It’s the return of the dead

For the last installment of Open Link at Toads. One of the longest poems I have ever written.

It’s the return of the dead
“If I but thought that my response were made to one perhaps returning to the world, this tongue of flame would cease to flicker. But since, up from these depths, no one has yet returned alive, if what I hear is true, I answer without fear of being shamed.” from Dante’s Inferno, epigraph to love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T S. Eliot

it is not true that the dead do not return.
I dreamed of my mother and grandmother last night
in the kitchen of our family home.
I was standing in the middle of the kitchen
and they were seated at the kitchen table drinking coffee.
be true to yourself my mother said.
don’t lie about what you think my grandmother said.
I have slit my wrists and written poetry from the blood
that spattered on the floor.
I look out the back door of the kitchen
where our garden was.
It is burning. The Amazon is burning. Wildfires are burning.
change is coming.
God said he would never destroy the world by water again,
it would be by fire this time.
Ocean waves are crashing on the steps of our front porch.
change is coming.
God spoke in double tongues.
We are being destroyed by both fire and water.
We are destroying ourselves.
I sit at the table with my mother and grandmother.
My long dead cat is rubbing against my legs
and I pick him up and set him on the table.
The water licks our feet
and the ceiling crashes in flames over our heads.

The Feast

A Word With Laurie, September 9, 2011  and Sunday Mini Challenge with Kim Nelson, June 29, 2013

Two prompts – A Word with Laurie – an eight line poem in eight minutes using the word “allegro” and Sunday Mini Challenge with Kim Nelson. A poem that is one of my favorites by Derek Walcott, Love After Love. THE poem that started my path to culinary school (1979) and the road to recovery from drug addiction (1990).

The Feast
“Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.” Derek Walcott

allegro is how I lived my life in the restaurant world.
in recovery from drug addiction I lived it andante.
Now free from all of that, I waltz: adagio.
today the air is like early autumn –
dried leaves drift slowly to the ground.
I sit under a tree and have a picnic with my life
feasting on it all – the delicious, the rotten, the mundane –
the sad cold French fries, the melted milkshake, and buttermilk pie.





For Sherry’s prompt over at Real Toads – Water. We learn that water crystals react differently to different words and images.

“The intriguing placidity from the slothful pace of a snail is truly very peaceful. Our world is in need of this calmness to pacify itself” – Munia Khan

a snail takes a shower,
turning this way and that.
sipping the water,
extending its antenna to
get the most out of the water.
you can see the snail
opening and closing its mouth,
so close to human…
unlike us,
water becomes innocent.

Autumn Contemplation

Autumn Contemplation
“The upper reaches here and the lower of the river – the friend for the moon.” Matsuo Basho

the harvest moon is fading –
Bright gold coin in black sky
now dims and wanes to a partial dish of cream.
Hatsu arashi – the first storm of autumn
has washed clean the sky.
aki simu – autumn is clearing,
brilliant blue,
luminous white clouds drifting, silent. peaceful.
Autumn’s voice whispers –
breeze across dry leaves on the grass,
wind in the reeds at the creek,
The little priest – the tiny cicada delicately
moves his wings, a small voice
among the raucous pine and bell crickets,
an alto to the larger cicadas
and their metallic thrum.
Shinryoo – new coolness in the air.
The coming of autumn is somnolent today.
No rise or fall,
A steady tone of almost silence.
The morning glory twines
lovingly around my plum tree
and shows her blue face,
echoing her sister,
aki no sora – the autumn sky.
The small grey tabby across the way
sits beneath an oak
watching the occasional
slow falling leaf.
Her eyes stay upward
and she does not move for she wants to see
the leaves as they float and fall around her.
An early leaf burning –
smoke wanders and its incense drifts to heaven.
my wondering heart sit entranced
in the midst of the haiku
I wish I could write.

Will Autumn Never Come

Will Autumn Never Come>
“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” ― Sylvia Plath

it is still summer –
the trees are filled with cicadas
all sawing and cracking
as if they were all members of
the End Of Summer Band.
Leaves are starting to fall –
a few at the time,
gold and crisped at the edges
like sugar cookies fresh off the cookie sheet.
The blackberry canes are bare of berries
except for a few withered ones missed by the birds
and human pickers.
I wait for that autumnal nip in the air.
I wait for the dog days of summer
to go to sleep – to curl up
on the hearth.
will autumn never come?
the night stars still sing summer.
will autumn never come?

Emperor of the Dawn

For Real Toads, Kerry’s Art Flash/55  An American Sentence.

