1. Ode to Identity
No image, no reflection, no excuse
I am myself
I live and think and make
Take the day for what it is
Take the night for what it gives
I am myself
Born to be unsure and striving
Born to vanquish dark and lying
Born to cry and suffer pain
Born to live and become sane.
I am myself
Denying nothing I have felt.
(Written in 1984)
2. From the Shadow of Tomorrow
This narrow room that binds my dreams to sorrow.
And sends their echos down the stream of time.
To catch in all the crannies of tomorrow.
So that I may pay for all my unseen crimes.
And so, accepting each fell day in numbered sequence.
I walk the path I set before myself.
Refusing to hold back the Love that lends it meaning
Or moving to avoid the things I've felt.
For pain is not the deadly end of knowing,
And Love has tempered fate to let me bear,
The agony I hesitate on showing,
As well as all the laughter sheltered there.
I walk alone in evenings broad awakening
To taste the pleasure lying there for the taking.
(Written in high school, 1967)
3. Time’s Twin Who isn’t Seen
Times twin has shored up shorter lives than mine
Causing them to ripple out in different ways
Where before they echoed on in thoughtless kind
The Twin has multiplied the passing days
For I am not exactly as I was before
The Twin called my attention to the change
Because I had not seen what questing held in store
I could not feel the agony that is not pain
But now I do.
I have looked past the complexities to find
The inner shrine.
4. A Star
I'm walking toward my own fast star of destiny
And shadows echo out of gloom
And brightness beckons me to climb
The lonely mountain
The silence whispers
Peacefully, the moments slip behind
Each foot must place its self
Strongly on the road whose end I fear to see.
5. A Response to Kipling in Kind
Males are strong and braver than
The female half of species Man
They stand instead of lending feet
To well thought out and tight retreat
Only man will stand in place
Risking death before disgrace
Could it be that in that space
Behind that hard and rugged face
Are gonads, simply out place?
6. Shackling Cold
I have been cold
With the strained and lonely shadows
of your words unsaid.
I have turned away to find the self
I had denied
And left these precious parts of me aside.
So let it pass
For I have come to know it cannot last.
Let tolerence persist
And let me find the strength to not resist
Until my love of life turns cold
And the shadows are less bold.
For this is what you are to me
You are myself, my heart, my soul,
my smile in the face of all adversity
And if I could reach out and change this cusp
in time I wouldn't move
And love is thus within me proved.
Patterns in the water changing endlessly as me
Becoming something else and yet the same
Reflecting living's essence I grow strong inside my mind
Rejecting all the visions of myself that others made.
I build upon the central core
The only living me.
I check the hard foundations without end
Reinforcing and refining the one who I would be
By finding out just what it is
That makes this being me.
Living through the anger and remembering the shame
I close on my beginnings and the spaces that remain
And I fight with quiet surity to break each link of chain
That bound me to a past that was the cause of all my pain
And in breaking out of anger and in severing the bonds
I have found that in becoming truly me
I have been freed.
7. A Book Once Read
Will I not be?
When all the pages have been turned
Will the cover close on me?
Is it possible?
Isn't life an endless, twisted path;
For I remember being here before.
My mind has ventured out to touch the truth of it
And tapped the source of knowing with surprise.
So, I accept the interruptions
Find them good.
I will not let them interfere
With the central quest- that is more me
Than my body or my fear.
8. A Freely Given Gift
I will always render you the gift of truth
There is no charge for it.
The cost was paid the day I came to love myself
And to forgive,
The kind of life I've forced myself to live
But truth is not a gift without a cost to you.
I think you'll find
You pay for it each day.
Because you must enlarge on it
and give it back In kind.
Because I'm proud of me
Because the values I reflect in life
Have often led to strife
between us two
I mourn for you.
Because the you I see
wants complete control of of me.
And none of you you's trust.
The me's to do what's just.
And you know the bottom line?
The me's let you everytime.
10. Do Not Assume
There is no price that virtue will not pay
to encompass the knowledge most assume
And see that knowing held by light of day
Can cancel out the fearful shades of doom.
To know yourself as sovereign is to say
That nothing else has relevance to life
And armed thus nothing in our lives can fray
The constancy to self that cancels strife
For peace is not the absence of all living
The inner strife can focus of just ends
And tempered metal's born from base beginnings
For at that point the journey just begins
To see this vision born of essance makes us real
The sovereign man is not afraid
And on this hardened base our soul is laid.
