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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.

two_lovers_by_biffno-d50mj0z

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”

Hasty

To Angel(a)


I can feel your pain, like the falling rain

it washes over me leaving me damp and cold and shivering –
but the thought of you warms me like a cup of hot chocolate
and I know it’s going to be okay.

I see through the glaring light of your smiles, and while
you try to hide what you feel inside, I know, in that knowing
that only love can reveal.  I want to gather your tears
in the well of my understanding, and pour them 
upon the fire of your fears.

I don’t have much to offer, just my heart and my love
but love won’t pay this rent, when you are spent
within the crucible of self-doubt.  How can I reach you
and teach you what I know…that you are perfection;
I don’t want to heal you, just reveal to you the beauty
that is you.

You don’t have to let me in, but you, my friend
will always be in me, like a broken sparrow whose wings
will heal, and I know you will fly again.
Blue No. 1

ILLUMINATION


(Dedicated to Jules)

We always sleep with curtains drawn,
in the soft blue light of morning,
I rise and pull the black velvet tight.

 You stirred, half-asleep in a pool of desire 
then stretched your hand back to my thigh 
our bed a ship in sleep’s doubled plunging 
 
wave upon wave, until as though a lighthouse
      beam had crossed the room: the vase between
 
the windows suddenly ablaze, a spirit,
        seized, inside its amethyst blue gaze.  
 
What’s that? you whisper. A slip of light, untamed,
       had turned the vase into a crystal ball,
 
whose blue eye looked back at us, amazed, two
       sleepers startled in each other’s arms,
     
while day lapped at night’s extinguished edge,
            adrift between the past and future tense,
 
        a blue moon for an instant caught in its chipped
                 sapphire—love enduring, give or take.

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.

The Receding Tides of Love by D. L. McHale


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It is easy to say goodbye – to meet again is hard.
Love gone like rose petals fallen on flowing waters.

My thoughts of are like flowing waters, meandering toward the open sea on a hopeless journey.

In time, washed away over a burnt and fading orange horizon.

My hope, too!

The north wind blows! Oh, how it blows, mercilessly cutting with icy fingers into the quick of me…

Here on the ocean it’s endlessly 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 descends upon the endless sea.

We had often walked upon warmer, infinite sands, pressing our bare heels into the foaming wetness.

Your footprints were 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, memories pulled into the deep forgotten blue with each retreating wave.

As the sun goes down,  chilling lunar winds descend, whipping the sands, stinging my face.

With beauty comes inevitable pain!

To hear seagulls cry, or see pelicans on the fly makes me sorrow even more.

Oh, how I lack the courage for this day!

Wrapping solitude around me like vaporous veil, I turn for home – or what I once call home:

an empty room, a quiet room,
an empty bed, a quiet bed
my refuge from the darkness
my refuge from the light

In deep deception, imagining I’ve found a place that suits me..
I have made my home amidst this mighty shore, yet I can no longer bear the crashing of the ocean swells.

Outside my window, all the butterflies are white – a pair flitter over the dying garden’s light.

These damn reflections – they damage my heart!

Two tears trace two lines down my face, falling upon the ocean’s beaten coast.

Separated from 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 darkness of night, a sudden dream returns me to her arms; we look at each other without a word, a thousand recriminations flow.

I know that this must have some deeper meaning. It must!

My muse lifts me from my sickly slumber, and smiling, asks me to write a poem, as though verse might somehow soothe this savage state!

I try to write the pain away, but there are no words.

Tonight, the ocean’s wind enters through the window. 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 into light.

ABSTRACTIONS by D.L. McHale


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"Abstractions" pen and ink on rag paper: by Dennis McHale© 2015

ABSTRACTIONS

Her sexual abstraction takes even the most depraved of men by surprise.

     She boasts of her conquests
     in morning’s breaking light
     as she brings her legs
     back together

How often she surprises even herself.

This is not a woman really known for her purity! Still, if you know the woman just from her sexual exploits, go immediately to the back of the class.

     If you are foolishly tempted to label
     her, she’ll simply switch gears

An entire life of mythic proportions;
her world feels stage managed,
yet she deserves credit
as stage manager.

     She likes to demurely deny
     that she even likes sex

As props go, men simply come cheap.  She revels in their adoration, devoting herself in putting them through their paces.

She has a love-hate relationship with her own myth, but both the love and the hate feeds her savage seduction.

