Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Winter Lull

Moonbeams dance upon snow
as the tree casts itself in shadow
over the quiet field. Branches
vein across glitter, reach
over veiled ground to touch
bent, frosted grass at the edge
of the silenced brook.

@ 2011 Joanne Elliott

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Parade Posterior

Gray cast morning.

Screeches! and chirps from children and birds
drift in window
as crowds flood Greenleaf
now a street for Christmas packaged floats
and marching bands.

Santa hats and sweatshirts
dash here and there like elves
as seen from my two-story perspective.

In between car revvvs band noise begins
slowly turns to music.
Big brass echoes follow the boom
and rat-a-tat of drums.

Heads move and sway
like river reeds.
Party ready they lead the way for Santa.

Up here there is no glimpse
of the little fat man in his red suit.
One lonely yellow-turning tree
spans across his mini North Pole on wheels.

Soon the last band strikes its first note
as sky brightens to the putter of Santa’s
gasoline powered float.

At the end
orange-shirted, white-gloved men
swing sticks
poke litter
to the Honk! Honk!
of the street sweeper.

© 2002 Joanne Elliott

This past Saturday was Whittier’s annual Christmas Parade so I share a past experience.
Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, Winter Solstice…

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Expression

Blood moves
by the beating drum.

Breath flows
from the inner wings.

Words drift
through air to ear.

Language vibrates
in the shadows.

© 2004 Joanne Elliott

Thank you all for your comments both last week and this week. I didn't mean to post this again. I didn't have a poem to post this week and when posting Charles' poem I accidently posted mine from last week. So many of you saw this...if you didn't I'm glad you came by this week. :-)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Release

Beads fall to my feet in slow motion
only to rise mockingly as if
they could recapture their well worn
position at the hollow of my neck.

Slowly their rebound subsides
into tiny leaps. Then they roll
out of sight beneath the chair
where my mother never sat.

Tears that strangled my throat
rain to the soft pine floor.
They don’t rise to taunt me
but splatter into stars.

© 2004 Joanne Elliott

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Primordial

I run from the forest.
Out of the darkness I hear its many limbs
strain as they rain foliage on my soul.
A shadow darkens my moonlit path
a crow races towards me, its wings
beat out the rhythm of my heart.
The subtle swish of feathers mocks
my rasped gulps of air.

Suddenly my path ends
there is no where to go
but down

where my toes hover above darkness.
I look over my shoulder.
Stillness reigns as breath
refuses to escape burning lungs.

I watch the crow pull the forest
with black curled claws
draw it over me like a shroud.
I turn, look down into blackness,
into the void that surrounds.
Heart pulsing sounds of fear
race to my throat as screams
that never leave the confines
of my crucified mind.

Feathers whisper in my ears
as a Cimmerian shade
envelopes me.
Shadow fills my sight and for a moment
I face the dark shade
wish only for death
until a song pours through my heart.
Carried in blood it courses
through throbbing veins
chants with ancestral voices
entices me to dance
take a step back.
My foot slides over pebbles
finds little resistance
as I take the lead
hover over emptiness
fall back into nothing.

Arms flail against unfound air
as wings beating against the night
black wings crashing against nothingness
until falling is flying is soaring.

Midnight feathers fanned
I ride the chasm
pierce the night with a blackness
of my own. Glide out of the void
and into refreshing light.
I feel moon rays wash my soul
of eternal emptiness
as they guide me back to the forest
glazed with moon reflected sunlight.

A life that cast only shadows
now soars on the breath of trees.
I glide into the arms of the wild wood
navigate unknown territory within,
begin to see now
as if a milky film had been peeled away
leaving only shiny dark points of light.

Soon I rise up out of the depths
fly to the top of the tallest sentry
spread my wings to open my heart
to the sky, the moon, the stars.

My eye captures another circling
barely visible in the blackest hour.
Surprised to hear my own voice
vibrate the drums of my ears
I blink, take another look
stretch my wings and leap
nearly collide with an image
so like my own
that I cannot be sure
another soars before me.
Its eyes a mirror in which I see
two other shiny spheres
endless reflection.

We sail through the cool predawn air
rise and fall to the beat of our hearts.
Perform against the twilight
a dance rehearsed in lives past
while our eyes echo the fading
constellations.

© 2000 Joanne Elliott

This piece I wrote after my life was touched by a crow. One day, while out walking, a crow brushed my hair with its wing and not long after my whole life changed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Still Growth

You stare at me from the picture frame
tongue stuck out, eyes like fire
through crystal.

I look down at my hand
dandelions hang their sun burst heads
now that they’ve been pulled
from a bed once filled
with petunias pink as
bubble gum.

