The Secret Language of Angels

December 17, 2012

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“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été.”

(“In the depths of winter, I discovered there was in me an invincible summer”)

-Albert Camus

You moved in me

at first as one cell in my heart that vibrated

to a distant tuning fork an infinity away

then as my heart whole gave way as a symphony

eternal,

as waves upon the waiting shore,

you sang within me

We inhaled the secret language of angels

and leapt from the edge of the world

into the spinning darkness

clutching tightly to each other

knowing we were the wings that

would never land

We embraced with human arms made of light

and became the torch

that set fire to the stars

and gave greatness to the skies

Darlin’,

you and I,

we always both knew

we were never a random

fate

Copyright © 2012 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved

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Locked

September 1, 2012

I tossed my dreams high
into the air
to see where they would land
and
instead
they flew higher

as if
attached
to hundreds of
brightly colored kites
losing all sense
of gravity

and
reaching Heaven,
the astonishing light
of your soul
opened
a strangely familiar flower
of uncorruptible beauty
that you placed
in my hand
that
healed all the
long
forgotten wounds
and forever
held the world together

And when I returned,
eyes sparked awake,
I would feel the familiar
reassurance
of the field beneath me,
the winsome sun burning across

its deepest pure skies
and your hand locked
forever
in mine.

Copyright © 2012 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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Elegant Star

June 10, 2012

In everyone’s sky
is
one
elegant
star

the star
that slightly
escaped
the passing glance
but whose soul was
always
remembered

Copyright © 2012 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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L= (Y+M) C²

March 26, 2012

Do you know that place between
being awake and asleep
where you still remember dreaming?
That’s where we can always find
each other
and our love
waiting

What if I were to tell you
in one impossible fleeting moment
in our embrace
I knew your life complete
as you would mine?
Every thought
every memory
every pain
every joy
every failure
every triumph
while the world
went quiet around us
silent
as we were flung
fearless
to the far end of
a timeless
universe

Perhaps I will never fully understand
the physics of love
Only that
Love will always be
you and me
together
times
the speed of light
squared

Copyright © 2012 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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I Want To Be With Her

March 10, 2012

I want to be with her
who knows secret things
secrets that hang precariously like drops
of honey from her lips
falling through space and
ringing like tiny bells that only
she
can
hear

I want to be with her
who splits the sea breezes
with excited horses
and waves lapping the soothed sand
as
I savor the saltwater
off her skin
inch
by
inch

I want to be with her
as the universe awakens
electric
where you are the first morning
and nothing in the world
is
usual
today

Copyright © 2012 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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I Shall Give You The Journey

February 13, 2012

They may promise you kisses blown across a room

I shall be the winds blown into your sails

They may promise you a house

upon a quiet expanse of land

I shall be the fire comforting your home

and the rains that water your garden

They may promise you the Queen’s finest jewelry

I shall give you the starry heaven’s brilliance

They may promise your name upon a yacht of luxury

Walk with me and I shall give you the journey

Copyright © 2012 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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Love Bleeds Its Deepest Red

December 16, 2011


“Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones,
as the wind douses a candle and kindles a bonfire.”

– Francois VI Duc de La Rochefoucauld

I have found you, sweet girl
we must get lost
among the starry celestial fires where
you’ll remember me
as the morning stars sing together
and the ocean waves bring us home

Ours was an army of angels
and all-not-yet-invented
where love bleeds its deepest red
with its tenderest mercies
and whispers heroic moonsilver
brilliant over our bodies
fierce with inhaled intent
and blissed panic.

It is us who moves the world
and us who will pull it through
not one heartbeat will we forget
with every measure of grace
we will escape into life
before our most brightest star forever
expires.