      When an image of herself becomes
      predictable, she throws it away and
      starts over

Before long she’ll present 
abstractions as true love,
far from free offerings
of softness of flesh.

Uninvited overtures will snap shut all sexual overtones, presenting the cold indifference of virginal chastity.

     She boasts that “nothing like me has
     ever come into this world before”

She seductively presents as a woman shaping and reflecting the male gaze, posing nude with her hair drawn tightly back from her classic bone structure.

When she tires of their perversities,
she silently re-emerges clothed,
with her hair down
and a soft pressed smile beneath –
pale eyes downward cast.

She’ ll move slow and with purpose
from empty room to empty room –
her dress hanging loose and full,
denying her sultry curves; as chaste
as a newly ripened peach.

     Abstraction as revelation,
     shifting effortlessly
     from sultry siren
     to matronly madonna.

She is a mixture of soft pastels
and vibrant splashes of watercolors, with whiplash-inducing impulsiveness.

    When she loves, her colors
     have sudden explosive intensity.

    When she hates, she progressively
    tightens and redefines herself.

The lack of any real separation
between reality and abstraction
is not to be carelessly measured
between sunrises and sunsets;
It is found in labored, tortured breaths
drawn between clenched teeth.

“Anything but flatness,”  she prays
as the darkness of night envelopes her
and carries her in its downward spiral.

By that time, it has become all but empty of feeling. The show opens with a dull if surprisingly contemporary picture of clouds,

     After so many years
     of living in the eternal,
     Of loving in the abyss
     she has adopted a view
     from above the clouds.

Abstractions, her long and lonely hours
down to the bones and the wilted flowers,

Angels and Demons: An Affirmation of One Woman’s Life by D.L. McHale


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"Woman Reflecting" (charcoal and ink) Dennis McHale, 2015©

There is much power and beauty in her world, yet her soul is divided into two houses:

One is spare 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.

II.
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 kalidescope of vibrant, living colours.

Inside is a tiny virginal bed with a mirror above it reflecting back the inconsistent themes of her life.

III.
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 schizm 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.

IV.
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-sufferring sentimentality coupled with a harsh frankness about herself – a combination that seduces many people – not only him.

V.
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.

VI.
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.

VII.
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.

VIII.
She is both madonna and whore, and she is perfect in her imperection.

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.

I AM BECOME


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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,
calm.

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 am become.

The Bowman and the Deer (Angela’s Song)


Doe Portrait V by Marion Rose
Doe Portrait V by Marion Rose

This poem is dedicated to Hastywords,
who taught me the value of true friendship

A bowman knows his craft and his art
The deer only knows its fluttering heart
When the arrow pierces its tender mark
The bowman knows he must give
The deer knows she must part

I never knew of you before we met
Though in my heart you lived
For Love is born in the beating heart
Which the bowman hears and hunts

What once was a sacred mystery
Now lives on the tip of his arrow
But she broke it and lives in the dark
Not daring to hope, so full of sorrow
Distrustful of the bowman’s mark

He knew he could never hold her
Though she cried of lustful hunger
Rather than accept his tender gifts
For of a debt she would never owe
He wanted to tell her, but she said no.

She was locked in battle with her insecurity
But her defiance was all too polished and real
Not wanting to stray, not wanting to feel
Not wanting to falter beneath his loving touch
Denying her heart, for the distance too much

He broke his bow and beheaded his arrows
and blew out candles and laid them to rest
He wanted no shadow to witness
Her struggle, her half-hearted protest
He wanted to protect her dreams and her fears
So she could stop hiding her sweetness
Embrace new love, and cease hiding her tears

She knew she had fallen in impossible love
The kind she would lose and later write of
One heart divided would not much long beat
His arrow lay broken, like his heart  at her feet

So she gathered the pieces, her joy and her bliss;
and offered the bowman her sweet-scented kiss
Then she thrust the arrow deep into his heart
And whispered goodbye as he entered the dark

Upon Awakening,…Vanishing Dreams


“Wisdom” by Derek del Barrio
Photo Courtesy of Derek del Barrio, 2015

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.

Outgrowing Her Shoes…


Photo Credit: Jopet Arce's photo of a pair of shoes
Photo Credit: Jopet Arce’s photo of a pair of shoes

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
… uncomfortable.

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.

