The Pali Revisited

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The Pali,

that dark depository for all that passes through it.

Wind, wheels, energy,

psychic imprints left like tire marks on the periphery.

The forgotten past straddles median lines with the present,

relapsing in the flash of headlights

like the sudden reflection of moonlight across the eyes,

mysterious pools beneath a canopy’s disguise.

The light finds its way through coils and folds,

illuminating those trapped in banyan choke holds.

It is calculating, seizing hosts, sinister in time.

Simultaneously, it is the substance to the darkness

where the spirit descends,

intermediary for this marriage that depends

on the synchronicity of strangers

thrust into one another by seed or by accident,

punctuated by a rain that stirs up

all that lay dormant in dark contours.

The road follows its bends,

unravelling thoughts that never end,

sucked into tunnels, a gaping mouth

that funnels the fear

from one generation to the next,

born out of these corners, legends endure.

Over windward’s steep ravine,

some took the curve too sharply,

dead teens in careening trajedy

comingle in red clay.

With no shoulder to lean

over this auto graveyard,

flashlights will gleam off derelict fenders

and last screams linger over the screetch of brakes.

This pain re-awakes in those who suffer in silence

while wind accentuates the absence.

deeper into that forest of loss,

older passages trail off to no answer.

Wind, an instrument for a troubled mind,

sets in motion the swaying vines,

caressing wet air, dangling hair

descending from cool heights where

a mist would appear, is it more than it seems?

Does it backdrop the myth, will it penetrate dreams?

The Pali leaves you stranded again,

tricking you with voices and visions,

so you place alms in the crux of stones for fallen victims,

offer empathy, lest we disturb what is underneath,

skulls the highway keeps,

tunnels cursed to know the interior of burial caves.

How many workers unfortunate to find shallow graves,

tie Ti leaves to truck beds before driving it again?

That endless loop wound tightly to the mountain’s circumference,

straddling that extraordinary line

between the material and the spirit,

darkness and the divine.

The Pali, a psychological barrier,

intermediary for whatever you bring over.

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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.

Endless yet Incomplete

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The spirit dreams itself through the land
to stand now gazing
through reflecting pools
at the myriad features
like masks on the wall
in this theater of skin.
Scenes to glow from within
like diamonds in an abyss
appearing endless yet incomplete.

Into purple rest
the sun now retreats over the ridge
kicking up cinders, shooting out prisms
until its first incision
will give life again to these sleepy limbs.
As day breaks the shadowplay,
Aurora will peel away
a ripple in the wave
revealing a wrinkle in the renewal
of birdsong that breaks the barrier
between beginnings and endings
the time babies are born
and elders pass away.

Some live on this edge,
balancing their tragedy every day.
Unable to feel deeply
the empathy between strangers,
the frightening familiarity
in a fear of ending up lonely.
This illusion appears to be
the last mist to lift
from the rift that keeps us separated
by the towering upheaval
that leaves us sifting
through the rubble of the bliss
we once knew had no division.

The Old Pali Road Part 2

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The Liminal Veil
The Old Pali is spread liminally
throughout the pages
of some great mystery.
Like a cave comes the curve of the next corner.
The drive of curiosity,
the momentum, the velocity
of feet, wheels and thoughts
careening to a motion of their own.
Pulled into wind-blown trees
to greet the unseen,
to embrace this draw,
the magnetic motioning claw of the unknown.
Down its throat you’ll go alone,
with raised skin
with a sensation
that cannot be confined
to the comfortable coffins of reason.
Expanding belief, this brief revealing,
another bend, another curve,
the suggestion of a fantastic swerve
through the imagination.
There’s a collective remorse that spews forth from the Pali,
the aftermath of a skewed course
witnessed in the charred remains
pinned to the trunks of trees.
The paranormal silhouette of shadows
and banyans that strangle out the sunlight,
dripping dappled on the two-lane.
Leaves and ash are dragged by passing cars,
slowing to take in the crash,
gasps the wreckage attracts
to leave tire marks in muddy cul-de sacs
and flowering mementos on makeshift altars.

There’s quiet echoes of something whispering
“Cover me in blacktop, bone and blood”
on the backs of leaves and the bark of trees.
It is full of scars,
the headlights of mangled cars
as  it twists into the dark heart of the island,
layered with violence and trauma.
It is here on the Old Pali,
left between night and morning,
that hairpin turns
plunge into oblivion with no warning.
More than simply a road,
there is something left of the jungle
and the invading arbor
as roots and massive trees
break the concrete.
Much relates to the briefly seen,
running riot in the corners of the eyes,
in rear view mirrors the overhanging vines
lingering in light shafts
that illuminate the blacktop
contrast with cool shadows.
The smell of rain and cracked seed,
soiled wetness
sticking to dense barriers of green.
The sound of a stream running somewhere underneath.
The scrape of leaves,
vagrant and small,
led down a wind-blown hall
that speaks of an immeasurable crack
in the high peaks
perceived through breaks in the canopy.
The Old Pali holds all of this mystery.

