Ear to the Wind…

~PART 3:  …to the woods

The forest is beguiled by a transitory lullaby —
a father, from the depths of loss, murmuring
subtle sounds in the heart of the woods.
The trees harness his voice and crack the sky,
crack the fading light so the night can
hold its echo hostage to a third or fourth degree.
Till the wilds run free, unassailed by reverence,
carried by the night-woods, they texturize his will.
He is crumbling from within…
their echo turns his dewy blood to dust.

•   •   •

Sometimes the rain is silent.
Sometimes it bears witness to violence
without losing its luster.
He wears his bones now like ash
beneath the poisoned grove where roots and
their underpinnings slash their pin-prick tails; —
he is worrying the broken soil in his broken fists
like a mouthless prayer unadorned by beauty,
for there are no voices here within the lyric of the dead.
It fades — the percussive intricacies of wind invade.

©2021: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

Sylvan Storm, or…

~ SYLVAN STORM
or,
‘Birth’

Where the meadow meets the earth, vagrant shades
spark nature’s indigo gasp of the soil-drowned
world that plays at the feet of the woods.
Wind-lashed, blood-red peonies coil their ragged
tongues — tongues that steal joy and mimic laughter.
Peonies dishevel the humus. They sing their
sanguine selves an embellished tune.

To oblivion.

Where the earth meets the sea it molts its moss
towering over rock-bruised bones.
It alone knows the night the divine rolled
its wheels out of nature’s dross.
It alone witnessed the grind of stone
on bone and temple-staked massacres —
a seduction intended to kill.

Where the sea met the storm, it wept
(as seas are inclined to do).
The storm shuddered in its red-buttoned boots —
(it wasn’t the crying kind).
Then Sibyl stepped in.
She was more hazel than
sun or sand.
A cat-eyed fugitive, she took her roots with
her when she wandered.

(“Easier this way,” she’d say.)

Her womb is heavy with her extravagances,
her catkins low and ready to drop.
Sibyl, next to Sophia
(her Gemini complement),
takes decay by the reins.
While Sophia, a lingering ash, dusty and ancient,
weaves knowledge into life, Sibyl’s leaves strain
against their inevitable disarticulation.

Where the storm cracks the earth,
it knows nothing of this until it whitens
the loam into birch and aspen —
a truer Gemini than Sibyl’s hazel to Sophia’s ash.
The birch, the aspen are young yet,
Innocence quivers their roots
like the great frost giant it is.

Thirsty. Redolent.

But their branches, like hands, grow black with the blood
of a thousand suns. The thrill-boys, killjoys of deafening
roars slice like lightning through the rain.
The boys thundered a thousand strains of defiance
when the sea swallowed them.
They soldered the horizon to the undertow in hope of
turning the tide against the night.

But it turned itself, tired of their riot.
Eyeless, it slipped back unannounced beneath the clouded
gibbous moon, leaving the hazel and ash,
birch and aspen on the unsheltered cliffs above,
lock-jawed, while dark-needled rain crumbled
the night-sky in thunders of pale punctures, turning the
trees servant to the underbellies of ancient bones.

Fossils. Stones.
. . .

Once upon a time before the rain, before we knew
what walls and ceilings and defamations were,
we wandered the hills in search
of something elusive.
Did we know what it was?
A pale shadow, a rhizome trailing the outskirts
of a cumbersome womb.

We woke, screaming.

©2020: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

from “Sentient Entropy”…

~Part 2:
REBEL

What was it that imprinted the cosmos into
the beats of our hearts?
The melancholy?
The convalescence?
The inhale?
Its nemesis?
Almost as if Love becomes its own dimension
like time, or a force akin to entropy, but
unlike the spintop-whip of entropy observed,
it carves back into itself instead of out.

The bold one holds a whisper to my ear,
is it you?
A hurricane in the palm of your hand,—
the bishop’s refrain, “What we have,
we have to share,
”— it’s everywhere.
Like chaos complete,
Christ in a riddle,
eternity in a the eyes of a dog,
the loyal grow old but their hearts never do.

