There sings no bird

There sings no bird
Roger Humes
Electrato Graphics Claremont, CA

©2006 Roger Humes
ISBN 978-1-4116-8384-6
All Rights Reserved - No reproduction without
express permission from the author
Cover art ©2006 Roger Humes
Preface ©1999 Katy Kianush, Art-Arena.com
before & after…
Table of Contents
Preface ....................................................................................................... ii
The Legend of Layla and Madjnun .......................................................... iii
Who are you ................................................................................................1
& ..................................................................................................................2
A stone’s throw from a glass house ............................................................3
Sand .............................................................................................................4
By the doorway you stand ...........................................................................9
Echoing through this empty house ..........................................................10
Sadness is the glue ....................................................................................11
When .........................................................................................................12
There sings no bird ...................................................................................13
ii
Preface
Since I became acquainted with the legend of Layla and Madjnun I have desired to
write a modern Westernized adaptation of the story. The title poem of this volume,
There sings no bird, is my humble attempt to bring that vision to the page.
My guide for writing was Rudolph Gelpke’s translation of the 11
th
Century version of
the story by the great Persian poet Nezami of Gandja. Although I do not pretend that
my work even begins to approach the depth, scope, and genius of Nezami’s verse, he
was the inspiration and guiding force behind much of the concepts and structure of
my poem.
I have done my best to place the story in a contemporary setting yet still retain the
bittersweet timeless elements that make it a classic. I realize that pieces of my own
life have also crept into the story, but without that honesty I doubt if I ever would
have been to complete the poem, let alone produce a work that is more than a hollow
tribute to the legend.
So for those of you who know the story I hope you fnd my adaptation to be at least
adequate; those of you who are encountering it for the frst time I hope you, too, are
entertained and have your interest piqued enough to seek out Nezami’s legendary
version.
I also hope you enjoy the other poems in this volume which are meant to work
together to create a “poetic canvas” or “concerto in verse” as an intro for There sings
no bird. Included are several shorter poems of which some can be viewed as a tribute
to the work of the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani, and a longer poem Sand that is my
retelling of the story of the meeting of Solomon and Sheba.
RH
March 2006
iii
The Legend of Layla and Madjnun
1. The Original Legend In Arabic Literature
This romantic love story can be dated back in its original form to the second half of
the 7
th
Century. The content of the romance, insofar as it can be extracted from the
ancient versions, is relatively simple. However, from the start there have been two
different versions:
***
In one, the two young people spent their youth together tending their focks; while in
the other, Madjnun [meaning madman] whose actual name according to the narrators
was Qays, meets Layla, [commonly named Layli in Persian] by chance at a gathering
of women, and the effect on him is devastating...
He kills his camel as a contribution to the feast, and Layla falls in love with him
from the start. Subsequently he asks for her hand in marriage, but her father has
already promised her to another. Gripped by the most violent anguish, Qays loses
his reason and sets out to wander half-naked, refusing nourishment and living among
wild animals. His father tries to make him forget Layla, by taking him on a pilgrimage
but his madness only intensifes.
He does, however, show moments of lucidity in his poetry about his lady-love, and
while talking about her to those curious people who have come to see him...
He dies alone, only meeting Layla one more time.
***
The origins of this story is diffcult to establish. It is thought that it may have been a
young man of the Umayyad clan who, under the pseudonym of Madjnun, circulated
some stories designed to introduce verses in which he sang of his love for his cousin.
This identifcation is, however, isolated and in any case, the poet is anonymous. The
fact that historical individuals such as Nawfal ben Musahik, governor of Medina (702
AD) are mentioned in the traditions relating to the adventures of Qays, suggests that
the latter version came to existence at about this period. The author, or rather authors
of the verses attributed to this Madjnun and the introductory or explanatory tales, will
always be unknown, which makes the legend more mysterious and intriguing.
iv
2. The Legend In Persian Literature
The poems of Madjnun and tales of his love Layli, also became part of the Persian
literary tradition, where they were used in various ways. Lines of poetry referring to
the plight of Madjnun occur quite frequently in Persian prose works.
In 1188 AD Nezami of Gandja versifed the story of Layli and Madjnun in about
ten thousand lines, and in mathnawi [“masnavi”; meaning couplets] form as part of
the set of stories known as the “Khamsa” [the fve tomes of poetical works]. In
the introduction to his poem he states that he accepted the assignment with some
hesitation. At frst he doubted whether this tale of madness and wanderings through
the wilderness would be suitable for the royal court. He adapted the disconnected
stories to ft the requirements of a Persian romance. They were joined together into a
coherent narrative which describes the development of a frantic love affair from the
scene of the frst meeting of the two lovers till the death of Madjnun at the grave of
Layli.
In some respects, the Bedouin setting of the original has been changed under the
infuence of urban conditions more familiar to the poet and his audience. A brief
description of Nezami’s “Layli and Madjnun” is given below:
The young lovers become acquainted at maktab [traditional school] and fall desperately
in love. Madjnun (Qays) is so besotted with love for Layli that he can not conceal his
emotions. He begins to write poetry describing his love for her, and recites his poems to
every passer-by.
Madjnun’s father tries to ask for Layli’s hand on his son’s behalf, but Layli’s father
refuses as he believes that Madjnun is a madman who is destroying his daughter’s
reputation by his open declarations of love on every street corner. Madjnun’s father then
takes him on a pilgrimage, but he can not forget Layli and his madness intensifes.
In the mean time, Layli is unable to leave her house, as Madjnun’s poems have made
her the subject of people’s gossip. Layli’s father is intent on keeping them apart at
all cost. A man by the name of Ebn-e Salaam asks Layli’s father for her hand in
marriage, but is told that she is too young and he should come again in a few years’
time.
Madjnun leaves everything and heads for the wilderness living a miserable life. No one
can console him, not even the generous Nawfal, who in Nezami’s version is a prince in
the Iranian style rather than an Arab offcial. Nawfal tries to give Madjnun advice,
but when he does not succeed he is so saddened by his plight that he even goes to war
with Layli’s clan, demanding that Layli and Madjnun should be united. However,
even when Layli’s clan is defeated, her father refuses to allow his daughter to marry
Madjnun. He says that Madjnun has destroyed his daughter’s reputation, [“...not a
wind passes without uttering my daughter’s name...”] and he would rather kill her
than give her to him. Nawfal realises that he can not pursue the matter any longer,
and Madjnun leaves once again.
Time passes, and with Nawfal no longer appearing as a threat, Layli has many
suitors. Ebn-e Salaam uses the opportunity and returns to ask for Layli’s hand,
and this time he is successful. They are married and he takes Layli to his own home.
Madjnun is devastated when he hears the news and sinks further within himself
refusing to return home to his family.
Madjnun’s father dies of a broken heart. Madjnun had been his only son, and he had
loved him dearly. Madjnun is torn apart with the news of his father’s death and heads
back to the wilderness living among the wild animals.
Although Layli is married, she has not forgotten Madjnun, and her love for him is as
strong as before. She sends a letter to Madjnun trying to console him after his father’s
death. She also explains that her husband knows she does not love him and she will
always remain faithful to Madjnun.
Shortly after, Madjnun’s mother also dies and Layli sends him a message through an
old man who has met him on his wanderings, to come and visit her. Madjnun returns,
and the lovers see each other once more. However, Layli’s husband has always loved
her, and knowing that he can never win her love, falls ill and dies. Tradition demands
that a widow must remain in her house for two years and not see any one in that period.
Layli can not bear the thought of living without Madjnun any longer and consumed
