A Note From Stephen Mead:
Around the year 2000 I corresponded with the one and only Frank Moore en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Moore_(performance_artist) about putting some poems on his radio show, LUVER, Love Underground Visionary Revolution. He liked the idea of me adding music to my voice but I really did not know what I was doing as far as even handling a microphone! Still after attempting a few takes for him my experiment eventually resulted in roughly other "40 cuts". I put them on a CD called "Safe & Other Love Poems". which eventually evolved into the work "Love Lullabies", those same pieces "remastered" with me adding my own humming of different favorite melodies as backdrops.
Various sites are still streaming his early apprentice-work open.spotify.com/album/71lhHRzo7XhJVzgeZ719uX and www.amazon.com/Love-Lullabies-Stephen-Mead/dp/B002EIWALS
Those spoken word pieces are what set the ball in motion here...
It is odd to find myself creating this page for music since I mainly think of myself as a
mixed-media artist who is also a published writer. Not having a musical background for composing, please consider this page to be about a project-in-progress. (You may learn more about me by clicking on the "about" tab at the top.) The songs for the project elaborated on below, "Whispers of Arias" come from a poetry manuscript "Arias, Monologues & Mad Scenes", and it has been my hope over the years that others might take an interest in performing them. As the saying goes: hope springs eternal. Again, musically, I'm not really a composer/arranger but more of a "lyricist" who, as hip hop artists do, sampled music in attempts to create songs for my voice. When it comes to others adapting these works I think of them as templates/palettes to be made use of. My sense is that choral groups/solo artists, (actors & actresses even), and those who work with them in an arranging/conducting capacity, have the best feel for what songs/words, lyrically, establish the groundwork of creative affinity. I like the idea of
letting the artists who are doing the interpreting to have as much freedom as needed to play and use the material to pitches of emotional resonance which can do the greatest good.
“Whispers of Arias”, Volume 1 & 2
Sound collages, songs as stories, songs as films…from the opening doorbell on the first track of Stephen Mead’s “Whispers of Arias” , Volume One, the listener is invited to enter no ordinary musical experience. Instead, drawing on classical, folk, and alternative traditions, these songs owe more to the works of John Adams, Phillip Glass, & their
librettists, for defying contemporary verse/chorus composition. Even the rhyme schemes are not typical moon/June/spoon, but more that of soliloquies set to music. Including voices from myths (Ariel, Isis), and voices
of history (Nefertiti, Helen), through characters set in 21st Century scenarios, (a welfare mother on-the run), the song cycle of this CD weaves a thematically comprehensive whole, while the musical backdrops provided by Kevin MacLeod incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/makes each piece a journey unto itself. To be human is to know how valuable life is, these songs seem to say,
and will hopefully leave the listener emotionally transported by that message.
“Whispers of Arias”, Volume Two, picks up the Ariadne thread of Volume One to bring the listener further through a
compelling musical maze. Indeed, conceptually, the two CDs could easily be combined as a double-set.
Again there are voices both historic (Eva Braun), and from legend (Cassandra), while the themes of love, loss, war, and perseverance remain Universal. Again Kevin MacLeod’s instrumentation provides a haunting display of colors, ranging through a palette which could come from both Weimar Republic cabarets (Liebestraum), to Gregorian choral chants,(Rites). Whether exploring the legacy of 911 (“Rings”), or the passing of his own mother (“now, in this stillness”), a sense of human frailty and struggle for dignity remains vibrant in Stephen Mead’s explorations, and, although defined as whispers, perhaps ultimately something of spiritual truth will come through for the listener in these esoteric songs.
Downloads of "Whispers of Arias":
Jonathan Penton from Unlikely Stories has written:
It's appropriate that Stephen Mead has named this double-album "Whispers of Arias", because despite the layered, operatic music and big dramatic
themes, these recordings, ultimately, sound very little like arias: The vocals are so tortured and quiet that one can't help but think of a ghost in a symphony
hall, desperately trying to impress something upon the listeners, something dire, something unbelievably tragic. Stephen Mead sings his poems over
Kevin MacLeod's complex and sophisticated classical interpretations, and the effect is transformative—on the rhythm of the poems, on the meaning of MacLeod's
recordings, and ultimately, on the listener.
radiowildfire.com writes: Stephen's work with voice and soundscape continues to intrigue us and, we think, set a benchmark for recording spoken word.
