The grasses, flowing amber on the breeze that speaks
in verses intimate, caressing me,
then passing on, fall back to earth. My essence seeks
such witness once again, some certainty
that surging walls of blackness casting cursory
phantasmal stares through scheming throngs of leaves
are but inventions of the mind, a flippancy
afforded me, a blessed night's reprieves;
that lifeless stones forever pummeled by the waves
share not eternity with me; that scars
upon the weary earth are not the crumbling graves
of promise unfulfilled, like withered stars.
The grasses, elfin silhouettes around the edge
of earthen walls securing me against
an anxious sky, like countless sentinels who pledge
their fealty at Pharaoh's chambers, tensed
and waiting, celebrating life-sustaining winds
and warmth and succor from the morning mist
and brilliant bursts of life renewed as day begins,
are of a sudden never to exist.
I feel the silence building, bluish, bleak,
like dawn upon a field of frost, a face
contorting with derision as I seek
a stepping-stone and flail at empty space.
Sublime the days before, with pillowy
and pearly cloths and candelabra tiers
and gleaming chinaware and billowy
mahogany perfumes from chiffoniers.
But then the silence thickened to a hum,
a throbbing, ticking, lashing, like the crack
of leather, as synaptic fires went numb
with flesh and vigor raining down my back.
And now is dusk, in still-life gray, engraved
with keepsakes painted on a fabric thin
and yellowed, woodwork shriveled and depraved,
and moments fading to oblivion.
Of Sonnet and Solitude
Exult, my sememes, lithe and lyrical,
in cunning lingual metaphorical
displays of verbiage, satyrical
delights secreted from the Oracle.
Release yourselves from periphrastic bonds
with chiasmatic passion, prurient
as glossolalists in orgasmic ponds
of eloquence, until their tongues are spent.
Redeem yourselves in sapphic bonds immersed
in epithet and pith and euphony
until a bacchanalic bardic burst
regales the gods with peerless prosody.
Then celebrate your denoument, sublime
in anonymity for all of time.
Epitaph for the Living
Like the fossilized ribs of a python
the rows of gravestones
rise and fall in sinuous rhythms
to a summer dawn's dewy blur;
all the earth seems at rest,
lifeless as a mountain peak,
the breeze perking then pausing,
like a puppy's ear awaiting my next word;
chalky headstones conspire in the humid air
to hush little secrets long entrusted to them:
years of life are distorted into
the crumbling bas relief of a sculptured keepsake.
The name B- leaps out at me:
a faded photograph might be his legacy,
trapping dust in an airless room;
a clipping from a newspaper
burned to a listless brown
by a century of stillness;
a name last whispered
when the brittle pines surrounding us
first whimpered in the soil.
But he is part of a whirling array
of fleeting moments and tortuous paths
that shape the exactness that is now:
exquisite nuances of time
have scattered his seed
into helical whimsies,
fabrics twisting impishly
from the endless hum of a spinning loom
into the pieces that leave survivors like me
to hear his story,
or to unknowingly pass him by.
At Last I Feel
At a thousand dawns
I breathed the dewy earth
beside these walking stones;
and brushed the fledgling plum tree,
burgundy or barren or brown
with the hymn of the season;
and winced to the battleground clamor
of an invisible army of sparrows
behind sun-dizzied poplar leaf shields;
and felt pixie pin-prick kisses
misting against my cheeks;
and tasted an airy splash of pine
erupting from the breeze
like ruptured lemon peels.
A thousand times I hurried past
to more important matters,
though none can I recall.
The moments gather with the urgency
of withered fields ablaze, then hurtle through
me, dancing, thrashing with an ecstasy
that heralds our impending rendezvous.
But you're enveloped by a nonchalance,
a simple elegance, a veil of white
beneath a guileful moon; and your response
is breathful and caressing, but contrite,
unlike a lover's. So a great abyss
is rushing to the heavens as I fall,
and drunken notions of our starry bliss
become the ashes of my folderol.
Alas, in worlds devoid of your mystique,
the favors of another do I seek.
I Submit To You
To you, the palace hallway of Versailles,
with icy storms of fiery fisted spears
suspended over velvet floors to dry
the blood of charlatans and profiteers:
Your practiced strings embrace the symphony
of leathers and exquisite ivory
that bare my passion with calligraphy
in leaf of gold, my fevered mastery
of words to grace the altars of your god.
But brittle, cold, your touch, a thinning cloak
of winter's end replacing my facade
with garments tattered by the scornful stroke
of braided lashes in your stern decree,
till faint the sounds of palace revelry.
Thy Kingdom Come
Can no one hear my voice from here?
Alone am I within the quivering, ethereal,
arthritic clutches of a brooding atmosphere.
Somehow I must communicate.
I'm helpless as a browned and brittle,
weightless wisp of oak wedged to
a footnote by the wasted bulk of volumes one to eight.
Obscured for now, behind a cloud,
The clamor of imaginary armor in the air
predicts my freedom won't be long allowed.
With pulse of prey I turn to flee,
But hissing serpent-tailed envenomed
winds deter me as I flop
and flail upon the dusty purgatorial debris.
Perhaps it's best I'm taken soon:
Inside celestial chambers, high above, the deities
convene to judge, to welcome, to repugn;
Yet cruel is the irony
That justice could be waiting as a
of cubes of ivory to plot my final destiny.
A ripple imperceptible, like hints
of amber in the tiring balsams, swells
to waves of apprehension, then imprints
a vision on my mind, with carousels
of pirouetting bronze bouquets that plead
for my attention with a fiery spin,
a touch-me-not exploding into seed,
a symphony of reed and violin.
As crippled prey, I cringe before the beast:
its moist and fuming breath and flaxen skin
invite me to a Bacchanalian feast,
the blending of our spirits to begin.
The darkness has returned, reflections faint
and grinning like a spectral carnival
illusion twisting from its glass restraint
and in the next bewitching interval
transforming into sheets of wind on stones
across a riverbed; through clearing air
appears the putrid chalky white of bones
enclasped around the edges of my chair.
Awakened, I am cradled by the roar
of hissing silence, till it dissipates
in shards of vapor on a restless shore,
and the relentless flow anticipates
my coming once again, and then again,
and then again; and on a tapestry
of shame and surfeit, abstinence and yen,
I curse the parasites who mock the plea
arising from my soul, to make it end!
But all in vain. For only when the gale
reposes in my arms and skies descend
upon the seas will quietude prevail.