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.

This Restless Collection


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