Free Range Poetry

early morning is the hour of the cat

Early morning is the hour of the cat.

He’s always up when I am, oh-four-thirty or so

the moon high, waning gibbous today but still enough light to see with his bright cat eyes – we are well paired in this low light

he speaks impeccable English, better than my Cat, but we need no words

we emerge for coffee and his bowl and the quiet companionship of the black and white hour, this pale gray time of day

he stands on my shoulders as I stand on those who support me, to look out these windows, to have windows out of which to look and

we watch, silent, as the skyhue clockface spins the horizon from black to silver gray to slowly purple peach and patch of bright and brighter bang!

That first pale yellow ray, streaming through the trees, heralds the changing of the hour, squinting in the light, and

just like the clockwork sun

the dog wakes up.

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between us

I’ll be your personal poet
You be my reader and voice
No one else ever need know it
We’ll offer no other the choice

I’ll be your personal poet
I’ll write every day just for you
The lines on my face will not show it
We’ll age just one day for each two

I’ll write them in torrents, in floods
In gushers and geysers they’ll come
As trees in the spring with bees on their buds
Sweet honey drips, thrum thrumming hum

I’ll be your personal poet
I’ll follow you into your dark
And when you’re alone, you will know it
I’m waiting to write you a spark

I’ll send you my words as a blanket
You’ll rub them all over for heat
Warm and as safe as blanket
Rhythmic and salty and sweet

Come evenings, in winter and autumn
When the fires and embers have dimmed
Priceless, we couldn’t have bought ‘em
These poems have the seasons all limned

When the last rays of sunshine have fled for the west
Baby that’s when these open, we’ll break out the best!

And I am your poet, your Pan!
In summer and springtime and all
I’ll write ‘em and sing ‘em as best as I can
Just for you, from now ‘til we fall

And when we have fallen in shadow
And age makes a mock of our bones
I’ll write us some light - en fandango
And we’ll dance on each other’s headstones!

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Nihilism Comes to the Bard:
A Sestina, by William Shakespeare

Now will I charge you in the band of truth, 1
as doubtful thoughts and rash-embraced despair 2
can bide the beating of so strong a passion 3
that wear this world out to the ending doom. 4
To death, or to a vow of single life - 5
Hark, villains! I will grind your bones to dust. 6

Destroy our friends and, after, weep their dust - 7
but for the certain knowledge of that truth, 8
to grunt and sweat under a weary life, 9
surfeits, imposthumes, grief and damned despair, 10
but bear it out, even to the edge of doom, 11
allaying both their fury and my passion. 12

And those that mingle reason with their passion, 13
begrimed with sweat and smeared all with dust; 14
What, will the line stretch out to the crack of doom? 15
That is no slander, sir, which is a truth: 16
Hope gives not such warrant as despair… 17
We pay sour earnest for a sweeter life. 18

So then thou hast but lost the dregs of life, 19
and with such sober and unnoted passion 20
here overcome, as one full of despair - 21
all follow this, and come to dust. 22
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth, 23
as we draw the lottery of our doom. 24

From the creation to the general doom 25
that makes calamity of so long a life, 26
this is the show and seal of nature's truth: 27
inconstant, full of tears, full of smiles; for every passion 28
no worthier than the dust! 29
Our hap is loss, our hope but sad despair. 30

Two loves I have, of comfort and despair, 31
firm and irrevocable is my doom, 32
as when a whirlwind takes the summer dust. 33
O, that I could but call these dead to life! 34
But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, 35
dare no man answer in a case of truth? 36

And my ending is despair! 37 This hateful life! 38
It may stand till the perpetual doom, 39 into a towering passion, 40
until this day, to scour it in the dust. 41 I speak no more than truth. 42

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That Clock is Not My Friend

They never say good morning. They rarely say good night.
They never ask how are you, or, is everything all right?
They don't press about your business as you press on with your day
Clocks just grind on tick tick ticking, with nothing much to say.

Today's a good example, as we set the hours back
The clock could say, good morning, as I wake up at the crack
of dawn, and let me know I'm due a re-do for an hour of my choice,
to re-live a really nice part of the day, just raise my voice

and it is done, from 2pm to 1, in just a flash.
What could I do, again? To read a book? Just taking out the trash?
It could give me such advice, could help me find a pleasant
way to spend an extra moment here or there, to bring the past to present

once again. But it does not. Unfeeling, quiet, it switches while I sleep.
It spends the better part of spring and fall without a peep,
without my saying so, just tick and now it's 12 again or so,
and I wake, confused, convinced I've overslept, and then but no.

The clock is not my friend.

