overcast like mourning robes
five white horses on a small hill
tears of rain soft upon the window
overcast like mourning robes
I’ll be reading with Taylor Graham, El Dorado County Poet Laureate, and Michael Paul, at the El Dorado County Public Library in Georgetown. If anyone reading this happens to be in the area, come on by. It should be quite an enjoyable event. More details on the El Dorado Arts Council facebook page.
Waiting on sleep, gazing
up through the window at
the bright cold and clear night —
Orion strides in magnificent stature
adorned with incandescent jewels.
And there is Sirius, and over there the Pleiades,
one a trumpet sound of light
the other a demure pool
of lambent mystery.
Ah! A plane crosses, a poor cousin
passing only briefly, like Icarus,
amongst the high shoulders
of the astral gods!
With a rake I spread
the last embers of the bonfire
like fiery butter
and I stand basking,
gazing down into
a sky-full of red stars
Christmas lights brightly jewel
the frosty fence in morning calm —
a car with one lone dawn soldier
passes by, leaving
only drifting steam that curls
slowly, lovingly, above that diadem of
colored star-bright gems.
Pine cones leaning,
sitting buddha-like along the path —
monuments to beetles,
whole planets to fleas,
menorah-like jewels to my own eye.
I can’t get over how they wait.
So quiet here in the still woods.
On what secret do they attend?
Wind rolls through these leaves
in long exhalations
as Atlas labors at the wheel that
turns the seasons —
now from the last gleam of summer
into full autumn.
Leaves in maples reflect fires
in the furnace that fuels this
great onward rush
grasses, twigs, and vines
once succulent with the rising
springs of the vernal blush
now grow dry and thin
in the heated languid haste
as Cronos devours what was wrought.
Bees crowd the buds of honeysuckle
entwining the old pine,
collecting all they can carry;
hornets mob a dead bird’s carcass
ravenous before the urge
of their own inward clock;
and two squirrels argue
from opposite sides of the wood
as they bustle through the mass
of detritus, caching winter stores
or up the boles of oaks with
loads of pine-straw to build
with haste a stout shelter
to stand against the coming
autumn winds and winter
hail and rain.
I find myself dizzy
with the intoxication
of aging detritus and orchard fruits
the dazzling kaleidoscopic pin-wheels of
wind-spun autumn leaves
and I feel too far behind in all that must
be done to even begin — so
I wander the woods and the orchard
until a need appears and
with a smile I attend to it,
all the while imbibing the slow
dreams of all that fast approaches sleep.
Above these visions I float
like the moon above the water —
I taste but do not enter the feast.
That doorway has closed for me.
Instead I wander
with a song in silence
as behind me the path blooms
in slow soft flame.
The orange gourd rattles in a spectral sky
Shadowed shrouds of mist from icy fields fly
Heaven’s hollow dome coldly echoes a strange cry
Dreams once hopeful wingless by dark stones lie.
by Kevin Trammel
A modest recipe for Halloween (from a previous post).
Crème Du Halloween
by Kevin Trammel
One gob pickled innards,
Ten drops black bat glop,
An ooze of dead men’s gizzards—
Stir, pour, and chop.
Add a pinch of spider’s eyes,
Garnish with false alibis,
Serve atop aged, rotting flesh.
Best when eaten fresh.
A note to the prudent host or hostess:
If your guests should hesitate,
And grimace, gasp, wax quite irate,
Bring out the severed fingers plate,
With chocolate sauce and sugar cake.
The Devil crouches low
in the dry moonless field
and watches with wide black eyes
the dim lights of the house in the wood.
Plucking foxtail from his wool
he slowly chews and spits and chuckles.
Twisting his beard absently he turns
to whisper orders to his messenger hellhound.
His voice rasps in the night
like a violin bow dragged dryly
over a rusting weather-cock − birds
startled fly from their leaf-wrapped night-beds.
Inside the house, laughter, reminiscences.
A drink of wine, a swallow of apple.
A fond story told of future days.
A memoriam chanted over hallowed ground.
through Indian Summer we drive
swirling leaves behind us —
death’s glowing portals so near
It’s hot and dry
in the Sierras
like a blowtorch.
The wind in the puckered oaks
sounds like a raging fire.
There’s smoke standing in the air
like the unseen presence
of a dragon.
There was nearby, along a stream, the hacked trunk of a young tree. The rest of it lay where it was cast, in the ditch below. Knowing the neighborhood and those who frequented the path on which this tree once thrived, I knew the boys who did it.
I felt sorrow for the tree and pity for the boys. For, their act had no purpose which might give it authority. It was merely the act of bored and petulant youth exhausting a feeling of powerlessness and aimlessness. I know this because I did the same kinds of things as a child.
As years have gone by like that stream of mountain water, I’ve come to value the companionship of trees. They provide so much: fresh air, inspiration, beauty, majesty, wood for building and for so many essential human needs; they even draw up the water from the earth. Trees provide shelter and an abode not only for human beings, but for countless other creatures. So, it occurred to me as I stood within the forest gazing at its tattered remains, that even in its death the tree had served, for it gave the young men a sense of victory, however sordid and fleeting.
As for the boys, all they really accomplished for themselves was a felling of their own spirit. In living what can one do but love the living? Anything else is death. Even in battle, truly great warriors, who must follow the grim logic of war, honor and celebrate their fallen foes. Those who spit upon the corpses of the defeated are only heaping contempt upon themselves, for no one can escape the body’s death and only a very few truly know whence the gift of life is given.
Bless the trees who signify the gods in order in their orbs beneath heaven, and the ultimate Power that loves and cherishes all. Earthly angels, in no hyperbole, they thrive that animate beings may live and carry out their personal and public affairs in lazy ignorance or in active awareness. Trees are worthy of honor and to be cherished in return. Treating them in this way empowers one to draw nearer to the root of one’s own life and that of all life.
Every night the moon
frolics in the stream —
yet show me what it has touched
or even a shadow.
-A rendition of a poem by Takuan, tr. originally by Lucien Stryk in “The Crane’s Bill”
Walking a path on a hot afternoon,
shedding a heavy mantle of work’s entangling thoughts,
my attention’s drawn to a shadow on the path —
a dark purple swallow
rests with his belly buried
in the sun-baked sand at path’s edge.
As I was already too close for him to stay
he lifted up from his warm bed
with swift and elegant ease
of the swallow.
It was the sweet picture of his silent repose
in the sun-warm sand
that remained luminous on my inner screen
and buoyed my afternoon stroll
as from within I flew
with the gracious glide of the purple martin.
The cover of Gathered Rain is a twig of oleander after the seeds have sprung from their pod. The twig is dropping to the ground in a rainstorm and has just bounced upward after having struck a small puddle.
In reading about the new Apple “space ship and thunder dome” I’m reminded of these most apt words from the dark father:
“Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.” [ Star Wars, of course ]