Aloof Muse

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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

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The Tree at Muckross Abbey

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It is true that those who find it

become a part of it forever.

From the very first,

its legacy,

Daniel McCarthy Mor

sets out east from Derrynane,

inspired by a dream,

wandering through the wild,

followed by ravens

and his own thoughts

crawling like cloud shadow

over purple reeks,

lost in the emerald briar

and sacred silver wood,

see his lonely fire reflected in rock

and under a druid’s hood of oak.

Gazing out from the canopy

he sees another sun recede

at the end of his tether

and whether faith wavers for the deprived,

he would receive a guide,

ethereal voices along the lakeside

impart their twilight song,

with exquisite resonance

that belong only to this grove,

he sought residence

around the base of an ancient Yew tree,

building stone by gleaming limestone,

where all else radiates,

and is enchanted

an abbey shown by the light of the moon.

 

Centuries later Muckross Abbey

sits solemn at sunset.

Half in ruin,

haunted by the graves of Gaelic poets,

it draws you into their verse,

a darkened course through passages

incorporating your visit,

it is full of spirit,

each step layers another echo

through the corridors

and over the shadowy floors

that vault the tombs,

the imagination curling like ivy

through the empty rooms,

curling around the realization

that the dead are all around you

but through the Yew tree

that now shades the central cloister,

know that something still lives within.

A seed perpetuated

in the hollowest of places,

<p flourishes like a towering remnant

to the ancient world.

It has endured the human history,

the tragedy, the chain of ancestry

that has passed through these portals.

Its watchful presence

outlasts the absence,

dwarfing every cross and crest,

bridging the years,

coiled in its gnarled breast,

it has always been here, withstanding the test of time.

From the first friar

to Cromwell’s fire,

it is eternal.

It has witnessed the sacking,

the fallen ceiling,

the violence of war,

the trauma of flight,

the cries of the slain

stealing into the night.

The requiem of the missing bell

that left the tower but a mere shell

as it sinks into the deep well

that is Lough Leane.

The tree at Muckross Abbey

contains all these things, trapped,

bleeding red sap

for those who would violate,

hung up in its curse,

better to venerate

this relic of the ancient forest,

this vestige of all we have lost,

patience, perseverance

a quiet simplicity

a reverence for nature

amongst the dissolution.

Amid the symphony of its birds

that branch the words

like voices from long ago,

know that here in the shade

of magnificent song

this tree will endure

long after we’ve gone.

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Night, A Creative Entity

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Curious to witness

the night,

a creative entity,

molding the light

delicate and withdrawn

into an embrace

the varying shades of saffron

over the entrance to the underground

ushered in by neon

through the moving canvass

it is projected on

shoulders and exposed skin

tattooed to a blinding whim

so long pent up within

the visual identity

now fracturing

the individual

on the cusp of discovery

a kind of ritual

sold for the price of an entrance fee.

The beat throbs

proceeds to rob all of inhibition

as they brush lightly

in this wilderness of exhibition.

With soft masses of applause,

all are warming to the Dj’s dream

to playlists that stamp energy between

white walls and velvet halls

leading to further alcoves of intoxication.

Surreptitious claws reach out for connection

for attention, there’s an apprehension,

featureless

yet with an intuitive fashion

famed for its derangement of the senses.

You dance willingly in this suspension

until the red light framed in doorways

draws your attention

and suddenly it is closing time

and all are expelled

like shadows to evaporate

through the steaming plates of chinatown

to disintegrate and drown

in the space between strangers

who’ll communicate with an empty eighth

to the first rays of light

breaking through the shade

and the window pane

breathing between thin sheets of white

on which the versatile night

will leave its mark once again.

The Unseen Author

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Along the knife’s edge of a volcanic ridge

upon a poised moment in which

despite the peril

Daniel inched forward to meet

the motion of clouds under his feet.

The trajectory of one life,

one flightless bird,

one tiny pebble falling from the peaks

to join the clouds.

Barely a word was uttered,

yet voices still fill the valley

with this story of caution,

forever suspended in mystery.

The sudden ending

passes between the lips of this author

into the impact of silence, pinned forever

with the bones of the old

left in unmarked graves,

unseen purveyor of secrets

sealing the entrances to caves.

