HOMECOMING by D.L.McHale©


The royal robes of winter’s night
tightly bind me in its blue-black grip
The shadow of majestic purple mountains
kneel upon the fields of frozen graves
ancient tombstones, like granite faces
hemming the barren valley floors

An amber moon spills its bitter glow
through naked branches like brittle
fingers clutching a button-less cloak
Icy winds whip swirls of fog across
lifeless lakes, and on broken wings
doves fall from a voiceless sky

In a distant village, old ladies warble lullabies
to their dying husbands; soft verse cutting
like jagged blades through thick cherry smoke
bleeding from pipes clenched in broken teeth.
The children, with bellies as round as their joyless
eyes feed upon fermented peaches and dance
on knitted bones, playing hide but please, don’t seek
for we are tired, for we are weak

I have walked a lifetime to return 
to this is, my kingdom, stretching as far as the blind
eye can see. Built upon the shifting sands of hope lost
This, both kingdom and the shoveled grave
My head crowned in a spray of dying stars;
my spirit drowned in muted prayer;
my hobbled feet cut upon jagged stones.

This is my destiny, my hell, my home.

BEFORE by D.L.McHale


Before the ashes, Vulcan’s vengeful fire.
Before the sex, a deep and burning desire
Before the storm, a dark and restless quiet;
Before the morning, a deep and somber night.

Before the hunt, the frightened fleeing fox,
Before the race, coiled tightly in starter’s blocks.
Before the cut, such soft unblemished skin;
Before the blade, sparks fly, the  whetstone spins.

Before new love, the queasy, nauseous start;
Before the kiss, a young and hopeful heart.
Before rejection, all things possible, bright, and new;
Before enlightenment, faith in what we say and do.

Before Sun’s rays, dark clouds enshroud the planet
Before the sculptor, beauty locked in blocks of granite.
Before the fall, transcendence true and boldly rising;
Before the gasp, in silent awe, a sweet surprising.

Before the rose arises first the lowly bloom –
Before the family, a dark and empty room.
Before old age comes the child full of life!
Before victory, the pain of loss and bitter strife.

Before the Universe, a bright and solitary star
Before the nearness, a cold and distant far
Before the night, a day of brilliant cerulean blue
Before the “Us,”  a prayer for joining “Me” to “You”

LOVE IS A MANY SPLINTERED THING by D.L.McHale


Love…

Whole platters of
Expectation
Handled timidly by
Waiters
and
Waitresses
of desire.

Carelessly slipping
Through now
Trembling fingers,
Once bold and sure.

Tragically
Tumbling beyond
Last moment grasps,
End over end,
Sadly spewing its
Delicious contents
in a hopeless
Death spiral.

Nothing remains
but a shattering
Introduction
to the cold, hard
Floorboards of reality.
Love is a many
Splintered thing.

LIVING FOR TODAY: NECESSARY CHOICES by D.L.McHale


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Three Roads: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow. Which One Shall I Choose?

The reason most people find themselves stuck in a rut is because they insist on seeing tomorrow as an extension of today, and today as an extension of yesterday. This has been the most difficult, and necessary, lesson of the past year and a half of my life. My ignorance in adhering to this faulty belief invited me to# voluntarily step into mental leg irons that have no key. It has hobbled me in everything I have striven to achieve, for it is a false assumption and a dangerous one at that.

Yesterday is a story that has already been told. The book is closed. The lessons, oh dear God, hopefully, learned. No amount of regret can change the ending of a story that is now complete. How can I ever hope to begin a new chapter if I continue to dwell upon an ending that cannot be altered? My past has served its only purpose, which was to instruct and to deliver me to today. My only regret, my biggest regret, is that the lesson came at such a cost to another.

Today is all that truly matters. Today, I write the story, big or small, dull or incredible…the words are all there – and it is up to me to arrange them as I see fit. I am the protagonist. Only I can determine whether I turn left or right, whether I move forward, stand still or retreat backward. I have come to the realization that to stand still or move backward is to settle for a weak plot. Only in moving can the inspiring stories be written… and written well.

And of my tomorrow? It is nothing more than a blank piece of paper not yet ready for mwhatforwardy pen. If I live with one foot planted in today and the other in tomorrow, all I will have managed to do is straddle the fence of possibility. To be stuck on that fence is to surrender half of the possibilities of today. I have chosen to get off of the fence and plant both feet firmly on the path of “ Now.” The fallacy of tomorrow is the falsehood that I need to “plan for.” Plan for what? All the things I missed today?

