And the Leopards Leap
The Bleak and Wild Desolate Shore
The Candle from the Cathedral
The Gift of Flight
Jack Frost Endeavors to Keep Winter
The Place of Man
What Occurred by the Half-Light
And the Leopards Leap
“And the Leopards Leap” is a poem about an indigenous family passing their day while living in a tropical jungle along the shore of the sea.
The waves come in, and the palm trees wave,
The water laps inside a cave,
From which bats fly each night at dusk,
While coconuts grow ripe inside their husks,
In tropical air laden with musk.
Down the mountain falls a tributary
To greet the ocean in an estuary
Where flamingos dwell and kingbirds sing
And motmots flaunt their coloring.
Houses lie along the coast
With thatched roofs and bamboo posts,
And children playing in the yard
Near a smoking bonfire with embers charred,
Children bright-eyed as young deer,
Who romp with laughs and boundless cheer,
Nowhere here can clocks be found,
Nor men and women cement-bound,
But here we see the lives of men
Lives lived amongst livestock: pigs and hens,
Amongst the pets: the cats and dogs,
Amongst the creatures: jaguars and frogs.
The hot day passes, the cool night comes,
The stars come out, cicadas thrum,
The moon lies brilliant, full and bright,
And brushes the jungle with pearly light.
The kinkajou and tarsier then awake,
As does the eyelash viper, a venomous snake.
Then man and woman and children fair,
Sweep out the scorpions and say their prayers,
Then settle down in their home of reeds
Thankful for the jungle that fills their needs,
And they lie down for a short sleep,
As, without, the tide ebbs and flows,
And the leopards leap.
My Oxford New American Dictionary defines an aphorism as, “A pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’” This is a poem comprised of aphorisms, some of which already exist but have been reworded, and others which are of my own invention.
There’s truth in every aphorism
And poetry in those gnomic things:
Like, Time may mend the greatest schism.
And, Chaotic are the ways of kings.
In every mishap, there’s blame to share.
In each home, there’s room to care.
Knowledge is an unquenchable flame.
And, Sarcasm is the crutch of the lame.
Anything can go from bad to worse.
Addiction leaves a lightweight purse.
Every age is made of strange times.
Some men aren’t guilty of their crimes.
Unproveable is faith in the divine.
We oil the wheel that does whine.
All men go inevitably unto death.
Sweetest is the liberated breath.
All those who are poets must be true.
Politicians are wont to misconstrue.
Though in severalty we unite in league.
The true spy makes his own intrigue.
Each maxim among these and many more
Help comprise man’s expressive score.
And although often spoken like a catechism
There’s yet some truth in the aphorism.
The Bleak and Wild Desolate Shore
“The Bleak and Wild Desolate Shore” describes a beach along the Olympic Peninsula and tells of the indigenous Makah people whom I took an interest in during 2017. The free verse poem relies on imagery. I found the book The Sea Is My Country by Josh Reid and the Makah Cultural and Research Center to be good sources of information about Makah culture.
Along the very tip of the Olympic Peninsula—
harbored by sea stacks,
washed by the ablutions of frequent rain,
and scrutinized by the salmon-keen eyes of fierce eagles
who sit perched with feathers made wet and salty by ocean spray—
lies a beach spliced by piney evergreens and the wintry Pacific Ocean.
It wears as its mantle a cloak of becoming fog:
wide filaments of thick mist wreathe the beach’s shoulders,
narrow wisps tuck into the crevices of teeming pine,
and, like a stole, that pale brume softly embraces
the necks of the majesterial, protruding stones.
The beach’s curvaceous, serene form lies upon its side
with its back to the land, knees tucked up against the tide,
with its stone lips ever kissing the briny, icy waves.
Water is its heart. In the rain, in the sea and spume,
throbs the lifeforce that begets the beach’s growth and decay,
shapes its projecting stone fingers, and creates its austere beauty.
In the night, the wan moon with its grey craters
beams down on sword ferns glowing nearly phosphorescent
and flashes on the bottle-gold eyes of great horned owls.
