YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

April 2005

VOL XIII Issue 4, Number 144

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson;

European Editor: Moshe Benarroch;

Contributing Editors: Pedro Sena; Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald LeWinter

ISSN 1480-6401



      Anger on faultline(Tsunami attack in South India)


      Reversal of Roles
      War a crime
      Tributes to an Industrialist-friend

   J. Donald Coonrod   
      Holy with the Worm
      Halfway Men

   Graham Tiler

   Deacon Bruce

   Santiago B. Villafania
         swansong of the sea
         To the Poets of Pangasinan
         The Tumatagaumen*
         Prelude to Redemption

   David Sparenberg


   Dan Gallik
      The Distant, Quiet Clap Of Thunder
      The Stroke Of The Bell Under Water
      In Praise Of The Moon And Men

   Roger Taber


   Roger Taber



Anger on faultline(Tsunami attack in South India)

The wall of sea water roars
down in unsatiated appetite,
mashing all on the way;
Anger on the faultline
brooks no favours.

Many affrighted cries were
swept away; convulsive sobs
of the living choked in the
entrails of hopelessness;
Relief may or may not reach
them; where to retrieve the
roots from disemboweled sand?
Or to relive the agony of
renewal, the irreplaceable
loss of the dear ones?

On the trail of the mutilated
coastline the debris reveals
dessicated memories; The
orphaned stare at the bleached
skyline; smelling the stench
eagles circle high, darkly
eyeing the emaciated dogs;
vandals reap of windfall
out of sightless death.

Hearts open up in a tide of
compassion for the disconsolate;
Today's danger could return
in the morrow.

The joy of living expires in
the unforeseen tunnel of death;
And the despair of loss
amputating the mind.


Reversal of Roles

Take a deep breath, let it out
slowly, as if gold not to be lost;
Over four millenniums ago, Buddha did
to cleanse mind of traces of soot;
'Not for a berth in heaven'- his candid
message; "No faith in after-life,
Keep mortality off desire's frost.
Death levels all, prince and the poof'; 
A different rumble in the eons;
"Time has seen reversal of roles,
shadows deftly blurring the lines
in faces, despairing for mundane goals;
Every Age sees a swarm of half lives,
Also a rainbow dazzling in the skies;
Shelley's clarion was off track Oh! West Wind!
How will sprout seeds the earth has disowned?

