Some Notes on the Colors of These Changing Times: Editorial with Poem

poem poster art copyright by Aberjhani)

Given the horrendous white-versus-black-motivated massacre in Charleston, S.C., on June 17, the jubilant rainbow celebrations that broke out following the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nation-wide on June 26, and increasing calls to cease flying the Confederate flag on government properties, colors have commanded a lot of attention during these changing times.

The hues celebrated the most of course on July 4 in the United States are red, white, and blue. Many like to believe they stand for freedom, justice, and the American way. Officially, however, according to the House of Representatives’ publication Our Flag, red stands for hardiness and valor, white represents purity and innocence, and blue symbolizes vigilance.

But long before the founding of America’s democratic republic, visual and literary artists have used colors to create realistic images of external environments as well as representations symbolizing psychic responses to those environments…

Please check out the complete post with video at this link:
Some notes on the colors of these changing times: Editorial with poem – National African-American Art |


Text and Meaning in Elemental the Power of Illuminated Love (part 2 of 3)

          Video cover image for the music and poem video “Angel of Better Days to Come.”

One example of ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love’s principal themes would be the painting “Christ Listening to Stereo.” It depicts a youth on a bus in New York City. The image reveals how the youth is at once physically part of a larger setting while remaining, via his personal stereo, completely separate from it. Immersed in his interior pleasures, he claims a connection to the creative artist who made the music and who allows him to not only share in the expressed creative passion, but to utilize the same as a kind of soundtrack for his own anticipations, memories, desires, needs, or fears of the moment. 

Similar and yet very different scenes are frequently enacted in such public spaces as parks, malls, back yards, office buildings, clubs, and street corners. They all make the person part of a larger whole even while many individuals continue to exist primarily as isolated fragments of that whole. The following poem published in the book takes its title from the painting:

To continue reading the poem and full post by Aberjhani please click the link:
Text and Meaning in Elemental the Power of Illuminated Love (part 2 of 3) – National African-American Art |

A River of Winged Dreams Valentine’s Day Letter

Now come the whispers bearing bouquets of moonbeams and sunlight tremblings.” —Aberjhani (from The River of Winged Dreams)

 Below is a list of a few links that have been shared with me and which fans of The River of Winged Dreams might appreciate as well. I found the Han Chinese translations of “Angel of Earth Days and Seasons” and “Angel of Peace” particularly interesting because other than a couple of poems in Spanish, these are the only ones I’ve seen anyone attempt to translate (note to foreign rights publishers: if you’re interested please email me). Equally worthy of attention are the poignantly, inspiringly, and humanly profound meditations by Shay MacKay in her blog post “Rising from the Ashes.”

List of Stops on an Internet Tour of The River of Winged Dreams

1. Han Chinese translation of Angel of Earth Days and Seasons
2. Han Chinese translation of Angel of Peace
3. Review of The River of Winged Dreams by Richard Van Holst
4. Rising from the Ashes blog by Shay MacKay
5.Quotation with image post by Clare Patrick
6. Bridge of Silver Wings Theme  by Sharon Bailey and Bridge of Silver Wings Theme 2 by Debby Bentch Pages on Pinterest
7. Quoted in Huffington Post
8. Quoted in International Press Institute Annual Report (p. 16)

For behind-the-scene happenings on The River of Winged Dreams and Aberjhani please click the link:

A River of Winged Dreams                           Valentine’s Day Letter – Bright Skylark Literary Productions.

Feathers of Gold, Feathers of Silver (from The River of Winged Dreams) – by Aberjhani

Blog digital art graphic courtesy of Bright Skylark Literary Productions.

In July 2006, I sat down to write a short simple thank you note to fellow poets and writers who had graciously wished me well on my birthday. To my surprise, the intended short simple note came out of my pen in the form of the following poem: 


Each, shaped from a heart
divine—such is the nature
of your humble wings.

 Love, Mercy, and Grace,
sisters all, attend your wounds
of silence and hope.

You are the good twin
and the bad. Not arrogant,
but jubilant…sweet…

With grief or without,
your flight commands awareness
of joy beyond pain.

Holy starbright of
infinite heavens, for these
tears––I do thank you. 

Just the fact that it was a poem was the first big surprise. The second was the style in which it was written, a variation on the haiku that I had never used before. Had my muse taken on the form of an angelic presence to gift me with a unique way to say Thank You? Or had an angelic presence paid me a visit to play the role of my muse? I smiled at the possibilities, posted my Thank You poem, and life went cautiously on about its modern-world business. 

So how astonished was I when another angel poem materialized just a week later?  Very! This one called itself Angel of Grace. I don’t recall a specific reason for its composition, only afterwards feeling deeply inspired—almost pressured in fact—to dedicate it to the English poet Kate Burnside and her family. Since we have never met nor even chatted, this dedication stunned Burnside at least as much as it did me.           

These angels of poetry, I thought, have a nicely wicked and scary sense of humor.


