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THE CAMERA OBSCURA




- Words and Pictures -



Book One


JayAllenRayl









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Copyright 2018



Contents


- The Magic Show

- A Death In The Family

- Earth, The Spiral Wanderlust

- The Half-Mast Christmas

- The Enfant Terrible Of The Twentieth Century

- Romeo And Juliet In Retrospect

- Signor Siesta’s

- The Flat Planet

- Scheherazade Adrift Upon A Sea Of Dreams

- The Camera Obscura

- The Star Striders

- The Quartet For September Eleven

-The RemembeRing

-The Icarus Angels

-The New-Moon Prelude

-Song And Apotheosis

-Venice Canal Swan-Song

-Flowers From A Drought Year



The Magic Show


We are a very magical species!

Crawling out of caves and standing upright;

Leaving marks on walls that pass for writing;

Building cities in the middle of nowhere;

Exploring every corner of the known world;

Uncovering all the great secrets of nature;

Thinking thoughts hitherto un-dreamt of;


Creating Gods and destroying them!


Thus come the dreamers of that cosmic dust:

And given enough time,

"What can be conceived can be achieved!"


We are a very magical species!



- We had created a new world for ourselves: so bound to one large rock.

One that threatened to entrap us if not for our interminable determination. -


- Death is no greater force than the life it strives to displace -



A Death In The Family


-For ‘Pug’ (Emma)

September 7, 2006



‘Death, be not proud’! You have won no victory here today!

Upon a stage you shall not be adorned by any heraldry.

For it is we a wreath shall wear

of timeless garland in our hair.


It is we who had begun our race in this long distance run.

It is we who crossed this course that mirrors life’s uncertain force.


With dreams of being victory bound, we dreamt of being duly crowned.

We’d start our day in silent prayers, and then, beneath the pennant bearers.


We’d stand there at the starting line, waiting for the starter’s sign.

Our colored jerseys, silken spun, burst-forth upon the starter’s gun.


And putting on our boldest face we strove for our distinctive pace.

We’d make our race a headlong run, alone at times, at times as one.


And dusk would surely find us there upon some busy thoroughfare:

And dawn would find us, once again, along some road, alone therein.


This race would take us ‘cross vast lands, uneven and unknown to Man.

We’d venture forth afar from home and long forth for a world to roam.


At times this race might well demand a journey through the shadow-land;

But soon enough we’d run a rise that took us towards a brighter prize.


And for a moment we might stand upon the highest in the land:

Our time atop, however brief, would make its mark our centerpiece.


And for our journeys we would learn the sorrows of a lone sojourn.

For our struggles there would part the sounds of joy from our sad heart.


But for our efforts all shall wear some type of garland in their hair.

No matter where along their run, no matter when their race was done.


Be sadness for a dream not found, misgivings of the century bound.

Be heartbreak for a child stillborn or loss of life that goes un-mourned.


For on our run we’re forced to see the fall of friends through tragedy.

Before we’re done we’d know the strife of the sudden, shortened life.


Yet end our race without regrets, we’ll bear the pain of our missteps.

Despite a run without recourse, we’ll face its falls without remorse.


And know the maxim of our lives, we’d read its words with wiser eyes.

We’d sing its verse with voices raised, at first resigned, and then amazed.



Each and every life shall be

Marked by its mortality. Yet,

Measured by a hand divine

All our souls shall transcend time!



- As for Death, you cannot know the stuff of life, its ebb, its flow:

The sounds of laughter and sad hearts, the warmth of kin, the life apart.


For Death, no silks did you display, you never raced to win the day.

No lonely road you ran at night, nor summit stood in morning light.


You never heard a crowd react to sprinters turning on the track.

Nor proudly broke the winners tape or finished back amongst the chase.


You never had to feel downcast that such a race might be your last.

And when the crowd had left for home, you never knew that time alone.


You never knew that sense of pall, the sorrows of a sudden fall;

Nor ever saw a time of strife, the struggles of the sentient life.


And for that did you ever know the sense of pride that one can show?

You’d never see that great reward of ever moving always forward.


And with that said so therein lies the future of our own devise.

And with that done it shall be we who’ll find our immortality.


We’ll bear a staff of spectral light and drive the darkness from the night.

And breaking from the bonds of earth, we’ll cross a bridge to our rebirth.


And having finished with our race, you’ll find us at a better place.

And there amongst our brethren, we’ll stand abreast and start again.



So, Death, be not proud.

You’ve won no victory here today.


For when everything is said and done,

You shall claim no wreath for a race not run.




- To wake and weep, and weep away

Uneven hours of uneven days. -



- Where is this planet of ours headed, and are we really just along for the ride? -



Earth, The Spiral Wanderlust

Time's absence consents . . .

Time's presence permits

The immaculate birth

Of the blue planet, Earth.


Time's absence consents -

Earth, The Spiral Wanderlust, rises

Through primordial mists in Pre-Cambrian;

The warm surface-waters clear,

The cool surface-clouds part,

And midst a sprinkling of ice-cold stars

First sunlight casts first shadows 'cross alluvium.


Time's presence permits -

The epochs roll-on like endless thunder

Upon the razor backs of lightning bolts;

And at the height of the terrible storm

There stands in a clearing the being called 'Man'.


Time's absence consents; time's presence permits !


The people under the stars, standing

By day, sun-bound; staring by night, star-ward.

I stand there with them - Someday,

At the height of a terrible storm,

We shall leave the Earth; and stepping out

Into the night, lead the best of our species

On a long, uncertain road, that sends us

Spiral striding through a star-strewn sky,

Heading us in the opposite direction

Of all the signs that point towards home.


Oh, how the gods must laugh at those so star-struck!


And yet, someday, years later and ages hence,

I can imagine them, the gods, old and frail,

And tired of living, as they are wont to become,

Lying on their deathbeds, a heavy primordial mist

Hanging about their heads in hopes of healing.

