Leftover Bits and Odd Pieces

 

The morning dusk

The sun glints through

The window glass cold and wet

A solitary bird

In the bare branches

Singing

 


 

The stairway of silence

Each step a little higher

A step in ever greater solitude

 

So much command presence

So much action

Leaving me awestruck

A very impressive persona

 

Incarnate of the absolute

And the heir apparent

In the very breath of your being

An almighty spirit

 

Maybe in our conceit

And worldly arrogance

We may aspire to be reborn

As humble little ants

Crawling across the floor

 

If we submit our applications

Make our supplications

At the altar

And await official approval

 

Maybe then

We can aspire to a better lot in life

 


 

An ill wind

Seldom blowing in this direction

But when it rises

It becomes tempestuous

Blowing over everything

In its path

 

Marking my way

By the many trees

Making my mark

Leaving behind a trail

Of scars and prints

 

Changing directions

Changing winds

Going one way

Then turning another

 


 

Me, me, me

I must be free

Free to be

Just me, me, me

 

When I say no

I know what I say

And say what I know

I mean no, no, no!

 

Do, do, do

Do dis, do dat

when I say "pooh"

Or when I see my shoe

Do, do, do

 

Hi, hi, hi,

I'm saying hi

Me-Oh-My

Just to say Hi

 

Buy, Buy, Buy

Won't you just buy

The toy that I spy

So buy, buy, buy

 

Bye, bye, bye

Say good-bye

 

 

 

 

The only sounds

At 3 A. M.

Are ticking clocks

And electric static

Chirping like crickets

Lost in the walls

It is so silent

Only snores are heard

Between the tocks

And all the clicks

The stillness lies heavily

like a warm blanket

Pulled over the head

In darkness protecting

Even this night light

So pale and yellow

 


 

Boxes

Living in boxes

Becomes squarish affair

Four corners and straight edges

Flat sides and hard bottoms

Things stacked precariously in corners

of over-priced hotel rooms, small apartments & tiny bedrooms

Miscellaneous things buried beneath other odd things

Lost haphazardly in the darkness of bottomless

boxes, suitcases and storage lockers

Shut off in darkness

from the world of sunlight

Living always in a box

Is a boring, matter of fact style of life

To find one's way, amongst and between all the boxes

Is a puzzle without a simple solution


 

First Rain

We waken slowly

to a wet cold world

The sound of rain drops

Splashing upon the deck

As we open the curtains

To a full window

Overcast skies sullen

Dressed in light gray

The dew laden grass

Green in the shadows

Of the low rain clouds

And low somber mists

Peace reigns this morning

As distant cars glide

Washing through the gutters

 


Mockingbird

Sitting upon the overhead line

Singing a strange tune

A solitary serenade

A song of nature's solace

And the sun's place

In the skies

As I secretly spy

Beneath the leaves of this fig tree

I cannot help but wonder

If you are the same bird

That used to sing to me in the morning darkness

so many years ago

And if you are not the same baby

I picked up from the ground

To return to the nest

So long ago

And if you are not the same parent

Who built the nest in the tree out front

Who use to dive at my head

Every time I came to close

I think to myself

As I listen to your song

mixed of both sadness and happiness

That you are perhaps indeed the same

And that the years have made no difference

Your song might be thousands of years old

And your soul is no different

Than the one who serenaded the Indians

And who mocked the Romans


Night Shadows

In mid-October,

when the moon is full

The night is over-cast

in bright moon-light

and dark strange shadows

and even feint gray colors

splashed here and there

and in these shadows

in the short twilight

of the vernal night

happy enchanted

spirits play hide and seek

Dancing and playing

Running and jumping

as evil spirits lurk close by

waiting to frighten

or taking fright

fleeing and shrieking

back into the night

 


 

In the wee morning darkness

As I lay half asleep on my bed

I listen to the sounds of the stillness

As it hums gently in my ear

The dark tones shift slowly in a soft harmony

And though my eyelids are tired and closed

My minds eye sees through the darkness

Guided by the feint echoes and pulses of the silence

Reverberating across the empty black spaces

And though I am alone the room is full

And though it is dark, it is full of stillness

And the imagination is free to see and believe

Whatever it will construct

Though the clocks are ticking

It is true that even time stands still

In the mute silence of the room

And though the silence is mute

It is true that it is not dumb

That it knows and feels and hears and sees

And it is the littlest things that are the most noticed

 


