Morning Quiet


Redemption Sings

Spring  2001

In the Struggle to discover

The simple requirements of the Lord,

Redemption sings.

Its call so tantalizing,

The startling echo

Of some ancient innocence

Beckons from some canyon

As though read

From some forgotten sacred book

In which I dare not look

Lest I be forced to walk

Beside my sins.

Hiding here alone upon this rim,

I lay awake and listening,

To radio songs of loss and longing;

To songs of appetite and fragile fear.

Lying quiet, in the midst

Of morning comfort,

I raised my head

To stare across the chasm

At how far it was to jump,

And urged by rising terror,


And washed my face

With tears.

Parade in the Presence of Enemies

In the castle of my heart

You descend from the tower.

Speaking in tongues,

Thou preparest a table before me.

Jealous eyes are watching.

You give me knowledge as the drawbridge lowers.

Lovers and priests,

All decked in flowers,


Singing Songs

Of poignant loss

And truth.

The hearts of my enemies tremble.

Are we two?

Summer 1994

Are we two

The herons, dark and blue,

Coasting so it seems no effort,

Cool and even,

Only slightly-tightly off the surface

  Of the deepest channels ?

Are we two

The heroes

Crossing tortured mountains;


Arm in armor standing

On the teeter-totter, edgy-ledgy,

Looking valley down,

And out across,

To see what misty lies ahead?

Are we two

The sea-spray ocean riders,

Foamy gliding

Greenly off the crest,

Reaching on before the storm,

Horizon seeky-searchy

For the harbour

In the leeward of

Each others arms?

Is this us,

We two?

Tiger Seeks

August, 2001

Tiger hunts

As Tiger wakes;

As Tiger needs

The Tiger takes.

Tiger heeds

No creatures fear.

Tiger’s laughter

Falls on ears

Which only hear

With terror Tiger’s feet,

As trembling hearts

Sing tales of grief.

Who can know

Who Tiger seeks

As Tiger hunts

In perfect peace.

Our Time

On the Occasion of the Marriage of Libby Dodd and Torben Torp-Smith

April 29, 2001

In twilight we are gathered here

Amidst a bower of our friends so dear,

To meet in closeness, to embrace

The healing power of compassion;

To remember, in these days of war,

To keep in our hearts the hope of peace,

The Buddha, and Ghandi,

Martin Luther,

And every other murdered savior

On and on and on through eons of time.

But what time have we now?

Is it only in the mind

This accounting of elapsed and regulated change?

Does time exist

Beyond the range of mental vision?

What time?

No time, some time

Lonely time, lifetime

Day light savings time,

Estimated time of arrival,

Bed time, noon time,

hard time,

Calendar time of seasons

Solar, lunar,

Tidal time of ebb and flow,

Work time, chill time,

Time that goes. so fast

And goes so slow.

What time have we now?

What time have we,

Two sometime battered souls,

Two sometimes elated,

Sometimes sad and angry,

Sometimes weary leave me alone and unrelated,

Sometimes all I want is you

And living the good life people like us?

Time of birth, time of death.

What time do we really have we two?

What do we really know,

Except that we can have some time?

My Father in Michigan

Father’s Day, 2002

It was something

I could never learn by book;

Something I could never truly study

Yea however long I looked.

And yet I yearned to be like you.

I crawled in bed and lay my head

Upon your breast, and tried my best

To let my breathing

Be like yours.

A child I traveled far

To learn the language

That you breathed in childhood.

Now grown and wearing pants,

I have taken forth your curiosity

And most meaningful study of insignificants

And understood that practice

As my own.

I laugh for times we journeyed forth, man and boy.

By canoe, me and you,

Were we not Nansen, headed for the North?

Sometimes, in the dark, alone,

I cry for wars you have endured,

For insults you have taken,

For all the hidden ways your life was shaken,

Shameful I was not there with you.

I anticipate with joy our meetings,

Where we poke at things with sticks;

Those times we argue, dawdle,

Time to look at tools, to lay some bricks.

To me, these are the times of Druids,

As I, wrapped in the guise of fools,

Still try to learn the secret ways

You filled your twelve times seven,

And hold among my greatest wishes,

That, here on Earth or heaven,

I will always be with you again,

My dearest father;

My father in Michigan.

Beyond Language

September 6, 2002

Consider language,

Shimmering; so seductive.

Still, just a mimic of a stance;

A shabby prisoner’s shadow

dancing in a deceptive ring of power.

And everything is beyond language.