The moon turns milky the evergreen forest that adorns
the beach’s hips, and the moon tints the bleached driftwood
from day’s ivory to an iridescent alabaster of night.
That moon casts upon the beach’s cliffs a lustre
that speaks of shining rock, and, with its hushing silence,
it seems to make the surf’s voice boom.
With wind, the beach’s trees move sinuously and with susurrant song.
In the moonlight, upon the beach’s damp and footless shore,
lie whips of bull kelp, washed up and drying,
with algae blades like Medusa’s chaotic hair, their origins
in the marine forests of stone mantlepieces and rocky shelves.
The crows cackle madly in their rookery, the wind whishes,
surf roars, eagles scream, seals honk and bark and cry,
clouds morph then rework their hues, tides ebb and rise,
marshy mushrooms rise and rot with the sun’s circling,
the fragrance of evergreen sap freshens the air, salmon run,
gulls bed their island colonies with bones, osprey preen and fish,
glossy baneberries bear fruit like murderous scarlet pearls,
and purple mountain saxifrage color the cliffs.
In antiquity, the Makah resided here
using yarrow for childbirth, red cedar for dugout canoes,
yellow cedar for clothing, spermaceti for candles,
stones buffed by water to high polish and wound
by withy willows for anchor stones, having halibut for dinner,
sea otter teeth and whale fins for art, cherry bark for basketry
which tightens as it dries, and bones for awls and adze handles.
They used tides and stones and fences to catch fish,
laid white clam shells on the tidal floor for better contrast
to see the fish in their traps. On a crisp, windy spring night
six hundred years ago, the tribe gathered on the damp beach
after partaking in a feast of salmon, octupus, and halibut
for a sacred ritual conducted to send its rowers and harpooners offshore
in a twelve-seater canoe to hunt whale. A chief chanted,
sang, worked the crowd into a frenzy before the night fire,
and when the throng felt most animated, the chief
poured whale oil onto the fire, so that it soared, crackling to
a crescendo, rose like the wave of a tsunami, and
in the dark night the bellowing and shrieking
of the Makah were swallowed up by the forest.
Over this desolate beach there is a kind of peacefulness:
gently lapping waves, the soft pattern of rain,
the rustle of a crow’s wings. It appears desolate, Shi Shi,
here in winter.
Blue is a poem about the first time that I ever went abroad. I went to Malaysia, then put my impressions into couplets.
Along Malaysia’s white sand lies a cerulean ocean,
blue until the water touches the blue sky.
Endless blue: water speared by luminous scales of fish blue;
shoreline women stating fashion, blue silk against brown skin;
and the wiry blue line on the fishing reel: long-sleeve, thin
white shirt, rod held swaying over water on a cobalt night.
Along beaches, at restaurants, folks hawk blue,
so even the paper lanterns glowing yellow seem sapphire.
Night and day stumble blue, snagged between purple and green,
and the sun moon tides roll between cerulean and steel-grey blue,
their waves flecked with white foam,
and even that white tinged ultramarine.
The Candle from the Cathedral
The Candle from the Cathedral has a rhyme scheme of abcaabbcbcca, and the poem tells the story of a young man coping with the death of a loved one.
In his memory he saw the old woman sucking her hankerchief in the pew.
The widow wore a funereal black bowler, a starched jib collar,
oval glasses with smoky plastic frames, and her hair spun white and curly.
She held a candle like all the others among the ranks of grievers, not a few,
stretching back to the entrance of the dark, arching cathedral sanctuary under whose
vaulted ceilings the sputtering flames flicked like constellations of stars.
He stood out in the cold and windfilled and trashfilled street filled with cars
and he saw through unfinished iron girders and steel transoms the dreadnought sky.
He saw the low, threatening clouds elbow the skyscraper bazaar.
He put his hand above his eyes and he squinted then he spit deliberately.
There was a punk nearby whom he once saw animaleyed with a switchblade in the alley
and the punk leaned against a building looking at him like a window to be looked through.
In his memory he saw the bell glass half full of the white willow and ethanol tincture,
the color of motor oil, that the old man swallowed as medicine in his last weeks.
