Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Like fire, but colder

Like fire, but colder,
like a whisper, but bolder,
she laid her head upon my shoulder
and succumbed to the gentleness of sleep.

The flames began to smolder,
still young, but getting older,
I put my arm around to hold her
and then I myself fell asleep.

Like darkness, but brighter,
like iron, but lighter,
in my dreams I held her tighter
as we breathed together in sleep.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Morning-fire

Morning-fire, the open sky,
a brilliant blossom passes by
with blazing heat that burned away
the shadow-cowl at break of day.

The celestial cup begins to brim
with golden-wine, as a glad hymn
is intoned by clans of feathered-kin
who rejoice that day has come again.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The obsidian-velvet night descends

The obsidian-velvet night descends
as the dying-candle daylight ends.
The last among the brilliant slivers
of golden dusk, like gilded rivers,
shudder not as they cast off life
but in grace depart without any strife.

When endless caverns above the world
are fully revealed, the stars are unfurled
which, along with the moon that soon will appear,
will shine through the darkness to quell every fear
and to rouse night-insects from daytime-dreaming
to sing shrill with joy under silver-lights gleaming.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lucid in Sleep

[Composed by the late William T. Moore (d. 1974) and found among the many boxes of treasured items kept by his wife Claire (d. 2011). It was handwritten on the back of a utility bill dated November 15th, 1956.] 

I am awake now, Claire, after hearing you say:
Tomorrow will bring but another day.
You uttered these words from where you lay
with eyes open wide to see.

Before I could respond, you fell back asleep
(if indeed you had even emerged from sleep)
leaving me wakeful, my vigil to keep
with eyes open wide to see.

I am thinking of what I had wanted to say:
that each morning brings us a better day,
but I see from your face you are now far away
without eyes open wide to see.

You are sleepwalking through the halls of your mind,
through twilight and shadows, hoping to find
something you lost for which you have pined,
keeping eyes open wide to see.

The shadow-shapes shift across these walls
as the bright round moon quietly crawls
across the sky, with a light that falls
on my eyes open wide to see.

You, in your slumber, are now quiet and still;
I remove my vigil to the windowsill.
Tonight, whether I want to or not, I will
have eyes open wide to see.

The grey light of dawn will soon stir you awake
and furnish us with gifts of time we can take.
But stay lucid in sleep this night for your sake
as I keep eyes open wide to see.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Shadow-fall

The shadow-fall, the nettle-weed,
the petal-pile, the settled-seed,
the sleeping-trees, the lucid-leaves,
the mirror-stream and spangled-eaves.
The nectar-winds from fields afar
breathe bashful under moon and star
and pass this way in whisper-drifts
to bring the dewy darkness gifts
of brittle kisses and solitude
and, finding the night in pleasant mood,
joins half the world in gentle shade
and caresses every leaf and blade.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Little Naiad

She visits this stream in the cool of the morning,
dipping white feet into clear moving waters.
She smiles with soft innocence while her blue eyes,
like tender revelations, sparkle in the fresh sunlight.

Glittering emerald banners are waving behind her,
hundreds and hundreds on the myriad trees, dancing for joy
because she has come to bless these woodland waters,
these gently flowing crystal currents.

Her presence works a wholesome enchantment:
a quiet golden light fills all the wood
and the very breathings of the wind 
are hushed for a moment.

Her brother tosses a stone and splashes her.
She yells at him not to do that again.
Their parents tell them to get their shoes on,
it is time to move on down the trail.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Driving

The weather brings us fitting justice;
its hopes are full of rain and thunder.
But first, the air turns sideways
and stirs up leaves and loaves,
fishes and toads.
Was I indeed dreaming just then?

We take two-lane highways
that pass through tiny towns
as quiet as the dreams of trees.
The bricks of those elderly buildings
are remembering the days when they were young.