You curdled the lyrics of a ditty
so incomplete I had yet to mouth the words.
A sharp tug in the throat
like a burden of souls
washed down with spiced rum or a
snifter of something drier; —
you never were the sage, the mystic,
the one who wrinkled water like
it was a costume for a masquerade.
No. More like silk, or thyme soaked in
fragments of rage.

Yet you lingered over words in your
own language, sweetened in the
nectar of desire for things
you could never own.

And we ran.
Ran into the trees, into the breeze,
the tease of a madman at our heels
in obtuse degrees.
The asylum forgets our sanity,
buries our reason, our honor, our minds
in hubris, where bold men make
mockery of our strange desires,
the fires of bold denials of lies.

The cliff-jumpers catch their death.
They’d rather dare than dread
the outcome. We are not so different.
But history
is more profound than
the tales we’ve been fed.
Silence, the adulteration of reality.
If we don’t speak,
it may yet get the best of us.
O, holy riot of the mind.

Yet, rebels will never hold
their tongues
or actions.
The rebels know better than man’s
inhumanity to man, or beast;—
they know, as do we (for we are they),
that silence must be broken
if men are to be made whole again.

©2020: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

from “Thanatos…”

~From “Thanatos, in Textures” — Part 3:

WATCHERS

Where you grow weary,
we grow strong;
along the watchtower,
the poet, thief, the divisor of deeds
keeps watch with hawk-eyes
and talons that will rip the candy-coat
from your eyes, shredding
the shrapnel that’s keeping you blind.
Incinerating shellac, you might —
(if you don’t shy away from the bald, new
look shining out from your eyes now), —
capture the brave, lit allure of knowing
things you never considered before.

It is good, it is old, it is young,
it is reason without need to justify
or fabricate, or hold high in a fist against the sky.
It is being in this place,
at this time, in the better hearts
of our imaginings, bolder than the
shadows who lurk in the corners 
but do not tell.

We are the bony beasts de facto in
your heads, convincing you of your reality
in the refuge of your own existence.

Grey water murky,
falling from the sky
and, rising from the whirlpool at your feet,
reflects the opaque depths of our eyes—
eyes the size of pewter coins
and just as weighted.
Webbed with dust and ash,
the wind, sharp as whiskey
and twice as fierce,
flagellates the ground till it is bald
and fruitless.
Nearest the place we hold our council.—

We hold it close…
in the idealists’ utopia tessellated
in your fingers’ prints.
We hold it until we can extract slivers from
the tips of your prints without erasing anything but
your identity.
Without a hint, we take on your face,
become metaphors of you —
and you,
and you.
Until we slip your skins off to
walk free in the moonlight, or starlit dark
and look for new skins to make our own,
leaving yours disinterred in the
soil at our feet,
leftover, discarded,
unknown.

©2020: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

Rowan, Oak

ROWAN emerged from the ephemeral murmurs of the forest mingled with the tree’s characteristics and myth. OAK counterplays it — a tangible yang to its elusive yin.


ROWAN

Mountain-ash, ash of sky,
mystics bend to you,
archaic itches are scratched
in the fires
your belly lights.

I worry your round, red berries
like a bursting rosary of darkness
between my thumb and forefinger.
And still you rise bold and terrifyingly
ambivalent.
The blue early mists are making
sport of clarity,
but your leaf-barriers —
fossils to simplicity, —
stitch their samplers like skin
in the paling dawn,
and resilient, puncture the fable
of delicacy.

White stars cluster in
your laurels
and when the dew dries,
the dusted ones bring
forth prophecy.
Blackbirds devour
your bloody delights;
and from your bosom,–
(luster of the eye)–
pale and moonlit,
a woman walks forth.


OAK

A boy at play,
a rattling in his brain
when the forest dances
and he dances with it,
recognizing the rhythms
of old drum-beats in
the depth of the forest
as his own heartbeat.

