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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Poetry of Tom "WordWulf" Sterner

Mel BrakE Press is proud to publish the poetry of Tom "WordWulf" Sterner.

Tom Sterner Bio:

Tom Sterner lives in Redding, California and Arvada, Colorado with wife Kathy. He has been published in numerous magazines and on the internet, including Howling Dog Press/Omega, Skyline Literary Review, The Storyteller, and Flashquake. His internet pseudonym is WordWulf. A native of Colorado and proud father of five children and a stepdaughter, he writes lyrics, sings and composes music with his sons. He is winner of the Marija Cerjak Award for Avant-Garde/Experimental Writing and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2006 and 2008. Published work includes two novels, Madman Chronicles: The Warrior and Momma’s Rain.

The Poetry of Tom "WordWulf" Sterner

Those Without Graves

On the drive to work each day
I watch the soldier's cemetery pass
Everything seems equal there
stone tablets standing attention, the grass
trimmed by small brown skinned men
I see a lady bend down, she kneels
sets a cup full of wild flowers
before two stones, I feel

a hitch in my breath to watch

Flags always in evidence
the here and now of this place
and this day each grave is adorned
a tiny standard, its solemn face
Warm day end of May
I roll my window down
senses immediately assaulted
by a most deep and haunting sound

My legs walk away from the car standing

The first time I witnessed his marching
tartan kilt his regal attire
pipes slung over his shoulder
moaning, set the morning afire
There was certain precision to his gait
distance practiced known too well
Here walked the souls of these soldiers
to ring their lives with his mournful bell

My heart was flushed with guilt its watching

His lady, with a single flower
came to gather up her man
his pipes with their mournful singing
She held his arm with her hand
I went to the stone of her choosing
where Ian the first was lain
then to the end of the piper's walk
the sky shed a tear of rain

These eyes confused in their seeing

A newer stone whose name the same
here lies Ian the third
I followed the voice of the piper
loneliest sound ever heard
and there was Ian the Junior
standing aside with his wife
a fair compliment of mourners
bidding farewell to a life

What greed mine curiosity shown

The pipes trailed away in their singing
the reverend mumbled words to the sky
that Lord, they are brave in their going
these lads to their sweet by and by
A final note owned the moment
to soar with its soul way up high
The crack of twenty-one rifles
exclamation mark against the sky

What mortal undone was I

Ian the second passed by me
his proud pipes bellowed once more
His wife let fall of her flower
on top of that last mortal door
And he paced from Ian to Ian
this man no one could save
whose soldier's sin was still to be living
with father and son in their graves

And the rain hid my face from his eyes

Ode to Eos

Waking up to lavender skies
peeling off layers of sleep
the future comes from the east
Dreams and schemes of deliverance
appear as opiate fantasies
spider cross web of morning

Eos resides in our spirits
immune to time’s messages
whose breath fresh is dawn
whispers aweigh, secrets of night
lain on cloud pillow
held high and higher yet
promises to self are kept

Lift me up, sing to me
voices fresh a-morning
These are cleansing of solitude
a lullaby and just before
full consciousness, eve is lost
Behold the celebration
to which dawn aspires

Knots & Circles

Any circle, society, family
must find children on one end
elders on the other
When these touch, the circle is complete
We have nuclear equivalents
some device of cloning
sex therapists, gender benders
neuters and foreskin groups
I see a lady and a small boy
She is teaching him knots
he is feeding her cat
She drops her ball of yarn; they
bump heads reaching, fall down laughing

Family Thanksgiving

A basket full of hugs and kisses
a piece of cherry pie
a warm smile on a cold morning
a place to go and cry
stories to tell and secrets to keep
those kites that refuse to fly
holidays at Grandma’s
and there’s Grandpa’s knee to ride

A symphony of tiny voices
pictures hanging on the wall
loneliness and happiness
bathtubs in the hall
beginnings and birthdays
and fires in the fall
those letters that say, “I miss you
I miss you most of all”

All the fourth of Julys exploding
and when there’s a scraped-up knee
magick kisses chase the pain away
and cats up in the tree
new shoes and hand-me-downs
those brand new glasses, “I can see!”
fighting and loving and loving and fighting
the past that’s the past of “me”

Bicycles and training wheels
time gets in the way
fairy tales and teeth under pillows
that place where the old dog lays
special seats to sit and blankets to hold
report cards and bright sunny days
little pockets full of bugs and bolts
picnics and camping and weekends away

Where some friends belong and some are just friends
all kinds of neat stuff to share
noses and roses and photograph poses
everyone’s favorite chair
Countless messes made by “Mister No One”
the search for the three-legged teddy bear
pennies in couches, pencils and cookies
the feeling: there’s always someone who cares

It’s you I’m really talking about
and the others I’d like to see
what we are is what it really means
to be part of a family
I guess drifting apart is natural
the way God intended it to be
to be apart and a part, full circle
is to be part of a family

