The Peregrine Muse


What Eve saw was an Eden in

The seconds after the apple was eaten,

When evil was known, immanent

And unavoidable, but there was still

Awareness of what Innocence had been

And that was the first punishment.

My Crazy Cousin


She turned her back on nostalgia;

On her lost and haunted happiness.

She turned her face the other way

And found half hidden in her heart’s

Memory a child’s hope and a child’s faith,

They rescued her. She gave herself up

To childlike wayward ways, but she

Stayed young, until suddenly she was old

And deaf and dotty in a strawberry blonde

Wig; tall and pencil thin like an innocent

Flamingo in the Garden of Eden.

Dream Day


Dawn was like white wine spangled with stars

Of dew and sun motes haunted with echoes of forever.

The blue of noon was transparent and guileless,

The sunlight flickering on the aspen leaves like green butterflies.

Too soon twilight was seduced by a sudden dreamy darkness

And silence that seemed to stretch for miles extinguishing

Sound as easily as a breath extinguishes a candle.

Yard Sale Piano

The case was warped, the wood cracked

Strings loose and dangling.

The yellowed keys grinned gap-toothed

As I passed.

It was something from the fifties or sixties,

No Steinway here,

Scorned by bargain and antique hunters.

Still, I thought I heard the echo of some piece

practiced by a kid who took lessons

After school and hated it. 

I remembered the ease with which my mother

Brought forth beauty with her strong

Supple fingers. I never got the hang of playing;

Maybe words are my music.

Summer Solstice

I remember, half a life time ago,  

Beguiled by the beauty of summer;

The garden rife with roses, peonies, lilacs

And lilies, a nightingale singing in the magnolia

Tree; my senses intoxicated by the

Flower fragrant air; the sky awash with stars;

A modest moon; and just before dawn,

My ear pressed to the bosom of the earth, hearing
The muted heart beat of the world. 

Daughter of Isis


I braid my hair with violets,

Veil my breasts with scarlet silk,

My loins with cloth of gold.

I paint my lips with the wine

Of pomegranates and

Circle my eyes with kohl.


With my sisters, I dance

Under the mysterious moon

To the music of lutes and lyres.

Beneath the boughs

Of ancient and sacred trees

I chant prayers to you, Isis,

Goddess Mother to us all.


I feel the touch of your free spirit

In the cyclamen scented breeze.

Your love enters my heart,

My soul, the very center of my being,

Purifying my flesh,

Giving me new life and forever

Proclaiming me

A true daughter of Isis!



Water Colors

Beneath the liquid sky

of brilliant blue

billows of supple

sea grass bend and swirl.

Iridescent fish,

like aquatic


flash, dart, hover

then in sudden fear

take quick cover

among pink coral caves

and on the coarse canvas

of the ocean shore curl

the silent pastel waves.


There was no urgency
at first
only a curiosity
to discover desire
I was not guilty
of erotic visions
but of beautiful
an innocent lust
my secret
still dressed
in virtue until
the absolute candor
of my naked need
made me aware
of my blood speaking
a wild insistent
then like the center
of the sun
I was all fire.

Corn Song

All through the middle of America
there was a trumpeting of corn,
It's full yellow tremendous notes
pressed close to the swelling sky.
There were acres and acres where
the corn blared; consumed the frailer
human reed, swallowed up all lesser
themes, unable to stop itself.

Against the full golden theme of corn
was the lighter pizzicato of human
voices and the counterpoint of houses;
the bass of barns and lilting passages
of ponds and pastures. Bird calls
were a frill of flutes twisted round
the higher theme, to grace, but only
grace, the symphony of life.

Two coiled themes, the impetuous corn
song and the deliberate accompaniment
of man, bird and beast; each endowed
with the same integrity of purpose
and being, and the music of creation
soared glorious and triumphant through
the heartland of the nation.

Falling, Falling

The sun, visibly falling,
turned the sky thin blue
as the light shifted its weight
pulling the color toward the sea,
then a flash, a momentary shaft
of white slicing the water
like a sword of light.

Merging with the horizon
the sun trailed in its wake
a triangle of burning green;
a flame that lingered as sparks
behind the eyes.

A slow sunset would have soothed,
but there was no setting
to this sun, just a hot falling,
then purple darkness;
the sea suffused with afterglow.

