It bides the subtle drift of evening’s fall,

the furtive creep of dusk from under trees,

the gentle flow of slowly cooling breeze.

The frogs along the creek trill forth their call

in counterpoint to whippoorwill’s sad drawl.

The gloaming gathers force by small degrees

as to the west the daylight softly flees.

The stage is set as darkness covers all.

Beyond a ragged ridge an eerie glow

begins to silhouette the lacey shrouds

of naked limbs uplifted as in fright.

Through twiggy fingers dull-red blood-light flows.

An autumn moon ascends through broken clouds

to claim again its reign another night.

Bryn Gwlad

Waking from the mundane dream

I found myself in Bryn Gwlad

And felt my heart moved to love

For the blessing of the star-bright sky

Above the crimson rim of coming day.


Deep I breathed the Ansteorran air,

Rich and green with life,

Charged upon this Autumn morn

With chill hints of windswept space

And freedom.


Then shaking off the drowse of time’s deep slumber,

I set foot to path

And will to task

Forward on a quest unfinished.


Don’t ask him how he is. He’ll tell you;

redolent in a makeshift misery,

impossibly impoverished,

crusty and skeletal,

saturated in the cologne of death,

acidic and nauseating.

Don’t let him breathe on you.

Hold your breath until he passes,

like so much gas, a corporeal flatulence

loosed upon an unsuspecting populace,

no time to dive for cover,

to stick your head between your legs

and kiss your sweet ass goodbye.

He is there, in your face,

in your space,

dislodging the kilter

of personal planetary equilibrium,

dire and unavoidable,

unsavory and unclean. Lean,

with predatory glances, grunts, insinuations,

“Any spare change?” spittles forth

through broken, rotting husks

of tartar and tobacco stains,

a glistening salivary mucous.

Something is living in his whiskers,

feral beneath a dank canopy,

evading the rasp of grime-blackened talons,

escaping to a matted lair,


feeding on dumpster-dive cuisine.


A flicker,

A flash,

Something almost seen,

Just enough to make me wonder

What I didn't see.

I get the sense of something large,

Beyond the sense of sight,

A dimly guessed dimension,

Like stars against the night.


We grasp,

a rasping grab at whatever hangs out there,

perhaps just beyond our reach,

leaving us hanging ourselves,

hanging on for dear life,

as though our lives depended on,

or deepened through the action,

some effort, at least,

propelling us beyond our present moment,

terrified in that first step over the edge,

to fall or fly,

the rush of the possible against the actual,

visceral and wrenching,

a tumbled and confused state,

leaving us gasping at the cold shock,

but drawn again to that precipice,

redrawn time and again,

an image rendered from imperfect memory

of who or what we think we are,

or ought to be,

depending at whiles on the sight of others,

at whiles on our visions of ourselves,

yet to be defined,

dangling there,

just beyond our grasp.


O foul, fetid and heady stench,

Thou what doth make the nostril quiver

In giddy olfactory overload,

Reveal to me in wordless wisps and wafts

Thy death-shrouded mystery of what once was.

Now but gravel-ground gristle,

Bristle and tuft of fur, speak!

I am Long-Nose, Far-Scent, Wind-Sniffer.

I am Dog, and I will keen thy passing.   



Love Ceases

Anger burns

searing deep

scarring life

welding pain

to being.

‘This is not a good deal’

I think.

Yesterday I stood in a broad expanse of light.

The universe seemed benign.

I could not see the edge from where I was.

The dark abyss was safely distant.

Today I am afraid.

The black void presses close,

narrowing to a razor’s edge

this ribbon of light.

I am severed.

The light dies,

blinking out in an instant,

never having been.

In the deep




a dull










Are you looking for verse for a common occasion,

sickly-sweet rhymes of the maudlin persuasion?

Will willowy wisps of words suit you quite nicely?

Are you wary of anything any more spicy?

