Category: Poems


Poem: Cliffs of snow

raven-silhouette-and-storm-clouds public domain pictures.net

 

 

In the beginning

 

And the ending

 

And the beginning

 

Stand unbroken

 

The chimes of the mists

 

Of evermore, where the raven,

 

Black king of prophecy,

 

Of shining forests,

 

Greets

 

The rain and the sun,

 

And awaits

 

His mate

 

On the juniper heights,

 

Hearing the humming croak

 

Of the frog in the creek

 

And all the crowds

 

Of tadpoles

 

That awoke

 

In the sands,

 

In the sparkling rains.

 

Later,

 

The wise

 

Long-eared owl

 

Walks in the snow,

 

In the midnight of winter,

 

Silent,

 

As she has always done,

 

Remembering the bubbling lakes of spring

 

Where crystal flowers flame

 

In the sunrise,

 

Where Ganesha’s smile

 

Illuminates

 

The fateful dark; where the coyote’s howl

 

Sings a lullaby, a gentle

 

Enchantment, laughing, sly.

 

Where the broken bridge

 

Of time bends along

 

The rushing waters of the gorge, transient,

 

Leaving.

 

Yet the presence of eternity remains

 

In the eyes – at once meek

 

And brave – of the young cottontail.

 

On a silver-winged hill,

 

Under a bright cowl of numinous clouds,

 

The ravens

 

Call

 

Still

 

In the trail

 

Of the rains

 

0f a distant day.

 

Until

 

The gold feet

 

Of the setting sun

 

Run

 

Over long roads through the juniper trees –

 

Through the scattered scrub oak.

 

White cliffs, gateways to eternity,

 

You who bear the scars

 

Of rain and winds and storms, who

 

Give earth blessings,

 

Who speak silently through

 

Ancient seas long gone – where you were born,

 

Through awareness beyond our own,

 

You talk with the stars

 

From a far ancient country, long worn

 

Away,

 

And yet to be again;

 

When

 

You recall the song

 

Of the mountain bluebird

 

Who had no name

 

The song no longer heard,

 

Sung long ago,

 

In mystic nights

 

That left no trace.

 

Now, after a while,

 

Tall,

 

On a high ridge

 

The pine tree

 

Stands,

 

Unafraid, in the ice and snow

 

Singing still,

 

Under the haunting moon of grace,

 

A moon of many petals,

 

Beyond the tides that rise and fall,

 

On the plateau above, he stands

 

And writes with fire in the sky

 

On a clear and wind-swept day.

 

 

©Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

 

Photo Credit:

https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=261251&picture=raven-silhouette-and-storm-clouds

 

 

 

 

The Great White Egret

 

By the smoke-ringed rains,

 

Where a time that never really was,

 

Of butterflies

 

And bees

 

That buzz,

 

Begins,

 

A tall bird stood

 

Who came from the forest

 

Of alder trees

 

From the winding wood,

 

Alone, wandering,

 

Seeking a way of speaking,

 

Remembering the tales of an ancient day,

 

Forgetting the present,

 

Standing still in the wind,

 

Watching the fish for a moment,

 

In the sea, leaping

 

In the sunlit sea,

 

In the lights that danced,

 

Star-finned,

 

Hearing the distant call

 

Of dolphins,

 

And the laughter of otters

 

Who lived in the bay,

 

In the haunted lagoon,

 

Among the phantom ships,

 

So tall,

 

With opalescent sails.

 

But no one is there,

 

Where

 

The seas on the shore so gently fall

 

Where the melodies of the moon

 

Encircle the stones that arise

 

Where the fairies

 

Sang and spun their magic spells

 

Still the tall bird dwells

 

By the shore, wading,

 

His toes, he dips,

 

Entranced

 

By the unseen beings all around,

 

Watching and waiting

 

Waiting and watching,

 

And listening

 

To the sound

 

Of the worlds of the sea,

 

In the mist of many lilies,

 

In the trails,

 

In the trains

 

Of mist,

 

Walking over the wide waters,

 

Listening

 

For the bells

 

To chime,

 

The bells that are certain to ring,

 

The bells in the echoes, beyond all time.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

Photo credit: ID 121845856 Tahir Abbas / dreamstime.com

 

T.Voekler This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Wikipedia 1024px-Sacred_lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera

 

What is – and who?

 

Within the age-worn masks of maya

 

There is only the one,

 

Where the clouds slip over the blue

 

Skies

 

Like white kites, wind-blown,

 

Scattering –

 

Then

 

Gone.

