I temporarily share two poems here, for a blogger friend 🙂


The poems below are encapsulating experiences I had in the desert canyons near Eilat during the 70s. I spent several months there working for a film production.


the hour when locals evade the sun

sip tepid mint in the shade or sleep naked

I walk the dry river-mouth – once cool

purling song – now long undone

bird-wings ignite the polished cliff

my heel slips on the steep

a ripple of light below my feet

glides on its shade – as in a dream

I step across the pallid flowing

disguised as weathered stone

the snake needles through a crack

between rocks – back to its dark home

clear-headed and shadow-less I ascend

the cliff with ease – drawn to a glistening

beyond the peak – a field of crystals

bleeding sun like hearts cracked open

glaring at the sharp certainty of noon

the sky seems a vault of liquid glass

mirror to nothing – nothing but itself

inside I’m seen – by what I do not know

a chorus carried on the breeze

brings Moses standing in strong faith

parting waters for weary tribes to cross

soon rivulets may spring up yet again

cascading toward the horizon’s wedge of deep

cerulean blue – the Red Sea’s lazy wave rolls in me

salt on my lip I’m the cool fish in its wake and

soft sun streaming through the coral reef


sleepless sun

in yourself you’ll never know the cool beauty

of a desert night or feel what it’s like to stretch

on sands that still hold the heat of your stay

blinded by the surge of your blazing flame

you can’t behold the arch of time – can’t hear

the chime of past futures cradled in space

nor can you sense the nature of this ebb and tide

of longing in us as we watch your gentle bride

waxing and waning by the shadow we must cast

your fierce passion softens in the mirror

of her yielding – while we find wholeness

in her calm and endearing glow

haunted by your own brilliance you find no sleep

only the changing moods of your beloved

make your visions slip into the human heart

here – you faithfully return each dawn

to gild the roofs of al ‘Aqabah

and douse the Red Sea waters amber

when your early rays touch the mountain rim

cliffs rebound in rainbow hues as screens

to random presences of our myths

wild beasts leap out from ancient caves

to chase their prey – then outlines shift

to palaces – the sphinx – the child

each day we give new names to what you shape

yet once you move up high and claim the sky

what hides from you is simply fixed in black

*     *     *

I keep coming back to composing Haiku and could happily do nothing else for days, but have much to learn. I hope to coax you into giving it a try. There are websites to explore. Here is an article by Jane Reichhold that shares a little history and some techniques.


A few storied captured in Haiku

*    *    *

sunlight in a puddle

the starlings dowse their feathers

no other sound

*    *    *

spidery branches

the orb of a crow’s nest blocks

soft platinum sun

*    *    *

glassy air of spring

shape-shifting clouds drift below

shards of candy-blue

*    *    *

plastic bags rattle

ensnared in wire and branch

riot of colours

*    *    *    *

it is market-day

the high sound of breaking glass

circles the big square

26 responses to “Poems

  1. Wow! This is cool, a gift from the sea. “riverhead”: I like the narrative idea, the walking flow, the descriptions, the imagery of water and stones. It seems to end on a light note, humorous, the tone. Something has changed since the walk began; I’m not sure what, exactly, but the walk is also the poem itself, the poem “purling” along: “purling, pallid, peak, parting.” All very interesting. And the heat, the dryness, from “wings” to “Moses,” all the “s” sounds. The “snake needles,” suggesting again the knitting, sewing, another kind of “purling.” “Purling” – a very interesting word, found in knitting, and here, the vestige of water and sound. Surfers “pearl” when the nose of the board sinks quickly below the surface, stopping the board, but the surfer’s momentum carries the body forward – it’s a kind of “wipe out.” But back to the poem – alliterative but subtly so, almost, as the poem says, “disguised,” which is refreshing. The poem is refreshing. It’s not so obscure, and we find the “wave” and “sea” a great surprise.

    “sleepless sun”: again we find an interesting narrative, an aid to the reader. Seems a kind of apostrophe, addressing the sun, which of course we can’t look directly at, so the poem is the perfect form for addressing the sun (for poems, at least in their figurative ways, don’t look directly at things – probably be disagreement there!). “Each day we give new names…,” yes, and isn’t that what the poet does? Also interesting the philosophical approach to the sun. The sun can’t tell time, for it is time itself, living outside of time. And the history of place, the same sun all these years, barely aged at all, as generations here have come and gone, come and gone. And of course, the sun living outside of time can’t turn off, can’t go to sleep. Well, but this is the view from here.

    I find both poems grounded in a sense of things and reflections, in nature and in the narrative to get at, or to get with, nature the poet suggests. Thanks for sharing, very cool. I like the climate of the poems (the figurative and the literal climate). Here, as we slog our way through spring, nothing is dry. So maybe my reading of the two poems is too heavily influenced by the sense of climate, of weather. Joe


    • Thanks Joe – It makes me happy that you like the poems, so warming the heart to have another poet’s feedback – a reading of the music sounding through.


    • You say something changed at the end of ‘Riverhead’. That moment

      … the horizon’s wedge of deep cerulean blue …

      and how, in my dehydrated state, the distant water of the Red Sea allowed me to immerse myself …

      the sea’s lazy wave rolls in me
      salt on my lip I am the cool fish in its wake and
      soft sun streaming through the coral reef …

      made me realise there are things an image — even though they say it can convey a thousand words — can’t convey an imaginative process that affects all one’s subtle senses. I was working as a photographer then.
      I try to engage with the imaginative process in my writing. Maybe like surfing. I’ve never stood on a surf board, but watching surfers is exhilarating. Wipe out, when the wave hugs you 🙂


      • Well, maybe something changes along the way of the poem, along the walk, can’t say exactly where. But anyway, the end seems positive to me, full of humorous energy. The wave comes as a great surprise.