I can see them, breathing deeply to regain their youth,

Exchanging kudos for memories, life for apotheosis.

Then, in the early morning, they will slowly rise

From their bier, and pointing halfway across the sky,

Proudly proclaim for all the stars to hear:

"Look! There goes Earth, The Spiral Wanderlust!

Racing aimless 'cross an endless night.

It's solitary progress, a great genetic footprint,

Bears the double-helix of a thing called Life !"


And we shall salute them as we race outward and on,

Glancing backwards only long enough to boldly exclaim:

“We crave to put a rebel in the congress of the stars;

A rebel who will create a universe that will expand as far

As our imaginations require; a rebel who will legislate no laws

Within our lifetime that might keep us from our wanderings,

Wanderings that will help to keep us at once forever young.”



Off the beaten path is on our way at last!”

The Half-Mast Christmas

A Lament


12-14-12



Last night I came upon a star adrift upon a cloudless sky;

It was the only star that shone, a tiny light unto the eye.


No other star was seen at all, no other light to guide me home

Throughout the deepest and the darkest winter night I’ve ever known.


But on the very next day’s eve, another star stood by the first;

And then within this darkling sky, thus being two, the two starburst.


And every night that followed fast, a newer star was nightly cast;

And very soon that darkling sky was soon ablaze with stars amassed.


And in the light they cast aground, I saw that where I stood abreast

Was of a field of standing stones that marked wherein the fallen rest.


Upon these stones were deep impressed into the rock a tragic sign,

The names of those whose lives were felled so long before allotted time.


And standing in the cold blue mist that settled like a ghostly light,

I wished that I could somehow be the one to make the great wrongs right.


I saw myself upon my knees before each stone with just one wish,

That I might rub the names and dates from off the face of each surface.


If we could strike the names from off the surface of this rigid stone,

Then maybe we could make amends and somehow in our way, atone.


But such a stone’s forever set when such young names are cut so deep;

They are the very tender souls a tearful God is want to keep.


And so I rose and left that place, and stood within the light of day;

But deep within I made a vow that all of us need not betray.


If I should come upon a sky, devoid of stars that grace the night,

Then I will raise a fiery torch and fill that sky with starry light.





The Young Scholar

So years the heart of youth at any age.”




-Will The Second Coming be anything like what we expect, or ever what he imagined?



The Enfant Terrible

Of The Twentieth Century


Being great, immeasurable goodness,

inflicts great wounds, not good times -

The Enfant Terrible of the Twentieth Century

was not having a good time.


He had returned with bold, new ideas and untried parables,

and he had been scorned and ridiculed.

He had returned with great secrets and sacred revelations,

and he had been openly laughed at.

He had returned with miracles and the promise of salvation,

and he had been ignored.


Pious flesh, like the pagan's, runs on comfort

and the very sustenance each of us desires.

The Enfant, sandal clad and cross-seasoned,

though a Messiah of the First Magnitude,

was none-the-less, tired, hungry and cold.


"You have burned the sage, must you now destroy the man !"


Urban mobs found him praying,

and though fixed on a lynching,

settled on driving him from the city,

through suburbia and into the countryside.


- Under the generous sprawl of mountain poplars

and the shade of torrey pines, the Enfant Terrible

stands within the shadows of this high terrain.

Sacred in means, blasphemous in manner, he curses

all the gods and holy gnomes the world has ever known.

Below, and under summer fogs, the city and the empire

crawl out of sight and towards a foretold time of fire-light.

Behind him, a forest scene fills the vision; here it warms

the body, feeds the hungry and spells even the most road-weary.


The Enfant longs for this: he longs to slip off his sandals

and shed his cross right in the middle of the road he travels down.

He longs to strike out into the wilderness, to lose himself

as a wanderlust and a lover of the lonely woods might do.

He imagines:

-In the woods there is a house in the clearing,

a woman in the house and a child in the woman.

-In the woods there are simple things to be built

and the saner dreams of earthmen to be moved.

-In the woods there is comfort and a safety from storms

and the sudden deluge of a spring-like downpour.


-In the woods there is rest, peace and obscurity . . .


He is a Messiah by design, a builder by desire -

" No rest, no peace, no obscurity shall be mine !

Destiny is that thing which when you look the other way

is always there to face you. - If they will not follow me

into salvation, they can be chased into submission !

I shall cut lose the great magogs of Armageddon:

The seas will roil, the mountains will crack,

the rivers will run with fire-flood, and the mobs

will find themselves adrift on the same ancient deserts

that they had wont to abandon ten thousand years before.

They will find themselves following a Messiah

who in all good faith had meant them no harm,

bade them no misery, and had, with all intent

hoped to build for them a brave new world

from the simpler tools that once he had inherited."


The Enfant Terrible of the Twentieth Century could never begin to imagine

The terrible fate his curse would beget to all the various peoples of the world.

The Enfant Terrible of the Twentieth Century could never begin to believe

The terrible catharsis the civilized world would have to someday endure.


And ages hence, the remnants of a legend

finds its way onto the lips of an itinerant sage:


. . . into the next millennium, an age detached, un-shrined;

A vision of apocalypse is burned into our minds:

On desert sand-scapes, turning from a trail

of un-marked graves,

There roams a savior, seeking water,

for a dying slave.




The Wasteland Strangers’




Romeo And Juliet

In

Retrospect


" Love, even on me, looks good ! "


Romeo straightened his tie, wetted his brows

and stared for hours long ways into the mirror.


He liked looking at himself in the mirror.

These modern mirrors were made for a face as his.


Romeo remembered a time when looking

into a mirror meant scarcely being able to see

your own reflection in the polished brass.


Now, times were better !


Now you could spend an entire lifetime searching

past your eyelids for that somewhere-thing called ‘soul’.