11. A Moment Lingering in Memory
(When I was living in Rome as a teenager I was almost struck by lighning that came through an arch of the colosseum and hit the ground within 20 feet of me. The image was so compelling I went home and wrote this that night.)
The night rains wet and cold upon my head
The lightning sears the grass blades on the ground
One white-flash-sword days the night
And holds my eyes and heart and scars my memory
There it stands, piled like a devils maze
Ghost silver in the still-born Day.
Curves piled on curves, jagged it lies
A broken hero in the light
While thunder sings its hymn
And Still-born day returns to night.
12. The Distant Blue
You can forget Distance covers all with shadowed blue
And memory can thus be masked in gentler hues.
The scenes are less distinct
And the words are rearranged
Until their metamorphis eases pain.
This is what you'll see
If this is what you'll have it be.
But if you hanker after change
And dispise the weakness in yourself
That cannot deal with pain
- Then you'll remember.
13. Cycle Accepted
My flesh is grass
It wavers greenly on the undulating hills
And echos down into the canyons.
It's lushness flushes deeper
In along the rivers bank
And winnows out to nothing
On the dusty plains.
Watching as the twilight flickers through the fields
I see myself part of this whole;
Taking out my life's blood from the grass.
I live prepared to give it back.
14. On Carol’s Dying
Silence holds me close tonight
and echos down in past my bones
Reaching to the inner self
I call my home
This peace, this silence
I welcome back.
The thrashing sorrows have emptied me
I have met death.
Not as before - a distant messanger to someone else.
But something cutting close to self.
I've felt the pall of misery
That pulls the blue skies down.
Sorrows had me by the throat
And pulled me toward the ground.
I've been engulfed in quiet agony
His chilling hands have clutched at me.
Regretting words that passed my lips
In anger bred.
But most of all The words of love
Now left unsaid.
But silence breeds it's own release.
My shell-shocked soul has found its peace.
Love walks with me beyond the grave
I judged myself and then forgave.
15. Lonely Moments
If I could lay the lonely moments end on end
And measure out their length in metered time.
The days thus spent in desperate quest
Of meaning might weigh with me less.
But time and truth is only as it is.
And lies cannot deny
The lonely hours sealed behind these eyes.
To be myself.
To soar on wings of pride and self-esteem.
To leave behind this shell of shattered dreams
To exchange the might-have-beens
By becoming with a vengence
Most truly - me.
17. Silent Guns
There's rust-red violence in the sky today
The shadow-mountains lick away at purpling clouds
Excitement rustles in among the trees
And frees the night wind from the day's embrace.
The evening rushes in to mount its guns along the far horizon
Then to shoot the silvered stars into the darkening sky.
And watching this I sit and wonder why
The echoed song of someone's voice
No longer empties out my joy into remorse.
Distance has now killed the blast of sorrows claim
And left my cleansed of feeling that for a while maimed
Like a vaccination against a worse disease.
Once when the moon dish wandered through the sky
I only thought of him
Now thought is dry
And other thoughts race madly through my mind.
So, like a hundred million other men I wait
The dawn of that unquestioned Sun
That stills the guns
And hovers on the plains of battle
Quiet beneath its wings
Not looking back to lesser fate
But on to that sun-drenched alpine zenith that
I've yet to make.
18. A Day in the Life of....
This day is gray.
It looms leadenly like a down-turned cup
Enclosing me in cold and rain.
It's edge can cut me to the bone
With sickle-cold wind and restless clouds.
I have looked up, now I look down.
To see the earth, refreshed and clean.
The source of life, and all my dreams.
19. Home Remembered
I always knew there'd be no going home.
A person grows past need of things like that.
Yet summers shining promise hit me in the face today
And I knew I needed home past reasoning.
I cry for it, abandoned, frightened, sick
And in my need no answer summons out of sense.
So I need home.
That space where I knew life's own terrors
And all the dark intensity of shapeless fear.
Always in the distant haze it loomed
A promise never reached - but always there.
Harsh and chastening; But always mine.
In one day wrenched from my own soul.
I sit here naked to the world
So friendless and so cold.
20. The Rider
His hooves cut clay.
