:: :: :: :: terrible dragon: slaying the world one poem at a time :: :: :: ::
Friday, December 29, 2006
The emberless journey
We say little as we punish the distance with the tread of our silence. Coyotes move in much the same way. Only when the agony of a lesser light crests the evenscape to spill its roar of driven rising do they find it irresistible to stain the sky in kindred ache.
Inside, we are a nimble clash of scumbling weather quarried from clouds crashing like clumsy slabs in the hovel of a blind sculptor. What we want to say, what we choose to say, what we fear to say assures quietus as we block unspoken rehearsals in our heads. Giant saguaro stand resigned along this pointless path, their scarred arms surrendered and shouldered up.
In the dirt, we see travel in rattler and gila, their common names given to raven ruckus and rabbit wind. What it was we didn’t talk about, I do not recall. Sometimes walking is enough and these things work themselves out. The proven poultice of a needless journey often takes one farther than can be supposed.
Whatever it was it was gone, passing with our passage through the overlook. There we stopped to gauge rest and run our eyes across the red canyon where ruin and remnant huddled against sheerstone walls. There, amid broken olla and black char left from ancient fires, people like you and me once stood circled in their trackless hush, allowing the emberless journey to bring them here to ours.
We thank them for their sacred keeping, return to tend time in our own time, and with our turning leave to the desert more than it lent to us. Sun settles into ocotillo like a bird nesting a comfort we can only imagine. Soon the far lights will appear and we will come to change into what we become when this moment draws. Later, we will talk about what powerful communion we shared, feather it into a fetish to shake true and shapeless as good medicine.
We come into the air and it hurts. We grieve water; ache for the flood of mother. Slowly we immerse in the rigors of newborn glaciers. Year by year we learn the deep languages of orphaned fossils, learn to recognize the plaintive wails of mollusk whose music moves the locked current through formless days we feel no anchor to.
So we buoy without ballast; move in ways that seldom near the margins found in settled comfort, tetherless as the ghost of a jellyfish. With eyes unable to distinguish true purpose, we square our lives wondering about life after death. Do we continue? Is there more? Does death promise beyond this day’s provision? Is mystery negotiable?
Seldom do we consider another alternative. We are born and we become. What we compromise. What we pilfer. What we bargain or swindle. Sometimes we are graced with plenty, undeserving of the blithe fortunes that veer from so very many. What we earn in this is a kind of territory within our own skins. Sometimes it is a bed of razors settled at the bottom of a barbed sea. Sometimes, a glazed hammock swinging gently in the sleeping sun.
There are miles to walk, we hear someone say, miles to go before we’re done. What is this step after step? Is it what we decide to become next year, or what we gladly abandon to a mulch of futility? Tomorrow you will open the same door, stand rubbing your eyes on the same porch, before the same path that leads to all the others worn thin by routine, where you connect to the wear of your daily trod. For a moment, there will be a brief window before the first footfall. And in that time, before the world has its way with you, before you follow an alphabet scrawled in brave sand, there will come a pause, a chance to ask yourself this: Is there life after Life?
Joseph Gallo December 12, 2006
In memoriam for Richard BomerManzullo (July 19, 1967 - December 12, 2005)
I kill for God and country My family waits at home For me to bring the bacon And sweet meats from the bone Of those whom God has sent me To help Him take their lives So they might know the bosom Left empty in their wives For revenge and territory I have marched on city gates Lain hidden in the wheatfields Where the reaper worm awaits
Yes, I kill for God and country I am His holy triggerman Gone forth in psalm and silence A sniper in the land Thou shalt not see me coming Thou shalt only feel my will As I steady aim and fire And execute the kill This is my solemn duty My allegiance unforsworn A pledge made blind and faithful Where loyalty is borne
On absolute obedience Of men who will not ask Or question why they do this Who complete the given task Who kill for God and country And carry proud the flag Of destiny and empire That cloaks the body bag I kill for God and country To rid the world thereof Both infidel and atheist To spread the gospel Love
Yes, I kill for God and country Alone I bear no shame For who will stand in trial for These things done in His name? These things done in His name?
The long shadows fall across the early walk. Like dark knives sensing Christmas geese, they lengthen to preserve the flavor of fine cuts. The reminisce of summer plums sweeten to stain the morning, breaches round margins that rupture in pressed surrender from damson skin.
Love is like this. When leaves have retreated into the branch that burst them, the red-gold scatter that trailed autumn in a slow robe lies flung like a hunger befallen first time lovers. New breathing sweats the uneven glass; light moves with a purpose not rendered apparent in
the first cup. November has yet to recoup its unceded mystery. There is no hurry in snow. The false blue of these Prussian skies will not anchor the promise of favorable weather. Cold pretends no conscience and whatever shelter one despairs must be sought in the huddle of another.
This is the way of winter. Sun will hoist you onto its hydrogen shoulders, allow you to kettle your brief bones as you take in the grandeur of fire and fallow fields. You may bask in the root labor that once seasoned the rows only to bow graceless and underscored, an adagio in the mute yield of nutrient.