War a crime ~~~~~~~~~~~ Is Reason a torch to a blind alley? From Stone Age has it taken humanity to light, yet trapped in the tunnel? Science, the precious gift of Reason, a throwback to the Age of Stone? War, fought with weapons antique or modern, preys on the innocent, leaving scars indelible on psyche; Scars that are beyond the veil of time, a crime no court can condone; These queries, buried in the basement of conscience, are ever alive to Man. But Man and history are parallel streams, ever at war, split at the seams.
Tributes to an Industrialist-friend ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A long tiring journey; lids close for the night, not for sleep; Memories, some warm, some blase, crowd in leaving no moss; Under the blazing Sun, I take a peep at one to let spirits rise; He, on odd mix of mind and brain, dallied with the wisdom of the Muse; Self-made, well-travelled but withdrawn he let his self warm into pen; A student of Muse, not of its school. Death nipped buds springing late; A particle of faith, deathless in my file, is his testimony to me, fellow poet.
J. Donald Coonrod Holy with the Worm ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Creation's light, sunny as lemon curled up in dawn, so mysterious a pharaoh's muse could not divine it's ten dimensions and time; Superstrings locked in loops, serpents in ecstasy; steaming life in a garden of Eden where softly murmured death remembers all too well love forgotten. I am old, a rock soaking up sun in a kingdom created by mathematical rhyme; entropy, sine waves of birth and death going up and coming down -- Oh, I'm holy, I'm divine, but only with the worm.
Halfway Men ~~~~~~~~~~~ Those yearning youths went too soon into an archipelago of bitter doom, taking their last communion laced with political wine. They forgot that their tumbling adolescent bodies, touching, reassuring each other as halfway men, could bring races and faiths together, not in war, but simply, as they played their tumbling games among the leaves and cold breezes of spring.
Irish ~~~~~ Secret life in a bog; settled, all sucked down; the longing rattles of morning conversation, brogue of fried eggs and coffee, never hesitating to fly outside the safety zone. Mother's life was secret; dark haired Irish ways any woman who relished life and won her meals in constant combat with the unreal, envied. Hers was a life of love of sulfurous sounds that stripped trees of their blossoms and filled the mind with duty, and brought the Celtic cross home for a personal trial.
Communion ~~~~~~~~~ Flowers of ice embroider frozen streets on the way to the dark cathedral; my breath rises heavenward and I follow it with the luminous eyes of a great eagle in flight, it's heart beating in my breast as I consume Creation's wafer of love and doom. Small sins of my fifteen years weigh on my soul-- dread that I will not awaken when snow flowers rise up from frosted graves to bloom at the Resurrection-- but my longing to dwell forever in skies where shadows of love and death form a single seam brings eternal forgiveness.
Graham Tiler THE DEATH OF POETRY ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Come quickly The poetry is dying Its been held up by scripture and song All the doctors are holding up mirrors But none seem to know where it's gone It left late at night In a taxi But the taxi crashed into a wall The walls name was Judas iscariot But Judas was not meant to fall Then the doctors they cried out for Judas But Judas groaned Poetry's been framed I framed it for murder From memory I needed its love to be tamed So Judas was placed in a prison He escaped just by being to thin You can't murder the poetry by memory You just have to get under its skin You have to burn holes in your memory For poems to breath and escape And if Judas iscariot comes calling Then tell him he'll just have to wait
THE IMITATORS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My memory cannot be so intimate Too much tyranny And to little hope I limit myself To the imitators Someone somewhere is impersonating me The sound of their voice crashes against the morning They are using my skin as a sleeve And pretending to be a once proud king
ALL THE POETRY IN THE WORLD CANNOT SAVE YOU ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ All the poetry in the world Cannot save you, When the clouds to the moon Do not call And the lost and the lonely deceive you Into believing that you cannot fall. And in falling from truth and from splendour From fortune and falling from grace Prepare for your heart to surrender To the ghost of your love without trace To the ghost summon armies of soldiers And captain those armies to call To seduce you then into believing That the poetry can help break your fall On this road there can be no solution So majestic to free you from pain Whose bravado will call without longing? Into breaking your heart once again When the light of the heart falls to darkness No solution in words can be found Just a cruel sense of duty parading Like a leaf as it falls to the ground If the angels bring forward in rapture A place for the soul to find rest Make way for the words and remember That alone you cannot pass the test Though the wisdom of words may deny you The pathway that leads to your heart Or the fortune of future unknowing The moment that love will depart So all the poetry in the world Cannot save you It's just sounds that are trapped on the page That Just keep you from living and breathing And escaping from poetry's cage
