April 16, 2017

Climbout on Easter Sunday

      "If I take the wings of the morning,
      and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea...."
-- Psalm 139

WE RISE in a banking curve of pure velocity
over fallow fields and grids of neighborhoods,
arcing over ponds painted with slick scum oozing
-- from the oil pans of countless sunken cars,
-- from punctured sacks of toxic trash,
-- from fleshless graves of abandoned murders,
of missing persons filed in muck.

WE RISE embraced by first-class armchairs,
pondering the crisply printed histories
of yesterday's most meaningless events.
We rise up above our lives and lies,
above, alone, away, alas, good-bye
to families and to friends, to all terrestrial ties.
Our very cellulars, by strict law silenced
so that our murmurs not disturb
the delicate electronics on which so much
at this tremulous moment depends
that we dare not think on it, and so select
music of our choice from mid-heaven's jukebox.

WE RISE in the faltering dark
into the pale flicker of a cosseted sun
slatted in flashes through fingers of cloud,
up into the white blood of the sinewed sky,
and so our day and world slips by.

WE RISE UP to where all breath is snow,
so far that all above becomes below,
up until the sky is seen as vapor,
smeared white on blue construction paper
and framed by dark remorseless space.

WE RISE UP until from Earth we seem
only a fading gesture, some echoed trace
of fog, distinguished only by our direction,
out over arid ancient seas, past all reflection.

AND STILL WE RISE, our lush ascent
powered by ageless diatoms' descent
into the ooze between the fossiled stones,
the shattered crypts of shells and bones;
above the planned sere autumn fields
of pasture, silage, grain that yields
the bread we break in this, our floating world.

AND STILL we rise, resurrected,
through the thinning strands of sky reflected,
until the edge of day the stars deny,
where all the worlds we knew slip by,
tangled in a mapless maze of rivers,
our passing but a whisper that shivers
the dream of a drowsing owl, a silver splinter
caught in a facet of the eye of winter,
and, unremarked or written, quickly glides
beyond the reach of records or of guides.

WE RISE until at last held still
in that blue hand which grasps all sky,
awake within our tube of paper steel,
our long ascent levels and we slide
onto a gleaming lake of granite ink,
reflecting now the empty gaze of God,
beyond warm hands and done with Earth.

NEVER NOW to stagger or to slip
back into the shadows and the rain,
back into the warm musk of the day,
but, keen as an iron blade
touched to the tongue,
we sail forever on these slate seas
out to the far edge of imagine,
and on, and still on beyond
into the heart of the stars,
into the silence of their song.


Posted by Vanderleun at April 16, 2017 12:43 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

As if Easter morning weren't enough, here's this gift! I'm stunned by the language in this piece, find it simply breathtaking (and happy-making).

Why am I not able to find any of your poetry in print? Really, if you haven't, you must publish a volume of your poems, soon!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, for writing this one.

Posted by: danae at March 27, 2005 1:27 AM

A good and fine Easter to you Gerard. You've made
mine better. Do you mind if I grab a bit of this
to post? It's really quite stunning and joyous,
God knows we can all use as much of that today
as can be found. And if you aren't going to see
your Mom today, say 'hi' to her for me.

Posted by: Steel Turman at March 27, 2005 11:15 AM

Thank you for the kind remarks. With this as will anything else I post you are free to do with it what you will

Posted by: Gerard Van Der Leun at March 27, 2005 11:27 AM

'at the edge of imagine..'

Gerard, You have a profound gift for putting words together so that they move the soul. But better than that, you use words to take us places we might never go on our own.

Thank you for this.

Posted by: Amy at March 27, 2005 4:02 PM

Thank you, Gerard. It is wonderful that you still have the passion to be able to write poetry. This one is one to copy, save, and reread, again and again. As a frequent flyer, you capture all the romance of every flight I take.

Posted by: Bill at March 28, 2005 7:31 PM

It's especially rare in this day and age
to expect such vaunted rhyme, so sage.
That much beauty can evoke a tear,
as threats to hope, always seem near.
But on this day of solemn delight
my choice moves now to clear the night.

I'm coming back. I can't chance missing your next. Incredible!


Posted by: Cameron at March 28, 2005 11:42 PM

Thank you for both the beautiful words and the beautiful imagery. I grew up near the Seattle area, and whenever you write of it I feel, for the briefest of moments, that I've returned home.

Posted by: Julie at April 8, 2007 5:05 PM

Gerard -

Posted this comment in an earlier section by mistake, but here it is:

Just wanted to tell you that though I don't get to your website often, I find when I do that your writing is ineffably illuminating: the poetry graceful, and the postings piercing.

Thank you.

Posted by: CeeCee at April 9, 2007 1:01 AM

As a retired airline pilot who spent so many hours blasting through the icy, oxygen-starved firmament in a cigar-shaped aluminum tube, this gives voice to the deeply spiritual feeling that I experienced on each and every flight.

Thank you for that.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at April 9, 2007 10:34 AM

Maybe one day one of my sister's grandchildren will see Earth as a marble, or a pale blue dot in the sky of Saturn's moons. Maybe. Some of us still have the Dream.

It's not too late to get started. Not quite yet.