This worldview is not clever or unique. I did not come up with it. Smarter minds than mine have been advocating this for eons. I am just serving as the echo of their wisdom. If I choose to live fully at this moment which is today, I have no choice but to surrender yesterday to the sweetness of memory, and tomorrow to the providence of faith.

Beginning now, I choose to immerse myself in the wonder and infinite possibility that is today. I do so with the humility to comes from the sacrifices of others who helped me find my way.

WHERE I LIVE…AND DIE by D.L.McHale


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How temperamental is the man in me
who misses you but will not call –
because I find the thought of romance
more alluring than actual love?

I drink to burn the voices in my belly
that mock my tenuous hold on sanity.
I buy my smokes one at a time because
I have no vision of or faith in tomorrow,
and I make my living scratching
the underbelly of this wretched world.

This desolate city, crumbling beneath the
broken wings of blackbirds…it is my home.

It is where I live. It is where I shall die.

My pen scrapes past its veneer of civility shedding light upon the ugly, the lost,
the torn asunder.

I take my walks at night under clouds
all dressed in muted black.

I am callous with the hipsters and the tweakers camped by the muddy rivers;
the hookers and the pimps and the holy man and the goddamned garish fluidity of this headache world.

I live in a city of fifty thousand accumulated flesh tombs pretending about the news
and the weather, their minds drifting always back to the same goddamned thing.

How pathetic to be so far away
in space but not in time?

How desperate is the faith convinced by two arguments; both to be and not to be?

When I stumble, I lean against the wall or the lamppost, reading a page of Plath or a passage of Hemingway, and all I can think is how courageous their exits were.

I yearn for their knowledge of the final crossing. I read words, not novels, because words are better spit than woven.

I accept my fate,  gazing at my expiration date
and pouring another drink as I turn off the radio and sit silently in the dark chambers of my thoughts.

I remember you,
but implore you to remember me not.

SUICIDE SISTERS by D.L.McHale


My Suicide Sisters!

Would that I could deeply reach
beneath the dark-moist earth
pulling upward closely to my breast
fistfuls of your white-bleached bones –
to feel the jagged edges pressed
against my selfish living flesh;
to smell the late hours of your suffering,
to taste your tortured final verse
upon my dusty tongue.

Oh, my Suicide Sisters!
You each found in Death’s cold embrace
the peace and warmth Life long denied.

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Virginia…did you pack stones enough
to carry you as wetly deep as needed
to sleep through the ages?
Have the midnight screams,
the anguished dreams
settled softly with you on the murky riverbed?

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Sylvia…your babies lay warmly sleeping
drawing their first breaths where you surrendered your last..as then you entered eternal night –
did you fight against the dying light,
or was your savagely betrayed soul
carried softly heavenward
upon the rising cloud of your final breath.

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Anne, surrendered child of the asylum
dancing in sync to the symphony of the insane, voiceless visionary virgin,
depression’s whore
revving the engine, inhaling “no more!”
The world kissed your haunting cheek,
chewing your words with callous spit
Dear Anne, whose words burn brightly still
have you fled this mortal coil and all its ills?

My sweet, courageous Suicide Sisters!

Did the screaming stop, the incessant hum,
as your mortal clocks
struck the hour of “none”?
I did not need your fevered poems
to navigate my way back home…
for here upon your graves I rest
hearing your echoes within my chest!

Where then is my courage?

Are you not even now pulling me to you?
Have I no further verse to write
to guide me over into the comforting silence of our shared eternal night?
The bitter truth that is mine to drink
is not that I write, but that I think!

Your tortured lives are my dying treasure
For what is death but absent pleasure?

DREAMS by D.L.McHale


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the world spins on a tilted shaky spindle
and we hold on tightly with our hopes and dreams
(there is no space for anything but dreaming!)
we defy gravity with our capacity to love and cherish
we are gods treading boldly on a blue-green marble
beneath a sea of stars tossed upon a blue-black canvas
the universe painted in brilliant colors in random rotation
stoking the fires of our imagination with worlds beyond our reach
the non-dreamers toil in despair, and soon to dust return
while we float through infinity and blow kisses to the sun
dream, dream, dream…close your eyes and open your mind
(there is no space for anything but dreaming!)

Happy Birthday to T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)


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T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)

Happy Birthday to one of my greatest inspirations: T.S. Eliot (he is the reason I write as D.L. McHale)

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is perhaps one of the most introspective and transforming pieces of modern poetry ever written. It resonates, for me, on a substratum of my inner being, to which I rarely penetrate; for my life has been mostly a constant evasion of myself. My losses stack up accordingly.

