The Aisling Stairs

aisling stairs

I’ve had this dream before.

Where I am lost in a labyrinth of stairways and corridors,

deep in the heart of very old buildings.

I pause on cast iron balconies

and gaze over the lines of dim-lit stacks,

incomprehensible text to a chamber of shadows

and the recurring restlessness that pervades this place.

Whether I am searching for something or being pursued,

it is clear that not all is as it appears.

So I keep moving,

going deeper into more claustrophobic spaces.

Ducking under a shelf, there are rows behind rows of books,

an ancient elevator and further stairways to corridors

each more decrepit than the last.

The walls peeling, unpainted for decades,

with large holes in the floors

to lower oneself through to other levels.

There, in the fear that it may all collapse,

is the tenuous grasp of any concept of time or place.

In the depths of these recesses

I usually encounter a maintenance man

sweeping up the darkness. He is disfigured,

terrible to look at, with a face full of sores,

appearing like a spot on the floors

that never see the light of day,

only the artificial glare

destined to flicker and stare

here for eternity.

This specter in the shadows,

blackened as a lung full of dust,

with a voice like a guttural growl,

unintelligible.

There is always the knowledge

that he is at the bottom of or behind

this restless feeling,

tending to the furnace

or fitting pipes in a vast boiler room.

He’s in there, like a manifestation of fear,

a cancer in these cells, in the bowels of every building.

What else did you expect to find?

What do industrial noises accompany

like strange soundtracks to the illogical

landscapes of the mind?

You cannot measure the sky

or the spaces in-between

but note the temporal shifts,

like shades of the past,

bound here like ghosts.

Each is a subtle impression

or a tiny transmission

that is nothing if not familiar.

The man in the corner,

ever-present author

tosses another cigarette

to the floor

and in the impact,

the flicker of fire

is transforming

into the flapping of a white bird

now flying towards

a shaft and up to the rooftop.

Vaporous, transparent,

it is no longer trapped

but leaving a trail of smoke in its wake,

it moves through objects.

I’ll follow its trajectory

towards the edge of this wasted city.

Listless as it travels

to the periphery,

where lifting from memory,

the dormant imagery

that nourishes its flow from captivity.

This is how it usually ends.

Free from these stairways and endless corridors,

no longer bound to these cells or these selves,

no longer merely a shell

but akin to water

flowing from a source somewhere

in emerald mountains

and immeasurable distances

under brilliant skies.

 

 

 

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In the Metaphor of Rivers

ripple rain pattern

Nothing remains stuck.

On the breath that expresses more than thoughts

to flow down valley

like a wind in Wailupe

that tickles the chimes in the Norfolk pines

rooted to a moment, despite movement.

There is a clearing

where solitude is revealing instruction

to a tangle of brush strokes

imparting light to the surface renewal.

In the metaphor of rivers there is no arrival,

only its illusion.

There’s a gentle loosening of leaves

expressing the value of paperweight

that does not incorporate words

but notes something of gravity to the motionless,

to those mired to the banks.

Though in their lines lies a vagrancy,

the realization that all are carried away eventually

by the wind and by the rain.

The river journey comes to its insatiable mouth,

infinitely consuming itself.

Can movement be a mirror on these surfaces?

To seize a half-formed image of oneself,

sped up, transparent,

as if on a current,

lifting the anchor you go with it.

Moving downstream to draw from the periphery

some sense of apprehension.

With a craft that compulsively fills the contours

with some semblance of direction,

overshadowed by the next bend

by further distance ill defined

in waterways that resemble the last.

Released from the grid,

the river was aided by floods,

while the sky slid by

on an infinite sheet of glass.

Poetry was like the passing clouds

that gather fragments of its brilliance,

before inspiration dissipates

before the rain precipitates

what needs to change and what can be saved,

what remains of glass shattered

into thousands of mutually arising patterns

interwoven in the aftermath

of another passage to sea.

 

All is Interwoven

burnt fabric

I tend to your memory

like one working a small flame in the wind.

Blowing the end of an incense stick

to give scent to the formless

to sanctify and bear witness

to the chaos that follows change.

What does it accomplish,

putting new roots in the decay?

Cleaning out the attics of the old

by the light of silent entry,

while the past falls through the cracks of dawn

hovering above the roof and chimney.

Shifting seasons awaken with smoke

the smoldering clouds and coiling snakes

many hued in a moment’s wisp

that won’t support the weight of the present.

Watching as it evaporates,

all can appreciate its exit.

What is memory but the imprint of a passage?

Immaterial marker

in the consciousness of a dreamer

who conjures pictures

to match the feelings of departure.

“We are never here for long”

says nature

but I remember the paths

we made to the water’s edge,

though the footprints fade

and the wind works on

what was designed to outlast us.

Fire, the great leveler

starting small until

crawling out of proportion.

It consumes the highway

and covers the sky.

The horizon is lying

like a steel plate in the sun

burning

balancing on a melting moment

you can almost hear crying

in kindling

creativity to capture the shifting colors

in the mirror pools of effervescent lakes,

where the sky dabs its face.

Subtle transformations,

day to night

light to grey

all is interwoven

in the poem of knowing

no stitch remains.

Return Again

feat-banyan-cover-02-altA place at once familiar

where forest paths converge

at a clearing, the old ruin of Kaniakapupu,

that enclave of unseen ushering,

canvass for myriad footprints

etched by moon glow

drawing the spirits through.

By dawn the silence is transforming

winged voices in the recesses

of tree snails naming it in praises.

It stands regal and half-lost,

the rustling leaves

pantomimed in light and shadow,

it’s secret language,

the calligraphy of what is absent.

