Categories
Poems

The Dark Blesséd Night

While merrily drunk on proud vintages,
While the dark new moon lies cloaked behind clouds,
While clean, industrious folk sleep and dream,
And the idle markets await their crowds,
Together we forget the coming dawn,
Who daily disrespects our mortal race
With her honest rays and revealing beams
That shine such hard light on each aging face.

Instead we clothe ourselves in nudity—
In the habit as that which we were born—
And sport in an echo of our lost youths
From which ease, increasingly, we are torn,
And, hiding ourselves upon each other,
Make as though night shall ever cloud the streets
Whose welcome blindness will never censure
Our maturing souls or our tumbled sheets.

Categories
Poems

Bees

When spring comes, the huddled bees clamber forth
From their cold, vulnerable colonies,
To feel the parting nip of late winter,
Savor the freshness of the vernal breeze,
And stretch their wings after the snowy cloister.
It is a time for scouts to find new hives,
A time for wild, swarming reproduction,
For rearing young bees to replace old lives.

A long-dead tree, standing in a vale’s hollow
With a deep cavity in its gnarled trunk—
A tree surrounded by rich broadleaf forest
That’s populated by boar, elk, and skunk—
Makes a worthy home for the nesting bee
Whose queen’s needs she must mindfully mark,
Whose summer combs will ooze melliferous,
And whose life is forfeit to the hive’s arc.

To make her claim, the bee must make her dance:
A robust and energetic gyration
That tells of her proud stake in the wooded chamber
And coaxes others to its location.
With zealous effort she wins the vote
Of the hive’s fascinated queen and drones,
Then, in glory, she leads a swarm of thousands,
Through pale glens to her queen’s modest throne.

There the settling bees establish their hive.
There is much to do, and no time to wait. 
Waxy, hexagonal combs must be built
For the larvae and honey they’ll create.
A resinous mix of saliva and wax
(Used as a sealant and called “propolis”)
Is applied to the cracks and crevices
Of the bees’ growing metropolis.

And of course, the virgin must be mated,
For she shall be the mother of all bees:
Those to be born in the coming days,
And who’ll be the life of the colony.
Like in a dream, the queen’s mated in flight
(Best on warm, sunny days with a blue sky)
By drones who won’t gather pollen, or nurse,
Or build, or anything—save mate, and die.

From these singular males, in but one flight,
The newly mated queen keeps in her belly
Fertile stores to last the rest of her life,
Which consists of eating royal jelly
And the vital task of reproduction:
Egg-laying, fertilizing, sex control,
For it’s the queen that manages the lists
Of sexes that the working hive enrolls.

Summer comes and goes.  The female workers
Build, gather, nurse, clean, and make sweet honey.
The male drones laze far from the busy hive
On days that are hot, languid, and sunny.
The world revolves.  Trees start to lose leaves.
Autumn’s chill winds come with a rustling sigh.
In fall, the gluttonous, idle male drones
Are expelled from the hive and left to die.

The hive’ll be a buzzing sphere of females
When, once more, winter comes with ice and snow,
And at that sphere’s center the queen shall rest:
Heated by trembling bees in her hollow.
In fallow days the bees live on their stores
On honey that to their cells they did bring,
As they shiver throughout the cold winter
And keenly await the coming of spring.

Categories
Poems

Spring

Enlivening winter’s landscapes
Whose snow and icy mists shroud grey tombs,
Leave tables bare, and stop rushing rivers,
Comes spring with fresh designs drawn with age-old plume.
Spring’s first sketches seem earth-toned and modest:
Skeleton drawings of green and brown twigs
Among the lowing cattle’s bogged pastures
On whose fenceposts yet hang a holly sprig.

