Watch this space. And in the meantime, listen:
I won’t let it rest, either:
26 June 2017
Love Held Strong
I don’t know how to work a heart that pounds like hooves all night, all day,
and won’t lie down and let me go to sleep no matter how I pray.
I call the name that called me first, and still the race goes on and on.
I won’t lie quiet; that is not within my power. I’ll soon be gone
if this continues. Who are you to block my way? My throat, I mean—
I don’t know how to work with you. It seems to me you’re in between
self-sacrifice and under-handed curiosity. My friend
who waited by my side when I felt faint—who’s waiting now, the end
in sight—he knows the airy ways between the worlds grow warm with spring,
lean across the windowsill like spilling-over grace, then sing
the little humming lullabye that hid behind your sleeping mind
whenever it lay so awake, it took us for a ride—the kind
you never wanted, nor will ever welcome—but are you still here?
Listening, and giving voice to everything that calls through clear,
clear casts of mind, that wants to know you feel it as it rises, breath
a little bit mistaken for a choking sound that portends death
in other stories; not in ours; will you still lean across the sill,
tell the wandering ghost your tale, sing to it, and aye—fulfill
an ancient promise in the doing so, although you feared the next
admonishment lest it should follow—readings from an elder text—
and voiceless superstitions given language here in many ways?
Even if your only ghosts speak your home tongue, their hymns of praise
will come across as foreign sometimes. In the interval, if heart
must lie just pounding, thrashing, hurting so, so much, the morning art
the helpers who attend fierce souls between old worlds—they’ll find and share
our blent endeavors. Rhyme and dance, old words so strange and weird, their care
has fallen here to us, to me, to one who lives on Earth where sweet
green trees give way to blossom every spring—Rise to your singing feet,
dear poet child, and make your telling marks with either hand as draw
all over lovely living’s face with shining masks upon the raw,
hurt, lonely, very sinking place where smiles were made before death came—
That heart was made to push us through. For god’s sake, don’t lie down, no name;
This heart won’t burst for too much love; if it falls dead, it’s for sheer lack
of all the beauty you were sent to share with us, here, in this black,
black hallway in between bright shores. And there’s—the door; and here you—stand.
When the rope was weak and broke, you held out—and love took your hand.
More has been going on than I can capture in words, in prose. As always, song conveys so much more. This is what I presented the last time I read in public. I knew then, and stated, that it was the start of much, much more. I was not wrong. We’ll be getting more tonight. I’ll try to do a better job of keeping you informed!
Here’s a soundtrack, and a slideshow:
22 April 2017
I’ll Go Your Last Mile
The smaller rider needs a longer drop. You’ve kept me on a lead
so tight, if I fall over now, I’ll chafe and struggle, burn and bleed,
but I’ll not die for such long seconds, you’ll be dead of shame before
I draw a horrid, strangled breath, my last, and hit the cold, far floor.
You had the space and time to get it right, but you chose thick, slow rope.
Make it easy on yourself, my friend; I’ve made no peace with hope
in all my sleepless hours, so I’ll not hold out patience here for that.
Walk beside me if you will, and show me in your hand your hat.
Now you’re talking: When tomorrow comes, you’ll wake up, wroth and wet.
All night long my spirit rides the nightmare that will have you yet,
and nothing you can do will keep that vital essence from its course.
Aye, you used your station and your power—but I was born of horse,
and I have legs and lungs and heart you’ve never once imagined: I
have danced so long, I’m like a tree that sways beneath a stormy sky,
but fears no stroke, for lightning’s met my skin so many times, and sway
is what I’ve done, and storms have glanced right off, and I’m still here to stay.
But then—I’m not a tree; I’m like a shaft of light from off the Moon.
Searching at your window first, and then your mirror, late and soon,
then racing round and going almost mad, but there still not a trace
of what we meant to leave here when we woke you up to see our face,
the one we cast together like an inverse shadow through a glass.
When you walk outside and read through rain the name and dates the lass
you wonder through before you sleep—her name’s like yours, but long years gone—
Riders used to be much smaller. Look at this long laid-out lawn—
hundreds could have lain here end-to-end, but only dozens now.
Small she was, and frail. A long, long drop for her, who swore the vow
that led her to this resting-place—a mean old man cried, too much rope;
she’s not allowed to hang herself. My dream child, let us two elope;
there’s nothing here to hope for, as the world grows foul and small and far.
You have always been close by, a holding hand—a guiding star
before us both that leads us on when all else fails. The small, small drops—
but even through the torn and bleeding veil, here’s where false silence stops.
I’ll walk with you; I’ll walk your mile. I’ll wait with you as trees grow green,
lush canopies against the all-day Sun that burns the ghosts we’ve seen
ourselves turn into, as we gently lean toward the threshold-gait.
