Artwork, Poems & Etc. by Mark Price       buy prints | art gallery | poetry is | thoughts on art | bio | talk to me

                    Gentle Urgings of a Vaporous Dream

Crumpled Wisdom
The Arising of the Setting
One night
A Friendly Death
Young girl

Other Poems: Secret Name & Transformations & Libidinous Urges & Goodbye to Arcadia

Crumpled Wisdom

Commanded sentences, structured and many words sovereign
over lords and ladies who slip away into the fresh dug earth,
dank and dark, only shades now in death’s underhouse.
once so proud they now align the endless corridors,
swaying to and fro in darkness and in awful silence.

And crumpled Wisdom crouches in mind forged chains,
begging alms or a candle from the passing shades.
Wisdom has no pull in Reason’s court, the venerable judge has gone mad,
he spews verdicts unintelligible pronouncing
sound arguments untenable.
Can Wisdom, after all, be only a lodged complaint,
ignored, as darkest, dark night
compresses close all around
only punctured by pinpricks of light.

Bright intelligence answers, she asks,
“Oh friend, your mind’s a candle
are not the pinpricks of light the many
stars above, have you grown so large
be closed in by the stars?
You’ve only forgotten how to breathe. Remember Our Lord, who spent three nights here.”

Wisdom looked into his cupped hands and saw
in the faintest of light but growing steady and strong,
a cross, a cross of light.
Then in the east a fire blazed, dissolving night.
“Arise, arise renewed, see the night it’s only foggy dew
see our Mother’s fields encircled by the sea
and a tree standing at the worlds center,
streaming golden in the sun.

end   back to top


Words whispered but once, long ago
            heard from far away,
            the trees bending to listen
            shimmered and shaken
            by the encircling wind,
                          a single leaf on updraft
whirled and found
            clever chaos in the form of a man,
            self deceived, who
busied himself out of the way,
             by night he climbed a tall tree
                           and sat upon the moon,
             to rule a continent below.
The land and the glimmering sea,
             rolling swell, then hollow
             the weight of the water rising, then
             breaking, crushing
the rocks gathered at lands edge,
             rolled and tumbled about
             by words whispered on
             the howling wind.

             Far and wide he saw it all encompassed

                         by the limits of vision only.

Morning light begins the play,

              now sits Bartleby the Scribner
              scribing naught, he dreams of girls
              under his desk as he eats
              plum pudding out of a jar
              drooling upon the pristine page,
soon he will faint dead away
              saying, “I’ll work no more,
              beyond is fraught with conjecture,
              what is known is the passage
                              not what’s been passed,
all the scribing was scribed long ago.”

Across measured spaces
               ancient travelers
               marked time out along the way,
not by the stars
               but by words whispered
                              at the first dawn
and carried on the wind, even
               down to our own time.

           end   back to top

The Arising of the Setting Sun

The oblique rays of the sun,

           morning rise or evening set,
           still twilight is a moment balanced
           between light and dark.
Becoming is movement
                             towards one or the other.
A scale’s balance descends or rises
            as determined by weight
            that sinks or counter balanced rises
setting in motion the spinning gears,
            wheels and pulleys, ticking time
            as determined by the arising
of the setting sun.

The morning buzz was all around
                                excited people milling about
             gathering swirls and eddies
                                of talkers talking
             flowing into a great hall
where high upon a scaffold
             the ax murderer Raskolikov
             waits to be judged.
                                 ‘What is to be done
                                 with this wayward youth who
                                 took life with an ax, so cheap.
                                 Justice demands hanging
                                 but such a bright youth,
                                 virtuous and sincere,
                                 gone terribly wrong though
                                 some say society is to the blame,
                                 his crime by grinding poverty compelled.
He did a woman in,
                she was a creep, she won’t be missed
                it’s a shame about the other though
                who got in his way.’

Three high judges sat;

Philosophy, Science and Religion,
                over bearing and aloof
                their judgment shrewd
                                   to them the crowd deferred.
The evidence was presented
                Raskolikov knelt quietly by
                and made no defense.

The first to speak was a mad philosopher,
                who wore a great walrus mustache
                and a superman suit
                              red cape and all,
                his eyes, able to stare with mad intent
                              two ways at once.
Hunched over a book
                he furiously chewed words
                and spat them back out again.
“I judge you small,
                thou art a worm, get off your knees,
                we rise above morality
                               to do great things,
                why qualms now?
It’s will and power to make a man free
                a new man to break
                the shackles of history.
Really, your crime was too small
                we’ve God to overcome”

Raskolikov answered simply,
                “you didn’t hear the women scream
                                 or see their blood
that washed nothing clean,
                 it’s dangerous philosophy
                 to make light of tragedy.”

