YGDRASIL: A Journal of the Poetic Arts

October 2010

VOL XVIII, Issue 10, Number 210

Editor: Klaus J. Gerken

Production Editor: Heather Ferguson

European Editor: Mois Benarroch

Contributing Editors: Michael Collings; Jack R. Wesdorp; Oswald Le Winter

Previous Associate Editors: Igal Koshevoy; Evan Light; Pedro Sena

ISSN 1480-6401




Michael R. Collings


Unfurling as You Spoke
To Memory [II]
Intimations 6
In a Time of Loss
The Invitation
When Aspens Turn 
October Sun-
On Being Treated for Depression
ShadowBox: Pandora Within
On Lady Liberty, Camp Dodge Iowa, 1918
The Wriggling Ocean Sun
An Act of Faith
After the Storms: Wolves’ Light
Dandelion Snow
Solstice moon
Blue Rose




Michael R. Collings


You named your favorite flower--

I knew before breath passed lips
as soft, as fragrant
as the bud you named--

before cheeks deepened to 
its richness, elegantly pure--

before forget-me-not eyes glistened
and sweet violet voice brushed my ears--

I knew before thornless touch 
reminded me again, and yet again,
how palely, distantly its petal-crown

essays…fails…to echo you 


Stretched into diagonals 
Superimposing darkness 
     Imposed on silvered leaves,
          Posing over night--
Reflections breathe outward
Into waiting loneliness.

Light inside my study
Glows black roses
     Downward twisting calyxes 
          Upward sweeping petals--
Light fingers blackened glass
Into night--illuminating
The shadow behind the Rose.