Copyright © 2011 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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Made of Stars

May 3, 2011

Tell me about waking where we were two horses turned loose
running and running until we forgot we were horses
where we would teach each other all the things we forgot
and we discovered we were all made of stars

I need your grace as the earth needs the memory of rain
I will drink poetry from your lips and kiss your fire with mine
I cannot resist you as no mere human
can stand in a fire and not be consumed

I can sit all day wearing nothing but your kiss
I am drowning deep in your undertow
Tell me we shall be ruined by love
and tell me we shall never get used to it

Copyright © 2011 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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My Bucket List

December 11, 2010

1. You (only you).

Copyright (c) 2010 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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The Moments Between

September 25, 2010

” The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek. ”
-Joseph Campbell

My Dearest Love,

I cannot lie.
I’ve raced through my life
as I’ve had through a novel,
anxious for its sweet ending.
Mad sprints through the tall
grasses,
heaving lungs, arms
thrusted
through the thinned atmosphere
to touch the light of sacred
stars
in the indigo night.
This is how I breathed you.

I’ve traced your face in the
air with my fingers
across knowing
fields
and waking mountains,
felt it real as the
scripture of trees,
the living water
and the days of March
you wore in your eyes.
This is how I lived you.

Yet, what we know,
what we know the world does not,
is not the brilliance of
dreams
in distant universes.
The freedom we seek,
the love we’ve found,
is in uncovering
the infinite beauty
that lies
in the moments
between the seconds
of our life.

This is how we love.

Copyright (c) 2010 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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We Stilled The Hours

July 3, 2010

I want to tell you my stories
whispered secret into your ear,
and feel your struggling lips go soft
with our conspiracy.

I want our eyes to
dance past the cynics
(who have bet their forgotten
innocence against us),
and peer beyond this anxious world of
toothless fear
and swallow deeply
outward
all
space
completely until

we feel
our lungs rise as the tides
and its singular pull
with the heroic moonlight
throbbing in my heart

as we found home

and stilled
the hours.

Copyright (c) 2010 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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Resuscitation

May 29, 2010

Resuscitation

I fell from the sky
hard

Mouth to mouth,
you kissed my mouth open.

Life screamed back
into my lungs,
through my vessels
from within my heart.

My eyes opened
to no one there.
Who were you?
Where did you go?
The unseen hand
laughed openly
with what twist of plot?

Am I coming home
to a place I’ve
never been?
Were your comforting words
during our trips
to the sun
dreamed into a unsung
mind?

I will fly again.

I will fly
as the match head
struck alit
starved for oxygen.
searching madly.
to find this tender soul
who came back to me
under the fragile sky.

And should my wax
wings melt
before
our arms shall wrap
our spirits again,
pray that I
may quickly unclutch
to the
unforgiving
winds
the
scribbled note:

“In case of
Emergency,
please do

not
resuscitate”.

Copyright (c) 2010 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved
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You Were Gold

April 24, 2010

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You were gold
I was silver

We drank moonlight
from rooftops
in drunken glee
and kissed with
the taste of promise
We were

light chasing light
over evening wave tips
I’ve inhaled your sky
and sand and water as

I walked into your ocean
and failed to walk out.

Copyright (c) 2010 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved.
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Let Us Go Then

April 4, 2010

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Let us go then, you and I
and wade into the sea
where the shifting sands beneath our feet
no longer question our souls’ intent
and the swirling salt water washes
through our fragile longing
like the stars that rush
through our bodies
and disappear
toward an unknown
destination.

My fingers will always know
the details of your
spine in the small
of your back,
and the feel of your hair
my hand sifts though
and without knowing all
the colored
details of your life,
I will recite the song of your eyes
with the depth of its
wisdom.

Yet they hold so many stories
I have yet learned to read.

And want to.

Copyright (c) 2010 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved.
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In My Heart

March 14, 2010

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In the stillest moment of the evening
you fire through the aether and
the rush of chaotic atmosphere
and slide through a crack in my perimeter,
past the guards and monsters,
and with silent feet
slip under my skin,
swim up the currents of
my capillaries and vessels,
climb up the trees and
up the furthest branches
to where you will rest.

