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Best Poems Written by Tom Quigley

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Details | Tom Quigley Poem

Ghosts of the Sun Dance-Part 2

8. Transformation

Yielding to those who have mastered the art
Of grasping one's place in existence's grand scheme
Life’s constant challenges never depart
But humble diligence will grow the dream

In passing from childhood to adulthood
Innocence to responsibility
Firm new role can be grasped and understood
In life, pain’s inevitability

A mother birthing new life through the pain
Dad slowly works his fingers to the bone
Soldiers trudging all night though frigid rain
Bearing remarkable burdens alone

Accomplishing in life what must be done
In this day’s heat or ere the morning run

9. Volta: Race Day

In the day’s heat or ere the morning run
Resolve has hardened in preparation
For this sacred journey under the sun
Through the land of the Navajo nation

Race morning is upon us, we prepare
Patient dawn waits below sharp horizon
Last meals and supplies, shoes and garb we wear
Gather together, our spirits rising

A convocation and tribal blessing
In the solemn shadows of the mesas
Final rituals, tying and dressing
Spirit warriors in garb of racers

The starter’s gun sends our bodies lurching
Footfalls queuing the inward eye’s searching

10. Inward Journey Begins

Footfalls queuing the inward eye’s searching
A harmonious quest will not fail
Meeting the spirit hawk inside perching
Melding feet to the undulating trail

Smooth hand circles driving arms swinging free,
Shoulders relaxed, rotate forward and back,
Trace three-dimensional infinity.
Every sinew not involved, loose and slack.

Countertwist rotation, thrust straight behind 
Muscle springs compress, explode, power grows
Whipcrack diamondback wriggles down my spine
Through my circling legs, last snap through the toes.

With focus on moment in longest run 
Our life’s greatest challenges can be won

11. Meditation

Our life’s greatest challenges will be won
With the spirit and not by the sinews
At times next to you the Dance’s ghosts run
Other times they can be found within you

Smooth, rolling strides become my rhythm and rhymes
Subtly pick open my heart and mind’s locks
At peace, I'm inured to passage of time 
A slack-jawed Buddha floats between the rocks

Sun-baked vermillion cliff, eternity 
Spirit of the wild, you are the portal 
Stretching out to you, encompassing me 
Melt, intertwine, these moments immortal 

Fallen angels, my soul is expurging
When the body, mind, and soul are merging

12. Crucible

When the body, mind, and soul are merging 
Million drops of agony are the test
Pail overflows, vitality purging
Time spans both horizons, forgotten rest

Flesh hooks of my own Sun Dance dig deeper
Through muscle and bone, draining resistance
Standing face to face with soul’s gatekeeper
Grasping the barest threads of existence

Inside, my withering heart starts to burn
Black crucible over the white-hot flame
Ethereal hands grant me their return
By my side, shadows dance, whisper my name

Body aflame, yet not longer burning
Through sacred quests, our spirits returning

13. Resolution

Through sacred quests, our spirits returning
Wan smile as I reach the final milestone
The line is crossed, strangely without yearning
From the summit, we always return home

The Spirits have won, silently rejoice
Spasming leg muscles announce their first clue
Weary soul may have found its deepest voice
But penitent’s flesh will yet have its due

Dusty column of exhausted racers
Shuffling past hallowed final marker
Sun Dancers’ ghosts fade into the mesas
To echoed drumbeats our spirits harken

Our guides to the Spirit World returning
This modern Sun Dance, an ancient yearning

14. Aftermath

This modern Sun Dance, an ancient yearning
With Spirits’ help, my soul has passed this test
Feet caressed the trail while muscles burning
My abiding need, this challenging quest

This long day ends without ceremony
Racers festooned in laurels internal
The trail run’s own spirituality
Modern Sun Dancers’ reward eternal

While the roads to the summit are many
One means up the mountain for those who seek
Life’s spiritual rigors aplenty
A runner’s path may also find the peak

Deep within us, we need this victory
A quest dating back through our history

15. Ghosts of the Sun Dance

A quest dating back through our history
Transcendence, to shed our skin and transform
Beyond mundane, to sacred mystery
Through painful trials, seeker’s soul is reborn

Our modern world lacks initiations
With substance to satisfy questing hearts
Life’s road of genuine tribulations
Yielding to those who have mastered the art

In this day’s heat or ere the morning run
Footfalls queuing the inward eye’s searching
Our life’s greatest challenges can be won
When the body, mind, and soul are merging