The long shadows fall across the late walk. Like cloistered ravens they convene and confer, pass law in the immutable language of evening. Leaves and lovers, robed summer plums slip like summoned knives into the sheathblock that stills the deep rouse, dulls the sharp flint of December light.
I happen to have one of those brains that can remember a song or piece of music after hearing it only once. Not perfect sonographic recall, mind you, but pretty close. I can readily resummon the gist of a piece enough so to play all or part of its melody line on the piano, guitar, cedar flute, or violin. I was simply born with this not too uncommon antechamber in my otherwise tonospherical tracthouse soul.
Generally, it's something in the melodic structure, the articulation of one of the instruments, perhaps, an overall arrangement or singular emplacement within the soundscape, however simplistic or complex. Whatever peculiarity might have been present enough for me to warrant the focusing of my tympanic lens into taking a synaptic snapshot of it, I've done so with maddening regularity archiving thousands of compositions permanently within my musulla oblongata, retaining nearly perfect pitch and tempo.
Such is the case with the piece below.
For ages I've been trying to find this beautifully haunting song with no luck. I heard it on the radio only once, some thirty years ago. I remembered the words and melody of the chorus; could hum most of the verse melody, but could not draw up the words.
And I remembered her name.
With my hasty induction many years ago into the realm of the internet, I mistakenly searched for what I presumed was the title. I was wrong. I tried several different word combinations, phrases I knew were part of the lyrics, in every woefully lacking result-swollen search engine of the day, music databases uploaded from the bowels of Bogota, Napster, Kazaa, all to no avail.
The song title was not as I supposed, (The) Wind's Gonna Blow, but rather two other words that followed in the chorus. Had I considered them, it might have sparked my investigation to flint success, but would have robbed me of this evening's unexpected delight.
I remembered the chorus verbatim and it was there I rightly supposed the title to be. The words that make up the actual title were, in fact, securely caged in my memory. However, I was erroneously fixed on the words that began the chorus, not at all what trailed in the last line. Musician's myopia of a sort.
Thus tonight, by some starry trick of Googlance, I came across her name, which took me to her website, which winced me to squint keenly at her discography, which led me to discover the actual title of this distant song, which, whenever it crossed my mind in the tumult of those enduring years, never ceased to produce an upwelling of tender endearment within me.
I was so long ago charmed by the pendulous lilt of a tempo that made me feel as if I were arcing high on a dreamswing in slow motion, breeze-swooned in dappling light beneath late afternoon trees. It's all still there, better than I remember it; still as introspective and wistful.
It begins not unlike Eric Satie's reveried and evocative Gymnopedie and proceeds to gently propel a lyrical theme of living life on life's terms, swifting across an embracing sky like a small bird made of twigs and clouds.
Written, performed, and sung by the incomparable and prodigious Wendy Waldman, you may listen to her song, Wild Bird, by clicking on the player below. Lyrics now exist only here at Drachenthrax, I'm happy to report, and I hope I've listened well and recorded them correctly. Please, enjoy and let me know what you think.
Here by the fireside
Whoa, I can see
Your glowing face
Comin' to me
After it's over
What will there be
Just a breeze through the lace
Like a soft memory.
Far on a hilltop
My soul it does dance
With the wonder of knowing
We were given a chance
To know that we took it
And gave of our best
The poets and singers
Let them tell of the rest.
Oh, the wind's gonna blow
The wind's gonna blow
Nothing to do but let
Your wild bird go.
Deep into winter
My dream will live on
And the feeling of wanting
A time that is gone
The silent uncurtain
Of each pleated thing
To watch it go shimmerin'
As it flies into spring.
Oh, the wind's gonna blow
The wind's gonna blow
Nothing to do but let
Your wild bird go.
Wendy Waldman (from the album Wendy Waldman, 1975)
[Color photos byMichael Boshears. Digitally enhanced for non-
commercial purposes of illustration and fan appreciation]
wisdom is worth all we lose to attain it. ~aucassin verdé
i wonder if the artist ever lives his life-—he is so busy recreating it. only as i write do i realize myself. i don't know what that does to life. ~anne sexton
you must acquire the trick of ignoring those who do not like you. in my experience, those who do not like you fall into two categories: the stupid and the envious. the stupid will like you in five years time. the envious, never.~john wilmot, 2nd earl of rochester
art arises when the secret vision of the artist and the manifestation of nature agree to find new shapes. ~kahlil gibran
creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. art is knowing which ones to keep. ~scott adams
those who don't know how to weep with their whole heart, don't know how to laugh either. ~golda meir
i said to my soul, be still,
and wait without hope,
for hope would be hope
for the wrong thing.
wait without love,
for love would be love
of the wrong thing.
there is yet faith;
but the faith and the love
and the hope are all
in the waiting.
wait without thought,
for you are not ready for thought.
so the darkness shall be the light,
and the stillness the dancing.