with sorrow, she dies. When Madjun hears the news of Layli’s death, his world comes
to an end. He visits her grave, weeps desperately and dies.
Several features mark this new adaptation of the romance. Specimens of nature
poetry were used to emphasise, symbolically, important points in the development of
the plot: a description of a palm bush in spring where Layli sits in the fower of her
youth; of the night at the moment of Madjnun’s deepest despair; of autumn at the
time of Layli’s death. Much attention is given to Madjnun’s role as a poet. In several
places, ghazals [ode or sonnet] are quoted in the text, which in metre and rhyme
are adjusted to the prosodic characteristics of the mathnawi. It is quite evident that,
to Nizami, the subject matter was not least interesting because of its emblematic
v
vi
possibilities. His poem is, therefore, a didactic work as well as a narrative. The former
quality is noticeable in the frequent asides containing refections on such themes as
asceticism, the vanity of this world, death and, of course, love in its various aspects,
including its transformation into mystical love.
This version of Layli and Madjnun was the starting point of a long series of imitations,
which were written in almost any language of the area where the cultural infuence
of Persian literature made itself felt. No more than a few of these imitations can be
regarded as valuable literary works in their own right and have apparently enjoyed
the interest of a wide public over a long period. One of the frst among them was
the Madjnun and Layli of Amir Khusrow Dehlavi written in 1299 AD as part of a
complete imitation of the Khamsa. The poem by Jami completed in 1484, almost
exhausts the contents of the original source, and is closer to the Arabic tradition.
Contemporaries of Jami were his nephew Hatif and Maktabi of Shiraz. The former’s
poem was a particular favourite with the Ottoman poets and was translated into
Turkish. The Layli and Madjnun of the latter continued to be read till recent times
and was printed repeatedly in Iran and India. However, Nezami’s version still remains
the most famous and the most quoted.
Katy Kianush
Art-Arena.com
©1999
Who are you
Who are you
who comes to my doorstep
offering freedom from want,
freedom from need, freedom
from desire, and slavery
to devotion?
2
&
...& from across the wilderness
of the Canaan of life, from
beside the bitter tears of
the Dead Sea of sadness,
from beneath the shadows
of the Golgotha of disappointment,
your heart follows the promise
of a star
in the hanging wind of the morning
to where I stand ready to journey
on down unto the fabled Egypt
of your heart...
3
A stone’s throw from a glass house
Lay upon my side in this still summer sunset,
arm cocked over my head so that only one eye
surveys a world through milky remembrance,
unfocused, rubbed raw visions swimming
in the cool embrace where I quietly watch,
hidden, without a sound, hidden, as you wash
your hair, unaware of me wrestling this uneasy truce
between my desires and respect for your privacy.
The clamor of war is a mere curio
while I watch the water stream in rivulets
of imagination down your fawless arms,
the storm through which so many suffered
but a rumor while your breath moves
your breasts up and down, the famine
of the orphans lost at sea a meager pause
while the sponge travels the roadmap of your legs.
I comprehend the awe Magdalene felt
when they pushed back the stone
to discover a miracle beyond understanding,
watching while the light dims with the hope
of this scene as more than voyeurism
in some unmarked scripture, watching until
you put away the moment as you disappear
into an evening where I never shall belong.
4
Sand
My method is simple. Not to bother about poetry. It will come of its own
accord, merely whispering its name frightens it away. I am building a table. You
will decide, afterwards, whether to eat on it, question it, or build a fre with it.
- Jean Cocteau
Hoopoe:
From his outstretched arm his breath
quickens beneath my claws
as she steps from the boat, entourage
surrounding her sure steps, drums
thundering like his dreams of her thighs
that glisten oiled within his fantasy
when he falls captive before the eyes
as dark as the question of from whence they came,
her skin the almond sand where his thirst
desires the oasis of her touch to slake
the fever her vision brings to his heart
racing with my fight as I ascend
to circle her head, alighting upon her shoulder,
exploring of the mystery of the messages
I shall now carry between them.
Solomon:
She walks in honeyed beauty, a willow
by the stream, lithe and supple, dancing
with the breeze, she walks before the sun,
golden in its moment, whispering the wind
as the universe bows before her feet, she walks
within the rainbow drops of the storm, the air
a perfume to contain the song of her name.
I would build a temple of cedars from Lebanon
to worship the moment that is her, I would build
5
such a sanctuary, and if she so commanded tear it apart
by the roots with my own hands, pulling the pillars
down upon those who would question
this beauty I watch eclipse a universe
with the dance of her walk as she nears my side.
To be a nameless mortal has always been my fate
until she intruded these realms to call me forth, a nameless
mortal I accepted as my destiny until she swelled my heart
like a god to worship the moment of her arrival, calling me
her priest, her adoring masses, her consort,
calling me by any name as long as I am allowed
to bask in the glory her warmth brings to my long distanced heart.
Hoopoe:
Between them I am a messenger
proving distance is an illusion
created by rumor shaken to its foundation
by their connection where all fades
before the history of this moment:
They are the voice, I am the wing – only they
could ever end what is joined beyond their measure
to control, only they can choose to call this
a random instant of connection or the wedding
of two kingdoms until dreams
crumble into the dust of antiquity.
Sheba:
Hush, my beloved, allow my whispers
to entwine you as my legs draw you near,
hearts beating with the breath of one,
your hot kisses caressing my desires,
6
my song leading you to kingdoms
whose height and majesty even the angels
would envy as I bury you in my mouth
with a softness that defes eternity.
Hush, your muscles tensing to the realization
that you lose all to this journey
locked in the heat you fre, you burn,
within the caravan of my heart as it winds
across the desert of my life to the kingdom
of you where all these just gifts now are offered.
Overhead, wings shadow us, a guardian
who comprehends the communication laid open
when I coax you into a world
where maidens and warriors dance
around the hard smooth stone
laid before this shrine where our tears wed
in a communion that is holy and just and cool.
Hoopoe:
Between them I am an illusion
proving distance is a messenger
created by rumor – what truly exists
is the connection where all fades
before the mythology of this moment:
They are the wing, I am the voice; only they
could ever begin what is joined beyond their measure
to control, only they can choose to call this
random instant a connection or the wedding
of two kingdoms until their lives
are carved onto the cliffs of antiquity.
7
Solomon:
From the walls of Tyre I look to the sea,
longing for our completion
to move beyond dreams into a reality
where together enwrapped in sand we behold
a world where the torture of isolation abates,
leaving us to fnd we are not now confned
to the touch that echoes may bend.
Looking to the sea, I watch
the haze of your refection meld
with the instant the sky meets the silvered waters
along the horizon of possibility and promise,
anointing this journey of our emotions,
awaiting your return from your far distant kingdom,
eternity captured in one bead of sand balancing
upon the head of a pin, encapsulated
by the immensity of what is us.
Hoopoe:
From her quivering shoulder her breath
quickens beneath my view
as she steps from the boat, entourage
surrounding her sure steps, drums
thundering like her dreams of his arms
that glisten oiled within her fantasy
when he encircles her in an embrace
as frm as the question of from whence they came,
her skin the almond answer where his thirst
desires the oasis of her touch to slake
the fever her vision brings to his heart,
racing with my fight as I ascend
to circumvent their heads, soaring over their ballet,
8
exploring the mystery of the message
I now carry as the harbinger between them.
Hoopoe - Bird that in legend was the messenger between Solomon and Sheba.
9
By the doorway you stand
By the doorway you stand
lost in the idle voice of the wind,
thoughts strewn to the stars, counted
across the wisp of the ages, whispered
in your refections. You stand
by the doorway, isolated this instant
beyond my reach while my mind
ponders the legends of a lifetime
where kings have trembled
before your words written in fre
upon the walls from which they
turn away lest they realize
the authentic name for truth
is the allure that is you.
10
Echoing through this empty house
Echoing through this empty house
the sound of your packing pervades the air
with the perfume of the hoopoe’s song
while outside the streets are crowded
with memories of a life whose day to day
no longer exists in the world where you live
alongside the ghosts of an ache one like me
can never touch or comprehend, just wipe
the lack of tears from your face before
you pick up your suitcase of resignation,
returning to your journey while I stand
lost amidst the shadows that play
