The Pali Revisited


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.


The Wound


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.


Tsunami, what may have been

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.

Kinsale and the Residue of Mystery

When the fog lifts off of Kinsale Harbor
and you see the sun reflected
like the pale eye of a dead fish
in the murky waters of tangleweed and shipwreck debris,
note that some places are left with an unmistakable residue of mystery.

When the blue heron lifts its distinctive wings
from the wellspring of Kinsale Harbor,
its languid sweep will remain etched
like a deep thread in the memory of ancestors.
Blue hewn and imbued with significance,
it carries unseen alms
for those who go down to sea
to gather pebbles
and piece by piece reconstruct their history.

When the legend of the white lady is lifted
from the lips of locals living by Kinsale Harbor,
you recognize the enduring motif
of tragedy and unrequited love
evident in all these stories
that haunt quiet lanes and Norman churches.

Shadows fleeting, we catch mystery in the details,
words sticking to you like an oppressive air,
when attached to a physical place,
we put them down in fog-obscured and isolated towns
where the imagination is bound to usher in the drowned dead
to wander through another headland in the sea.
If it is in your disposition to receive these visions,
they’ll be reaching through windows,
or if auditory, their subtle transmissions
get trapped like a piper’s notes
to float like the widow’s ghost
over the silence of old forts.
Amplified, the recording is replayed over and over
on the rampart’s leap, they remain spellbound,
this port town where this is recurring.
You see the tide going out,
the sails receding in the first light of morning,
you stayed long enough, it had touched you without warning,
Kinsale and its haunted aura
and in your wake you’ll leave the harbor
but know it remains with you, like a tragic lover,
linked arm in arm under the cover
of memory, of synchronicity,
destined for the recollection of travel
and the impression you left when passing through.

A Cold Surrender

crow angle

Congregate and listen

to stories of the cold.

Visible as a mist

in the vacant bliss of night

neighborhoods frozen

in the moon’s reflection,

everywhere in an amphitheatre

of tangible manhole steam.

A vision of you,

obscured like a dream,

a long angle shot

of streetlight shifting boulevards

with hands in the pockets,

faceless and scarved

in a taxi conduit of coughing tailpipes.

Can these stories be revealed in a moment’s warmth?

Or shivering in a naked decision?

You’ll be fumbling for words

in cafe sanctuary,

mourning this lack of precision,

needing the cover of each other

to complete the prowling exposition

of illuminated apartment buildings.

Bitter’s the taste of victory over apathy, idleness,

the awareness that the cold will call you out

to once again witness

ice on the tongue of its expanse.

Precious this silent gallery of crows,

with mythical angles,

they are black and white photos

gliding over rooftops of snow.

The red brick is underneath a city sealed

the sky

in a thick grey bearded storm

confronting the winter-borne hangman trees.

The leaf’s journey left them bare

but the environs solidified you there

for the time being…

dangling like so many icicles

from the windows of memory.

A feeling of home,

the reeling shadows that roam

to the corners

revealing the echoes

of a foundation that has grown.

Listen, it is still moving

to position itself

under a solitary world.

It is still covering the pages

of an unbounded sky

stretched like a skin,

 a film over the eye’s

impressionable myriad shades

of water finding coves,

finding beauty in the cold’s expressions,

of their migrant habits what can be told?

In their rituals of ebb and flow?

You found yourself long ago

washed up on an island that tendrils

with the tender thrills

of endless skin to borrow.

This is how you’ll continue

to crawl and surrender to

this unpredictable weather

that ushers in the future.


Dead End Gestures


Towards cloud windows of windward beckoning,

a subtle change in lighting

sees shapes manifest out of shadows


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.


Canvass Transparency


Focusing on a point in-between

all the moments that came and will be.

A blank canvass

for the transparent vision

that if not for these columns

would be a decline into confusion.

A pondering of illuminated strands

stretched and torn

where hobbies are born out of the illusion

of sewing them back together.

A life picked apart.

A progression that picks up art

as it goes

until the last breath poses the question,

“What is left and what is worth bringing?”

For a collector of scenes,

becoming aware

of how they thread themselves into dreams,

like a canvass transparency

so that light can filter through in words,

a luminescent dial pointed towards this possibility.

With spasms of inspiration,

like an electric current,

climbing the spine.

A direct circuit

that feeds into the divine,

shines like a beacon’s light

across the night to suspend time,

like a bridge that connects no land.


The sun returns to fill in the cracks

between the cold and the blanket.

You feel eternity in the warmth alone,

when prone to consider

the thin veil between us.

Most days you lay hidden in variable weather.

So seeking diversion elsewhere,

you try to forget her.

Like a divergent thought

splitting paths

leaving traces

like shadow on the open spaces

or skin on the pillows of cloud,

a canvass, transparent

passing without a sound.

Another curve suddenly,

with no segway

(distant railroad whistles)

Only the lonely longing

that is evident in a melancholy heart

bound to an excess of feeling.

Warming to a kind of spontaneous animation,

the dancing flames,

the wrist that weaves its keening

into addresses and names.

It is stamped with a charred scent,

another goodbye,

post cards from a starter fire

inspires impermanence

with a burnt edge and a piece of paper.

Drifting up with sparks of insight,

dancing flecks moving aimless

into the dark of the night.

Fireflies in oblivion

you could almost grasp

as the last gasp of the hearth

crackles for all it is worth

in an amphitheater of shadows.