In the Shadow of Jupiter’s Ghost

I was once a ring,
shining and smooth,
and I rolled like lightning in the night
casting Zeusian sparks in wild careen
while thunderous bellows
announced every bounce.

Reckless navigation turned me from true;
subtly in the early days,
when momentum rode my shoulder
in a grand display of teeth,
to the obvious wobble of today.

Rational practicalities,
late night phonecalls,
and numerous tombstones
shifted me farther out of round,
left me without the right
to claim the name circular.

I leak sound,
sighs and grumbled groans
express each turn.
A lame Hephaestus in rotation,
vainly pounding myself
in hopes of changing angles
through studied hammer strokes.

I still trundle along my course,
gravity prodding my hoopish spin
when I’m lucky.
On a gentle stretch
with poor lighting and proper lubrication,
I can summon the ghost of Jupiter
and flow in his shadow for a time,
as if I were a ring
and rolled like lightning in the night.

 

 

The Coin of Strength

A ledger kept within the soul
accounts the history
of every slight and wrong we’ve known
with corresponding fee.

Redress this pain so undeserved,
amend these wounds received,
but name it justice or revenge
the diff’rence is perceived.

The measure of a person’s worth,
the balance of a life,
can’t be addressed in black and red
or be repaid in strife.

Accrue a wealth of tolerance,
invest in empathy.
Forgiveness is the coin of strength
and peace, prosperity.

 

The Rose

Vivid and vibrant against the somber sky,
crimson heart aflame
as edges darken to deep violet embers,
an irrevocable token
finds freedom from its tremulous prison …

… a final link between two souls;
the last, tangible connection in this life.
An incomplete span
of memories shared and dreams lost
hold the blazing bloom
against the stony silence of the clouds,
scarlet screaming wordlessly
against the slate grey backdrop …

… emerald leaves rustle
while passing mottled earth,
whispering secrets as lovers once did,
alone in the darkness.
A delicate rasp of edges,
played by the wind of gravity
as jade travels through this russet realm …

… coming roughly to rest
upon the polished, wooden field.
Dark and shadowed thorns,
nearly lost in the mahogany,
wait patiently
while the hues of life and death
stand starkly at attention,
frozen in this moment.

 

Your Absence

This distance between you and I,
it pounds within my blood.
A tidal pull I can’t deny,
too soon becomes a flood.
As rivers flow from source to sea
in currents born of ecstasy,
      as rivers flow
      as rivers flow
I drown in what is lost to me.

This distance between you and I,
it draws my breath away.
The pressure drops with every sigh
a storm I can’t abey.
As fierce winds blow from raging squall
in tempests bred of ardor’s call,
      as fierce winds blow
      as fierce winds blow
I suffocate in sorrow’s pall.

This distance between you and I,
it shakes me to the core.
The trembles in my bones belie
my stance upon the floor.
As tremors grow from heaving ground
in quakes conceived of passion found,
      as tremors grow
      as tremors grow
I fall in misery unbound.

 

Father

You came to me, a tiny thief,
I have no one to blame.
For at the time ’twas my belief
that I’d remain the same.

In innocence, you crept inside
the walls I’d put in place
and sentenced me to life, untried,
at first glimpse of your face.

My treasured fearlessness, you stole,
despite my hardened guard.
I’m left defenseless in this role
that I will not discard.

A wordless love of boundless scope,
impossible and vast.
I find that I can barely cope
and hope my strength will last.

Ferocious, this intesity
and fraught with heavy cost.
The certainty that I will be
destroyed if you are lost.

No threat to me in all my years
produced this sense of dread.
A creeping tide of morbid fears
adrift within my head.

It hides behind my every smile
and lurks in broken rest;
insidious, infused of guile,
a weight upon my chest.

Your pain, transferred and magnified.
Your tears a mortal blow.
Your peril leaves me petrified,
but you can never know.

 

Enlightenment

What waits in the heart of a woman is simple,
but finding this answer is not
the first task a man should undertake.
There is an order to enlightenment.

The stars in the heavens must be counted.
Shining and twinkling in their subtle shades,
shifting slightly,
night by night,
and disappearing entirely at times.

The wind must be caught as well.
Seek its source and feel its flow,
lay your fingers on its pulse and
be prepared to cradle it in your hands.

Find the horizon,
go there and mark it your own.
Not with ink and maps,
but with great strides.
Bleed on it and remember the way.

Discover the truth of darkness,
savor it on your tongue.
Eyes and ears will lie,
breathe its scent and
burn the memory into your nostrils.

Having proven yourself
possessed of patience and imagination,
fortitude and wisdom;
you are ready.

You will never understand women,
but you’ll survive the mystery.

 

Spent

I used to have love.
You could see it in my eyes
and feel it in my hands …
or so I was told.

I spent it in nickels and dimes,
tips to disinterested bartenders.

I lost it in leaks,
holes punched in a tin bucket
by hidden nails.

I loaned it to fools and dreamers
in exchange for pocket lint collateral.

I invested it in poems
read to a deaf audience and
paintings displayed before the blind.

I miss it now,
sometimes,
in the presence of children
or the violet twilight
just before the stars appear,
but only sometimes.

