Photo by Armstreet. www.armstreet.com. Used by permission.
The vase would be for the yellow sun-streaked
daffodil, its brilliant bouquet untold
in hues, Wales aristocracy of gold
under the watch of gothic castles, meek
out of gentle song of a thousand trees
next to black international velvet.
Where the spires rise to the morn’s fiery stealth
the ink drawing can scarcely describe me
as I am now, my hair white, my eyes bright,
I am in waiting as the country’s sight
is just out of reach too. The stone upon
stone of Caernarfon and Harlech’s dim light
seeping out from walls within walls and tide
waters brimming far away dreamy shore.
There is light in this vase of yellow-born,
like the sun streaming across the miles, bold
and high cliffs, isolated nature, old
red sandstone, rugged cliffs battered by storms,
wild grass hosting a long Skokholm haven:
seabirds, in heath and salt marsh, St. John’s wort
rises serene; three-lobed water crowfoot—
with whisper of dew on ancient heaven.
In the grassland there are the tree mallow,
small nettle, sea campion—the guillemots,
chiffchaff, willow warblers, common whitethroat,
over mudstones and Red Maris. Fallow,
the linen of the garment lay in knots,
and the seamstress laboured at the new cloak.
With yellow dress now tied at her thin waist,
lace enamel lapping at her pale sleeves,
the ties drew back the bodice, and the lea
glistened from beyond her locked garden gate.
Ghostly was the sound of rabbits footsteps,
quietly the dawn transpired its gold knock;
the meadow courted her favour, as clock
ticked on and guided her elder years, debt
to those who had shown her guidance, advice
over the years always wise with graying
mentors’s speech, their moment joys and shadows,
until she knelt with sentiment, chastised.
In the will of God: saints—deepest praying—
stone upon stone was an altar hallowed.
The moor, grasslands and coast, rife with curlew:
eerily they call, and townspeople lift
their heads—shaking at the suicide rifts
which rise to sky and echo; almost rue
their grey feathered existence were they not
shrieking a blood-chilling eloquent call,
frightening as Eden’s vine at the Fall,
her austere fertility entwined brought
images of fruit and flow’r to the mind,
along with temptress of the gnarled tree,
where pressure from the dark side stormy, breaks
down walls of the imagination-kind.
Pecking in the mud with icy curved beaks
each curlew contrasts Snowdon’s snow-flaked peak.
Photo used by permission. https://www.armstreet.com
Under the weeping willow, embedded
with opulent pearl, for eternity—
silk and cotton now momentarily
to the floor, the mossy river threaded
through the countryside ambling on at rest.
The long draped wing-like creamy bell-shaped sleeves
hung, momentous and old as the dry leaves
upon the ground. The guests dressed in their best
were unsure whether they were here, gifting
for a moment or a new century,
as the water floated by, the petals
met reflection of the hills, now sloping
away into the distance, luxury
of the crescent moon still whitened, natal.
It’s rare to be so quiet at deep grooves
that the moon, still unborn, whispers loudly
amid the bustle of skirts, with baby
carriages, and swish of dark horses hooves.
It’s rare to have a bluest heart so kind
that one would flutter in midair over
the stained purple-white wild lilies cover.
There was a greenish bank where diamond rinds,
hues of bubbles floated, amid stoic
remembrances and florid faces, sound
as glassy-eyed wine. The only priest was
present in season of the Spring Fair, it
cantered like a new horse, as he came ’round
only twice per year when given good cause.
The bride was wearing white soft-spoken lace,
her ladies, blue willowy glass figures,
baby’s breath to roses. Dainty creatures
of a delicate nature, they made case
that her figure was a pale rose in bloom
and her soft creases did not hide a child,
shining gold hair was plaited, smooth and mild,
she was quite reverent of his duty too.
But she was kind, and timely amid strife,
life in its piercing the dank moss shallows
of her life had made them crisp flowing pools,
and she stretched out her hand, became a wife,
she wore the diamond of her days, fallows
of a fertile land, farmed with ancient tools.
This royal moment in the river field
acquiesced to nature’s horn and plenty,
no woman’s life should be poor and wanting;
translucent gown following and men reeled
at the sight of such a character to
stand so graceful and so elegant, mild
as would a maiden be, yet there with child,
as her bourgeoning soul would attest, blue
were his eyes, and theirs was a renaissance
ceremony, in formal dress, as spoke
the custom of their age. They were not young,
too young, to be the green reconnaissance
of all love in youthful years, which day woke
too early—was it just the web was spun?
