The Desolation Poems

Poetic Forms Used in English



The oyster's pearl, the coal's bright gem --
concealed within each: renewal.
The robin's egg, buds on the stem,
the growth like the work of crewel,
manifestation and change, spool

through nature's embroidered mural.
Breaking and spurting, compressing,
freezing and drying they unfurl
each season's great splendid singing
concealed in ocean pearl's clinging.



Father mourned,
cried all month, the year, and scorned
serene calls for happiness
though he blessed whom he forlorned.

His daughters
cried: "Go to China." One purrs:
"Give yourself something to talk
about," walking, she demurs,

"if you come
back, or if not, we'll have some
occasion to mourn forlorn."
Though quite torn he went still numb

"Never fear,"
he said, going with a tear,
off to China at eighty.
Now pity Father's mourned year.



The daffodils rise up above the earth
to take a peek at spring. Has she come? Will
she? Won't she? Snowdrops, hyacinths, need birth,
and tulips, too. The crocus must fulfill
her purple promised cup of gold, her mirth.
The wind must blow, the buds must nod. No ill
can come once spring agrees to trust that dearth,
all winter's frozen charm, has mailed his bill.



I wake in the morning with fury a-
fire, in a great hurry, anger mired
in the loss of my mind, no good for memory,
at the mercy of chemistry, hired

by God to defraud my right to a past.
Will it, I wonder, last while I live.
or should I be grateful, like the old saw. to
face my dear Pa and forget, forgive.



For Bill Clinton, whose political opponents are trying to rape him, in February of 1998,
and for Kenneth Starr, who one might put under oath and question abouthissex life.

Who among us was not brought up
to lie about their nighttime life?
Sex and silence are designed to sup.
Who among us was not brought up
to confine our needs in a small cup?

Sexsanssilence brings national strife.
Who among us was not brought up
to lie about their nighttime life?



Prophetic time and coincidence
prove nothing as far as I can sense
except to believe and, a fool, retrieve
some other time, some other lost tense

to support the now which doesn't need
any reaffirming special creed.
Forget your God's guess, conceive the great mess.
It really is this way. If you heed

your heart it will tell you now is all
you'll ever have. Do not let a pall
of perdiction cloud your vision nor shroud
the gaiety, the gloom that befall

each living moment, breath of delight
for like sadness turned to music, light
engulfs those who listen and reach to kiss
experience in its giddy flight.



Reincarnation's another odd,
hope-for-fee attributed to God.
But what mysterious urge could make us
want a great surge of last year's dried pod

and leaf occupying space when new
buds want to bloom. Young, stout, sprouting yew
wants space in the garden of time to live,
to breathe, to mime the great show -- its due --

and leave. Let go, let go humankind!
once is enough, unless you're quite blind
to what comes and goes, what remains, what fruits
what flowers, what sustains, what has twined

all around old growth blocking the light.
Content yourself with atomic flight.
Do not cling, do not sigh, fume or berate.
Sorrow will plume as stars of the night.



O, a skull of a bird is
a delicate thing, and this
is true even in Cadiz.

Butterflies wings are fragile
and hued in elegant style
even along the Nile.

Quails' high "q"s spiral and nod
finding the world gently odd
along the roads where they trod.

Dragonflies' transparent wings
flutter amid yangs and yins
even from within Bejing's

yellow, loess, dust veil blowing
across the dry land choking
the summer, the fall, greeting

nothing, nothing at all: null
and the void and one dark bull,
one bird's white picked ancient skull.



The day has come
still dark as rum
with the moon full
before the gull
flies in the light
just after night.

Up comes the sun
having just won
the right to shine
through the tall pine
branches where moon
light seeks her boon

and hides her blush.
She need not rush.
She has all day
to hide her way
and come again
when sun cries when.



Upon the death of the rose and summer
the sun goes down,
the winds rise up and begin to murmur.
The moon's bright crown
moves into the darkness of endless night.
Even Diwali's rekindling of light
moves not the dark.
Not one does hark
to soundless music out of sight.

Upon the last leaves' fall in pale winter
stark branches move,
and snow may shroud the ground leaving no spur
which can approve
the naked starkness of the voided world.
O world return, come back to this now furled,
painful and iced,
hideous, sliced
heart that lies deep within me curled.



I've wandered the edge of the world in darkness
seeking the light wherever I may find it,
holding the candles high with the wax dripping down,
crying day and night at the frightening shadows.

Where can I go? What can I see? I would fit
my spiraling life as leaves atop spring trees,
descend in the fall. Winter and summer I'd
dance on the mud of the strawberry meadows.

I'd live high, I'd love low, ready to confess,
even stand still, do what is needed for you.
I'd laugh with the flowers, cry in the black wind,
hunker down to find shelter beside the brown cows.

O promise, O promise to come and address
my heart's indecision with adoring wit.



What? Me or I?
The soul protests and stands its ground.
What? Me or I?
It looks with disenchanted eye.
It hears discriminated sound.
It needs to build a sorrow mound.
What? Me or I?