The animal between my thighs
Echos out into the light of autumn's day.
The horse's stride intensifies
And my body bends
To ease our passage through the wind.
The wind runs fingers through my hair
And the misted morning cleanses me of all my cares.
I have discovered freedom.
The movement of my body has no bounds,
It rejoices in the glory of the power it has found.
All is ease.
The balance has been struck between the two.
The body that is trained
And the knowledge that has congelled inside my brain.
These few minutes have distilled for me
All the things that mind and muscle can be made to be.
21. Even-Call PauseThe quiet melts about my ears
Like waxen candles carried in the night.
And stillness sinks into my soul
And stalks my worries down.
The silence slips softly up about my ears
Tucking in the blanket round my face.
Mystically the darkness shelters all
Arching up protectively across my bed.
Oblivious to outside stimuli
I breath my best.
And curling up into the darkened sheets
I am alone in this dark water tomb
Enclosed on all sides by hateful walls
I am bound close to my fate
And cannot escape
It's parasite-like grasp
I've been here too long to remember
From where I came
And my one desire is escape
From this shrinking well
Of tearing night
I am being squeezed close
The fire pain comes again.
Harder now I go to death
Or is it something else?
23. All Ends to Glory
I want to see the glory ride again
I want to sense the magic of a morning spell
As power warps its way up glowing
In the silent light of Earth-fires whispered dawn
All ends to glory.
As the fountain spurts its peeling
Water up into a statue
To the wills of those of power
Joined together for a cause.
To fight for glory.
The blood-red battle calls
to something deep within us all
And the thing responds with fervor
For the love of life, the love of self, and glory.
To leave with glory.
Even as the darkness winds around the head
All other meanings pall
And the single, loving, lasting thought
That sums it up and echos on
To those who know
I lived in glory.
24. A Darkened Cave
If I could just escape into tomorrow
And leave my yesterdays in some dark cave
Not to remember the forge that pound me
Into this piece of leaden stuff
That will not let me reach beyond today
Then I would feel the dawn of all the well-content
And wallow in the fullness of a life not dreamt
And yet, what holds me is the memory of my own clay
My beginnings, locked in me onward from the womb
Will ever overshadow 'til the day they arch across me
As a tomb.
25. An Unimagined Light
Listening, wondering, watching, fear
Steady danger drawing near
Stomach taut with horrors thrust
Day is old with hours rust
Intellect has shrunk behind
Wisdom of another kind
Consciousness returns to show
The light that I had ceased to know.
26. Breath taken Alone
My body seemed to make itself a part
Of all the things that shaped that day for me
Even at this distance I can't say
Where sky began and left my body free
Motion seemed to slow the very hours
And my lungs responded to the change
To swell and take the sweet air into them
To pause to breathe, and pause to live again.
The sun distilled the smells out of the air
And bathed me with perfume of pine and earth
The breezes blew the hair out of my face
And kissed me with the newness of their birth
And looking past the pines above my head
I saw the blue sky mottled white with clouds
Bringing back the things I'd left unsaid
Knowing, that once spoken, where they led.
I let my thoughts evade the central truth
Giving as excuse my ageless youth.
27. Climbing Rainbows
I've stolen back the freedom to climb rainbows
From the jealous god of promises not made
Because I know the cost of it is long since paid
And I could not have my travels once again delayed
So come with me and share the silent smiles
As we go on journeys that can't be marked in miles
If I can tarry in this lonely portal
Yet one more night
Prehaps I can be saved
But if fortune tells me to bear on
I'll rush to cross my Rubicon.
29. Always Looking
I've spent my life in seeking things
That I have never found
But the looking has been something
That has set me on firm ground
For I now have set my compass
On a very different course
And the values that were foreign then
Have been my guiding force
I saw that all the goodness
That I thought
Was buried in some strange and lonely spot
Existed all the time before my eyes
Behind a face that struggles with its lies.
30. My Lady Love
She waits beside a vast expanse of water
Her hand holds up the light of living day
And never will the justice in Her falter
And never will Her seekers lose their way
For justice is not made in court opinions
And truth is not defended at the polls
As into living rock we drive the pinions
That hold the deathless thoughts that are our goals
Does Justice need the heart of Her defender?
Will Her loving message echo into time?
