how the wrens sing

the breeze blew briskly
over the mired marshy shore
prodding the cautious cattails
to bow and rise and bow again
until the breeze died down
once more

a chime of climbing wrens
bobbing dipped their beaks
and trillful singing dropped
to the marsh and landed
gladfully on the cattails
clasping stalks

and i again in ventures new
consumed as ever, beloved,
by thoughts of warmly you
watched their spryful play
sailing aloft and back again
resting anew

knowing at that moment
beyond a single doubt
how magically mysterious
time telling tales engages
spirits and singing eyes
seeking on

but that regardless the day
and despite the aging way
this careful me steps on,
always and forever beats
in this breast a heart
so grateful

for the time i shared,
most beautiful soul,
with you

Salinas 03 September 2022

Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay


I am drawn with lines
that by their composition
ought unwavering to delineate
harmony from hope,
yet which in the quavering
quiet of silken dawn
have become such loose
configurations, figuring
nothing more substantial
nor more reasonable than
a porously palletted dusk,
a pondering of apathetic dread.

And yet I weep for you
for the loss of you still,
for the incessant chattering
of this soul mournfully
decrying another day,
another solitary night—
silent now fall, o you
entombed by an abundance
of sins no more egregious
than that of the moon
who looks ever on and on
and does nothing more.

İstanbul 02 January 2021

do you remember

a million years ago and more
we two danced together
under the plaintive Pleiades,
who were still prancing
their escape from Orion

do you remember me?

it was perfectly unpatterned
the most unique moment
and one I would repeat
again and again and so
forever in my aching heart

no parting could this memory stain

the rain was lightly falling
and your hand trembled
when first I brought it
to my hungry lips lingering
over your moistening palm

as the sisters smiled on and on

I could barely even imagine
the touch of your own lips
fearful yet hopeful me,
and so I pulled you under
the finest feathered tree

and the moon grinned down

your breath caught at the
first beat of the tune
that was playing through
my thoughts and I wondered
how you could hear it too

while rain turned to mist in your hair

caring and closer you came
craving curiously near
to a fearing flight from the
life you had crying known
although not I could you release

for freedom only comes from you

but I did not know, never knew
how true this being you
would someday her wings
widespread the Pleiades pleading
a new life seek unheeding

do you remember me now?

do you remember my touch
and how muchly mournful
the rain was pouring beneath
a moon all too unloved while
the sisters returned to their dance

İstanbul 29 December 2021

and his tears fell, and his tears fell


surrender the days, the ways of youth
your feet pretty patting across tiled floors
cleanly sparkling, marking your mother’s
careful caring hands as she ever tended
so sweetly, so unerringly the family
she adored beyond measure, her treasure

surrender the jealous-some journies
love wonderingly oh wistfully desired
while you mired in family matters
mouthed innocent assertions of devotion
and hopeful harmony never once imagining
with what certainty her heart would turn

surrender the time which neither rhyme
nor reason could have precisely predicted
when you as much a man as ever being
pleaded plaintively for her to return
as bending, your soul tormented grew
heavier and heavier, heaving tears

despise your ignorance, blindly binding,
yet in truth, nothing could have prepared
you for the immeasurable suffering
of a heart left with naught but melting
questions that seep ever through the cracks
when it fell shattering before the dawn

İstanbul 6 December 2021

when it is done

I do not understand, he said,
the why or how or what may be

when it is done, you will still be
and breathing bring joy to those who
love-need-enjoy you perfumed
and mouthfully potent beyond ends

when it is done, time will still progress
confessing neither niceties nor sin
yet embracing both and all in between
as it ever has without fault or charge

pleasure will still be yours in abundance
as lovers line up to enchant you,
eager and warm and beyond reproach
for life refuses to judge either way

stinting time has yet to stilted restrain
your burning youthful ambitions;
the years weigh not so heavily on you
as do the days, the hours on me

for you see, life abjectly bows to you—
yet some distant day as the fire wains
and the embers cool and the passion
of others pleases you less and less

perhaps then you may come to know
than none could adore you as I have

İstanbul 3 December 2021

your heart

I have known death well enough,
known it as most have—
from a safe distance,
and yet have felt it intimately
and oh so painfully.