Attachment? O, can hate remake for the interlude
mutual, merry, gentle moods, intimate
and lewd by a little sated solitude
without being rude to the fated habituate?

Or can love's scent alone predominate,
cash in, and sublimate a maximal rapprochement
once lent and recalled? Can it die and reintegrate,
indeed, simulate a proximal match for attachment?



The corpse of my mother
comes at night
weaving a wonderous lay.

The bones of my father
dance nearby
wearing his emerald ring.

Together they swirl and waltz
by the azaleas
along the Arboretum's path.

She wears a shy smile,
he gently nods
as they sway to the world's rhythm.

Among the rhododendrons
with their blood red blossoms
spring comes with them.

Their ghostly presence
beckons the flowers,
their ashes make fertile the ground.



O, the movements on earth are amazing.
As a crab you can live intertidal,
rest abandoned on the dark sand singing.

If you have a celestial yearning,
as a star you'll wander sidereal.
O, the movements on earth are amazing.

Even to the ocean currents twining
Coriolis effects are not lethal,
rest abandoned on the dark sand singing.

If you're fat and most sleepily longing
choose hibernation when corporeal.
O, the movements on earth are amazing.

If it's too hot and you long for cooling,
aestivate prior to winds autumnal,
rest abandoned on the dark sand singing.

Whatever you do, wherever flinging,
create, recreate like God supernal.
O, the movements on earth are amazing,
rest abandoned on the dark sand singing.



The desert opens into solitude.
The high cliffs of loneliness stand inside
the sky gazing down on the blazing sand.
The white sun, invisible and brilliant, shines
on a land without trees, without rivers,
on a land architectonic and nude.

The mountain rocks are glitteringly nude,
their crevices offer dark solitude.
The deep lava once flowed in vast rivers.
Then washed by the grit, the wind ran inside
onto the caves' smooth floors where no sun shines
on darkness damper than cool ocean sand.

There was stillness, the cool silence of sand.
The seepage exposed canyons vast and nude,
Their obsidian, black, gold, glossy shines.
They know the awesome void of solitude
on which one may rough climb, lay claim inside
on the nothingness of sky pale rivers.

They watch desert dust devils jump rivers,
they value heat, the ever shifting sand.
The caves in the mountains offer inside
their night the shelter of pale creatures nude
on full moon or the new moon's solitude.
One can reconcile any thing that shines.

The lava shines, the granite hard rock shines,
the cactus even shines and the rivers --
theaters of time and lost solitude --
their polished surfaces submit to sand
on which they lay claim as nature quite nude.
Onlookers, unused to desert inside

the heart or outside, try again inside,
theorize about everything that shines.
The palo verde, all sleek and quite nude,
thermal in design, green as the rivers
on their way through mountain passes and sand,
on the hot, dry land, stands in solitude.

The caves inside are carved by great rivers.
The sun shines forever making the sand
on the desert nude for walled solitude.



Swimming along by the caudal
fin of the great fish, swallowed by
passions grown bare on the tidal
lands of crabs overturned that lie
helpless, clawing, ready to die,
wishing to rinse my heart, my lungs
I no longer need to defy
the fish that swim without tongues



The world turns round and changes each
one's place and country, each one's reach.
Is Serbo-Croatian
still spoken today? Tomorrow
you'll ask of places where you go
when was their creation,

and will it last? Perhaps beseech
for life and limb, refuse to teach
what ruled the vast nation
you left, become aware of woe,
aware there is no status quo.
You will guard and ration

your loves, lusts and longing, the beach
on which you land, espy the leach
the fictive new station.
To go anywhere keep your toe
everywhere, practice oldquid pro quo
live as change and fiction.



The beauty of peacocks has drifted from my life.
I miss their beauty even though I feared their cries of strife.

They shrieked at dawn when love withdrew and fed upon
life's inner darkness, ugly woes. O let the peacocks stroll the lawn.

Let them dance in a forest of light, shimmer, gleam;
peck out the eyes of pain, in their awesome agony scream,

but remember the beauty, the pain and the dream,
for the green and gold and blue, eyes of feathers that yet seem

so real will fade into illusion at dawn
the perfect pongee peacock in a shade so light and wan

will stroll off singing as if he were pleasantly rife
with only beauty's claim and never pain's seering sharp knife.



Consider dying.
Consider living.
Why not?
See interfering
as crime and peering
seldom by one's fling.
Remember to ring

to avoid stinging
who you'd be pleasing.
Care wrought,
restrict your dancing.
For fancy glancing
be caught.
For brilliant smiling,
consider dying.

Or with great laughing
learn to be clapping
the hot
healthily climbing
humans now priming
their lot.
When alone feeling,
consider living.

Teach about singing.
Hear the bells ringing.
You bought
into worrying.
Now try reversing,
my tot.
Consider living.
Consider dying.



"...terse verse for the long gone..."