But I haven’t been thinking about flowers
and have neglected my green thumb.
I know you would call that
sacrilege
but things still grow.

I put the dandelions in the vase
next to your photo stick my tongue out
at you.

© 2011 Joanne Elliott

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Movement Towards Yesterday

Tomorrow

As in dream the mists drift in
obscure moonlight and the path
strewn with red wild flowers.
I reach out feel the bark
of a tree
hard
rough
strong.

Today

The path was still there
though wind and flame
transformed. My feet
set on its familiar winding
know the way
though my eyes
are confused
more rock in view.

The once ancient tower
sentry of the forest
overlooking the desert
now cradled by stone.

Yesterday

Sleep is welcome
but it does not come.
Under a white moon
the wind blows hot
trees sway and moan.
The Santa Anas howl
the restless saint roams.

Sun rises over the mountains.
The dragon wakes
heaves its great chest
takes its first breath.

© 2011 Joanne Elliott

This year we lost The Poetry Cabin, our retreat in the mountains, to the bank. Back in Oct. 2007 we nearly lost it to fire, but it rose from the ashes better than before. The building is someone else’s now, but The Poetry Cabin lives online via Facebook and Twitter. Please join us there.

Santa Anas are what we call the hot winds off the desert that visit us in So Cal during the fall and winter.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Poetry-Cabin/297527046117

@ThePoetryCabin

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Return – A Process of Initiation in Nine Parts

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.

 ~T.S. Eliot from Part IV of the poem Little Gidding

                     1

Winter passes slowly.
The frozen ground protects the seed.
In darkness it sleeps waiting
for the return of the light.

                    2

A glimmer of what is to come.
Will the groundhog see its shadow,
run and hide in the dark belly of earth
afraid of what it casts upon the ground?
Or will it see only gray and stay out,
little by little see what the growing light
reveals.

                    3

Sunlight melts away ice.
All becomes aware.
Greening begins in the warmth of sun
and moisture of melted earth.
Clouds cast shadows
rains loosen soil so the seedling
can find its way to the light.

                    4

Full bloom flowering.
Things grow into color.
Sunlight reveals what was always there
in the dark slumber of winter.
The bristly bush realizes
it harbors the rose.

                    5

Sunlight burns.
Its rays sometimes too much
for green things. The flower wilts.
It knows more than it can handle
but its seed finds its way
onto the earth
and waits.

                    6

Calm settles over the land.
Something begins to shift as
first harvest begins.
All that was hidden behind flower
manifests, is ready for release,
eager to be transformed through
consummation of its ripe flesh.

                    7

Soon all falls as sunlight wanes.
For a moment we glimpse brilliance
burning in red and gold,
the promise of return.
No time for wistful reverie.
The harvest bears what is full
and ripe with flavor.
Taste it now!

                    8

Darker and darker still,
one last harvest before going within.
Once culled of her bounty, the earth rests.
The final seed scattered waits
for the blanket of snow.

                    9

Silence.
Snow sparkles like crystal in moonlight.
Millions of flakes scattered over seed
mirror the stars strewn across the heavens.
The seed sinks deep
in the cold dark earth
begins to know again.

© 2009 Joanne Elliott


With the drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flame are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.

~T.S. Eliot from Part IV of the poem Little Gidding

**Written for a Science of Mind course at the time my husband was going through his stem cell transplant to bring his cancer into remission. Many levels of initiation going on.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Brine

The ocean crawls up the rock face. Spray
descends
on cold skin
like tears
from the past.

Thoughts fold into matter
wash up on voices
that once poured
from the place
on the hill
where the wind
rattled the ache.

The place with the eyes
that glanced home.
The one that served wine
in pewter chalices
to fill the chasm
that stretched
from heart to head.

Our lips once touched
warm mead
gathered heaven
onto the tongue
while wind
shook windows
to breaking.

© 2011 Joanne Elliott

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sol

The way you draw up water
so that it hovers over the lake
as a thin veil of vapor.

The way your light rests on the dial
that then casts shadows on stone.
Time glimpsed as your passage through sky.

The way your rays reach out
stimulate Earth to greening,
urge tendrils to climb towards your light.

The way your winds awaken atoms
that excite the atmosphere into
swirls of living joy.

The way your fusion generates waves
that streak across space
penetrate Earth, move us.

The way your gravitas pulls us
to you. Prevents us from drifting
into that eternal night.

© 2011 Joanne Elliott

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Respire

“A being breathing thoughtful breath,
A traveller betwixt life and death;”
~William Wordsworth

Black suitcase behind ventilator
with gnarling braids of leather fits
inside the shadows just as each
forced breath fits
inside my mind.

Red spider veins cover your face
like the frost that spreads
on the windows. Patterns within
patterns eating up the cool clear
glass.

