a pleasant shade

these overcast skies
chase fears of burning heaven from my eyes
the overbearing gleam
can blind a mind so dull as mine
and the dazzling brilliant blue
an agonizing hue
forever etched behind my pupils
as eyes like mine
seek to crawl away and hide rather than to find
a crystal clear reflection
of what i thought i knew

and should i come unglued, perhaps,
before the light’s subdued
offer up a prayer, a wish,
or something misconstrued
perchance in undeserving kindness i’ll receive
your palm, upraised
before my eyes perceive
whichever token
destiny has chosen me to leave

and should we make it just in time
arriving breathless in the shade
as if by Fortune’s grand design
then i will dance for what we’ve made –
a solace, a shelter, a place to rest awhile
and setting sun will hide its face
relieved, you’ll manage half a smile
for this, our little saving grace
and pray that mem’ry soon will lose
the path we felt we had to choose

written by Daniel Dessinger
January 18, 2006

Homer, Tolkein, and Jordan

Granted, Homer was required reading in sophomore world lit., but The Illiad and The Odyssey are forever burned into my literary consciousness, not to mention my soul. Grand, larger than life tales of adventure, colossal battles, and mythical heroes litter the ancient landscape. Homer took a collection of myths and wove them into a historical tale worth believing.

Two years after Homer, I found myself reading The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was my girlfriend’s (now my wife) doing, actually. She had read The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I had little to no interest in Tolkein at the time, but seeing as how everyone seemed to make such a big deal about him, I figured I had to at least attempt to maintain literary relevance.

I found myself stretching The Silmarillion over a summer, savoring a few pages at a time. It was a relatively new experience for me, really. I’d grown up hearing no epic tales outside of the Old Testament. I had loved superheroes and comic books, but I was never exposed to any other tales of heroism or fantasy.

What I found within the pages of The Silmarillion was nothing short of brilliance. This man had managed to create an entire world. Not just a story, or a novel, but an entire world. I was reading what can be best described as a combination of Old Testament, Homer, and other ancient myths. There was creation, fallen angels, elves, battles, adventures, tales of uncommon love, heroism, and many magnificent creatures. There was paradise, and the curse of rebellion upon the land. But through each tale, I could sense the thread of time as though it were real and history was being taught to me.

Fast forward three years. Enter The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. I had first heard Jordan and this series mentioned while in college some four or five years ago. I was undecided as to my source’s credibility, so I did not pursue at that time what I assumed to be just another collection of novels based upon some role-playing game.

How I came across him again in 2005 I cannot remember. Perhaps I was simply searching for fairy tales in the library and came across the familiar author’s name. I really don’t know. But I do know that since this past summer I have read four 600+ page books in the series and am well into the fifth. It appears that this author has no life; otherwise, how could he possibly have the time to imagine all that he has written. For those who are interested in checking out The Wheel of Time series, here’s a list of the books in chronological order within the story:

* New Spring: The Novel
* The Eye of the World
* The Great Hunt
* The Dragon Reborn
* The Shadow Rising
* The Fires of Heaven
* Lord of Chaos
* A Crown of Swords
* The Path of Daggers
* Winter’s Heart
* Crossroads of Twilight
* Knife of Dreams

And one more is expected to complete the series, with perhaps another two prequels.

I’ve worn myself out on Tolkein that I barely have the reserves right now to discuss Jordan, which is a grave disservice. He is a master of epic fantasy and adventure. After reading more than 2,500 pages of Robert Jordan’s massive project, I can say that he has more than my attention… he holds my anticipation.

How do I differentiate Homer, Tolkein, and Jordan? Well, each owns the right to a different slice of the Epic pie. Homer is the king of poetry, first of all. He has woven centuries, if not millenia, of mythology into brilliant tales of earth-shattering importance.

As for Tolkein, I have read no further than The Silmarillion and, for the time being, I have no desire to. That collection of tales stands alone as the pieces of another world’s history… conceivably our own, though too ancient for recorded memory. This collection of tales inevitably sets the stage for the four more popular books (Hobbit and the Trilogy), and without them those latter tales are incomplete at best. He weaves mythology, history, religion, and fantasy together in such a way as to convince the reader that one’s understanding the past must embrace all four as integral and irreplaceable.

How to describe The Wheel of Time? Truly, I do not yet know. With at least 4,000 pages yet unread, I hesitate to make any broad sweeping statements. I will say this: I am disappointed that so far I have not read enough of his world’s history to satisfy my curiosity. Each book drips with references to rich historical information which I have yet to be privy to.

From the Aiel Waste to Tar Valon to the land of Tear, Jordan’s world draws from mythology, Arthurian legend, Tolkein-like religious history (without exposing as much detail), and (dare I say it?) Star Wars’ Jedi qualities. Jordan causes the reader to sympathize with the main characters because of their initial commonality and lack of pretension. That they were thrust into the adventure of all times makes them all the more desirable. Tolkein did this to a lesser degree by resting the burden of Middle Earth upon the shoulders of meek little Hobbits. Hobbits are not human, however, and their dissimilar qualities and lifestyles prevent the reader from completely identifying with the little heroes.

I could go on forever, and perhaps I will pick this up again when time permits. For now, each author holds a place of honor, beside the only other deserving author in my mind – C.S. Lewis.