And in the morning
I will awaken
to the cathedral bells outside
and with you
in my heart.

I See You in Colors

September 19, 2009

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I am pretending you did not exist.
Ink nightly washes black
over my consciousness
and abandons me as morning seaweed
upon a foreign beach.

I am pretending we were simply
the sparkling imagination of some higher being,
our life together set below a singular epic sky
unrepeated
in future histories

I am pretending I cannot taste you
each day as I do the sea air in my breath
when I am running,
my heart tied upon one foot,
ancient melancholy tied upon the other,
anxiously racing,
madly racing through lifetimes,
to find our brightened souls.

I see you in colors that don’t exist.

It is all that I see clearly.
and why I run.

Copyright (c) 2009 Paul Matsumoto. All Rights Reserved.
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Unraveled

July 18, 2009

I lingered silent over the geography
of your spirit,
and inhaled its saffron valleys,
sunlit with lissome lilies,
as I drunk deep from its coaxing wells
of cool electricity.

I have tasted the Spring’s first blooms
in your glance and wondered
of the half life of our words
and the extraordinary struggle
of their anxious disorder.

I stopped cold with your slight
“hey mister” and all I could think was
of the fate of crowned angels
in the silvered milky way
watching over,
washing over
my desire to be lured
and unraveled
and…
did you really call me
“mister”?

We shall run away far from all
that is familiar,
toothy fear and excitement our fuel,
until the burdened chatter of others
becomes inaudible,
until all that is unspeakable
is spoken,
and our voice,
clear and charmed in its
undressed debut,
sings.

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“Love is the only rational act.”
— Rainer Maria Rilke

If we don’t breathe to speak of love
then we are wasting our breath.
If we aren’t eating to have the energy to love
then we are still hungry.
If we aren’t moving to love,
then we are moving in the wrong direction.
If our every action, movement, thought, word
does not lead to love
then we have failed as we may have before
and if we do not pick ourselves up
and love ourselves and others even more
then we have declared the ultimate
war upon humanity.
The only true war on war
is to express love
and to share it with everyone
even in the most unlikeliest of moments,
especially in the most unlikeliest of moments,
we must share love
and reach others with it,
teach it, preach it
from the rooftops,
from the mountaintops
to surround every ounce of our being with love
no matter the consequences,
past and future,
for herein lies
the present
and future
for us
all.

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On This Splendid Day

July 4, 2009

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As if blown over hot embers
a drowsy wind blew soulless
over the zoo that lined the Boulevard.
There was no redemption
found for those on the 181
as it jerked toward its destiny.

Highland. Vine. Western.
The bus lurched forward,
its captives silent with a lifetime of
guilt and indignity,
their endless untold stories
already forgotten.

In Little Armenia an elderly man
boarded in his Sunday best.
No one noticed the music
that twinkled unashamedly
from his eyes.
Vermont. Los Feliz. Central.

At the Galleria,
I stared out from the bus,
now in disrepair and half emptied,
at the old man
meeting
his loved one,
their imperfect bodies
suddenly perfect,
their arms wrapped around each other
like silk ribbons around a gift,
as they kissed
and kissed,
and kissed for what seemed like
an infinity of moments,
each moment intense and delicate,
soft and unbroken,
with an urgency deep with patience,
I watched
as others soon did

and I soon
discovered too,
unashamedly,
on this splendid day,
how
the broken song
can find its notes
and live
forever.

Poetry copyright (c) 2009 Paul Matsumoto. All rights reserved.
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Familiar Love

June 19, 2009

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My Dearest Love,
I do hope this letter finds you
and finds you well.
I have been gone much too long,
I know, in search of longed for
misadventures
and uncalculated
love;
a misspent life, perhaps,
but one,
it seems,
that has led me
to you.

