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.

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts that Wander Dark (shaking hands at the end)

a8d21c1f-b192-4ea9-b3ff-e989a7f5c524shad fgI know these thoughts that wander dark .

While traveling we coalesced briefly,

as strangers when neither offered shelter,

out beyond the city lights,lying in forests

almost too quiet to be pacified.

Back East, where the Atlantic is brewing storms,

darkened they would form from the subconscious,

until  breaking over Montauk,

memory grows full of the sound

of wave grain scraping pebbles,

descending, with salty skin,

smooth as seal wash,

like shipwrecks to subterranean sand,

it is never solid ground on which we stand.

A weeping, for all of us sinking.

Thoughts going abruptly dark,  drowning

like sailors with no one’s mourning to lift them,

only loosened garments , black and torn,

strewn across the sky like an aborted skin.

It takes the form of storm clouds and bellowing wind

to shake widow’s peaks and usher in

a spray of gulls, deranged and white,

with cries like a piercing reprise.

In the dunes a string of flowers endures,

while burning forests of evergreen

cast down the safety screen,

thrusting us once more into tenuous positioning.

The horror inherent in a charred landscape,

the specter of cancer haunting our mutated shapes,

we’re absorbing the next tragedy through the TV,

breathing deeply the Autumn scent of gunpowder and spotfire.

Out beyond the reflection of light on the surface of the sea,

gasoline ignites  from underneath,

so you get to know the inverse as well,

for the source of words can transform wounds to beauty,

like streaks of light that adorn the sky,

a holiday to the eye though it temporarily blinds

into forgetting that we all must one day die.

The body cannot sustain this creativity.

At it’s peak, it used these techniques

to attempt immortality.

High upon the mountain, it gains traction on the stars.

Till far below it sings odes to the river that washes out to sea.

Down the road you migrate through the mirage in a distant bend,

calling to the future like an estranged friend,

shaking the hand of what comes to meet you,

once again putting aside the folly

of aimlessly grasping at the illusion of permanence

amidst the totality of an eventual end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 evil  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

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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.

She Stepped out of Time

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A solitary white shoe lies at a fork in the path.  Who it belonged to was nowhere to be seen, not since July of 1941, when at the corner of Chatham and Marianna she stepped into a black car and out of time, leaving only questions in the decades of search that followed a torrent of remorse.  How the image of a forlorn shoe on a forest path can act as a trigger, pulling at the material, smearing it with mud and neglect, unraveling the mystery of an overly active mind as it searches for resolution among the empty bottles and other remains.  Years go by and the story gets drained of its lustre, paths leading only to dead ends. Just off of that road that twists through the pasture, infamous for its bends and with a reputation that lends to the atmosphere.  Thick was the surrounding wood and swamp alder. A solitary white shoe illumed by moonlight on the forest floor, fallout from a black car, like a prop that would suggest much more of misplaced trust than anything else as it tiptoes into time’s tragedy.  Like the dog-end of a cigarette, it is strewn over the psychic wound in the landscape, inanimate object from the distant past still holds a powerful resonance as its cautionary tale is suspended like headlights in the fog.  Keep your loved ones close, or at least hold on to that illusion as that car draws nearer.  It appears ancient and square-backed, what sets its wheels in motion also seals shut the heavy metal doors.  As it passes, all of life get reflected in its windows.  You’ve only a moment to notice the details, half-asleep from the passenger side.  Some roads are bumpier than others, like it or not we go along for the ride.

How many miscellaneous articles like this one are destined to the fate of evidence, that this individual once existed?  Now merely a pine grove stone for remembrance, with no loved ones left to maintain.  While the shoe will remain in a police cabinet or where it was left to the elements, to the corrosive rain.  Memories can live in attics and lover’s lanes, dilapidated sheds and sometimes in plain sight.  We can distance ourselves but they do not disappear.  You can hear their tiny footsteps like frequencies along the webs the imagination gets tangled in.  A white shoe shimmering in a forgotten corner, belonging to the ghosts of fading yearbook photos.  She would have walked with them through the halls of English, spying the tower down Oakwood as you did but in a different era and over the expanse of sea and night, like a coastal beacon casting its light, shortening the distance suggested by time, so there in the forest it lies, a solitary white shoe and who it belonged to subtly reveals something of her essence again.

 

In Memory of Frances Cochran

 

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.

The Wound

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When night finally collapses,

dawn is the wound through which the light passes.

As the great moon, in the trajectory of its swoon,

consolidates to day,

witness its fade into listless clouds

braced for a fall

with only a thin gauze

to soak up the remains of its thaw.

Beyond the slumber of the creator

behind the shear walls of the crater,

smoke fills the windswept precipice,

smoldering beneath the retreat of dark,

the sun was the first spark, the most prominent streak

that flashed across the page.

With a pause to peek over the edges,

it’ll teeter like an illuminated feather

spreading under waves of undulating color

blinding the horizon’s climatic ending.

If words parted the veil of memory,

starting a slow descent from its volcanic cavity,

bright lines would burn from an inner landscape like a vision,

over fields of new growth with regeneration.

Through each entity, no construct spared

nor offered immunity,

it clears every border

progressing towards her sea

where sharks of the subconscious,

sensitive to emotional debris,

encircle the tattered remnants of the past

sinking slowly into shadow,

eclipsing the material

with shades of stained glass in eternity.

Like a prism, the light passes through

even the deepest wounds eventually.