with the dancing sunlit dust motes
entwined in the accidents left by the wreck
of these foregone conclusions.
11
Sadness is the glue
Sadness is the glue
holding my days together:
without it I would spin
out into the universe
until I crashed into a star,
creating a supernova
for your eyes to watch
from the planet of your life
where you would pause
for an instant in awe
that such wonders exist.
12
When
When two worlds connect
the caress of hearts wraps
around the cool breeze
racing the echo of the breath
across the warm desert sand
while the moon rises over the realm
of the parables of possibilities.
13
There sings no bird
I am yours, however distant you may be!
Your sorrow, when you grieve, brings grief to me.
There blows no wind but wafts your scent to me,
There sings no bird but calls your name to me.
Each memory that has left its trace with me
Lingers forever, as if a part of me.
- Nezami of Gandja
The caravans of time
Jupiter orbited the vestiges of truth emanating from Venus, converging
once, then turning to water slipped through the clutch of fngers, a dream
lost to legend, a lingering pearl of thought cast in tears upon the sand
where they stood among the refuse and the fowers, paused,
recognizing what was once merged but now torn asunder.
Through the furnace of love’s fre, he walked the Rose Garden of the Soul,
searching for songs to express the language of his journey to her and back
across the wilderness where he was the long distanced traveler,
miserable without the love that was ripped from the grasp of their moment,
where he was the long distanced heart, banished to the insanity of isolation,
forever ensconced beyond her weeping embrace, where he was
the long distanced song, a chorus of desolation, penance, and resignation.
If there is a name for exile then be it the shards of her reminiscence
laying broken among the ruins of his life, relics that if attempted
no longer could be pieced into a recognizable whole, instead swept
into the dustbin of the heart, washed by a momentary pause of sighs,
decayed by the winds of the slow deceptive fngers of thought,
the abutment of a moment left to the lessons of history
outlining resonate reminders of how even when one has left
one may still remain locked in madness seared to the memory.
14
Across the caravans of time he bowed before his birthright,
hair shirt touching the blind death’s hand, resigned to the ensuing chaos,
the ache of her drifting over the vista of his displacement, losses not spent
but collected until so numerous they rivaled the names of the stars before the
kneeling
patriarch who defned pilgrimage as but the shifting of the sands of emotion.
Across the caravans of time he wandered the barren landscape
where cognizance thus spent spun to moments never returned,
alone, remote, wavering, mirage-whipped, shimmering echoes beyond sadness
inducing him to succumb, surrender to the wastelands of dejection as she receded
from the remaining conscious effort of his attempts to reconstruct his world
but never from the torments he wore beneath the sack cloth and ashes of his soul.
Such images are a mockery of who they were,
hands entwined beneath drifting dunes of passion, tales long best left
buried under his contempt for a fate strewn across the horizon
while she dwelt in an encasement where dreams were the better parts
of a valor lost within the constructs of well secreted hesitations.
Across the caravans of time, unwilling and undone,
he was a caricature who slowly wound his way
down the deepest of valleys, drinking long from the Wells of Want,
before his ravaged voice ached over the shards of a joy remembered
as merely a feeting instant where life for a time was whole and complete.
15
Yesterday was today when tomorrow had a name
Words burnt fre from his lips, standing before
the moment that was she, standing with the knowledge grasped
in his verses turned over to the distant thunder of the realization
that if ever his heart was a kingdom of its own exile
the captivity in Babylon ended in the sanctuary of her heart.
A fnger touched to his lips bidding silence, her hand encircled by his,
her quiet smile the river where his soul swam the waves lapping
his thoughts fowing to the sea while she constructed
an altar to his soul under the visage of her devotion.
With the end of the Diaspora came the comprehension
that such times were history reconciled
to revisionism when they remembered the breath
that entered the body and its heartbeat echoed the surety
that neither had been or ever would be
alone in life while the other existed.
His mind wrestled with the joy of such recognition,
his voice harmonized with the emotions charging his skin,
his eyes clouded under the rain of tears releasing
a dance across the felds of his thought, the lessons
of a road taken not for pleasure but elected
because the adoration of their completion
allowed no other option to cross his path.
As for her, she walked through every defense he mounted,
she shredded every justifcation he laid forth
to be anything but himself, she saw
the man beneath the songs and the pain, pausing only
to wonder how such a one could survive long
among those whose feet of clay tracked
the compromises lesser lives must make.
16
Wed skin to skin both discovered an elation
that soothed the scars existence placed
as obstacles before their pursuit of contentment,
capturing from those stolen moments the few memories
to nourish them through the chill inevitable separation would bring.
They danced twined in those times
the tango of tears and laughter, the waltz
beyond the reaches of ecstasy and anguish,
in the vision each mirrored for the other’s vision,
existing, ever needing no more
than touching merged caresses lain prone
upon an enchanted bed of bliss,
distracting for a time the sorrow
which would follow this most perfect of passions.
Paying no attention to any possible consequences
they grasped for an instant that place
where yesterday became today, tomorrow had a name,
and with his head rested within the prayer of her arms,
his whispers soothing the song of her eyes,
they approached their Eden heedless
of either the Serpent or of the Tree of Knowledge.
17
Dreaming oleander
Within those velvet moments her touch revealed the path
to the true madness curled in the darkened room behind his eyes,
the point where her heart mourned their bereavement, both nestled
inside the womb of sacred longings, fresh-scrubbed consciousness
the only salve to becalm the senses during the drought of their disunion,
hands touching arched palm to palm while the uncounted days played out
their desires before the backdrop of an indifferent world.
Deep-ended shadows offered no solace, words choked back,
eaten embittered lost edges of portraits drawn, erased, drawn again,
justifcations stretched ever taut, the lotus of inscription,
tattooed regrets burnt to dreams remaining hidden
until revived by circumvented scent triggered memories.
With her he fell prey to covetous jealousy,
without her he surrendered to the inevitable Mark of Cain
exile whipped deep onto the inquisition of their souls,
no other knowing but she the depth of his tortures as she lived quiet
within the baggage of her own lingering regrets,
unable to acknowledge aloud his pain or hers,
unable to display the tears she wept to the silence of the night.
Having swallowed each other whole, they discovered when crossing
the roadways of options that choices proclaimed absolute truths
became merely relative when faced by the harsh realities
life played out upon the stage of their existence.
A quite knock on the door, she found at her feet a fower
of white and lavender, the dew weeping tears from its reed thin stem,
his odor mixed with the faint decaying smell of the bloom,
a slip of memory disappearing into the wilderness,
where alone and forsaken he called out her name
in verses which became legend, their images etched across the sky,
18
rivaling the orange of the dawn and its moment of creation
where one could forget such loves are meant to be named
comets that move far from the Earth, returning perhaps
to burn deep in the atmosphere of the repression day
to day existence offers as the only balm for such separations.
19
Sorrow raised in madness
Wound tight in the tattered robes of Job he found that only
from the theatre of his personal absurdities
could so many eyes have made him aware
of how alone he was as he remembered how
their vision vanished when veracity confronted destiny,
sadly reminding them of distances grown through silences
loom larger when one can no longer ignore
their apparent portent, sliding into the residue of memories,
dancing underneath the cracked window of sobriety’s numbness,
dancing across the garden of twilight’s awareness,
dancing as the amber caressed the sky of despondency,
dancing as the crows fed from the resentment of their quieted nests,
dancing as the madness gripped his mind,
dancing, merely dancing, and no more.
It mattered not if he stood crying out her name
under a saddened window, feeling her presence
behind the curtained misery daring not to display
concern or desire as he staggered the streets
of his verses, guitar out of tune held
in shaken hands, fngers bleeding images
across the fret board, the days of gold glistening,
echoing from his mouth past the hills and into the ears
of any who listened, touching the awareness we each carry
of the unconsecrated secrets hidden in the closets of our lives,
recognizing the deepness to which he carried his wounds
made one sensitive to the shallowness with which most of us live.
