Small Worlds

The Antennae Galaxies are undergoing a collisi...

The Antennae Galaxies are undergoing a collision that will result in their eventual merger. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So small are the worlds in which I exist.
Sometimes I even live in them.
Bedroom, front seat, cubicle, arm-chair,
kitchen, even my Nature comes bounded
by walls and fences.

Luckily, inside me, vast galaxies turn,
spinning silky reality from whimsy and
make-believe, fabricated of chewed-up,
cobbled-together bits of
my stunted actuality.

I know, the physics of this make no sense,
but I only got as far as chemistry in high school
and a bit of alchemy when I started
this  nature of work and these works
of what’s become My nature.

Self-Portrait in Black and White

December Moon

December Moon (Photo credit: Donald Lee Pardue)

Last night, the twenty-seven twenty-eighths
full moon, playing coy as a Rubens model
behind a pale veil of haze, cast her
soft halo glow upon a new dusting of snow.
By the window I idly sat in the dark of my room,
gazing out on the bared-treed landscape,
a scribble of black ups and downs,
a two-year old’s drawing of stick men,
arms raised in static surrender.
Nothing moved outside or within me
for that hour I stared through open curtain
eager to catch a glimpse of life
refected upon either side of my eyes.

When you’re worn out from the dance
of hope and submission, trying and failing
for so long, admitting defeat becomes easy.
You just close your eyes, drop the blinds
and fade away into complete darkness.
No one can see you and you don’t see them
in a perfect ignorance of mutual existence.
Then, the tiniest movement, a rabbit venturing
from the safety of the brush, daring the nibble
in the face of fox’s bite, caught the merest corner
of my eye, sparking the poet to once more try.

Red, White and Blues

DawnAt 5:30 this morning, outside my
snow-dusted front door, the eastern sky
resembled a sullen teen grudgingly crawling
out of bed the same time I did.
Instead of the circle of darkness
that’s surrounded me for months,
a baleful dove-gray face with a brow
of black-shadowed clouds opened its eye
above a quilt of motley-shingled rooflines.
Behind me, beside me, cardinals
perched in the dim after hours club
spotlight of dim dawn, trading
call-and-response riffs
of harmony and dominance like
old bluesmen on an all-night bender.
And I wondered if I had reached
the ice-solid watershed of winter.
Had I survived the worst part of
another season of natural
and human melancholy? I whistled
my thick-tongued cardinal call
and a ready-for-anything red badass
responded with his own lick,
“Yeah, dude, du-du-dude.”

The Dance

dancing leaves

dancing leaves (Photo credit: jessamyn)

October’s brown leaves, nearly ghosts,
quick-step to the melody of the east wind
across the thin crust of February’s
excuse-me-just-passing-through snowfall.
Locked in hold, they skip as one–
bip bup bip–a dance of possible has-beens
reliving their maybe moment on Autumn’s stage.
Down they go, ass over petticoat and petiole,
tripped upon the jealous roots of
the one-time impresario of this oak-lined
dance hall behind the houses.
He never moved as the birds and leaves;
could ever only sway while the others
danced and sang all about him.
A shift in the whims of wind,
illness or age, and he could have
brought us all to ground first.
But we have Words to apply to that
music and can’t get caught in
the shade-casting of any bullies
who would take joy in adding
one more couple and their art
to the stacks of the fallen might-have-beens
they keep tucked and rotting souvenirs
in the outstretched lee of their once-was.

2:00 AM


moonlit (Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan)

Listen! You can hear the house,
a stick and brick bellows,
breathe through the vent,
creaking and snapping
in its respiration.
It’s 2:00 AM and my world,
from this room on out,
is in blackness.
It is our time.
We are the nocturnals,
these sounds and I,
never more alive in
my heartbeat consciousness
than in this drowsy darkness.

Like fox outside my window,
I know every trail of my
two-story territory. I prowl
its landscape with the vision
of no vision, where I sense,
stalk, pounce and take
my prey of words
back to this wizened
warren upon my pillow.
A comfort, this awakening,
a tempering of my
cold emotional gloom
with the warm embrace
of tangible shadow.

And it conveys such
radiance to my days.