Deacon Bruce MAROONED 3: THE MAZE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ My legs feel as though they are about to collapse Beneath the weight of my fatigued body I cannot believe that I have been in here this long With no sense of direction and no sign of progress The darkness is eradicating my sanity And the loneliness is tormenting my spirit In truth I want to end this journey where I stand But somewhere within the still and silence I hear a calm voice telling me to walk on My frustration gets the better of me With clenched fists I strike the concealed wall before me And let out an agonizing scream that echoes in the night Where are you? Why won’t you show me the way? Why won’t you lead me out of this maze? Minutes pass without resolution and my rage subsides Then as before I hear the gentle voice again Closer to me and more soothing than ever “I am standing right by your side” It is difficult to believe that there is another soul Anywhere within the resonance of my rave But with strength from beyond myself I am raised from my bruised knees to continue my trek Never before have I more clearly realized the significance of light Or longed for the last flicker of a dieing flame With many doubts in my mind and fear in my heart I stretch out my arms once again and place my sore hands on the wall Very slowly I place one foot in front of the other And begin to feel my way along the rough planes Of the pitch black enclosure.
Santiago B. Villafania PRELUDE TO REDEMPTION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ swansong of the sea ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ that night i heard the swansong of the sea the erolalias of nameless lovers stealing a heaven and eternity there was a crysong of a pilgrim bird that punctuated the silence of the night but the winds and the waves whispered a hush i waited for the waking of the day feeling the breathing of the earth beneath the palpitations of the Milky Way then Atlas moved a finger and it came the gyrations and the sudden trembling O the sea had wings of a tsunami! death came without warning or a reason to those who heard the psalms of oblivion and then i heard the swansong of the sea... and the crysongs of those who went away Pangasinan ~~~~~~~~~~ here in the captive country of my heart there is no bardic voice or Catullus or a tenth muse to climb its Parnassus and so i carry this primal passion to paint with words and colours to reclaim the emerald days of Caboloan - its histories and legends written on the translucent pages of oblivion till i fall with years haply forgotten my memory grey with uncovering the fulcrum of my orient beginning and the beauty of my unBabeled tongue in time perhaps they will remember me in parthenons i will build for poesie To the Poets of Pangasinan ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ you left us with naught but remnants of your past lives in earthen jars your poems are flowers in the wind that we no longer remember you have no marble monuments no monolith or obelisk no remembrance of your prowess but names in ancient syllables your drowsy songs outlived your youth though we sing them now at the wakes and the spirits of your rice wine too bitter now for our own taste and the cup of your last supper that too is buried with your earth this is how you abandoned us here in the crescent land of salt The Tumatagaumen* ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ they disappeared one after the other like epiphytic plants that once cupped the breasts of our virgin forests the muses left their sun-flowered brae when they heard no more the stories and the brown songs of Caboloan the ricefields turned from green into gray without laughters without poetry not even a day of remembrance they went away into silence leaving their random biographies behind unsigned in the province of our minds now they are still forgotten until we learn how to remember and reclaim what is ours to reclaim their place in the history of the living */Storytellers and poet-priests in pre-Hispanic Pangasinan./ Caboloan ~~~~~~~~ pliant bamboos here once stood like stalwart soldiers green with dreams of birds bees and beasts of burden they are Buddhas reclining on the banks of Agno proud of their bamboo songs and grass poems and like the red-breasted warriors of Urduja they too went into the dusk of their extinction forgotten no dawn no history not even a memory of their genesis in the crysongs of cicadas Prelude to Redemption ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ much younger now we the poets of the brave new race killing each other with manufactured nuts and bolts we are a generation of serpent-tongues and x y z impatient with the oldspeak of post - neo-modernism our poems consumable fast-foods bonsaic haunted by memories of punctuations and histories of metres and rhymes we live our lives in penthouses of Ivory Towers reaching it through a backdoor we are the shadows of the elders we stabbed to death chewed and spewed the pages of their soul to paint a translucent image of our selves to sign our signatures in time and redeem our Adamhood
David Sparenberg psychosis ~~~~~~~~~ erratic disruptions in the syncopation of time inversion of space--- bizarre semi-worlds and implosive geographies puzzles without connecting pieces maps of fool's gold mazes of minotaurs peopled by bizarre demigods and explosive confrontations fragmentation of personality---possessive masks and ominous costumes of shard-identities mimes, mimics poses, ventriloquism and the sadomasochistic cabaret of manikins then, ultimately, catastrophe! the telescope and the microscope the periscope three ways of seeing without ever being seen and ultimately isn't tyranny, the erratic but ever persistent will to control or crush the realities of others (utterly, intimately) the politics of psychosis?
