FanStory.com
"Natural Light"


Chapter 1
Depths

By estory

Underneath the steps
The steps between the stones
The stones in the silence
A silence of falling leaves

The fallen leaves of years,
Of years and years
Left to time
And its turning pages

Where a face glimmers
Like a rusted leaf
Underfoot, a stone
Carved with a name

Whispered between the trees
Like the leaves
Covering the ground
And the stones standing there.

We stand silently, listening,
Straining to hear
Voices beyond us,
Lost in the murmuring

Depths underneath
Time and place
Stilled
In the cold, quiet earth.

Author Notes this is a free verse poem written with touches of minimalism, repetitions, that drip like the leaves falling in a cemetery. It is a somber, melancholy poem, a poem really that became a eulogy to my mother, and an expression of the feelings of loss and separation I felt at her funeral. I wanted to have the question at the end. Death is an unanswered question. What is it? What does it lead to? Will we ever see our loved ones again? The hope of Christ, the promise of the resurrection is yes. But it is still hard to deal with here on this world, in our physical lives, separated by this great gulf between people we love. estory


Chapter 2
Renewal

By estory

Up from the depths
Life breaks the dark
And ground
Into air and light

All of the colors
Of all the blossoms of spring
Exclaim these resurrections,
This resilience

In the brilliance of light,
In the brilliance of skies,
In the brilliance of air,
Determined, beautiful, alive

Life celebrates,
Born again
Out of winter and death,
Reaching upwards

Clear with the clarity
Within the light
Lighting the darkness
And the reborn landscape,

A rainbow
Silk thread
Pulled tight
Overhead,

Turned inside
Out, a butterfly fluttering
Over the flowers
Growing out of the graves
Of the dead



Author Notes This is my Easter poem this year. It is a poem with an open construction, images that seem to sprout and flower and take off and float away into the skies, going on forever. This is a poem I hoped would capture the spirit of the Resurrection of Christ, the hope it brings to mankind, and the whole world. Spring is the metaphor for that Resurrection. estory


Chapter 3
Paper Trails

By estory

Calico patterns

Patterns of blossoms
Blossoms unfolding
Unfolding into colors

Trails of colors
Cut out of patterns
Lifting and escaping

Blossoms of colors
Colors unfolding into light
Light unfolding into clouds
Clouds unfolding into skies

Skies cut out of landscapes,
Lifting overhead,
Above the paper trails,
The paper trails of journeys

Journeys lost
In calico patterns
Calico patterns of fields
Fields of flowers
Flowers of petals
Petals of colors

Colors of lavender,
Lavender light
Lifting and escaping

Lavender light
Cut out of paper,
Cut out of trees

The leaves of trees
Unfolding into air
Air unfolding into light
Light unfolding into dreams

Blowing away in the wind

Author Notes This is a poem of transcendence, of forms and sensations bleeding into each other, of images connecting to each other to form a web of enveloping sensations. It is deliberately ambiguous, dreamlike, surreal, and ends up just floating away, evaporating like a dream. the music comes from the repetitions of words bleeding from line to line, and the alliterations linked together through the lines. I wanted to explore new ways of making music in language with this poem, moving beyond rhyme schemes and iambic pentameter into a free form, pinned together by minimalism. estory


Chapter 4
brushstrokes

By estory

Empty white canvas
An empty white canvas streaked with
An empty white canvas streaked with brushstrokes
Across an empty white canvas streaked with brushstrokes of colors

Brushstrokes of colors
Brushstrokes of colors becoming petals
Within brushstrokes of colors becoming petals of flowers
Opening up across an empty white canvas
Of brushstrokes of colors

Brushstrokes of raindrops
Raindrops on flower petals

An artist dreaming of raindrops on flower petals

Author Notes In this piece, I tried to create an effect of the painting gradually emerging out of an artist's imagination, brushstroke by brushstroke, capturing this moment of raindrops on flower petals. It's somewhat an exploration of the idea of creating music in language by using repetition of phrases and words rather than rhyme, and the imagery is very deliberately sensual, almost oriental. estory


Chapter 5
Charleston

By estory

I don't know what I am trying to find
As I look through these museum houses;
Portraits of the privileged come to mind,
Ordering about their quiet servants
While they count their profits in fields of rice
Tilled by the backbreaking labor of slaves
Working outside in the dark, moonless nights
And denied all the ease and elegance.

A city of grace, haunted by the pain
Undermining the trappings of culture,
Beautiful to see, but hard to explain
in terms of the cost to human nature.

As the carriages of tourists drive by,
I watch the last camellia blossoms die.

Author Notes This is a pretty classic, English Italianate sonnet, done with a traditional abab cdcd efef rhyme scheme with a closing couplet. It is more in Yeats' style of Upon a House Shaken by the Land Agitation, or The Fascination of What's Difficult, or No Second Troy. I like conversational language in this form, with more contemporary images, on contemporary subjects. Charleston is a beautiful but complicated place, one which roils up all sorts of emotions when walking around there, watched by the ghosts of confederates and slaves. estory


Chapter 6
Glazed Hands

By estory

Your curved beauty comes alive in my hands
And a sweet music playing on your skin
Catches our hearts up as the song begins
Blending in a dance we both understand
As our feelings move in a coming flood
Wavering in the pale, intense dream time,
Intoxicated by desire's wine
Until the pleasure vibrates in our blood.
I play the notes that I have to give you,
Tuned deep in the body's resonance,
Born of dreams, aspiring to eloquence
In a form we both find rich, sweet and true.
Afterwards I leave for you this poem,
Fresh from hands glazed by your beauty, still warm.

