I Wish Someone Had Told Me

Following the prompt for this week’s reading night.

I wish someone had told me
that it would burn this brightly
that the shadows of the dead
would cling to my heels
no matter how far I travelled.
Wherever I settle,
they settle in too
hang their shrouds
by the smouldering hearth
set their shoes in pairs
by the doorway
gaze out through my eyes
flinging blithe commentary
their sage sad opinions
like seed for the birds
their half remembered songs
woven through the bars
of my rib cage, etched
into the wax record grooves.

If anyone were to find me,
later, when all has been
lost, or given away,
I wonder if they could
play these tunes
What kind of needle
would they need?
what switches and buttons,
what molecular magic
to make those notes
sing true again?

The ballads of the dead
are not, as commonly claimed,
the harsh whispered sighs
of sand crossing stone
nor the mournful howls
of cold winds harrowing
the gorse bristled,
heather softened moors
under the shipwrecked moon.
Not for me, the cold laughter
of half-frozen streams;
For me, there are only
memories of sweetness
moments of agonizing tenderness
made all the more terrible
for their absence on waking.

If you place a dark
stone on the snow,
the snow will melt around it
if left in the indifferent
embrace of the sun;
The hole that’s left
when the stone is plucked free
ragged yet soft,
edges crumbling at first touch
may resemble footprints
when exaggerated by wind
but to those who know how to look
they see only where the stone
should be, but isn’t.

These are the things
that propel me into the light
into the blazing heat
that pulls sweat from skin
drenches the thin shirt
stretched over a too-thin frame;
In those moments of casual distress,
of calculated carelessness,
it is what keeps me moving
fast as my lungs will carry me
onto the next beckoning path
no matter how dark
(the shadows are always darker,
in any event, one of their
more charming characteristics)

And yet, one finite breath
can only last so long
and the graces of Serendipity
are not always as generous
as they once were; and so
there must be moments like this,
a pause to reconnect
oxygen to the brain,
calories to the bloodstream,
the heat enveloping me
in a deadly game of wills:

Who will capitulate first?
Will I wait until my eyes
are blinded by sweat,
head ringing dizzy,
throat salt croaking dry?

Or will the sun at last surrender
to a wandering cloud,
and break the spell?

What will run first?
The ink, shedding long
black tears across the bleached
hot-to-the-touch paper?
Or the melting snow,
over the toes
of my vagabond boots?
Or the light itself,
fleeing the oncoming night?

I wish someone had told me
how it would feel
as the rushing murmuration
of a thousand thousand starlings
fills the sky in a controlled
chaos of tornado sound
the vast stippled black cloud
flowing over and through me
as I run headlong through the field,
arms outstretched,
leaving jagged threads
and rags of shadow
caught hanging
on the autumn dry rustle
of pale dead stems,
one final ecstasy of flight
into the burning sky’s embrace.

– T.H.
(written at Dreams of Beans, 10.24.14, in a sunny window)

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The Sagan Series: The Gift of Apollo

Fantastic series, for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet.  This one always gets me a little choked up.

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Living in the Future: 3D Printing, the next stage


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12. Yellow Boots

girl in bright
yellow rain boots
pilots her scooter
over cracked uneven
concrete, with all
the guileless skill
and grace of swallows
chasing twilight over
waves of wind-tossed grass

the variegated fashions
of this striding
peacock crowd
are nothing set against
a farmer’s field, riotous
with dandelions,
chicory, and the
buzzing symphony
of bees

– T.H.

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Birds of a Feather

Tilda Swinton is my new official role model. For life and well, pretty much everything. Not all real women have curves. Some of us are born thin and bony and pale and flat-chested, and that’s just the way we are. We may be in the minority on this planet, but we’re just as ‘real’.


(Seriously, though, if someone can tell me what secret home planet/dimension Tilda and Tom Hiddleston come from, I’d dearly like to know. I’m sure I’d feel right at home. I suspect the portal to it might be somewhere in Scandinavia.)