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Nihilism Comes to Keats

When I have fears that I shall cease to be,
I know the ugly beauty of that truth.
And all our works, so mean and mighty, we
see crumble into dust and shit and toothless
desperation. Useless passions from
our high romance are rendered dull and senseless.
Our imprisoned lives! We do not come
to hell, nor heaven go, too high the fence
that guards the veil of hope. We witness lives
account for naught, a crumpled dollar bill
against the wind, and all those ones and fives
are toilet paper. Money? Work, until
to stardust you return, sans teeth, sans hair,
and then alone, reflect on all you've done: Despair.

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on loss

there is a crack.

it was never there before
it was not there yesterday
yesterday, I was whole
today, there is a hole
a gap

where once there was togetherness
now there are sides

this side, over here.
that side, over there.

in the middle, part is missing.
imagined differences become reality
defined by absence

absence, separation, cracks.
as we leave each other, we redefine ourselves anew
becoming less than what we were together
and yet
more than what we were before.

our memories become Kintsugi lacquer,
healing our broken cracks, making us stronger, and beautiful.

you may not return
                            (that side, over there)
and yet
your golden memories fill the cracks in me
making me beautiful

and stronger.



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Warm, Bright Big Sister and Pale, Dark Onee-Sama (by Dusk ShAde)

Big Sister and Onee-Sama are different.

Big Sister's eyes are brown.
Warm, Bright Brown.
Brown like savored chocolates.
Brown like the logs in the fireplace.
Brown like a wooden cottage by the seaside beside a beloved forest, where fond memories are made.
Onee-Sama's eyes are green.
Pale, Dark Green.
Green so dark it could be mistaken for grey, or even white.
Green like spearmints on chilly day.
Green like distant glaciers made from antiseptic.

Big Sister’s hair is red.
Warm, Bright Red.
Red like the roaring fireplace.
Red like the glowing sunrise.
Red like blushing cheeks.
Onee-Sama’s hair is brown.
Pale, Dark Brown.
Brown like the trees of the dark forest.
Brown like rusting bloodstains.
Brown like the cover of a book.

Big Sister likes chocolate.
Warm, Bright Chocolate.
Chocolate like Valentine’s Day.
Chocolate that brightens your mood.
Chocolate that warms you inside.
Onee-Sama likes mint.
Pale, Dark Mint.
Mint that chills your mouth.
Mint that overpowers your nose and makes your eyes water.
Mint like an approaching blizzard.

Big Sister feels warm.
Warm, Bright Warmth.
Warm like the cozy rug in front of the fireplace.
Warm like hot chocolate after playing in the snow.
Warm like a loving embrace.
Onee-Sama feels cold.
Pale, Dark Cold.
Cold like a steel blade at your throat.
Cold like a corpse hidden within a blizzard.
Cold like the dark space between stars.

Big Sister is smart.
Warm, Bright Smarts.
Smart like the top student.
Smart like a role model.
Smart like the tutor who helps you every step of the way.
Onee-Sama is intelligent.
Pale, Dark Intelligence.
Intelligent like the military commander.
Intelligent like the tyrant who has studied both Machieavelli and Vetinari.
Intelligent like a machine, a machine that learns, incorporates, and applies within seconds.

Big Sister is pretty.
Warm, Bright Pretty.
Pretty like a sunset along the beach.
Pretty like a full moon on a starry night.
Pretty like fireworks among city lights.
Onee-Sama is beautiful.
Pale, Dark Beauty.
Beautiful like exploding stars reflected by the approaching glacier.
Beautiful like the ornate, but still deadly blade lunging for your throat.
Beautiful like the minty hurricane, headed straight for you.

Big Sister is energetic.
Warm, Bright Energy.
Energetic like the child in a candy store.
Energetic like the peppy grade-school teacher, ready for her students.
Energetic like the exuberant party-goer.
Onee-Sama is calm.
Pale, Dark Calm.
Calm like the coiled serpent.
Calm like the courtroom judge.
Calm like the hangman.

Big Sister has lots of friends.
Warm, Bright Friends.
Friends that laugh along with her.
Friends that invite her to their parties.
Friends that always want to hang out with her, as though they have nothing else they would rather do.
Onee-Sama has a few friends.
Pale, Dark Friends.
Friends that fight with her.
Friends that have other things to do.
Friends that always have her back.

Big Sister is peaceful.
Warm, Bright Peace.
Peace that begets itself.
Peace that smiles and cheers “Let’s be friends!”.
Peaceful like drinking chocolate flavoured tea.
Onee-Sama is violent.
Pale, Dark Violence.
Violence, not for its own sake, but for the sake of peace.
Violence of honour and reason, of law and order.
Violence like the hangman’s noose.

Big Sister is kind.
Warm, Bright Kindness.
Kind like the other cheek.
Kind like the outstretched hand.
Kind like the offered band-aid.
Onee-Sama is just.
Pale, Dark Justice.
Just like the judge in the courtroom.
Just like the verdict of Guilty or Not Guilty.
Just like the hangman’s noose.

