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Posts Tagged ‘dance’

Between Buildings

As children we sought new hiding spots,
explored between houses, down paths,
under benches, through gaps in stone
walls and wooden fences, between
churches and tombstones and stained
glass in day light, sheds and gardens,
between buildings where strange, unseen
flowering vines hid in summer,
unpicked fruit trees blossomed and no one
noticed us, they never even looked,
they wouldn’t have seen us
even if they tried,
even if they wanted to,
we had found the gaps to dance and sing in.

Peace in cities is in the wanderings
down side streets, alleys that lessen
the humming of the universe, where
graffiti can be appreciated and life can
be seen, felt in every window and on every
balcony, families sharing meals and someone
sitting out enjoying a beer and a smoke
listening to the radio,
the urban plants do their best to clean the air
between buildings, the only stillness left.

Then there was us in Venice,
it is better than they say,
being lost in Venice means anything
you wish it to mean, there is no
childhood pretending needed.

The apartment we stayed in had a
neglected courtyard between four walls,
over grown, cracked, forgotten, rusty barred
balconies and ripened vines, tattered drying
clothes out on lines, the sun was trying
to touch it all, the climbing plants grew
where it was possible to grow in the gaps
between brick rows out of the beautiful
sinking city and rose like
our heart fires rose.

At night, to look between buildings
into that city slivered sky, chasing
what can’t be seen, perhaps
a star or a place, some dream in the gaps
that dreamers dance between
what’s been built and what’s been felt,
in the veins of the city, or of the heart,
in the center, in between it all at night,
there is always hope for a small glow
of faint warm light.

Kyle McHale     2016

 

 

 

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Old Professor

For Stanley Plumly

It started years ago, or before that,
a child, the source of everything
we become, the subtle origin of
a mighty river, that old first poem
ever spoken, the first pumps of blood to
the human heart, I was on my way.

I, nineteen, sitting in a lecture hall,
poetry 101, thinking I had
somehow mastered the craft already,
how wrong I was, how wrong I am.

You walked in on a frigid afternoon,
snow, melted and refrozen sat in the
sun crusting everything, casting light
back to where it came from. The cold campus
glistened like February, wisps of
cirrus engaged in their ice dance on that
blue stage, all those young minds afoot underneath,
like busy ants, channels of flowing blood
giving life to every brick and stone,
every piece of the place nurtured with youth.

I watched you approach, stage front, off came the
scarf, the over coat, white hair and a white
beard emerged, hand selected for the part,
meticulously putting all in place.

You spoke, that calmness, deep but not too deep,
serious but still warm, a low youthful
glisten in those old eyes, a room of young
reckless ambition put at ease by that
tone of voice, like the way I sought advice
from my grandfather cross-legged on the
floor at the foot of his chair, all the men
who had ever spoken to me rolled into one,
I knew then I knew nothing.

I read all that was assigned, frustrated,
something remained blurred, thoughts hung over me,
an orange moon tortured me one night,
purple clouds another, gaps that remained
in my head and in my heart, they still do.

You, an Old Heart by the time I arrived
in your presence, defender of the old ways,
a pulse giving master to the old craft.
You said, “Do not fear, poems do not get
lonely, they read themselves tucked away on
shelves”, lost in time, with time, deep in the stacks.
Though I am sure my beer stained verses
sat crumpled up on the floor, as lonely
as it gets, unloved, unread, unwanted.
The whirlwind of college absorbing
everything around, eventually
closing in with Frost “like a dent in dough”.
How much can one heart truly endure
alone in a world full of heartless things?

You and your Keats, observing the autumn
chill set in, but it was the deep heart of
winter, before the campus bloom of spring,
soon flowers, perhaps tulips, Plath’s Tulips,
you had us rearrange those stanzas once.
I could not see a new order to Plath’s
madness, only that those African cats
stalked me as well, some calculated dark-
ness had descended on my existence.

I have a fondness, as those who think do,
for that place where the water meets the land.
A stone, that heart-shaped stone by your beachside,
churned up in the origin countless times,
those unending forces, unforgiving.
After a night of heavy drinking I
split my eyebrow open on my night stand,
bleeding and passed out on the dorm room floor,
a scar on the body and on the heart,
spit back up from the tumultuous mix
of living for a breath, only to be
thrust back in to survive, stone heart and all,
“nicked from the top half down”, our own hearts
wishing to disappear in the skyline.

