You say: Wrong place—wrong time,
Maybe: Wrong place—not right time,
Not right place—but wrong time?
I say: This's right place—right time,
In times and places,
What is the time?
Where is the place
For right not wrong?
Is this like signs
Tearing up the scenery;
What about my mind?
Don't what? I can read the sign!
Oh—Signs of the time?
What’s wrong is not right,
Lord, I will sing this song!
Fight for what’s right
Correct what's wrong!
In all times and places
Please, be alright,
And make it—
© Joseph, October 11, 2008
© All Rights Reserved
Joseph S. Spence, Sr., is the author of "The Awakened One Poetics" (2009), which is
published in seven different languages. He invented the Epulaeryu poetry form, which
focuses on succulent cuisines and drinks. He is published in various forums, including the
World Haiku Association; Poetinis Druskininku, Milwaukee Area College, Phoenix Magazine;
Möbius Poetry, and Taj Mahal Review to name a few. Joseph is a Goodwill Ambassador for
the state of Arkansas, USA, a college faculty, and a military veteran.
Silent in its violence, the sun
lays its ancient fire hand on the heat-scoured
concrete of the promenade,
the boxy seafront chalets tilting and creaking at angles,
the scorched, salt-stiffened gardens,
sand dunes, the screaming blue sea.
It is so difficult to accept a loss, a deprivation.
Innocence flaps its winding sheet behind me,
its mummy cloth of myth.
As from an isolated moon I see
the first cold breaker rush to engulf me:
an underwater undulance,
undercurrents of menace, of malice.
The sand-strewn strand stretches into infinity,
shimmering with the visions, the voices, the echoes,
the faceless departments of government and society.
I watch the insouciant people around me,
they possess a flatness, like blank paper.
They hump and lug plastic picnic paraphernalia,
ridiculously, all beach grime and blistered backs,
reduced to a red cindery glow.
Ice creams, scooped from the freezers
in trinkety seashore shops,
are clutched in sunburned hands.
They are spreading striped sunbathing mats,
snide and smiling slyly.
Is it a mirage, a delusion,
plucked from the desert-dry air?
The air snags in my throat: the flat summer stench
of warm wood, sun lotion, billowing cotton -
blank but expansive; the creaking, the flapping.
A strange wind howls and banters in my ear.
And the train shrieks through its station -
the station of my brain -
a riddled red abyss, poker-hot.
The sun is sinking:
a disc of fire, a blood clot.
Water floods the ridgy shallows,
eddying into treacherous pits.
The black gun muzzle of my mouth
flays the oxygen from the air.
My nerves a hive of wires suffering
the scarlet atrocities.
Pokers put out my eyes.
Squeezed by the forceps of agony
I see nothing, nothing
but a mirage of wavering dunes closing in
and the sea splintering; a multitude of glass glittering.
Driving down the street,
sweet suburbia exhales,
scents of butter pecans
and apple blossoms penetrate the wind,
but secrets hide behind this serene atmosphere.
Momma's passed out on the couch,
Jack's become her best friend.
She has numbed out the pain around her,
rejects the truth.
Bobby loves his gun,
he knows how to make it all come to an end.
One day he'll have the courage,
and take everyone else with him.
Suzy hides in her closet,
she doesn't want daddy to find her,
have his ways like he does.
She just wants to fade away and die.
Papa's working late,
thinking of his sweet desert,
no one knows the world he creates,
while he pushes reality away.
Mittens sits in the windowsill,
watches the strangers pass by,
his tail twitching back and forth,
the only thing that knows the truth behind the doors.
While the house silently cries,
the world will still drive by.
Smell the sweetness in the wind,
by a sweet suburban lie.
I want to wear a djellabas.
Blackness engulfing me in its tentlike refuge
veiled in gauze.
Or a burkha of blue with a screen
over my face to hide
I want to wear rope sandals
down a dusty Afghan road on
the warmest of days
with the wind whistling
through the Khyber Pass.
I want to know the language,
taste the food,
gaze at the bearded men I pass
who will not know
I am looking at them.
They are handsome and brave in Kabul.
I want to hear the children
reciting the Koran
in their Pushtu cadence
and play upon a tabir
with a beat of
Dawn too short and a baby sun
is grown to womanhood within an hour
and sends the Tablelands the sweeping gesture
of her fiery arms.