Big Sister’s smiles are bright.
Warm, Bright Brightness.
Bright like innocence.
Bright like naiveté.
Bright like children’s laughter in the sunshine.
Onee-Sama’s smiles are tired.
Pale, Dark Tiredness.
Tired like the honest hangman, knowing full well what they’re doing and enjoying none of it.
Tired like the soldier, who’s only wish is for the fighting to stop.
Tired like the father, who knows their child must one day grow up.

Big Sister likes to hug me.
Warm, Bright Hugs.
Hugs in times of joy.
Hugs in times of sadness.
Hugs in times of fright.
Onee-Sama likes to hug me.
Pale, Dark Hugs.
Hugs when I’ve done a good job.
Hugs when I’ve had a bad day.
Hugs whenever she feels like hugging me.

Big Sister loves me.
Warm, Bright Love.
Love for a favoured sibling.
Love for life, and for the happiness of others.
Love for my laughter.
Onee-Sama loves me.
Pale, Dark Love.
Love from a mother to a child.
Love for life, and it's ending.
Love for my smile.

My favourite flavour is mint-chocolate, because it reminds me both of Big Sister and of Onee-Sama.

I love my Warm, Bright Big Sister and my Pale, Dark Onee-Sama.

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peak time

I've seen these hills before, in memories of tales and half-remembered dreams of ages gone.

A snow-capped snippet of a textbook childhood, immensely tall from shouldered vantage, urging my father faster, higher.

The son becomes the father, but we arrive too late for mine to ride my shoulders. The mountains do not care.

The lives of men flash like ants upon their upthrust shoulders, the full moon strobing eons as these rocks ascend the vault of heaven.

I gaze upon these mountains now, my soul upthrust as any jagged crag. My eyes take in each perfect peak, freckled here and there with snow.

To reach the top! To touch those peaks! My heartbeat pounds as fast as moons by mountain time. Surely, to ascend such beauty must be to caress the crinkled edge of heaven.

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Back in 1997, my wife grew tired of my bashing her country music tastes and challenged me to pen a country song myself, if I thought it was so easy.  I apologize for the results.  I still hear it as a duet with Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton.

I turned on my computer just like I do every day -
Kick-start to the power and the video display.
I'm waiting for an e-mail from my baby in LA,
Hoping that her little message finds its way.

I logged in and checked my mail -
This waiting had my heart in jail;
I sure hoped we'd be together soon.
My server said I had new stuff -
I couldn’t download fast enough -
But what I read there made me sadder than a loon:

She wrote:
Do you really need me underneath the Texas moon?
Do you really need me later?  Do you really need me soon?
Mister, I must tell you, before to Texas I do roam,
I need to know where your love's coming from.

My heart skipped a mighty beat
I was glued right to my seat
and I felt there, as I read that, I could cry.
My fingers flew right to the keys
to put her nervous heart at ease
and I typed out, through my tears, this swift reply:

I wrote:
I don't wish for you on every star - just the ones up in the sky
I don't need you every day - just the ones that end in 'Y'
My heart burns for you like stars in Heaven up above
And I'm sending you this e-mail from:!!
You're the one girl that I'm dreaming of!
No virtual girlfriends,
No diamonds and pearl friends,
Do for me what you do, my Love.

Well that’s pretty much just how it went,
and I felt much better when it was sent,
and sure to check reply return receipt.
So I knew she’d read it right away,
and I wondered what her reply would say,
and more, what she would say, when next we’d meet.

She wrote:
Our hearts are both like stars above, they burn with equal heat,
And since you really need me, I’ll be moving from my street,
I’ll pack up my computer, and off from LA I will shove,
I’ll see you very soon, my dear:!!
You're the only one I'm dreaming of!
No diamonds and pearl friends,
No Wide Web and World friends,
Do for me what you do, my Love.

You know I really need you underneath this Texas moon!
I really need you now my love; I really need you soon!
My heart burns for you like stars in Heaven up above!
I’ll see you very soon, my dear:!!
You're the only one I'm dreaming of!
No diamonds and pearl friends,
No Wide Web and World friends,
Do for me what you do, my Love.!!



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Merry Christmas, Eight Fifteen!

(Major 8:15 started over Montezuma and was routed down through Amarillo.
We join him now, at night, over the Pacific Ocean.)

This is Major 8:15 hailing anyone to hear
I've been over open ocean for what seems like half a year
I see a spot of land below, thought I'd give this thing a try
It's pretty lonely here, the only car up in the sky!

A little north of Lubbock, the wind had turned me west
I fell asleep behind the wheel, which’s prob’ly for the best
I yawned as I passed Gallup, and I dreamed I saw LA
T’was all decked out in lights for the coming holiday!

