He who forfeits dignity for success soon lacks both.
He who forfeits dignity for success soon lacks both.
The year is old.
My fog-filled eyes are cracked and bleary
of uncertain dreamlands. Auburn
squares project on old shiplap walls.
The trees toss walnuts on the roof,
knocking away the indeterminate
I lightfoot down my squeaky stairs as
a biplane hums upward into a cloudy sea.
The dogs paw eagerly at the back door.
I’m pleasantly surprised
when an old friend greets me
in the backyard. Upon the red
and brown and yellow ground she
wraps herself around me. With a whisper
she creeps under my skin. I mask my face
but she comes right through
to bite at my nose. Our meeting is brief.
My face flushed, I escape inside.
The cat meows mutely from outside the door.
Who longs in the bleak of autumn to sail off
with the wildfowls in her airy dreams, or
lay down her head with the marsh still
clinging to her hair.
Who sings in stormy winds, and dances,
and runs through the fields that are
mazes, to translucent streams
I hear them stir,
To bed they
All along the cobbled streets and gentle streams
her music plays. Hark back to the singing hills, our
country soiree, where I wandered with you into
the shadows of every scattered light. Do you think
often of castles and cliffs hugging the shores or the
grassy seas when you hear Debussy? Even here lingers
the smell of wine that filled the streets. Now every
breezing leaf takes me to our countryside. More than
a dream, less than a memory, I wandered with you into
a space between. Clear night skies were our sanctuaries.
King and queen and peasant lands cast in one light. Every
hill and valley beneath us was ours, we in balloons for flying
far away. Your humming calms the fields of iris in
in morning when
to rest on
stones of foreign
He puts on the old
record. It doesn’t sound
as it once did. Another song
rings in his head, interfering.
What is the hour?
He flips the record over.
What hours he spends
lamenting hours lost
of man and time.
Fingers skim the dripping limbs
that line the path. It’s cold again.
She tramples a thousand red cloaks
that litter the yards and vanish beneath
the mist. Her dangling bootlaces
dance in wintery pools.
A vague warm feeling crosses her
when she stops to watch the mail truck
splashing down the way. Her caramel
hair smells of slain pine while the cold
renders her face afire. She studies a
mailbox wrapped with garland.
It mutely wonders if it looks cute.
Somewhere a cat is talking with
a door. She tries to paste some
red petals to the branches but
the trees refuse them. She stares
into the grey and ponders the puddles.
Her limbs drip in the forest, an
awkward alabaster sculpture
that smells of winter pine.
He held the umbrella up with his left hand, attempting
to steady the small rod against the occasional wind.
Green and red and neon dripped down the crowded
streets that were parking lots, down every endless wall.
His shoes were soaked. The whole of his right side
clung to his skin with the cold wet. A man called out
to them from somewhere nearby but was lost amongst
idling engines and the usual commotion of sleeplessness.
The walk seemed much farther than it had before. When
the streets grew quieter he waved into the passing beams
until a car slowed at the curb. He opened the back door for her
and gave her his hand before retracting the umbrella to sit.
Streetlights retreated in the rear window as he looked to her
in the shadowy cab—her eyes closed. The flickering lights
skipped across her face, one after the next, and leapt into their
places behind them. He dug in his watery pocket for some
bills and coins. When they had stopped he gently woke her
and slid onto the pavement to open the black umbrella. She
stepped beneath the tapping tarpaulin and they drifted through
the fog until they reached the stoop. He gave her his hand as
they carefully ascended the steps. When they reached the door
he searched himself for the key, and pulling it from his damp
pocket it slipped and clinked onto the dark cement floor. She
snickered and took the umbrella as he bent to pick it up. He
opened the door and gently motioned her inside.
Peering out down the empty sidewalks he shook out the
umbrella, then turned to feel if her coat was still dry. He listened
as the sound of her heels echoed into the hall and off into a distant
room, until there was only the steady drizzle of rain—apart from
his squishy shoes.
The old house stands quietly
before vacant skies.
The darkness suggests vague
impressions of hills and trees
in the dim, clouded light.
In a breeze, gangling
branches scratch at the tall,
arched windows. The walls
slowly contract, and creaking
floors howl—a sail to wind.
Alone, she lies mutely under
her furs and cotton, eyes leaden
and gray. The room a quickening
haze, she’s lost dancing with
shadows upon the walls.
Then, almost as a thought, she
hears a soft knocking in the
distance—at first from afar,
down the hall, through the foyer
—a gentle rapping at the door.
Slow, persistent knocks. They
continue—patterns of three. Slow.
Distinct. They ring out into the
hushed halls. Unknowingly her
body slips from its covers onto
the cold, hard floors. She steps
quietly through the black corridors
toward the growing knocking—the
senseless, somber knocking. She turns
a corner and languidly moves into
the dim lights that move like
wild things around the tall black door.
Crisp, even knocks—One. Two. Three.
She grabs the metal knob
and slowly moves the heavy wood.
He is waiting for her just beyond
the threshold—towering above her.
He stretches out his lightless hands.
She falls into him—weightlessly,
He carries her off into the night
without a sound.