The old man had kept the bell glass in his office in a cherry cabinet stained
dark red. It had lain behind handcut glass doors on a pad of velvety fur.
He turned and trotted down the subway tunnel steps into the city under
the city and he boarded the first train that came and stood and heard the car creak.
There were not many people in the car, just a seated woman with an antique
face whose nose was high and pinched and a man who looked insane.
He rode the car until the end of the line then stepped off and stood on the brick
platform waiting for the train to come back again.
A bag lady came up on the platform near him, nodding, chanting a weird refrain.
The train was a long time in coming. As he rode he felt nothing, no hurt or pleasure.
When he arrived back at his apartment he put the key in the lock and let himself in.
He had brought back his candle from the cathedral and he lit it and left it to gutter.
There was only one window in the apartment and rain began to patter against it.
When the flame goes out, he said to the candle, I’ll start to stop grievin.
He went into the bathroom and stripped off his clothes and stood thinking
under the hot shower as the bathroom filled with steam from the water
and he soaked until his fingertips looked like sundried fruit and fog coated the mirror
then he stepped out of the shower and dried and dressed himself and looked to see if the candle was still lit.
He laughed when he saw the flame creeping along the drapes and towards the furniture
and he kept laughing as t
he fire slowly crawled towards a black cabinet.
He debated awhile whether to let the fire burn, but chuckled and smothered it.
The candle he blew out, and it let off a silver stream of smoke snakelike and thin.
This is a poem about the reflections of a people and their city, both the reflections of their lives and the reflections of their place.
In April when the cherry trees bloom,
City folk are reflected in the spring rain’s puddles,
By water that serves as mirrors for impressions.
Wind whips billowy clouds into an approaching eastern gloom,
While upon the shiny street, a poor wayfarer huddles
Beneath imposing windows that reflect metropolitan professions.
The sunbeams leave long, plum-shaded shadows beyond buildings
Whose western walls are washed by beams in apricot and tangerine
While in this gleaming twilight, a black cat’s lime-gold eyes glint,
And hazy rays catch the rich institutions’ burnished gilding.
Night falls abruptly upon folk fat and merry, lonely and lean.
The cat leaps, and houses’ windows glow with a lemony tint.
People’s reflections disappear.
Darkness washes the edifices in shades of coal and emery.
In the night, people’s luminous private lives appear,
And the recollection of the day disintegrates to circadian memory.
In this surreal and quirky poem, a young girl named Suzy escapes from her vegetables and runs to the confectionery through a storm of desserts. In this storm, marshmallow droplets fall from clouds of meringue, lakes turn to cocoa, and boulders become cake. When Suzy arrives, the confectioner tells her that his desserts have changed their names to blend with the elements. Now there are baklavolcanoes, ambrosialanches, tortenados, and much more!
Suzy was just seven, and when vegetables made her sickly
She had to run and race to the confectionery quickly!
Down came rain and hail, and in blew wind and snow,
Near the purple mountains appeared a colorful rainbow!
Then ivory marshmallows fell from the sky like rain,
And all the clouds above were whipped into meringue!
The distant boulders turned to huge crumblings of cake,
While the nearby reservoir became a cocoa lake!
Through the dessert storm, Suzy forged on to the treats,
Where the kind confectioner helped her to the sweets.
“In peculiar times like this,” said he, “A sweet will change its name!
It joins with stormy weather, although its taste remains the same!
Here, my dear, we have cannoliclones and churrocanes!
Sugarsqualls and strudelfalls!
Here the tortenados and tart-typhoons
Surround us like a wild monsoon!
We have ambrosialanches and dangerous fudge slides
That have been tumbled down the mountain sides!
We have coconut cakequakes and chocolate cupquakes
And a tiramisunami that once devastated a land—
With its sweet coffee flavor and its ladyfingery savor
There was no end to the mascarpone demand!
We have solar éclairs that will brighten a day
And a dust-devil’s food cake to blow you away!
