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Ulama

Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right

Note: Ulama is the Aztec name for the violent, ritualistic  ball game played all over the Americas – from Arizona and New Mexico to Paraguay – 1000 years before the first Olympic games were played in Greece.

For more information see: Ulama

Ulama

The house in Cuernavaca and
its gardens filled with ancient trees
sheltered inside stuccoed walls capped with broken glass

All summer, the burning nights roared with thunder,
lightning ravaged the alien darkness
revealing branches draped with blossoms red as blood

So much of doom was in that sound
we ducked and crouched in fear-filled laughter
while the gods of Storm and Death

Played the game of fate and sacrifice
driving the Earth through the rings with their hips
in the sultry southern nights

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For L. Cohen – on longing

An old man writes his pain in words
like fire sears its name across
the white flesh of an oak tree’s corpse

The sum of all he leaves undone
is laid out on the thin wood page
a map to where we all have been

His words so clear, so hard to see
yet ink will fade, the paper rot
the worms will add their own decay

And me, I mumble  in my cell
and scratch these words on crumbling walls
afraid to say the truth out loud
I don’t know what I’m scribbling for.

Welcome

Returning on a rainy evening
the hills are draped in wisps of gray
lights sparkle in the clear-washed air
even the freight yards shine in the sunset
the old town dressed in her best
to welcome the vagabond home

Farewell to Leonard Cohen

We have lost a great poet this week; something perhaps missed in all the distractions of the day.
So I would like to honor him; and what better way than to share his words?

Alexandra Leaving

Leonard Cohen

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
The god of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine;
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine.

It’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin;
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined;
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for this to happen,
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
Exquisite music. Alexandra laughing.
Your firm commitments tangible again.

And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by the honor had your own restored
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving;
Alexandra leaving with her lord.

As someone long prepared for the occasion;
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.

And you who were bewildered by a meaning;
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

 

 

An Instant

This refers to an actual event that occurred more than 40 years ago.

I only saw her for an instant
there above me, in the lighted windows
as the bus rolled down the dark street
with its load of weary strangers
and me, as weary as the rest

An angel in blue, dancing on her toes at the barre
in a world free of the ugliness and despair
the bitter days, the lonely nights
that seemed to be all there was of mine

And I wanted to be there with her
to thank her for her gifts
the beauty of her dancing
a reason to go on

Terpsichore – revised

“A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations”

Paul Valery

Who am I to argue with so great a person as M Valery?
Here is the revised (I hope improved) version.

Terpsichore

You may think I’m not a dancer
because my feet stay firmly on the floor
as the dancers bend themselves
into the shapes of the sounds

I am the one frozen on the fringe
my head and feet in different countries
too far apart for any but
the simplest communication

but I am possessed by the music
the rhythms reach inside me
the sounds, the patterns
set a thousand feelings into motion

As the music moves
my heart moves with it
swaying, trembling
like a willow dancing in the wind

 

Deity

Here we are
living in our fathers’ paradise
surrounded by the fruit of their dreams
longing in dreams of our own
to recover what they threw away
with the thoughtless certainty
that men could be gods
and would be this time

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