Saturday, October 30, 2004

Fallen Leaves:

It was in the chill of a dark night,
I was walking alone up on Barrows Hill,
The wind was a flicker of cold breath,
Dancing with whispers through the reaching trees and brambles.

It caught my eye faint but persistent,
A soft glow off in the distance,
Toward the biers and hummocks and stones,
In the quiet place where leaves have fallen,
Naught to pick them or rake,
Great drifts whirling in the lonely dark.

I slowly edged through the night,
Pulled in the direction of a soft reflection,
As I broke through the darkness under giant oaks,
The clearing of the stones rose above me on the hill,
Markers parading up to the sky,
Occasionally one fallen,
Cut out a dark line through the stars,
There wheeling over the top.

It was a lonely little Jack O' Lantern,
A tenacious little candle flame whickering aflutter,
Perched atop the stone of one named Rose,
An artful wreath of fallen leaves and withered dry roses,
Round about the marker's cold base,
A soft glow amidst the kingdom of sightless dark,
Even the moon was fallen from the sky.

A soft glow alone in the night,
Surrounded by cold stones named and fallen leaves,
A yellowed parchment envelope sitting wax sealed,
Atop the marker under the glowing gourd,
Whose smile was carved wistful with no malice,
I dared not break the seal in such a place,
Yet I couldn't help but see it's tender address,
"To Darling Rose my tender leaf,
Who fell on All Hallows Eve,
With love eternal."


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C)_ 10/30/2004

Author's comments:
This one fell out of imagination and into prose.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Last Ride Of The Black Hat...

It was the last dregs of twilight in a bloody season,
Too many scalps hanging from the saddle,
Pale ones too it didn't matter with this hombre,
He'd shoot the fingers off a baby of it would turn a buck,
Look forward without sweating,
Practiced in the art of denial,
He'd repeat the story until even he remembered the lies,
Walking under the stars alone,
He'd rode his nag into bones in the desert,
No firewood it was frigid out here,
Even the rattlesnakes were ducked under the dunes,
But there were rumblings beneath his feet,
The Earth opened underneath him,
Searing at four thousand degrees pardner,
The voices you'd thought delivered to damnation,
Howling for your blood,
Even the shrieking sheiks you'd tussle with,
Welcome to the Hell you tried to create.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/29/2004

Author's Comments:
Trick or treat! Anyone come to mind?


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

River Fest...

I was born in a little town in the Midwest,
In the heart of Winter when it was the harshest cold,
In a small industrial town with a mighty river run through it's heart,
The length of the city it flows,
From far North in Wisconsin down to the big Mississippi,
Seeming to freeze over in this time,
Never believe moving water is more than passingly solid,
Stay far from the dam,
The water is green with a strong scent as such rivers like to be,
People have been drowned in it from time to time,
And such is the nature of rivers...

In the summertime when the leaves are green,
It's hot by the river and there is a long park along it's Eastern bank,
Maybe two miles and a bit more,
The trees are large and towering mostly,
The lagoon where the pedal boats play has a warming house,
They plow it for skating in colder winters,
But in the joyous Summer the leaves and water are green,
And everyone from here goes out that weekend,
In boats packed like a school,
In flowing human rivers of feet,
Strolling up and down the sidewalk there are carnival rides,
Bright colored lights and popcorn and hot dogs and cotton candy,
Children darting forever around the trees and laughing on the rides,
And all along the park stages and music -
Country bands - blues bands - rock bands - polka bands,
Time crosses over in a small town and the river flows seemingly slow,
Cheap Trick is on the big stage again tonight,
Way down by Portland Ave - local boys from twenty minutes away,
This river runs through their town too,
For all of us it's banks are stuck in our definition of home.

In child days I walked hand-holding along these banks and sidewalks,
Seeing all the rides and dreaming of being frightened out of my wits,
Sugar cookie in the hand not in Noni's and it was Summer,
Bright lights and lightning bugs were filling my eyes,
The cotton candy puffs were like giant balls of wished-for Heaven,
And I learned to stay a good bit back from the river,
Because I might fall in and drown,
And there would be pasta with meatballs on the table tonight,
When the teenagers and twentylings owned this place,
These lights by the river and the endless flowing sounds.

In first love days I walked hand-holding along these banks,
She had bright blue eyes the color of pale ice like when I was born,
Raven hair and part Native American only neither of us used those words for it,
I almost missed the carnival lights by the river completely,
Every ten minutes we ran into friends somewhere in the flow down the sidewalk,
All going to see Cheap Trick play for the first time here,
River fest was growing and my dreams were growing,
Dangerously I swam the currents,
Never knowing her ice blue eyes were the river,
I reveled in my strength swimming,
In joy in that season before the ice came,
I had flashbacks of cotton candy and lights,
She had another man's ring and children later that Winter,
And I swam in the green scented waters freezing and thawing for ten years,
Drifting with whatever flotsam would keep me breathing,
While Summer became half over.

