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SPIRITS OF THE WIND
Tanka 

Gerard John Conforti

Dedicated to Edward Crowley
and Sarah Tuchinsky


In memory of Robert Spiess

 

 
   
 

 

 

 

 

 

Spirits of the Wind is Gerard John Conforti's third book of tanka and in this one, his desire to dedicate his work to his friends and family expands as has his circle of support. Due to his childhood years being raised in an orphanage, his several years in and out of various mental hospitals and recovery programs, Conforti has had to learn to surround himself with an atmosphere of love and friendship as has no other person I know. Much of his time not spent on his writing goes to the care and nurturing of this group of people. Thus, when he writes his tanka poems, his awareness of the closeness and the necessity of these people is so actual that he dedicates each poem to his thoughts of that person.

His last book, For My Brother Victor & Elsa His Wife, the poems were the vehicles for Conforti's love for his brother Victor (who has since died). Spirits of the Wind now moves toward encompassing a wider circle of his support that has carried him through his grief.

Gerard Conforti writes in both the forms of haiku and tanka. Formerly he stayed with the  syllable-counting formula for his tanka, but now those rhythms are so much a part of his writing that he can allow himself the freedom to trust his inner voice.

Conforti's daily balance act between his mental states, though more severe for him, is not that much different from what others go through, also. Thus, his chronicle of his path, his thoughts given to words, his battles and his victories touch a portion of the lives of each of us.

It is an honor to be of help in bringing Gerard John Conforti's tanka to you.

Jane Reichhold


     For Lois

The day ends
and the night invades the stars
bringing them down
in a trail of fire
only to smother out in the galaxy

Sometimes, when I awake
after a soundless night of sleep
I can hear the rain
beating on the trees and streets
all day and into the following night

The autumn winds
pound the swaying trees
the tree boughs bouncing wildly
against the other branches
where the winds blow away the leaves

Sometimes, I am lost
on the paths of life
leading into the woods
the tree boughs hung
in the sorrow of day

In a small room
vibrating with music
the songs fill the night
and the loneliness sets in
like the pale moon in the solitary sky




Is it I
who feels the spirit of the winds
in the coldest days
or warmest nights
so insufferable is my beating heart

 

Like the spirits
moving from room to room
in and out of walls
into light and shadow
the voiceless voices

Today, a gloom
oppresses me
like the clouds
on windless days
unmoved

The storm of emotions
curls into clouds
like endless pain
tearing at me
like a ripping wind

It isnít paranoia
I feel most of the time
itís only a label
simply because
they need a name for it

It takes many days
for a storm to brew
but there are rays of light
streaming through the clouds
which break up the rage of day

On this late winter night
it feels like spring
and in late spring
it feels like summer
I think we have the timing right

One day,
mankind will discover the universe
and find more planets
like the Vikings discovered America
and the wars will begin again

If we think itís lonely on earth
Iím sure the universe above us
will bring more solitude
on unknown deserts and mountains
of other planets

 

For Angela

The glory of day
brightens my inner spirit
like the winds in pines
swaying in the morning sun
I will set spirits free

One day far from now
I will lie dormant like the trees
in cold winter
but my spirit will come alive
like the coming of spring

There are devious people
who would destroy another person
but the guilt of their death
will haunt them
for the rest of their lives

At times
I donít know if Iím coming or going
in or out of rainy days
or in sunlight or shade
I am lost

When one is emotionally ill
they experience feelings
which are at extremes
but doesnít mean theyíre capable
of doing harm to anyone

Like mountain paths
some face more tribulations
than others
but it is only Fate
which society ignores

Youíve been
good to me all this time
which like my friends
youíve kept me on the right path
winding through the woods

I donít trust
a certain person I know
who tried to lead me astray
down some devious road
which Iíve chosen not to take

Right at this moment
the strong winds outside
are creating chaos
with the wild swaying tree boughs
knocking branches down to earth

All the struggles
Iíve faced all my life
have been like mountains
I had to climb
despite the emotional illness

Every morning
when I wake depressed or joyful
is part of life
which is healthy
and that we all experience

I never have taken
any coming day for granted
because the joy I feel
I experience now
may be short lived

I never look forward
to the approaching storm
rolling across the sky
where the clouds are furious
and would destroy anyone in itís path

 

 

For Maureen

This coming summer
the heat of the noon sun
will rise from the traffic
and the roofs of houses
blazing on the steaming earth

In the summer rain
our embrace
will cool the heated winds
but for this relief
there are furious storms

After the passing rain
I can smell the green grass
and the honeysuckles
growing on the fence
across the building steps

I have traveled many States
and seen many mountains and meadows
fill with the life of spring
or frozen solid in winter
I have traveled many States

The clock on the night table
is ticking in the silence of night
each second claiming a life
and each second a reborn
the crying sound of a child

