The Dream Lends Light to Darkness

lost city

Entombed under the weight of sleep,

it comes like a relief,

a blade of light pulled from a darkened sheath

In the midst of that jungle,

through the dense trees, a glittering El Dorado

appears through the lens

clear as a mountain stream.

From the deepest valleys

dreams nourish the source of words.

From watersheds, unconscious threads

follow cracks between rocks and the riverbed,

a silken transition

that transcribes light to the water’s edge.

The glass over this surface

scratched innumerable stories into liquid mirrors.

The illusion of today gone tomorrow,

the process words seem to follow.

Solitary thoughts with painted wings

point the way inspiration

lends light to temporal things.

Where the breeze mingles with the sky,

the imagination holds up the butterfly

seeking somewhere to land.

The sharp branches of Kiawe

do not ward off this delicate advance,

now coming into focus,

patterns of color to contrast

with the stark bark of reason.

Relenting once again

to the tumbling of events,

the breaking of waves,

the last gasp of energy

scattered like ash in an enchanted rain.

Dreams will burn brightly

through the smoke of illusion,

leaving fragments for the waking to reclaim.


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


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.


2 Night marchersharry cundell

A channeling of energy
wind reduced to a simple maneuvering
stream over stone
mist over peaks
how the spirit leaks into consciousness
a lush canopied recess
senses drunk on a chorus of Thrush
temporal glimpses of light
festooned on the branches
beneath the surface thread
a dream flickering
while art is fed through
this transparent spool
filling the vacancy
all that is required of synchronicity
to fit the edges into a discernible pattern.

Beyond haphazard vanity
there is something outside of me
maneuvering switchbacks
steeped in obscurity
sweat on the brow searching for this purity
but thirsty
creatively empty
a written rehearsal
an elegy
for a muse
hot on the heels
of her truancy
a runaway wandering
leaves me wondering
will our highways connect?
Will they reflect in glacial lakes?
On the road to the sun
these continents divide
while memories reside
like skid marks
on a scarred blacktop.

By boot or by car
passing scenes chart the uncertainty.
Akin to being adrift on a choppy sea
a bobbing figure drawn overboard
barely buoyant
against the recurring dark
currents of thought
that do not stop at the edge
but blur the boundary instead.
Here at the end
considering those long ago dead
they’ll trespass again.
Moonlight drives its keys over the Pali
a bright fleeing to the shadows of trees
ancient struggles maneuver through valleys
out of the corner of the eyes
on paths wound around stream and fall
as the lunar calendar would allow
a disembodied conch to sound
for that transparent crowd
to march down hillsides
to the rise of the drums
under the guise of clouds
they’ll meet the dawn
with dark streaks from torches drawn
against the western sky
not yet awakened
that glimmer in the mind’s eye
where the imagination maneuvers
through a parallel universe.

Empty is Everything


There’s a change in the air

brief flashes

shaded in El Greco skies

hammering messages

where mountains rise

but remain indecipherable

in the distance.

Behold the lucent wind gusts

shimmering in the light

transient angels in flight

shivering the landscape

from leaves to window panes

with a whistling refrain

as they pass into the distance.

Unprepared to sever completely

the warmth that holds you inside,

seeping into the skin

enveloping, sleeping in

to the collapse

of autumnal ash

in smoldering wood fires.

Its scented aura

expelled from the parlour

to halo chimneys

in the distance.

Through small drifts

the runaway is renewed,

clouds never stationary

but guided through our periphery,

leaving no trace

save a silent footprint

that borders the space

where the sky meets the sea

in the distance.

A bead of sweat

is a poem still wet,

 the stain of its ink

won’t cover the landscape we think,

evading rain

it’s driving and draining

your every thought,

laying the stone of this road

alternating dreams

with all you were taught

passed by way of blacktop

receding into the distance.

Memory is brightly guiding

in the darkest of places

bonfires on beaches,

so gather what you wish

until loosened from a gloved fist

that supple fish

swimming to far shores

years in the distance.

It is something to grasp at

but come up empty.

Well empty is everything…

to us anyway.

The Subtle Imprint


It appeared out of a dream

like the clay embryo of the sun

drawn over crystal waters.

It coalesces with rain

rippling the shimmering surface

of a day’s meditation

and if the indigo of ancient lakes

ever empties into darkness,

the people along the edges are there to gather,

in the places myths are still told

and out of the spoken word behold

a sky that is slowly born again.

There is an origin

to where the museum ends

and real life begins.

What is left of a dwindling offering?

Where wet hillsides and rivers twist

in stone sunrise and verdant mist,

through reverberating valleys

of earth and abode,

coils of smoke expelled

from exposed terre cotta,

rooftops that appear broken

from under the weight of the sky.


