It Sweeps up these Remains

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Morning
and you’d swear someone was there to share it with you.
The scent of shadows in the dim light
discouraged where the passage narrows.
Vacant districts bear the distance between familiars
as the streetcar lingers
into the bells of Mission Dolores.
It seems to river the sorrow of derelict streets
where homelessness meets opulence
in the clash of sidewalk belongings and locked gates.
In the citied layers of fate,
there’s always a remnant of what came before.
A voyant’s place in it reads of inspiration
before it recedes into nostalgia
pushing fog down alleys
intersecting with emptiness
drained of pints in Dylan’s no longer,
traced with gold paint
that trails off into the night you never went gently
but merged with the solitary city motion
spinning with urgency
attracting all the sensory possibility
that was freewheeling towards you.
I’d never permanent any decision
nor create a situation
I couldn’t leave at the drop of a hat,
at least it used to be like that.

Travel sweeps up the remains
of an old fabric
left under the surface of places once passed through.
Autumn gathers leaves for the burning,
a dormant persona under the sleeves of yak skin,
layers of driftwood words
pushed towards a back pocket,
a pendant around the neck
of beaches bathed in the glow of early morning
move you.
Pushing open the doors of dreamlike half-light
spilling onto the same Folsom abandon,
somehow still wholesome in its randomness.
The simple fact that these places still exist,
lush, peopleless,
I know the scent well,
the strange perfume of the road
mixed with campfire in your fibers,
damp backpacks covered by rain-soaked ponchos,
the kind that grow fond on you
and familiar as an old friend,
the kind you pick up hitching back into town
or embrace in winter when the cold clings to them
as they stamp out boots and come indoors.
It is the scent of the night
and speaks of far shores
of open answers
of freedom and chance
whose features are fading in time’s expanse,
fractured into aspects that remain
from all that came before.
What is the soul of a place
save that which is evident yet inexpressible?
Told through the very details that moved you.

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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.

 

 

 

This Restless Collection

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This restless collection,

as seen from the Tobin Bridge.

Shifting scenes

of distant steeples and obelisks

gleam against dusk.

Blackened boats appear lodged

in the deserted clay of Mystic rivers,

a passing stillness juxtaposed

with far neon horizon

glows a fiery pink sun

tied in a tourniquet

of Chelsea street wires

rising in glistening webs

above triple-decker pigeoned beds,

where decrepit stairways

become stoops to stare away

into the still blue hue of the night sky.

It is indeed East

and only the windows

keep out the smell of the sea.

It takes an ocean to remind me

my true current is like no other,

but a restless collection of the old and new,

driven through the rattle of cars,

the racket of hammers and saws,

no construction can cover over completely

its darker history.

Claims of witchcraft, betrayal and mystery,

nineteen innocents strung up in a Salem tree,

stained remnants lifted off of Giles Corey.

A moment for reflection for restless souls

as ancient bells into churchyards empty.

All these layers

held in the ice and sullen brick,

passing through the melting drip of alleys that I knew as a kid.

This restless collection no longer hidden

three decades ago,

the cold rain

washed away the season’s first snow

as it does today

despite what is underneath it.

For every place I’ve been finds the same pattern.

It seems painted and perceived,

if not tainted and deceived,

sewn into the strands I’ve received

ragged from the road,

experience hardened into its frame.

I feel the ravens of memory claw at me,

their restless collection

on unsteady limbs is necessary,

like every tear in the thread,

even if ultimately it needs to be shed.

 

Salem Massachusetts1

The Old Pali Road. Part 1

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Intro
In the old days
travel over the Pali wasn’t taken for granted.
In the days before the 4 lane and the tunnel,
offerings were still made for safe passage.
Whenever one braved its twisting road built of earth and bone,
carved into volcanic stone, it awaits,
canopied by monstrous trees
so that hardly any light would lead you through the gauntlet’s gates.
Challenging both physically and mentally,
one confronts the myth and reality.
Much of it depends on your disposition
for something begins to take hold the deeper you go in,
something over the shoulder, vague and unsettling,
the forest all around you, flourishing,
in places invading, veins turning to vine,
everyone has their threshold and in time
 may re-root
to be pinned like a vice
between here and the other side.
Between the wall of wind and the shroud of mist,
the Old Pali is, in essence, a precipice
that since ancient times has swallowed many.

Part 1.  A Dead End Relationship

The Old Pali,
where nightmares are like notches on a frayed belt
that winds its way tightly around the imagination.
One corpse felled glittering remains
in the sun and cloud shadow.
It may be missed
under the mist of time but they are tied together,
seems the Pali claimed another.
Perhaps an Akua or sacrificial altar,
whatever the legend, it appears shrouded in mystery.
Startled by your own shadow,
clouds crawl down hillsides to consume you,
like your obsession
for those who have fallen and made an impression.
For those looking for a guide,
the clouds were paper lanterns over the eye
that leads them to the leaping point by moonlight.