Author Notes This is a sonnet with an abba cddc effe rhyme scheme, with a closing couplet. Its really a romantic sonnet, much more in the tradition of English sonnets written by Shakespeare, although with maybe more contemporary language. I tried to come up with some fresher images but it is really a very traditional piece estory


Chapter 7
Sunflower

By estory

A lover's dream
A dream in colors
Colors of flowers
Flowers in the sunshine

A lover's dream
A dream beckoning
Beckoning across the fields
Across the fields of flowers

A golden beauty,
A summer day,
As if of the petals of flowers
Feathered out in their glory,

As if of the petals of flowers,
Strands of hair,
Swathes of silk
In the sunlight,

A lover's dream
Of sweet grass
And summer light,
A golden beauty

Fields of colors,
Colors of faces,
Faces of dreams
Of swathes of silk

Like skin,
As if of the petals of flowers
Opening, embracing,
Golden pollen drifting

Into strains of music,
Music feathered out
Like hands on the silk
Of skin

A lover's dream,
As if of the petals of flowers,
Strands of hair
And meadowsweet

Author Notes This is another free verse poem, containing elements of minimalism to orchestrate the music of language, that embodies an abstract expressionist experience of sensuality. The images are designed as pieces of a whole picture, fitting together loosely, running off into all kinds of tangent possibilities. estory


Chapter 8
Red Bird

By estory

I watch a red bird
Flying off with your spirit
From these stones

A marvelous bird
Dancing over these fields
White with snow

Where the past years sleep
And tomorrow comes alive
In the spring

A woman in flight,
A spirit of the morning,
Lost in light.

Author Notes This a poem I wanted to post for Mother's Day, a poem that I wrote for my mother, whose favorite bird was the cardinal. She passed away a year and a half ago, but it seems to me her spirit is with the Lord now, dancing, free from Alzheimer's and all the problems of old age. Back with her mom and her brothers and sister. The origami haiku is a form I came up with a short 3 syllable last line just to throw off the balance, and I often write them in little sequences. estory


Chapter 9
Bird Song

By estory

Flying into the dream,
Featherheads light
On the wing,
Lost in the fabled magic of flight

Following the sun,
Following the moon,
Following the wind
Into unread distances

Along the long coast lines
Of grounded continents
As if by magic discovered
Out of thin air and stars

Along the lines
Of feeding grounds,
Nesting grounds,
Eggs hatched,
Fledglings fledged and flown

From half remembered perches
Among the tangled trees
On the shores of distant lakes,
Half remembered roosts
Along the long migrations,

Distances, journeys,
Wild nights on the wing,
Bones as light as feathers,
Lifted, set, launched

Upwards and outwards
Along the long fabled migrations,
A life of open air
And boundless horizons,

Feet never quite touching the ground

Author Notes I dedicated this poem to my niece Kaylynn, who loves birds, and animals. It's a subject well suited to an exploration of free verse I think, a poem of navigating open spaces, imagination, living life on the wing. Much of the musical elements have to do with rhythm, and alliteration, and repetition. So for those who love birds, I hope you enjoy it. My yard is always full of bluebirds, cardinals and robins, so I get to enjoy them every day.estory


Chapter 10
Time

By estory

Clay cut and lifted from the banks of earth,
Baked to hard bricks laid down in foundations
Layer by layer, as we build up our worth
By subduing landscapes in our presumptions
With a sense of permanence, mastery
Ordained upon us, visions of a space
In which nature is a garden, beauty
Treasured, so long as it's walled into its place.

Yet the long, slow waves of time break them down,
Tower by tower, wall by stubborn wall;
Buttresses, gables, roofs brought to the ground,
Cracked, crumbled, worn, broken in their fall.

All of our bodies pressed back into oil,
The clay baked bricks returning to the soil.

Author Notes Be humble. That is this little piece on man's arrogance, his hubris. We love to build garden walls, stepping stones of paths, monuments to our memories, our feelings, our achievements. But none of those achievements outlast nature, or time. In the end, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, and all that really matters is the spirit, and that is celebrated in the flowers, the trees, the ground itself. estory


Chapter 11
Into The Wild

By estory

Here, at last, on this edge of wilderness,
We can come out of the cities and the suburbs and the traffic
And leave behind the schedules and the obligations,
Those regular, familiar, comfortable surroundings,
To challenge ourselves in this great expanse,
Face to face with all of its rugged beauty,
Lost in the fresh air, listening to the sweet stream,
And looking up out of the trees to the hills,
Wondering if we can find a way through those woods,
Along those sharp ridges and over those crags and boulders
Up to the very summit.

Here, at last, we can take a deep breath
Standing in the sky, in the wind,
In that tremendous expanse of shape and light,
Those mountains reflected in those dark, deep lakes,
Making a connection to something else,
Something intangible, beneath the surface,
In rocks and rivers and the roots of trees,
Clean air and a clarity of light
Taking our breath away,
And leading us to the sky.

Here, we look down into the depths of that lake
And feel something, a resonance we cannot articulate,
A music in the pale, translucence of our spirit
Lifting us into the skies and beyond
Until there is nothing left but the bright stars
Brilliant in their portrait of the essence of our souls,
The nature we were born into,
And the aspirations reaching in our arms.

And there, a thundering cataract echoes across the valleys,
Bringing us closer to the edge of that cliff
In mid air, Leaves us standing transfixed
In between life and death,
Between remembering and dreaming
This strange sound heard in the forest,
This rustle of living leaves, of dead leaves underfoot,
The tall pines and the fallen oaks.

