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January 19, 2015

i saw beauty beyond a towering cumulus top
storming over verdant hills caressed by passing shadows
and an emerald figure vanishing
i could only watch

i saw beauty resting in dimming light
your head held still on a slender palm
stories told with moistened lips slight and shimmering
i could only listen

i saw beauty in sleep like death
so calm yet breathing still
tucked out of sight once again in dimming light
i could only feel

i saw beauty deep inside your pupils’ ochre rings
passion cloaked by solitude unyielding
rainbow shades i can see but never touch
dreams that awaken me drenched but i cannot recall
and a whisper in the air so sweet infectious pure
that i search the earth’s crevasses for just one breath

i saw beauty and it was you

brush strokes and flickering shadows

April 26, 2013

in memory of sheryl noonan

down below tip-toe with care into the room where shadows grow
   where cocooned nestled draped and still the filmstrip rests by furnace glow

a garden strung of hanging cels pictures reversed so cool and slight
   her captured frames my shoulders brush their stories sing in fading light

the first cel taken by cupid's true arrow
   a smooth sculptured sprite in silvery gold
the artist's slight frame eyes focused and narrow
   brush and palette grasped ready, a well postured hold

cels flicker back softly two sisters in pose
   curled fingers together in loving embrace
a pair of young sculptors on winnipeg snow
   wrapped in crystals and fur on white sheets of lace

or a moment suspended the swing at its arc
   our smiles so joyful in that sun-captured frame
my face seems to tell her again! higher! faster!
   these memories timeless undated unnamed

the next cel a view of manhattan's famed skyline
   an unfinished beauty the canvas wood grain
feathered strokes inspired by nature's work guided
   pencil sketch shadows ever waiting for stain

A rough rush of air as the subway car passes
   the crowd pushes forward i glance was it you?
and forward i'm pressed with the TTC masses
   then years trickle by that slight sighting now through

in a room crossed and guarded, protectors still, waiting
   i flip through the cels ever searching for reason
every corner stacked perfect for balanced detection
   i cry for your terror this delusional prison

are those feared shadows scattered by joy's infinite light
   no longer trapped in celluloid frames?
i dream your art soars now free of the night
   peace be with you dear sherry ever more ever slight

sunlight dancing on water by James Morehead

March 9, 2012

sunlight dancing on water

a friend posted on facebook
"of sunlight dancing on sparkling water"
and in that instant eyes closed
transported past office walls and cubicle rows
to a childhood memory buried deep for forty years
balanced waist deep in atlantic surf
on a sand bar far from shore
in swells white caps and swirls
with sunlight dancing on sparkling water
hands outstretched for elusive shards of light
finger tips wrinkled in salt soaked water
feet curled gripping sand and shells
until sunlight and memory fade

shadow’s play by James Morehead

December 23, 2011

shadow’s play

the shadow enters on cue
behind the viewers seated row on row
hands placed shoulders still
following players' spot lit forms
and projected well-worn phrases
out and over the darkened theater

the shadow floats unseen
between a couple's hands entwined
a young child tugging with whispered questions
and a solitary critic quietly scribbling

the shadow drifts delicately along the stage's edge
invisible to the spotlight's tracking beam
beneath illuminated twinkles of drifting dust

but the stage manager suspicious and watchful
from a booth tucked high above
adjusts her squinting glasses
while the apparition plays tricks
by the stage's edge

the shadow sensing her drifts stage right
tucks behind a gilded throne adorned with
plastic jewels casting deceptive sparkles
no more real than a shadow's touch

and with that the shadow melts into the stage
among the words and phrases
masquerade and dancers
foiled fighters' tears
and fool's laughter
her voice long since hidden and forgotten
her steps no longer beholden to blocking
her beating heart just a trick of light
that vanishes in curtained darkness

serpents by James Morehead

September 26, 2011


driving back from reno up a twisting mountain pass
while either side lie serpents as i silently trespass

rotting oak posts stand close, buried shallow
a careless worn serpent in quiet fields left fallow
crooked barbed wire across a dust thirsty plain
while bolts flaked with rust hint of last season’s rain

elegant serpents strike parallel lines
bolted rail ties and wooden brace spines
held firmly in place forming strict even spaces
racing forward never touching to faraway places

this serpent’s turns churn soil and silt
through fields of husks, yellow hints of gilt
sand bags for storm clouds create sturdy walls
fighting flood’s fury as the last drop falls