YOU ~~~ the morning is a flower it highlights the color of your hair the morning is the world's forever diamond sparkling on the jewelry of your throat the morning looks with envy into the glimmering sunrise of your eyes it is a song of kisses the smiles, soft and tenderly as if from angel's touches on those lips the mouth of you the morning has your name now it breaths your breathe it lingers and grows vibrant in the music of your heartbeat today when I awake and find the glowing ribbon of dawn I know nothing except that this the earth, with shadows erasing, the sky with light coming on, the brightening of the life sustaining air, the whisper of the breeze, all and everywhere, the same you and only you (the deep song) I cannot sleep I cannot live outside this dream I cannot dream but to have you as clearly and as purely as the dawn everywhere timelessly before, behind around and within me what is the name of this day what day? what is the time of this hour movement! eternal moment what is the mood mood and meaning of this creation what agony! what ecstasy, despair! it is all in a single word it is you ...you and I am like a fire burning, flowering in the desert of my longing dancing love and living, dying in the crucible of the sun what is that shimmering or shadow what is that sound of torment in those trees what is this trembling now, my heart stops oh but I am lost now and forever but when I look now I am racing everywhere, always running in my blood chasing the horizon where you are one one and the same one one and no other for there is you and there is nothing there is all and all is where you are I, oh, oh, oh.....o lover drama of my flesh and soul I am like a brush fire in the desert I am burning, blossoming drinking heat and cinders of desire drunken in the glory in your morning with and yet without you and my words words, poems sweat out of me crimson, gold and scarlet pink upon your naked skin in image the solar consummation of your body the zenith of the sex - oasis smile upon the mirror of sweet waters and ah! ah! ah, I, o lover dying, I am dancing, love and living how I love you! feel it - feel everywhere always - here and here and here again intimacy the intimate touching all of it all and what is it? what? it is you and only you: you (in the deep song)
ASHOK NIYOGI INADEQUATE WORDS ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Let me depart This play with words, And enter Sounds of nothing. An earthen urn Echoes river music, Flows with the current, To the inevitable dialectic Of whirlpool sounds. Let the river churn my blood, Permeate through osmotic skin, Until bed sheets lie crumpled, Keyboards are shattered. In the autumn of night A white page stares at me, I beat my breasts Like an agitated gorilla Ululating his mating call. Hillsides reverberate With urgent madness, That is the message In it all.
MESSAGE ~~~~~~~ But do I meander? Did I have to say Something to someone Somewhere in time, Do I run away? I had made it habit To lull myself with tales Of glory, that will never be, Now time is running out. It will soon be dawn, The morning wind Will remind me Of debts I will not repay, Shorelines I should have touched Sails tucked in, Like a well behaved boat, Groomed in poetic forms. I need not have smoked, Or heard the sounds Of melting ice In an empty glass. Or held hands in the park, Smelt the ocean, Wept with War and Peace. Now I blame the rules For not keeping track, I blame the froth For the foam in my head, And crumbling plaster On bathroom walls. The ants taught me To march in single file, But I never learnt.
ALONE ~~~~~ This is as philosophical As keeping the count, Binoculars trained For a whale That will never spout, This is not the season, Hamlet knew. The Pilgrim knew, As did the Wife of Bath, This is discovery, A poem on the Underground By Sylvia Plath. This is the season of butchery, Bullfights without rules, Lions shot with a precision rifle, Selective breeding On Noah’s ark. This is as dark as it gets In a daylight forest, As stark As one isolated note From an aria, As lonesome as one straggler goose, Squawking, ‘take me along’.
ELEPHANTS DIE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ They hunt in packs Alone they are nothing The Bears and Bulls Until the market crashes And they are rats They glow in the night Red eyes in black shapes They aggressively feast On a moonlit carcass In the clearing They have appetites They theorize In mainstreams of thought Prevailing in that day and age They laugh at Socrates Controlled though Because they are seeking tenure The old elephant bull Knows it is time To cross the River Majestic and final It reaches the scrap yard Of skulls and tusks And lays down to sleep.
GOOD MORNING ~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have never Actually seen all this, I just fantasize In theme parks and pubs, During an Alumni picnic, Or while exiting bookshops. Dreamland concoctions, Warehoused in letters After mundane names Inherited from A not so erudite father, I would have the blood pumped in, What goes out Must, after all be replaced. Lines and phrases Twisted through history This way or that, Like autumn leaves In a tornado of dust, Isolated On a sunny day. Sounds tell me That life has woken up, Time for cotton wool In kidney trays, Time for squirrels To gather nuts. They will open This sarcophagus After me, beyond me, Let the wisp escape the willow, They will gather dust.
Dan Gallik The Distant, Quiet Clap Of Thunder ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ He said, the blow given to the head with a hammer leaves its likeness behind it impressed like the sun as it swarms into the eyes. I visited my husband in jail a year after he killed our daughter. He continued, The blow caused a slight sound, and a little movement. One chord in my lute has the same sound. A likeness of that sound remains within me this day. I decided I wanted to tell Luke what he had done. And I did. He did not hear and continued, I say that every body moved or struck keeps to herself for a time. The blow does preserve in itself the noise of its percussion. Ears keep in themselves the image of a girl?s luminous body.
