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Poems

The Poet

The able word-smithy
Ought to be pithy
And must write well
For his clientele.
He should have felt sadness,
And had spells of madness,
Yet still kept some humor
For his consumer—
Because nothing beats levity
Except, of course, brevity.     

  

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Poems

Thinking on Thought

An unhappy mind
Makes the day unkind
It ties the thoughts
In strictest knots
And makes the soundest plots
Come to noughts.

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Poems

Steady Winds and Blooming Flowers

To be convinced of the strength of far-off powers—
Of deities and entities and potencies
Is to stick and wallow for wasted hours.
Better to trust one’s own competency,
Or to steady winds and blooming flowers.

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Poems

Peyote

Out in the red, white, and orange desert
With dun scrub, the howl of the coyote,
And a falcon’s lost and windswept feather,
Is the green, squat, round cactus: peyote.

To find peyote, you must hunt it,
For it lies hidden and half-buried.
To take peyote, you must cut it:
Shallowly, like a blood bond to marry.

Eat peyote beneath the stars, by fiery sparks,
To the sounds of drums and song,
Wrapped tightly in the cobalt dark,
Balanced upon the venado’s prong.

Drink peyote in herbal or bark tea
With the moon pregnant with yellow light,
While the elf owl shadows moths silently,
And the Mojave rattlesnake waits to bite.

Mix peyote with piloncillo
Boil it with water in a pot on coals
Dream dreams as bright as membrillo
Seek the spirits of the Huichols.

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Poems

Ravens

Orange pumpkins and golden grains ripen
Beneath a horde of black ravens who circle fields
Where a straw scarecrow stands with his pipe in
To frighten the birds from their meals.

The sky is not yet blue; it is rosy this dawn.
A tendril of mist twines around the fruitful hollow:
It is a delicate white wreath, soon gone,
That laces the amber-leafed larches and purling river below.

The air is thin and clear–
A person could see here for miles,
And sound carries to a listening ear:
The rasp of ravens, the sacred, silent whiles.

Day comes; the mist creeps into low, dank holes,
Then vanishes as the sun paints the rose sky blue,
Leaving the moon in the east like a glowing coal
And coloring night’s purples with daylight’s vivid hues.

Flying like a rushing cataract over the still hills,
The ravens light in a dead and leafless oak,
To preen their glossy feathers with their matte bills
And caw and croak and cackle and laugh as if at a marvelous joke.

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Poems

Wildfire

On the yellow and blue prairie
Where the wind rustles the tall grass
A fire begins to carry,
Taking here and there—growing vast.

The grasslands shimmer with wild heat.
From a distance there is no sound
Just a flat orange line like a sheet
Beneath tombstones of black smoke clouds.

In dead of night, it’s an orange glow:
Like a torch in a sunless cave.
And glittering, spark-filled winds blow
Ash over the charred prairie grave.

As huge, towering clouds roll in,
Thunder cracks above the fires;
Rain pierces the smothering wind;
Lightning appears in cobwebbed wires.

By dawn, the prairie is hell’s floor:
Scorched, steaming, smoking, and stripped,
At once damp and hot at its core—
The underworld beneath a crypt.

In time come hordes of butterflies,
Undulating capes of Monarchs,
Faceless with wings like blinking eyes,
Fluttering past the torrid marks.

And, too, bison and birds return,
Slowly and lightly, hoof and wing,
To that flat dish remade by the burn,
To death, life, known stages of things.

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Poems

East of Guadalajara

The still water mirrors the sky.
Pink grasses grow along the road.
The full moon floats like a white eye.
A field hand shifts a heavy load.

A brown colt walks with its mother
And the other cows and horses.
Fields look blue for mezcal lovers–
Agave plants are that blue’s source.

Shocks of hay stand in golden fields.
Ducks swim upon shallow ponds.
The railroad ties zipper through miles
Of wheat, then, with distance, are gone.

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Poems

The Autumn Prairie Night

Stars shine in the prairie night sky.
The night is clear.  There are no clouds.
The cratered moon is full and bright.
Bison huddle in warming crowds. 