Next spoke the man of science,
                 a thin man with an incisive beak
                 and an atom splitting mind.
Calm rational eyes
                 through a magnifying glass
                 looked at all the world,
                 he wondered that it was so small.
“Existence is only what is perceived,
                 is really isn’t and this is never that.
This criminal before us
                 look what he did with an ax,
                 what will others do
                 with guns and bombs, missiles and war.
Violent types will do what they will do.
                  we must put him away,
                  all of them,
                               to a barbed wire camp
                   as big as a nation,
we will bond them and bind them
                   link by link, catalog and control.”
“My category is not my nature,
                   you know me not at all,” Raskolikov answered.

The priest in his grand robes
                  and funny big hat
                                     had gone to sleep,
a little drool came from between his fat lips
                  as he was nudged awake;
“This world is but a vale of tears,
                  a passing fancy of no consequence,
but to come to heaven
                  you must brave it out as best you can.
There is forgiveness for you,
                                       even such as you,
                  just touch my robe’s hem
                                       and kiss my ring,
the flesh is week, desire strong,
                                       it ends in a fiery pit,
never ending despair, howling night
                   and sinking fear.
Heaven is far and the way bared by sin,
                   no one gets in except through grace
                   so sign up here and I’ll be ‘Your Grace.’”
Then with bowed head
                   under his breath he said,
                                      “excommunicate them all,
                                       I’ll have my sleep.”

Raskolikov stared strait ahead,

                   “I don’t ask forgiveness
                   or heaven undeserved,
                                        mercy I decline,
                   I’d have those women alive again
                                        or it’s my death I prefer,
my heart has gone black and cold, I fear it died
                  with them, whose lives I took”

The verdict was guilty

                  and the sentence read:
                                         “Exile to cold Siberia,
                                         let alienation be your plight.”

Honest Sonia, the harlot who walked

                  the same sad streets
                  Raskolikov walked had become his friend,
with clear blue eyes
                  and softly spoken words,
                                            she drew his tears
from the warm depths of his cold heart:
                  “Your alone my friend
                  your crime has set you apart,
by what is true
                  my life will redeem you,
                  your exile I will share.”

Then turning and addressing no one
                  she said “There was a time
                  and a time to come, when
philosopher, theologian and scientist
                  are one and the same one,
                  who speak the truth
from a heart brimful sorrow and joy,
                                               over flowing love;
                  ‘The world is hell but heaven too
                  neither to be conquered nor eschewed,
                  in your mind and in your heart
                  consider the One that is true.’”

           end   back to top

One Night

            One night, I woke,
to a voice that called my name,
            I started awake,
            to see no one there
but a presence I feared
            kept sleep away
until an odd restless dream
                         sealed my eyes.

Over a wide bridge crossed
             a thousand or more
an endless human stream,
              the tramp of many feet
                           as one
              in slow measured cadence,
enshrouded sightless eyes
              the walking dead looking on.

Morning light dawned and I,
               went about my business
                           but listless
till night came and I dreamt again.

I was alone on that
then hearing
                the terrible tramp of many feet,
                I was swept along,
tossing the restless night
in soaked sheets
                until I screamed

For many nights successive
                the walking dead
                crossed that bridge,
the terror of those nights
                bedraggled my days.

Until a night I dreamt
                unlike before
                            out of the crowd
a wispy woman approached,
                frail and half starved
holding her dead child, close,
                looking to me
                with hopeless unseeing eyes,
she said, ‘My child is ill
                can you help my child?
                please sir, can you help?’

‘These are not
                             the dead
                but the living,
                             walking asleep’
was my awaking thought.

My day took me downtown,
                shop windows drawn blank and bared,
                aligning the gritty streets, that
                the homeless scavenge
                              and cops beat,
a young whore
                lifts her skirt and cries, ‘for cheap,’
a man was strangled
                in stinking sheets,
and scruffy children, running
                down the bloody streets
                              knives drawn,
everyone turns indifferently away.

So I went up town
            where the avenues are broad, lined
            by well ordered homes and gardens
with pleasant parks nearby,
            kept clean for young pretty moms
                             ever watching
            their brood at play
and the trusted priest also watches
            scheming how to steal one away.