TO MEMORY [II] Nighttime invites somber thoughts-- Stroke of hand on hair shudders fear; Coffin-sheen beneath a slate-stale sky; Whispered words across a darkened room; Rains across a thirsting valley floor; Napkin held beneath an aging chin; Blood-spots, birth-pangs coiled tight; Nighttime invades somber thoughts, Swells images to memory.
EMBODIMENT He stands alone in a room of mirrors. He is flat reflection, silver-backed Image flicking faster than thought As he whirls, trying to capture The one, just beyond the canted corner Of vision, who will whisper finally To him and tell him what he wants To know. He stands alone in a room of mirrors. He is angled, distorted, twisted By silver-backed images that Filter faster than thought through His mind, shape-shifting, illusory, Each promising revelations too deep To comprehend, too painful to Desire beyond the barrier of breath. He stands alone in a room of mirrors. He is future-fragments, particles of The past: a jut of bone along a cheek, Twist of muscles from neck to arm, Arc of eyebrow carried through dim Generations, ghost of fathers long Forgotten, hints of hidden sons Who slip silently into the dark. He stands alone in a room of mirrors. He is lost. He is an open scream Echoing surface to waiting, silvered Surface. He is remnant breaths Tossed like storm clouds from One self to another, from there to yet Another and another. He is all potential Energies. He is none.
TRANSLATIONS Back then, when freshet grass grew greener, Skies rose a clearer, dearer blue-- When sight was bright and hearing keener, And present pain as plain as dew, I raced the symbols, nimble, swift, Sure and pure in what I felt, Each reveling day at play a lift, Safe in the giving that living dealt. But in the now, how much translated, How strangely dark the marks I read; Each signal missed, each twist debated, Each hinted joy a ploy to mislead. I miss the easy, breezy answers; Detest the complex, perplexed message, Each moment’s lack, as black as cancer, Each numbing stage of age’s presage.
INTIMATIONS 6 “Where does the white go when the snow melts?” You can see it, if you look-- outer arcing apple-blossom buds reluctant to remove soft spring-green cloaks; cunning, arcing tulips crisply furled, pent before tomorrow’s warming breath; shyly flirting-throated violets, coquettes beneath rich, darker deep-hued curves; subtle wink between pale sunrise-pink and glowing sunset-gold of Peace Rose petals; wan September-burst chrysanthemums showy in smooth presage flicks of ice; faint, enduring statice blooms enfolded in stiff purple, firmly stolid calyces; if you look, you may see it still.
IN A TIME OF LOSS The time of iris closes slowly, still. One day they flourish, glossy, fragrant, proud Behind my home, a vibrant rainbow-cloud-- Flags, varicolored, serried on the hill; Then gone. A day, no more, and petals twist To parchment brown, a sullen summer-shroud-- Until next springtime blooms, they will be missed.
THE INVITATION In August, when banked roadside roses bloom, Pale yellow moons in glossy emerald leaves; When tiger swallowtails alight on eaves And rest a breath from flight, to groom Prismatic wings, then, with a swirl, resume Unhurried flit from uncut phlox to sheaves Of lilies thrusting from stiff, unfurled sleeves, Golden splendor from mid-summer’s womb; Then we shall meet again at the old home park, Beneath sage cottonwoods and maple trees Where we, as children, once outsang the lark And thought we might outwing the solemn bees, Where I incised your name in livelong bark, And you repaid my kiss with innocent ease.
WHEN ASPENS TURN There’s something melancholic in stark crags Transformed by frost and feverish descent To twilight; Something in soft haze that muffles ridge-lines, Blurring gold with burnished brown, enfolding green In shadow; Something in clouds lowering until they rest In blanket-layers just beyond cold arcs Of granite; Something infinite--and finite--in long Glances cast by distant heights that autumn In my heart.
OCTOBER SUN- October sun- light shafts nearly horizontally, burns under shadows, narrowly decrepit, of branches twisted as arthritic limbs and naked, plundered under moon- lit gaze of patient whorlwinds October sun- burst blasts shocks and sheaves, cants loosely from great pumpkined porches, serried squash and purpled corn; glances warily at wires that by moon- breast shiver thin, icy breath October sun- dance sparkles cold adieu on sheeted ponds where bleary geese rest momentarily, then rise in concert, daring again the darkened north in moon- dense patterns of forgetfulness
MASQUED, We keep our separate Motions in celestial dance; Coifed and elegant, we weep Our planet-ocean sorrows Silently, lest interlopers Penetrate our wards; In silhouette, we test, We hoard our consciousness, Unwilling, even in pirouette, To reach beyond our Masques
ON BEING TREATED FOR DEPRESSION It was only a small cocoon--or more accurately, a chrysalis--gleaned from rich, damp soil as I ripped weeds out by nascent roots; I wanted pristine earth to plant my seeds, where I would have no worries that stray growth might stultify, stifle, suffocate new life; But instead of emptiness, I found a chrysalis, life-hardened cocoon protecting something new, promised hope; So I placed it in a mason jar half- filled with moistened dirt, snugged it deep within its darkness, waited what would come; And had forgotten it--almost-- when one day passing by I glanced, unthinking. The phoenix moth unfurled vivid wings.
ARIPIPRAZOLE Words grow hauntingly, Roll half-tauntingly from the mind Where once, not long ago, Image poured and metaphor Fused meaning with high passion-- And also darkled shadows, fear, and dread. Instead of rocket highs and Depth-plumbed lows, Widely barren plains, unbroken now By crest or depth, unfurrowed in the Lassitude of listlessness, Numbed and dumbed and stilled. To walk is easier thus. Each step-by-step level and unruffled. Horizons no longer loom. Twilights Linger until the moon herself sleeps settled. And dawn creeps slowly on until she Merges unbeknownst with noon. And thus it is. And is. And is. And whether that is good, I do not know.
SHADOWBOX: PANDORA WITHIN When she reached her hand to touch the box, A whim, a curiosity to see what gift Might follow fire, she felt a clutch of fear As if the gods’ fell decree already Had the power to quell all hope before Mortal-kind was forced to cope with ills. I reach toward my private box of shadows And feel the premonition shake my core, Knowing the predestined shocks must come But feeling still that stillborn quake of hope She must have felt…the pent-up hitch of breath Before the flying furies pitch me down. And for that instant, I would too withdraw, Live in ignorance of fire if that Would spare me from the ills pursuing me; Indeed, withdraw my hand, retire untried, Within the shadow-box content to live, And not reveal the furies pent within.
