Hour of the Ghost Dance

No more will the scioto madtom 

swim in Ohio’s Big Darby Creek,

gone are the ivory-billed woodpecker,

Backman’s warbler never to sing again,

gone three species of pearly mussels, 

the flat pigtoe mussel, southern acornshell,

stirrupshell lost among the 36 mussels &

70 freshwater snails gone, gone forever,

bridled white-eye, Little Mariana fruit bat, 

San Marcos gambusia, plants they pollinate,

plants they reseed, all lost, lost forever, all

thru heavy hands crown-of-creation madness,

the age now a time of fleeting souls never 

to return, superstorms raking coasts, drought

borne of Hetch-Hetchy presumptions, fires

leaping over mountains, ancient sequoias

licked by flames, volcanoes spitting fire,

thousands dead weekly—ghost dance hours,

sunset hours, time of the fleeting stars

whirling in ever-turning ever-burning sky.

The Moon

tonight, the full moon lights the snowy forest, 

still blue dream beyond hope, beyond sorrow.

his memorials for harmony ignored again and again, 

Chen Zi’ang spent a night with an old friend talking

mountains, streams, his coming journey to Loyang, 

this night’s deep bonds memorials to one he might

never see again—the road leading forever away.

Du Fu found a dream refuge in his thatched hut, 

despite poverty, free of slavish work, among family

and friends—yet endless wars and rebellions 

drove him off.  clinging to a single twig, only

moonlight over waters shaped his long journey.

Passing Phantoms 

As the mission to Mars approaches landing

I walk out to my greenhouse in moonlight,

stars scattered across the sky in subzero cold,

recalling all those faces in the past year,

endless parade of sorrows and anxieties, 

those headed west into sunset and deep night,

finding their way to the campfires of elders

bearing their dreams in medicine pouches

out among the music of spheres, dancing.

I dream youthful pleasures sail skating by night,

shoveling snow 4 a.m. predawn clearing

600 ft. driveway, alone in blue-lit forest silence,

ice shining on the river beyond, my waking

dream journey so my mother might drive out

at seven, cross town even on tortured sliding days

dedicated to her students.  I’d stride home

in silent forest’s blue light, full moon thru branches— 

eyes on the river’s frozen dream and journey 

to sunset and night, passing phantoms, as now.

Spirit Walk Sunset

many nights flaming 

sunsets over the great lake,

so many pause, 

surrounded by lovers, 

kith and kind—

desperate longings, 

exhausted thought,


clouds over waves, 

silence on the horizon, 

blues yellows scarlet flash 

across the heavens, 

purple cumulonimbus 

all borne of western wildfires, 

burned forests and homes, terror, 

the dead and delirious.

Here, endless funerals, horrors, 

a bride giving covid to

a young mother in reception line,

a dear friend’s uncle dead, 

family quarantined, one in the ICU—

after so many, one wonders indeed if

each is a first death like no other.

this day is a quiet mass for one who gave all 

to open paths for others, for their own lives, 

sorrow rimmed in the eyes of survivors

yet welcoming to old friends, relatives,

and a long ride home melancholy reflection among

woods’ mottled shade, long dry fields blueberry farms:

on a rare cloudless day dreaming of spirit walk sunset.  

where will we be in a year, a decade, in memory?

One thought on “VOICES FROM THE FIRE: David Cope

  1. My congratulation to David Cope for his fine work here. So glad you have brought this writer to my attention Mike Zone. Brilliant stuff!


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