 

From a train window

no victory or end is sustained for long.

It begins again within myriad turns,

inherently vulnerable, the sheer humanity

crammed into all that machinery.

Mere specks in time,

vagrant in the slow crawl

movement by design.

Pathologically it accelerates

from depots of glass

through canyons of concrete

to open spaces at last,

a distortion of distance.

Panoramic horizon lines

too gargantuan to define

the steam from your recess

reflecting the nature of impermenance.

Train windows

transient channels

the flashing panels

of faces and landscapes,

who shares your compartment

on the ride that never ends?

If ever our tracks cross,

I may never see you again.

A feeling of melancholy ties the loose ends,

lost in blurry reflections.

Shrill yells punctuate the in-between,

you’re either coming home

or being pulled away from its seams.

Trains consuming tracks

as the journey comes back around,

the distance dances,

improvising on transient canvasses,

once uniformly blank

now painted marsh grown purple heather,

better to forget what you left behind.

Wisps of black smoke uncoil

to leave no trace on this twisted line.

 

Another train brings me closer

to another thought I should let go of.

Heavy luggage in familiar compartments

burden to reveal that I have gone nowhere

but back around to the same question.

A direction without landmarks

disguised under the skies,

the fogged up vacant eyes

seeking to find a center

to a journey always within.

 

The train holds up a mirror

to confront you with choices,

how to perceive the reflection

upon the glass of these shifting questions?

Passing the unfamiliar landscape

smeared across windows of dying dreams.

Derailed in forests far from the roads,

they tread in a blur of unseen shapes

surrendering to the speed of light

over corrugated iron.

There’s no dark like the dark from a train,

as it combs the countryside

as cold as cold can go.

There’s no map for your eyes from a train window,

as the sun sets over towns like Wyanet.

Stalks go red and rusted pickups go nowhere,

in forgotten yards where their tires are swings.

Better to forget the rubber and gypsy by rail,

that way sleepy towns get momentarily injected

with locomotive speed and power directed westward.

It sets fire to their hair,

puts joy into the voices I won’t hear

over the rumble of the train.

Fields position against the horizon,

scarecrows crucified in the lava lamp sky

soon darkening in contorted sleep.

Dismayed to awake,

twisted into a pretzel shape

to realize I still have two more days.

Blink and they’re gone the way of debris,

the way strange towns recede,

the way of trackside whistles whining,

“Time is winning.”

When will it be morning over sunflowered fields?

So real, the moving landscape.

Surreil, that darkened place up ahead

that the distance is fed into.

The unknown that pushes against the side of the tracks

that break but do not diminish

the continuity of its impact.

When you think these tracks can go no further,

they usually do,

carrying you through tunnels,

through the continental divide,

until ultimately terminating

in the Antioch yards,

the place where cars go to die.

 

 

 

I

Invisible Imprints

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Words appear in an alien vocabulary

framed by the contours of separation

they all state the same thing to the solitary

clouds drifting out to sea

like discordant mantras, repeatedly

 

Reflected through a glass darkly

shattered pieces, scattered in a cityscape

peopled with alienation, fragments of anxiety

a  kind of detached adolescence

grows into a reluctant acceptance

 

Words clad in night completely

like an oil slick for stars to slip on

slip off garments in a phosphorescent lobby

loitering for release, a pent up energy

prowling over the stark white upholstery

 

They flicker in the darkness, a bright guiding entity

cautiously we approach, one tap at a time

like the blind seeking port in memory

we receive a glimpse behind the pursuit

of a gnarled and buried root

 

Words are remnants of a private mythology

invisible imprints of celebrated origins

intuitively found spread throughout this valley

like a fine mist it lifts

to afford a glimpse of its luminous gifts

 

This river within metaphorically

a river of no return

caught up in its current helplessly

adrift within the urge

to surrender, barefoot in the storm surge

 

Words set across the page, disfigured suns wrung bloody

smudges on the hands

made to share in the debris

made to mold a supple clay

to assist in the delivery of a new day.

Loose Bindings

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At the end of the line

the last bus dies hard into the distance.

Unkempt pencil shaded features

obscured by smoke,

ushered in by taillights that

soon broke an impenetrable border

of silence in the cricket’s song.

Before you the way is paved,

languid and long,

through a tunnel of trees.

Perspectives like these never seem to end.

Drawn around an infamous horseshoe bend,

blacker than black would render,

so you surrender within.

What preserves these yarns?

Fragile webs spun years before,

now barely glistening.

Left as landmarks

and if you were listening

to the warnings, you’d find them

camoflaged to the texture of a whisper,

cathedraled in a prayer of mourning,

like a memento or an offering

to those that are suspended under the invasive ceiling

of your mind’s canopy.

Darkness, when the mind is hung up in the penultimate hour.

You linger there alone by lamplight,

in an exile’s outpost,

the writer makes his choice of word

akin to a wolf whose voice unheard

calls to an invisible host.

It’s the last grip before you nod off,

the final drip of moonlight

lost in the reams

condemned to the pages

drowning in someone else’s dreams.

Loose are these bindings,

like the last gasp of night,

horrible you’re finding,

when Dawn is struggling into sight.

Time covers all trace

in the deepening enigma of this place.

With a momentous wrestling with roots

you’ve had these moments of disappearance,

adhering to solitude,

where nothing is completed.

Belief is loose ground under the obscured ridgeline.

The half-formed picture of the Pali,

where words won’t go easily

to describe its beauty,

trace trail wounds in a slow procession.

The magma of your impression

will manipulate the land,

that trembles where you stand

before ultimately going over.

 

Still Lingering

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Pendulous minutes

do not transform to words

but emotions.

Still, it lingers

for that first line

to move across your tightrope wire.

The mind, perched above an unspeakable blankness,

late summer losing its sheen,

hitchhiking

until the rides dried up in doldrums,

until night folds in

without a room to rent,

without any light to pitch a tent,

with no station to channel the breath,

from all sides comes an irrational fear.

Peer into its depth,

declare that you’ve lost your gift,

pulling sentences from time,

an amorphous shape to define

ideas beginning as flickers,

then springing to lamplife

to permeate sleep

and create with words

 the smell of dew laced with kerosene,

wet mornings camping

Shenandoah.

The tent canopy conceals

a hard, strange bed,

a precious bootless rest

above the path’s myriad experience,

dreams caress the soundless transience.

When time becomes oppressive to sleep

and the mind, like pulp,

forms fresh images for the pen to reap,

you idle, where no roads go.

Remembering every manifestation has a motion to it,

every creation has emotion to it,

every relation can have devotion,

like sand against the ocean to it.

Where shall my thoughts rest tonight?

On what downy  palm sway soft breeze

invites the mist to lay before me?

What visitation to release without holding?

Precious but not controlling,

these ghosts, my close associates,

the ones I have to work with,

creatively, in collaboration

with the infinite integration

of insects and grass glades,

it’s about harmony,

those doors swinging both ways,

its about syncronicity,

about your words and my breath,

it’s a part of me and everywhere.

In every sand grain rests sunlight,

it’s serenity,

paid in myriad ways

through work that begins in the heart.