Laying prone before his fate he cowered
comprehending the pain that seared and soared
from the net of his notes, admitting before
God and the stars how he would have sent
any other man to his death, commanding that one
20
to lead the legions of futility and dross into battle,
if he himself be but allowed to wrap merged with her gentleness,
disappearing into their universe of want and completion,
obsessed with a thirst for her that was impossible to slake
in the desolation of trials and turmoil, screaming,
crying, ranting, dying, reborn to false hope,
driven down again by certain reality painted in blood
over his door as the Angel of Death passed
sparing him for Heaven knew he suffered a fate
worse than any death could ever offer, a fate
that no paradise could ever ease, a fate
that caused a universe to tremble, pause, and heed
the songs speaking a truth almost too terrible
or beautiful or brilliant or horrible to bare, told
with an honesty from which no captivated ear could turn.
An entourage gathered to guard
him from the world, providing a barrier
between the pain and his essence,
but even their measure could soothe only so long,
for no succor existed save for the one denied him
who was the star in whose orbit
his attachment encircled in eternal eclipse.
He wandered the dispersion of their love,
a pilgrim circumnavigating the holy fre of deprived passion,
ever present, permanent yet ephemeral, caught between
acceptance and denial, the sands of his heart cast
before the winds of her soul, blown
to the four corners of the world, returning
to blind his vision with the tears of parting
beneath a cold cruel Harvest Moon where maidens danced
while his music played long into the deepness of their night.
21
Obscure the night
If its true nature had not been so well hidden,
she would have described her heart
as resembling several large stones
laid out in such a pattern
to contain one certain site
where a person could stand
observing the entire vista
but remain unseen to any who passed.
He could rage and wail to the world,
but she due to circumstance was forced
to hold her tongue, clasping the pain close to her heart,
sheathing the deepest secrets of which only they were aware,
torturing her with no relief, near to the limits
stretched justifcations and acceptance could offer.
The sun set before the dying wind,
the wilting rose pruned for the winter,
the brook frozen under ice kept hidden
beneath the pillows of sorrow,
the wing clipped bird sang from the cage
silent songs of which no other was aware.
Only in the deepest of the night
when sure none intruded upon her grief
could she allow herself to face the depth
of the enwrapped suffering of her life’s prison
where even in the ebon and the agony she dared not reveal
her true emotional state for even an instant
lest the one who slumbered next to her awaken
to the question marks her sad face carried long and worn.
22
The motions she walked, entering each situation
as the actress playing the ultimate role, ever observant,
the audience never aware her performance was one,
until what seemed at frst beyond endurance
became a daily ritual offering its own
particular comfort and solace in the repetitive numbness
that blurred the counting of her days.
The face a mask, the heart never stopped weeping,
especially when the word of his exploits reached her,
or when she heard one of his songs knowing its message
was for her alone, breath intermingled with the heartache
she wrapped as a blanket around her form
to stave off the rime of yearning.
Finally, the day arrived when the doors were thrown open,
window shades pulled back, heart wrenched
from its long socket of pain, freeing her at last
to pursue the true love that had consumed her entire life,
only to fnd when her foot arched the fnal step she hesitated,
grasping that far too long she had swathed her heart and soul
in the cloaks of anesthetized acceptance and hidden deceits,
that far too long she had slumbered in the bed of heartache.
Despite the passions that raced in her soul,
she sadly knew the past was too far away,
and, caught in the ice of the years, she was left
with the quandary where she could not live
without him and yet could never again pass
through the shadowed door of her life’s prison.
So she laid down, turning inward, sinking deep into a long sleep
where in the fnal hours delirium brought forth dreams
of when two were young and happy, immortal
23
as all youth are, preparing to live forever
in a love that knew no name, bounds, or reason.
Obscure was the night when she ceased to be,
a slip of paper clutched ever so lightly
between her fngers, his name written upon it
in a deft script that traced their days until this moment
where the true meaning of her love became apparent
to all from whom it had been hidden.
24
The resolution of parting
Her note in hand, disconsolate he knelt upon her grave,
his satchel of hope emptied, the pillars of their Temple
pulled down, his heart pillaged by the horror and disbelief
of the Philistines of his emotions, guitar grasped
mindlessly, desperate words tumbling unconsciously
from his lips, arms pushing away any who offered comfort,
longing only for one more moment where he could touch
the delicate scent and passion of their mingled desire.
Further he sank into the depths of despondency,
his former hunger for her seeming shallow before the sorrow
which made the world aware of just how deep the river of her love
had fowed through the barren desert of his heart, its oasis
the only promise that kept his parched Diaspora alive,
leaving him with no more than the taste of futility
as his one remaining recognition of life.
Slowly, he reconciled to the sobering truth
theirs was a passion too bright to have burned
long in any lifetime, dying a falling star
upon which some young lovers would capture
a wish and perchance not become victims
to the fate that had consumed them.
He stood to face the vestiges of truth laid out by Jupiter and Venus
lighting across the Heavens to meet once more,
twining into a brilliance that could lead
wiser men than he to some Promised Land, he stood to face
the wind as it caressed the gentle beauty of her name
through the deepness of those fnal moments, he stood
grasping his guitar, allowing it to take hold
with a mind of its own, a closing hymn cascading down
the waterfall of grief consuming him to the end,
25
he stood a breath inhaled to steady body and soul
for the last song whose time could have been foretold
long ago by any aware that such a love,
so transcendent, so consuming, so pure,
in the end could only come to this fnality:
There sings no bird to match the beauty of your fight,
there walks no angel whose wings touch the gossamer of your dreams,
there lives no kingdom to equal the streets of gold within your laughter,
there winds no singing waters to match the enchantment of your voice.
When the sun fades its promises, when the clouds weep in the sky growing pallid,
when the soundless streets are deserted and the church pews long emptied
with the grasses burnt under the drought of longing, the music of our song
shall silently marvel at the crystal prisms lain arced and mirrored before your feet.
And the children fallen by the wayside, and the lovers folding sheets ironed
by sweated love left bare, and the old men dreaming of past adventures
while old women lightly touch their arms, all will remember your name
that never shall fade over the years into either hallucination or reckoning.
There sings now no bird that draws a line in the sand separating our souls,
there lives no hermit of the heart who can withstand your exquisite nature,
there dies no martyr of love who would not pass from life with your name upon his lips,
there walks no Samaritan of the spirit who could refuse to the tending of your soul.
We have lighted these days together pushing back
the sadness lingering in the dark, we have given fruit to the birth
of many creations to be remembered long after we are dust,
we have painted canvases of emotions left to legend, we have spent
our moments encircling what was created but never acknowledged.
For there sings no bird whose voice could exceed the elation
that still thrills my veins when I call your name, there runs
no child whose breathless wonder can outshine the beauty
26
of where you dwell inside me, there arises no fight of eagle
whose wings are not surpassed by the brilliance
of when you entwine my days, there prays no pilgrim
whose words are not warmed by the merging of our devotions.
Allow me then here in this fnal wounding
before the ground lays us quick upon its breast, allow me
to bring forth this fnal song to face the fading of the night, allow me
to remember our name as One, the only word that ever be needed
to carry me home to your pleasure as I wing my words this fnal time.
Give me one last instant of you in your splendor,
give us this ending moment of our bliss together
before sleep eternal consumes our love
creating more than a tale to pass in myth
through the gates of this last offering,
a tale told often but lived only once
among these hallowed memories
where there sings no bird upon this closing moment
when at last, My Love, we are gone…
Roger Humes is a poet and a computer graphic artist. He is the Director of The
Other Voices International Project, a cyber-anthology of world poetry residing
at www.othervoicespoetry.org, and the International Poetry Editor for Harvest
International, an annual arts and literature magazine produced by the California State
Polytechnic University, Pomona. He lives in Claremont, California.
27