In what I thought were growing up days I walked hands-free along these banks,
Seeing children care-free and lovers and old friends missed since last year,
Or was it the Riverfest five years ago,
Or maybe two but they were here again,
Where the carnival rides played their music and I wondered,
Wishing I were hand-holding here along these banks,
Standing alone as the rock and roll washed over me,
Drinking and walking because I could and it's what we did,
Dancing now and then and pretty eyes reflected the carnival ride lights,
Passing me by like the green water of the river twenty feet away,
But I cared less about cotton candy,
And the hot dogs with chili were all right,
Don't hold the blues on the halfway stage,
Twentyling swimming the riverfest,
Still caught in last year's ice.

In one short summer I walked hand-holding along these banks,
Seeing an occasional old friend and saying hello,
How many years has it been now,
Proud and beaming like the lights on the joyrides,
Awash in the rock and roll she had auburn hair and cinnamon apple eyes,
And I was swimming in the water as I walked,
Understanding it could drag you down dogged my heels,
Worrying like a child wanting to be on the rides,
Hoping the cotton candy was going to be sweet,
Unconscious and vividly awake at the same time,
Cheap Trick was playing the big stage,
And I ate the hot dogs and chili gratefully,
Glad to give whatever I had and in love like a doormat,
Begging for even the touch of cold feet,
I learned after that Summer was gone like the carnival lights,
That no one can respect someone swimming in a river of obsession,
No matter how beautiful the pretty lights and cotton candy,
Too sweet is too sweet is the wisdom,
Yet the ride on the other side of the sidewalk was it was a great summer,
That I'll love likely all my life,
And the green water still flows along and the dregs of that summer,
Long flowed down the Mississippi and out to sea,
Like an old tramp steamer you miss her and all the dancing but she can't keep you,
The stage is empty and they turned out the rock and roll lights.

In another time I walked hand-holding down these banks,
Not seeing a single soul I knew,
Styx was warming up for Cheap Trick on the big stage,
It was hot in the Summer night,
Children were darting and crowds were flowing up and down,
Circling the sidewalk circle under the stars and big trees,
Red and green and white boat lights and the occasional firefly,
Glow stick necklaces and the music blaring from the rides,
And I felt solid ground beneath my feet,
A warm hand in mine as the bands played,
Noni and Nono were on the other side of town,
Years in the ground but right here along this river of green water,
Mom was fading to ashes but I didn't know it yet,
Honey was unimpressed with this little town.

But I was born on this river and the music was good,
There was real gold on my finger and I was far from drowning,
The bratwurst and coke were tasting great,
Funny thing it still feels like home,
I've left and come back so many times,
I could feel these banks under my feet and never mistake it,
Maybe next summer I won't be on the pager,
The carnival will set up and the moon will shine on the river,
The bands will play all up and down the heart of the city,
After all this is Rock River we're speaking of,
And I will walk the banks searching for long-forgotten faces,
Yes my brother's out there on his boat,
Got two little boys just like him now,
I'm not sure if Dad or Sis came down this year,
Yeah they're still around here,
No my other Sis is up in Madison,
My other brother's living in the area still,
Step brother's out in Michigan and got married,
How's your mother and your brother,
Yeah Beloit doesn't change that much does it,
By the way how long has it been,
Since I last saw you at Riverfest, here along the Rock?

I was born in a little town in the Midwest,
In the heart of Winter when it was the harshest cold,
In a small industrial town with a mighty river run through it's heart,
The length of the city it flows,
From far North in Wisconsin down to the big Mississippi,
Seeming to freeze over in this time,
Never believe moving water is more than passingly solid,
Stay far from the dam,
The water is green with a strong scent as such rivers like to be,
People have been drowned in it from time to time,
And such is the nature of rivers...


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/26/2004

Author's Comments:
I just woke up a few minutes ago, I'd been dreaming of old friends and back home.

Words are the mind's bridge - it's connection to all the universe.
Love is the heart's bridge - it's connection to all other souls.
Loving words can work miracles.