Angel of Grace forced me to confront the possibility that even though I had no intentions of writing additional poems about the influence or presence of angels, some additional poems might nevertheless have every intention of making themselves known to me.  It turned out they did.  Most were written down but some were not simply because I could not always hold the words or images long enough in my mind to do so. They would come in bursts of intense energy like exploding butterflies, dazzle me with their depth and light, then vanish.  

The manner in which the poems continued to manifest intrigued me to no end. Predictably, the most violent among them was Angel of War. I did not like the concept of an Angel of War—probably because of the ongoing atrocities of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—so tried to resist the act of physically writing a poem about one. This struggle not to pick up a pen and write clashed head-on with an intense compulsion to do exactly that. For more than a week I found myself engaged in this psychic battle. Any time I wrote a stanza in one notebook, just to get it out of my head, I would later write somewhere else a question challenging the nature of war. This tugging back and forth eventually gave the poem its final form of haiku-like stanzas followed by angry questions. 

The Angel of War experience was a weird one that I did not have time to contemplate long because—talk about some serious irony—the next week the Angel of Peace showed up during a storm that knocked all the lights out. Every time I went feeling through the dark to do one thing, I would grab a candle or flashlight along with a pen and paper then stand wherever I was and write instead. Both Angel of War and Angel of Peace were featured in the July 2007 online issue of Poetry Life and Times. 

To read this full post by Aberjhani please click this link:

Feathers of Gold, Feathers of Silver (from The River of Winged Dreams) – Bright Skylark Literary Productions.

Notebook on Black History Month 2012 (Part 6): The Consecrated Soul of Whitney Houston (editorial and poem by Aberjhani)

Image frame from Whitney Houston’s video for “Million Dollar Bill.”

With the death of Soul Train founder Don Cornelius at the very beginning of the month, and that of Whitney Houston on February 11, Black History Month 2012 is fated to go down in history as one during which the world lost two of its greatest champions of African-American music.  

Moreover, since almost two weeks still remain in the month, one presents such a statement with noted caution. Yet as the world community and the good people of Newark, New Jersey,  bid farewell to the elegant Whitney Elizabeth Houston, it seems appropriate to pause a moment and give some consideration to things of an elevated nature. To repeat myself from another occasion: Sometimes an angel gets in my head and refuses to leave until I write down whatever it says. It felt that way when Michael Jackson passed in 2009 and it feels like that now.

Please click the following link to read Aberjhani‘s complete article and poem in tribute to Whitney Houston:
Notebook on Black History Month 2012 (Pt.6): Consecrated Soul of Whitney Houston – National African-American Art |

Dimensions of Time and Creative Vision

Cover story on ELEMENTAL, the Power of Illuminated Loved  

Cover story on ELEMENTAL, the Power of Illuminated Loved

After receiving an invitation from Amazon to add an author’s note to the site’s product pages for my books, I accepted and found myself having quite a bit of fun looking back on the experiences of writing different books. The following reflections are on ELEMENTAL, the Power of Illuminated Love (which btw is on sale right now):

Dimensions of Time and Creative Vision

If we accept the description of painting as a form of language, then it should be said that Luther E. Vann began composing ELEMENTAL, the Power of Illuminated Love with the oldest images in the book, which date back to 1970 and 1972. My pen started the process of catching up with his brush strokes in 1991, when I attended an exhibit of his work at the Beach Institute in Savannah, Georgia, and almost immediately started scribbling descriptions of the images that seemed to glow, shout, and sing at me from the canvases.

A little later, a chance encounter with the artist himself led to discussions about the possibility of creating a book together, one in which my writings-poetry and essays-would strive to articulate the essence of the paintings. Visually, Luther’s work already spoke very powerfully for itself and I had doubts about being able to match in words what he so masterfully had already accomplished with painting and sculpture. How would I even begin such a formidable task?

The idea of such a book itself went all the way back to Bohemian Paris, if not further, when artists such as Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall joined in creative partnerships with poets like Guillaume Apollinaire and Blaise Cendrars.  Who was I to fail to live up to such a noble tradition without at least giving it all the best shots I could muster?

I started by first borrowing small prints of the artist’s work and studying them. It would be a mistake, I knew, to simply describe the images. So I meditated instead on the creative and spiritual energies that inspired the artist himself and led to the works’ composition. Then I took the pressure off myself by writing only when struck by an impulse to do so as opposed to sitting in front of a blank page and trying to force a flow of words that were not there. With that point settled, the poems then seemed to arrive of their own accord, dropping out of the night sky like message-bearing meteor showers or greeting me with entire stanzas as I woke up in the morning.

Creative work has a way of unfolding in one dimension of time while everyday life progresses in another. My fateful beginning on ELEMENTAL evolved into a journey that took all of some seventeen years. While ELEMENTAL continued to grow and mature at its own pace, my first three books were completed and published. Periodicals on a national level, like ESSENCE Magazine, as well as those on more regional levels, like the Savannah Literary Journal, began to publish poems from the work in progress. Likewise, Vann continued to produce award-winning paintings which eventually made their way into the book as well.