Posted by: Fletcher Christian at April 9, 2007 12:36 PM

This would go well with Vangelis' "Conquest of Paradise".

Posted by: bill at April 11, 2007 6:22 PM



Posted by: jwm at April 11, 2009 9:00 PM

A perfect Grace for today. Thank you.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at April 12, 2009 4:39 AM

Well done and may Peace be with you.

Posted by: HonestAmerican at April 12, 2009 7:09 AM

Thank you, from the depths of my heart and soul.

I have long contemplated the difficulties of producing beautiful poetry that is also reflective of our world, which is so full of man-made things many of which are ugly compared to the natural beauty that so surrounded earlier generations of poets. My typical day sees cell phones, televisions and computer screens far more often than it see the beauty of creation and the natural world.

In this poem, with its stunning visuals, you have incorporated the man-made ugliness that surrounds us and, without condemning it, you put it in its place.

Thank you, from the depths of my heart and soul.

Rae Stabosz

Posted by: Rae Stabosz at April 12, 2009 7:35 AM

That's better than Sully landing it on the Hudson -- a blessed off from the errport in the higher planes to a promised landing in the upper waters.

Posted by: Gagdad Bob at April 12, 2009 10:32 AM

This is amazing! Thanks! Happy Easter, Gerard!

Posted by: USS Ben at April 12, 2009 11:56 AM

This line:

" . . . our passing but a whisper that shivers
the dream of a drowsing owl, a silver splinter
caught in a facet of the eye of winter . . "

Goose bump gorgeous.

Posted by: Cathy at April 12, 2009 12:19 PM

You never cease to amaze and uplift, Gerard, and today's is beyond words. A most Happy Easter!

Posted by: robinstarfish at April 12, 2009 7:59 PM

Great and inspirational,I will always remember Psalm139:9 with these images!

Posted by: rbee at April 14, 2009 3:56 AM

As always with this location - a cornucopia of wisdom and wit: sharp and unforgettable images expressed in beautiful poetry and illustrated with breathtaking photography. Easter indeed! Thank you kind Sir.

Posted by: at April 4, 2010 3:21 AM

Thank you for bringing this one back. It gave me shivers a year ago, and it is just as fresh and wonderful today.
Have a joyous Easter, Gerard.


Posted by: jwm at April 4, 2010 9:18 AM

Gerard: Happy Easter, Pesach sameach and thank you for reminding us that we can rise above.

Team MOTUS/dewey

Posted by: MOTUS at April 4, 2010 12:38 PM

OK, this is amazing... Absolutely amazing!

Posted by: Captain Dave at April 23, 2011 6:46 PM

There's no recycling, no repetition, no rehashes with you, Brer Gerard. It's beautiful language at play and rest.

Posted by: Jewel at April 23, 2011 7:32 PM

Mr. Van Der Leun, Once again I would like to commend you on your excellent work. As I came to the picture of the hand of God, it occured to me that the picture looks like the spark of inspiration for this piece as God released it into your mind. Then a further thought came to mind, that perhaps included in that spark was the motivation to select that very picture, so that some less enlightened soul (such as myself) could visualize His guidance, by just that combination of words and picture. Thank you for being the vessel that carries such profound thoughts to my mind.

Posted by: Roger Drew Williams at April 23, 2011 8:34 PM

Happy, Joyous Easter, Mr. Van Der Leun.

Posted by: Jewel Atkins at April 24, 2011 6:17 AM

Thank you for spinning these thoughts and weaving this poem ... I wrap it around myself and sigh ... just right.
Happy Easter. ~DeAnn

Posted by: DeAnn at April 8, 2012 6:06 AM

A favorite Easter tradition at this point. Thanks for re-posting it!

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at March 31, 2013 10:28 AM

Yes, it's a fine Easter tradition. Thanks, Gerard.

Posted by: Jimmy J. at March 31, 2013 9:15 PM

... and from all the worlds
whirled beyond saying,
the only baggage worth saving,
are hopes and dreams and certainties,
in hearts and minds still praying.

Saluting you, Gerard, is simply gratitude for your loyalty to integrity, where always archer, arrow, and target are One.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at April 20, 2014 6:10 AM

Gerard, Thank you for posting this beautiful work again. It really hit me today.

Posted by: Terry at April 20, 2014 8:23 AM

Still amazing, after all these years.

Posted by: MOTUS at April 20, 2014 8:53 AM

Thank you, Gerard. I am moved every time I read that.

Posted by: SteveS at April 21, 2014 2:49 PM

A very hardy perennial and a wonderful herald of Spring. May it grace every Easter somewhere for as long as our benighted species survives. A masterpiece - a melee of memorable magical moments.

Posted by: Frank P at April 5, 2015 4:23 AM

I am moved every time I read that portion of the Psalm....at least once a week.......but in my NKJV Bible and in the Psalter in my 1928 Book of Common Prayer, that is from Psalm 139 NOT 138

Posted by: Jpintx at April 7, 2015 3:08 PM

Thank you, Gerard. One of my favorite pieces. I am deeply, deeply moved each time I read it.
Pass the kleenex, would you? I seem to have some dust in my eyes or something.

Posted by: SteveS at March 27, 2016 10:22 AM