His ‘soul-mate’, Juliet, also seemed to do nothing else.

In fact, she seemed to never leave the looking glass.


Perhaps, too, this was better for her.


For she had long forgotten she had once been the victim

of the ageless art of theatrical high-tragedy, written

into a play that forced her to die-young night after night.


Both had forgotten that part of their lives.

Bad-mouthing the Bard of Avon had become nothing more

Than a half-feeling to a distant memory better left for dead.


They liked this life better !


The two mirrors in their one-bedroom

inner-city, slum dwelling were the only furniture

the two had ever owned since Fifteen and Ninety Seven.


No magazines, nor even a tea-table to set them on. . .

No novels, or even a bookcase to cover wall-space . . .

No paintings to act as open windows on a life-less day . . .


Only the two mirrors.


But no worry !


Gone were the days of having to deal with

hasty entrances and fast exits . . .

Costume changes and curtain calls . . .

and a playwright who delighted in seeing

the 'flower of youth' preserved nightly at their expense.


Gone were the Capulets! Gone where the Montagues!

Gone was the world they had once called The Globe!


But gone too were their ‘youthful dreams’

they once had fostered before the curtain fell.


Once, The World was their's;

And they were going to change it forever !


Romeo was going to rule Verona . . .

Juliet was going to be his queen . . .


Romeo was going to take his empire on a ‘just’ crusade . . .

Juliet was going to feed and heal the peoples of the world . . .


Romeo was going to lead his men to the far ends of the Earth . . .

And Juliet was going to fly to the moon . . .




We did everything but outrace our shadows.”


-The only worthwhile experience of the ‘open road’ is the unexpected.



Signor Siesta’s



It was a so-so sojourn !

After a rushed month of seasonal meals on the run,

missed connections and casual attitudes at all latitudes,

our train had now gone south with a broken

something-or-another

somewhere in the middle of a certain nowhere

that had become

an unscheduled water-stop on our round the world,

whirl-wind tour.

Actually, to be more precise, it was in the Sonora desert,

somewhere sur of what was to have been our next

point of interest.

And so we were stranded in some so-so little Mexican sonatina,

a small town with a single tune we all too soon had tired of.

It was all so-so insignificant as we spent the whole day standing

in the only decent shade waiting for some gear-thing to arrive

that would resuscitate an iron lung and restore the legs of our train.

And so we waited . . .

No part came . . . nothing breathed . . . nothing moved . . .

Hours passed into days, and it became so very so-so.


Now we were not simple touristas, oh no! We were

no Massachusetts’ tourists in wingtips and black knee-highs

strident some South Sea’s shoreline, a black spot on a blanc page.

We were not out of sorts but rather travel savvy

who could sew ourselves into any situation and survive.

We prided ourselves on how well we had blended-in wherever we went.

We could go native as soon as our feet hit the cobblestones.

But here, even we were out of place. There was nothing

to see, nothing to do; and the pace was ever so–so slow.

Here we were still strangers even after rite and consummation.


And so the train sat there, listless, still-born and six under.

And we went to it each day and coaxed it with a bevy of threats

as if it were an old stubborn mule that simply refused to budge.

And very soon our daily ritual turned to a weekly penance.

We even began to contemplate that the railroad’s boardroom bullies

would take a total loss on the old iron mare gone lame and limp,

contract to have it put out of it’s misery and count us as expendable expenditures

placed on the debit side of their ledger.

We had all but considered this our final resting place as well.


Indeed, it had become a so-so sojourn.


Then we discovered Signor Siesta’s, a sandy floor

with four walls, well on the outskirts of the little town.

Signor Siesta’s ! Or more precisely, Signor Siesta’s

Theme Cantina of the Three Sages of the Eastern Star.

A holy name for what would have resembled a real hell-hole

in most any other corner of the civilized world. Signor Siesta’s !


And yet . . .

And yet . . .


We did not find religion there, we did not have a vision

of a burning bush or see some saintly gaze roll from the smoke

of smoldering sage or freshly cut green-leaf mesquite wood.

But we did find something else there.

Something that would stay with us as sure as sacred blazes

or any vision from the thin pages of ‘Zeek and Revelations.

Something so simple, that like any missing clue it was probably

right in front of us all along: a lost puzzle piece that had simply fallen

on our lap; a missing cuff stud caught in the crease of our sleeve.


So much for so-so !

Suddenly, there it was . . .


It was one afternoon, as we sat in Signor Siesta’s west side

under a thatched roof sipping small cups of cut-rate tequila

and gazing out over the vast expanse of the sun going down,

that a little light conversation soon lead to some real serious talk

and before we knew it we were solving all the terrible problems

of a world we had sailed around, soared over and steamed through.

And when we realized what had slipped aqway from us all these years;

What had been taken away with all the rush and hubbub the modern world

Had rubbed into our eyes and raked across our tongues.

What a simple luxury we had been missing, to simply slow down

And think about nothing in particular or everything of import.

We began to see the world that none of our travel have ever borne.

We began to see where we were going and ho0w we might get there.

We rolled the empty glasses in the palms of our weather hands

Long after the bottle drained, and only a little play of candlelight

Passed between us beneath a changing season of starry nights.

Perhaps it was Signor Siesta’s? Perhaps it was not?

Maybe it was just being stuck, somewhere sur of wherever.

We had been scheduled by whoever had supposed our stops for us.

Maybe it was the simple fact that it had become a so-so sojourn.

I expect it really doesn’t matter.


Eventually the train regained its’ legs and steamed away,

and sometime later, we wandered out on lonely roads ourselves

and went our separate ways: each of us bearing the sacred gifts

of a saying we had exchanged,

an aspiration we had confided,

and a secret we had shared just before parting.




