WAR CLOUD WORDS

At times it seems that we are surrounded by war. Explosions rob us of one another. Countries, with mad posturing, aim their threats across the world. And I go along with little-to-no understanding of war.

I caught the flowing thoughts that stampeded through my mind. War Cloud Words is written with pain, with hurt, and with ingredients I admit not to know how to decipher. My vision of a world filled with war cloud words has a flip side. I can also hope for humanity’s long reach to finally hold a sky filled with love and peace.

WAR CLOUD WORDS

Words, no louder than a wasp emits, were sighed.
Vividly detailed hatred shouted its message.
Each nation’s declaration was galvanized with stealthy resolve.
When trepidation converted to fear –
terror became a shiver announcing there was no way back.
Such a small deed was required – barely a blemish.
Watchdogs suffered from the violent feeding frenzy.
A veiled cradle had been leavened into time’s mud.
Metal twisted stick-figures.
Uncoiled trinkets were barely identifiable as they
anonymously cascaded to earth.
Hollowed-out lands, homes, people were estranged
from their mission of life.
Death remnants of pungent air, and hovering souls
were reinvented.
Exalted, vile, and evil laughter claimed sad victory.
A desolate calendar continued digging earth.
Naked flame of once bright ceremony
duplicated blisters of excruciating agony.
Life was haunted by love converging
in a cobwebbed corner.
Delusion invaded destiny.
Rushing away was the fake charisma
of a well-armed circus barker.
All songs smashed into their own silent stone of anguish.
No one had truly conquered the darkest day ever created.
War exploded – while love imploded.
Emotions were folded between crease of flesh.
Drills scratched the globe to find the depths of blood.
Hate’s taste had forever fouled the air.
Yet perfumed trails of love curled toward heaven.
If we pressed our lips to kindness,
would unkindness not hide?
Such a searing microcosm had ushered in disruption.
The clasp of love could assuredly will peace with simplicity
and with the majesty of perfect care.
Yet villainy intruded with deliberate intent
to scar that very decency and carve it away
Hostilities, so chaotic and cruel seemed ever-present.
So honorable was trust and benign hearts.
Prayer from the sky above sent utterances of charity.
And war cloud words were shrieking ever louder.
At least until the world became weary of listening.
And then without contrition,
without pseudo-justice,
yet with compassion for victim, and not villain –
reason lived.
The sky cleared.

COPYRIGHT: Kieran York

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Please check out my poetry in the best-selling poetry collection, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series: Roses Read, Volume 3; and Wet Violets, Volume 2. Edited by Beth Mitchum, the books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you are interested in romantic fiction, please consider the 2013 Lambda Award Finalist, Appointment with a Smile, by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books Distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are available through Amazon. York’s latest book is titled Careful Flowers, and will soon be released by Blue Feather Books.

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van Gogh’s Message

Over a year ago I visited the Denver Art Museum’s “Becoming van Gogh” exhibit.  Those of us in the area had awaited the exhibition for months, and years.

The career retrospective of Vincent van Gogh included seventy paintings, drawings, and prints. These masterpieces were borrowed from forty institutions and private collectors around the world. It required seven years, and twenty-two separate shipments.

Some wonder what is so important about seeing actual paintings. The answer is that in books and reproductions, so much flavor is missed. Lost in imitation of the original.

I have never been more impacted by artwork than seeing the van Gogh collection. I wanted to know his soul. I’d reached into the words of hundreds of letters he’d written during his lifetime. They were of his odyssey as a misfit and an artist. His exuberant art mirrored letters of elation. His depression was also captured in both word and paint.

But nothing prepared me for standing near his work – near enough to hold out a paintbrush and dab paint as he had. I witnessed it from his vantage point. It was like falling into the magic of the canvas.

Works were thematically selected to show van Gogh’s beginning. Early art, yet each seemed to forecast the explosive, unique, and emotional images. With his well-executed striation, he rearranged reality. From the density of paint evolved tremors of visual elasticity. Great tangles of brush strokes radiated energy. Bold nuances allowed exotic pictorial resonance to bloom.

How did Vincent van Gogh become the master of the Post-Impressionist period? Many critics consider him to be the greatest painter of all times.

From the amazingly different way the Dutch-born artist approached his art, we all came to look at art differently. Other artists were influenced by his thick, heavy colors. The public was impressed with his enthusiasm, and coloristic warmth. Across the surface of his canvases, and paper, we saw intensity, and felt his restlessness.

