(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "The Compleat Panther Cycles"

other books by William F. DeVault 



PanthEon 

From an Unexpected Quarter 

Love Gods of a Forgotten Religion 

101 Great Love Poems (Hardbound) 

101 Great Love Poems (Softbouiid) 

INVOCATO 

The Morgantown Suite Poems 



ISBN #0-9659576-0-8 
ISBN #0-5950023-1-5 
ISBN #0-5952225-2-8 
ISBN #0-5956540-2-9 
ISBN #0-5952588-2-4 
ISBN #1-41 16293-1-0 
ISBN #1-41 16337-4-0 



Visit the William F. DeVaiilt's official website at www . cityoflegendg . com 



Cover Ullages and internal representations modeled by JiUian Ann 
Visit her official website at www. JiUianAnn.coin 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVaiilt - The Complea! PaiiTlier Cycles 



The Compleat 

Pantner Cucies 

William r. DeVault 



All rights reserved © William F. DeVault 

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any former by any means, electronic, graphic, or 

mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or by any information storage retrieval system, without 

permission in writing from the pubhsher, 

ISBN #1^116379^-1 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

TABLE OF CONTENTS 



IN THE WORDS OF A CRIMSON BEAST XVOI 

THE MOUNTAIN POET SPEAKS XX 

A TWIST OF FATE AND CONTEMPLATION XXH 

A WORD FROM THE AMOMANCER XXIV 

THE FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: 3 

OUT OF THE NIGHT 3 

BROODING EYES 5 

WHERE ARE THE DAISIES? 5 

TRANSIENT HEART 6 

A CORRIDOR OF ANCIENT MIRRORS 6 

NIGHT STALKER 7 

THE SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: APHRODITE'S FOUNTAIN 9 

APHRODrTE'S FOUNTAIN 11 

MIRANDA 12 

ENAMORED 13 

THE DREAM 13 

PLAYING THE GALLANT 14 

TO INSPIRATION IN THE EYE OF THE PANTHER 14 

THE THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: THE RAINBOW 15 

THE RED 17 

THE ORANGE 17 

THE YELLOW 17 

THE GREEN 18 

THE BLUE 18 

THE INDIGO 19 

THE VIOLETS 19 

THE FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: I DREAMED A DREAM 21 

REDEMPTION 23 

INAMORATA 23 

WEDDING BED. 23 

JUNGLE PASSIONS 24 

HEARTBEAT 24 

TRANSHGURATION 25 

SEVENTH MONTH 25 

THE FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE LEGEND CYCLE 27 

HALF TRUTHS 29 

STEPPING ON THE WIRE 29 

IDOLS OF GLASS.. 30 

THE GORDIANNUT 30 

REBIRTH 31 

/ 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

SAND ANGELS 32 

GHOST DANCE 32 

POSSES3IVENESS 32 

THE SIXTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE JOY CYCLE 33 

THE P3ALM OF LOVE/THE LOVER'S PRAYER 35 

REBIRTH 35 

ECSTASY 35 

CHILD OF LOVE AND ELOQUENCE 36 

INEVrrABIUTY 36 

THE PENETRATING ROSE 36 

MEANDER 37 

THE SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: ROMANCE IN REALTIME 39 

WHEN FIRST I CHANCED 41 

BAPTISM 42 

4 A.M 42 

MORNING 43 

BEFORE YOU GO 43 

THE FIRE 43 

PATIENCE 44 

THE EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE: BETRAYAL 45 

THE NINTH PANTHER CYCLE: A SLICE OF HEAVEN 47 

CHAOS QUA STICK 49 

SECORJTY 49 

FIRST SIGHT 49 

MORNING 50 

INFLUENCES 50 

PASSION 51 

MUSING 51 

THE TENTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE PENETRATING ROSE 53 

INVTTATiaN 55 

SHAEINGBREATH 55 

THE PENETRATING ROSE 56 

IMPRESSIONS 56 

THE PRECIPICE 57 

THE COMMUNION OF THE WARM WINE 57 

MELANCHOLY/THE MORNING AFTER 58 

THE ELEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: SEVEN KISSES 59 

INTRODUCTIONS 61 

DARK KISS 62 

WHILE WE ARE IN YOU 63 

BABY KISS 64 

A THIRSTY KISS 65 

WET KISS 66 

THE KISS OF THE REAWAKENING ROSE 67 

THE TWELFTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE WEDDING CYCLE 69 

PROMISES 71 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

SONNET: THEJOTIEtNEY 71 

PROCESSIONAL 71 

PURPOSE 72 

RIVETS 72 

SYNERGY IN WHITE LIGHT 73 

FIRST DANCE 74 

THE THIRTEENTH PANTHER CYCLE: PANTHER ON THE BEACH 75 

THE PANTHER ON THE BEACH 77 

RATIONALE 78 

A KISS OF INTENT 78 

MY HEART 79 

SPIKE 79 

SONG 79 

PANTHER'S DANCE 80 

THE FOURTEENTH PANTHER CYCLE: PANTHER EYES 81 

PANTHER EYES 83 

SIMPLE PLEASURE 83 

THE KERNEL 84 

WINGS 84 

UNWORTHY 85 

SCRUTINY 85 

FELIOFIC 85 

THE FIFTEENTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE GODDESS CYCLE 87 

IDUN, NORSE GODDESS OF YOUTH 89 

ISHTAR, EGYPTIAN GODDESS OF LOVE AND FERTILHY 89 

BAST, EGYPTIAN GODDESS OF CATS 89 

BRIGII, CELTIC GODDESS OF FIRE AND POETRY 90 

APHRODITE, GREEK GODDESS OF LOVE AND BEAUTY 90 

TYCHE, GREEK GODDESS OF GOOD FORTUNE 90 

ISIS, EGYPTIAN GODDESS OF FERTILHY 91 

THE SIXTEENTH PANTHER CYCLE: DARK AND LIGHT 93 

CONFLICTS 95 

WALLS 95 

DEFIANCE 95 

DRAGONRISE 96 

UNION 96 

TASTING THE FIRE 97 

HOLDFAST 97 

THE SEVENTEENTH PANTHER CYCLE: SOFT REFLECTIONS 99 

EDGE 101 

SUMMER DREAMS 101 

SHINIKG EPITAPH 101 

A KISS 101 

AGAIN 102 

THE THEATRE 102 

PARTING AT THE AIRPORT 102 

THE EIGHTEENTH PANTHER CYCLE: UNBORN MEMORIES 103 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

THE MEETING 105 

THE CONFESSION 105 

THE KISS 105 

THE DRESS 106 

THE FIGHT 106 

THE BOOK 107 

THE WEDDING 107 

THE NINETEENTH PANTHER CYCLE: SEVEN WONDERS 109 

THE PYRAMIDS OP EGYPT Ill 

THE HANGING GARDENS OF BABYLON Ill 

THE MAUSOLEUM AT HALICARNASSUS Ill 

THE TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS 112 

THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES 112 

THE STATUE OF ZEUS BY PHIDIAS AT OLYMPIA 112 

THE PHAROS AT ALEXANDRIA 113 

THE TWENTIETH PANTHER CYCLE: FRAGMENTS OF DREAMS AND MEMORIES 115 

THE DAY IS LONG 117 

KISSES 117 

HONEY EYES 117 

THE MERGING FLAMES 118 

THE WALK lis 

WHENTHE SHOE FALLS 113 

I FEAR 119 

THE TWENTY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: FLOWERS 121 

THE ROSE 123 

DANDELIONS 123 

THE ORCHID 124 

HONEYSUCKLE 125 

JASMINE 125 

CROCUS 125 

THE SNAPDRAGONS 126 

THE TWENTY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: WINDS OF CHANGE 127 

CALM 129 

GENTLE BREEZE 129 

STIFF BREEZE 129 

GALE 130 

CYCLONE 130 

HURRICANE 131 

SOULWIND 132 

THE TWENTY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: CONSTELLATIONS 133 

ORION 135 

URSA MAJOR 135 

HYDRA 136 

CYGNUS 136 

LEO 137 

PISCES 137 

CASSIOPEIA 137 

iv 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

THE TWENTY-FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: INEVITABILITY 139 

I AM NOT GOD 141 

I HEARD YOUR VOICE 141 

BIGGER POCKETS 141 

GENTLE SERENITY 142 

BITTER WATERS 142 

YOUR FACE IN MY HANDS 142 

PANTHERS AND POETS 143 

THE TWENTY-FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: TENDERNESS 145 

FRACTURES 147 

CUBES Wrmm SPHERES 147 

SOLITIIDE 148 

CHAMELEON 148 

OPEN SECRET 149 

BUILDING BRIDGES 149 

SILVER KISSES 150 

THE TWENTY-SIXTH PANTHER CYCLE: FIRE 151 

SPARK 153 

TAPER 153 

FLAME 153 

BLAZE 154 

CONFLAGRATION. 154 

NUCLEAR INFERNO 155 

THE FIRES OF LOVE 156 

THE TWENTY-SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE NATURE OF LOVE 157 

HONESTY 159 

PATIENCE 159 

TENDERNESS 160 

PASSION 160 

SPHUTUALITY 161 

TRUST 161 

ETERNAL 161 

THE TWENTY-EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE: GEMS 163 

DIAMONDS 165 

ALEXANDRITE 165 

RUBY 165 

TIGEREYE 166 

SAPPHIRE 166 

ONYX 166 

EMERALD 167 

THE TWENTY-NINTH PANTHER CYCLE: IN THE WORDS OF THE ANCIENTS 169 

AERE PERENNIUS 171 

SUNT LACRIMAE REEUM 171 

INVTTA MINERVA 171 

DUM VIVIMUS, VIVAMUS 172 

HINC ILLAE LACRIMAE 172 

OMNIA VINCrr AMOR 173 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

SATIS VEEBORUM 173 

THE THIRTIETH PANTHER CYCLE: ASPECTS OF THE PANTHER 175 

CREATIVrrY 177 

BEAUTY 177 

WISDOM 177 

SENSUALITY 178 

SENSmVITY 178 

PCETRY 179 

RESONANCE 179 

THE THIRTY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: VIRTUES OF THE PANTHER 181 

