Unafraid, he flies
Into strange skies;
Unrehearsed, he sings
Of sweet springs;
Unattended he dies
While no one cries;
A tiny bird
Once heard
By God.
The night was notched with noises,
The stars stared silent bright,
I peeped along the darkness
And found a thing of fright.
My tree, a tall-grown beauty
Had shed her dress of green;
And donned a sack of drabness,
Deep dreary to be seen.
The daytime dancing Goddess
Had turned into a wraith
With coiling arms and deadly charms
That filled me with misfaith.
I fled along the shadows
Into the lighted house,
And sat with awful memory
As a fearful cringing mouse.
The dawn came in all rosy
And gay as party child,
And coaxed along my courage
And turned my fear to mild.
I went into the garden
And saw my tree again,
Ashimmering with pureness,
A morning Magdalene.
I could not help but wondering
As sweetness swayed my sight
That nothing could transform her,
'Twas I bewitched last night.
Where sleep does set her drifting dreams,
And silence softly sings to sound,
The Seven Sisters send their smile
To soothe the soul earthbound.
Where rhythm rules in measured law,
And thought creates all action,
Hidden hands spill streams of joy
For spirits seeking sanction.
Where light has overshadowed darkness,
And night knows only sun,
Wisdom waits to work her wiles
On truth but half begun.
Some Day
I'd like to catch a blue whale's bubble
To wear upon my arm,
To keep away all tears and trouble,
To be my magic charm.
I'd like to find a fairy's song,
To hang upon my ear
To make all right each spoken wrong,
To chase away each fear.
I'd like to snare a falling star,
To pin upon my dress,
To cast a sparkle near and far
To banish dank darkness.
I'd like to wrest the wild wind's wing,
To wear upon my back,
To spin around the world's wide ring,
To see the Zodiac.
Spending Spree
I would spend this love of mine,
This fortune benign;
Scatter it in a shower,
Depetal it as a flower.
I would leave it far behind.
With forgetfulness entwined;
Never to be refound,
Never to be unbound.
I would bury it deep in sands,
Abandoned to foreign lands;
I would flee from it,
Through space infinite.
But first I would give it to you
From whence it once grew.
The Tree
I'll stand no more on Quiet Hill
Where lie my roots asevered still
The spinning stars no more I'll see
For now I am a Christmas tree.
I'll taste no more the melting snow,
Or Sip the raindrops as I grow;
No more the wind to dance with me
For now I am a Christmas tree.
Instead of warm birds in my hair
Cold strips of tinsel now hang there:
No seeds to blossom fruitfully
For now I am a Christmas Tree.
The children laughed but did not hear
My cries of pain and growing fear;
No soft brown earth to nourish me
For now I am a Christmas tree.
Oh men I do not understand
The reason of your cutting hand
To rip me from my forestry
To reign one day as Christmas tree.
To a Snowflake
Melt slowly little silvery sprite
Fallen gently from the naked night;
Hold haven on my shielding shoulder,
And whisper of your heavenly flight.
Shine splendor little fairy flake
And to my eyes your sheer soul awake;
Share awe on this your earthly mission
Enlighten with your angel's vision.
To Let
Heaven, Heaven, Heaven
A place I'll never go
You said our love was made there
And now it isn't so.
Seven, Seven, Seven
Suns spinning in the sky
Couldn't cast the day brighter
Or fade away your lie.
Given, Given, Given
You no longer love me
Why did you make a promise
To adore eternally.
Riven, Riven, Riven
Of your love I would be
To start another growing
To fill the vacancy.
To Mickey
Little bird of frightened beauty,
Sing a song of splendorous awe
Break your bars with shafts of sweetness
Lift man's mood where souls adore.
Little bird of gentle glances,
Bring to earth an angel's gold
Dress the day with dancing echoes
Give to man the hope you hold.
It was there
Still I saw it not;
Nor did I hear
'Til the ticking stopped:
The wonder of the clock.
Faded Love
The past is fled, fled, fled
Yesterday is dead
And yet I shush sorrow
And wait for tomorrow
The rose is gone, gone, gone
Faded the phenomenon.
And yet I stay to see
Another Spring for me.
