Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Preparation Day


The light is fading early today.

Rain turns the whole world to night.

I drive through watery streets,
headlights
stretch to bright tapers,
red lamps
softly trailing
blood beneath my wheels.

Death’s details
fill my busy day.

First, the uncut granite,
sorted and sized,
words neatly arranged,
ready to inscribe
the bare facts of your life,

and then on to the small, white house,
with its big front window  and spring  garden
hidden behind the black iron gate;

this is where your party will be.

Our guests will arrive soon,
and I must order flowers, great
purple blooms
to dim this too bright room.

Now we’re nearly finished,

but first I must see
to your final ground,
small patch
of turned earth,

and then tomorrow you can finally rest.

Attend us gently
as we weep
and slowly walk away.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

This Christmas Moon

This Christmas moon
breaks shining through
my empty, dark night.

Its aching light,
in waves of delight
bathes
stark winter’s shore
in the glittering sea
of Nativity!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Morning Storm

High above, shifting in the storm
all leaves finally dropped and raked,

the tall tree feigns death,
as emerald grass glows
in winter’s rich rain.

But, late as usual,
the apple tree, like a queen,
spreads her royal leaves
into a golden robe
below.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Requiem

My eyes search the ceiling
in death’s darkness I wait.
My arms lie unfeeling
in death’s stark embrace.

Paralyzed prisoner,
helpless I call.
Oh, bring me sweet freedom
from this still, lonely cell.

Alone in my darkness
I hear your clear song.
Sing gently to me
and I’ll try to sing along.

I’ll reach your strong arms.
I am ready to go
to my love’s sweet heaven.
Oh, take me back home!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Breakthrough

Slate sky,
the wind has died

calm chill
flows over
the sleeping street

when
bursts a white flame
feathers rising
to the heavy sky.

To the impending rain
ascends the crane

to heaven’s
dark promise.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life Flies

Life flies into the sunset.

Ride this spinning ball
and chase the sun
on jets streaming
across three time zones.

Set your watch
back an hour.

With speed and
boredom,
buy another
portion of breath,

but it is an illusion.

Life flies swifter than high clouds
ignited by jet stream fire.

Life taunts you.

It will not wait,

not split
even
a tick. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Empty

Gloom infuses
my desert soul.

I cannot see the stars tonight.

The moon refuses
Night’s lifeless void.

It swallows the sky
and leaves us nothing but
windy lies.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hope at Sunset

Across the fading valley
The silver bay shines,
effulgent edge
under twilight hills.

Confined
flat waters
cut a thin line
beneath dark heights rising.

Saw-toothed ridges
rip thin clouds
to ragged strips
the plunging sun ignites

to resplendent light
of love
for this sad, winter world. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Burial Day

Bright chill
coiling clouds
roiling coarse space
welling
heaving seas,

while naked
free
from death’s
empty pledge,
at last
I leap
into the lucid
air

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Sunday Morning after the Storm

Clear sky, vaulting blue
drives out the ragged clouds,
of yesterday’s storm.

Yesterday
the wind raged
as we huddled close
behind closed windows.

Lightning
enthralled the night
as thunder intoned
basso profundo,
felt before heard.

From behind drawn drapes
we felt trees thrashing
releasing spent leaves
until barren and clean,
fearless at last they faced
winter’s cold scythe.

But now the bright Sabbath
breaks through,
and the resurgent sun
pierces
spare nature’s
pure architecture.

Friday, November 19, 2010

A Good Day

I called today
and heard the sharp alarms
ring by his bed,

but you said
it was a good day.

He was awake and
though gagged raspy with tubes
again humor filled his sly eyes.
He Laughed at the irony
that he, of all people,
should be rendered
speechless.

So through your speakerphone
I spoke to him,
uttering my limp, encouraging words
into the silent, empty air.

But you said he had heard
and with his eyes smiled,
happy to once more
be part of the conversation.

After we ended the call
I felt your cheer; not quite hope,
But not despair.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Waiting

Waiting
sitting in silence
finding things to do
on this normal , quiet evening.

rustling papers
and tapping keyboard,
with one eye on the phone
waiting for disaster
to ring through my complacency.

