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.
Past the tick-tick-tocking of the midnight hour,
Wrapped in sweat-stained cotton sheets,
Robbed of sleep and feeling sour
Like a muffled drum sounding nothing beats –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.
This syrup sleep removes the pain,
While dreams remain beyond my reach.
A whiskey slumber subdues the brain
While my toss-n-turn reveals a breach,
As time grinds on just the same.
I rise to write the poet’s dribble
And gorge upon liters of stale red wine.
Behold, my words, a bastard’s scribble!
Writ upon the passage of borrowed time.
Each tick, each tock, from my life is nibbled
I cannot rest while my muse is clanging
Inside my head a poor man’s verse,
Nor can I stop the incessant banging
As my thirst for libations meets an empty purse!
These words are ripe for a morning hanging.
Upon the tick-tick-tocking of the morning hour,
Sweet sleep descends upon my brow.
Within my bed I hide and cower;
An ink-less pen is a horseless plough –
In the dying petals of the poet’s flower.
There is much power and beauty in her world, yet her soul is divided into two houses:
One is sparce and darkly decadent, surrounded by high windowless walls; there is very little color to break the monotony, and its gate is usually locked.
This house is full of decaying art – the crudely painted memories left by people who felt their life had been changed by divine intervention, offering eternal love for her with promises that were falsely laid.
The other house is rich in colour, its thick outside walls washed in strong blues and reds.
In this house, the gate is flung wide open, and on the patio outside there are clay pots and plates all decorated in a kaleidoscope of vibrant, living colours.
Inside is a tiny virginal bed with a mirror above it reflecting back the inconsistent themes of her life.
She wears her silken hair in ebony rivulets cascading in loose waterfalls down her gently curving back; she takes great pride in the delicate scar across her upper lip, a reminder of the evil that dwells in the angry guts of jealous men.
Her clothing echoes her hair – she dresses in embroidered shirts and wide floor-length flowing skirts, swirling in the warm summer winds of her womanhood.
All of this colour and dynamism reflect her conflicted character; the turbulent and contradictory life she lives. Her own story is both tragic and uplifting; the essence of her more provocative, daring and strange spirit.
Indeed, in some ways the dichotomy of her life are chapters in a long autobiography, paralleled and matched by her inner angels and demons.
This internal schism is refracted through the broken shards of a glass imagination, a constant yearning to fill the void within her. And in that complex yearning, another looming presence which was impossible to escape.
Her secret love, her one true love, is a huge man who looks even more enormous beside her diminutive body. He is a constant (but not faithful) companion. She both loves and loathes him, in constant and equal measure.
The relationship between the two is fraught with conflict and anger. So it might be strange to see the two lace cloths embroidered with their names lying across the pillows of her bed.
There is in her life a curious blend of love, betrayal, hope, and long-suffering sentimentality coupled with a harsh frankness about herself – a combination that seduces many people – not only him.
Each night, she gently and quietly untangles herself from his sleeping embrace and makes her way by moonlight to her gray, colorless house with the locked gate.
She indulges in intense relationships with faceless women and men, offering her backside to conventional morality. But in the cool grey light of morning, she folds herself once more into the warmth and safety of his arms.
This constant terrible pain is a permanent feature of her life, yet it does not restrain her. In some ways it makes her wilder and more uninhibited. For much of what compels her life is about pain, and the terrible fragility of her body compared with the resolution of her mind.
Each day she deals most explicitly with the paradox of excruciating joy and exquisite pain.
Her alter egos are attached by fragile vessels which are not easily cut – hence the bloodstained scissors resting on her white dress. The lush landscape of her dreams seem inaccessible because of the thorny brambles around her neck.
While she might appear, with her beautiful traditional dresses and her tiny broken body, like the ‘perfect doll’ that all men and certain women desire, she is nonetheless fulfilled in her own right, and pursues sexual fulfilment and monogamous peace with equal fervor.