The matchmaker nodded her fair consent,
they had breathed vows, a renaissance couple,
common in their time, even nuptials
were seen in almost half of cream crescent
moon young lovers wed along shadowed lull
of waters, where the trim of flowers deck
while perfectly gathered at the scooped neck,
and the pearl beaded bodice falls below
the wedding full of fine giving detail,
a life joined to a life is turtledoves—
where no death, waxen, cold, where flaxen breathes
the clothed bridesmaids celebrate, holding train.
The vests of his men were as brown as cloves,
velvet, and marching on in league motifs.
It was the Golden Age of Art Nouveau:
the curved glass bell of time had rung before—
mosaics out of brokenness, stained cores
of glass rose from marble floor to dome, no
sinewy sense of movement was nature’s
graceful shapes paired with yellowed narcissus.
The time of falling dusk had walked with us
into the organic future that spurs
the art of a new century, detail
fine and ornamental in its finite
way of climbing intricate design walk
of the nineteenth century with black rail
to render elements sculptural wine,
fluent in curves, iris buds and starched stalks.
How had this composite of medieval
times, limber of foot, danced into black tie
irony with exotic butterfly,
as was the case of her entourage belles.
There was the artist, the model a muse
sitting pale, simple before the painter—
no movement, hands folded, as in winter
of a soul, a childless stance waiting, loose
of the trappings of work and menial
blank servitude that so characterized
the eyes of darkened blind without new art;
here, the dim room started, congenial
to be receptive to old sterilized
forms of dying while still alive, thou art.
Photo used by permission. https://www.armstreet.com
That was my golden hair, similitude
to past enchantments and Persephone,
conducting the blending aquamarine
with flashing heads, spirited dolphins’ broods
with pools of tide, fragmented sea-scored shell
that broke the wave upon the shore of death:
a carcass of the whale was there in breadth,
the length of a ship, its past hulk of hell.
The symphony of water and earth vast
as the panorama of gemstone’s fire
torments these blue lovers, bound in tumult
to future’s marriage ring: no ending last,
hidden jewel of nature’s cleft, to sire
their tryst with sea, and their poet, the salt.
Miranda was seen offshore in a storm,
the tumult was evidenced of the tide
of spray against the lighthouse, ghostly-eyed
in moonlight, through the wee hours of the morn.
A sun would rise, its reddened rays would pierce
fog of misperception, waiting for you:
become a conceptual woman, too
tired by the wind and its haze, coerced
no longer by manipulative hands,
the elements demand that you survive
in deference to them and their dark wails.
To the brine muse these were effortless rants,
she had no evil notions to contrive,
she effaced them with her green siren’s tail.
In the depths beneath which the mer-castle
lay, there was a siren queen with refined
melodious lines and beings, benign
starfish fibula made wool oracles.
From a mermaid’s nautilus shell emerged
in marine blue, carded yarn, like a dream.
The mermaids held her baby son supreme,
from the rule of Tristan not now submerged.
The queenly mother sang, harmonious
the salt waters drifted by, eventide
in laser cut brass and soft enamel:
whisperings of the seahorse to the gust
of salt and lash of navy. Sunset’s bride:
moon will rise at twelve and ride in purple.
Deserts beneath the sea were sandy, coarse,
with scarlet crustaceans in number
to seduce those golden torn asunder
and the bottom’s tap of thunder was remorse.
The conductor continued at the reigns
of the sea house deep beneath the turquoise;
it was a mermaid’s lair and with my eyes
I saw the brittle castle’s coral veins.
Flanked by equestrian horses in red,
I plumbed the deeps of oceanic bliss
and sky aglow with setting lucid teints.
O’er the cliffs the rival raptors circled.
I wore linen (and was of sea born lips),
the highlight of my crown was ruby painted.
Let the beautiful marine chord resound—
O Linen: undertunic of the sand,
tri-coloured, penchant, hanging from the land;
our stitches have reclothed you, and we found
you hanging by a mermaid’s silver thread.
The haggard stones of earth your tomb laid bare,
archaic doctrines speak of mermaid’s lair,
the simple life of stone on stone for bed.
Their pillow lies beneath my head, for dire
is the hard life of those who work not play
for bread of kale, and crusty Irish moss.