Perhaps you’re content with Mother Goose phrasing,

and pastoral punchlines with lambs sweetly grazing.

If nothing more daring is all you require,

and there’s nothing more lofty to which you aspire,

then listen no further to the words of this ad

‘cause what we are selling could drive you quite mad!

But if you want big guns like pantoums or sonnets,

not written by grannies in blue gingham bonnets,

or juvenile angst queens, or something much dumber,

just whip our your Mont Blanc and jot down this number.

Call eight hundred four hundred twenty-o-nine.

An agent is waiting to pick up the line.

They’ll give you the details and outline the limits,

and answer your questions in just fifteen minutes.

So think of the toughest poem you’ve never written,

and bite back the muse by whom you’ve been bitten!

Just stick with Hallmark for something less hard,

but for everything else there’s Gold MasterBard.

My Beast 

Sit up,




Roll over,

Play dead.

So well trained,

So obedient,

So firmly tethered,

So cooperative,

So leashed.


But I know how vigilant I must be

For I have let my mind run free.

It frolicked and breathed.

It basked in open air and sunlight.

It wore a stupid grin and was happy.

It lived days that were long and full.

It felt satisfaction and achievement.

It was hard to call it back.

It did not want to come.

It was a dog unleashed.

Now, And at the Hour of Our Death

Now, and at the hour of our death,

the moment coalesces into eternity,

shedding the skin of been there, done that,

slithering into what’s next.

Who knows?

Blind, oblivion overtakes us,

nudging us into a void we fill to bursting,

cursing our lot and groveling for salvation.

We are defiled by helplessness,

desperate for the tit of kindness, yet grudging,

stifling a better nature for a better deal,

denizens of the umpteenth circle of perdition,


Artifice and guile are art forms,

elevated host-like above a chalice of market share.

Get in line, ape,

shambling toward the high priest,

shekel in hand,

20 items or less,

now unto the hour of your death.


Once, When We Were Sure

Time was, we just knew and asked no questions.

Nothing stood between our dreams and daring.

Trusting in the wisdom of our visions,

Basking in the ecstasy of caring,

Love the sacred flame that we were bearing.

In our youth the truth inspires our souls so.

Hearts upon the sleeve were for the wearing.

Somehow living manifests its costs though,

Shows us all the things we really don’t know.

Now we move through life a bit less certain,

Careful of the parts of us we let show,

Giving less and keeping all our hurts in.

Life, we learn, will always keep us guessing.

Love, we hope, will be its greatest blessing.

Poet’s Picnic

A massive white van with letters of red

Invokes a feeling of hunger and dread.

Inscribed on the side in print four feet wide

A message describes what you might find inside.

“Bonzoboni, Solani, McNab & Adair - 

Exotic Comestibles Extraordinaire!”

And written in dainty script meant for impressing’,

“The Delicatessen That Keeps You All Guessing”.

A SWAT team of burley men dressed like French chefs

Burst from the back door and look to the left.

They look to their right and straighten their hats,

Then whip out big sausages looking like bats.

And pulling out trays while watching their flanks,

They heap them with burgers and pickles and franks.

Rolling out carts from the back of the van,

They load them with soda pop, can after can.

Dumping in bottles of mayonnaise and mustard,

Spiced apple rings and buttermilk custard,

They add in fried chicken and cold ‘tater salad,

Then honey-glazed hams befitting a ballad.

Twitching their whiskers and looking quite shifty,

They drag out a green box marked “Number Fifty”.

What do you think they might have in that crate there?

Dom Derignon or something much greater?

They take up positions surrounding the box

With four different keys for four different locks.

They stick in their keys and give them a twist,

Lift off the lid and out creeps a mist.

It swirls down the sides and covers their knees

And looks like it smells like Limburger cheese.

What have they brought to this poetic picnic?

Something disgusting to make us all be sick?

Like cold penguin marshmallow wombat souffles,

Or antelope eyeball and lemon frappes.