Through sacred quests, our spirits returning
This modern Sun Dance, an ancient yearning

5/19/16
Copyright by Author
For contest: Heroic Crown of Sonnets
Sponsor: Craig Cornish
Syllables confirmed by howmanysyllables.com

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016



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Ghosts of the Sun Dance-Part 1

Ghosts of the Sun Dance

1. The Path

A quest dating back through our history
Surpassing the flesh, a spiritual path
Human endurance, road to mystery
Dark trail winding through the gardens of wrath

It echoes through me, this deep ambition
Half century of miles, lifetime compressed 
Much more than a race, a sacred mission
With light of hardship I hope to be blessed

To outsiders, an act of madness pure
What motivations could compel this feat?
Past limits of human strength to endure
Pushing the body well beyond defeat

Mind and sinews outlasting the firestorm
Transcendence, to shed our skin and transform

2. Sun Dance

Transcendence, to shed our skin and transform
Once, Plains Indians embraced the Sun Dance
Sacred solstice ritual to perform
Life’s rebirth to the sound of drums and chants

Young braves fasting in their preparation
A stout pole connects the lodge to the sun
Days of reveling unite the nation
Dancers’ exhaustion, they seek to outrun

Animal spirits drawn in by the rhythm 
Forked tree with bison’s skull, hooks in their chest
Buffalo, bringer of potent vision 
Delirious dancers complete their quest

The Spirit Quest resounds through history
Beyond mundane, to sacred mystery

3.To Endure and Transcend 

Beyond mundane, to sacred mystery
Japan's “Marathon Monks” of Mount Hiei
The key to their spirit quest victory
To walk a Marathon one hundred straight days

Famed spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy
Believed hearts and spirits could be mended
Through self-transcendence, and he did enjoy
Countless long quests before his time ended

Chinmoy’s best, a fifty day epic quest
A journey thirty-one hundred miles long
Few are those who have ever passed this test
His famous Self-Transcendence Marathon

Darkest night, the gateway to a new morn,
Through painful trials, seeker’s soul reborn

4. The Spirit Is Willing

Through painful trials, seeker’s soul reborn
Deepest pain kindling the soul’s ignition 
Follow the path supplicants’ feet have worn
Transformation’s crux, soul transition

Our defenses and walls cannot let in
Sacred blessings of the gods and spirits
Impenetrable, much to your chagrin
They cannot touch your heart if you fear it

Mortification, a tribulation
Humble display of the supplicant’s worth
A spiritual emancipation,
Pain always accompanies any birth

These transitions in few modern nations
Our world, rare rites of initiation

5. The Fall

Our world, rare rites of initiation
Deconstructed, traditions have been burned
Soulless life breeds infantilization
Perpetuating the puer eterne

To make our lives easier is progress, 
Yet soft life an inadequate mantle
We can also suffer when life lacks stress
True transformation is never gentle

Safety, the goal of civilization
Eliminate risk, its increasing role
Safety’s bitter fruit is stagnation
Comfort cannot forge a resilient soul

Building true human vitality starts
With substance to satisfy questing hearts

6. Aimlessness

With substance to satisfy questing hearts
We dream to build greatness from the humble
Miseducation, meaninglessness start
Intrepid young souls questing for trouble

Drawn to drugs and gangs, tobacco and booze
No deep satisfaction do they contain
Oft mistaken for paying adult dues
But lead instead to spiritual chains

Youthful misadventures, trouble and blues
Sterile environment will generate
Tribal belonging they mark with tattoos
Clumsy efforts to self-initiate

Conquered world without initiations
Life’s road of genuine tribulations

7. Warrior’s Quest

Life’s road of genuine tribulations
Awaits our youth, whether they are prepared
Or not, we note with building frustrations
Future leaders, we see grow up impaired

The warrior within’s heartfelt yearning
A righteous cause in which to do battle
Meanwhile, the subway turnstiles are turning
Young champions doing time as cattle

Quests can be found for the searching young soul
Alas, the focus of education
Not on the development of the whole
But fashioning subjects of this nation

The challenge of living with one’s whole heart
Yielding to those who have mastered the art

5/19/16
Copyright by Author
For contest: Heroic Crown of Sonnets
Sponsor: Craig Cornish
Syllables confirmed by howmanysyllables.com

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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Coach Dad--Collaboration with Tim Smith