Here, we discover the wilderness within ourselves,
An altar standing in the cathedral of life itself,
Like a wildcat crouched beside a stream
Watching a deer in the depths of the trees,
Unpredictable and deadly and beautiful.

Here, we come close to where we want to be,
Under the arms of the mountains,
On the edge of that cliff,
Beside the clear running stream
Where those animals crouch and watch,
If only for a moment,
Grasping for something we cannot describe
in the deep, sheltering, wild expanse of skies.


Author Notes This is a poem that I wrote as an ode, in reaction to the mechanical minimalist poems I had been writing. It also has a natural theme; This is another side of me, a side that loves climbing mountains, hiking to waterfalls, enjoying the fall foliage of the changing seasons. this world, whatever we have managed to make of it, is a beautiful place, designed by a God who has a beautiful plan, if we will just take a moment from our hectic lives to listen for it, to catch a glimpse of it, to follow it out of the darkness and the confined spaces we have built into the expanses and freedom and light He has created for us. estory


Chapter 12
Natural Light

By estory

As the sky escapes ahead out of the electric light,
Unfolding into the soft, pale colors of the dawn
Illuminating each and every blade of grass
And holding the beauty of the shapes of leaves,
We reach a plane of stillness, attained at last
Above the concrete of the streets
Where we stand, looking into the distance

While the twitter on the telephone wires fades away
Into the slow revolutions of the distant stars
Turning out their nights stretching on
Into eternity, an eternity of light
Beyond our reach, long out of touch,
Something seen in the clouds,
In the air above the sea,

Natural light; soft, ethereal, bittersweet,
A beauty alive for one moment, and then lost
Into shadow, into memory,
Where the moment resonates and echoes
In the beauty of the present,
In the sunlight and the moonlight,
The trees, the grass, the flowers, the clouds
Stitched together in the quilt of time,
With all of the colors of the living sky.

Author Notes This is another pastoral romantic piece, in a prose free verse, praising natural beauty, natural light. Here, the man made world is a glimpse of distractions, overswept by the opening light, the colors and shapes and clouds, flowers, grass, leaves, fresh air and open horizons. The city fades, the open sea calls, and we stand there, in this dawn, opening like a flower to it. estory


Chapter 13
Grass

By estory

I

I can see for as far as I can dream
Across fields of light and rain
What I was and what I will be
Glimmering in evening rain and light
For as far as the eye can see
A field where I am one among millions
In the blinking of an eye
Where I will be and what I once was
Stretching away under the endless sky
For as far as the eye can see
And the spirit can dream

II

A single voice
In a chorus of voices
Inside the song
Of voices

A movement of grass blades
In between grass blades
Among grass blades
In the grass

A face
In the crowd
Of faces
In a crowd of faces

III

I can dream for as far as the eye can see
Across all the faces upraised in the field
Each face, its own day dream
Among the many faces in the crowd
Moving within the movements of movement
In the light of shadows across the grass
For as far as the eye can see
A face in the faces of the crowd

Author Notes This is a poem of the common spirit inside of all of us, the soul of life within the individual, the beauty of the uniqueness within the beauty of the likeness of mankind. I thought the dense repetitions of patterns of sound employed through minimalism would be a good way to capture the sense of the density of the grass blades, the little individual blades among the overall carpet across the lawn. It is broken into a triptych to create three separate but equal views of the grass that blend into an overall view. Alliterations are a big part of the dense music I was after in composing this poem estory


Chapter 14
Rain

By estory

I

Rain
Falling
From the skies
Washes away
Dust, dirt, particles
Accumulated in life,
Changing this place
And its stillness
Into refrains of the chorus
Of the song
In the rain
By the voices
Within the song
Singing about flowers,
Rainbows of colors
Opening in the moments of the music
Of the rain
In the song
Washing away
The stained, soiled
Clothes of yesterday

II

The chorus of the voices
In the music of the song
Of the rain
In the chorus
Dripping down
The windowpanes
Into garden boxes
And flower beds
Bird baths
Baptismal fonts

III

It is raining music
Raining light
Bits of cloud
Covering the ground
Becoming flowers

It is raining flowers
Raining water colors
Coloring the books
Of the kids jumping in puddles
And the umbrellas

It is raining cats
And dogs
Chasing each other around on the lawns
Until the bird baths are all filled
And the birds come back to the garden

IV

We listen to the rain
Drumming on the rooftops
Tapping on the windowpanes
Running down the rivers
Dancing in the streets

Where the laundry is forgotten
Hanging out on its line
In between the drops
Of the rain
In the song




Author Notes This free verse piece, with touches of minimalism, uses the image of rain to speak of forgiveness, of new starts, of casting off the soiled clothes of yesterday for the color and music of hope in tomorrow. I tried at times in this piece to capture something of the music of the rain as it taps on windowpanes and drips off of roofs, and pings in the streets in all kinds of rhythms. It was fun to write, and I hope, an enjoyable read. estory