Further out, explosions of dry Spinifex grass;
the distant desert's oily ticking bomb.
Black smoke rolls on the breeze
above the ribbon of the red blaze line.
The clanks of the metal mill man
draw life from the deep down artery,
the hot wind his assistant,
goads the blade into rotation.
Droughtmaster chews on churlish Mitchell grass
and salt bush watered by the moonlight dew.
Wandering, blinking in the dust
along the wire on the Forty Mile Fence.
Relentless women sigh in torpid dreams.
Moist fishtail ferns fan out around the tank,
soft drips; the hard water of little tears
on to the hallowed garden.
They grow like ragged wildflowers;
the sun burned clay plains men
far out in the fade of the red twilight.
Her shadowy cloud-cloaked figures are reaching,
clustering at the creaking bridge end,
waiting for me, beckoning silently,
fitting their footsteps to mine.
Russet rust dots the ground like blood spots -
maroon flakes flecking the quiet earth.
The gaping church mouth
has swallowed too many blood-soaked sunsets,
girning and regurgitating the red.
The Gothic spire of the yew keeps its churchyard vigil,
overshadowing the elm's distress -
troubled trees that bleed through the sigils of her desk.
Each ancient taproot sprawls to the grinning maw
of a corpse, kissing this quiet necropolis.
It is too still, too silent,
not a breath, a whisper, or a flicker.
On a green hill faraway narcissi raise white faces;
they nod and bob above an echo chamber of old cogs,
ancient wires snaking from walls,
ivy ropes strangling worn wooden doors,
softly rotting boards, shifting floors.
Slow sun on moss-smothered walls,
turning and churning amber and gold.
Her history haunts here, hanging like a pall.
Old memories snag between slats of sunlight;
vaporous spirits stirring, rising before me
like a heat haze in the sweltering, melting air.
Cubed cottages line the lane in spun sugar pastels.
What is that sickly odour throat-choking me
in the sultry air? Is it only the saccharine stench
of the lace-capped cow parsley? Cautiously I place each foot
amongst sodden sod clods dark as blood clots
and a snare of plant roots, the throttle-web nets
of Queen Anne's lace. Wending a winding pathway
through weed-choked abandoned allotments
shimmering green as the sea; the sun funnelling
its suffocating heat to me, the sick hawthorns
sweating a feverish odour of malady.
Bean flowers peer meanly from their cages of canes -
little hostile black eyes following me.
A murder of crows converges, blackening the hot blue -
bits of scorched paper soaring near the sun's searing inferno -
squawking souls immolating; a panicked flutter of sky cries.
And at the end of it all, this sinking into sunken soil
as the cloud-cloaked shadows lengthen to swallow me whole.
*Court Green is the name of the house where poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes lived in the village of North Tawton, Devon. The 'abandoned allotments' in North Tawton were the setting for Plath's poem 'The Bee Meeting'.
Wrapped in fog, in a reservoir of dreams
She has weathered each season, with a mystical scheme …
On a wind-swept shelf, silently sleeping
Where secrets are guarded and are hers for the keeping
Looking out at the tide, where the white gulls are sweeping
In her moldering courtyard, where quadrivial paths meld,
Among ancient arches of an old Spanish style
Names locked in history, many stories revealed
Etched in the headstones, where angels have dwelled
The cracked marble fountain with polished ligures,
Above the church doorway, vines are withering, bare
Aloft from the steeple, are the four watchful eyes
Looking out to the sea, and the deep crimson tide
Three vestige bells dangle from loft, overhead
Their voices are quiet, with pericopes spoken
Soft hymns of doves, fill the rafters, instead
From crumbling ruins, bricks humbly laid
There are shadows of saints...and moss covered jade
A weeping old willow, with leaves crackling dry
I drink with my ears, and listen with an eye
Of all those who prayed, for those who passed by
Unbelievable echoes, the tolling of the bells
Making sense of the senseless, I can hear what it tells
Giving voice to my feelings, and new hope to my eyes
A peace in my heart, where the holy grail lies
Are heard in the voice, in the church of blue tides
For The Contest Sponsored By Shadow Hamilton "Any Subject"
Using Words: unbelievable, mystical, ligure, pericope, reservoir, quadrivial,
Once more I'm dazzled by the glare
Reflections from a sea
The shimmering sand, the salty air
The windswept grass and trees
Restless eucalyptus leaves
So scattered in the wind
Like all my memories...where do they begin?
