Into The Mist

This shadow life passing away,
mute requiem of falling snow,
a prayer to end the mortal day;
then to a far sweet place I go:

to beating wings of startled heart,
not mansions grand or streets of gold,
not angels wrought of worldly art,
what earthly eyes cannot behold;

a startled beating heart of wings
above a swale at day’s first light,
a burst of joy and fright, yearnings,
there captured in a moment’s flight

of hurtling quail from out a kist
into the haze of dappled morn;
a far sweet place within the mist,
an instant there the curtain torn.


Rendering Ruins

A barn abandoned, left to drift alone,
wind torn and breached upon the reef of time,
in fields, now dust, where summer wheat was sewn:
the wagons heaped with grain stood long in line
to fill the grange of this once mighty ship;
now but a shadow, listing, ghostly gray.
Raw winds and pelts of rain how cruelly whip
the wounded roof and soak the rotted hay
—the roof, an April green in days before,
a farmer’s name upon it stitched in white.
This ark of kittens, bawling calves, no more.
A rat gnaws on a crib, the final rite.
Yet on this easel, raised by bardic hand,
forgotten barns, forgotten not, still stand.



Away from hearth and clock,
from door and key and lock,
I found a pudding stone
—a fist of plainest rock
with flint and jasper sown—
upon a beach of clay.
And kept it as my own.

The sky was fretful gray,
whitecaps upon the bay,
the promise soon of snow
and fallen wood’s decay.
The stone, as dull as dough;
its skin was cold and rough.
Quite bright the pebbles, though.

I climbed upon a bluff
and though I’d seen enough
of winter’s lifeless spawn,
the seascape’s drab rebuff,
the beach an endless yawn;
the stone I did not throw.
But to its face was drawn.

A stone I somehow know.
A stone I somehow know.



The spinning wheel, day and night,
the tides, first frost, lakes of ice,
trees in bloom, the river full
—clocks of death, clocks of life—

my heart relentless beating drum,
the woman cycle, dates in stone,
a lighthouse beam’s recurrent arc
upon the sea, a  metronome.

Expanding heaven’s starlit face,
the starlight reaching back in space
to when this world of clocks was wound,
and in that lace of fire, what fate?

Mainsprings unwinding ever down
—imperfect rhymes, a timeless rune?


Leland James was an International Publication Prize winner in the Atlanta Review International Poetry Competition, the winner of the Portland Pen Poetry Contest, the Writers’ Forum Short Poem contest, and runners up for the Fish International and the Welsh Poetry prizes. His poems have been published in ten countries in many periodicals and anthologies, including, The South Carolina Review, Blue Unicorn,  Arc, Vallum, Orbis, Magma, and Osprey, Scotland’s international journal of literature; the 2008 Fish Anthology: Harlem River Blues and Voices Israel 2009.

These poems are among the entries for the Society’s 2012 Poetry Competition.

NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

CODEC Stories:

5 Responses

  1. neal Whitman

    All here are true poems, but, in particular, the repeat of “a stone I somehow know” resonates with me much like “mles to go before I sleep” does. I walk the beach of Monterey Bay most days and will look for a pudding stone to bring home … also hope to bring back words found like wet stones left by the receding tide. That’s what poets do, eh?

    Amicus poeticae,
    Neal Whitman

    • Leland James

      Exactly. Check out the rhyme scheme, stanza to stanza, and you’ll find more akin to “Stopping by a Wood ….” Thanks for your comment, Leland James

  2. jkeymorgan

    Wonderful. I love your choice of words and the mood evoked by them, particularly in ‘Into The Mist’.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.