“Constellations and Fireflies”

The following is an announcement about the release of my new book, Constellations and Fireflies, with a few of its poems interspersed…

Turning down the covers for bed,
on my pillow, the shimmery fragment
of a moth’s wing —
O, what dreams may come!

Constellations and Fireflies is now available on Amazon.  The book has been enjoyable to write and produce in part because having written two other books, one of which is rather long, I found this time around that I had developed a pleasing facility with the technology for self-publication that I didn’t have before.  This allowed me to enjoy the making of the book and to savor its content during that process.  So, the act of producing the book was a pleasure.

Sipping tea, cup tipped to my lips,
I turned to the dancing trees
and lost myself in reflection.

In my writing, over the years, I’ve found inspiration in a number of authors of poetry and prose whose influences are likely manifested, hidden or not, in Constellations and Fireflies.  Many of the authors I enjoy I have had to read in translation, but these authors projected such beauty and power in their works that much seems to come through.  I speak of such poets as Rumi, Hafez, Li Bai, Kobayashi Issa, Sappho, and many others.  As to English speaking poets, I find particular inspiration in Shakespeare.  Whenever I read something of his, it stirs my inner poet to breathe alive the fires and forge something new.  In fact, that’s kind of my own test for a poet because insofar as when that kind of inspiration happens, I know there is something magical, at least for me, in that poet’s work.  Many of D. H. Lawrence‘s poems provide that kind of inspiration for me, because they are often wild and impassioned with thick, chewy imagery and luscious sounds.  It also happens when I read Charles Bukowski or Leonard Cohen, and sometimes with the works of Robert Bly.  I find some wonderful passages in many of the poems and writings of James Joyce, such as Ulysses or finnegans wake.  He was such an incredible technician, gifted and revolutionary.  But, he was also a man of heart, even though in some sense, he appeared to me to be engaged in a rather violent struggle between head and heart.  To me, in my own humble view, that’s what finnegans wake really is:  a war, and sometimes a dance, between head and heart; between feeling and intellect; between the masculine and the feminine; between wakefulness and sleep.  Both poles are essential, these dichotomies each are required for life, but to cool the war between them it appears necessary to recognize they are two faces of a single whole.  This is a theme that flows like a clear stream through the pages of my new book.

Old loves, old lives, old times…
Where does it all go? —
My face is warmed by an evening sun
falling like slow fire over the corn.

The authors I mention, and others, all have inspired me in my own work.  There are, I believe, commonalities that have emerged from their good influence naturally as time has flowed on.  As I mentioned above, I think the reader will find in Constellations and Fireflies some fragrances of many of those authors and to some degree an honoring of the example they uphold.  As well as, I dare say, something new.  In Constellations and Fireflies, there is a thorough attention to those technical aspects of writing: sounds, shapes, and rhythm, the sometimes grueling effort to get “just the right word,” and that intangible sense that every author must have for putting him- or herself in the place of the reader.  What will enable another person to see what I’m seeing here?  What will touch that person’s heart or appeal to their own life’s subtle tides?  Why should anyone care about what I’m saying in this poem?  And there is something of the poet rebel or adventurer who pushes the limits of ink and page to express what comes forth of its own, with its own nature and its own intent, its own sound and rhythm, even if it means crafting new or spontaneous forms.  Sometimes a line or phrase insists that you write it down.  Sometimes just the sound of the thing is a music you can’t deny to print.

The ant ascends
the long stem of grass —
pausing where two leaves diverge

I think many new authors are surprised when they learn that one’s own experiences, while unique in essence to oneself, usually have quite a lot in common with the experiences of others.  And that such a thing doesn’t diminish one’s individuality.  We have our desires, our dreams, our challenging uncertainties… and no one is immune to those forces of fate that come in and carelessly knock over those towers one’s spent long spans of time and copious tears to build.  However common are life’s experiences, each of us also has his or her unique viewpoint and inner states of feeling and aspiration that imbue the timber of one’s words and deeds.

Awaiting the Storm

Pregnant with the fruition of days of sweltering heat and humidity,
the sky sags low with dark burgeoning clouds. 
Birds sing only idly, their eyes turning constantly upward.
The cats complain of nothing tangible.
Fitful motorists strain on the freeway, unable to travel
swiftly enough towards as yet unrevealed destination.

It’s one of life’s most stubborn, thorny, and yet beneficial truths that the world challenges every aspiration.  The rewards of any pursuit are just as grand as the dream and the effort to realize it.  In the book, I mention a quote from Thoreau… at least, I think it’s Thoreau; and while I’ve not been able to verify that, it is still, I believe, worthy of repeating.  “Anything good is as difficult to attain as it is rare.” 

As the sun climbs,
points of light appear within
the green veils of the forest —
constellations and fireflies.

Constellations and Fireflies is a collection of poetry based upon the surprising wonders of daily life, from Indiana, to the Pacific Northwest, to California, to the territory beyond all the maps. On this journey we savor the closeness of lovers, companions, the “good nemesis,” and the dearest of Friends. The book’s heart is the will to live… and to live big, even when the world appears small.

