Find Enlightenment

Selections from Dawn Music
by Tom Radcliffe

Date: 2001-02-27
Forum: Siduri Press
Copyright: Tom Radcliffe

A Word Before

This is a selection of poetry from Dawn Music, a book of poems from the early days of my poetic career. I've tried in this selection to give a fair impression of the range of subject and style. These poems are mostly fairly simple in rhythm and rhyme, which is something my more mature work tends to deviate from, although I've been reading a lot of Byron lately and my appreciation of the playfulness that such simplicity makes possible is growing. Poetry, like life, is fundamentally a playful thing to me, even in it's moments of sadness.

For those who'd like to see just how eclectic the work as a whole is, I have a few copies of the book left for a price of $10 U.S. (special price of $10 Canadian to Canadians, as postage is cheaper.) You may pay by check, money order, or via PayPal; please e-mail me at to check availability.

I've also written about the theory of poetry that lies behind my work--for me, poetry is rhythmic speech, rather than written words, and as such is deeply connected to the sensual aspects of the act of speech itself.

A poet can't write without a Muse. Carolyn is mine, and performs the fundamental service of insisting that I express myself, who I am, authentically and openly. No poet could ask for more.


Wolf at forest edge
Dripping leaves hide lonely eyes
Dog walks into field


You sacrificed your daughter for ambition
Then squandered that on long and senseless war
And never once expressed the least contrition
For having slicked on white-tiled temple floor
The bright red blood of innocent who cries
As blood runs black in cold enameled bowl
She flops and squirms but has no choice: to die
As howling darkness, demons flense your soul.
What life can ever justify such cost?
No war, no cities sacked nor glory won
Can e're absolve - recover what is lost -
the guilt that never leaves, can't be outrun.
No lifetime of destruction can ever justify
The choice a father makes that a daughter has to die.

Third Glance

Two chickadees on fenceposts
standing side by side.
I glance away, look back and Hey!
They've been transmogrified!

No time to flit off thither,
and hide themselves away,
they've transformed, this morphin' morn,
by magic, into jays.

The jays are gone at third glance,
nowhere wings are swirled,
the magic came, passed by again:
and turned them into squirrels!

In the Mist

I saw you on the beach today
standing by the pillar
between the wind and the waves
where grey mist swirls and sand flees dance
to the skirl of the wind
through the pipes of the pier.

The wind was flirting with your hair
Waves played with your toes
Far out to sea the dolphins leap
Dive deep through silver darkness
While birds glide soft
Down the translucent air


I hear her laugh
and spin a tale
too short by half
'bout men who fail
to take their own
advice so good
on love; bemoan
those who she could
like but who want
more, and spoil
her joy, and haunt
memory, roil
her slow anger
which leaves her half
past all danger;
I hear her laugh.

My Father's House

In my father's house there are many rooms
A room for anger and a room for doubt,
A room for laughter that can zing and zoom,
A room for bitterness, and rage and shouts
that might sound like hatred to one too young
to see his deep frustration, sense of loss,
guilty living when so many died; gives tongue
to angry thoughts, that constant turn and toss
within his struggling soul. He holds me close -
how like to him I am, and yet how not;
for he has taught me better than he knows,
set me loose from the chains wherein he's caught.
My father's house has many rooms, none free:
I do not think there is room for me.

Kissing a Rat

Not everyone can kiss a rat,
they're slippery little nippers -
a kiss can squish them kinda flat,
so tempt them with a kipper

or other rattish morsel fair,
that draws them close and willing;
the press of loving lips to bear,
that I would find so thrilling.

The Poet Considered By His Wife

Who are you this morning, dear?
Or can't you really say?
Should I expect "Good morning!" cheer
or mumbled, "Go away?"

Are you angry, sullen or morose?
Worse yet are you depressed?
Will you leap up, and bring me toast?
Or stay in bed undressed?

Are you focused on future hopes,
or failures of the past?
Your soul all knotted, tangled ropes?
Or found some place at last

Where you are really happy now,
where you will finally stay,
a place where life's not constant row,
you're different every day?

You say that you have found it then?
The end of all your travels?
All I can do is wait for when
illusion all unravels.

You still don't seem to like me more,
you still don't notice me,
and if you've found that happy shore
am I alone at sea?


Two weeks from now the clocks will roll
And uncaught bugs will take their toll
On all of those so unprepared
who with the latest code aren't squared:
still running systems uncompliant,
software ancient, unreliant.

Now circling high the vultures swoop
Make chickens tremble in the coop
And in a moment's darkness dive
Leave nothing in their wake alive.
They seek the weakest point to strike,
plunging down like stooping shrike.

They tear and then at last they rend
Their victims down to very end
of every resource they can loot,
they trample carcass under boot.
For they are lawyers, poised to sue
All whose code ain't tried and true.


There's a moment when the smouldering
There's a moment when oxidizing
There's a moment when the smoke
takes flame
There's the moment when you spoke
my name.

You Are Here

You Are Here, says the sign
and I look all around
but cannot see you anywhere
in sky or sea or ground...

Except in curving flight
of pigeons passing by
and how the wisp of cloud above
shapes sunlight in the sky,

I look out everywhere
finding only beauty
in all things I see you
and feel you here with me.

You Are Here, says the sign.

First and Last

The Sun is setting in Oriental skies
but only rising here -
And golden rays have yet to touch
my distant, loving Dear.

I'll think of you in morning,
evening, noon and night,
for the dawn is always in the sky,
far distant, yet still bright:

A glow that fills my mind and soul
though Sun's in other skies;
I know that turn of world so slow
will bring it to my eyes.