A ribbon around a bombshell.
She is inexplicably wrapped in endless layers of the full spectrum of human experience and the unbidden possibilities in human understanding.
She senses affirmation in the enormous potentiality of both houses and the unique power of being a woman once freed from constraint.
She is fighting a revolution within herself.
Hers is a life of two-way narratives. Of unimaginable passions and failed restraint. An existence made all the worse by sadness, distress and a brutal sense of betrayal. Made all the better by the wanton surrender to the possibilities and potential of a woman’s body.
This is the permanent consequence of her life. Yet the often violent and disturbing intersection of her two houses within her soul provide ironic affirmations of life; there is beauty in both, not only in the qualities of conventionality, but in the power and strength of the life itself.
She is full of curses and imprecations interwoven with lyrical images and fragments of poetry. Her dualism defies fatalism with their colours, their endlessly surprising meetings of image and meaning, their powerful assertions of her womanhood.
She is both madonna and whore, and she is perfect in her imperfection.
Full of hurt and pain and yet equally bursting with life, defiance, and rebellion.
She is an ever-evolving act of defiance, a challenge, a continuing affirmation of life itself.
Spat from the angered mouth of heaven
falling, spiraling, through the mystic ages
thrust without grace into the mortal coil
within my Mother’s sacred womb
and spat once more again into Life
I am become.
On broken knees with a broken voice
whispering hallowed hallelujahs
I am now become
this incredible expression of motion;
motion within volume,
volume within silent prayers
I am become.
Crimson rivers of blood wash
my bleached bones, cleansed and holy,
creating my presentational self –
a life defined in patterns of sentience
expressed through transcendent forms
of human feelings, of human failings,
of growth and attenuation,
of flowing and stowing,
of conflict and resolution,
speed, arrest, terrific excitement,
I am become.
In suffering forged and forgotten
shackled in the biting chains
of free will and isolation;
the celestial curse of the living flesh
now belies my subtle activation
In Death I am but sweetly spent
and spat once more
into the bowels of Earth
my soul surpassing the expression
of human feeling, of human frailty
transcending the mortal sphere
the push of life itself
it’s relentless assertion of tension
not only in myself, nor in all mankind
but rather in the cosmos
dissolving and so evolving eternal
once more spat into the Heavens
I awoke to a kiss, a whispered taste softly pressed upon my face, and in that moment, my soul, it wished to know once more that soulful kiss!
Yet it was a vapor of a waking dream. Nothing more; not what it seemed.
These wretched ghosts that find delight in morning’s light, dancing and playing betraying with the dust of sorrowed dreams promises broken, and vows false spoken!
Violently shaken in the sudden waking arms no more to hold me tight through winter nights…I am awake. I am awake.
Where, gentle caress of morning rain? that eases my pain; The merciful patter that shatters my hold on false dreamt love each drop above my window pane, slowly washing in rivulets the memories set under granite stone..I lie alone. I lie alone.
Enduring ink upon the page, how do I gauge What’s real? What’s myst? What’s relevant? Unlock the night, Release my dreams silence the screams, and write for me an ending poem, whereby I lie here not alone.
How sweet the dream that never ends? Where love ascends and kisses dealt are truly felt in dark of night.
She spent half of her life wearing the same pair of shoes.
When she first saw them, they were dazzling… full of promise (and promises!) Tightly laced and polished, glistening like diamonds upon her feet.
They were immediately comfortable, and comforting.
At first, she walked through dark night forests and midnight-winding streets; breaking them in, smiling at the melody of new leather creaking in harmony with the violin-sawing of cricket wings, with the ruffling of the night owls feathers.
She dared to share her dreams, and danced in her new shoes with abandon and trust and hope.