I can almost see
the sterile walls, the contained chaos
as hurried doctors and nurses
bring relief to the battle-weary  
binding the hundred wounds
of collision and anger,
cancer and a failing heart. 

I can almost, but not quite, hear
The IV pumps, heart monitors,
crash-carts clattering down
shining halls, carrying the artillery
we aim at the enemy.

But right now,
right here
all is quiet;

the cat mews patiently
for her evening meal
as I watch for the phone
to light up
and give me the news
that will shatter
this quiet evening.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Puritans


Puritans roamed Salem
clutching rough stones
to split tender flesh and stain the
virgin land with the guilty blood
of dire Satan’s slaves.

Cheerfully they prayed
for the blessed day when all true Faith
would flow righteously into
the common trough of their Truth.

And so, devoutly, they hung the witch,
cast out the papist, and
derided the Quaker as
friend to the fiend.

Stiff necks bent, they peered
into bright clouds
for a righteous wind
to suck them up
to their austere heaven.

But these modern puritans
eschew clumsy ropes.

Favoring the forward thrust
of a stolen jet, they plow through
high fields of glittering windows,
shouting suicidal chants,
riding on orange glory,

and expunge the infidel
from the spoiled earth,
smashing Satan down
into a hell of melting steel
and shrieking glass.

Gladly they die smiling, these martyrs,
certain they will soon drink heavenly nectar
in the airy laps of celestial virgins.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Morning Storm

Overcoming
the ascendant sun,

dark clouds
fill the world.

They nearly scrape
our tallest trees

barely clearing
low delta hills

gray folds flush
the new day clean

New rivers rush
through empty streets

driving deep
into compliant earth.

Thus derided and left for dead,
the sun abides its golden birth.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

October Evening


Tart wine on my tongue
the memory of warmth
in the cold autumn night
nearly gone.

I see myself
in the naked window
watching me,
ghost glaring
at my uncurtained face

falling,
dissolving in darkness
dim trees
whispering rumors
of impending winter.

I watch and wait.

The glowing clock,
my calm friend,
calls me off to bed
again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sunflowers

rock-sunflowers[4]

up this steep grade
to the  high rocky ridge


the sunflowers sway
in the cold autumn wind


like weathered grand-dames,
gowned in grey lace


they stiffly resist
their slow fall from grace,

and fiercely they cling
to the thin, rocky dust,

stubborn, still in love
with adulterine lust.

 

image at http://www.redkettle.com/images/products/contemporary-canada/rock-sunflowers.jpg

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dolour

The sun has gone.

Night resumes its dark song
longing for stars, reaching
for the rapture of eternity.

You wait so far away,
in your own private night;

I feel your fear trembling
like fitful autumn wind
rushing through my eves,
filling my garden
with the spent leaves
of youthful summer.

I know you wait in his dim room,
curtain pulled, tv on,
door discretely ajar
as you watch him sleep.

I wish I could help,
and pray
the perfect prayer,
conjure God out of the night
and force the miracle of morning.

But God is silent,
His will is not known,
and my prayer
impotent.

So I send you this poem,
to sing you
my tears.

I can offer nothing more
than a brother's love.

Shattered Night


I hear the trees sing
their whispered hymns of praise
to the moon
lingering high
over bowing, bright branches,

when exploding past
glaring red lights,
angry motors and anxious sirens
shatter this sacred night.

But still I wait,
and at last I hear
that voice,

the small, soft voice
that says
"I am."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Autumn

still green, supple leaves remain
though heavy apples fall
fragrant, brown,
and rotting to the ground.

summer lingers
rubescent rose and heavy fern
looking good as July

while in dark, northern mountains
stealthy winter waits
to cast down spectral leaves,

and silently creates
its first, cold rain.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dragon-fly



Warm winds flood
this darkening Georgia sky -
lightning flashing!

The elegant dragon-fly
hovers over
my dark window.