How many perfect sunsets have I been
haunted
with your lilting voice cresting
over the waves,
the waves
that rushed through the ventricles
of my heart, and filled my
desperate lungs
with foam
and hunger
for breath,
and then
abandoned me,
silent and
drowning.

How many times did I find
that home in my mind
that belongs to you,
where the early sea fog
swallows your secret garden
brimmed
with lilies and brambles,
hidden paths and buried jars,
where the bright, bright fields
evaporate
beneath the galloping hooves
taking flight
with winged
fierceness.

How much I have missed you,
sweet girl,
I missed how
you arrested my thoughts
mid sentence with
uncommon grace
that disarmed me
for reasons
I cannot name.
I missed
your lovely genius
that so easily
dismissed the weight of my
measurable life,
I missed the intensity
of our words
which became our truths
and bound us
as kindling
to a starving fire.

When we meet again
on that exquisitely ordinary day
you may not remember my face,
my body,
my clothes,
but the welcomed recognition
of the stark flame behind
my eyes,
will hold a
disturbingly
familiar
love,

and I
will
always
remember
you.

Poetry copyright (c) 2009 Paul Matsumoto. All rights reserved.
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because you asked

June 13, 2009

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because you asked
we worked the invisible splendid,
soulstruck with the vivid terrains
of unexplained familiarity,
mindful of ancient promises that
locked our spirited fortunes together
with unnerving elegance

because you asked
we worked the invisible splendid,
agents of wanderlust
and unexpected thought,
waking the timid to all that is real,
waking the timid to all their dreams
then watched all of its terrible beauty
as they gracefully turned one into the other.

because you asked
we worked the invisible splendid,
agents of wonderment
and unexpected comfort,
and laughed as old friends do,
laughed as lovers do
as we sat, feet dangling
off the edge of the world.

Take Me Far

June 6, 2009

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I could not explain
to you the angles
of our collision
I awoke to no recognizable
wreckage,
just you easing
stargazers into a vase.
You had left the moon
on all night
and sang McLachlan to me,
bending gentle notes
and jazzy laughter
around our tangled bodies

I asked you to
take me far
away
and
you did
as we inhaled
a clarity
and shuddered
into
being.

Save Us

May 31, 2009

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“I am not the
perfect man you seek.
I have little to impress
you with.
I cannot save you
with my ambition,
my dreams,
my love.”

“Ironically”, she mused,
“You are perfect.
After all,
Who else could have crafted
yourself with tremendous
flaws and virtues
as perfectly as you?
Others have taken from you,
plundered your soul
for more,
left you wanting
for sweet rescue.
But truly,
what person can torture you
greater than you
so that
you would freely
surrender all that is
dear to you?”

“Then perhaps,
I can save myself
with my ambition,
my dreams,
my love.
And that is
most of all
what
I can give to you.”

“I understand not
the explicit mathematics
of our spirit,
only that we are pure
as the light
we travel within
and our love,
given freely,
will save us.”

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I have seen the raw
horrors of this war firsthand,
its naked wreckage bleeding,
its perverse hunger feeding
the crippled screams
within lonely dreams
leaving its tortured soul desperate
for painless respite

I have seen the raw
agonies of this war firsthand
where from earth its soldiers disappear,
in nightmares they keenly reappear
where their ashen bones seemly mirror
all their death wish fears,
where their tortured souls slowly anticipate
relief from all that they wholly hate

I have learned to deeply respect
what the wisest have forever written
of the bitter fruit barely bitten
and the grandest stories time will tell
where on earth the angels fell
and before the fingers of those
tortured souls
would strain to deftly spell:
“LOVE IS HELL”

The Thin Whispers

May 21, 2009

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We soon forgot our skittish
introductions,
a day’s silent banter of
suspicion
and pride.
No wills were broken,
no wills won.