Sad, imperfect language,

Performed in the tower of translation,

A ghostly gesture of betrayal,

Subtle, brash,

Innocent; ---- or not.

Language and its parts entwined;

Its portentous lot

To take the shape of desolation

Of the deepest wound,

Or the kindest care,

And loving trust,

But deep,

Deep in your mystic heart, you know

That everything is beyond language.

There is no inherent truth in language.

Imagined, spoken,

Even written,

Printed down on paper, black and white.

There is no true thickness,

Of a word

As of a board.

Not heavy, not light;

No hot, nor cold;

No palpable push against a wall.

No guaranteed veracity.

The truth must be discovered

In the other hallway

Where deep,

Down in your mystic heart you know

That everything is beyond language.


March 2003






























Each crumb placed with care

A raggy, baggy woman

Watches pigeons feed

Mountain Stream


Sharing the mountain

Sadness runs deep in the stream

A red leaf floats by


October, 2009

The world seems a little emptier tonight.

A trivial thought to many, I suppose,

When someone passes.

But they of course would not know

That it is you who’s gone.

The mist is closing as I turn my collar up.

The foghorns

Call my hero’s name,

Searching out across the sound.

I believe that when

Tomorrow comes around

The day will wear a different face,

It will not be the same,

And the world seems a little emptier tonight.


October, 2009

There is nothing quite like

Driving  a night groove

On fresh laid asphalt.

How firm yet soft,

How quiet, how smooth,

How 95% recyclable.

Going to,

Coming from,

I watch a gliding perspective.

So different from the day it seems,

As city lights

All sparkle by.

The motor hums, the tires whir,

My thoughts astir

Across macadam dreams.

Feather Tracings


Your indulgence is kind

To listen now,

Because I wonder

How this thin veil of language

Can underline my thought

As it is stretched from mind

To mountain ridges

Like a skin

Across the drum of my heart.

Waiting, breathless, I wonder,

“Will it catch?”

Can this fragile, scrawling line

Ever even begin to trace

Any shape of the formless,

Or corral my futile reachings,

Define the sting of bitterness,

Or present the poison

That has leached from me

My cruelty to smaller things?

Can any saying

Ever be the slate

That carries the mark of my prayer,

Be the touch that tracks

The tender swelling

Of my truest passion

Or fashions the twisted, vicious blade

Of my dark desire?

And how can any tongue have a part

In plumbing the depths

Of my compassion towards

A broken heart,

Or capture the smell of fear

That makes me start

From a tranquil meadow

Into a dark and tangled

Forest of confusion and rage.

Does a sentence thread into embroideries

Of the intricate always

Of my love for you?

I say never.

I say speak no speak forever.

I say no talky-talk

Can ever reach the mark,

Can never count the coup,

Or walk the longest walk

To touch these feather things.

Winter by the Sea

December, 1978

The Baltic wind is stern and cruel,

The season bitter cold.

Against a group of island jewels

I watch the day grow old.

Standing in the rushes

By the Eastern sea

A shadow growing long

I hear the swans cry out to me,

Frowning darkness quickly falls

Turning water black.

Two hundred shining white wings call

Cascades of memories back.

Memories can always change

Like images of time

As happiness can be deranged

When sifted through the mind

I can’t give you happiness

But I can speak of joy

‘Cause once I had what’s all the best;

A laughing baby boy

Tart Tatin


Ode to  Julia Childs


The Heat

Was really rather medium

As she stumbled through

The tedium

Of baking something

From her heart;

A clogging heap

Of Apple tart.

While he sat

Upon the sofa,

Scratching his behind,

And kept

Another kind of tart

In mind.

Song of Job


And the stars still shine

Where the ocean touches land

The surf still wipes the slate

Where we, two lovers

Left our footprints in the sand.

It’s here I gather

Shells and stones

To build a shining stair

And stepping up

My courage whispers this,

My quiet prayer:


I know the wildness of the world

Can tear my heart asunder;

But I beg you not to hide it from me.

Let my heart be strong with wonder,

Let me find the courage to be free,

So I might walk again with you, --- and laughter.

Let me feel my eyes become the sea

That sheds its waves upon the sand

As tears of joy

That splash upon my hand.



Walking in the street

Along the lakes

I saw myself

Reflected in a window

Behind me was a world

Of soft and ancient memory.

The city;

The canal;

The forest and the rolling fields;

The ocean just beyond the hedge;

All reflected back upon each other

And merged abruptly

In the sharp awareness

Of how much I look just like my Dad.