It is late autumn.  Crickets sing. 
The northern air smells of winter.
Light wraps the pearl moon in a ring.
Through tall grass, wild horses canter.

Old trees creak in the sighing wind
And drop striped acorns to the ground.
The shallow creek runs through a bend.
A great horned owl soars without sound.

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Poems

Lovers Under the Bright Stars

We lay out under the bright stars:
Saw the moon lay in her crescent,
Saw the prairie stretch out to Mars.
We felt nostalgic and prescient.

Her heart was as pure as clear ice.
My heart was hungry as a wolf.
Words came at far too dear a price.
Love lay between us like a gulf.

If she leaves here in the morning
All that’s left will be memory
Like an orange fire that’s burning
That leaves an ash that’s hot and grey.

The horses they start to snuffle.
The dog is whining to go home.
If love can come through this shuffle
It’ll last till memory is gone.

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Poems

Ranching

Past the plums and bushes of blueberries
Then through the hollow’s fog, thick and heavy,
At dawn when the whippoorwill’s song carries,
I drive the rutted road in my old red Chevy.

I have not slept the night, for I was out upon the trail
Driving cattle on my horse along the dark terrain,
The hours marked by distant whistlings of the locomotive on the rail,
The deepest night made cold and bitter by unrelenting rain.

The heater’s blowing ghostly hot air on my hands,
And the truck is bumping slowly along the road to home.
I take a tired look at the good lands
That wear my heart raw to work and roam.

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Poems

Summer Grasslands

Bison graze the tall, golden grass.
A sparrowhawk rests on an oak.
A herd of wild horses, paints, pass.
Like the sun, they’ve never been broke.

It is summer.  The wind is hot.
The river’s just a silty stream.
By it, a fox settles in for thought,
Then he curls himself up to dream.

At night the fireflies come out.
The flies twinkle like earthly stars.
Owls hoot.  Wolves howl.  Trees creak in drought.
Planets can be seen: Venus, Mars.

The wind rustles the big bluestem
And shakes the leaves on the willow.
Silver clouds scud.  The moon is dim
And lights the plains with its grey glow.

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Poems

A Celebration of Women

You are the scarlet cardinal
Against evergreens and white snow
And the last gold leaf, autumnal,
Hanging from the branch of an oak.

You are the spring’s first daffodil
And the bluest sky of summer.
You are that unexpected thrill,
That astonishment, that wonder.

You are the dancing aurora.
You are the wings of butterflies.
You are the delicate flora
And as awesome as starswept skies.

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Poems

Robins

Robins perch in the Teton’s forest
On snow-laden boughs of pine trees.
The birds sing sweetly in chorus
While waiting for the north spring breeze.

Their eyes gleam like obsidian.
Their gaze is bright and querying.
With brisk, swift looks the birds peer in–
Past the pines on which they’re tarrying,

Over the saxifrage and vetch–
To the sky, darkening at dusk.
In the cold low sun, shadows stretch:
Full day becomes a hollow husk.

The robins fly to a copse of spruce,
Watching for the barred owl and crow.
Here the birds settle in to roost
Above wild raspberries and snow.

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Poems

The Prairie in Winter

The cold north wind comes tumbling through
Laying drifts high against blackjack trunks.
The deer are out.  The sky is blue.
Here lie tracks of hares and chipmunks.

The snow’s buried the prairie grass.
Big buffalo huddle and snort.
Over the plains bald vultures pass.
Winter is long.  Its days are short.

The full moon rises behind clouds
Whose billowy silver forms gleam.
Skeletal are the blackjack’s boughs
That reach across the frozen stream.

This is the plains in December:
Rolling, snowswept fields, a huge sky,
Leafless riverbottom timber,
And an arid air, crisp and dry.

Here are wild and austere beauty
Found in the mist of bison’s breath,
The crow’s feathers—glossy, sooty—
And the old weave of life and death.

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Poems

Coupling in White Moonlight

You are as naked as my love:
Unclothed, uncovered, sensual.
White moonbeams kiss you from above
And cast shadows, still and skeletal.