Her favorite book in a long life was
"Suicide and Other One Act Plays."
She resisted buying it because that one
dollar saved helped her spend her days.



The hyacinth's proud stalk tassels wide in spring.
It's blooms are of pink or of white or of blue
and scented with crispness and sweetness and dew.
It blooms and it dies before the sweet black Bing

cherries yield their buds and white blossoms to sing
their fruits' sweetness, crispness and blushing dark hue.
The hyacinth's proud stalk tassels wide in spring.
It's blooms are of pink or of white or of blue.

Each single blossom or cherry might yet cling
even in the great English gardens of Kew
were it not for Spring's appetites ever new
to devour each fiery passion's brief fling.
The hyacinth's proud stalk tassels wide in spring.



The buds are like tears
Inverted they grow, take wing.
How high will they climb?
The volcanoes succeeded
with clouds of pumice and spume.

#57 WAKA


When you wake in spring
to end hibernation's sleep,
yawn as a chasm
slide as a great avalanche
to waken spring's flowing source.



She found in time more answered questions yet
unasked, undreamt,

discovered, though her mind was curious,
she, furious,

would hide her ostrich head down deep in sand
avoiding grand

or complicated plans to go, to know
the gifts, the foes,

quite overwhelmed by multitudes of earth's
so subtle mirths

revealing wisdom, woes and lessons vast,
shadows that cast

an endless night on this particular
human's durbar

in which her highest dreams record just she
alone with thee.

#58 SPLIT COUPLET (alternate version)


I found in time more answered questions yet
unasked, undreamt,

discovered, though my mind was curious,
I, furious,

would hide my ostrich head down deep in sand
avoiding grand

or complicated plans to go, to know
the gifts, the foes,

quite overwhelmed by multitudes of earth's
so subtle mirths

revealing wisdom, woes and lessons vast,
shadows that cast

an endless night on this particular
human's durbar

in which my highest dreams record just me
alone with thee.



I decided not to die last night
in a dream they asked for volunteers
to raise their hands and I raised mine high
as the executions began one
on one with long barreled rifles
my resolve held firm with each single
shot until at my turn the gun jammed
and would not shoot though they tired again
as my resolve began to waiver

they moved me about in the daylight
in the quiet without any tears
they lowered their rifles from the sky
but none would fire under the sun
the details of death became trifles
as rampant fear began to jingle
in my heart and terror's bright spear rammed
into the door that was my life then
splintered into wood as I savor

the tangible horror of delight
with which I had faced death without fears
as they reloaded and shot and my
anguish exploded but not for one
moment did I want one who stifles
their appointed death task to single
me from my dark words loud and long slammed
against life to relieve me or send
the pain of waking to my neighbor.



Then equilibrium prevails
as in the dark the nightengales
and wisdom can be thought a sum
and one can love and not be numb
when hope remains when all else fails --
then equilibrium prevails.

Then equilibrium prevails
and in sunlight our ship sets sails
to glide right through the coming storm,
see continual rains as norm
and agrees challenges are gales --
then equilibrium prevails.

Then equilibrium prevails
if we stand alone in icy hails,
agree to whatever may come
and added to the total hum
becomes a song that never quails --
then equilibrium prevails.



Down where babies are made we smell
like fish, like marine animals
washed in the salt of the sea. Shall
we glory in brine as bright gulls

wing primitive and free or try
for the carnation smell of wry
man's corruption, for the lemon
AIDS taste of doomed man's silk semen?



I slept so heavy in the dark spring night
as if I'd gone back to the earth to be renewed
like compost shreds from dinner's rare delight.
I slept, I sweated, I alone imbued
the night with dreams as black as moss bedewed
with rain and jewels, phantom figments of curled
darkness budding green light that slowly swirled.



Decasyllabic is the pentameter line
but hende or hexa or octa is okay.
Ga-lumpf, ga-lumpf, ga-lumpf, ga-lumpf, ga-lumpf, you may,
but variations are keen and, furthermore, fine.
They add a certain elegance like new white wine
or grape juice freshly squeezed under the sun's bright ray.

the ancient modified-Germanic love of sine
waves calculated at any lengths, will alay
love of order -- fudged here, pushed there. The lust for pay
off will decide who'll successfully shine and dine,



I came to the sea shore, I came to the sea --
trees standing in water, trees up to their knees
reflecting the sunlight, reflecting the breeze,
bare of green buds, the spring, and bright yellow bees --
"My love," I cried. "Pity me, pity me, turn winter's key
or I will go back, go back into the evergreen sea."



Ah brilliant sky so red and so gently blue,
clouds, careful pilots, wandering up and by
bird flight, small rain and light and falling
dew, let the fog seep from earth to clear view.

#66 ALCAIC III (Robert Bridges' scancion)


Ah, bright bits, birds fly and wait high turning to
fogs, clouds not feathered, and yet let their shy wit
still wander sky high then dip deep down
finding solace while others espy flames.


Copyright © 2002 Jan Haag

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: or








21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context