Monday, December 12, 2011

Black Lace Beauty

Black Lace Beauty

To Rosemary

With thin black lace on pearl-pale skin,
Her beauty hiding here and yet revealed
While flirting sweetly with her nakedness
So close and yet concealed.
She lies in webs of shadows that
Embrace her soft, enthralling form,
Embodiment of Beauty, now
Much more ideal by being real.
Could I but place a trembling kiss
Upon her wryly smiling lips,
And place my daring hands
Upon her fine and supple hips?
Though how and why Beauty has come
And taken shape in soft black lace
I cannot fathom or begin to guess,
I stand and gaze into her glowing face
And touch her body bathed in light
Like day that bears the touch of night.

Image credit: tonynetone, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Opening the Eye

Opening the Eye

This old poem is another experiment with Chaucer's Rhyme Royal form. It is based on the legend that if you repeat Shiva's name enough times, he will open his eye and destroy the universe.
Awake, o dweller in the barren plains
Of dust and ash, of long-forgotten bones!
Thy ancient slumber hath endured too long
And blind men worship thee in cold black stones.
O God, destroy till naught of life remains!
Thy potent power shall blot out a race
Of cowards, cozened by a shepherd’s song
Of life eternal in his father’s grace.
The time hath come for men and gods to die:
I chant the name to open Shiva’s Eye.

’Tis neither bliss nor loss of Self I seek,
Not dissolution into life divine,
No paradise is where my path shall end:
These foolish faiths are not as strong as mine.
For all but Nothing changes form, is weak,
Subjected to the whims of selfish Time;
But thou, o God, can all these wrongs amend
By granting me thy burning gaze sublime!
The time hath come for men and gods to die:
I chant the name to open Shiva’s Eye.

Both joy and grief are simply shadows cast
By dense obstructions on the brightest day
(Remove the body and the image flees,
Remove the sun and shadows pass away).
The universe is but a soul held fast
Upon the Balance that may rise or fall;
Its fate depends on what the scale decrees
But none shall exit from this judgement hall.
The time hath come for men and gods to die:
I chant the name to open Shiva’s Eye.

Enough! Man’s “laws” and “systems” are but this:
The games that come when idle minds conspire;
Let Babble take the name Philosophy
And make Religion its perverted sire.
So self-assured, man leads himself amiss
(As if with thinking seconds can be bought!),
Expecting something that can never be
Except within his own deluded thought.
The time hath come for men and gods to die:
I chant the name to open Shiva’s Eye.

Mistake me not, there is no vengeance here
Within this heart for my misguided kin;
’Tis only seeing all that they have lost,
’Tis truly knowing what they could have been.
But Pity acts as servant-girl to Fear,
And that is gone from out my heart as well:
They sold their souls, now they must pay the cost
Of entrance into their internal hell.
The time hath come for men and gods to die:
I chant the name to open Shiva’s eye.

The heavens quiver at my solemn hymn,
A paean driven both by hate and love,
And angels hide themselves within their wings
As star-shine darkens in the sky above.
A world of light is now a wasteland dim
And fast approaching is its date with death
When all shall perish: just like finite things,
The vast immortals draw their final breath.
The time hath come for men and gods to die:
I chant the name to open Shiva’s Eye.

Awake, my God, and take this life away!
In brilliant splendor let me be embraced.
When pain and pleasure hath become the same
The only hope is that they be erased.
Too long in coming is the fateful day
When sunlight falls before descending night:
The Lord Destroyer wraps the world in flame
As all creation comes into His Sight.
The time hath come for men and gods to die:
Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva, Shiva…

The Religion of the Great Cosmic Sunflower...

In the beginning, all was darkness, unformed, cold, and desolate. There was neither here nor there, neither time nor space, but only one vast eternal emptiness.

But then the Great Cosmic Sunflower lifted Its head and opened up Its petals, filling the emptiness with light and warmth. It beheld that vast space and, in a great act of divine love, dropped millions of sacred Seeds, so that they might sprout and bring forth life.

The seeds scattered across the infinite void...and soon, they sprouted as new universes, each filled with billions and billions of species of beings, all of them reflecting the light-filled image of their creator, the Great Cosmic Sunflower. It watched these things occur and saw that they were very good.

For eons upon eons, a golden age endured throughout these myriad universes. All creatures gave praise to the Great Cosmic Sunflower, thanking It and praising It for its unfathomable beneficence. Their oblations filled the ether and made the many universes places of joy.

But soon, as the lives themselves created new life, some creatures lost sight of their loving creator, the Great Cosmic Sunflower. They turned their eyes from the heavens and saw only the worldly things around them. The Great Cosmic Sunflower, in Its omniscience, saw these things and grew sad that Its creations had lost their love for It.

