Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In Memory

I've never seen so much pain. I've never seen so much despair on the faces of people I love, and I've never known before how much sorrow there can be in one place. I've never seen so many people united in one memory and one strength. 

It's devastating to see someone cut down before they flower, and it's a reminder of just how fragile life can be. And it's the sort of thing that makes you remember why you live and all of the things that are less important in life. 

But if I have learned anything from all this pain, it is this. It is how great an impact one person has on all those around him. It is how central to the lives of those he loves and those who love him, and even those he only touches with a smile or a word, one person is. It is how great the consequences of your actions are. But it is more than that. It is that we can unite in the face of the darkness and make a tower of brave strength together. It is that within all of us there is faith and caring, the ability to love and the ability to grieve that gives meaning to this world. It is how beautiful the embrace of what small solace can be and what empathy there is in the linking of arms to guide us out of the darkest times of our lives is. 

And it is how beautiful the strength of those that strive through grief is, to honor and remember, to live better lives, to take up the torch and live with the flame of the love that was and shall ever be to guide and strengthen them is. 

There will never be a time when all the pain is forgotten. There will never be a day when there is not a place in the heart of everyone that honors that memory. But there will come a time when all of the meaning is there—when the memory of the arms of others that hold and bolster now lead the way for a better, wiser, more caring awareness of life, when the memories of goodness are a beacon to light the way, and when the bitter and the desperate stand with the sweet and the strengthening and are smiles through tears. 

That day may not be today. That day may not be today, or next week, or next month, or next year. But there is honor always of a life that was well and fully lived as a guiding light. And there is healing that remains, the wholesome knowledge of love that is everlasting even until the end of days, that transcends the mortal coils of the bodies and world we live in, that reaches through all planes and across eternity. 

For such love exists. And it is here. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

For A Fallen Star

This is for Andrew. May he rest in peace now and forever. We will never forget.

A flaming star dawning in the east
Ready to throw its rays out in warmth to all
Was struck down by the uncaring hand
Of a bigger giant
Who didn't care to know the flame of promise that was snuffed out in one swift stroke
Laden with the brazen, hollow, false joys of self-absorbance. 
And now
The light is gone
And all of the growth the light would have fueled
Urged, encouraged, supported
Everything beautiful, everything right
Never existed—razed before birth
By the blight of inattention
The corruption of carelessness
That took one star today
And dimmed a thousand more.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

90 Seconds

The raucous crowd piles in,
Chatting, laughing,
Laden with the types of spoils
A few cents at a garishly decorated stand can buy.
Brassy embossing boldly proclaims
“The 90-second circus. $2 for admission.
The finest show ever seen
Here one instant, gone the next.”
Perhaps it is the draw of the idea—90 seconds—
Instant gratification for so paltry a sum!
Money—what is money?
Here one day, gone the next
Money buys pleasure, that’s what.

Out steps the performer: slim, dainty,
Walking like he knows his thing
Beautiful in a strange sort of away,
In the unabashed smile and clean white lines.
Everyone roars in anticipation—
After all, who
Would not cheer for a bright young hero
A new star on center stage?

The ringmaster shouts,
Cracks a whip.

The chaos starts.

Here! A clap of thunder, and a burst of fire
Golden sparkles in the air
He strides with purpose, mounts the ladder
Fine acrobatics over it all
Fearless! What’s to fear?

Ten seconds and they lean forward, realizing
He seems uncertain, falters—
A cloud of doubt passes over his face—
He stops in wonder, stares around
Creeping indecision—what to do?

Steps here, steps back
Turns right—no—here! A tentative experiment—
Something new he tries.
That’s not fine—
Not the way that it should go—
No, it’s this way!
How dare he change?

And an audience so expectant frowns
The eyebrows crease, the mutters start
And there he is, just realizing
That all the world is watching.

A leap, a bound,
Heady determination
Through hoops of fire, on the high trapeze
Dashing now, to make up for time
Ah, yes—here’s what they waited to see!
That’s what he should do.
Smiles again on the fickle people
This is proper.
This is right.

Thirty seconds—fifty—sixty
He seems to start to flag
Mouth working, sweat streaming,
He stops at last
Sudden comprehension—but he can’t run now
It’s eighty seconds in and there is scoffing from the crowd—
No one else saw the fatal error
The time he should have turned right, not left

But he knows.
But he knows.
And the knowledge stains his suit of white.

Through smoke and fire,
High and low,
An instant captures a year, a century
Pictures flash—what should have been—
How could he have been
So careless?
Let his haste, the moment
Get to him—

Best to keep mum—
Put on a face—
On the stage, no one knows—
Best to keep mum about the mistakes he made
If they knew, he’d be ridiculed!
A final leap—
A final turn—

The ringmaster cracks his whip again.
The moment is gone.