I’ll close with one more poem from Constellations and Fireflies — One of the experiences that provides for me an always surprising depth of perception and appreciation is the fascinating and imaginatively stimulating contemplation of small things, little items of one’s life that we find along the way, perhaps while hiking along the ocean shore; maybe something we discover in the garage while we’re looking for something else.  Sometimes you find in the library a book you didn’t know you needed: it just somehow falls into your hand.  There is magic in little, apparently innocuous things that lay awaiting not merely the act of laying one’s eyes upon them, but also the journey in imagination and open attention that leads to a real blossoming of surprising insight.  Sometimes there is just the mysterious pleasure of a private moment with an object that has a history that’s somehow, for example, sensed in the patina of its metal; those small scratches of a pot’s clay surface, and the way designs and glazing are naturally rubbed away by the invisible fingers of time, thus creating unexpected and evocative patterns; the unique way in which a shirt’s fabric is altered by a body’s movements and the passing of time.  While wondering around in the woods I’m endlessly bemused by the patterns on small sticks, either the bark itself, the scribblings of insects, or the intriguing wabi-sabi of natural weathering.  Such hieroglyphic calligraphy seems rich with sympathetic resonances from beyond the immediately visible. 

The Worth of Beautiful Useless Things

A green-rusted gear crusted with red clay
found by the old well-head.
A cracked-face gold watch, stopped and still.
The unknowing and unlearned smile
of a babe not yet hardened to fate.
A large drop-forged hammer found
in a creaking drawer,
hefted in hand, heavy and true.
A river-softened stone of light matter
sculpted over untold years into
the flowing shape of a robed figure.
A peach colored flower of no use
even to a hummingbird dangles
in a warped wooden pot.
By a languid forest stream
an ancient bulldozer nearly rusted solid.
Lizard-scale flakes of yellow paint cling to its flanks.
In its shadow, oxalis nod and waft
in faint billows blown from the passing stream.

Look for Constellations and Fireflies on Amazon.  And in the next month or so I will be putting up more content from the book, here on Flowerwatch.  Thank you for reading this introduction to my book, and please consider purchasing it.  I think you will find pleasure in its pages.

-Kevin Trammel

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Flowing Down the River

When Princess Di was taken out of the world at a young age back in 1997, and around that same time Mother Teresa also, somehow it really hit me that the world was moving into a new era that would demand much more of each individual. It seems there is currently unfolding another such period of time, taking things up a whole step in significance and requiring a new degree of spiritual fortitude.

Of course, where much is demanded, much is also given. These dichotomies of destruction and renewal are like birth pains, it seems to me. While difficult, in order to bring about a new life they also seem to compel the soul perspective so that the mind may be relieved of the troubles of its unavoidably limited scope. If the spirit can be allowed to enter into the picture, then maybe the dust of the whirlwind will be transmuted into the descending gold of renewal. An age of greater balance could be the child that’s given.

In 1997, while I was musing over the significance of the passing of those two women, the following song, which I call “Flowing Down the River,” poured out through my fingers and streamed across the piano keys. The song, for me, was a kind of refuge and a reminder, a restorer and a comforter, through which I found myself deepening into the inner strength that is as great as one’s love. Having forgotten the song awhile back, it returned again recently. I spent some time last spring refining it a little, and then I made the following recording.

While I’ve written music ever since high school in the 80s, my life has placed other demands upon my physical resources and so I will ask for your forbearance: I’ve not been able to spend the time required to refine my performance skills! But, I wanted to share it now. I hope you enjoy it!

More of my music is here, if you’d like to explore further.

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Sierra’s Winter-Spring Season


A poem from my book Between the Hours. See this article for a description of the book.

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Progress


A poem from my book Between the Hours.  See this article for a description of the book.

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The Sun Descends


A poem from my book Between the Hours.  See this article for a description of the book.

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Devil’s Tower

Image Credit & Copyright: MaryBeth Kiczenski

Devil’s Tower —

all those trees are
looking toward it,
slowly making their way forward en masse

assaying to assault it’s
columnar ramparts
and join the combatants
already fixed and feeding on its flanks.

See them, brave and mighty pines,
clinging to the side to crack and toss their
bit of slab away into the rubble heap,
risking their own fatal plunge.

But all in service to the cause:
that stubborn, arrogant pillar must fall!

And they are winning.
Though its mighty finger still points upward
toward the wheeling stars and galaxies
and while it may remain for long time set,
a monolith to earth’s furthest reach,
the trees will one day win.

The green will always consume the gray,
until the last fires come down
from that far flaming sky in response
to the pleas of the planet’s bones
almost stifled ‘midst the war cries of the forest.

-Kevin Trammel
April 15, 2022

 

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Tolkien: The Heart of the Story

“The wheels of the world are turned by small hands while the great are looking elsewhere.”

JRR Tolkien

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Cruel Strangeness

Cruel strangeness takes hold in wars.

