Michael L. Newell
I am a retired secondary school English/Theatre teacher. I have spent one third of my life as an expatriate (13 countries on five continents). I now live on the Oregon coast.
A flower splits
and your smile
its way into
my harsh thoughts;
ah, the weeds
they lunch on stone
and infuse scrapyards
with life's colors.
Previously published in A Stranger to the Land (Garden Street Press, 1997)
La Paz, Bolivia, February 9, 2009
Close to midnight there is a whisper
of rain, a low murmur of water
streaming downhill, an occasional
splashing of tires passing
along dim nearby streets;
I open a curtain, lift
my eyes to the mountains
where lightning's fierce scrawl
is written and thunder reverberates
among barely visible peaks
wrapped round in clouds and sprinkled
with faint lights winking upwards
in sprawling chains toward the Altiplano.
I suddenly realize that in this ancient
towering land, my presence is irrelevant.
Man comes and goes. The mountains
define this place. The storms inhabit it.
I am only a tourist, a passing fancy
imagined by the land and then forgotten.
All night I dream a vast sky filled with wings.
My throat fills with sound which predates man.
He Who Dreams a Life
No one knows my heart who does
not love the night filled with silvery
moon, glittering star, streaking comet, and,
above stands of trees, an owl ghosting.
No one knows my midnight mind who does
not see, hear, or feel wind, rain, mountain,
stream, river, and ocean populating
the dreams which flow from night into day.
No one knows me who has listened
to tales of distant plateaus, dolphin and whale,
wolf and bear, stately redwood and fir stretching
to the horizon, and not imagined a life of travel.
No one can understand, whose heart is entwined in
the daily minutiae of the life of man, why I am as I am.
Oxford Street, London, December 2002
Clutter ruckus, confined
chaos, cracked coherence,
a boulevard bedazzlement
where bodies surge and swarm
in shifting patterns of confusion.
Salvation army bands, marching
and corner concert, fill the air
with Christmas tunes; a few feet
away a steel drum band plays
island versions of the same tunes.
A boy sits against a wall playing
French cafe music on a diatonic accordion,
hat on the ground; change fills the hat
and scatters beyond. People step over
and around the lad.
A cacophony of languages can be heard
babbling cheerfully away: Russian, Italian,
Polish, French, Swahili, Arabic, Spanish,
German, Japanese, Tagalog, and a pocketful
of other tongues from around the world--
now and again English is heard, often
in an accent which betrays the speaker
as being from elsewhere. Cars honk, buses
roar past, motorbikes zip between clogged lanes
of traffic, pedestrians dodge in and out.
A light changes, a wind
sweeps crowds across streets.
People scatter like autumn leaves,
reform into piles at next light. The clamor
(feet, horns, and voices) deepens,
reaches a climax, subsides
into silent streets of Christmas Day.
©2016 Michael L. Newell
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