He’s left with his undying regret
The knowledge of what he failed to do
And they have long since forgotten
Everything they saw.

This is life, and these are choices, indelible marks on your page; you can't turn back the clock--and who's to know, anyway, in the rat race of a life?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Memoriam for Death

Troy Davis case inspired this:

Mournful bells toll a dreadful tone
For one who was killed in vain—
Where doubt pursues, is life so small
It may yet be thrown away?
Silent watchers dare not weep
For the loss of the symbol proud,
Unjustly slain on so little ground,
Yet remember he was yet a man—
With life and strength, his loves, his shames,
More than the worth of the deadly syringe,
Yea, though we deem it just, is it right
To kill one man for the death of another?
Too happy with our feigned ideals of justice,
Too quick to mete out punishment—
Let mankind not forget his power
Is not in death, but life.


And a sheen of gems, of crystal grows
Upon an imperfect figure
Encrusting the reality in radiance—
As if some silver tide had washed over
And turned all dark to light—
Has ever a blemish still looked unfair
When thrown into a million little rays
To delight the unsuspecting, all-unknowing eye?
And daily grows the fascination
As imperfection becomes more than paragon.

Natural Poetry

Inspired by nature.


Bold rider of the dawn,
On flaming hooves, with flaring eyes—
She lances forth with tongue of fire
And burns the veil away.
Grey, secretive mists turn to silver blaze—
All things come to light
Under the eyes of truth.


Hail to King Winter. Solemn face
and wise eyes, gnarled
scepter in his hand—palm
raised for justice, glowing with
the cool light of snow.
Frost trails in his wake,
from silver-white flowing robes.
Do not hate him. He is the king of Justice—
All are equal in the eyes of the storm.


White-crowned misty swathes thrown o’er lofty peaks!
The wind-god was careless in your flighty deposition.
A dancing blaze of silver in an endless puppet show
Tickles the bold fancy of the children of the earth.
Sunlight spinning above and within your gauzy folds,
A passion-play of light reflects and plays upon your cap—
Would that you could carry man the way you carry wind and light!
Forever then we’d journey in the silent world of ever-blue.


The mountains are burning.
Gold and green can’t disguise
The flaming boughs,
Colors blazing
In high symphony to the eyes.
The fire rolls across the canvas
Of greening trees, enraging them,
Draping them in burning raiment
And laughing as a wild storm
That has breached the summer calm.
Nature’s painter has arrived
And, in perverse fancy,
Has found the motif of flame
To spray across the hills.


The sun fell into the pond,
and threw up ripples at its entrance,
careless diver that he is.
The water turned all red and gold when he came—
No doubt it was glad of the warmth
after so many days of silvery cool.
I wondered if he might have gotten lost in his play,
as a long dark curtain stretched above our heads,
and the hours dragged on without his return.
But he rose again bright and blazing the next day,
refreshed, I imagine, from the journey.
I think I’ve found the passageway from the earth to the sky.

Beyond the Midnight Shore

In the style of The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.

1 Within the night that falls so darkly, well the recollections rise,
2 The faintly glowing memories I cannot bear yet must adore,
3 The memories of love and fortune lost and thence forgotten.
4 Lost all hope of anything this love and fortune to restore—
5 Hope too lost beyond the pow’r of even angels to restore—
6 Hope, t’was lost beyond the midnight shore.

7 The velvet night stretched ‘cross the sky, the stars gleamed in their brilliant light,
8 Our love was sweet and true beyond all loves the earth once bore.
9 She took my hand in tender care and high my heart did leap,
10 Well did my heart leap, did fly, in ecstasy did soar—
11 The moment there was perfect as my spirit high did soar—
12 Then all was lost beyond the midnight shore.

13 In love’s sweet arms we had no care and nothing did we fear.
14 Of sparkling dreams and golden days I will not venture more,
15 Yet they were there, and radiant as my love’s own gentle form,
16 Which still illuminates my mind, and will forever more—
17 Locked inside my memory she is forever more—
18 Yet she is lost beyond that midnight shore.

19 The wind is howling louder now, as here I sit in wretched pain,
20 Vainly trying to drown my sorrow in some tome of learnèd lore,
21 Yet all I see, and all I hear, is her voice from the far beyond,
22 Her angel’s voice repeating soft the oath we both once swore:
23 That promise for each other made and that we both once swore
24 Before I lost her beyond that midnight shore.