JUSTICE 183 

FQRTITLrDE 183 

PRUDENCE 184 

TEMPERANCE 184 

FAITH 184 

HOPE 185 

LOVE 185 

THE THIRTY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: MUSINGS OF A TROUBLED HEART 187 

LABORS OF LOVE 189 

DIVINE WIND 189 

DARWINIAN HEARTS 190 

MASSAGE 190 

COLDFIRE 191 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF LOVERS 191 

HELD IN THE SDPERSTRING WEB OF TIME AND SPACE 191 

HARDWIRE 192 

THE THIRTY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: IMAGES 193 

1 195 

n 195 

m 196 

mi 196 

V 196 

VI 197 

VII 197 

THE THIRTY-FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: A DAY IN MY HEART 199 

CONFLICTS 201 

WISHES 202 

RAIN 202 

COLOUR DREAMS 202 

INYODRARMS 203 

HUNTRESS 203 

THE THIRTY-FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: DANCING DREAMS 205 

THE WIRE OF DP^AMS 207 

IN THE WRONG LIGHT 207 

SPANISH GUITAR 207 

JASMINE TEA 208 

vi 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

PANTHER'S DANCE 208 

IN THE PUBLIC SQUABS 209 

LIFE. AND THE COUHAGE TO LIVE IT 209 

THE THIRTY-SIXTH PANTHER CYCLE: UNDER PRESSURE 211 

MAD WHEELS 213 

DRAINING THE MUSE 213 

DESTINY 214 

AVATAR 214 

A ROSE DISCARDED 214 

DISTANCE AND DANCES 215 

LOVING MY FRIEND 215 

THE THIRTY-SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: MEANDER 217 

THIRSTY WATERS 219 

THE GREEN DRESS 219 

PLEASURES AND TREASURES 220 

A DREAM 220 

I FELL IN LOVE Wrra A FRIEND 221 

NOSES 221 

GLASS SOULS.. 222 

THE THIRTY-EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE: PRIDE IN THE PANTHER 223 

AT LUNCH INNEW YORK 225 

THE READING 225 

TRUTH 226 

GETTING THROUGH THE DAY 226 

CASTING ME OUT 227 

THE PRIZE 227 

DREAMING 228 

THE THIRTY-NINTH PANTHER CYCLE: PASSION AND DELIGHT 229 

THE KISS OF LIFE 231 

GENTLE IMPALEMENT 231 

THE SPIRITUALITY OF MAKING LOVE wrra YOU 231 

HOLDING THE GRAIN 232 

AGAINST THE WALL 232 

THE FLIGHT 233 

THE CONTEST 234 

THE FORTIETH PANTHER CYCLE: ILLUSIONS 235 

LABELS 237 

AS A FRIEND 237 

FAITH 238 

LOGIC OF A PANTHER 238 

LARGER THANLIFE 238 

HUNGER 239 

MOVING ON 239 

THE FORTY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: REWEAVING THE TAPESTRIES 241 

BARDDRAGON. 243 

AVATAR. 244 

vii 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

WITHIN THE SHELL 244 

SERENITY 245 

UNBORNCHILDKEN, "WEEPING 245 

THE REALli OF DREAMS 246 

THE FORTY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: SEVEN ROSES 247 

WHTTE 249 

PMK 249 

YELLOW 249 

RED 250 

LAVENDER 250 

BLUE 250 

BLACK 251 

THE FORTY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: ACTIONS OF LOVE 253 

WORDS 255 

EMBRACE 255 

KISSES 256 

CARESSES 256 

SMILES 256 

TEARS 256 

WALKING TOGETHER 257 

THE FORTY-FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: AFTERIMAGES ^59 

AMBUSH 261 

EMBRASURE 261 

TENDERNESS AT FALSE DAWN 261 

THE CURVE OF YOUR FACE 262 

WINGS OF GLASS 262 

A HANDFUL OF WIND 263 

ELEGY 263 

THE FORTY-FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: NO WAR IS EVER WON 265 

IN TARNISHED MEMORY 267 

LEAP OF FAITH 267 

THE PRICE OF PENANCE PAID FOR PASSION 268 

mSTIME 268 

IN THE SILENCE 269 

BOP 269 

JOY INCARNATE 270 

THE FORTY-SIXTH PANTHER CYCLE: SONGS OF THE PANTHER 271 

PREDATOR 273 

TOMORROW 273 

BARD DRAGON 273 

EYES OF SORROW, SOULFUL 274 

THE SONG OF THE PANTHER 274 

THE PANTHER COMPOSES 275 

THE PANTHER LAUGHS 275 

THE FORTY-SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: EXILE AND PASSION 277 

DREAMS OF LOVE 279 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

BACK INTO THE JUNGLE 279 

EMBRACE 280 

BOTTLE OF SAND 280 

MEETING OF MINDS 281 

CONQUEST 281 

DANCING 282 

THE FORTY-EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE: DREAMS OF IRON AND SAPPHIRE 283 

SAPPHIRE LASERS 285 

HEARTBEAT 285 

LOST AND FOUND 286 

WINGS OF A BLACK DOVE 287 

COURAGE 287 

ACLOCKSPRING 288 

WORTH 288 

THE FORTY-NINTH PANTHER CYCLE ANTIQUITY 289 

INFINrrE MIRRORS 291 

WINGSONG 291 

THE BRASS BOX 292 

SERENE HORIZONS 292 

POETS, PRETENDERS AND PAGANS 293 

THE COOKIE JAR 294 

WHITE NOISE 294 

THE FIFTIETH PANTHER CYCLE: IN THE LAND OF THE GODS 295 

THE TEMPLE OF JOY 297 

THE ALTAR OF SACRIFICE 298 

THE WELL AT KYRIENAR 298 

THE MOUNTAIN AT THE EDGE OF THE JUNGLE 299 

THE ORACLES 300 

THE ARENA 300 

THE CASTLE 301 

THE FIFTY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: SHADES OF HME 303 

LONG WINTER 305 

THE HOLTRGLASS 305 

TWO YEARS 305 

IF I WER£ MADE OF IRON 306 

SCHEDULES 306 

THE PATIENCE OF A POET 307 

CANDLE 307 

THE FIFTY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: ADORATION 309 

THE MEASURE OF LOVE 311 

THE EYES OF MY TRUE LOVE 311 

HANDMADE QUILTS 312 

SAND ANGELS REVISITED 312 

PEDESTALS 313 

NEXT KISS 313 

CLOCKWORK 313 

THE FIFTY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: CASSIOPEIA'S GARDEN 315 

ix 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

THE LOW JDNGLE 317 

DANDELIONS 317 

DAFFODILS 318 

APPLE TREES TO CLIMB 318 

ROSES 319 

BUTTERCUPS 319 

WILDFL0WER3 319 

THE FIFTY-FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE HIGH DESERT 321 

THE HIGH DESERT 323 

RUMINATION 323 

THE TIDAL DREAM 324 

NUNC DIMnnS 324 

ELOQUENCE 325 

IN THE END 326 

AB INITIO 327 

THE FIFTY-FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: AN AFTERNOON IN THE COMPANY 329 

1 331 

n 331 

m 332 

mi 333 

V 334 

VI 335 

VII 335 

THE FIFTY-SIXTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE SOUND OF THE FIRE 337 

THE SOUND OF THE FIRE 339 

THE SOUNDING STONES 339 

COCOON 340 

A VALLEY BEYOND MY EXPERIENCE 340 

PAINIS LUXURY 340 

WCTH GENTLE FINGERTIPE 341 

LABOURS OF LOVE 341 

THE FIFTY-SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: SEVEN CARDS 343 

THE LOVERS 345 

STRENGTH 346 

THE PAGE OF CUPS 34fi 

THE QUEEN OF SWORDS 347 

THE KING OF WANDS 347 

THE TOWER 347 

THE FIFTY-EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE DEATHLESS CYCLE 349 

THE REASON OF LOVE 351 

PASSION FOR A FRIEND 351 

DISTANCE 351 

FRIENDSHIP 352 

THE MUSIC OF VALHALLA 352 

INTHE HIGH DESERT 352 

LISTENING WITH YOUR HEART 353 

THE FIFTY- NINTH PANTHER CYCLE: SEVEN VISIONS 355 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

IN THE TIME OF THE CALLING 357 

LOVERS AT THE WELL 358 

BARE FEET ON A DIRT FLOOP. 358 

THE TROUBADOUR 359 

BY THE WITNESS TREE 360 

THE GODS AT KA LATE, 360 

THE SIXTIETH PANTHER CYCLE: THE HOURS 361 

DAYLIGHT MERIDIAN 363 

MID AFTERNOON 363 

TWILIGHT 364 

MIDNIGHT 364 

4 AM 364 

DAWN 365 

6 AM 365 

THE SIXTY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: SEVEN WISHES 367 

A SMILE 369 

A KISS 369 

A WINE 369 

LUNCH 370 

HEARTBEAT 370 

PEACE 370 

YOUR JOY 371 

THE SIXTY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: JUST A MAN, JUST A WOMAN 373 

EVERYDAY LIVES 375 

THE SOUND OF DISTANT THUNDER 375 

THEDANCE0FTHEH0UR3 0NAGREYDAY 375 

SAND ONTHE FRONT STEPS 376 

WARM APPLES ON A SUMMER DAY 376 

THE OTHER BLUE 377 

THE NEXT TIME 377 

THE SIXTY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: THE WIND IN THE DESERT 379 

TUMBLEWEED 381 

THE WIND IN THE PANTHER'S FUR 382 

THE SAND DRAGON AS FOOD 382 

THE WIND AT NIGHT 383 

THE INFINITE SANDBOX 383 

THE DESERT WIND AT NIGHT 384 

THE SIXTY-FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE TEMPERING OF SADNESS 385 