There sings no bird
Roger Humes

Electrato Graphics

Claremont, CA

©2006 Roger Humes ISBN 978-1-4116-8384-6 All Rights Reserved - No reproduction without express permission from the author Cover art ©2006 Roger Humes Preface ©1999 Katy Kianush, Art-Arena.com

before & after… .

...............................................................................................................................................................................................Table of Contents Preface ....................................................................................................... iii Who are you ..............10 Sadness is the glue .........................................................3 Sand .......................................................9 Echoing through this empty house ..............................................................11 When ......................................................................................... ii The Legend of Layla and Madjnun .........................................................................................................2 A stone’s throw from a glass house .13 ............................................1 & .........................................................................................................................................4 By the doorway you stand .................................................12 There sings no bird .......................................

I have done my best to place the story in a contemporary setting yet still retain the bittersweet timeless elements that make it a classic. scope. he was the inspiration and guiding force behind much of the concepts and structure of my poem. is my humble attempt to bring that vision to the page. but without that honesty I doubt if I ever would have been to complete the poem. and genius of Nezami’s verse. I realize that pieces of my own life have also crept into the story. too. I also hope you enjoy the other poems in this volume which are meant to work together to create a “poetic canvas” or “concerto in verse” as an intro for There sings no bird. Although I do not pretend that my work even begins to approach the depth. My guide for writing was Rudolph Gelpke’s translation of the 11th Century version of the story by the great Persian poet Nezami of Gandja. those of you who are encountering it for the first time I hope you. are entertained and have your interest piqued enough to seek out Nezami’s legendary version. and a longer poem Sand that is my retelling of the story of the meeting of Solomon and Sheba. let alone produce a work that is more than a hollow tribute to the legend. So for those of you who know the story I hope you find my adaptation to be at least adequate. RH March 2006 ii . Included are several shorter poems of which some can be viewed as a tribute to the work of the Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani. There sings no bird. The title poem of this volume.Preface Since I became acquainted with the legend of Layla and Madjnun I have desired to write a modern Westernized adaptation of the story.

will always be unknown. however. He kills his camel as a contribution to the feast. refusing nourishment and living among wild animals. isolated and in any case.. It is thought that it may have been a young man of the Umayyad clan who. iii . only meeting Layla one more time.. or rather authors of the verses attributed to this Madjnun and the introductory or explanatory tales. however. The fact that historical individuals such as Nawfal ben Musahik. and Layla falls in love with him from the start. while in the other. by taking him on a pilgrimage but his madness only intensifies. the poet is anonymous. This identification is. Madjnun [meaning madman] whose actual name according to the narrators was Qays. [commonly named Layli in Persian] by chance at a gathering of women. The content of the romance. Qays loses his reason and sets out to wander half-naked. show moments of lucidity in his poetry about his lady-love. the two young people spent their youth together tending their flocks. Gripped by the most violent anguish. but her father has already promised her to another. He dies alone. suggests that the latter version came to existence at about this period. and while talking about her to those curious people who have come to see him. from the start there have been two different versions: *** In one. *** The origins of this story is difficult to establish.. However. The Original Legend In Arabic Literature This romantic love story can be dated back in its original form to the second half of the 7th Century.. circulated some stories designed to introduce verses in which he sang of his love for his cousin. Subsequently he asks for her hand in marriage. and the effect on him is devastating. The author. His father tries to make him forget Layla. under the pseudonym of Madjnun. which makes the legend more mysterious and intriguing.The Legend of Layla and Madjnun 1. insofar as it can be extracted from the ancient versions. governor of Medina (702 AD) are mentioned in the traditions relating to the adventures of Qays. He does. is relatively simple. meets Layla.

A brief description of Nezami’s “Layli and Madjnun” is given below: The young lovers become acquainted at maktab [traditional school] and fall desperately in love. Layli’s father is intent on keeping them apart at all cost. No one can console him. and recites his poems to every passer-by. who in Nezami’s version is a prince in the Iranian style rather than an Arab official. Madjnun (Qays) is so besotted with love for Layli that he can not conceal his emotions. In some respects. also became part of the Persian literary tradition. Nawfal tries to give Madjnun advice.2. He adapted the disconnected stories to fit the requirements of a Persian romance. meaning couplets] form as part of the set of stories known as the “Khamsa” [the five tomes of poetical works]. Madjnun’s father tries to ask for Layli’s hand on his son’s behalf. Layli is unable to leave her house. A man by the name of Ebn-e Salaam asks Layli’s father for her hand in marriage. They were joined together into a coherent narrative which describes the development of a frantic love affair from the scene of the first meeting of the two lovers till the death of Madjnun at the grave of Layli. Madjnun leaves everything and heads for the wilderness living a miserable life. but he can not forget Layli and his madness intensifies. The Legend In Persian Literature The poems of Madjnun and tales of his love Layli. where they were used in various ways. but Layli’s father refuses as he believes that Madjnun is a madman who is destroying his daughter’s reputation by his open declarations of love on every street corner. not even the generous Nawfal. and in mathnawi [“masnavi”. In 1188 AD Nezami of Gandja versified the story of Layli and Madjnun in about ten thousand lines. the Bedouin setting of the original has been changed under the influence of urban conditions more familiar to the poet and his audience. In the mean time. Madjnun’s father then takes him on a pilgrimage. He begins to write poetry describing his love for her. At first he doubted whether this tale of madness and wanderings through the wilderness would be suitable for the royal court. Lines of poetry referring to the plight of Madjnun occur quite frequently in Persian prose works. but is told that she is too young and he should come again in a few years’ time. iv . as Madjnun’s poems have made her the subject of people’s gossip. In the introduction to his poem he states that he accepted the assignment with some hesitation.

of autumn at the time of Layli’s death. When Madjun hears the news of Layli’s death. the subject matter was not least interesting because of its emblematic v .but when he does not succeed he is so saddened by his plight that he even goes to war with Layli’s clan. and knowing that he can never win her love. demanding that Layli and Madjnun should be united. Madjnun returns. she dies. Several features mark this new adaptation of the romance.. to Nizami. important points in the development of the plot: a description of a palm bush in spring where Layli sits in the flower of her youth. Tradition demands that a widow must remain in her house for two years and not see any one in that period. his world comes to an end. and this time he is successful. Ebn-e Salaam uses the opportunity and returns to ask for Layli’s hand. [“. She sends a letter to Madjnun trying to console him after his father’s death. Shortly after. ghazals [ode or sonnet] are quoted in the text. Madjnun had been his only son. she has not forgotten Madjnun. He says that Madjnun has destroyed his daughter’s reputation.. and he had loved him dearly. However.not a wind passes without uttering my daughter’s name. She also explains that her husband knows she does not love him and she will always remain faithful to Madjnun. symbolically. and with Nawfal no longer appearing as a threat. However. Although Layli is married. They are married and he takes Layli to his own home. which in metre and rhyme are adjusted to the prosodic characteristics of the mathnawi.”] and he would rather kill her than give her to him. Layli’s husband has always loved her. and the lovers see each other once more. falls ill and dies. Madjnun is torn apart with the news of his father’s death and heads back to the wilderness living among the wild animals.. Madjnun’s father dies of a broken heart. Time passes. It is quite evident that. He visits her grave. weeps desperately and dies. Layli has many suitors. of the night at the moment of Madjnun’s deepest despair. Much attention is given to Madjnun’s role as a poet. Nawfal realises that he can not pursue the matter any longer. In several places. Madjnun’s mother also dies and Layli sends him a message through an old man who has met him on his wanderings. Layli can not bear the thought of living without Madjnun any longer and consumed with sorrow. to come and visit her. her father refuses to allow his daughter to marry Madjnun. even when Layli’s clan is defeated. Specimens of nature poetry were used to emphasise. and Madjnun leaves once again. Madjnun is devastated when he hears the news and sinks further within himself refusing to return home to his family. and her love for him is as strong as before..

