There is nothing like, no words to adequately describe, that moment when a cloud- hazed sun lingers wishfully just above the horizon, grasping the sky with brilliant talons of light, fearing becoming lost in a darkness that will, on this night of the new moon, engulf us all in its inky shroud.
We know, or pray, the sun will return in hours, just as the sun knows its work is never done so long as it has light to give, hoping that final collapse is eons away.
As it finally settles beyond sight, we smile, retreat to the table and consume our dinner and wine, our daily companion forgotten until its dawning return.
The quieter you become the more you can hear. — Baba Ram Dass
Orion lies over the wharf staring at the moon, dangling like an unyielding eye, barring sleep while below the waves wash onto the shore, licking the pilings and tasting the sand, a calming roar broken only by the barking of the harbor seals. It is not a night for hunting the bear has fled over the horizon preparing for the coming winter and the hunter tires from the chase. A gull nips at his heels, and plunges back into the swells, he must be content with the odd fish and scraps from the strange ones who mass on the wharf each day and retreat by night until there is only the hunter and the goddess and two young men curled into the sand. I stand on the balcony and stare at the hunter wishing that sleep would come, that the white eye would blink, but the waves wash in and the harbor seals bark and the stars beat a slow retreat.
Perhaps it is waiting for the moon to draw our attention, but the moon is periodically irascible, as tonight, and has chosen to abandon Mars to the stellar firmament.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
I wander into the dark in search of the peace that only night affords, but the horizon is war and disquiet and I stumble and repeatedly fall, and the ground holds me denying me the sky.
Mars has risen in the western sky.
The plants that have reached for the sun, and borne fruit for months now shrink and wither under his unrepentant eye, and I know a cold foreboding wind will still blow and I will mourn the passing of summer, the season on peace.
Mars has risen in the western sky and Jupiter watches jealously.
First Published in Cerasus Magazine (UK), Issue 3, 2021
The clouds this evening are the deep gray that so long to be black, but the retreated sun just below the horizon lingers long enough to deny them.
The space, shrinking, between the clouds, is the gray of promise that the night will soon deny, and the birds who take over the preserve, chant their vespers, each in his or her own language, uncommon tongues singing their hymn punctured, punctuated by the flapping of wings, as the night encloses us in a cocoon that will carry us into the coming morning.
When you ask me of the sea, living, as I do, fifteen miles from the nearest ocean, it is not the sandy beaches of Hutchinson Island I recall, nor the crowded sandbox that is Fort Lauderdale’s beach.
If you ask me of the sea, it is perched on the horizon, far in the distance, looking out of the kitchen window, or perhaps that of the library, over the yard, with its deflated soccer ball, the fence, and finally to the Irish Sea, cloud shrouded at the horizon.
This is what Lloyd George saw each day, so it is little wonder eschewed burial in London or even England for this hidden estate in his beloved Ty Newydd in Wales.
First published in Dreich, Issue 10, Autumn 2020 (Scotland)
We set out with bold ambition, egos saddled and reined across a landscape left barren by our leaders who saw only carefully stacked boards and beams awaiting the master carpenter, great floral sprays dotting the lobbies of glass and chrome edifices, created in their own images. We ride in search of the promised land, and turn a deaf ear to the windwalkers, to the spirits of the children sitting in the packed dirt streets their bellies distended, crying out for food, for justice as the warlords sit in their cars surveying the invisible parapets of their armed fortresses. We look quickly away from the chindi of the young men who rise from the neatly heaped soil of the common burial mound, who rise up in neat array and perch on the edge of the freshly dug pit waiting for the rat-a-tat rain of death they know await them unrepentant, unwilling to curse Allah, bidding farewell to Tuzla. We pause to chant the blessing way but we have forgotten the words, Arbeit Macht Frei, the gates reduced to rust, the chimneys no longer belching the sweet smell of death into the winter morning. We ride on oblivious to the faint glow from the craters we have torn into the earth, of the clouds that only vaguely recall the mushrooms of our progress. We ride toward the horizon where the great pillars of gold and silver rise up, glinting in the sun that once warmed them before we cast them out into the desert of our lust and craving. We set out with bold ambition but our horses have grown tired, our canteens are empty and the inferno threatens to consume us.
First Appeared in Alchemy, Issue 2, Fall-Winter 1999.
The sun has slipped back into its familiar failure mode lighting the sky, seeming to set the trees aflame, but offering precious little warmth. It is just practice for the season we all know is lurking just beyond the horizon, beyond our too short sight. We hope not to be here to greet it, having fled south, escaped to a place where the sun maintains purpose, where it says lakes and ponds ablaze and we shield our eyes from its intense, overpowering presence.