TEARS 387 

LAUGHING AT LEGENDS 387 

EMBRACE 388 

RAINBOWS TOMORROW 388 

THE PATCHING OF HEARTS 389 

SERENITY LIKE DEATH 389 

IF I MUST BE A MAN 390 

THE SIXTY-FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE SEVEN LESSONS OF THE PANTHER 391 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

LIFE IS NEVER SILEMT (LISTEN WITH YOUE. HEART) 393 

PANTHERS SOMETIMES NEED THE SHADOWS (TRUST LOVE) 393 

FAITH LIKE A POET (BELIEVE IN DREAMS AND DREAMERS) 394 

WINGS OF JADE AND AMBER (SHARE JOY) 394 

SHE DID POUNCE, SHE DID PLAY (PATIENCE LIKE A HUNTER) 395 

LET GO THE PAIN (SURRENDER WITHOUT FEAR) 395 

THE COMMON TONGUE (SPEAK PLAINLY AND WrraTTUTH) 396 

THE SIXTY-SKTH PANTHER CYCLE: REFLECTIONS ON A FADING PAST 597 

UNDEFINED 399 

A STORY FROM MY YOUTH 400 

THAT HALF A HEART 401 

HALF A DREAM 402 

FANTASIES 403 

PILLAR OF SALT 404 

MATADOR 404 

THE SIXTY-SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: HEISENBERG THROUGH CRYSTALLIZED SOULS ....405 

DRY LAKE 407 

DWINDLING DREAMS 408 

SILVER SPIDERS 403 

PROUD LOVE 409 

TENDER DREAMS 409 

HAILSTONES 410 

RENEWED COMMUNION 410 

THE SIXTY-EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE: LOVE WITHOUT REGRET 411 

CINEMA 413 

THE TOUCH OF LIFE 413 

UMBRELLAS OF HOPE 414 

4 AM REVISITED 415 

WALKING LIKE WHEELS 415 

KISSES 416 

THE RETURN OF THE BARD DRAGON 416 

THE SIXTY-NINTH PANTHER CYCLE: THE NEXT NIGHT IS FOREVER 417 

SURRENDER TO THE KISS 419 

TASTE OF BLOOD 420 

A PULSE OF LIFE 420 

ENTRY 421 

THE RAIN WASHES AWAY ALL SORROWS 422 

FEAR IN YOUR EYES 422 

COMING HOME TO DIE 423 

THE SEVENTIETH PANTHER CYCLE: THE CITY OF LEGENDS 425 

EARLY ON THE E.OAD TO THE CITY OF LEGENDS 427 

WTTHOUT REGRET 427 

THIS HEART 427 

IF I AM TO LIVE WITHOUT FEAR 428 

I WILL WAKE UP TOMORROW 429 

WATER FROM THE WELL 430 

A PANTHER IN HER DEN 430 

xii 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

THE SEVENTY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: PASSIONS OF A BLEEDING SOUL 431 

THE DARKNESS 433 

SHARING LIQUID 434 

A NEW ENTRY 435 

SEVEN TIMES 435 

MERGING IN THE AFTERGLOW 436 

DANCING LIKE DEMONS 436 

TOMORROW 437 

THE SEVENTY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: TRUTHS WITHOUT EXCEPTION 439 

I WANT TO GROW OLD WITH YOU 441 

I BELIEVE IN YOU 441 

I NEED YOU 442 

YOU NEED ME 443 

I CANNOT LOVE AGAIN ONCE YOU HAVE GONE 444 

I AM YOUR POET 444 

YOU ARE MY PANTHER 445 

THE SEVENTY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: THE COLOUR OF DREAMS 447 

THE REICH OF SELF-DISCIPLINE 449 

TOO liANY CLOCKS 450 

AT GROUND ZERO 450 

DARWINIAN HEARTS 451 

WHEN TOMORROW BLOSSOMS 452 

TRIPHAMMER 453 

HOPE 453 

THE SEVENTY-FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: DREAMS AND VERITIES 455 

KISSING WITH MY EYES CLOSED 457 

PIODE OF AUTHORSHIP 458 

WAS rr YOU? 459 

THREE WISHES 459 

DANCING ONTHE BEACH 460 

THREE BECOMES TWO BECOMES ONE 461 

I WANT rr ALL 462 

THE SEVENTY-FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: KINDA/SORTA 463 

COMMITMENTS 465 

PASSIONS 465 

AWOQDENBOX 466 

ROMANTIQUE 466 

SAID WITHOUT WORDS 467 

RETURN OF THE HUNTRESS 467 

HOW WAS I TO KNOW? 468 

THE SEVENTY-SIXTH PANTHER CYCLE: LIBERATION 469 

THE FP^EDOM OF CLARITY 471 

THE CHAINS OF LOVE 471 

ORIGAMI PARDONS 472 

A PRISONER IN EXILE 472 

THERE'S A BOMB MMT HEAD 473 

YOUR HOUR IS UP 473 

xiii 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

A PROPHET IN HIS CUPS 474 

THE SEVENTY-SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: REFLECTIONS ON A HAPLOID HEART 475 

AND SO TOD AY 477 

CURIOUS FINGERS 477 

A BOX OF BLUE SKY AND WHTTE CLOUDS 478 

ENRAPTURED IN THE MYSTERY OF rr 478 

SEARED BY BLUE-WHITE LASER LOVE 479 

A SINGLE THREAD 480 

I HOPE YOU DONT MIND 481 

THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE: DREAMS OF YESTERDAY 485 

FINDING THE TREASURE 485 

CROSSING THE RUBICON 485 

DRAWING THE LINE 486 

THE FIRE THAT BURNS TWICE AS HOT 487 

WHEELS UP IN TAMPA 488 

THE DARKEST NIGHT 489 

LET rr RIDE 490 

THE SEVENTY-NINTH PANTHER CYCLE: STATIC ON THE LINE 491 

FLAVOURS OF RAGE 493 

NEAR MISS IN A KISS 494 

WHEN THE POWER FAILED 495 

WALKING AWAY 495 

THE BUTTERFLIES 496 

PRETTY THINGS 496 

FORCED TO MY KNEES 497 

THE EIGHTIETH PANTHER CYCLE: KEEPING THE DREAM ALIVE 499 

FLIRTING AGAINST HOPE 501 

THE HOLY WATER FLOWS 501 

AWOODENBOX 502 

BUYING CHAIRS 502 

SPONTANEOUS AFFECTION 503 

ANOTHER THURSDAY 503 

PANTHERS AND POETS AND PROMISES MADE 504 

THE EIGHTY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: CURVES IN A WORLD OF RIGHT ANGLES 505 

TONE OF VOICE 507 

WORDS UNSPOKEN 507 

FORGOTTEN MOMENTS 508 

HESITATIONS 508 

SLEIGHT OF TONGUE 509 

LONELINESS 509 

THE POWER OF SELF-DECEPTION 510 

THE EIGHTY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: DEFINITIONS OF LOVE 511 

BETWEENMORTAL SOUL AND GOD 513 

BETWEENMORTAL SOUL AND SELF 513 

BETWEEN WOMAN AND MAN 514 

BETWEEN TWO BODIES (A RESPONSE) 515 

xiv 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

BETWEEN LEGENDS 515 

BETWEEN THE SHEETS 516 

BETWEENPARENT AND CHILD 517 

THE EIGHTY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: THE PRICES OF LOVE 519 