I sat with school children, you among them,
dense as Yeats questioning in his school room,
children sit in a classroom for me now.
The master source, the bole and the blossom,
you blossomed once, and yet, as if by chance,
I know we are both the “dancer and the dance.”

I have been to your roadside near Staunton
working some summer at Goshen Scout Camp,
that picture on a wall I have walked into,
arriving there without knowing it,
frozen in ancient mountain-building-time,
Appalachian time, beautiful time.

I would see you eating lunch on South Campus,
too afraid to approach for fear of
being dismissed over something that I
thought we may have had in common.
I will say something next time, I never did.

So Old Professor, let me not forget
a degree of thanks, a Directive on
how to get lost in the meanderings
of the mind, winding like your poem rivers,
like your clouds for Keats, like your first poem,
like campus frozen in February.
The source of which may one day empty
into some great delta, the Mississippi,
the Nile, the Me Kong, the gates of heaven,
a start and an end, as your young heart must
and has become an Old Heart, as youth led
you to, among many things, an Old Professor.
I was then, and am now, on my way.

Kyle McHale 2013

Poems referenced:

Stanley Plumly – Old Heart, Simile, Off a Roadside Near Staunton, Constable’s Clouds for Keats

Robert Frost – Directive

Sylvia Plath – Tulips

William Butler Yeats – Among School Children

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Barren Bone Place

Across the barren desert land,
Aging red rocks and cracking hands,
A place that I would not call home,
All rots and sits as deep white bone.

The mess I’m in I half know why,
The other half in dizzy sky.
I walk and climb, and climb and walk,
Nothing to say or think to talk.

Illusion’s my friend I believe,
Yet half the things I don’t conceive,
That large black kettle cooking pot,
Cooking the weak and dead that rot

From choosing a red rocky fate.
This place cares not of one’s mistakes,
The only things it understands
Are fleshy boney broken hands,

And broken wills and souls that try
To flee the things that made them cry.
The past is not a factor now,
The crumbling rock forgets somehow.

The past cannot follow one here,
Yet feeling thoughts remains unclear
Of where to go, what rock to climb,
Where to look, what to do with time.

Black kettle pots and vultures wait
For tired flesh to eat and take,
The quitted bones are on the ground,
Those souls gave up, they make no sound.

The small twisted sparse desert plants,
Shift and dance at a passing glance,
Are never there to help or harm,
To scratch my soul or take my arm.

The sky forgets but knows I live,
Not caring whole, will not forgive.
Curving trails of dry stream beds
Curve their way to my bone dry head.

The capsule body carries forth,
Costing what my soul is worth.
I see the vultures circling high,
Black they turn, falling as they die

To hit the dozen kettle pots
That dot the land in different spots.
One on a rock, one on a hill,
Three in a stream this place has killed,

One with the plants that’s passed around,
The rest on dry red rocky ground.
Each vulture hits, squeals and screams,
Sounds of nightmares, unpleasant dreams,

They cook down to their soul and bone,
My eyes watch fearing all unknown,
The water whistling dry pitch high,
Observing this, knowing that I

Have to reach my hand in to eat,
Know not this place and what to keep,
My hand in form of skeleton,
Melts off all my useless skin,

It drips back into water hot,
Awaking peaceful dreadful spot.
I eat the vulture heart as well,
Then wave my boney hand to smell

The air energy peaceful sweet,
In every bite my soul does eat
A piece of fractured split bone life.
Hoping day stays away from night,

Flesh returns to parts of this place,
Warm dusty air blows in my face,
Quitted bones become whole again,
Is this the beginning or the end?

Water spews out of kettles black,
Dry stream beds get their water back,
The bones of beasts fill up with flesh,
Vulture heart spirit in my chest,

Plants continue their dancing dreams,
Barren things I have never seen.
Life became what I did not know,
Distorted place where one must go.

Forces came to lock up my nerves,
Gripping dry time and where I was,
I stepped back to watch all the scene,
Surreal places, days and dreams.

I let everything in to soak,
Fleeting dreams and the last of hopes,
Praying to thank these characters,
I summoned strength back to my nerves.

Hope real finds me after this,
I left my mark and did not miss
What the place showed to offer me,
Those things I saw, now what I see.

Bone-flesh-black-kettle-pots fulfill
Emptiness I no longer feel,
What I choose to live as real,
By pausing once, and holding still.

