Tag Archives: time

Sitting on a Bench Waiting for the End of Winter

by Thomas Davis

Time hides in words spoke on the radio,
Inside newspaper columns gray with print.
The young girl, in the winter, watched the flow
Of snow wisps on the lake, her dreams intent
Upon the booming chunks of gleaming ice
That spring would heave on shore, great, white walls, cold
In spite of how the sun thawed sacrifice
From frozen ground and hazed the air with gold.

The young girl took her radio outside
And read the paper sitting on a bench
As winter waited for the moon-stirred tide
To free warm waters from its icy clench.

The young girl waited on her bench for spring
When she and ice and all the world would sing.

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How Could I Know?

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

It looks to me as though
you’ve been around, perhaps,
since time began—
and I have lived at least
as long.

Oh? Only that much time?

I’m sure there was no life
before for you or me.
How could I know your face
so well?

As well as some old rock
I’ve seen hang, clinging
to a mountain wall,

and I know what wave of brightness,
or of darkness, to expect there
waiting for me.

You step and make some rounded move.
I know beforehand which way to go.
How could I know? Unless. . .

You’ve been around, perhaps,
since time began.
I know I’ve lived at least as long.

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Shades of Geese Dredged Out of Time

by Thomas Davis

The old man walks into the cedar forest.
Cold waves rise up to thunder white-capped rage
Against dark dolostone cloaked white with snow.
The twisted trunks of trees, born in an age
Long past, reach out into the old man’s path
And clutch at bearskin boots as black as night.
Time whorls as lightning jags above the slate
Of waves, and thunder dances cloudy light
Into a rush of wilding, whistling wind.

The old man stands upon a cold, high ledge
Inside the wierding winter of the storm
And stares at ice congealed from clouds of mist
That glitter as a shining spray transforms
The frigid air into a swirl of light
Reflecting darkness from the dolostone.
The old man sighs, and in an ancient voice
Begins to sing, his voice a toneless drone.

Out of the icing mist a flock of geese
Fly, wings a whir, from cresting, foaming waves.
Behind them shades of geese, dredged out of time,
Come streaming from the darkness of the caves
Beneath the old man’s ledge shined black with ice.
The old man lifts his arms and tries to see,
Inside the mist of time, what fate is threaded
Into the heartbeats of humanity.

The cedar forest snakes its roots through stone.
The storm’s crescendo rises as the lightning
Disperses fire above the raging waves.
Snow whips through wind, a hail-hard stinging
That bites through deerskin clothes into cold flesh
And brings cold tears into the old man’s eyes.
Tears freeze; the geese shades disappear; the man
Stands blind beneath the fury of the skies.

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The Rhyming of Love

a love poem to Ethel by Thomas Davis

Our fathers died, and then your mother left
And took a train ride to her resting place.
There are no words for senses left bereft
The moment living left our son’s kind face.

Our love was glory when it first began to bloom.
We walked brown hills and felt the sky breathe light—
You took your hesitant, unlikely groom
And gave him more of life than was his right.

The days of work and turmoil, gladness, stress,
Have slowed us down and made us feel our years
As separateness has ground against the press
Of love through joyous days and bitter tears.

From gnarling roots of memories and time,
Love forges symphonies of changing rhyme.

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Love Story

by Thomas Davis

For Ethel

The golden eagle, dark brown against deep blue of late spring sky,
Hovered, wings adjusting to wind currents.
In the cool canyon, beneath the ancient cottonwood tree
With its streaked white trunk,
Beside the stream shrinking from spring’s fullness,
We sat next to our picnic blanket.
The eagle dipped, then soared into a great arc
Toward, then over, sandstone canyon walls
Where years of rain had flowed over the canyon rim
And stained rock as it fell to where it fed the stream below.
That day was not our beginning.
Our beginning was in letters chained from Wisconsin to Colorado
As never-met poets began to explore what might come to be.

Where my poetry raged with fumbling working toward form,
Your poetry burned on the page,
Words boiled into images.
But in Unaweep Canyon on a day that seemed like it should last forever
We talked and began weaving invisible bonds
That show no signs of weakening
As we leave middle age and become elders
Visited by the pains of age and wear of time.
The moments of our lives together tremble,
Like the golden eagle’s wings:

Days spent learning the intensity of each other
As we walked Orchard Mesa’s huddled foothills,
The moon rising so deep an orange it was almost red,
Growing larger and larger
As it labored over the Prussian blue rim of Grand Mesa;
Tears coming to your eyes when you singed
The wedding dress you worked weeks to make
On the night before our wedding;
The long drive to Washington State’s Anacortes Island,
Possessions piled on top of an old car,
As we searched for life–
And then the even longer drive to Wisconsin
As we traveled over mountains,
Through orchards and fields of crops, deep into forests, across plains
Until we came, at last, to Lake Superior shining sunlight.

