They Come Dressed in Feathers

thumbnail_-facebook_1483738169765That was how the spirit left the scene,

with one feathered wing dipped in the ashen sea.

The moment becomes a window,

the photo an eternity to gaze through

silhouettes

becoming signs, rippling to find

where the child once stood,

so that the saddened would be assured,

as they gathered along the shore

beneath oak and behind shades,

that this was how he made the transition.

The next phase of the journey,

no longer earth bound,

contours cast off and scattered to the deep,

commingling than expanding

to include these wings

and all the moments that are arresting.

We can find you when heavy clouds accumulate,

as the light that breaks through the sorrow,

as the wisdom that all is temporal.

The ways and the means we mill over

must appear smaller from up there,

ant-like and in miniature.

The shadows that surround

can levitate from the ground

when the sun moves them,

when all the white homes

appear like a runway of bones for those in flight,

passing with flashing talons

to penetrate the dreams of those inside.

Clear as the glint in your eyes,

I remember the whole trajectory,

as you cross the sky like an Egyptian deity

with one feathered wing dipped in the ashen sea.

 

Up north the family cottage grows cold.

The once glowing furnace of the potbellied stove

emits no smoke from its chimney beneath the trees.

Yet the floors still creak

and something beyond the elements speak at the edges,

with the spring of your essences.

It moves beneath everything,

even when no one is listening.

The sound of cracked ice on the lake

reminds me that the ancestors will take

the surroundings given and speak through them,

moving the pine’s limbs to shadowbox with the wind,

they make themselves known, if only briefly,

outside the pages of that great mystery

unread in the cobwebbed dust of your library.

Our lives are the layers in the walls they built,

slivers of glass in the windows and lamps they fastened

another stitch in the tapestry,

that which completes me, speaks through me,

through the imagination, peering from a darkened sky,

projecting light on the pillows of the dream’s eye

like a moon wrapped in sheets of cloud

on a winter’s night.

I hear you most clearly in the quiet hours

before anyone wakes,

when the lake would ripple its way to the pier

and two loons draped in mist would appear,

skimming the water’s gaze

over the length of the great Birch,

they’ll materialize and search

through my guise, at once familiar

in white tunic and shoes of leather,

they’ll come dressed in feathers,

dipping one wing in the surfaces of memory,

moving what preceded me,

deconstructing but giving breath to me,

an extension, their living entity,

poised between worlds.

How these Forgotten Seeds take Shape

candles like bodies

Tears become breaks in the illusion,

a continuous procession

of their loosened  impressions

in puddles, on wet sidewalks

where vigil candles

are seared reflections.

Hands clasped

brothers and mothers

share in the mourning

embracing the fragile strings

entwined and loosened like balloons

designed to bring messages beyond

for those who died too young.

Letting go

like hundreds of tiny spores

that lighten the atmosphere and

restore some color to the grey

anger and shades of despair.

Most towns have had their share of darkness,

comb through their history,

find some are enshrined to their tragedy,

a depository for its residual energy

coursing through the tiny webs

that connect lives to one another,

to families and to those who commit murder,

a buried trauma

creates an armor

around what remains unspoken

secrets

buried for decades in empty lots

forgotten and paved over.

In forests, the trees that witnessed evil deeds

weep for those who have fallen,

like tragic leaves, no one hears them,

the wind pulls them along

and steers them into the void.

In abandoned places, the last to remember

thaws these souls frozen in yearbooks.

Those who passed briefly

through towns and halls

become only whispers we barely recall,

wisps of remorse in the collective recourse of memory.

As the years wear on and take their contemporaries,

most become merely  stones in a cemetery,

marble mementos

the chiseled bookends

of a larger story

that would always outlast this body.

Marred by past violence

you must seek it out

beyond the withered ends of its silence.

They are elsewhere, for those who collect

the tattered remnants of what they leave behind.

What sustains wayward energy if not recognition?

Like the flash of a match in a dark corner

gasps a name and they remain.

conscious if never fully whole

these faces stuck

to a telephone pole

where torn missing person signs

are left to weather

the indiscriminate wind.

By staples they are held together

or whatever is left

it is always the eyes that stare back,

branded on my empathy a deep longing

to give them form,

a burning that waxes in words

satiates the urge

to warm the ghostly reverb

that radiates endlessly from one psychic wound.

When the heavy rain finally passes,

who knows where the waters will go?

Who names what they return to?

Like the energy inherent in someone’s essence,

it remains even after it passes,

like the scent of wet ginger in the forgotten places.

Night Came to Reamore Part 2

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When night came to Reamore the crickets were out.

The scared and trembling trees

crowded in on a pitch black lane

and if there was a moon

it would break through the gloom

and throw reflections

on the surface of a brook rambling through.

How many steps mingled with the tapping of a staff

on that particular night?

