On the map
are neatly etched lines
drawn by a fine stylus
in a skilled hand
separating blue from yellow.
This soil is cinnamon
there tending to mahogany
no line, only a post
here, one there
and a gun emplacement
to deter those
who cannot see
a line writ on water.
In the wind the dust
dances across and back
dodging the post
or caressing it
it tastes the rain
both here and there.
watches the lizard
the shadow of the sign
blue nor yellow.
Halt, you cry
of this land
I am of neither
I am the ocher
of the land
from which I rose
into which I will recede
I am the mote
in the corner
of your eye
and in the corner
that is not.
First Publshed in Peacock Journal Anthology, 2017 V. 1 No 2
Too much of what passes
for literature in these days is really
no more lasting than the evanescent
pixels from which it is created.
Books fade, pages crumble to dust
but that requires the passage of time
that our electronic world avoids
or simply refuses to acknowledge,
for history is something that lives
in storage, perhaps recalled, if still
viable, be very easily forgotten,
and compressed to save space.
Still I have my library of books,
and not once in recent memory
have I had to halt my reading
to recharge the printed pages.
The river that I imagined,
a torrent of words and images
is little more than a dry trickle,
construction cranes along one shore
hauling away half- and ill-formed thoughts,
leaving only desire and frustration
as a marker of what might have been.
I looked at each bend, hidden from sight
as harboring that epiphany
that I promised myself, and not
further evidence of my own delusion.
We will make port this afternoon
Where I can, at last, offload
my frustration and these shards
of a fantasy now gone to dust.
When you see a painting
of a beautiful rose,
how can you describe it.
You must breathe deeply
of its sweet fragrance
Be careful, do not
pierce your finger
on its waiting thorns.
The rose has withered
into dust before
your mouth is opened.
A reflection on Case 76 of the Iron Flute Koans
When I was twelve, I think,
maybe in the last days of eleven,
and in my third year of piano lessons
my teacher, Mrs. Schwarting, she
of no first name, and a steady hand
that could squeeze the muscle
of my shoulder, a taloned metronome,
gave me a small plastic bust
of Beethoven, told me to place it
on the piano, so that he could watch
my daily practice and insure
my eyes were on him, not the keys.
Ludwig is long gone, lost
in one of our moves, one less
gatherer of the dust of other activities.
Now, sitting on the bench,
flexing fingers demanding independence
I realize that his smile was one
of age, thankful for his deafness.
Previously published in Fox Cry Review, Vol. 23, 1997 and in PIF Magazine, Vol. 20, 1999.
A Phoenix may rise
from the ashes, but you
and I have seen the aftermath
of the flames
and all that rises are
our memories and dreams.
We lack both wings
and a certain amount
of faith, for ashes
are all that is promised
and in the end we
are no more than dust
avoiding the breeze this day
and, we fervently hope
the next, until
all that is left
is the Phoenix.
Their corpses have been gathering dust
in the closet where I keep them,
in boxes, once neatly labeled, but
the collection has grown so large
I’ve given up any attempt at organization.
I do, periodically, take a glance
into the boxes, take a few out
and carefully consider them, but
heeding the proscription, I always
put them back into their box.
Fortunately these corpses have
no discernible odor, and no one
who hasn’t peered in the closet would
imagine that simple cardboard boxes
would be replete with such corpses.
Still we need the room, so it is time
to be truly rid of all these words,
but sadly though I wanted to ship them
to the person who caused their demise, I learned
William Faulkner left no forwarding address.
He notes with alacrity
that modern man has stripped
all logic from time, rendering it
an arbitrary temporal system
based on mechanics, and even that
is quadrennially imperfect.
Once it was seasons, which came
and went in orderly fashion,
but heating was never a science then.
Later it was the moon
a reusable calendar and what
was an odd month here or there
if the crops were in the ground.
Now it is sweeping hands
that carry off the dust
which is all that remains
of our once logic.
The difference between
before and after
is the moment we
can never seem to grasp.
In the time it takes
to read the definition
of evanescence, its meaning
is lost to history.
is the failure of thought
and logic, for the process
is so overwhelming
what we process is turned
to dust in a windstorm
of the mind’s desire.
In a small storefront, in an older neighborhood of the city, I found it. Sepia coated with a fine sheen of dust and neglect, it lay on the table amid a stack of others, as though a leaf of phyllo in a poorly made stack fresh from the oven. I knew it as I looked at it, touched it gently, that it had once held a magic incantation, that if you allowed it, could take you on a static journey where stillness was infinite. I read it though it was wordless, but clear, it was a map to the country of dreams. Not mine, I knew. Mine had the mundaneness of Chinese menu ordering, column A, column B, or sorting socks still hot from the dryer. I saw in it possibilities, where ties and restraints could have no meaning, where crawling and flying were coequal skills and walking was so evolutionarily regressive. I thought of purchasing it. The price was certainly reasonable. I thought of framing it with archival mats, and encasing it in museum glass, hanging it on a wall, or placing it behind the mattress where it might seep through like a ferryman plying the river of night, never quite touching opposing shores. I left it in the store that day. I haven’t gone back to see if its patina has grown. For me it could only be an artifact. A map is of so little use, if you have no destination.