Cold like the moon

this skimmed-milk faith
glowing a bit, a movie-god’s halo
(but blue-white, LED, not incandescent)
trembling near nightfall
under sudden river-ice


and the reason we want a plot
a cheer-heart resolution
to this hapless wandering
(eat, sleep, cry)—who is writing
your story with its cast of millions
cross-referenced, pronunciation guide
at the end?


when we stood, this close
to touching a beauty hauled round
up-horizon, the glow you would know
for all its pits and crags
until you woke again
and lost it

In another time

I am waiting
forest, riverside
where the sky’s color has drained
to fill the trees golden
canopy, hushed, leaf carpet
where the maples lean together
where I last saw the wild rose.
Younger, when I had no heed
for thorns raking flesh
nor savored any delight
but your command
for quest, complete, rewarded.
Never young enough again
for any of your power
to transform these scars
into patience, like tree-roots
sink and drown

Task for a Muse

How do I shout
entwined as I am
about the doorframe
bounded by the step? A thorn
or two to snag passersby
(when one strident voice
is no more heeded than another
or silence) heeded not at all.
I have been rooted
in the earth fluid only
with the wind’s desire
and though I sought voice
after voice, bearing flower fruit
year on year I am nothing
no arms to move you but
my whispered song


Cave Voices

We don’t know starlight
so long here in the dark
Stay—the labyrinth is safe
quite safe! The monster gone
long and long ago
I didn’t mean to say We
I am quite alone

I follow the thread of her voice
her singing in earth-heart
how unlike the glass-chime
grinding of the spheres
in my clockwork daylight
more like breath of stardust
life-ember hum

The labyrinth is endless
and no cheating death

The thread of her voice
all stardust echoes stilled

The monster is still here
rumbling, low and long

A Simple Project

it will become a thing of utility
again, invisible except when needed;
I’ll put it back together tomorrow

you wonder what on earth I’m thinking, tired
of making halfway, but now I’ve started
I ask everyone who passes if it looks good

(sand, wipe, consider; the first brushstroke
is not always the moment of truth
a new can of paint better than a blank canvas)

the prep is the hardest and most boring
part; at least no tools are needed
for disassembly

having started on a winter’s need for change
I had the blank hours and this idea
overconfident of vision


NaPoWriMo Day 28! Telling a story in reverse.

Alas, my good knights be slain away from me

If you want a good tale, Thorn says,
go for betrayal. Man and wife, brother
and brother, student and master.

The very one you trust—he flicks his hand
to show the knife. And so I am on the field
in false armor, not even knowing myself.

The grass, the sun, the banners, the sweat,
the fear. A man may be willing to die
for his friends, but for her? For him?

The queen in white, the field in green, dazzling
golden sun. The hopeful heart, the solemn
pledge: fire and sword, fear.

The Quest Is

In your dream you slept
by the riverbank
and not out of spite
I changed your love
into a flower, simple
bluebell in the forest
swaying daisy in the meadow—
one of a million light-sung flowers
in the hundred greendeep forests
in the thousand sunflood meadows
and how will you find love now
and what if love remained
deep-rooted, rain-thirsting

Camlann, Again

Sands, setting sun, rising
blood-tide; clash and curse
and moan. Even I feel the surge
of joy at the charge, pent anger
cloud-bursting to hack
and sing. This grim violence
ever present: in our bones
the need to fight—
eager!—for any cause
to call someone Other.
She asked you to save
the innocents. There are none
here. From first man to last
we are broken.

Another view, via the Rose-Witch project, of a theme I wanted to explore in the Babylon, Astronomy poem. My take on Camlann is always colored by Tennyson’s imagery in “The Passing of Arthur.”


She will chain the moon, pull it out
of season. Ice-shadows splinter
with green-breath promise to end drought.
She will chain the moon, pull it out,
strip autumn’s flaming throne to flout
nature’s sleep, hushed healing winter.
She will chain the moon, pull it. Out
of season, ice-shadows splinter…

A painting-inspired triolet for Jane’s weekly challenge.

Storm Song

I go first into frosted night, flinging charms—seven
words to fend the blizzard whole while moon
sinks into clouds, swallowed in gray velvet

I’ve armed myself in furs; you red-robed in velvet
singing fireside untired, one slight flame against seven
nights of breaking cold, failing moon

No cracks in river ice, unmelted hidden moon
though your steady voice, low velvet
calls the fire. Outside alone I count slowly, seven—

seven nights until moon cuts again through storm-velvet

Thanks to Nathan for the set of tritina words, and to Jenifer, from whose very different and beautiful poem I lifted the blizzard line.