Between Defining Shores
A book of verse by Steve Cook

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The Gateless Gate
Japanese haiki and Shakespearian sonnets by Steve Cook


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Poemathon:Poetry for Peace
At this writing (October 2018) I have just passed the halfway mark of a Poemathon I began six months ago just for the hell of it. The challenge is I have to write a brand new poem every day for a year. The poems can be any style, any length and on a any subject. Thus far I have done this for over one hundred and eighty days straight. Can I keep it up for another one hundred and eighty or so? We'll see. All the poems published so far are listed here.

A Song for Camelot
Here is a sample of my poetry. This poem is not included in my published books. It was written as the opening to a Shakespearian style play about King Arthur provisionally entitled "Merlinus Ambrosius." The play is still work in progress.

For morning draws the sword of sleep
From the cold unyielding grip of
Dreaming stone.
King and mage now stand without the gates;
The pound of staff and stave
‘Pon ancient oak resounds.
So raise the raven and the nightingale
To madrigal and round,
Where, not knowing the other’s co-existence,
In silence faked their sleep alone.

The sound of song reverberates,
Let slip once more from silent tongues,
Like the sun returns its touch to shadowed strands,
Like the folded hands of smitten heroes stirs and
Strokes to sleep tired dogs of war,
Then deftly turns the virgin page.
Spruce fingers now afire unspring
The lock of lost conviction and palliate
The hex of might-have-been desires,
While the sweep of the quickened brush atones
For the blank canvas of the slumbering sage.

You have spun epics for heroes in your time,
Your tapestries adorned the towers of kings
With odysseys of impudent design.
You strummed the lyre, raised the totem that inspired
Mariners to sail dream-driven
For horizons of some dire Aegean quest.
And, yes, you braved Medusa’s scowl,
The storm’s howl, where the glowering ocean
Towered broad-shouldered over the listing deck.
You wrote your songs in runes,
And they were sung in taverns,
Carried in the raven’s beak
To stay the slap of Odin’s petulant hand.
You stroked that hand as it steered
The floundering Pinto into safe havens,
Breaching new shores behind the mind’s eye.
You brought cargoes of dream, sagas of revelation
To unmade harbours on Asgard’s brooding shore
And buried your hoard for those as yet unborn.

And more!
In your time you have breathed
Validation on inspiration’s guttering flame,
Taken sweet morning to the diffident Muse
And coaxed her to waken.
Your own quest would some poet’s stave befit,
Some song like this, for you have forayed
The long shores of time’s tempestuous shifts,
Flanked by the storm’s waves on every hand.
As you searched for the islands that men of wit
Unwitting of themselves have made,
How many futile songs were never heard,
How much treasure never graced the oft-turned page
Or wisdom uttered out of earshot escaped
The corner of the up-turned eye?
Like a Valkyrie you have shaken the poet
And frog-marched him to pathways of his fame,
Yet how much unread and un-adored has come to rest
Upon the forlorn headstones of forgotten graves?

The weeping Shades guard their treasures well,
These gifts bequeathed by Midas to the widowed Muse,
Who despairs of some arcane magic scant begun
And counting coin in exile, turns blind-eyed to the sun.
With anguished cries in tragic ways
We fell each one upon the bard’s still singing blade,
Yet here stands Camelot inured to folly and despair,
Glimmering in the twilight, shimmering like
The Sultan’s towers in the desert air.

Now, deep within her dawn-lit bowers,
The pen dragon stirs, shakes off the scales of sleep;
The warrior-poet unsheathes his quill
To bring the rescue of maidens,
The salvation of cities and of citadels
To the world’s as yet unwritten page.
What hath the power to blast that hopeful breach
Into the stalwart ramparts of despair
If not th’explosive alchemy of ideas?

Once more then, into that hopeful breach my friends, once more!