What cares the sea for the sound of your name,
What sighs the sky for the shout of your fame,
What dares the earth for sake of your skin,
What troubled time when your day did begin?
The chisel that creates is in your hand,
Will you shape a heaven or hill of sand?
Life's book is marked off in your memory
Will you trace an epic or travesty?
Bodhi (Awakening)
At any moment,
Just around the bend,
It may happen, It may come
Of the Golden Chrysthanemum.
The morning makes magic with the rain of the sky
For you smiled when you kissed me goodbye;
Your eyes were soft and gentle was the wind
I forgot that you had ever sinned.
Today is all time with your face in my mind,
The world, man and you no longer unkind;
Found is all sweetness in the echo of your voice;
Yesterday is gone, today I rejoice.
No hands reach forth from friendly skies
To sort and unravel humanity's lies;
No lash of lightening drops the key
To open full life's mystery;
The miracle lies alone in man
To find the message as best he can.
Each Brings a Coin
I am a beggar, a beggar of truth;
From each man that I meet
I beg and entreat for the lesson he earned
Or the wiisdom he spurned.
There is none on the way
Who has nothing to say
There is none I will pass
I will see through the mass.
I am a beggar, a beggar of truth;
And if on fate's way we whould meet on the street
Will you stop at my calling and whisper to me
The secret you found in life's tangled tree.
Never Enough
The Wind, the rain, the snow,
These things men did know;
Hunger, loneliness and thirst,
Yearnings they met first.
Desert, mountains, seas,
Inheritors of these
Sickness, age and fear
Parts of the atmosphere.
Yet they would have more,
And invented war.
Old Friends
Collected in my memory
Are hoards of things that want to be
Old has, old hates, old loves,
Old dates, old dreams, old gloves.
Out they tumble when least called for
Out they pop from any old drawer.
But tucked in a chest smelling of yew
Are the ghosts of friends that I once knew
All firm and fresh and full of grace
With not a wrinkle to disturb the face
And when I beckon for one to appear
She comes with sweet scene to offer cheer
And yet know I that if I should now meet
The same one on a chance taken street
Would not my heart be pierced with grief
To find the furrows left by time's thief?
Would not I be saddened with fear
At the strange words I would surely hear
And she in turn, would she not feel amiss
To find I wasn't the same sweet miss?
So I'll keep my old friends in a memory chest
And cherish and love them at their very best.
Chuang-Tse Confusion
Last night,
Sweet in sleep
I dreamed
I was that same sage,
In another age,
We was a butterfly,
Fluttering rose high;
I dreamed
I was he,
That same Chinese sage
Of a Golden Age,
On waking,
Did not know
If he be
It or he,
A man
He is a butterfly
A butterfly
It is a man;
Now, I too,
Wish I knew,
Is it I
She is Chuang-Tse
He is a butterfly
It is I
Am I a butterfly
It is I
Dreaming I am Chaung-Tse.
A Treasure
Oh robin, robin,
I have your egg
It lay upon the ground,
So still, so still
A bit of blue,
A nest nowhere around.
Oh robin, robin
Where are you?
I have your tiny song,
Forlorn, forlorn,
Upon the grass
Oh robin, what is wrong?
Oh robin, robin
It is here,
The run seed of your flight;
Fragile, fragile
As a dream
Awakened in a fright.
Oh robin, robin
Come at once
I'll give it back to you'
Hurry, Hurry
The night is nigh
It presses on the blue.
Oh robin, robin
You do not come,
I'll take it home with me
And put it in
A crystal cup
For all the world to see.
Easy Take It
If you do not clutch
The passing
Will not hurt so much.
False Freedom
On air
A spring spray
Of spare dust,
Fairy flight
With the wind's fancy
Seeking pistel promise.
Spindrift spun aloft
Stamin sent,
Soon to sink,
Back, back to sleep
Target trap
Life bound.
Nationality -- Hottentot
Religion -- Druid
Age -- Eternally 16.
Answers to the dreary
Probing of a query.
The job I got not,
I have long since forgot.
But I'm still Hottentot, Durid and eternally 16.
