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29 June 2014

chasing a dream

As night broke into pieces, I had a beautiful dream,
a thought which fled me like a deer
frightened by the smell and sound of people.

I chased the dream into the woods,
the trees growing thicker and larger
the deeper in I gave chase to the creature

Until the beautiful dream was gone
and I was surrounded by leaves
and tall, scornful grass, and bemused bushes.

My heart grew cold and I shook
as I heard branches crack and the birds
stop chirping as some unknown animal stirred.

A hunter perhaps? I crept slowly back
the way I had come, back to the growing light
of the white and rescuing morning sun.

Back to the start of the chase of the dream,
a dream with features as obscure
and anonymous as any wild deer. 

R. R. Shea

22 June 2014

Filling the box

Fragments of thoughts
drifting around inside my head
like sections of newspaper
blowing and scattering and littering
the streets of an empty city
or a city still fast asleep,
not yet touched
by the morning workers
who collect the past
in their garbage trucks
to make things neat and clean
before the next wave
of paper and print.

Salvage some of those papers,
collect them in a wooden box
with a sailing ship
carved on the lid,
the box of hopes
and dreams and remembering,
the treasure chest of the mind,
a collection started and coveted
on the morning of our lives,
curated as time flows forward,
things discarded and then longed for,
things burned away with joy,
memories carefully wrapped
and stored in the bottom
of the box.

Fragments of dreams
- for thoughts and dreams
become one inside
the treasure box -
and fragments of hope
begin to fill up, until
we realize that the only way
to make room for these
drifting remnant pieces
is to throw away
the dirty strips of despair.

And so let us burn these away,
burn the oiled up papers
of our long-ago failures,
of our self-imposed inadequacy
until there is room again
to keep filling our box
of dreams and thoughts.

20 June 2014

cycle of the poets

The sun and soft breezes inspire gentle thoughts
and poetic musings for weekend scriveners,

              storms and mud and lashing rain
uncover our true humanity and our lives.

Floods and thunder churn up reality,
expose the deep roots of suffering and living,
and drag poetic wanderings back down
into the primeval muck of creation and the life
of this world, the breeding ground where nature
has her dark victory and humanity begins again.

The filth, rushing water, and strife of this life
make artistic fancies gestate once again.
Nothing is unchanged and all things bloom in death.
Struggle conquers daydream, dreams are changed,

                               then the clouds pass, the sun returns,
and newly evolved poetic dreams take flight once again in the cycle
of creation, the cycle of the living, the cycle of the poets.

R.R. Shea

16 June 2014

This coffee

This coffee tastes like a memory,
sipped and savored as the sun rises
over the eastern morning fog,

sipped in solitude as my family
sleeps and only the birds
and rabbits are awake.

The hot liquid pulls me back
into the body of a young man
who has been entranced by a beautiful woman,

a flowing memory of her eyes as blue
and deep as the sea, eyes dancing
as she laughs at my jokes and drinks.

Now I drink alone this first cup
and her eyes are closed and a smile
still plays across her sleeping face.

She will rise from bed soon and join me
and together we will drink coffee and share
the entire universe without words, only with love.

14 June 2014

The whisper of the dramatic

The old masters write that only the most beautiful creatures
tame and shatter our souls, that the smile of a woman can save us
from our own hell or from another's purgatory
and that our world can crumble when our beloved
turns her shoulder or walks away,
and I respect the old masters, except on those occasions
when they are fools, proud idiots, and ignorant magicians.
Our inner selves are far more fragile than the old masters
ever imagined, weak vessels liable to capsize and sink
at a mere memory or a smell in the air that reminds us
of childhood loss or middle aged apathy or elderly boredom.
Our hearts are not glass, but the image of glass, painted
on cracking paper by the maddest of the old masters.
We break not at the dramatic, but at the whisper of the dramatic.

a storm power outage

The late-night storm knocked out the power
and so we lit many candles and huddled
on our couches as the lightning
etched images of uncertain night
into our imaginations.
The flickering of those wax torches
gave the air a feeling of a feast
or a medieval celebration
and our laughter and smiles
came easier to our faces
as we felt invincible and close,
pilgrims having traveled out
of the hectic modern world
of electronics and into
primitive temporary joy.