The shoes spoke to her of wondrous things to come… making promises shoes should not make but new love demands –
of forever cradling her feet against sharpened stones; of warming her toes through winter’s storms; of lifting her heals in rapturous dance…
She fell in love with these shoes, flooded with dreams of where they might carry her. Each morning, she slipped them on with tenderness and love; each night, un-laced, she fell asleep clutching them to her breast…
…whispering sweet hallelujahs for all the miles they had shared, and would in all their ahead days walk, promising – until death do us part!
She loved her shoes with complete abandon and imagined they would always be as comfortable as the day she first placed them upon her trusting feet-
each day praying these shoes would always love her in return; with tenderness, truth, and above all else, never hurting her.
But the years went by, and those beautiful shoes began to wear. With time, they lost their gloss, and the leather cracked and hardened. She noticed, one morning, a tiny droplet of blood upon her sock; Later, a small cut upon her heel, a new pain within her heart.
Yet still, devoted, she continued to wear them though at night she began setting them beside her bed.
In the final year, she wept looking at these shoes; they were now ugly shoes, painful shoes.
“These shoes,” she tearfully whispered, “will never carry me to where I need to go.”
She could tell in other’s eyes that they
were glad these were her shoes and not theirs. They never talked about her shoes.
They looked away in embarrassed empathy. To learn how awful her shoes were might make them
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them. But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
She began, for the first time, to hate her shoes; with guilt at first, then with an increasing passion until one day an awareness swept through her thoughts:
“I deserve a better pair of shoes.”
She looked around, and for the first time understood that she was not the only one who wore those shoes.
“There are many pairs in this world,” she thought. I can either learn how to walk in them, timidly, so they don’t hurt quite as much…
“…or I can throw them away.”
And she began to plan. “No woman deserves to wear these shoes,” she cried. So for the final few months, she gathered her courage …..to throw them away.
Ironically, it was these shoes that had made her a stronger woman. These shoes had given her the strength to face anything.
They helped make her who she now was.
One day, she slipped them on a final time feeling the worn leather against her savaged foot; then, flooded with the intensity of love one can only feel knowing love is forever lost…she kissed the shoe goodbye.
When the time was right, she took her shoes to a secluded ravine kissed them, and tossed them…like an old pair of shoes, into an abyss.
The shoes lay there broken, tattered, worn and useless. The shoes could not speak of the love they held for the woman For its tongue was torn. Left to decay with nothing but the scent of the woman’s tender hands scenting its laces, slowly fading.
As soon as the shoes were disposed of she went barefoot into tomorrow, pain-free and dancing and singing:
“I will forever walk the bare feet of a woman who has lost her shoes!”
But in exactly one year, she slipped on another pair, happy and in love again, dancing and laughing once more...
hoping against hope, forgetting old shoes, willing with all her heart for this shiny new pair to carry her home.
As you know, from time to time I’ll feature a new poet on The Winter Bites My Bones. I am pleased to spotlight an emerging poet and talent, Steven Cehula. Although I’ve only known Steve a short time, there are few young artists that back passion with street crede in both his writing and his personality. Steve is an intelligent, intuitive young poet with an obvious thirst for the art of expressing the mysteries of living through the written word. Please join me in welcoming Steve to our WordPress family!
Petrichor in the air tonight, as rain falls to my delight;
tumbling off angel wings,
as it falls the wind does sing.
Sing of now and sing of night, present turns to past as dusk doth flourish at loss of light.
So tumble down and cleanse the soul, feeding grass make this earth whole.
About Steve Cehula:
Life Enthusiast. Born in Alaskan; now living and loving in South Orange County. I love to travel the world embracing the new cultures and friends I meet. Besides writing I have a voracious appetite for reading, fine food, and stimulating conversation.
It’s easy to say goodbye – to meet again is hard.
Love gone like rose petals fallen on flowing waters
My thoughts of her are like these flowing waters,
Meandering toward the open sea on their hopeless journey.
In time, washed away over a burnt orange horizon.
My hope, too!
The north wind blows; here on the ocean it’s cold.
My home is at the bend of a crumbling, salt-soaked pier.