 

She

I can’t see her.
Draped in woven guile
she stands apart,
beyond the grasp of hands or heart …
or mind or will.

Despite the best of my designs,
she waits within the cage she’s made
for some great change that isn’t me.

An architect of mystery,
her stubborn shrouded strands
deflect my hows and whys and
misdirect the gentle probes and pointed quest
for access past the outer guard
to see the she that hides so hard.

I know it’s there,
a shadowed shape.
She deftly dodges all attempts
to stare into those naked eyes and
dwell inside her secret depths
in hopes, perhaps, that she’ll confide
some passing bit of self to me.

I will not quit this driven search
to delve the well behind the veil
and free the she beneath that layered guise
of distant care she lays.

I cannot see her,
not today;
but patience rides my every breath and
I can say with certainty,
I’ll walk her walls until my death
or such a day will dawn that shines from
she to me and I will see
though mist construed to only her.

 

Suitable

I’ve hung myself in the closet.
Not from a noose,
but on triangular wire
amongst the other me’s I need
from time to time.

Ah, to come home and slip this self on,
wonderfully comfortable and
free from the pinching constriction
of everyday expectation.

To stretch and put away the day’s design
beside its tailored mates
in rows of guarded expression
and shaded impersonation.

To close that door and let them fraternize
in the rigid arrangement
of vertical purpose without me.

Tomorrow I’ll have to buff
the lingering irritation
from the bluff professional
and return, smiling, to work
despite the desire to stay here
in my dingy original.

I have pleasant hopes
of a rummage sale one day.
Filling racks and boxes in the driveway
with all the bold and somber colors
I no longer require.

A strangely wistful dream
to be suitable as I am.

 

Vision

Vision

A misplaced freckle,
that prominent mole,
lines that time grew
while we tended other things.

Planes changed,
angles and curves
shifted and softened.

I’m not blind or a fool,
I’ve always been aware of you.
A keen and critical eye
in your direction whenever possible.

You’re imperfect,
you always have been.
There are new flaws now
to compliment those I’m so familiar with.

I see every one of them
because I can’t stop looking at you.
Captured glimpses and opportune glances.
A private happiness inspired
by the sight of you.

I know you don’t understand
what I see,
why I look.
No matter the words I try
or the simplicity of the answer,
you wonder.

Each day,
every chance,
I see you.

 

Risk

I tire of lines and marking time,
the ticking clocks and status quo
that drive the cogs of daily life.
A strict account of every dime,
with options sliced beneath the knife
of budgetary needs, as though
pursuit of change was some great crime.

To venture far beyond the doors
and mundane walls that hide away
the waiting world from all who seek
to taste the brine of distant shores
or pit themselves against a peak
in hopes that flesh and bone obey
the mind’s commands as spirit soars.

I long to cleanse this tainted skin
and slough the scales of will denied,
to feel the wind blow salted spray
across my face and breathe it in,
to view a summit’s grand display
as dawn ignites the mountainside
and calmly watch the morn begin.

Perhaps one day I’ll drop it all
and leave the pieces where they lie
to chase a place of unknown air
in answer to that silent call
to search for something fine and rare
outside the bounds of knowing why
or counted cost and risk the fall.

 

Captive

A single drop,
never quite a sphere,
perched under the gutter.

Sunlight shattered
and thrown into the day,
illusory spokes in silent tumble
from base to tip.

A winking path
unfettered by shrill laughter,
garish red reflected
in an otherwise white world.

Ashudder in the bouncing waves,
twining this translucent spire
to the quick swish of chubby legs.

Suspended briefly on a rising breath,
caught mid-spin and stunned
by a dimpled sigh before the plummet.

Rolling slowly to rest,
paused in climactic grasp,
swollen on the point and
bobbing in anticipation.

A swirling prison for the captive moment,
dancing over the expanse
as we twirl below.

Delicately blazing,
azure and alabaster
shot with gold …
like your eyes.

 

Precious

I’m winding down
like a monkey
clashing cymbals off the beat.

They flash and glimmer in the light,
still ring truly as they touch,
but there’s a looseness in my gut,
a crankless tension lost to breath.

Peculiar,
this new awareness,
a shifted perception born of counted steps.

Recognition formed from views,
aft and fore,
seen in calculations taken in solitude.

A darkened cuff
and bones beneath the cloak,
some pale and shining brow
quickly glimpsed
between familiar strangers passing by.

An acquaintance of
blank stare and sterile grin,
no more fearsome than in the
days of taut springs and bouncing pace,
merely more apparent.

Ever present now,
with a knowing nod,
an empty wink,
intimate affections
tossed my way in offhand greeting.

I’m winding down.

I carried my son on my shoulders,
heard my daughter
laugh as leaves rained around us,
watched my wife grow strong
and find her stride.

I want to trace
the ungrown lines on her face,
take a father’s place behind the bride
and know the pride that accompanies
walking beside a man who’s outgrown me.

These are my horizons,
desperately precious
because I’m winding down.
I drive the pulse and keep in time,
but not alone.

At the edge and by the side,
a thankless guest
counting tics and pops,
aware of the final turn.

I’m winding down.