It Speaks to Me

What attracts us to certain artworks? Whether book or stage production, painting or photograph, dancing or theatre, singing or instrumental music, there has to be something with which we can connect for the work to have any meaning for us as individuals.Photo: Book of Languages

Some of those connections are obvious: an author with whose philosophy or politics I tend to agree is more likely to produce a book or script I enjoy than one whose beliefs are wildly different from mine; if I favor a specific style or period or medium, I’ll probably always find the works within them resonating in my heart more often than those from unfamiliar or less loved types.Photo: Familiar Passages

Other attractions might be more tenuous or less overt. I read a whole lot online nowadays, both factual and fictional, but I still enjoy reading magazines and books, and there is no digital substitute quite yet for the fine roughness of antique paper pages in my hands and the musty scent of old books.

Alive & Well

photoSing Now & Always

To celebrate at breaking of the dawn

Or close of evening, or the stroke of noon,

There is no sweeter pleasure than a tune

Well sung by everyone, an antiphon

To peace, to sorrow, or to happiness;

No matter what the poetry or text,

It truly matters most that what is next

Is choral concord to renew, redress,

Resound through all the unseen years ahead,

A clarion, an anthem or motet

Grander than any ear has heard as yet,

And run to distant history, a thread

Of melody and harmony so strong

That no one can resist joining in song

Endless Sleep that Needs No Dreams

Cadence at Evening

Slow as the settling of the sun
Upon the western shore and lees
Where nightingales call from the trees,
Watching the honeyed daylight run—

Slow as the shifting motes of time
That sift and spin in lamp-lit rays,
Fall lazily to dust and haze
And love, ineffably sublime—

Slow as the sleeping breath when dreams
Have ceased, and thought receded to
The farthest corners, shaded blue
To inky black, to flow in streams—

Slow as the silently locked door
Was, to admit all at the last
Where wonder waits that, long held fast,
Now pulls us inward evermore—

Slow as the parting of that night
Which closes day with one last kiss,
Night languorous with hymns like this,
Draws us toward slowly growing light—photo

Aloft & Alighting

graphite drawingAngels in the Aviary

Of winged and wondrous beings shall I tell,

Whose incandescence fills the deepest wood,

With brilliance, dazzling, pretty as it’s good,

And singing lays clear as a silver bell–

Take wing, you also, soaring wide abroad,

To sing elated tales of what is seen

From over oceans, forests rich with green

And storied mountains–palisades of God–

Let each take flight, to race the sands of time;

To see along the universe’s rim

All future iterations growing dim,

As at such speeds our eyes glaze up with rime–

Of angels such as these I tell my tale

And bid you join their swiftest ranks to fly

Above the oceans, forest, land and sky

To loveliness beside which all falls pale–

And cry, sweet birds, for happiness that we

Are joined in such angelic company.

Rare Beasts & Royalty

Sunset over the Serengeti & a Slight Belch from the King of the Beastsgraphite drawing

It happens sometimes on the plains, where Splendid Starlings and the strains

Tok-tokkie knocks create a song that’s just as rhythmic as it’s long,

Where Shongololo rolls and runs ‘tween rise and setting of the suns,

Where the hyenas sing their tunes betwixt midnight and morning’s moons:

It’s there the leopard’s race was lost–surprise–at noon, and at great cost,

To one old lion whose good luck dovetailed with leopards run amok,

To the degree that one loud crunch announced the end of it at lunch.

Fly by Night

graphite drawingBeguiling Moonlight

Every autumn evening, at the end of day,

The moon’s pale eminence sends out a silver-shining ray

A-glinting through the branches and glimmering on leaves

And shimmering on spiderwebs tucked underneath the eaves

And calling all the kitty-cats from shadowed alleys out

To torment all the night-birds still fluttering about,

And drawing from their houses the dogs behind the slats

Of shuttered sleepy windows to torment all the cats,

And pulling on the heart-strings of every sleepy child

To call each one to play out in the moonlight, in the wild,

To dance among the cat-kins and soar among the birds

And leap among the moon-mad dogs and sing the magic words

That cast a spell of loveliness on creatures so, and soon,

We’ll fall asleep, each one of us, under the autumn moon.

The Song Rises above All Else

When the night is long and the day after it dawns dark and grim, sing.photoWhen winter is colder than the inmost heart of death and is finally supplanted by the least promising spring, empty of graces and starved for new, green life, sing again and sing out loudly as you can.

When age and infirmity and dangers of every kind are buffeting all the lovely youth and strength they can find in this sad world into terrible dust-devils of desiccated sorrow, sing with all your heart and soul and make the most tuneful, joyful, glorious prettiness that you can float into the air, and know that your song, no matter how wholly alone it may float up, is powerful enough to rise above it all. This is the only way that any of us will rise above it all. And that we will, so long as we sing.photo

The End of One Chapter Leading to the Beginning of the Next

digital painting from a photoThe road is long; the way grows faint,

But with a song and no complaint,

I’ll walk it more at peace and ease

If you will shore me up, and please:

Your love for me is deep, I know,

Yet sing me to sleep and let me go—photoA path unclear as nighttime draws

Me ever near its end, because

I’ve had full count of wealth and known

Such joys a fountain might be thrown

Beyond its rim in rushing streams,

So if grown dim, the way holds dreams

Enough to lead me happy hence,

And I’ll not plead in self-defense:

Though ever deep your love, I know,

Sing me to sleep and let me go—photoInto the night that never ends,

Where dark is light, and waiting friends

And quiet rest and graceful peace

Draw every guest to sweet release

How-e’er the strain of verses went,

With this refrain as Testament

And Will: Deep is your love, I know;

Sing me to sleep and

Let me go—