The Returning

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The moon, held suspended on a cloud

like a jewel in an outstretched palm

that clenched its fist

over a creative instrument

that prisms the light to beam through the sky.

From this vantage,

see the night thaw into a fleeting image

of my own willingness

to let the past be prologue

and memory become notes in a ship’s log

bound for East Point

painted on the horizon

like a raised birthmark over a darkened skin,

it’s set in its own isolation.

Through the El Greco sky of the mind,

unsteady in the swirl of shade and light,

poles teeter on the edge of each other ,

delicately dancing in the glow.

Where it beckons you’ll follow,

tracing lines to their inevitable ends,

leaving a progeny of words

strung against words

like a procession of lanterns

engulfed by waves

extinguished candles of breath

that craved oxygen,

building up only to give in to collapse.

All the thoughts and differing shades of meaning

shifting the gleam to tide pools cascading

from an overarching theme,

where everything is passing through.

For a moment the moon holds true,

weightless and suspended in a bubble of foam.

A perfect circle, timeless, eternal,

always returning home.

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The Wound

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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.

 

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

bivouacĀ  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.

Between the Sky and the Sea

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The void spreads,

wandering for an echo.

Its silence shaved into a profile

Kanehoalani

keeper of the caves and underground springs

a labyrinth of burials

through which the wind speaks

its porous volcanic chants

this eternal dialogue with the dead

tufts of valley grass at its feet

regenerative pools of red petals

the scent of blood

born of ancient battles

resonates its decay,

blesses the sunrise

upon which we’ll walk this day.

The sea heaves you into sleep

collapsing in a heap of disfigured sheets.

Half nodded you note the details

from the table’s edge

to the depths at your feet

disassembling into archipelagos of dreaming.

The rain, rhythmic

dissolves the moon in Po Kane

mostly shadow, one blade of light

accentuates the featureless

paths of flashlight finding the abandoned places,

Luakaha, Tantalus, the remains of Luakini

under brush strokes midnight.

The muscular miracle,

the movement of your wrist,

the meandering river of your veins in motion

your parched and dried up words find an ocean

smoldering like a morning fire

a smoking illusion, the disappearing night

transitions into chalky white streaks

patterned on black lava rock platforms

where the dead are lead to edges

and waves of worldly concern ripple away.

That opening in a cloud of spray

was a swan dive through which endless night

sucks the last soul through.

No moon lights this procession,

put your ear to the blowhole

and take down its confession.

Track the mist, spreading in the absence of form,

the void, blanketed between the sky and the sea.

One more Ripple in the Rendering

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In scratching the surface suggestion

seeking out a picture,

a glimmering impression of what has passed.

Through the dirt, rumor and broken glass,

the shards of a half-formed story

could be grasped and pieced together

until momentum would collapse the edges

into jagged gaps that

set streams to bleed over wrists in motion.

There’s always a diversion to twist the truth,

new evidence to lift, to unburden the proof.

There’s the sneaking suspicion

that no more is known now than when first ushered in

to the forbidden forest of what is lost.

In scratching the scars over the memory’s repression

the traumatic depression

of rock fall or article,

the writing on the wall

that is a faded scrawl

in the downward spiral towards oblivion.

To comprehend the texture of this revision

requires one’s own muddied thoughts

to be tracked through here again and again.

Confronting the silence between lines,

between the tied up chimes

and pictures in a collective mind.

There’s a conscious untying of the strings

to hear the wind sing

like birds above the oppressive ceiling of forgetting.

The claustrophobic wringing of this fine thread

leads to a dead end

where dried up palms

sound like snake rattles disturbing the calm

of surface waters with phantom paddles.

The cacophony of singing shells

in the shadow of the Pali dwells

from cool heights where they fell

to twist and unravel over a concrete

that knows neither streetlight nor renewal,

only decay in the memory of its evil,

imprinted like tire tracks,

degraded in overgrown cul de sacs.

Imagining the outlines

while the jungle assigns a new border,

a derelict gate to mark the edge of this haunted quarter

where everything unfolds in the fog of half-truths and disorder.

Bit by bit, each detail is fed to the collective fire,

like reams in a typewriter,

the legend has been tapped into the consciousness of the whole.