 

I

am

adrift

all alone

a

solo

castaway

adrift

lost at sea

upon the tides

of stormy humanity

There is no port or harbor

For brief sanctuary

no place

To put ashore

without solace

Without an anchor

Or a beacon light

or landmark


 

In humility, Greatness glows

In silence, Understanding speaks

In patience, Wisdom learns

In darkness, Truth seeks

In tolerance, Peace knows

In solitude, Courage keeps

In hope, Faith earns

In secrecy, Honesty sleeps

In love, Life grows

 


 

flotsam from a foreign land

cast adrift upon the warm currents

junk blown across by the winds

rising and falling like the tide

coming to rest upon the shore

a rotting, swollen plank of wood

planted upright in the muck

covered with barnacles and crawling crabs

between the ocean and the land

motionless against the rolling surf

paper boats

little white wind boats

folded and fashioned by nimble fingers

set into the lapping water

floating off into the sea

sun waves burning on the surface

mysterious flames

dancing deep underneath the water

growing into dark stormy clouds

rising upon the horizon

lightning flashing

in thunderous heaven

 


 

we walk alone

hand in hand

down the crowded, chaotic street

the anonymous faces of abandoned people

dirty hands reaching out for some shillings

the fast motorcycles and cars

we walk on

past the temples and the coffee shops

around the drains and the many obstacles

by ourselves

we walk

without illusion

we suffer

only the silence of the burning sun

past the mourners dressed in black

past the open doorway

and the old photo

and open coffin

we walk on past the roasted duck

hanging on hooks

past the hawker

sharpening his chopper

without words

we walk

down the street

 


 

Old aunt

lights the joss and sticks it in the urns

and burns the paper money

in the large pot outside

spirit bound smoke

sent heavenward

Old uncle kneeling on the ground

shakes the joss toward the baby God

mumbling a low monotonous prayer

under his breath

the ritual fires are burning

the spirit smoke is curling

the ti koay is collecting mold

and ashes from the burnt joss

An old auntie cleans out the tea cups

an old uncle replaces the wilted flowers with new ones

the winds blow through the open windows and doors

the paper lanterns suspended from the ceiling

flutter and twirl and start spinning about

Old aunt is mopping the red tile floors

Old uncle is checking his ledger again

the same rituals quietly performed

a thousand and one times over

only one day or one hundred years

Old uncle is dozing off

Old aunty has gone out to buy something at the market

The dragon slumbers

the phoenix has flown

 


 

I turn another page of my book

As I glance into your dark face

At first I see my informant's funny look

With tears in the corners of yellow, bloodshot eyes

I turn to the next page

And I look again into your face

To find the lines of lost youth

The wear and tear of age

And the blemishes of another life's vicissitudes

Beneath the rosie blush

And the blue-green mascara

Brushed faintly over epicanthic folds

My informant no longer appears tearful

And a smile soon breaks upon the swollen purple lips

Covered by glossy red lipstick

Revealing a mouthful of crooked white teeth

I turn the next page

Then I look again into your face

And find dark eyes of sadness

A puffy cheek that's been abused

A bump upon a low forehead

And scratch marks around the neck

My informant's face is hiding her troubles

Behind an innocent smile

Beneath the front of feline grace

Yet another page

I once again peer into your face

And there I find beneath the feminine mask

The tell-tale signs of advances you wish to make

A silent question you are too afraid to ask

Symptoms of suffering you cannot fake

There the lonely look of a lost child

Longing for the warmth of a dead mother's embrace

The image of a young adult grown suddenly old

From a new page

I see into my informant's face

A foreign past full of strife

Without the full flowering of life

In a world you've somehow missed

and again the next page

I look again into my informant's face

And there discover a touch of my own humanness

I peer into the puffy red eyes of my informant

And find the small reflections of my own face

In the black orbs of a dark distorted world

As I turn another page

I look back into the eyes of my informant

That look back through a world of lies

And there I finally find you looking into my world

I come to the last page

I look one last time into my informant's eyes

And there at last I find my friend

Waiting patiently at the other end

for me to finally close my book

 