Comb your hair,
Dry your tears,
Close out your sorrow
Stop standing in the way of the sun,
Today is here.
Around the Corner
Man, ever peering down the street,
Like a child waiting for a treat
Looking for goodies from fate
Never too tired, never too late.
To a Fish
Poor little fish, caught in a bowl,
Where have you left your tiny soul?
Is is waiting in the deep of sea
or have you brought it to set you free?
A touch of sun on the still white snow
A wind wailing
A bird whimpering,
A tree shadowing,
Where will the cold ones go?
All in One
The wildest were the doubters,
Who questioned this and that,
And battered all believing,
'Til faith was fallen flat.
My favorite was a gay wag,
Who held his sides and laughed
At the foibles of the others
And deemed them all quite daft..
Would he were my only self;
What cheer we'd make together,
Looking through this reeling world
Winking at all weather.
But back romped the motley lot,
Who had no other home;
That's why my moods move about
Like wind-tossed seaward foam.
To Someone in Africa
What is it, what this man?
Is it the brow
Timed with furrows?
The eyes
Sighted with light?
The mouth
Shaped of gentleness?
The voice
Worded with wisdom?
The hands
Fingered with healing?
Is it these?
No, it is the soul,
Albert Schweitzer,
The soul of compassion.
Trapped by the moment man weeps,
Liberated by time he laughs.
After tears, wisdom,
In wisdom, laughter.
The smile of the Buddha orbits eternity.
Old Dreams
There are those who sleep while waking,
Of the crowd's opium partaking.
A dream perchance of power,
Eternity judged in an hour.
The pope of popularity's jest,
The same answer to society's test.
Vision with ancient views,
Reflexes briefed by ancestral cues.
A Date at Secret Valley Game Lodge -- Kenya
"Mr. Din,
Bring the Emperor a leopard,
Dr. Din,
A leopard, did you hear?
At seven a.m.
For the Emperor
Haile Selassi,
A leopard at seven.
Will he be there, Mr. Din,
Will the leopard come?
So? You are not sure?
Then the Emperor cannot wait
For a leopard.
Did you hear, Mr. Din,
The Emperor cannot wait."
But the commoners waited
And the leopard came,
A Prince of a Beast,
The leopard came at seven a.m.
But the Emperor could not wait.
How unfortuante for the Emperor.
First Snow (Eamon)
The falling snow is fair,
The fairest of a sight;
When a heart's young and a sled's new,
And it's snowed all through the night.
The untrod field is there,
Awaiting breaking feet;
To sink and sway, to jump and play
And a crystal path to beat.
The boy is dressing fast,
his eyes caught in a dream;
He sees himself, he sees the snow,
and a sled flies on the beam.
The door is opened wide,
The flakes crowd to embrace,
Early lover, muffled brother
And a shout rings through all space.
The snow would catch the boy
The boy would catch the snow,
They whirl and chase 'round, bump and race,
In a tag of touch and go.
The white is piling deep,
The sled is cutting clean;
Winter is here, a warm lad's cheer,
And Spring sleeps under the scene.
The Gem
The wind is on the willow,
The bird is out of flight,
The clouds are crowding closer,
The snow is circling white.
The sounds ae sinking fainter,
The silence stalking night,
And on the air there lingers
Lavender of twilight.
Cat eyes are watching wary,
Might fall a muzzling mouse,
A light wakes in the window
The warmth is in the house.
The flakes are flower crystals,
Flung carelessly apart,
The shadows glint with glitter
But the jewel is in the heart.
Walk On
The question
The answer
The way
No minding,
No stopping.
A Vacation
Where are the glances you gave me each morn,
The sighs you sent flying all so forlorn?
There is the love you vowed eternally,
The kisses you reserved just for me?
Where are the embraces you tied round my waist,
The steps to my side you back and forth paced?
Is this the holiday time of your heart?
Then have a good time but for home soon start!
Desert Jewel
The flower that grows in the desert
Is as sweet as the rose of the rain
As fair as the fresh-field violet
Or lily of moist terrain.
The flower that blooms in the desert
Is as bright as the fruit of the yew
As bold as a winter flower
As staunch as the woody bamboo.