We have erupting baklavolcanoes and a shaved ice storm,
A maple barrage and a torrential sundaeluge—
Still the dessert that you want, my dear, depends upon you!”
“I think,” said Suzy, as outside, honey drops began to fall,
“I think, that I would like to have just one of them all!”
A poem about lovemaking, which is like a ghost that lives in a home.
Lovemaking haunts our spirits,
The way a phantom inhabits a home.
The sex is at first tormenting,
A rattling of the pots and cabinet doors of our hearts.
What could cause our bodies to shake so?
We curse, not knowing quite what shakes us.
Then when the lovemaking, the phantom, is gone—
We miss it, we desire it.
We silently invite it back.
We miss the banging, the crashing, the confusion,
The chaos—all that the ghost, the sex, has brought.
Where could that spirit have gone?
We wonder, arbitrarily, if the ghost, the lovemaking,
Has gone to inhabit someone else’s home.
We shiver, thinking, “Someone else is fucking—and it’s not me!”
Jealousy invades our hearts,
Then we whisk the jealousy away again.
We think, “It is not productive to have such thoughts.
Not when there is work to be done—
There are chores to be attended to,
Families to be raised, and
Things to do. There’s no time to be thinking about sex.”
But still, like the phantom in our homes,
Unseen, the lovemaking anguishes our spirits.
Where could that ghost of lovemaking have gone?
And when at last we find it again,
We are soothed, for a brief moment,
And we leave our suffering, for a while,
Abandoned next to our clothes,
And we embrace the spirit, the lovemaking,
In an exultation of joy and delight.
The Gift of Flight
In “The Gift of Flight,” a few children around the world begin to float. They float up and up and away.
“Good night, Danny. Sleep tight.”
Mr. Dawson kissed his son’s forehead and tucked the covers under his chin. Then Daniel’s father left the second story room of the family barn, since converted into their home.
Violet, velveteen night enveloped the bedroom. The feeling of the kiss—damp, with a slight itchiness from the flaxen mustache’s bristley brush—lingered until Danny drew his purple pajama sleeve across his forehead. Danny shut his eyes, his fingers gripping the edge of the turned-down sheet.
He waited for piscine Slumber to gently nibble, bite, then swallow him whole. After a few fishlike nibbles from Sleep, Daniel felt himself fade away and float upwards. He opened his eyes.
He was hovering above the bed.
In London, close enough to Big Ben that Kate could hear its bass toll, see its dull and colossal shape, its peering face, and its aging splendor, Kate listened to the high music of her mother scraping away at the violin. Her mother was playing Bach, a gigue, from partita number three, in E major. She was sitting at the window in the next room. Kate’s mother tended to get drawn away into a ruminative reverence, touching bow to strings with Chagallian fluidity and grace; she dove into the instrument until the music enveloped her, stripped her nearly bare, like a woman swimming undersea in a thin white gown. The sound was so lush, so liquid, that Kate could feel herself gradually falling into it, swaying her head in pleasant reverie, like a pearl diver dropping into sunlit coral depths.
The apartment was simply furnished: unscrolled wooden chairs, a white cloth sofa, a black and white photograph of Kate’s grandmother—her mother’s mother. Kate stared at the photograph for a moment: at the woman’s mesmerizing eyes, grim mouth, conservative collar, and wrist-length, lace sleeves. When Kate turned to look out the window, into winter’s night, she found that she was floating in air.
The gift of flight was bestowed upon very, very few children. One in ten million. Perhaps fewer. That night in December, ten year old Hans—in northern Norway, drinking a cup of hot chocolate and looking out across the fields of twinkling, glittering snow, into the forest of black pines that lay lit by the waving, emerald contours of the aurora borealis—drifted upwards.
Mikael Proudhom—born in France, raised in Russia by a French mother and a Russian father—glided over his town: a living ghost, a silent, warm specter. He glided across the fallow wheat fields, swathed in snow. He sailed toward St. Peter’s basilica, one child pointing at him—wordless in surprise—as Mikael obscured the moon, ah what a gorgeous photograph that might have been, and swept northwest.