25 Closing now my weary lids, the sight that greets me faint begins,
26 Yet darkens quickly—well I know the misery in store,
27 For the fever-dreams that come are now remembered nightly friends,
28 Since the night that we did wander far beside the ocean’s roar—
29 Since the night of darkness crashing down on us beside the ocean’s roar!
30 Then I lost her beyond that midnight shore.

31 My eyes behold now, in the fire, flames that flicker now to life,
32 And show the visions that I hesitate to see no more,
33 And there I see her standing, face so pale yet eyes so bright!
34 Hear I too the words she spoke—from her anguished throat they tore—
35 The words that in the bond between us a gaping chasm tore—
36 Sign that I would lose her beyond the midnight shore.

37 She told me how our love was doomed, how circumstance now ripped her free
38 Of the precious life that she and I so fervently were striving for,
39 She told me of the olden pact from long ago that bound her now
40 Of a pact that forced her now all worldly things—all life abhor!
41 To don the cold black gown and all that’s true in life abhor—
42 And I thought I’d lost her there upon the midnight shore.

43 But that was not the darkest of the torment I would meet,
44 For rapidly with kindled eye she told me how this burden wore,
45 And how she was now, in her heart, committed to an end,
46 An end that if not joy would bring some peace from all the horror—
47 So unbearable she found this pain—she called this lot horror!
48 Nothing to my loss on that midnight shore.

49 Evermore I’ll see her eyes gleam brightly there in that dim light,
50 Like the brightest stars—stars the task of illumination bore,
51 As my love told me all that soon would make my spirit break,
52 As hope began to falter, as the ocean loud did roar—
53 As the pounding sea loud and terrible in its wrath did roar—
54 The waves crashed on the midnight shore.

55 I strove with her with all my soul, I pleaded valiantly,
56 Her words, within that tone so sweet, struck me to the core,
57 I spoke of love, of hope, of dreams, of heaven lending aid,
58 I told her how the best of men such acts they must deplore—
59 How the hosts of heaven such dire acts as these deplore!
60 But she heard me not, on the midnight shore.

61 And it would betide, that scarce did I but utter these few words,
62 But dark the stormclouds rolled, o’er my heart forever more,
63 Flash of lightning o’er iron sea showed a world of storm.
64 Ah, well I know the angels saw the chasm our words tore,
65 And in anger or in sympathy a gaping hole in heaven tore,
66 All was still then on the midnight shore.
67 If it was anger t’was hardly wrought, that killed this hope of mine,
68 If sympathy I know not how this was better than before,
69 A flash and night rolled over me, oblivion sank deeply in,
70 Nothing could I fathom then, I knew then nothing more,
71 Nothing from then on could pierce the darkness more,
72 Darkness fell upon the midnight shore.

73 The storm has not abated e’en where I sit and brood today,
74 The darkness it still clings to me like gloom of days of yore,
75 I cannot help but wonder how this pattern came to be,
76 But here I know that for me now no light is left in store,
77 For nothing after hope is gone is left—for men—in store—
78 A boundary is drawn along the midnight shore.

79 The veil is drawn twixt dawn and dusk, and cannot be reclaimed,
80 Two halves that cannot reconcile, and yet cannot ignore.
81 The veil is drawn between the realms of hope and of despair,
82 And nothing now will join them, though long we may implore—
83 Though long and hard the men of earth may for this implore.
84 There is no bridge across the midnight shore.

85 And so the death of hope is knelled, with an iron bell,
86 And love is lost, is lost forever beyond the darkened shore,
87 Wise men say this makes it precious, yet I cannot perceive,
88 How so desolate and desperate a thing could be desired more,
89 More than perfect happiness until we are no more—
90 Why choose endings on the midnight shore?

91 For hope is strength, the strength of man—without it we are naught,
92 And hope is what we spend our days in search and longing for.
93 And beauty’s not in what we see, and not in what we hear,
94 But in these moments cherished, these moments we adore—
95 Without these golden moments in the gleam that we adore,
96 There’s nothing to hold us from the midnight shore.

97 The night is black, the wind still howls, and I am near undone,
98 Forgiveness nigh impossible with steel within my core.
99 I ask not for the light again but sweet release from pain,
100 For life in black despair is nothing else but—true horror,
101 Life without the hope of love is nothing else but horror.
102 I have reached already the midnight shore.

103 Despair, oblivion, utter blindness, loss of love and beauty,
104 The ending of all things—this I’ve known and more
105 And now I do not know what else to do but find relief,
106 The lines of light and dark have blurred upon the midnight shore,
107 And well I know the pain of parting on the midnight shore,
108 Blackness, then, and nothing, on the midnight shore.