Meditations Upon Visiting Kerry

Look towards the mountains from Dunloe Bay in June

Clouds are not the cheeks of angels, you know,

They’re only clouds, but where the peat fire is right

And a gray smurdge lies heavily over the country-side

And there’s a strong tart smell of waves in the air,

Why that’s when the time comes I like best about June

With strawberries melting on the vine.

It’s time to rest and not work at nothing else

‘Cept making sense out of the clouds floating by.

There’s an old orchard next door where I’d rather be

‘Cept hobgoblins and boogles and dancing faeries

That seem to bring a magic spell to those lazy, hazy days.

It’s the sort of place where a man can breathe

And when I look up and see Old Johnnie working his way up through the 

A finger of each hand curled through the

The ring in the neck of a jug, why I sigh,

Content with the promise of sprawling lengthwise upon the grass

And watching the shadows drop thick and soft

As the covers in the bed back in the tavern

Where I’ve made a temporary house.

"Heard you was looking for company—

The kind that don’t come with a seal on the neck

The "water of life" as free as a sparrow’s flight

And a jenny’s kick in the taking."

"The thought occurred to me," admits I.

He grins and plops down beside me, old shoes tied with baling twine

And his shirt and pants and vest have seen harder days with a washboard

But there’s a twinkle in his eye not put there by the proprieties—

A roguish look that recalls hearing hens squawk

When they’re taken from their nests in the wee small hours

And a familiarity with the sassing of a jay in a bramble thicket

"‘Tis a life a woman canna understand," says he

As his thumb pushes the cork from the jug and

A sharp tang of second run washes the air.

"Mind, I’m not saying there’s not a need for them," says he,

"But June comes and they’re thinking of weddings and such

And a man—well, a man needs to gather his strength for the coming times.

It’s the time for inspecting the clover bloom and the oak mast

And listening to the birds to see if a heavy winter’s a-coming.

Now you listen to that sassy bird—hear?

Uh-huh—try a sip—he’s not sassin’ ‘cause he figures it’s his job

No, he feels something not right with this particular June softness.

It takes a special talent to understand those things

And that talent only comes with experience—have another taste—

So one needs to open up and listen

And to help you understand

Is a few jars of uische-beathe—the water-of-life.

There’s a heap of secrets in that jug

And a man owes it to himself to find them.

"Lazy they call us"—he paused for a healthy knock on his jug—"research,

It is," he said, lowering the jug safely to his lap.

"And a hard job I’d not be giving another."

"There is a nobleness to man’s spirit," I said, following his lead.

He beamed. "There, now, you see?

When June comes, and the wild honey is bursting from the hives

"Why it’s time for the likes of us to find the Tullemore Dew

And watch the shadows spread everywhere.

And I’d be obliged if you wouldn’t dribble so much when you take a sip.

There’s a thousand Chinamen going wantin’—

Least that’s what my mudder used to say

To get me to eat me carrots, bless her soul."

"We should invite them here," I suggest, listening to

The bees buzzing in my head.

"Ah, now, that would be the Christian thing to do."

And we sit back to watch the shadows gather over the Gap

From the peat burning. There are fine thoughts and

Not to be rushed into greatly.

Not in June when the soft dew settles in the morning

And clouds of black and gold and white and blue

Come rolling down through Dunlow

When any moment I shall stir myself and rise

To build that cabin at Innisfree

Where twilight glimmers and a purple glow comes at noon.

I’ve heard the linnets and the crickets sing

And that’s as fine a heaven as I could wish to be

On the fair lake isle of Innisfree.


Meditations While Visiting the Southwest

Sometimes the moon rises before the sun sets

And hangs high in the sky

Like a mirror reflection in which one sees himself

And a ghost peeking over his shoulder,

An ectoplasmic breath of air, fecund in the dry air.

Once on a long drive to see the Marfa Lights—

Spooky dots dancing over the midnight desert blackness

Beneath a canopy of reflecting solar systems—

I found a gypsy lady riding a plodding burro,

Heading north behind me, fully dressed in the noon-day sun,

Iron gray hair frizzled by the day’s rays,

Movement and destination and reason known only to her.

I drove past, then curiosity slowed the car and when I arrived

At the turn-off to the Circle R Ranch, I turned around

And drove back, approaching her slowly so as not to startle her.