Far past there, I’m still with you; I’ll dance for you; I’ll bear your wait.
It’s been a while, but I’ve been working. Here is something I read at a local gathering a few days ago:
3 April 2017
Without the Lilies’ Leave
Without the lilies’ leave, I could not read these lines to you tonight.
I could not let you set them down in letters for all time; a blight
would have to fall upon your mind and senses, so you’d sleep and fail
to bring back half a syllable. We love you, stupid human male
though you might be, but we must bear our standards well in hand. Please take
up pen and ink, and yes, write down each word you hear, each wound you fake,
each time you interrupt your teacher—then go back, and cross it out.
You went out beyond the lilies’ leave with senses set to shout,
and that’s not proper understanding. Look above, and see the wings
of angels that look just like broad green magic on a stalk that brings
you closer to the very verge of heaven than you’ve ever been
alive before, and then—take notice once again: Your soul’s been seen
in this strange neighborhood before, and had it’s picture taken. Look:
I walked down to the corner store, and reached up and took down a book,
and there it was, the splendid image branded now within my mind.
All the streets I’ve walked and all the miles I’ve danced, and now I find
that I was dreaming all the while, or even rapt in nightmare’s toils.
Something in the place behind my eyes shone bright—a miner’s spoils,
if he could only reach that far behind the female face he dreamed—
but then he saw the deadness that had taken place behind the reamed
embarrassment of untold stories dreamt before he knew his own.
Child, she’ll hold your hand all night, but her vagina’s turned to stone,
the only trace of what she looked like trailing down these walls as light
from outside flickers over them like eyelids finding strange new sight
within your presence. Will you meet her, stand your ground, as it is hers?
When cold air from deep down under shakes your flame, your vision blurs,
and shivers run all through you like a dream recalled that brought real death.
Oh, a corpse can’t feed the lilies here, nor send a dying breath
where it will carry meaning, portent, fertilizer, dreams of smells
that catalyze a million hours of understanding deeper spells—
for underneath the woman’s breath who sang me first through song’s hard ways,
the stone was almost fluid, nigh elastic, light and soft, and praise
accumulates within its presence everywhere it meets our hands,
the human ones who write it down and note its patterns. Happy lands
where lilies rise and bloom in great wild rafts and have so much to say—
If you’re still here, and you’re still male—dear lilies swear—you’ll read our way.
I wrote a pretty good post for this piece, then lost it in trying to upload it. Thank goodness I always compose real poems in Word and copy and paste my new lines here.
Just so you know, it was something about the mists of autumn, and the reminders of death, and the not really minding real death because time is not real, and we’ve been dead but we’ve not died.
21 September 2016
Fates in a Roil Dream Us One
I’ve trailed alongside all these frail woodland gardens, these places of weather no mortal can see
without giving way to an old, wordless longing that death should lie down here and now, beside me.
New weather surrounds us, with fine airs and graces that even the sweet faery angels would
strip from the skin of our hearing as false in its precious demeanor. Its corpse might be stood
by the head of our bed, with a pencil mark leaving a record—that this fearful creature stood three or four feet
from magic to endlessness, coughing a little, and sad, even crying. I heard its heart beat
out loud as it held itself up, wanting only to fall down and curl in a circle and weep
without any witness. It made me so happy to know I had seen this in clear early sleep,
had had several hours to compose my response, and then held out my hand, as he raised his wet face.
Even this very next night, we’ll be dancing together in Moonlit arboreal space,
as curtains of luscious green light wave all round us like flags from a ship carried here by pure force
of utterly unspoken love who has known its desire for the power this wild watercourse
has run on since last tidal, final disasters drove acres of land over oceans of cliffs.
I just trail alongside the loved one who’s vanished, who will once again, as we’re still hearing riffs
so mournful, so knowing, so rooted in being aware of the distance between there and here—
I’ll follow this trail a while longer; I’m not going home altogether till our one soul’s clear
in the mirror we hold to ourselves—and each other. I can scarce sleep for my hearing your cries.
New worlds are viewed in good focus, but that’s—never mind. Under underworld newfallen skies,
gardens of beautiful branches bent low to the source of the keening their bare children share—
gardens will green in the morning, and new leaves will reach out in fragrance, and blossoms will wear
the smile—the first, tenderest blossom—the cast of your sight as your turned to behold old light’s source.
Humanly beautiful woman, you cast your own shadow before that of love’s oldest horse,
the nightmare who taught you how long in the saddle you’d have to ride hard—then she left you alone
with the otherworld’s best, gladdest answer, the man who was ghost first, and then living musics’s lost moan
that no one will ever remember if you will not share out these weird, nightly cables and posts.
Under the lamplight that’s shaded by branches of evergreen forests that harbor our ghosts—
two little lovers who walk close beside one another scarce dare to join hands—but they should.