Poised on thin pane
looking my way,
it's drawn into my storm.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Driving at Night




















Driving to Napa down highway 12,
winding up Jamison Canyon Road
under the night sky alive with light

we see the full moon
shine on lingering cattle,
still grazing in quick-silver shadows
through darkly rising pastures,

and as we glide past dark cliff and ranch,
a new brightness gathers
like a busy, hovering helicopter,
or an airplane
searching for its landing strip;

but never moving,
far too constant to be human,
this bright planet rivals
even the rollicking moon,

this Venus,
mad lover
of the philandering sun,
guides us on
to Napa.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unripe Apples Fall

Unripe apples fall
and lie wasting on the ground,
spots spreading into brown,
circles, decaying, waiting
for sun and time to gently take
seminal seeds into the warm earth.

Small birds fall
down low
from their high, swaying tree,
to where patient
fallen apples
melt and glow.

Two looming hawks rise
waiting for the time to be right,
to turn their dark wings
and with swift silent stroke
give feathered death
to these surprised souls,
casting them like seeds
into dark soil.



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Contact

ham_radio

I search the narrow rooms of memory
through steep, childhood hallways
under high ceilings, past dim, flowered lamps,
when, trembling, I hear echoes calling me
in deep tones of summer thunder
to our willow tree out back
just as the blinding lightning
contacts
and shatters the still-living wood.

Afraid,

but compelled by my father’s gentle voice,
I retreat
to another room
in my mind.

In the kitchen, at the top of the long, painted staircase,
I hear small, shrill squeaks and low, electric hums
coming from your ham radio set,
and walking down, I see you,
hunched in the red glow
of your magic box, calling softly
into your silver microphone,
“W8PNW calling CQ, calling CQ, calling CQ”

O lonely angler, you cast gossamer lines into the eternal, black sea
looking for a catch, any response, any acknowledgement,
but I’m with you! Standing by your shoulders,
I hear the distant human voice respond
“K8QJZ to W8PNW, receiving you loud and clear!”

I feel your joy of connection
as, quickly you fill out your special postcard,
(American Bald Eagles triumphantly unfurling your call letters)
to mail to your Newfoundland friend.

This, too, is contact.

Another soul found, identified, and filed
in your list of ham-buddies, and I grin with you
as you sign off
and resume your patient search.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Limited Vision




I can see 
through the far 
arched window 
nodding leaves 
and bright limbs 
rising over my 
popsicle-stick 
fence. 


I can see 
shimmering, 
blue heat 
rising like oil 
thrust high into 
the empty 
glimmering sky; 


But from this comfortable, dark room, 
confined by dimly glowing walls, 
soft light melting 
through heavy drapes, 


I cannot see 
the whole picture: 


The insect 
trembling on the vine; 
the hungry finch darting, 


or the hawk, 
rising on invisible gyre, 
soaring beyond 
my limited vision.

photo Copyright (c),© 2003-2007 by Soleil Lapierre

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Beginning















The road calls
its whispering song
as early trucks whine,
red-shifting down the highway,
past the heavy curtains
of our room.

But we’re ready,
early risers,
eager to begin.


The motel lot is already alive,
as sleepy travelers
coffee steam rising
with the morning mist,
dream of going
to the coast,
to the mountains,
to the desert
To glittering Las Vegas,

Going
to see all the places
In the thick triple A book,
following sure, red lines
on bright, creased maps,

but on my dark dashboard
the glowing GPS,
polite, sure girl
leads the way.

This road has called us
over and over,
and this time
we are going
east,  into the rising sun,

as bright white lines flash
like years in our headlights,
quickly forgotten
and always another
flying into another
never looking back
to see where we were

only seeing now
as this now blurs
into the next now
and the future
never really
is.

But such philosophy
can be dangerous
at 75 miles per hour,

so turning on the radio
we glide down I-5.

It’s a fast road,
but straight as a
boring dream,
until, beyond Bakersfield,
crossing the
high eastern limit
of the great, green valley,

suddenly we break free
into the dry Mojave,
into a space so wide
that the pink, morning sky
arches its bright back
all the way
to space.

Time itself
could get lost here,

but not us!

Time never had a GPS girl
course-correcting,  
cheerful  guide
to lead us
on our summer’s journey
across wide America.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hunter Hill




















Above Columbus Parkway
it rises to the east,
creased with oak
and dry grass,
grazing cattle, bored,
loitering horses,
and the gliding hawk hunting
in the rough granite
and withered timber.