A sixth sense (a strange phenomena among Romanian Gypsies) warned her

And she waited, still sitting on her burro,

Watching my approach suspiciously.

Time hasn’t passed enough since when far across the sea

Strange blonde-haired men in black uniforms, decorated with lightning bolts

And a crooked cross, goose-stepped their Hell Hitlered way

Across the mountains and the deep blue sea

To her land, black boot heels drumming land and people to dust.

She remembered the yells in the German tongue, the feel of their batons

Hard against her flesh, the sound of snapping bones


Reverberating through full moon nights—they always made their raids

On the nights of the full moons—pulling her by her braids

Into brown canvas-covered trucks to take her to camps

With names like a sneeze—the trains chuff-chuffing their way

So long a train of people that I could never believe

That death had undone so many wretched souls,

Ripped them from their lives with disgrace.

In the box cars there was no lamentation

Except sighs which caused the eternal air to tremble

And a candle-flame in Tibet to flicker

Still we moved through woods and by fields

Past a blur of towns and cities that promised romance

And hid in the shadows not to be a part

Of humanity’s shame

Frisch weht der Wind

An old woman carried a greasy pack of Tarot cards

And told her fortune twice upon the long journey,

More to entertain the child’s journey than to speak the future—

"These are very special, my child," she said.

And laid out the cards—cup, lance, sword, and dish—

Life symbols of the Grail legend—but the cards

That are dealt first are The Hanged Man and Death

And the old woman is quick to tell her that the nest card—

The Man with Three Staves—is The Fisher King

And He will rob Death of its sting.

I come

To answer thy best pleasure. Be’t to fly,

To swims, to dive into the fire, to ride

On the curled clouds, to the strong bidding task

Ariel and all his quality

But when the time comes, the sprite does not appear

And instead she smells cooking flesh that sizzles so

And great oily black clouds crawl towards the leaden sky

And she hears the souls of the people shrieking from the clouds

And she holds her hands fiercely over her ears to shut out the loud.


She knows herself to be alone and will no more hear happy words

It sounds no more; and sure it waits upon

Some god o’ the island. Sitting on a bank,

Weeping again the King my father’s wreck—

There is no god—of this she is certain—by the swastika

Flying against a blood-red sky, the lights from the ovens

Throwing a hellish fire against the gray, lowering clouds


Per me si va ne la città dolente,

A then came the man in black with a Meinkampf look

And a love of the rack and the screw

Who loved to dance on the bodies of Gypsies and Jews

And this was the end—bodies hanging from meat hooks

With Death and His Sickle riding a pale horse

Over the cemetery skies and then she knew

The shadows at morning and walking behind her

And the shadows at evening walking behind her.

She learned fear in the faintly falling flakes of ash,

Falling faintly into the ash heaps at the camp’s end.

Apeneck Sweeney spreads his wings

And cackles a laugh from his throat

As he guards the rising of the moon

Blood-red over the hornéd gate.

Bin gar keine Gypsy, stamm’ aus Bavaria, echt deutsch.

So she survived into summer and its surprise

One day in a shower of rain

When Americans drove through the gate

And took down all signs.

Arbeit mach frei

So it had but not the work intended for a Gypsy girl

Whose roots had been destroyed and from whose trunk

No branches would grow thanks to Mengele’s scalpel.

Now she rides where the sun beats strongly among broken images

A world away where even grasshoppers fail

And no almond trees flourish and there is no fear

For fear cannot live in a barren land

Where even rain is an afterthought

And rivers of waters run in dry washes

Only as shadows over great rocks in a weary land.

Fouermillante cité, cité pleìne de rêves,

Où le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant.

She smiled—or, I think she did—at my frown

And turned the burro’s head toward the north.

"It’s the season to go north," she explained.

And kicked her heels gently against the burro’s sides.

‘Twas only when I came to The Burred that I discovered

What was behind her words—she who had come to believe

That she was Caesar’s where for living among so much dying

Now she traveled back and forth from north to south

In search for the end of the dream that still sat heavily upon her 

I was left to wonder what might she have become

If she had been to Aphrodite instead of to the Queen of Gypsies.

Would she then have resented life? Man?