Above the drowned sun Venus
appeared and red Mars;
behind them dim Jupliter,
and night began with sudden stars.

Half Moon Bay

And still, today and every day,
the dunes are lifted
stacked and slowly shifted;
their crests migrate
and reassemble with the wind.

They do their best
to raise their backs against
the weather and the sea
and block the wind borne
sorrows of the world.

In the tide pools
between rocks and coast
are small worlds of sand slide
and trapped seas; quiet
clones of the clamorous
blue water where all its wild
white gardens of spray
blossom and fall, blossom
and fall; to end
as broken flowers in the bay.

Haiku (5)

A butterfly
lights on my arm
I stand holding my breath.

Crickets chirp
a comforting sound
in the hot silence.

In the moonlight
a spider's web
like silver lace.

Golden corn
flattened by hailstones
then a rainbow.

Among the lily pads
play hide and seek.


In frightened glee swimmers brave

the surf while the timid

sizzle on the sand

or hide beneath giant lollipop umbrellas,

their color sucked up

by the thirsty sun.

Behind them the frizzled grass is

busy with mothers and loud with children.

Newspapered old men sleep

with the headlines pulled down

over their eyes, their brows

marked with a frown.

In the fading light of afternoon

picnickers surfeited with sun and sand

abandon play; retrieve their sleepy eyed girls

and boisterous boys,

catch the dog, ignore their trash, and leave.

The assault and battered beach is left

on its own to convalesce,

bandaged only with darkness.


A mug of tea, strong, sweet, soothing,

exactly what I needed. It warmed, calmed,

leaving me with a quiet mind and not thinking

about the subject of the poem I would write,

which seemed more like conjuring something

out of thin air than constructing lines.

I was at peace with the virgin light,

the tender leafed maple polished with morning dew

and seeing heaven in the heart of a rose.

Out of the silence came the muffled cry of gulls

full of sorrows; an almost human lamentation.

Then I knew what I had to pay atention to;

I knew what my poem should be.


In the breeze the twilight trees

are gently quivering;

from overhead an apple falls,

red gold, like one in Eden,

and in the disheveled air,

tempted, we turn and touch

each other...shivering.

Haiku (7)

Beneath the fig tree
Of last summer.

Both singing.
The bird on the branch
The girl on the grass.

I run into the field
Waiting for lightning.

Enamored of spring
But seduced
By summer.

I see your face
No matter how tight
I close my eyes.

Summer storm
Electric transformer becomes
A giant sparkler.

Autumn tomorrow
But today
The peonies bloom.

Like a Princess

Sleeping, a white rose hugged to her heart,

the petals flaring in her breath gently fall apart.

Innocent child, her face aglow; a dream comes in

with stars, the curtain blows, scattering the rose.

On the paper walls are painted trees; behind the trees

a castle shows, and a proud silver steed galloping

goes. The child stirs, rises. Still half in dreams

on the stairs comes softly down, like a princess

in her white sleeping gown.

Out into the almost breaking dawn; her bare feet

barely denting the dewy lawn. Stars flicker, grow faint

and one by one are gone. While the watching moon sheds

a tender light she wishes not on the first star,

but the last, for midsummer night is fading fast.

Child of dreams, fragile and like the white rose,

fair, makes her drowsy way back up the spiral stair

to the crystal castle waiting for her there

with its haughty horse that races round and round,

its pounding hooves making not a sound.

Before the last star's fled, nestled snugly in her

downy bed dreams once more fill her angel heart and head.

Safe Harbors

We need safe harbors in our mind

Away from life's turbulent sea;

A golden strand where unconfined

Our weary spirits can breathe free.

A day, a minute or an hour

Of solemn solitary thought;

Perhaps gaze upon a flower

And contemplate perfection caught.

Safe harbors are the heart's retreat

To silent serenity's shore,

Where sweet dreams and memories meet

And courage on white wings can soar

Waiting Worlds

Last night I had a dream sublime

Of a world somewhere out of time,

where lived a people kind and wise

With dusky skin and amber eyes.

Clothed in robes of purple and gold

Their beauty wondrous to behold.

Though foreign to my earthling ear

Their speech was magical to hear.

They dined on fruits that freely grew;

Drank a wine of sparkling dew,

Wore fragrant flower coronets

And kept white unicorns as pets.