The Stroke Of The Bell Under Water ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jim was swimming and thinking, a calmness I have, summer and water and my wife. I close my eyes and see all of this within the warmth of light. My ears are below the line. Pulses of love?s vibrations coming into this scene. The echoes bellow a continuous thumping. But, but now, they are intermittent, and I open my eyes and I see my wife, and my relaxation is finite, and concave has become love. She is there. And I feel alone. She is coming in the water. Winks are telling me she is leaving as soon as she retires. Going on her own holiday. Changing her life away from me. She wears a made up face today. As her hair color dissolves. Her body looks better. All of a sudden I am not swimming. All of a sudden I am wading to shore. As I walk past her. Towards death or one more woman or my mom?s house or another life as a car salesman. One has become many under water.
In Praise Of The Moon And Men ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Last night the full moon touched my eyes. Linn finally was seeing the poetry in her life. I began to see it through the small holes within my irises. The cold love. The dull light. The way it shines its weight over my awful life. I have had a natural diminution of time. I wish to dwell within it. At this point, the sun began its rise. Was a cold day coming. As winter began to tame itself slowly. The light showed a hardened Lake Erie. Linn decided to walk out upon it near Edgewater Beach in her bathing suit. Monday, and the hum of tons of cars sculpted in a rush the Lakeland Freeway. No one stopped. 1 gull stood out a hundred feet from shore. Linn called to him. He did not turn around. Linn proceeded. As she arrived the bird tried to move. But his feet were stuck in ice. I will lay down upon the ice and suck your feet. And free you. You will then fly away. Following your counterparts. Then, I will continue to look for the moon. Be warmed by my only child who is on the beach watching me become a fool of myself. For he loves me.
Roger Taber THE WORLD THIS WEEKEND ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In pastures green, desert sand slither silent, unseen, lessons unlearned Fear - like a dead man's hand appears sound, washed clean in pastures green, desert sand Words - like swords at the land ripping out its spleen, lessons unlearned Love - a living, moving strand of hope on the world scene in pastures green, desert sand Time - to make a stand, against war and pain, lessons unlearned? Faith - keep us safe and sound nor leave our wounds unclean in pastures green, desert sand, lessons unlearned
ALT-CTRL-DELETE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Blank screen staring at me like a dead man's eye as if taken by surprise at the moment of execution, expecting pulse, heartbeat, a flow of blood to the works in spite of those quirks of human nature that put a body on hold whenever its world ceases to turn, civilization burnt out among the ashes of personal ambition; From inspiration, no helping hand to guide pen or brush; Desolation, a lush wading through risen waters of the earth, baring pain like a rose its petals in acid rain, deserving better at Nature's hand than a travesty of imitation urged by Man's jealousy of God As melting ice caps start to flood this world of ours, we can lose heart, drown in its worst nightmares (poet found dead at the keyboard) or find a voice Our choice
BATTLE LINES? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Asian, black, white young people expressing frustration, not least with Society's perpetration of lip service to integration; Equal Ops, well-intentioned policy; political correctness, clever diplomacy and whatever happened to honesty?; Sex, sexuality, colour creed - our individuality, a need to preserve but not at any cost - or the war already lost; Racial identity, no ready sword to hurt for hurting's sake, defying harmony - along lines of cultural bigotry; Let's turn to Peace and Love, spurn taboos and other "No-go" areas, learn from history's battle scars Or bury our dead, rivers of blood
POINTS OF VIEW ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It won't do to be gay, you said; It won't do at all, whatever - People may pretend not to mind - but most prefer the company of their own kind; It could ruin your life forever; Better play safe - take on a wife and semi, raise kids, bash away at Promotion's door, keep the neighbours happy; Discover (for sure?) how acting "normal" hypes a higher dividend than throwing in with gay types - to the bitter end; Equal Ops, a revolution, but same sexes at the altar and adoption - hardly a proper option Points of view, certainly, but you're you, I'm me
HOMEWORK ~~~~~~~~ Photos by the bed, posters on the wall, press cuttings on a chair likely to hit the floor if someone opens the door; So the door stays shut, keeping strangers out while anxious faces debate human rights, pollution, nature conservation, our salvation... education, discrimination, traffic congestion, political correctness (on the face of it), safer sex, drugs, always having to be alert; Clamour of voices kicking the soul, like a football across the room; Conscience, scoring an own goal - now and then; Questions, answers, lies, half lies, home truths like moths to a light; Please, someone, open the door - and let us out!


Roger Taber


There's a thrill of blossom
on the old tree,
a greeny-white chirrup of noise
bouncing gently, like
a ball in child

Every nuance of creation
about the old tree
tuned to perfection; you and me
shaking our heads at confetti
coming down like
acid rain

A hymn to life,
such beauty!
Tiny wafers of noise
tongued lightly
at the kissing gate
over there

Here, a dim view
of immortality
as we pass our  seasons by
grown deaf
to each


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