Pulling the imagination

like a hala mat over the grounds,

one gets the sense of great feasts

suddenly not so long ago.

The hint of a trail,

ancient and overgrown,

leads deeper into memory,

collecting itself under the emerald canopy

of contours illuminated

before night can collapse so quickly

and all is lost.

In the hidden pools of Nuuanu

a nourishment resides.

Fed from on high,

the water falls

and blends in reverence.

By this and by wind

the walls are weathered

silent sentinels of what is hidden

within grooves and caves

the barely perceptible

imprints of all that have passed

into the gnarled limbs of giant banyans

a repository of spirit and energy

positioned between worlds.

By night, torchlight on leaves

as the wind grieves

through the crevices of its kingdom

and what’s left will surely dance.

Down valley, a palace of perfect symmetry.

Stones aligned and in harmony

between the gates

there’s rest for the weary,

under a parasol

the queen leaves years ago.

Iolani, full of spirit,

drifting in from four directions,

all are equally fragile

under the immensity of sky.

A raindrop clings to a branch with all its might,

like a proud people to their past,

building for that climatic moment

falling into the breadth of history,

they are shot through subterranean streams

to the depths of the sea

to again take root

like a seed on the seat in a great drift.

The passing clouds through the break

motion for escape,

above the spinning wheels of cityscape

and all the disruption,

know that what is binding

lies in waiting

in the quiet corners

baiting time for your return again.

IMG_1186t kaniakapupu black and white

 

The Wind Finds a Way

wind curtainIn the push and pull of seemingly conflicting currents,

there’s still this magnetism, a sweet spot

between the sail and the wind.

When the shadow wound is on the water

and a faint light from within

glows like a furnace at night

beneath a forest of reeds.

Between the sea and the rocks there’s no quarter.

Shallow water finds its source,

a wellspring of coincidence

punctuated by the reluctant acceptance

that nothing prevents change.

Careful construction is easy penetration

for a wind that finds a way through this half-formed home.

So you braced for a hurricane

that never came to fruition,

never matched the media or hoarder’s premonition,

left only with the disquieting anticipation

under an eye that does not discriminate.

Omnipresent, in watchful amusement

while we prepare for the future.

Disorientation, the perfect prescription

for our illusions.

As a teacher, its lesson is clandestine

becoming clearer after ruin.

Picking up the pieces,

you get a picture of our torn veneration

with fragments to bandage the resistance.

Aimless, in a ditch,

you long for the momentum of younger years.

Like a ship long since stranded in an ancient sea,

Miranda pinned to an eternal rock

has elements of this story.

The desert, that which was sunken,

will rise again like a phoenix

in the ephemeral light from the east.

Barren and with no obstruction,

mysterious springs straighten our tilted mast.

Plotting a course towards the horizon,

on dry rivers once running only to illusion,

these tattered sails that harbor your inclusion

with a wind, sea-bound and knowing no end.

Through the Dark Rooms of Renewal

DarkroomWhat will come to be is still murky.

Where shadows drown, light surfaces.

In this developing dream, when the blackout shades are drawn,

the aperture is opened a fraction

and you slowly permeate the room

as through a lava cave.

At a loss and trapped, perhaps an unsolved disappearance,

the camera focuses on the cracks and seams in the mystery,

the lens examines the unseen, blends it with words.

You slip in another, leaf the river, bearing witness

you clasp clouds and soften the dissonance,

like the glow of early morning burning the fog away.

This hesitant unlocking, eyes no longer opaque

but clear and mirroring the skies,

like a celebration, an unveiling

from under hazy disguise.

This light is like a glittering shell in someone’s memory,

in the plucking of the seaweed’s strands,

it’s the underwater melody.

Pulling at a weight that trembles from beneath,

as on a fishing line,

you hope that more than just luminous,

it is sturdy enough to pull that image,

abstract and misshapen, to the surface.

You mold it in dark rooms

or let it slip back into the gloom,

more like a coin than an anchor in the grey,

to the darkest cormorant shade of forgetting.

Try as you may to trawl these depths,

getting caught in the psychic nets

spread over surfaces,

what’s left but to venerate and transform with purpose?

What’s caught, what’s lost in a moment’s remembrance?

If we can gain access to the hidden resources,

to a cache of images and associations

expressing themselves

through illuminated corridors and mines,

we initiate the infinite renewal,

see change as transcendence

the evolving acceptance that shines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Fissure 8

Fissure-8-Hawaii-volcano-eruption-1394633

The light peeks through the cracks

where consciousness and dreams overlap.

Coastlines and seas seep through the blind

like temporal prisms in time.

On a suspended plane, a transcontinental glide

lingering long after the advancing flame

where the memory of lava and ash will remain

ballast to what is swept away

under soft carpets, in strange landscapes

you escape while you can.

On diminishing roads and infinite waterways

there is no shelter

no air without sulfur,

what landmarks are left become unfamiliar,

inverted memories in turned over turf

give a glimpse of the glowing earth

that runs red

to river beds

in the impending birth of new land.

In the absence of all else

an unobstructed wind

would hit mountains head on

like something that was expected

but not fully prepared for.

The inevitability you seek to divert

joins in the rift from a hidden source,

from a network of tunnels, subliminal.

What words can be raised

to pave what has been erased?

to bring light to a cloud of ash?

Over development and endless desecration

an angry goddess passed.

The rupture deepens and they go up,

like offerings on a pyre,

the apocalyptic matchsticks of Pahoa

and the collapse of all structure

buoyed by  an immense ocean

is a burning unceasing as the notion

that all surfaces remain beholden

to the forces that lie beneath them.