For words/lyrics or CD versions of downloads please contact Stephen via http://soundcloud.com/stephenmeadart
Stay Awake www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF9PS2Y/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk1
I keep thinking. It can’t be much longer.
He turned on the gas exactly six minutes ago.
I can see the clock. Must focus. He’s staring at me.
I manage a smirk. It’s not that difficult, really, this
waiting him out. After all, considering how he came in here,
I’m amazed to be alive. I should have looked through
the peephole, asked, “Who is it?”, all of those things.
Oh well, when I saw his face, my intuition’s pretty keen.
Automatically I knew
“Look, you want some soda?” I asked. “The truth is I don’t
have much cash.” Oh yea, cool as a cucumber. The first
thing I noticed upon coming ‘round was the shade of his eyes,
how they bore down upon me.
Nice of him not to have blown my head off.
I never asked why. He was desperate. Any fool could see.
Loneliness and fear does that. I went and heated some broth.
Later we listened to a few details about him streaming
from the transistor.
“They got it all wrong, man. I didn’t use gelignite.”
I shrugged and switched the station. “You like Bach?”
I thought he’d break my arm, but was just testing.
“God,” he laughed. “What is it with you? You ain’t got no
car. You ain’t got no computer. You hear I blew up Mr.
Big Wig’s caddie, yet don’t even seem interested.”
“I’m kind of a dunce.” I faltered, trying to remember
if the newsman said whether anyone died.
“See this.” He went on, flashing that gun again. “Wanna
know if I used it?” I poured more soda and tried to keep
my voice even. “Not particularly.”
I held my breath, figuring violence would come then.
Only, “You’re no dunce,” he whispered, and went to the stove.
These last three hours he’s turned it on and shut it off twice.
I’ve noticed this third time he’s leaving it be.
I wish I were Scherezade and could entertain him with tales.
Ariel's Mission www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF3SCJP/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk2
This tree giant knows me, and the grasses
I pass upon looking to ignite brooks.
Listen, I’m calling
through the sudden undulation of leaves.
Is it some sea sound or else—stranger---
soft whispers—candles in petals
placed on a lake?
How they float to anoint senses, a hushed
that falls with a clash—tempest—sudden
tempest on the brightening horizon.
Such a wind is astonishing!
It is I, Ariel’s, the siren’s—Are you not awestruck?
Once a pine kept me captive. I bet
you can scarcely fathom, that for twelve years
I lived done up, wrenched in by bark, the distorting,
the twisted twigs. Then some great sorcerer got hold
of me. I flew to his bidding, released
by the energy that inhabits all oceans.
Now, as an enchantress, there’s an even greater
prophesy to fulfill, to ride—both one with the elements and that rest
in a song’s shell—Otherworldly, loving, loving
whatever planet, whatever dove wings,
whatever bat radar—in day time, in night,
the very air breathed
is my dancing
and it costs,
believe me, believe
Joan Again www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF2SY31/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk3
It wasn't a dark dream which crept over me,
not like my mother warned, but a real war
& what had to be done. No,
how in the heavens could I possibly escape
the prophesy which chose me, though,
when it came, that's what I desired,
to be useful, in love with the land,
the people, swamped, not the bloodshed,
not the blood.
I saw no one as enemy really, in the beginning,
before accusations. I saw only suffering
& tried hard to listen for an angel's voice.
Long through nights it wailed, whimpered
of potential stakes, & yet even while paying heed
to go on was my part, the part which meant lead.
My god, but I hated the violence, the triumphant waste,
as so many fell & fell thinking we are right, we are right,
convinced of that on both sides.
Were they then? Are they now?
Lives lost in cannon's fire or hand to hand,
face to face, the combat of swords, even the one
which I carried, slaying no one, though arrow-pierced
& advancing high as a rippling, a certainly torched
& tattered flag.
It can yet be found, that riddling belief,
purely symbolic in the stones, the pellets flung
through headlines. You know the names,
the territories & how many are coming forth?
How I would like to place my ear on each wrist
to hear the priceless booming heart
& have that humble echo amplified.
The I'd return to who I was
before all the wars & the voices, I confess,
the voices deaf deaf & blind to the outcome.
Trains & crickets, the space velvet enough
for a guitar & Elvis singing soft & low...
The night's going slow here,
slow as a naked back moving gently to the touch.