SUSPEND EEJNG POSSESSIONS 521 

PASCAL'S WAGER ON A LINE OF CREDIT 522 

LOSING SELF 523 

LOSING SANITY 523 

WORDS FROM A WELL-MEANING EEOEND 524 

SPRINGBOARD TO ECSTASY 524 

RELEASING THE BUTTERELIES 525 

THE EIGHTY-FOURTH PANTHER CYCLE: EXPRESSIONS OF LOVE 527 

OPUS 574: THE NEED TO LOVE 529 

OPUS 575: TEARS AT 4 AM 529 

OPUS 576: ALL THAT I HAVE IS YOURS 530 

OPUS 577: LEGENDS IN THE WINDOW 531 

OPUS 578: WALKING THE ROAD, INPATIENCE 531 

OPUS 579: GIGGLES ON THE PHONE 531 

OPUS 580: THE BLACKLACE WINGS 532 

THE EIGHTY-FIFTH PANTHER CYCLE: NEEDING A LEGEND 535 

A PANTHER IN THE LIGHT 537 

ORACLES 537 

I BELIEVE IN THE DREAM 538 

TOUCHING YOU 538 

COALS REKINDLED 538 

YOU WILL KNOW ME 539 

LET Iffi BE YOUR HELPMEET 540 

THE EIGHTY-SIXTH PANTHER CYCLE: ECHOES IN THE CITY OF ANGELS 541 

SUNRISE OVER THE DESERT 543 

THE PROMENADE AT THIRD STREET 543 

THE SANTA MONICA MOUNTAINS 543 

THE WAVES AT MALIBU 544 

A PANTHER IN THE CITY 544 

WALKING THE BEACH IN VENICE 545 

THER0AD3 IN THE CANYON 545 

THE EIGHTY-SEVENTH PANTHER CYCLE: A NEW RAINBOW 547 

ROSE 549 

APRICOT 549 

SUNSHINE 550 

CELERY 550 

AZURE 551 

MIDNIGHT BLUE 551 

LAVENDER 552 

THE EIGHTY-EIGHTH PANTHER CYCLE TRAVESTIES AND INJUSTICE 553 

PARKING OUR HEARTS 555 

CUTTING CORNERS 555 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

RATCHET 556 

SELF PITY 556 

TOKEN TOTEMS 557 

NO KISSES FOE THE DAMNED 557 

FAREWELL TO LOVE 558 

THE EIGHTY-NINTH PANTHER CYCLE: SEVEN WORDS 559 

SHEKELS 561 

PATIENCE 561 

PASSION 562 

HONESTY 562 

SILENCE 563 

COURAGE 563 

TRUST 563 

THE NINETIETH PANTHER CYCLE: CLOSE, AWAY 565 

CLOSE, AWAY 567 

CLOSURE OVER A CUP OF JASMINE TEA 567 

ALONE IN THE CORNER 567 

SOMEWHERE ELSE 568 

LINE OF SIGHT 568 

NOT IN THIS LIFE 568 

SHE ASKED MY NAME 569 

THE NINETY-FIRST PANTHER CYCLE: PRECIOUS 571 

FADING IMAGES 573 

I NEVER KNEW I HAD THIS STRENGTH 573 

FLICKERING IMAGES 574 

NO CHOICE 575 

A KISS BUYS ETERNITY 575 

I NEED YOU 576 

WALKING AWAY.... 576 

THE NINETY-SECOND PANTHER CYCLE: THE THUNDER COMES DOWN 577 

RUBY SLIPPERS 579 

THE THUNDER COMES DOWN 579 

TRUTHSPEAK 579 

BRIGHT, BLACK 580 

ILLUMINATION 580 

HOPE ONTHE ROAD 581 

DEFENSELESS 532 

THE NINETY- THIRD PANTHER CYCLE: THE DREAMS OF GLASS 583 

DREAMS OF GLASS 585 

THE PAPER FULCRUM 585 

EVERYDAY IN THE GARDEN 586 

PINCH 586 

I FEAR YOU 587 

I DARED TO DREAM OF NIGHT BLOOMING JASMINE 587 

A POET PACES THE PATH 588 

EPILOGUE 589 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

In the Words of a Crimson Beast 

Editor 's Note: After the affair of the original Panther liad pretty much run its course, the next 
lover in the poet's sphere was a rertiarkable young woman who took the totem ofBrigit, the 
Celtic Goddess of Fire and Poetry. This titian-haired Amazon was and is a writer who 
collaborated with the poet on several projects and their relationship, while stormy, was more 
amicable in the parting than his with the first Panther 

We asked her if she would be interested in addressing this volume of works, and we are delighted 
that she assented: 



My name is Brigit and I've been told I am a goddess. 

If I am, then I was conceived and bom in tlie shadow of the original Panther, the walls of 
my nmseiy papered witli the famed Panther Cycles. 

I am the Ciimson Panther, and have two notable companions: Tlie Black Panther and tlie Golden 
Leopard. I have been asked to give my tliouglits on tlie works written to my predecessor {Tlie 
Black Pantlier) and have gladly accepted the task. 

The Panther Cycles aie amazing, beaiitifiil and painfiil. Even as the successor to the pedestal of 
the Black Panther, I can truly appreciate the heart behind tlie poetry. One of my favorite works 
is The Penetiating Rose. Perhaps you find it odd tliat one muse would find tlie work written lo 
another so enthralhng. Though I am a fickle cat, I am an appreciative one and often am amazed 
and defighted by works inspiied by other muses. As a matter' of fact, m defense of my 
own oddness, I offer up one ghmpse mto my psyche. Wlien I discovered there was a certain 
woman who thouglit that she was Brigit, rather than bemg indignant I was uproariously 
amused. Given my tendency to find liiunor where there should be none, any otlier of my erratic 
behaviors should be understandable. And with that infioduction, let me proceed witliout caution. 

I had several occasions to speak with tlie original Pantlier. I foimd her m general to be sweet, 
albeit very noimal. I dare say the word average and note tliat I find nothmg wrong witli being 
such. I merely point it out because I find tiiat perhaps it was tliat very state of ordinary tiiat 
pushes us mto a state of extiaoidmary. I found myself wondering what process goes onmside 
the poet's mmdthat can take somethii^ plain and tiim it into something so fabulous. But then I 
suppose therein ties the beauty of Wilham's poetry. He can take something others might 
overlook and create something out of it that is impossible not to look at and in lookmg at it, the 
viewer must draw in tlieir breatli and revel in tlie creation. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Often when I read William's poetiy m the "Paiitlier's" honor I have difficulty associating the 
words with the woman, but after coming to realize that he is very generous m liis emotions, I was 
able to put aside what I knew as reality and see the works for what tliey are. 

What are tliey? Li my hiunble opinion the Panther Cycles were written to an ideal as opposed to 
an actual reality. He took emotions that were real and built around tliem a city of work tliat was 
grandiose and beyond what reality had to offer liim . 1 also believe that his work is so universally 
respected and admired because he speaks to some part of us that aspires to a greatness we have 
not yet found, or have merely ghmpsed and wish for a fuller view of And so I beheve that an 
ordinary woman inspued somethmg above and beyond simple noimality. 

Being a writer , I luiderstand cieation from notiiing and on some occasions, creation from a little 
something. But I have yet to undeistand the creation of sometiiing so phenomenal from 
something so typical. And therein ties the beauty of the Pantiier Cycles. William has taken a 
grain of sand andbiult a castie out if. A castie that I beheve wUl stand the test of time and be 
admired by generations to come. 

My frnal words before you dive into the (several) pages ahead of you: 

In a world tuU of ughness, Wdham has given us a port of safety and beauty. To read liis poetiy 
is to escape, if only for a tittle while. To be allowed to soai' ontiie wings of someone else's 
experience is a gift that should never be taken hghtly. The Pantiier Cycles are full of Hglit and 
pain, darkness and ecstasy. Anyone who reads them will be a better person for it. I wish you a 
pleasant journey through tiie Panther's world and hope you will come away refreshed and 
renewed. 



Witii love, 

Brisit 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Mountain Poet Speaks 

Editor 's Note: Daniel McTaggart is a poet that William F. DeVault first encountered on the 
Author 's Den website, and they became fast friends and collaborators. Known fr>r his rich and 
empathetic "blue collar" works about the beauty of everyday life, Daniel's first book, "Midnight 
Muse " is due sometime later this year 

The book you are about to read is very brave and very honest. It is not so much a "diary of a 
love affair" as it is an anatomy of a candle buniir^ brightly at both ends. It is the exploration of 
a love affair so intense that both partners walk away biTishmg off the nibble of their emotions. 

My name is Daniel McTaggart and I aiu an outsider to tlie world of tlie panther. I have not 
known its intricacies, but I have seen the eyes of a man who has since been elevated beyond tlie 
status of being mere prey. 

I iirst met William in the Smnmer of 2002. He had been away from Morgantown, West Virgima 
for some time and had returned to do a few poetry readings around town. The one at The Blue 
Moose Cafe is where our patlis first crossed. And where I received my first ghmpse into the 
pantlier's realm. 

I had known nothmg of lus life till that point. But I was thrilled to meet a published poet fiom 
my hometown. Perhaps tliatis how a dark echo of tlie Panther Cycles found its own comer in 
my mind. I approached him and mentioned I was also a poet interested in bemg published. 

Over the next couple years, we'd exchanged a few e-mails wliile he was living in L.A. He then 
returned to Morgantown in mid-2004 and tliat was when our fiiendship took root. We would 
occasionally meet at places around town and discuss poetry: what it is and what could be done 
with it. The more we met, the deeper those discussions became. And tlie more excited I became 
about poetiy. My output for that year alone outdistanced tliat of tlie previous two years 
combined. But enough about me, now. 

A few months prior to this writing, we were sittii^ at the Book-n-Bean m Fainnont when he 
mentioned publislung "The Compleat Panther Cycles." I was biting into my bagel sandwich 
when he pioposed tliat I write an intioduction to said book. I didn't believe lum at first, but his 
penetiating eyes did not he. I knew then I was committed to reading more tiian 600 poems. And 
then wiitii^ about it. An intimidating task. 

This IS piobably tlie most ambitious book of poetry I've ever picked up, let alone seen. And I 
knew I had to understand tlie pantlier before writing anytlung. From reading these works, I came 
to realize tlie pantiier is a creatine motivated by emotions and wlums. Moving not out of reason, 
butofunexplaniablemge. Like a housecat tiiat suddenly has to be in the next room. Aware of 
the broken vase only after knocking it over. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

In this book, you will find works that may make you smile, weep, or shift uncomfortably. An 
example of tlie fonner is "warm apples on a summer day" fi^om the 62nd cycle. Tlie title is 
worthy of Robert Frost. As for the poem, I could not help but draw comparison to Adam and 
Eve. The major diffeience here is that Adam offers the apple to Eve. And tlieie is no serpent to 
induce temptation. Any sm that may be committed by tliese two lovers will be done on their 
tenns. Witli no voice of disharmony whispering into tlierr eais. 

Of course, all the poems aie open to mteipretation. The relationship between a pantlier and her 
prey IS fluid and so should be tlie meaning of each poem. They should each mean something 
different to each of us with sunUarities reflected in eveiy reader's eye. You may like some and 
hate others. But that's tlie nature of a relationslup that boimces between botli ends of flie 
emotional spectnun. Which poems arehiglis and which aielows are deptlis you must dare to 
plumb on your own. I wish you peace upon flie joy of yoiu' discovery. It should be an 
interesting adventure. 



Daniel McTaggart 

"The Mountain Poet" 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

A Twist of Fate and Contemplation 

Editor's Note: Barbara Holmes conducted what many consider to be one of the best interviews 
with the poet, a few years back, for Emotions Magazine. In addition, she was for a long time 
one of the managers of the Writers Club area on America Online and was a contemporary 
associate to both the poet and the Panther during the affair that inspired these works 

"I write, not from the conscious, but tlie preconscious. Then, in reading what I revealed, I see 
what IS actually moving beneatli tlie surface. " - William F. DeVault, 1 998 

One long weekend in 1996 he taught liimself HTML, and built his website City of Legends. 
Weeks later we foiuid him crowned by Yahoo as the "Romantic Poet of the Internet." 

When asked to write an introduction to his new book my first thought was overly simple. These 
poems need no introduction, they speak for themselves. It is you, WiUiam, you tlie poet, tlie 
man, the creator of this poetic world who needs mfroducmg. 