The light that shone on only for her of her family line?

And with these thoughts I recognized

The scope and trajectory of my own watchful nature.

Sadly I watched her ride towards the north,

Pots and pans rattling, bedroll bobbing, on top of the burro’s buttocks.

There was no beauty in her life for what lurked

Behind those secret black eyes had already seen

The wasteland of the human without God

And the abyss into which souls had been confined.

I wondered if she cried who from the order of angels would hear her?

If one heard her, would s/he suddenly clasp to her/his heart

Would The Burro Lady dissolve there, knowing

The angel’s beauty for the beginning of terror?

Would she endure as she endures now?

We are not at home in our interpreted world

Yet we are aware of a solitary tree on an empty plain

And that is the reality of our world.

The night wind consumes our features

And the stars demand that we sense them.

I feel the breath of a million people against my cheek

Yet I know I am as alone as The Burro Lady

Who already knows her loneliness while I live in delusion.

I can only equate her emptiness with the emptiness I feel

When a lover leaves before I am ready for her to leave.

Within me I hear her voice plucking me from the ground

But I know that to be a broken word I hear

Has built itself out of silence.

Listen! Can you hear it? Can you hear it, now,

Rustling, toward me from its youthful death?

It flutters in space before us on bat wings

Dancing upon the midnight air,

Finding my soul with its radar senses

And homing in upon it like a bat upon a night mother,

The bat’s hot, flickering tongue lashing death out of the dark.

Sometimes I am not certain if the angels know

If they move among the living or the dead.

An internal torrent hurls men along in hapless fashion.

How can angels hope to pick one out of a maelstrom?

I do not know where the days of Tauruses have gone

Yet I feel I was there among them

Following the tapping of his blind man’s staff.

I can smell the jasmine of the sultan’s seraglio

And hear the cry of the mezereon calling us to evening prayer.

I can see the concert halls and hear the chant

Of the youth: 

Adah! Adah! Adah!

And watch her silky form emerge from its man cocoon and become 

Can you hear it? Can you hear it now?

The tintanambulation of the bells as Sally fans

Her way into men’s dreams and hear The Tempest roar

With stiletto heels dancing across the wooden floor.

I hear the bohdron beating, calling the troops of Maeve

To march to face the dreaded boy-warrior to save

The honor of the red-haired queen with lusty thighs.

Somewhere in the sands of time an indolent schoolboy sighs

As he dreams of his blue angel, the Belladonna of the Rocks,

The siren of all dreams whose hypnotic song

Brings men to their death upon her satiny knees.

Here is where Salome dances, her charms hidden

Behind the seventh veil that falls

Only when Baptist’s head enters the hall.

Here Samson’s heavy hands twist into golden locks

Only to be betrayed by tempestuous thighs

That lock themselves around his waist

To tease the secret of his riddle from his lips:

(Delilah was only an after thought, a base dallying)

Here are the goblets cast from a mold of Josephine’s breast

And here are Eva Braun and all the rest.

Was it for this a thousand ships left the Grecian shore

To make their way across wine-dark seas to the Trojan door?

I know the answer to the riddle is written on water

To be deciphered only by Eve’s daughters.

Bathsheba knew it as did Solomon’s Sheba.

Elizabeth dangled it before Essex

But man does not realize that beauty is only

The beginning of terror he can barely endure.

Only angels can endure

As Tarias endured when he met

Raphael on the road to Media.

I hear the haunting song of Orpheus for his Eurydice

And know that no man wishes to be the muse

Yet all wish to be Orpheus despite the dangers

That lurk in the Promethean fire for those

Who dare crowd too close to its eternal flames.

None are left who are willing to peel the apple

To discover the wisdom of its hidden fruit

And none try to break the pomegranate

To find the ruby seeds that condemned Persephone.

All is lost, stomped into the earth by goosestepping jackboots

That destroyed those who could have measured

Caverns measureless to man.

The Burro Lady is a distant speck.

I turn and listen vainly to the desert sounds

But no bird sings and sadly I enter my car

And turn again to the South

And fancy I hear the rough beast begin

To slouch his way towards Bethlehem.


Meditations On Time Passed

He’ll no more hear the milch-cow lowing

With milk bag full near to bursting

Or feel the warmth of a welcome fire on a cold rainy night.