Coach Dad It is a magic time when a child ventures Into the world, spreading wings, Beginning the oft painful process of moving from the nest to the sky. And it is a fragile time, where first experiences Weigh heavily on shaping the direction In which young life begins to move And often whether it moves at all It is a trying time, of fear and nervousness One little step out on their own The start of something bold and beautiful The molding of a young child's eye Much is made of parents and peers, Oft unaddressed is the role of others Teachers and coaches, a collective entity Not dissimilar from fathers and mothers The torch of responsibility being passed If only for a brief moment No more clinging to the safety and comfort of what is already a norm and known Encouragement or unkind words So often a matter of chance and moods Have mighty impacts on growing hearts Precious opportunities to help a growing life Young minds and hearts right on the surface We remember our coaches, good and bad Caring or not, patience or none, The struggles, thin times and thick A team of seven year olds Is not unlike a litter of unruly puppies How will they ever pay attention? Give them a ball, a glove, and a game! Pride, courage, athleticism, self-confidence All showcased for the world to see Taking turns and building bonds Grasping much more than a newfound skill If you can stand to be measured, and fail by that measure, even repeatedly But come back from it, you'll forever have One more vital skill in life’s toolbox One youngster will not win the game alone But the team can, and its joy Is multiplied many times over. All these things and more can be taught. Whether it be on the field or off Teamwork, respect and camaraderie Will forever be entrenched in the mind Of a well instructed boy or girl 5/4/16 © Tom Quigley and Tim Smith

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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Sands of Time

A t f i r s t, a l a z i l y f l o w i n g r i v e r Timeless warm glow of a summer’s day In love with the world’s vibrancy Inaudible, clock ticking Safe in seeming endlessness Each day a lifetime Some wished away Years accrue Time’s grains Fall Flow Faster Sweet life full Moments precious A n t i c i p a t e d milestones fly past, too fast Children’s years wax eternal While ours accelerate quickly Scenery outside the train’s window Ever more beautiful, yet blurring, faster 7/13/16 © Thomas W. Quigley

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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Of Road Rage and the Poetrysoup Profanity Policy

As Joe was biking down the side of the road
He ran across a chap with a dearth of driving skills.  
Or more accurately, the driver almost ran over Joe; 
'Twas one of life’s unwanted thrills.

A spirited exchange ensued between them
About who was in the right.
But this being the delicate poetrysoup,
I’ll keep the language light:

“You fornicating chewer of masculine appendages,” 
Quoth the driver.  “What the fornicating inferno were you doing?”
Replied Joe, “Just following the traffic signs, 
you premenstrual hyena in need of screwing.”

He quipped, “You’re replete with fornicating doo-doo,
My  light was coitally green.”
Quoth Joe, “Alas, your light was not.
And your maternal unit stars in movies obscene.”

Said he, “A shower of gold, is what I’m told, 
May clarify your sight.”
Retorted Joe, “Stay in that car, spawn of Jar-Jar, 
or you’ll be seeing lots of lights.”

“Perhaps remove the telephone pole,” said he,
“From where you store your bowel.”
Quipped Joe, “So I could fire a methane cloud in your direction?”
Oh my, how the driver did howl.

The driver continued.  “I don’t give an airborne 
intimate encounter about you and your bike.”
One thing was abundantly clear,
This man Joe didn’t like.

Joe gave not a rodent’s backside
For this foul troll’s attitude.
Yet the driver felt inclined to continue
with his prattling so rude:

“Consume excrement and expire,
you maternally fornicating 
portion-of excrement consuming
rah-rah blah blah…” He continued bloviating.

Suggested Joe when he finished, “Might I refer you to a friend,
one you clearly need?”
He’s a cranio-proctologist, 
The best around, indeed.”

 “I invite you to  perform an antatomically 
challenging act of self-gratification,” quoth he.
“I ought to apply my foot to your tightly clad posterior
and then everyone will see.”

“While I’m good at riding bikes,” said Joe,
“Flexibility is not my strong suit.”
“So the contortionism is out, 
and I plan to continue my route.”

“And as far as threats go, 
I must say that I’m not very impressed.
I wouldn’t bet your Hollywood looks
on what I sure hope is a jest.”

“In matters of fitness, you clearly lag,” noted Joe.
Which is why you’re in the car, and I’m not.
Thus, I cordially invite you to make a bowel movement
or kindly get off the pot.”