Outskirts of Together

Crow tracks

Crow tracks (Photo credit: Suncatcher Craft Eyes)

The mystery of their language escaped me,
amorphous and indistinct, for most of my time
here on the outskirts of together.
Head down, I kept myself protected
from that dust cloud of sight and sound,
choking back any words I could form
but I never would hear. No one would hear.

I was the deaf man of Babel, understanding
no tongue but that within, and it was heavy, harsh
and sharp, a great burden upon my head and heart.
But, illuminated by the light of an angel’s sword
thrust through those clouds into my soul,
my downcast eyes could parse the cuneiform script
of a crow’s trail on a pallid tablet of snow.

It had written my own Enuma elish,
the creation tale of this poet’s world.
Its words, carved deeply frozen in that moment,
could be gone tomorrow. Gone where I now heard
their brothers on the wing, singing a wordless poetry
that, too, evaporated into the vivid, multi-hued aether.
I, too, wished to express that moment of sorrow, joy,

wonder, even love, in my own script. I’d sing my own
songs of hope, longing, exultation and comfort.
So I meet with you again and again, dipping my pen
in your lavish blessings that have turned the once-deaf
into a interpreter of Nature’s messages, the whispers
of the lovers and the unloved, and of us, as one,
here on the outskirts of together.

By Other Lights I See

Unlit Candle

Unlit Candle (Photo credit: Norman Tan)

There came a time when,
in my deepest solitary shadows,
I realized lighting this candle,
even on only one end,
would most quickly and consummately
consume whatever remaining vital store
I held of the true tallow of Me.
Maybe that was my illuminating moment,
why I now set myself here by this window,
where I absorb the sweet ambience
of Sun and Moon. Maybe that’s
why I visit this pane of enlightenment
where your saving brightness
ignites my avocational votives
and creative motives to
touch off signals such as these,
that I held hidden much too long,
waiting perhaps in vain
for my one final flame.


Cardinals in snow

Cardinals in snow (Photo credit: rkramer62)

Across the dead gray landscape of January
and February’s somber slate skies,
the grating complaint the blackest birds
lodge with steel-wrapped winter is the only
natural sound breaking the creak
and snap of wind bending these boughs
turned old by too many seasons’ snows.
Just when the cruelest month
nearly claims my spirit, the trees
begin to bleed drops of cardinal
from limb to limb and back again.
Urgent six-note melodies perch
on maple and pine staffs, breaking
the monotonous drear and crows’ atonal rasps,
as redbirds flit and spatter a transfusion
of warm hope into this frozen heart. Here,
place your hand on it and feel ice crack
and new life fight to trickle within.


Running Downhill

Running Downhill (Photo credit: michael.heiss)

Where does it go?
This time that just became
that time, my time
that’s become our time?
I try my best to slow its pace,
breathing the air of life more slowly,
learning to accept all that
my senses and soul used to deflect.
You’ve seen me now recording
each tiny movement, thought,
nuance and subtext, just like
a real author drafting
a fictional fight in a thriller,
stuffing each bead of sweat,
all the booms, near-miss whizzes
and heart-splitting slashes
into as many pages as possible.
Perhaps I am an imaginary man
writing this true story,
trying to fill my oh-so-limited
remaining temporal space
with even the most mundane action
on this, my return to a childlike,
unbrakeable downhill run, and with
the thrill of me being part of us.



Dark (Photo credit: England)

I sense upon me the opalescent eye
of the one I’m too close to.
I feel your breath, tempting, on memories
of my once-bare boy-cheeks.
There’s a warm, soft magic to this dreaming
I do with lights on, where I conjure up
an other that might be—possibly, probably,
might as well be—out of the sirroccos
that whirl within the boarded-up windows
of this abandoned tenement where
the not-so-secret artist hides.
And if this vague litany of the
poet’s process, seemingly (though never)
under the influence of some alluring muse,
proves too confusing for you to read,
imagine the bruised face on the vagrant
who strides within. I’ve lost count
of the exact number of steps,
this rosary of words, to that
now-blooded far wall. But we’ve built up
some momentum here, so I know
this one’s going to hurt.
Maybe that’s why I might be smiling.