The night-wind blows through my window.
The droning of the engine 
and our own whispered words
are the only other sounds.
I lay my head back and breathe.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Winter Hopes

Wherein what is DEAD is brought to LIFE

[This piece incorporates the solution to a "doublet" or "word ladder" word puzzle, in which one word is changed into another by successive steps of altering one letter at a time. Each intermediate step must also be an actual word. The original concept was invented by Lewis Carroll in the 1800's. The DEAD/LIFE pairing is my own. I thought I would attempt to make the solution into a poem. You may want to try to solve it yourself before reading my poem, which gives one of several possible solutions. The original rules, as given by Carroll, involve competing to come up with the fewest number of steps. My solution has 23 steps, and so there are 24 lines in the poem. Technically, the steps in lines 11 and 21 are not needed but I included them for the structure of the piece. There is an alternate solution with only 18 steps.]

O DEAD world, will you heed my call?
Are you DEAF, can you hear me at all?
The LEAF is brown, the year is old,
the horse is LEAN, the weather cold.
The summer months called in their LOAN,
the LOON gives one last mournful moan.
LOOK! The geese are flying away,
the black-cloaked ROOK alone will stay.
As hard as ROCK this earth will be
and stay a while under LOCK and key.
Good LUCK to all, and may all take heed
who enter this time of LACK and need.
Queen Anne's LACE will not grow there
along the swift RACE of waters fair.
When the RAKE has gathered leaves,
a WAKE is held and each tree grieves
and waits cold months until a WAVE
of blessëd warmth returns to SAVE
this world from the CAVE of winter drear
and brings us all into a COVE of cheer.
In trees will be heard the coos of the DOVE
and lilies will nod in zephyrs of LOVE.
The robins will sing because they LIVE,
as the earth springs forth with LIFE to give.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Picnic of 1919

[From the diary of Sgt. Robert Jameson, RAF]

We had before us the entire day
and went, with picnic baskets in hand,
to Bristol Park in jubilant May.
The sunshine was bright and grand
and all of the merry birds and squirrels
took notice of our troupe's arrival there.

It was I, my sister Rose, and her three girls;
my young nieces proved to be company fair:
Catherine, age twelve, was tallest and oldest;
Sarah was a pretty and lively ten.
Their youngest sister Emily was, by far, the boldest;
at just six she faced danger with a grin.

After a fine lunch of roasted chicken and salad,
we ate strawberries and laughed as Emily chased a bunny.
I then sang "Forget-me-not-never," a light-hearted ballad
about a soldier in love, which my nieces thought was funny.
We all played a few rounds of "Fox and Hound,"
a chasing game of which the girls were fond,
until little Emily was unable to be found.

At last, near dusk, we located her beside the pond,
sobbing, for her new white dress was dripping wet.
She had tried to pet a swan and fell headlong into the water.
Laughing, we wrapped her up with the picnic blanket
and walked to their home at Ashby and Potter.

I was to leave again for bleak Berlin the next day
and much hardship and sorrow I would afterwards endure,
but the glad memories I had of that little picnic in May
gave me, in those dark days, much solace simple and pure.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

In Edith's Room at Nightfall

Her face pale in the mirror,
       a vase of dry roses,
a half-eaten pear,
       a painting of Moses
in anger overturning
       the calf made of gold,
The Complete Works of Tennyson,
       some bread growing mold,
a dust-covered photograph
       of a young bride and groom,
a large cobweb hanging
       in one corner of the room,
thin curtains blowing
       over letters on the floor,
Edith brushing her gold hair
       and whispering: nevermore.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ocean Reverie

Heavy waves of blue-green tears
are falling with fury and rushing away
beneath a noisy flock of seers
who, with their screeching voices, say:

Come away! Come from this shore!
From shifting sands and fading sky!
From lands that soon will be no more!
Come with us now! Come with us fly!

I awakened then where I had slept
and dried the tears that I had wept.

The sky was bare; the gulls were gone.
The evening had grown swiftly chill.
Sunset was dwindling drear and wan,
but the darkened water was heaving still.

Heaving and bringing up to my feet
dead seagrass and broken shells,
all the things the ocean beat
and scoured clean within its swells.

Then over the tide flew one last bird
but silent as death it spoke not a word.