 

sitting in a gold shop

talking about old acquaintances

of people long since passed away

of names forgotten

with glassy looks in our eyes

of the times since past

for an instant their is a strange silence

and stillness over everything

outside a baby is crying

and shoppers walking by in the hot sun

no one notices the spirits that hide in the sharp shadows

who fill up all the empty spaces between the shop houses

and who glide down the streets between the cars

watching us from the infinite corners

in all the wall mirrors of the shop

we are not alone with our audience

we make a joke and smile

the gold seller makes me a special deal

on a small gold bracelet for my daughter

the door closes once again

spirits rushing back inside

a few remaining

stranded outside

 


 

Then the barking dog was near by

and the ghost was far away

now the dog is barking far away

and the spirits are close by.

the earth wind that carries all

from every corners

penetrates every nook and cranny

cleaning every crevice

wearing mountains down to plains

drying oceans into deserts

souls that howl in the barren trees

dried leaf spirits twist and turn in the corners of the buildings

wind spirits whisper to me plaintively

through the window closed window

the empty classroom is filled only with cold memories

the names of forgotten student carved in wood

the hallways echo with doors slamming and distant footsteps

 

 


 

 

flotsam from a foreign land

cast adrift upon the warm currents

junk blown across by the winds

rising and falling like the tide

coming to rest upon the shore

a rotting, swollen plank of wood

planted upright in the muck

covered with barnacles and crawling crabs

between the ocean and the land

motionless against the rolling surf

paper boats

little white wind boats

folded and fashioned by nimble fingers

set into the lapping water

floating off into the sea

sun waves burning on the surface

mysterious flames

dancing deep underneath the water

growing into dark stormy clouds

rising upon the horizon

lightning flashing

in thunderous heaven

 


 

 

grandparents calling, grandchildren crying

feint spirits of the dark morning wind

blowing through my open window

where did you come from?

And where are you going?

beckoning from afar

So many forlorn faces

peering through the empty spaces

So many restless hands

Reaching to embrace me, to gently touch me

Calling me to a strange and distant place

Beckoning me to join them in their reveries

In some strange forest glade

Forest grandchildren

born of the bear, the world, the eagle and the beaver

fleet as an antelope, silent as a fawn

you stalk the midnight

across the desert hills and the mountain streams

you dance by the moon light

amongst shadows and shimmering leaves

Grandchildren of the forest

the soul of the whole nation walks where you step

and rests while you sleep

the spirit of a mighty people dreams about forgotten deeds

we trace our destiny in your stars

we count the days till you grow up

and go off to seek your dreams

upon the plains and prairies of the world

Midnight wind blowing

past my bedroom

like a freight train

rushing by the building

walls creak as the winds moan

pressing upon every corner

unrelenting and restless

leaving a hollow, empty stillness

in its wake

Grandparents long gone away

conjuring ghosts get back

go home to your final resting places

across the seas, lakes and steams

through the many trees of the forests of this land

leave this hallowed ground alone

restless people dream and remember

awaken and forget

 


 

one

solitary

saffron bonze

burning silence

one lotus blooming

fires of defiance

world to see

flame

a prayer

a petrol can

unspoken protest

black and white dressed

sitting in the street

posture of protest

bald peace

serene

redemption

beyond retreat

last rites of salvation

spiritual immolation

parting prayer

suffering

transcendent

frozen forever

on gray newsprint

buried in white lime

black blood and charred bones

seeking forever the flat sea

where every thing flows

against which winds

always blow

alone

 


 

 

 

like a new mother who in pain screams,

like a new born child crying

who in purity beams

like seagulls far inland flying

like a trickling stream

and the roaring waterfall

like the currents that ebb and flow

the tides that rise and fall

and the waves that endlessly roll

like a stone smoothed all round

and the wood that drifts ashore

like the invisible wind that whistles all around,

and the dust that always settles

like that tiny ants that abound

like the heat of the sun

and darkness of the night

like the ugly cawing crows

that flock and take flight

 


