Sometimes,

when driving with old music under slated smoke
against the brushstroked horizon
fading along mountains to the west
as the sun-heat of the high desert
reflecting off the scent of sagebrush
gives way to a chill mist
collecting on burnished sandstone and granite
with small patches of veridian moss and lichen
in the wild geometry of a late afternoon
as amber light stretches out into a blanket
under which nothing can harm us

(not even the future
not even the past

[this is a good place to stop
and get out the cameras] ),

our gaze sweeps
the scattered domains of the earth,
of the coyote and the elk
and a railroad track not used in years;

soon,
we will start thinking of good food
and something cool to drink.

Shell Canyon | Wyoming | USA

Anathema

20 years into this century
and the West burns,

the land inflamed, unceasing.

It burns in the forests
and the fields,
it burns in the streets,
with fires small and great
all stretching out for the same air,
all feasting upon the same oxygen.

But empires thus
are built of bone
and of sweat,

and within the elements
of things closest to our hearts,
from the private
to the pestilent,
we wait
and we watch
with dilated eyes
the assault and decay.

To breathe! Only to breathe…

The body has a finite amount of blood.
The mind can only take so much.

They will not stop, you see.
They will never

stop.

This is the desolation.

Oh rise now the midnight daughter,
oh rise now the twilight son;
keep your blades sharp,
your torches dry,
your eyes up.

Under the roaming haze
under a descending sun;
late now, the domain of summer,
and the long dark
approaches.

There is but one bastion,
one shield,
one bulwark,
one fire in the night:

hold fast thy memory,
thy faith,
thy hope
and thy love.

You know
in your deep-heart
what is right.

All else is anathema,
all else is so much dust,
for there are no spells
with which to resurrect the dead.

In Memoriam: Patrick H Lee

artist: https://www.deviantart.com/pe-travers/art/Desolation-120816158

92%

had to wait a while,
didn’t we?

for the stars to fall in supernova
and the far trails
to be formed and tread
and for the long night
to descend upon us?

and so we did.

be then ignited with me,
you inviolate wonder;

for tears are sacred things
that flow
through the mountain-field
and through the desert
into the ocean,

only so they might be carried up,
and by desperado winds
returned to the earth
as a storm over the sage,

where grace as rain comes down
around the lightning we make
in this love like thunder.

artist: https://deviantart.com/viconbecon

Geology

Your skin is of alabaster,
and your heart, rose quartz.

Your mind is diamond.
Your hair flows down like tiger’s eye.

And residing within granitic bones
of cooled lava,
your soul is formed
of topaz and citrine;

your eyes of obsidian,
of dragon’s blood,
of labradorite.

And your mouth
speaks in rivers
and your touch
laps as waves on the shore
and your dreams
are snow gathering on the high peaks;

for you were forged in stars,
and born of fire,
and a wonder,

never simply on display;

but forever that of beauty,
wild in the earth.

Before Dawn

Gently now,
as I draw you in the core of my mind.

Softly now,
as your soul sings
in the depths of the dark.

Sweetly now,
as we drink
deep from the overflowing cup.

The ceiling fan spins light kaleidoscopic
in the late evening,
and the sheets smell like you,
and my shirt is scented
with dust and musk,
and we trace each other’s tattoos
and taste of each other’s wine
and speak our stories into the air.

So
lightly,
as my fingers brush
the back
of your neck.

Elegantly,
as your hand rests
upon the rising of my
chest.

Slowly,
as thunderclouds growl and gather
in the distance.

The hours after midnight
are only for the nameless,
the forgotten,
the secrets,
the lovers,
the ascendant.

Carefully now,
as I carve your name
into the side of my heart.

Coffee

The moon, in her wisdom,
hides for the day;
and the sun tumbles
in photonic procession
over hills of tree and rock
to come gently,
unassuming,
in between the curtains.

The cat stretches.

You arise first, usually.

You are the concerto’s
opening notes.

You tell me of the mountains-
the old ones with long and white hair
falling over their shoulders,
guarding the far and wild reaches
of the old country.