12 June 2014

Sleep, my little one

My little girl, in the darkest hour of the night
I tip-toed into your room again
as you drifted on your sea of dreams
and I watched you sleep
and my heart filled and then
almost burst open.

I wept in silence, my tears
diverted as they fell
by the smile of my
quivering mouth,
joy and sorrow co-mingling
on my tired cheeks.

I thanked you in whispers
and inaudible sentences
for being my daughter,
for existing and bringing
your burning torch into
Plato's cave, taking my hand,
and leading me out.

I begged forgiveness
from your tranquil pose
of peaceful recline,
forgiveness for being an adult
and forgetting sometimes
the important things in life.

Forgive me, my princess,
for trading in giggles
in favor of irony and sarcasm,
of forming impressions
of friends based on how
they make their money
instead of the contents
of their dreams,
for forgetting about
the tremendous magic
of imaginary tea parties.

Sleep, my little one,
and dream and stay a child
as long as you can, and help me
to find the little boy who still
lives deep within me
and wants to come out to play
one last time.
Sleep, and I too will sleep, and we can
dream a single dream.

RR Shea

11 June 2014

sand and glass

Human footprints in the sand
perhaps the trail of a woman
who is playing and hiding,
waiting to be found and suppressing
a giggle as her lover follows
the tracks in the sand.

Footprints in the sand as a travesty
or the final clues of a missing child
last seen in swim clothes and
carrying a red beach ball
and frolicking in the waves.

Footprints in the sand as a puzzle,
perhaps tracks observed by tourists
who believed they were alone
at this beachfront villa
and now wonder with whom
they must share their solitude.

Footprints like braille or hieroglyphics,
semiotic injunctions on the empty soul,
messages without grammar but overflowing
with all possible meanings.

And within these footprints exist the seeds of glass,
the raw materials from which
some faceless corporation will build
widows for houses and cars.

The sand will be gathered,
heated, transformed, forever changed,
until the footprints in the sand will become
a window from which future generations
will watch their children play
or their spouses come home from war
or sunsets or approaching storms.

The sand-made-window will offer
more readings and signs,
give more clues and provide
for more things to observe.
But it will also separate people,
throw up a shield between the inside and the out,
which has since sand was first transformed
to glass been the secret agenda
of all our windows.

RR Shea

07 June 2014

a change of harvest

As a youth, the ripe red fruit fell
from the trees and the bushes
to my soft-skinned feet
and the cool water flowed
from endless streams.
Honeysuckle perfumed the air
and crickets played symphonies
to send me into nocturnal sleep.

Now youth is gone
and I must scrape
and wrestle my food
from the earth,
cracking knuckles and parched lips
the only interruptions
in the foreboding silence
of our existence.

Listening to the rain

Let's stay in bed
all day and night
and listen to the rain tap out
the confessions of the
restless men and women
in some faraway city,

Raindrops like a telegraph,
hesitating watery caresses
against the window,
a morse code of the cosmos,

let us listen
before we close the curtain
and kiss each other
and laugh and whisper
our own secrets,
drifting into sleep and dreams,

as our sweet nothings
are absorbed by
the passing clouds and fall
as snow in colder lands.

R. R. Shea

05 June 2014

two old ropes

Two old ropes, gnarled and caked in mud
tangle around the trunk stump of a dead oak,
each end leading away into the lush grass,
one rope trailing north and the other south,
like a madman's compass,
like branches leading off into confusion,
like broken promises between two lovers.

The buzzards and the birds
of prey fly overhead,
circle, spot a place to land,
then dive to ground, but
– just before their talons dig into the earth -
they swoop off again,
screaming their disapproval.

The sun and the moon stand guard above,
each fighting to abandon post,
obligatory sentinels,
ready to surrender
or wait for the fire
from the lightning strike
to erase this obscene canvas
and bring the great regeneration
of what has been purified.