 

In the midnight

 

Before the dawn

 

History’s nightmares of desecration

 

Crack like jack hammers –

 

Then they have flown,

 

Away,

 

Gone

 

By the hour

 

Of moonrise,

 

When

 

Only the deep desert remains,

 

Only the ethereal,

 

Wise stones,

 

Only the clarity

 

Of the presence that never wanes,

 

Only the one

 

Who becomes all beings, and

 

Who by day

 

Sings within the luminous song

 

Of the cactus wren,

 

Perching where the wind stirs

 

On the high pine bough,

 

Overlooking the shifting sand

 

Of the shore,

 

Strewn with bitter bones,

 

The fading fires of empire;

 

There is only the one who shines in the white

 

Petal

 

Of the dogwood tree,

 

Tipped on the cliff-height;

 

Or who looks through each of the thousand,

 

Awakening emerald eyes

 

Of the cobra,

 

Drifting from cosmic wave to wave,

 

Never to settle

 

For long

 

On the rolling, green-winged sea,

 

The many-hooded cobra – the couch for Narayana,

 

While he is dreaming now

 

And evermore;

 

There is everywhere only the one,

 

Only the single

 

Flower,

 

Brave,

 

The unfolding power,

 

Brahman,

 

Within all the many, mist-blown masks of maya.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

Photo credit: T.Voekler / This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Wikipedia 1024px-Sacred_lotus_Nelumbo_nucifera.jpg

 

Within the bowl

 

Of translucent roses,

 

A star-sung reality.

 

The meaning is the soul

 

Of the word; which word?

 

The unseen hand weaves

 

Together the forest mists

 

Into the far, far lights – the hooked beak of the bird,

 

The blue

 

Green mountains, the cliffs,

 

The spirit houses

 

Which have ever been present

 

In the depths beyond time,

 

More real than the silver sparkling leaves

 

Of the aspen trees

 

Near the flickering domain

 

Of the sage

 

Grouse,

 

More real than the turning tidal sound of the seas,

 

More real than the fog-bound whiffs

 

Of bison noses

 

In the cold-trodden winters of the plain.

 

No, you cannot find them in the bending

 

Desert sage –

 

Until they are within you.

 

You who?

 

Beyond the swift-footed fires of the sun,

 

Beyond the leaping waters that hurl

 

Themselves from heights

 

Down steep mountain rocks,

 

Beyond only the winds that curl

 

Along the empty docks

 

Of the shipyards of forgotten time,

 

The spirit houses, within earshot of the sounding chime

 

Of eternity,

 

Remain

 

Each one,

 

Radiant,

 

In the light-toed, gray-winged rain

 

That blows through all the realms from age

 

To age to age

 

To snow-enchanted age,

 

While the wild horse

 

Runs with his herd

 

His ancient course,

 

His hooves flying,

 

Dancing,

 

Through wind-lit streams of moonbeams.

 

 

© Sharon St Joan, July 2019 

 

Photo: ID 113986688 © Heather Mcardle | Dreamstime.com

 

Hail to the sea

 

The vivid green paws

 

Of the sea

 

Played with the rock cliffs, batted

 

Them like torn twigs,

 

Buffeted in the barking 

 

Winds of the gale,

 

Swatting the pale, 

 

Cardboard king,

 

On the hill, unseating him,

 

Pretender to his mournful, desolate throne

 

Of death,

 

Built of a splintered tree

 

On desecrated lands,

 

Sending him tumbling down

 

In his tinseled crown,

 

Only to take up his beguiling tune again

 

On his fife 

 

And his drum.

 

Soon

 

The wail

 

Of the waves

 

Overwhelms all

 

The spires of existence

 

When

 

They slip

 

Heedless,

 

In dim

 

Strands through darkness

 

Into the abyss.

 

Almost gone the waffling

 

Tip-toed, tall,

 

Top-hatted

 

Arrogance

 

Of the feeble minions

 

In white wigs

 

That used to trip

 

Along after the weak and wobbling

 

Pied piper who, it was said, chains and enslaves 

 

All life,

 

Yet who one day saw

 

Even his fife

 

And his drum

 

Fall

 

Down 

 

Into the green dance.

 

Now he too is gone into the wild, primeval,

 

Laughing hiss

 

Of the waves of the sea,

 

No more to be.

 

Gone by the power of the paws

 

Of the sea,

 

The clamping jaws,

 

The widening maw of the watery, untamed beast 

 

Of the sea,

 

Of the earth,

 

Who rides forth

 

On the mist of the east,

 

From unmapped horizons.