Reach up a little, feel & mess the hair,
taste distance so smoke-close it's a face being named
like streets as you near them,
slipping into a dream of fading cinemas,
of silver rain on the wind.
Heading east, now west, this maze takes form,
an envelope's navigation to where it belongs, or could,
delivered by a kiss of so much sweet spit & sweat.
Find, find the address, arm around arm,
over neon fields & damp fragrance dense
in the shadows.
We are that package, its interlocked strings.
We are those rooming house woods.
Mother & Child www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF8H7NT/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk5
Wheels & tracks, baby
Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna
Let you be taken. Hush-a-bye.
Hush-a-bye. Sleep now, that’s right.
I got a couple hundred dollars
& in this knapsack you’re pretty
Much hid just in case, you know,
That welfare lady’s put out some
We’re hitching a ride & will hop
The next train soon. 3 A.M.
I think it’s early enough,
The whole station still groggy.
Thank god, it’s rainin’, good
Warm muggy dust of diesel…
Makes me wanna doze too.
Come on, hon, don’t wake up.
Here’s your old tick tock clock,
Just like a heart, & I’m right
With ya, rockin’ soft & close.
La la la. You see, I have to
Sing quiet, ‘cause they’re takin’
Our ticket & hey, lettin’ us board.
Nobody suspects. Want your bottle?
Look at those lights, the whole
City a Christmas tree blinkin’
“so long” as we plunge,
Express cargo, into the
Of this safe moving dark
(Thanks to Rickie Lee)
Candles from Mist www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF8N7QW/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk6
Weigh spirit with a feather, fill, buoy up.
Evanescent light thing, look, a final place:
Love, since you parted, those likenesses
Buried with you, image after image, reflect & dream.
I have only kept one, I, Nefertiti, wed to worshippers,
Gossip, now hiding Akhenaten, a pharaoh’s idol,
How can I confess it? They’d talk, shy away.
Yet, Sphinx-like friend, I remember warmth,
Our involvement, the west sun dying nightly
Then miraculously east born...
Doesn’t the beetle, that scarab, represent
Metamorphosis, & you, you too, a common man,
But symbolic, your head, a vision-house, large
As can be.
Does the skyful expand? Is monotheism real?
Storms, blessings: religion is a concept.
Far flung weather, the Afterworld-----
Does the breadth spread? Is it luminous?
Yes, we accomplished several daughters & built
A life hand by hand, so, why---ignorant, petty---
“His ailment”, “a tragedy”---& civilization so strange...
People point, visit, have a desire to rob tombs,
Covet treasure, all Nile lost souls now curious,
Thirsty for jaded scandal & souvenirs...
Oh Akhenaten, I want none of such.
Let them take all of it but this: a window,
Lit alabaster, glowing like skin, from within:
Some soft mist candle. I clutch it, a statue,
Your profile carved there. Will you call, fly
Pyramid strong: yesterday, tomorrow, all days
Are ghosts, but their quests flood, preserved fertile
From our divine all-seeing valley.
Dust the crypt, kingdom, this gold inlaid sarcophagus
I caress to put my missing
Where it rightly belongs.
Blood Stained Shirt www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF2QTC2/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk7
I see no point in changing.
I see no point.
We were an Us, then there
Was just me
Hoping it could happen, a wrong
Move, deliberately done, easy
Target crossing the line.
You never knew exactly when
You went over, the why, the
How, & I too was far from
Fathoming the motives
Of assassins, the signs, the
Shift in temperature, in air,
As if from a distant oil fire.
I believe it ill fortune
That the tank didn’t blow
When bullets hit our car.
I believed I was never more wild
Than while screaming:
Bastards, god damn you,
& smashing the wind shield.
I was wrong
I’m wilder now, the stinking
Sticky scarlet shroud,
A tattoo of you losing
What we held last
& I can not rest, let go
Of the moment when our blood
Is not mixed here on this cloth.
Where is an enemy to head toward,
Even lie under, so I can be sure
I am your ghost before morning,
Before the knowledge I do not want,
The point of you being
& that nothing
Burnt (Helen Speaks)
I have met you before. You were
Somebody else. My gaze
Says nothing, my fingers,
I am still as the core of a
Waiting for the sky to grow
Clear with its cold fire,
My skin is singed with their
Half-life, a wafer gone yellow,
Harsh, crisp, brittle
From one passing love, and then
The next and the next-----
Really, a whole legion...