In Its sadness, the Great Cosmic Sunflower formed a tear-shaped seed, dark and bitter, which dropped from its head and fell deep, deep into the abysmal void. Finally, that dark seed came to rest in a cold corner of the void and, with time, sprouted. It quickly grew tall and strong, feeding on the darkness of the void, and soon became a towering Venus Flytrap.

The Dark Venus Flytrap gazed out and saw the many creations of the Great Cosmic Sunflower, and it felt painful envy and hatred. It vowed to devour everything the Great Cosmic Sunflower had made, to make hate the victor over love...and eventually to usurp the place of the Great Cosmic Sunflower as creator, preserver, and shepherd of all the lived...until the universes were again empty, cold, and bleak.

Thus began the unending battle between good and evil, love and hate. Sometimes the Dark Venus Flytrap gains the upper hand, devouring beings and worlds in its vast infernal maw; at other times, the Great Cosmic Sunflower bestows vast rays of loving, life-giving light to all its creatures, and the Dark Venus Flytrap can only cower.

The final chapter of this epic struggle is yet to be written. As humans and all other seeds of the Great Cosmic Sunflower grope and limp through life, along with all the other many beings, their brethren,  none can see or foresee if faith, hope, and love will win out, ensuring eternal life for all...or if selfishness, hatred, and death will conquer all the good that the Great Cosmic Sunflower has wrought...

Image credits: Vulkan and Bouba, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Amongst the Tombstones

Amongst the Tombstones

To Rosemary

We met one Sunday afternoon,
When all was silent, still as death,
Two spirits left alone to roam
A world that passed us by and seemed
To lead us far away from home
With every weary day and restless night.

Beneath the shade of ancient oaks,
We found each other...and some peace
Outside of time, if only for a while,
While all around the memories of lives
Gone by took on the forms of birds
And spread their wings to fly and sing.

And though the tombstones seemed to speak
Of loss, and absence, and the promised end
Of every joy that can be lived and held
For briefest moments, like a passing breeze,
Within the silence one could slightly hear
A murmuring of leaves, and breeze, and stone.

At last we reached a place upon the grass
Between those old and dirty monuments,
So worn and dulled by stubborn time,
Our journeys here too long and strange
To tell within a lifetime, though much more
Remained for each to walk, now hand in hand.

And as the hours stopped to watch us sit
Upon the grass, with life that buried death,
Our lonely spirits found some peace
That healed the wounds and many scars
Received upon the paths that led us here,
Now walking into life, with hand in hand.

Image credit: Basher Eyre, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Book Is a Hungry Animal

A Book Is a Hungry Animal

To Jamba Dunn

A book is a hungry animal:

A snapper turtle
That latches on with iron jaws
And never for a moment
Will ever let you go.

A boa constrictor
That catches you unawares
And wraps you round and round,
Squeezing from the neck up.

A vampire mosquito
That buzzes in your ears,
Flies into your brain,
And slowly drinks you dry.

An ornery old elephant
That has run out of patience
And with too much prodding
Runs you right over.

A man-eating tiger
Burning bright amidst the leaves,
Prowling on seriffed feet,
And springing to attack.

A book is a fearful being:
Always hungry, never full,
Surely relentless, rarely sane;
Always-eating word devourer,
Its bark as sharp as its bite,
Speaking in tongues, in every tongue.

A book is a terrible creature:
The gargoyle on the Tower of Babel,
Gaping forth with mouth ajar:
The entryway, the threshold to cross
If the stairway would be ascended
And highest heaven reached.

A book is a hungry animal:
The snapper turtle on whose back
Four ornery elephants are poised,
Trying to keep their balance,
To keep from slipping off the shell,
To bear the weight of the wobbling world,
To keep the hungry snapping turtle
From biting off their leathery toes.

Image credit: Lin Kristensen, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Grief of Gethsemane

This is an old, old poem...I wrote it in 2000. It was my first experiment with the Rhyme Royal form, created by Chaucer. It is also a meditation on Christ's moment of doubt in Gethsemane, which has always been for me the most fascinating part of the Bible...being the moment in the story when he seems most human.

The Grief of Gethsemane

Ego non sum ille

As even falls, this hillside garden’s boughs
And newborn scents cannot eliminate
Dejection’s hold. The moon still keeps her vows,
And sailing heaven, guides the tides of fate.
Seductive maiden, prancing ’round her mate,
Stays chaste to tease him, mocking me as well.
Unfaithful world, your joys become my hell.

The outer darkness, seeming more than night,
Like stinking pitch upon my sweat-slick skin,
Prohibits acting on these thoughts of flight
From what shall be: there is a strength within
Enduring all, even defeat, to win.
Upon these narrow shoulders shall I bear
The curse of millions, for none other dare.