All of my currently available poetry titles are for sale at:

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Early Morning At The No Name Cafe:

Life is something ticking in the city,
When the sun comes out you only find it by looking at reflections,
Steel and concrete and glass cocoon you,
There in the No Name Cafe they have bright colors,
Back in the corner of the building,
Only those at this address know,
No signs at all anywhere,
Nothing in the windows facing out to the bustling streets,
But they speak spanish and flip up eggs and sausage with a smile,
Corned beef hash only on Fridays,
Change from mariachi to light hits at seven,
Always cheerful to precede sun or rain,
Clutching my umbrella I order up,
Surrounded by brilliant yellow walls,
Grilled potatoes with onions and bell pepper shreddings,
Breakfast sausage links and a bottle of orange juice,
One plastic fork and two paper packets of salt,
A single napkin and those fifties tables and chairs,
Yellow and green vinyl and formica with banded chrome,
Stainless legs polished gleaming off checker tile floors,
The scents and early morning faces smiling in greeting,
Finished I pop the swiveling trash can lid,
Whip out the revolving glass door with the second half of cigar,
Pop my umbrella from it's folded up respite,
Strut between raindrops under my tote-a-roof in green,
Elevate up to the sixth floor of the parking ramp,
I close the umbrella and lean on the concrete wall,
Flick the lid open on my Zippo *snick*,
Light up and puff as I look down on the sidewalk,
A river of umbrella colors moving in some semblance of order,
I look up at the buildings with all their glass windows,
Seeing the billions of individual drops in the cascade outlined in hive relief,
Zipping up the black sweat jacket full and relaxed,
I just left work for the day,
After stopping by No Name Cafe.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/13/2004

Author's Comments:
I wanted to write this a few days ago, but it just popped out today.
Time Of Fire And Gold:

Everywhere, everywhere,
The leaves are burning without smoke,
Sun or grey skies the fields glint of gold and harvest,
The land is calling to be taken and I walk the hills and paths in my dreams,
The honking of vast clouds of geese circling whirling over corn,
Blackbirds fill the trees and wires,
The burning bush is rampant and replicated innumerably,
I landed in a field of harvested corn with still neat rows,
Walking in the morning that should be silent,
But the geese are speaking in volumes and I long for open hills,
Free of the concrete burdens of clocks and city,
This is no time of life for lifeless lines and angles,
Give me the wild disarray of red and orange and gold leaves,
The sprawled leaves lying in evidence of harvested corn,
The endless wisps and blankets of grey fall clouds,
Breath on the wind and following the sun and moon,
Haunted nights speak to me of dreams and changing guard,
I am ancient in the fields and reminiscent of fire in stone circles,
Of stealth in the woods and grasses and wielded hoe and scythe,
Of dancing to echoing drums by firelight 'round golden sheaves,
Watched by the blazing yellow of Jack 'O Lantern eyes and such ilk,
Silent in the moment of drawn bow in my mind like Orion in the night,
The world is starting to turn here in earnest,
The world is ablaze,
I am bathed in the time of Fire and Gold.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/13/2004

Author's Comments:
Fall is an incredible gift.

Words are the mind's bridge - it's connection to all the universe.
Love is the heart's bridge - it's connection to all other souls.
Loving words can work miracles.
Birds Diving Off Wires:

Must have been a flock of fifty,
Up against all the greyed-over sky,
A day for old blues piano,
Solid voices roll over golden grass,
Singing songs of falling love ends,
Fires as painful as burning leaves,
Guitars twang and echo,
Blinga blinga blue like cold creek water,
Another Fall season burns,
Birds are diving off wires,
Flocking South in the grey-blue sky,
And I am thankful I've found home.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/13/2004

Author's Comments:
Listening to old blues on a fall drive.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

State Of Crisis:

It's a sad sickness these days,
The thousands and thousands of messages,
A never ending litany of fear and fire,
The flames of the Beast must be stamped out,
And I'm hopping upon e-mail after e-mail,
Dancing like a clown in too-small shoes.

In every place I look the Beast seems to be raging.

Slowly I'm coming to realize,
Some subtle understanding of change behind my eyes,
In the analysis of near poetic standstill,
I've come to a state of crisis,
Barely able to lift my hand to dip pen in ink,
Let alone delisciously stroke the page.

In every place I look the beast seems to be raging.

What the soul says is the answer is hard to believe,
It's wispy and willowy and ephemeral and electric,
It's a dance of the merger of physics and spirit,
Some might call it even shamanistic,
In every place I look the Beast seems to be raging,
Until I look inside my heart.

Defuse the state of crisis,

I refuse to be a lonely heart.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/07/2004

Author's Comments:
KNOW the Beast will lose. KNOW that Spirit will win.
JOIN in.
Candlejack's Night:

It was deep in a moonlit night,
Amber was writ large in Luna's face on the horizon,
Even as she danced in and out of a veil of thin black cloud,
Frost was gilded like white on grass and stone,
Deep in the woods even the magical Little People stayed far from,
The occasional star peeping through the night,
Peering down through shadows upon a long cold trail,
Overgrown nearly with ripping brambles,
Flush in the rustling of flaming October leaves,
If it were daylight you'd see the red,
Now just a black cowbell of announcement for lost feet.