Angling at Eventide’


The Flat Planet



Because of the monsters within us all,

Because of the small warped face that glares

Back at us from deep within on moonless nights

When all the world’s gone mad and every person

Runs a panic dash to the four corners of the planet:

Because of the monsters within us all,

We will do things that in daylight seemed unthinkable;

And doing such things we will cause to happen

That rivers run red, that black ashes fall from the sky

And that thin sleeves of eboned ice are tightly stretched

Over the large barren arms of the last great oaken forest.


And we will seem unable to even help ourselves.


-We will do such things both to us and everything else

Because of the monsters within us all.

-We will lose all the good reasoning once endowed with,

Because of the monsters within us all.

-We will be driven to the very edge of our own extinction

Because of the monsters within us all.


And so, on such a starless night in a storm-filled season

At the very dawn of what we will dub the next Dark Age,

We will abandon our great books, banish our scribes,

And carrying only what is needed on our hunched backs,

Leave the red aurora of our burning cities far behind.

And making our way on foot across a small flat planet,

Stop in our tracks only long enough to take one last look

And see a parade of greedy demons marching on our homes.


One last look . . .

At the starting of the ending of the world we once knew,


And when we have witnessed enough, we will wander off

On a broken line towards the rim of some obscure horizon,

Vanishing behind a scrim of black smoke clouds while

Coughing shallow lamentations.

But deep within our hearts,

Because of the monsters within us all, we will also

Be planning our return and plotting our vendettas.




We are like the wind, in love with coastal wanderings.”



Scheherazade Adrift

Upon

A Sea of Dreams



Deep sleepers and the keeper-dreams that they awaken with

Are chock full of a simple wisdom and the ‘once upon a time’

Cherished and that are ever so beloved under any sheltering sky

By the wide eyes of youth and wily smilings of the aged ones

Even as they might imagine themselves once and forever young.


And so, sprawled beneath a solstice sun in hopes to sleep-escape

The summer heat of that somewhere place in a sometime land,

She lay there, our Scheherazade, aloof in a daytime slumber

And adrift upon a sea of dreams, as the soft refrain of double-reeds

Rolled over the shifting sands of old Araby in route to ancient Ur.


A soft music from out of the vast tracks of Persian desert stretches;

Song that gently settled throughout the lavish palace of this Caliphate:

With its devilish arabesques and sunken blue pools of aquatic illusions

That set beneath the old-growth gardens rife with the rich aromas

Of the drug of jasmine and the tender opiate of the summer rose.


And there, on a sleepy afternoon, this song will find its measure

of mischief and soulful mystery, and softly come to rest amongst

The ancient olios that echo down the empty corridors of old stone;

And tell of a time when calendar princes and a lady of the blue veil

Found the mirth of seasonal features in-fashion therein all year long.


Such remembrances do not escape our sleeping storyteller’s dreams;

For she is so obliged to weave her daily yarn simply to keep herself

from the eccentricities of an eclectic Caliph who has now begged her

‘Pray continue on’ for this night and that night and the night before last,

And for near three long years and nigh upon a thousand nights and one.


And as she stirs under the sudden rush of this wayward Bedouin wind,

A faint smile, smitten with mystique, rises on the roundness of her face,

Wherein the music fades off across a serpentine line of shifting sands

And soon a familiar silence once again shall fall upon the kingdom

As a large red sun rolls over the wide curve of an encircling horizon.


Yet, later that night, beneath the misty whiteness of the milky way

And under a slow parade of astro signposts set strident ‘cross the sky,

The young girl sits before a dim taper and with but the crescent light

Of a waxing moon, she looks upon the face of her now beloved one

Feeling yet the heady effects of shipped Shiraz from ancient Samarkand.


And lo, beloved liege, perceive

This nightly face called Destiny;

The stars will show us how to be

at once with immortality.


And deft with a magic handkerchief and storyteller’s sleight of hand

She pulls the lively ginn from oil lamps, flees the reach of forty thieves,

Sets sail and takes one last magic carpet ride above the star-lit minarets,

As an unsuspecting king, sipping forgetfulness from a tall and fluted glass

Listens to a final tale that has no real beginning and will never know an end.




The Garden of Tall-Tales’



The Camera Obscura


camera ob-scura - noun. . [ From the Latin - dark chamber. ]

(A darkened chamber in which the real image of an object is received

through a small opening or lens, reflected and then focused

in natural color onto a facing surface.)



From star-dust, to gold-dust, to dust to dust;

the peoples of the history of the Earth

have passed by my little round eye,

leaving their lonesome images reflected,

like recollections of the new-born world

they had dreamt of as sad children -

until one day, without any focus

and the fire in the mind that their youth had once borne,

they pass the dark chamber and lay down their banners,

and simply grow old and die.




An Easy Afternoon At The Time Of The Equinox ’

The Star-Striders


January 28, 1986



The star above Aurora's-Crest is dead -

In a sudden spark of man-made firelight it died,

Riding on a soaring thrust upon a sudden thunderhead.

It died, as it rushed, Star-Seven, towards that blackened night,

Carrying on its broken back the crushing weight of human race

On a headlong chase it ran to peer into the depths of deeper space.

- Aurora's-Crest, an arch of light, an aura of an earthly halo

Set atop a restless world, like a crown of stars now set aglow;

A narrow road of light that leads to somewhere onward,

starward lured, away from small town and the safe range home

That in our youth the child had then preferred to solely roam,

'Till the day when we perceived ourselves no longer 'lone'.

The star above Aurora's-Crest is gone,

Fading on the simple strains, of a simple, Earth-like song.




Our spirit runs to loose the rigor of the night.”

The Quartet for September Eleven



-1-


The Stilled Voices

Of

September-Eleven

-In Memoriam-



It would be the last song they would ever sing;

And because of that, it would be sung by the voices

Of at once strangers and the choruses of friends

Who had been suddenly gathered together

Like so many lost and sorrowful children

Following some terrible fall; and then, in memoriam,

Brought homeward to stand resolute and sing once again

In the strength of a single voice: one single voice

Reborn in the brightness of veridical angels

And consigned with a beacon to unite in concert

All the separate peoples of the civilized world.