com ©1999 vi . The former’s poem was a particular favourite with the Ottoman poets and was translated into Turkish. His poem is. therefore. No more than a few of these imitations can be regarded as valuable literary works in their own right and have apparently enjoyed the interest of a wide public over a long period. which were written in almost any language of the area where the cultural influence of Persian literature made itself felt. However. One of the first among them was the Madjnun and Layli of Amir Khusrow Dehlavi written in 1299 AD as part of a complete imitation of the Khamsa. Nezami’s version still remains the most famous and the most quoted.possibilities. death and. Katy Kianush Art-Arena. a didactic work as well as a narrative. almost exhausts the contents of the original source. This version of Layli and Madjnun was the starting point of a long series of imitations. Contemporaries of Jami were his nephew Hatifi and Maktabi of Shiraz. including its transformation into mystical love. The poem by Jami completed in 1484. The Layli and Madjnun of the latter continued to be read till recent times and was printed repeatedly in Iran and India. The former quality is noticeable in the frequent asides containing reflections on such themes as asceticism. the vanity of this world. and is closer to the Arabic tradition. of course. love in its various aspects.

Who are you Who are you who comes to my doorstep offering freedom from want. and slavery to devotion? . freedom from desire. freedom from need.

. from beside the bitter tears of the Dead Sea of sadness.& from across the wilderness of the Canaan of life..  ..& .. your heart follows the promise of a star in the hanging wind of the morning to where I stand ready to journey on down unto the fabled Egypt of your heart. from beneath the shadows of the Golgotha of disappointment.

without a sound.A stone’s throw from a glass house Lay upon my side in this still summer sunset. hidden. watching until you put away the moment as you disappear into an evening where I never shall belong. arm cocked over my head so that only one eye surveys a world through milky remembrance. watching while the light dims with the hope of this scene as more than voyeurism in some unmarked scripture. hidden. as you wash your hair. unaware of me wrestling this uneasy truce between my desires and respect for your privacy.  . rubbed raw visions swimming in the cool embrace where I quietly watch. I comprehend the awe Magdalene felt when they pushed back the stone to discover a miracle beyond understanding. the famine of the orphans lost at sea a meager pause while the sponge travels the roadmap of your legs. the storm through which so many suffered but a rumor while your breath moves your breasts up and down. The clamor of war is a mere curio while I watch the water stream in rivulets of imagination down your flawless arms. unfocused.

. Not to bother about poetry. or build a fire with it. whether to eat on it. You will decide. I would build a temple of cedars from Lebanon to worship the moment that is her. I would build  . exploring of the mystery of the messages I shall now carry between them. dancing with the breeze. entourage surrounding her sure steps. whispering the wind as the universe bows before her feet.Sand My method is simple. question it. golden in its moment.Jean Cocteau Hoopoe: From his outstretched arm his breath quickens beneath my claws as she steps from the boat. lithe and supple. drums thundering like his dreams of her thighs that glisten oiled within his fantasy when he falls captive before the eyes as dark as the question of from whence they came. I am building a table. Solomon: She walks in honeyed beauty. the air a perfume to contain the song of her name. afterwards. she walks within the rainbow drops of the storm. she walks before the sun. alighting upon her shoulder. a willow by the stream. merely whispering its name frightens it away. It will come of its own accord. her skin the almond sand where his thirst desires the oasis of her touch to slake the fever her vision brings to his heart racing with my flight as I ascend to circle her head.

Sheba: Hush. only they can choose to call this a random instant of connection or the wedding of two kingdoms until dreams crumble into the dust of antiquity. allow my whispers to entwine you as my legs draw you near. and if she so commanded tear it apart by the roots with my own hands. calling me her priest. her consort.such a sanctuary.  . calling me by any name as long as I am allowed to bask in the glory her warmth brings to my long distanced heart. my beloved. your hot kisses caressing my desires. hearts beating with the breath of one. pulling the pillars down upon those who would question this beauty I watch eclipse a universe with the dance of her walk as she nears my side. I am the wing – only they could ever end what is joined beyond their measure to control. a nameless mortal I accepted as my destiny until she swelled my heart like a god to worship the moment of her arrival. To be a nameless mortal has always been my fate until she intruded these realms to call me forth. her adoring masses. Hoopoe: Between them I am a messenger proving distance is an illusion created by rumor shaken to its foundation by their connection where all fades before the history of this moment: They are the voice.

Hoopoe: Between them I am an illusion proving distance is a messenger created by rumor – what truly exists is the connection where all fades before the mythology of this moment: They are the wing. you burn. only they can choose to call this random instant a connection or the wedding of two kingdoms until their lives are carved onto the cliffs of antiquity. Overhead. within the caravan of my heart as it winds across the desert of my life to the kingdom of you where all these just gifts now are offered. only they could ever begin what is joined beyond their measure to control.  . your muscles tensing to the realization that you lose all to this journey locked in the heat you fire. Hush.my song leading you to kingdoms whose height and majesty even the angels would envy as I bury you in my mouth with a softness that defies eternity. a guardian who comprehends the communication laid open when I coax you into a world where maidens and warriors dance around the hard smooth stone laid before this shrine where our tears wed in a communion that is holy and just and cool. wings shadow us. I am the voice.

Hoopoe: From her quivering shoulder her breath quickens beneath my view as she steps from the boat. soaring over their ballet. her skin the almond answer where his thirst desires the oasis of her touch to slake the fever her vision brings to his heart. leaving us to find we are not now confined to the touch that echoes may bend. racing with my flight as I ascend to circumvent their heads. encapsulated by the immensity of what is us. I watch the haze of your reflection meld with the instant the sky meets the silvered waters along the horizon of possibility and promise. awaiting your return from your far distant kingdom. entourage surrounding her sure steps.Solomon: From the walls of Tyre I look to the sea. Looking to the sea. longing for our completion to move beyond dreams into a reality where together enwrapped in sand we behold a world where the torture of isolation abates.  . anointing this journey of our emotions. drums thundering like her dreams of his arms that glisten oiled within her fantasy when he encircles her in an embrace as firm as the question of from whence they came. eternity captured in one bead of sand balancing upon the head of a pin.

exploring the mystery of the message I now carry as the harbinger between them. Hoopoe .  .Bird that in legend was the messenger between Solomon and Sheba.

counted across the wisp of the ages. isolated this instant beyond my reach while my mind ponders the legends of a lifetime where kings have trembled before your words written in fire upon the walls from which they turn away lest they realize the authentic name for truth is the allure that is you. thoughts strewn to the stars. whispered in your reflections.By the doorway you stand By the doorway you stand lost in the idle voice of the wind. You stand by the doorway.  .