Then the birth of Sonja, Mary, and Kevin.
Tense waiting at hospitals
Until finally the joy of new life explodes;
The loneliness of a hospital room at night
While Mary struggles for breath inside a clear plastic bubble
As doctors fight an illness that seems to last forever;
The day when Kevin convulses
As doctors and nurses rush into his room
And force us into the hallway scared at not understanding.
Days spent walking to Lake Winnebago
Dragging a red wagon behind us
With Sonja talking ceaselessly while one,
Then the other, carries Mary in our arms.
The years of school and the search for a teaching job
Until, at last, we end up in a small Midwestern town
Working in an alternative school on the Menominee Reservation.

Life fills up with the details of living,
Moments of emotion:
Joy, anger, frustration, desperation, hope, sadness, grief, laughter,
A flowing that stretches into a landscape of bends and rocks and hills.

When we moved to Wisconsin Dells into the Gold Mine House
With its basement field stone floor and huge fireplaces,
Bald eagles sat with white heads and brown backs and breasts
Nearly every morning during winter and spring
In trees along the Wisconsin River,
Snow falling as one or another took wing off its pine perch
And soared into cold to look for open water.

A poem, or a hundred poems, cannot give life to either life or love.
Marriage begins, and time passes;
Children are born, and time passes;
Jobs are won or lost, and time passes;
Daughters and a son run through a million minutes
Of motion and meaning, and time passes;
Grandchildren are born and become blessings, and time passes…

Our lives spark against each other,
Spiraling out like skiers I remember one night in Aspen, Colorado
Who came down black mountains slopes
Carrying torches that glided and wove,
Suspended high above where I was standing, in the night sky.

And inside the passing of time a golden eagle still hovers above us
Beside a small stream
That sings as it flows over small shelves of sandstone
Until one morning we wake, and you grind fair trade coffee beans,
And we sit before a fire in the fireplace in New Mexico
That you say is good for our souls,
And we deal with the pains in your knee and my back,

And we try to understand each other
In the way we have always tried to understand each other,
Braiding our lives through moments when we are together.

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21. Journeying to Chaos: A Search for Survival

an epic poem by Thomas Davis

Inside his cave, his massive spirit brooding,
The great male Mmirimann was still, his hearts
Swift rhythms slowed to somnolence, near death.
He journeyed through the layers of his self,
The memories ancestors had bestowed
In him kaleidoscopic as he saw
The dragon race devolve into a rage
Red-eyed, incensed that human brains could scurry
In bodies small as ants and still wrap him
With ropes that would not let him save himself.
And still he journeyed through his dragoness
Until he passed the vestiges of who
A dragon was and let the darkness grow
Into a universe much greater than his self.

At last, inside miasma, hearts still slow,
He came into a barren field, a place
Between the stars where sunlight never shined,
Not earth, not space, a place devoid of substance,
Yet real, where shades gloamed in the dusk
As chaos sang into the birth of stars
Yet in the eggs that would grow into light.
He felt the living substances of spirits,
Great animals whose strength had let them flee
Finality of death, the human shades
That teemed and swirled in clouds of mourning, searching
For absolution from the dark that came
Out of their lives and sense of who they’d been
While living in their times upon the earth,
The dragons, that still flew in rage in dark,
Grown monstrous with unwillingness to die
Though some had lived three hundred years or more.

Inside cacophony Mmirimann
Searched for an answer to his endless quest
To find a corridor where dragons lived
And did not spiral to their race’s death,
But everywhere he looked the universe
Of death whirled clouds of beasts and humans, dragons
That flew at him, their momentary faces
Alive with being, then a trail of mist
As bright eyes disappeared into the rising
Of other beings with their faces solid,
Then mist and chaos swirling endlessly.

There was no ending, no beginning, just
A swirling where a train of beings rose
Into their sense of self, then lost themselves
As time coagulated, formed, then flowed
Into the swirl of being, nothingness.
There was a dragon race; there was no race,
Its rising swallowed by the human song
That dominated all the earth, then, like
The dragons, swirled its eyes into miasma
As planets swung around their suns, and suns
Flared light into their darkness as their fires
Exploded into nova gravities
That swallowed matter near in time and space
And swirled into the chaos like the dragons,
The humans, the spirit beasts, the beings found
On other worlds in other times, miasma
Creating, shaping, then destroying as
Forever spun the endless mind of God.