- 2 -


Of The Veridical Light

- The Challenge -



It is no great secret

that the mark of every great era

is measured by the high waters

of the great struggles its people

were forced to endure

at the very moment of its birth.


It is no great secret

that at this crossroad, the very crux

of that new age depends upon anyone

who can see what courses need be charted

and what great vessels need be forged.


At this embarkation, every great epoch

commands endowment from everyone.

It is no great secret

and it takes no great sage

to see what is needed,

to know what is called for.


Our struggles, missions or even jihad

are the causes that render us strong.

Our struggles, missions or even jihad

are the causes that make us honorable.

Our struggles, missions or even jihad

are the causes that best serve all humanity.


They can be the monuments that impel us

from the facades and facsimiles of the commonplace

into something of the firebrands against false manifestos.

Of the bearers of the veridical light:

those who see the honorable causes as more than words,

those who share their strengths in the fashion of action,

those who wear the crests of all the nations of the world.


It is our destiny, what we were created to fulfill.

Perhaps it was always so.

And because of that

we all have the power to carry the beacon of the veridical light:

it is a light that deems no war as holy, no peace as unattainable,

and no struggle, mission or even jihad as anything less

than a calling to be heeded by all who hold humanity dear.


-There is no place for anything less after September Eleven-


And therefore ask yourself this:

Unless

your jihad-your mission is the struggle in defending

the reign of civilized law,

anything less belittles us.


Unless

your jihad-your mission is the struggle for securing

a vow of tolerance towards all,

anything less belittles us.


Unless

your jihad-your mission is the struggle of protecting

the divine gift of human rights,

anything less . . .




- 3 -


Terra-Nova In A New Age

-Crossing Over-


Because we were graced

With the gift of free will,

We were also entrusted

With the responsibility

Of making tough choices.



Because it was a time unlike any other

It could have been called The Age of Apprehension,

But it wasn’t.

Because it was a time of great wealth and great poverty

It could have been called the Age of Inequity,

But it wasn’t.

Because it was a time of misguided values and false prophets

It could have been called the Age of Immorality,

But it wasn’t.

Because it was a time of confusion and mass-misinformation

It could have been called the Age of Ignorance and Uncertainty,

But it wasn’t.

Because of the horrors of Nine Eleven in Year One of the Third Millennium

It could have been called the Age of Terror,

But it wasn’t.

So why wasn’t it called these things?

Who made the difference?

What changed?

It would be three things that would re-make the old world into the new.

- The majority decided that the minority would not rule the world.

- It became widely understood that just because we always have

didn’t mean we always have to.

- People realized what they said and how they acted

did make all the difference.

Therefore, the new-world in a new age

became a very different place to live in.

Because the differences of people were looked upon as an asset

and not a liability,

It could have been called the Age of Tolerance.

Because one language wove together a once divided world,

It could have been called the Age of Internationalism.

Because the rich realized that they were no wealthier

than the poorest of the poor,

It could have been called the Age of Prosperity.

Because people realized that how they treated others

was as important as what they did for them,

It could have been called the Age of Civility.

Because the future was something to be looked forward to

and not something dreaded,

It could have been called the Age of Expectations.

It was a time that could have been called many things.

But the naming of ages was not the first order of business-

Changing the old world into a new one was.

What it might be called really wouldn’t matter.

How it changed all of us made all the difference in the world.





- 4 -



Helios Rising

-September Twelfth-


1


With Helios rising, and with the golden specter of a golden sun,

we saw the great ships set before us on the dawn of a long horizon.

So many great ships, waiting like the proud old firebrands

of a world that had seemed lost in the first light of a new age.


With Helios rising, and with the slow grace of gliding angels

we saw the great ships approach the great city, and one by one,

slide past a lady’s guiding light and set anchor in the deep harbor

at a time when no port bore refuge from an advancing storm.


With Helios rising, and with a rich bounty of the old world

weighted upon these ships, we pressed against the long shores

and studied the faces of these foreign crews that lined the decks

from so many distant corners of a now concentric world.


They had brought steel from a sunless land, these ships,

and glass from the vast stretches of desert, and so much else

in the fashion of stone and a sundry of other stock, raw and refined,

from all the different nations of a distinctly civilized world.


And they had come because they too had lost something.

It had been taken from them, and this was their singular way

of showing that just because something could be cruelly razed

didn’t necessarily mean it would never rise again.


And so, from the sixteen acres of a sacred ground,

we all came together on a day clear at dawn and bright at midday.

And with Helios rising made a short pledge with simple wording

that it would not be said that here we fell.


2


Sixteen acres, and straight up, forever.

Sixteen acres, and skyward, as far as one could see.

Sixteen acres and star bound, what was to stop two new towers

from rising off the square surface of a small scorched piece of earth.


Two new towers, one for a new world, another for a new age:

each winding their way into the likeness of a silent giant;

the shadow of a Gotham colossus striding over a great city

that has always loved to live its life above the clouds.


Two new towers for a new world in a new age: two towers

that stood as one, both set with the strength of a single cornerstone.

Two new towers: each an ethereal framework of glass and steel

Straddling an eternal flame, a reviving fire over this sacred ground.


3


At the northeast tower, a scattering of winter stars above morning glow

reflected in the windows. And atop, a long flag was brightly unfurled

embossed with a symbol snapping sharply in a cool stiff wind: a sign

proclaiming that a world again of have-nots would not do once again.


At the southwest tower, a slow transit of evening-time planets

crossing a setting crimson sun was painted on the large glass panes.

And the last worker to leave glanced back up at the simple words

engraved on a golden plaque that made a pledged of reconciliation.


