Poetry, Prose, and Short Fiction

COLLARED

Cold silver encircles my throat

hard and unforgiving and engraved

The weight, a daily reminder

And the inscription telling me that

My value lies at zero, free for taking

Property.

It rests now at the bottom of the sea.

Tightly woven cord encircles my throat

The colours of he and I and made

By his hand as a a daily reminder

That my value has no figure high enough, cost beyond measure

Gift.

I am folded into the scent of his embrace.

BOSTON – WINTER’S CITY

By the end of January, the world is defined in monochrome.  The streets are charcoal and cracked; the snowbanks no longer virginal white but slushy and black with carbon and debris.  Homes, from the venable single-family to the time honoured triple-decker are weathered and painted, it seems, to blend in with the skies.  People too, as they hurry on their way, bundled against the piercing winds and frozen air, are washed out; pallid skin wrapped in coats, hats, and scarves that blend in with their surroundings.

The homeless huddle together for warmth in doorways downtown, bodies tangled and twisted, a mass with more arms and legs than can reasonably be counted.  The scent of stale, cheap liquor is carried away on the winds.

And the wind itself is an ever present, relentless animal, roaring down city streets with teeth made of knives, rending exposed flesh to the bone.  Even in moments of calm, simply taking a breath of the icy air is like inviting frostbite to your lungs.  It tastes metallic and smells of snow.

In the darkest of these winter nights, birds freeze on limbs and wires, and the unsheltered homeless perish, unnoticed, alongside them.

This is the season of hibernation and death.  It is bleak, dystopian, and ultimately – necessary.  With it, we learn to see monochrome as a thousand, million, nuanced shades and tones that are beautiful. And just when our eyes have adapted to see those multitudes of glittering greys, blacks, whites, silver, and sparkling clear jewel tones…spring comes and with it – a blinding, beautiful explosion of colour that we would never see had we not become colour blind for those unending bitter months.

In this season, we also find it in ourselves to keep moving forward, in spite of the animal wind or hissing snow or hidden ice.  We slip, but we learn to rise again and keep moving onward.  While the wind tears at our skin and freezes our tears to our face, we defy it at each turn, growing stronger because of it and carrying that strength with us throughout the rest of the year.

I sit here at the beach, where the country ends and the world begins, reflecting on all of this.  At first glance, it is impossible to tell where sea and sky end and begin, both being the same uniform shade of slate grey and as texture-less as glass.  Even the snow falling, blanketing the beach, lands silently on the water and leaves no mark of its passing.

I finally turn my mind to the monochrome beauty and begin to find, here and there, ripples in sky and sea.  Texture is there if you look closely – adding an untold beauty to the canvas that is this winter world.  Then I hear it, quietly, at the edge of hearing really…a milky, lapping sound – thick and musical.  It’s the water kissing the land gently, under the veil of snow which is now glittering brighter than the stars starting to appear in a sky that is suddenly and quickly fading from grey to black.

This is my winter.  This is my place.  A land of death and hidden life; of muck and mire and beauty; of ice and snow and wind…

And hope.

THE CAFE – A SILLY LITTLE POEM

Pendant lamps

an abstract branch

framed photos adorn

pale walls.

Espresso flows

Greek language prose

I sit in quiet awe.

THE SHADOW GIRL

Into the woodwork she fades

slowing her beating heart, breathing

disappearing into nothing to wait

patiently and quiet she becomes one

with her surroundings.

When she wants to be seen, she is

brighter than any bonfire, firework, meteor

and bigger than life

Impossible to ignore –

(not that you’d want to).

She is the beacon of light

illuminating the night

and chasing the dark away.

But when she fades,

she is never missed

unless as an afterthought when

some may wonder

“Where is that light that was here…that time…

what was her name?”

Shadow Girl

DUCK GIRL

Scrabbling for scraps of time

picking bits from the dirt

tossed as if feeding ducks:

idly, with little purpose.

Clutch them tight, little girl.

The next time you’re fed

Is, as yet, unknown.

THE INEVITABLE MARCH

As long as our mothers

and fathers walk

on this side

of the earth,

we never seem to grow old.

It is only on their

passing that

The March of Time

runs us under all at once.

FLOWER DOLLS

Scentless flowers wave

in the cool night breeze

pink, white, open

pistil and stamen on display

for any pollinating

comers who may pass.

Manufactured prettiness.

Grown for looks alone,

cultivated to be

as inoffensive as possible.

Pollinators don’t see them

there’s no scent  to draw them in.

And  the living doll flowers

hang open and wait in vain.

Like aging Parisian whores…

Lovely from a distance.

Desperate closer to.

THESE HANDS

Eyes are the window

to the soul (I’m told)

but it’s your hands that make me stop

and stare in wonder

at these things they have done….

A trigger pull, a wound dressed

a resounding slap, tears gently wiped

a punch, a bat, a baby held.

A wrench turned, a band-aid applied.

A drawing, a poem, a sand-table

hastily sketched;

caskets borne, lover caressed.

Guitars strummed, golf club swung,

eaves picked up, and drinks.

Oceans have slipped through them

as you swim the sea of life.

A life lived as s dichotomy,

sometimes monotony

Nevertheless

every ridge tells a tale.