Green light shimmers.
A candle cleaves to a wine bottle
in a templed corner.
Wax drips. Lava moving
to stillness.

Blue blanket soft
moving up and down
hides sickness in folds.
An ocean unsettled
by wind.

White falls outside.
Cascades like memory.
Lingers and sparkles
in moonlight
then scatters as darkness

fills with another
breath.

© 2004 Joanne Elliott

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

2073 Elm Street

Young limbs dangle then yank
dandelions at their stems;
roots too strong to disengage.

She almost dances
blows seeds into the breeze
warmed with summer.

Long legs tangle in a weave
as she scatters wishes
to unseen winds.

Her juvenile face displays
no trace of a smile
to match the hop-skip of feet.

Suddenly she stops
ponders before a sign
then kicks the bright orange SOLD.

Then just as quick
slim legs bound up stairs.
Home.

© 1999 Joanne Elliott

Monday, July 11, 2011

Releasing the Green Dragon

Releasing the Green Dragon

Felis (Wild Cat)

We take your wildness
into our home
our civilized life,
attempt to domesticate you.

Yet our eyes are drawn
to your cousins
larger than our life
as they prowl
through documentaries.
Find ourselves mesmerized
by shoulder blades
fluid under fur.

You drape yourselves
over our desks
tails tapping keyboards
eyes sleepy
yet aware
you watch…

our rush in and out
a bite to eat
in front of a flickering
screen
our silent
screams.

Your wild eyes
capture our slink
as we sift through life
wanting
needing
consuming.

We don’t see
our own mouths
fall open
muscles tense
backs ripple
ready
for the next
kill.

© 2009 Joanne Elliott

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Forever

A poem I wrote before I met my husband. It seemed to be call out for a soulmate and I found him in 1998. I married him 10 years ago on July 4.

Crash upon the rocks
of my shore
like an ocean’s
rising
tide.

Forever charge
into fires
long buried
in the bedrock
of time.

Be the one dancing
the forgotten memory
fanning the flame
to infinite fire.

Worship my being
so that I may learn to love
the divine that resides
inside my soul.

Beams may spread over
a satin silken sky
never setting fire
to eternal darkness
but your light
your light will
burn through the ebony
of my starless night.

©1997 Joanne Elliott

For Steve (January 26, 1947 – November 6, 2009)

My wedding anniversary is tomorrow, July 4th. I want to thank someone who is no longer with us in person who made a great contribution by taking photos of our wedding ceremony. The official photography didn't turn out to well and Steve, a doctor of epidemiology, unknowingly became the official photographer.

Blinded by technique
planned photography failed.
Meaning not seen, not captured
left us with only memories
fading fast as footprints
beneath the tide.

You took up the task.
A natural with the camera
unasked you framed friends
family, the interplay of lives
against sky, sea, surf,
sand crystals in sunlight.

Your eye trained to see microbes
could discern the details of life
see miracles unfolding beneath
the veneer of motion,
the flow of bodies and water
on sand under sky,
the intensity of light
refracted and reflected,
events fleeting on into
the fog of memory.

Time moves everything.

Thank you for those eyes
that could save lives, that also
saved moments of life.
For you saw us that day
as our hearts would recall.
You saw beyond color and light
beyond shadow and form
deep into the molecules
of meaning
you travelled
and travel, still.

©2010 Joanne Elliott

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

May You Never Thirst

We are mostly water walking
encased in a thin membrane of skin.

Drawn to our like, most of us live
at the edge of wind-rippled surfaces

bodies of water lapping land
cooling air, slaking dreams as we

pour ourselves into their being
pour their being into ourselves.

No wonder this land of ravaged rivers
now mostly dry beds of concrete

repels

does not quench the longing
for the porous land

filled to brimming with life.
I never thirsted as I do now

watching the narrow trickle
upon the heated concrete

evaporate before it can reach
the ocean, before it can return.

©2011 Joanne Elliott

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ancient

Ancient stones of ancient fire
call to my heart
filled with ancient desire.
Circles once danced
we dance again
charging to life
the desire within.
Slowly it turns
slowly it burns
stone returns to fire and then
the heart memory sends
all stories raging in time
to the one now
collective mind.

©2008 Joanne Elliott

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dust In Beams of Life

Dust speaks.
Dreams of mingling in mist
like an endless wave of
blood moved by the beat of
drums. Language that vibrates
in shadow.

At the center
eternity hovers like wind
in the tremble of wings.
Earth its metaphor
(shape now released)
exists everywhere.

© 2002 Joanne Elliott

Friday, February 18, 2011

Life

Delicate waves
roll onto the shore
then recede
leaving trickles
to crawl
into crevices.

© 2009 Joanne Elliott