When my mother passed
I was lying exhausted
having rushed that awful
distance to see her
one last time.

I cringed at how incapable
it—I!—all seemed,
her lying there quite
probably not hearing
my quavering voice.

And when my mother-in-law died,
I was in a train casually
traveling back to her side
without even knowing that
it was too late.

Yet now there is this—you—
mo ghràidh, facing a loss
all your own and here
this distant I quite trembling
can only wish you well,

and hope beyond reason perhaps
that you may feeling sense
any regard, any warmth
this my aging heart
can most eagerly offer you,

to hold your so tender heart
as it breathes again.

use a proper knife

loss is not always so concise
so precisely severed
by sharpened words
and shrill retorts
and allegations
that beggar belief

loss might crawl between you
insidious and still
the expanding space
on the couch
the dulling patter
the silent bed

loss should never be so easy
so effortlessly attained
I’d much rather
you screamed at me
cracked open my skull
crushed my heart

if I must be cut away from you,
then for God’s sake,
use a proper knife

Looking at Photos

That was me—
the happiest me
apparent not only for the smile
but for the glow emanating
from my supposedly knowing soul.

It was March,
and I certain declared
for a future unfearing
with most endearing you
truly unencumbered.

But then April came
and you fell, oh God,
how you fell so so hard
shattering the spine
of your loving soul.

And the March me
withering wandered
through meaningless days
awaiting the waxing moon
to birth a new hope,

leaving trembling me
to endure on masticated memories
that growl desperation
in the deepest hollows
of shallow nights.

the day she died

Before I entered her room,
I had been kindly warned
to prepare for the worst.
I wasn’t sure what that meant
or how to heed such words,
so I stumbled to my father first
and took him in my arms.

In the event, it didn’t matter—
my mother’s eyes were closed
with so much medication
coursing through her veins
to dull the enveloping pains
that sleep was the only thing
her failing body could manage.

Once or twice that long day
her heavy lids slowly rose
yet quickly lowered again
her mind cognizant of nothing
her once eager voice silenced
her pale flesh sinking steadily
into the coldly wrinkled sheets.

For hours we spoke beside her
as if somehow she could hear,
and I prayed in my heart that
she might speak to me once more,
but all I heard as darkness fell
was her harshly rasping breath
and the lengthening pauses between.

Although I had indeed been warned
to prepare for the worst that day,
I know now with painful certainty
that the worst was not that moment
seeing her cancered body dying there,
but rather thinking of all the days,
the years that had quietly passed

while we had been apart.

My mum, Dora Mae Stewart, with my father George near Monterey, California (May 2006)

it isna gold

He stood at the foot of the steps
that rise precipitately up from Grassmarket
to the crags that cradle the castle.

My curious wife heard him first,
sat on the sill of the window
glancing down to watch him bray.

“It isna silver, ye fools!” he declared.
“It isna ’boot gold, do ye hear me?”
And he danced from foot to foot.

The sun disappeared behind envious
clouds glowering insatiably down
at the oblivious shoppers of Edinburgh.

The angry Dundonian stared above
and grew still, his feet barely shuffling
as the castle imperious looked on.

“Ehl no lie, no me. No, no, no, no.
Wha’s fer Joe. It isna gold, isna silver.
Twa pehs fer Joe. Twa pehs, ain pint.”

A young tourist, “Here you go, Joe,”
dropped the angry old man a quid
with an embarrassed smile at his feet.

“Ehm no Joe!” he objected, and I
thought there were tears in his voice
as he moved back, staring at the castle.

“Twa pehs, ain pint,” he whimpered,
glaring at the Union Jack flapping above.
“A’ fer Joe. A’ fer oor bairn.”

Grassmarket from our apartment window (May 2015)

ain = one
bairn = child
’boot = about
Ehl = I’ll
Ehm = I’m
fer = for
isna = isn’t
oor = our
pehs = pies
twa = two