There in the dark woods beside the sylvan lake

Where the ferns gather to quietly drop their tears

We found the leaving of the body’s colored pride.

Not a ripple marred the pale gray sheen of the lake.

We could not see where he fought last against the old guard,

His war-weary arms wielding his undefeated blade.

His worn-out heart lingers still faintly beating, beating faintly in the gray 

Not forgotten since the time when Mother Eire

Grudgingly gave over her young to Cromwell’s funeral byre.

Here, the sun and moon and wood work their magic ways,

And the ancient gods raise again their haunting hunting horns

To sound the alarm in the grey twilight.

Slanderous tongues bury hope

With words spoken that first were formed

In the mystical ritual of an ancient brotherhood behind closed doors

Guarded by a Tyler armed with his sword of office.

The grave shadow of Fergus gathers quietly in the gloaming

Where scarce a raven’s feather lingers on battleground.

Old Druids fumblearchachi acacia branches and hazel wands

And mutter incantations into the stale air.

This is not the time for Solomon but the witch of Endor

Whose rumpled bridal bed brings forth despair.

The same blessed moon that gave Solomon to Sheba

Still rises above the dark tide and in the sacred oaken grove.

Faeries dance their timeless dances waiting patiently

For the rising of the Red Branch and the fearful howling

Of the Hound of Ulster to bring long-awaited judgment to English law.

Those who are bent and bald and blind,

Those who are sick from years under the rowan yoke,

Begin to scuffle ancient feet in martial march,

Moving stubbornly and steadily towards the fray,

Past the porter’s gate and the small chamber

Where he dreams heavily under birch beer with Druid heaviness the dreams

Of long-spent youth who spoke treasonous words

In the ale-houses while waiting for the chink in worn armor

To widen and allow a regiment or two to slip through

And challenge the undauntable pride of a nation

Upon whose glory the sun never sat ‘til now.

And now with fresh widow’s weeds trailing eloquently

From her rounded shoulders she waits bewildered by

The shouting and clanging of unhooked arms

For the headman’s ax to chop off her head.

The orange bower smells badly of rotting fruit

In the dank air of the cruellest month.

Memory and desire stir like lumpy oatmeal

As life begins to lift from the dried tubers.

The dead tree can no longer shelter the eager saplings

Rashly planted by the would-be Fisher King

Who thought to be a fisher-of-men.

"Fourmillante cité, cité pleine de rêves,

Oò le spectre en plein jour raccroche le passant."

Death has undone so many, yet so many remain

Who have not realized the sighs and exhalations

Of William’s children where is heard the shuffling

Of stubborn men making their way once again

Along the cobblestoned streets leading over the swollen river.

"Si lunga tratta

di gente, ch’ io non aurei mai creduto

Che morte tanta n’avesse disfatta. "

In depraved May I find the flowering judas and

Remember the cunning passing of time and

See the movement of an old man in the mirror

In an ancient house in an ancient wood

And remember the passing of Pippa

On her journey through the town to

The ancient house where the ancient man

Now waits remembering past time

In the present and in the present

No hope for future memories.

In the company of hollow men

Fergus shouts his challenge and demands

Who will follow him to the sea?

Under a tree in the cool of the day I sit

And contemplate the thoughts

Of a dry brain in a drought.


Meditations Upon the Fallacy of Man

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down

I am crudely made for success.

Inside. I feel the moving of words

But when I try to recall the words

They stubbornly refuse to come forward

From the darkness within me to the waiting light.

They seem content to float on their own inner seas,

As salty and dark as any child in the womb

Waiting to come forward to the waiting light.


A simple little couplet but filled with a childlike cruelty

For children do not know the reason for their games.

They laugh at what makes others cry and scream with fright

At what seems pure innocence to others and delight.

Perhaps the world would have been a better place

Without the invention of gunpowder and moveable type.

Gunpowder was meant to light up the sky

With bright balls of color—red, green, purple, orange----

And the moveable type was meant to heighten man’s glory

And not be a form for pride, envy, wrath, and lust.

And the balloon was meant for a Sunday outing

And not a way of dropping bombs on the cheerful innocent.