Chapter 15
Rainbows

By estory

Unfurled from clouds breaking into mornings
An expanse of upwards lifting arches
Gold amber emerald scarlet indigo violet
Within the opening hands of the rain
Through sunlit windows where angels sing in choirs
Blooming the flowers on the sides of the rain swept mountians
In all colors blossoming in arches
Catching and holding glittering colors
Where angels in glory glitter in the sunlight
Above clouds above mountain tops above mornings
Unfurled out of the rain lifting out of the valleys
Into colors brilliant in the sparkling sunshine
An angel in a chorus of praise
And thanksgiving upraised after the storm passes
Into daylight flying high and fast and clear
Gold amber emerald scarlet indigo violet
Shimmering in the last of the rain
Like angels of light touching the treetops
In a raindrop sparkling for an instant
In the palm of a hand outstretched in the rain
Glittering in the sunlight like flowers
Gold amber emerald scarlet indigo violet
In the promise of a morning
Where thanksgivings sung in cathedrals
Open into choirs of angels
Reaching into the light of the sky
Where angels in glory glitter in the sunlight
Sparkling for an instant in the palm of a hand

Author Notes This is a companion piece to the prior post, Rain. After the rain, come the rainbows. This is a poem of hope, of the feeling of thanksgiving for the blessings showered on us in the world, after the struggles we go through. Into every valley a little rain must fall, and somehow, it makes the next sunny day, seem all the more brighter, all the more blessed. estory


Chapter 16
Raindrops

By estory

That moment in time
When your voice hung in the air,
A raindrop

A raindrop music
On the leaves of the forest
Beyond us

Beyond us, moonlight
Just out of reach, beckoning
You and me

You and me, alone,
Listening in the twilight;
That moment

Author Notes This is a form I developed out of the traditional 5-7-5 syllable pattern, leaving the last two syllables off to create an off balance effect, and using the last image of one stanza as the first image in the next stanza to kind of drip the images through the poem as they slowly, subtly evolve and morph, moving in a circle so that the last line of the poem echoes the first line, and it can be repeated in a never ending sequence. So this is a 5-7-3 haiku sequence poem with a romantic, ethereal feel to it. estory


Chapter 17
Wind on Wind

By estory

If I should take flight
Without wings,
Reaching higher and further
Across the unmapped miles
Unrolling and unrolling through distant horizons,

Free from the confines of edges and directions,
All pure air and movement,

As the boats sail off across their wide oceans
And the balloons let go of themselves,
Disappearing

Where will I set myself down again,
Or shall I continue on
Rising, effortless,
With the thousands of leaves lost
Among the grassblades bent in the course of it,
The leaves rustling there, the flowers bending,
Movement within movement,

Caught up in the breath of life,
The whirlwind and the tempest of it,
And the softness, the silence,
The sound of wind on wind,
Formless,

Effortless

Author Notes In this free verse piece, I tried to capture the sense of the limitless power of the spirit. Here, the wind, a time honored symbol of the spirit of God, carries you away out of the world of edged maps and places and directions, and you are truly free to be what you want to be, and go where you want to go, no strings attached estory


Chapter 18
Wind Chimes

By estory

If I should become the sound of wind chimes,
The wind chime music on the porches of summer afternoons,
Describing the movements of a sunflower breeze
And the wakes of the hulls of the ships of the clouds,

What song would I sing to the listeners,
The listeners watching the bluebirds on the wing
In the thousands of back yard gardens
Traversed in one, single, soft breath of wind

Turning the tails of the rooster weathervanes
And turning the tails of the rooster weathervanes again
Until the rooster tails turn the sky into the colors
Of the fading rose of September twilights

If I should become the sound of wind chimes,
I would ring each time a star appeared
Echoing in the wide emptiness of the skies
And echoing in the wide emptiness of the skies

Until there was nothing left but the wind

Author Notes This is another in my series of wind poems, along with In The Wind's Imaginations and Wind on Wind. I tried to capture the sense of the turning tails of the rooster weather vanes, the sound of the wind chimes, and the upbeat moment of experiencing the beauty and the freedom and the expanse of nature. I suppose what is really beautiful about it is the expanse, and then the ending, where you just drift away into the Spirit. estory


Chapter 19
Into the Wind

By estory

As I let go of myself,
Empty of the sleeves of shirts,
Empty of shoes, leaving
Places I have been,
Dust of earth,
Frames of photographs
Falling back down to the ground

As I spread my arms and
Fly, catching the wind,
Rising
And rising into clarities,
A pure, crystalline breath

Unembodied,
In the light itself,
A leaf letting go of summer
And the seasons of lives,

Discovering fancy and flight
In the wind's imaginations,
In the air's light

Author Notes This free verse poem is part three of my wind songs series. I tried to capture the feeling of freedom of spirit, hope, a sense of unencumbered selflessness. It relies heavily on alliterations, open ended rhythms, and images, verbs giving you that feeling of lift and weights dropping off your shoulders. estory


Chapter 20
In The Wind's Imaginations

By estory

In the wind's imaginations,
All that is rooted
Is groundless,

Skies have no edges,
Horizons are endless

Places pinned to points
Come free from their moorings

And blow across the distances of our perceptions,

Racing along with the sailing clouds
Sailing off on their immense journeys

Author Notes This is poem about freedom of movement, and I thought the free verse form perfect for it


Chapter 21
A Lady's Portrait

By estory

If I painted the beauty of your face,
I would paint you in early morning light,
Playing your guitar, dreaming something new,
Like the flowers opening in the spring;
Something like a mother's careful embrace
Wrapping the dreams of children through the night,
Until dawn breaks softly the midnight blue,
And sunlight illuminates everything;
Flowers they picked from your green, garden space,
Music filling the air for our delight,
Like a bird that found its wings and flew
In a moment of joy and blessed grace
Where even strangers can find their respite,
Feeling their hearts washed clean as morning dew.

