“Anchor”

“Anchor”
(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

she sat there
9,000 miles away
on the edge of her bed
or the ledge of her building
I never knew which
and talked about anchors
and the black depths
of depression
and what it would feel like
to fly

“You’re my only reason
for being,”
she said
and was she laughing
or crying?
it’s hard to tell while
text-chatting
(damn my deaf ears)
“You’re the only anchor
I have left,”
she said
and there was a long

pause

and I thought I heard the
wind whipping past
my ears
and felt my heart
in my throat

“I’ll always love you,” she said
smiley face / crying face
emojis

my fingers wouldn’t work
my keyboard was mute
my mind as blank
as the empty miles
between us

“I had the dream again,” she said
I squeezed my eyes shut
while she typed
I didn’t want to read it again
but I was helpless against
the machinations of my own heart
and she pried them open
from across the sea

we walked hand-in-hand
in a flower-burst
mountain meadow
the colors like something
out of a kaleidoscopic acid trip
the sky the hue of ancient oceans
the capricious breeze
flirting with her obsidian hair
her caramel eyes closed
her face
enraptured
turned up to the sun
and we passed
through columbines
lupine fire-weed
monkshood sun flowers
while conifers and aspens
susurrated, whispering secretively
in the language of the trees
amid strange atonal birdsong

then the wind arose
intensified
and her feet left the ground

panic smudged the smile
from her face
and she looked at me
wide-eyed
horrified
as she floated up
toward the howling sky
as though she were
being drawn by some
anomalous gravity
and she cried out in terror
her eyes bulging
her hand crushing mine
in a death-vise
and she screamed
“Don’t let me go!”
over and over
as she was wrenched
from my grip
and sucked up
into the sun

I turned my head
her text a saline blur
my heart pounding
ears ringing

and a string of
crying face emojis
snaked across my screen

a few moments passed

“I’ll always love you…”
she repeated
and ended the chat

and I felt the dead weight
of a severed anchor
crush my heart

“A Few Haiku (43)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#253)

your shadow remains
in the nest of my heart
long since you took wing

…..

(#254)

let me rest my soul
in the cool shadows of the
north side of your heart

…..

(#255)

thoughtless koi in lotus pond
I hover above, god-like
and go unnoticed

…..

(#256)

take the dappled path
through the green konara copse
there I’ll find my way

…..

(#257)

evening mourning doves
will never let me forget
day’s death and night’s tears

…..

(#258)

I arrange the stones
into cairns of memories
lest I lose my way

“A Few Haiku (40)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#235)

so much damage done
by such delicate fingers
and a blackened heart

…..

(#236)

how soothing the words
whispered to a shattered heart
by her serpent’s tongue

…..

(#237)

days of green silence
heart fern-bound in oak shadows
dreaming with the trees

…..

(#238)

I have not yet reached
terminal velocity
my life in free-fall

…..

(#239)

carved into the bark
of my heart, her initials
overgrown with grief

…..

(#240)

bright sun hurts my eyes
just as hope singes my soul
best to stay inside

“A Few Haiku (39)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#229)

snap-beans in a wooden bowl
and tears on her cheeks
my mother’s sorrow

…..

(#230)

pre-dawn mourning
her eyes on the horizon
searching for the light

…..

(#231)

in konara copse
my soul seeks solace
in the still shadows

…..

(#232)

my reflection gone
even the stream forsakes me
as I drift away

…..

(#233)

these numb fingers
I can’t feel the difference
between hope and despair

…..

(#234)–(for Eivor and Pearl)

beneath verdant trees
joy and peace walk side by side
on the dappled path

“A Few Haiku (30)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#175)

the burning earth
raging sea and starless sky
nature’s broken heart

…..

(#176)

the blowing snow
winter’s children play hopscotch
on frozen fields

…..

(#177)

nine thousand miles
and years of pain lie between
my heart and my soul

…..

(#178)

does she remember
in her tropical winter
my world of snow

…..

(#179)

drafts have stilled the hearth
killed the fire in my soul
endless winter night

…..

(#180)

ice in wash basin
fingers too frigid to wash
cold thoughts from my mind

“A Few Haiku (26)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#151)

drifting blizzard snow
not deep enough to inter
all the world’s sins

…..