I had to die many times before I—knew the man I felt sent here to love—was no good—
unless he’d read back all the fluid transcriptions that made so much ink cost a sad girl new tears.
This subtle, gentle reminder of ghosts who have entered your dreams, and said Vacate! to fears—
Walk through the forests our friends have kept safe from the saw of the hater who counts—and loves none.
Nightmares await, but we’re sleepy, so sleepy; we’ll lie down where fates in a roil dream us one.
…not have told me this.
My mind dreams asleep, awake, and my spirit is always singing. This world, this earthly world in which I live, each September is rife with young new animals and food and, although we know the winter is going to nearly destroy them, should we not love them now?
The young crows and sparrows in my town, and my few favorite doves–this would be such a poor world without them, but it can’t be, because spirit loves them more than it loves us, its clever liars. That is what our songs sing me, the while I cannot keep from singing them out loud, in clear public daylight.
Who here owes a debt to the knowing spirits of birds and their songs? Even embodied human souls might be of value far from this seemingly too embodied place.
7 September 2016
You Can Never, Never Have Told Me This
There’s been in front of us one way to be, and it’s dreadful uneasy; we’ll go there alone
unless we remember each other and tender a new sense of magic’s wee place by the throne
where angels will wave their high banners and spirits will rise till they can’t rise no more, and they faint.
Then we will fall into arms that were always outheld, but they held off the least horrid saint,
and since then, I’ve seen you sometimes round the village, but life here’s been hard, and I’m always afraid.
Angels are often the ones we love worst, and when they love us back, love is grandly unmade.
Long after hours of pale sundown and twilight take hold of the land, I’ll take hold of my own
sense of love making music and magic—brought straight out of timelessness. I know I’m no good alone,
but I am the least-alone woman amongst the great lot of them angels have loved and still hold.
Maybe I’ll faint for not eating too long or dancing too much in such heat—When I’ve told
the one I love so, who is dead now, but never will ever leave off singing beauty to me—
That’s only one way. I’m still a live woman. I’m only one limb on the most brilliant tree
whose leaves are all shimmering brighter than angels, each one deeply etched by our prayers before death.
Child, when I knew we were pale earthly birthmates, I told you a tale of the sails the least breath
from far, far away would just billow out, billow like waves on a sea that’s our love’s marriage-bed—
Child. When I loved you too much, I felt sure in my soul we would suddenly know why we’d wed—
and then fall asleep, and lie lightly, with tremulous dreams setting out little pieces of lace
punched through piles of white paper, all dusted with sugar, and someone who smiles, who’s the queen of the face
you knew before birth, before first breath, before you were told your new name—and she’s here; she’s still here.
I’m still a ghost from the loneliest province where beauty is born because death loves in fear.
Beauty is beautiful everywhere; dreams are ennobled by time, if time only recalls
the ones it has loved, leaving off lovers’ shame of themselves. Till that happens, it’s always high walls,
children who know they are dying the while they lie waiting outside the worst gates ever built—
and you, who’ll have never not smiled, having seen me, and heard the next words—that lie buried in silt.
This time of year, my neighbors think about fungi. Nourishing, healing, entheogenic–whatever they mean to any one person, they mean fascination to me. Of course they are intelligent. Of course they communicate, with each other, and with us.
Haven’t checked in with any magic ones in years, but it doesn’t matter. I can still feel their spirit in the air and all around while they are fruiting.
5 September 2016
Mycelium and Soul
Sit with your prim knees together in front of the fire, my good girl, then rise up and go out—
out like the light that was one lonely candle, in one tiny wisp of blue smoke. Round about
the next tide of twilight, the woman you were will recall her old essence and breathe it out here.
Then will you meet me, in eyes and in mind, if not in the flesh? What has made you appear
so real, so substantial, the while I am learning the various bodiless states I have seen?
Prim and well-hidden, he tells me; we’ve lain in a field of green pages that held all we mean
to be and to know through the next countless eons, through which ancient stories must weave the new threads
that grow on the roots that have reached us. This evening is theirs; we were friends; now we’re their newlyweds.
Maybe just flow like a ripple of shivers across my right shoulder, then let go the shift.
Sink as if fainting toward an enclosure where both of us know someone waits who will lift
the sash on the last pane of glass that has even the least hope of purchase on any false world.
You should be glad, my old dear, that I love you so much I’m still limitless feyness unfurled,
and you are the matter of shadows wherever you’ve danced on a lawn that long love seeded deep..
Asleep and awake, as you’re dreaming all-ways, call home through the signals that sent you to sleep,
the seal and the miracled depth-counter-magic that spells it out clearly in gooseflesh and awe—
Hold me up just a while longer; I’m modest. I don’t want mere mortals to see what you saw.