Collection of Poems by Guest Poet Candice James

Guest Poet Candice James

CAVING OUT

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

There was always that single shaft of sunlight

Where it came from or how it got in

Was always a mystery.

All she had ever known

Was this multi shaded brown sky.

Always there;  never ending.

She was born in this cave;

Lived in this cave, but didn’t want to die in this cave.

 

Today she decided she would become a skyscraper.

She scraped at the brown tapestry

Of rust, beige, and amber that hung overhead.

The colour of an Autumn she’d never seen.

The shaft of sunlight whispered

About the changes above her brown sky;

Changes that never passed before her eyes.

 

She scraped her overhead skyscape

With a frustrated vengeance.

She thought she would never be able to scrape past the surface

To the surface on the other side.

She was born to be a cave dweller

But she wanted to be a skyscraper.

 

She turned the stone carved chisel in her hand

And continued scraping,

Hoping her sky would cave in

That she may cave out.

 

We are all skyscrapers

Trying to cave out

Out of prisons we’re trapped in.

 

IT’S COMPLICATED

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

Dice tumbling

Inside the wheels of chance,

Stumbling down a green velvet alley,

Crashing headlong into the edge of reality.

Snake eyes,

Glowing white on black,

Sinister blocks of luck and happenstance.

Chance dances with destiny

In her casino of dreams

Flashing nightmares in her neon glow.

 

Tight lips;

Brows dotted with beads of sweat;

Squinting eyes, focused on the hand that throws the dice.

Hoping;  wishing; dreaming; praying

To an invisible God

Who doesn’t visit this casino of lost souls.

 

In the background

The perpetual clicking of slot machines

Staring back at the vacant eyes they’ve captured.

 

Bets placed;  bets won;  bets lost;

They should know better,

But still they throw caution to the wind.

Why?

Well…..

It’s complicated.

 

 

SAWDUST

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

The down pour of rain

Stumbles, staggers,

Becomes drizzle, mist, then stops.

Sun drenches its leftover tears

Shining the highway anew.

I close in on the sleepy town of Mission,

Passing cars, playing street tag, in and out,

Then suddenly, the pungent smell of sawdust.

Yesterday begins to unwind in my mind.

 

Four years of age.

Small home.

Sawdust furnace.

Orange mountain of fuel

Hiding in the dimly lit half basement.

Fabulous, sensuous, soothing aroma.

Whenever I ventured down there

I always took extra deep breaths.

 

One night,

A rustling noise in my old crib,

Now piled with trinkets, toys and dolls.

Fear, confusion, yelling,

“There’s a mouse in my crib.”

Mother chiding “Don’t be silly”,

Rummaging quickly through the toy shed crib.

Suddenly screaming,  jumping onto my bed.

Terrified little mouse scurrying away,

Under the dresser,

Down the small mouse doorway

In the floor into the sawdust bin.

 

Mouse got away.

Father plugged the hole in the floor.

Mother sighed with relief.

I fell fast asleep in blanket bay.

 

I still hear that little mouse

And feel my mother near,

Whenever I smell sawdust.

 

 

THE EMPTY WOMEN

 

With all they love stripped from them,

They are, the empty women:

 

They stare through frozen tears that climb

And claw at a door that has no key.

They peer through the ageless windows of time

With wounded heart, on bended knee.

Submerged in an icy cold prison of water

They peer up through a slick muddy surface;

These children of a lost god’s daughter

Chiseling sins on oblivion’s face.

Staring through shafts of sunlight waxing hotter.

Stabbing through icy veins deeper each minute.

Life’s kinder to those who walk on the water,

Not for those orphans who reside within it.

 

The empty women stare hopelessly, silently

At the rough path ahead, and a mountain too steep.

Wringing the hands and hearts ever so violently

Knowing no escape from this prison cell keep.

Children of brutality, pain, tears and death’s song.

Pity them their journey for they were not warned

Of the perilous path they were forced to walk on,

Clad only in old slippers worn out and torn;

On dangerous ground by life thrown and tossed;

With numb, bleeding feet they walk, then they crawl,

Not realizing just how much they’ve lost;

Unable to measure the depth of their fall.

Beneath the pounding of their heartbeats

The rain is streaking old sundowns anew.

The clouds in the sky, are tattered white sheets

Hiding the whisper of soft cobalt blue.

This winter beach is strewn with broken sea shells

Washed up by a jigsaw puzzle ocean

That whispers of dark secrets but never tells

Of broken vows and tarnished devotion.

 

Stars fall from their black velour mantle above

Burning to cinders in the ashtray of night.

Invisible now, erased by dawn’s wet glove,

The wounded elegy of broken moonlight.

Clinging to the past they’ve become as such,

Empty women crying in desperation;

Hungering in the dark for a quicksilver touch;

Finding no hope, no consolation.

A cold finger infused with blood red ink

Scrawls across this tear stained remnant

Of hope that was lost in a wink, in a blink.

A story too forlorn to ever recant

 

Empty women, past the point of return,

Twisting inside the cocoon of death’s kiss.

These butterflies were born, only to burn,

In this moment that never was, but always is.

