Earthrise, December 1968, Image by Apollo 8

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Short Side

Athens, Georgia
"Orion" from ScienceBlogs
by Ethan Siegel
December 21, 2013; revised August 20, 2015

When Dark Moon lights November nights 
we're on the short side of the sun 

For these are the days of dusk
when the pale sun beats west
through half-hearted arcs
to warm a far-off southern sea
and Orion rises, red-shouldered
east into evening
to hunt the blackened midnight sky 

When Cold Moon lights the longest night
we’re on the short side of the sun 

For this is the season of silhouettes
when dark forms cast shadows
on a velvet void
to illumine by absence a vast empty realm
where love lies below layers
faith stands by frozen
and hope taunts the dormant heart 

When Ice Moon lights the coldest night
we’re on the short side of the sun 

For this is the stage of unknowing 
beyond a simple sunlit faith 
past the last beacon 
and into the bracing abyss 
where souls sweep through perihelion 
slung by grace unglimpsed, 
we face away perplexed, and wait – 

When new moon ushers endless night
we’re on the short side of the sun.
"Sandy in Snow" photograph by
David Noah, Winterville, Georgia

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Comfort of Fading

Athens, Georgia
November 15, 2013

There were years of prime
when I looked upon a living bay
pulsing with life, pulled
by celestial bodies, and saw

numerical mesh
stretching through
the sterile ether.
Such a stately parade

of symbols set in spare beauty  
partial c’s sliding slopes
of Q and E, of x and t,
but no longer.

The crystalline equations fade;
their symbols spill
off dog-eared pages
graced with arcs of coffee stain

in manuals with my name inside
and broken backs, now boxed
and stored in cardboard tombs
of moth and mildew, must and tears.

I find my life now softly fallen
in the gentle in-between

while plowing through uncharted now
as Voyager past the heliopause

no longer here
but not yet there.

So I shut my eyes in warm sun
and drift down whole days.

The world is my back yard,
the afterlife unfenced.

I wander a peaceable kingdom
where voices chant in strange tongues

from the distance of dreams,
and though I cannot catch their meaning

sure as Voyager shoots beyond,
I shall sing their soul, unknowing.

Lessons for the Fallen

Athens, Georgia
November 15, 2013

When you find your life, fallen;
when you inhabit the gap,
the no longer but not yet,
the neither-nor:

Then linger, friend;
let the soft day suffice;
do not rush the soon to be,
do not claw back the packaged past.

When you find yourself caught
in-between, your stance astride
both deck and dinghy, rope
untethered, weather rising:

Do not stand tall and grasp the wind;
forego, my friend, the stately pose
but sink your soul below the storm
and praise the passing of the waves.

When you find your soul, riven;
when truths refuse to reconcile;
when torn between two warring armies
dug in trenches, steel points gleaming:

Then light your last candle;
make your way to no-man’s land
beyond the barbed wire and bayonet,
and sing your hymn on holy ground.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Reality of Sunsets

Athens, Georgia 
October 23, 2013 *

Scientifically speaking, sunsets
are unreal, nothing there
but oscillation
      diffracted by dust
      detected by cones
      delivered by neurons
upside down
reorganized and rendered so

You pull your beach chair
next to mine to watch the sun
sink cross the line
together as we reconstruct
what never was
yet brings forth tears.

Scientifically speaking, God
is unreal, nothing there
but old construction
      discerned in dreams
      dissected by logic
      deposed by knowledge
bottom up
reorganized and rendered so

We build our walls with
jumbled facts ignoring what
the wise have found –
no human proof forever binds
constructed truth
to quaking ground.

God of Logic, clockwork wound
Cerebral God so tightly bound
you Warrior God of bold savants
who slash the soul with arguments –
your God has died, so long
so long.

So long live what lies beyond
what comforts tears
and calls up song
what makes for kindness uncompelled
what steels the heart
confronting hell.

But shall we talk or just rejoice? Oh
you can call this what you will
based on how you think and feel
but as for me, it sounds like Love.

* Note, this is a revision of the original, posted March 7, 2011.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Light Bodies

"Washed in Light," photograph by David Noah
Athens, Georgia
September 27, 2013

Forged from Light
and Will to Be
condensing bits
of information

Spare abstractions
bare equations birthed
in time to earthen bodies
word and dust

Made humankind
where thoughts careen
through three pound prisons
fired by feelings

Primal scream
to tribal voodoo,
nursery rhyme
to alleluia.

A thousand tongues sing broken
rhyme, ten thousand voices vie
for time in neural networks
born to die, yet something watches

Deep inside 
freedom is a mirrored maze
with no path back
and branches split forever forward

Built atop the tangled byways
burrowed deep within the psyche
trapped by musty cells inside
the catacombs of joy and tears.

But out beyond all self reflection
past the chain of explanation
unconstrained by mere causation
life abundant whispers, dear

You are your light body
the woken one
serene as Siddhartha
sharing his smile

The soul of Yeshua
encircled by sinners
with stones in hand
and softening hearts.

Yours is the earth of Adam
the wind of Lao Tzu
the fire of Elijah, yours
the still waters.

