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

maxresdefaultmoore

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

aband-Small-gothic-chapel1

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.

Tsunami, what may have been

gpw-20050103l-NOAA-theb2705
In light of imagining what may have been,
tsunami anxiety reveals a place to be more water than land,
flimsy and wafer thin
mole hill made into a mountain,
we may elevate but are we ever truly safe?
Our precious lives on thin strings,
lines of parked cars unraveling like beads
into a sea that comes to strip all to necessity.
It recedes in whitewash,
building on the horizon like a layer of static,
a distant transmission becomes a warning,
a gargantuan trick of the eye
and you have to look twice,
lulled by disbelief,
nature’s brief revelation to the damned.
It now doubles forward
with the force of a cataclysm.
The sound of sirens and countless alarms
scatters the mob at shoreline charmed,
freezing the clocks,
when reasoning stops, there is only survival.

Before the buildings and bridges fell,
doomsayers would yell out
“Get to higher ground!”
Animals growing restless in their cages
bird silence punctuates the ages
between the impending pause
and the tightening claws
that clamp down and than recede,
baiting the breadth of the sea
to come forward again, but so quickly!

If there was something you could grab hold of
when that muddy bullforce of machine debris
and blood topples all in its path,
sweeping the land free in one gasp,
it laps at the foot of fallen mountains
before returning again
over the scene of the crime so to speak,
that no man’s land
that leaves only street signs like bent bristles,
telephone poles and lines
crucified and adrift against concrete barges,
the swirling wood of toppled garages
merging into one mangled shape.
Who escapes that hulking mass
of steel and glass city
folding in on itself like a fault line rift?
Everything slips into that darkening plain,
each interval more acute,
the leveling destruction, the degree of pain
and in the eternity of time it takes between waves,
what remains is the realization,
that it has just begun.

Bloated bodies bob up
to float spread eagle
like horrible rafts
through the gutted aftermath,
tied in tourniquets of earth,
channeled like a capillary burst,
inside to out, everything is reversed
and when that terrible day wanes
and the ugly liquid drains
what you’ll see resembles massacres on a battle plain
and like the smoldering of trash-heaped dumps
on the edges of humanity,
people will come to comb the debris for loved ones,
to pull a familiar face
from the disfigured disappearing act,
the double feature of disaster and aftermath
merging in an amorphous mass.
making a mockery of innocence, exposing our helplessness,
we felt it quiver
those comfortable strings that hold it together,
revealed as so flimsy
in the light of this tragedy,
how in an instant it can all be ripped away,
swallowed by the crack that reveals this reality
was underneath it all along.

Collective Memory Cryptic Topography

lanihuli-in-the-rain

Allowing light to penetrate this cryptic topography.

The sun accentuates its elliptic identity

from above, a translucent jade

ensconced the loss and uncompromising decay

like the texture of a masquerade

cloaked in symbols to unnerve

the jungle’s passion play.

All the secrets were concealed

footprints and past evidence sealed

behind a cordoned clearing

irreparable sin

all manner of excess and fascination

expresses itself in backwater reflections.

Dark waters seized in the stream bed

where weeks of rain and flood merge

limb and blood

vine wound bone rock

hair strewn skin

all coarsing within the accepting earth.

The canopy takes another breath

initiating a rebirth

from what rooted us to death,

a banyon tightened noose

and sometimes they are never cut loose

but you imagine it and are held in thrall,

left to heed compulsion’s call,

to fill a page torn from the mystery

like leaves from a tree in pendulous pause

without a soul to witness

the collaborating forest

while tongues of mist

whisper of its myths

on distant peaks.

When silence speaks,

it’s through the wind

an invocation,

buoyant and blanketing

the sharpest contours

softening in the rain and cloud shadow

able to penetrate passages narrow,

cautious by approach,

a barely audible voice

from the minaret of choice

lost in circles under a darkened dome

you come to the remains of a forgotten home

just beyond the crossroads,

 a ruin from antiquity

to leave offerings of wisdom

on the altars of the collective memory.

 

Only a Beginning

Pali Tunnel

Into the Abyss

The sense of loss

pushes in upon the edge of thought

altering the fate of lines,

the rings in a mandala’s design.

How many deaths do we endure

on the way to the center?

How many breaths restore

a sense of balance

for a mind spinning in circles?

Unmoored introspection

glancing out or looking within

whatever the predilection

that distorted image at the end of the portal

completes our reflection.

Thoughts, impressionable words torn from books,

lifted from venerable drawers in the earth,

bloodied, soiled, pulled from the root,

hung on the walls

like a bouquet of moss

drained of all hope,

memories, frail flowers

gone up in smoke.

 

The loss of a child invokes the deepest sympathy

but a choice of words cannot encompass its totality.

They cannot net, comfort nor comprehend

for no one will experience an end in the same way.

Words out of scope to its scale

varied is the infinite it will veil

in those living to one day embrace

a fragmentary trace of its meaning.

Words won’t be there to buffer the shockwaves

they cannot fill the emptiness

of standing over their graves

no word can capture the feeling

of glass wounds from a shattered ceiling

that transparant canopy of innocence

falling in shards

safety’s a house of cards

once sturdy as stone

now crumbling into sand

washing into the unknown.

 

Loss brings with it a sense of permenance.

No purpose to positively identify

what’s in passing.

Recurring states of arrival and departure

where endings become beginnings.

Between them we’ll suffer our goodbyes

tested by all we’ll leave behind

longing for one firm memory of cohesion

to secure as an anchor

in this turbulent harbor.

 

The shadow of loss creeps up behind

to follow at your heel.

Dodge the knowledge if you must

but inevitably it will reveal,

while it overtakes you,

 a mark on your life’s canvass

 a subtle residue in the lines

of your most guarded expressions.

The scent of loss in the clothes of closure

for the mother of the disappeared

only will cry when she’s alone.

Carefully tending to what she can control

planting a garden over the now gaping hole.

Scratch the surface to see the scars

the aftermath of fire, the runaway cars,

the silence of a vacant road

her baby discarded and unclothed.

Carefully examine her eyes

to find sharp inquiries

into all the questions “why?’

Why me indeed

dropped in deep pools of sorrow

deep pools from heavy rain

to gaze into her pain

and find your reflection.

She’s a precious flower of deception

facing sunsets, appearing strong

but frozen this flower

enduring the greying winter long

accepting change

as another season falls away

pictures fade and family portraits crack

enduring love fills the space

holding up what it lacks.

Holding on for so long

without letting go,

all the pain dissolves into itself

from the night she received the news

by word of mouth

that the light in her life

has suddenly blown out.

A once sound haven

now full of decay

 a harsh wind stirred up the surface

carrying the precious particles away

like a sudden impact

in the loose sea floor sand

everything swirling in the current

being carried further and further from land.

 

The setting sun meets the sea

giving up its deep

the sorrow from all the rivers we’ll weep.

Thoughts travelling through the tunnel into the abyss at night

reaching nothing but a terrifying insight

that the longer we live, the more we’ve lost.

We can hold a currency of words

but what does loss cost?

In terms of sadness?

Grief prayed into a cross?

Those left in the dark

long for the sun to come up again

to know somehow as they are bending

 upon the edge of night

that it isn’t an ending

but only a beginning.