The most phenomenal part of the journey came when members of the community banded together to champion the publication of the book and in May 2008, almost seventeen years to the day from the first time I saw Vann’s exhibit, actually made it happen.  What follows is an excerpt from a letter (first published in Connect Savannah, January 2, 2008) that I wrote to thank the people of Savannah for their support of the celebrated work:

…This is, after all, the same city that gave the world such stellar talents as poet Conrad Aiken, rapper and actor Big Boi, photographer Jack Leigh, author James Alan McPherson, lyricist Johnny Mercer, author Flannery O’Connor, actress Diana Scarwid, and many other gifted men and women.

At a time when war and various forms of violent discontent are so much a part of our daily consciousness, I believe it crucial to engage creative alternatives. This is not to say that ELEMENTAL is nothing more than an aesthetic indulgence to appease the sensibilities of two artists. It is in a fact a work that speaks very much to the heart and soul of our times: to the need for global political agendas that anchor humanity in peace rather than ensure its demise with war; and to the power of individuals to persist in exercising love in a world where people no longer seem certain of love’s meaning or value.

We are as grateful as we are honored for the support being provided. We hope that in time the book comes to represent more than just the achievement of one creative team, but a collective contribution towards the triumph of art and a spirit of community devoted to [celebrations of] life over the chaos and intolerance that so often ends in life’s tragic destruction.


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Evolution of a Vision: from Songs of the Angelic Gaze to The River of Winged Dreams

Hardback edition of The River of Winged Dreams

Hardback edition of The River of Winged Dreams

The notion of one powerful dream dying and another rising amidst its ashes was new to me until the life and energy of a dream that for years had empowered my creative endeavors came to an end. I was stunned because while I had accepted the reality of dreamers dying, I had never even considered the possibility that a dream itself could die. After all, it had not collapsed like a physical human body or dried up like an abused rose. It had simply gone from a recognized state of existence to an unrecognized non-existence and left me baffled in the wake of a sudden terror-filled inertia.

I accepted that the end of the dream must in some ways mean the end of me and prepared myself for whatever exactly that might mean. But although dreams are always specific to individuals they are not always respecters of persons and I found myself wrestling for a while with interpretations of a dream-informed life that was still very much in progress.

Then something which previously had eluded me became suddenly apparent: the death of a dream can in fact serve as the vehicle that endows it with new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color. In short, the power of a certain kind of dream is such that death need not indicate finality at all but rather signify a metaphysical and metaphorical leap forward.

Had I not been so panicked by the notion of my beloved life-enhancing dream coming to an end, I would have realized sooner that, from the very beginning, a major part of its pattern had always been change and adaptability. It had in fact started out as a manifestation of literary visions entitled Songs of the Angelic Gaze, so named because in a season of visions of angels (during the summer of 2006) I found myself transcribing what I saw into short and long chains of poetry.  At one point there came an image in which I stood with my father looking at a bridge teeming with angels––this sighting produced two editions of a book called The Bridge of Silver Wings. The second edition included works on ancestors, the newly-elected President of the United States Barack Obama, and a new suite of angel-inspired stanzas. Just as this second edition was titled The Bridge of Silver Wings 2009, I was fully prepared to produce a 2010 edition when the noted evolution occurred and the book now titled The River of Winged Dreams was born.

Four major poem additions to The River of Winged Dreams set it apart from its predecessors: “Sounds Scribbled Mixed-Media Platinum”; “Notes for an Elegy in the Key of Michael (I)”;  “Notes for an Elegy in the Key of Michael (II)”; and the title poem. Each of these stands out in its own right and light. “Sounds Scribbled Mixed-Media Platinum” was written during a sound painting performance, featuring Savannah’s Creative Force Artist Collective and jazzman saxophonist Jody Espina, at the Jepson Center for the Arts. My purpose for attending the event was to write a news article about it but as the painters and sculptors created their extraordinary works, while Espina and his ensemble exploded jazz throughout the atrium of the Jepson Center, my pen insisted on dancing to their creative beat and the poem wrote itself in the space intended for my notes.

The two “Elegies in the Key of Michael” are among the most surprising additions to the book, first because of the unexpected death of the great Michael Jackson in June 2009, and because of the haiku-influenced form assumed by the elegies.  The title poem arrived to announce the possibility I had failed to acknowledge: that built within the conclusion of a certain kind of dream were the beginnings of another capable of simultaneously redefining and extending the previous dream. It could even be that the whole purpose of the construction of The Bridge of Silver Wings was to provide a path leading to The River of Winged Dreams, or to serve as a resting place until the river’s deeper and truer nature revealed itself.

Once that deeper more true nature became clear, I had to smile at the perfect sense it made. A river is nearly the ultimate symbol for the very essence of change itself. It flows unceasing from one point of being to another, yet continuously occupying the same bed or pathway, and accommodating life’s endings with the same musical grace with which it accommodates life’s beginnings, along with all the muted and explosive moments that surface between the two extremes. The gift of this awareness did two wonderful things: the first was that it confirmed my growing conviction about the power of a given dream.  The second was that it extended, magnified, and clarified those Songs of the Angelic Gaze that first enchanted readers, listeners, and this author with the bold brilliance of their strength and the cool shimmer of their unsettling humility.

by Aberjhani
Savannah, Georgia

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