a dverse poets prompt; image (c) Walter Smith (click to go to his website)

it’s like i’m stroking air

when the last muses sing faintly
a Christian hymn; their music sways
as waves swallow the trembling

it’s like i’m molding winds

when the whispering sprites (Ariel?)
concoct sorrowful weeping of magic
the ocean brings to mind reincarnation

it’s like i’m with you still

and even Caliban’s eyes have strained
his brick of a face to withhold the burning tear
as wise shamans look from beyond the bush

it’s never like your absence

like loss that pyre seemed eternally aflame,
but the only thing that lasts longer
than the heartbeat of attachment
is the ocean

and to it i won’t pray


wrinkled fingertips
canyons carved by droplets and droplets
forehead sighs with cracks

mist in the mirror
joyous splash of water
from luxuriant tap, made to look antique

like this face
only god forgot
to make it also dignified

face the bark of oak
when looked at closely
only no one wants to

mist in the eyes
white shadows, black shadows
at night, when the bed creaks sympathetically

for it is solid, it knows
that the night will pass, every one does
every one passes

no it’s not reassuring
because at night, you’re face to face
with shadowy prophets

Death has a Russian-sounding name


Hierophants have been summoned

To dissolve in the burning sea of lanterns

The bitter fleeting absurd of dying


Mourning as understanding

As one does


The glass stained

By the majesty of nonsense

Distorts your seeing


Aggravates history

As if “Of Mice and Men”


There is also a forced short silence

Followed by an unadmitted contest

To say best that we find no words


This, it seems

Is the aftermath

Always, whatever pathos

The cannons of your voices

Shoot in numb air:


meanings desert

Reference deserts


When it comes


Radical contingencies


Or being on board

endowed with alien sense


In one hand a cup of weak tea, steaming

A rather ugly cup at that, rough edge

Formidably bent, height, just about right

To deliver a scythe of advice, speaking

As if words smelled of empty churches.

So you’re home, he says, devious eye, half-smile

Half-wrath; portrait of him so distant, playful

Hens, sheep, pigs, pig manure. All is there.

In a cracked voice dragged through time like a coat too large

Communist-catholic, devout, cursing god

All is there, in his voice. At times it could smite

With a might you would, in fact expect

From someone who’s been through an

Attempted assassination of the president

Yet he stood guard, blind to history’s sandpaper

Grin. Still, in a weary way, his dumb intelligence

Or frighteningly accurate sarcasm did

Inspire an incipient thought. Just that. It is a shame, though,

That it rarely emerged from a rather poorly

Kept hygiene, at arm’s length, so as not to

Erase the peasant, withered hands

So often wrung over his daughters’ cigarettes

And politics. Or, for example, a drying mind of one’s own.

An unlikely unwilling role model

Just a retired soldier, farmer, lover;

Now, a retired life. Since three years

Ago. Necessary regret at not being

Somehow more with him, only deaf contemplation

Cast at the marble slab that inherits his name.