We trailed the
thin whispers
from the skies
hallucinogenic,
across uneasy
canyons
along the dry beds
and their bleached umbrella
spine

Brush turned to
scattered pines,
as we turned to
long slow draws
from a palmful of water
between brackish
rocks

Each day eavesdropped
upon evening’s edge
pushing the trailless
ridgelines,
till
the thin whispers
sang

and
rang tiny bones
within her
and she ran
blindly
down,
down
into the startled
valley,
our aching
muscle upon muscle
breathless,
her coat gleaming,
reveling
full stride
in the blurred
tall grasses,
till we
took flight
within
the thin
whispers

To Love Differently

May 15, 2009

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We have exchanged
no histories,
no storied details
amongst strong coffee
and
ritual laughter,
mild
confessions
and rehearsed wit,

still,
this silence
between us
speaks complete
as the
forgiven
moment and
the orbit
of small
planets

I seek no one,
no more
than
the evening seeks
its darkness,
Yet,
I am
compelled
in my madness
to love differently.

To love you.

I do not love you as
the high desert admires
the wild blue Canterbury Bells
that rub your ankles,
(like a cat that grazes
affection in the hollows
of your neck)

I love you as
the sweeping heat squeals
and shudders to a halt before
the sudden storm,
and with your breath locked
in mine,
my soul inhaled into yours,
we exult across
the holy
sands

I love you as
the downpour wakens
the fragrant earth,
the ancient red rocks ingest
our wisdom,
the golden poppies,
like nervous stars,
blink in excitement,
and as we
release our quakened
light
beyond my madness
to love differently.

To love you.

The Untested Key

May 9, 2009

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I exposed your
old diaries locked away
behind your crowned eyes
(as easily as you
chewed off your glove
for your naked fingers
to breathe)
and touched each of
your concealed desires
that were
carefully named
and dated
for a less guarded
moment

We rushed
the crowd of stars
unburdened from
the dragging of
shadows
and muslin,
the untested key
opening the cool
steel lock,
and teeth bared,
reveled in an
oyster dawn
fully
undone

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She forced the restless night
with rifle scope attention,
arms akimbo,
head weighted back
tilted by attitude and hair,
movement absent,
save jaws that kindly
chewed my imaginary future

My thoughts stuttered
in rhythm to the
teakettle steam,
vaporous,
useless
as the gazelle’s dream
of outrunning the
lion’s devotion

Still,
as the stars contemplate
their own eternity,
I consider my threadless
mortality,
amused by Hamlet’s torment,
for I have chosen
to be

devoured,
as she forced the restless night,
feasting upon my glistening organs,
wet twisted muscle and sinew
entwined in fragrant seizures,
inhaling my soul whole
in open delirium,
and falling,
falling,
in storm drunken bliss
as we forced
the restless night

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into a star splintered
silence
i reach
with hopeful fingers
into the light
of distant
mornings
captive in the
unbloomed
flower.

into a star splintered
silence
the desert swan
glides
between my shadow
and redemption,
captive in her blithe
grandness of
renewal

into our star splintered
silence
i will not always
understand the spirited
flourish
of our higher
being’s wand
but i will always be
captive in the lithe
grace of
your
love

closer

April 18, 2009

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gentle emily sings by the sea
strands of opera
and seaweed that
untangle beneath
a lustful sky
as the tides pull her closer
to (than i will ever know)
the mercurial faces
of angels
leaning
with soft elbows
upon my chest
who rise with
the inhaling of mist
and fall with
each exhaled breath
as the sea
pulls me
closer

A Dreamless Night

April 11, 2009

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I came to you
on a dreamless night.
In your deepest sleep
your eyes were alive
and had not forgotten
the promised possibilities
that once stilled
a world’s breath,
and quickened ours.

We had trampled over the
imagination of lesser gods
and parted bodies of water
as we did flesh,
and we had not forgotten
the promised possibilities
that once stilled
a world’s breath,
and quickened ours.

You had come to me
on a dreamless night.
In my deepest sleep
my eyes were alive.