It's dark and getting darker, as I fly into the night
but I'm sure there must be land down there, I think I see some light
I'd love to hear a tower, or at least a friendly voice
And I'd sure love to land this car if I had any choice!

(radio static)

Aloha 8:15, this is Honolulu Field!
You're a little bit off course, so we’ve had our traffic yield
You’ve been in that car so long, it’s hard to quite believe!
Just so you know, it’s Midnight, and today is Christmas Eve!

Thank you Honolulu, it is good to hear your call!
I was starting in to wonder if there was anyone at all
If you’ve got some festive spirits, I could use a healthy dose:
All I want for Christmas is to see the ground up close!

(radio static)

We read you 8:15, but we haven’t got a clue
I wish that there were something else or more that we could do
Your altitude is steady and your vector path is fine
You’re accelerating past us heading toward the World Date Line.

I gotta tell you tower, I don't know what the Seven Hells…
I swear to you my iPod's off, but Tower, I hear bells!
I can’t see a thing, I haven’t seen a plane go by
But I’ve got a funny feeling I’m not alone up in this sky!

When suddenly a brand new voice just broke across the air,
an old voice, half remembered, his accent sounds like everywhere
"Tower, you can take a nap.  This metal bird's all right;
I'm deputizing 8:15 – he's helping ME tonight."

“Now 8:15, you just relax, everything'll turn out fine.
You see, it’s Christmas Day on the far side of that line,
and I’m a shy a couple reindeer, ‘cause Rudolph has the flu
and Dancer broke her gosh-darn leg – I need your Malibu!”

Santa, if that’s really you, let’s hear a Ho Ho Ho!
I’m not sure this car’s equipped to pull a sleigh, you know?
I’m glad to help and all, but tell me, what’s the deal?
The toys, and elves, and everything – really, are you real?

(radio static)

This is Honolulu Tower calling Major 8:15,
I think that you should know we’re tracking two birds on our screen.
You are not, repeat ARE NOT, alone up in that air,
And we’re getting word from NORAD we should all proceed with care!

“Eight fifteen, just pop your trunk and I will do the rest.
The elves are real, the reindeer fly, I’ve got the big red vest.
We’ll fly across to Christmas with all these heavy toys,
And you can help me drop them off to all good girls and boys.”

I popped the trunk and felt a jolt, and fast as I could think,
A reindeer pulled up next to me and gave a little wink!
Then what next to my wondering eyes should suddenly appear
But a fully decked out sleigh in my rear-view window mirror!

Then the windshield went all white with a shimmer and a glow,
with a curtain-like aurora from the ocean down below
to the stars up overhead - and it was coming up real fast.
I guessed that all my flying luck had run out on me at last.

“Calm your jets now, 8:15, and don’t sound so damn tragic,
you’re not gonna die because of some old Christmas magic!
Now you lean on and honk your horn, and I’ll give mine a jingle,
and we’ll let the world below us know you’re flying with Kris Kringle!”

I tried to stay calm’s I could, since he sounded very certain,
And quick as Dasher’s little wink, we’d flown right through that curtain!
We were off to every house, and spreading gifts around
and I forgot a little while how I’d wished to come on down!

The night was shaping up a blur, we rose and dipped and soared
The reindeer pulled their heavy weight as my Chevy’s engines roared!
From Fiji to New Zealand to New Guinea to Bel Air
Old Santa kept us flying:  Destination, everywhere!

Every house in both Koreas, every address in Japan,
each apartment down in old Shanghai and every home in all Hunan.
From Russia to Australia, all of Asia, every 'stan,
and every town in Africa, from Cape Town to Sudan.

We hit 'em all, we hit 'em fast, we made a blur across the sky!
We left those gifts across the world for every girl and guy,
From Europe up to Iceland, Venezuela and Peru,
From Mexico to Canada, and Puerto Rico too.

That evening took a live-long day, but it seemed like just an hour,
Those reindeer really have some awesome staying power!
Next thing I knew, my wheels were down and my speed was nearly nil -
Santa Claus had stopped his sleigh just down from Dead Man's Hill!

"Merry Christmas, 8:15!  I think we'll do the rest.
There ain't that many houses left, since we're out this far west.
About that car of yours, from now on, please keep it on the soil;
check the brakes and change the tires, and don't forget to check your oil."

I stepped out of the car as my seat belt snap unlocked
and stood, a bit unsteady, as my view was partly blocked
by a team of seven reindeer and a massive bright red sleigh.
"Thank you, Santa!  Merry Christmas!" was all that I could say.

I sold that car on Christmas Day!  Since then, I walk or stroll.
And I sent cards to all my friends in air traffic control.
When I tell this story to my crew, they say that it's all talk -
But I'm here to tell you, brother, that's the reason that I walk!