In the weeks leading up to his death,

Moss Moore felt as if he was being watched,

over pints and cards he was known to say to friends;

“He’ll be up there waiting for me”

assuming he meant Foley,

“One of these nights at the crossroads there will be a reckoning”

So, when he would stagger home well after dark,

it was always with a protective stick and a flash lamp

whose searching light would cast a furtive glance

at every meandering shadow,

for every twitch and drop of rain became trailing footsteps.

The last night he was seen alive

leaving Mrs Collins’

with the scent of the hearth stamped into his cloak,

he could be heard tapping his staff like a blind man

and with a lantern that bore into the night thick with fog

and into eternity beyond the bog

that receives our darkest runoff,

Moss would soon decay into his own destiny,

a light growing dim and further away.

Foley was presumed guilty of the deed

but no law could punish him.

The rain came, agent of mystery,

destroying any shred of evidence left.

Still, the town’s eyes rested on him alone,

whether fairly or not, he would bear the blame

and become outcast in his own home.

A final four years that would be met with silence and boycott,

amplified in that tiny village, he tried to remain with dignity

but the strain of being a pariah

would leave his body to desire release,

to ultimately give in to the strain

before he also was laid to rest,

death came by way of heart failure

No more today has been explained

about what happened in Reamore 60 years prior.

Conspiracies abound and Foley’s descendants

maintain his innocence, claiming a convenient scapegoat

for those who wanted Moss Moore out of the way.

Not much of it is said these days,

all that remains

is the scent at night on those darkened lanes.

The evil that had settled into that isolated corner

has grown dormant

and of Moss Moore and Dan Foley

there’s only brick and mortar in ruin

marking their former dwelling,

the source of rumor over one man’s felling,

for those old enough to remember

and re-assemble in their minds

the sinking sun

and the shadow on the lines of this tale,

there’s the shell of an infinite sadness,

a gable and a windowless desolation

that knows only a cold wind.

Rain still falls on these fields

and rushes through the ravines,

time passes and closure grows further away

as the last of those living at the time

recede into memory

like the last gasp of enmity a land can possess.

It seems to proclaim, that if anyone knows anything

they are taking it to their graves.

Moments Return to Eternity

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On some level I know I do not belong to this,

taut rope at the end of fine woven thread,

worn like a domestic noose,

nice and loose,

feet kicking out the distance

of mentionless miles

acquired to appease the urge to stay vital.

Those rapturous bells now hushed,

a dilapidated chapel at midnight,

only memory can read purity

on this soiled facade

whose rubble of relics

were boxed and closeted mementos

mapping our travel.

Crumbs on fine China plates

anticipate honeymoons ending,

reveal what’s lingering

beyond death carving into the best baked plans.

The knowledge cures us of naivety

but casting its shadow,

initiates a change.

Can we appreciate

the full scope of innocence re-arranged.

It’s disturbing when your own associations

service the undoing.

Stepping into that arena

you state your intentions,

asking for protection

to soften the steps of your treading,

while poems place a law

on moments that would otherwise decompose.

In the alcoves of a sprawling tree

I got to know your secrets well.

The once locked trunk

was like a psyche split open.

In the recesses you left offerings,

with Boo Radley you played hide and seek.

Turning down a shaded driveway,

pass the threshold

you tested like cool water.

Sandy slippers await your return,

underwater caves learn of what happened

beyond the wave break,

where familiarity shifts shape

and sharks devour us

in reef mouths a gape.

The black skin must have been

air tight India ink.

The sun slips through again,

stripping you of dark garments.

All the fear that followed you here,

become shadows

slinking to find sustenance elsewhere,

in some deep well beneath a canopy of thoughts,

in the eaves of trees

that do not sit still but walk,

when we weren’t watching,

moments return to eternity.

A Distorted Image that once had Symmetry

WALLOFWATER

You never seemed closer

than when the winter’s mirror

showed the moon through a window

we no longer shared together.

It had moved beyond the frame,

outside of the domestic pressures

to come to a consensus.

Arresting me now

from this unsteady position,

appearing marble over sculpted edges,

it succumbs to the falls.

For a time you receded

into the memory of travel.

What we felt was fixed

seemed to unravel

into a distorted image

that once had symmetry.

It was a shared architecture

balanced perpetually over water,

on the far end of slumber

we’d pass through Alhambra.

Light and shadow a shifting mosaic

perfecting the illusion of order.

It shades the gypsy within

a forgotten square,

somewhere the faint sound of strings

that know no completion.

All the poems resting in woven shoulder bags

share their scraps of awe,

untidy and retreating to far flung places.

There the moon is watching,

like an ancestral eye,

witness to the chaos

that in time plateaus.

It sees these windows are cleansed.

What we had closed is now flung open

as it ascends the back trellis,

cold sheets over the flower beds,

the moon is a punctuation of silence,

a trial that comes to completion,

an illuminated mile to float on

as time allows us to revive a dead ocean,

an unfolding dream

an unbroken seam,

as it coils around the wave break sound

to the far horizon where eyes bid farewell.

If this is my last view,

if today is a good day to depart

with a subtle wake,

it would always be worth it.