And from high above, from well above cloud level,

from where an eagle soars; from the very edge of space

two steel beams of stellar bound light burned steadily

right up to the hour of midnight, September eleven.


4

Suddenly, and all at once, it was September twelfth -

It had been a year of standing at a cold open doorway

on a long starless night in what seemed so strange a land.

It had been a year of waiting for the rising of the sun.


But now it was a sun-filled sky promising a star-filled night.

And when the two great towers were at last finished,

every single door and every single window was thrown open;

And so the whole world on a single day came by to take a look.


We who were first within couldn’t help but notice,

everywhere we looked, on every wall, in every corner:

One thousand faces and a thousand more;

and another thousand as there never was before.

We who were first to the top couldn’t help but notice

just how far one could see up there. Just how far,

with it clear at dawn and bright at midday, could one see

so many departing ships on the horizon of such a distant sea.


And when we returned to earth, we were asked one after another

“Just how far could you see up there?” Everyone answered the same:

With Helios rising and it clear at dawn and bright at midday,

“You can see all the way around the world.”



The RemembeRing



Remembering is that part of one’s own life come full circle:

As well, it is that singular way in which we can stop time

And indulge ourselves in those mixed elixirs of remembrance:

Whether it be that earliest of memories so vaguely gazed

Or a vivid recollection that marked our once youthful larks;

Whether it be a first kiss or an act of unqualified kindness

Or the ever indelible memoir of the milestones of our lives,

One thing above all is certain, it reminds us of the very ones

Who helped to mold us into the very being that we bear today.

And so, for all that, on the small finger of my own right hand

I wear a thin circle of gold fashioned from an old finger ring.

It rests there, quiet and unobtrusive, an unassuming adornment

Inscribed with a simple word engraved beneath its stoic face,

RemembeRing -

For all those who added the finer strokes upon the canvas of my life,

This band of gold proudly displays these rough marks and scratches;

It is left unpolished and unprotected from the tempests of the years;

Thrice blessed, it has been lost once and then found again forever.

And whether it recalls the good or bad times, true or so assumed,

Its perpetual circumference is still a perfect golden circle

That will for always and a day remain a perfect fit for me.




The Perfect Circles”


The Icarus Angels



Just fallen to Earth, the Icarus Angels

Lay like scattered factions on the empty acres

Of a stubble-short farm plot in some fallow land.

They rest there, their up-turned faces suffering disfigurement

From the surface shimmerings of a torrid, mid-day sun.

From where we stood, the distortions of their profiles

Suggested a grotesque carousel of changing expressions

That gave the cruel illusion of some thing still very much alive.

We walked amongst them, careful not to crush further

the shattered bodies, exquisitely twisted in the shapes

that only falling from such great heights could configure.

We stepped gently, cautious not to sully our feet

From the melted feather wax that spread like running blood

Beneath outstretched arms that had failed to break their fall.

Occasionally, we would stop, and bending down,

Would study the expressions on their broken faces,

Seeking the answers as to why they had scorned all warnings

and took to flying in the face of such indeterminate odds.

Was a mystery not answered in their eyes, which had widened

At the moment of their death by some unimaginable reflection.

What had they seen that had either rapt or sickened?

Why had they chose to travel at such heights?

Why fly so close to the sun?

These Icarus Angels . . .

Surely, they had known the risk, and still they went.

And for that, we had thought them fools, and being so

We had berated them for such. But when we saw them now,

Lying there on the dry earth and in a misshapen grace,

We did not rebuke them any longer. Indeed, it was evident

That they had seen something that we could never even imagine.

No matter how many times we might set our wanderings,

We were never far from land; no matter how many times

we would go off seeking the emblematic gold of the holy grail

we limit our search to the four corners of an earth-bound world.

We were still land-locked by the limitations of our own precautions.

They, however, had been someplace where falling doesn’t mean

the failure of great ambitions or the folly of such lofty intentions.

They had died trying, and such a tryst had bore certain offspring

That now stood before us, remade in their own reminiscences:

Children come to teach us the beauty of flying too close to the sun.

- As we turned and walked away it was plain to see the shallow

ghost-like breathings reflected by the heat risen off the hot ground.

It was plain to see that they would not hesitate to take flight again.

It was plain to see we too were meant to singe our faces

and melt our wings; that even though in due course

we would be destined to fall a few times from such heights,

It was also where we were meant to soar.




Some new sails still run on that ancient power of the wind.”


The New-Moon Prelude

-July 20, 1969-



When I dipt into the future far as human eye could see:

Saw a vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be -”


- Locksley Hall, Tennyson -



Part One

-Incantation-



From the stars a sennet breaks still aire!


From the sky the sound falls to our ears,

where by its’ music, old songs, sung out,

are silenced by the sound of rocket-score.

The sound of rocket-score, a newer song

heralding the entrance of a newer player

on the star-strewn stage of human mime.

A newer player, who given the cue, will tell

to all the world what newer dreams to write,

what newer tunes to knell . . .



Part Two

-Meditation-



-The sun

arrests the early surge of fog upon the coast,

the sea recedes to find its’ homeward wave, and I,

recessing into thought, soon lapse towards meditation:


- Last night the moon was large and new

among the Stars of Man. It felt the footsteps

of our age, the progress years had wrung.

It seemed to know the arch it held, it seemed aware of wonder;

and so it rose and drew its’ tides and sent a chord by sea and thunder-


“ Strike

from your lives the small child you once knew,

bury the fears and give birth two by two;

crawl up from the dwellings, fling open the doors,

walk out from the shadows and onto the shores.

Lift up your eyes and look hard at the night,

see the dark spaces as something not bright;

cherish discovery of those things unknown,

the fetters are broken, the future is shown.”


- This song that fell upon the torrid shores of human twine

brought new dimensions to the child, a challenge for mankind.