I watch a lone white sail at heavens’ end;
Like a waking dream, quickly gone – who can I ask where?
Darkness falls beside the endless sea.
We had often walked upon warmer, infinite sands
Pressing our bare heels into the foaming wetness.
But one set of footprints are swept away too quickly
Swallowed by the receding tides of love.
This cold empty beach was never what I wished;
These scattered empty shells speak of inevitable ends.
The beauty of the ocean’s edge declines more year by year.
As the sun goes down, a chilling wind appears
Whipping the sands, stinging my face…a reminder
That with beauty comes inevitable pain –
To hear seagulls cry, or see pelicans on the fly
Makes me sorrow even more.
I lack the courage for this day.
Wrapping solitude around me like a mother’s arms
I turn for home – or what I now call home –
An empty room, a quiet room, an empty bed, a quiet bed;
My refuge from the darkness and the light.
Myself, I think I’ve found a place that suits me..
I have made my home amidst this mighty shore,
Yet I can no longer hear the crashing of the ocean swells.
Outside my window, all the butterflies are white,
A pair flitter over the dying garden’s grass.
They are damaging my heart!
Two tears trace two lines down my face,
I send them to the ocean’s beaten coast.
One full year now separates the loving and the unloving;
I have not often thought of her, but neither can I forget.
We would not recognize each other even if we met again,
My face is covered with sand, my temples glazed with ocean foam.
In deepest night, a sudden dream returns me to her arms,
We look at each other without a word, a thousand tears now flow.
I know that this must have some deeper meaning.
My muse lifts me from my sickly state,
And smiling, asks me to write a poem
I try to write the pain away, but cannot find the words.
Tonight, the ocean’s wind enters through the window,
The torn gauze curtain starts to flutter and fly.
I turn slowly in my bed, looking up at the bright moon,
And send my prayers a thousand miles in its light.
When the sun sets, when its dying rays
filters through my bedroom window
I get the full brunt of this powerful star.
It is beautiful and blinding.
I feel its warming fingers softly caressing
my cheek; it dries the last traces of my tears.
Today, as the sun came into its latitude
to be shining directly on me,
I closed my eyes beneath its warmth
remembering brighter days.
Was this the same sun that kissed us
on our first walks upon the beach?
Was this the same sun that cast
its light on our wedding day?
Many people have expressed their love
to both of us throughout this process,
and many people have let us know
that it may be God’s will this, or God’s will that.
And it may well be.
But I know one thing.
We were both born of this organic, living universe.
Star matter is within us. We are forever connected
beneath the arch of its healing light.
I have never felt more in the presence of the supernatural
than today, with this mighty being shining on us,
me here, in my thoughts, you, there, wherever you are.
I can almost see the last breaths of our togetherness
in the stardust that once showered the idea of “us”
being pulled back towards that Sun.
It is as if the Sun had decided to choose this moment,
to envelop the two of us in divergent beams of light,
and take us back, separately, back to the stars.
In a way, it is beautiful.
This Sun, our Sun, reminds me
to live more fully, more appreciatively, and more happily.
I won’t think of a marriage that has died.
I’ll think of those moments we had to dance in its light.
With much love and sadness.
Her face is frost etched glass
floating in the blue-black winds of the night;
she illuminates footsteps hushed
on decayed and dampened leaves;
grieves for freshly planted souls
who have turned from the light of day.
Her midnight corset is tightly laced
by the dazzling tails of falling stars;
she moves in phases
with the tempered grace of a childless empress
wandering silently and with bowed head
through the cold shadows of winter’s garden.
She seduces the wolf and the poet
with equal ambivalence, each of whom
compose for her dream-soaked arias
and haunting sonnets that speak of
promises never meant to be kept.
She mourns her powdered reflection
as it ripples across frozen lakes:
hides behind silver-lined clouds when
she can no longer bear the loneliness
of her shadowy journey across granite
mountaintops and sleeping meadows.
