‘When Great Trees Fall’ by Maya Angelou

When Great Trees Fall

When great trees fall,
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down
in tall grasses,
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall
in forests,
small things recoil into silence,
their senses
eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
We breathe, briefly.
Our eyes, briefly,
see with
a hurtful clarity.
Our memory, suddenly sharpened,
examines,
gnaws on kind words
unsaid,
promised walks
never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to
them, takes leave of us.
Our souls,
dependent upon their
nurture,
now shrink, wizened.
Our minds, formed
and informed by their
radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold
caves.

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always
irregularly. Spaces fill
with a kind of
soothing electric vibration.
Our senses, restored, never
to be the same, whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be
better. For they existed.

by Maya Angelou

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The sun sets, again

This poem, the first in a series  on mythology, refers to the Norse stories of Skoll and Hati, and of Ragnarak.

The sun sets, again

The sun sets again, another day done,
another year, another astrological phase,
another end though barely yet begun—
when once the sun’s rage set the sky ablaze
now the sun falters, the day undone.

The sun was swallowed a year from today,
rose again, but not so fierce, not so bright;
was reborn 366 days
only to die again every night
the same cycle—rise, chase, fall—stuck on play.

The sun falls, at long last, the dark alight,
Skoll and Hati roam moonless vacant skies—
but this is no Ragnarak, no endless night,
beneath the earth the sleeping sun lies,
for tonight is just another night.

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In Norse mythology the sun and moon are drawn in chariots, driven by humans of the same name. Each chariot followed by the wolves Skoll and Hati, although there is some conjecture about which wolf follows the sun and which follows the moon.

Skoll is the name of the wolf
Who follows the shining priest
Into the desolate forest,
And the other is Hati,
Hróðvitnir’s son,
Who chases the bright bride of the sky.

When Ragnarak, the end of the world or literally the ‘doom of the gods,’ happens, the wolves will finally catch and devour the two heavenly bodies, casting the world into perpetual night. Unlike other end of the world stories though, Norse mythology sees a rebirth of the world after Ragnarak. This cyclical view of the world fits aptly with my poem which also has a focus on death and rebirth.

My next poem will be focused on Greek mythology, and will be coming soon.

“August and yellow flowers”: a poem for Daffodil Day

I wrote this poem for daffodil day in memory of a friend lost too soon.  Daffodil day falls on the fourth friday of every August and is a a major fund-raising event for research into cancer research, prevention and support services for those affected by cancer.  It is also a day to support patients and survivors, and to remember loved ones lost to us.

Eight months ago I lost one of my best friends after her 18 month struggle with cancer.  This poem is about her in a way, but more so it is about my emotional journey over these last two years, about my loss, and about grief in general.  If anyone else is struggling with their own loss I hope this poem may offer you some small solace.

If you’d like to make a dontaion please follow the link at the bottom of the page.

 

August and yellow flowers

Daffodils break up through stone hard frost
while blue skies drip with sunflowers not rain,
and everywhere I look are thoughts of you—
now I know I should be charitable
because cancer’s taken so much I love
but I can’t see another damn daffodil,
can’t relive again this forced remembrance
that August and yellow flowers bring.

This month two years ago life imploded—
your future was stolen, mine stuck on pause,
when you were torn open and robotosised,
when I was ripped apart from the inside
your body taken over by rogue cells,
my insides gutted, my breath stripped away,
your indomitable energy bound,
contained in a prison of flesh and drugs—

I could see where all the signs were pointing
no matter how I tried to shield my eyes,
I couldn’t hide from my fate anymore
than I could turn my gaze from yours,
no choice but to walk this road by your side
until your path veered off into the sun
while mine dragged under grey and sullen skies.

So I close my eyes and try to forget,
let your memories slumber for a spell,
imagine the sky filled with clouds not sun—
for though the new spring is about to break
sunflowers drip from skies instead of rain
and I am surrounded by daffodils.

 

Me and Mud 2

The two of us back in 2004

 

To donate go to https://www.daffodilday.com.au/

Bad Weather

Bad weather

The weather’s fine today,
partly cloudy with a chance of rain—
there’s always a chance of rain.
Yesterday was overcast,
grey clouds and white fog,
mist coated all my words,
before that it rained all day,
an endless downpour leaking through my roof
but even that was better than the wind
that raged and stormed and blew my fence down.
It seems days now since I saw the sun:

slipping weak tendrils out from behind clouds,
slowly gathering strength to leap into the sky and shine
before slipping back beneath a cloud to rest.

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Animal Therapy

Animal Therapy
Last time I was sick I was in my bed,
too ill to move even for the water
and the tablets, just an arm’s reach away,
feeling like death, if death had feelings,
unable to do anything but pray
to a god I don’t believe in to help,
to make it go away, to let me sleep,
at least until the pain’s a little less—

when I heard the patter of paws approach,
and the slight impact of the cat’s landing
on my bed, watched her sidle up to me,
putting her face in mine to sniff me out
before curling her warm body up beside
my chest and purring in time with my heart.

cat

 

Sunrise in summer: a parting aubade

Sunrise in summer – a farewell

a parting aubade
in the indigo pre-dawn,
together we wait

birds chime a warning
the sun is coming, with it,
time to say goodbye

the butcher bird calls
orange fills the horizon
a last parting kiss

light slowly gathers
seeming anti-climatic
night gives way to day

in the clouds a glimmer
of the night fading away
of the sun rising

Clouds shimmer in sun
orange and purple and bright—
my wondrous night done

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Falling

The bulk of my poems, no matter how I try to avoid it, tend to be focused more on the maudlin side: full of melancholy, angst, lovelorn laments and ponderings of existential despair, all of that fun stuff.  But beautiful poetry doesn’t always have to be dark, or so I try to remind myself.  This Valentine’s Day I thought I’d delve into some happy memories and see what diamonds I could find.

So fall all you crazy lovers out there, this one’s for you.

Falling

Falling again,
against my better judgement,
light as a feather
leaden as lead,
into your wide open arms
no thought, no choice, just one word,
‘go.’

 

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