Will our children's children yet remember
That those who cherish liberty are one kind
Liberty cannot be won - and never lost
Remember what it is and not the cost.
(Written in challenge to a duel of sonnets with Craig Franklin, 1983. He lost, but he will always lose. There is no poetry in his soul. )
A Sonnet Written in Challenge
She stands beside a darkened mass of sorrow
A distant hope of freedom in our lives
A hope that may be realized tomorrow
If we can only pledge ourselves to strive
That promise has been built into our futures
And forged in blood before our mother's birth
In knowledge that the cost can not be counted
Except by minds that understand it's worth
So watch the Lady with her lamp upholding
Salute her in your mind, if nothing else
For her pledge of hope is given us for molding
And each of us must do it for ourselves
The Lady is a promise we have made
And freedom is the value we must save.
(Written in challenge to a duel of sonnets with Craig Franklin, 1983. Craig kept rewriting his poem for the next several years. He still lost. If you can't do it in five minutes then you should hang up your pen. )
32. To My Daughter, Carolyn, now dead to me
I love you.
There is no range or boundary to my cherishing.
I love you now, as I did before - and as I will.
Time out of mind
On and never varying.
33. Note of A Political Nature to Chris Hocker
Privily speak I of promises well made
For I would have you know I them remember
For pen to paper thus I put - for so you bade,
And hearing thus your words could I malinger?
You said that you would give me many wonders
For papers writ with wisdom good and clear
That Clark did read to parry many blunders
Of policy when run he did last year.
And murmured you of booklets that you wrote
Designed to teach my candidates of things
That will make them yet less clumsy with the votes
And credit to the cause of freedom bring.
So find the stuff - tout suite, and make it fast!
For I needed it all months ago, you ass!
34. To My Son
The door is open.
And through it walks my son.
Out into the night
Away from me.
35. The Child
He was a child
Loving colors that explode
And holding life in both his hands
Not afraid to lose
What he did not understand.
He was a child
Forcing patterns on the sand
Accepting nothing as it stands
He wants to know the things
That others are afraid to see
He seeks to understand
To be able just to know
Why everything is so.
A quiet child
He feels the power of his mind
Joined like music with his soul
Making beauty out ofthings
That shine with ordinary rings.
A hungry child.
But inside his growing brain
Lives reason - born again
Crystallizing into being
And breaking out of bonds
Cutting through the veil that shrouds
Raising up and blooming out
Not satisfied with what he is today
He will soon become a man.
36. I’ve Always Loved You
It's never been as though I didn't care.
Even when it didn't seem as if I could
I've always tried to do the best for you
And a day has never risen up and fallen down
When hopes for you from me haven't echoed out of mind.
My arms have ached for all the times I haven't held you
My eyes have cried until they throbbed their pain into my head.
I've wondered how you've grown.
And if your friends are nice to you, and you to them.
I'd like to ask if quiet can invade your soul
If you think of things beyond yourself
And days long past next week.
I wish it had been different for us both.
And if all my wishing could have made it so.
I never would have let you go.
37. Question of Identity
I am the cusp
I am the storm
I am the darkness of the night
I come as shadow
Cling with murmurs
Leave in newborn light
Not a presence
But an absence felt
Too often let remain
My flesh engulfs you
Laces through you
Twining into you with pain
Often known but never spoken
Feared, denied, and then locked out
Keys and tears will never hold me
There can be no Redoubt.
My name forbidden
Will stay hidden
As echos down a hall
Seeping even creeping
My very mention is your pall.
Some embrace me as a lover
Fearing more to live without
To those I cleave with ardor
Their craven fear has
Locked life out.
I want to laugh and dance and cry and sing.
I want to let the feeling
Building up inside my frame
Pour out to form
A silver fall of shining rain.
I am gladness
I am the effervescent bubbles in champagne
I am every man who cried to find release
From ecstasy so great it left no peace.
(1978 - For LP ballot drive.)
39. Frozen Moment
Despot sun reigns over tide.
Small fish duck under rocks to hide
Fire falls hungry to the earth.
The foam is valued at its worth.
Wind strike screams at top of lungs
Flashing off their soundless guns
Quiet lover laughs at wind
Changing what he wants to bend.
Silver gilt on small fish shines.
Wanting what they left behind.
Fearing yet to hold again.
Frightened even to begin.
I wait for autumn every year.
