Author: Derek

Mariposa Grove, Yosemite

Red forest giants rise above me
Herculean limbs outstretch to blue sky
I walk around you

I want to write in glorious phrases
and passages of grandeur
the magnificence of this place

Instead, I can only sit here humbled at your feet
Your towering consciousness shrouds my thoughts
A great strange silence and gentle wind caress me

Now, I am still enough to feel
your timeless, monolithic presence
enter me whole from head to foot

We are immaculate


The Gravity of Gods

stars and horses there must be a connection

to wonder under inky night
cold meteors and manes

nostrils flare
frost shocks
white breath

the gravity of horses
a mountain shroud
surrounds the desert horizon

the gravity of gods cloaked
in black silk
comes and goes

hooves crash
sweet pools
of solace form
and mirror the constellations
and quiet moon

midnight mass
an ancient peace
gravity comes again
and heals me

a comforting snort
and nudge at my back,
I stumble forward into
the firmament
the invisible centaur
I am


Us or Them?

We become less than we are…

Gather ye, cold steel night,
fight or flight, sickening sameness,
gather all

A long time ago in the cathedral
of men, gradient gray cells, wise
thoughts poured forth

Today Decay

In hallowed chambers,
fear oozes from
mold cracked walls, veinous
and reeking

Two millennia and the stagnant
dragon still chokes
on his own tail

Long Live the Wolf



topaz eyes soften

breath moist and
measured before
the midnight mass

towering shadows pine
the frozen mountain
and bounty white

in the cathedral of the wolf
divinity conceived from mind
of men – not

cavernous bellow
Elk die
newborn pups must suckle

Paradox reigns here
The Fisherman knew this
As did the Enlightened One

A cry from diamond eyrie
The alpha queen arises
silent shapes stir

High luminous moon burns

Across the divide, city
lights scream Industry rages

Paradox disintegrates
judgment proliferates
into black and white?

Response to Rilke’s Panther

Tiger in the cell of man
endless pacing to and fro

No dignity, but
no need
for us
we are undeserving

The beautiful rage!
hidden beneath rippled
muscles and svelte coat

We are weak

Yet, in our finest moments,
in the face of worldly injustice,
we shed the human veil
and tap the power distilled
from the universe.

And then
– only –
do we recognize you


Tusks of Life, lift me up
Cradle my maddened mind
in your grey firmament and
serpentine trunk
of compassion

Envelope me whole
Flood my nostrils
with this scent of earth
and true air

Free me from this cavernous pain
millennia old

Tusks of Life, lift me up
So I may kiss my forehead to yours
and embrace all that
and shall

Lift me up, Oh Lord
And crush me into oblivion

And then, from your uncreated,
cosmic, blackness…

Breathe your timeless breath.
OM me into Being

Lift me up, please



angular shadow glides
damp sky
in concentric perfection

we walk on granular path
a mist for kings shrouds
our footsteps

the hunt commences

ancient instincts rule time –
and thought

birds wings beat.
a primal eye dilates

on omen sky,
steel speckled blades
clasp closed

the black silence –
an avian spire –
hurls towards earth

a thousand light years
and a second pass

the lifeless prey summons
incomprehensible gratitude

– Bhalin


In gun metal
morning stillness,
a spectral feline

Her eon glare cradles
earnest pyres

Blake’s fearful matriarch,
a descendant
of unknown


Yesterday’s kill-is close
Her perimeter of proud
progeny sprawl…
and asleep
under shadowy

But for one
Sophomoric Son

Brazen youth,
restless eyes watch
the hathi’s wiry

As he lies,
mehndi ripples over
the velvet cat

His endangered body
writhes in bold

A nation’s chakra
in the balance

* Hindi translations: hathi is elephant and mehndi is henna.

Juggernaut @ Ngorongoro

We had been driving for hours on the crater floor and did not come close to any elephants until the end. I finally spot one through my binoculars at the edge of the forest. My driver aims the Land Rover to the grey blip on the horizon. We get as near as we can, about fifty yards away, and position the vehicle broadside, so I can lean out the window. The driver turns off the engine and all grows quiet. The elephant’s grey bulky back faces us. I can see by the tip of his ivory, he’s a very old bull. The serpentine prehensile trunk, like its own entity, is groping here and there mostly out of view. Ears flap slightly, peacefully even. He’s grazing away in this grassy meadow with large acacia trees and the crater rim behind him, and I am in awe. The sun pokes through giant clouds turning him from dull grey to charcoal and back. My camera feels good in the grip of my hand. He turns to face me.

The massive head and ivory tusks – symbols of a kingdom – are square to me. He is a huge elephant and a rarity to have survived with tusks like these. Who knows what he has seen in this life of his slaughtered kin. He continues feeding and my camera whirls away. The only sound to be heard. He is closer now, maybe thirty yards. He faces me squarely again and in three mammoth strides stops five feet from me. I am hanging out the window and feel the adrenalin rush in me. The camera dangles from my wrist. My breathing shallows. The door lock digs into my stomach. He could kill me now if he wanted. His trunk beneath me – swaying, smelling, searching. His scent of earth and dung and Africa hit my nostrils hard. We lock eyes for an eternity it seems. I want to touch him, touch his third eye, pray to him, protect him. I want to feel his wrinkled trunk and rough skin. I want him to take me away. The driver anxiously whispers, “Sir, please step back from the window.” I do not move, but as if on cue, this great animal gently turns his head from me and moves on. Later, the guide tells me of elephants charging tourists last week in Amboseli. I do not think of charging elephants. I only think of a tusked God that has changed my life.