Author Notes This celtic rose sonnet has an interlocking rhyme scheme of abcd abcd abc abc, and is in a little more opened up meter than strict iambic to give it a more natural, conversational tone, much like some of Yeats' sonnets. This poem is dedicated to an old friend and musician, Patience Connor. estory


Chapter 22
Pleine Aire

By estory

Outside,
With brush and paint,
She works to catch
On an empty canvass
A quicksilver light
Glimmering for an instant
In wavering shadows,
Faint shapes,
Dappled colors,
Before the light
Escapes
Into thin air
And fading clouds,
Night,
All lost forever.

She thinks that quicksilver
Lends itself to the imagination,
Fills a brief moment
With incredible music
Stolen from the vibrant mosaic
Of shadows and light
In the golden leaves
Wavering for an instant
Before slipping from the hand
And eye,
Slowly disappearing,
Gone.

Only this remains:
These shadows, those shapes, that light,
Delicately frozen
In imitations of paint,
Like a rose cut from a garden,
A moment stolen,
Standing
Still.

Author Notes This is a free verse piece about pleine aire painting, the act of creating something lasting out of fragile, transient moment in nature. I wanted to get a sense of the quick movements of hand and brush in the short lines, and fill the poem with images, artistic and imaginary. I got the idea for the poem after watching a pleine aire painting at Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island some years ago. estory


Chapter 23
Transcendence

By estory

I

Light
In water
Under ground
On fire

Wood, wound
Around
Stems, branches,
Bark and roots

Roots of trees,
Trees of leaves,
Leaves in the rain
From the clouds
In the skies

Skies of stars,
Stars of light,
Light in the rainbows,
Rainbows of colors

Colors of gold
In the green of leaves,
Leaves in wind
On water
In sunlight

II

Like the gold in green,
A golden light
In open air
Above us,

Within us,
Around us,

Outside in
Ground water
Turning green,
The green in solid stone.

III

The stones in dreams,
Still, silent, hard
Inside of us,
Forms transformed

Out of the light
In the rainbows of colors
In the skies of clouds
Like pale dreams,

Our dreams standing still
Within us, like stones,
Entranced in the stillness,
The stillness of meaning,

Meaning like magnetism
Magnetism pointing out
Metals lined
Through the solid rock,

Solid rock
Marble veins
Within us, where
The compass points pointing

Off in the distance
Becomes vision,
Vision of shapes,
Shapes of white stones,

Statues in the Garden of Eden
Cut from the solid rock,
Solid rock from the marble
Veins,

Veins from the metal
Magnetized
In the stillness

IV

In the statues of marble
Where the light in the water
Catches the gold in the stones
In the stillness,

In the quiet contemplation of stones,
Forms, time, stillness, dreams,

The ground in which we sit
Becomes grains of sand,

The grains of sand on which we sit
Carry us off into the stillness,

The very stillness of being

Author Notes In this surrealist free verse piece, the musical elements of language flash in bits and pieces linked by repeating patterns, and the images bleed in and out of each other, forming a dream like collage of a world in which individual forms lose their sanctity, and cannot be seen apart from the other images standing in juxtaposition. It's theme is borrowed from Transcendental romantic philosophy, in which elements are linked by a shared spiritual origin, and we see God in the trees, in the clouds, in us, in the stars, in our dreams of the stars. the stillness of being. estory


Chapter 24
Wanderlust

By estory

Look for the roads that run off of the borders of maps
Up into the distant, beckoning mountains,
And look for the places off of the sides of the roads
Leading you on to places you imagined in your dreams,
Far away places, deep forests, lakes
Where the mountains you sought are reflected in the sky
And the sky spreads out beyond your outstretched arms,
And you know that you cannot turn back again,
But trudge on through the thickets and the underbrush
Where streams strewn with stones meander and meander,

And you wander, wandering onward,
Ever onward, northwards and westwards,
Past the fences and the crossroads and the signposts
At the ends of endless skies and endless prairies
Where the restless wind through the restless grasses
Gives shape to the clouds trailing off to the horizon

And this longing for another place, another time,
Places we haven't seen beyond the horizons,
Those open spaces, those tops of hills
From where you can see the strings of roads unravelling
Across the quilted fields and the wrinkled valleys,
Remembering the ghosts of travelers
Still travelling, still lost along their journeys
In the shadows of the autumn twilight;

On the road beneath the moon,
All the footsteps that passed are lost
In the tangled grass,
On the wild wind,
With the restless birds
Suddenly springing to flight
From their perches in the uppermost branches

And out here, alone, without shadow or destination to guide us,
We turn our backs gladly on the familiar
Well worn paths of our walking,
Until all we have left is the mysterious earth,
And the even more mysterious sky.

Author Notes This is another ode, celebrating the dream of travel, of turning your back on the familiar, and wandering into adventure, finding new places, new people, to explore.
It's written in a prose style with an ear to echoes of sounds throughout the natural voice in the language. estory


Chapter 25
Ode to Autumn

By estory

Today, an October morning breaks upon us
In a wavering light; crystalline air, a restless wind;
Light illuminating every maple, every poplar, each birch and oak
That lived and grew and tangled in the woods
Through these moments of struggle and aspiration
Passing before our eyes like ghosts of the days we walked among them.
This air that tastes like biting into an apple,
This fresh, crisp taste of life
We picked and enjoyed until the boughs were picked clean,
And wind that speaks to us of a time we are leaving behind,
As we fly into the futures of our lives.

