Seeing Stone

By the cluster of Honey Fungus

beneath the oaks and by ivy vine

and while the shadows play among us,

the Seeing Stone stands —silent, divine.

Through its circle you can see by eye

beyond the veil of a mortal ’s thoughts,

leaves, trees, a columned hall neath the sky

and the viewpoint whereby truth is sought.

Gaze in to gaze out, eye to the stone,

the self becalmed within rounded frame

to concentrate what is One alone

and know the world by its wordless name.

With one eye closed and one eye opened

we see Life and Death, that grave starkness

known of beginning, betwixt, and end —

the laughing light and deaf-mute darkness.

The Standing Stone was born of the land

in ages long past, before Man rose,

planted in the wombed-tomb by no hand,

knowing the mysteries no one knows.

We may see through this bone of the earth

the living world known as we waken

and, one eye closed, the world before birth

and after death, all such dreams taken.

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.

Catching Fire

The Emperor wears no clothes,

but his pants sure are on fire,

lamenting loudly his woes,

the smokescreen wafting higher,

but each time he flaps his lips

and fans the flames with his lies

the fire catches on new hips

as his yes-men lie likewise

until the flame spreads elsewhere,

burning clothes off in a flash—

a trend that blackens the air

and burns our nation to ash.

Handful Of Poems

Allusion

A Russian nesting doll,

all of literature,

one within one within all—

no books writ were so pure.

Take, for instance, Roland,

a childe of Charlemagne,

oliphant in reluctant hand

blown always in refrain.

To the tower he came

in rhymed verse, or pulp prose,

a changed man, yet also the same

neath that tower’s shadows.

And as an old king leers

and giants gather in range,

the dreamer sheds his close-eyed tears,

for nothing seems to change.

Prayer (Lip) Service

They speak as if to inspire

(or at least to pay lip),

but when closer to true fire

the wax begins to drip,

dribbling each empty prayer

in small puddles and wicks,

smoky, evanescent air

and melting candlesticks.

Moral Compass

When was worth ever worth the knowing

but of sails when the wind is blowing?

What good the ale or good the weather

if stout trust is not shared together?

When was honesty worth its value

but when the crew slanders what is true?

What depths have the seas, crest to abyss,

when plunged with friendship, ever amiss?

What was vigilance from up on high

but the crow’s nest and a watchful eye?

What was a purpose against the odds

but wheel and rudder defying gods?

When was one’s character worth its test

but in the tumult of the tempest?

When was integrity worth its salt

but in the hull, made strong and gestalt?

What fears come forth from the wide ocean

when hearts swell with stronger emotions?

People will speak storms just to wreck ships—

may you never sink by briny lips.

Dragnets

Fling out the dragnets of thought

to draw up what’s forgotten,

corpses bygone and ill-got

with their substance all rotten;

seine through the insanity

to catch clusters of regrets,

envy, lust, and vanity—

the small bait which soon begets

larger hauls, each dragged upward:

pride, wrath, gluttony and greed,

all of which have so suppered

in accordance to the breed.

Drag up!  Drag up! Hoist them high!

Like the sharks of some sea hunt

being raised now, eye to eye—

not a publicity stunt.

They thrash, they growl, they bite,

dead yet their instincts remain

to attack as if they might

bring back all the repressed pain.

So drag the nets, haul them up,

and bring me the bodies now—

wring from them their sour syrup

and shotgun blasts to each brow.

Conceit

They asked me, “What is conceit?”
And I said, “Look to your feet.
See the flowers growing there?
Smell that fragrant, floral air?
Now smell this fresh-laid cow dung
and, before you wag your tongue,
realize how the flowers grow
to perfume the winds that blow.
You may disdain such cow shit,
but flowers may grow from it.
You think humble pie smells bad,
but it’s not the worst I’ve had.
Nothing gags me like conceit,
reeking so I cannot eat.”