We cannot complain about our ignorance

For Locksley Hall was built for our sanctuary

Where men could rest and take heed of the world

He was creating by bending atoms to his will

In whimsical fashion with childlike wonder

At what emerged from his work bench.

The little toy dog is covered with dust

Little remains untouched by these architects of fate

Whose builders wrought with greatest care

For the gods who claim to see everywhere

To assess the massive deeds before time breaks

The barren walls once sealed with logic and science.

The homes where hermit souls live withdrawn

From the highway of life are brightly lit within

Waiting for the advent of the new age after the blight

Of the old has passed into time, oblivion’s sea.

They wait for one man’s plain truth not forged from moldy parchments

But from the meadow, grove, and stream and sea

That have resisted and will resist the past’s blood-rusted key.


 And the little toy soldier is red with rust


A pocket full of posies


 Per me si va ne l‘etterno dolore,

Per me si va tra la perduta gente.

Giusti zia mosse il mio alto fattore;

Feceni la divina podestate,

La somma sap ‘i enza e’l primo amore.

Divanzi a me non fuor cose create

Se non etterne, e io etterno duro.

Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’ intrate.


 Der Heimat zu

Mein Gypsy kind

Wo weilest du?

Oed’ und leer das Meer.


Meditations on a Symphony

 from a performance by Alfredo Rolando Ortiz

South American Suite for Harp and Orchestra

September 23, 2000


Opening strains of fluid notes brings

Mountain ranges and green pastures

Within I discover flowing sylvan streams.

I step from the automobile upon the dusty road,

Flask in hand and bend to let cool water run

Into the mouth of the flask.

I think of how tired I am as a man

And straighten from my task,

My eyes centered upon the cloud-covered mountains

And wonder if this is only a passage from one day to another

Like a single bluebottle fly moving across the sea of air

From one secluded pool to yet another and another

Flitting over mud and death, dragging the earth and its roots

With it, silent, ever memory upon the roses

That live only in abandoned rooms in empty houses.

I know the earth from these trickling notes

And I am sad.




I stretch out upon the golden sands

Next to the golden body of a young woman

From whose skin radiates heat

From the golden sun.

In front of us lies a blue ocean

And for a fine flicker of time

Her gaze falls upon me

And I fall into the hot mystery of her black eyes

Like light upon dry water

Turning and turning in transparent circles

Aware of her brown breasts like twin volcanoes

Promising fire, lava racing the diurnal length of her body

With hidden fruits awaiting my touch, my plucking.

Then, a weariness falls over the heat of her eyes

And she sinks once again into the golden sand

Leaving me alone, a fragmented, frail husk

Upon the barren sands of dreams and memory.


Between shadow and space I feel the movement

Of youth endowed with a single heart beating

Rhythmically in joyous celebration of the day

While I, a furious widower, mourning the passing

Of each day of my life, wish fervently

That I could drink once more, somnolently,

Assuaging the thirst that burns like cold fever

Within me, hearing with a nascent ear

The tinkling laughter of their gaiety

And I feel like a thief in the night

Slipping through their shadows, stealing

Their youth in surreptitious sips

As they dance in a ceaseless movement

Through the warmth of the sun

Around me, a bewildered man

Who cannot remember his youth

And lives now in the absence of flowers

From day to melancholy day

Aware of the music, unable to dance.



I remember the thirst of the day

As the sun pressed shadows against jasmines

And a great dampness surrounded us

As we lay contentedly close to each other,

Our hands caressing each other’s flesh

Feeling the great dampness surrounding us

From the heavy air among the great trees

And above the sun far away

That spies upon us like a thief

And my startled soul asks you desperately

What will make the poppies on your brow

Bloom forever in the verdant fields.

Time complete as the ocean

Fills the wound of our new being,

Anchoring the stubborn roots of our souls

Withing the heavy throbbing heartbeats

That swell like the wave of waves

Crashing upon the burning sands,

Transcending time and flesh.

How pure you are by sunlight

And in the black ink of fallen night

And how boundless I fall

Into the deep dark of your eyes

And rise towards the moist stars

With the taste of your mouth upon mine,

Smelling the perfume of your hair,

Jasmine washed, spread like a black fan

Over the green grass, blessing it by day

As we become twin martyrs to the night.


