Warm Memory

in darkness

in darkness (Photo credit: Qaoz)

Darkness resides here,
in the cave where once lived hope.
It invaded us
with stealth and a blatant lie
and left this sunless life,
empty echo, like shadow
that rings black on black inside.

I’d faith that maybe
spark or flame I could ignite,
pounding fists like rocks
on the hardened walls of flesh
that pumped desire once through me,
driving out that dark,
bringing back hope. Then…we’ll see.

And should I fail,
as so often I’ve fallen,
would you brightly smile
once more, so your image remains?
A flash of hope, cold
on my walls, I can steep in
its warm memory.

A free-write poem going back to my original style of linking 5- and 7-syllable lines. I don’t know from where it came, save a period of physical pain and deep depression over the past couple of week or so.  Sharing the result with my friends at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night.

Our Pencil Gray Ways

Squirrel and I both can tell
the season’s changing.
Maybe it’s the shift in Sun’s angle
stretching shadows a little longer
during the height of our day,
inhaling what we smell
in the transformed air,
even though the still
mostly green leaves
haven’t figured out yet
it’s they who are exhaling it.

We skitter our pencil gray ways
into and out of weakening light,
sketching and scribbling maps
for future reference, preparing
for that long decline of day when
these nuggets will be all we have
to sustain us. We’ll view it all,
as we always have, safely
from our space of invisibility
here in the longest shadows,
in the cold light of moon and star,
where all we have to keep warm
will be these set aside memories
of a time in May.

King of Cool ~ A Story/Prose Poem


McQueen jumped his bike over the velvet rope out front, screeched to a rubber-burning stop at the door and gave me that wild-eyed expression of his where looks like he took a life-sized bite of something raw and is holding it in his mouth, but then decides to swallow it, because he’s Steve McQueen, King of Cool, damn it.

When he swung through the door of this gin mill, he couldn’t help but hear burly Papa goading Archie to bust him one in the chin, but Archie, tan and suave and dressed in wool trousers, an immaculate white shirt and red speckled cravat, turned and oh-so-cooly told Papa to throw his own rum punch, because he’s Cary Grant, damn it.

Both elbows and almost his chin on the bar, Bukowski yelled at Papa to shut the fuck up, because Buk was communing with and tossing back his spirits and the spirits knew old Buk just as they knew young Morrison in the corner, another LA poet like Buk, but without the staying power of the pickled old man with the gin blossom nose and nicotene stained life, damn it.

As always, from the outside looking in, I wondered what made these bastards so special, redolent of Cool, like Kerouac in the back, snapping his fingers as Miles rasped an aria into his trumpet, his back to Jack and Kind of Blue, which happens when you’re Miles’ Kind of Cool, damn it.

I thought I’d figured it out, flipping up my collar, puffing out my chest, scribbling on a napkin about beer and bimbos, squinting feral disdain for the uncool in the street, when McQueen put his arm around my shoulder and steered me like he did his 650cc Triumph TR6 Trophy outside–which he told me not to touch–and said, “If you gotta try hard to be cool, kid, you’re too square for the life, but, really, that’s okay…Oh, and stay home.”

“Damn it.”

No Soft Place

In the Wet Mountain Valley.

You don’t often find
any soft place to land
when you fall from the top
of Mt. Grace. The ragged rocks
and jagged fingers,
evergreen, are ever keen
to slow your descent
for the price of a pint or so,
a pound if you wish, of you.

And so we chicane our way
in the embrace of gravity,
not some angel also fallen,
a temptress who enjoys company
on her wingless flight.
Her hug irrefutable,
sure as sin.

And sin, surely just a wrong turn
on your upward path,
was that faulty first step
into your final fall from
Grace’s cloud-shrouded peak.
But how else could you peek
at this view of colorfully
autumnal reality? May it be worth
your toe-stubbing trip.

Beyond the Pines


Once, a squirrel could travel from here
to the place the Kanienkehaka called
Beyond the Pines and never
touch the ground, not leave a track
for the People of the Flint to follow
like they stalked the white-tail deer.
From the River Muh-he-kun-ne-tuk
to Schau-naugh-ta-da the trace ran,
maybe where I follow the tracks each day.

I see where the geese have written
their cuneiform tales in the pond-side mud,
edited by the turtles’ tail-writ script.
I read the tracks of the students
on the running trail–the one
that runs for a time toward
that western place–like I’m one
with my Mohawk brothers,
trailing Englishmen from the Hudson’s shore
to where they’ll fell more and more pines
and tear down more of this
Haudenosaunee world.

