A Sky Like Painted Glass

Goodbye:

(The sun was bending with a sky

like painted glass;

the smell of water quivered in the grass,

of flowers and tadpoles and fire and mud,

each heart-beat lost in the bone-break thud

of bare feet running from the bite

of autumn frost on a summer night.)

Two unrepeated syllables,

each half-forgotten as it falls.

(c) Sheila Roberts

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The Color of Glory

This poem placed first in HSLDA’s Poetry Contest, much to my surprise.  It may not make a lot of sense at first, but I challenge you to look deeper.

Her footfalls strike hollow against the world’s bones;
Long trampled to iron, the blasted earth groans.
A half-crumpled road twists away through the dust;
The old Road to Silence spins circles of rust.

She runs through the echoes, dust catching her feet,
A droplet of lace in a sea of concrete.
Around her rings chaos, red-ragged and charred.
She dreams of cool silence, but that dream is scarred.

Her feet drag her farther; the Road twists again.
It loops through a haze of black echoes, and then
Uncurls a dark River, forgotten and deep—
No rust taints its sapphire; no sound breaks its sleep.

Here lies the end of her spindling dreams—
A gash of dark water sunk deep in the seams
Of copper cacophony, meaningless halls:
A nerve-jarring jangle of iron. She falls.

Cold water slams into her; drags out a skein
Of glimmering bubbles: an upside-down rain.
They flit through her lips masquerading as Hope,
Leave nothing inside her but dark-pulsing smoke.

The water is icy and empty as Void;
The silence drowns memory: heart-flame destroyed.
She’s drowning and drowning—and then beyond breath,
Awash in red poppies, far brighter than death.

A flurry of flame to the River’s cold mire,
But sweet, cooling rain to the iron-etched fire,
They sing and Eternity fills with their thrum:
‘Awake! Hallelujah! The Kindler has come!’

The color of glory twines light through her hair;
Her scarred fingers dance with its carmine, and snare
A whisper of crimson. It weaves through the dark:
Light rising through shadowy foam like a spark.

Her heart-flame dissolves in a far greater Light,
But the red flower rises unchanged by the Night:
The color of glory weaves true harmony
To hallow the rust of a lost galaxy.

© Sheila Roberts

Forgotten Road

This is poem about old age.  Specifically, dementia.  My family has been in a caregiving role to someone with severe dementia and memory loss for a few years and it’s very, very sad to see memory slipping away, because personality, emotion, understanding, and affection go with it.   This poem – which at first follows a very complicated meter and rhyme scheme but eventually disintegrates into free verse – is my attempt at exploring dementia and memory loss…

Winter comes. Hold your breath and stand.
Face the cold, the hairline fractures
And jackfrost cracks in every strand
Of winter sunlight. Fall into
The snowfall in your hair that frays
Like autumn light in withered leaves.
Wandering, whispered sunlight splays
On tree-light soaked forgotten roads-
The memory of rich red sheaves.
Carmine – Crimson – Auburn – Trees.  Clutched
In hands old and as veined as leaves,
The Skeletons of leaves, drowning fast
In a riverful of memories.
But all the river runs away;
leaves and water spiral cold and freeze
As blown and whirling memory:
Laughing faces in the breeze that spills
Bright and confusing over you.
The wind that smells forgetful fills
Your hands, your lungs, your mind, your eyes.
Thoughts blow, slipping in the cool wind
That whispers all your breath away.
So spin in listing circles, twinned
With worlds dancing, meaningless.
Deep winter stretches out, away;
a deluge of white crashes down
on you, falls into another day.
Drown in lost memory, and drift
into the white behind your eyes.
Like tarnished silver thin as days
Pressed like flowers between goodbyes.
Soft sunlight echoes down to you:
Shining summer.  Rippling, bright;
singing waterfall, whispering,
Splashing. Let it cover you. Light…
…E t e r n i t y.

© Sheila Roberts

Fire in The Deep

Fire in The Deep

The red-gold and the copper leaves

Into the River fell,

The nameless River, strong and deep,

Where stars’ reflections dwell.

The countless silent Autumns passed,

How many none can tell;

No mortal walked beneath the trees

Until he fought and fell:

His hair was long and black as Night,

And fair he was of face;

A horn hung by his side, whose gold

His fingers oft would trace.

The warrior made his final stand,

His eyes like stormy seas;

His enemies came hunting him:

Death beneath the trees.

His helm was cleft, his sword was lost,

His armor worn and stained;

But in the auburn shadows dim

His craven foes remained.

He nocked his arrows one by one,

The empty quiver fell

Into the River, sad and deep,

Where stars’ reflections dwell.

A poisoned arrow found his heart,

Around him, all grew pale;

At last grim Death was taking him

Beyond the mortal vale.

The copper trees bled foggy gray,

Dissolving light and dark;

His horn he winded, clear and deep:

A final, echoed spark.

The fiery boughs wept crimson tears;

His foes rough laughter died

The warrior’s body slipped beneath

The River’s solemn tide.

Those copper leaves twined in his hair,

Remember him, they sigh,

He rests forever in the Deep-

Where stars’ reflections lie.

The countless golden autumns pass,

And every bright leaf calls

The warrior’s red-gold Requiem,

Until the Shadow falls.

This is the first ‘real’ poem that I ever wrote; the Warrior and the River have a special place in my heart. 

© Sheila Roberts

Seven Pebbles

A haiku is like a smooth, shiny pebble among a heap of stones: one moment, striking and poignant, standing out among the many humdrum hours and minutes of our days.  The form of the poem (five syllables, seven syllables, five syllables) is very difficult for me because of its brevity, so I made myself write one haiku every day day for a week.

i.

Human

Refracted light and

broken image hurtling toward

dim Eternity.

ii.

Firefly

Reach out, catch dusk. Flash!

Hold glory for an instant:

summer majesty.

iii.

Casserole

Herb stalks: windblown grasses;

salmon flakes: wild coral blooms;

bread cubes: sandstone blocks.

iv.

Touch

Bright pooling wonder;

a bubble of forever:

mothwing fingers meet.

v.

Fog

Clouds wet my lips in

the gray ghosts echoing;

words return empty.

vi.

Bread

Steam like blessing curls

from crackling crust, creamy crumbs:

Heaven in a bite.

vii.

Song

Waves of sound wash in

and out; tides of melody

Carry me away.

© Sheila Roberts

Icicles, a sonnet

Icicles

The seeping droplets of dead winter flash

And fall like stars on cold and splintered ground:

From icicles to frozen mire, earthbound,

Sharp-frozen splendor drains into warm ash.

Cold swords and frosty daggers melt and slash

Across a tear-washed sky, in silver crowned

With stars – as true and cold as ice they drowned;

Ice melting slowly in a soggy crash.

Night deepens in a solemn storm, a-spray

With inverse towers, blades for freezing hand

Of Winter, who lies damp and dying. Day

And night and earth and heaven stretching stand,

One’s green ascent another’s slow decay:

Drops flash and fall – beads on an endless strand.

(c) Sheila Roberts