Tuesday, October 25, 2011


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

© 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
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


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


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.


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.



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


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


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.