Are their heels weighing heavier
in the dirt than their toes? Walking.
How deep? Carrying books.
Are their toes dug in, tossing behind
a spray of the history of their passing? Running.
Narrow feet? Girl. Two feet side by side?
They stood to watch soccer practice.
Four feet, two narrow, two wide?
Perhaps a longer story than this moment.

Two squirrels cross my trail,
skittering into their place there
behind that lonely pine. I stopped
to parse their tiny prints, and
wonder about who will stop one day
to ponder all these jumbled tracks
I leave.

Petrichor Rising anthology available at Amazon.com

510G0uCyYEL._SY346_Petrichor Rising, the latest publication in which some of my poetry appears, is now available at Amazon.com. In fact, my poem, Petrichor, puts the final exclamation point on this spectacular collection.

It’s an hono(u)r to be a member of the Grass Roots Poetry Group, folks with whom I have a special connection both artistically and personally.

Hell, they even convinced me to stick a U in that word up there for all my non-US friends.

Please take a look, I think your senses will love Petrichor Rising.

Eye of the Beholder ~ A Story


English: Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis).

English: Brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ben came running downstream along the rocky shore, hollering his fool head off, “You got him, you finally got him,” as I eased the massive old Brookie into the shallows.

For five years, I and every trophy-hunting trout fisherman within 250 miles cast just about every color and variety–hell, even flavor–of lure out over the riffles in this northern Quebec creek, attempting to catch the legendary trout the locals called Le Fantôme.

I’d hooked this guy three times over the years, and his strength and guile had prevailed over my experience and equipment—he’d become my annual obsession.

I drew him up on shore, hefting him by the gills and figured he must go ten pounds if he was an ounce and beheld his scar-covered body, a couple of hooks in his lips and a hazy left eye, which drew from Ben a whistle and a “Christ, what a freaky mess this beast is.”

I pulled the hooks from Le Fantôme’s lips, ran my hand along his battle-weary flank, recognized Time had caught him before I ever could, slid him back into his domain, and said, “No, that old boy, he’s a thing of freaking beauty.”

A Five Sentence Fiction piece based on Lillie McFerrin’s prompt word: Fiction.

The Tracks I Leave


contrails (Photo credit: Hope For Gorilla)

Their airborne travels are marked
by the cloudy tracks they leave.
Though birds travel the same roads,
they leave barely an echo behind
for us to ponder their paths.
Yet we remember those songs
like scars upon our skin.
And ponder I do, these cool mornings,
when the sky travelers’ prints course
across that field of blue.

I see the east, west, or southerly routes
they took before the sun finished
its own hidden path to morning,
when we can see all. For now.
But the winds aloft and day’s progress
disperse the records of their passing,
just as this old man’s memory
will lose these tracks I here leave,
ethereal poems of here to there.

Please keep them safe for me.

Life Oxide

Autumn Leaf and Rusted Gate

Autumn Leaf and Rusted Gate (Photo credit: mezzoblue)

The iron gate’s dormant hinges, fat
with the rust and moss of years
spent in content and oblivious fog,
screamed in alarm if the prisoner
so much as leaned against its bars,
to see what was beyond the mist.
And he, fat with the oxide of a life
barely lived, a desire coagulate,
sighed in resignation as he searched
his heart for a memory, a shadow
of open space where he once might fly.
On the darkside there he found it, a pen,
corroded but full of ink, oxblood-red
and warm, with which he wrote himself
a feather each day by the iron gate,
sheafing himself a pair of wings to soar
anywhere, even with his feet numb
to the fact they never left the ground.

Inspired by my friend Laurie Kolp requesting a Rust poem. I know rust.

These Keys

Smith-Corona Classic 12

Smith-Corona Classic 12 (Photo credit: mpclemens)

When I took possession of the gift of these keys
they opened doors no one with my name
ever entered, addressing the royalty
and the slave, the saints and the malevolent,
and this image of me even I
could never see.

But these keys can lock doors, too,
confining me to a solitary life within,
where I grope in the dark
for the right keys…not to escape,
for it is too late for that, but to open
where hides the me you do not see.

Everything I am, seen and unseen,
I owe to them. But, now it is clear,
in this darkened room, alone,
just these keys and me, it is they
who have come to possess me,
not I them, you see.

Here’s a Free Write inspired by my friend Kellie Elmore’s suggesting a “gift” poem. Everything I write is a gift, but they spring from the simple gift my parents gave me when I was seventeen and about to go away to college. Those keys built the framwork of my adult life.