Let go the deathly grip on grace
and loose the light body –
your own true face awaits
the joining.

Monday, September 2, 2013

To My Daughter, Turning

Athens, Georgia
September 2, 2013

There was a time before
– so asserts the desert
mind – before your tiny face
carved love on our hearts,

Bound to a new blessing
of joy and terror, tied
to a miracle, millennia in
making, robust and fragile

Both, the improbable becoming
inevitable as time reveals
fresh wonders, which always
lay latent in life, in stardust,

In what came before. There is
no time before we loved you
and there can never be
a world where we do not.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

To Mothers Watching Offspring Part

In memory of Ruth Gilmore Ambrose
Athens, Georgia
August 20, 2013; revised December 20, 2014

It was the church bells 
from just past Five Points 
as late afternoons lingered 
on the cusp of evening, ringing 
family home in those happy years 

Till one by one we left.

But ah, to rise to distant cause,
discover wings of light and gauze 
like tiny Monarchs born to fall 
who feel the ache of far away, 
forsake the fields of yesterday 

To take the wind and open skies. 

It is an odd quintessence – 
the noble hyperbole, glorious lies 
and naïve dreams of youthful tribes 
that glide above the weathered  lives
of mothers watching offspring part 

As bells toll love and ancient loss. 

What comes of cocoons came 
over her heart as dusk by dark 
the shadows crept to Gospel 
chimes and childhood rhymes, 
the sweet debris of golden times 

In mommy’s world now left behind. 

Home turns refuge, safehouse, 
cell when trapped inside that cozy shell, 
but motherlove may self-transcend, new 
causes and callings now coursing within, 
a spirit soars to greet its dreams. 

Your love redeems the churchly bells.

Photograph by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Boothbay Gray

Boothbay Harbor, Maine
July 12, 2013

If you hold a quiet pose

ankle deep in shallow water
soles set to fine sand

rooted into rising tide
that carved the coves
and coast of Maine,

perhaps you’ll feel a touch of grace
washed in warm midsummer
sun and bathed in midday
joy-song of brother thrush.

If you hold as tiny crablettes
scuttle-crawl across your feet
and minnows clean your wrinkled toes,
perhaps you’ll catch the seaweed sway 
to sister moon and lapping wave.

And if you chance to hold your ground
with thighs immersed beneath the tide,
perhaps your pulse will realign,
your breath reset to offshore breeze,
your mind at peace with mother sea.

Perhaps you’ll find your soul
submerged within the one eternal
moment, calm as the evening
osprey, who holds a quiet pose

on a pole with a view
to watch the daylight
slowly fade, his world

dissolve in shades of gray
and unobserved, to fly away

as silence fills the fog-bound night.

Boothbay Harbor, Maine

Sunday, July 7, 2013

An Ode to Aralee

On the passing of Aralee Strange, founder and host 
of the Athens Word of Mouth open poetry community,
June 15, 2013 at her home, "Timberdance"

Athens, Georgia
July 3, 2013; revised June 28 2015

In some place primeval
the priestess holds court 
where rhythms take form 

your spirit’s reborn  
as sirens sing in sotto voce
the Sibyl raves a praise to Gaia, 

long-mute furies chant 
in tongues, and fiery nuns 
rap truth to knaves. None

can name the kind of faith 
that rocked your soul 
in the bosom of Timberdance, 

but a warm spring bathed 
your late years, submerging self 
to nurture words in perfect strangers. 

It’s just the broken way 
of things that what we love 
will leave too soon. 

Authentic poets never die, 
they just transcend. Their words 
become their epitaph 

their thoughts a meme, 
their spirits, muse. Unburdened 
of body returned to the source, 

to the place beyond words 
where they go to be born,  
your essence awaits: 

A brief note, held sweet 
                against silence 
echoes forever 
        the memory of grace.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

To Run the Wild Beast

Reflections on a morning run, March 27, 2010
Athens, Georgia
March 2011, revised June 23, 2013

Yes, I remember
how it was in spring
to set out in darkness and ease
into the light pace that takes you nowhere

and home. How paved roads roll
easy underfoot, as stride by stride
you stretch through strength to joy.  
How brisk east wind blows cold on sweat

through muscle and marrow and deeper yet
to cleanse the body, unburden the soul,
to shed all distractions and fall into flow,
in silence the mind to step out of time –

to stride the high plains
under African sky

in searing noon heat
bold predator, I

to run the wild beast
through tortuous lands

where Eden is naught
but hazy mirage

that hovers beyond
uncountable dawns

with history’s tears
still yet to be shed

no burden of why
nor what lies ahead

eternity’s now
impressed on my will

inside of my heart
on glistening skin

in deepening breath
the freshening wind

for immortal am I
till the moment I die

or run out my race
and reenter time –

where asphalt
yields to open fields
and far across a waking
park, white halos of pear

blossom hover against silhouettes
of a treeline emerging from dark, pale
spectors of spring in the soft morning light,

         which harbors a spirit
                                         attempting to soar
                        escaping the darkness

                                encasing our core
in primitive peace
                reconnected once more.