My fingers touch your parted lips. 
Your soft hand feels my beating heart.
I kiss your thighs, your silky hips.
You slowly spread your legs apart.

Your legs grow long in the dim light
And flower in a fine petal.
Like blooming jasmine in the night,
You unfurl and slowly settle.

Our home stands on a rocky hill.
The sea breaks against stones beneath.
Through the window white moonbeams spill,
As creamy as a hyacinth.

Love is stronger than a feeling.
Love is blood for the human heart.
Love is folk theft, without stealing,
Cares taken as subtly as art.

Dreams are deeper than the ocean.
Our sleep together is a dream.
My eyes close.  I feel your motion,
Wavelike in the moonlight’s white beam.

The deep night washes over us
As we emerge from breathless drowning:
The little death, the intimate lust,
At once nothing and surrounding.

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Poems

Winter Portrait

On oak branches hang frosted leaves–
Brittle, icy, and walnut brown–
Among stones, wolves, owls, swans, and geese,
Where flakes of snow fall thickly down.
Fragrant pines and gnarled cedars stand
In a gorge by the frozen stream
Where fog lies in a milky band,
And the sun makes the clear ice gleam.

Through this cold, all solitary,
Walks a man most melancholy.
All he owns is all he carries:
His bread, water, hopes, and follies.
He recalls a girl from his past.
He dreads the long, poor road ahead
For darkness here is most unkind.
He has no place to lay his head.

He treks across the snowy plains
Past the scrub oak, the pines, and streams,
His mind is hard, his body pained.
His clothing is worn at the seams.
The moon rises, new and dark.
Stars are woven like fishing nets.
The land lies daunting, grim, and stark.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

The Man Made of Rain
There once was a man made of rain
With lightning bolts in his brain
When he sneezed the sky would alight
Folks would shout with delight
And ask him to do it again!

The Mermaid
There once was a girl underwater
Who was a mer-king’s daughter
She swam in a castle with fish
And lived life as sweet as a wish
Until a fisherman caught her.

The Girl Who Could Fly
There once was a girl who could fly
And so flew across the whole sky.
She saw kingdoms of clouds,
Soared over mountains unbowed,
And winged above golden fields full of rye.

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Poems

Hope

He’s got nowhere to go
Nothing to live for
Nothing left to show
Nothing in his core

He walks like a ghost
Silent, unseen
Like something from the past
That might never have been.

Now the wind in the alley
Blows paper in the gutter
There’s shadows in the valley
And a dark rumbling mutter.

It’s another cold night
In this evil broken place
With unlit street lights
Over every haggard face.

Now here comes dawn
The dangerous night ends again
We start it with a yawn
Then hurl ourselves in.

And there goes the man
Who somehow lost his way
He’s changed and made a plan.
Each dawn is a new day.

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Poems

The Fighter

He came from the world beneath,
Where the rule is to survive.
He had hard fists, sharp teeth.
He rumbled to stay alive.

With nothing to lose
Life’s simple as hell
There’s little to choose
In a place forever unwell.

He was thrashed and scarred
Frightened and scared
Kicked out and barred
He left nothing bared.

One day he fought himself free
And saw horizons unfurled
The way it was meant to be
In this gnarly old world.

He looked around and saw
A healthy place to stay
And marveled in awe
That he’d found his way.

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Poems

The Singer

The singer sat on the curb
With her pick and guitar
And a bit of good herb.

She was raised in a bell jar
But came far from home.
She traveled by box car

And arrived all alone.
She left what she’d known.
Now she’s on the hard street
Eager for the world she’ll meet.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

The Sensitive Poet
There once was a sensitive poet
Who had love but dared not show it.
So she wrote her emotions into pages
Then locked her poems up for ages.
What good is love if you don’t bestow it?

The Indefinable World
There once was an indefinable world
Of green mountains and mists that furled
It was populated by people both wicked and kind
By folk who could see, and folk who were blind
And from far off, it was a pale blue dot like a pearl.