She wandered between groping black oaks,
Wicked buckthorn dressed in black cloaked night tearing the sky,
Stones now began lining the sides of the path,
A soft green glow tracing the lines of ancient characters upon them,
A language she didn't know at all,
But the path was clear now,
Even cobwebs had fled the darkness of this place,
And in the eerie glow of Stonerune light,
She could feel every drop of crimson pulse in her veins,
Every beat within her shivering chest was amplified,
Spine chills and hackle-raising tingle flames on the back of her neck,
Yet she couldn't bear going back into the woods,
Hearing the rustling of some creature back at the first stones,
Pawing and huffing and a mournful howl thrown into the long night,
Resigned she stumbled on and on.

Set now upon smaller stone pedestals that danced the sides of a monolithic valley,
Giant pumpkins with glowing red candle faces carved in them,
Pools of softly glowing light illuminated leaves fallen from the heights,
The only thought of life and bounty to drift into this bleak place,
Save her and her wayward lost feet that wouldn't stop cold,
Something daylight's more rational tone might have stressed,
Far more so when the first pile of small creature bones appeared,
There in the candles' puddle of orange-yellow glow,
Feet that carried her unasked,
As each candle stand claimed it's own bony pool.

Wide eyes and silent scream the Candlejack leapt out of the dark,
Towering stick body supporting a huge pumpkin head,
Vile purple glow in the carved-looking eyes,
The curl of bony fingers danced snakes across her soft throat,
She whimpered as her bones shrank back,
Her mind was beyond stopped,
Another spirit soared the sky as Candlejack,
Screamed and something lifeless fell,
There at the base of the pumpkin stand,
Harvest of another Fall and victim of her own fear,
For Candlejack's cold rest was again undisturbed,
The silent tomb was brushed with one more falling drifting leaf.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/07/2004

Author's Comments:
Inspired by the season.

Words are the mind's bridge - it's connection to all the universe.
Love is the heart's bridge - it's connection to all other souls.
Loving words can work miracles.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Remnants of Gold:

Late afternoon in low sun like a dying year,
Gone to bursting milkweed and dead amber everywhere,
Flaming leaves dueling in ageless dance with still-yet green,
Walking round the trail the river is slowly flowing reflection,
Hand in hand we wonder at stalks and leaves and tufted seed,
Flight is a marvel as the vee circles again and again,
Hovering over golden corn stubble low and slow,
Like this sky without a cloud,
And they mate for life just as they gather in the harvested corn,
Hundreds and hundreds and voices of forever,
The sun is falling and we're walking past the barn,
Boarded up with it's children long gone away,
The sky will be all stars tonight and sheets over the mums,
A hard freeze will come they say,
It never ends but it ends every year,
We'll turn to sweaters and coats as tawny returns,
Tawny in every corner of the world and gold in the sky,
The turn of sunlight angle speaks to your soul of time,
In the manner of stone-shouldered hills and book-pressed flowers,
The world bears fruit despite harsh masters,
Yet the amber prairie bones fill our eyes,
Calling for a healing long overdue.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/05/2004

Author's Comments:
We have duties and we have treasures.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Dreaming In Druid:

Sitting in a calm chair slowly,
Early October afternoon sunshine drips between my crossed feet,
Like the wax of a candle made of whispering yellow leaves,
Falling and drifting and rising in spinning glee amber,
Tall grass rustling in tune to the wind dance,
Wildly gyrating young leaf-spangled Oak and Maple,
Cloud of blackbird flock endless whirl in the visions haunting me,
Someday to walk in a church with no roof,
All stone heavy immense and thick breathes in slow flowing heat,
Candles flickering in the twilight as leaves spin rustle round pews,
Stone seats that pass through time like soft water parted,
Broken bits of fallen leaf fade to soil in time,
Source of all God's gifts are in the rich black Earth we turn,
And the secret whispered by the stars and echoed on wind,
Along with dominion comes stewards' responsibilities.


By: Daniel A. Stafford
(C) 10/04/2004

Author's comments:
Genesis 1-26: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." Genesis 1-29: And God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food." Genesis 1-30: And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so." Genesis 2-15: 15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

Someone said in another forum that "walking in a chapel open to nature was unnecessary as God is everywhere we do so every day." I agree for the most part, but I've seen a chapel open to nature once before and it was distinctly beautiful. I felt it did an excellent job of allowing me to focus my thoughts on relating to God while enforcing the connection He gave us with nature. Look up New Harmony, Indiana some time. Actually, I can do one better - I'll post a few images that hopefully can illustrate the point.


Words are the mind's bridge - it's connection to all the universe.
Love is the heart's bridge - it's connection to all other souls.
Loving words can work miracles.