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(For My Children of Whimsy)

I saved your dreams in my eyes
Whatever I see, I see your dreams
opening its first orchids

I saved your eyes in my dreams
Whatever I dream, I dream with your eyes
as stars sing light

I saved your thoughts in my whimsy
Whatever I think, my heart
imagines its smile

I saved your dreams in my eyes
Whatever I see, I see your dreams

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Let me walk with you to the edge
of our despair
and leave our garments
of ordained prose
and expectation
We have explored the unbroken
terrain with the tongues
of linguists
lingering over a life
less ordinary
Kiss deeply the remarkable sky
It sings our mystery
and our embrace
of haunted splendor
that hungers for every
moment of new infinity

The Ventricle

March 22, 2009

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I have mounted the orchestral wave
rising and falling beneath a shaken landscape
racing a blinded horse with guided sight
as cathedral bells unravel the thick air

We swallowed surrendered geographies whole,
the disturbed earth no longer elegantly polite,
and raided a swollen ventricle
and raised the smoky alto deeply into the night

Your eyes traveled across my soul’s domain
drunken with fresh sonnets and mystery
and quieted the storms as
prime numbers spread beneath our infinite sky.

Our Return

March 14, 2009

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My arms open to your fractured sky
spread beneath our unwieldy youth and sweat,
merciless enthusiasms,
kisses of flesh and vapor
that stab the empty air

Our lips taste the measured pride and savagery,
our fingertips trace the distant constellations
spread beneath the wisdom
and lissome rhythms
of our sovereignty

Let me bury deep all memory
of earth’s unforgiving minute,
and the colors of her countries,
and spread myself beneath your breath
and triumph

Let us sing our redemptive anthems
to unsuspecting gods
and bathe the night skies
with reckless pageantry
of our return

Being

February 22, 2009

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I have come to the frightening conclusion…
That I am the decisive element.
It is my personal approach that creates the climate.
It is my daily mood that makes the weather.
I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous.
I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration,
I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal.
In all situations, it is my response that decides
whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated,
and a person is humanized or de-humanized.
If we treat people as they are, we make them worse.
If we treat people as they ought to be,
we help them become
what they are capable of becoming.
J.W.Goethe

Let It First Taste

February 14, 2009

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If this raw flame
should go out,
let it first taste
the vibrant fast twitch
muscle fiber
of willing thighs,
and the quivering
tuning forks’ reach across
an unknown universe,

let it taste
the doomed sea floor
heartbroken
before the mermaids’ rescue
and your heroic lips
pressed into my soul’s
secret retreats

let it taste
the sublime upheavals
of your victories
violent with wet perfume
and feast in
its humid bliss

let it taste,
and I will forever embrace
the drenching
of my light

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sing me your
dreams of the firefly
escape
beyond the wind chimes’
uneven
evening reach

let me
dream of your elegant
bones
within this world
of
watery touch

let me
bathe in naked
starlight
with music releasing
me
from my thoughts

let me
be gone with
you
with clear eyes
of
perfect light

In the Rain

February 1, 2009

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Under a parched sky and its unforgiving sun
I searched through the tallgrass plains
for a sign our work is done
and I will languish in your Serengeti rains

Under an arched sky and Cassiopeia’s stars
we searched through the unwelcomed pain
for a sign of life on our dying Mars
and to anguish in its inviting rains

Under the cloud towers we made our pact
before our souls would part again
for a sign to remember a love intact
where we will dance forever in the rain

Straight to You

January 31, 2009

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Down the dwindling
spiral of the rabbit hole,
past the spiritual madness
of conspiracies unknown,
past the perfect delusions
of finely manufactured truth,
past the triumphs of bloodthirsty kings
and the ruthless ignorant,
past the whirring generators
of pharmaceutical high anxiety
and the hypnotic bliss
of senseless propaganda,
past the pixelated memories
of misspent lives
on this prison planet
of tormented souls,
and fired deep inward into
the vacuum of uncharted space,
I have been somehow delivered
straight to you
and our one chance out.

