Bird of Death Dreams

She came home alone. Emptiness.
She listened for him in the garden.
He’d often walk along the river’s edge.
Even the elms are shaded today she thought.

Her daughter called. Cried. No need to come.
Her and death were old friends now. Talk.
She saw them around the edge of the field.
Wings like black silk; glistening and blue.

Smell of bacon and eggs. Her son’s eyes.
She tugged his sleeve like she used too.
His beard like a crow’s nest bristled.
She heard the axe swing out back all day.

By the fire the moon would trick her.
In the shadows she’d see them waltzing.
Her hands squeezing his in her good dream.
Feathers grazed her cheeks in the moon’s shadow.

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

The Night of Knives

Maybe more than anything it was the gin
she loved, that way of forgetting things,
a short oblivion, a dance against
the “night of knives” she’d say;
as if those memories
would rock-a-bye on bye forever.

Sitting there in the airport he listened,
knew it would never end, her pain;
winter mist and fuel brought it all home,
trying to reconcile this stale episode
with the person he’d known so long ago.

One day she never came home. A phone call.
A note under the door. “I love you.” it said.

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

The Lute Player (Caravaggio)

One wonders if those soft
dreamy eyes could murder?
Would he have already seen
Ranuccio Tomassoni bleeding
on the streets? As he sat there blankly
watching on while his master
delicately plied his brush,
what tune beyond the Florentine’s
sole text by Petrarch’s “Laisse le voile
would he have played; his white neck
exposed, that chest so wide, those fingers
so deftly placed and moving; each element
of the scene an almost perfect motion
of light to sound as if that reflection
in the vase – measured by some scientist –
maybe Giovanni Battista della Porta
whose De Refractione Optices would speak
of glass spheres and light as if it were some living thing
that changes as it moves
upon the emptiness of things? One sees
the sunwise marigold, the cornflower eye
in yellow dress, an eyebright for tears
to clear, the rainbow hues that blend
in prismatic light after Porta’s ‘De Iride et colore’;
iris seedpods, wrinkled florets: each a simple ingredient
of that Paracelsian art of his patron, Cardinal Francesco Del Monte,
in whose alchemical Casino this would reside
surrounded by Neptune, Jupiter and Pluto
with that god of light beyond and facing, Apollo,
ever-young as this young treasure playing
his various songs in delight of him. The balance
of sky and earth travel from the curved sphere
to ceiling and back, a white rose and jasmine,
a small daisy dipping down toward
that darkness that obscures all below us even now.

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: the painting by Caravaggio has a unique history in that it was copied three times by him over time, with the final version satisfying the patron where it was placed in an alchemical laboratory or basilica. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lute_Player_(Caravaggio))

 

A Night’s Grotesquerie

 

Dressed all in white, a black rose
about her neck – a ship, cruising
the south seas of her mind.
The one who used to visit her
when bubbles brimmed and eddied
round this old white tub
lost these many years
among the grit and soot. 

She used to live here
eclectically in a junk-bin,
a menagerie where her lost
orchids: red and black
exploded in light – pieces
of their magic
falling
round these tides and tatters.
A man dressed all in black
stands somewhere
behind her
in the shadows, feint and slim,

ghosting her as she picks
past scraps and heaps
(so many ashes, even the brass
flower cage that held a Myna bird
keeps repeating a phrase, repeating itself,
a phrase like a thought
repeating it’s movements: like a gold
coin tossed in a fountain, a good luck charm
against that which follows her)
a haunted thing, a whisper and a riddle
that no longer makes much sense:
fractured and frozen, a tale of waves,
of sunken lives and
troubled thoughts
of children
dead and buried; while
she waits in the dark
for a lover
that never is
on the spiral stairs above her mind

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: these pictures are from Clarence John Laughlin – Many historians credit Laughlin as being the first true surrealist photographer in the United States. His images are often nostalgic, reflecting the influence of Eugène Atget and other photographers who tried to capture vanishing urban landscapes. Laughlin’s best-known book, Ghosts Along the Mississippi, was first published in 1948.

 

 

 

Something Young And Beautiful

She notices something young and beautiful
out there beyond the cobwebs –

a white stallion roams the knolls just there
where the horizon meets the sun –

he’s neighing like some fiery dragon
down the years to her –

and for one moment a stirring
trembles in her mind

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: these pictures are from Clarence John Laughlin – Many historians credit Laughlin as being the first true surrealist photographer in the United States. His images are often nostalgic, reflecting the influence of Eugène Atget and other photographers who tried to capture vanishing urban landscapes. Laughlin’s best-known book, Ghosts Along the Mississippi, was first published in 1948.

Framing The Emptiness of Light

Sun flakes can’t save it:
timbered up
and closed in
upon itself like death;
pages from a torn life,
driftwood hangings –
her shade
below an open roof

silent and alone, framed
as an empty
remembrance of flight and light.

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: these pictures are from Clarence John Laughlin – Many historians credit Laughlin as being the first true surrealist photographer in the United States. His images are often nostalgic, reflecting the influence of Eugène Atget and other photographers who tried to capture vanishing urban landscapes. Laughlin’s best-known book, Ghosts Along the Mississippi, was first published in 1948.

Fall and Fade: A Tale of Roses

Moments like this vanish, fading
like those stone roses on the mantle,
where your mama used to light candles

just after twilight, in the grey time between,
so that your daddy might come home to her
full of smiles and those little white lies

he charmed her with so elegantly.
She’d forget the bad times, the marks
he’d write upon her cheeks, the red iconic

finger-paint that reminds you of these fading roses,
these petrified monstrosities of time’s sweet lie –
a bitter knowledge, absolving crimes –

beatings and unyielding tears.
Yet, you know it still lies there
like an old shoe, a slipper

found in an old closet
where she kept so many things: mementoes,
pictures, fragments of love, scattered remnants

of her happiness like so many roses,
so many tears across the lintel of years.
But you know what they want, these roses –

a silent prayer, a voiceless incision
to cut those dark and lonely days from time –

but they never could; and as you take up

this hammer, and one by one
smash these roses like a bad memory,
you count the lies he’d spoken –

 letting each of these ruinous roses fall and fade

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Note: these pictures are from Clarence John Laughlin – Many historians credit Laughlin as being the first true surrealist photographer in the United States. His images are often nostalgic, reflecting the influence of Eugène Atget and other photographers who tried to capture vanishing urban landscapes. Laughlin’s best-known book, Ghosts Along the Mississippi, was first published in 1948.