Dark—though all the world sleeps, long
I strain to hear blackbird song
Your wings winter-folded, soft-
swept snow, river-fog blurred song
Locked into memory, green-
forest days spinning word-song
By berry bramble, your wings
covered all desire, spurred song
Unsung, for better or worse
by this cold hearth, unstirred song
Now dawn-white shadow gathers
plaintive dream-note—unheard song
My first attempt at the ghazal form.
this cloud-built summer storm—
we watch, insulated from all
youth’s electricity of wonder
and fear, saying it can’t hurt
us, can’t come in; backed
by scientific assurance
of two-score rock-solid years
unmovable, stony to the core
and is it good that we outgrew
that fear, traded it for what
endless repetition of even sunlit
days, ducks pond-gliding
(from that storm-dream of sword
and flame-leaping I wake
happy as if I’d been reading:
comfort for a workaday
Title from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Rilke’s “Vor dem Sommerregen” (“Before Summer Rain”).
Take down these dreams
like maps well creased, faded
small towns at the fold-lines
all but smudged away. Trace
routes with your fingers—
tender as a lover, regardless
as an army—to those deep rivers
of your blood it matters not
what eyes and feet once knew.
I am the child of root and air, the song
of limpid river, tumbled rocks;
my father feathered black, my mother brown
and pocket-faded, full of words.
I sing and shape the stumbles into spells
of love for Crone to honey-fill her jars,
for Wizard’s far-fetched flings at sun and moon.
Inspired by A Prompt Each Day’s midweek wordle, which sent me back to my Hiraeth-world.
These years I have burnished
silver, shelved desire
as a thing to sip and sniff
parceled out love as if
the supply might dry up—
What use? Tonight, dozing
fireside, if snow-wind brings
blackbird note, I’ll swallow whole
a drop of hot sun enough
to build and howl and spill
and light my way
to riverside where summer
bridge glints gossamer
humming like bees—
only a step into the forest
fleet-foot past crone’s hut
to rain-hung green-washed glade
where he waits, my blackbird boy
to take me to his breast
What use to stand at riverside?
To hold this feather, wishing hard
or hold my breath and listen, still
for even aftermath of storm?
Why cast these rusty strings of words,
scrape fingers raw on stumbling sounds?
As well to toss a yarn-skein high
expecting fall of gauzy dreams
to make a winter’s shawl. What use?
I’ll huddle, fireside, aching fierce
for sun. I’ll unpick stitches far
into the night. I’ll unstring words—
for nothing here is bright or sword-
like, nothing glints; and even hope
dies dim and dull, unused.
Mostly iambic tetrameter for the Yeah Write poetry slam. Title borrowed from Tennyson’s “Ulysses.”
Time has not passed for me
in years or even seasons, moonrise
or sunset, river flood or ice-sharp howl
To wait as I have is only suspension
of wing-beat, heartsong—in my dreams
I walk the earth but my voice is gone
Wizard still strings his words in dullness
Crone sits staring, opens blue jar and sniffs
My girl will come back—To have her back!
But I’ve seen her across unbridged river
settled for what humans call love, forgetting
bright belief like autumn’s rotted leaves
I believed in fairytales
that words had power
to call up forest, river, oak
deep places of wolves and ogre
kings, the blackbird boy enchanted
pouring pathos into song until
I would take him to my breast
find him changed to joyful lover
in the rain-hung green-washed glade
We strung the words awhile—my master and I—
making shining things, berry-jeweled strings
that held no power, for though the blackbird watched
he never came to earth and in the rainless heat
my desire built like storm, pitched me headlong
I lay under bee-hum, dreamed
of my blackbird boy, followed
him branch to branch
into wolf-eyed forest until
in shadow of sagging hut
I saw the crone
Winter land gray, hawk-still, slow
river under ice-shroud; with the moon
fair I far-see: Autumn spells won’t hold
her, not for all the heartsease in the world.
I dream of her hair-shorn, light and dancing
at forest verge, spinning rope of spring-buds,
rain-troth. I string out these shriveled words,
sup on desire, waiting. My girl will come back.
My heart falls and falls. She smiles
like a flower under glass, fading
far from native earth and sun and sky
I give her home, children, garden, love
but longing follows her like a shadow
wakes me in the night to see her walking
at the forest’s edge, staring hard across
moon-bright water, listening—for what?
—fingers open, reaching, empty.