 

Now she is running

 

Ever so swiftly

 

On her bright green paws

 

To take back the night of innocence,

 

Of steep stillness

 

And stars unknown,

 

Born of ancient, bright-winged stone.

 

©Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

Photo credit: Photo of public domain work of art / The Great Wave off Kanagawa / Katsushika Hokusai / Wikipedia

1024px-Corvus_corax_tibetanus

 

Where the essence of the rain echoes

 

The magic beyond time,

 

There, as anyone knows,

 

There is no time.

 

Only the bluebirds that flit quickly

 

From branch to beaded branch; only

 

The far, jasmine-flowered eyes

 

Of the deer that trails beyond the tree;

 

Only the elusive tower

 

In the clouds where that ancient spirit stays

 

To watch and then simply to remain.

 

Only the One who is all,

 

Only the breath of the boat of the moon,

 

In misted shawl,

 

Mother of the silver pathways,

 

That run along the creek-enchanted stones

 

Of greening moss and deepening mystery.

 

Soon,

 

With the fleet

 

Ears of the listening hour,

 

Ever-perceptive,

 

Those black-robed ravens

 

(Who live,

 

Long,

 

In joy, where we do not,

 

In the bitter knocking wind of winter’s bones)

 

Will hear the exultant wail of the coyote,

 

(Who has never been wrong

 

Yet always was held ever, in

 

The bright-leaved essence of the rain)

 

Will hear now, so clearly, the tumbling power

 

Of the dawn over the rain-sung mountains,

 

Where the ringing song

 

Is heard to rise

 

Then wane,

 

Beyond the rock-encircled climb

 

To the fire-striking feet

 

Of Hamsa, the knowing swan

 

And then, anon,

 

Will chime

 

In peace the single mystic gong

 

That folds up the wandering wings of being.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2019

 

Photo: Pkspks / “This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.”/ Wikipedia

 

 

 

Phoenix_detail_from_Aberdeen_Bestiary

 

Out of the ashes of the end

 

Arises the Phoenix.

 

Who is this Phoenix

 

Who flies through flashes

 

Of burning embers,

 

Who extends

 

Her black-enchanted wings

 

From the horizon

 

To the wind-streaked high plateau,

 

This one who ever dies,

 

Yet flies

 

Again

 

With golden beak

 

And brown-laked eyes

 

That seek

 

Only those stories, spoken lore,

 

True and raven-wandering?

 

Mountain air gleams;

 

Glittering stars talk

 

And walk,

 

And wend their way

 

Among the hidden crannies of the skies

 

And know

 

Where eagles slip through time’s illusion,

 

Eagles who remember every eon

 

And recall the wisdom

 

Of the glad-winged Hamsa

 

Who hears,

 

Even now, the dawn-invoking, distant drums

 

Of long-gone dreams.

 

After the flames of desecrated towns

 

Leave strange, fossilized soils,

 

After the blanched wicks

 

Of all the candles have been snuffed,

 

And volcanic plumes fluffed

 

Aloft in sobering winds,

 

After the great ending,

 

The air clears

 

Of dim, smoke-laden whiffs.

 

Then Adi Sesha of the thousand, bright-singing,

 

Emerald crowns,

 

Older than all the many worlds before,

 

Older than the trees of time, ever ancient,

 

Floats again

 

On the timeless mist

 

Of eternity,

 

Lifting, on his linked coils,

 

The light form of Narayana,

 

Radiant,

 

Who slumbers,

 

Resting.

 

Then the Phoenix

 

Rises through the amethyst

 

Height,

 

Over the land where lilies still grow

 

In the backwaters

 

Not far from the rainbowed sea,

 

In the rain,

 

In the truth where only

 

The innocent curlews, nesting,

 

Play by the rocky shore

 

On a gray, moon-bent day

 

There the waves crash, exuberant,

 

Against the granite cliffs.

 

 

©Sharon St Joan, 2018

 

Illustration: Phoenix detail from Aberdeen Bestiary, Public Domain, Wikipedia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nataraja

800px-An_ephemeral_waterfall

 

Their lives are cast in shadows,

 

They who will not see you,

 

You who no one knows,

 

Not hearing your voice in the grass, talking,

 

Or in the pale wintry call

 

Of the tern,

 

Not hearing your voice of ashes,

 

Unaware of your presence in the flames

 

Of the waters that run,

 

That turn over the stones.

 

Still there is only you,

 

No one else anywhere,

 

You who stand behind all;

 

Within all.

 

With only a billion names

 

You are one.