"Primitive Dawn" by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Praise of Imperfection

Athens, Georgia
April 17, 2013 (revised March 11, 2015)
"So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life."

1. The Peace of Imperfection

The songbirds seem not to have noticed
perfection having passed us by
last Tuesday week, the prime of spring
peaking in the predawn darkness:

                        first light
        gracing east
                a drift of breeze
the slightest hint
        of scented whispers
                wafting through
        the inner senses

The flaming sword
                that guards the garden
        carves a chasm
                        deep inside
                that fills us
        with inchoate
                longing, calling

    Brother, sister, join the sparrow 
        wander unaware in Eden 
    claim what lies beyond mere joy.

We must decline – their souls inhabit different
realms from yours and mine. They still live
within the garden, lost in perfect flow
of being. We live East, the slaves of knowing.

Once again we’re left behind to tend
a freshly-fallen world, now dusted
with a set of gnats, green oak tree doodles
caught in cracks of splintered decks

and crumbling driveways; drooping dogwood
blossoms browned about the edges,
bright azaleas slightly faded –
signs of spring now going stale.

Still bearing the imprint of Eden inside us
while bursting with knowledge and moral awareness,
we build a home in the shadow of heaven
and make our peace with imperfection.

2. In Praise of Unkempt Things 

Praise to God for unkempt things
that grace our world with imperfection –

for Friday mornings after Easter,
one egg missing;

for tidy lawns with clover patches,
strewn with toys;

for joyful girls with reckless smiles
and saddened eyes;

or graceful curves of mountain vistas
cloaked in clouds;

for clever proofs of shrouded concepts
conjured out of troubled minds.

In sorrow and striving,
in coping and growing,

in desperate hope and untenable dreams,
a glory shines through imperfection.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Night Music of San Rafael de Guatuso

San Rafael de Guatuso, Costa Rica
A living fence in Costa Rica, from
April 2, 2013

I wander dreams of dinosaurs
while dozing in a concrete cave
as freight trucks rumble
baritone scales
north into night.

Somewhere in darkness
drunks howl feigned joy
and small dogs strut
soprano outrage
from the safety of sofas.

stalk the hearts and haunt
Field in Guatuso,
courtesy of Mary Woods,
Methodist Rural Center, Costa Rica
the souls of those who walk
the night alone
in far lands.

But far is not a place you go to, 
far is something dark inside, 
a cave you wall against the terror 
faced alone but not beyond 
the love disguised as humble chance.

So who’s to say the whippoorwill
who camps aside my weathered door
to chant his sad, hypnotic score
is not an angel sent by God
to guard the gap from black to gray.

When somehow, dawn
birds sing back sleep
as light rains
play, pianissimo,
the green plains of Guatuso.

Where fence posts sprout
leaves and roots, and dark nights
yield to sun-baked days
with black beans, bitter coffee

Friday, March 1, 2013

Vacuum Collapse

March 2013, revised September 11, 2019

It could be out there even now 
slouching from Sagittarius 
at the speed of light –

the final cosmic tidal wave 
collapsing vacuum into void. 
The ghost of Koheleth cries again 

vanity, vanity, all is for naught 

for the number of the beast 
is hidden in the Higgs – 
125 GeV. Hear this and weep 

you prophets who probe 
the bitter equations: 
the pseudo-emptiness teems 

with too much and one day must slump 
to an emptiness more true. 
Oh this could be chimera.

Vacuum could hold 
as space expands forever 
and ever to emptiness again. 

Just so, beloved, the monster 
under our beds is nothing, really; 
somehow or other it’s nothing at all.

In the spell of the cold shadow 
you can feel the final calm 
of cosmic indifference. 

By ragged fields pale lilies bloom 
and sparrows sing more sweetly 
than they ever sang before. 

Photograph by David Noah
Winterville, Georgia

Monday, February 4, 2013

To Go to Patagonia

"Pacific Coast" by David Noah,
Winterville, Georgia
January ruminations on a 
Sunday Times travel section

Athens, Georgia
February 4, 2013

Some truths hover
just past the point of perception
and pass into knowing
gradual as gray dawn

Grows from blue-black nights
to gentle winter days in Georgia
singing frost and white camellia,
silver age and pale regret:

You’ll never go to Patagonia
never trek the tortured plain
to breathe the bracing air of Andes
blowing off the icy sea.

You’ll never see auroras dance
unless by chance coronas leap
and sear the Southern sky with fire
an hour before your time of sleep.

You’ll go no more to Mykonos
nevermore return to youth
to stride the sands of Paradise
while clothed in fresh Aegean air.

Some truths lie
harmless as hibernating vipers
that wake on warm days
to feed on minds that give them life.

But winter afternoons can glow
as silver yields to tones of gold
and old camellias burst in color –
so it is with elder souls

Who step beyond belief and doubt,
and freed at last of empty strife
embrace the wondrous, fallen world
which harbors grace within the shadows.

From this veil I would chase truths
past the far end of perception
where they flit, unformed
above a lonely Patagonia

Where somehow, surely
amidst the sun-drenched daydreams of God
my doppelgänger draws near
the Torres del Paine.

"In the Museum" by David Noah, Winterville, Georgia