Echoing through this empty house Echoing through this empty house the sound of your packing pervades the air with the perfume of the hoopoe’s song while outside the streets are crowded with memories of a life whose day to day no longer exists in the world where you live alongside the ghosts of an ache one like me can never touch or comprehend. just wipe the lack of tears from your face before you pick up your suitcase of resignation. returning to your journey while I stand lost amidst the shadows that play with the dancing sunlit dust motes entwined in the accidents left by the wreck of these foregone conclusions. 10 .

11 .Sadness is the glue Sadness is the glue holding my days together: without it I would spin out into the universe until I crashed into a star. creating a supernova for your eyes to watch from the planet of your life where you would pause for an instant in awe that such wonders exist.

When When two worlds connect the caress of hearts wraps around the cool breeze racing the echo of the breath across the warm desert sand while the moon rises over the realm of the parables of possibilities. 1 .

the abutment of a moment left to the lessons of history outlining resonate reminders of how even when one has left one may still remain locked in madness seared to the memory.There sings no bird I am yours. when you grieve. Through the furnace of love’s fire. a chorus of desolation. relics that if attempted no longer could be pieced into a recognizable whole. . decayed by the winds of the slow deceptive fingers of thought. where he was the long distanced heart. paused. a dream lost to legend.Nezami of Gandja The caravans of time Jupiter orbited the vestiges of truth emanating from Venus. then turning to water slipped through the clutch of fingers. searching for songs to express the language of his journey to her and back across the wilderness where he was the long distanced traveler. a lingering pearl of thought cast in tears upon the sand where they stood among the refuse and the flowers. There sings no bird but calls your name to me. however distant you may be! Your sorrow. 1 . forever ensconced beyond her weeping embrace. Each memory that has left its trace with me Lingers forever. miserable without the love that was ripped from the grasp of their moment. penance. instead swept into the dustbin of the heart. he walked the Rose Garden of the Soul. brings grief to me. and resignation. If there is a name for exile then be it the shards of her reminiscence laying broken among the ruins of his life. where he was the long distanced song. recognizing what was once merged but now torn asunder. banished to the insanity of isolation. converging once. washed by a momentary pause of sighs. as if a part of me. There blows no wind but wafts your scent to me.

the ache of her drifting over the vista of his displacement. tales long best left buried under his contempt for a fate strewn across the horizon while she dwelt in an encasement where dreams were the better parts of a valor lost within the constructs of well secreted hesitations. 1 . Across the caravans of time. wavering. alone. mirage-whipped. hair shirt touching the blind death’s hand. surrender to the wastelands of dejection as she receded from the remaining conscious effort of his attempts to reconstruct his world but never from the torments he wore beneath the sack cloth and ashes of his soul.Across the caravans of time he bowed before his birthright. unwilling and undone. before his ravaged voice ached over the shards of a joy remembered as merely a fleeting instant where life for a time was whole and complete. losses not spent but collected until so numerous they rivaled the names of the stars before the kneeling patriarch who defined pilgrimage as but the shifting of the sands of emotion. shimmering echoes beyond sadness inducing him to succumb. remote. resigned to the ensuing chaos. Across the caravans of time he wandered the barren landscape where cognizance thus spent spun to moments never returned. he was a caricature who slowly wound his way down the deepest of valleys. Such images are a mockery of who they were. hands entwined beneath drifting dunes of passion. drinking long from the Wells of Want.

she saw the man beneath the songs and the pain. her quiet smile the river where his soul swam the waves lapping his thoughts flowing to the sea while she constructed an altar to his soul under the visage of her devotion. standing before the moment that was she. she shredded every justification he laid forth to be anything but himself. pausing only to wonder how such a one could survive long among those whose feet of clay tracked the compromises lesser lives must make. the lessons of a road taken not for pleasure but elected because the adoration of their completion allowed no other option to cross his path. His mind wrestled with the joy of such recognition. With the end of the Diaspora came the comprehension that such times were history reconciled to revisionism when they remembered the breath that entered the body and its heartbeat echoed the surety that neither had been or ever would be alone in life while the other existed. standing with the knowledge grasped in his verses turned over to the distant thunder of the realization that if ever his heart was a kingdom of its own exile the captivity in Babylon ended in the sanctuary of her heart. his voice harmonized with the emotions charging his skin. her hand encircled by his. As for her. she walked through every defense he mounted. his eyes clouded under the rain of tears releasing a dance across the fields of his thought. 1 . A finger touched to his lips bidding silence.Yesterday was today when tomorrow had a name Words burnt fire from his lips.

in the vision each mirrored for the other’s vision.Wed skin to skin both discovered an elation that soothed the scars existence placed as obstacles before their pursuit of contentment. They danced twined in those times the tango of tears and laughter. ever needing no more than touching merged caresses lain prone upon an enchanted bed of bliss. existing. and with his head rested within the prayer of her arms. his whispers soothing the song of her eyes. they approached their Eden heedless of either the Serpent or of the Tree of Knowledge. 1 . Paying no attention to any possible consequences they grasped for an instant that place where yesterday became today. tomorrow had a name. capturing from those stolen moments the few memories to nourish them through the chill inevitable separation would bring. the waltz beyond the reaches of ecstasy and anguish. distracting for a time the sorrow which would follow this most perfect of passions.

1 . no other knowing but she the depth of his tortures as she lived quiet within the baggage of her own lingering regrets. hands touching arched palm to palm while the uncounted days played out their desires before the backdrop of an indifferent world. a slip of memory disappearing into the wilderness. she found at her feet a flower of white and lavender.Dreaming oleander Within those velvet moments her touch revealed the path to the true madness curled in the darkened room behind his eyes. the dew weeping tears from its reed thin stem. unable to acknowledge aloud his pain or hers. both nestled inside the womb of sacred longings. With her he fell prey to covetous jealousy. unable to display the tears she wept to the silence of the night. Deep-ended shadows offered no solace. words choked back. A quite knock on the door. the lotus of inscription. drawn again. the point where her heart mourned their bereavement. eaten embittered lost edges of portraits drawn. they discovered when crossing the roadways of options that choices proclaimed absolute truths became merely relative when faced by the harsh realities life played out upon the stage of their existence. Having swallowed each other whole. their images etched across the sky. his odor mixed with the faint decaying smell of the bloom. justifications stretched ever taut. erased. tattooed regrets burnt to dreams remaining hidden until revived by circumvented scent triggered memories. without her he surrendered to the inevitable Mark of Cain exile whipped deep onto the inquisition of their souls. where alone and forsaken he called out her name in verses which became legend. fresh-scrubbed consciousness the only salve to becalm the senses during the drought of their disunion.

rivaling the orange of the dawn and its moment of creation where one could forget such loves are meant to be named comets that move far from the Earth. 1 . returning perhaps to burn deep in the atmosphere of the repression day to day existence offers as the only balm for such separations.

fingers bleeding images across the fret board. touching the awareness we each carry of the unconsecrated secrets hidden in the closets of our lives. dancing as the crows fled from the resentment of their quieted nests. dancing underneath the cracked window of sobriety’s numbness. sliding into the residue of memories. dancing across the garden of twilight’s awareness. dancing. feeling her presence behind the curtained misery daring not to display concern or desire as he staggered the streets of his verses. guitar out of tune held in shaken hands. echoing from his mouth past the hills and into the ears of any who listened. commanding that one 1 . the days of gold glistening. It mattered not if he stood crying out her name under a saddened window.Sorrow raised in madness Wound tight in the tattered robes of Job he found that only from the theatre of his personal absurdities could so many eyes have made him aware of how alone he was as he remembered how their vision vanished when veracity confronted destiny. sadly reminding them of distances grown through silences loom larger when one can no longer ignore their apparent portent. merely dancing. recognizing the deepness to which he carried his wounds made one sensitive to the shallowness with which most of us live. dancing as the amber caressed the sky of despondency. and no more. admitting before God and the stars how he would have sent any other man to his death. Laying prone before his fate he cowered comprehending the pain that seared and soared from the net of his notes. dancing as the madness gripped his mind.