Along the road that winds through the past,
time hangs suspended,
limbs gently swaying in the breeze,
layer upon layer of leaf and debris,
hiding the discarded,
myth and history heaped on its shoulder,
unearthed with every blasted boulder,
until bones are covered over
with a damp and mossy concrete.
For those passing through their shadow,
the concrete shifts to the immaterial.
In this liminal place of dark wood and narrow light,
we crawl to the edges of a stark insight,
that nothing awaits save what we bring inside
the condemned palace of the mind’s eye.
So we become dark tourists for all the sordid stories
that pilgrim down a derelict road,
whose text is scrawled in scars and on abandoned cars,
spray painted on the walls thick with loss
like a moss that gives it a translucent glow.
Looked at in a certain light,
it is a flight from the city,
a flight of fancy into the phantastic past
where certain things endure,
so traumatic they cannot help but linger
in the swarming subconscious
of the last person who will remember it.
You pass through there
and a part of you merges with it forever.
The kind of permanence that a snapshot fails to show
but the sensitive may get to know on a moonless night.
Pitch black are the contours
appearing like cracks in the forest
that is a living, breathing witness to everything.
There’s a wind to its will
that shakes all that is predictable.
A Wilder wind that wails through the boughs and limbs
and you feel in everything, that there is more than what it seems.
With little resistance you fall into its embrace,
chasing dark shapes, flashing lights,
formless flights on the Old Pali
as it slithers out of sight.
Follow the wall
that intersects the civil and the wild.
Stripped of foundations,
slow driven to exile.
If thoughts get locked in a bamboo prison,
look for a guide of light,
may it shoot through in prisms
and see you to safety.

This darker inverse
to the bustling city commute.
The Old Pali, a parallel place,
is at root an intermediary,
a dead end where you keep going.
There is always rain here
as it aids in the unknowing.
A dead road the city closed,
could not be monitored nor maintained.
Too much has happened at night,
terrible remnants just off the shoulder,
beyond the police tape,
so they closed it behind gates,
letting the walls become overgrown with roots
and the surrounding jungle sprawls
into a dumping ground for the discarded.
A dead end for the dark hearted,
always parked there in a white Valiant.
Are these apparitions all in the imagination?
The first thoughts cobble into nowhere.
Between the stone and the stream,
the substance and the dream,
the first road under the brush of time
that painted it impenetrable.
The distraught come to follow its cracked pavement,
like all the fractured friendships
and loved ones they’ll leave behind.
Until they find on edges a precarious balance,
perched above where it submerges
into the primary texture
of the pain-washed receptor
that lies below their disappearance.

The Past as Parallel

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In the darkness of isolation

In the void that was the mind,

it was like entering a vast mangrove

decaying under the skin of what’s left behind.

Discovering the discarded

words reverent with sweat,

rain-wet and intimate

beads coarsing over mossy limbs.

Stream swollen red runoff

from slopes in a deluge of thoughts.

Once inside, you reach for the quiet.

Lost in a riot of bramble

held in the chaos as you scramble

along parallel paths.

The air is thick with flies

forbidden fruit feast on echoes and cries

carried over from emotions

that which is all too human.

 

Quivering in a pool of your reflection,

hidden faces barely seen in shifts of light

emerging from a canopy

dense enough to hold out the sky

porous enough to bear the sublime

pit pat pattern of droplets

like unseen footsteps all around you,

trickling to accompany the past

that parallels this stunning topography. 

 

The forgetting is everywhere.

Become partner to the trees

so it won’t leave you bare.

Your roots meander

in tendril searching over the floor

with jungle longing

for something solid

amidst the rumor and folklore.

This insatiable siege

suggests the answers will be relieved

into the ink-fed precipice of words

spreading at your feet.

Going over the falls

and through narrow ravines,

down the halls of hidden trauma

into hollow caverns of forgotten dreams,

the scarred remnants of its impression

seems to inform your progression.

Going deeper by broken fingernail

darker by heavier breathing

deeper where the blood runs colder

in the currents of the largest ocean,

you won’t stay afloat much longer,

sinking beneath the surface

of a pull that is much stronger

than any resistance you could muster.

Deeper where the sun won’t shine

darker on the underbelly of the sea,

where I’ll still be scratching for the light

in the night you give me.

 

The ocean sometimes spares its knowledge

but holds a secret share

of shells to contain

that which remains vacant,

claimed by accident

gathered by the net

you set beneath the structure

of its perpetual geography.

This ship is bound for the imaginary.

Its dimensions wound in a translucency.

When the faith of its course

gets severed from any link,

it spirals down the drain

like a tiny fragment

in a giant sink.

Before vanishing,

before being lost at sea,

your vessel got tangled in the Sargasso,

scattered in the brightened debris.

It goes where the sun dies,

radiant was its last expression,

bobbing on the horizon,

its final ecstatic recession

into the night.