truth and beauty

For Cheyenne

Always remember
how good the words feel as they
swim wriggle flow start and stutter
halt back up zoom forward flutter.

You and they are long past locking up.

Fashion your words into a knife
long and crystalline, transparent and
sharper than sliced sunlight;
and show that knife to your enemy
with a hand untrembling and strong.

I can hardly wait to see what designs
you will make as you play that knife upon
the page of your further life.

Here’s a small piece of me
to pin on that page.

Icarus, Blind

PBrueghelElderIcarus

I made wings from a frame of
broken promises, covered in
sticky, black glue of disappointment, and, finally,
feathers of long-extinct lovebirds.

The day approached to fly, fly
and each morning I looked into to the sun,
imagining how it would feel to be
underneath
in air not suffused with guilt
and expectation.

But I looked into the sun
one too many times.

The day arrived to fly, fly
and I —
blind —
could find my way through the sky
only by the warmth on my back.

And it felt so good
after all that cold
hard
stone
to be so warmed
that I scarcely noticed
the small splash I made.

And I sank,
blind,
knowing the touch of wind
and freedom
was enough, enough.

Starchild

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Begin Life in a moment
End Life in a day
A moment in a lifetime
Where no clocks come to play

A statue in the hallway
A hallway in the door
The blood-brain barrier
’twixt now and nevermore

The room where Life is ended
Is the room where it began
Did you see yourself by looking
Or by holding out your hand?

Begin Life not with breathing
End Life with waking up
See the world you have been given
As a shattered crystal cup

Swim on waves of gravity
Through nurseries of night
Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light

Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light

Amniotic oceans
Umbilicus of light



 

This was a song written for a musical version of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A group of very creative friends stages “Musical Emergencies” based on movies, fables, and other source material a couple of times a year. This one was staged by me and my partner (mostly my partner, who saw the movie 10 times in the theater at age 11).

Imagine a slow, contemplative song, minor key, only four chord changes, played on organ as accompaniment.

Swing Shift

Hey
mockingbird
1 AM
is not the time for singing.

The disreputable cat
who sleeps in the interstice between yards,
pins his attention upwards,
pining for claws someone took years ago.

Neighbors, none of whom I know,
buoy lightly out of sleep
wonder if dawn is near.

Hey
mockingbird
is anybird listening
moved by your syllables?

I lie scanning the meter of your song:
anarchy anarchy anarchy
sweat sweat sweat
you-lose you-lose you-lose

But since you are a mockingbird
the rhythm doesn’t come back around,
not once.

I nestle beyond sense once more,
twixt boy and cat, close-eyed,
happy of not working as hard as you,

hey
mockingbird.

mbird at night

 

The Ninth

This kiss for the whole wide world, he wrote,
but without an embrace of his own
to quiet the klaxons between his useless ears,
he continued conducting to a silent hall.

Tortured and divine, and in the end merely mortal,
his unhappiness and hopefulness is eternal.

Embrace each other now, you millions.

ninth

 

Spring Storm

The air is gravid with possibility today.
Clouds chase the humidity to ground, their grey
sending the neighborhood cats
home early.

Dogwoods light the woods from within,
paperwhite,
though not rare, somehow
barely there.

Cardinals arrow through the gathering branches,
against a brief punch-out of blue.

Tiny goblets of rain toast this day,
the sound and fury it will make,
indicating
everything.

image

The Bachelor Mockingbird

I am not sure what the ladies don’t see in him.

Do their ears hear a dissonance, or a lacuna in his melodic line
that my human hearing does not register?

He smiths his song day and night,
and weehours morning as well,
driven, sleep-deprived.

(Is his prospective mate a night-owl, too, dawdling at dawn
with her feathers or just chatting with friends?)

His inexhaustible joy and longing
has infected the neighborhood
with a kind of pleasant unease.

When he falls silent
Should we be happy?
Perhaps his top-40 has drawn a mate!

Then he begins anew,
and we smile sadly
yet
pleased to have our work and play accompanied
by his hopeful soundtrack.

Courtesy Cornell Ornithology Lab

Mockingbird Display, photo and birdsong courtesy Cornell Ornithology Lab

Bright Angel

My father in law, Herb Van Brink passed away Friday, June 7, 2013. He will be missed.

It looked to be just a stop —
Majestic, grand yes of course,
but still
a stop on a road trip.

They stopped and looked and
changed forever
at Bright Angel.

Those bright souls
traveled on
across country and years —
kids, grandkids, friends,
chasing eclipses
bowling strikes
dwelling in quiet times,
hard times,
and bright times along the way —
less bright, now, by one magnitude.

The canyon abides
and the Angel keeps watch
over us travelers and lovers,
together but ultimately alone.

Goodbye, Herb.