From out of the womb
comes each birth
and it is easier to be born
but difficult to die
which we avoid at all costs

I go from room to room
in the silence of day or night
my roommate sleeps
but he never greets the morning
and he is like a stranger to me

Across the rising sea
the fog blows onto land
and there is a chill
I feel walking from the shore
while the mist wets my face

Sometimes, when the voices
echo up the staircase
from the room on the first floor
the fury begins again
which is not a comfort to me

I love to live in silence
and this is the only way
I can sit beneath the lights
and write all I want
at two oíclock in the morning

It is disturbing to me
in this four story building
and I never know when
when the shouting begins again
to awaken the peaceful from sleep

There are moments
when I think of mountains and valleys
where there is peace and beauty
away from the furious crowds
far from the beauteous forest

I rejoice in my solitude 
when the world is soundless
and the moon shines brightly
with the spark of stars
which I hold in my heart

Iíve learned in life
there is danger on every street
I donít have to go far
to witness how people live
in and out of shadows

 

For Vicky

Today, is a good day
to walk away from everything
itís how I feel at times
when the stress sets in
and the voices echo far

There is nothing better
than the love of nature
Iíve learned to live with
and when I view the flowers
I feel in harmony with them

I donít know why
people rush here and there
to get somewhere
theyíll reach anyway
with frustration

I try to be calm
most of the time
itís not me having a bad day
although I do at times
get upset

When I see a storm coming
itís a part of nature
we have no control over
but most days, the sun shines
and the silence fills the morning


What happens
when a picked apple
lies rotting in a basket
it spoils all the others
which makes for a dismal day

There is always truth
no matter what we do in life
but lies and betrayal
only leads to trouble
and this we donít want

Iím hopeful
that our lives will get better
for every trouble
there is a cure
and this is part of nature

The globe in the sky
is blinding with itsí blazing light
but it brings good things
to everything on earth
but industry can destroy it all

This spring day
a breeze is softly blowing
and itís wonderful
to gather the sun
in the sunlight of shady trees

Every day depends
on what Iíll write next
and some days pass
without scratching the paper
with blue ink

Where has everyone gone
the streets are deserted
and only the sparrows sing
it must have been a bad storm
which keeps us locked inside

 

 

For Mary

The bliss of a yellow moon
on this autumn night
glows upon the valley
slopping into meadows
the shadows cast upon the grass

The spinning full moon
rolls across the spring sky
From mountain to mountain
down over the meadows
and into the setting sea

Beneath the early spring morning
are cattle grazing in the meadows
of fresh green grass
from wooden fences
stretching across the fields

In the brooks
the water reflects the dawn
where the pale moon
climbs over the earth
where no cattle can graze

We dwell day by day
living as best as we can
but birth is short
and life is shorter
and death waits the stone

The glowing clock
on the towering steeple
strikes midnight
but the morning breaks the silence
of the clock

In an out of the library
above the winding street
people come and go
with the knowledge of books
tucked under their arms

Across the N.Y. Harbor
the World Trade Center buildings
collapsed into dust
but the other skyscrapers glitter
despite the terror attack

From the window of my room
the blinds are open for sunlight
to stream into the room
which brightens the day
despite the bare tree boughs in winter

Soon, the warmth of spring
will bring the winter trees to life
even when it snows
in the early month of March
the red buds come out of the twigs

I remember well
the paths in the woods
I used to walk in all kinds of weather
when it would rain or snow
the sound of the snow would fall

In the silence of woods
the autumn leaves
would crackle
beneath my steps
but the traffic would awaken the day

 

For John R.

The harshness of night
closes in on me
and tonight the stars donít shine
behind the stormy clouds
the full moon hides itsí face

With all the troubles I bear
Iím able to cope well
but the stresses build up
like a heap of leaves
falling from the tree boughs

Iíve learned
I canít be of help to everyone
and the troubles they face
are like stormy winds
flooding the streets at night

I love the early morning
when the silence keeps the winds
from shuddering the windows
and disturbing my dreams at night
which will return again

If I could
and had the money to do so
I would live by myself
in a quiet town
somewhere in the mountains

Today, I went to Snug Harbor
with a friend of mine
and the winds were gentle
and the flowers blooming
and who can ask for more

I no longer
view whatís in the future
Iím content now
to be with nature
and what happens later will happen

 

For Tynecca

I do hope
for the best in everyone
with some determination
the sky is endless
an the stars are touchable

You never know
what someone is thinking
but by the sound of their voice
and their mannerism
there must be something there

Only the strongest winds
can bring down a tree
rooted in the earth
but only the strongest sunlight
can grow another tree in itsí place

For two decades
Iíve been through tough times
but when someone believes in something
willing to seriously pursue
they are stronger than the winds

When Iím alone
Iím always thinking of something
positive or negative
but positive is good
and negative thinking is a waste of time

