Name: Keli Strafford
country : USA

I live on a farm in Oregon's Willamette Valley with my husband and children.


A pair of eyes first open their lurid lights
And I remember what I cannot quite remember,
Catching a dark omen from their simple grief:
The fleeing woman whom you hound and hinder,
The one with the grim smile that curves the lips
And the eyes that never stand still at all
And weep when they see the sun set in clouds
For will they set in darkness to when they fall?

Shadow Play

A dream about a dream -
an open mouth on a dim face
half-melting, the round hole
screaming silently, asking
Why aren't you here?
Around the head
a triple halo, light
then dark, then light again.

(The screams penetrate every
corner, downward and inward
to a waiting death of the heart.)

The raging flame
that arches over its face
and behind it
the sun sets among fiery clouds
shaped like a ruined and blazing city
of domes and pillars.

Feel its clutching hands
on your arm,
hear its wild talk
and sense its rapid plunge
into the depths of sleep.

(And the dawn light
will project onto your dreams
a glory around your head.)

Is it a lying angel?
A sneering spirit?
Is it not
damned without knowing it?
Is that an open chasm at its feet?
Does it feel
the icy trickling darkness?
Do torches smoke
and the old nightmares stir
in the memories?

It exists more among the dead
than the living,
thinks more about them,
feels more about them,
but no one will believe this
until its dead.

(Is it true that each
can see their own shadow
and the shadows of others,
but one can see the glory
only around their own head?)

Around its head
a crown of vivid colors
in the order of the rainbow,
direct from the sun to the eye,
and to which the eye
has affixed a ray of hope.

(After beckoning hope,
vanishing hope, could this
be hope with a new face -
the real one?)

Do you recoil from the shadow
as though it were a specter
with a life of its own?
Or worse, is it coming
from the soul of the beholder -
a projection of one's own?

Dead Heat

You are familiar at the coffee shop
And they know you are the genius there.
They know your moves, talk, and dress,
How you look, and the famous auburn hair
That seductively seizes on their heart
So that they throw themselves at your feet.
Rumors are you make the dead rise again,
Rising to the surface like smoke from heat.

Your legend has grown in their absence
And they catch the echoes of your voice
And the stars join in your happiness to rejoice
With you, ideal man of the dream pursued.
But a shadow passes over the moon overhead
And the moon howls for your face has the look
Of a cast taken from the face of the dead.


Stewing in my own stale air
I call in order to be calling,
The words lined in flesh
And me without a skin.

The inner has no being to be
As I am not being, only becoming
To read the riddle of the soul,
The words a dead language

In a dead world of papery holes.
Falling down, I grasp their edges
My voice creating an echo
Where there was silence before.

Living on air, I can only be filled
With words, if I can be filled at all
As my image leapt out of the mirror
And my shadow jumped off the wall.

Does She?

She knows it now was all a lie -
Loves bonnet on every hill.
A look about shows her truth -
Fallen illusions blowing cold.
She descends with a pained heart
Knowing not
It is her valleys that lie.

New Eyes

To let these worn-out eyes
once peer upon nothing worn.
Just one time a simple sight -
a red rose perhaps
sans its thorns.
It would be only for them,
this vision they could not mourn.
The wind would wave the blushing color
at these eyes
for an instant reborn.


The dew of the dawn,
An emblem of morning purity.
Crystal works of quiet splendor,
A life within this harvest of rime.
It is a morning of sovereign grace,
Natural harmony, beauty of line.
Until all small tears gone
Trust in destiny shall prevail.

Vain Endeavors

They tangle themselves
into the ever-winding
thread of their deceit
till it scatters out
into this:
They can only bark at me from their chains.
Their words die the death of a hot coal in water -
all one hiss.
They are like a ship lagging
with limp sails
that cannot catch the wind
to bear them on
with its kiss.
They riot around me
like the stars
that rise up, sparkle,
dart flames and die away
into the abyss.