-Charles Bukowski

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Sorrow’s Tender Mercies

Sorrow comes in the quiet of loss
and she offers her selfish comforts for nothing.
Calm silence of the tomb.
Still, empty shadows, veils
that blur and bind the open wounds
until they sink mutely down
under the waves of consciousness.

Like opium, you smoke her platitudes.
She throws up her chimeras
on the wall of her cave
and soon you want to see no more

for it was seeing that first betrayed you;
and so you take the brand of Polyphemus
and with one shrouded eye
gaze darkly and see but one shade.

Sorrow begins with that snaking, sinuous ssssss…
if you don’t look in her eyes,
her charms will not seize your will
and hypnotically make of you
the drunken fool bound to the rail,
waiting for the train to come.

-Kevin Trammel

3/5/2022

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First Green

This last winter ground,
mantled in a paper mache cocoon
of pale, dead leaves,

gently yields
to spring’s first
ardent spikes of green


-Kevin Trammel
3/6/2022

See my books, Gathered Rain, and Between the Hours, for more poetry, art, and prose.

Gathered Rain, by Kevin Trammel Between the Hours, by Kevin Trammmel

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Emergence

As spring begins to stir
in the bed of winter
I find the bright star
of a new dandelion
piercing the frosty mantle


-Kevin Trammel
3/6/2022

See my books, Gathered Rain, and Between the Hours, for more poetry, art, and prose.

Gathered Rain, by Kevin Trammel Between the Hours, by Kevin Trammmel

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Sky Smiles Blue

the blue of sky
makes it seem the sky
is a thing itself —

but it is not.
Empty as a crystal bowl
the sky’s blue is the sun’s

which sky has cleaved
in its love of sun
and thrown up as a gown

about its nakedness.
When the sky smiles blue
it is the sun’s smile.

-Kevin Trammel, 2/13/2022

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Dancing

I’m so happy to let fall
from my fingers these
black stones of the day

and wrap my hands
in the softly whispering silk
of the night’s blessed dark.

The intrusion of the world
shoving its daylit inanities
into my pockets and demanding

that all its needs are paramount,
that the heart and the soul
weigh nothing against its priorities

falls easily, softly into
the veiled well of the moon,
whence a smiling face rises.

I pull her to me, her shining tresses
wind gracefully around me
as we dance lightly across
her black marble floors in starlight glistening.


-Kevin Trammel
2/13/2022

See my books, Gathered Rain, and Between the Hours, for more poetry, art, and prose.

Gathered Rain, by Kevin Trammel Between the Hours, by Kevin Trammmel

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Surrender

I’ve felt the soft surrender
in the night when the wind
comes down low and cold-shoulders
its way across the lawn
and into the old woods by the orchard.

I hear her in there crying
over a stone she cannot move.

-Kevin Trammel
2/16/2022

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Cool Cat

The cold is new
after days of heat
and the cat’s fur stands up
a razor ridge along his back

he makes his legs stiff and straight:
he crab-walks left
he crab-walks right

he digs at nothing in the grass

then runs off down the lawn
          like a mad fool
full out long curved claws,
erect whiskers and ears,
and a soundless laugh everyone can hear.

-Kevin Trammel
2/16/2022

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wind rattles


From my book “Between the Hours.”

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A World Teeming with Enticements!

When Robbie’s out in the woods, the garden, or the orchards, he finds himself dancing through a world surging with sounds and scents.  With hearing that reaches below the ground and high into windy branches, and sensing hidden fragrances in abundance, he sees so much more than I can perceive.  His faculties make him a part of a community invisible to me, one replete with enticements and wonders.  Everything of which he is aware might be something to eat!  It might be someone with whom to play!

As he listens and senses, perhaps he imagines the exhilaration of the hunt, the intrigue of the quest.  His world is teeming with excitement.  I can only watch him and vicariously enjoy his thrill and the waves of shivering anticipation or wonder that ripple across his beautiful, golden fur, and that cause his black pupils to rapidly open and close within the pale rim of his eyes.

Music by Kevin Trammel ©

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Soft Swift Fall, A Poem from My Book, “Between the Hours”

This poem is from the section “Dawn,” in my book “Between the Hours.” See here for further information on it, and look at this article for an explanation why I’m putting up a series of poems from my book. Thank you for reading this! Please share with me how you experience this and other poems here

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Each a Flower, A Poem from My Book, “Between the Hours”

This poem is from the section “PreDawn,” in my book “Between the Hours.” See here for further information on it, and look at this article for an explanation why I’m putting up a series of poems from my book. Thank you for reading this! Please share with me how you experience this and other poems here.

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Swimming, A Poem from My Book, “Between the Hours”

This poem is from the section “Night,” in my book “Between the Hours.” See here for further information on it, and look at this article for an explanation why I’m putting up a series of poems from my book. Thank you for reading this! Please share with me how you experience this and other poems here.

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The Poppy, A Poem from My Book, “Between the Hours”

This poem is from the section “Dusk,” in my book “Between the Hours.” See here for further information on it, and look at this article for an explanation why I’m putting up a series of poems from my book. Thank you for reading this! Please share with me how you experience this and other poems here.

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