Song of a Chosen Sunrise

January 18, 2009

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Your finger presses my lips
presses me beyond the eclipse
of sinking souls of wrecked ships
the sinking souls of wrecked ships

Madness pursues my indecision
mind ruined by its revisions
victim of its lack of vision
victim of its own imprecision

Your eyes unfold me as sunrise
unfolds her ripened skies
as this sleepless soul can rise
this soul will rise

Beyond my life’s keen disguise
unravels all that is wise
as this sleepless soul can rise
this soul will rise

I Walk the Earth

January 3, 2009

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I walk the earth
with gravity’s comfort
gliding past the ghost ships
of unglinted eyes
in dreamless imprecision

I walk the earth
with misspent intent
hiding infinite complicity
of epiphanic eyes
in ripened anticipation

I walk the earth
till I slip its orbit
sliding past the hanging stars
of your eyes peering
through my imagination
with silver indulgence

Alexandra Burke- Hallelujah

January 3, 2009

‘The X Factor’ winner Alexandra Burke has raced to Number One in the UK singles chart, nabbing the coveted Christmas top spot with her cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’.
Burke’s ‘Hallelujah’ became the fastest-selling single by a female solo artist, with 576,000 copies shifted during Christmas. For the first time at Christmas the same song is at Number One and Number Two, as Jeff Buckley’s cover entered on download sales alone.
To add a further twist, the song’s creator Cohen, who returned to tour this year, entered the chart with his original version at Number 36.

Elephants

December 25, 2008

Rachael Yamagata

The Gift of the Magi

December 20, 2008

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By O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.

While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.

In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name “Mr. James Dillingham Young.”

The “Dillingham” had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called “Jim” and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.

Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn’t go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling–something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.

There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pierglass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.

Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.

Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim’s gold watch that had been his father’s and his grandfather’s. The other was Della’s hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty’s jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.

So now Della’s beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.

On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.

Where she stopped the sign read: “Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds.” One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the “Sofronie.”

“Will you buy my hair?” asked Della.

“I buy hair,” said Madame. “Take yer hat off and let’s have a sight at the looks of it.”

Down rippled the brown cascade.

“Twenty dollars,” said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.

“Give it to me quick,” said Della.

Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.

She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation–as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim’s. It was like him. Quietness and value–the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.

When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends–a mammoth task.

Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.

“If Jim doesn’t kill me,” she said to herself, “before he takes a second look at me, he’ll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do–oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?”

At 7 o’clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.

Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: “Please God, make him think I am still pretty.”

The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two–and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.

Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.

Della wriggled off the table and went for him.

“Jim, darling,” she cried, “don’t look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn’t have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It’ll grow out again–you won’t mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!’ Jim, and let’s be happy. You don’t know what a nice– what a beautiful, nice gift I’ve got for you.”

“You’ve cut off your hair?” asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.

“Cut it off and sold it,” said Della. “Don’t you like me just as well, anyhow? I’m me without my hair, ain’t I?”

Jim looked about the room curiously.

“You say your hair is gone?” he said, with an air almost of idiocy.

“You needn’t look for it,” said Della. “It’s sold, I tell you–sold and gone, too. It’s Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered,” she went on with sudden serious sweetness, “but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?”

Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year–what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.

Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.

“Don’t make any mistake, Dell,” he said, “about me. I don’t think there’s anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you’ll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first.”

White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.

For there lay The Combs–the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims–just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.

But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: “My hair grows so fast, Jim!”

And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, “Oh, oh!”

Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.

“Isn’t it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You’ll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it.”

Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.

“Dell,” said he, “let’s put our Christmas presents away and keep ’em a while. They’re too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on.”

