Gray And Green

Gray and green the morning came,
gray and green the woods and vales,
and black the copse without a name
amidst misty meadow trails.

The dreams of night’s restful sleep
linger as figures half-dreamt
in fog amassed like flocks of sheep,
sky and earth a fleece half-kempt.

Who is that among the fog?
Who is that wandering, lost?
The soundless field is as a bog
which all sleepwalkers must cross.

Had I such a sluggish gait
when I woke this early morn?
I see a figure halt and wait
as if unsure—as if torn.

Rousing, drowsing, in between,
he waits but a moment more,
then shuffles forth, beyond the scene
of gray and green, as before.

Gray and green, the earth and sky,
gray and green the morning come,
I witness with half-curtained eye
this somnambulist’s kingdom.

Disappointment

Was it a dream, this wilted bud
wasted among the trodden mud?

Was it a hope, this crumpled page
discarded near an empty stage?

Was it a wish, this broken quill,
nib splintered so the ink would spill?

Was it desire, this flint-struck flash
extinguished unto lightless ash?

Is it despair, this fatal sigh
when longlived aspirations die?

The Shepherd Of Dreams

Wherefore come the mists in the vale
but as clouds hung low and heavy
with flights of fantasy to tell
which brim, but not break, the levee?
Such mists might come stampeding wild
lest the shepherd guide them with calm,
ram and lamb and ewe all made mild
with blessings from his phantom palm.
He shepherds half-glimpsed, as a ghost,
amidst the moisture of the morn,
a patient specter on the coast—
who is to say he is forlorn?
Mists and dreams manifest his flock,
fading, half-forgotten at light,
floating far from the lonely loch,
their fleece foggy…drifting…cool…white.
Do not rouse at the passing flock
or the flock is quickly dispelled,
and do not blink at the reed stalk
by the shepherd’s easy hand held—
it is the bane of goblin kin
who covet the flock for their own,
eating dreams of sleeping children
as they toss and turn, weep and moan.
Thus, the shepherd tends his flock well,
though his eyelids may droop down low;
sentinel even when storms swell,
lightning strikes, and the strong winds blow.
Highlands, lowlands, valley and moor,
the flock wanders on hooves unheard,
guided gently from shore to shore,
quiet as his unspoken word.

Good Dreams, Bad Dreams

Good Dreams

The sweeping shadow is so sweet
as the wind sighs through the window’s veil,
cool and soft as the silken sheet
and the dreaming mist which we exhale.
A train of fairies passes by
amongst fireflies at a merry pace,
the stars mottle the westward sky
as the freckles on a lover’s face.
Like dawns over worlds never known,
dreams come gently through the inner night,
but waking from what dreams have shown,
waking eyes are full of fairy light.

Bad Dreams

From shadows fallen come the fears
which shroud the mind and make it shiver,
the dregs of life distilled with tears
in a bowl, the brain, all aquiver.
A dark sea lay below a bluff
brimming with the dead, draug and wight,
the froth flung upward, fierce and rough
with the strife of Nix—an endless night.
And over this the wan moon glows
like the blind eye of a ghoul in search
of graveyards with their stones in rows
where the ravens and gargoyles perch.
And the stars are a crimson swarm
gathering in the funeral cloth
while clouds roll past, a Sluagh storm
passing through, faces twisted and wroth.

Patterned Chaos

Through my dreams the cat was leaping,

Calico patchwork, like the old quilt

beneath which I laid, silent, sleeping

as childhood memories brimmed and spilt.

Hind-legs thrusting, her forepaws splayed

to catch herself after a bold spring;

gentle in grace, yet deadly made

by the forge of Life, that ruthless thing.

Beautiful motion, artful form,

instinct and cunning made manifest,

yet snuggling, purring, friendly, warm,

her claws retracted, and nose to chest.

To think a killer could be kind

and want to cuddle close to a heart;

to think of all we leave behind

as Life plies its slapdash-patterned art.

The patches jigsawed together,

a creature of chaos and of laws;

temperamental as weather

and yet smoothly playing on her paws.

Leaping!  Sleeping!  Wild as a child

forgone to the needs of ringing clocks,

bound to a moment, reconciled

with its self-apparent paradox.