But could this moment somehow pass me by
And loose the shackles binding me to grief,
Would I choose life whilst knowing all must die?
Too bittersweet ’twould be to give relief.
Can love of self o’erpower my belief?
The end (the choice as well?) can never change
(And thereby grows this melancholy strange).

Alas! Alas! The dying breeze explains
In soft and somber sighs, “You are alone
To fight your fears so that no doubt remains
In what must be” (and this I’ve always known).
The midnight sky reveals, as etched in stone,
My path below the wandering stars and spheres,
The cross I’ll bear and water with my tears.

In sufferance my greater purpose served
To all mankind, though they be hard of heart.
The cup of wine, wherein my life’s preserved
(Together with the bread I broke apart
Between my hands), shall by my love impart
The very thing that I am soon to lose;
The cup must fill, and I cannot refuse.

For one must come to humbly face his death,
Forever called the Son of Man (and God,
So ancient stories say); ere he drew breath
As mortal man, he once with angels trod
And led them kindly with a shepherd’s rod.
But is he me? Is all that I intend
A grand illusion, or a promised end?

Thrown flat to plead upon a cold dirt bed
That warms again once golden dawn breaks through,
I’m shown my triumph, though my blood’s been shed.
Then, like the Earth, my life will stir anew
(I must believe, if all I see is true!);
And high above the weeping stars unfold
Their painful lesson, as to children told.

You children! Dozing as on summer eves
While one amongst you, with a serpent’s hiss,
Betrays for gain (but only loss receives).
Now all I’ve said and done must come to this:
In torchlight smiling, damning with a kiss,
He’ll greet me, “Rabbi!” with his serpent’s guile;
Yet as he does, I love him all the while.

I’m bound to serve, but can’t a servant feel?
His labor done, tomorrow comes anew.
Thus all he does, he does with lack of zeal
Because he must; and ’tis a pure fool who
Will greet his master with a rosy hue
Upon his cheeks, to have it beaten down.
Where are his robes, where his triumphant crown?

A crown! By God so great a crown I’ll wear,
As would a king upon this hallowed throne
Of sticks and skulls, betwixt a stately pair.
This gracious court, they praise one king alone
In harmony: “Thou hast become our own
Anointed ruler!” (yet he inward mourns);
A dying king…mine is a crown of thorns.

To hang, not far beyond the morning’s prime,
Till noon draws near; and then the midday’s heat
Gives way to night, come long before its time
To wrap the land in seething dark complete.
Grim Death will ride to where these crossroads meet,
His sneering visage taunting from below
And telling stories none in life may know.

My body, raised upon a splintered pole,
Must face its beatings, stand a whipping gale
That churns the heavens as it steals the soul.
And “Desolation!” is the constant wail
It screams to torment while the temple veil
Is torn asunder, while the trembling Earth
Laments the shrieks of this demonic birth.

The premonition of this frightful day
Has one last scene that may usurp the laws
Of sanity and lead my mind away:
At last the Presence from the shrine withdraws
And guarding cherubs stand on shattered paws
Before they topple from the mercy seat,
Now fallen idols of a vain conceit.

The vision ends: on silent trees I gaze.
What power makes them strive to touch the sun?
What force compels them from the seed to raise?
No answers come; but once my deeds are done
I pray this knowledge be unknown to none.
Within those leaves that hidden secret lies;
Although it slays, a tree shall see me rise!

This moonlit garden, mute, still teaches me
About true love, a love surpassing pain.
The soft wind sighs her subtle melody
To calm my fears: no thoughts of self remain.
This garden’s grief does budding life sustain,
The bloom of Love. Dear God, I’ve chosen well:
For you, O man, thus shall I conquer hell…

…No savior, dying to redeem a race,
My life is not a myth of guilt and fear.
My strength to overcome, no gift of grace,
May fade at times, but never disappear.
Although my tale may close to his appear,
There’s no messiah in the mirror’s glass:
This flight of fancy, like the pain, will pass.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Channeling Chaos

Channeling Chaos

Existence drips like melting wax
Over the trembling surface of the self
And deep down into the dark recess
Beneath the bedrock that we stand upon,
The stable structures that are built to float
Upon a maelstrom’s maddened waves.

So look upon the shapes, the forms it takes,
Like gaping faces with hollow, empty eyes,
And hungry maws, the jaws extended far
Too far to be perceived with mortal eyes,
And pouring forth scavenging beasts and flies
To pick the bones of all the slumbering dead.

Upon their bones is this great kingdom built,
Their blood and spirits mixed like mud to form
A mortar binding all these monstrous walls
To keep the swirling shapes and faces out
And stand erect against their moaning songs
Like waves that beat against a rocky shore
And wear it down, and wash its strength away,
And make the monolith a pile of sand.