The magi, as you know, were wise men–wonderfully wise men–who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

Love’s Tender Violence

December 14, 2008

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We lost all sense
of love’s tender violence
as we raided each others dreams,
invaded convenient bodies whole,
and stole their ghosted voices;
renewed actors in an unrehearsed play
pulsating images of fluent whimsy
across a foreign planet’s stage,
we lit an impassioned sky
of love’s tender silence
where its invisible ink
will never
dry.

City Lights

December 6, 2008

I raced the night fantastic
over soulless rooftops
whispering my neoned escape,
over bitter hills of
half bitten dreams arriving late,
rising high over pale
white lights below,
and higher still
into the stilled air,
I dropped, flashing white,
and melded into earth.

I raced the night fantastic
over Embarcadero darkness,
whispering my neoned escape
into the brickened hills
of half bitten dreams arriving late,
falling slow to pale
white skin of
Broadway inviting me within
the cavern air, still,
I dropped, breathing stilled,
and melded into flesh.

I raced the night fantastic
jonesing for my lyrical fix.
I whispered my neoned escape
down narrow stairs
into translucent dreams arriving,
falling slow to poetic hypnotism
of passioned voices
of epiphonic choices
into the stilled air,
I soared flashing white
and melded into
the night
fantastic.

Validation

December 4, 2008

“Validation” is a fable about the magic of free parking. Starring TJ Thyne & Vicki Davis. Writer/Director/Composer – Kurt Kuenne. Winner – Best Narrative Short, Cleveland Int’l Film Festival, Winner – Jury Award, Gen Art Chicago Film Festival, Winner – Audience Award, Hawaii Int’l Film Festival, Winner – Best Short Comedy, Breckenridge Festival of Film, Winner – Crystal Heart Award, Best Short Film & Audience Award, Heartland Film Festival, Winner – Christopher & Dana Reeve Audience Award, Williamstown Film Festival, Winner – Best Comedy, Dam Short Film Festival, Winner – Best Short Film, Sedona Int’l Film Festival.

The Blessings of True Fables

November 29, 2008

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Outside the Palace of Fine Arts
the brassy bedouin gifted
this uneasy teen
her guitar.
And as
he slipped beneath
the sassy spell of
crazed voodoo spirits,
wicked fingers blazed
electric on its strings,
and wailed alongside the waif’s bluesy
this-is-the-last-song-I-will-ever-sing voice.
A mic in one hand and swigs of
Southern Comfort from her other,
she would dub him “Raoul”,
an unsung
discovery,
sober no longer
in the drunken
merriment
of the spring moment
that would never
leave him.

Weeks passed.
Time stopped again
as music channeled
from some
other distant life took hold,
and ephemeral summer
magic howled
its symphony,
then took sudden flight as a thief
in the stolen
night
never to return.

Sadly, Janis soon passed as well.

The young man grew older,
accomplished
many other things
in his life,
until the last sepia’d memory
of Raoul faded
to white.

One day a lost friend,
a godchild unseen
in decades,
passed as a ghost
through his thoughts.
As if by whim, he typed random numbers
into the address bar.
Her profile splashed
on the screen.
He was startled,
delighted.
It was magic!
She’d moved across a continent
and an ocean,
eight time zones away,
and yet here she was
before him.

Conversations followed.

And he smiled.

Raoul had never left.

Letter of December 25th

December 25, 2014

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My Dearest Love,

If all the world’s sweetest music that had been released

into the aether had returned

the earth would slow upon its axis

and ready itself to spin it a different direction

and I will have fully witnessed how you became

the poetry that refreshed my most parched soul

Still I thirst to be written by your hand,

my soul given its details, its brilliance,

stroke by stroke, mad laughter spilling its intimacy,

the intimacy stars will share with darkness,

and darkness will share with morning sunlight

I wish I could show you the frightening beauty within you,

the crackling storms rising over innocent hillsides,

cracking open my ribcage, releasing the rolling

symphonic murmurations to the heavens

as you reached in and lit the lanterns next to my spine

and nestled your heart next to mine

and shivered our world awake.

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