But hidden by high, jagged peaks,
the mute Miwok headman observes
the cattle and the hawk,
and the swift automobile
hissing
down the smooth, black road
below
Hunter Hill.

Author's Note:
the Miwok were the indigenous people of the nothern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. They were nearly wiped out in the 19th century by diseases (mainly small pox) brought by the European settlers. Miwok descendents still live in this area, though.


My Miwok would be a ghost.
(image of "Miwok Headman" from http://www.firstpeople.us/)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Confrontation

The angry sparrow, narrow and light
fiercely pursued the thieving crow
slender beak stabbing
smooth black feathers,
rising and diving,
rolling and turning,
a vicious top-gun
dog-fight.

Then the crow, tired of torment,
set heavily down on the high lamp post
as the small bird circled, crying invective,
taunting the crow to rise again and fight!

but the old crow, patient and wise
settled comfortably for this shrill siege
and calmly waited for the air-show to end.

Finally, exhausted,
the sparrow gave up,
but claiming victory,
like Odysseus
nearly home
at last,

became Homer,
and composed his own
epic poem
of the fierce
midnight raven,
homewrecker
wrought low,
driven down
into death’s
bitter dust,

which, of course, he sang
in heroic,
avian meter
to his faithful,
Penelope.

Friday, June 18, 2010

From this High Window

From this high window
the invisible wind
moves silent trees:
motion without sound,
dance without song.

Behind painted walls
and heavy curtains,
I cannot not hear
the tumult,

but opening the heavy door,
at last I hear the trees sing,
stirred to passion
by unseen hands
waving branches
swept up
by the compelling wind

and drawn outside,
exposed and complete,
finally I face the clear maelstrom,
my own hair flying free,

and gaze at the trees,
wild men
dancing as they chant
savage hymns
to their howling god.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Doctor Said

The stroke was bad, and arriving at the hospital
we expected hushed, grim words
from the preoccupied doctor.
The doctor said it was brain-stem, hopeless;
the coma was total; his mind, the doctor said,
was at the bottom of a deep well.

So we entered his room and
saw the machinery of life-support,
reassuring noises, glowing red displays,
tubes and wires tethering his shattered mind to the bed.

The doctor said that Ed would not come back,
and we should cut off the milky food
flowing down a clear tube to his still living gut,
and give him a gentle death by starvation;
it would not be painful, the doctor knowingly said.

But his coma was so restless and active,
his eyes were wide and darting,
his mouth opened, as though to speak,
and his legs rose and fell,
like he was walking to Sunday Mass.

He looked alive, so we refused
and directed the nurses
to keep hope flowing,
at least for now.

When it was my turn to sit with him,
I said, “Hey Ed! You know,
I’ve been drinking all your beer at home,” and he smiled
and looked at me with humor and said, “ohhh?”

But the doctor said it was automatic reflex,
and smiled indulgently at me.

The next morning the doctor,
(expecting no response) said,
“Hello Ed. How are we feeling today?”
but stopped, nothing to say at last,
when Ed replied, “Lousy!”

Ed lived for the next three years
as grandchildren were born,
baptisms were witnessed,
and first communions were celebrated,

and ready at last, he died
one bright, peaceful
April morning,
with nothing more
to be said.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Grounded

The afternoon breeze
rushes through the top of my big tree;
its canopy sways and sings in hushed tones
as the declining sun ignites
its outermost leaves
with green fire.

Through swaying limbs
I see brilliant summer sky
promising stars beyond
if only I can rise high enough
to achieve black space;
but I’ve never been there, never risen
beyond this illusionary, flat world
that confines my sight.

Never have I ascended that pillar of flame,
pressed deeply against the astronaut’s contoured seat,
breathing noisily in helmeted glass,
as computers glow reassuringly in darkness ,
promising that everything will work,
and orbit will be achieved.

No, my space journeys are all interior.

Earth-bound, I am firmly cradled in my deep, leather chair,
and only through my high, arched window
view the nightly dance of wind and tree,
of moon and rising stars.

Envious, I hear excited starlings, one to another,
tell stories of daring flight
through the good sky, high
above this green,
firm earth.