And what was the reaction of the people? That is the natural question. The dreamers, who have minds like Italo Calvino or Borges or whom-have-you, contemplated the spectacle of flying children with delight and wonder. The children’s flight may have been excessively romantic, an immoderate venture into the sentimental. But, what to do? The flight was as natural as a rainbow. It was not the stringed stage flight of a Broadway artist. The dreamers mused and appreciated. Hunters, of course, joked about shooting the children down, like ducks. Ten points. Twenty points. The priests, as you might expect, chattered worriedly about the rapture, the Muslims called it Haram, and the Buddhists said Live and let live. In short, the people acted according to their natures.
There was only one thing that was beyond-a-doubt baffling, and that was that the children could not seem to come down.
In the case of Kutu Boro, a Masai child, he floated off into the clouds, then higher and higher. He finally grew so cold that he shivered, shook, then he suffocated from lack of oxygen. His body continued to rise. When he reached the exosphere, his body heated, until it caught fire and was incinerated, then his remains drifted to terra firma. Ashes to ashes.
Daniel’s flaxen haired father, a very practical man, tossed a bedsheet up to his son, who was floating against the roof of the converted barn. Using the sheet, Mr. Dawson pulled Daniel down. The father then looped a belt around the son’s waist, and he attached a carabiner to a line that he strung throughout the barn. Now Daniel could move like a mountain climber, hand-over-hand, from one room to the next.
Kate’s mother didn’t have ingenuity like Daniel’s father, nor did she have carabiners. So poor Kate just bumped repeatedly against the ceiling.
The marvel turned into quite a disaster. In the first twenty-four hours—while statisticians attempted to determine how many Floaters there were, while scientists tried to determine what had relaxed gravity’s laws for some but not for others, and while people who wished to fly muttered, “What the hell? That’s not fair!”—the vast majority of the floating children perished horribly, in the same way as Kuto Boro.
Hans, from northern Norway, was let outdoors by his brother, Samuel. Samuel and Hans wished to see how high Hans could fly. The last that Samuel saw of Hans, he was vanishing like a helium balloon, albeit like a balloon that waved and shouted frantically.
Mikael Proudhom, very fortuitously, got his belt stuck on the steeple of the basilica. After the citizenry calmed enough to credit his predicament, they proclaimed that he was in a dilemma. The citizens, accordingly, dispatched firemen to the rooftop and charged them with getting the boy safely down. Thirty anxious minutes later, Mikael was safe and sound.
As for Kate, the joys of flight wore off quickly, as she felt herself being gently pressed by a reverse gravity against the ceiling.
Danny, attached to carabiners, felt delighted.
Heaven only knows how statisticians do their jobs, and the devil only knows how accurate their numbers are, but twenty-four hours after the children first took flight, the figures were in. Of the estimated 248 children worldwide, 231 of them had floated into outer space and been suffocated, and one had floated upwards only to be sucked—like some otherworldly or ungainly goose—into the turboprop of a passenger aircraft. That left an estimated 16 children. Sixteen very unlucky—or very lucky, depending on how you look at it—children.
A few theories began to circulate about what to do with the floating children. The first was that the children should be given time, and that they would come down on their own. This was, as you might expect, answered with the question, “Well, what if they don’t (come down)?”
The second theory involved the addition of weight. Those advocating this theory suggested that the children could walk around with a backpack of full of lead weights and water, and, much like a hot air balloon with ballast, the weight would keep the kids at equilibrium. Those people against this solution asked, “What if the children, by accident, don’t carry enough weight? They will zip up into the atmosphere, and we know what happens then!”
The final prevalent theory (there were many minor theories), was that a medical procedure could be performed on the floating children, so that they could be cured. This was advanced with much of the same pseudo-science as the theory of curing homosexuals with electro-shock therapy. In other words, there were some very confident, very determined predictions, but there was not one iota of actual evidence that this procedure would work.
The gist of this last idea was that the children would benefit from a small surgical incision in the belly, and that, much like the deflating of a helium balloon, they (the children) would return gently to earth. The children’s parents balked at this idea, and, because the scientists had no rats with this particular floating syndrome, no lab trials could be conducted.