They lived in castles made of glass;

Played sweet music on harps of grass.

No discord marred their peaceful land,

Built on shores of turquoise sand.

Their sky was red, their moon was blue

And silver birds in twilight flew.

Crystal clear was their sapphire sea,

Singing its song of destiny.

Impatiently I wait for night

To dream again that lovely sight,

Of waiting worlds with skies of flame

In galaxies that have no name.

The Link

My childhood home sags with the weight of age;

Ruined now, but proud on memory's page.

Upon its crumbling walls a climbing rose,

Though feebly, with some strange devotion grows.

Autumnal leaves lie rusting on the ground

Where once the pale amemone was found.

The garden's glory, lost to time's neglect,

I can, with perfect detail, recollect.

White, pink and purple hollyhocks stood tall;

Bright sentinels against the grey stone wall.

Nasturtiums trailed their blossoms in the grass,

Gleaming like ancient coins of burnished brass.

Tiger lilies towered with feline grace

Over ferms delicate as Spanish lace.

Those scenes of my lost innocence and youth

Were golden with the purity of truth.

Now past and present forge a fragile link

As life's brief twilight trembles on the brink.

Haiku (8)

Just before dawn,
in the garden
a rose bud opens.

Autumn wind.
From the parched hills
smoke rises.

Peaches ripen
in the moonlit orchard.

Sudden breeze
into the soft grass
a ripe plum falls.

Tying a shoelace
his hands
just like my father's.

snow fallling
on snow.

Old age.
I stand at the window
the last leaves fall.

Desert sunset.
Under rock ledge
the scorpion waits.

The Blue Hour

There's nothing quite like it

that blue hour at twilight

when the air is soft

and all sounds are muffled

by the power of pale colors

which can only be seen

out of the corner of the eye

like an obscure star.

The heat exhausted flowers

and night tinged trees exude

a minor, but compelling,

perfume and for a heartbeat

the evanescent atmosphere brings

to mind a time and place when

we had all been lovers and beloved.

Joy and Pain

Writing poetry is more

than free associating,

it's allowing a graver

voice to be heard beneath

that nervy lyric one

and like a heart slowed

by its burden

into occasionally

missing a beat the sound

changes, deepens,

and we experience,

as if for the first time,

the joy of seeing

and the pain of being.

Haiku (6)

Flock of crows flying
over fields of golden wheat
I think of Van Gogh.

By candlelight her
face a pale lotus blossom
fragrant with desire.

Softly, serenely
in the green depths of the sea
the whales are singing.

Eyes like violets
scarlet lips soft as roses
girl in a garden.

Silent eloquence
a soul captured on canvas
Rembrandt self portrait.

In the blue of noon
not even the birds noticed
Icarus falling.


What shall I talk about?

He is so deaf I have to say

everything at least three

times and even then....

But I brave the smell of illness

in the halls, make my way to his

room, by wheelchairs whose aged

occupants frown, mutter, gaze

inward at some saner past.

His is the bed by the window.

He gives me a sweet smile,

and calls me by my mother's name.

Sitting close I hold his hand,

frail and withered as old leaves.

We sit, like lovers, speaking with

our eyes, feeling the love that

flows between us in spite of gaps

in age, health, memories. The

silence is a blessing. No need

to dread the lack of words.

Now is the quiet time.

Love Incarnate

If I believed in anything

beyond myself,

the sun, moon and stars,

it would be God, the Mother,

not a male who never felt the pangs of birth,

and could with cold indifference

watch the wanton rape of virgin earth.

He mocks the very name of Heaven

who sets his innocent progeny

upon a killing course

and does not teach that war and killing

are a villain's sport.

There had to be God, the Mother,

tender to the heart.

Who else would jewel the universe with stars,

pour out the cool blue seas,

grace the nascent land with flowers,

birds and fruiting trees;

call it Eden, then conceive a miracle

in the feminine form of Eve.


The house itself

is stretching, creaking

in the rousing wash of dawn's

first grey; the sun's

forehead is peeking at the day;

its face still indigo from

sleep, its cloudy head

uncombed and tumbling vapour

curls upon the softly

rumbling sea.

The birds are waking

in the silent trees; a single

song is carried on the

quickening breeze; a flurry

of wings as feathered scouts

take flight to meet and greet

half way the rising light.