The Singer of Songs
There once was a singer of songs
Who sang of this world’s wrongs
He sang of misfits and outcasts
Of lightless futures and broken pasts.
He gave outsiders a place to belong.

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Poems

When Your Back is to the Wall

When your back’s to the wall
And guns point at your heart
Then show them all
You won’t fall apart.

They’ll do their worst
So now you should spit,
Give them a curse,
And the hell with it.

Curse all their mothers
And die with a sneer,
For they are no brothers
And will not die here.

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Poems

This is the Life

He always had time,
Yet stayed on his way.
Counted every dime,
Did not skip a day.

He was well recognized,
Well respected.
He was well prized;
It got him elected.

But the bigger they are,
The harder they fall.
When he smashed his car,
He was wrapped in a pall.

But this is the life.
It holds you near,
Is sweeter than a wife,
And costs you dear.

So we try to stay keen,
As sharp as a knife.
In a world great and mean,
This is the life. This is the life.

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Poems

The Arrival of Autumn

The Arrival of Autumn is a nature poem with rhymes at the end of every other line. It was written in Washington state on September 7th, 2018.

Autumn Leaf
Autumn leaf, September 16th, 2018

At the end of summer when the honey drips from the comb,
when the tall grasses wave in the warm gentle breeze,
and the orchards that lie north of the farmsteader’s home
are rich with apples that hang heavy from the trees,
then the shadows begin to lengthen in the southern sun
which sets over a heartland of fields and rolling hills.
And folk feel in their bones that autumn has begun,
a time of black and scarlet leaves, brisker winds, and chills.
It is a time of fog. A time of mists among dells and valleys,
when gourds and pumpkins ripen among the pastures,
and streams flow swift, cold, and clear along the rocky alleys.
Then comes the time for hot tea, woolgathering, and a peaceful book.
Then comes the time when the black cat, its eyes like gold sparked jewels,
leaps from the wooden fencepost, and, with penetrating look,
pads across the tufted grass, past the penned up cows and mules,
on to some destination, secret or lazy or otherwise.
The days grow shorter and dimmer,
until the heavens are lit by starry orbs and the lush moonrise,
and all the earth is silvered by their fair shimmer.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

The Girl From Perth
There once was a girl from Perth
Who was forever filled with mirth
She’d laugh and she’d smile
At all that life did beguile
And she made so much merrier this Earth!

The Hungry Mouse
There once was a hungry mouse
Who lived in a very great house
He would eat all of the cheese
As often as he pleased
So he was called a despicable louse!

Carl Linnaeus
Linnaeus was a grand botanist
With an eye as fine as any artist’s.
He knew flowers at a glance
And thousands of plants
So he put them all in a groundbreaking list.

Ferdinand Magellan
Magellan once sailed ’round the world
With a map that lay ever unfurled.
He trusted the moon and the stars
And he passed many hours
Watching the waves as they curled.

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Poems

Silence

Silence flies on an owl’s wings
In the space between the breezes.
It follows the time when the skylark sings,
And waits as quietly as water freezes.

Silence sits and stares;
It makes fools seem wise.
Its pacific calm soothes anxious cares,
And it serves as Conscience’s eyes.

Silence waits in outer space
Amongst the beds of birthing stars.
It grants space terror, majesty, and grace,
And befits its stately powers.

Silence separates the words we speak,
And gives respect to the dead.
It defines the meek,
And fills with sound the pages that we’ve read.

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Poems

Value Your Own Life


When the final sand falls through the glass,
And the land beyond yonder lies waiting,
They’ll count up your money, your exhibitions of class,
And the times you’ve left someone hating.

They’ll measure your life inside of their heads,
With an ounce of forgiveness or two,
Then leave you with the many dead
And compare some of them against you.

And there you will lay
Until no one recalls
How you met every day
And recovered from falls.

So it stands to good reason
That because time always forgets
We must value our own season
Before we descend to the pits.