I did not live until I heard your music

Brought with your limber fingers upon harp strings

That sang vibrantly of your love for all things:

The wind that shakes the months,

The hot sun upon naked brown bodies,

The rhythm of souls in concordant dance,

The opaque shadows of white orchids,

The dusty passing of bellowing cows,

The horses racing with the wind,

The trembling of lips upon lips,

The whistle of a passing train,

The salty smell of the sea,

The perfume of sharp fruits,

The sound of locusts singing in the night,

The somnolent movement of day,

The fervent movement of night,

The taste of rich, red wine,

The trembling dance of butterflies,

The song of God in your trembling instrument,

Vibrating from the strings, soaring to the sun-drenched heavens.

Then and only then did I become alive

And the dusty years fell from my shoulders

And I felt again the youth I thought I remembered

In the song coming impulsively from your soul.


Now the hour bows down and my sense tremble

And I prize the moment as my soul releases itself

And soars into the warm night to be reborn

Again and again, measure by measure.

La elipse de un grito

I travel through the silences between the notes of your song.

People bring oil lamps out of their houses to light the night.

A brown girl dances like a dark butterfly in the wavering light.

Tierra de luz, cielo de tierra

I am chained to the tremor of a rhythm that spirals through

The jasmine-scented air and I walk on an unsilvered mirror

That in the desiccated twilight echo becomes flesh.

En los ojos se abren

As my heart is, so are you, in the mirror of the garden

Where my love is waiting, sleeping easily, awaiting

The first kiss of the morning to awaken

Before the kiss dies against her lips.

Aquella estrella romántica para las magnolias, para las rosas.

The flowers of the lemon tree scent the heavy night air.

¿Quién soy yo?

The round silence of the night is one note on the staff of the infinite.

I walk among the dancers in the streets, ripe with the memory of poems 
                                    once forgotten

As your music springs from the souls of birds in harmonious flight.

The notes sear my soul as if the eyes of God have looked upon me.

The sound of crickets riddle the blackness, awakening the 

Raphael is singing a musical light perceived by the spirit.

Once, I would have scrolled up the night long before this and

Confined to the dark the phantom notes lost among the stars.

Now, I laugh at Dante who spent his time polishing the stars

Instead of living in the cool shadows of the night

In the corners of the breeze that warps the light

And chills the water and moves, uncovered and wild

Across the country like a domesticated archangel

Dancing in the rich night fragrant with cologne from distant flowers.

El mar baila por la playa.

Now I know that all life is meant to be lived

And not to sleep like an unplayed harp.

I feel as if I own the sun and the moon,

No longer a silly charlatan moving aimlessly

Through his wasted years, blindly groping,

Like Lazarus still asleep in his tomb.

You are not meant to be the muse

But to be Orpheus or the spirit of Orpheus

To bring others out of deflected narcissism

To the openness of the deepest human wish:

Dido singing softly over shimmering waters to Aneas

Penelope singing softly in the night for Odysseus.

Love weeps this way so lovers may come and weep as well

As Dante wept for Beatrice and Iseult wept for Tristram.

I smell the orange blossoms blowing over Paraquay

And hear the bells of St. Raphael ringing in the breeze

And in the distance the mournful cry of a train.

San Raphael se estaba quieto en la alcoba de su torre

Y en la tarde caída querí ser mi voz: Ruiseñor

All too soon the song is ended and with the last murmur of notes

Speeds away the smell of lemon flowers, the breath of jasmine,

The waving grass over the plains, the shimmering sunlight on the river,

The majesty of snow-capped mountains reaching high to the sky,

The dance of the gypsies in the pale moonlight,

The taste of wine, the caress of a dark woman’s voice,

The scent of the earth, the salty taste of the sea,

The sound of the locusts singing at night.

Perhaps this day was never intended for me.

But I have seized it, nevertheless, selfishly holding it close

Like a metaphysical blanket of lilacs and poppies.

Os voy a contar todo lo que me pasa.

From the resonance of the dying notes

I retake my life like the fresh salt wave

Crashing cleanly over the sands.

 Las orillas de la luna pierden juncos, ganan voces.

Oh noche de mi amor, cuando estaba la pájara pinta.

Infinitos senderos.


Va de monte a monte.

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