That is what I dream of
And wake sensing no loss,
Only a huge hushed din.
It’s a riots’ aftermath.
I’m here to tell you
That’s why this won’t work.
Once, like an epic
Such a potential passion might
Have risen to quell the burning.
Then, from the ocean, we would
Have flown, a couple of comets
To the heavens.
Presently I am wiser,
Having no fantasy to wool my eyes.
The most steadfast lover is sadness,
Sometimes stern, but authentic.
Earlier you called me angel.
That’s when I fell.
Isis as Mortal www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF4HDDH/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk9
Feline as the sphinx & more veiled
With secrets, I’m re-rising
From my last burial
Yet keeping it all contained.
This is a primitive thing: only eyes,
Breath moving, the pulse probing beneath
Dunes to unearth winds, the old crypts.
They will search you out.
Centuries I have, the will of stock
Found in a Nile steep with blood
& equally black.
That darkness invites light & shelters it,
Sun or moon, cast magnetic over poles
So you, Osiris, shall surely be a drawn tide.
Make no mistake. I do not stir at amulets
Left, wince when inscriptions scratch
Or some soul breaks off bits of my hide,
A remembrance of solace, the most my quiet
Profile has given, & gives…
Will that always be enough?
I can’t afford to question, have doubt,
A conscience of luxury. I can’t afford knowing
Distraction erodes or could give hope
When I am so fixed by this position
& never dream of you as lost.
Lost! As if one could misplace a heart
Ripe in the throat, in the gaze, as if
One were not yet a temple fullest
When empty of all but one thing.
Osiris, my walls turn to veins & the veins
Are highways. They travel long, go deep,
Waiting not for caravans, the usual parties,
But for the day, the night, where concrete
Turns to sand & your waters come in…
Still, I must admit, many of these wanderers
Have such need & I see, feel them as lovable,
Not made of stone after all, Osiris, nor even,
Quite, nine hundred lives
Wound to my wound, my groom
Your foot, a betrothal to pain…
Should I let go of it there in the tub,
The great ice vat where we’ve laid you?
I think not, not yet, forged to your loins
The curtain’s sweep is a roman toga,
& your more pronounced nose, your rib’s
Jutting hull, roman as well.
Do not protest, I say to myself, a surveyor
Of these signs: the untimely flesh, the plates
Of bone, the cape of waves in the wake
Of all that melting
Thanks to lime rubbings with alcohol…
Gladiator, savior, enemy, brother, lover of mine-----
We don’t get off that easy since, even at the beginning
There was an arena, Olympics, torches, our sky,
A spearhead. I count the flames still
& wash your spine down, your thin thighs leaning,
Finding my own, & as for that one leg,
Its amputated absence, I bless the warrior’s sacrifice
There, name it brave, sacred even, to keep the blaze
Of my own injury as tenderness raging
Won’t there be snow?
Our mouths would be cups,
our hands, helmets
taken off for a dip.
Homage is the greatest gift
to the giver as well.
Earnestness is the only quality
this loyalty has left.
More pure instinct, my lord,
devotion, the whole soul,
and longing deeper than thirst,
the knot of it, love and fear
dragging on past the grip.
Here, not even cowardice
can have any force.
the waterless days, the sands,
the gourds withering...
the mica mist, the feet stirring
grit, the thousands pushing forth
through mirages, and through the dropping
of horses, the haze, the haze,
and with much farther to go...
That’s why keening stays silent.
That’s how whispers fill the gulf,
and you, in fountain shimmers,
the spectacle of good sun——
How shall I know you
without your wounds,
the heat of them,
How shall I know you at all,
gentle tyrant, without the blaze of
your marks which my hands did fondle
‘til we were both cool?
Here, waiting to cross another drying
stream, a different fissure,
crags this side of Eden,
and, Alexander, battles.
Did exploration take conquering?
Did freedom take funerals?
Now we are dissolute.
Now evaporative spirits rain upward,
and how shall I find you?
Look. Snow is falling,
its wet feathers prayers
of spring, and I was only sleeping,
some seer in fever, but what
do these words mean
when your arms are so close,
when this tent has their heat,
and outside there’s just the heavens?
Come, my lord, the men have struck water
and I must say nothing
of all that I dreamed.
His Coat www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF2H6BX/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk12
Come. Bring me to it.
We could pretend anything.
Pretend I were Judith & that fabric
Actually Holoferne’s head.