In honor of his birthday, and his priceless contributions to both modern literature and to my own creative metal, “let us go then, you and I” to:

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse 
A persona che mai tornasse al monda, 
Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse. 
Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo 
Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero, 
Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo

Let us go then, you and I, 
When the evening is spread out against the sky 
Like a patient etherized upon a table;  
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,  The muttering retreats  Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels  And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells: 
 
Streets that follow like a tedious argument  Of insidious intent  
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . . 

Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”  Let us go and make our visit.     

In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.   
 
The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes, 
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,  
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,  
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,  
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap, 
And seeing that it was a soft October night,  
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.     

And indeed there will be time For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,  Rubbing its back upon the windowpanes;  There will be time, there will be time  To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;  

There will be time to murder and create,  
And time for all the works and days of hands  
That lift and drop a question on your plate; 

Time for you and time for me,  And time yet for a hundred indecisions,  And for a hundred visions and revisions,  Before the taking of a toast and tea.    

In the room the women come and go Talking of Michelangelo.    

And indeed there will be time 
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”  
Time to turn back and descend the stair,  
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair– 

(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)  

My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,  My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin– 
 
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)  

Do I dare  Disturb the universe?  In a minute there is time  For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.   

For I have know them all already, known them all–Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons; 

I know the voices dying with a dying fall 
Beneath the music from a farther room.   

So how should I presume?      

And I have known the eyes already, known them all– 
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,  
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,  When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,  
Then how should I begin 
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?

And how should I presume?     

And I have known the arms already, known them all– 
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare 
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)  Is it perfume from a dress  That makes me so digress? Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.   

And should I then presume?   
And how should I begin?  . . . . . .      

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets.And watched the smoke that rises from the pipesof lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? . . .   

I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.  . . . . . .    

And the afternoons, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!   Smoothed by long
fingers,  Asleep . . . tired . . . or it malingers,  
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me. 

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,  Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis? 

But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,  Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter, 

I am no prophet–and here’s no great matter;  
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, 

 And, in short, I was afraid.     

And would it have been worth it, after all, 
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,  
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me, 

Would it have been worth while, 
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,  
To have squeezed the universe into a ball 
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,  

To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead, Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”– 

If one, setting a pillow by her head,   
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;    That is not it, at all.”     

And would it have been worth it, after all, Would it have been worth while, 
After the sunsets and the dooryards and sprinkled streets,  After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor–  

And this, and so much more?–  

It is impossible to say just what I mean!  
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:  

Would it have been worth while 
If one, setting a pillow or throwing off a shawl,  And turning toward the window, should say: 

   “That is not it at all,    That is not what I meant at all.”. . . . . .     

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; Am an attendant lord, one that will do  
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,  
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,  
Deferential, glad to be of use,  Politic, cautious, and meticulous;  Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;  

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous–  Almost, at times, the Fool.        

I grow old . . . I grow old . . .I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.  Shall I part my hair behind? 

Do I dare to eat a peach?  

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.  

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.    I do not think that they will sing to me.    

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves  Combing the white hair of the waves blown back. When the wind blows the water white and black.  
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea  
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown.
Till human voices wake us, and we drown

               MY HUMBLE ANALYSIS:

Meet Prufrock. (Hi, Prufrock!). He wants you to come take a walk with him through the winding, dirty streets of a big, foggy city that looks a lot like London. He’s going to show you all the best sights, including the “one-night cheap hotels” and “sawdust restaurants.” What a gentleman, he is! Also, he has a huge, life-altering question to ask you. He’ll get to that later, though.

Cut to a bunch of women entering and leaving a room. The women are talking about the famous Renaissance painter Michelangelo. I don’t know why they’re talking about Michelangelo, and I  never learn. Welcome to Prufrock’s world, where no one does anything interesting. 

Did we mention that it’s foggy. Like really, really foggy. The fog has a delightful yellow color, and it acts a lot like a cat.

Yawn. What a day. i’ve accomplished so much already with Prufrock. There’s still a lot of stuff he still wants to get done before “toast and tea.” People to see, decisions to make, life-altering questions to ask. But not yet…There’s still plenty of time for all that later.

Where did the women go? Oh, yes, they’re still talking about Michelangelo.

Yup. Pleeeen-ty of time for Prufrock to do all that really important stuff. Except that he doesn’t know if he should. He’s kind of nervous. You see, he was about to tell someone something really important, but then he didn’t. Too nervous. Oops! At least he’s a sharp-looking guy. Well, his clothes are sharp-looking. The rest of him is kind of not-so-sharp-looking. People say he’s bald and has thin arms.