To craft such a metropolis of cycles and sohtaries built aioimd, how you once described "karmic 
snapshots", of experiences is truly one's gift. 

William andlus world have been well characterized over tlie years. Helumselfis an exfremely 
multifaceted individual. Well humored, frighteiungly intelhgent co-existmg aside a matching 
ego. Yet in reflection one must consider this, is it tnily an overly indulged ego or siniply a man 
who is exceptionally self confident in his sldll. 

They've been equally compared as mysteriously captivatmg; keenly romantic, passionate, all the 
while incredibly spintual. An "admired lover." I asked lum several years ago during an 
interview which portiayal would be the most satisfying. He responded "I couldn't see only one 
spectrum and live a life content. If I were forced to chose, I would chose tlie spiritual, as m the 
end, God gave me this teiiible gift/curse and I owe all love and allegiance... But I would hope, in 
wisdom, God would not do such a wretched thing tome." 

In 1997 his first book "PantiiEon" barely touched the actiial 643 poetic antliology of Pantlier 
Cycles. Wanting to include the most popular and to provide the reader witii a variety of styles 
only 9% made it into final production. 

What we have unleashed m the Compleat Pantlier Cycles is basic raw emotion. Powerful, pure 
unedited tliought fiom tlie fiist word to tlie last. Well known to most, his style of not editing his 
work comes from a impenetrable fonn of distinst. He doesn't trust his conscious mind to judge 
his unconscious. The flow of tlie moment, tlie surge of unrestricted mspiration is what we find at 
the end of his pen. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Is this how legends are bom? One can only hope. 

Continue on and unearth a lost soul, a forgotten memoiy, for it wiU be revealed through these 
works whether you read for pleasure or purpose. 

I am neitlier Goddess or Pantlier - But Fnend. 

Barbara Holmes 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

A Word from the Amomancer 



July 18, 2005. Ten years since the first of the Pantlier Cycles fell like beads of sweat from my 
pen, written to a female colleague who had sent me her picture on tlie Internet. Something about 
her eyes. Verysoulfiil. That was that. 

Two weeks later I wrote the Second Pantlier Cycle. Tilings kinda/sorta took on a hfe of tlieii' 
own, particularly after we spent a weekend togetlier in New York, just before the Seventh Cycle. 
Having been in an luiliappy marriage for several years 1 was not too resistant when she expressed 
her desire to be "moretlian a mistress"... so after a mighty war with my conscience I asked for a 
divoice on Januaiy 1, 1996. 

All hell bioke lose and 1 found myself penniless and forced into exile, away fiom my children, m 
Los Angeles. Guilt over tliat drove her away. Then she came back. Then she went away. 
Repeat. Repeat. It got pretty absurd. But tides make waves and waves make beaches and 
seashores and a place to dream. 

Through it all I expressed the moments in tlie Panther Cycles, until tlie final one, tlie 93rd, in 
January 1997, four months after our final words. 

These are tlie origmals, except for tlie 8tli Pantliei' Cycle, wlucli I destioyed immediately upon 
writing. I had caught her m a tie about her relationslup with another man, and tlie writing of that 
cycle, while cathartic, pioduced damnedably toxic words, words I would not want as part of my 
legacy. 

The cycles themselves run to 643 poems. Some pieces are romantic. Some erotic. Some siUy. 
Some are very short. Some of greater' length. I am not completely happy with many of them, but 
all are children of the moment in wlucli they were bom, as any proper creative expression should 
be. 

I will undoubtedly be criticized for not dedicating this volume to someone. But, to whom? To 
the Panther herself? No. That might disrupt her tife and raise questions best left to fiitiire times. 
To the abstraction of the Panther? No, because I beheve in my heart of hearts that there really is 
a panther out there. To some otlier lover? That would be perverse. Best to let them be 
themselves, notlung more, nothii^ less, notiung else. 

Enjoi, and God bless. 

William F. DeVault 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The First Panther Cycle: 
Out of the Night 




I have been asked, on more than one occasion, "Why a panther?" 

It's not complicated. I hadjust recently begim experimenting with two elements in my poetry: 
cycles, or sets of works revolvii^ aroiuid a common tlieme; and totems, abstract references to 
people in my life, allowing me the fieedom to take a metaphor and ran. witli it. 

When I told her I was going to write a cycle of poems based on tlie photo she'd sent me, and 
askedfor a totem, she suggested a lioness. I didn't like it. Too maternal. 



After a brief exchange (all in AOL Instant Messenger, I might add, as we did not actually speak 
on the phone imtil several weeks later) we settled on a Pantlier. She was sleek and lean, there 
was an intensity to her that befitted a melanistic leopard, and she told me of tlie black Speedo she 
liked to wear wliile bicychng. 

It's tliat simple. 

I sent her the cycle (you will note I had not yet fixed on the "seven pomes per cycle" rule) and 
she melted. And I figured that was that... I have always been able to take pleasure in tlie pleasure 
others derive foim my woiks witliout expectii^ anything more fiom the situation. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

brooding eyes 

felicity and cuiuiing claws. 

hunger in the hunter's jaws. 

angel's heart and devil's prize. 

the panther prowls with brooding eyes. 

soulflil eyes and soulless dreams. 

maddened by tlie new will's screams. 

mortal, and yet, set apait 

by what is locked witliin hei heait. 



where are the daisies? 

where are the daisies tliey promised today? 
where are the clouds and tlie soft summer sun? 
why is it over? had it begun? 
and what aie tlie shadows tliat fall on my way? 

aie theie no answers to questions of love? 
aie theie no masters of dreams left awake? 
is there no baiter for what winters take? 
is there no justice for the blood of a dove? 

at the end of the world, it all falls away, 
falls into notlung? or somethii^ unseen? 
aie the leaves on tlie trees in paiadise gieen? 
and tliere do tlie daisies remain every day? 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

transient heart 

O transient heait. 

homeless and vagabond. 

careless and sad. 

gentle and mad. 

the heart of a sinner, tlie heart of a saint. 

a corridor of ancient mirrors 

aniotations to a cipher. 

affections from afar. 

catcliing liglitning in a bottle 

or religion m a jar. 

the penance of the player 

is the arrow thiough tlie heart. 

Psyche steals her lover's aiiows 

to play vengeance for her pait. 

and tlie Muses (so amusing) 

find great humor in this game, 

spinning words upon a deathloom, 

seUing stockings to the lame. 

Bragi bleeds another rhyme scheme 

and tlien sells it for a drink 

fi^om tlie horn of Aplirodite, 

with a dark flirtatious wink. 

and tlris Venus, for her aidor, 

is seen m the moonlight's ghnt 

off the sheen of sweat-soaked lovers, 

strikmg sparks without the flint. 

and the spectral specters sobbing, 

yet request anotlier chance 

to mvoke daik Hades' melody. 

and lead in a new dance. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

night stalker 

in tlie iiiglit. 

in tlie jungle. 

in tlie deptlis of sad despair. 

there's a presence. 

in tlie branches. 

you can't see her. but she's tliere. 

watclung closely. 

taking measure. 

aie you predator? aie you prey? 

andif eitlier. 

does she leave you? 

does she seek to pounce and play? 

and if neither. 

does she hnger? 

and tlien fall, into your trap? 

will the hunter. 

be tlie hunted. 

when she hears tlie steeljaw snap? 

will she struggle? 

or surrender? 

will she know, youmeannohami? 

understanding. 

like the pantlier. 

that this fire can be warm? 

it is quiet. 

in this jungle. 

if you listen, witli your soul. 

and this silence. 

calls the panther. 

to protect it. and patrol. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Second Panther Cycle: 
Aphrodite's Fountain 




A few weeks after the Panther Cycle, this one slid in under my preconscious radar. I didn't 
know it was coming, I swear. It just showed up at the tip of my pen one day. 

I sent it off to her, all the wliile thinking "Uh oh, this hasn't happened before." 

In this cycle I began to insinuate elements fi^om her creativity and our ongoii^ discussions . 
Mind you, at this time, there was still no real sense of anything otlier tlian a few random 
flirtations. I was maiiied, she was recently separated. 

Note, in particular "Miranda". 

She was working on a novel and tliere was a chapter she shared with me that involved one of tlie 
female characters m the story having rough, but consensual, sex with a handsome cop in tiie back 
of his poHce cruiser. It was obvious fi^om the way she wrote it and the way she discussed it (and 
that fact that she chose it to send me) that it was a sexual fantasy of hers. 

How could I resist? You will find in many of tlie later cycles I incorporated her fantasies, botii 
romantic and sexual, into tlie imageiy of my work. I had begmi feeding off of her desires. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



10 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Aphrodite's Fountain 

I drifted, in a skeptic's trance, 
beyond the spheie where shadows dance 
and lovers pray for second chance 
to merge hke spring-swift livers. 

and in tlie jungles of the night, 

two eyes weie theie, in broodii^ bright, 

reflecting from an inner light 

a hunger and a feasting. 

the panther came m gracefiil stalk 
to tlie foimtain where tlie ancients talk 
of heioes who weep and victims who mock 
the meinoiy of their passions. 

and m the branches overheaid 
there lay a sentinel m liis bed, 
a diagon gold witli eyes of red, 
enwrapped in ardoied patience. 

liis wings luiflirled and blocked the sky. 
he flew to tlie cat, and for a moment I 
feared for hei death and knew not why 
she did not flee in terror. 

and tlien tlie wonder was enlianced 
by tliese two beasts m courtier's dance. 
they swirled as tliougli by fate entranced 
aiound tiie sacred fomitain. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



I did not watch, I did not see 
if tliose two coupled neatli the tree 
that stands beyond the wliisperii^ sea 
of pain and dreams and madness. 

at lei^tli they lay, entwined and spent 
and left me wondering what it meant 
that they should care to be content, 
this panther and her paramom. 

strange beasts were tliey, and still they lay, 
beneath tliat tree so far away, 
next to the font where angels play, 
and smile at their communion. 



miranda 

you have the right to lemam silent. 
but I love to heai' tliose pleasured siglis 
that fade away, to tiien again arise 
with every soft impalement. 