Categories
Poems

The Glen of Dancing Trees

Mike, an ordinary guy, gets turned into a tree one day. He walks down to the river, and he finds a place upon a hill in a forest clearing to live. He discovers that there are others like him in the glen of dancing trees.

img_8584.jpg

While Mike was standing on the corner
He became a tree.
Why that was or how that was
No one could clearly see.
Mike became a big tall oak
With branches wide and strong
He had a crop of fluttering leaves
For the wind to blow along

Now Mike was not your normal oak
That stays planted in the ground
No, Mike was of the special sort
That goes walking ’round the town
He took his steps with big deep roots
That pulled up pavement as he walked
He stopped the delivery man in his stride
And village gossips as they talked.

Mike reached down with his big brown bough
And scratched the knot upon his chest
From it scampered a small brown squirrel
That had made the hole its nest
Then Mike walked to the river’s edge
Where a young girl read a book
And he leaned out over her shoulder
So that he might have a look

She was reading a classic tale
Of true blissful romance
In which heroes fought with words and blades
And lovers got to dance
And so absorbed was the young girl
In the words on every page
That she noticed not the walking tree
As it passed on towards the glade.

Mike soon reached the forest’s edge
And he entered with a smile
For this place seemed the home for him
And he walked on for a mile
Until he came to a sunny dell
Upon a grassy hill
And because it was the spot for him
He grew quiet and grew still.

Now Mike lives on the hill
Much like an ordinary tree
But on some nights he takes a walk
Past idle oaks and hickories
He goes strolling through the moonlight,
Where he’s brushed by season’s breeze,
And joins his friends who are just like him
In the glen of dancing trees.

Categories
Limericks Poems

Sunday Limericks

The One-Eyed Cat
There once was a one-eyed cat
Who was noticed wherever he sat
The folk pointed their fingers at him
And said, “Look, there’s a fighter, my friend,”
For he’d lost the eye while chasing a rat!

A Snoring Man
There once was a man who could snore
So loudly that he woke the neighbors next door.
They grumbled and said,
“I just wish he was dead!”
But he lived till a hundred and four!

Two Young Men and a Weary Maiden
There once were two young men
Who fell in love with the same maiden.
They argued bitterly at the start,
Then they fought for her heart,
Until at last she married their friend!

Categories
Poems

A Most-Forgotten History

Near an old stone cottage lies an old stone bridge
In a grass-covered valley beyond a green ridge.
The bridge spans a river that purls as it flows,
One that makes a fine mist that catches rainbows.

It is a place as tender and as soft as a pheasant
With soft, gentle breezes and pink flowers present,
Where mothers and children can swim and can read
And take the sweet rest that they both need.

But years before in the bridge’s mortar was mud,
Made from mixing dirt and man’s blood,
And the air, now pacific, was then filled with shrill screams
From a man cruelly murdered at this crossing.

It was in the 1700s as he set on his way
Past ripening orchards and stacks of gold hay.
He was riding a young horse and whistling a song
Through dusk’s fabled shadows: black, treacherous, and long.

Beneath the bridge were three murderous men
Who leapt out to greet him with evil grins.
They surrounded his horse with their swords all aglint;
He understood at once their wicked intent.

The thieves acted quickly; they cut at his leg.
The man fell from his horse, and he started to beg.
But the bandits, wicked bastards, they stole his purse,
Then they tortured that innocent till he left this earth.

They made their escape cleanly, and the man died in vain.
He was half-eaten by crows when the sheriff came.
And the sheriff he looked out over that stone-masoned bridge,
And he saw there, far-off, the sight of the ridge.

The sheriff shook his head at the grisly scene,
At the inhumanity of men and the cruelty they bring.
But the years pass on, and the generations forget:
A strong roaring fire dies, and is then again lit.

Seasons pass; centuries pass; the world turns.
The buildings rise and fall; the field grows and burns.
The geese they migrate, and the ducks come and go.
The whales make their journeys far down below.

And at the end of the day, what have we to show?
The human race is alive, that much we know.
Still we circle that fiery sphere called the sun,
And so we shall until our short day is done.

But till then the same places see new faces through years,
The laughter, the weeping, the joy, and the tears.
And the human race at once lovely, cruel, and so cold,
Lives in a most-forgotten history that grows ever old.