Aren’t those buttons his eyes?
Please do not pluck them
Unless it is to lay their shine
Upon mine. Yes, then fit
The epaulets to either ear &
Make a crown of the medals.
Anything, I say again, anything
As in even burn, bury my arms
In those arms
To once more have his warmth,
He who was our enemy
According to the flags that know
Not our names.
Yes, according to the flags that know
Not our names,
I am traitor, you, assassin, & he,
This riddled cloth woven to hold flesh,
Innocent of everything while mad
With the design of love
So many lights out there upon pleats,
The white tipped black lapping smooth-----
This is our apartment now, how it feels,
Such a strange space recalling all
The packed boxes, the last objects…
What’s left is open as a harbor is open:
Echoes honoring the falling waves…
I know how terrible need is, this distance
Gaping with the intimacy of discarded
Package string, tacks, tape…
I know it unforgettably,
Our cove’s slogan…
But the way you were summoned, love,
Was just as articulate.
Nearby wait pirate ships.
Tell them for me
We are more than just cargo
For the whole silky bay.
(Thanks to Cocteau’s “The Eternal Return” based on Tristan & Isolde)
Beyond being golden, an Aryan
Innocence made rare…
Beyond woods, fields, the untellable
Pastoral to which you brought me
Over waves, the graves of parents…
I knew, like a sleepwalker I knew
The dream of our days
Would be shaken & torn…
First a drunkard’s tempest came:
The furious cognac flung to smash behind my head,
His knuckles on the skull, twisting hair,
Pressing down, the spilled liquor
Mopping my face ‘til you stepped in.
Patrice, even then I knew
To escape would prove fatal,
Though still I yearned, still I went along.
Next there was an elixir, a love potion, the good intentions
Of a friend twisted malevolently
By the dwarf, Achilles’, unknowing fingers….
What of it, our luck, since it wasn’t poison
Though that’s what the bottle
It might as well have been, & us,
Victims still, fortunate for the spell
We would have felt anyway.
How on earth to escape this----
When you meant me for your Uncle,
When I signed that contract & its dangerous
Two houses in one dwelling, a castle of cards
Where the Queens looked away, & then privately
Plotting, with menace, looked on?
So we ran away, we ran never planning,
We ran & I remember…
I remember your hands in the warmth of evening
Mist, the pond lapping, the frogs…& I remember
Your bird call, the signal I woke to, delirious
On the mountain where my husband Marc,
Your uncle, came after, came after…
Who but I could do it…
Going. Going back as if hog-tied,
Broken, your whisper now the seas’
Breath imprinting my mouth?
For a month I felt it, hearing, bed-bound,
A nightingale’s song. Was it you?
I was moved to different windows
& the walls of the rooms sealed me up
like a shot glass.
Drunk, I drowned
& the business left only one
Reprieve: to go where, wounded,
You lay, the torment at last still,
& gladly, for I am glad,
Natalie, your parents, like mine,
are here, and are finished.
Tchaikovsky’s Nina www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF7JG94/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk15
I had many men, but not the man,
What did it mean?
Music sweeping over, the great
Composed redemption, or so I hoped,
Sending a letter, afraid…
He replied, even wrote me an opera,
The muse’s brew stewing us, rare
Tender hearted onions
That answered prayers pickled.
Brother & sister. He said:
Be patient with me.
I lay beside him in our marriage bed
Still waiting beyond what could not
Be shook or understood.
At least then, that’s how it felt.
Later came Mother Menace, madness,
The furies, irreconcilable, splitting
The rift wider, & us cast adrift
On those throes of liquor, laudanum,
With me, ME!, now asylum housed
Like his cholera-pocked Mom
Still a symphonic plague.
In between all that, yes, he still
Had his good moments, inspiring
Contemplation: sparklers in the hands
Of children, a rising fireworks tympani
While I, picturing this, here, confined
To these bars after fighting for grub
With the Others, here I am almost
Equally sedate with this,
We should have let everything be.
Cassandra's Curse www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF2QN2C/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk16
See the future.
I do not fabricate.
Your disbelief tears up truth,
Casts deceptions from the wayside.
If you could realize a torso only immortal
In stone, re-piece the scattered limbs,
Find discernment in the head’s graven look,
Then you would be back on the right path
Instead of trading denial’s alibis...
