“Rock Paper Pictures,” “Of Voices, Waters, and Fires” and “Samsara Serenade”

“Rock Paper Pictures,” “Of Voices, Waters, and Fires” and “Samsara Serenade”

Rock Paper Pictures

It’s called The Cave of Forgotten Dreams

this place where handprints

with broken finger

wave at squint-eyed scientists

where prehistoric rhino, too,

looks up and down

in animated

horn thrusting

It is a place

where I can no longer walk



its mouth,

for me to trace

the jowls of a saber tooth


to feel at home

in the chilled darkness

that once belonged to

a long dead tribe

of southern France

that hunted

and hooped

and hollered

their way from hunter gatherer

to farmer

Though I have yet to cross

its threshold

the history of the place

humps its way to caress

my innermost cheekbones

with an icy forefinger

and mesmerize me with

fireside chats about

arrow and bone and hide

of meat and fire

on picture and pride

These are ancient ones

who delved into

stone-walled comic books

the hero of which

was hunted and killed

ingested and digested

and immortalized on rock paper

Of Voices, Waters, and Fires

There it is— the horn of awakening. I submit to its call the way
ancient tribes adored the mountains of the moon and the way
fireflies soar over soft summer grasses escaping from the hot
earth— caught in mid atmosphere between the ether and the soil...
in perfect pitch and light. My affirmation becomes the resistant
verdure of ancient trees of the North and of the scarlet wild flower
that blooms from the crack of a rock so old it forgot it was rock
and thought it was fertile earth so young. Then, giving birth to
crimson explosion, it morphs into a rainbow of mesas jutting into
the horizon of western skies, allotting valleys and nooks their
respective triumphs as they meander their way through haunted
passages. This becomes the flood water plain of my adoration,
eroding all walls, permeating all barriers, eviscerating all fear. In
this flow, perpetual present is infinitely directed and time is linear
no more. A voice—part of an old language, with a kind of
sweetness that feeds the Redwoods and Sequoias of ancient births
and seeps into spirit waters from ethereal sources in misty glens—
this voice—becomes a channel that demystifies the world,
irreversible in its foundational tenets of authenticity. I am shaken
the way the wind cracks the shell of an acorn before it hits the
earth, as to get the green snail out of hiding from the orb of plant
and seed, to spring from each encounter into the oak of promise. In
the darkness, there is the smoke of old fires. I can no longer smell
what started them. The torrents of spring will soon extinguish the
vestiges of the smoky remains and—tomorrow,

the world will be winked at by the sun, nudging the arch in the foot
of time that circles back onto itself, reminding me of the long grass
that bends back to kiss the earth. Now, the rest of my life can
tumble like happy children down a grassy hill

at summer’s end

Samsara Serenade

a fanning of banana leaves

a scrape of bamboo

the subtle sounds of an eastern


an intake of breath

a slow exhale

the yellow of a horizon behind my eyelids

i want an end to it

the suffering of ages

a thought that plagues

my breath count

i must disassemble

to reassemble

to unlearn the ignorance

that has waylaid me

i am indebted to the springs in my pallet

the soft sands of my floor

these things that do not belong

here, in my meditation upon them

1, 2, 3, 4, a sharp

pain in the middle of my foot

a cramp that retracts four of my toes

a nuanced nuisance

that interrupts, bequeathing

another foray into life after birth

i taste the salt of 500-year-old sweat

that imperiously drops down the nose

of my death mask

a legacy of awareness and merit

then and now and later

all, now

faces melt into a full

horizon of unmasking

a breath that has been held

for waves of ages

and the thin edge of paper

bent backward

as a memory

speaks to the assembly of selves

that have gathered

and the naked door opens

About the Author

Khalil Elayan

Khalil Elayan is a Senior Lecturer of English at Kennesaw State University, teaching mostly World and African American Literature. His other interests include finishing his book on heroes and spending time in nature on his farm in north Georgia. His poems have been published in A Gathering of the Tribes Magazine, Dime Show Review, About Place Journal, and The Esthetic Apostle. Khalil’s most recent essay appears in bluntly magazine.