Duskdreams

I see it clear in my duskdreams,
a small house in a rural field,
gilt in Late Summer’s thinning beams;
atop rolling land, smoothly hilled.
There is no driveway to divide
the flowing billows of that place,
nor a house on any side;
nothing impugns that airy space.
A few trees may stand, here and there,
and creeks may trickle down below,
but that green-crested hill is bare
of all but the soft winds that blow.
A tomb-quiet cottage whereby
a man may retire in life’s Fall,
a refuge of silence where I
may enfold my heart, like a pall
and hear the voice of what may come,
that quiet herald of the dusk:
the shroud-shadows that may benumb
the mind and heart and earthly husk.
All around shall lay hills aflow
like the waves of a golden sea,
the descending hills all I’ll know
before the Winter comes for me.

Dedicated to Robert Frost

Some Poems

Mourning

For weeks the widower next door
has been blowing piles of leaves,
fresh-fallen leaves heavy with last night’s rains,
his leafblower like the dull bellow of an
imbecile giant
echoing through the woods that surround his house.
Before Autumn he was cutting down dead ash trees
with a high-pitched, bewailing chainsaw
all day, every day,
and using a hydraulic splitter
to create pagan mounds of split wood
for a fireplace he did not have.
At night I can see
a flashlight spearing the darkness
as he leads his yappy little dog
out for midnight potty,
the widower following the dog stiffly
as if half-embalmed in his old age;
or I hear his grunts and groans
as he climbs a ladder
in the blind, moonless night
to pull leaves out of his gutters
and toss them into the shadows.
Every day.
Every night.
The woods resound with his tearless sorrow.

Grow Up

My grandfather once told me
that I needed to “grow up”;
an old man obsessed with money,
obsessed with little slips of green-colored paper,
with numbers in a computer on a flickering screen
at the bank,
obsessed with stock market reports scrolling across
the bottom of a television feed
while chattering heads speak of
market volatility,
capital infusion,
inflation,
recession;
he said I needed to “grow up”
because make-believe slips of paper
were more important than anything else.
Humans do not shed delusions
as we get older,
we only prioritize them,
organize them into concerted conceits
to make us seem “grown up”,
to make ourselves believe that the numbers
are as substantial
as a brick to the face;
and not only does the emperor wear no clothes,
but he is not really an emperor,
no more than the little germ is
that he inhales into his lungs
to grow sick and die
while shamans from all over the country
sing prayers and dance and wail
and the decimal point moves left or right
like a marble between two children
who make-believe the marble to be
the earth rolling between the stars.

Autumn Sacrament

A circle of black buzzards
in a yellow roadside field,
a coven speaking no words
round a rabbit that was killed
by the combine’s heedless path
when the farmer reaped his corn;
behold the bleak aftermath:
a stark contrast in the morn.
Black-winged priests bow wrinkled heads
in a sallow field of waste,
the leaves fall—browns, silvers, reds;
death-borne colors that they taste
in the sacrament enjoined
in this season hued with death,
in the innocence purloined,
and the wind’s husk-rustling breath.

Sheathed In Silk

Unsuspected, the blade sheathed in soft silk,
as we blindfold ourselves with the attire
of kinder roles, as if kin to the ilk
of angels whose white wings often aspire
toward toplofty clouds, though we steal from
the calf its milk, or the lambkin its veal,
to render the comforts of our kingdom;
the wool, the cream, the calfskin, each filling meal.

How stained are our hands with the coins we snatch
from the pouch we slit in a neighbor’s throat,
that crimson pouch without zipper or patch,
which, once opened, now gapes as the scapegoat
sacrificed to devils for devotions
while we bleat like innocent lambs lined up
for slaughter—Bravo!  Our martyr notions
would have us, shameless, on such scapegoats sup!

But lo! The blade betrays its brutal truth,
reflecting killer in a crimson sheen,
the guilty stained with victim blood, forsooth,
and not so easy a thing to scrub clean,
nor does silk conceal the guilt wrought therefrom,
but bleeds through, leaking for all to see
lest the witness make blindfold wherefrom
anointed he, too, is likewise guilty.

Shun the shade! Forfeit the silk! Forsake yet
the dagger and rending the bloody purse!
Abandon evil, its comforts, forget
aught else lest you reap the tannery’s curse!
Such a world is for scapegraces alone
and its light illumes by human tallow
while the eyes flinch from what is thereby shown,
sheathed in silk alike to Justice, fallow.

Mariana’s Song

Another eve passed alone
and I ponder my cold bed,
the night air chilling to the bone,
the hearth of day dark…now dead.

Single candle, you burn low
on the window sill nearby,
your flame is small, your wax aflow
as the teardrops from an eye.

Do I fret the solitude
and its all-too-silent hours?
Do I linger in this dark mood
of a wine that quickly sours?

I take turns about my room
and recall your lips to mine;
and in that mournful midnight gloom
I can see the full moon shine.

It shines afar—ghostly wan
with the daylight it borrows
from a fickle sun that has gone
to happier tomorrows.