Eager as a lover is
To taste the beauty of her lips.
For I remember wind through
Falling leaves and a sudden touch of winter chills.
I love the morning air that never quite gives way
To the warmer haze that plaqued me of a summer's day.
I walk through conscious every day
Of fulfillment spelled so many ways.
And when sated with sensation I turn and see
The symbols autumn yearly writes anew for me.
The harvest, earned and taken from the earth;
The sweat turned into living proof that labor is the source of worth
Creation, mind, and value’s birth.
I breath it in and relish all.
The fall of leaves to me becomes
The laurel of a battle fought, and bravely, won.
41. The Dragon
The dragon does not see the far horizon
He lives to suck to yolk out of the egg
And though widely spread is he in all his powers
Narrow is the path before him laid.
He finds echos in the lower planes of battle
And does not see the stars above his head.
For all his force is given to his proving
And for that end his kind is finely bred.
So find yourself emblazoned as the lion.
The dragons badge of honor can't refuse
As sinews twist and strain affirm you victor
The dragons stealth denys that he can lose.
Knowing self endows the age-old shield
Knowing dragon-self you needn't yield
42. Dragon’s World
Dragons are escaped from this world
Of things that wax material in the light
They have retreated into sleepless waiting
To bring their winged shadows back from night
They wait to see a turn from things electric
To values lit by waxen candles glow
And do you now wait also for their coming?
And do you seek the mysteries that they know?
43. A Cry from the Darkness of Time
I loved you thus before the dark unwinding
Of time had rendered up the message of Your birth
And thus before my heart had quit its beating
I saw in you the Savior of the Earth.
And so I bound myself for time uncounted.
To give You all the strength that I possess
The little Babe who laid in home-spun weaving
Taught me to understand my soul is blessed.
And in giving up the Self I thought was me
I found that in exchange that I was free.
Red flowers clash hard with green grass
Brass poppies grow
Row on row
Crying over sun-death
Laughing at the moon-tide
Whipping nerves of men to hide the name
Bright, innocent they are
Bringing evil to the bar.
45. Natal Wishes
I wish you pleasure in the everyday
Occurances that fill your life
And the perpetual newness of things often tasted
as well as those untouched.
May you grow to fulfill your capacity for loving
And in the growing come to know yourself completely
46. I Am The Wind
I would soar lightly in among the clouds
Letting the carressing wind
cleanse my skin
I am one with this
I am the wind
Bending all and stretching thin
Suspended in a timeless breath of finely stretched intensity
I am the clouds
That look up
In thunderheads of power
Rolling past plains and valleys
Radiating out their blinding strikes of light
Dissolving self back into rain
In cycles unattached to pain.
And I am man
Who sees all with eyes that
Measure time in miles
And journies in transcendent memories
I have learned to see and feel and think and be.
And I am wind, and rain and clouds.
Encompassed; all; and without doubt.
47. Close Friend
To you who touch my quiet core of being
And understand the echos from my soul
With eyes that speak to me and let me grow
You stand with me and know I'll love you always
That the bond we've forged between us served to share
The strength of each when one is grieved or lonely
And would retreat into himself in grave dispair.
Let this mark its memory on you
Love binds us, makes us one instead of two.
48. Leaves of Death
My address book holds leaves of death
Names made dust
Memories that live in thoughts grown fainter by the day
The ink is fading
Becoming musty blue from vibrant black
My eyes release them from the page to wander in my memory
Carol's electric blue glance pierce the years
Her laughter, harsh and unforgiving, echos in my ears
I see my mother
reaching out to touch me; wishing there was strength to love
When she feared to even live
A country western hero
Riding the mustang of honor to
MacDonalds for a Big Mac
No bluster, no pretense, no cynic
Just love, ready to give the substance of yourself
Stan is there
Alive with hopes and dreams of times that
Slipped through his fingers
Never tasted, never broached
A ephemeral wonder
Who lived within the circle of the world
as he knew it
Respectful of justice and honor
Doing right with an automatic grace
Your eyes revealed the child
That your life was bent to hide
You were a gentle soul
Stalwart in purpose
Passionate for truth
A quiet lover of the small gestures that matter
Your call tolled death, time and time again
That was the most I had of you
Death and death until the end.