The long and the short of the problem was that nobody knew what to do.
Daniel’s father, recognizing no quick solution to the problem, chose to bolt steel plates with eyelets to the barn walls, with the idea of permanently anchoring the carabiner lines. His plan worked out flawlessly for his marvelous son.
Mikael Proudhom’s mother, who was more practical than the father, permitted a team of government-endorsed doctors to perform psychological tests upon her child, at the rate of 55,000 rubles, or $23,000, per test. Five tests were scheduled, and by the time that the doctors were finished (one shudders to report honestly, but accuracy is the name of the game), Mikael was blind in both eyes, and his brain had been reduced nearly to cinders.
Still, he floated.
Kate’s sensible mother, knowing that the press would hear of Kate, first changed her floating daughter out of a skirt and into a pair of jeans.
“The first thing those pigs at the Daily Mail will do is take prurient pictures of my daughter,” Kate’s mother muttered.
Indeed, it was only a matter of time before the men in the media stormed their quiet apartment, and, when they did, Kate was front page news in denim.
But stories must have legs, or they will cease to run. So, after a month without developments, even the story of the floating children was relegated to the back page. After still more time, the story vacated the newspapers entirely.
On the one year anniversary of the day that the children were given flight, the floaters descended to earth. Each of the children drifted slowly back down.
Mikael Proudhom, who had the brain of an infant, could not walk, and he never would walk again.
Kate, who would go on to become a botanist, described the experience in her artful way, “I was, for awhile, but a bird.”
Daniel told the story to his friends with a great deal of glee, and, later on, he married a sturdy Nebraskan wife, and together they farmed wheat.
The doctors scratched their heads, the carrion eaters circled once more with their microphones and cameras, and the statisticians sent up a final tally. Of the original 256 children (the number had been adjusted throughout the year), 250 had died; one (Mikael) had suffered mental incapacitation; two more had suffered physical incapacitation; and that left Kate, Daniel, and another girl named Azahara.
It was Azahara who created the works that you can see today in the Prada Museum in Madrid; they are the wonderful oil paintings of flying women. And it was she who, in her black-and-white photographic studies, captured the intimate daily life of Catalonians. Finally, it was she who became world renowned for her impersonal literary diaries, of which this shall be her final entry.
Jack Frost Endeavors to Keep Winter
Jack Frost, the personification of winter, speeds forth in an icicle train to the north pole to stop spring from coming. To stop spring, Frost must keep winter’s candle lit.
Its rhyme scheme is abab.
Through the snowy passes
Hurtles an old and hoary train.
It dashes past crevasses
Along the cold moraines.
Its transit is annuary—
Only once in ice and snow—
Only deep in January
Is the Icicle Train prepared to go.
And how extraordinary
This Icicle Train is to see
It seems imaginary
As it curves ’round glaciers and the scree.
Its locomotive is wrought of iron,
Embellished with curls and coils
With raveled figurines of wire on
Its smokestack, which blows and boils.
Its cars are made of stained glass
Each are as vitreous as the sea
The glass is mullioned in fine brass
With designs of spruce and cedar trees.
The conductor is an old man
Jack Frost is his true name
For longer than mankind’s lifespan
He has steered this venerable train.
He wears a jester’s cap of black and white
With five points that have five bells
And he wears a cloak that’s black as night
With gloves and shoes as white as shells.
He drives the train into the north
Where the bears and walrus live
Into dark lands where few rove forth,
Where the cold does not forgive.
What does the conductor seek there?
It’s a secret you should know.
He is searching with intent care
For a faint and feeble glow.
He seeks the flame of winter
Which gutters night by night,
The flame lies furthest hinter
Beneath dancing aurora light.
The flame of winter shudders
With each approaching spring
And when at last it gutters
The earth begins to green.
But Frost wants winter eternal—
A world of snow and ice—
So he strives to cease the vernal
Tidings by this particular device.
For if he can keep that cold flame
Burning in the north
Then he will meet his own aim
And spring shall not come forth.