The flowere that shines in the desert
Is as rare as the pearl of the sea
As lustrous as a jeweled carcanet
As fine as a gold filagree.
The flowere that gleams in the desert
Will never know kiss of the be
Will never be plucked from the garden
It's the flower that blooms for me.
A Breathing Spell
I mind not the middle years;
What midwife wrapped them first in fears?
'Tis a sitting down after the race of youth,
A chance to survey the wild chase forsooth.
I envy not the flirting miss,
I know how fleeting is a kiss.
I care not that she's only twenty,
To catch up to me she need learn plenty.
I yearn not for another's years,
Knowing they might be pregnant with tears.
Give me not another's fate,
I'll take what I have, even this late.
No retracing time for me,
I'm happy to be here and the past to see.
I'm glad to grasp the middle years,
To give up trying to be young with fears.
Madness, madness, slowly on the wing,
Yet gayly, gayly, shall I sing;
Each man runs from his madness,
I stand still and stare,
For who knows what wild wisdom
I might find lurking there.
Flower Watching
I'm walking through the meadows,
I'm looking by the grass;
I'm searching for a flower,
I would not want to pass.
Oh Johnny, Johnny Jumpup,
Where is your hiding place?
I'm yearning for a sighting
Of your pensive little face.
The month of June has come around,
Ah, you are here I know,
And when at last I find you
'T'will be by your purple glow.
Oh Johnny, Johnny Jumpup,
Fear not the touch of me,
I only want to see you,
Not pluck, to let you be.
The past day, the past day
Is dried in desert dew;
No matter how you squeeze or sip
No drop is left for you.
The morrow, the morrow,
Beyond the palest star;
No matter how you pull and plot,
The dream stays where you are.
The present, the present
Is all you've got to see;
So take a breath of rarest now,
Let past and future be.
Peaceful Pastels
When you have seen two men fight,
One brown and one white,
Rolling round
The subway ground;
When you have seen two knives unite,
Skins brown and white,
Red flowing
In train going;
When such sights as these meet
God knows how sweet
Flower hues --
Green, lavender and blues.
Alone in the Crowd
Lost in the multitude,
Alone, tears swelling in his lungs,
Man searches
For what he once was,
Before the maddening flight,
Before the getting of gold.
He gropes for an ancient joy,
Forgotten, long forgotten.
He listens for the nightengale,
Silent, long silent.
He knows not where to go;
He has strayed from his sure-footed guide.
Summer Afternoon
The sun
On a green leaf,
Primeval shadows
Grown worlds apart,
Lighting a memory
In my secret heart.
Shadows seking semblance in midst of mind,
Mock reason's round fist of reality,
And turn earth's substance into vaporous sky,
On which hover phantom shapes,
Tracing designs that eyes cannot pierce,
And fingering sounds foreign to himan ears.
Mad moments bringing sanity to a long siesta,
And revealing the plan behind the noose of time.
There is no refuge but the self,
Sole skipper
Steering on the endless sea of eternity,
Such frail bark
Set to ride the wildest waves.
No sleeping
For him who would keep afloat,
Ever knowing
There is no external island,
No complaining
For him who would understand,
Ever moving
In a changing changeless horizon,
No stopping
For him who would sail ahead,
Ever anxious
To ride the winds of learning.
In Step
How good it is to stop and face the wind,
To fling all fear into its wild embrace.
How sweet it is to gulp the gushing gusts,
To feel bold fingers caressing one's face.
How good it is to leave the huddled sheep,
To front undaunted the strange unknown.
How wise it is to stop and set one'd steps
In time to the wild wind's drone.
Wind on the Tree
The peach blossoms are falling,
Flowering the grass
With sweet scent.
Outside my window,
A child will soon pass
And stoop to pick pink petals
To bring to my kitchen door.
And I will forget
How I sighed
When the wind went by.
Copy the cat, he cares not for this or that,
Content to be here, shedding not a tear;
Taking life as it comes, watching as it runs,
relaxing under the sun, a follower of none.
Loaded Dice
Fathoms within,
A wisdom waiting,
Warily watching laughter.
So still,
'Til tears flow;
And then the soul knows
Life's wagered stake --
Words of a Seneca Warrior
You will not understand it;
This feeling in the heart of my people.