caught between acceptance and denial. ever present. disappearing into their universe of want and completion. He wandered the dispersion of their love. pause. a fate that no paradise could ever ease. dying. screaming. for no succor existed save for the one denied him who was the star in whose orbit his attachment encircled in eternal eclipse. returning to blind his vision with the tears of parting beneath a cold cruel Harvest Moon where maidens danced while his music played long into the deepness of their night. permanent yet ephemeral. if he himself be but allowed to wrap merged with her gentleness. obsessed with a thirst for her that was impossible to slake in the desolation of trials and turmoil. blown to the four corners of the world.to lead the legions of futility and dross into battle. reborn to false hope. but even their measure could soothe only so long. the sands of his heart cast before the winds of her soul. told with an honesty from which no captivated ear could turn. driven down again by certain reality painted in blood over his door as the Angel of Death passed sparing him for Heaven knew he suffered a fate worse than any death could ever offer. and heed the songs speaking a truth almost too terrible or beautiful or brilliant or horrible to bare. providing a barrier between the pain and his essence. ranting. 0 . a pilgrim circumnavigating the holy fire of deprived passion. An entourage gathered to guard him from the world. crying. a fate that caused a universe to tremble.

He could rage and wail to the world. she would have described her heart as resembling several large stones laid out in such a pattern to contain one certain site where a person could stand observing the entire vista but remain unseen to any who passed. sheathing the deepest secrets of which only they were aware. the wilting rose pruned for the winter. clasping the pain close to her heart. Only in the deepest of the night when sure none intruded upon her grief could she allow herself to face the depth of the enwrapped suffering of her life’s prison where even in the ebon and the agony she dared not reveal her true emotional state for even an instant lest the one who slumbered next to her awaken to the question marks her sad face carried long and worn. the wing clipped bird sang from the cage silent songs of which no other was aware. but she due to circumstance was forced to hold her tongue. 1 . The sun set before the dying wind. near to the limits stretched justifications and acceptance could offer.Obscure the night If its true nature had not been so well hidden. the brook frozen under ice kept hidden beneath the pillows of sorrow. torturing her with no relief.

and. Despite the passions that raced in her soul. Finally. The face a mask. that far too long she had slumbered in the bed of heartache. until what seemed at first beyond endurance became a daily ritual offering its own particular comfort and solace in the repetitive numbness that blurred the counting of her days. window shades pulled back. the day arrived when the doors were thrown open. she sadly knew the past was too far away. So she laid down. heart wrenched from its long socket of pain. only to find when her foot arched the final step she hesitated. breath intermingled with the heartache she wrapped as a blanket around her form to stave off the rime of yearning. she was left with the quandary where she could not live without him and yet could never again pass through the shadowed door of her life’s prison. especially when the word of his exploits reached her. or when she heard one of his songs knowing its message was for her alone. sinking deep into a long sleep where in the final hours delirium brought forth dreams of when two were young and happy. immortal  . the audience never aware her performance was one. turning inward. the heart never stopped weeping.The motions she walked. entering each situation as the actress playing the ultimate role. caught in the ice of the years. freeing her at last to pursue the true love that had consumed her entire life. ever observant. grasping that far too long she had swathed her heart and soul in the cloaks of anesthetized acceptance and hidden deceits.

his name written upon it in a deft script that traced their days until this moment where the true meaning of her love became apparent to all from whom it had been hidden. bounds. a slip of paper clutched ever so lightly between her fingers. Obscure was the night when she ceased to be. or reason.as all youth are. preparing to live forever in a love that knew no name.  .

longing only for one more moment where he could touch the delicate scent and passion of their mingled desire. his satchel of hope emptied. leaving him with no more than the taste of futility as his one remaining recognition of life. desperate words tumbling unconsciously from his lips. arms pushing away any who offered comfort. twining into a brilliance that could lead wiser men than he to some Promised Land. Further he sank into the depths of despondency. he stood grasping his guitar. disconsolate he knelt upon her grave.  . his former hunger for her seeming shallow before the sorrow which made the world aware of just how deep the river of her love had flowed through the barren desert of his heart. his heart pillaged by the horror and disbelief of the Philistines of his emotions. the pillars of their Temple pulled down. he reconciled to the sobering truth theirs was a passion too bright to have burned long in any lifetime. He stood to face the vestiges of truth laid out by Jupiter and Venus lighting across the Heavens to meet once more. its oasis the only promise that kept his parched Diaspora alive. a closing hymn cascading down the waterfall of grief consuming him to the end. he stood to face the wind as it caressed the gentle beauty of her name through the deepness of those final moments. dying a falling star upon which some young lovers would capture a wish and perchance not become victims to the fate that had consumed them. allowing it to take hold with a mind of its own. guitar grasped mindlessly.The resolution of parting Her note in hand. Slowly.

so transcendent. And the children fallen by the wayside. We have lighted these days together pushing back the sadness lingering in the dark. and the lovers folding sheets ironed by sweated love left bare. we have given fruit to the birth of many creations to be remembered long after we are dust. there dies no martyr of love who would not pass from life with your name upon his lips. and the old men dreaming of past adventures while old women lightly touch their arms. the music of our song shall silently marvel at the crystal prisms lain arced and mirrored before your feet. when the soundless streets are deserted and the church pews long emptied with the grasses burnt under the drought of longing. when the clouds weep in the sky growing pallid. we have painted canvases of emotions left to legend. there runs no child whose breathless wonder can outshine the beauty  . there lives no kingdom to equal the streets of gold within your laughter. so consuming. When the sun fades its promises. we have spent our moments encircling what was created but never acknowledged. there walks no angel whose wings touch the gossamer of your dreams. so pure. all will remember your name that never shall fade over the years into either hallucination or reckoning. there lives no hermit of the heart who can withstand your exquisite nature. in the end could only come to this finality: There sings no bird to match the beauty of your flight. For there sings no bird whose voice could exceed the elation that still thrills my veins when I call your name. there winds no singing waters to match the enchantment of your voice. There sings now no bird that draws a line in the sand separating our souls.he stood a breath inhaled to steady body and soul for the last song whose time could have been foretold long ago by any aware that such a love. there walks no Samaritan of the spirit who could refuse to the tending of your soul.

the only word that ever be needed to carry me home to your pleasure as I wing my words this final time. a tale told often but lived only once among these hallowed memories where there sings no bird upon this closing moment when at last. allow me to remember our name as One. there prays no pilgrim whose words are not warmed by the merging of our devotions. My Love. Allow me then here in this final wounding before the ground lays us quick upon its breast. give us this ending moment of our bliss together before sleep eternal consumes our love creating more than a tale to pass in myth through the gates of this last offering. there arises no flight of eagle whose wings are not surpassed by the brilliance of when you entwine my days. Give me one last instant of you in your splendor. allow me to bring forth this final song to face the fading of the night.of where you dwell inside me. we are gone…  .

Roger Humes is a poet and a computer graphic artist.othervoicespoetry. a cyber-anthology of world poetry residing at www. He lives in Claremont. Pomona. He is the Director of The Other Voices International Project. California.  .org. an annual arts and literature magazine produced by the California State Polytechnic University. and the International Poetry Editor for Harvest International.

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