 

within the labyrinth

of many twists and turns

hunting for the menotaur

becoming lost within its guts

in many different directions traveling

without a clear sense of start or finish

guided only by the fear and uncertainty

by the instinct for survival

stumbling somewhere in the middle

upon the beast behind the barred door

its bloody fangs want to devour all human flesh

forced to fight and die or else flee

in madness and insanity

without even a spot of light to illuminate the way

but once dimly discovering the way

finding the distant light

slowly growing in brightness

around every corner

finally leaving its internal corridors

forsaking whatever is left behind

forsaking illusion and suffering

forsaking hope and promises

forsaking love and friendship

forsaking understanding

forsaking knowledge

forsaking existence

forsaking all

even self


 

Such a long and hard journey

Just so that I could be here now

To meet you face to face

So long to wait and so difficult to struggle

Without ever knowing the reason

But here we stand together

And without words we know our intertwined destiny

The ways of the world wind all about

Whichever direction we decide to take

Still leads us to our final destination

We do not need to speak to know the way before us

Though we soon part

The journey will have been worth the trouble

We may meet again next time around

and still require only the silence to know our souls

 


 

 

A

bare barb

stinging touch

thorn among the roses

blooming in all seasons

hearts always open to the world

enduring, happy and sad, ever-lasting

ever inviting, enticing, romancing

your patience is long lasting

through rain and sun

yet blossoming

then wilting

falling

and

fallen

one by one

from off the hip

petals stirring in the breeze

colorful flames float upon the water

perfume drifts between heaven and earth

and blows with the leaves between mountains and valleys

lost within the lengthening shadows of the twilight

between the rising moon and setting sun

ephemeral moments so enchanting

brief spell finally broken

simple serenity

and beauty

all gone

but

tell me

if you can

where are they now

my daughters of the soil?

Blown by the winds upon foreign shores

 


 

The old cow's day old carcass lies stiff in the earth

bloated and rotting

the lions, the hyenas, the rats, the vultures, the ants and maggots

all get a share

the photographer and film maker got their share to

it was a fine and fitting kill

an agonizing and obviously painful death

choked by the lion's powerful jaws

one can even smell

the nauseating red flesh through the Television screen

nature's laws fulfilled once again

on prime time

a primal scene

recounted again and again

in a never-ending series of stalks and leaps

and failures and successes

the great cycle of life comes again to another completion

as a commercial comes on

and I go to make some pop corn

Old mother is now dead

She died naturally

Silently and slowly

Each takes its share

The Hawk sib, the Wolf sib, the Snake sib

and even other tribes

all carry off parts and pieces of her body

in separate directions of the compass

to make sacrifices and offerings

to feast and celebrate

there is so much of her to remove

else they would all have forgotten where they got it

and still so much more remains

that the carcass is left to rot and stagnate

and flies are allowed to fester on it

and then seeds will germinate and weeds will sprout on it

and in its forgotten place,

perhaps a tall tree will grow.

 


 

rain is falling

falling, falling

spirits are crying

crying, crying

cats and dogs are calling

calling, calling

thunder is booming

booming, booming

lightening is striking

striking, striking

Gods are fighting

fighting, fighting

ancestors are mourning

mourning, mourning

people are dying

dying, dying

children are laughing

laughing, laughing

palms are growing

growing, growing

worms are crawling

crawling, crawling

clocks are turning

turning, turning

earth is rejoicing

rejoicing, rejoicing

 


 

Wolves far-off prowling

across brown sage-brush seas

prairie wind howling

high up in creaking cottonwood trees

rhythmic spirits chanting, distant screaming

ghosts of children long asleep

restless souls a-dreaming

dreams of buffalo grass and six horned sheep

nuggets of gold lying in the ground like half-buried bison bones

along lost winding trails

among rattle snakes and prairie dog homes

wind spirits calling, telling old tales

of buried treasures, lost gold mines and gem stones

of nameless graves and forgotten Indian braves

 


If you touch the elephant,

feel all over.

It's greatness is higher

than one hand may reach

It's substance is too much

to hold in both hands

by these human standards

of measurement,

perhaps it is fitting

that the proverbial Elephant

should be old, wise

and have a long memory.


 

Copyright 2003 by Hugh M. Lewis
September 29, 2004