by David M Stallings







I beg these nights to come;

    These nocturnal breezes

        Cold, dry and brittle

    That scrape the earth and disrobe the trees.


I beg these nights to come;

    These alcoholic whispers falling from the wind--

        A frigid wind that stings the nostrils

    With its ember odor.


I beg these nights to come;

    These nocturnal breezes born of fire

        Losing all but the scent

    Of a warmth they once possessed.


And I beg these friends on these nights to come:

    “Autumn is our season--

        A sleepless season that owns the musk of dusk.

    Let us enjoy her scent.

    Let us whimsy like the flames and smoke

        Of burning fields as twilight sleeps on its bed of coals.


    Let us all beg the arrival of these magnificent nights to come.”






    Matthew Stallings:                      

    Mad wings

    veil that





Divided am I--are we.

Doubtless once was I

On those dawns before

When freedom was merely lore.


O, the world was once

Simple and ordered,

As were demons and desires,

Death and departures.


Divided am I--are we.

Down to this we come,

Again and again.





O, if the light of Earth

    was always as it is come dusk,

And the wind, sounds of birth

    from cello strings of rust.


If the chill would always

    recall the warmth of an embrace,

And Hope, given her ways,

    allowed no predator its prey,


Would it not be e’er Autumn,

    these dayless nights and nightless days?

Would it not be a heaven  

    in which I spent all my days?





These wings, dampened by

clouds, are now folded inward

‘til morn’s song is sung.



From a sighing sun,

autumn comes to tell the earth

ancient woes and joys.    



I may squander my

earnings, but mad I’d be to

exhaust your kisses.       



No fires burn in the

blacksmith’s barn that’s now a shed

for dead rags and tools.





Falling down,

Down through dusk,

Raindrops round

The clouds of orange dust.

Falling down,

Down through dusk.





Briny ice

Backs the eye,

Melting rich

While ghostly owls fly by.

Briny ice

Backs the eye.





Gently go,

Hounds of Hell.

Bang the Bell!

Impiety claims Love!

Gently go,

Hounds of Hell.





Frugal flesh,

Waste this touch.

Bring your breast

With gaiety gone lust.

Frugal flesh,

Waste this touch.





Passed the past,

Lost and blank,

Shades are cast

In dying old-time clanks.

Passed the past,

Lost and blank.





Is there no religion that can save me--free me?

    Is beauty not the religion that can save me?

Is there no fire burning pure white--burning all?

    Is passion not the raging fire reducing all?

Is there no flight from this desolate land and sea?

    Is music not a fleeting flight from these gray fields?

Is there no darkness for which these memories call?

    Is madness not the darkness of which memories call?


I shall be freed, and I shall burn hot as a star.

    And every memory shall my madness swallow.

I shall fly amid celestial smoke ancestral,

    And every memory shall my madness swallow.





Swooping down, the owl’s words were,

    “Know the wind as well as I.”

Barking loud, the dog’s words were,

    “Know this scare as well as I.”

“Know cover as well as I,”

    Hissed the black snake passing through,

“See all with the other eye,

    For your other self is you.”


If nights be but a mere blur,

    And ne’er have you said goodbye,

And visits do not occur

    As you wish, expose the lie.

Unveil truth! Expose the lie!

    You are not alone, I, too,

Am here. (You need not reply,

    For your other self is you.)


Remember where once we were.

    Are you not willing to try?

Is there nothing I can stir

    Within that heart you deny,

Or that flesh above your thigh?

    “There is no one to follow,”

I can but only reply,

    For your other self is you.


This self, you cannot defy.

    Nor these words, perhaps taboo:

“See all with the other eye,

    For your other self is you.”





Not night, not day.

No light of sun or moon

Behind this bluish hue

Born of the lightest rain.


These letters mine,

Have they a place near you?

Have not they turned this hue,

Touched by the lightest rain?


This verse, what gain

Is there?  In what frail schools

Are melancholic fools

Drowned by the lightest rain?


Belong I may,

To all, to one, to none.

Yet, still I’m here for you

Behind the lightest rain.





Remembering her induces past eves

Of winter--a silent, icy darkness

Creeping from the start of morn, openly

Uncaring, reducing friends to strangers.


I remember her snows and drifts holding

Me captive to her whims and glances.

I remember waiting for a drunken

Kiss that never came--waiting for the chance.


But, now, only darkness, isolation,

And pain her face recalls as eyes betray

Themselves--invite me to an empty room

Void of light and warmth, void of any thing.


O, this winter woman knows not the spells

She continuously casts upon me.

She has no knowledge of this icy hell

That she has built behind her memory.


And this autumn in its adolescence

Implores me to compose unrequested

Prose praising and damning an existence

That she has so terribly affected.


O, the wheel still spins an impending doom,

And this season of regret comes too soon.


Yes, this season of regret comes too soon.





Had she not come upon

This abandoned altar,

Had she just strolled beyond

And not once considered

Yielding to wisps of myrrh

That swam the wind like eels

In streaming search of her,

     This loss, I would not feel.


Had not this vagabond

Church attempt to conquer

Her beauty, had not yon

Fields try to deliver

Unto me her flowered

Eyes that claim such appeal

From angels high and verged,

     This loss, I would not feel.


And, had not uncommon

Suns hang their days over

Us, had not the moon don

Her seductive silver

Sheet of which winds unfurl

Below the Heavens’ heels,

Had not I e’er seen her,

     This loss, I would not feel.


