– simple thoughts & writings &c. by Elizabeth Heimbaugh –

Category: Poems

Bedtime Hymn

Messina, Italy (Landscape)

Infinite Spirit,
in the caress of the night
I call to You.

Redoubtable Love,
my heart is full to bursting
at the sound of Your name.

Perpetual Peace,
my tongue is tied up in praises
of Your impossible grace.

When the soul has lost her way
in pursuit of wild things,

You summon her home
in tones as sweet as honey,
as soft as rain

And rock her to sleep
again and again.

Revelation (Video)

Sometime in the spring, I recorded this short video of an old poem I’d written called “Revelation.” Text below. (Also here.)

A swallow landed at the landlord’s golden gate:
Svelte-seeming swallow, small begotten king,
A thing to glory in so many miniatures of spring

Sprung all to blooming in bedappling beds,
Heads of the hyacinth, so much overfed, looked longing
On high to the highriding Sun of whom they were sons;
They were blushing the flush of a mother,
They were hushing to hear the swallow their Brother!

Their Brother winged wide to the goldenwrought gate
Forespeaking the sounds of a highmountain place:
The trees were bowing their leaves to the song!
The swallow was sweeping the stone hearts along!

The swallow, oh swallow! – inviolable grace! –
Stood steady straight, straight steady stood, standing at the gate.


Ice cubes trembling
Birds on wire.

Happy head
Children dancing
Time for bed.

Red Bird

Red bird
in the palm of my hand—
Who cannot sing the strains of love
stirring trapped inside your beak.

Drop a feather instead—
In the fullness that can’t be expressed,
the only thing left
is to fly.

So good-bye, red bird—
May you carry the kiss of my quiet soul
on the northerly wind.

Two Peonies

This is an old poem, but I’m experimenting with using video as a means to occasionally record and deliver poetry. Ignore the fancy promotional bit at the end; I just quickly imported my video to one of the first free online video editors I could find, and the result was some extra advertising graphics I don’t exactly want. Suggestions welcome 🙂


Two peonies are blooming under the sky,
But I am too sick with nerves to come by
And loiter with them and ask their pardon
For looking so pale inside their garden:
They would wince, close, lose their beauty, dry;
They would drop their petals, sullen, and sigh:
Goodbye, good child, good-bye, good bye.

Which is the way to the castle?

Which is the way to the castle?
By the river or through the wold?
How shall I find the master gate
In this winter, shivering cold?

The time, I fear, is running short;
The daylight is growing weak.
Make haste I must if I should hope
To find that strangeling thing I seek.

But how, good sir, I fain thee ask,
Wouldst not thou go the way with me?
Too late, too long, too chill the walk
Without a friend for company.

The Fire Was Lit / Weight


A couple of poems written in my journal while working at the movie theater yesterday evening.

The fire was lit
Before I knew
The dangerous dance
Of hanging up the habits
Of a tenderer time
And falling, head-first,
Into a world
Of decadent, impossible love.

But then,
You see,
The first among us
Are hardly last
And if you ask me
How to find the way to Paradise–
Well, what do I know
Of such things,
Except that a penny can’t get you there–
Neither in spring, nor in snow?

Tiredness, a weight around your neck that keeps you from sleep when all you wish for is sleep– for the reprieve of disappearance into a moment of non-being, a pause of responsibility in a living, breathing world.

The weight is heavy, yes, but you’ve forgotten what it is to be light, and soon you’ll have forgotten the rest– the smells, the sounds of happiness– since the world moves on when you’re still standing in the spot you couldn’t figure out how to leave behind.

The blast of a carrier wind brings you to a gentler place– quiet and kind. There, the people smile with whitewashed teeth and a pleasant look, but there is no hand to touch your arm, no mouth to tell you that it’s all right.

Yet the fact of being lonely is only a state of mind, a habit worn like an old fur coat, too cumbersome to remove when the air around you is still a bit chill.

Can you forget the words? It turns out, you can– you’ve forgotten the feelings, too. For in the mess of an unplumbed mind– the clutter of a hurting heart– everything gets remembered and forgotten all at once, so that the truth of any given thought swings in the uncertain balance of imperfect recollection.

But have I come close to describing the thud of losing hope, the thousand pieces of self that abandon themselves like vagrants when your simple faith is proven wrong?

Millennia of poets have sung the songs of love,
but who has sung your sorrow,
who has written of your impossible weight?