I understand well
what emotional turmoil can do
Iíve been through most of it
but climbed to the top
and thatís better than giving up

As John Keats once wrote
the miserable
are the best artists and writers
and this will always be
because no one likes oppression

 

For Renee

Tonight, itís going to snow
and hail and rain
which will make a cold night
when the hidden stars
will keep the night its darkest

Why are the walls so white?
they are colorless, but peaceful
but there are worse walls
that are green and purple
which makes for an eerie sight

Where are we taken
down the roads of Fate
there is good and evil
there, hidden in the woods
where the violets are beautiful

I write at a desk
beneath a bright light
which brightens my spirits
so bright, the light takes away
the gloom of depression

There are other places
I will travel to
down roads Iíve never known
and some Iíve traveled before
which has made me a wiser person

When the dawn opens my eyes
to the rain pouring outside
I will view the gloom of day
yet Iíll be blissful
because of all the blooming flowers

Across the street
there are tall sunflowers
their faces bowed down
toward the withering grass
this somber autumn day

Like a blazing fire
burning wood on the sandy shore
the seashells crackle
and set loose
flying sparks of flint

 

For Tina

I think experience
is sometimes better than books
for experience teaches one
about what life really is
and books are words ready for life

 

There is a maze in life
and this depends where one goes
to escape the traps
which teaches all of us
where not to go

Iíve walked many places
and lived in places
most people wouldnít want to live
I know drugs destroy people
and that solitude is sometimes better



If it werenít for my writing
I would be lost
somewhere in the crowd
of unknown faces
passing in the night

The rooming houses
Iíve lived in for years
kept me writing
despite the solitude
and the chaos around me

I learn something new
every passing day
but I know
I will make mistakes
despite good intentions

I donít have to watch T.V.
to see whatís around me
I see it every day
wavering near and far
where good and evil reside

 

For Danielle

At the boarding house
a disoriented man counts money
as he counts life in dollar bills
killing himself the same day
without no one knowing

What has happened to America?
Some people are flying off the handle
and killings
happen every day
where doors are locked shut tight

Iím hearing the winds
at this moment
playing chaos outside
in the rainy, snowy night
weíre in for a big storm

I donít like
when people talk down to me
it only infuriates me
and only enhances
me to write more

There is a chill here, tonight
and I know
it must be freezing outside
on this late winter night
two days before spring

 

For Karen

I think itís going to rain tonight
for days and nights to come
but Iím ready
for any tears I may shed
despite the odds I face

I wish the sun
would come out each passing day
and it does
sometimes without showing itself
ítil the storm clears

I see my friends and family
dying off, one by one
and I never hear their voices
except in memory
long after theyíre gone

Our minds
are flooded with knowledge
which is deeper
than the ocean floor
and as infinite as the universe

Just look
what one cell did to us
a very long time ago
it created peace and chaos
which has gone on for centuries

 

For Claire

At this late hour
I must be the only one awake
like the shimmering stars
and glowing moon
which makes for a festivity tonight

There is nothing like sanity
itís how one sees life
which brings pain or joy
but even in pain there is joy
even if itís a small spark of fire

I face each day
as it comes along
I still think I can work on problems
but I donít think much of them
when Iím busy writing

Going against the tides
takes a lot of strength
but people have done it
and made their way far out
and touched the sky

 

For Dee

Today, the clouds
will pass over the trees and houses
pattering rain
on everything in its wake
and so is life, sometimes

Itís dark outside
except for the glow of street lights
flooding the streets with light
just like the rain is doing
reflecting the glow of light

When I was younger
the blizzards often came in winter
but since then
thereís hardly any snowfall
so something must have gone awry

Iím beginning to tire
but I only have a few more poems
to write in verse
after writing for six hours non-stop
the night has taken its toll

In my apartment
I can hear the heat
clinging an clanging the floor radiators
it must be very cold outside
for the heat to rise

There are times
when dreams dissolve like stars
only to reappear
the following night
brighter and warmer than ever

 

For Michelle

Thereís a star
trailing across the ocean tides
toward the sandy shore
over the towering pines
and around the rolling earth

This year, 2001-2002
will always be remembered
when the World Trade Center
collapsed into dust
and the innocence was lost

Iíve gone from room to room
and they were empty of people
people who had come and gone
into and out of life
and now only their spirits haunt the rooms

The spring winds
are blowing into my window
to feel the warmth of spring
is to feel the love of God
bringing all things to life

There is so much to do
and not enough time to do it
but something important
leaves behind a life
which has blossomed through the years

I realize
some people feel alone
but sometimes
this is better
than the trouble on the way

 


   
   
With deep thanks to Jill Avedon-Hernandez for support and typing.   Spirits of the Wind  Copyright © Gerard John Conforti 2002.
Online Version  Copyright © AHA Books 2002.

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