You tell me
of the realms of your imagination;
of the paths traveled with companions,
and of those without.

You tell me of the burning light of hope
hidden in the deep night of the soul.

You tell me of faith.
You tell me of mystery.
You tell me of love.

And I see the trades
and skills and crafts
concealed
among the books on your shelf,
and in between your piano fingers.

I see the nameless fears
waiting in the dark.

And I think it is no wrong thing
to take a step back in time,
and say “thou art Rogue”-
feline-footed and shadow-friended,
come to meet me
at the edge of field and the forest,
both of us bringing secrets for trade.

And I see the sun coming in.

I want to hear more.

I want to hear why you think
the violin is the most beautiful sound in the universe.

I want to close my eyes
and see more of the piano fingers at play.

It’s hard to close my eyes around you,
but I will try.

I want to hear more about your paths,
see more of your map,
taste more of your wine;

only because
I’m not sure
anyone’s listened long enough
to hear the song
of the golden threads
that hold you together-
the ones the world tries so hard
to unravel.

So let me check today’s itinerary:

Ah.

“Hunt for rocks.”
“Eat food.”
“Dance in the kitchen.”

But first, breakfast.

Coffee.

Then come and meet me
at the edge of the field and the forest.

artist: https://deviantart.com/rhads

Theory

What makes a wild heart beat?

(no, i mean really beat)

Does it fly full-out and free
under the sun?
Does it hide and whisper
its dreamings in the dark?
Does it drift
in fitful slumber beneath the sea?

What voices, still, are carried on the horizon’s wind?

Where do they go?

And why,
why is all this insanity
very much like a coming home?

(does it even matter?)

Here,
I’ll tell you a secret:

I have no idea.

But I think it’s very close

to whatever makes a horse
dig its hooves hard into the ground,
playing with the earth
at the scent of rain,
throwing out ripened patches
of green grass
to an evening blanket-sky
burgeoned with pillars of midnight
as the final spears of sunlight
slip past the edges of thunderwaves
forged in hearts of lightning.

artist: https://www.deviantart.com/temiree/art/Rising-Thunder-606707595

Offering

for Ms. Oliver

____________________

What am I doing
when you look over and catch me
staring,
and a scrap of laughter finds its way out
as you ask me
“What”?

This isn’t exactly rhetorical.
And I know I usually answer
“Just thinking.”

But what happens is
we fall for someone,
and even if we don’t admit it,
we notice

when they read a book
and the morning sun filtering in through the blinds
gathers in their hair
like light illuminating a marble sculpture
as their eyes drift away from the pages;

and they have their own little sounds of contentment
that exit and dance in the air
as they spread butter or twirl spaghetti;

or there’s that thing they do with their face;

or whether they talk or remain quiet in the woods-
whether they know of wisdom or of reverence;

the way they say exactly;

and their endless ocean of silence
made up of every word they never say,
and the why;

and islands, as well-
those secret islands we might bring each other to,
and the maps only each the other holds,
will ever hold…

Consider:

the bird’s feet run, stop, run, stop, run across the sand.
The bird is looking for something,
and the spray and flowing crawl of the sea
whispers the tracks away.

The dog lopes along the snowbanks,
breaks into a run, cuts to the side, stops, turns,
runs back and tackles you.
You have forgotten that he loves you
and so now must be reminded.
It’s not your fault. The dog knows you’re only human.

The horse is stretched out
and running freely into the wind,
which does not slow her.
The fields are deep in green
and the thunderheads are dark of blue,
and she kicks at the striking lightning.
The horse loves the storm, you see,
as the storm loves her back.

Consider

that I have buried many dead things,
yet have unearthed my own heart every time.
Consider all the times we’ve each done so.

So in all honesty, when you catch me,
I’m not “just thinking”
(even though that may sound better).

As you’ve noticed, I like to pay attention.
Must pay it, in fact.

If I could offer a thing more precious,
then please,
tell me.

That’s all I’m doing, my dear.

I’m just paying attention.