I’m not an art critic. I’m not an art expert. I’m someone who simply loves the creation that art is. So I shall not attempt to do anything other than give my own slant on what that marvelous day spent with Vincent meant to me.

Van Gogh wasn’t a perfect human being – he was admittedly flawed. But his search to give the world perfect art was not flawed. After reading his entire collection of letters numberous times, I found so much humanity – in both the man and his art.

From a letter written to his brother on July 26th, 1882: If you work with love and intelligence, you develop a kind of armor against people’s opinions, just because of the sincerity of your love for nature and art. Nature is also severe and, to put it in that way, hard, but never deceives and always helps move you to forward.  

His words and his works tell so much about his becoming his own artist. The essence of the man is difficult to know. But I know more since seeing the monumental exhibit of his works. Viewing the herculean collection was up near the top of my bucket list. Achieved!

To share with you what I felt when I was within the interior of this group of paintings seems an impossible task. What I can say is that his work displayed in books does not touch the surface of emotion. His soul seems to have bled onto each canvas – which is visible in person only.

The downtrodden, bedraggled, eccentric had the melody of genius tapping to the tune of his brush. Of that I was convinced as I moved toward the painting A Pair of Boots, I heard the click of the boots as they hit the cobblestones. Van Gogh had recorded the battered worker’s boots – giving them their own dignity.

His paintings Peasants Planting Potatoes  and The Potato Eaters are done with a combination of reality and reverence for their work ethics. In one of van Gogh’s letters he explained: I plow my canvases as the peasants do their fields.

He had painted and sketched those fields. He filled his brushes with paint and exacted elliptical, dynamic strokes, and repetitive linear structure. He worked quickly, producing a treasure trove of work in a short lifetime.

And when criticized for the rapid creation of his impressive oeuvre, he responded to his brother Theo: So if people say that my work is done too quickly, you can reply that they have looked at it too quickly.

Thankfully, he continued to rapidly thrust pigment in his unique curvilinear flow – creating surface rhythms. As I walked through the museum’s rooms, I was in no hurry. I wanted to memorize the magnificence of wheat fields, portraits, and still life.

Works such as Pollard Willows at Sunset, Basket with Oranges, and Head of Gordina de Goot, brought tears to my eyes. One of my very favorites, Cineraria, bound me to it for nearly twenty minutes. As did Peach Tree in Blossom and River Bank in Springtime. As if being embraced by the paintings, I did not look too quickly.

The exhibit’s exit was with one wall of three of van Gogh’s self-portraits. They had never been together before. I looked into the agitated eyes of Self-Portrait. I saw the dignity, and tenderness of Self-Portrait with Straw Hat. And the many expressions at once in the eyes of Self-Portrait with Grey Felt Hat. I saw in three sets of eyes that he was probably self-critical, intense, autodidactic, and acutely aware that his life would be one of struggling.

“Becoming van Gogh” had indeed shown the roots of his trademark style. The exhibit made my pulse rush, my mouth become dry, and all else in life paused to make way for the viewing experience.

If he were to have whispered to me, what words would the great artist have spoken? Perhaps he would have told me his style had made him an interventionist of modern art – without his having known about it. Or in secret, he might have mentioned that his paintings were devoid of props. Life was his only prop. More likely, he would have smiled, saying only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime.

Maybe his tears fell in tune with all other artists. His works were selfless gifts to humanity. For van Gogh, it was a canvas, a paper, and his image of the world’s metaphors.

For me, that would be like a poem unclasping itself and falling into the enormity of existence. All those who create seem to echo one another’s achievements.

In his final letter to Theo, he wrote: As for my own work, I risk my life for it and my sanity half shot anyway because of it – fine – but you’re not one of those dealers in men as far as I know, and you can chose the side you’re on, it seems to me, and act with genuine humanity, but what’s to be done?

His words seem not so insane. It might be a message to us all. We can select to act with genuine humanity. 

  

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If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeatherbooks.com. Or order through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.

Please check out my poetry in a collection called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2, edited by Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon. The latest volume, Roses Read, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 3, will be published in January, 2013.

Abandoned in a Manger & Going to Hell Might not be such a Long Trip

There is no need for an introduction. No allegory, No hidden meaning. Just two of my narrative poems.