The jewels of the mind and heart, the wire
therein the caverns of the sea doth weigh
of blood on fire. The eldest simple cloth.
Fine and unusual sleeves in garnet,
the embroidery meanders mouline,
pendants of magic and solstice earring
wear themes of the wind’s silken clarinet.
This, your favourite white tunic—a dress
so long it would drag on the castle floor;
but executioner is at the door—
life is over with its clumsy caress.
He seeks a chopping of your golden locks;
his orders are clear: you’ll have no trial.
You look already dressed in acclaim’s bills
of mermaid songs and runes among the rocks,
the shores have woven memory in style,
linguist: but what is that to the lame hills.
Bright dominant chord sounds in ocean’s nave,
each home of pearl-fringed shell is icy kind,
but is there not a tear behind the smile?
The sea is calling, knows your ancient cave.
The mer-Queen waits for Tristan to come home
each night by window roped in black velvet;
even though the stars are far away, sits
she by the casement, wary of his throne.
This bonnet in kind is made of fine lace,
is the baby’s helmet and the sea salt
stirs. Rivers of the deep flow, currents down,
where Medea pours oils upon the face
of beggarly poor who heavenward call—
salt mines of poetry beneath the ground.
Eclipsed poem: with material from the line Sea Born
by Armstreet Clothing. Used by permission.
Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com
Her flower was the lily, ominous
white, that spoke of pale stones left by moonlight,
when the toppled spades landed on the might
of what we call home, writing, venomous.
There was a churchyard, yet all was still now,
and by the darkness’s dread came Lilith fair;
they thought her but a witch and yet ensnared
by her enchantments, verse and rhyme they bow.
Her hair was fiery strawberry blond, to
the waxen marble floor. When by the fence
there came a herd of Jersey cows, and she
called them, and their bells jangling, they came through
the gate into the churchyard. The spire lent
its shadow to the falling light, and lea.
There was a glad flower, men in a bind—
if it were real or imagined; yet nigh,
it produced the most frightful velvet kythe,
hallucinations of another kind,
and no one knew their meaning until dreams
were interpreted by those of the art.
They woke from their starry beds with a start
and could not discern if their nightmares, cream
of another chocolate from the night’s fist.
The problem was that peasants were so tight
with their coins that they could not entertain
royalty. Yet Lilith summoned all, list
in royal procession, walking down bright
aisle with swaths of innocent gown and train.
The Lilith was a beauteous blond curl
that wrapped its way around her platinum
coronet, the head whose skull was mamon
and yet ivory. Her ash produced pearl,
yet only one drop, for the inner scent
of transcendence had wreathed her to the earth
her dying day, when on a pyre of mirth
she lay. The clothing of the trees was rent
to autumn’s scarlet mood, and bounteous
sepia scarves, in colours of the weave.
She wore Eve’s clothing yet, adorned in sun’s
gold rings that haloed her; now humorous
she glanced in the mirror of the lake’s eve
and knew the moments of the fairy’s pun.
There was a time in the beginning when
all earth had bowed to her regality,
her mind with Adam’s knew equality,
her mode had been his decent soul mate then.
Yet, when she would not marry him in moons
and acquiesced only to the wood’s haunt,
she fell short of all his desires, his wont
for a mother of children, that blue womb
submitted to the throne of his mindful
patriarchy, his husbandry, his care;
when she would not bear his children, her cool
black eyes flashed at him lightning’s silver foil…
the tresses of her head laid golden bare,
and with her mouth she kissed him as a fool.
Her power would be in her aloneness,
the desert of her hands without fruit ripe—
crimson from lime—her stateliness a gripe
she would take from the ancient gnarled fruitless
mossy tree, growing from the beginning
of the world to the end of time, purple
starless, casting shadows of its cripple
who embarrassed it too, leaving a line
of shame. She would leave, then, and make self stilled,
scarce amongst the rocks and grey caverns stone
of the desert. Her planet, colourless
was another space, where no being dwelled
save the remnants of Isaiah, alone
with his parchment scroll, rolled here effortless.
There we would find her, quiet as the sand
under the moon, in a desert of owls
where only jackals hide. This was her fowl,
the birds of the air she called by name, and
they followed through skies of dusty Hades
in train, as if the light has held them there.