12 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

enamored 

with every iiiiaguiing of you I grow focused. 

like thiougli a virtual lens 1 watch you in my mind. 

andmyheait. and my soul, and I know you. 

not in eveiy tiling and every way. 

but there is a resonance here. 

dark and teiiifying, like the sudden 

revelation at the end of tlie first act. 

sweet and exciting, like tlie venom 

of a kiss that contains promises and oaths, 

borne of tlie touch, the taste, tlie warmtli 

that shelters your dreams and awakens 

you at night to a lover who is not there. 

yet. 



the dream 

she is there. 

dancing like the flame of amatch. catching 

the light off her soft ebon pelt. 

the sheen is quite exotic, erotic, even. 

the dream retains the tlienie. 

the shared taste of fi^esh prey. 

the madness of passions untempered, 

but shaded by an honest reverence, fer de lance 

striking, the wann wine venom. 

and tlie effoitless, infinite 

caress that lasts well into the next day. 



13 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

playing the gallant 

when you aie sad. think of me. 

and know that I would make you smile. 

at any cost, for, when I see 

someone too worthy for despair to defile, 

I must play tlie gallant, iiding higli 

to slay the dark demons that would caress 

only your soiTow. for selfish am I. 

and want all of you, even your darkness. 



to inspiration in the eye of the panther 

you aie the midwife of my creation, 
paiamour to tliat which is, fiom me, immortal. 
I am but parasite to the beauty who has won 
the eye of tlie poet. Odysseus to the siren's call. 

to earn your favor, I would drink a vessel 
fiom tlie geysers of yom' soul and curry favor 
fiom a deadly jimgle luuitei', swift and sensual, 
holding back my caresses as a Herculean labor. 

passion spawns a pitifiil pawn, bound 

in all his splendour like a chrysalis. 

a worm to weave soft word silks, sound 

to be draped upon you like a crafty lover's kiss . 



14 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Third Panther Cycle: 
The Rainbow 




Now comes the first of the external allegorical cycles. I took the notion tliat a cycle should have 
about seven poems, and the fact tliat the standard spectnim is considered to have seven colours, 
and ran with it. 

I had some fiui with tliis, and discovered that stalling fiom tlie theme enabled me to explore m 
diiections I had not previously wandered. It was a liit witli her, and I beheve it was the first one 
that I shared witli several of my online fiiends in the AOL Writers Club. 

Some people have asked me about the angle of the final piece "the violets". That one took fiom 
an old show business story about Blake Edwards and Julie Andrews. Supposedly before tliey 
had ever met, he was quoted on a talk show as saying he wouldn't want to work with the "Soiuid 
of Music" star because she came across so wholesome, as if she had violets "growing down 
there." According to legend, she sent him an aiiangement of violets. They were maiiied, or so 
the story goes, a year or so later. 

It's amazmg what having a miiid for seemingly meanmgless trivia can do to expand tlie palate 
that one wntes fiom. I always encourage my proteges to read eveiytliing they can.. .just not 
poetry. I want tliem to have a broad wealtli of knowledge to draw their metaphors fiom, not 
forever smging just one soi^ witli differing words . 



15 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Also, note at the endof that piece, my first use of repetitive language for reinforcement... "and 
dream/ of a dream of a dieam of a dieam of a dream." It makes for a nice tailing off at tlie end of 
a public (or private) reading. 

By now she had even taken it so far as to create a new screenname containing her totem. That 
we were forever openly flirting in flie Writers Cafe wlule I was releasing these works to the 
world did not seem to indicate to either of us that anyone would perceive us involved. 

Love can be blind. Eloquent, but blind. 



16 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



the red 

niby-blue and scailet, crimson when you daie. 

a flood of blood and fire, a shadow on your hair. 

passion spun to lash upon oui' dieanis and hopes and prayers . 

ember eyes are lookmg out fi^om in their cunning lairs. 



the orange 



fresh, sweet, like a succulent nioutliful of citnis, 

tangerine and tart, tlie heait of the fiavor, savored 

for a dancing pleasuie. tlie leisure of love, crisp 

and inviting, biting, it covers your tongue with life, 

and youi' senses dance like a sweet pantlier on tlie beach. 

the rind and pith and juices, exploding, seiious 

and playfiil. like shy lovers, holding hands when shed 

clothes and inliibitions are on tlieii' mind, a liar's hsp 

gives her away, and tlie fhckeiing jazz of tlie night, rife 

with pleasure and promise and a flavour of hfe, witlrin reach. 



the yellow 



incandescent fiie of the sun and tlie stais 
radiating in pure lines . unrefiacted. imdistiacted 
by tlie albedo lieaits tliat never bum. 
cold they are, and wasted, we have tasted 
their fiiiit and foimd them wanting, haunting 
our memories and poisoning our dreams, 
we who bum shall sweep tlie ashes of oui' 
phoenix riders from our shoulders and set 
once more tlie course for tlie edge of the world. 



17 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the green 

new life. 

pure aiid pacific. 

again. 

children of tlie dawn. 

alive. 

love and monuments 

to love. 

the blessed blending 

of lives. 

two become botli one, 

then tlu^ee. 



the blue 

on the fiostwmds tliat cut like daggers of steel 

and peel back the fiesh to show that we conceal 

ourselves beneatli these wann charades, afiaid 

to end the midgame, defending tliis masquerade, 

depending on the dreams of tlie damned, and all 

I ask is a sliver of time, of piayers that fall 

numbly fiom tlie lips of our memories, cold 

and grave, lovers, like monimients, giown old 

and their reasons for havii^ ever been are faded 

like an mscription wiit in tlie air by j esters j aded 

in their pursuit of the mockery bidden by tlie comt. 

the courtiers and courtesans andkmgs of every sort 

that twisted us and turned us to take a meny bow 

in the dance of dark directions that contorts our eveiy vow. 

and all I want is serenity, and you. and lost time 

of yesterdays and yesternights, twihght blue the crime. 



18 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



the indigo 



the dance moves on and leaves tlie dancer, 
weaiy and consumed, slicked witli sweat, 
but hm^y for tlie next movement, pirouette 
andjete. the pounce of an eclectic panthei, 
given voice, given choice, m this daikhght 
she chooses, maybe well, maybe not. the night 
will tell the tale, but I will not. iii tlie glow 
of hei eyes, the chase will end when she says so. 



the violets 

a tliousand dainty floweis, fragiaitt and sweet, 
growing m a bed not given to recent gardenei's care, 
needing tending and words of encouragement. 
the master's hand, the touch of one who cares 
what may spring from tlie biddii^ loam from 
wluch spring these sweet flowers. I nuzzle 
this luxuriant bed of subtle, fragiance and dieam 
of adieam of a dream of a dream of a dieam. 



19 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



20 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fourth Panther Cycle: 
I Dreamed a Dream 




She wanted children. Oiu' discussions had taken a more linked view, somehow considering tlie 
possibility that we miglit actually meet. Tliat tliere might be soinethmg 'there". 

One of the topics was cliildren. She was in her late tliirties and had never had cliildien, but 
wanted them badly. She considered the idea of bemg pregnant incredibly sensual. By now we 
had begim talking ontlie phone, and much of our talk was hermiagming what it would be like to 
get pregnant, to be pregnant, to give birth, to breast feed. 

And, I lurched into tlie fantasies, dead on. I foiuid her entlmsiasm, her excitement, exciting. The 
final piece m this cycle is called "seventli month" and describes an emotional tableau of holding 
her while she is pregnant and ns reveling m the entiie idea. I drew heavily on my own emotional 
memory fiom my wife's two pregnancies (yes, I know, in some ways tliat is very sick, but I am 
being honest about this) and the Panther's own intensively detailed fantasies. 



21 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



22 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



redemption 



fiist dance, last chaiice 
to turn away, people say 
iiiaiiy thuigs aiid time brings 
both joy and pain. I will remain 
imtil betiayed by tlie dust flayed 
by tlie fall of time, a lover's crime, 
repented, forgiven, for love given. 



inamorata 

how beautiflil you are to me is not a question 
I may answer, words fail and you are bright 
and mcandescent, a flaming taper in obhvion. 
1 draw my mspiration from yom' love, shadow 
ofyourhght. memory of youi' words, piiest 
to tlie need to worsliip one who stiis such awe 
in my all too mortal soul, seeds of doubt? I 
have none, and when tlie seeds of this love 
aie manifest, 1 wiU be tliere to witness tliem. 



wedding bed 

sated and slaked, thirst and hunger boiind for now 
in a cunnii^, sleeping smirk, short work of minghng 
flesh, leaving an indelible mark on the paths we shade 
and will follow to tlie edge of sanity, vanity must bow 
to humility in tlie face of youi' passions, neives set tingling 
by youi' very approach use and worship the vows we've made. 



23 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



jungle passions 

like liquid ink. 

a shadow dances a deadly daiice. 

hungiy and hunter. 

the panther is awake and will 

take her feed of me now. 

and I will not protest. 

or resist. 

for I hunger for her as well. 



heartbeat 

I hsten to youi' heait. 

beatii^ softly in your breast. 

my eyes are closed and I am lulled 

by the knowledge tliat you hve 

and love for me. the tliinnest part 

of this is tliat to any test 

I may put our love, this fading world 

is witness to oui' victoiy in the love we give. 