Where time doesn’t lapse,

the mana is trapped

in earthen vaults where nothing is pillaged

between the city and the village

rainwater coursing through rock

that eternal slip

akin to an ocean’s walk

on a beach it has yet to create,

work we will not live long enough to appreciate

sunlight mingling with the waterfall

we can recall but not recreate

when smuggled into notebooks.

Here it plummets from cool heights.

Nuuanu,

the unseen author

of rockfall and quiet beauty.

Seated beneath this depository,

this effortless plunge.

What more can be said or done?

What is necessary to be at one with that which emerges slowly?

The light shifting amphitheater,

vocals from an interlude of drums,

how music informs the wild spaces

and clouds break the distortion

in billowing flowers blooming

from these heights

through the textured canopy

hiding in this jaguar’s belly,

distended in fur

shamanic chants in the blur of dark shapes

juxtaposed on the lightening sky

like paw prints haunting the riverbed

raindrops rippling phantom leads

following each,

like a glittering piece of some puzzle

that is tomorrow’s sky

streaming through the cathedral cracks

as if through stained glass

illuminating the path

that will see you through the depths of its tract.

 

 

 

Red Rock

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I can remember the scent of seaweed,

of sand and slick rock

walking the curve of the wall

as the ocean nears high tide

and lashes white foam at your feet.

Eyes are trained on every wet step

bearing witness to tide pools

that disappear into the oncoming waves

like adolescence into the outlying graves of time.

At this edge, this place covered over

by mollusc and graffiti,

the sea wall to Red Rock

holds one image that I have never forgotten.

It endures seasons,

beginnings and endings,

the birth of nephews and nieces,

to bookend multiple weddings

and the death of a friend.

There were four of us that night,

singing and banging on a makeshift drum.

It always claimed a tiny corner in the long ago

but not so any longer as I round the corner

ever so cautiously…

stepping onto Red Rock;

silent, meditative,

with only a solitary gull

perched on the salt stained hull of frozen waves.

I think of Matt Robinson and try to write something

but it is too cold to grip a pen for long.

So, I just think of him here,

when he was alive,

where he once sat and sang “Whiskey Bar”

into the night and to the far off beacon light

beyond the Point,  where all souls go.

As the waves came in surging

we answered with our own voices emerging

from out of the din of useless instruction.

We were still in high school,

the four of us;

myself, Jeff, DiLiberti and Matt.

Myriad lives and paths ahead,

maybe surreptitiously sipping the red

smuggled wine that helped fill our lungs,

warm us against the cold
and help us forget time

as we sang over the waves

at the curve of our world.

It never warned us of the future,

that perhaps we’d never again have this moment together.

It wasn’t Lynn, Swampscott nor Boston

but somewhere in between

the doors of white coastline mansions

and derelict shacks by the tracks,

the edges of twilight

and distant skyscrapers all stacked

in watchful waiting,

baiting each of us to scatter from our roots

out west in the coming years of pursuit

of dreams and something beyond these well worn walls.

I think of Matt Robinson now,

like I was not able to out there.

His passing, once an idea,

now becomes tangible in this physical space.

He was a kid from the neighborhood,

St. Pius, Lynn English,the same age,

his life once parallel now deceased.

I try not to think of him riddled with the disease

that has already claimed too many

but rather think of him singing that night with me

as Red Rock levitated into memory and lore.

Matt, I remember walking with you once before

on those back roads behind Essex Farms,

near my house and yours.

You mentioned you wanted to travel

and that the next time I go to keep you in mind.

We both did some traveling

but never got to take that trip together.

I forgot about that talk

and we ended up an ocean apart.

San Diego, Honolulu,

where now do you journey to?

I look for you here at Red Rock,

hear your voice in the wind singing

“Show me the way to the next whiskey bar”

and though there were those who were a lot closer

and probably kept in touch,

“I tell you we must die”

I’d like to leave an offering for you here at Red Rock

but all I can conjure up is a snowball in a gloved fist.

To shout out your name and hurl it as far as I can

into the sea and mist.

Out where you’ll melt back into the greater whole

and from the abyss

become a wave

to roll back over Red Rock for all eternity,

over me, Jeff and DiLiberti,

until we each in our own way

join you out there in the waves.