We all must grow in our own direction
for surely we must be free
but once in a while we should meet and remember
what it means to be family
It is you I’m really talking about
the pieces of you that are me
the pride I feel in the sharing
being part of a family

A Sense of Sixth

I can’t hear the night with the lights on
They blind my ears, destroy my focus
The tiger of fear stalks their shadows
creeping up to capture my spirit
and terrify the little boy me

I can’t see her face in the music
where I go to hide away from her
Songs I used to sing to her image
are my new door to freedom
in their legion of sadness

I can’t find my ass in the dark
with hands, invisible arms
a tactile prisoner of light
whose eyes demand proof and purchase
the illusive wall of life

Wednesday took the lies of summer
wrote them on a book of leaves
divided amongst the winds
scattered to hither and yon
tablets in stacks and stones beyond

These Hands

These hands awoke in water
to the voice of mother hum
They offered a bit of solace
I swam and sucked their thumbs
When the outside invaded
these hands made tiny fists
as they held themselves before me
punching holes in the mist

These hands have whispered prayer
whose voice the life I’ve lived
a quiet thanksgiving, my children
those gifts life has chosen to give
These hands have reached for the heavens
asking and wondering why
until they returned to the prayer
voices of answers inside

These hands have known the woman
in all her moods and graces
as she led them through the darkness
into her secret places
Even as she touched them
these hands were hers to teach
They stood upon her body
she drew them down to reach

These hands have served as warriors
to put the monster down
and fluttered in confusion
their life blood on the ground
They’ve gripped the steel of cages
when pushed behind the door
been manacled and chained
at odds with law and war

These hands have known the prayer
pressed against the lips of time
When the final truth has spoken
they have learned to say good-bye
When these hands are fin’ly resting
upon my quiet breast
of all the things these hands would do
remember they loved the best

Taking Daddy Home

You might have seen him
if you lived out West
He would be the man
who helped you fix your car
or offered you a ride
He was good and deep
in his quiet way

When he knew his time was near
he did some traveling
made his last good-byes
and I, being the oldest of his girls
spent some good time with him
helped him any way I could
in his end days as he had my beginning

My tiny boys
will never know him in the flesh
though I see him on their faces
My heart will remember
and teach them what I know
as they travel this road with me
taking Daddy home

The wheel turns
Daddy’s hope lives in my heart
He is more of me than I knew
I’ll take him from these Rocky Mountains
his Colorado roam
Those Black Hills are calling us
I’m taking Daddy home

I Would

If I could be a pillow
a safe place
to lay me down your grief
I would

If I could be a basket
I would gather all your sorrow
cast it out into the seven directions
I would

If I could be a fountain
I would flow with you
through the seven waters of your soul
I would always be your friend
I would

Might Have Said

I might have said I love you
ten thousand echoes reside
Three wandering moons of Atlantis
conspire to conceal, they hide
the city, my love is a rainbow
whose path is come open and wide
a tumble me down and forever
whistling of prayer, neap tide

I might have said who are you
whose sleep I have come to share
far misty mountains abiding
a halo of sun as they bear
tree children, my love is a whis’pring
wind through the needles, their hair
Lift me up, I’m a flying man
whose heart is lighter than air

I might have said where are you
lonely nights lying awake
a misty gath’ring of shadow
fair ghosts of tomorrow may shake
their heads, my love is a phantom
a cry of hope for their sake
whose spirit may lie in my bosom
a lay me down I would make

I might have said I’ve found you
into the face of the night
The sun, a cascade of falling
makes narrowing pathways of light
A fire, my love is a ribbon
shimmering gem of delight
the body of faith come rewarded
healing caresses ignite

I might have said I love you
then finally found your face
the stars, a sprinkling of Heaven
find sorrow and come to erase
the dark, my love is a promise
a choosing of time and place
whose moment I have come seeking
has found me and blessed me with grace


Pushing words away
lest they eat my sleep
become the only part of me
devour those golden hours
which amount to the rest of me
yes, away with dreams and all that seems
possessed to make an end to me

Anesthesia is an art
to which I might at once lay claim
a shallow grave divided
I might just lay between
some token awareness consciousness
which came first coffee or cream
blackout describes the best held dreams

I lit a candle to threaten the stars
but nobody’s laughing in this wayward place
would someone put out the light
stop this ringing in my ears
I am not afraid of the night
but see what is done in the light of day
no, don’t take my candle away

Insomuch as I Am Able

Insomuch as I am able
and ever bent to stand
I will sing a song of children
what they may say with eyes
and tiny hands touching
goodness and wellness
a solid stand of days

Insomuch as I am able
and ever kneeling tall
I will sing a song of mother
that voice before all others
the space she touched within
I’ve never been without
a simple peace of shade

Insomuch as I am able
and ever standing down
I will sing a song of family
those before and after them
storms of circles touching
sadness and gladness
a gentle cleansing rain

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