You are too young to know,
Too cloistered.
You have not yet heard
The wisdom in the voice of the wind.
You have not danced
To the rhythm of the clouds.
You have not yet spoken
To the Great Silent Spirit.
No, you will never understand,
For we do not speak of it,
What's deep in our heart.
Until you can feel it
You will never know.
You have taken our lands,
You have bound our freedom.
But remember, oh White Man
We still have our heritage;
We still believe,
And the Mighty Hunter knows
What's deep in our heart,
The sorrow of the faithful.
White Magic
Snow in a mist,
Sight in a cloud
Mysterious tryst
The sun disavowed;
Tracery white,
Storm enveloped
Caprice crystalite
Magic developed.
Beauty bewitched,
Speckles sphery,
Memory enriched
By Winter eery.
MA'RIB (Yemin)
Silence keeps for the sniper,
Stillness waiting,
Emptiness remembering,
Yesterday's happiness
Hushed --
Voices at the windows,
Cries in the marketplace,
Chants from the minarets
Hushed --
Over the alleys,
Over the battle dust,
Over the sunlight,
Fear --
Silence keeps for the sniper
No, no
Not a firefly,
Never catch a firefly.
The spirits will be angry,
Never let one die.
Do you know what makes them glow?
Why little lanterns burning bright
To lead the spirits that roam at night,
To scatter dreams on sleeping flowers
To collect the day's faded hours.
No, no
Not a firefly,
Never catch a firefly.
Nonce Word
I would if I weren't,
And that's the way it is
And always has been;
A cryptic state of affairs
For one
Existing in nominalism,
For one
Temporarily permanent
In this, this
Peerless non-union shop
Run by an absent Nanga Parbat.
What idea can fit it,
Constantly changing?
What philosophy can contain it,
Constantly moving?
What ideal can conquer it,
Constantly eluding?
Only the change knowing.
To a Lazy One
Come on,
Stop stalling,
Up and at it!
He who does not begin
Never finishes.
The last stroke of the brush
Started with the first.
In the Forest
Spirit of the Forest
Look to your fleet foot deer!
What is the orange ribbon
That dangles from his ear?
And what in all of nature
Could have grown these shooting shots,
Bold grizzlies with their bottoms
Carrying orange-tinted spots?
What wear your noble mallards
As they soar up into air
With silver circling bandlets
On legs that once were bare?
Oh, Spirit of the Forest
Keep on with ancient cheer.
'Tis only that a scientist
Has set his shop up here.
Peering through a window,
Gazing through the glass,
Waiting on a miracle
That might come to pass.
Looking into darkness,
Wishing wisps of light,
Dreaming silvery spirals
To weave throughout the night.
Seeking stars to sigh on,
Searching for a sign,
Matching wits with shadows,
Sipping senseless wine.
Spinning on a planet,
Whirling through all space,
While waiting at a window,
For a landing place.
There's a perfume on the blossoms,
There's a whisper on the air,
There's a pale pool in the memory,
With frail floweres floating there.
There's a springtime in the sunlight,
There's a song between the trees,
There's a green glow on the grasses,
There's a longing on the lees.
There's a waking of young laughter,
There's a stirring of first love,
There's a rhyme of sleeping poet,
There's a call of coaxing dove.
There's a silver flash of knowing,
There's a moment born of truth,
There's a ripple on the water,
In the lotus lies lost youth.
Little bird, do you know
Soon is due another snow?
Would that you could fly away
To a southern sunny day.
The blue bird left long ago,
So, too, the swift swallow;
Could you not pack up as they,
Be off, be on your way?
Why wait for the winds to blow,
Would that I could make you go;
But stubborn black spot of clay,
You shiver, starve, and stay.
Surprise Visit
What wind could have brought you,
Bright bird on the tree,
Singing merrily, merrily,
Seems only for me?
Would dream could have sent you,
What veiled divinity,
Weaving witchery, witchery,
To mesmerize me?
What light could have lured you
From flight so heart free
To perch joyously, joyously
On my old pear tree?


More Poems -- by Peggy Stebbins Nelson