(#152)

fallow field
without love and compassion
there can be no hope

…..

(#153)

the thresher’s flail
I am not yet able to
leave my past behind

…..

(#154)

iced boughs bend in shame
winter’s woe too bitter for
weeping willow’s tears

…..

(#155)

silent winter night
sound of my heart’s muffled cries
bereft of echoes

…..

(#156)

bitter reckoning
seeds of love in time shall meet
the harvester’s scythe

“A Few Haiku (25)”

(c) 2022 by Michael L. Utley

(#145)

whispers of the dead
desiccated teasel stalks
haunt the winter field

…..

(#146)

fuyu no shika
scornful mountains echo
mournful stag’s lament

…..

(#147)

in the end
my heart gropes in darkness
on life’s lonely path

…..

(#148)

jade remembrance
the hitch in my chest
as my heart shatters

…..

(#149)

barren winter field
this heart of mine
bereft of yours

…..

(#150)

in silence in shadows
cold earth trembles beneath
blanket of regrets

“A Few Haiku (21)”

(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

(#121)

old rain barrel
dark waters of
forgotten dreams

…..

(#122)

first snow
white kiku on
autumn’s casket

…..

(#123)

stone cairns
mark my future; stone heart
marks my past

…..

(#124)

no more songbirds
nest in my heart
your voice fades

…..

(#125)

old mountain’s silence
questions answered
as I climb the path

…..

(#126)

rain turns to hail
my heart takes a pounding
from my tears

“Winds of Sorrow”

“Winds of Sorrow”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

My beloved kiku lay in withered waste
Yet their ivory tears still fall
Drift against the sides of my heart
Winter’s woeful weeping

In the northernmost climes
The bitter wind howls in my soul
Frigid lamentations haunt me
Hokkaido’s kanashimi no kaze

Winds of sorrow have frozen me in place
My mind flees on grey heron’s wings
Far away from this futile life
From this land of sadness

There is only whiteness
The aimlessness of a long life
Poorly lived, poorly loved, a life
Bereft of meaning, bereft of color

I can no longer remember the sun
The green of konara copse gone
Faded as the ferns have faded
Spring grass now dusky dun

Memories of flowers
Cause my heart to seize in my chest
There are no more lotus blossoms
Only shifting shadows on lifeless pond

Past the willows, past the stream, bamboo groves
Stand dead and haunted as yurei
Beat strange tattoos on hollow husks
Disappear in darkness

My hut is deserted
Now a silent chill resides there
Only empty bed and one chair
At the table where I broke bread alone

No matter where my mind takes me there is
A sense of a world in mourning
Earth comes to a stop, all life gone
Naught left but winter’s tears

And yet I still endure
Wake each day to a barren world
Pass my time in haze of regrets
Wait for callous night with its numbing dreams

And yearn for winter’s end
Which never comes

“The Snow That Never Falls”

“The Snow That Never Falls”
(c) 2021 by Michael L. Utley

The snow that never falls cannot assuage
The sorrow of the autumn’s grim defeat
There is no balm
For open wounds
No gilded cup
To slake the dying season’s thirst
No whispered words to quell the fear
Of failing heart
Forsaken soul
Abandoned hope
There is no honor in autumn’s demise
In absence of the snow that never falls

The tears that never fall have silenced me
Left desiccated bitter memories
Of desert sand
And alkali
That sting my eyes
Abrading zephyrs scour my soul
Abrasive hardpan sears my soles
I walk through life
An empty husk
Of what I was
There is no succor for these blinded eyes
In absence of the tears that never fall

The love that never comes has passed me by
And stranded me along the mountain path
The chilly wind
Bereft of warmth
Has sundered life
There is no trace of hart nor hind
Nor shadowed copse in which to rest
Treacherous scree
And empty tarns
And granite bones
Epitomize my solitary life
In absence of the love that never comes

The spring that never comes can never heal
The grievous pain inflicted on the earth
By autumn’s death
And winter’s drought
And dearth of care
For those who walk the silent path
Through torrid flats and frigid slopes
In search of what
They’ll never find
And stumble on
In darkness spurned by sun and moon and stars
In absence of the spring that never comes