24 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

transfiguration 

in tlie wasteland of om' lives, there are vines 
that wind us witli their silvery stems, binding 
ns to the tniths and lies we have uttered and lieaid. 
taking om' drink at tlie well of folly and in the cup 
of both holy comnuuiion and poisoned dreams, drink 
deeply the blood of my heart, fieely and of your wUl, 
take your fill and I, I shall be transfonned by this, 
brought fi^oni wretched wreck to mortal, then 
tiansfigured in a moment of awakened passion 
to immortal, and tlms I may join you in tlie stars. 



seventh month 

1 lay with you, my anns entwined about your quiet form, 
my hands softly and reverently feeling tlie cmve 
of the chamber wherein lays tlie labor of oui' love, 
beautifiil angel, forged of our passions, summoned 
by love, she rests and awaits her coming life. 
and our commg j oy at her birth. I am at peace 
withtlus. filled with joy that she is ours and 
will live as a glorious testament to our love and hope. 
and I feel her stir witlun you. and 1 weep. 



25 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



26 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fifth Panther Cvcle: 
The Legend Cycle 




I have always found tliis a curious cycle. Not fully realized, but more reactive to what was gomg 
on in my life and around me. 

There had been plans for a large party of writers to gatlier in New York in tlie fall, but it was 
suddenly cancelled. Seeing this the opportunity for us to finally meet, we seized upon the work 
that had been done and I took over as host (despite the fact tliat I was hving near Wasliington, 
DC, at the tune. ..which made it a logistical challenge.) 

I had also been getting some vibes fiom a few people that maybe I wasn't really aware of all tliat 
was going on aiomid me. People pointmg out tliat maybe I was not tlie only gentleman caller on 
the Panther's dance card. I approached her on this, and she assured me tliat, wlule she did hke 
the attention, she was not currently seemg anyone or plarmmg to see anyone wlule we were 
evaluating our situation. 

I took this at face value, despite my naggmg doubts, and pressed on. I was slowly getting myself 
into a realm of deception with my real life associates and my family that was begimiing to eat 
away at me. I think tlus comes out in the poetiy, as I try to keep the idealized relationslup on 
mytlric footing and away from the nnmdane. 



27 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

One element that fiist reared its head in this cycle were the "sand angels"... a fantasy of hers was 
to make love on tlie beach and I told her tliat would probably leave something like a snow angel 
in the sand, a sand angel. From tliem on tliat became our code phrase for having been tliinkir^ 
about making love. 



28 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



half truths 

cold and calculated. 
the odds are not discreet, 
sad and surrogated. 
the world lays at your feet. 

ttmeHnes and semantics. 
riddles for the dawn 
games we play in earnest 
aie back before they're gone. 



stepping on the wire 

warm flesh and impendii^ memory 
dreams cold and cut Hke fish in tlie biii. 
sin. time spins a bottle full of venom 
to tlie edge of where we've been, 
do not expect my sympatliies 
if yom' tale is not well told, 
too often iion pyrite 
is baitered out as gold. 
and I am left witli tiie fool's debit 
cashed upon my heart, 
burned beyond remembeimg 
where tiie game did start. 



29 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

idols of glass 

tempest is not tnith. power is not fact. 

and lies in tlieii' essence aie not tlie evidence of tact, 

but of deception, peiception bmiied like lightnii^ 

intlie atmosphere oftlie higli heavens... wheie the gods play 

daily. . .talking tlie talk. . .walking the walk 

as they ghbly fade away. 



the Gordian nut 

severed memories. 
the silver cord is cut. 
I float away in reveries 
befoie the Gordian nut. 

for in it is the riddle, 
and etched upon its shell 
are the ciphers and sad sinisters 
that pave a road to hell. 



30 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



rebirth 

I wandered, content and memory purged, 
my soul unblackened by the waters of time 
and the tests of truth, reason had returned. 
and so I found myself by that stream, the sweet 
and bitter river by whose banks I had sht the tluoat 
of the dreanihart. tlie nemicom. 

and tliere, on the shoals of blasted sand and 
edge of truth I saw. nothii^. time and picking 
of the birds had left not a trace of that fragile 
frame. I smiled a sad smile, acknowledgmg 
the past and tlie clanty witli wliich it now lived. 

when my reverie was broken, first by the voice 

of a friend, new, but steeped m ancient familiaiity. 

I hinied. and fell to my knees in blistered awe. I saw 

a new nemicom arise from tlie sand, m fonn more perfect 

than the fabled beast, speakmg with tlie tongue of a friend. 

and I was sundered to my core by tlie mix of mad emotion 
brought to my hps, to my eyes, to my heart by tlus event. 
this phenomenon undreamed and imbidden. she stood, 
at a sfrange distance, apart and yet intimate, and regarding 
me the soulfril eyes, not of tlie slain prey, but of tlie 
feeding predator, a new creation, a new totem. 

and m my willful arrogance I touched this dreamhait. 

this nemicom that has lead me to my Rubicon. 

her wounds, a beautifiil statement of smvival. of sfrength. 

and tlie sniggering empaths now weep in jealousy and wonder. 



31 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



sand angels 



sand angels. 

the wind blows tlie hollows flat in time. 

and so shall it be witli you and I. 

but not before this run is done 

and we have lived oiu^ lives togetlier. 



ghost dance 



ghost dance, tlie banshee on tlie lawn 
is gone now. her screams aie but echoes 
and so is the wight, burned by the light, 
returned to his barrow, to Hck his wounds 
and dieam of a day when he might prevail. 
and we creatures of liglit shall fight 
again, imbent if battered, and together. 



possessiveness 



I am jealous and zealous for every instant of your presence, 
please forgive the arrogance I feel in wanting you by my side 
forever and at all times, irrational, but sincere, and pride 
demands I call yom' love, not a bluff, a gambler's chance. 



32 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixth Panther Cycle: 
The Joy Cycle 



^ 




This would be the final cycle before we met face to face. Emotionally, it is all over the map, but 
generally hopefiil, romantic and positive. 

This was the first use of one of my signatuie phrases, "phoenix and golem". It reflects my 
dualistic nature, as I perceive myself both a spiritual person, capable of rebutli, as well as a 
soulless cieation, built to a task. But in being either or both, 1 am MfiUing purpose, so 1 am 
satisfied. 

I have started, by this point, writing of om' cliildien. The Pantlier had a specific dream of having 
two, a daughter and a sun, and even had selected names for tiiem. The daughter, Cassiopeia, 
figured heavily mto many later works, and was even an abstraction I comforted myself with 
during the darkest times of my divorce and estrangement firom my real Hfe children. 



33 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



34 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



the psalm of love/the lover's prayer 

I tliank you Lord 

for the love tliat you have blessed me witli 

she is gentle 

and generous of spirit, kmd and loving 

and fiill of Hfe. 

1 tliank you and am luunbled by this woman, 

who has set me 

in her heait and offered to share so much. 



rebirth 

1 have been tossed ftoin raptuie to tlie cnish of 
hfe so foul and gimding tliat 1 barely live, and yet 
1 endure for sake of love, a hght, beautiful and sii^;ular, 
illumes my night and shows me tlie patli to the edge 
of the luiiverse, where waits hope and joy, twm beasts 
shackled by tlieir duty, to draw the chariot of love 
across tlie skies of radiant peace and lover's dream. 



ecstasy 

the sound of yoiu' voice sends echoes across my soul 
like the demon-purging rhythms of tlie kodo drums, 
vibrant and intense, tliese feeling spread the wings 
of my twice-bom heart and give it the wind, it sings 
like the voice of a multitude of angels, the wmd comes 
and blows away tlie sand, but it leaves the image whole. 



35 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



child of love and eloquence 

child of love and eloquence. I saw you today, floatii^ 
at finger's reach, smiling and cooing, yoiir motlier 
stands beside me again and we await you. nothing 
gives me greater joy than seeing your approach, nearer 
and nearer you draw and I am hopeswept and wrapped 
in an enraptured veil of peace and enamonuent. I wait 
for your ainval, celebratmg with a song trapped 
fironi an angel's voice and held immutable at hell's gate. 



inevitability 

eyes of brnnt honey and smile of feral love, could 

I have found anyone, anytliing to bring me more pleasure? 

not merely of the flesh, but of the heart and mmd. 

you fulfill me and give me back that which I bartered 

away a thousand lifetunes ago. I cannot remember 

a moment in my life where I do not truly find 

you there, or tlie commg shadow of your inevitability. 

and you now aie my soulbride, everytliing to me. 



the penetrating rose 

a flower pierced my heart 

and brought forth the blood of Hfe. 

a dieam of love forgotten 

a consummation and a wife. 



36 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

meander 

I am phoenix and golem, soulless and reborn. 
the son of memoiy. the father of dreams and fear, 
look upon my fruits and know them by tlieir totems, 
truth is my iron, love, my tmiic. and you, my soul. 



37 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



38 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventh Panther Cycle: 
Romance in Realtime 




When theie is a standpoint poem in a cycle or collection of cycles, I often refer to it as an 
"anchor piece". . something you can depend on to hold it ont, up and solid. 

"Wlien fiist I chanced" was one of tlie first anchor pieces of the Panthei' Cycles. As I shaied it 
with fellow writers I received an unprecedented response. Words of praise, words of 
encouragement and the occasional nude picture (some still weie not certain if tliere was an actual 
Panther and wanted to get some of the romance mto their life). 

This was tlie fiist cycle written since we met face to face in New Yoik (hence tlie "realtime"). It 
was the first time I mvoked the "burnt honey" colom' of her eyes (tliey are a liglit brown, caiamel 
colour, and burnt honey just seemed to be a natural image, canying sweetness and tlie damage 
that comes fiom just being an umeahzed romantic. 

The first poem to actually take shape in this cycle was "4 am" as itmateiializedmmyhead...at 
4 am. . .in our hotel room. It is an accurate and earnest expression of what I felt in that moment. 