a serpent in air floats to and then fro
steps into thin air that opens below
his sail slaloms silent (or perhaps it is hers)
swooping forward then back - once still, then a blur

bemused by imposters still under smooth stone
this serpent forgotten for now left alone
tongue tasting the air to sense passing prey
while outside dusty sand swirls in circles of grey

reach by James Morehead

August 10, 2011


reach and unfurl smooth tendrils of silver thread
set them down in perfect parallel lines
set them just so a breath apart
one by one by one
until silver lines blur into shades of grey
shining smooth and sterile into the horizon

reach and dig out pebbles worn smooth by ocean surf
set them down still damp and glistening
set them just so a breath apart
in geometric swirls opening ever outward
until you touch shadows cast by the setting sun

reach inside me for buried fears
set each fear in metered rows or rhyming verse
set them just so a breath apart
until words become a blur of black ink and blank space
then take my hand and close my eyes guiding me to horizon’s edge
   where in a single breath scatter those fears turning words
   into scrambled letters tumbling until gone

in the city by James Morehead

July 30, 2011

in the city

i woke up in the city
its streets glistening from midnight rain
its sirens sleeping after moonlit races
and a street sweeper churning past padlocked bikes
around a lone reveler stumbling from a night club past two

i woke up in the city
to piercing alarms of bedside neighbors
and pacing heels clicking to and fro
on kitchen tiles and hardwood floors
above my soot stained window view

i woke up in the city
confused at first by neon light
with the early sun rising past the flickering glow
and silver tower's shadow on town homes row by row
awash in white noise a streetcar passing through

i woke up in the city
among unknown millions give or take
in numbered streets and forgotten alleys
where wonders splendor worries magnificent
blend in greys discarded among the unknown

into the mountain by James Morehead

July 16, 2011

into the mountain

i walk into the mountain tempted by cool shadowy echoes
and whispers from water rippling through ancient stone
i walk eyes open senses tingling as sounds of the world vanish
i feel my way along uneven slopes
where unseen crevices wait to take me into permanent darkness
my hands slide along the smooth fractured shale leaving an invisible wake
the stone walls open and close surrounding me holding me
the floor gives way and weightless my feet legs torso float into barren black space
days weeks years meld time forgotten seconds uncounted and infinite
all light lost in the water burrowed tunnels
all time consumed by the ageless crush of buried stone

pendulum by James Morehead

July 10, 2011


the pendulum swing marks the close of each hour
   to wavering flickers from warm candlelight
where passed between echoes water drops from the tower
   while children laugh foolishly forgetful downstairs
outside in a courtyard the fountain's bright chatter
   leaves ripples and trembles in cool midnight breeze
all leads to silence down halls grey and barren
   where footsteps stacatto on worn sandstone floors
and time passes steady to pendulum's swing

five towers by James Morehead

July 5, 2011

five towers

by James Morehead

a dizzying twirl to stefansdom's peak
steps block on block hug a solitary column
far below nestled in the catacombs keep
eleven thousand souls sleep in silence
in crypts burrowed deep from dirt and rubble
bones and skulls in even rows stacked
shadows of saints sinners plague victims unknown

south from stefandom's patterned tiles
past venezian canals and its leaning gondoliers
over ridges hillsides vineyards mediterranean shores
leans pisa's torre pendente
stone steps circle a slanted hollow core
worn uneven by i turisti swaying to and fro
and far below lovers support the tower in framed relief

free from pisa's peak over chianti vigne and san gimignano gates
fly sienese flags - seventeen contrade unfurled for il palio's race
in centuries unchanged these medieval dreams
under piazza del campo's slender tower
where narrow crouching darkness leads to clear bells' call
and duomo's colored stone silhouetted prayer

chianti grapes and tuscan hills lead to apuane ridges majestic horizon
stadtturm - innsbruck's city tower - encased in dolomite ice and stone
stark severe graceful majestic ancient peaks
look down and gaze at stadtturm's steps of modern steel and ancient oak
a plaform open air where bells now silent once tolled
and pastel apartments lined up side by side in cool dusk's breeze
call their children home

salzach's waters swelled by winter's melting drifts
hohensalzburg's keep overlooks
cobblestone streets give way to funicular rails
rising to a solitary peak
where gazing out brings shivers in the hot june sun
turrets of white stone topaz domes and slender points of gild
from towers steps to open air eyes closed a trumpet sounds
a single note propelled high above the five towers and lost in echos