ON LADY LIBERTY, CAMP DODGE IOWA, 1918 I have the postcard. On the back Scrawled in an eighth-grade hand, My grandfather’s greetings To his new-made bride, Her address (in a town so small That just her name suffices) And, unwritten, all their hopes As he endure the war, In France, where he would tend War-horses’ hooves, black-smithing As was his trade, and in a spare And silent moment Forging from an unused shoe And several square-tipped nails A picture frame, to send to her, Where she would fit a lock Of hair from the son He had not seen. I wonder who has the frame, Still holding the single lock Of raven hair, and their Wedding portrait. I wonder who has the frame. I have the postcard.
UNCLAD, late one afternoon, after slamming though the front-room door, textbooks jamming angularities against ribs pain-tight from racing the last half-block home, head light with summer heat and thirst crawling against a throat as dry as snakeskins. First traceries of sound slide home beneath throbbing blood, slide with strength of cathedral stone, carven lucencies defying centuries. Sounds insinuate, sounds compel, prying stone-web fingers beneath his skull, lifting skullcap, engorging mind and soul until full beyond endurance with insubstantial weight. Angularities and snakeskin thirst burst--trivial Soap bubble memories glisten upon Cathedral stone, tracery-fine, as he listens.
THE WRIGGLING OCEAN SUN Far now from the sea, from sand verbenas Sprinkled purple on dunes, from crashing surf And patient reefs, from far-blue marinas In wriggling sunset near salt-crusted turf; Far distant now, I barely miss calm sand Or crescent cliffs beard-hung with grey-green vines; Barely wish to hear again gulls’ screech and Thud-kiss-thud of tides impelled in ragged lines. Instead, I revel in flat, wide-flung fields Painted emerald by spring-time storms; In nascent blossoms bound in snow, revealed In radiant focus by small crocus corms; Sunsets burn steady over sprouting grain: Far from the sea, I find I’m home again.
AN ACT OF FAITH Oval galaxies float--indeterminate, distantly distinct--above. They glimmer and prepare to fade into determinately determined darkness. Hands outstretched, out-wrenched almost, with strained elbows knotting against crosspieces feeling roughly hewn--wood-knot-grained chenille. Warm bands connect to flesh, connect warm flesh to colder, harder surfaces, not too tight-- not overtly binding--but solidly firm, inescapably firm. Another--broader less articulate-- somewhere between shin and ankle perhaps, or higher yet, almost knee--I lay quietly restrained as deaf hands slip garments down, reveal privates no longer private, mark with cold black ink, wash with bleakly orange disinfectant. And I stare, blink once. The curving cup nestles nose and throat … and I dream of painlessness.
QUINTESSENCE heavy cold dry northern breath winding autumn-heavy age-cold sky-scales balanced scorpion’s sting archer bow-string-taut black folds above black melancholy earth light-white age western blast bitter chilling sluggish passionless bleak ecliptic water-bearer fixed spring capering goat vernal fish streaked winter-warring solid water spring-blood flowing southern ire flowing child-time-scarlet brood sanguine slaughter-ram bull-king bi-corn flightly-feathered swan-twins fluent-winging hot-moist crimson air summer-kindled eastern flame-tips flared adolescence xanthic saffron foot-crushed crab open-clustered-fling sun-rise-home virginal harvest-siren chastening effluvial fire These the four: Earth, Water, Air, Fire: But beyond…beyond sublunary sphere Of fundamental weight, of visible, Of kidneys, liver, lungs, and spleen, Of tangible, of quaintly risible, Of elements discretely cold, austere… There spins Etherium, golden-pure, Quintessential breath celestial, Refined, etheric wings of life unseen, Ćons from thoughts and actions bestial…. There, there alone, perfection must endure.
AFTER THE STORMS: WOLVES’ LIGHT Dawn splintered, thin yellow Beneath the dulling grey of snow, Casting mountains Into silhouetted blue. That was the world-- Grey and cream and blue After the storms. Bare branches thrust upward, Candelabra without wax; Yews stood black sentinel Behind white pickets. That was the morning-- Black and white Before the dawn. At first, the underbellies Of stiff-whipped clouds flushed Pink, barely noticeable Against the lowering darkness That was night’s farewell-- Seashell pink Against lead black. Then ruffles caught the pink, Fractured it to gold and Red, and flung dawn-light Piece by piece like gems That caught on snowdrifts-- And dawn crept up yews,
DANDELION SNOW Look upward on lucid winter nights--eternity arcs overhead in bursts of fire far removed from intellect, accessible by heart alone; Across wide-frozen fields a single light multiplies through ice-shard window panes, casts itself as sacrifice upon bleak entropy; Roses coped in blanket-snow hold reverential vigil over remnant summer stems and stalks, black holes bored into vast white counterpanes; And in the snow-palm of a dandelion parachute, four frozen water droplets-- static planet-wanderers, woven in a fibrous galaxy
SOLSTICE MOON I cannot see him hiding there, elusive and ephemeral, even though you whisper that he smiles on us. I cannot see him, even at Winter Solstice, when he stares unblinkingly, longer on this long December night than any other night. I cannot see him, Though you do. So in this, as in so much else, I will see him through your eyes, blue as midday skies when he retires, or hangs, perhaps, the merest shadow, white on delft, just beyond periphery. And you will tell me that he smiles on us…. And I will believe and wing in memory back to that Winter Solstice night when he gazed silently, without our seeing him, as we first slept as one, curved in darkness like a single winging dove, silhouette against sable midnight skies.



in dreaming sleep to savor
curve and vale
arc and angle-- 
brush tendril-flesh on flesh

to lave cool crescent hip with
fevered fingers
startled palms--
hip to thigh to hip again 

to raise half-open lips with
crimson kiss
swan-contoured neck--
shiver satin cheek with heat

to look into rapt waking
eyes and breathe
never-known and never-seen
elusivelove       BlueRose


All Poems copyright (c) 2010 Michael R. Collings


All poems copyrighted by their respective authors. Any reproduction of
these poems, without the express written permission of the authors, is

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