Emperor of the Dawn
Quincy Washington
used by permission



Emperor of the Dawn
“Loneliness will sit over our roofs with brooding wings.” ― Bram Stoker, Dracula

Bat winged dawn awakens me –  among the nightmares lonely flowers bloom.

Cedars on the Hill

For Sherry’s prompt at Real Toads, the art of Emily Carr, an artist from British Columbia, Canada.  A very interesting artist.

Cedars on the Hill
Cedars are terribly sensitive to change of time and light – sometimes they are bluish cold-green, then they turn yellow warm-green – sometimes their boughs flop heavy and sometimes float, then they are fairy as ferns and then they droop, heavy as heartaches. – Emily Carr

I watch the cedars on the hill across the way
like I watch the changing of the seasons.
the deep blue green,
the paler green,
the red of the dying branches.
I walk among them
and brush my hands against them
taking their scent unto myself.
small creatures live beneath them
and birds build their nests in them.
I love them most when it snows
and creatures hunker for warmth
in them and beneath them.
beneath the heavy sky
they stand in groups
and are their own community.

Cedar – Emily Carr 1942





Haibun: Escape

a haibun in the style of Basho, 44 words exactly, a quadrille

Haibun: Escape
“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.” – John Muir

The day is so very hot – 105F at high noon. I walk into the forest which is about 20 degrees cooler. My old friends always welcome me to enter and rest.
through the cool forest
a walk on sun freckled path –
escape from summer’s heat



Night Comes

For Kim’s prompt over at Real Toads, about the poetic form pastoral. She wants us to write a poem about night coming in the style of Jane Kenyon, ‘Let Evening Come’, “to inspire your pastoral poems this weekend” No more than six tercets. I have tried. I love writing about the night in the summer, any time of year!

Night Comes
“In the trees the night wind stirs, bringing the leaves to life, endowing them with speech; the electric lights illuminate the green branches from the under side, translating them into a new language.” ― E.B. White

in the afternoon the day winds down –
the shadows grow long winds gently slough
and the bees return to their hives.

toward the dark of the day
owls awaken and their sleepy eyes grow bright!
they stretch their wings and shuffle their feet.

rabbits cease their nibbling and head to their nests,
shadows grow longer and cross the road
to meet the cows lowing in the fields, heading to the barns.

the shadow of the moon glows white in the indigo sky
and early Venus glows. the bats come out to hunt
along with the owls and cicadas begin their buzz.

now the stars glow in the black night sky
and a rustle of the bushes as a possum
comes to the join the other night creatures for dinner.

lights snap on in the houses, bright yellow in the night.
the owl swoops down and grabs a baby rabbit
its squeal joining the buzzing of the cicadas in the night.

the night after holding its breath exhales.


The Ocean

The Ocean
“What would an ocean be without a monster lurking in the dark? It would be like sleep without dreams.” ― Werner Herzog

the ocean is honest.
it does not care where you vacation
or even if you do.
it does not care if your heart is broken
or if it leaps in your chest with joy.
the ocean does not care about
the mansion you have built on
its sands or the one room hut
in which you sleep and fry your fish.
The ocean does not weep at the death of your lover –
it only returns the body to you
wet and sandy and crawling with crabs.
it lets you walk in the waves
and gaze at the reflection of the moon
on its undulating surface.
the ocean nurtures it creatures
yet it crushes them in its grasp.
it takes the love you give it
but it feels nothing in return.
The ocean will gift you one perfect shell –
a sand dollar or a scots bonnet or
a sunrise colored scallop shell.
it lets you sit at its edge
like a lion in a cage that paces back and forth,
daily, watching your every move.
it shows its moods without filters or warnings.
you walk into it until it covers your head
and your feet leave the surface of the sand,
like walking on the moon.
it takes your sacrifice without utterance
and returns your body
wet and sandy and crawling with crabs.


Night Music

For my prompt at Wednesday Muse

Night Music
“And the night shall be filled with music…”- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

in the summer night I listen
to the cicadas singing to the moon.
down the road apiece
a dog howls in response.
the sound of my breathing is loud
in comparison.
the moon and the stars listen to the music
of it all and say nothing

Backyard Disco

For the Midweek Motif at Poets Unite – Dance.  I was really into Disco in the 1970’s.  Gay Pride and free dancing were all born in the discos.

Backyard Disco
“Up above my head I hear music in the air that makes me know there’s a party somewhere” – The Trammps, Disco Inferno

Bees go back and forth in
weaving do-si-dos,
butterflies soar and dip,
hummingbirds hover and then zip!
it is a disco inferno in my back yard –
how the creatures dance
and make me dance too

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