Turning Point




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Sample Poems by Douglas Cole

Even Paradise Has Poverty

The other still reaches
into my mind
with fingers delicate
as banyan vines

Body in the burial bull
waiting for the flame
dogs bark and snap
as I make my way
through the darkness
the sounds of the forest
back to the garden
where I began

Across The Waters

Step light, I tell myself
as we pass through
the stone walls of the temple.
The women bring offerings:
Bantam for the good gods,
Sugahan for the dark ones.
All is in balance.
Beside the temple
the men of the village gather
for the cockfights, smoking,
calling out their bets,
and after the blade is tied
to the rooster?s foot,
the fury begins?
in a moment one bird is
lying in the dirt,
the other stumbling away.
The referee hits the gong,
the fight is over,
the bets are paid.
We rise and return to the street,
women crowding around us
selling bracelets and sarongs?
no thank you, tidat crema casi,
a child crying in the dust,
eyes of the woman saying
buy, please?buy.
At Gunung Sari,
we stop for a lunch
of dried fish and rice
and wade through
a throng of venders
selling statues of Ganesh.

One woman moves in
next to the van
and stands there looking
at the side-view mirror,
gazing long
into her own eyes.

Third Dawn in the Garden

light against my face
          I rise like a moth

morning glory and jasmine
          sway in an intricate vale

I walk along the path
          through the rice paddies

the little artist huts
          along the way

artists hunched over canvasses
          creating pieces of the day

in the infinite fields
          music flowing out of nowhere

Gunung Agung

"But lost chances are as much a part of life as chances taken,
and a story cannot dwell on what might have been."
--Ghosts, Paul Auster

Through the jungle, I follow my guide.
For a moment, when he lights his torch,
I see the bower above us laced
with white branches like fine ribwork.
When he turns his flashlight off,
I step into the void, and so
we make our way on the path,
in moments of light, moments of dark,
as I match my steps to his stride.

And then we climb, using vines
and branches for ropes, clambering,
scrambling, pulling ourselves
through the intricate network
of the vast black forest cathedral.
When the trail ascends and breaks
through the treeline, we enter
a plateau in the stars.

Mars is a rich glowing eye,
as we climb through the lava dust,
leaning into it with our hands,
feeling our way along the hard
rock scales that form a broken
stairway woven like snakeskin,
narrowing down at last to a black
ridgepath along the mountain peak.

With fall away into darkness
on either side of every step we take,
we reach the wind and the cold last
step of the summit, the smell of sulfur
rising out of the crater below.
When I look down, I see nothing
but more absolute darkness,
dawn two hours away, so we wait.

Huddled up against a low rock step,
shuddering in the sharp cold,
I slip in and out of consciousness;
in moments opening my eyes
and entering the complex of stars,
in moments drifting lenticular out
from the shivering hold of my head,
and there I waver and float,
waiting for light to come.

Rising as the night fades, I stomp
and step in circles, feet gone numb,
fingers numb flesh on my hands,
and there, over the sea, I behold
the sun rising like a molten seed,
red sliding up through a silver pool
of clouds, igniting and initiating
this dream flowing of another day.

And then we head back down,
the forest below ringing
with the sound of an axe striking
from some dawn woodcutter
at his job as we slalom
through the bright lava dust,
my head full of sky,
plunging back to earth but
as close to flying as you can get.

The dancer in a trance
          kicks the burning coals
                    across the glowing courtyard.

He jumps among the flames,
          eyes full of fire.

Have all the evil spirits
          at last been driven away?