Snoqualmie Falls


Image

Photograph by Paul Dorpat

The ground beneath my feet rumbles.
Softly at first, and then with each step
increasing in its timbre.

The air is damp and mossy with a gray light
filtering through the canopy of spruce and pine.
Wet thunder rises; my ears are muted
by the intensity of a river plummeting
over slick rock lips;
a roiling, massive death spiral.

Half the volume swan dives elegantly
hundreds of feet into a pounding foaming white pool,
while my pounding heart matches the outpouring,
beat for beat.
The other hangs mistily in the frigid air,
gently nourishing the brown-green algae with its spit.

I cannot help but marvel at the sheer anger of it all,
wondering how many open-mouthed bass
thrust forth into open space, gargoyle-eyed as
the river disappears beneath them,
recognize this as the end of their swim?

Death, anger, power…and yet
so serenely beautiful

Rage on, Snoqualmie,
before the winter’s freeze deprives you
of your liquid dance!

 

The Winter Bites My Bones


Image

The winter bites my bones –
standing all alone amongst the howling winds!
I count my sins and shiver, shiver, shiver …
icy cold reflections freeze me to the spot.
No longer will I find warmth in my denials,
Numb and quaking, I huddle amongst the fallen leaves
and like them, slowly decay and fade away.
The winter bites my bones –
chewing my frozen flesh with teeth of sharp icicles.
Darkness descends and I am numbingly consumed
though the frozen ground will not receive me.
Shallow breathes hang before me, vaporous and still,
muscles aching from too much holding on.
As the winter bites my bones!

 

Beneath a Dust of Snow


snow

The darkly puffed clouds, pregnant with snow,
hang dark and bitter and over mountaintops flow.
A cowardly moon casts a muted light, reflecting
scattered jewels across the veil of night;
Winter descends.
The rippling hills in the park in dusted white repeat;
streets grow eerily silent beneath unmoving feet . . .
The timeless face ticking on the old clock tower
shivers as the bell strikes its mournful hour.
The city sleeps unaware, or lost in the memory
of yesterday’s warmth and illumination.

He, from his frost-laced window panes
in silent rumination, stares out in pain
over the bitter whiteness of the slumbering town,
Seeing through swirls of white softly floating down
one candle burning in the window of a shuttered house
where this night the flame of love was cruelly doused
as she, in death’s harsh grip and coiled embrace
surrendered the light that transformed her face.
The frozen earth, itself reluctant to let her go
as he laid his love to rest beneath a dust of snow.

He desires like this to forget what will not pass,
Grey death, stale ugliness, and the sodden grass.
Deep in his heart old bells are beaten again,
Slurred bells of grief and twisted pain.
Dull echoes of hideous places where poisons grow,
he desires to drown in a cold white peace of snow.

The Winter Bites My Bones


winter

 

The winter bites my bones

Standing all alone amongst the howling winds,
I count my sins and shiver, shiver, shiver
Icy cold reflections freeze me to the spot
No longer will I find warmth in my denials
Numb and quaking, I huddle amongst the fallen leaves
And like them, slowly decay and fade away.

The winter bites my bones

Chewing my frozen flesh with teeth of sharp icicles
Darkness descends and I am numbingly consumed.
The frozen ground will not receive me
Shallow breathes hang before me, vaporized and still
Muscles aching from too much holding on

As the winter bites my bones.

 

Winter’s Embrace


winter embrace

You asked me if I could shelter you for the winter;
“Three months, tops!” you promised.
And so the snows fell, covering the leaves never raked
and you warmed me with your laughter.
Then you came to me at first melt, happily exclaiming,
“I’m on my way, and thank you!”
But now my heart melts, and the absence of you
leaves me yet forever frozen in the memory of you.

The Winter Years


Image

These are my winter years – when regret and recrimination ravage the soul. Half-remembered memories rattle like marbles in my brain-pan, conspiring against my forward vision. My voice but an opium whisper, offering no defense in the foul darkness of my affliction.

The souls of my feet rest upon cushions of prayer that never took flight, for my appeals were falsely laid; in this moment, I am content to lie upon my prickly bed, rankly scented with the sweat of whores and cheap whiskey. Offering no apology, and upon God’s ear none would surely fall, I hang contorted upon my cross – He has forsaken me to my earthly transfiguration.

The familiar smell of petrichor wafts through my open window; for a moment the abyss before me appears clean, washed, and inviting, stretching out  beneath a crescent moon like the hangman’s noose. My dreams are shards of colored glass laced with the blood of my inequities. The red cold hours of this night unwind slowly, but unwind they do!