Its cadence was a message for these hosts of hungry limbs

and for the modern prophets weeping old blood for our social whims.

A new hope for the peoples forced to stir about within the dusk,

for those resigned to ever chew the heavy curd of rusting husks.

For me, it was the fragment of a handle on a dream to hold,

a sudden flame within the fire, a sudden burst of something bold.

I could see this signal like a beacon in a moon-less night,

a clearer message for the world than ever could the poet write.

Let us leave our cradle and the little comfort that we’ve gained

and venture for the unknown region, a rugged bite of real terrain.

Let us lift our vision towards the lands we’ve fought and finally won,

with iron in our daily bread, let’s launch our rockets towards the suns.

Towards the suns that occupy those signs that grip the night with pride,

we’ll delve the furthest districts where the greatest questions must reside.

Where the greatest questions may provide the answers we have sought

or leave us with a greater riddle and solutions that are naught.

I’d rather face the chance of failure on a piece of unknown stone,

that fester in familiar gardens, over wrought and overgrown.

Better broken into fragments under tempers of each day,

that to mellow out of season as a clod of un-changed clay.

I’d rather falter in the quest and stumble short the goal I laid,

than carry pageantry that’s fashioned in the hype of aged parades.

Better umber in the sorrows, better on occasion snubbed;

better in a space-craft, roughed-up, than somewhere in the cradle, rubbed.

Better there upon the ice-rift edges of an unknown time,

than in the over-heated marshlands where the earthly relics chime.

Better standing, lonely, at the finish of some great traverse,

facing night in each direction of an endless universe. -

Better left to look for God, to wonder, grope, imagine, then . . .

Better born a struggling star than with some promise of heaven.



Part Three

-Expectation-



Tomorrow

the light of a waxing moon will eclipse and yield the stars . . .


Today, however, we scarcely glance upwards, let alone see these stars.

A fog, in the form of civil-strifes and simple human frailties

prevents eyes, that were designed for looking deeply,

from registering even the brightest shades of royal crimson hues.


Alas, we a shelved in the most remote of human ruts, Apathy.

We are forced to grapple with a trilogy of problems that claim priority:

- False gods and prophets

who claimed to have touched our mighty soul, have only tampered with the skin.

-The greed of some

who drive their single craft through the wedge of social storms that roam the streets,

ignoring the trampled and forgoing a chance to lend a hand and save humanity.

-And the poor,

the millions of under-educated in a third world that live at every border-town;

they, who will be dragged into the next century against their will

with only the tools necessary to make minor repairs on a shopworn lifestyle.


Without hope, even the noblest-savages once cast

for a life of success in the future’s fast track,

would fall by the roadside both lawless and lax.


So where do we go to re-claim some humanization?

The New-Moon can give us some hope!

Where no amount of money can rid us of the quandary we are mired in,

fixed on a star could have us waving a new score for our old world to sing,

Chanting ‘ . . . a vision of the world and all the wonder that would be.’


But we need poetic gods and great orators to preach that part of heaven.

We need new voices: not those merely content to state a subtle rage

composed on old foundations, but those who will write for everyone

a part to play in a drama unmarked by any exits from the stage.

We need to take each person, no matter what corner of the earth

they may live, and put them at the top of the world in hopes to hear

them say, “I want to go to the stars!”


It is not too late . . . There is still another day

in which to straighten our ramblings and speak unabashed:


-To the stars

can challenge even the most dispassionate of us;

-To the stars

can bring us wealth enough to make us bounteous.

-To the stars

can give the poor a domicile, with space to roam;

To the stars

can make this Earth a song of light-strung wonder that we all call home.



Epilogue



The New-Moon Prelude in not just one small step on a life-less moon;

nor is it a single event in a string of small miracles.

Instead, the New-Moon Prelude is a beginning of an epoch

that is destined to see us streaming into the night sky.

It is a renaissance for the human race, the birth

of that savior within who has the strength to shatter former lamps

and strike anew that tired prayer imprisoned in our palms:

‘A world of one language, one citizenship, many cultures, a common vision’.


The New-Moon Prelude is the swell of light that falls as a shaft

across this darkening time-line we call the Twentieth Century.


Where the old moon had stirred us to hurdle the most hallowing knolls,

its’ spirit could never move us like the New-Moon will.

Across the very stretches of the boundaries of the world

a nightly crop of global hope will, like a sennet, announce

the arrival of a new song sounding where nothing stood before.

Its’ music will gather vigor like a spring crescendo,

and circling every land and encompassing every people,

ring from slumber an awakening no sleep can escape.



-“Old Nantucket Light”-


Song And Apotheosis


-To growing old and someday dying-


Gone are the times

When I used to count the stars;

And gone are the stars

That I've counted.


Sing me a newer tune

To challenge older chants;

Send me the cadence of the spring

To chase the winter's credo.


Bring me the fresher legs

Of the young men taking flight;

Bring me the brighter eyes

Of the newborn gazing sky-bound.


Gone are the times

When I used to count the stars;

And gone are the stars

That I've counted.


I see long shadows

In a shade-less land;

I have grown too frail

In an unforgiving world.


Bury me in the Big Sky

With the broader star-fields;

Set me upon the slow waters

That stretch across the night.


So now a newer stone

Is thrown upon the land;

And that, once built to last forever

Has long-since fell to ruin.


Gone are the times

When I used to count the stars;

And gone are the stars

That I've counted.




- Inspiration Point - Glacier Bay - USA



Venice Canal Swan-Song


Ah, the reason for men remembered;

Why stars ablaze pass into cinder.


Many great men have died in this city:

Mahler, the mighty Wagner and even Hemmingway

began his long amble towards self-death at Harry's Bar.


- Let it not be said that here I fell !


I arrived in Venice, road-weary and weather-worn,

with a hole in my pocket and a hankering for home.

But Venice has a way of picking you up

and pointing you in the right direction.

