Ogham poem: Straif/Sulfur

The keeping of secrets, and the smoke
rising from the match that lights the candle
that illuminates the room, that ignites
the bomb that clouds the street with sulfur
and you won’t know which one it will be.

A hidden hand holds the red-tipped stick
or the flint and the fool’s gold, the thorn tree
and its fruit that intoxicates the man
that dyes the weave on its shifting thread
and you won’t know which one it will be

that pulls you to otherness, that pulls you
to choice. The smoke stings with its scent, the fruit
on the tongue, the air marking its message
of change and pain, a toppling tower
and you won’t know which one it will be.

Its red runs in that chief of streams, hedged by
the thorns of the hearth, your animal warmth
for the time that you have it: a match strike,
a sun in the hand, a secret unveiled
and you won’t know which one it will be.

So what will you light with your one brief match?
A stick of incense? A campfire? Auschwitz?
What will you change with your one shining choice
before it burns out in its searing plume?
And you won’t know which one it will be.


Hale Mau Mau, oil on canvas painting by Ogura Yonesuke Itoh, early 20th century, Honolulu Museum of Art

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Poem: Cursed

We are all mad now. The enchantment
twists our words into unutterable
collections of sound and syllable

that bear no resemblance to meaning.
What taboo well did we perambulate
in the direction of the moon? What

mirror did we shatter, what gem lose,
what unicorn slaughter, what ghost loose?
The dark heart that has always dwelt there

rises forth unfettered, as we loosen
the chains decency once forged, and blame
superstition for our chosen crimes.


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Ogham poem: Gort/The Garden

Dearer than gold is the grass underfoot.
What is an emerald to a mushroom?
What are your questions to the song of a bird?
What is death’s darkness to the soil beneath

each inch bursting with more life than the moon?
There sits no high god here, or everything
is a god, neither high nor low. A beetle
bristles with the same beauty as a stag

a toad with the speckled galaxies that wheel
far above our heads, the inevitable
starlings unfurling their scarf in the sky.
The cow doesn’t ask more. Neither should you.

In the grass, the sating of multitudes.
In the dirt, the counterpart of heaven.
In the wildwood, the greenest of pastures.
In pale morning, the abode of the swan.

In dusk, ageless ivy, the autumn-red vine.
In the furrow, treasures beyond compare.
And of every worn tale, this you should know:
poets name the walled garden paradise.


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New Kwannon songs and meanderings, free for the listening

New Kwannon songs!

I can’t promise that they will stay the same, or if they will appear on an album. I’m still honing my recording skills.

A silly instrumental piece inspired by frogs and featuring the “ass piano.”

The Hummingbird song, featuring the gopichand and a host of other instruments. No effects, either, on this one.

A personal fave, especially because I get to use the flanger on the harmonium.

“Proserpine” features one of my poems, as well as the Homeric Hymn to Demeter and the hammered dulcimer.

Featuring the HAPI drum and my ogham poem, “Sail.”

Lyrics by the “peasant poet,” John Clare. Just me and the dulcimer on this one.

Weirdness with a kantele and a bowed psaltery.

Lyrics by Emily Bronte. In all seriousness, I need a track of someone sobbing great choking tears to fill this out. Any volunteers?


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Poem: Flies

The carcasses of flies litter the floor
always near the windows. You’re convinced
that somehow the house is spawning them
that something in the vent breathes up flies.
But I’ve seen them clutch at the houseboards,
the doorpanes in speckled droves, waiting
for the chance that frees them from the cold.
We never count the door’s many swings
to let the cat out then in, to
pour the offerings into the leaves
to leave for our daily work, then come home.
Each opening a chance, each closing
a fate sealed, thousands of times per day.
They press themselves against the glass for this
one pure moment. Shouldn’t we do the same?
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Poem: Dying grass

The grass around me was laced with snow
and when the wind blew it took the summer
with it, whispering in a language I
understood all too well – the tongue of
the scythe whistling down, felling the last
of the old green, efficient and
impersonal, a human resource
director, unsmiling and direct
as futures end with the stroke of a pen.
For winter’s weak sun that lights your hair
will shine just as gladly on a field
of bones. Know that and walk free in the wind
and notice the delicate patterns
in ice, the beauty of the dying grass.
We are not so different, or as lasting.
photo 4.4

Photo by Cypresseyes

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Poem: The migration

A raucous chorus bursts overhead
as an arrow points south, black against
the white of the high clouds, feathered with
November’s pale light. I lift my head
from the ruin of the garden to watch,
and the naked trees, the rustling leaves.
The travelers head to the old green
but green still, where winter doesn’t creep
like a cougar behind the yellow grass
but here I stay watching the young leave
hoping that they will someday return
winging north, a wild song under their wings

Photo by David Whelan via Wikimedia Commons

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