At last, in the cool, grey light of morning,
as the sun softly caresses her porcelain
cheek with warm fingers of breaking light,
she sighs but once, then slowly fades into
the rose colored blush of a new day.
It all began with the glowing green meadows; cool, dew-moistened blades of grass softly pressed into the shape of a young boy’s naked feet running frivolous and joyous in the backyards of my innocence.
In time, the azure-blue skies puffed with the carefree brilliant white cotton-candy clouds of my adolescence fed my wandering dreams, lifting me to new heights, pressing me tenderly against the heavens.
In my teen years, the skies grew heated beneath the raging, orange-flecked storms battering the massive walls of my pubescent limitations. I fought bravely against the darkening forces shaping me, but was laid low with the sizzling strike of a silver bolt of lightning, my body then forged in the ruby red-hot fires of puberty.
As a young man, there came a day with you in it; a dazzling star as yellow-bright and full of light – your beauty washed over me, igniting my purpose, I was blinded by the intensity and the nearness of you, awakening within me the amazing brilliant white glow of desire, love, and hope.
Eventually, the blue-black sheet of night was pulled over me; the skies darkened a midnight onyx leaving me lying in the cool-grey mist of the shadow of Death. The lights dimmed as did my voice, as the murky fingers of Death reached toward me.
I was immediately lifted up into a new beginning; the soothing winds of forever washing over the palette of my life as once more my heels were dipped into the forgiving green blades of grasses of eternity’s meadow.
Photo Credit: Jeff Jones, Photographer
(image of his daughter, Valerie)
Skin softly bleached like the Southern twilight
freckle-kissed face ‘neath the Ozark ‘s skylight
fire-red locks and curls tossed by stormy winds
Pa’s softly-pressed dimple upon her boyish chin
Green eyes revealing her faded innocence a determined gaze, a child’s jaded reverence for a young life lived beneath the savage blows of poverty’s yoke, though no one knows for this girl who bravely looks right through you wears a forthright courage, honest and true
She rides a bitter storm that’s never-ending
twelve tender years in fields deep-bending
with calloused hands plucking earth’s creations
like her kinfolk have done for generations
Laughing like a banshee, she dances in the rain holding back her tears as she swallows her pain A motherless child born to a colorless world still she sings of a future, of hope yet unfurled she sings of the woods, and the trails, and the streams of infinite hope and impossible dreams
She could never be pressed to surrender this hour
‘neath the soft Ozark moonbeams that fill her with power
to endure what she must, though she’s only a child
under dark gathering clouds she stands there beguiled
filled with wonder and light behind a soft-freckled face
she presents to the world the persona of grace
(*)Guayusa an organic herb sustainably grown in the Amazon Rainforest by Ecuadorian families only available at GUNPOWDER (http://drinkgunpowder.com)
She’s not the kind of girl
men see across a smoky bar
and write songs about.
There is an uninviting sadness
in her dull blue eyes,
washing out the sparkle of
her tender youth.
Yet, we sit this soundless morning at
Gunpowder, the drone of Venice Beach
tourists muted by the intensity
of her faded beauty,
casting furtive glances above the
flipped lid of my computer –
sipping my guayusa latte,
drinking in the realness of her,
tasting the lukewarm resignation
that hangs upon her like a
torn burial shroud.
I am intoxicated by the way
she breathes slowly and with
lost purpose; how she twirls
a lock of her dishwater blond
hair with her forefinger,
the nail of which is bitten
to the quick.
Every few minutes she looks
off into the empty distance
a blank and distant stare –
perhaps daring to dream, broken,
of a life that might have been.
I know, in that way of knowing
the permeates you to the core,
that she has lived, and felt, and
loved, and lost, and somehow
found the strength within herself
to carry on.
I also know that I love her,
she who I do not know
and she who no longer loves
She’s not the kind of girl
men see across a smoky bar
and write songs about,
but she is the reason
poets anguish into the night
to capture the authenticity
of true love and broken dreams.