ABANDONED IN A MANGER

The infant was left for dead – forgotten by fate.
Music of her mausoleum birth was a choir inside the vacant cathedral.
Infancy happened within the tabernacle’s stench of decaying timber.
She was beneath the crunch of crumbling plaster.
Her birth announcement was scrolled by times deformed signature.
Within a sacred, musty darkness, she’d arrived.
Garbled in her robe of shadows and solitude, she was.
A dank, breaking day chased her chanting sobs.
She was whelped there in that corner – there, squint your eyes – there.
There, where bloodied, second-hand swaddling decomposes.
Rotted cloth ovals merge with rotted lumber.
Clumps of viscid afterbirth once clung to planks of termite-infested flooring.
By now the straw has disintegrated.
It was told how she’d been left for dead – history’s homily corroded prior blessings.
A stranger wailed an operatic solo of pain when joined by the infant on that morning.
It became a duet of weeping, or was it the lamb gently baa-ing?
No matter, she had heard what she’d heard, and felt what she’d felt.
Stabbed in half, her umbilical tether was carved.
A handheld paring knife has sliced.
Concern was gone when severed – but then, she was left for dead.
She was only alarmed by a chilling breeze as it snuck through a boarded window’s crease.
Bright stars paled toward a maiden day as she struggled in death’s opposite direction.
Living was a flashy lure in front of her surrender.
Life lulled, twilight provided white vespers, as she continued.
Her entombed heart ticked its shallow drumming, while limbs batted shivering flails.
Silhouettes were cast, as if they were a dozen thrashing hummingbirds.
Wizened flesh would not become a delicacy to be ripped by gnawing fangs of roving rats.
Their scurrying feet played hurried hymnal scales over keys of mosaic glass.
And chords lifted from rusted tin.
She was alone in the audience.
Newspaper accounts would verify the birth – no psalmody was added.
Breath would not be pilfered by oily rags that corked her mouth, it was reported.
But had her gag been gathered away by a phantasmal savior?
Had her moans expelled the obstruction from a raw and choking throat?
Was death repelled by a sneeze of survival – the facts were unknown.
This condemned building was not earth’s altar emptying itself of answers.
This house of worship once was filled with a genuflecting parade.
It was not muted with rubble, and leaning walls were purged of truth by time.
A wrecking ball, with chiming globe, demolished the hollow, skeletal structure of her origin.
Investigations reveled she was left for dead.
No room at Metro General; no room – no room at all.
No room at Memorial Hospital; no vacancy – no room.
No culprit and no crime remained.
A commission of sin had faded into ethereal oblivion.
Wiped away by season was the evidence that rain had melted.
Gone is the blessed holy water, gone – all gone.
An offering lingers, embracing yesterday’s secret creed.
What canonicity solves the attempted murder?
What answer locks itself beneath the scriptural grace?
She knew the chant was there – she knew the prayer by heart.
Worn away by years, blaring city squalls seem out of tune – but she hears them yet.
She recalls a time when they were together alone for the first and last time.
That time when she was nearly murdered by the song of sadness.
That time where her eyes turned blue and she was abandoned in a manger.
Among yesterday’s debris, she was left for dead.
She often listens in on the lyrics of her birth.
She sees the video replay, and touches nearly worn-away fear.

GOING TO HELL MIGHT NOT BE SUCH A LONG TRIP

Going to hell might not be such a long trip, the street person contemplated.
With pulse beating, and through a wheezing gulp of air, she waited for the next installment.
Although lassoed to a problematic life, she searched escape.
Or perhaps more correctly – she retreated.
The thin, haggard woman recognized one thing early on – death is a brutal poacher.
We are, she considered, a wall of people buzzing around our own existence.
We don’t select ear caning, or being placed on a rack.
No fire is friendly fire.
Rights are not secured by past glories.
And fate contributes to what we are – and we make us who we are.
Our calling cards are locked away – lost as we turn out our pockets.
The emptier the pocket, the more precarious the days.
Although life is provisional, earth is no guaranteed cornucopia giveaway.
She wondered if the wheels on her chair would rotate fast enough.
Racing the red light always left her breathless.
Just as fear had left her a few years ago.
Her lungs were as dry and empty as they’d been on dusty marches.
Those processions included exploding bombs – buried with alacrity and precision.
Now, as she gasped for air, she acknowledged she was only combating a traffic light.
And an angry driver telling her to go to hell.
Hell was a location she already knew intimately.

COPYRIGHT Poetry of Kieran York

Please check out some of my other poetry in a collection called Wet Violets, Sappho’s Corner Poetry Series, Volume 2. edited by Beth Mitchum. Books are available through http://ultravioletlove.com and Amazon.

If you’re interested in romantic fiction, please check out Appointment with a Smile by Kieran York. Books are available through www.bluefeather books.com. Or order through Bella Books distribution for books or e-books. Books and Kindle e-books are also available through Amazon.