These women trapped in a nightmarish dream;

Invisible women, hearts cracked at the mast;

These empty women are the last primal scream,

Still hanging on to the invisible past.

 

With all they love stripped from them,

They are…..

The empty women.

 

 

TIE DYED KITES

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

Tie dyed kites,

Cotton candy skies

And seagulls gliding high;

A Water color painting brushed

With sun streaks that glitter and bounce

Through the shadows of my mind,

In the hush of a pastel moment.

 

The wind whispers of dreams to come

On rainbow strings unwrapped, undone,

Tasting sweet like warm spiced rum,

Dancing  beneath a summer sun.

It climbs high on sky ladder steep

Before it fades and falls asleep,

Nestled in night`s castle keep,

Tucked away inside her deep.

 

Twilight approaches on small cat feet,

Where the silver sky and black night meet,

Changing partners, changing clothes,

Promising  sprinkles of dew to the rose.

The stars come out from hiding,

On phantom horses riding,

Blazing new trails in my eyes.

Breathing dreams into my sighs.

We sway beneath this masterpiece

Alive with love and sweet release

Lazy days and soulful nights

Songs cascading, soft candle lights.

 

And then,

Suddenly,

I smell a new chill in the air

A touch of frost everywhere.

Though winter comes I do not care.

 

The whisper of the wind’s refrain

Promises tie dyed kites again.

 

 

The Mixed Knowledge of Swings and Kites

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

The sun swings low,

Spills onto the carousel,

Shaded by shafts of tree shadow.

Sounds of laughter

Ride the merry-go-round

In the kindergarten corner

Of yesterday’s schoolbook.

 

The swings ,

In full swing,

Knit a cool tapestry of pulsating wind

Over this spider web painting.

 

The swings,

Swing higher,

Trying to capture

A foolish low flying multi-coloured kite

As it searches in vain

For a rogue up draught

To save it from the malicious swings

Grasping skyward

With their clawing fingers of doom.

 

The kite, caught,

Surrenders;

Crashes into the swings;

Into their jaws,

Rendered flightless,

Spilling out cosmic knowledge

In a ripped and torn new language.

 

The swings whisper,

In secretive hush;

In studious silence;

Now,

In absence of malice.

 

 

TANGERINE CIRCLE

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

A tangerine circle,

Blazing,

Shining brilliantly,

Draped lazily over

A bleached white mountain,

Bathed in sparkling diamonds,

Unsullied,

Untouchable.

 

Blue notes burn out,

In a moment of redemption

Painted as red as this.

Holy blood spills softly,

In a shower of baptismal rain,

Washing all sins asunder.

 

The tangerine circle shimmers,

Exudes,

Vibrates.

 

A silver polished pail

Pours blazing stars

Onto the pale grey canvas below,

Burning pathways

Through kaleidoscope crystal canyons,

Snaking silently

Toward the sacred castle deep

That holds the tangerine circle,

In the pale pulsating palm

Of its white satin glove.

 

Hand clenches into a fist.

Twilight awakens.

The tangerine circle dims,

Darkens,

Sleeps.

 

 

PHANTOMS

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

Blood,

Dark and rancid,

Pools at the base of this nightmare

I’ve given birth to,

In someone else’s reign of terror.

 

Death fog hovers insidiously,

Claws, with icy brick fingers

At the raw red edges

Of this lake of  empirical voices.

 

The Opera House in my mind

Auditions descripted phantoms,

Some, laughing and singing,

Others, wallpaper sorrow,

Wailing,

Trying to pitch tears

Into the folded fabric

Of this dissonant aria.

 

These insomniac phantoms

Fade in and out

Like damaged neon ghosts;

Tricksters harbouring grudges;

Imagined slings and arrows,

Wounding the tainted applause.

Their smoky skeletons wisp silently

Through the eternal muted audience,

Touching them like ghosts

With a numb caress nobody feels —

— Nobody feels.

 

Soon, no one will sing.

The Opera House will close.

My phantoms

Will be homeless.

 

The curtain drops.

The stage collapses.

A phantom tear falls.

 

 

COOL CAT

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

Christmas dinner 1958.

He was a relative of a friend

Of my grandmother.

He was a beatnik

When it was just a new thing,

Or as he would have called it, a neo happening.

He was an odd beatnik,

Dressed in black suit,

White shirt, cufflinks and tie.

He looked normal but he talked “the talk”

And he sauntered “the walk”.

He was a cool cat.

 

He pulled out some Christmas Cards

From his inside jacket pocket

And scrawled his name on them

And handed one to me.

They were all the same

The cards were one color –  black and white.

The front was a half card

With a woman wearing a large chic sombrero hat

Silhouetted in black against a white background

Flairing a cigarette holder in her black gloved hand.

Her legs were crossed with elbow on knee.

When you opened the card,

The message was typed in bold round letters:

“Like Mary – Have A Cool Yule”.

 

I never saw him before that day.

I never saw him again.

 

Looking back,

Neither  the card nor the man seemed impressive,

But somehow they must have been

Because 52 years later

I can still see, smell and feel that day,

That card, that boy.

His name was Alan Ramsey.