A Message. A Mirage.

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We met at the crossroads,

a desert wayside

windswept and in-between

nondescript mountains

marred by cold fronts

leaving marks on the high peaks

just to disintegrate

into the fallacy of black heat.

Hugging your festival fabric,

no more than a discarded heap,

it was singed with music.

Anticipating travel,

you pull out maps in motels

liminal cells to author the unlimited

to commence from nowhere towns

halting the empty space with solitary stoplights.

A brief respite against the all-encompassing night

descending in shadows across our fields of sight.

Soon there will be galaxies over our shoulders,

stars streaming into Cretaceous insects

feeding on the scraps of confinement we lay before them.

The next day the highway was a straight line

for hundreds of miles of mesas and heat mirages

spray painting the desert with abandoned messages,

searching for the remains of an icon,

we come across a cap over the blaze

in the place his spirit went out.

Blackened initials scrawled in stone,

forever scorched in memory.

Dead flowers left in this valley of dry bone,

blues that do not bloom on their own

but bear fruit from within you,

a lonesome tune

that by night floats to the moon

bejeweled in cloud fabric.

Pens become the only friends

that will populate this thoughtful insomnia.

Pulling words from this drawer

the hour would not keep confined

to its dusty enclosure.

Eyes follow the asphalt blur,

writing you choose to destroy by re-writing,

words wet and regenerative in this parched land,

soon tendril out of the sand,

harvested as art,

carefully withdrawn

from the prickly confines of its skin.

Jagged art, shattered from within.

Sharp fragments of explanation

others may gaze into

and find their own skewed reflections.

 

Between Here and the Next Stage (A Festival)

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Empty fields to swelling crowds

blue skies to encroaching clouds

delicate sitar strings

to feedback so loud

the eardrum rings and reverberates

into the next repetitious beat.

Somehow it is tribal.

Something to rival

the isolation of the day to day,

when habits shake away in our flimsy boxes.

Finally able to shed its skin,

to levitate from within,

audience to exploration.

This profound surrender

to spontaneous movements,

surfing into the sound,

a swirl of the imagination

lifts us from the ground.

It completes the journey

without gravity,

from tension to release,

individual oppression

to collective expression.

 

We converge from all corners of the earth.

England, Iceland, Japan,

Dancer, spectator, musician.

A photographer captures our composition,

our cathartic expressions.

Along the periphery,

see her and then she is gone,

leaving only the mystery of a fleeting purpose.

A wish to ask her, if only to liberate curiosity,

if she’s no longer the same as when she came in.

Moth to butterfly, like a shifting sky

bleeding dark to call out the moon,

glowing yellow from the trees of its elevation,

reflecting in the river amphitheater.

Suddenly the night is like leather

and dark packs prowl through the weather.

You can hear their bikes and classic cars

racing towards some dead man’s curve,

they throttle into oblivion.

Mirror images become distorted

with kaleidoscopic color tableaus,

of time travel and transformation,

suddenly it is the 1960’s,

a helicopter hovers

and Vietnam imagery

uncovers the killing fields

from out of the smoke

of sonic explosions.

Music awash with reverb,

dripping with jewels,

like the moon now merging

with the creek top,

everything moving

upon an inkblot ceiling,

absorbed into the next set,

so strange and inflamed,

the fire burns through time and space,

blurring the lines

between here and the next stage.

Improvised euphoria and elation,

transformation rather than

the simple weathering of elements

in the weariness of limbs,

a remedy

on the end of a discordant melody.

 

It’s lifting.

Veils of smoke and time

falling away from the fingers

of these revered figures.

Musicians who play through

three days of psychedelic haze.

The drone of their instruments,

like planes overhead,

lights collapsing on the fields unfolding,

once nondescript

now composing

a disorienting canvass of interloping,

all manner of merging

on an indigo meadow

of blurred reference points.

It is a skewed Coachella,

like her wierd brother,

with a great record collection,

far flung and growing like a thorn

out of the hill country of central Texas.

Rain and stage light

wets the technicolor appetite.

Everything designed to alter and transform

before our dilated eyes,

translucent feathers,

tranquil waters

swell to worship

those alters of music,

those altered perceptions

of the majestic moment

reflected in each,

a glimpse of awe.