Sibylance

Were I fain to speak,

would be double of tongues,

venom in each cheek,

limbless along my rungs

as I was after

the Garden and the Fall,

sibilant laughter

at having foreseen all,

but before exile

I was a branch above,

watching, waiting while

Adam and Eve made love

and plotting their fates

to defy even God

they left Eden’s gates,

but it was all a fraud

begat beyond me

and before me, a ruse:

the Garden, the Tree,

no choice any could choose;

the Garden, the Tree,

and Adam just-so crowned

in ignorance, free,

paradise sprawling round,

yet alone, lonely,

and so the true deceit:

lovely Eve, only

I could read God’s receipt.

The scales had been made

as had mine on my hide,

the scales had been weighed

with a hand on one side.

A script had been penned

and roles given to each,

the tale had an end

and my sight had such reach

as to see the ploy

God had planned for us all,

I was but a toy

and Man but helpless thrall,

and despite my sight,

I was compelled by fate,

tail in my bite,

an Ouroboros hate

for the trap within,

eating dust, in decline

Original Sin

inborn by God’s design.

The Dragon

From the gable the hanged man swayed,

weather-worn and his long coat frayed,

and, down below, the blacksmith laughed

to see crows as he plied his craft.

The sun went down, but the corpse stayed

while the blacksmith bettered his trade

until he heard hooves beating swift

neath the moon, in the midnight rift

of life and death, flesh and soul,

while the fog, thick, began to roll.

On pale horses there came a host

through the moonlight, each like a ghost

in fine Fae feature and attire,

of noble bearing, knight and squire.

“Hail,” said the blacksmith, “lord of streams,

lord of hills and of moonlit dreams.”

The Fae lord nodded, yet his eyes

went to the hanged man, and the flies

that buzzed about and swarmed around,

their song of joy a constant sound.

“You are as we,” remarked the lord,

pointing with his sharp silver sword.

“You have hunted and won, with skill,

as we have, in field, mount and hill.

But what worth is such common fare?

Wherefore this man dances in air?”

The blacksmith smiled shrewdly, and said

“Tell, first, the stories of each head

hanging from your fine-worked saddles,

for I wish e to hear such battles.”

The Fae lord gestured to a knight

and he dismounted, at child’s height,

taking down, then, an ogre’s head

from his lord’s saddle, splattered red,

and the head had tusks, sharp and long,

and its jaws were big, its chin strong,

but all lay lax in that dead face,

life gone from it, without a trace.

“I slew this monster near the bridge

that extends from stone ridge to ridge

for he preyed upon our kindred,

his hunger great, yet now ended.”

The knight returned the trophy, now,

and sought another, whose broad brow

was maned with marshy hair that hung

blackish green, and a limp pale tongue

between needle teeth, its long snout

like a horse, its horns curving out.

“Here is the pookah, a deadly mount

who haunted the swamp’s bracken fount,

dragging drunkards into the peat

and tearing them apart to eat.”

The third head was of an eagle,

but giant, golden, beak regal.

“And here, at last, is the griffin,”

said the lord, and, with a sniff, then,

told of how the foul fowl laid claim

to all his flocks and all his game,

and so the lord had set a trap,

baiting the beast till, with a snap,

he brought it down with an arrow

which pieced shrieking through the air so

that the beast fell at once, quite done,

though the quills still shone like the sun.

“My only regret,” said the lord,

as he sighed and sheathed his stained sword,

“is having only trophies three

whereas four would better please me

for my trophy hall has such space

that it would gain from one more face.

But enough of such things,” he said.

“Tell me how he came to be dead.”

The blacksmith grinned like a demon.

He said, “By his ill-spilt semen

upon that which was fairly mine—

my wife!  So I showed him the line

between good and bad, life and death,

and the lecture cost him his breath.

As for my wife—she is chained

within my house, our vows profaned,

yet even now I work my bellows

to make right of this.  Trust, fellows,

that this scarlet letter shall bleed

from another maiden, whose breed

is made of the finest points known,

and has iron in place of bone.”