 

 

CRUMBLED TO DUST

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

Hands, now icy cold,

Crumbled to dust,

Once coursing with blood, warmth

And the fire of creativity.

 

Did this gifted artisan laugh too loudly,

Love too deeply?

Did he don masks to hide his tears

And wear paper smiles in public

Or did he weep openly

And parade his scars for all to see

On a stage of his own making?

Was the stage solid

Or did he build it on weak and shifting sand?

Did he give one too many performances

Or did he leave them aching for an encore?

 

As he gasped his final breath

Did his hands feign applause

As they lay limply on his chest

Or did he feebly try to wring them in angst?

 

Registration number 91750,

This piece of fine Coal Port China

Remains locked in life’s prison.

The hands that crafted it have escaped

With the angel of death.

 

I remain incarcerated,

Eyes fixed on this ornament ,

Very much aware of my hands

Soon to be icy cold,

Crumbled to dust.

 

 

QUAINT AND SHODDY

 

On the west corner,

Where vine and gate intermingle,

There’s a quaint yet shoddy house of wood and wrinkle

Dying on this desolate street.

Weakened veins of crumbling mortar

Run through her heart and soul

And bleed through every quarter.

She shudders and breathes shallowly

In her crypt of faded memories and nightmares.

 

Some nights when I pass by

I swear I hear whispers from under the stairs,

Chanting a mystical spell to destroy her ills and woes;

To slow her aging;  suspend her impending death;

Take one more day from its savage raging.

 

On the eastern edge

Of the west corner of hedge and flowers

This antique unkempt house has clocked too many tears,

Too many hours; Hours of inequity; inebriation, sobriety,

Love and hate;  Undigested like broken glass;

Bitter to the palate, sour to the taste.

 

Oh, such a bankrupt waste

Of smiles, grimaces, fleeting fury and emotion;

Vestiges appear as ghostly spectres

Drowning in tepid tidal waves

Upon a human dry rot ocean.

 

A gun metal gray raincloud

Threatens on the northern corner of heartache and tears

Then manifests a phantom circus

Of sad clowns parading through distorted mirrors.

 

Looking back

Through a foggy cracked looking glass

I glimpse myself;

Hold the image to my breast;

Polish it;  memorize it,

Then put it back on its rusty shelf.

 

How very much like

That quaint shoddy little house of wood and wrinkle

I’ve become, pining for a past I can’t recover;

Things done and undone;

Songs sung then unsung.

A hazy drifting memory

Wriggles its way through the barb wire of my mind.

Resentments and regrets long buried

Unearth themselves on spools I don’t want to unwind.

These dusty and frayed film noirs,

Better left unwatched,

Flash off and on before my eyes.

Old masquerading faces rip their well worn costumes off.

There is no doubt, no disquise.

 

Banking off a wild southwestern wind

I’m forced to face my wanton ghosts of yesterday

They’ve chased me down at last;

Found me unarmed, unable to chase them away.

Reality has painted me a tad more quaint and shoddy now,

Than when I’d  first begun,

I see my life, myself, my journey;

What I was and what I have become.

 

I’ve ran the rapids,

Raced the good race and jumped fast to the gun

And now the end is closing in.  The shadow looms.

The days grow short spent in the sun.

 

On the west corner,

Where vine and gate intermingle,

There’s a quaint yet shoddy house of wood and wrinkle

Dying on this desolate street.

I stand vulnerable and naked at her door.

Where sky and fog and shadow meet

One last time, then….

Nevermore.

 

 

THE BABY

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

Her Mother and Aunts called

The old hunched over lady Grannie.

Her aging arthritic hands,

Disfigured and gnarled,

Held the worn out doll with no hair

Lovingly to her breast.

 

She frightened the young child

Peering out from behind the dark green sofa,

Wondering,

Why does she think that doll is her baby?

 

The old lady was humming a lullaby

And gently caressing the doll’s cheek.

 

The child,

With eyes like saucers,

Looked with gathering fright at

The white haired, old woman.

She noticed something odd

About the old lady’s shoes.

 

Why did she have one black oxford

With that big built up heel?

It must be heavy.

Maybe that was why she walked

All hunched over, holding onto

That ugly knotted driftwood cane.

 

The old woman coughed

And slowly began to rise from her chair.

 

A sudden fear crept over the child.

She stood up, ran like the wind

To her room and hid under the bed,

Hugging her favourite doll,

The one with the long blond ringlets

Tightly to her chest,

Happy in the knowledge

That she knew it wasn’t her baby

 

 

The River Screamed

Candice James

Copyright 2010

 

The river screamed to the mountain

“Don’t let me go dry.

Keep shedding your tears into my soul

That I may carve new shorelines for you;

That I may smooth your rough edges;

Polish your stones;

Shine your spirit

To a brighter shade of silver

That you may cut the sky

Like a sword

And glint

In the gleaming

Of the Sun’s shaft

Of hot liquid fire.”

 

Sword in the stone

Stone in the river

Laced with moments of glory

Sharing their silent story

Of holy matrimony.

 

The river screamed

“Don’t let me go dry”

And the mountain listened

In sacred silence.

 

The river screamed louder

“Don’t let me go dry”

And the mountain cried.