So the Icicle Train speeds onwards
Through the snow and ice and frost
To thwart the coming season
And to render summer lost.
Frost stokes the boiler’s fire
He throws in wood and coal
So the flames in it lick higher
As he steams on toward his goal.
But the winter’s flame has dwindled so far
Even as he comes
The fire flickers beneath a bell jar
As the locomotive hums.
Jack Frost speeds across a prairie
Of flat ice and winter’s snow
Across dazzling ice that’s glary
Toward the paltry distant glow.
Now he’s very near it
And Frost will fan its flame
But the candle is but half-lit,
Or half-dead to say the same.
And then the fire does choke
And a tragedy strikes for him
The fire becomes a feathered smoke
The flame dies within the glim.
And although no word is spoken
There comes a thundering crack of ice
As winter’s spell is broken
And spring is taken from its glacial vise.
The Icicle Train must go back
For another long, green year
And Jack Frost with his coat black
Must take his bow and disappear.
But this is not forever—
Every year he tries his worth—
And in eras when Frost was quick and clever
We’ve had a snowball earth.
But this year he’s been frustrated
And the north sounds with his rage
For Frost will never be placated
Till we live in a perpetual ice age.
The Place of Man
“The Place of Man” tells how a man and a woman talk through the night and make love. The man listens to his partner, thinks of what she says, and lies awake at night while she sleeps by his side. He thinks of the injustices of the world, and how they are mankind’s wrongs to be righted—no one else’s. Its rhyme scheme is simply abab.
There are moths circling the patio light
As she talks to him of justice and love.
His drink is sweating in the warm night,
And his skin is cool beneath the stars above.
She talks of rats in the WFP food, of dogs behind doors.
She speaks of fake soldiers in military dress,
And of real, live, wretched, short-skirted whores.
She talks, and he listens with no feeling or stress.
Somewhere, somewhere, she is telling him,
There ought to be virtue and decency.
Somewhere, here perhaps, she says again,
There ought to be a merciful society.
Still the moon shines high up in the sky.
He thinks that it’s a quarter of a million miles away.
There the stars tremble before his very eyes,
So far off that they’ll be lost come day.
And, of course, she’s right. So very right.
And if he could take all the world’s ills
And burn them, in a blaze to light the night,
Then he would, and damn the stars, the moon, the night’s chills.
For just a single night, if he could, he’d turn it all to day,
And like some great seething god, set the world aright,
And leave the good folk in a better way,
Then so he would. But no one has such might.
Late that night, they fall to making love.
And after it is over, and she lies curled,
He thinks that it is not the role of god above,
But man’s sole sphere, to better rule this world.
For those people who still lie awake after counting sheep, a visit from the make-believe slumberjack may put you to sleep. Its rhyme scheme is aabb.
Counting trees is like counting sheep:
Each will make you fall asleep.
One-by-one as you count the sheep
You wait and wait till you drift to sleep.
But if by chance you cannot sleep
You must forbear from counting sheep.
Bring in your mind the felling of trees
By a man with a saw like the buzzing of bees.
He dwells deep in a forest of spruce trees and snow
For the taiga’s the biome where dreams like to go.
He is a slumberjack, and with every tree that he fells
Down you shall go down sleep’s bottomless wells.
Falling and falling you’ll have no bird’s wings,
Deeper and deeper you’ll sink in your dreams.
Drop and drop into the black
In the dark frosty forest of the sleep slumberjack.
What Happened by the Half-Light
This poem tells of a woman in her doorway at sunset, watching the field workers come in from an autumn day’s work.
The rhyme scheme is abcabcdefdefghgh.
For but a short while has she lingered in the gloaming
Standing careless by the blooming hyacinths
Whose delicate petals sway in the easy wind by the door.
The filtered air and haze of autumn twilight
Send warm zephyrs to churn the crinkling leaves
And rustle the golden wheat in the harvest store
While her soul rests easy in the faltering marbled light
And the men and women make their labored ways slowly home
Through clusters of fragrant lilacs and fields of ocher brome.