It is never known what lurks
                              around corners unseen
             but vibrant women are snatched
by the murderous air.

I went to the hospice nearby
                          where death
is kept between clean sheets,
a used up body wastes away
              brightly looking east,
hope in the dawning day.

In fearful awe I ponder
              what we do asleep.
I will cross that bridge myself,
                            going up against
              the downward human flow
to cry, ‘Awake Awake, Alarm Alarm

          end   back to top

A Friendly Death

The clock towered high goes around
and around, running out
for each of us in time,
to the rhythm of ebb and flow.

Alone I walk the singing streets
beneath shining stars, along
the melodious sea
wave after wave break, pounding,

the measured beat of my heart kept
time in my lilting steps,
moving me along, until
I came to a place and stopped dead.

It was there I saw feared Death smile
at the weird waves breaking,
rolling up to where he sat
on a bench with room for two.

Resisting an odd urge to wave
I stood by aloof, awed
by spectral fears, dreading
his gaze but curiously calm too.

His assured calm was infectious,
like the laugh of a young
girl and the moon's glint in his
humorous eyes quelled my fears.

“Good evening sir?” I sputtered out,
my breath held, my heart stopped,
“If you have come for me, your early
I think, though there's no telling when.”

He gave me a pleasant smile, “No,
I come only when called,
it's just a lovely night
for watching the moon wax or wane.”

Incredulous, I challenged,
“You don't come until called?”
I wondered that I was
so free with venerable Death.

“No! Never, not even once have
I come early or late,”
He said, pleased I had asked,
“Sit here my friend, let me explain.”

I took my seat but for sometime
we sat silent as old friends
often do, sit content
not speaking, listening, until

“everything measured in time
passes in time, everything
collected dissolves, what is
erected falls, 'when' is determined

by the thing's nature and the forces
that move it, not by my
whim or decree, I am
as bound by time as you,” Death said.

“What becomes of me finally, when
I come to you?” I asked,
unsure of the ground shifting
under my feet as the sea and sky

slipped away leaving nothing,
no up no down, no sound
heard or anything to see,
no words or thoughts reflected

but a single blue spark remains,
to ignite the void asunder,
light expands becomes many
colored and I see and I hear,

I have a voice that dies echoless
in the enclosing dark
pressing down sinking me
in the dank earth. I lay silent,

breathless until a stirring wind
caresses, warm breath fills me.
A presence I sense close
by in the dark as dim light glows

tracing the contours of distant
hills that roll into valleys,
the undulating land
stretching out to embrace the sea

and the sun arising on two friends
seated on a bench watching,
“a prayer and a presence
felt, like a poem with no words

          end   back to top

Young Girl

          A girl walked in from a summers day

wearing almost nothing,
too young, despite the bold sway
of large breasts over narrow hips
and legs as thin as whips.

          A strange mixed age to be between
watchtowers flashing
overhead, crowned in balding sheen,
she is to bring them down
slowly flowing into the ground.

          Her friend is nearby wearing
a shirt that flows unsure
of her contours, shying
away from a stranger's look
her smile curious but her head shook

          as she looked up walking by,
her young legs boldly bare
remind an old man that soon he'll die,
sitting there musing, taking stock
drinking coffee around the clock.

          He remembers another's soft sway

breathed by the wind
of his own distant summers day,
the glide of her limbs and soft tresses,
touching her face and lifting her dress

          and them both gliding and smiling

on a fair wind through sunny air,
far and away they drifted, a whiling
the time in love's embrace
avoiding the unavoidable race.

           They ate roasted red peppers

stretched out on a bed of coals
the wind blew to fan silent embers
burning their bodies naked and flashing
they clutch and claw madly laughing
Golden glades whisper through morning

soft rain swells, laughing silently
he will let it out alone, after soothing

she laughs, eyes blinking cold steel

ceasing fear from the dust unremembered
risking chastisement for the Sun's debacle

as he rested on his way, along his course

turning aside at the last moment, suspended
he slogs through, ankle deep in mud

slowly sinking not sensing that he will not

burrow or take to losing well amongst
the water's boiling up sap rising, haunted

             by a girl walking in from a summers day

wearing almost nothing,
alone with his thoughts he will pray
to arise as vapor and flow
skyward leaving a seed to grow.

          end   back to top

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