The Light of Sparks and Stars...A Poem



In the passing darkness of the void,

glints and gleams of light, however slight,

guide through dusk and storm, give clue, give hope,

touch that center deep within

which craves the light, surpasses moth's

careening dash to die in flame.

No. Our need of light a steady,

quiet burn like star explosion

seen through layered million years

of smoke and dust,

the petty preoccupations of the mind.


The fire-fly's flickering light

turns off and on in veering flight,

its course uncertain til the beam renews.

Fields of corn and wheat

massed in mid-western night,

trees bordered by lambs' quarters

and wild amaranth on eastern farms,

bring forth hordes of scattered wanderers

like high airliners dwarfed, brought low

to earth, their steel-rod radar line

softened by solo, random search,

lamps lit that may or may not

find another lonely in the dark.

Captured in a jar, they shed their pale,

green light within a narrow radius,

illuminate faint palm and corner of the wall.


When trash is in the barrel burned,

and orange flames leap to darkness,

cheeks hotly bristle like sirloin newly turned,

the rusty, grumbling drum, explosive with heat,

snaps shards, farts shrapnel, metal flakes

into the heart of light, the climbing flames.

Whipped cascades of sparks,

like myriad stings of pain

released from fiery servitude

to cardboard and scrap wood,

float calmly skyward, as if to join the stars

on quiet nights, then lose their urgency, resolve,

and fall to earth to glow in grass and briefly die

or turn to blackness lost in night like burned out stars

that fail to see their journey through.


But when the wind does roar

and burning should not be done,

or even gentle breezes blow,

then orange and yellow sparks like hornets

madly dance in rage at their disturbance,

seek to keep that rage alive,

their testy winter bite.

Hordes and squadrons fly in Spitfire mass encounter,

airborne phalanx, tracer melee in the sky,

red, yellow, orange in searing conflagration;

neon pasta wildly flung in handfuls at the night.


I look at light low on icy snow

that sets the sheen to battle with the eye.

This landscape paradise of white,

pierced by golden stalks that cling to waiting life below,

spring's surprise. The icy rain that turns the twigs

of dormant apple awesome, unpredicted radiance,

the sky a pristine turquoise hue

beyond the snapping mist of stiffened mouth,

the tang of cold itself like light

embued with feeling; the red cardinal's glow

against the white, the subtle orange and blue of snow.


Rain, too, is light when through the flood-lit aureole

it torrents fast and slow in gleaming beads,

bright baubles; sheets of light on streets

before the cars' determined headlight beams.

Rain down windowpanes converging,

each random pathway track the dipping

fire-fly voyage to find another airship,

flag of invitation and distress half-mast.

Window glass is light's transmitter,

liquefies dry nature like a long and fleshy tongue

roved, languid, over high-heat, swollen lips --

the way a cow grasps tuft of grass in slow, unwinding tongue –-

that moistens pouting mouth

like meat-keeled snail its wet and gleaming trail.


Diamonds, rubies capture light like rapine slavers black and white

that range dark hinterlands and raid the Nubian shore.

Within their carved geometry lie sprites that beat with glinting fists

prismatic prison walls, whose shrieks we hear transformed to light

that reaches out to stab our eyes.


Clarity and sparkle in the glass half-filled with wine,

brown beer bottle acned with ubiquitous sweat,

the tin can rim-top's telling flare and glint. Neon tubes

conspire in tantalizing twists of yellow, red and blue

to galvanize, inspire, perpetuate the light,

our endless search for the source

of our own exclamation point, our center,

the glowing core that seeks its desperate mate,

yields in easy union all things like that blend,

from highlight glaze on Rubens-large, moist eyes,

to bright balls dazed by blue-green pool hall light

and strident blows from well-chalked, stiff sticks.


Lightning ripples, gleams and fiercely strikes,

explodes like wrath of gods and men,

illuminates, interrogates the night,

ties earth to sky

in momentary flash and twisting path of light

that roars, then dies,

the timeless link forgotten, killed

by minds as stunned by intimation,

as broken by the careless void.

We creatures desperate here below,

when struck by such immensity,

grow limp, in wild profusion lie,

struck dumb, struck down and dimly played,

hallucination kings and queens

until illumination reigns.


Reach out, reach up as it seeks down,

the forked and curving tracks and trails

that lead to owl and slumbering gods,

that force the pack rat from its nest

to scoot and dance on livid grit,

that spites the night, impales on prickly pear.


The leap of flames, the light of stars

are not the least of things.

They matter more than most,

much more than we surmise, suspect

in our light-starved, mind-dark state.

The shine of wet roads beyond the wipers' muffled slap,

the sign-rich drugstore window in the night.

The stoplights' mindless turn from mossy, summer green

to amber autumn, bewitching, dangerous red

that miles away are seen.

The book that glows in the bedside lamp,

even the screen that sets a room and town alight,

each by our campfire safely in a box

into which we lonely doze and dream in indian squat

of big-toothed tigers, hunt and lust,

fulfillment of our endless quest...for what?

The inner, driving itch,

silver grain of marshall's badge,

restless searchlight, light-house beam,

all tie us to the stars and great dad sun

who burns our eyes and endless wastes of blue,

deserts parched beyond transcendence

by such flame no mind ever knew.

The gentle moon, orange, green, yellow, white,

the light of gods and saints but symbols

of our tipsy, tilted crowns

that burn with fierce, forgotten flame,

that tie us still to neon tubes, to Buddha/Christ,

slope-shouldered bottles of booze.


Sparks and stars in matched divinity;

light binds the world in horrendous, loving grasp,

roasting flesh that spits its grease to flame;

haloed candles pierce the hands of De La Tour,

turn flesh to hallowed, living light.


Copyright by Don Gray


Don Gray Art  •  Poems