Those precious days, when I was young
Kites sailed in ocean skies
Where childhood days were fair and long
Sand castles grew in fantasy...
Lone barefoot walks, and hearts were free
Today I climb the winding path
That lingers with sweet aftermath
Such memories are mine
Of days beneath the sun
The joy that I still can find
Though days have come and gone
The gulls still sing their song
They circle round me, yet above
Reminding me of days so loved
Where castles made of sand were found
Until the waves came crashing down
This place I knew when summer came
Now warms my heart from winter's game
Where blooming lilacs danced a tune
And summer's end still comes too soon
For this desire
to someday be accommodated,
we shall sit in front of the fire,
lodge chairs at angles akin to talking low,
honey cognac thick,
whispers even thicker,
and you will tell me life.
From the moment your memory begins
you will unravel the senses in dark licorice words
by crackling light.
We will throw lithium on the fire
and watch the shadows turn red
in our laughter
...just children, really, despite our age...
The night will wane as good nights always do,
and we'll sleep on and off in the chairs,
in the midst of the other's story.
It won't matter, as it all becomes a dream anyway
and we'll never tend the fire till it gives up it's coal.
At 5 am our voices will be hoarse
and our legs will be angry at us for pretzeling them,
so we will rise to make strong coffee.
You, grinding powder brown beans,
and me finding two perfect cups for hand holding,
brushing past you electric in the process.
After the brew, after our lives have been told,
at the precise red photograph of sunrise,
we will sleep.
My head will fall sullen on your shoulder,
angry at my inability to control my eyes to stay with you a moment more,
and this new world, which has spun at twice it's
normal speed since meeting you,
Pubescent class trip,
and I became enamored with impossibility
Vanishing verdigris yet cosseted
the L’Auberge de la Paix,* a work-in-progress
Floorboards slowed gawky treads with furrows.
Ten feet above, death-row cherubs
surrendered frail wings, a plaster molting
advanced by workmen too eager for the plucking
(the curse of romanticism
is to perceive the imperceptible)
Home was a bungalow with suburb secrets,
while the hostel’s curving staircase
openly tattled on former hosts
and guests who had perfumed stale conversations
while carrying dance cards.
I could almost hear each half-note baluster
and that treble clef handrail, so smooth,
orchestrating encounters by the front door,
Bonne nuit, mon amour
Once, a Grande Maison owned by une l’artiste,
then, a hostel for students in the core of Quebec City,
the building charmed with its soft dishabille,
stripped layers of faded wallpaper, pooling;
the pong of fresh paint and sanded wood
hustled the dame into the times
with ever-going modernization
Dorm rooms pouted
I was not interested in the tours
with their corpses of cannon balls,
toy soldiers arranged on miniature plains of Abraham,
narrow streets echoing with battle cries,
remnants of a lost sovereignty...
the war of 1759
those thousand phantom pleasantries,
dusty sofas and freedom halls,
air hockey and air guitar,
new parlour games
Upstairs, bunk beds awaited roommates
and creaked somewhat like nagging history
But romance was a trompe l’oile,
a fading fleur de lys,
and I can easily recall the coy throes
of noisy pipes, closet confessions,
and giggling, blameless nights
when ghosts dusted every shifting wall,
altering even moonlight
* Written Aug 24, 2014
*The Peace Hostel, Quebec City
31 rue Couillard, Latin Quarter, Quebec City
Grande Maison – estate
Une l’artiste – an artist
Some people are voices
On the edge of rocks
With steep slopes and cliffs.
Some people are echoes
At the bottom of walls
Carved by rushing waters.
The sweetest sounds of burning trees
A gentle stroking in the breeze
The calm has lasted past the storm
Cloudy visions, Satan’s roar
Too many sights have passed my way
A time found only in the haze
The softest screams are running bare
My aching bones creak as I stare
You walk a distance towards me
The fall’s eternal, can’t you see?