My tortured eyes yearn to see Death’s gnarled fingers reach out for me in the gray fog of morning. These are my winter years – when the mirror of my existence reflects the harshest light and my bones rattle in contempt. Free will was never intended for men like me whose eyes grow dim with temptation’s agony. If He had plans for me, He kept them to Himself, so I have chartered my course beneath starless skies.

It is the Season


“God talks in the trees.”
— Thomas Merton, The Sign of Jonas

It is the season of sleeping late
while dreaming of red-orange trees
shuddering in the evening breeze.
These are the short days
when the thirst for warmth suborns desire
and Eros kisses summer love goodnight.

It is the season of crimson sunsets
pouring slowly, like thick molasses,
over church steeples and frozen riverbeds.
When snow-pregnant clouds float lazily
across flower-less meadows
and lovers shelter beneath love-stitched quilts.

It is the season of naked trees,
with branches like fingers extending
toward  the setting sun, tracing delicate arches
across the rose autumn sky.
Those days when the blackbird flies southward
into the night beneath crystal constellations.

It is the season of surrender,
when burdens, like the yellowing leaves,
fall silently to the frozen earth
and tired bones warm themselves before tended fires.
It is the season of dying in the palm of God’s hand;
comforted in the knowledge of spring’s resurrection.

My Winter Years


These are my winter years –
when regret and recrimination ravage the soul.
Half-remembered memories rattle like marbles
in my brainpan and conspire against my forward vision.
My voice is but an opium whisper, and offers no defense
in the foul darkness of my affliction.

The souls of my feet rest upon a cushion of prayers that
never took flight, for my appeals were falsely laid;
and in this moment, I am content to lie upon my prickly bed,
dankly scented with the sweat of whores and cheap whiskey.
I offer no apology, and upon God’s ear none would surely fall,
for upon my cross He has forsaken me to my earthly merriment.

The familiar smell of petrichor wafts through my open window,
and for a moment the abyss before me appears clean washed and inviting,
stretched beneath a crescent moon like the hangman’s noose.
My dreams are shards of colored glass laced with the blood of my inequities,
The cold hours of this night unwind slowly, but unwind they do
while my eyes yearn to see Death’s gnarled fingers
reach out for me in the gray fog of morning.

These are my winter years –
when the mirror of my existence reflects the harshest light
and my bones rattle in contempt.
Free will was never intended for men like me
whose eyes grow dim with temptation’s agony.
If He had plans for me, He kept them to Himself,
and so I have chartered my own course beneath starless skies.

The Homecoming


The royal robes of winter’s night tightly bind me
in its blue-black grip; and shadow of majestic mountains
kneel on the banks of frozen rivers, its cracked ice,
like braided lace hemming the barren valley floors.

An amber moon spills 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 and please, don’t seek.

I have walked a lifetime to return to this, my kingdom,
stretching as far as the blind eye can see.
My head is crowned in a spray of dying stars
as my spirit is drowned in muted prayer.
My hobbled feet were cut upon jagged stones –
This is my doomed destiny; my home made in hell.

Awakening a Memory


I have walked a thousand country miles –
watched the falcons pirouette in the summer sky;
lunched upon bitter green apples and fermented mangoes
and napped beneath the hot luminous clock;
quenched my thirst with melodious silver spring water
and skipped stones across frozen lakes.

I’ve immortalized poets against the echoing granite walls of time.
In bare feet I danced in verdant green meadows
that carpet a bottomless valley;
traced my fingertips along the gnarled grooves
of a dying oak and bid it farewell.

I have bathed in babbling brooks that giggled at
my nakedness and dried myself in the wispy autumn winds.
Upon mountaintops, I have squeezed sunsets between
my forefinger and thumb and slowly opened them again to
the shimmering glow of a new moon.

I have slept beneath a canopy of universes and composed
my dreams against shimmering stars;
built wet sandcastles fit for kings on foreign shores
and fed them to the ravenous surf.

Beneath cascading waterfalls were written tumbling
verse, while angelfish nibbled at my dropped metaphors.
In the Mascarene Islands, I flew kites built from
forest reeds and raffia palms until they were swallowed
by drifting winter clouds.

The return to a new day awaits me, and a thousand more
miles beneath my feet before this life is drawn complete.
Awakening a memory, I close my eyes
and the colors of life’s possibilities explode beneath my lids.

The Winter Bites My Bones


The Winter Bites My Bones
Standing all alone amongst the howling winds,
I count my sins and shiver, shiver, shiver
Icy cold reflections freeze me to the spot
No longer will I find warmth in my denials
Numb and quaking, I huddle amongst the fallen leaves
And like them, slowly decay and fade away.
The winter bites my bones
Chewing my frozen flesh with teeth of sharp icicles
Darkness descends and I am numbingly consumed.
The frozen ground will not receive me
Shallow breathes hang before me, vapored and still
Muscles aching from too much holding on
As the winter bites my bones.