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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Where Innocence Intersects

roses on tracks

Memory,

the planted seeds of future work.

Those moments of mystery and violence

seared into childhood innocence.

In the rows of cross country cornfields

intersecting on the empty plains of thought.

You’re the point of entry

for these stalks on all sides,

until growing overhead,

you were not able to process it yet.

When what housed creativity

was merely a foundation,

fear is the forgotten masonry

that builds fascination.

Mystery,

those luminous garments

you’ll salvage from dark closets

to give form to again.

At Dungeon rock you keep digging,

finding only madness and subterranean water,

not realizing where the gold resides,

on the tips of the trees that line Cornel path.

 

Violence always had it’s place on the knife’s edge of time.

In old Kung Fu films and in the technicolored gaze

of Medusa’s severed head,

you were transfixed to the red

that emblazoned the cars of elevated trains.

From the Bronx to Coney Island

your imagination placed supreme significance

in the division of neighborhoods into gang turf,

written dimensions on a prized and ripped map.

By middle school a fear and fascination with death

found you staring out the windows

at long black hearses

ushering in St. Pius funerals.

There was no longer the safety of naivete,

friends lost parents, people got cancer,

a heart attack took Nonna

and the small panic you’ll always remember,

phone calls that announce a stranger

penetrating that tiny world.

All these recollections

sticking like mud at low tide.

Osgood eyes wet, keen on distant birds,

deciphered as spirit in the wavering trees

and in the dreamscape of the sky.

The ocean always returns to childhood

in the scent of salt marsh,

it marches back in time

to the music tangled in the cellar wires,

memories in the decay of seaweed at Derby Wharf

where all the layers overlap and you can read

the barnacled marks when it recedes.

Out from under the shadow’s thumbprint,

you’re the exposed rock of Chocorua awaiting a storm,

you’re Waterman seeking a nook on Lafayette Ridge,

Brailsford on a weighted line in Cormorant shade,

Cochran still unsolved in the fog of Swampscott.

What breaks the silence?

What moves the instrument and goes beyond science ?

Was it violence creeping in the telepathic underground?

Tripping the wires to access

the haunted tape loop of the mind?

The sudden screetch of trolley cars

collides with Garbarek’s sublime choir,

as if the bloodied petals off of Pulcherrima’s rose

were left scattered on the tracks.

You were there at the intersection

watching the passing of the rails,

standing over these remains

to note the juxtaposition

that holds unspoken significance

to what you have yet to transform into words.

 

 

 

 

From Asylum Windows

danvers gothic

The motion pictures

are in the solitary entertainment of clouds

when the sky’s frayed mental edges

are amorphous to the days

floating away over a sea of cracked mirrors.

Your quarters are perched

like a giant bat

spreading its wings over the grounds

opening like a cavity

that the mind could not hope to cover

with anxiety, harnessed tightly to time.

Creativity, like a haphazard design

of submerged stones suggest

there is a wellspring of words to be mined.

Smooth as ivory

soft and pliant

as the soul of this enterprise,

where unseen hands

thread the scent of nocturnal flowers

through the sterile sanitarium

of sleeping senses.

The moving eyelids

molding dreams into compliance

that by morning a last sprinkle of moonlight

finds its way through the ward,

softening the last layer of night

for those who cannot shake it off with sleep.

This temporary reprieve

from the pervasive melancholy underneath

the loss of landmarks and

the inverted water sense of falling,

the sound of an ocean sucking

at all the shrinking spaces

peeling walls fit the places

that always seem to close in.

From a prominent house on the hill

there is no view

of the crumbling piers of childhood

or any of your dead peers

wheeled through underground tunnels,

the derelict images are only a mirage

in the fog of medication.

The breaks in the trees

were a temporary release

from a deeper foray into the past

where, on illuminated tracks,

memories are speeding

between leather mills

and over cast iron bridges

suggesting escape

but merely a ruse

for a one way trip

terminating at asylum station.

The darkened stairways

to the uppermost recesses of fear

neatly arranged in a natural setting,

the clinically deranged put through

harsh routines of forgetting.

All of the windows have eyes

all of the glass fragments of the sky

getting shattered beneath

the weight of reflection.

From this vantage, some see nothing

while others cling to visions

like fire escapes outside of gothic prisons.

Some are destined to fall

while others hold on to the hope

of some form of elevation

vacillating between the glass of the ground

and the effervescent clouds

that pass above without a sound.

Danvers_State_Hospital_Danvers_Massachusetts_Kirkbride_Complex_circa_1893

 

 

 

 

Clear a Space Among the Ruin

 

IMG_1186t kaniakapupu black and white

You can imagine it in its splendor,

for surely the full moon casts a glow

over the ruins of Kaniakapupu in the

early hours.

This emergence

from the contours of a clouded sarcophagus,

will leave no witness.

No one taking meaningless pictures

to capture or extract from its essence,

nothing to distract from a dance,

luminous as it is sudden in its disappearance.

Our temporal bodies a nonentity

to the unseen symmetry of stones

and in their reflection our own illusions unlearned.

To clear a space for illumination, for the imagination,

an axis of paths scratched out of the convolution of bamboo,

a place for the wind to gather leaves

in the striptease of season’s silence

shaken and committed to streams

and in the passage of time

sense the essence of nature

whose falls appear out of the gloom of mountains,

from under the veil of ghostly heights

too treacherous to reveal secrets to foolish climbers.

Rain, relief, sadness and acceptance,

all upon the skin of the message;

trust the process.