I’m a memory in your heart
I whisper to you in the dark
The battle’s started at the end
No one is coming to repent
The sinners grab their wine from prey
No judgment calling here to stay
The sport is reckless to be told
The one is laughing at his souls
It falters nowhere to be sure
The power grows forevermore
Like a spirit in the wind
I have no say in where you’ve been
But cross the line to come to me
And pay the price for ecstasy
You walk a distance towards me
The fall’s eternal, can’t you see?
I’m a memory in your heart
I whisper to you in the dark.
Greenwich Village breathes,
She inhales exhausted tepid air,
And exhales blustery winds of possibility.
The lady blows away the veils of dishonesty.
Tangled streets strung together,
Knotted masses of pearls and poetry,
Entwining marbled heroes,rounded arches,
Crucifixes,and snakes penned on skin.
Artists, tourists, vagrants,and scholars,
Know the calling of its siren song well.
People living on the fringe of humanity,
And those from the upper crust, fuse.
The village is the one spot on earth
Where you can expose your primal desires,
And explore their depths unfettered.
She is a lovely harlot who lives to please .
Musicians and thinkers engage in chess,
Neighbors line the benches of it's central park.
Children run naked through its fountains.
The poor and idol rich roam, anonymously.
A reader of fortunes lays out his cards,
Lovers tango,who knows which one leads?
Perhaps all the seekers will find their way,
And the leaders will learn how to see?
Lady Greenwich Village,the canvas of New York life,
Her face painted with brilliant spattered oils.
Each of us can add our own divine colors,
Dripping and blending with individual uniqueness.
Pass onto this thinking place
Pristine with luster and rhythmic textures
Bath in its heart-warming splendor
Here in this monolithic emerald patchwork
This relationship consoles your psyche
A pluck from here, a collection from there
A rack of tools and an now idle straw-hat
From the loam to dust that stick upon your shoes
A place to conceal with an atmosphere
Contiguous to the eyes embracing and rich
Time honored in its entirety
Carefully romanced by birds and creatures alike
I found you here in a home of comforts
Now your essence is complete
Behold the gardens of light and sound
As perfect as the gift given to man
A portrait flowering a secrete of love
Its scenery influences your center
Today and always
A thinking place
With a reflecting pool
Chilly late October;
early morning fog banks
the roadside, cloaks
a trickling bayou...
in the thickets of dense trees,
the wispy tufts
goldenrod, Queen Anne's lace,
dried-out thistle stalks...
A school bus, solitary,
yellow, slowly passes
on skinny black asphalt
where wet spots reflect
the newly risen sun.
Only rustles of high,
green cane fields and
intermittent bird songs
interrupt pervasive quiet...
Timelessness, and solace --
calming, soothing --
a Louisiana bayou:
A sheet of glass, this expanse of water.
How its tranquillity mocks my unrest.
Colourful beach balls and balloons
travel the park in diminutive hands.
Bodiless voices call in the sun
and bounce off these sizzling surfaces.
It is not surprising I wear cool clothing
and masquerade serenity.
Swollen laburnum pods harbour their horror -
wombs cradling their malignancies.
Such outward masks of innocence!
And the leaves of the willow
mournfully fish the water that stretches into distance
further than vision.
Blossom strews the ground like confetti.
A green leaf anchors in my hair.
At the station things roll into vision -
travelling paraphernalia, fluorescent strip lighting.
I ride the escalator unsteadily.
I am concealing the necessary:
cakes of soap, folded fabrics -
appurtenances of normality.
My respectable patent heels tap hollowly
over the cobbles, the cracked paving stones.
These old garden walls
wear thin skins of lichen now.
Sunlight winks on windowsills,
glittering white paint and ceramic bowls of plants.
Wallflowers scramble up the trellis,
their pollen cloying the air.
Canvas chairs create a Neapolitan facade:
pastel stripes sitting on pink.
One paisley curtain is fluttering
from a high open window.
Already your tenuous grip lets go.
What throttling helplessness in the throat...
Frantic fingers sift and pick over
the desperate possibilities
contained in the musty depths of suitcases,
the shadows of cool stone cottages.
These walls retain the scent of bergamot,
reminiscent of relinquished summers,
the redolence lingering in the pastel decor.