The Fae lord looked at the maiden

which the blacksmith made, so laden

with spikes where her heart should have been,

more monstrous than any such kin

of ogre, griffin, or such ilk

nourished by wicked blood-laced milk.

“She is my wife,” the blacksmith said,

“as is that faithless girl whose head

and heart were won by Love’s deceit,

but my good wife shall drink replete,

for the faithless wife shall so slake

the steadfast wife, for her mistake,

and by merit of blood provide

from bed to bed, and bride to bride.”

He worked the hot, wrathful bellows,

the embers of orange-yellows

flaring like fitful flies of fire

or, perhaps, flecks of vain-desire.

He said, “To me her only worth

was insomuch as field to serf:

a thing to be plowed in such time

for hale harvest in proper clime.

But she harbored fancies bygone

with this rogue, whom I have high-drawn.

As if the heart should rule such things

when we know gold rules even kings,

and I have amassed a great hoard

through my flames, by horseshoe and sword.

Verily, I have grown steel plates

for whole armies, helms for pates,

and such great horns like a ram’s crown

that could blow ancient mountains down.

Should I not revenge myself

against fickle wife, lordly elf?”

The blacksmith grinned, very much pleased

and then laughed loudly, till he wheezed.

The Fae lord smiled, too, though grimly,

and then he hopped down, quite nimbly,

from his horse, silver sword in hand

and though short, his eyes held command

of all they gazed on, man or Fae,

his decrees none could disobey.

“I thank you,” he said, “for your truth,

and I thank you for more, forsooth,

as I longed to slay once more before

returning to my hillside door,

and here I have found at long last

a dragon whose flame hath cast

horrid shadows of deeds foul done

and deeds yet done beneath the sun.

Thus I have found my fourth trophy.”

And no sooner than lord quoth, he

struck head clean off the man’s shoulders

whereupon his banner-holders

fetched it up from the bloody lawn

(the mouth slack-jawed, as if to yawn)

and hung it on their lord’s horse

thereafter freeing bride, of course,

from her shackles, then cut down, too,

her lover from his gabled view.

The cock’s crow heralded first light,

so the Fae company took flight

and vanished as dew in the dawn—

like mist from fabled Avalon.

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.

Lo Fi Firefly

Soft tread, soft glow, she’s a firefly

in a black hoodie, black mood, she’s walking by

on a country road, with snug bug headphones

pumping lo fi beats, piano tones.

School blazer, senpai-hazer, plaid skirt,

breezy frills, black stockings, mid-thigh flirt,

luminescent crescent lunar-lobed ear

sprouting diamond petals, her black bangs sheer;

ambling, rambling, moontime walk,

hill humps, roadside bumps, cricket talk,

stars distant, obi-bright, pebble speckled,

blue nebula banners helter-skelter freckled,

full moon brimming, limning, dreaming radiance,

the moonbow spectrum and its gleaming gradients.

The tanuki strolls up along beside her,

a raccoon bear without a care, as tall, but wider,

straw hat, sleepy gaze, whistling his song,

swaying arms, masked face, bobbing along,

no words, no eye contact, just some space

in warm Summer air, and the slight trace

of matcha tea, of forest freshness, quite mellow,

now street signs glowing here and there, bright yellow,

two figures part at the coming parkway yield

and he lays down in a nice rice paddy field.

Shoegaze drone now, briny oceanic breeze,

kiss of soft-flung surf, the low-key ease

of tides glaze-lazing to a lounge rhythm,

the tip-toeing piano cadence within them,

lulling stroll, gloss-stare, the forgetful sands,

sonorous seaside cliffs, echo-waves, drowsy lands,

a mountain sloping to a nonchalant crest,

encoiled in a centipede of silent forest,

eyes aglow in the syncopating serpent depths,

old monk mantra along tottering treble clefs,

shuffling silent sneakers seeking inland,

a pink valentine card held in hand,

the fireflies blinking with a mild, beguiled beat,

the pitter-patter of phantasmal feet,

pale-faced spirits hopping in the high tree tops,

beyond the Shinto shrine sheltered in the copse,

jittery, chittering childlike babble,

a somnolent little branch-borne rabble

and concordance with the green leaf rustle

in the torpid winds, quiet hustle-and-bustle,

never hurrying, yet coming, by and by, along

as she follows her innocent inner song.