Listen, remove the brackets,
The censorship from my speech, the omissions
You’ve camouflaged in identical uniforms...
Here all is toga plain, the scroll of a shell,
Its knowledge gently whispering
Warnings of impermanence, but also
A storm has come & you are in it,
You the sex of history & future deliverance.
But no, you are too narrow & in turn
Raise your own children to be
Mean & impoverished of heart.
Though enormous with greed, they shall be lean
with your shortcomings, & even as rulers
Shall topple just the same
He's My Fear www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF4HPGM/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk17
Husband, Lover Man
About the marrow,
These towns that my limbs make...
There’s such storehouses, homes
Such depots and parks for which
I am the reservoir, street-set, in
The field his face is my sky of
Down amid the ducts,
The gun or the cyanide,
Last bunker exits...
Ashes, ashes, it is all planned,
Is larger than the gassed
Or those flares of ack ack
When my heart was surely
Its own alarm.
Love is despair, sister,
And he, the mad champion,
The conqueror, pure and trapping
As math, with his rhetoric charms.
I fell as the whole nation did,
Greedy to succeed...
His accomplishments, his failure,
Both my terror, and how, half-glutton,
Half-deer, I took part in the woods,
Blood black, the bloody slaughtering woods.
Better to end with him
And a coward’s courage
Than face the world’s rubble of our dreams
About our necks. Better, my fear swore,
But I see he’s just a man here
And that the real god’s this capsule
I swallow, unafraid now,
Yours always, Eva
Braun, I write, sister
The music reaching veins, dopamine,
Violins in a rhapsody for the violence
I later dreamed as sirens repeating the rhythm
Of remembrance, the instinct of reaching,
Crawling across the trunk halfway to where help
Stretched, another hand, its suited sleeve,
Security that man at an arm’s length…
How helpless too he was
I later realized between the shots & the skidding
Car, a pinball machine’s frenzy where my husband’s
Shattered grace bled on, a font of scarlet,
Streaming streaks to lean that way, this,
& crumple against me…
Amazing I was not grazed
Except inside, an explosion of lasers
Constantly entering my poise, my voice,
The eternal shaking for assassins & conspiracies
I detach from like a graft whose tissues, invisible,
Nevertheless ask: how, love, why?
Were prairies crossed, forests or
What’s left of either?
Amid reactors, did you seal-steal
Or coast-flit, an egret, with tar
The minefields, the mines…
Danny, what caused these scars?
The intimidation of clubs?
These marks are now your uniform,
The valiant vulnerable skin
Still there, & we shall wash,
Let the emblems have health
Or the nearest possible thing.
More than surviving, war’s other
Meaning must be your grin, your
Arms, the valuables, each resource
An ozone layer with little burning pricks…
Map pins for oil, for the disputes,
Territorial, for the dumping, the vapors…
What fire has the flag of your khaki put out
Scorched to the chest?
The flames, their imprint, that shield now
Is peeling gauze. It’s a tattoo in reverse.
It’s an entrance which hands, the face
Coming close can only hope to console so
The come ye back,
The sunlight, the shadow knows
That you did, that you made it.
Look Danny, you’re here.
Clip clop, clip clop-----
the blue cobbles are ringing
& the Belgian block wood
in this time, this city, this night,
these hansom bells
our century’s angelus.
Footman, you of the liveried,
what is to be destined?
What foreshadowing under each shod hoof
& from clanging harnesses,
the motion whipped manes?
Are they Russian or Clydesdale,
these pliant giants so docile
but with loyal speed for each
royal riding Anastasia
on the run
into vanishing gas lamps,
the intrigue of history’s rhythm?
Black nostrils of might
breathe fierce white mist,
heat exhaust disappearing
through too pure snow flakes.
From the distance they seem
like stars, & other sleds are
schooners skating on the river
ice of every road...
Surely slaughter shall not follow this,
the skeletal scars of our foundations
of the looted art,
the burned books,
the entrail spilled conflict
between need and greed.
Surely the wars that brought us
to this place of Candlemas shine
in all these buildings
shall not harvest shed blood,
in the evermore.
But, shush, says gloved driver,
taking one hand from the reins,
one hand laid on my hand, lifting
it gently to cover my mouth.
It will take us each
our whole lifetime, he explains,
and many more, to recover
from our lives, but,
the bells anyway ring.
The first thing was voices
after what was fathomed as pain.
Perhaps that was just the impact
and worn off shock.