There is no anchor in this terrible sea.
Counsellors bring the modest comforts of select words,
cultivated smiles and cups of tea.
They attempt to smother my fear.
Cheap chipped crockery
and scalding spirals of steam.
Rings encircle these defenceless fingers
that crawl over the tea trays like insects -
cold quoits, surgical silver.
Rubies and sapphires bear testimony to obscene betrayal.
In the hollow months an emptiness will tug at me
like dragging menstrual aches.
Young limbs lie useless and inert,
motionless under starched coverlets.
Something predatory prowls the floor.
A phantom protection is all I claw.
Sifting warm sand
through my fingers,
shimmering fine grains
glitter my palm.
filled with life’s memories
of nut brown days
A soft silk breeze
with our dreams
when we danced to the stars.
My heart laced yours
listening to the sea
undulating waves of emotion
as we kissed
on the velvet strand.
I still hear
the rhythm of the ocean.
Waves tumbling in unison,
a sweeping sound
as we lay silently
listening to sand
shifting over stone
to the faint chiming
My first love
a sea salted embrace
on a breast of sand.
in the sand
in glitter on my hand.
I stand in voiceless, transfixed gaze
Where once two towers pierced the sky
And through a fog of stinging tears
I'm still amazed that through the years
Emotion's grip, still chokes a phrase
A day, so many years ago
We traveled up to see the stars
From high upon a rising spire
Not knowing then what we have learned
How fragile life will bend and curve
And take away in one brief day
A voice of reason, never heard
I'm back again, and through the pain
I read the names, now carved like graves
Where water streams three thousand tears
Where years can't wash away the pain
Where bitter comes the taste of rain
Yet, reverently, the voice is clear
Of hope and pride, where life begins
Raw photographs have not been blurred
In spite of where my heart was plunged
Into the darkest dungeon known
And still the blackest smoke has turned
Into amazement where I've grown
To treasure good before it's gone
Sun declines, beneath the emerald rim
And I'll be headin' home...
to a cottage in the moor lands
with a fire to warm me' bones
The kettle of beans are boilin'
and some coals will bake me scones
I will rest my weary shoulders
And be glad for what I've seen
I've witnessed bracken turn so reddin'
like a wildfire on the mountain
And wee nanny goats on hillsides,
too many now, for countin'
Heather waves in summer breezes...
Granite stones, and bogs of grass,
water gleams like shining glass
and harshness blows for but a reason
to turn around the seasons
Thar' be wavin' sails upon the blue
And leafy shamrocks on the green
Where rugged shores, and seagulls cry,
and pink skies capture me
Friendly folks be bearin' ruddy cheeks,
There's a colleen, fair thee lass
Who will tip our mug at village pub,
And we'll make a toast to Patrick's kin
and order one more glass
Let me always sink me' Irish eyes
upon the rugged land
Upon the skies, upon the streams,
where druid legends live
Upon the grand home of the clan,
where many roots began
Where the ole' pale moon at nightfall,
scatters me memories all a'glowing
Of fair thee rose of old Tralee,
over garden trellis growin'
Charming valleys, greener hillsides,
fill thee heart of all 'me clan
Pick ye' a shamrock.... look for gold,
shake yer' hands with leprechauns
Kiss a Blarney stone in sweet Killarny,
come to all that's home to me
Where names of O'Reily, or McDougal sprung
and the color green began
New moon casting shadows
Liquid shine of peace
Why do I sit agitated?
Eyes drawn inward
Barren like the winter trees
A skeleton of myself
Solitude surrounding me
Like a heavy snow
a January Shroud
A billion stars are upward
whispering your name
Chanting with their twinkles
of my eternal longing
Their brilliance mocking
Reminding me of distance
and my infernal sorrow
The moon casts an eerie glow
Across the rocky cliffs
taunting me with loneliness
The place beside me empty
I close my eyes
Lashes slightly damp
My hair falls forward
I take a deep breath in
and I conjure you
I see you there
in ghostly form
You wrap me in your arms
Suddenly the stars
the moon glows a sweet hue
and i feel warm seep in
you smile softly at me
you seem so very real
My aching heart is full
Your sexy smile stirs me
I feel such peace
you whisper words
that cause a laugh....