Maybe they’ve baked us a brain pudding pie,

Or albatross cheesecake with pus from a sty.

They reach in so carefully with a long, forked hook

And ever so gently they pull out a book.

Before you start breathing a sigh of relief

You might want to know the real plan of these thiefs.

They won’t feed you gross things, but something much worse.

They’ll charge you a dollar and read you free verse!

The Artist and the artist


A Poem for Dorothy

Beloved of God

thou art His gift,

The Artist crafts the artist,

creates, refines,

in light and lines,

enlightens and imparts us,

an ordering mind

to humankind,

The Artist through the artist.

The Greycloaks 

The Greycloak clan, of elder days,

         Our wooly flocks in deep glens tended.

In pagan rites and ancient ways

                           Beyond the ken of time we wended,


Our wooly flocks in deep glens tended.

         As Druid priest old gods we kept.

Beyond the ken of time we wended,

                           Unmoved to know that Jesus wept.


As Druid priests old gods we kept,

         In secret glades stone altars raised,

Unmoved to know that Jesus wept.

                           The elder gods we Greycloaks praised,


In secret glades stone altars raised,

         In magic sites of mystic power.

The elder gods we Greycloaks praised

                           By light of stars in hidden hour.


In magic sites of mystic power,

         Invoking then a timeless good

By light of stars in hidden hour,

                           Protected our home in Winterwood.


Invoking then a timeless good

         In pagan rites and ancient ways

                  Protected our home in Winterwood,

                           The Greycloak clan, of elder days.

What I Want

Just ask me what I want and will tell you.

It may be more than what you want to know, friend.

But any less would be more false than true,

and tell you less than nothing in the end.

I seek the sense of truth that makes the skin chill,

to dance the edge in efficacious grace,

to quaff of God until I gain my soul’s fill,

and coming home at last, behold His face.

We’d sit beside the creek and watch the day fade,

and stars across the blackness slowly glide.

We’d kick around the choices that we’d each made,

the times we’d laughed and all the times we’d cried.

We’d catch up on the times we’d been apart.

I’d hold His hand, and He would hold my heart. 

IMG 0685


What Remains 

Leaves rattle, red and orange and brown.

 I stand before a yellow diamond shape,

  a sign posted in an empty, weedy lot.

   It reads: "Men have loved you."

I lived here once,

 third floor rear, southeast corner,

  squat and square, the Lucerne Apartments,

   dark purple floral threadbare carpet

    in narrow halls and stairwells,

     redolent of mildew and meat loaf,

      in downtown Amarillo.

My windows had no curtains,

 looking out on parking lots and rooftops and 1973.

The carpet was low and rough,

 with narrow stripes in shades of

  red and orange and brown.

Three to eleven at Denny's,

 washing dishes and cooking paid the rent.

My ten-speed got me there and back,

 home by midnight to shower off

  the nicotine and mustard,

   falling to sleep with "Nights In White Satin"

    on the hi-fi,

     back to high school in the morning.

"Men have loved you."

 I was the first,

  here in this holy place,

   in our sacred time.

"Men have loved you."

Who and how many since?


Mary Aycock

When Mary Smiled 

When Mary smiled her love beamed forth like radiant summer sun.

Her eyes held hope and hurt and spoke of waiting to be found.

I saw her looking back at me and wondered, ‘Could she be the one?’


Could something fresh and new and deep have only just begun?

And would she be the one to whom my heart was ever bound?

When Mary smiled her love beamed forth like radiant summer sun,


And warmed my soul like few before had ever done.

A question loomed within our eyes and passed without a sound.

I saw her looking back and me and wondered, ‘Could she be the one?’


We talked at length about the course our lives had so far run,

And knew we wanted so much more from love this time around.

When Mary smiled her love beamed forth like radiant summer sun,


And coaxed to life the dormant seeds of dreams and deeds undone,

Releasing love in rampant bloom where once lay fallow ground.