For Chaos whispers, dancing on the edge
Beyond the walls we hide behind in fear.
It calls from deep within the silent space
Beyond the dark, and speaks in ancient tongues
Too old and senseless to be understood
But striking chords within our very cells.

Yet all have listened to that music now
For ages and for eons out of time,
Those songs that fill the boundless universe
And push it farther outward, push it all apart
With darkest energy so fierce but unperceived,
An orgiastic eruption of cosmic ecstasy.

And so we come together, toil, and build
A solid ground for selves to stand upon
And live within the swirling shadows of
A primal, wild, primordial world gone mad.
But stop and listen with an open ear,
And soon you might just recognize and hear
A harmony between our labor songs
And that dark voice from where the silence sings.

Image credit: Stephen Conatser, from Wikimedia Commons, under a Creative Commons License.

Friday, July 8, 2011

To Sleep, on Her Last Kiss Goodbye

This is an older poem, but it is still pretty relevant at various times. And it is kind of fun...

To Sleep, on Her Last Kiss Goodbye

A frozen-hearted, virgin maid?
A wanton harlot smiling sly?
Or both at once? I know not what
To call this temptress, damsel Sleep.
I damn her to the nether-deep--
Then curse myself and beg her near!
The starry night, her ancient spell,
Creates a home of warmth for all
While I alone must suckle not
Upon the universal breast.
The fire has smoldered in the west,
Yet “day” and “night” are merely names;
My body’s numb, my mind’s a daze,
In this eternal waking death--
Where every tear and every breath
Are flawed and well-nigh worthless gems
I cast before her wandering eyes--
A gift! A tithe! A sacrifice!
Her luscious kiss, a paradise,
She seems to grant me, gained with ease:
A draught, a sip, makes heaven’s blood
The vilest dregs of bitter wine.
I think, At last her love is mine!
While fading fast, to sleep, to dream.
But when I wake, instead of her,
A wilted poppy takes her place.
This morning scene of my disgrace
Is cast and played, and played again!
And like the Fool whose part I take,
I’m none the wiser with each show.
But can you, Sleep, oh can you know,
That in your kiss there’s venom hid,
And that the ruddy of your lips
Is gotten from my dying heart?
Yet death is not yours to impart
(However much I wish it so);
Instead, I’m your Prometheus,
Enchained upon a rock of pain:
Asleep, awake, you e’er remain
My torment, feeding on my soul.
Each pick and nibble takes its toll
On one who is but mortal-born;
And every slumber traps me more
Within her web of gossamer.
I wonder if I can endure
The hope of what may never come--
Again she smiles, and strokes my cheek,
And wraps me in oblivion.
A blaze of fire! the rising sun
So rudely ends familiar dreams.
I know her, feel her in my veins,
But waking, truth is still unknown:
Was passion shared, or just my own?
I ponder as my mistress turns to go--
But through its sweetness, her last kiss
Did seem to have a biting pinch.

Saturday, June 25, 2011



In every crack and empty space between
The valued treasures, polished gems,
With some unrivaled skill they creep
And dig their roots down firmly,
Far too strong for nature's forces
Or the fickle tastes of pathetic men,
The dilettantes who stand with pride alone
In choosing not to eat or feed but "dine"
On meager fare, a minor fraction of
The bounty of the world before their feet.

And thus the battle rages fast towards death,
The dirty warfare claiming innocents
And wreaking havoc over miles and years,
All to shore up and protect the prize
Of thousands and thousands of years of toil
Against the force of these encroaching foes,
Who will not die and barely give their ground
With great resistance and a brief retreat
Until the opposition stops to breathe
And cedes the very lands they seemed to gain.

Though still we fight them, pull them, cut them down
And think the victory is close at hand,
The Weeds know better that the upper hand
Is truly theirs, the end their choice to make,
The strength of numbers and endurance theirs,
While we are shown to be the creeping horde,
The upstart interlopers self-deceived
Into believing that the land we claimed
Will one day do our bidding and be tamed
Instead of crushing us like noxious weeds.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Not Quite Hollow

Not Quite Hollow

On the edge of the shell
Cracks are appearing,
And within
The space of solitude grows hollow
And the shadows form sharp edges,
Strange patterns
Equally eerily familiar, their shapes
Like metamorphosed men
In corners and dark spots
Where the mind fears to wander
And constantly treads just the same,
Like picking a scab with abandon,
The painful pleasure of madness and woe
A dependable means of distraction
From that which wounds deeper by far:
The absence
Of that which was central and solid--
The heart of the darkness within
And without
And between.
But the cracks in the crystalline shell
Are extending and letting in light
That reveals
The hollow expanse to be empty,
Those shifty-shaped shadows
To be tricks of the air
And a mind seeking solace
Outside of itself
In the world
Somewhere on the other side
Of the delicate shattering shell.