September 25, 2023
September 22, 2023
There were canyons that pulled
of mountains that created them,
gravel roads that storms picked up
and tossed aside, black light
at pine-oak elevation when
lightning flashed the sky down
to claim its portion of the Earth.
There were deer who stopped
to listen to the ore beneath them sing
and there was wind
calling to the miners who had returned
to their own world
to stay there. Thunder tugged at the trees
before it all went by so quickly
the sun had time to shake itself dry
before setting. It was almost music
when water was an aria flowing
over rocks and cymbals flashed
a grand finale before the misty
silence after rain, broken only
by the grosbeaks’ calls.
Nothing much to do today, just
walk along a desert path
to where the bees have made a darkness
of themselves behind
the honeycombs they work
inside a sheltered hollow the sun can’t reach,
then wait for the golden light
to return by late
afternoon when time moves alone
on the street with a shadow for a tail
until the minutes turn to finches,
doves and quail, while seconds flash before
a watching eye as hummingbirds.
There’s a world that works
by pressing buttons. Sunlight doesn’t reach
there. You need a password
to get inside it. And there’s a world
that never asks you
for your name: no records kept, no
deadlines. It’s where
the hours go when they grow tired
of being counted
and become leaves
that shine from within themselves.
September 14, 2023
your eyes turning north, your ears perked
to a swelling airborne murmuration—
undulating waves of dragonflies, tails autumn-
nipped, cresting the horizon, dipping low to
the hieing of your ancestors riding their backs,
your greats-, great-greats- and greaters-still
crying from their mounts: “What news?
How do you fare? Do you think of us?”
They rush quickly by, familiars to life,
their feet once planted where you now stand,
eyes upturned in reverence and awe,
leaving you to swallow your answers as one
parting plea, like a frost-bitten leaf, falls to earth:
“It’s not too late to change!”
Distance soon reclaims their cloud,
and small pieces of you tagging along, until—
it must occur thus—
you awaken chilled some late autumn day,
beneath and all about you pulsing
the ancients’ gossamer multitude,
familiar adjurations springing now from your lips
as you ride time’s back into tomorrow:
“Remember us. Live your life anew!”
Note: The autumn migration of dragonflies coincides roughly with the annual Japanese Bon Festival and an old belief that ancestral spirits, riding dragonflies like winged mounts, return to visit the living.
September 12, 2023
We paused at the crossroad that cloud covered morning,
debating whether the road would be what it promised,
“Paradise Valley.” We read the sign through the mist,
and decided to turn.
A long green path scattered with foxglove,
buttercups, and tumbled with wild roses sauntered
down tree covered hills to fall gently into a quiet stream.
Bright blue-headed birds darted between branches
to balance on long grass strands leaning
over quiet mirrored pools.
Enveloped in spicy eucalyptus mist,
we wandered beneath swooping crimson rosellas,
leapt across steppingstones, looped through
moss bearded tree ferns to the end of the path
where we stood between fallen logs below
slick black stone, water sliding softly over.
Tonight when I look up into your face
amidst the room’s soft light, I think of that road
and the choice we made to turn down it, not knowing.
And yes, it is paradise—more alive with beauty
The myrtle trees
toss their confetti leaves
into the afternoon light’s gentle lap,
dot the misty air with a celebration
of green pointillist delight.
Lifted out of the dry desert,
we shake the dust from our heads
and drop into the cascading downpour
of leaves falling into crevices, covering
the faerie hollows and leprechaun dance floors.
Slowly, we wander deeper and deeper
into the canyons of color, happy
to be caught in the wet world of life.
September 8, 2023
quite the same.
Each world holds a you; choose one,
the others forever lost.
She takes your hand. You step through.
Nothing will ever be the same.
You look back. The window is gone. Look
ahead. She smiles. She waits.
Children peer round her dress. Their shy eyes
welcome you. You forget the window.
You walk to your new family. A choir
of birds sings. A road unspools into the distance.
Michael L. Newell is a poet who lives in Florida. He frequently publishes in Jerry Jazz Musician and Bellowing Ark.
September 5, 2023
and she’d taken him, that Saturday,
to a river stretch she knew, leaving the Teifi
to track a small stream to its source
and to visit the haunt of the kingfisher.
He was a town boy, soon for university,
to London, Oxford Circus, UCL.
(Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
his headmaster had said).
The stream-life stirred, flickered … he felt
the water’s shimmer and the girl’s sincerity.
When the kingfisher flashed by them,
she felt joy’s radiance, orange, blue,
but he had almost blinked it by, kept feeling
the force that was drawing him on,
to a circus-brilliant but darker world.