Riding the currents at the edge

Of a newer different world,

I watch.

I watch for the sign.

I watch for you.

Is this the place?

Is this the harbor in the song?

Did I?

Will I?

Can I?

Sometimes I just can’t tell

Where I belong.

Visions of the Nameless


With lightning winking in the distance,

I listened to the poets

And I saw myself in dream

Fighting with my teachers

And myself.

With lightning

Winking in the distance,

I heard its words of thunder,

Low and even,

Soft and rolling like a murmur

Calling out the unspeakable outlines

Of the Nameless.

The poets did not sing

Of seeing you

Amongst the people

In that place

The poets did not say

How unexpectedly

And only yours,

A face

Would be appearing in a window,

Opened by a twist of fate,

To teach,

To grant a taste of absolution

From the brutal past.

The poets could not tell

How brief,

How rare

That moment was to be.

And how could poets prophesy

How I,

Shaken from complacent anguish

Would then stand


The curtains in the window

speaking mysteries;

Would watch them curling

In the soft sea breeze.

Can poets speak

Of curtains,

Shimmering with meaning

Or see them just beyond

The betrayal of description?

Will poets ever know

The language of sheer fabric Coyly twisting

As it manifests

The edge of storms,


After nameless thunder

Has rolled by

With lightning

Winking in the distance.


There he was.

Up there,


On the broken synapses

Of his over-convoluted

MassOf grey matter,

Expounding a mish-mash

Of a miscellaneous

Cacophony of irelevants


To impress

And awe

His audience.

And tho’

The critics claim

His contribution

Is nil, ---------

The white girls


That he’s


Hector’s Gate

A song of springtime in The Catskills


Take a look.


How now

These brief and leafy colors

Stand so bright,

So yellow,

So chartreuse green

Against the gopher brown

Of winter.

Like an invitation

They sparkle.

White and glistening,

Lady Magnolia

Holds such promise.

She must have spoken

Last night to the moon,


Sitting red

Like an orange from Valencia,

Was lounging low behind the trees

On an atmospheric feather-bed.

Ah, yes,

Last night,

So warm,

So comfortable for the moon,

Our Helen,

Who was,

Perhaps willingly,

Taken by the Milky-Way,


To destroy our circle.

Awaiting salvation,

Or not,

She watches and smiles,

While brave Hector,

Standing at the gates of darkness

Turns his back and murmurs softly,

A phrase,

A ditty,

A book about the atmosphere in town;

A book of loneliness and fear.

As brothers

We have anchored here,

Warriors on this shore.

We have boarded

Our ships of springtime

And launched ourselves


Across the stormy sea of summer.

This summer,

Now the only summer,

Towards September

And home.

Let us not sail away from here

Nor reach our harbor


Still and silent

On our shields.

Industrial City Fly-By

May, 1981

In refinery lights,

All misty yellow- grey,

Which turn the night-time into day

My summertime got caught

In clothing that I bought

Down at the Ichi-ban.

The story bracelets fell

From off my arm

You can see them in the window

Where I pawned them

At the Ichi-ban.

No one buys them new;

All stories ended

With the last one.

Rust and mildew

Claim those bands

Down at the Ichi-ban.

The water near

Becomes the barrier

The waves that crash

Become the carrier

At the Ichi-ban

When the edge is near

Only warriors

Will be builders

And fear is the creator

Down at the Ichi-ban

Only the Brave


I found myself a-walkin’ down the hall

All crazed by alcohol

When the beauty of your body’s strength

Hit me when I’d walked its length.

The corridor turned into stairs

That in my search for you were leapt in pairs,

But through a door ajar up top

The old man’s dancing made me stop.

There was life in that old ruin

Soft-shoin’ in the darkened ballroom;

Somethin’ doin’ under balding pate

With slouching hat.

His movement caught my spying eye,

And looking I could not deny

That only the brave

Can boogie like that.

God Grant


God grant my heart

Be like a stone,

Your perfume to withstand.

God let it merely

Be a mist

Upon a crystal hand

God see that crystal

Taking form

Each facet in its place

God cause his memory

Be revealed

In every crystal face.

Himalayan Dreams


Do you ken,

Under his Aerie Egis,

The Yeti of nineteen,

And can you dig

How he can luste for bunty girls,

Even on a snaken day?

Worm ridden carts

With hoes and axes

Driven by kilo-volts,

Or even a suede lined Jeep

Are but a nip

To that Mav Cad with the Neo-Fez.