We are imperceptibly bound
by the common chords of our humanity;
colored threads weaving a rich tapestry
of shared experience.
Our similitude outshines our differences,
ineradicable and glistening;
certain and enduring
beneath a billowing canopy of endless possibility.
Not me, or you; not him or her, but all as one.
The fabric frays when we close our eyes
to the wonder and intensity of our diversity;
divisiveness and uncertainty pulls at the threads
which embroider the story of our divinity.
Our uniqueness as individuals only adds
to the richness of the fabric of humankind,
where rivers of color intertwine to form
delicate and stunning lines and patterns
– intricate and beautiful in their relations.
No stars hung in heaven shine more brightly,
shimmer more vibrantly,
or radiate more light
than when we embrace one another
as one and not the “other”.
As part of my commitment to bring new talent to my audience, it is with great pleasure that I feature an emerging poet, Lavelle M. I recently heard Lavelle read the accompanying poem, “Cinco de Mayo” at an open podium, and while the piece entitled was somewhat dated, his mastery of research in composing this piece left a deep impression on me and I knew my fans would appreciate this new voice. Lavelle writes in free verse here, bringing about a much needed historical correction to the myth of Mexican Independence Day. For generations, this important feast day has been misrepresented and Lavelle gently lays down the bare bones of this date in history.
CINCO de MAYO
Cinco de Mayo means 5th of May
Not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day
But it’s a day we shall all remember
For the record, Mexican Independence is the 16th of September
This is a small dedication from me to you:
Cinco de Mayo started in 1862
During the Civil War, before Emancipation
The Mexican soldiers had a celebration;
Not for freedom, but for heritage and pride
By defeating the French on the far West Side
Blood was shed, lives were lost
By dead soldiers who paid the cost
Battle of Puebla is the name of the War
Too bad the French didn’t know what was in store
With war comes tragedy, death, and defeat
It’s when the strong survive and surpass the weak
For me, to be strong is something I seek.
I had lived one life with my face turned from the sun,
breathing icy winds and my father’s sin.
He is gone now but his fingerprints
remain a stain upon my broken bones.
My sister traded his midnight hugs for an opium exit;
her ashes instead of his lashes.
I took my refuge in dark shadows and withered.
Was rewarded with a year sabbatical in a red brick asylum,
bought and paid for with my mother’s silence.
She collected her ransom daily/offered up her womb’s fruit
to feed him like grapes to Caesar’s gaping maw.
She furnished her home with lost innocence
and found comfort in our cries.
She is buried now and I am robbed of my mourning.
Unearth me when tomorrow comes.
Set my broken feet upon polished stones;
let ascending steps carry me home.
My screams no longer echo from the mountaintops
My dreams no longer tether my pain.
I am not healed, but I feel, and my words
anoint my open wounds.
The insidiousness of life is that it constantly presses upon you;
it is unrelenting in its demands that you nurture and refine it.
It evolves, with or without your consent, so there is no rest,
to simply put it on cruise control and enjoy the passing of time.
For me, every breath is a nuisance; every step is a cursed journey
saddled with failed expectations and societal derision.
I never belonged to this world, nor has it offered itself to me,
and the contempt with which I hold its false promises
eats at my guts like ravens nibbling away at my meaning.
Where others are guided by the soft-bent wings of angels,
I am weighed down by the relentless nagging of demons;
wicked little imps who mock my waking hours and torment my sleep.
There is not a grave dug deep enough to bury my sorrows,
nor do I seek any forgiveness for my sorry state.
I will wash away the stench of my miserable existence
with endless cups of liquid absolution, and in my drunken state,
I will stumble through somehow.
Tomorrow’s sunrise may warmly embrace the multitudes;
each with their cheerful dispositions and infernal optimism.
I, on the other hand, will wither beneath the heat,
thirsting constantly for the darkness beneath a waning moon,
for it is in darkness that my soul finds its true voice.