It is that time of year again, when the living green fades,
That rich, verdant, living film of life,
This patchwork quilt of glittering moments
Which lent itself to our passions and our plays
Wears thinner and thinner, then disappears
Like breath that hangs for an instant in the crystal air
Before becoming nothing in our eyes,
And the leaves, in their scarlet and gold dresses,
Dance one last dance to the wind's music,
Remembering all those dances in the rain and sunlight
Before letting go of them, and giving themselves up
To the cold ground, and the frost;
Fading into the pale hopes of the spring to come.

I listen to that wind, now, in the forest's restlessness,
Watching those brilliant memories of time
Falling away, leaf by splendored leaf,
Wondering what hold me to it,
Where the mind and body, lost in a moment's quickness,
Continue on with it
Into the eternity of generations and seasons and stars.

Is this the hand that holds mine,
The hand of that spirit, more beautiful than light,
And yet more fragile, paper thin,
Passing as a rainstorm through the autumn hills,
As an hour of daylight, a drop of water
Lost in the silver moments of the running stream?

Even as we reach out to grasp it,
The light wanes into long shadows across the stubble fields,
The last leaves slip away on the wind, and are gone,
And we hear the last goose flying under the cold, white moon.

Author Notes Autumn for me, is my favorite time of year. There is something about the crisp, refreshing air, the colors of the leaves, the restlessness of the wind, and the fading light, that speaks of the poignancy, the ephemeral nature, of the moments of the year, the transitory, fragile nature of life, and the passing of time. All these elements I tried to weave together into this Ode to Autumn. The style and musical elements were inspired by Samuel Coleridge's beautiful romantic poem, Frost At Midnight. The image at the end, of the cold, white moon, speaks of the onset of winter, and the coming snows, that follow fall. So there is a sense of the fluid passing of time here, of leaving behind the precious moment of a year to memory, and looking forward to what life brings next. estory


Chapter 26
November

By estory

November's light fades from yellow to brown to grey
Yet the eternal sky above still remains,
Clear, even in the early coming night,
Shining and brilliant with glorious stars
Pointing out the paths between the naked trees
Sleeping in the cold of the new fallen snow.

The new fallen snow,
White, otherworldly, deep in its purity,
Buries and transforms these half remembered fields
Dreamt in a springtime of flowers,
Here where the leaves and snow sparkle in the starlight,

The scattered memories of days
In the faint, faded, fallen leaves,
The pieces of skies.

Pieces of dreams.

Author Notes This free verse poem, full of surreal images of life and death bleeding through each other, and laced with echoing patterns of repeating sounds, speaks of the spirit of life that transcends time and place. estory


Chapter 27
Candlelight

By estory

Whispering figures
Dance in the shadows
Where a candle
Flickers
Into music,
Movement

In the shadows,
Shapes:

A woman's body
In a man's hand

Softness
Held tightly

Where shadows dreaming lightly
Seem almost silent,
Still;

A charcoal sketch of lovers
Speaking softly

In whispers of light,
Silhouettes embracing
In a pale tongue of flame
Like fingertips
On skin

In darkness
Whispers
The light,

Flickering, wavering
In silhouettes
Embracing

A whisper of light
On the pale wall,
Dancing

Author Notes This is a free verse poem of repeating patterns of words and sounds, lots of soft 's' sounds, and hazy images that suggest an impressionistic sketch of lovers in a dark room. Hints and impressions make up the beauty here, and I wanted to keep it abstract enough to be interpreted in many ways by different people. estory


Chapter 28
Snow

By estory

I

Snow is like birch trees
Pointing out white clouds
And white stars
In the sky

Dreaming of fields
Of white flowers
In the stillness,
The starlight

Turning slowly in the silence;
Never filling up shapes,
Never moving away,
Like pieces of paper

The snow lays in drifts,
Silently sleeping,
Barely moving or whispering
In the depths of its dreaming

II

Snow is like pieces of sky falling
In pieces of six pointed stars
Falling slowly,
Silently,

Into memories of the woods
And lonely footsteps through the woods
That end in standing still
Somewhere
Under the stars

Where the cold stops the trees from growing
And stops the birds from flying,
The snow dances to music
It hears in the silence

III

Snow dreams of flowers,
White petals,
The pieces of six pointed stars
Becoming six petals of blossoms

Rising back into the sky again,
White flowers ascending
Into white clouds
And into white birds

In flight over the flowerbeds

IV

The snow comes to a stop.
Starts dancing again
Under the white sheets,
In all kinds of colors
Come back to life again,
Waking up from the deep sleep
And the forgotten white of winter
To give shape to the shapelessness,
Make the motionless move

Into the light again,
Into skies wide with white clouds
And nights bright with starlight
Where the stars point to the north,
An arctic circle of light,
The cold alchemy of white.

V

The snow seems to dance in circles,
From white into color and back into white again,
Listening and singing and dancing and dreaming
Of starlight and moonlight,
The white bark of birch trees
And the white petals of flowers
Waking up in the spring time,
White pieces of paper
Becoming poetry and music,
The music of a ballet
Whose footsteps trail off
Into wandering loneliness
And a stillness of dreams.

White clouds in the starlight.

Author Notes In this poem, I tried to stretch the experience of snow into the experience of life, of the circle of seasons, of death and rebirth, of sleep and dreaming, of reaching out spiritually into the nature and substance of the world around us. I tried to keep an uptempo, skipping rhythm, like a dance, and use this dance image to capture the sense of snow falling in a whirlwind of action. And all at once, we seem to be in a surreal place, where spring and winter happen simultaneously, where transcendence and transformation are possible. estory


Chapter 29
Winter Sunset

By estory

Life seems to have left us, left the Earth
Without a tell tale footprint in the snow;
Gone overnight, with not so much as a hint
As to when it will return. These trees
Once vibrant with the richness of leaves
And the songs and color of the birds
Are nothing more than pencil lines now,
A charcoal sketch of stands of oak and beech
Whose leaves have withered and fallen,
And we can't even see them under all that snow.