He keeps a wad of food,

Korpheled on a mat at noon

While he sings the E-I-O

And goes on and on

About how

He will soon tell

The rest of the story.


July, 1967

In the mist

Of medieval morning,

Where the sun

Is only lighter grey,

Bent and crusted trees,

Seeming strangely broken

From the

Dew-raw ground,

Stretch their iron branches,

Like dark cobwebs

That have snared

The pearly dawn

And hold the mist

In lonely tangles

Of deathly dank

Where fear is spawned.

In this morning

Without end

Deep within

The tapestry of fog

A birdsong from

The shrouded distance

Is lightly stranded

On the sands of time

Here, hard to ground

Small creatures cling

And wonder if

The dawn will pass.

All, save one tiny,

Downy mouse,

Bustle, rustle

Through the grass

While gliding on

The chill and grey

Hard and black

Against the day

A hunting falcon

Passes over,

Comes to rest,

And waits


May 1998

By what skill of engineering

Does this mystery of feeling come

To invade this well protected

Maze of practicum?

What perversity brings it

To surround this ivory tower,

Arriving here to camp so unsuspected,

Laying siege to puny plottings of the hour?

This presence passes here

By what General’s decision?

To creep, like a mist, through cracks

In mental mountains of precision;

To materialize without the burden of commute,

Avoiding crowded corridors of strategy like this;

Aroused by stimulus of fleeting scent or vision,

Now standing, mocking, as this sudden ghost of bliss.

It visits here without procedure,

To tantalize, as if it knows

How easily its foggy tendrils can unravel

My transparent wrappings of repose.

What right is claimed to call me,

To sit before me in review

And spread before me each and every memory

Of how we were, of then, and even, yes, of you.

Hearts of Humans

You say that I will never change,

(Hearts of humans never do)

But though my circumstances

Make me move,

Always slippping into

Strange new grooves,

A statement not too long,

But strong,

Describes a fact

That’s deep and true,

Will circumscribe

The simple act

Of always loving you.

    Like Burbage

     By Torben Torp-Smith

  Inspired by an Elegy

Richard Burbage,

an Elizabethan Player

Let some soft, yet lasting stone

Cover this forgiving mould

Wherein your Heroe’s gallant bones

Lie in casket dank and cold

Mark the place where spirit wept

That you from earth did stride away

From hearts that in your shadow crept

Still happy there for every day

Or your ashes strewn upon the ocean

Mingled with the current strong

Remind us yet with sweeping motion

How ebb and flow cannot last long

Golden Coin


Torben Torp-Smith

Like a Golden Coin

Just newly minted

On the anvil of the night,

Fat Yellow Moon

Rise up!

Enough of day!

Be it forgotten now!

The light of that old

Tawdry sun is cold

And sunk into the ocean.

Let me stare forever

At your smiling,

Careless, sequined circle

Cradled in the cleavage

Of the dark and lacy hills.

Make this moment last

Before you climb your weary way

Across the distant starry heights

To reign as haughty, silver

Mistress of the night

Stay a while and knock me out

With how you shimmer.

Rise above, but slow,

Your golden glimmer

Makes my heart about to burst

With thoughts of comfort;

Thoughts of love.

Not  Even a Hair

Speculations on a

Black Hole

Where there is no space

No in between

There can only be



The definer

The shape maker

no energy can keep

The pieces


There are no pieces


Energy is flown

All is one

A singularity

Right the way to the Windy City


Torben Torp-Smith

June 11, 2011

I dreamt how you and I

Rode the rails

Right the way

To the Windy City

Soon to come that dream

And further south

Big Easy

Comin’ up

Rollin’ down


Big Muddy


Easy times

Everything is big

That dream is big

This land is big

They say

And we will roll on up

Over the spiny mountains

Through the gaps

Where pilgrims have died

And flood our time of ease



The recumbent prairies

Oh yes we will

But today

I rose and pushed

My weaving way

Past Castro Street

Into the face

Of fog-driven wind

Pulled myself to bitter duty

Honor bound and saddened

Watching the Rainbow Banner

Symbol of transcendence

Streaming stiff from its Stanchion

Straining at its tethers

I whipped myself to perform

These last few days

Waiting for your sweet Return

Longing for your comfort

Willing myself to smile

Wishing day would end

To dream again that dream

That dream of you and I

Together watching

Open spaces rolling by

Right the way

To the Windy City

On to a few stories