And as early spring’s watery dawns break
Over slushy ponds fringed with leafless trees—
The long-held icicles melt drop-by drop,
The soggy soils sprout mushroom colonies,
And the craftsman with claw hammer and nails,
Ruddy cheeks, long straight white beard, and clear eyes,
Sets from his home to build a grape arbor:
A springtime gift for his beloved wife—

As the sun shines on these longed-for changes
(And others: plum trees with their nascent bloom,
A promise of new fruit, elk waiting to calve
The wondrous life that grows within their wombs),
Spring avails herself of her soft pastels.
Where wild ducks lay their creamy speckled eggs
Amongst the tall reeds of moist, muddy marshes,
Spring overpaints winter’s neutral-hued dregs,

And where banks were lately glazed with thin ice—
And morning mist rose from the lake’s surface
As bewitched smoke rises from a mirror—
Spring washes the scene with lilac crocus,
Canary yellows, and magnolia pinks.
With different hues on each hair of her brush
Spring lightens and colors sky, land, and beast,
Rendering the cold, fallow land warm and lush.

Categories
Poems

The Immortal Rose

There’s deceitful beauty where trees grow twisty
In a somber forest that’s shadowed and misty
Where light shines through in arrowlike shafts
And leaves stir faintly from gentle drafts.
There in a clearing stands a crystal bell jar
With a red rose inside that glows like a star.
For centuries not a single petal has fallen—
Neither in snowy seasons nor times of spring’s pollen.
Young trees around it have grown old and died,
Yet the rose has not wilted, faded, or dried.
Deathless, perpetual, unfading, enduring:
Without change, the rose has no chance of maturing.

Categories
Poems

Our Absurd, Wonderful World

Again, again, and again the sun rises and sets
On this place without memory that never forgets.
It is baffling how in a town so slow
How very quickly the years do go.

Categories
Poems

Thoughts on an Unhappy Relationship

Sometimes after a frightful storm
We must burn our bridges to keep warm.

Categories
Poems

To Hell with Sadness

Here we work like a mill
Striding every day uphill.
Our hands are callused, our backs half-broke,
We chuckle at hope, that indecent joke;
We grin at love as it slips away,
Laugh at life and the hard day
Because the words to the song of gladness
Go like this: C’est la vie and to hell with sadness!

Categories
Poems

Drink Is a Thing Most Odd

Drink is a thing most odd.
Although merry-making, it is flawed
For the odd drink
Leads to a merry think
And merry drinking
Leads to flawed thinking
Which means odd drinking.
For sure, drink is a thing most odd!
Though merry-making, it is flawed:
Even rightly put down, bottle and cup,
They’re best not stood straightly, but bottom’s up!

Categories
Poems

The Wedding Ring

They say that marriage is a worthy thing
And that may very well be!
But sometimes I want to take off this ring
And be on my own and free.

Categories
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.     

  

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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.

Categories
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 Early Reaper

I am writing a thrilling murder mystery novel, and its villain is a poet.  Each time that this antagonist commits a murder he writes a terrifying poem.  🙂  This is one of the poems from the book.

Philip Galle - 1574 - the Triumph of time Detail
Philip Galle – The Triumph of Time (detail), c. 1574

 

All men are fields of flowers
Which start from heavy seeds.
In spring, their early buds
Will breast the soil and grow.
In summer, their bright petals
Are upturned before the sun.
In fall the plants are wilting,
Their tender shoots are turned to husks,
And come winter they are withered
As the snow and winds sepulcher stalks.

And I am an early reaper
Who comes as a late frost.
In spring the flowers budding
Are the first of flowers lost.
And in summer I am fire
When the rains have left and gone
I spread amongst the meadows
And leave desert in my trail.
In fall I’m like the wild duck
Consuming every crop
In winter I’m resplendent
In robes of ice and lack and want.

Categories
Poems

Barcelona

Barcelona

 

The walls are lined with bougainvillea,
And the streets are paved with cobblestone.
Ahead the Basílica de la Sagrada Família
Rises from the earth of Catalonia.

The day is breezeless, dry as bone,
While parakeets wing from tree to tree.
A suckling babe makes her mother moan
As she nurses on the malecón.

Up on the wharf, along the deep blue sea
Come fishermen with their morning catch:
Skipjack tunas, mahi-mahi—
Scales iridescent, fine as filigree.

What cold heart could Barri Gòtic not snatch—
What wounded heart could it not patch—
When lovers go to seek their match?
What locked imagination could it not unlatch?