Tall pine trees stand beside the tranquil lake, 
Their needles whisper in the gentle breeze. 
Trunk and branches sway just as they please, 
A soft susurrus in the wind to make. 
While high above the summer sun’s rays beat 
To scorch the earth and turn the grass to brown. 
Grey smoke arises from the hill’s stark crown: 
Flames echo there the searing solar heat. 
Yet soon enough, the seasons' course will turn: 
Long winter nights will close in over all. 
Deep snows atop these mountains then shall fall 
To cool the land which months ago did burn. 
And through it all—fierce heat or winter's sleep—
The pine trees still their quiet vigil keep.

A Late August Morning

Cool breeze through dry grass
Whispers through rugged valley:
Day’s heat still to come.
While above, through hazy sky,
Orange Sun beats down on Earth.

My understanding is that a traditional haiku, which forms the first three lines of the tanka form used here, should relate to the season(s). Well, here in the Mountain West, it’s fire season.

A Villanelle after Goethe

Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond your reach.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The wise observer of the world will say,
Reflecting on what was, is now, shall be:
There’s nothing that is worth more than this day.

Cling as we might, what’s over goes its way.
Our lives move on, despite sweet reverie,
The wise observer of the world will say.

Though never fully gone, past things decay,
Recede into the well of memory:
There’s nothing that is worth more than this day.

Imagined futures—are they more than play?
As yet unborn, devoid of certainty,
The wise observer of the world will say.

What’s yet to come, though dream and plan we may,
Still in this moment lacks reality.
There’s nothing that is worth more than this day.

The present moment, though it will not stay,
Is all that NOW exists substantially.
And so the wise observer of the world will say,
There’s nothing that is worth more than this day.

What Books Do You Open? (For Kleio)

What books do you open?
What words there inscribe?
On leaves made from trees,
Or the page of my soul?

You set tales in order:
Beginning, through middle, to end.
You help me to see — and to sing — 
My own story.

You lay open before me
Wisdom of sages past.
You inspire me to speak
Their tales, for our time.

To Terpsichore

Hail, O Terpsichore, ever flowing
Blessed mistress of the dance
Fluid, graceful in every motion
Body bending, firm in will.

Unbind the tension I bear;
Unknot, unwind, and loosen me,
That I, too, might move
Gracefully, in love and service,
Swept up in the rhythm
Of your holy, sacred dance.

On the Nativity of Proclus

Hail honored successor, divine Plato’s heir,
Philosopher Proclus, in virtue most fair.

When you first came to Athens in search of the truth,
You showed reverence and piety far beyond other youth.

You welcomed Athene into your own home
When the impious mob cast Her out of Her own.

Ever pious, you kept all the nations’ great rites,
A priest for all peoples, inspired and wise.

You expounded the doctrine of unity found
Beyond being itself, being’s own source and ground.

You carried the torch, tending Wisdom’s bright flame,
While outside, gathering darkness told the end of an age.

So we honor you, Proclus, this day of your birth:
Theologian, philosopher, man of great worth.

For the Winter Solstice

The winds blow, snows fall.
Bundle wool layers for warmth.
Leaves have fallen, branches bare,
Frozen world turns to sleep.

Turn inward, ’round the hearthfire.
Share together song and story.
Tell tales, embrace the dark.

On the longest of nights,
At midwinter, look within, then
Shout gladly: We have enough!

A blessed Solstice to all!

For the companion poem, look here.

Inseparable Sisters

Sorrow, tragedy.
Depth of rage and anguish.
Tears flow, hearts break.
Sky darkens, hopes fade.
The folly of pride, revealed at the last:
The foolish and the luckless brought low
Before Gods and mortals.
Bitter cleansing. Katharsis.

Yet that is not all.
That is not the only story
Told together,
On one stage.

Joy, comedy.
Sky brightens, Dawn’s fingers
Bring day where once was night.
Tears flow once more,
But now of levity,
Mirth too much to contain.
The lost restored, hope triumphs:
Lightness and blessing. Success.

The bitter with the sweet,
The fullness, from high to low,
Seen together,
On one stage.

While in the wings,
Bless’d sisters watch,
Hand in hand, side by side.

For Thalia and Melpomene, of course.

After the Fire

Look down, look down,  
Eyes on the ground.
The flowing stream,
the Sun’s bright gleam,
All’s well –
So it would seem.
Look down, look down,  
Eyes on the ground.
Green mosses thrive,
Bright flowers bloom.
All’s well –
No sign of doom.
Look high, look high,  
Up toward the sky
At dark-scorched trees
Whose blackened trunks
Will soon fall in
To broken stumps.
Look high, look high,  
Up toward the sky
At branches bare
In summer air
Scant signs of green
To be found there.
Up toward the sky  
Dead sentinel trees
Wave ravaged corpses
In the breeze,
While on the ground
New verdant growth
Obscures the signs
Of fire and smoke.
Look down, look down 
Where water flows.
The promise of
Renewal grows.
Look high, look high
And ask how long
‘Til living branches
Host birdsong?

Written July 2019, after a visit to the section of the Columbia River Gorge which was ravaged by the Eagle Creek fire, two years ago.

For the Summer Solstice

The winds blow, rains come.
Bare feet touch the Earth.
Green leaves unfurl, flowers bloom,
Fruits ripen, roots sink deep.

Seas, rivers, fields and forests
Teem, overflow with abundant life:
Darting, leaping, running, soaring high.

On the longest of days,
At midsummer, raise our voices,
Sing loudly: It is well!

A blessed Solstice to all! Watch this space for a companion poem, in about six months’ time. 😉