A touching blend of swirling air
Let me pass to lead me here,
A world far away from that,
Only in dreams could I ever go back.

Kyle McHale      2009

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Remember to Live

So remains a clear picture in the night,
Half forgotten, off centered, on the wall,
Some room of forgotten candles and wood,
Where moon sees its light on that picture fall.

In this hour the picture is perfect,
Remembered by and painted by light,
A man in that picture standing at
Some high valley stream absorbing his sight.

If it were so to cut out of life
A still piece memory of faith dreaming
Real hopes, perfection driven moonlit landscapes
With true uncertain guides, not plain predicting.

Find me in that lofty moment to freeze,
To capture what will never be again,
A moment of real love, inner faith,
Spirit warming from a real friend,

A first mountain morning mist that lifts away,
A snow covered east-lee wood that whispers,
Moments of greatest loss and greatest gain,
Of midnight madness and shifting mixtures.

Throw those moments in a hidden room of
Misplaced items, lost gathering places,
Where deformed, disconnected from the living,
Hoping to catch lost wandering faces.

But only catching moon light is enough,
Forever living moments need themselves
And a touch of all that midnight light to
Truly dance and breathe with content on shelves.

All that’s past and captured, lost and remembered,
Where is that unknown link from us to them?
That they lived, danced, dreamt for us may be enough,
Enough to love that spirit light again.

To see what is and forever will be,
For who we are is who we were,
Amongst the characters of the absurd
Resides some truth, half clear and half pure.

Lock the door to live again,
Join the man at that high valley stream,
Carrying the truth, the love, the light, the right,
Into the living past and present, into the dream.

Kyle McHale      2010

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The Warming Cold

Sweet snow powdered white wintry ground,
A place where my senses are keen,
Big sky is far from black with stars,
Serious ways, confusing dreams,

Have led to this culmination.
The coastline is out there afar,
Water holding secrets to life,
Floating pieces of what we are.

Cratered moon is in second place,
Though any other night it would
Steal my gaze to its secrets.
A night alone in deep cold woods.

Ice shield sides of far ridge lines
Parallel the ridge in my thoughts,
Tempting my senses to tingle,
Wishing for bear or arctic fox

Spirit to help contain my mind,
For cold white wild is calling.
Coastline follows to meet the ridge,
Ridge then seeks the live sky falling

Away to vast arctic places
That stretch their wonders to my feet,
To ask me questions without answers,
A place where cold and soul do meet.

It’s frozen time that keeps me here,
Just one thing is moving slowly,
The colors dance up in the air,
Reflecting on me fully.

This place is known by several names,
The sky is called different things,
Frozen rocks and trees lay still,
Compilation of all things,

Stir up my thoughts and frozen dreams
To hit my heart so very deep,
For in this wild dancing place
The warming cold I have to keep.

Kyle McHale      2008

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In it’s White Madness

The veil of a moonlit cover
Dusts the woods and open field
With an eerie sense of wonder
And the moon dance that is real.

Attempt anything in it’s madness,
What seems hidden is highlighted,
What seems forgotten is remembered,
Those secrets kept are spilled over
And seep into all that’s covered

By that strange keeper over head,
That has tortured through the ages.
When in secret fashion revealed
Like prisoners broken from their cages.

A split rail fence won’t keep it in,
Nor stone wall or stiff tree line,
No door, no tarp, no roof is safe
From the casting white spell of moon time.

Go hide, go run, go lie in the field,
Seek shelter under birches or pines,
Run from the past or the darkness,
Finding you the spell of white moon time.

Dance in its strangeness and give up
The secrets, for it already knows.
The victors are mad and dancing,
The victims are hiding down low.

Kyle McHale       2012

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Magic Light

I’ve seen the world’s magic light,
One beach morning after night,
That ocean out in front of me,
Some glowing orb on humble sea.

The colors danced like from a brush
That sweeps in hand with artists touch,
To sunrise song that it did sing,
I almost heard the whispering,

And when I tried to listen close,
The magic light became a ghost,
And all dispersed out into space,
And left me with some glowing grace.

Some sacred window I had seen,
A tiny door or opening
Into the truth of golden heart,
For heaven’s road won’t fall apart,

But scatter out when light breaks through,
Becomes too small to get into,
Only to catch a glimpse of it,
Fading before my heart forgets.

Kyle McHale      2010

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