It was the end, she was the thief, and bare
his hand, he would, for his last card, of spades,
was dark Lilith. They feared her in the night
as was her way, with black claws and fearsome
beak. They pulled the shades, they held their children
close, yet they had called upon her midnight
with frightening incantations, winsome
wiles and treacherous prayers to euthendom.
Was there an end to this ghostly story?
The moons swirled, and rings of planets turned to
silver, yet there was only one thorough
woman dark, one—alone in her pouring
called a heaven of hell, was this necklace.
Diamonds of its setting glimmered power,
in the shallows of seas, fish like flowers
swam silver before the throne of clear glass:
he who sits at the bottom of the Great
River watched it all. He knew Lilith from
of old, and watched her hair meld with the gold
sunsets of men’s minds. Manicured estate
stretched to the wrought iron fence in green dun.
New York: this was the city of dreams run.
Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com
at keeping undesirables out; swans
flew in and landed with their huge wing spans:
enough to break a man’s arm if unkempt.
The eldest woman on castle grounds sat
and watched them every day for silken hours,
her hair was white as snow, her eyes water
blue, as she sat and stroked a long-haired cat.
Her wildest prayers she would enunciate,
and her hands were painfully gnarled I guessed,
she believed transformation was reeling
its answers in the form of art quite late—
the swans were poets: spirits effortless
at self-love, where she had little feeling.
She wrote like the web and was very old,
of a spider’s haunt, the delicate dew
hung from each strand of her mind, not askew,
although her bun contained the wisps of cold.
Elegant swans hated the velvet hounds,
the populace thought they were causing war,
disastrous occurrences, even far
off prophecies had already been found
innocent by church theology, they
only predict the future, not cause it.
Merciless, blood hounds chased and arrested
miserable chaste birds and made them prey;
people of Poland were not opposed, writ
words given up, eating succulent flesh.
For swans are faithful creatures, dedicate
their lives to one spouse, and raise their cygnets
splashing into the waters, calm there met:
their words are harsh and hiss, relegated
to a library stack with fearsome beaks.
Habitual mornings are somewhat poor;
half past seven, they arrive asking for
breakfast. Their host in a house is the meek
Parish Priest, he put the swans under his
protection from the twelfth century’s blood:
it is illegal to harm a swan, white,
black, or any consort—webbed feet, a Liszt
in sleight of hand upon the keys, there could
be no other than the maestro’s bride.
It is treason to hurt or maim molten
swans—played each key with firm finality
and to one soul it resounded teary
into eternity, her one stolen
perfume, that languishing fragrance of youth
when she brought a young blond runaway home
and let her sleep on the couch like a poem
for a few hours into morning. Uncouth,
we lifted our heads in the corn fields, dark
eyes watched a girl running in a sundress
until tears streamed down our faces, music
this beautiful is the texture of bark
on an oak tree, no longer are you less
for living vicariously, physic.
There is one remedy, lest you drive a
swan to its death. There are a host of tar-
black tutus that to the wood ballet barre
exact a plié in sequence, a way
a candle in the wind’s brass bell rings it,
built up to its highest goals’ aptitude,
eventually dies in solitude.
She first bends supple, like a grey cygnet,
in imitation of the older dance,
wrinkled seeds, dancers who have come before,
deep in the ground were rooted and flawless.
Spoken word grows to a thousand’s applause,
green Earth’s oldest tree could not be deformed,
subtle rejection grew its desert claws.
On the dun outskirts of society,
she had suffered every rejection known
to humankind, there was no more wind-blown
morality to impropriety.
Was she now oil or wine, the verse would look;
and the vineyard ran purple with royal
colours, the swollen grapes bursting from toil,
the ground was sandstone and red underfoot.
It was night; the young woman, olive tow’rd,
the sun’s star was far gone at eleven—
in cape, she rang the bell. There was silence.
She would come again, there would be power—
reciting by heart an emollient;
she would speak without seeing violence.
A swan’s concerted effort at swimming
is made to look quite effortless, seeming
a quiet glide through waters deep, reaming
at a classroom of old notions, dimming
lanterns with olive oil, lighting the way
by new commitments and new trust in love
that makes us human, singular above
dependency and mentoring our stay
on earth here for awhile: we are alive,
we felt pain, and knew what it was to be
swans and sacrifice for what we believed
in. We went hungry, were unrealized,
we fed the children of tomorrow, sea-
swept lives full of memories, now retrieved.