In the middle years, there is ecstasy, laughter,
hope, promise. happiness, delight, pleasure, bliss,
confidence, optimism, courage, faith, joy, desire,
hopefulness, buoyancy, brightness, anticipation,
choice, sex, cheerfulness, and contentment.
I am the ripe green apple, plucked from Eden’s garden Contemptuously bitten, no hope for God’s pardon. I am Achilles heel that hobbles my stride; Odysseus’ curse, my insufferable pride.. That lock of hair claiming Sampson’s life, And the brother of Able, I’m Cain with a knife! I am the snakes coiled in Medusa’s dark mane – Like a lance to the boil, my mercy is strained. I’m the brew in the cauldron of deep-forested witches – The ugliness that comes from Frankenstein’s stitches. I am alone and afraid, but too stubborn to change; Hopeless and lost and most certain deranged! I’m broken, defeated, and reeking of sin, The lowest of cowards, the most evil of men. A life, ever wasted on cheap wine and women, My descent into Death is just now beginning. This ghost will remain as my specter of shame – I’d rather be dead than live more of the same ~
Pressed beneath the broken rhythms of solitude
Stumbling drunk within intoxicated wavy parallels
Of self-derision and unbridled rage against lost time
A shattered vessel of my mother’s dreams
Absent when the arch of forgiveness bends mercifully
Over purpose-broken and diminished men
My unwinding days a gentle push toward the grave
With nothing left to secure my grasp
Pulled asunder by the wrath of fallen angels
When the shadows of my sins, like a burial shroud
Wraps me tightly, a corpse descending
Into the darkened void of eternal sleep.
This, then is my slow descent; tossed upon a funeral pyre
Engulfed within damnation’s perpetual flame
Condemned for lack of conviction as the cold winds
Of judgment kick up and scatter my weightless ashes
At four a.m., I awaken with a start. It isn’t that I wasn’t sleeping well, but this is my witching hour. I reach over and pull the covers up over my wife and take a moment to gaze in absolute awe at this beauty, this incredible effervescent woman sharing my bed.
I quietly swing my feet to the floor and sit for a moment. My muse is impatiently pulling me into awakening, but I do my best to resist. I want to sleep just a little bit more, but my eyes have already made out the flashing light on my hibernating computer and just like that, I want to be writing more than I want to be dreaming.
I gently close the bedroom door behind me and make my way into the kitchen. I put water in the kettle, light the stove, and grab my pack of cigarettes. I head out the door into the blackness of the night, sit upon the second stoop, and light up. The ritual never changes. And there, beneath the canopy of constellations, I look for my special star. I don’t know what it is called, and I don’t know why it is that star…but I need to start each day in silent commune before it. Once I find it, I stare at it for a few minutes, emptying my mind of creeping thoughts. I slowly close my eyes, inhale another drag, and listen.
Like little mice on padded feet, the words start scampering around my brain. The writing has begun.
I toss the cigarette into the night, watching a spiral of red sparks ascend, then descend, as if to punctuate the purpose of this ritual. From the kitchen, the kettle begins to sing, and I rush in before it hits full crescendo and awakens my wife. I pour the steaming water over a cone of coffee grounds and inhale the rising steam. In a seamless arch, I take my cup of coffee to the kitchen table, flip open the lid to my computer, and hit the resume button.
And then I write. And write and write and write. At this point, what I write is irrelevant. That I write is the point. The wee hours of the morning are not the time to self-critique or to spin a plot. It is the time for the bleeding of words.
You have always stood beneath a dazzling array of bright colors Brilliant, and brave, and blinding Your light provided bright reflections and lit the stage upon which you danced careless, joyful, and exuberant
It was a separate light that bathed me not quite so radiant and full of shadows It has never illuminated my way nor has it warmed me in its beam It was what it seemed an insignificant blue glow, dim and misleading
In your light, you were found In mine, everything was lost