Away! Away! Flee you far
from whence you oft wished not leave;
you were as constant as a star—
now dew athwart spider-weave.

My looking-glass shines no more,
nor can it with thin moonbeams,
nor my eyes, nor my smile, nor your
gilded glamor in my dreams.

When I shine, now, I am pale
with the distant light of you,
you are memory of a tale
I tell myself: I love you.

Your scent no longer remains
nor shadows from your light;
I cannot clean these linen stains
of wine, and blood, red on white.

The Poet In His Twilight Years

I have watched the black and white interviews
with the poet on his ramshackle farm,
quoting himself, word for word, his old muse
near-suicidal, disposed to self-harm,
and how dark are the later, silver years
when the laurels clutter the poet’s head;
it is enough to bring a man to tears,
if only allergies when eyes are red.
He writes so little verse, but acts a script
writ daily, with what life he may muster,
his mask such as is in a pharaoh’s crypt,
sometimes lacquered, sometimes just lackluster.

The Youthful Dead, And Useless Old Men

O, I hear the bean sidhe—she is shrieking
in schoolyard and school hall, the fell, bleak thing
sounding an alarm for the many deaths
when goodly youths shall draw their final breaths
while old men diddle and dither, at odds
with one another, and their bloodfed gods.
The gruesome Redcaps dip their dripping hats
into crimson puddles like vineyard vats
and a murder of crows descends anon
from the shoulders of grim-lipped Morrigan
and all youth is squandered in misty vale,
blooming anew with rot and maggots pale
till the ancient echoes of pagan song
be sated in surfeit of age-old wrong,
the wrong of wrongs such were long forgotten
when clans clashed fiercely, each chief besotten
with the blood-debts accrued in times before,
that fateful geas that binds forevermore.
Do nought for the dead but ponder and pray
and be grateful that the capricious Fae
demand no more than the youths hereby piled
for their burrows and mounds and woodlands wild,
for the Land of Youth needs our youth to bleed
ere Tir na nOg be a place old men heed
when nodding at their thrones as if glamored
and impotent, their weak hearts enamored
of the Cailleach, that old baleful elf
who enchants to think only of the self
as the long winter of old age reigns on
in those resentful of youth, their youth gone.
O, our country is as the headless wraith, the Dullahan, that runs forth with a faith
steeped in blood, cracking a whip made of spine
as if backbone is enough to consign
the peace hungered for in our times of grief,
times when blood-stained blade oft slips from the sheath…
but we’ve lost our heads, and the youth their lives,
as old men nod, ignoring Elphame tithes.

Lost In Sand And Surf

Born at hightide, buried to the chin
among countless others on the beach,
shouting, coughing, the froth surging in
to drown all within its lounging reach.

Openmouthed to sing my song aloud,
I receive a swig of salty surf,
sputtering words, too much like the crowd,
our voices a chorus without worth.

Where are those who dig free from the sand,
those who escape the insensate tide?
They rise from these deep holes and can stand
in sunlight, moving with a strong stride.

Still, the rest of us remain entombed
while waves wash over the thoughtless trend,
never heard, never seen, each one doomed
to scream into the surf without end.

Ah, but could I not dig myself out
by merit of my mouth and its bite,
by my teeth, by grit and bit and bout
to lessen the sand that holds me tight?

Or is that sand not of the hourglass
and, so, the holding hole that is Time?
Do those who are dug out truly pass
beyond, or are those lands but birdlime?

Red Ribbons In Knots

Raindrop down the window pane,
slow-sliding upon the glass,
as a teardrop spent in pain
after storms have come to pass.

Two birds hop along the lawn,
cardinals singing acclaim,
two red birds praising the dawn
and the youthful Springtime’s game.

Raindrops are infrequent now
and the wet cows chew the cud,
the thunderhead calms its brow,
though the fields are still aflood.

Somewhere downhill water flows,
cresting like a Sunday hymn,
singing of what loose silt knows
when taken from where it’s been.

Silent, the old farmhouse squats
within the vale, near the stream,
while the widow ties in knots
two ribbons within a dream.

The ribbons are scarlet red,
once entwined—now unraveled,
undone by the restless head
in which they twined and traveled.

She tries to knot them anew
with sleeping, that act which frayed
the bond between brothers who
never thought such love would fade.

Tossing, turning, she ties knots
with the sheets she shared with men
whom were foremost in her thoughts;
both together, now as then.

The cardinals sing no more,
but claw at one another
for a lady they adore—
tearing brother from brother.

Routine Regrets

Lingering ghost, wraith without a head,
standing beside the four-poster bed,
reminding us of the missteps made
and things left undone, the bitter trade
of thrills for comforts from a routine
to thwart the unknown, the unforeseen
so our lives are secured by the rite
of habit, of caution, day and night.
She stands there, as headless as our lives
while steadfast in scheduled nine-to-fives,
the ritual headless, saying nought,
yet we know she would say that we ought
to have done more when we had the chance,
but each night we lament circumstance,
for she attends us at our bedside—
attends forever, our deathbed bride.