You danced into the light
winding ribbons, pink and blue, as your spirit left my sight
In death I was not sister but your friend.
The passing years have taken them
enveloped in the darkness eyes don’t pierce
Hands don’t touch.
Taken and still here,
fading blue, untouchable, but touched.
(Written for those I loved who had died. 1995)
49. Truth & Conscience
Time has swollowed lives without a ripple
Leaving only emptiness and fear
Time can touch you only it you tremble
To lose what is not yours to take from here.
We breath to live and love and eat and wonder
We struggle to unlock the unknown truth
Taking as a given time will sunder
The search that must begin in our first youth
Retreat into oblivion if you must
Life is what we have - and it is just.
50. A Short Commentary on the Justice of Nature
Nature is becoming
Never finished; never perfect; never wrong.
The Earth breathed fire
The crusted, tortured, new-born skin
Crackled, folded, sulked and cooled
Water fell, trickled, flooded
Seas grew, a droplet at a time
One joining one unnumbered and unknown
The Earth Breathed, steady and slow
Wind waxed and stippled water, turned stone to sand
No movement, but light became life
The Earth Breathed
Slow, regular and steady
They came from the nothing
That is the Breath
Colors crowding the mountains, touching the plains
A multitude of living things
Breeding, fighting, birthing, dying
And then gone, forgotten
Bones yellow and breaking into dust
Some fraction impressed in stone
Most erased without a trace
The Earth Breathed on.
Each life mingling in what was
For just a tiny fraction of a moment
A blink of eternity in
Their Long Forever
Mountains stretching tall
Recede and fall
Earth’s face changed and yet the same
The Earth breathed on, steady and strong
The threads of life reach forward into time
As life remakes itself, struggling to survive
Straining muscle, testing will, changing and changed
Time is long, and life short
And always, as the struggle wages war, winning, waning and worn
the Earth breathes on.
(Written in 1996)
51. Birth Song
Buried in grief
Shackled and owned
For slowly bleeding
Uncounted and unknown
Untasted and untried
No longer cramped, Restricted
Deformed and bound
Face forced down
The Woman Dreams
A life distinct
Her life her own -
With all lives linked
Released from Pain
With Truth Rethought
Eyes that see
Air to breathe
Lungs that fill
With Sacred Will Stretching, testing
The Goddess waking
Lips poised to bless
Mother & Earth:
The Spirit’s Birth
(1997 - for the Women’s Box project)
52. Time’s hands
(Written in the lost hour of October 26 - 27, 1998)
Turn back the clock of minutes, days
Turn it back and let me gaze
On those I loved another time
Let my griefing ease their minds
Harsh and glaring my repreive
Locked and failing my disease
Turn back the hands of guiltless time
Turn back the clock to seal my crimes
Committed in that shadowed place
Where memories reside with grace
That I have loved is not enough
What I have learned become reproof
Times hands are just and live with me
Slow cadenced metronome of banished dreams
Clamors to remind my heart
That no one ever really parts
Death; illusioned judgement gives
The Soul, the Self can’t cease to live.
September 28, 1998 10:43 p.m.
53. Dedicated to Craig Franklin and Morgan Pillsbury
- Two unsouled beings trapped in Self
I have been ground and milled out fine
For the least of my unmentioned crimes
For I refused to see the truth
And this crime stole all of my youth
I’ve been smashed and ripped apart
The substance fractured in my heart
Because I would not see the light
My soul was banished into night
I have lost all I worked to make
And ventured for my children’s sake
Punished for what I would not see
The ugliness engulfing me.
I found a home in his embrace
A sheltered place of measured grace
He battered my illusions then
He I thought an honorable man.
With nothing left inside of me
Empty, echoed, ravished, grieved
I stood up on my feet again
Felt life’s breath and said, amen.
54. Time Pauses
Anger drains away
Acknowledged, owned and known
Anger gives us self to learn
I use anger, fear and pain
To pinpoint needed change
show me where to use my time
Giving birth to Shadows death
I flow with peace and grace at last
it was an explosion of pain
The pain owned me and
I was consumed in it.
"Jimmy was good."
Hour after hour a small girl cried
Aloud, denying, lies and holding
"Jimmy was good, Jimmy was good
Jimmy was good, good good."
(Written for Women Together at the Unitarian Society. Reflecting remembrance of a traumatic childhood event.)