Each line is a chapter

in an astounding book

that has yet to end.

AUTUMN GLORY

The days draw close together

as though gathering in for warmth

while the world erupts into colour

and crisp, autumnal splendor.

Even as the harvest is reaped

a great, long, and unheard sigh

is felt as the earth breathes in and trees

slow their heartbeats, and pulse.

At the shore, the young who

for months found harbor in

tidal pools and flotsam now

strike out for the open ocean leaving

the sea feeling drowsy and empty

as the waters turn to slate

and whitecaps replace gentle swells,

cold currents returning once more.

At night the moon shines brighter and

colder too, a diamond-like hardness

glowing in the center of the moonbow

as clouds race past, wispy and light.

The days grow short, the nights long

and it is time now for the Dark Morris

to see the earth to bed

for winter is closing in.

A PERFECT MOMENT IN TIME

It is that perfect moment in the early evening when the sun has turned from a searing yellow-white ball high in the sky to a muted, golden glowing orb just starting it’s descent to the horizon.  The breeze coming off of the ocean is cooler now, and the tide has gone out again – farther out than one might expect.  Not quite a Neap Tide but not a normal low tide either.

With the waters pulled so far back from shore, we see a whole world open in a place heretofore unreachable.  A tiny hand inserts itself into hers and the two distant figures, a mother and child, pick their way through fresh tidal pools, heading toward the rocks.The mother is wrapped in a cobalt sari with silver edging from her waist down. She’s been holding it out of the water as they wander further out to what will, in an hour or so, be sea once again.

The large clams normally submerged, buried in the mud safely away from the tideline and therefore from the ever scavenging seagulls, are exposed now. The gulls begin to circle, dipping and wheeling and calling to one another, waiting for the telltale jet of water before diving to snatch them from the mud.

Mother and child stop on the freshly formed mud flats where the child is startled as a water jet hits her directly in the eye.  Her mother looks worried for a moment until the child collapses with laughter, shouting, “He get me inna eye, Mummy! Silly cleeyam!!”

Finally, as far out as a sensible mother should be willing to wander (and perhaps a few feet further than that), they find the treasure trove.  A tidal pool filled with mussels and snails; crabs and clams; sand dollars, sea urchins, and sea stars.  The child’s distant squeals of delight echo across an almost empty beach and the bucket she has been carrying is being filled with water to safely transport her finds back to the shore for closer inspection.

The animals are handled gently, most are simply picked up, inspected, and then put reverentially back into their place, although a snail is surreptitiously licked.  Only a few find their way into the bucket.

The water level is starting to rise now, in that creeping way that tides come in.  It is barely noticeable at first, until it’s altogether around your ankles and fast approaching your knees.  Mother has a worried look as she scans the horizon and sees the water far closer than it was a moment ago.

They move together, faster, heading for mud flats that will be the shallows in the blink of an eye.

The sun has moved again too.  It’s a perfect, large, half circle dead center on the horizon; vibrant and almost overdone – a painting in real life.

The child chases birds along the sands while her mother sits on the blanket, casually watching the girleven as her own thoughts wander out into the open ocean and across the sea.  There is a sense of golden wonder enveloping the pair – a child’s amazement at the priceless treasures that lie beneath the water, hiddenfor the time being from view as the tide has come in; an adult sitting in awe at the sheer vastness and power of the ocean, a power hidden for now, though she is never fooled by moments so tranquil as this.

Now, the sun has gone down and a full, silver moon has risen in its place.  The mother is holding the child in her lap, wrapped against the salty slight chill of the night.  The child’s eyes are as big as saucers as she listens to her mother tell her how the moon became so silver – that there are silver dragons that live up there in forests of silver moongrass.  The forests are so thick and the dragons congregate in such abundance that the sun reflecting off of their scales and the grasses shine brightly back down to the earth.  She is looking longingly too at the silvery path running from the shore to the horizon.  Hermother tells her that anyone who can swim to the end will reach the moon, and be able to romp amongst the dragons.

She curls up in her mother’s lap, thumb planted firmly in her mouth, desperately wishing she could play with dragons.  Her mother holds her close, gazing out over the horizon while the breeze dances in her hair, and wishes that this moment could be frozen in time forever.  She can feel the child grow heavier in her arms, and hear her breathing grow steadier…rhythmic.  She knows that her daughter has fallen asleep dreaming of clams and sand dollars, sunsets that paint the world, and friendly dragons that light up the night.

The inky waters, illuminated by stars and moon, lap lazily at the shore.  The living treasures are safely ensconced back in the depths, the mud, and protected from the ever scavenging birds.  The gulls themselves are tucked up in nests and roosts as the long night wears on.  Mother and child are gone now too,andonly the tides and the sea, and the light of the moon remain.

SUPERNOVA

There are days

and here again

there are Days

when words and thoughts

fail me.

Beyond the circuitry shorting out,

the brush, the pencil

and yes, even the pen

feel like foreign strangers

in my hand

unable to communicate

with my head at all.

The words are garbled

or non-existent;

the image is blacked out

while my thoughts

are everywhere, racing

panicked.

And on these days

I wish I knew

how to draw a supernova.

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