I saw her looking back at me, and thought, ‘She just might be the one!’


And so it was we came to trust this love that we had won,

A sacred space, imbued with grace, with peace and blessings crowned.

When Mary smiles her love beams forth like radiant summer sun.

When she looks back at me I know that she will be the one.

Old Hat

We are a history,

Sweat-stained, weathered, worn,

Refusing to be worn out,

Inelegant and seedy now,

Begrimed with years and toil,

Cracked and sagging,

Beyond the artifice of façade,

Still standing,

Determined and dirty,

Worthy of respect

And embarrassment.


We come from windswept arroyos

And high empty places,

With moments too full,

Time too short,

Memories too deep,

Our journey unfinished.

Vitae et Requiem


Is not that dramatic pause

Twixt birth and death

Itself in vital roil?


Doth not the animate cause

Bid blood and breath

Engage in fateful toil?


Pray come each day and tell

Thy beads that spell

Thy curse of mortal strife,


Else voice thy chant in joyous swell

With clarion bell

The living of a life.


Indeed, the pattern is not either-or but ands,

And thus I take my cue

To ride the tide of shifting sands

And ever changing view.


The I of the storm is me.

Chasing Love Into Shadow


When never comes. There is only now and then.

Now the road rushes up to meet me with a warm, rough embrace to impart.

But I am insulated, sealed in glass and steel, once a part of, now apart from, this fierce terrain, the thin film of oily debris down the center of the lane, the elastic white and yellow stripes dividing lives from all but accident, the gritty green growth along the edges of consciousness.

Now I am surrounded with safety and comfort, stability and stagnation. The irregular fluctuations of the pavement are distant, only the faintest of pulses.

I am insulated, but the voice of the road, the voice of the road is insidious. It seeps in around the edges, hums just beneath the sterility of the radio. An inverted highway sweeps across a blue-black hood, breaking over me in symphony with the drone of passing miles.

Entranced, now becomes then. The surety of the wheel becomes a vibration of metal gripped in gloved hands, the roar of air and space and machine, hurtling two-wheeled into dusk, fighting fatigue and inexperience, pummeled by rain, chilled and shivering, chasing love in desperation into shadow.

At a roadside park I stop and stagger into damp darkness beneath a bush. In a strange, high night I slept, knife in hand, wrapped in an old blanket, wearing my motorcycle helmet. Somewhere in that uneasy slumber on the saddle of Raton Pass, some rite was passed, some subtle shift marking another traveler, sanctifying the solitude of the seeker seeking some completion, some clarity of perception, holding up the shimmer of memory to the crisper image of waking life, just trying to figure out what had gone wrong.

She was the sister of a friend, told corny jokes, hung around, a little wide in the hips, a little long in the face, skin not quite smooth, with eyes that held a story of hurts and hopes. Just the sister of a friend, and I loved her. 

But what imperfect vision suffers more in the hands of youth than love? It is a wonder it ever escapes unscathed that outrageous time. Our innocent sense of truth is not enough to shelter those tender hearts.

I was trying to go back. We can never go back. If we do nothing else in our brief span of years, we certainly leave our lives behind us, irretrievable, irrevocable and unchanging. We can never go back, only retrace our steps, forestalling the inevitable fading vision of our former selves, holding on to some fondness, or sadness, holy moments of profundity. 

Looking back, time stands still. The past remains unchanged, yet everything is different. Vibrant, passionate, indelibly etched on my soul, time had rendered it memory. But still it burns, a poison, an elixir, a wrenching tightness in the chest, sending adrenaline on a mad rush. In the space of an emotion, a lifetime is lived, over and over again. 

Do I take it all too seriously? Are the links in my mind too well forged? Is there a lethal blade within me, intricately wrought and beautiful, catching distant, reflected glimmers, stray pinpoints of recollection, and splintering them on fearsome edges into a million searing shards? It is the recognition of the shattered whole that brings me to my knees. 