Happily the driver understood the score.
Away he drove with a whine.
Turns out he had to rearrange a sock drawer.
“Too bad, “ thought Joe.  “He talked such a good line.”

Away Joe pedaled into the day,
Whistling a happy tune,
hoping not to encounter such a 
fornicating bowel movement show anytime soon.

3/2/16

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016



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Potter's Wheel

Thousands of gentle caresses, soft touch, 
From the potter’s hands to properly guide
Tenuously stretching sides he might crush, 
If too much pressure his fingers provide.  

Young heart made of clay, forming on the wheel.  
To guide your unfolding, our sacred charge.
Push we must, yet your own shape you reveal.
A careful balance, an impact so large.

Kiln’s searing flame awaits, the piece’s trial.
But before, time drying, forming in place.
Away from well meaning hands and anxious smiles.
Then ceremonial paint brushed on face.

Tempered by scorching waves of heat, the bowl
Gleams triumphant, a grail to hold the soul.

3/5/16

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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Field of Forever

Snow crested range backdrop, gurgling creek allurement
At long last was the field, ours its loamy splendor
Our fertile paradise beneath stars and thunder
Within this promise, we planted our enchantment
Time sprouted our hearts’ dreams with sunlight reverent
Steadfast home to shelter love through frost December
Joyously nurturing new lives, mild and tender
Yet a caretaker’s heart still yearns for nourishment 

Other fields of promise neglected, gone fallow
Harvests left under the merciless sun to spoil
Their once magnificent bounties, cupboards hollow
Tears cannot mend cold ground neglected beyond toil
Their heartbreak, a tragic fate we need not follow 
Come tend our garden, my love, till its fertile soil 


5/29/16
© Thomas W. Quigley
Italian Sonnet, 12 syllables per line

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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Hawaiian Winds

The humid Hawaiian heat hobbles my head and heart too,
Hitting as the Humvee high-tails past on the highway, 
Sweat seeps steadily south from scalp to shoes
Convection current cooking, keep pedaling, pores crying.

Howling Haleakala Headwinds hammer hard, 
Freezing face, fingers, and forehead.
Wistfully watching the warm water Westward;
Blasting breeze’s blows batter my body backward.

Soft saline sea spray spritzes the sunbathers
As the surges' steady smashing against the shore 
Rhythmically rocks the run-down revelers 
to a sweet, sun-kissed, seaside sleep once more.

For Elements Part 2—Wind Contest (First Place)
Sponsored by Brian Davey
Judged 3/29/16

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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Ocotillo

A sunbaked pile of dead sticks in the ground
I’m a divine oversight, it would seem
Hundreds of long spines poke out all around
Yet inside resides a colorful dream

I’m a divine oversight, it would seem
Look past my thorns, though they do seem countless
Yet inside resides a colorful dream
Deep down, I’m hiding a beauty boundless

Look past my thorns, though they do seem countless
Moisture kisses my roots in the springtime
Deep down, I’m hiding a beauty boundless
To this kindness, sprout tiny leaves sublime

Moisture kisses my roots in the springtime
Chlorophyll captures hard radiation
To this kindness, sprout tiny leaves sublime
Transmutes into my dream’s pigmentation

Chlorophyll captures hard radiation
My plumage explodes forth with colors bright 
Transmutes into my dream’s pigmentation
In proud defiance of sun's bleaching light

My plumage explodes forth with colors bright 
I sprout a thousand flames rose tangerine 
In proud defiance of sun's bleaching light
Brush bold orange on the baked desert scene

I sprout a thousand flames rose tangerine 
Hundreds of long spines poke out all around
Brush bold orange on the baked desert scene
A sunbaked pile of dead sticks in the ground

3/27/16
For contest: A Pantoum, A Poet's Choice
Sponsor: Eve Roper

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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The Bridge of Dire Necessity

Moist jungle's steaming breath assaults my face
Molasses air I struggle to inhale
Your ruddy visage slowly drains to pale
Sharp cliff, black knife wound in the verdant space
Decrepit footbrige held up by mere grace
Each rope suspended taut by one sole nail
No time for turning back, it's move or fail
Their fever burns, thin lives that wane apace

We're down to you or me; I see I've lost
Your pallid tremors, so I walk on high
Death matters not, as all will share the cost
Without the cure, those that I love will die
Wood creaks as ropes strain, hands sweat, mind of frost
Firm terra I touch, sweet success is mine

7/25/16

Copyright © Tom Quigley | Year Posted 2016

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