And he grabs the ground
with his toes
and twirls,
swirls, a gyrating gambol
of joy,
spinning and grinning
into the moss
at his feet,
and he sinks into its
green velvet claws,
knowing he is home.

But the years,
the years tear away his
sweet surrender.

Now,
tall, wasting in a spiritual dissention,
he is guarding his secrets
like a weapon
or a stalemate in a holding pen.
Unassured and broken,
he scars and drinks and scars more
as the world around him dreams
and seems small in the tips
of his madness.
He takes nothing,
gives nothing,
finds nothing in the scheme of neverending
blindness and unadulterated ferocity.

Brown eyes murder any desire
he might carry into tomorrow;
a reworked seam under his skin
vibrates the extensions of sound
and tears itself free.
The blood streams over his bare feet
and still, he holds himself upright
by sheer grit.

He didn’t take the blade himself,
but surrendered it to the one person
who could hurt him.
And she did,
without a second glance.

That was years ago,
but the bleeding only stops when
he breathes in and wills
himself
to step into the cut glass
that will take him into
the river.
But the river is far again.
Daily it dissolves
and drives him out of his mind
wandering,
looking for it
in its new capitulation.
Till it re-gathers and fills in the
gaps of earth
constituting a nourishment
only he can smell.

His skin,
leather like the wind,
burns with the old scrapes
of who he used to be.
Lover, fighter, a malcontent
disconcerted with what was
in the face of what could be.
Now he is faced with
a disappearing reality.
But he is bold.

And he remembers his
old heartbeat,
the murmurs of the trees,
the moss gripping his feet
and the drums
holding cadence to
a memory
of life
and hope
and wild abandon
amidst the wilder
landscape of his child self.
And knows,
instinctively,
that he is a child still.
Drinking the sap of a restless wood,
he finds his life
reassembled, anchored in the earth;—
and he no longer needs
a river that refuses
to let itself be found.

©2020: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

Wisdom of Wood

Forests undo me with their brilliance and depths of clarity. Every forest has its own flavor, but each one I’ve come across has altered me forever. And no matter the thousand and one journeys I’ve taken among the trees, I’m always, always itchy to return…


WISDOM OF WOOD

We are among the grains of wheat,
atomizing the vapors of earth,
giving breath to seed, to habits of growth.

Our faces, in childhood,
let every secret slip
until our voices were broken.

The temptation was always too strong.
Our fervor destroyed everything we touched.
Even ourselves.

Especially ourselves.
And the way we interpreted the world,
winding our minds inside its papier-mâché damp.

Our innocent tongues worshiped
the benign qualities of wood in summer,
in autumn, in rain.

Our senses, though, were shaken in prologue
to a forest of fusion and dignity
standing among the remains of unsettled things.

Hiding among the wheat that brought us here,
we chained ourselves to the wisdom of consequences
while the forest, alone, disassembled us.

Overwhelmed, in shreds of our former selves,
the temptation was now only to be
what we knew to be true. Better. Unbroken.

But maybe, sometimes broken is better.
We can see from eyes other than our own
and the forest, dark now, becomes palliative.

Maybe that is a form of wholeness,
when we own nothing except our hands;—
our eyes looking into the details of wood.

Wood that is no longer benign,
but significant. It offers ancient lullabies
that give history form and substance.

It is a growing relic, individual and whole
in a way we don’t see ourselves as being.
Carved into usable things,

it grows stronger somehow.
And we find we are not as unlike wood
as we once thought we were.

©2020: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.

One of those kinds of nights…

~ The dark insects of delight
circle ever closer to the flame.
Closer to the midnight-wrapped elegance
of this star-flamed, bone-lit night…

           Where: 

In a child’s eye,
estranged,
a flaming oracle pales —
Convincing disbelief.

           Yet: 

Little by little the wind,
little the light, the wild…
Akin the ancient nerve,
Akin to the visceral instincts,
again we begin.

©2020: Zoëtrope in Words. All rights reserved.