An Eternal Sunrise


Sunrise

The sunrise is eternal.
Our measured days are not.
Yet still, somehow, in this moment now
I am lifted beyond mortality;
baptized by this burnished dawn
and set afire with daring possibility.

All too soon, the damp, cold earth
will grip us by the ankle
and pull us downward.

This morning is not that day.

Heaven ascends before my eyes
kissed by the reflection of amber rays;
my heartbeat echoing the foaming surf
while prayers dance among the murmuration
of winged clouds in dawn’s soft pastel light.

The world spins round.

This is my temple,
and my soul, shrouded in the rolling fog
of a new day, now lifted by salted winds.

I slip the bonds of my earthly servitude
and ascend upon the gilded rays of a new day –
lifted gently like a newborn in its mothers warm embrace.

Windswept Love in a Poppy Field


poppies

How do you keep the wind upon your face?
Like love, it lightly kisses your cheek,
and is swept away.

She led me into a field covered with green,
where a handful of poppies
had already started blooming
along the edge of the split log fence
Filaree and locoweed were also blooming,
and some other small flowers.

Here, she lay me down in the tall grass
gently pressing me to the earth
with the palms of her delicate hands
until I lay prone looking up
into the blue softness of her eyes.

Slowly, she knelt beside me,
tracing her long, slender fingers
along my cheek; her nails lightly grazing
the contours of my face.
Her hand turned; the soft pads of her fingertips
pressed tenderly against my lips.

I looked upward to the bright sunlight
filtering through the strands of her silken hair,
blinded by the intensity of the brightness;
I lost my vision of her in rippled pools
of tears flooding my eyes between the bright light,
the overwhelming beauty of it all.

I felt the wetness of her own tears
fall upon my upturned face mingling with my own,
as she quietly whispered:

“I no longer love you.”

She rises and walks away
as I lie there, the ground growing cold.
In the sky above, two swallows fly by
wingtip to wingtip.
Even these simple, feathered creatures
have out loved me.

الله اكبر (Allahu Akbar) – For the Children of Libya Lost in the Shadow of War


The Children of Libya Lost in the Shadow of War
Kids in the Libyan Wars, 17 Feb, 2011 – 2015  Artwork by Mohammad Bin Lamin

Allahu Akbar! you shout to the weeping sky
While the children play and the children die.
Do you not see in this young one’s face
Allah’s eternal love and benevolent grace?
This very God you seek to appease
Weeps for the child who cries and bleeds!

Behold! Our children’s lost innocence
That your savage war now steals away
Without the slightest reverence or sympathy
For the joy to be found in child’s play.
Yet, still you kill and do not hesitate
To drop your bombs and spread your hate!

As you draw your swords to kill and slaughter
Our innocent sons, our precious daughters
You cry “Allahu Akbar!” Yes, God is great!
Yet with each heart pierced, you seal your fate;
For Allah is the love of the mother and child
Allah is found in their dreams and their smiles.

Allahu Akbar! you shout to the weeping skies
As you seek Allah’s blessings for your pitiful lies
You’ll not find your victory in our children’s blood
Nor the mercy and forgiveness of Allah above.
You kill Christians and Muslims and Hindu and Sikh
As we bury our loved ones and the Prophet weeps!

Our nation’s rivers now flow colored with red
Awash with the blood of our innocent dead
The laughter of our children falls eerily silent
As your war wages on increasingly violent
Allahu Akbar! Yes, God is great!
But pray as you will, it’s much too late.

You can’t win a victory through the ghost of a child;
You can’t claim God’s blessing through acts so vile!
Your prayers, Allahu Akbar! now dissolve in the air
For His justice and wrath you cannot bear.

The Receding Tides of Love


receding tide

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.

Letting Go


It is human nature to become too attached to things or people.  Learn how to let go with grace.
It is human nature to become too attached to things or people.
Learn how to let go with grace.

Letting go of regrets is not some passive undertaking. 

Regret is a weight that anchors us in the past,
rendering the future as unobtainable.

Letting go takes courage and lots of sweat.
It takes a willingness to allow pain to run its course.
We are forever changed by the failures of yesterday.
Who we are today barely resembles who we were yesterday.

The heartaches and the pervasive sense of loss
can either pull us down into the morass of self-pity,
or it can catapult us from the depths of relentless sorrow
to the heights of new joy.

It all depends on upon a readiness to face the sun
as it rises upon a new day.
Upon how hungry we are to feed the possibility
that something more, something better
awaits us in the infinite possibilities of tomorrow.