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11. Between the shadow and the light

In between the shadow and
the light, be we ever so
humble, revelation wakens as
drunken laughter between kinsmen,
or an enemy well met
on crumbling walls, a
balm to cover the endless night;
Not long ago, we
sat by the Ganges and talked
as lovers do, between
the billowing sheets, the
tablecloths hung out to dry, rooms
long empty, filling up until
our hearts were overflowing with the
half-remembered songs of moss
green tufted soft beneath your head; had
we but walked a few more steps, reached
out to stir the water with our
skin-starved fingertips, our lips
dry river beds soon flooded, and
all the clouds in riot; yet covered
we our staid and sainted eyes, cast up
to the heavens our apologies, and all our
secrets kept, save one: our own true names.

– T.H. (& Emily, with a nod to TSE)

Read the full poem by Emily Dickinson here (“I died for Beauty — but was scarce”)

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10. Only in defiance

Going deep retro today, following a nifty form called the “Golden Shovel” after the poem by Terrance Hayes. Have to say these were a heck of a lot of fun to write; like getting to have tea with your ideal poetry jam band.

Only in defiance of dismay, does Hope
prevail; only in stubborn rebellion is
our dry torch kindled, the
perilous folly of subversion: this thing
they call passion, but a bird with
borrowed, ill-fit feathers
demurely folded up, until that
day when the inevitable perches
hawk-like far above, to fall in
deadly perfect silence, the
talons taking purchase on the soul,
tearing all to pieces; and
still we shiver as the siren sings,
stop up our ears with the
memory of a different tune,
pray for a dawn without
consequence or regret, the
fiction of a promise without words;
Yet prick us, and
see our loved ones bleed, and never
was there rage so fierce, all stops
cast off, as all bolts fly at
Agincourt, so shall we conquer all.

– T.H. (& Emily, with a bow to William S.)

Read the full poem by Emily Dickinson here (“Hope is the thing with feathers”).

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9. Forced Perspective

the branches
have caught the clouds
translucent silver floss
against the night-dark sky
Mars rising above
the nearly-full moon

and yet

there is none
of the sweet contentment
that the day’s events foretold
only a deep and desperate ache
propelling the body
from over-hot sheets
into the haunting hours
that breach the living gap
between midnight and dawn

this is what they mean
by running to stand still
no matter how fervently
the dragonfly heart denies it,
the inescapable fact remains:
you can’t catch Byzantium
with empty nets

– T.H.
(up at 4am, again)

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8. If By Loving

If by loving, you mean
conspicuous consumption
of one another’s souls,
devouring each hour
yet hoarding minutes
like secret treasure,
deluding ourselves
that we can keep time
tucked away, safe
in the faulty vaults
of memory – and yet
nowhere is entropy
more apparent, more
glaringly obvious
than in that
which we think
we remember.

– T.H.


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7. Immersion

Improvised flower vases
and wrapping paper trees
roots like mountains
seen from the eyes
of circling eagles
at once emerging
and settling, growth
and decay, no more
contrary than rose
petals and thorns,
a discordant symmetry:
the cosmic wail
of distorted electric guitar
spelling out the names
of stars and forgotten
background radiation,
pain that verges on ecstasy,
a ringing of celestial strings
struck with the well-worn pick
of disillusioned immortals;

How a stranger’s
intangible yearning
can translate through
the ephemeral code
of electronic pulses
and magnetic fields,
a fixed point enacted
in the so-called past
becomes immediate
present, time and space
erased in an instant
transformed into a perfect
moment of rebirth,
a dagger in the mind
piercing to the core;
it leaves no trace
of bloody injury, only
a shedding of unnecessary skin,
a lowering of barriers
to permit this temporary
osmosis of the spirit.

– T.H.
(listening to White Hills while walking through a spring-soaked afternoon past low-rent apartment buildings)

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