  2. These are all lovely pieces, Ashen. The evocative imagery is both naturalistic and metaphorical, and the limited punctuation gives the poems a lightness that acts as a foil to their content.


    • Thanks David. I’m glad you came to look and liked the poems. I’ll eventually collect things into some order, wading through my atrocious system of filing. The point you make about punctuation (pun) – I see the pauses in these poems accentuated visually by the move to a new line. I don’t know what’s acceptable and what isn’t, feeling daunted by professional poetry cultures..


  3. There is so much memorable imagery, so many memorable lines, so many layers of meaning:

    from riverhead

    ‘I walk the dry river-mouth – once cool
    purling song – now long undone’

    ‘bird-wings ignite the polished cliff’

    ‘…I find a field of crystals
    bleeding sun like hearts cracked open’

    ‘the sky seems like a vault of liquid glass
    mirror to nothing – nothing but itself’

    from sleepless sun

    ‘in yourself you’ll never know the cool beauty
    of a desert night or feel what it’s like to stretch
    on sands that still hold the heat of your stay
    blinded by the surge of your blazing flame’

    and from the collection of haikus

    ‘it is market-day
    the high sound of breaking glass
    circles the big square’


    • Thank your for your comments, David. Having a reader connect to the spirit in images one could give life to affirms and deepens the moment of the experience. Who knows, maybe our poems convey a history that will outlive facts, in another sphere.


  4. What David said, Right on. Here is an interesting article from The Nation on the decline of the public intellectual – not directly related to poetry, but the idea of the “professional,” and thinking of peer reviews and academia brought it to mind:
    I suppose there was once a public poet – Whitman, William Carlos Williams (medical doctor), and other writers whose writings were popular and successful without too much in the way of academic taglines: Henry Miller and Anais Nin, for example. D. H. Lawrence. Certainly Hemingway. Emily Dickinson. Wallace Stevens had a law degree and spent a career in insurance. Former US poet laureate Ted Kooser had an MA, but he too spent a career in insurance. (Kafka worked for an insurance company, as a claims investigator, and had something to do with the suggestion or creation of the hardhat safety helmet). Bob Dylan has a bunch of honorary degrees, but little formal education, but, as David’s comment suggests, Dylan’s credibility is his songs. Corso and some of the Beats (Lamantia) were precursors. Wherever a facility for language comes from, school often beats it out of us. Anne Sexton, Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda, Denise Levertov – writers without the borders of degrees. Sure there are professional academics who write poetry, often good poetry, but degrees are not required to write poetry. There is no degree that confers poet. One becomes a poet in the process of reading and writing and listening to poetry and to one’s own voice and asking where it came from and where it might continue to come from. … and this, on the spirit of amateur writing: http://joelinker.wordpress.com/2008/03/12/the-amateur-spirit-in-writing/


    • Huh, that article by Caleb Crain in The Nation is cutting, and funny. His points reminds me of the academic papers I get through my professional counselling and psychotherapy organisation BACP. They make me yawn. I recall the tutors on my film degree course looked forward to my quirky essays.
      Thanks for the long list of the great tribe – excellent company indeed 🙂
      I must stop being silly and instead value having escaped academic templates.
      As you expressed it in the piece on the amateur spirit in writing, it’s in writing that one learns.
      Only one thing motivates this obsession – having something to write about.


  5. …also this: listen to Cornel West’s answer when Astra asks him if “Do you have to go to school to be a philosopher?” http://www.wimp.com/cornelwest/


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  7. Hi Ashen! Gorgeous poems of sensuality and spirituality, using opposites of light-shadow, hot-cold, past-present in a way that I don’t think is contradictory.

    I thought about how leaving convention and seeking an ancient wisdom in the half-light of soul in tandem with sun-lit nature is something that has been lost in religious dogmatism and the comforts of the modern, technological age. The sun and the moon, the masculine and feminine, spiritual and physical all provide needed illumination or wisdom. But looking directly at the sun also blinds. The moonlight reflects and does not completely dispel the darkness. For me, these poems illustrate a balance of inner and outer sense, unbounded by time and space and ordinary thinking.

    I like the reference to Moses parting the red sea, which I understood to mean the parting of the sea as a path to the promised land or parting the veil that leads to awareness.

    I think ancient people understood signs and portents in the natural world that more recently, Western and Eurocentric people and religions often ridicule. Why? We know relatively little about our own minds and consciousness. Maybe nature is consciousness in disguise. As above, so below.

    Unlike mythological heroes (Joesph Campbell’s THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES comes to mind), most people stay safe in their houses, evading the sun and fearing uncertainty and moon-lit.things inhabiting the darkness and shadows. x http://youtu.be/Ys1reX8Qm6E


  8. Thanks, Cynthia. A lovely compliment.
    … these poems illustrate a balance of inner and outer sense, unbounded by time and space and ordinary thinking …

    I love Joseph Campbell’s works. Some years ago, I saw this fantastic series where Bill Moyers interviews Campbell: http://www.jcf.org/new/index.php?categoryid=83&p9999_action=details&p9999_wid=237


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  10. What a collection! Beautiful imagery and presence. 🙂

    I hit “unfollow” instead of “reader” and had to “follow” you again. It’s been one of those mornings. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: Everyone, Right Now, Is Writing Their Own Life . . . | Notes from An Alien

  12. I enjoyed all of these poems, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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