If You Forgot You Were Loved

Margherite (Daisies)

When the time is right
…..and you have the eyes to see
you will find that I’ve loved you
…..all this time
……….and even longer

But you weren’t seeking
…..in the places
…..I sought you
……….most intently

For you were waiting on some other
…..to make your path straight
……….and your lamp lit.

When it comes to Love,
…..there is no place
……….one can go
……………and be apart from the Beloved.

Indeed, in the Kingdom of Love,
…..the only direction
……….is told by the star of Light
……….that shines from the eyes of the One
……….you can’t forget.

Why have you been seeking
…..what is not lost?

When you find your way by faith,
…..the impossible becomes possible:

For suddenly you know
…..that you are loved
…..even in the absence
……….of so many things which you long to see—

Beyond such visibilities
…..the heart enters into a knowledge
…..purer and deeper,
…..dipped in the soft waters of truth.

If you could find me
…..by losing your peace,
what kind of love would that be?

No, the way of the heart
…..is gentle and kind,
…..a salve to the soul,
always blessing and wanting to bless.

Live by these words
…..and indeed you shall be
a man or a woman of great wealth:

For you will have won
…..the secret of life
……….which so many have labored to find
……….and failed to see,
…..when in fact the truth is simple and smooth
…..as a stone.

Forget the things
…..that complicate your soul—
there is no room for these
in a house full of light.

Be rather the one
…..who knows that all things
…..belonging to Love
dwell also in your heart—

Waiting there
to set you free.

Love Poured Out

Stanford Memorial Church, Interior

Poems written while sitting in Memorial Church (California) and St. Bernard Church (Ohio).

Love poured out
upon the forehead of my chosen one
made the room dance with light
and expanded into the consciousness
of a million solitary souls.
It was the kiss, indeed,
that saved the world–
simple, pure, undivided,

When the rest of your belongings fell away,
you were finally free
to say what you wanted to say
in the clear, clean tones
of absolute truth.

My candle was the last to burn
but the fire was so bright and intense,
the other candles flickered in surprise–
for now there was no darkness they could not illumine
with their great chorus of flame.

What do I see when I look at You?
A boulder of light
A crown of flames
A window into the purest soul
That ever walked the Earth.
But if my longing
Were a thing that could be put into words,
I’d have spent all my tears
And half the night
Composing You a letter
Which would be sent by way of the heart
And postmarked with a kiss
To end all kisses–
A pouring out of life
With a simple name
More rapturous than any other.
But as it is,
My words will fail
In the face of such incomprehensible Love.
So I am left with one choice:
To forget what has come before,
Allowing the peace of Your Spirit
To write the story I could not tell
And bring me to places I have never been,
So as to purify our love
In unrestrained surrenders
Of life and soul and being.

A Crown of Sonnets

Isaiah built a house of cards with one
hundred twenty aces: he found a patch
of dirt beneath a willow tree and that
is where he made his house. A simple house,
but tall, growing from the ground with a steep-
pitched roof, and so many floors, but never
a staircase. No chimney either, for one
slight puff of smoke would blow the whole house down:
the aces would go flying everywhere!
It was delicate work, and Isaiah
was careful to hold his breath with every
laying of a card: glossy ace upon ace.
The boughs of the willow shivered as he
looked marveling at his little masterpiece.

She looked marvelous, but a little piece
of dandelion fluff caught in her hair.
Madeline sat down in a field of wind,
picking at the flowers, pulling their roots
like light bulbs out of their sockets – not fast,
but twisting them, making an idle guess
as to when they might come undone. She let
the stems fall into the lap of her skirt:
now and then, the wind would take one away,
blowing it with her perfumed breath to some
other corner of the far field. Resting
on an elbow, Madeline counted stars
until she forgot what number she’d reached,
only to begin forgetting again.

To begin forgetting again: only
a matter of time until the bluegreen
waves turned gray because he’d watched the water
for so many days. A cold wind lifted
the hem of his jacket, and Henry turned
his eyes to the heavens to see whether
his fortunes were good. He pulled out some things
for writing and tried to unstiffen his
fingers, all contracted with salt. Slowly
he set about the work: images of
words flitted in the briny air, small mis-
remembered ghosts laughing around the ship.
Henry made his mouth in a little O,
swallowed down air, sealed his quiet letter.