Three Poems

At Buckswood Summer School we held one or two poetry nights every stream. During third stream, I read three original poems for the second poetry night. Some of my students have asked about them, so I’ve decided to reprint them here for general consumption.

The first, written in May 2002, is untitled:

Rising out of a fog of fears into a cloud of hopeless dreams
Mountains below and the weight of emptiness above
Valleys below and the stars awaiting above
Rising up from the land and into the cold dark sky

Night flows freely on and through the mountains
Cold soaks the fog and penetrates the soul
Clouds stir vision into hopeless swirls of nothing
Confused promise of boundless skies hides the misty valleys

Dimly awakened dreams of endless azure sky
Promise the dawn and recall the mighty dusk
Lonely stars beckon from their faraway abode
Guarded by the jealous fears weighing on the soul

Falling through a cloud of hope toward a land of broken dreams
Carried to the valleys by the weight of endless skies
Carried to a meadow on the back of the morning mist
The mountains in the distance cower beneath the dawn

And so do you.


The second, written in late 2001, is called “Soulchanger.” It was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s “Vampire Sestina” but is thematically related to skinchanger mythology that may have given rise to werewolf legends. That’s right, I read a sestina about a vampire and wanted to write one about a werewolf. I was really into the “soulchanger” thing for a while and used to blog under that name. Without further ado:

You roam the wild places
Stalk both man and beast
You dance round the fire
Dance with the living and the dead
You strike fear into their hearts
And touch them deep in their souls

Padded paws for his soles
Over his skin he places
Pelts of wolf or hart
A fast or fearsome beast
By his mortal hand dead
But given new life by the fire

We stare through the fire
Burn our eyes and souls
Until our fears are dead
And in the darkest places
Waits for us the beast
He longs to still our hearts

I hold so many hearts
And throw them in the fire
A cruel and callous beast
I scorch their very souls
Each one of them misplaces
Their trust among the dead

What I was is dead
The memory of their hearts
A new visage displaces
The old upon the fire
The new but one of my souls
The new one but a beast

And what a shifty beast
He fights me til I’m dead
And haunts my shifting souls
And pulls apart my hearts
And throws them on the fire
And stalks the wild places

There is a beast within my heart
That in me places many souls
That dance with the dead around the fire.


The third, I wrote in December 2009. I had a friend who always used to say “be joyful” whenever we parted. She was one of the rare people you meet who really improves your life immeasurably. For example, she taught me yoga. This one is also a sestina, but with a somewhat innovative metrical technique. It’s called “Be Joyful”:

“Be Joyful,”
You said to me, and I was. Your words
washed over me like a thousand
waves, and coated me like paint,
and the paint looked like a picture
of you.

I was waiting there for you
because meeting you was joyful
because in my mind, I had a picture
of you, which, like words,
was not enough, which, like paint,
might fade, after a hundred days, or a thousand,

or a thousand thousand.
I asked about you,
I tried to paint
you in my mind, to capture your joyful
being, to hold with words
what I could not picture.

Does a picture
really paint a thousand
When I picture you,
there is only one word – joyful –
and not for lack of paint.

But I could never paint
a picture
so joyful
not if I had a thousand
years, not if you
gave me a million words

but words
are my paint
and you
my picture
of a thousand
ways to be joyful.

A joyful word
that paints
a thousand pictures:


The sestina is actually one of my favorite forms. I’ve written a bunch of them, but they’re hard to do well. These two are probably my favorite that I’ve done.

You can tell that there’s a mood shift in there. I became a lot happier between 2002 and 2009. Life keeps improving. It gets better, kids!

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2 Responses to Three Poems

  1. Anonymous says:

    My favorite was the third one, not for its lighter tone, but rather for its shorter verse. I kinda loved the way the words flow through it.


  2. Pingback: Two Poems | Georgia On My Mind

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