There’s a fragile wall that withstands the wild.
Along this hairpin border,
civilization loosens its grip year after year.
There’s a veil between the imagination and the material,
labeless, luminous
like a match against the blackness of midnight
and the heaviness that crowds in from all sides.
The lips of the road foaming
at the corners of its mouth after the rain.
The walls are forming letters,
like messages from the dead,
scrawled in moss.
The ominous presence of giant trees
embrace the huddled shapes underneath.
Tears running down trunks
as if the forest was weeping.
Hung up in mist, there’s an infinite sadness
that manifests itself to the sensitive
passing along the road that sorrow built,
passing beneath those peaks and misted quilt,
which is a doorway to the spirit world.

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Dead End Gestures

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Towards cloud windows of windward beckoning,

a subtle change in lighting

sees shapes manifest out of shadows

entranced

while spirit and reason

moved together and danced

across the ridges, up the range’s spine,

sharp contours carved in the sky,

mirrors vast sea floors

in an ancient design.

 

In fields of vision,

notes are getting overgrown.

Scenes wet gesturing to the sun

smooths this continuation,

where you’ve only just begun

to see beyond dead end details,

revealed out of the corners of the eye,

those hairpin turns that conceal grave outlines.

Leaves awaiting new wings,

appeal to the wind.

All is just out of reach,

simple gestures

that teach of a transient patience,

until the mist on the peak speaks

through the moss-hewn pages

of a weathered book,

through the placid passage

of a wizened brook

maneuvering over stones,

the ancient fire’s bones,

to sink into waters that hold

the buoyant unknown.

 

Like the ink that slowly drips from a hand,

it slips into oblivion,

where most poetry appears to be living.

Seems the finest thoughts

were the ones we’ve lost to moderation,

as if to curtail that wellspring

from bubbling to the surface

again and again.

Father of fragments broken from the whole.

The moon, as if dislodged, moves into the window.

Full of primitive etchings and a glow

that is more than a simple guide

but a halo of strange origins

whose light seems to lord

over the landscape of the soul.

We gained an entrance within

through loss of control and intoxication.

A moment’s fascination

gives rise to chicken skin,

before follicles fall away into crevices,

subtly witness the metamorphosis

of line into line, choice word into rhyme,

until buried under flimsy layer

upon flimsy layer in time.

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Somewhere Swallowed

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A Stranger here.

Growing out of strangled remains.

Once native, now hybrid

alien and abominable

almost beautiful.

A living sculpture of contorted bodies

camoflaged and hidden

amongst the thicket.

Some believe spirits descend it,

through limbs burrowing

as if legs dangling

longing to re-root

in some deep mystery

characterized by swaying,

transformed from out of the decaying

transposition by angels,

arms praying to the sky.

Absorbed in time,

in the scrutiny of its shade,

sedentary and watchful portal

causing slight shudders of uneasiness

to this passerby, unable to resist

 feeling there is more

than the eye and the mind

can entwine together.

It’s best not to confirm with a second glance,

that which should not be there,

that which compels you to penetrate deep.

From roads to unpaved paths

unmarked trails into the lapse on maps.

Going with a combination

of curiosity and apprehension

into a lush invisibility.

Confronted by vine

 too vague for fear,

a danger with no identity.

Something seizes your senses.

The path grows smaller

the strain to follow

the last vestige of order,

all straight thinking

is drowned out by the deafening stream

of sinking into it lost.

You’ve slowed,

steps more difficult,

all is obscured

by the green forgotten greeting

to the unseen shapes

of the unexpected,

shivering through

the unfamiliar setting

of somehow audible breathing.

Heartbeats betray your position

to eyes seemingly everywhere.

Everything within you freezes

as curiosity squeezes

through the banyan’s limbs

to mount fear and go where

the jungle resumes its

untrampled and unkempt conquering

of all around it.

The jungle,

capable of anything imaginable

and going beyond it.

 

The imprint remains visible

in the hillside, a recess,

 a seizmic crack

like a wound that is as fresh

as a sudden flashback,

like trampled grass

this landscape is

deformed and precious.

Left with a probing, 

  a seeking of direction,

resolution, solid safety.

No bandage can cover

the unspeakable remnants

scratched from an immeasurable darkness.

There is a pitiful light

in the valley of ink,

a jaw sinking its teeth

into TI leaves

meant to ward off evil.

Drawn on

Breaking that barrier.

Not knowing where to step,

how to stop?

A worm on a knife’s edge,

haven’t we all been there?

Alone and wandering

on the far side of the rail.

Did they ever fail to find you?

Out there somewhere swallowed.