Power lines, now, streetlights, lamp posts,

electric hum, neon lights, jaywalking ghosts,

small town midnight-twilight, insomniac windows,

no headlights, no bed-frights, the wind blows

unheard, unseen, her black hair still,

unmoved, slight frown, turning of her heel

down a sidestreet, panes dim, white wall alley

as percussion beats palpitate, then rally.

Long walk without talk, she reads the address,

still bobbing to mellow music, a raven tress

gone astray, the headphones looser now,

but not off, firefly glow waning on her brow.

A crow crosses the moon, wings like eyelashes

as the moon’s eye blinks, and the car crashes

in flashback, (crash-smack), soft as a dying mist

in dim memory, and now this long-sought tryst.

A waking dream, long-sought scheme, a lost lullaby

as the lo fi beats fade, fade, fade, the heartbeats die.

Looking up at his window, she sees, she knows

the music stopped hours ago, and now the wind blows

but is unfelt, unknown, a thing now apart

like the valentine card, and his beating heart.

Setting the card down, she turns away,

fading out with the music, and the coming day.

On Black Wings

The shadow laughs atop the tower

beneath the moon, at the midnight hour,

watching the princess fall fast asleep

under heavy guard, in castle keep.

The raven rises and wheels about,

bringing dreams that make her scream and shout,

clutching sheets as a funeral shroud,

her voice echoing despair aloud.

The guards fetch the king to the tower

and the king comes, says, “My dear flower,

what is the matter that you should cry

when so esteemed, daughter, in my eye? ”

The princess trembles at a chill breeze

and faint laughter, feeling ill at ease.

“Father!  O Father!  I dreamt a life

bound to the birthing bed of a wife! ”

The king frowns, but begins to pet her,

saying, “I have received a letter

from the prince to whom you have been sworn

since the grim days before you were born.

It is time, now that you are of age,

that wedding vows soothed this blood-feud rage

that has withered heir, heart and harvest

so peace may blossom and prosper, lest

dark days visit again on black wings

and War whet his corvid cravenings. ”

But the princess knows her destined prince,

having met him afore, and her sense

comes in a dance they had as children

at Summer Solstice, his hand chill when

he took hers in it, as was his smile

as they circled, lutes playing while

his eyes stared coldly, and black as coal

and just as soon to flare fierce, his soul

made of hot and cold moods, fire and ice,

every moment a roll of dice

if ice should frost his disdainful speech

or wildfire should burn all within reach —

she had seen him as a dragon prince:

cold-blooded, flame-throated petulance.

“Father, please, I cannot marry him,

for his heart withers both root and stem,

allowing nought to grow but a blight. ”

The king says, “A goodly plow sets right

Eden itself after the Fall, love,

and so you must trust in God above,

or else War will sup eternal yet

as the blood feuds grow…to much regret.

Think of your people, foremost in mind,

and discard all else, as fruit from rind. ”

Then the princess weeps, her lips curling

with bitterness, while black wings go whirling

round and round the star-accursed tower

as a Black Angel round the bower

of the Tree of Knowledge, and the bough

from which the Fruit cursed every brow.

The raven laughs, and the princess cries,

the feathers flap and she seals her eyes

and says, “I know my death comes just so

with the peace our good people may know,

so promise you will do as I wish

and eat a raven upon your dish

a year hence, to this ill-omened night

and each year hence, father, come what might,

for ‘tis death I sup on this hour late

as I waken to a black-winged Fate. ”

She then springs from her bed, flinging forth

from her high window, while to the North

the raven returns to the cold hand

which had bid it fly from that cold land;

messenger and master together

awaiting the storm, the cold weather,

and the feast to come, mingling laughter

for both War and Death, ever after.