Light, like a torch through the canopy,

gifts a brief glance at the inner geometry,

the blurred boundary between the spirit and the living,

between stillness and motion,

receive inspiration like a transmission.

Surfaces mirror the soul,

control the discourse

over what is known of forests.

Remnants of history, partial achievement

coming into focus from out of obscurity.

Clear a space for the sacred,

somewhere to retreat

from the profanity of the city.

All the modern means of obstruction,

the flow confined to concrete,

the land mined under the guise of progress.

Under the shadow of glass,

no one seems to care that it can never last.

In a hundred years, when the forces of nature

clear another space,

what will be the state of our ruin?

the legacy of our folly?

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pali Revisited

dark-road-470

The Pali,

that dark depository for all that passes through it.

Wind, wheels, energy,

psychic imprints left like tire marks on the periphery.

The forgotten past straddles median lines with the present,

relapsing in the flash of headlights

like the sudden reflection of moonlight across the eyes,

mysterious pools beneath a canopy’s disguise.

The light finds its way through coils and folds,

illuminating those trapped in banyan choke holds.

It is calculating, seizing hosts, sinister in time.

Simultaneously, it is the substance to the darkness

where the spirit descends,

intermediary for this marriage that depends

on the synchronicity of strangers

thrust into one another by seed or by accident,

punctuated by a rain that stirs up

all that lay dormant in dark contours.

The road follows its bends,

unravelling thoughts that never end,

sucked into tunnels, a gaping mouth

that funnels the fear

from one generation to the next,

born out of these corners, legends endure.

Over windward’s steep ravine,

some took the curve too sharply,

dead teens in careening trajedy

comingle in red clay.

With no shoulder to lean

over this auto graveyard,

flashlights will gleam off derelict fenders

and last screams linger over the screetch of brakes.

This pain re-awakes in those who suffer in silence

while wind accentuates the absence.

deeper into that forest of loss,

older passages trail off to no answer.

Wind, an instrument for a troubled mind,

sets in motion the swaying vines,

caressing wet air, dangling hair

descending from cool heights where

a mist would appear, is it more than it seems?

Does it backdrop the myth, will it penetrate dreams?

The Pali leaves you stranded again,

tricking you with voices and visions,

so you place alms in the crux of stones for fallen victims,

offer empathy, lest we disturb what is underneath,

skulls the highway keeps,

tunnels cursed to know the interior of burial caves.

How many workers unfortunate to find shallow graves,

tie Ti leaves to truck beds before driving it again?

That endless loop wound tightly to the mountain’s circumference,

straddling that extraordinary line

between the material and the spirit,

darkness and the divine.

The Pali, a psychological barrier,

intermediary for whatever you bring over.

Chinatown

B3_Chinese_New_YearBy night, Chinatown is a forlorn nexus of stumbling humanity.

Transient shades in motion, empty or full of pretense

all are made to wait under awnings

for the passing rain

that slants through street lamps

and beads the hanging wires

to become strings of light

tying together a kind of deranged continuity.

All streets lead back here for me,

caught in its vortex ,

Chinatown’s story a complex scent

of piss, jasmine and sandlewood insense.

Layered between 4 blocks in the deception of memory,

lest we forget the plague and the fire that swept through,

the dispossessed perched on rooftops

watching the blaze erase all they had accumulated

from field to storefront,

a shifting wind took everything.

Tongues of flame from the past relapse

in the shadowplay as neons go on and off again.

Illuminated windows arabesque what’s behind

a vision, a suggestion,

somewhere subterranean in the imagination,

plush chambers red and tassled,

host unseen scenarios in the candlelight.

There’s no moon to feed through pinched alleys,

so we’ll leave the darkness there to hold course

like a muddy river down the gutter

for the losers and winners in hidden gambling parlors.

The lion dancers come out on New Years

to bless thresholds and eat red qing envelopes,

stamping spirit in smoke,

chasing away any evilĀ  Chinatown would invoke.

In a steaming kitchen after the drum beat dims,

gather in the cacophonous din of conversation.

If drunk on an internal dialogue, you can empty it

in the rattle of tea cups looking to be filled again.

Amidst these distractions, euphoria

in this gloriously chaotic quarter,

you can start all over.

Chinatown, a microcosm, degraded yet venerated,

full of deals, cheap thrills,

maneuvering through the streets again,

like a paper dragon

ushering in the next layer of its regeneration.

 

 

photo by Brent Wong

Gee Yung International Lion Dance Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Returning

0697a0f2f95f20d65d8b363ca237dcfa--the-lizard-chiaroscuro

The moon, held suspended on a cloud

like a jewel in an outstretched palm

that clenched its fist

over a creative instrument

that prisms the light to beam through the sky.

From this vantage,

see the night thaw into a fleeting image

of my own willingness

to let the past be prologue

and memory become notes in a ship’s log

bound for East Point

painted on the horizon

like a raised birthmark over a darkened skin,

it’s set in its own isolation.

Through the El Greco sky of the mind,

unsteady in the swirl of shade and light,

poles teeter on the edge of each other ,

delicately dancing in the glow.

Where it beckons you’ll follow,

tracing lines to their inevitable ends,

leaving a progeny of words

strung against words

like a procession of lanterns

engulfed by waves

extinguished candles of breath

that craved oxygen,

building up only to give in to collapse.

All the thoughts and differing shades of meaning

shifting the gleam to tide pools cascading

from an overarching theme,

where everything is passing through.

For a moment the moon holds true,

weightless and suspended in a bubble of foam.

A perfect circle, timeless, eternal,

always returning home.