It appeared out of the corner of the eye,

these stairways that lead to the sun.

Figures moving out of the shade

on aching limbs that had just begun

to acclimate to the reverance

forming along the paths of an ancient host.

There were holes in the cliffs of empty graves,

ghosts passing through the outposts of whisper,

beyond the Incan windows of wind,

witnessing the wails

still captive upon the terraced emptiness

that conquers the walls

of perfectly geometric bricks.

Soon twilight is carved by the Urubamba.

Sacred valleys remain where they settled,

receiving a glimpse in the shadow of the tours,

the subtle imprint of ancestors.


It appeared spread before

these temples to the sun.

What has been lost?

What has been won?

These patterns of taking

destined to be repeated

long after the forms subside.

Spirits still pass through the openings

long after the conquerors divide.

Sacred pouches still sprinkle the rain

from a halo of cloud

obscuring with its shroud

all the messages from the unknown,

scrawled in cryptic symbols across the stone,

this venerable home of perfect symmetry.

Pass through the arches, look to the gods,

we are where we are meant to be.


Great Lengths


There’s another story to the one that is written,

emphasizing blank space rather than substance,

with rare feelings of bliss in this swirling mess of decision.

Without direction to witness the drifting,

places and languages change yet are still understood

to be suggestive and undefined, with nothing to turn to

for the ones leaving with a swift exit, perhaps understanding

that they cannot enclose the fleeting.

The great lengths they would go to fill the contours of dreams,

as buses follow highways and guides follow streams,

they’re pressing on.  Shells to the back,

slick was the path over the residue of what they would lack,

being strangers in a strange world.

Crossing borders, one after the other,

like the blind following the blind,

no words no guard rails to guide them

beyond mountains into vast distances,

where mysteries are scattered

monasteries of smokey silences

in the snow-capped peaks above Arequipa.

They appear like a mirage from out of the clouds

when soaked in the sun going down,

settling into every crack and spire,

gripped by those feelings of awe

they’ve gone great lengths to desire.

Up and down the Pan America

clinging to cliffs and tomorrow,

traveling lightly and unattached

to the heavy burden of sorrow,

to heat and cold lack of communication,

through outposts too remote to resemble

that which brings the sweet scent of ginger,

replaced by the smell of burning trash,

a pungent scent that unburdens the past

of all that is no longer portable

and cannot be fit in a pack,

to drag what is necessary

from bus to hostal

from boat to barrio

down pushcart streets

whose voices greet the silence

with peddling “pescado”.

They drag their tired frame to the next shelter,

waiting out the rain and the passing weather,

to follow the sparkling of stones

up to another in a long line of temporary homes.
The length of their stay, perhaps one night unknown.



Travel, Like a Stream that Runs Parallel


The days linger on,

like a rain that hangs

over the island’s

timeless embrace.

Streams trace the streets,

chase debris out to sea.

Perceive the occasional

floating flower petal,

fleeing like an insignificant detail,

a star amongst the gnarled traffic

of tree limbs and vine,

it becomes more profound in its travel.

Lapsing into symbolism

that will unravel

the mystery of unconscious scenes

just below the surface,

subterranean streams running parallel

to the lingering routines.

Suddenly the universe

and its lightning-infused

electricity of happenstance

conjures a crystallized moment,

a recognition of perfection,

 an art without the need of further correction,

a stage we can gracefully leave

what we preconceive

behind the mask of striving.

Reviving the beat, we dance in unison.

Poised for the next change in rhythm,

content to let the world of thought

fall away into its own revision.

Above the abyss of the audience,

we’re positioned on the cusp of decision.

Do we walk the fine line

or give in to expectation?


Asking not for support but momentum,

I come to this crossroads limping.

Trusting I’ll find my feet again,

a retreat into dreams again,

 a long and winding highway

that untangles the reeds

of someone’s needs,

enclosed in glittering ports,

those soft resorts

that line the shore

of your creative wasteland.

Now that it is light it is time to leave.

The colored roofs, the twisted routes.

There’s another bus to catch,

another town

of multi-colored pastels to undress.

On some ancient Calle

framed by cacti,

a whole stretch of valley lays before me.

You can hear the distant horns

in courtyards, mariachi.

Do not disturb the stray

asleep in the doorway.

Leaning against a wall,

I pull a brim hat over my eyes.

No need to disguise

how good it feels to be alive

under foreign skies again.

To reach for the sun

that blazed through what was barren.

To feel the rain

 that glazed a green hue to the hilltops

that fill you with the desire

to play chase with the clouds

above the chapels,

stepping from one to the next,

until finally you become a tiny speck

on the horizon.