But he still has pleeen-ty of time. And he’s accomplished so much already! For example, he has drank a lot of coffee, and he’s lived through a lot of mornings and afternoons. Those are pretty big accomplishments, right? Plus, he’s known a lot of women. Or at least he’s looked at their hairy arms, and that’s almost as good.

Prufrock says something about how he wishes he were a crab. Oh, Prufrock! Always the joker. Wait, you were serious? That’s kind of sad, my friend. Don’t you have important things to do?

Oops! It looks like he didn’t do that really important thing he meant to do. He was going to tell someone something life-altering, but he was afraid of being rejected. So he didn’t. Oh well.

Meanwhile, Prufrock keeps getting older. He doesn’t worry about that really important thing anymore. Instead, he worries about other important things, such as whether to roll his pant-legs or eat a peach.

Ah yes…the peach!  This is no ordinary question about fruit. This is perhaps the raciest line ever written…given the time in which it was written.  Again, ” Do I dare to eat the peach?”  Im not going to spell this out for you.  I think you now know to what the “peach” refers.

It turns out that Prufrock really likes the ocean. He says he has heard mermaids singing – but they won’t sing to him. Boy, you sure do talk a lot about yourself, Prufrock.

Finally, he brings us back into the conversation. He talks about how we lived at the bottom of the sea with him (geez, we don’t remember that one!). It turns out we were asleep in the ocean, but all of a sudden, we get woken up by “human voices.” Unfortunately, as soon as we wake up, we drown in the salty ocean. Boy, what a day. We thought we were talking a walk, and now we’re dead.

And we die…we drown. And in that moment we understand, finally, the message of his love song….

Does any of it really matter…life, love, indulgences, hope, fear? For we age, and in aging become, not someone, but something to laugh and point at. And then we die.

Makes you think, eh?

BE STILL, MY LOVE… by D.L.McHale


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Be still my love.

Shhhh…
There now, can you hear it?

Quietly,
within the shadows
of our mingled selves,
softly rising upon
the rhythms of our breath.

Rest now,
sweet angel of love.
Lie spent upon my breast
and listen;
surrender to the
symphony of our souls.

Feel your senses
dancing
to the chords
of desire’s keyboard;
delicate fingers
upon colored notes
within the crimson chambers
of our dream-soaked hearts.

Hear the song
echoing;
muted passion sirens
lilting lightly across
the dim-lit chasms
of our melded minds;
musical interludes
conducted
in sigh-minor.

See the trees
swaying;
laughing willows of lust
sweeping low over
our embrace;
bending sensuously to us
in morning’s whispered light.

Taste the waters
flowing;
melting fantasies
washing over our
quenched, naked forms,
cascading into deep pools
of ecstasy.

Smell the fragrance
rising;
desires fully blossomed
with petals of relief
falling, simply drifting
from the branches
or our love.

Touch the ribbons
floating;
colors blending
behind love-clenched eyelids;
blinding pastel visions,
stretching, softly binding
soul to soul in evening’s brief rapture.

Sleep deep, my love.

Carry this lullaby
into your hazy slumber,
and rest.

In the cool, gray light of morning
we will write another.

PROMISES by D.L.McHale


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You ask if love’s forever –
A promise I can’t make,
But if I could, or thought I should
I would not hesitate.

I’d promise you forever
And then a day or two
If I were free to guarantee
Forever loving you.

But promises are born of doubt
A doubt that’s seldom real;
The love we know can only grow
In trusting what we feel.
 
Yet, I’ll promise you this moment
If words can still your fears;
Just hold me now and show me how
To love you through the years.

 

FAIRY TALES by D. L. McHale


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I wrote this poem 25 years ago. It was the beginning of my insanity! (photo credit: H. L. Cross)

Rainbows are illusions –
There are no pots of gold,
And unicorns have never grazed
In emerald fields of old.

No knight in shining armor
Has ever rode a day
To save a damsel in distress
And carry her away.

Merlin the magician
Was a phony and a fraud –
King Arthur but a fiction tale
That causes one to nod.

Wizards are a special breed
Of fantasy it seems,
And magic castles little more
Than figments of our dreams.

And what of dragons long extolled;
Flying lizards breathing fire?
I do believe the product of
Some pathological liar.

There dwell no trolls beneath the bridge
To thwart it’s passage way –
Belief in goblins, ghouls, and ghosts
Has long since passed away.

Wicked witches have never flown
On gnarled brooms of straw,
And gypsies with their crystal balls
Is truth stretched much too far.

And yet, of all these fairy tales,
The hardest to believe?
This silly notion we call “Love”…
What utter fantasy!