And so I dreamt of her patterns,

a feline form from out of my past

who, just so, leapt and slept at turns

like childhood joys that pass by too fast.

Dead Dreams

Koi Moon

The lonely Koi in the pond

slowly swam unseen, unsung,

below the new Moon, beyond

all glimpses, alone among

a garden long neglected,

a house lost and forgotten,

and so the Koi reflected

on his little life, caught in

this clandestine little pool,

wishing to be with others,

to be free, or in a school

with his sisters and brothers,

just to swim broader waters,

to follow his own streams

and beget sons and daughters

and what he could of such dreams,

for he felt the subtle song

of the Moon, that coy mistress

and, thus, longed and longed ere long

she caused him much in distress,

for the Moon governs all fish

in pond, lake, river and sea,

and he felt keenly the wish

to be elsewhere—to be free.

Nonetheless, he died alone,

belly up in the small pond,

his deep dreams never his own—

hopeless as each new day dawned.

Fallen Leaves

In the smirksome depths of Saki

I find a handful of dead dreams:

some slips slipping out to mock me,

business cards and their stillborn schemes.

“Marshall Arts,” the little cards read,

with my phone number down beneath,

the cards now only serving need

as cheap bookmarks between each leaf.

I was once an entrepreneur,

both an artist and optimist,

who saw flowers in all manure,

but needed an optometrist.

I told myself I was sober

about my prospects and my “skill”,

but like a man in October

planting seeds when the winds go chill

I hoped an Indian Summer

would save me from the coming Fall,

but that proved me all the dumber

as leaves fell for a fallow haul.

Debt begets debt, lest we forget,

and excuses lose all value

as we spend them, more and more, yet

there is wisdom gained in one’s view,

meanwhile menial labors call

and these cards are but dreams deferred,

throwaway slips of paper, all—

my dreams dying still, word by word.

Imprisoned Dreamer

Enamored of flesh, ensorceled, bound,

yet thinking ourselves as kings crowned

in brain matter, nerves, the flow of blood

wallowing like pigs in filth and mud.

Lo! So intoxicated by youth!

That fat flask of wine, its foolish proof

belying hangovers yet to come

while we age, and so, too, each kingdom

as it falls to ruin round the throne

mistaken as ageless and our own,

for Time lays the claim ever he held,

we but stewards for what we beheld.

And so we aspire beyond such waste

of the flesh-bound world as we are faced

with rot, with ruin, with the decline

inherent in our mortal design,

seeking stairways above fickle spheres,

unbound to flesh and untouched by years

futile reaching!  Strapped down, on the back

like the condemned stretched upon the rack,

for it is the bed on which we dream

while watching stars afar, as they gleam,

seeking always the constellations

to console both men and their nations;

seeking myths to comfort fleeting meat

as it dies around us, beat by beat.

We are all Gnostic in such belief,

the temple of flesh fickle and brief.

Condescending Dreams

A midnight too cold, I do declare,
as I tremble in such air
as breath of a frost titan
while stars shine, but do not lighten
with the twinkle of dreams thus outcast
in dark gulfs that last and last,
and I wonder, in such chilly air,
if they twinkle and they glare
because of prevailing ingratitude,
wishing me a change in attitude.
But I cannot, anymore than they,
being ever-fixed as night and day,
and so I think they have no right
to judge me this or any other night
for they, too, in darkness shiver
as if alive and all aquiver
though grown bright each as the sun
and hypocrites, every one,
they are too distant to know of woe,
being far above, and me far below,
but should they wish to condescend
then by all means, come on, descend,
and let us have a sun at night
to warm the hours as a sun might,
but if they should, please be so good
as keep some distance, or they would
burn the earth to blackish cinders
with their resplendent splendors—
indeed, keep thou to that great star chasm
or wither the world, not unlike sarcasm.
Am I belligerent as blood-red Mars
that I should begrudge such long-dead stars?
No, more so Saturn fully crowned
with the ringed dust I have found.
But enough! Hear now the truth I give
and know the truth withal I live:
I clutched at stars once, quite defiant
and thought myself a looming giant
only to find a firefly therein dead
in my hand, a streak that bled
a constellation, a glittering stain
to remind me oft, and to oft remain
so I might know the truth of such dreams
and all above that gleams and seems.