2006: A Pledge to My Wife

we began this new year in intimate embrace
a symbol of the coming year
for to you i pledge my love afresh
and write to tell you what to expect

this year i draw near
nearer than before
this year i am unfettered
by the chains that bound me before
this year i will humble myself
and allow myself to be known
this year i will seek your heart
as a treasure without price
this year my pursuit will be marked by persistance,
endurance, and unyielding resolve
this year the yearning swells inside
for hearts to touch as delicately as i touch your skin
this year i will reek of the yearning
i will smell of it, drip with it, project it, embody it
this year, the yearning will drip
like scented oil from my beard
this year i will anoint your head with kisses
and shower your ears with praises
this year i will seek you
as the young man in Song of Songs
this year i will leap from mountain top to mountain top
to reach my beloved
to draw her into my bedchamber
to delight in the blossoming fragrance of her femininity
to prove what is the transforming power
in the heart of a woman
to prove to you and those who will admire you
that this power and brilliance in your smile
that the sparkle and gleam in your eye
is born out of the tender love and adoration
of your humble husband

i declare it because it is true
i prophesy it to the four corners of the earth
my words will be challenged
and tested for truth
and through it all you will see
that which you’ve longed for
and doubted you’d ever see
this is the year i will draw you to me.

fall returns

the leaves are falling once again
disquieted spirits on the road again
we’ve sullied our sunday best again
the preacher says only believe again

i cannot return to the pain again
the sorrows they’ve begun to stain again
our wishes were baskets of hope again
and sunday’s our only reprieve again

they said we could never repair again
but they’ve only just noticed despair again
my shoulders, they ache from the weight again
yet the stars seem to call out my name again

there’s only one chance at hello again
but my back turns the color of fear again
we may never recover to blame again
but it’s starting to sound quite the same again

all for you

i crush my cigarette in the ash tray one last time
one last time i feel the sweet heavy burden on my chest
we weren’t meant to live forever, i heard someone say
steel resolve pulses through my veins
i may not live forever…

…but i won’t leave her to face it all alone

it’s all for you, i cry with silent tears
to meet your needs and ease your fears
a child inside breaks
the strain of too much reality
i never asked to be born, he whispers painfully
i did not ask for this…

…i stand silently and awkwardly
allowing the moment of weakness to pass
before changing the subject to ease the tension

it’s not that truth is so bad… no… not really
it’s that lies are so much more comfortable
it’s that life is hard enough when you’re keeping track of lies
even without adding the burden of truth

in the background, a child’s cry can still be heard
softly now, rhythmic like a rocking chair
gently caressing and soothing itself with misery

it’s all for you, i heard her say
i’m waiting, softly waiting,
hoping you will make it to me
hoping for what could and will be

Discovering Anselm Kiefer

It was the fall of 2001. 9/11 was on the horizon. I was studying in Denmark for a semester and enjoying the early autumn light. My fellow students and I were given tours of several attractions and museums early in the semester. I was introduced to Anselm Kiefer’s work at the Louisiana Museum.

I was captivated instantly when I saw Kiefer’s paintings. They had an industrial quality to them that spoke to me of the sadness and despair of the modern era. Factories, concrete, fascism, and war are themes that jump out to me. There was something lost to the civilized world during that period.I’m not exactly advocating tree hugging, but a sadness crept into the world with the loss of natural beauty and the introduction of smog, grinding metallic sounds, and cold steel.

Gone are the days of warm tones and gentle breezes, peaceful meadows and openhearted human interaction. Kiefer depicted this change with such power. Swirling greys and blacks, smokestacks and the loss of color.I do not recommend his work to anyone looking for a cheerful, uplifting scene. However, the emotional realism conveyed in his work reminds us what we’ve forsaken, and causes the human heart to appreciate the cost of “forward progress” by experiencing a sharp sense of loss. I am told that not all of Kiefer’s work is so grey. I am told that some of it is even quite elegant and beautiful.

For some reason, I am surprised. How does a man find it within himself to evoke both the depths and the heights of existence from his soul and pour them out onto canvas?

how to save a life

i saw horrible things, my dear
horribly wasted innocent babies
your stomach would turn
eyes would bleed
and hearts would swell

we live in a beautiful world
choose your glances carefully
shrivelled grass and skin
blow in the wind like torn pages

life is but a dream, they say
tortured by bandits & penniless drifters
neon markets and cannibals’ songs
whispers carried softly upon stale breath

can you see

i saw horrible things, my dear horribly wasted innocent babies

your stomach would turn eyes would bleed and hearts would swell

we live in a beautiful world choose your glances carefully

shrivelled grass and skin blow in the wind like torn pages

life is but a dream, they say tortured by bandits & penniless drifters

neon markets and cannibals’ songs whispers carried softly upon stale breath

On Maturation

Some day your voice will mature, having lived many more years. Having shed many more tears.
You will know more about yourself. You will have earned the right to have something to say.
When the days of testosterone madness and crazed manic proclamations have evaporated.
Perhaps a small book could be squeezed from your veins.
There’s a reason why God gave the elderly less energy. Wisdom doesn’t run after every hair-brained scheme. Less foolishness requires less energy.
Sit and ponder awhile. Stop, rest from your doing and just be be who you are. No tinsel. No gawdy things to make you feel special.
Sit in silence and know your God.
Having done this – awkwardly at first – then, IF you truly commit, you will be ready to write.

waiting. wishing. hoping.

i wish i could spoil you. cook you simple meals as best i can. see your teary smile as i propose cry my own tears as you hold our firstborn. i wait and anticipate the day you’ll be mine. every happy couple, every loving mother, every expression of love reminds me of you… of my hope for you. it is true that i hurt you. it is true that i do not deserve forgiveness. it is true that my actions display a wholly different sentiment. somewhere deep within, in the immeasurable soul and spirit, i long for you. i do not long for the cheap gratification of physical desire but, rather, for the realization of a reality i have already only glimpsed. it is a reality beyond my ability. i do not strive toward it, for i know failure lies waiting. instead, i wait. hoping, asking, dreaming, aching for the day to arrive… …when what i was made for, to melt into you, becomes the day my destiny is fulfilled.