Travels, Once

Memories that are a
Mess in my
Mind – they –
They flash and burst
Across the inner eye
Of my mind, and
I see them…
I see them?

***

Ishmael pumping gas
With the car still
Running, running like
The morning beauty of Lauterbrunnen
Cascading, girt in mists,
In the background
Of the day. Or

Subjected to the awful beauty
Of a morning walk
In Aix: the light
Falling at such angles
That houses are painfully
Precise – standing out like
A blasted thump in
A symphony of strings. Or

It is the smell of chestnuts
On a Christmas day.
It is a route through an
Ancient town. Road stones
Worn down by centuries of
Tired feet.

It is wine.
It is waste. It

Above all is the bright
Light of a Swiss
Dawn – the warmth of
A blanket in the cool
Mountain air. It

Is a memory?

On Tour in Thailand

Twisting on paths these mythic
Elephants go, padding through jungles
Misty from centuries
Of rain and rites.

Sitting and watching. Sitting
And watching. The gentle move
Of time, frenzied and sublime –
Hills in fog seen from the backs
Of speeding vans.

Posted as part of DVerse Open Link Night

An Aegean Temple

On the island of Samos,
I saw a temple once, once
When wandering the Aegean –
A lone Odyssey of my own.

It sits on a plain, a field
High above the sea. Down
Is the port of Pythagorio, so somber
In its shingles, its color faded
By the bright light
Of the sea. Hera

Here stands, watching white waves
Pound and pound, notching
And indenting, pushing stone
Into the stone of curled
Discs – by grasses that grow
No longer. Yes,

Hera by my side, Samos still
On years of sunlight and
Sand. Sitting walls that are wasted.
Towers once so mighty now
Are gone. Washed through
The sieve of time. Yes,

A disc, just a column and
A disc reaching up and up.
What it means
I do not know. Hera
And silence, sounds
Of waves and light that
Falls and grows, strumming
Patterns of yellows and greens,
And mixed…

What it means I
Do not know.

Posted as part of Poets United Poetry Pantry Series

A Poem by J. Humbert Riddle, Lately Deceased

Editor’s Note:
This poem was mailed to me by an
Unknown sender one day last
July. Whether coincidence or not,
This was the very month of Riddle’s
Mental spiral that ended in
His hospitalization and untimely death.
This is, unfortunately, not a
Complete Riddle poem, as one sheet
Was misplaced… and never found again.

I.

Words I could not say
In tongues I
Never learned to speak.

Passing and never passing
Days by paths gone done
Though gone done –
I never did.

Us and streams and knowing
I on visits to our wood
House, trees cutting and
Cutting, nearby I in woods
Cut and cutting.

II.

Whispers silent too much to
Whisper. Loud voices too
Loud for speech. Words

That cannot mean.

III.

Never sat in desks. People
Never known though
Brushed past on crowded
Streets that heave beneath
A splintered sun.

To towns I meant to drive
To in cars I abandoned along
The way.

Breakfasts taken alone
By silent church walls. Words that

Mean?

IV.

Promises never kept.
Apples picked from trees
That never grew.

V.

All I never said, and more –
Unable to say, speak of

Oceans I swam away from
On planes I did not board in
Airports I got lost to
On streets forgotten in mid-morning mists
I glanced at from corners
In cities I
Let slip from maps that
Flew out my open door…

[The rest has been lost]

Posted as a part of Poets United Sunday Poetry Pantry

On the Side of an Ancient Sea

There are certain travel moments when you just feel so small. Sometimes it’s in a massive cathedral in Europe as you’re gazing up at sky-high domes. Sometimes it’s outside, in nature, when you feel so tiny compared to your surroundings. Towering mountains, ocean views, panoramic sweeps that go on and on. Or, one of my personal favorites, when you’re in a museum looking at art work that seems immortal somehow… and you realize you’re just a single spectator that will come and go, while the art will always remain.

I experienced an entirely different feeling of smallness while hiking up Dinosaur Ridge in the Front Range of Denver. It was a more profound, almost jarring feeling of smallness because it extended across millions of years and across dramatically altered and changed landscapes. It included remnants of things long gone, like dinosaur foot-prints and volcanoes, and a landscape that was once a massive sea, all alive with plants and animals – all of which no longer exist. It was eerie, uncomfortable, and inspiring, and all at once. The feeling of being out of place and out of time. Or at least lost somewhere in-between.

An Ancient Shoreline

Along the Shore?

See what you have here is a world where this entire area was a massive sea, and this ridge that we have today is the ancient seashore. So as you walk up the ridge you come across footprints, tidal marks on rocks, and other remains of long-extinct life. You add to this the fact that what was once flat ground is now a great slope. You find yourself then on an ancient shore looking at markings of long-dead things that are oddly now vertical in the air. It’s honestly hard to wrap your head around this much change.

Tidal Marks

Dinosaur Tracks

And, ultimately, I’m left with questions like – what will this landscape be like in another million years? How will we be remembered on a geologic scale? And, perhaps most ominous of all, will we even be remembered… or just lost somewhere in those layers of rock? A small marking in hardened dirt.

Mysterious Concretion

Mosaic Making – Upon a Time

… These fragments I have shored against my ruins…

V.

I fell in love here once,
So ancient, so wild. Streams
That flowed past, down,
Past rocks that lined
The lone, fragrant shore. While
Time was etched in tree trunks,
And grasses pushed, pushed
Aside on hikes that wound
Back to our quiet village…
Hidden between the mountains,
And a waterfall. Yes,

Rough pavements pounded down
Pebbles, and bits of broken stone we
Skipped across smooth streams that flowed
Down to trees danced under, all
Wet from rains and whistling,
Whistling to match the tap tap
Tap of boughs,
Against boughs.

X.

Then, tables on trails we traveled
Over, twisting and twisting and
Leading us… home again? To
Ripened products of farm
And field, and to
Votives I did not light but
That glowed in darkness that flowed
In, past glass shards
Scattered and scattered, stabbing
At our feet. Blood and time

Slipping by, like plates wettened still
By soap we flung out
From carousels rode so fast
On nights when clouds fell
Down and blotched,
Battered the frail turrets of Time.

I.

Gears shot, bolts busted by rust –
Clogs cling to clogs… but

Grasses grow and grow,
Climbing up the sides of rides
We ride together in
Meadows and valleys in
Wild rains at midnight in
Thunder that breaks and breaks in
Tunnels we dug out of
Such soft and supple Earth, picking
Fragments of bone and pottery as
We go – Pieces I think
Of love of
The mosaic we piece together, joining
And breaking, joining and
Breaking.

Published as part of Dverse Open Link Night