The swirling tugged at Mmirimann and tried
To suck him deep into its endless maw.
He felt his mind and body disappearing
As dragon after dragon formed, then misted,
Its substance real, then disappeared, time filled
With lives that were, but never were, that sang
And then became a hurricane of souls
That had no individual substance, life,
But were the matter of the universe,
The swirl of chaos that created All.

He fought the tugging, taloned deep the spark
That made him who he was, a dragon great
Enough to brave the journey past his self,
And searched in desperation for a shelf
That he could grasp inside the maelstrom’s swirl.
And then he saw a single buzz of light
That did not waver, but was fixed inside
The endless swirling weaving strands of time.
He fought toward the light, the ledge where he
Could spread his wings and launch back to his life.

Time roared with silence, buffeting against
His will, his self, his sense of who he was.
He fought toward the buzz of light and forced
Himself to know himself, his dragon hearts—

And then he saw inside the light a human,
A woman from his place and time now dead,
Surrounded by a knot of humans waving
Their arms, creating substance from the chaos,
Their force a bridge between his world and where
He was inside the wind that was no wind.
A golden dragon wavered at the edge
Of where the human spectres generated
The ordered light, the only dragon seen
Inside the chaos of the roiling darkness.

He did not know if dragons lived or died
As time swirled from chaotic winds and gloam.
He could not see the corridor he sought
So that Sshrunnak’s rage would not lead to death
For dragons borning future generations.

He urged himself toward the light and blinked.
He felt his cave’s stone walls, hearts quickening,
The chaos just a song inside his ears.

To listen to this section of the epic, click Journeying to Chaos.

Note: This is the twenty first installment of a long narrative poem. Inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on 1 to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to 20 to read the installment before this one. Click on 22 to go to the next section of the epic.

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A Poet’s Age

by Thomas Davis

He walked into the dark, high, empty room
And moved into the labyrinth of racks
Until, at last, the winter cold so sharp
His breath flowed white then disappeared in air,
He reached the shelf beside the ancient tomb
Of some forgotten king, the zodiac
Portrayed above a dimly painted harp,
And took a book in hand with tender care.

The darkness seemed to dance with wisps of light
As, walking through the stacks, he seemed to grow
As shadows leapt before him on the floor.
He seemed a shadow, like reflections deep
In Plato’s cave where shadows thought that night
Is all there is—that what their minds could know
Was real and true in spite of how the door
Of waking opened only in their sleep.

He left the racks and put the massive book
Upon a marble table, struck a match
And lit a candle placed beside a jar of ink
And took an old black pen and set the quill
Upon rich velum, in his eyes a blazing look
Of fire, as if his mind could swiftly snatch
His blood and flesh and make his true self shrink
To strong, honed words shaped by his flawless skill.

For thirty years his pen had moved his hand
And bled his life into the book, each day
His writing draining life from who he was
Into the words that crawled from page to page
As pages seemed to magically expand
Each time he walked through stacks and made his way
To sit down at the table as the buzz
Of life wrote songs that made his spirit age.

As words flowed from his pen, his hair grew white,
And in his heart the burdens placed by years
Wrapped tight against the beating of the drum
That let him be the poet that he wished to be.
The pages glowed and danced as if the plight
Of humans and their lives were only fears
That scattered when the words began to strum
Their shining lives into eternity.

His hands began to shake. His wrinkles spread
Across his face and hands. He felt so old
The thought of living yet another day
Seemed heavier than what his heart could bear.
He sighed inside the darkness, closed the dread
That emanated from the words that told
The story of the love that rises fey
Into the human self, our spirit’s prayer—

And as the book’s dark cover slowly closed,
The book’s soft light lit up the poet’s flesh,
Long years fled from his pain-filled, reddened eyes
And, in a moment, time reversed its flow.
He got up, made himself calm, strong, composed,
Walked to a rope, pulled, let the daylight’s fresh,
Sweet light spill from the winter’s cold blue skies
Into the darkness, on the book’s soft glow,

Then turned and took the book into his hands
And walked through racks so filled with endless books
They seemed to never end, the evidence
Humanity still lives, thinks, feels, and sings.
Around him whispered time’s ephemeral sands;
He reached the last, cold shelf and heard the rooks
Of spring alive in ancient forests dense
With life before there were lost graves for kings.

Note: This poem follows the conventions of an octave, but expands that convention to eight stanzas.

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