Is this happiness?
If I open my eyes
you will disappear
like a puff of smoke
Like the phantom you are
So I keep them
tightly, heart pounding
and I smile
A Mona Lisa smile
all the mystery
of woman and love
and the infinite universe
resting on my face
How long can I sit here
before my eyes must open?
True beauty bliss...
Exports with "JAH LOVE",
SO Break-Out the tanning-oil
and beach towel kick-off
your shoes, let your
Hair down N' hang- loose...
Take A swim to refresh
Your mind and feel relaxed
Sand tickling your toes.
Peacefully and Enjoy Life:
For "JAMAICA ISLANDS IS;
HERE TO STAY...." WE ARE
ALL ONE BIG FAM AT JAMAICA
SWEET N' SOUR= CARMA
A Tribute to a great poet n' writer:
RICHARD PALMER THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
SOUP " FAM" TO THE END....
Entered in contest Letting your hair down
Sponsored by: Yasmin Khan
It stands alone
in a field of loneliness and neglect
the bright red paint has faded into a murky brown
a strict reminder from mother natures pounding fury through the years
once housing a families treasures
now only stores their forgotten tears
The door hangs lazily from its missing bolts
its hinges silent and perfectly rusted
as children we played inside its sturdy walls
now, it cant be trusted
It stands alone
surrounded by a field of weeds and decay
tired and broken
it waits for its eventual collapse
a once bright red smile has faded
its loneliness has no purpose
Twinkle twinkling lights
beyond my house. . .
out to where
and blackened clouds.
Twilight time in January
all is bathed in gray.
No rainbowed hues dance hither
to tag this winter's day.
Out to where the lights
across the valley towns
are a myriad of fireflies
flicker round . . .
their circle ever grows
as evenfall grows thicker.
People settle in.
Night . . .
and soon more lightning bugs
will join in the throng,
absorbing all the warmth
of all the others'
twinkle twinkling lights.
(The city of Pleasant Grove and surrounding
Utah Valley cities in January from twilight to night.)
For Deb's Contest: City Lights Poetry Contest
I wail lonely
in your distances
as endless trestles travel I
I was here I was
on your horizons,
present in your town
Come, ride with me
Come, keep me
from obsolescence, keep me
I am meaningless,
For how can I see, and, yes,
Who can I show,
If not you... if not you... if not you
Once a place that sold cultivated pigment, the shop has become a catacomb,
Windows entombed by cardboard boxes, deprived of the merest hint of life and
I wonder if the gallery owner had intended a display of irony or focused rage.
Gone, the watercolour weeping chartreuse, its soft backdrop of midnight blue,
And the oil on wood with knife strokes applied so thickly, it almost moved,
Charcoal sketches of thunderstorms hitting the shores of Port Elgin, greys loud.
Dark now the halls that had sheltered dreamscapes, art of all disciplines and sizes,
Squeezing themselves into corners and elbowing each other for my attention.
I ache for that one perfect dove that called to me from an azure sky, the one who
knew my name, but I did not have the funds to take him home to my little cage.
He deserved a rectory or a view that would at least provide a kind of sanctuary.
Oh, how his wings had beat against pulse points and one of his feathers tickled
out a memory of a robin that had flown towards a cloudless sky, but instead had
collided with a picture window; the contact point marred by a red, sickle shaped
smear, and my grandmother had carefully wrapped the corpse in yesterday’s news.
I had trudged out to the garbage can, unseen, found the poor thing in its shroud,
Snuck out to the garden and buried it amongst tall phlox and florid snap dragons,
I’d succumbed to tears, wrenched by a world where beauty is fragile and disposable.
Today people walk along the street, wearing blinders, holding devices that fail to
signal that something living and real slowly starved to death, atrophied, and I watch
a happy child point to a puddle, but her mother fails to see the large coin it holds.
I recall a portrait that had enraptured like a sun shower, reminiscent of light and rain,
A girl traipsing waves, almost overtaken, her footsteps disappearing under foam…
And I silently apologize to those artists unmet, the ones who continue to meet panes.
*Please click on the About my Poem link to see a picture of what inspired this poem... It has been closed for a while, but today, I walked past it and remembered the lovely art that I had once appreciated, yet was never able to afford.