Memories are like a cracked mirror;
they can only serve to offer us
a distorted reflection of our true selves.
Memories seduce us with useless thoughts and images
of what was, of what might have been.
But memories are a poor substitute
for imagination and hope.
If we are ever to break free from the shackles of our past,
we must first wean ourselves from our addiction to memories.
Our addictive behavior is the root of all suffering.

But much like the heroin addict
who struggles and writhes in agonizing pain
as he kicks his deadly habit,
we, too, must find  within ourselves
the strength and courage
to kick our dependence on self-recrimination
and useless reflection.

The soul is a restless being;
it is constantly expanding
and demanding room to grow
and to breathe.
Let’s be honest –
the air has been sucked from yesterday,
and when we exist with our hearts and our feet
planted in the past,
we deny our souls the essential life force
needed  to carry us further
toward our fullest potential.

In the very moment that we let go,
we invite a rapture that can feed and satisfy the soul.

Be brave. Face the emptiness.
Wrap yourself in self-love.

Breathe again.

Live once more.

light through trees

Love Fulfilled Beneath a Dying 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.

Of Love Lost


 All the dreams I dreamt
Will vanish like the morning fog
When at last I awaken,
And something tells me that day is come.

Still that final goodbye echoes fresh—
Oh, how we, both she and I
First kissed as the sun went down.
Will she ever return? I cannot say.

The door creaks.
A sudden whiff of the lost and familiar…
A day with her lost among the days without.
Once more the door creaks.
Who is it?
I have no voice left;
The last candle is almost out.

Painting by Adrian Calin
Painting by Adrian Calin

Mistress Moon


il_570xN.102969378

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.

My Life’s Palette


2bd7e87e520aef9d08a6765a6d51d478_large

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.

The Hopeless Longing of This Day


artworks-000047615807-w13kut-original

Each night within my folded dreams
You come to me, or so it seems
My heart beats then a thousand times
In aching rhythm, in broken rhyme

But when the morning sun appears
Once more I’m bathed in lonely tears  

My thoughts of you will more than pay
The hopeless longing of this day
Come now, and let me dream it true
With sleep-clenched eyes I am with you 

You part my hair, and kiss my brow,
And say, Love, why sufferest thou?

Come to me in my dreams, and then
By day I shall be well again!  
My thoughts of you will more than pay
The hopeless longing of this day  

 

The Love I Once Had, And Lost


love-lost

I have no thought of future love –
That’s a bridge I’m not ready to cross…
I need time yet to heal
From the pain that I feel
For the love I once had…and lost.

It’s not that I don’t feel the need –
In truth, no need is greater;
But unless I survive
What I’m feeling inside
I’ll have no need for later.

Be patient with me, please understand –
I’m not a man who’s made of stone…
I’ll deal with tomorrow
When I’ve dealt with the sorrow
Of living today all alone.

I’m not giving up on the future –
I just have no time for the thought
Of loving again
While I’m still lost within
All the love I once had…and lost.

Behind Green Eyes: A Child of the Ozarks


Ozark Girl

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

Love in a Guayusa* Shop


(*)Guayusa an organic herb sustainably grown in the Amazon Rainforest by Ecuadorian families only available at GUNPOWDER (http://drinkgunpowder.com)

coffee

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,
downward cast,
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
in return.

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.

The Divine Tapestry of Life


1a

 

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”.

Cinco de Mayo by Lavelle M.


1a

Poet Lavelle Maddox
Inglewood, CA

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.

Peace Through Art


1a

(Artwork by Mohammad Bin Lamin)

in quiet meditation,
let our consciousness guide us
upon the transcendental path
toward the glory of peace.

peace lies inside the throbbing heart of the earth,
inside the borders of nations, rich and poor;
inside its people, the living and the dead;

through our songs, our art, our poems,
our photographs, our dance, our creative imaginings
(men die miserably every day for the lack thereof)
our inspiration echoes the soul of heaven.

through art, we stimulate and illuminate our minds;
through our imaginations and our creations
we envision peace and increase
our courage, our hope, our enduring love –
which is the potential of every living soul.

without art, we are forever locked in the dialogue of illness
of suffering, of orphans crying, of death ,and of dying –
whether or not we are talking about it.
we remain caught in an entangled web of pain.

are we not yet tired
of having died in so many times in so many ways?
are we not tired of dying, dying again and again…?