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

 

Where Words go Unspoken

cranes-buildings

The old timers say it is not breaking the same.

Out there beyond the shipped in sand,

waves peel like a sticker

off a fake ocean

in a Waikiki gift shop postcard

framing sunsets between idyllic palm trees.

Beyond the manufactured images that sell vacations,

stalk the cranes

chipping away at what remains of undeveloped land.

Their insatiable beaks bent on destruction

then reconstruction,

they’re omnipresent ushers only to obstruction.

In the pretentious lobbies of plastic hotels

you hear the glass chatter of conversations going nowhere,

much like the valley roads

sought to drown out the city lights

running red through the clay

like swollen drains where flash floods bled,

where a Ko’olau shadow is lifting

from the trees like a fingerprint.

It has all the markings of a familiar hand

tracing the deepest recesses

where words go unspoken.

A chronicle of breath

as it trembles the glistening webs

between thickets of bamboo branches,

a wind instrument in motion,

in nearly choreographed dances

amongst the rain chaos that creases the fabric

of the forest’s malo folding in on itself.

Storms consume the once visible trails

where signs of struggle and uprooting

reveal partial conclusions to the dissolution,

the rest of the story is unspoken,

like the cold silence in a tragedy

slow to reveal that no one wishes to remember

but still can feel the tremors of violence

as clouds pause timeless

bound to Tantalus.

Coming from behind

the illuminated eyes of a dark profile,

morning brings a treason of light

to shatter the night like a verdict,

reverberating through the injustice,

through all the darkness enclosed in files,

filling up cabinets and dusty shelves,

unresolved in our selves

as we prop up the much larger abyss

with a loss of innocence.

 

 

Words to Describe Flames

goddess pele

Arrested in writing

words to describe flames.

A child’s home in Pahoa

starts with a spark

only to succumb to lava fields by dark.

The dry hissing slow progress

of wounds re-opened,

blood readies along the edges

biblical in the silent hedges

of night’s crackling amber

that flares up than cools

like the hardened remains of coals,

who knew it could hold in the heat for so long?

Backtracking over memory’s seared steps,

you get perilously close

to the word that describes it best.

So close you can sense

the full breadth of the fire,

through autohypnosis

it is harnessed by the writer,

like a waking dream

a half state

it baits a tiny voice behind the mind

to mime words

from the lips of its author submerged.

Here, fragments of unfinished poems,

swamp alder and charred wood

become the bones of a story

bivouac  on the periphery

of urban legends that transcend time,

haunting the sense of place,

transfixed on dark roads

behind the village unconscious,

there appears an apparition,

a white lady

who on the island is a manifestation

of the goddess Pele.

The flash of a lighter

brightens the tragedy,

recalling what happened here

from the lips of last whisper

you hear of someone’s daughter

made to swallow fire.

Sinuous details

of cold cases never closed

make themselves known at the crossroads.

There’s a crack in the asphalt

a fork in the path

for the curious to collect light.

There’s a black patch on the contours

for a spark of insight.

A subtle word darts honeycombed

between clouds coalesced by tissue flames,

enlightening for a moment,

you can almost grasp it

though it never remains.

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 1

b284be07-725e-4304-a6fa-55bd674b57a0moss moore

Night came to Reamore in November of 58

followed by Gardai, reporters and uniformed officers in galoshes.

They were searching the bogs for a missing man.

A cap was found at a stream bottom, a broken staff,

a flashlamp buried in a turnip field.

All through the mud of those relentless days

of winter weather they combed the countryside

leaving no stone unturned

When it finally dried out,

Moss Moore’s body was found strewn in a ravine,

face down in sodden clothing,

it was a tragic scene

for a gallery of onlookers

who had gathered along the edges

as investigators flashed their cameras,

you could see on their faces

a look of wonder mixed with horror

as one of their own was plucked like turf from the land.

By nightfall the rumor mill was running through Reamore,

a rural and isolated corner of County Kerry

that will be forever associated with this murder

and steeped in its infamy.

Every ravine is carved by its own history.

In every field there’s the story behind the story.

In the quiet bogs where neighbors cut peat for each other,

sometimes blood trickles amid the brooks that separate land.

Among those elements, both natural and man made, that divide people,

there is something primitive in upholding these boundaries of land.

In these layered hills of stove smoke and misty light,

sweat and pride is enclosed by stone walls

and tied like wire to the divider lines,

something men claim as their own

driven like a stake,

their own bones

running deep into the muddy ground.

It may seem nondescript,

this particularly narrow strip of preserve

but contained in it was a powerful urge,

the capacity to take another man’s life.

They say Dan Foley killed Moss Moore

that winter’s night in Reamore.

He had always maintained his innocence,

despite the obvious signs of struggle

scratched into his face,

one thing’s for sure, whoever killed Moss Moore

did so with his bare hands.

Judgement passed the lips of the locals,

demanding Foley to stand guilty,

despite the fact that they were neighbors and friends.

The men couldn’t have been more different,

Moss was small and wiry with sharp and pointed features,

a solitary man who lived alone with his two dogs.

Foley was a family man, large in stature,

square jawed with serious eyes under a flat cap.

Their dispute over land was well known in that farming community.

Their homes were divided by a ditch,

the first tragic stitch

that was lain in the absence of a divider wall

that was meant to be built but never was.

Instead, Moore constructed a makeshift fence

to keep Foley’s cows from drifting in and out,

the intention of any temporary boundary

but this one only welcomed in distrust and doubt.

Disagreement over a half-acre strip of land created a rift

and a tension arose between the men like a mist

swirling in rumor, whatever happened that night

would leave no witness.

Murder sometimes leaves a mark in the isolated dark

but few can see it,

one man’s final breath

can be squeezed from him forcefully

but not everyone can pick up the echoes

of his death throes in the rural quiet.

To be continued…

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.

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.