While still in sleep

I faintly hear the homey

sounds of morning

in my dimly listening ear,

and opening a dreamy eye

see on the bedroom wall

a single ray; the first

gold glimmer of the waking day.

Blue Fields

Kissing my eyes from dreamless

sleep; waking love's sweet

sudden fire, he taught me to say

I need, I want, and led me, unafraid,

into the blue fields of desire.

window by the sea

on the table in the unoccupied room

a convoluted shape,

a strange vessel

of sonorous properties;

while in the closed forgetfulness

of the window frame

is set, so soon,

the scintillating septet of stars,

and anguish, this midnight,

bears like a candle flame

many a twilight dream.

Vernal Equinox

Above the dark mass of trees the first star

glimmered like a moth; the pale sky a tranquil sea

upon which the single white star floated.

In the dusk all the colors of the world became

more beautiful, ardent, yet sad; the young greenery,

still naked and twiggy, a tracery of blue.

A faint breeze touched the tips of the trees,

from which petals of cherry blossoms fell

like snow flakes out of season

and a multiplicity of stars appeared

shimmering like angel tears.

Lovers caught out on such a night gave voice to pleas

and promises; climbed up the stairs of exaltation,

reached summits and pinnacles of joy

beyond which there is only the slow death of delight.


Rain summer kisses

on my autumn lips;

make the roses of desire


with a passionate perfume.


On spring evenings I wait

for this slow light, this soft light

start to seep, blush blue

out of the upper right hand corner

of space, darkening down

through the clouds, the solemn pines

and flowering plum.

With the night's increase

even the birds hush,

and then there is only silence,

the first star and peace.

Dreaming You

I dream your essence

into the air

and inhale you

like the scent of lilies.

I dream you are the sea,

fathomless as time

and submerge myself

in your mystery.

At night I dream you

are the moon,

your glow falls on my bed,

where it touches me I burn.


By its very nature she
feels smooth as silk
and warm as skin

a glowing, growing
oyster stone
scar tissue
a friable accretion

a wound
become belated beauty
in completion

a water gem
the scalloped shell
its cradle/crypt

a sea sonnet
a salt haiku
a lyric poem
of transformation.


The sun surrendered

to the green embrace of the sea;

stars immediately appeared

streaming along in the grip

of the galactic current,

and in the heartbreaking beauty

of the summer night the moon

hung like a scared gong;

ancient with wisdom and desire.

Water Journey


in perpetual mist

their dream sleep


by light laughter

of snow melt streams


to rivers eager

for the sea

where history lies

in milk white

mammoth bones

coral encrusted


and silent stones.


Ancient tree

watcher of time

the dawns and dusks

of a thousand, thousand

days, dreaming eternity.

toward eden

take my hand
don't be afraid
I know the way
through the dark woods
and into day

see the sun?
that's where we're going
out of the valley
of perpetual night
into the land
of golden light

to a flowering garden
jeweled with dew
where the peacock
and scarlet ibis
beside a sea
of dreaming blue

peace and beauty
will be ours to share
don't give up
we're almost there.

Poet to Poet

Souls touching

free from the tyranny

of flesh

our passionate spirits

leave no songs unsung.

The God of Sleep

In a room for pills and pillows
With two curtained beds,
A Purple Heart veteran of hospitals
Waits for dawn and morning meds.

Outside aides laugh and converse,
Some in English, most in Spanish,
Until told to hush by the night nurse.

Through sleepless night stupor
I hear footsteps approaching our door,
Each purposeful step slapping the tile floor.

Through the slit in my curtain I see
The an aide come in carrying
Towels, pads and anonymous potions
Used when performing morning devotions.

Alone again my fellow patient
And I sigh, shift restlessly
In our elevator beds
And pray to the God of sleep
To please turn off the thoughts in our heads.

Dawn Zapletal was born in Illinois and moved to California in 1945. Her poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in such publications as Bellowing Ark, Fox Cry, Snake River, Mariposa, Riverrun, Skylark, Le Colibri (France), The Sussex Review (England) and Kookaburra (Australia). Dawn loves caring for her flower and fruit gardens, long walks and nature, reading, and doing volunteer work for the National EAR Foundation and The National Self Help Center.

Poetry of Dawn Zapletal

Euterpe, goddess of lyric poetry