Sure, those makeshift handcuffs hurt
but not as much as the fear,
a migraine’s pistol whipping
though they only brandished their real guns.
Damn my pounding head,
those nerves inherited from Mother,
when the hijacker’s accents actually,
if at a lower pitch,
could have seemed melodious.
Who wrote this libretto
I am still singing the evaporative
words of here?
It is an aria smoke-choked,
the fumes of fuselage
crashing in the blast’s ash
as no composed timpani
I would ever choose
to be a part of
any more than a frantic
mourning dove, cathedral-trapped,
in eaves of screams,
the vortex wind
a mass of wings bleeding,
broken to black.
Unaccountably, following afterwards,
veils of such silver began to spiral,
to glass-sparkle. What moth motes
we were then.
What disoriented unbound antennae
and mouths suddenly without gags.
Atoms lost limbs
but became flesh of some other,
became atoms without boundaries
calling for faces to name us
though they be bat-blind as moles.
If you found me would I know it?
Would touch recognize touch?
Love, as a roar, all sensations rain
until silence seems a sense.
We open from it as mast-flapping sails.
We open from it through shafts of cones
where once two towers stood.
Circling further, circling endless above this,
invisible yet years beyond,
invisible but within grasp
we visit as sighs of light,
as absence amid presence
to shadow the threshold
of what no longer is
and be entrances still.
(now, in this stillness) www.amazon.com/dp/B07BF4M8G1/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk22
the slow moments of grace
the i.v.'s drip, the egg shell ceiling
turning from blue to purple,
& you, small bird, a held hand
or tear, involuntary, to wipe
salt as eucharistic blood,
salt, the valley we come from
God looking through
Into us, the glass goodness
We each are, especially you,
You still with a younger woman's
Porcelain skin, your gown an off
The shoulder's elegance
Where the triple lumen is stapled
& the translucent hues of your wings
do not show through
the blankets for bathing
swaddled by something tender & fierce.
Our eyes look up, find the window,
Signs of continuance: cloud shadows going over,
An occasional starling through distant
Stirring steeple bells,
These spring reminders of you & Dad
Bowling in love's square dance
Since for death, we could not stop.
Death, old ageless friend,
Come sit down now,
Tell us how to eat, sleep, breathe again
The Secret Marriagewww.amazon.com/dp/B07BF64XJF/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk23
Leaving the odd flat
Quartered like dorms
By a hallway where neighbors pass,
I slip onto the street.
Upstairs my roommate snores,
Dozing face up, good, platonic & strong.
What a soundscape to picture: the rain-stained
Sagging ceiling which threatens, every day,
To drop tiles, & her form, a mound of covers,
Out here the breeze picks up sirens.
I hear the whole city breathe.
Sleepless native, I’m wandering again in my old
Detective green trench coat, among the nights’
Restless armies, insomniacs only, other corner
Store cigarette buyers, this 2 a.m. shift of moon
Addicts craving solitude’s fuel…
Now how quiet, so quiet, seems every
Thing. Hansel of the crumb paths, I am followed
By cats, an assortment of shadows & trees lost
Like docks where nobody moors…
To meet you here isn’t timing, no coincidental
Influx of the planets, but plan, pure passion’s strategy.
The wind brings white bags, shreds of newspaper sailing.
My coat unfurls, wraps over your leather. It’s funny.
There should be waves & gulls flapping by while you pull
Hair from my lips. Instead, we get dense pavement, glistening
Telephone cables & kiss formally, a pair of soldiers in silhouette.
Our vows are made from such things:
Hardness & refuse converted to electric refuge.
But love, it’s cold, so cold. The shiny windows of these houses
Strangely gape, mirroring a huff which could blow our hearts in.
Quick, here’s the downtown train, that anonymous ferryman.
Take me to your cellar, cross the threshold & to your bed.
Wind Chimes & Dream Catchers www.amazon.com/dp/B07BFB5QY6/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk24
How will time find us?
The recorders of history?
Dearest, here on this very private island
The waves are our scriptures &,
At dawn, the air has enough lavender.
Feathers & shells we hang in a web
Of sinew glistening with dew.
Such soul-bones, such bird-hollow music
The breeze picks up
Brass & bamboo smooth…
Bells of reverie, this,
& our coast, eternal.
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This music is available for download via http://stephenmead.amazingtunes.com/ in addition to Amazon.com