 

In the night soul of the forest, oaken,

 

In the stalking

 

Of the insistent leopard,

 

In the power of the sea, cresting

 

Blue,

 

In the word

 

Of the wind that so long wandered

 

By the bleak

 

Runes.

 

Now there dawns the dancer in the sky overhead,

 

About whom none may speak,

 

And nothing may be said,

 

Not ever spoken.

 

There rise the flames of the names,

 

Unbroken,

 

Standing still by the tall

 

Reeds in the lake of the sun,

 

Hearing your voice in all the rains

 

That ever were,

 

Singing.

 

© Sharon St Joan, 2018

 

Photo: Vince Reinhart/“This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.”/Wikipedia/ Waterfall on the Chagrin River, Ohio

 

 

 

Cover-Vol3-The East

 

By Laura J. Merrill

 

Readers of Sharon St Joan’s blog site, “Echoes in the Mist” (recently changed from “Voices-and-Visions”), will be familiar with her ethereal poems, which have always resonated with me as a view into the sacred soul of Nature.

 

Over the last two years, Sharon has graciously devoted some of her time and creative talent to composing twelve poems for the latest volume of Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees.

 

Volume Three: The East, in which you will find her verses, concerns a few of the trees native to the eastern part of this continent—from the Mississippi River to the Atlantic Ocean—some well known and some quite uncommon, and some wholly unique to this continent, although not necessarily familiar to all of us; examples are Sugar maple, American chestnut, Pawpaw and Tulip Tree.

 

These brightly illustrated volumes familiarize us with each tree, utilizing facts about it and its native surroundings, as well as a few particulars about some of the animals and other plants that share its environment. At the same time, each tree is given a chance to “speak for itself,” in a section titled, “Reflections,” in which we can imagine how the tree might see its place in the world and how it may view us, as fellow travelers on the Earth.
In the world of books about nature, these publications are distinctive, blending fact and fantasy for adults who are willing to consider the idea that we are all equal participants in the great work of Creation.

 

You can find this, as well as the first two volumes, The West and Midcontinent, on Amazon at this link.

 

Enjoy!

The Rain

113186375 Michael Chatt : dreamstime.com

 

In a portent of misted beauty

 

The rain-wandering hawk

 

Awakens

 

The sleeping

 

Mother of the mountains

 

To ring the standing

 

Bowls of silence

 

There since

 

Before the wings of time took flight,

 

And in ringing, to empower

 

The wild places;

 

The trees, her children,

 

Blossom gold;

 

Bumblebees run races,

 

The stars sail

 

Their tall wooden ships

 

On the bobbing waves of the black, deep sea.

 

Will the antlered elk remain,

 

Even then,

 

Along with the swift falcon,

 

And the barred geese

 

Who rode so bravely

 

Near the fierce night

 

Of the wrath of the wind

 

And biting hail

 

Where the embattled sky

 

Flashed

 

White, unpinned,

 

And armies of air

 

Clashed

 

From outcrop to rocky hill

 

Echoing

 

Echoing

 

Where the old owl blinks?

 

In the aftermath, gray-gowned, shy

 

Rain beings fly by

 

On blue

 

Petals;

 

The band of geese settles

 

On the lapping lake, recalling

 

All the stone-stepped eons told

 

In the unfolding stories – or a leaf-borne tale

 

By the rocks that talk,

 

Voices of the dark red canyons,

 

Of the grass and plants, wind-whispering

 

Of the juniper-guardians

 

Of the all-knowing bear,

 

Of the small-footed mouse, smiling and meek,

 

And the so determined ants.

 

There the rattlesnake slinks.

 

Now only the wise ones who

 

Know the starry ways, by most forgotten,

 

Who tend the earth, will gather

 

Again,

 

Their songs to sing

 

Like the soaring sea,

 

In the bright land of the moon –

 

Gentle as the rain that drips

 

Among the sleeping flowers

 

Of the stars. Now all is connected in these most final holy

 

Hours

 

As it was before the beginning,

 

One in many,

 

Many in one,

 

And if we train

 

Our attention for a moment,

 

Soon,

 

As the gale is done,

 

We will

 

Find the one we seek

 

Standing by the silver tree,

 

Near the old

 

Railed fence

 

Speckled in sunlight.

 

Hear beyond the rivers’ torrent

 

The chant of Om,

 

The lost bells of home.

 

Thank you, blessed rain.

 

Thank you, Parvathi,

 

Ever there, peace

 

Falling

 

On the star-clad mountain peak.

 

 © Sharon St Joan, 2018

Photo: 113186375 © Michael Chatt / dreamstime.com