We walk across ths snowy fields
a chance meeting yet we always
knew this day would arrive.
I do not know your face
from dreams of a spirit
walking between tall trees,
always obscured and hidden.
But with the song playing out
here between each snowflake.
I know it is you.
“Which way home?”
She asked in child’s voice.
“This way, into the sun.”
I replied, pointing up the slope at the muted
late winter sun at the path’s end.
“We all come from the sun.”
This is not working.
Playing the other role,
hoping for something benign,
I asked what this was.
You threw your cigarette.
Landing with orange ash slowly rising
into the early autumn air,
as you dropped from the cement
wall and walked away forever.
With an apathetic look in tired eyes
he turned away from the edge,
hundreds of feet above the turbulent
waters, and walked toward the forest,
across the empty road absent
of any traffic since the morning,
into the cultivated fields, curiously empty,
and sat next to the stone marker and finally wept.
I see you in fragmented dreams
images from a life I have not lived
unfocused faces and voices
mouthing words I cannot hear.
I see images on billboards
and movie vignettes where
touching moments break through
the wall 20-years old.
I see you in rare dreams
sourced from beyond this life,
beyond the choice I made
and the weight I have carried.
If you are out there behind
the trees the shadow
following me through the
forest as the sun sets
please let me know,
please let me know.
At last we have arrived
at the transition.
An outpost where the river
falls into the sea.
Here we will setup camp
and wait for her to arrive.
I did not sleep well that evening
the voice of the stars and the silence of the sea
wrestled through the smoke
and through the flames the moon smiled.
What does this mean?
Is she near?
We travelled 40 days to
find this space and now we wait.
The book only spoke in hushed tones
only alluded to her in veiled visions.
At last I fell asleep and this dream
passed through time and quasars
violent shaking and collapsing
as the space closed around me.
I awoke on a mountain peak
overlooking a valley but
no longer near the outpost
as the sea falls into the river
the moon consumes the stars
and she reaches down from the sun.
I have been writing about the character of “Joline” since 1993 mostly through many, many poems. Earlier this year, I started on a screenplay that ties together real-life experiences, some people I have known, and a storyline that emerged from the poetry. In completing the outline and determining locations, a lot of it will be based in Alaska, and Haines in particular. Below is a photo form Haines that is providing am anchor for the beginning.
At the intersection I
woke to a wall cloud
filled not with rain
but fragments of some
life I did not recognize…
they elicited no emotion, only
confusion, a detached
sense of being…
I watched the images for hours –
people, faces, death, and birth.
I watched children play in the cold water
of a fountain in the center of a city.
I watched a brother and sister climb
At the peak a raven held tight
overlooking the park and cawed.
The images slowed, they became a movie
of one person in particular, one face.
She smiled while looking over her shoulder
as if she was holding someone’s hand,
she was leading somewhere, determined,
always smiling, almost pulling the person.
There was no sound here, just two people,
focused on her face, the background fuzzy
yet with depth through shades of black and white.
Then she stopped.
The scene went black and returned triggering
an instant pang of regret and remembrance…
Another poem from the “Joline” series.
We walked to the river
beneath the towering cement bridge.
A solitary barge moved with
grace and silence.
Our voices were not silent.
Djarum smoke filled the space
between us as we took turns
speaking and telling stories
releasing pent-up anger.
I felt your direction was directionless
you felt I was not happy with you.
The fragile state of mind we brought
fractured, exposing the vulnerabilities
and baggage weighing and influencing
our thoughts and actions.
Who was right?
Who was wrong?
Pride became the wounds
opening before our eyes
and that road we foolishly
set to walk together, vanished.
Fort Snelling, Mendota Bridge
From a series of poems and prose about Joline
Cigarette smoke settles between us
a soft crackle with each hit
between each sip of coffee.
An ash falls from yours
while we discuss literature,
Chaucer, and final exams.
Looking back, we were just kids
racing toward adults
from one credit to the next.
Concerned with grades, beer,
and pleasure – tomorrow did not exist
and our relationship was fuzzy,
undefined, messy, and hurtful.
But we cared little, and made up
often – lost into ourselves we left
everyone behind closed doors,
swirling in whiskey and Djarums.
Months became years and we
both changed, became more aware
of direction, other pursuits and the
terrible couple we were.
Fights became more frequent
angry outbursts more violent
and still we tried, even through
slit wrists and copious pills
we came back for reasons I forgot.
But I do not know this yet
as we share coffee and cigarettes.