I came down from the mountain in the radiant red of dawn, life suddenly close, puzzlingly precious. Culebra Range staggered to the west, electric green and gold in the morning light, vaporous grey ghosts swirling among strongholds of mystery and silence.


There are nights that crawl,

ponderous with the weight

of memory and regret.

There are nights that fly,

streaming zephyrs,

ribbons of moment and chance.

Being arcs a pendulum sway

‘twixt poles of opposition.

Swathed in incompletion

and inconclusiveness,

a supposition of god

masks an eternal void.

Significance is challenged, denied.

Belief is a superfluous necessity.

Palo Duro

Rust to rose, grey, tumbled talus,

broken slopes and rocky ravines,

earthy gouges open, reveal high-plains heart,

verdant snakes of spring-fed tricklings

gather into dancing waters,

hide again under stony beds.

Cottonwood, mesquite, tower and crouch,

deep rooted, and she walks among them,

scrambling into narrowing canyons,

dusty, dry, reptilian lairs,

sage and cactus, bunch grass, lizards, roadrunners,

heat and light, radiating convections,

delving through millennial strata,

crunching gravel under footfall,

seeking her connection herself,

her self, akin to this broken land,

heart torn, open to the ravages, savaged soul,

heart hurt, love lost, tears spent, hunting hope.

These canyons are her prayer, roughly nurturing,

teaching the tough love locked in the passage of time,


braced in searing austerity

against the coming of imagined grace,

thunderheads loosed, quenching parch,

a moist kiss,

reminding slumbering seeds of life not yet lived,

blossoms not yet bloomed,

deepest, truest love not yet held

in the empty nest of her heart,

waiting for her time,

soul's giddy flight, gliding over canyon mysteries.

                                         Life In A Toxic Dump

Just when you thought you were safe in your house,

surrounded by comfort and loved by your wife,

along comes some data to rob you of sleep,

augment your fears and cause you to weep.

Meshed in the fibers of the sheets where you lie

are dangerous chemicals that cause you to die.

Formaldehyde gives them their premanent press,

and all those who breathe it a permanent rest.

Down in your mattress the urethane foam

gives yeast, molds and mites a mildewy home.

They get in in your throat and into you lungs

and shorten you REM sleep a couple of rungs.

Whatever you do stay out of the bathroom!

The grunge in the grout will bring you your doom!

The cleaners you use can give you a headache,

Scarring your lungs with every breath you take.

The pretty pink polish you paint on your toes

is made of strong toxins that cause many woes.

They'll give you some cancer or pickle your liver,

or poison you fetus before you deliver.

The aluminum pots you use in your kitchen

can slip you a mickey that that makes you start twitchin'.

This toxic metal leaches into  your food,

kills off your kidneys and does you no good.

The dishwashing compounds you use to clean up

stick to your saucers and coat every cup.

Ammonia and chlorine then get in your supper,

muck up your stomach and make your gut suffer.

The dishcloth or sponge on the edge of your sink

gathers bacteria and soon starts to stink.

As a home for disease it can't quite be beat,

'cause it houses more germs than your own toilet seat!

And if you have carpet on the floor of your room,

it's just one more item to add to your gloom.

Neurotoxic solvents like toulene and benzene

waft up from your rug and in your nose unseen.

Besides that they harbor a whole bunch of vermin

that infest your body and make you start squirmmin',

as does the couch or the chair where you sit.

Just thinking about it should give you a fit.

The next time you sit in the dark by a fireside,

Remember you're sucking in carbon monoxide,

while down in the basment the spiders are feeding

on whatever feeds on the mold that's been breeding.

Now that you've heard about all this bad news

I'd like to provide you with something to use

to combat these nasties that give you the blues.

September's issue of Natural Health

should be on you bookstore or grocery store shelf.

Check out page seventy-one for yourself.

Each of the problems of which I've made mention

come with solutions deserving attention.

© David K. Aycock 2013