Yet there is still light left in the sky,
Light like the light we see in stained glass windows,
Not quite moving, but telling a story,
Like the bright glass between the black lines
Of the lead tracery of patterns,
Patterning itself perhaps after the patterns
Illuminated in those cathedral windows,
And even more brilliant, more expansive,
As though making up for the lack of movement
And the sounds of life
By holding out a hope for us,
Defining a place, a music, a spirit
Still carrying the light of life along with it.

We stand here as if on the threshold of something,
One foot left in that silent stillness,
One foot stepping into the space of the light,
Watching the light reverberating and expanding,
Breaking like a wave on a shore we haven't yet seen,
Shaping dreams out of what look like clouds,
Catching this color and this movement
As the wings of birds catch the wind.

Burning there, between these lines of trees,
Like the flame of a spirit rising from the world,
This light catches our eyes, catches the imagination,
Lifting us with it out of the frame
And into the endless freedom of the skies.

And off it goes, westwards, slowly,
Passed the treetops reaching after it,
This flame, this fire in the sky
Casting its wavering shadows over the snow
And slowly burning down, down
Into the last embers, the warm glow,
Going softly like a dream
Before giving out to the pale, cold, stillness of the stars.

Author Notes Winter sunsets have always fascinated me; they look like stained glass windows, flooding the world with light through the framework of the trees, and somehow they seem to speak of the resurrection, the transformation of the world. I tried to keep a conversational, contemporary feel to the language here, really trying to dig into a feeling of 'talking to oneself' and letting all the emotions fly. The music is kind of stitched together out of alliterations and repetitions of patterns of sound in the language, and the images are what really make this poem come alive. It is very much in the transcendental romantic tradition of odes, deeply inspired by Coleridge's beautiful poem, Frost At Midnight. estory


Chapter 30
Star Trails

By estory

Stars like jewels in deep, dark pools
Shimmering at the stroke of midnight
In the distance and the silence
That will outlast us

Stars drawing pictures in the sky
Above the ancient mountains
Like empty arms and silent music
Hinting at the mysteries of the blossoms

Falling to the Earth like light
Beginning the journey of a thousand footsteps
Across the distant stepping stones of heaven
And Across the endless years of time

Stars spreading out the destinations in the skies
And spreading out the furthest reaches of the blue
And spreading out the dreams of the dreaming trees
In the deep sleep of the depths of winter

Stars dancing the dance of darkness
And lighting the clouds above the moonlit oceans
Tracing out the shapes of faces
And whispering something in the sacred silence

Author Notes In this poem, I tried to capture the mysteriousness of the night sky, the mysterious and timeless feel of it; the constellations, trying to tell their stories of love and challenge and hope and loss; the mysterious silence of it, the awe inspiring immensity of it. Space is older than we are, and the distances in it are beyond what we can fathom; and in all that, our imagination runs wild. estory


Chapter 31
Poetry of Moonlight

By estory

I

By the light of the moon
Shapes shimmer
In between flowers and faces,
A smooth whiteness of skin
Along curves of a body,
Or a stream
Disappearing,
Reappearing
Like a voice in the stillness
Whispered in twilight
Fades into the darkness

In the moonlight,
Our empty hands
Cradle a face,
Eyes like drops of water,
Features of cheeks and chin and brow
Worn smooth as stones in water
Shimmering through the shadows of the woods
Out into open fields of grassblades
Where white seeds of dandelions
Drift away on the wind
Into nothing

II

The moon was once a woman
With silver skin like silk
And strands of hair like clouds,
A face of chrysanthemum blossoms
Seen under water,
Blooming overhead
Through the tides of weeks
And ripening months
Where drifting seeds
Grow into children within her,
Mysteriously, numberless as the crowds of stars
And the crowds of stars that fill the fields of skies

III

And we walked on the distant moon
Leaving our footprints in the undisturbed dust
Where no-one could ever follow after;
Alone in the unbreakable silence,
We saw the Earth slowly rising,
With all of its memories of places,
The cities where we were born
And the white of the clouds
Above the blue of its oceans
Drifting off with it,
Growing smaller and smaller,
Further and further out of reach

While our dreams shine around us
In an electricity of black and white
Stilled life,
A flash of lightning in an onyx sky

IV

Out in the desert,
A small town with white walls
And white windows and white roofs
Mirrors the moonlight.

Its graveyard opens to the sky,
Gives up its dead,
Silently, invisibly,
Rising up into the white clouds

Above the white mountains,
And beyond that,
Up to the moon,
Drifting away passed the embrace of the horizon.