The rain comes in sheets

to prompt this release,

to dab at the wounds and proceed

even gently

past the banyan sentry

who seems to guard access to the heart of this mystery,

that secret source that will inspire

one more ripple in the rendering

of a story that knows neither beginning nor ending.

Maneuverings

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A channeling of energy
wind reduced to a simple maneuvering
stream over stone
murmuring
mist over peaks
how the spirit leaks into consciousness
a lush canopied recess
senses drunk on a chorus of Thrush
temporal glimpses of light
festooned on the branches
luminescent
beneath the surface thread
a dream flickering
while art is fed through
this transparent spool
filling the vacancy
all that is required of synchronicity
to fit the edges into a discernible pattern.

Beyond haphazard vanity
there is something outside of me
maneuvering switchbacks
steeped in obscurity
sweat on the brow searching for this purity
but thirsty
creatively empty
a written rehearsal
an elegy
for a muse
hot on the heels
of her truancy
a runaway wandering
leaves me wondering
will our highways connect?
Will they reflect in glacial lakes?
On the road to the sun
these continents divide
while memories reside
like skid marks
on a scarred blacktop.

By boot or by car
passing scenes chart the uncertainty.
Akin to being adrift on a choppy sea
a bobbing figure drawn overboard
barely buoyant
against the recurring dark
currents of thought
that do not stop at the edge
but blur the boundary instead.
Here at the end
considering those long ago dead
they’ll trespass again.
Moonlight drives its keys over the Pali
a bright fleeing to the shadows of trees
ancient struggles maneuver through valleys
materialize
out of the corner of the eyes
on paths wound around stream and fall
as the lunar calendar would allow
a disembodied conch to sound
for that transparent crowd
to march down hillsides
to the rise of the drums
under the guise of clouds
they’ll meet the dawn
with dark streaks from torches drawn
against the western sky
not yet awakened
that glimmer in the mind’s eye
where the imagination maneuvers
through a parallel universe.

This Farewell, Another Footnote

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Here in the din
with the click clack of cutlery
within a cacophony of voices.
The barmen pulling pints
in their starched whites,
guides to the oak portals,
the long line of whiskey bottles
standing like sentinels in that place without time.
There’s a portrait of Yeats on the wall,
calling to mind many in the long line of authors
backs bent to the point of inspiration,
wading in this eternal position.
In these watering holes in Ireland
I can begin to frame my goodbye.
For the time finished wandering
the crooked streets of late afternoon
full cup of tea content
writing until fingers tire,
talking to other travelers till all hours
or until they are no longer strangers,
walking that fine wire,
feeling your soles wearing thin,
travel integral, your soul chiming in
with another proposition.
I recall every decision
punctuated by a heron,
coming at such a moment
you no longer question which direction.
There was the one in the stream side tea garden in Doolin,
awash with meaning,
the water gleaming
beneath the gracefully bent pencil legs
balanced over all that was witnessed alone;
the sea beneath the cliff walk to Liscannor,
Foley’s Glen and the position of stones
marking Scotia’s fall,
the hole of sorrow seen through Poulnabrone portal,
laying another echoing farewell on the long way home
but not before a moment’s recognition at Carraroe,
where a bus to the end of the line
puts me in just the position
to catch it out of the corner of my eye,
the ascending blue wings
gathering in the horizon,
flying over low hills and stone-walled fields.
The bogs of last goodbye well up suddenly
to cry uncontrollably
in the profound recognition of its significance,
the seeming interconnectedness of life
and what resides within and all around us.

Birds once again bearing this message.
In Hawaii, it is from the beaks of the Shama Thrush
on the lush mountain trails of the old Pali.
In Italy, you decipher the sweep of the swallows
from the bell towers and hidden hollows
of some medieval square.
You hear the sudden call of the white breasted hawk
on a winter’s highway to Becky’s,
perched in a dying tree
or on a driftwood log
you see the ravens of Sombrio and Ocean Beach
and follow them to breach that other world.
Here in Ireland it is through the blue herons.
in the spring bogs of Doolin, Kinsale and the Connemara Coast
relating to the unseen
perhaps the most meaningful thing to develop
as it nourishes beyond what we think or comprehend,
put down in ink or apprehend in words,
bound to fall short in forming this farewell,
it becomes just another footnote,
one more point of departure.