And before long I had settled-in like a surrogate native

wandering back streets with a cache full of fresh coins.

I managed to find the most our-of-the-way

end-of-the-line side walk saloon, and burying my gaze

in the rippling hues of mellow-rose wine,

sat mutely in the darkest corner of this down-and-out dive.


I thought: my death should be monumental ! Like Opera Grande . . .

The Earth should shake, the skies should thunder:

people should feel as if it is the end of the world !

My death should be remembered - The wine had my full attention . . .


The sound of a voice, singing falsetto,

seemed to settle, like manna, from the heights above.

The song seemed familiar, and the voice did too, but . . .

No matter !

A fine light wine and a good Italian tenor

can put a man to bed in best of company.


Night came with the bar bill - I should have slept,

but there is something tragic about falling asleep soused:

so I tipped heavily and made my way, without hesitation,

for a crowded piazza, hoping to quietly disappear there.

But it's hard to blend

when all you can muster is a little broken Italian:

Latin roots are a poor substitute for learning the language.

Soon, I found myself left behind the sounds of crowd noise -

Alone,

in a low mist rolling in off the moonstruck Adriatic,

I made my way to Grand Canal waters;

and standing, sentry-like, on a Bridge Rialto,

watched Venetian lamplighters finish their job

and ride the evening ebb tide calmly home.

Stilled,

and seeing the long, thin sleepers of the warm September night

draw it's fingers across the swollen eyes of a gibbous moon,

I looked homeward into the shifting mirrors of a night

reflected roughly in the swift moving river racing seaward.

The hours passed -

Heavy cloud-cover sent the moon dashed and packing,

and I, left standing there, soon lapsed towards meditation . . .


I knew I would not be leaving Venice again !


So, in an act resembling ritual, I emptied my pockets

of all spare silver and the golden treasures sovereigns bear:

and letting the old coins slip through my fingers like holy oil,

anointed the head of this great waterway,

and thus placated it's surface.


The swan song begun: a sudden approach of daylight

jolted me back to the sadness of a ceaseless dream;

and I awoke from this

as an angel who suddenly realized it wasn't in heaven.


I sensed a change - And staring forward, afraid to move,

I imagined behind me, somewhere in a night

where home must lie, a world engulfed in flames,

spinning carelessly towards a faithless sun. -

I close my eyes,

hold my breath, and there, without warning,

the seas recede from summer shorelines,

the lands spit back hell-fire,

the world explodes . . .

and I fall.




The Reaper at dusk is always stilled by the setting sun”

Flowers From A Drought Year



Flowers are a lonesome crop -

Picked one at a time, they live

Their solitary lives in a solitary way:

Trapped in a leaded-crystal vase,

Pinned to a lapel, or strewn

Over the gravesite of some loved one.

In a drought year . . .


Flowers lonely in a field become

Like a string of still oases

Linking routes of water-fretting peoples.


In a drought year . . .


Flowers, like the very people they adorn,

Search the day and nightscapes, seeking

Ways to find new memoirs, to grow new skin.


In a drought year . . .


Flowers, the once-conceived Seraphim of Earth,

Falter in the mid-day sun; and turning towards shadow,

Soon lie there, trampled underfoot.

Suffering shallow breaths, they mark time

Anxiously waiting to practice the ancient art of Afterlife.




The Lathe of humanity cuts deep into the dry Earth,

Leaving long uneven scars on it long unending surface.”




Also available by the author

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Kilroy Was Here!- A novel


Shep Pence is a filmmaker who has long enjoyed cinematic success. But with recent failures his legacy is threatened. He now hopes with his new venture, Kilroy Was Here!, to revive that faltering career and save a struggling studio. Many around Hollywood feel that this is the best script he has ever penned, the best production he has ever planned. Yet a series of strange events will come to not only transform the very core of his latest film, but help to fulfill a two thousand year old prophecy in ways that no one had ever expected.



The Girl With The Flaxen Hair- A novel


The girl with the flaxen hair’ is a woman who has a destiny to fulfill.

And that destiny will eventually make her the very first of her kind.

But as luck would have it, the fate of that destiny will soon be in the hands of a most unlikely champion, Joe Plato.

In what begins as a rather straightforward missing person search will eventually become a journey of transformation, for him as well as for the ‘girl with the flaxen hair’.



The Evening Meal- A short story


What could possibly drive the pious woman to commit a calculated act of cold-blooded murder?

The Evening Meal looks at the world of the religious cult, where women are often nothing more than a commodity and their lives are often rigorously predetermined by a designing few.

For one such woman trapped in this world, there seems to be no other way out.



The Sensibility Of The Silly Sevens- A short story


A grave marker in itself can tell quite a tale.

But when the final date of a woman purportedly over one hundred and fifty years old has yet to be carved into the stone, there is indeed quite a story to be told.



A Love Affair So Late In Life- A short story


"The problem of growing old is the prospect of losing things.


Jillian Anne Gilchrest was an old woman.

And she was losing things."


And after her husband of over forty years passed away and was lost to her, Jillian began a new life alone, secluding herself in the large two story house she had lived in since the day she was wed.


But now she has agreed to her daughter's request that she take in a lodger. And the young man who occupies the small room at the end of the hallway will come to change her life in a most remarkable way.




Marevedova And The Size-Nine Enigma- A short story



What could possibly be so enigmatic about a pair of girl’s size-nine shoes?

Nothing, unless, of course, you are a mermaid who has never laid eyes upon a single human being.


Written in the spirit of a children’s fable for the young and old alike, Marevedova, the sea-widow, discovers such a pair of girl’s shoes and sets out to learn what these two items might possibly be.

After the many misconceptions of the wisest creatures of the seven seas, Marevedova eventually discovers the truth about not only that which she has carried with her, but comes to realize something rather remarkable about herself as well.




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