Author Notes The title of this poem comes from a Blaylock painting I saw in a museum on Long Island once. He was mentally ill, and painted these dreamlike landscapes of trees in the moonlight that I found fascinating metaphors of the subconscious. So we have these surreal images in the poem; an ill defined, abstract presence that flutters between the present and memory and the future, disappearing into nothing, leaving us alone, with these desires within us in an empty landscape. This mystical abstraction of motherhood in which the moon becomes a symbol of the womb. The moment when man walked on the moon, realizing his dreams, but discovering the moon is a dead, still world, taking him away from his memories of childhood. And the last scene, from an Ansel Adams photograph of a New Mexico town with its graveyard and the moon, where our spirits, released in death, rise into heaven. All these scenes and experiences connected by the moon. It was fun to write, and I hope you enjoy it. one of the most surreal poems I have written. estory


Chapter 32
The Lake

By estory

I

What passes in time above the lake
Passes, leaving the lake behind
In its stillness. Clouds, birds, leaves
Moving over its surface
Glitter in abstractions of images
Lost to the time
Reflecting the movement.
The more we look into the lake,
The more we see ourselves,
Speechless, standing still
Underneath the surface;
Shadows of what we were
In the light of the sky.

II

At the edge of the lake,
The faces and the figures
Of what we once were
Dance, disappear
Like leaves on the wind
Falling onto its surface,
Sinking beneath it.
Under the water
They transcend themselves,
Shifting into forms,
Formations, fragments
Fitting into mosaics
Depicting elysian landscapes.
Transfigured spirits.

III

Under the lake,
The things we dreamed,
Half remembered, half forgotten,
Slip out of our fingertips

And into something else,
Sinking down to the bottom
Beneath the water,
Under the light,

Out of sight and mind,
Solid, heavy, silent, shapeless,
Dark reverberations
Bend into figures around us,

Stretched ghosts of faces
Breaking up into waves
Filled with shadows
And light.

IV

If we listen to the lake,
It will whisper its secrets
In a language we do not understand,
Speaking in voices
Drowned in the voices
Murmuring up from under the water;

Something about death,
About its stillness,
its silence,

Something about a resting place,
A transformation,
Passages

And shifting shapes,
Cocoons, larvae, spirits
Threading the eyes of needles
Back into broad daylight.

V

In the morning light,
The lake gives up its spirits
And they rise like mist
Into the trees around us,
Into the leaves,
Sunlight

Walking on the water
Above death and its stillness,
With an ear to the music
Of spring;

Clouds, birds, leaves
On the wind,
Places never dreamt of
In the stillness of our dreams




Author Notes This poem is a poem about death, about the transformation of life through death. The lake serves as a metaphor for death, the place of transformation through which we leave the physical world behind and enter the spiritual. Its a poem about the contrasts between movement and stillness, between time and timelessness, music and silence. Of course it remains mysterious, the lake speaks in a language we do not understand, and the images we see are mere abstractions, visions half recognized, half internalized. Life is an imperfect vision, an imperfect experience, yet through transformation, there is hope. There is light beyond the door. estory


Chapter 33
August

By estory

There is something about August and the late summer light,
The last of it that seems to carry the summer with it
From the intricate embroidery of Queen Anne's lace and forget-me-nots
That stitched the meadows where we once walked
Hand in hand, into the star studded skies of autumn,
Listening to the crickets singing their last love song in the grass.

In the lifting breeze, we hear the restlessness of the seasons,
The restlessness within ourselves,
And we know that this time and this place,
Beautiful as it was, will pass
And become another time and place
in the bittersweetness of passing moments,
Romance, friendships coming and going,
The complicated story that is life.

And we find ourselves picking the last of the roses
In our trying to hold onto them,
In our longing to stand still,
Looking up into a silver moon
That seems to hold the past, present and future
With all our memories and dreams
Looped together like the colors of a field at twilight,
As we watch a lover walking away
For the last time, and we walk back
Alone, picking a new path
Through the shadows of the restless trees.

August is when the leaves begin to turn,
As if by magic, making it seem like whole other world.

Author Notes This is really a pastoral romantic poem, very much in the style of Coleridge, a throw back to the romanticism of a simpler time, when poets used the symbolism of nature to articulate the emotions and experience of life. August is a time of change, when the hopes of spring fade into the hard facts of autumn, when summer loves meet the test of maturity, and the mysterious forces of change work their magic in nature and in our own lives. It is both a sad time, and a refreshing time. estory


Chapter 34
Out East

By estory

Out east, I come back under the spell of sky and sea,
Transformed by their mysterious alchemy
Through the shifting shapes of sand and stones and shells
Until I am walking along the same shores
I walked along when I was young,
Suspended in the effervescence of sound and air and light.

I remember listening to the music in the waves
In the Sound, chanting its hypnotic incantations
Into a poetry like that of sailboats,
Somehow moving, coming to life
Out of the wind's invisible script,
Reaching and reaching across the stretched distance
For mysterious shorelines I could not make out.

Those beautiful schooners that I saw there,
Racing the Sound in their long, wide tacks,
Seem to be still out there, somewhere,
The 'Harmony' and the 'Magic'
Capturing the unfathomable craft of movement
In which white sails do the names justice,
Carrying me away as they pass out of sight
And into a place and a time of dreams.

I never wanted to leave that place.

And so I still stand here, all afternoon,
Caught up in the magical flight of the gulls,
Watching white sails giving shape to the wind,
Dreaming of lighthouses with the ghosts of their light keepers,
Islands left out to themselves;
Beautifully mysterious in the beckoning distance.

Author Notes This poem is about one of my favorite places in the world, the east end of Long Island; a place that always seemed magical to me, a place of the magic of distance, of distances in time, and a suspended quality of experience. The sailboats are a metaphor for the imagery of poetry, the sight of them, a symbol of the creative spirit that you reach out for and try to articulate, without quite being able to capture it in words. It remains mysterious, elusive, like the Harmony and the Magic still sailing out there, beyond the islands, beyond the lighthouses, in the memory of the dead light house keepers. estory


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