Had not the wine conjure

Our desire, this unreal

Regret would be withered,

     This loss, I would not feel.





            I. (The Response)


The road is but a ribbon

            that ties and keeps you from me.

Cut me free from this ribbon,

            this ribbon that restrains me.


The night is but a dark veil

            that you wear to deny me.

Uplift this dark, dreary veil,

            this veil that enshrouds me.


Dusk is Death the shade of sin

            that strips weary trees their flesh.

Stop! Defy this fruitless whim;

            take heed to those cries of flesh.


            II. (The Speech)


Beloved ones, shall you choose

Not to leave the fog of time,

Take heart these following lines:


Reduced we are, to wild thoughts

            that pound the paths unbridled.

You cannot cage these wild thoughts,

            these reckless thoughts unbridled.





An ancient song there plays inside us all.

Finer in him than others.  And this song,

For some a pool; him, a raging sea.

The seer is he who knows his song.  He

Who hears it endlessly through wake and sleep;

Who meekly speaks, swims so deep, flies so strong.


Seer is he who knows in full his song;

He who knows where each crescendo belongs.

Behold! a vision.  Only his eyes hear

    An ancient song.


Could we ever hope to hear our own songs?

Would we ever stop to find we belong

Where we be?  What becomes of raging seas?

Blind or not, we fulfill our prophecies.

Listen closely, for there plays loud and strong

    An ancient song.





Each leaf departs from the tree

Like a memory renewed

Falling from my mind.  Busy

Are beasts burying their food

Like the loss and pain I save

For a silent winter’s grave.


O autumn, your woods and strings

And choral lamentations

Are distantly warm, yet bring

Upon us your cold deaf son

Who blankets the skies and scapes

With a silence from the grave.


O autumn, only you know

The mad secrets that these graves

Attempt to cast their shadows

Upon.  Only you do brave

Men fear, your rampant steeds

Of apocalyptic dreams.


With our own mortality

You haunt and make solemnly

Aware to us the empty

Tombs awaiting patiently,

Stirring their sepulchral sounds

Beneath the leaves and ‘neath the ground.







Dark and thick the wine--the blood--he consumes.

A waltz he does at the edge of dusk,

For through the day he is entombed.

His flesh moves only to lust.

Be cautious of this host!

For joining his toast

Could seal your doom,

Turn to dust

Your thrust

And bloom.





A Confederate uniform the sky

    does don itself this half-lit day, making

    an unobtrusive backdrop for the high

    mount of yellows, oranges and reds of false flames.


Around leaves of evergreen, death parades

    its rich, festival shades of sorrow beautiful.

    Do not these evergreens feel betrayed?

    For they will not die so grand, so beautifully.


Behind the great gray wool coat, lies a sun

    preparing for its departure into slumber--

    calling one last time upon cold, gunning

    winds that tire an earth into a sleep of its own.


Valleys transform into visual sighs

    beneath the suffocating weight of skies and scapes

    smoldering from horizons out of sight.


And mine eyes, dragging on the stone roadway

    of insomnia, witness this strange funeral

    in its proud march of nightmares unrestrained,

    as if wars once waged awaken once more their dead.


Large birds, kings of great heights, are now confined

    to moving about treetops--soaring no higher.

    And if not treetops, perched they are on lines

    that patrol the borders of mount and sky.


Old, untouched is the uniform the sky

    dons itself. O soldier, what wars do you await

    and conspire to wage?  Or do you deny

    your want of conquering this fatal, lonesome scape?




As I checked the wine’s

heavy leg, it trembled with






Coiled ‘pon past frigid nights

    (Deep unstarred winter-laced skies),

    Perilous vipers of lost

    Loves await to strike their host.


November days rob the flesh

    It’s rose, unveiling a gray

    Sickliness (that hue of brains),

    For each December step brings rains


Sheeting the earth with icy

    Psychosis. Hopeless is he

    Stricken ill-gray with venom

    Before the snowfalls have come.


Hopeless is he already

    A cold ghost of wintery

    Isolation and darkness,

    For the snows have yet his kiss


And soul to claim. He has yet

    To know the unburied death

    --That which is seen in a glance,

    Winter’s ambivalent trance.


How fatal! to fall asleep

    When deep darkness is so near.


“I will not succumb!” he prays,

    Unknowing that he so has,


For only in his dreams,

    His proud proud dreams, he screams

    Defying the fatal stage

    That winter has yet to claim.





The sun slings down her shadows.

    Long they creep upon solid forms;

    Long they creep like great assassins

Slow and silent upon the backs of men.


Seen, I have, men worn from the weight and drag

    Of these heavy clinging killers--

    Of these deadly choking hitchers--

Men who will walk off and die


While wives bicker o’er the hour,

    Curse the day of their betrothal,

    And, worse, claim that he has no worth--

No priv’lege to stagger upon this earth.





Gone has ev’ryone,

Without protest,

To our bleak forests.

Gone, to be alone.

Gone, again to weep

And bury the dreams

Of which once had clung

But never left the tongue.


    And where once arose

    Out of dark repose

    The brilliant Spring sun,

    We return, succumbed.


We, who light had lit

And warmed our faces,

Who came from places

Far and near to sit--

Just sit together.

Brothers and Sisters,

All of us, now gone.

Gone to be alone.


    Yes, that time is come.

    And without protest,

    To our bleak forests

    We return, succumbed.