39 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



40 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

when first I chanced 

when fiist I chanced to hear yonr voice 

my heait stopped. 

not for want of deatli, but because 

nothmg can change 

in tlie space between beats of your' heart. 

and I wanted you 

to forever speak my name, wrth reverence 

and honest love 

when first I chanced to look mto yom^ eyes 

burnt gold honey 

in colour, my breatli caught, tlie air 

was no longer needed 

to sustammylife. for myom' eyes 

my world held, strung 

on wires of platinum and steel and dieams. 

and honest love 

when first I chanced to touch your flesh 

my life ended. 

and began again, tlie minuet of hfe paused 

and tlien continued. 

and I was caught in tlie dance, intoxicated 

by youi' warm hand. 

by the sweet message in your smile, bold 

with honest love. 

when first I chanced to lay with you 

the angels wept. 

knowing what was in my heart, how could 

they but regret 

never knowing what passes between two lovers 

caught in tlie sphere 

where ends all reahty and tlie tintli is pm^e as 

any sacrament. 

41 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



when first I chanced to speak of love 

you smiled at me. 

and touched me witli a hand that stole 

my life, and spoke 

with a voice that stopped my heart. 

and looked on me 

with eyes that cauglit my breath, and I knew. 

1 knew. I know. 



baptism 



baptized in the merged sweat of lovers, 
we seek our own comnnuiion. a reiuiion 
of strangers in tune, but not in fact, 
for we were long on this road tliat smotliers 
the heart and steals all hope and emotion 
fi^om so many, but serves to seal this pact. 



4 a.m. 



as you lay beside me m sleep I place my ear, gently 
so as not to awaken you, against your flesh and listen 
to tlie steady beat of your heait and the gentle flow 
of the night air in and out of your lui^s. and I weep, 
for 1 love you so much, and youi' peace is beautifiil. 



42 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

morning 

the iiight-parched sky welcomes the fire of tlie chariot 
of the sui^od as he cracks the line of the horizon, spurring 
on his deshiers. and his lance of tlie hght prods us, 
as we lay entwined on the cool wet sand of tlie beach. 
and awakens us to the knowledge of what we have done. 
and we are at peace with this, and one another. 



before you go 

1 hope I die before you go. 

for 1 am not ready for a hfe without your presence. 

God is not so cruel, surely he 

must plan me a swift and sudden deatli, remembrance 

of what we have held and been would 

be beyond the endurance of Job and more hoiiific 

than any mere ciTicifixion. 

I hope I die before you go. just don't look back. 



the fire 

soft and gentle, tears of lust and tenderness. 

sweet amalgam of my steel and your platinum. 

mettle forged in the heat of desire, tiie fiie 

that we stoked to a fiiry hke Megiddo. biiglit 

and mcandescent, tlie hght we ht. each caress 

servii^ as an added flame to the conflagration 

we shared, and dared, undeterred, the choii' 

of our sighs echoed in our temples, flirough the night. 



43 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

patience 

I have stood in tlie fire, awaitmg yoiir salvation, 
counting on yom' faith and youi^ love and yom^ grace 
for so long, tiie flesh will be consiuned. but 1. 
I will lii^er. for I know yon will retiim. no one 
loves you as much as I do. no one shall ever place 
as much trust in you as I do and will, no he 
obscures this truth, that 1 am given over unconditionally 
to any judgement, test or fate your love would grant me. 



44 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighth Panther Cvcle: 
Betrayal 



The story behind tliis cycle is short and not so sweet. 

I was given mfomiation that, just days after oui' rendezvous in New York, the Pantliei' was 
planning to enteitaui a gentleman caller at her home in Florida. Lideed, he was flying in for the 
weekend. 

I confionted her witli this iiifonnation and she fieaked out fliat I had found out. I told her she 
could see whom she wanted, but that 1 was not going to thiow away my life on someone who 
was not sure if fliey wanted me or just "someone". 

She called liim up and cancelled the visit. He was a regular' m the Writers Club and took flie 
cancellation badly. And, as he learned of my hand in it, he became a behind tlie scenes player 
against me. Notliing overt, just things he'd say when 1 was not aroimd or email he'd send to 
people he tliought should know "what kind of person" 1 was. 

Anyway. 

1 was so angry that 1 had risked so much for so Htfle (for a few tense horns it seemed she was on 
the fence) and 1 wrote a cycle of poems about how 1 felt in tliose hours. I read them, then 
destioyed them. 1 can recreate pieces of tliem m my mmd, but they were so toxic, so unpleasant, 
that 1 could not bring myself to show them to the world, especially after the swift reconciliation. 

But I marked flieu' place to remind me that things are not always what they seem. 



45 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



46 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Ninth Panther Cycle: 
A Slice of Heaven 




Sometimes you say somethii^ in a work and it doesn't strike you how dead-on it is to the 
moment, until someone else reads it and the lights go on. 

So it was with tlie piece "influences" in this cycle. 

Wiitten just days after tlie Eight Cycle, as a healing expression of recommitment, I saw nothing 
so different than the previous cycles. . .but tiie Panther saw different. 

The line "your part in my hfe is undefined, but monumental" caused her to break down, 
emotionally, and begin to cry. She explained that she did not want to have an "midefined" role. 
She knew what she wanted. She wanted to many me and for us to have cliildien. 

I told her that, wliile it might take a little time for me to extiicate myself fiom my cmTent 
marriage, that I fuUy supported that. 

And now tlie falling now made slick the fiiendly tiails. 



47 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



48 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

chaos on a stick 

flashmg/slashitig/emotions trashily 

reality for a slice of heaven. 

a prayer for seven 

when any prune number is nieanir^ess 

in this gamble/ramble/shamble we make 

of our Hves in the name of love. 

in tlie shame of love. 



security 

anchor me witli your love, tliat I may stand against tlie winds 
that blow us apart, heartfast and brave, I would adore you 
near and afar luitil the ice fonns on my banen bones, 
remember me in yom' prayers, to whatever gods such angels 
as you worship, for I need your strength tonight. 



first sight 



1 locked eyes with you, that moment m the cafe, 
when first we met. face to face, chance to chance, 
no escape, captured m the glow of your laugh, prey 
to tlie predator who will do me no hann. the dance 
is not death, but elevafion to a higher plane, where 
angels regard our sweet confusion with sideways stares. 



49 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



morning 

I awaken and find you, to my delight, laying in my arms, 
half asleep, burnt honey eyes staring softly into mine, 
questions unasked, answers given nonetheless, sluning 
with passion radiant and sublime. I surrender to your charms 
and kiss those gently smiling lips, and once again lose 
myself in the rapture of my senses in youi' embrace, 
feehng the waimth of your flesh and your smilmg face 
raising the wager of passionate prayers I can not lose. 



influences 

small hands, big heart, sweet smile, yourpait 
in my life is midefined, but monumental, 
you have refined and redefined my dreams, central 
to tlie patlis I will choose, win or lose, my heart 
is yoms. feed upon it if the need is great, share 
with it if tlie feebly is upon you, but never doubt 
my sincerity and commitment, my soul pours out 
in pools of holy water to wash away your cares. 



50 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



passion 

a daiice for two. tlie two become one, a majestic 
private pirouette, cold fire of aii' and fantasies 
given way to the heat of the wann wine and brisance 
of newly refound joy. resounding like a catmon shot 
across the bow of past lives, past folHes consiuned 
in an instant of total absorption, shall I describe 
how I feel in this instant, as it hangs motionless m 
the ail' we shaie, in the dreams of tlie damned, the 
penetiating rose retains its bloom and loses its tlionis 
in tlie gantiet of shared affections, a monument 
erected by blood and hunger, by hands and hearts 
unwilhng to take tlie back seat, back row, back alley 
routes so many would live with for a simple taste 
of the confection tliat we live upon, and share tonight. 



musing 

1 hold you to me, and feel tlie waimtii of your body flood 
my every sense with intense joy and well-bemg. seeing 
you heie, feeling you with me, sharing your mortal blood 
in tlus communion of the damned, looking foi love, bemg 
all to one anotlier we caimot be to ourselves, honest, fair, 
builders and shapeis. planners and warriors, standing 
against the winds of tiie dawn, tlie stonns slam the air 
fiom om' lungs and then speak our names, demandii^ 
our obedience. I cuise tiiem for tlieii' arrogance, we are 
asynergy, a memory of tomoiiow. tlie essence is pme... 
if not oui' intentions. I have tiaveled both long and far 
to be with you tonight, and 1 will, for your love, endure. 



51 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



52 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Tenth Panther Cycle: 
The Penetrating Rose 




Okay, now for the first truly controversial cycle. Controversial because of the move towards 
open eroticism in tlie works, although it was not fully realized until tiie next cycle. 

Yes, this cycle was named for one of the poems in it, "the penetrating rose". 

And, yes, the poem accmately describes an actual scene fiom our tune m New York. 

Oh, don't be so shocked. I should not have been there, but I was following my heart (or, at least, 
my hormones). 

The fantasy was one tiiat had been conceived by me in one of our long, daikly fliitatious phone 
calls and had immediately been seized upon by her as sometliing she really, really, really foimd 
fascinating. 

Note to tiiose determined to act tins poem out: Remove the thorns. I worked for a summer in a 
flower shop, so I knew to do that. 

Stiai^ely, one of my proteges, upon reading this cycle, declared it made her sad. The protege 
who said that was in just a few weeks to be immoitahzed by The Goldenheart Cycles. 



53 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



54 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



invitation 

subtle movements baiiiig uiisubtle hmigers. a kiss 
is not always just a kiss, but sometimes an offer. 
an appetizer, a call to feelings held distant 
and regarded witli wounded disdain and a cold bliss 
of witlidrawn life from the surface of a new lover 
granting joy and confiision. and dieams unrepentant. 



sharing breath 

sharii^ breatli in the dimlight of another sphere, we are here 
to make tlie new communion, vows broken, words spoken 
with all tlieir repercussions explored, we have ignored 
for too long the fire and tlie phoenix, we had stood afar 
and watched witli love and lust and hope and tmst made 
manifest m our souls, now flesh made conduit for time 
that rockets towards us unchecked, but with us more 
awaie of its ravages, and no loiter afraid of lost dieams 
and oppoitimities. for, in the false dawn of parted draperies, 
we have found the pearl of self-revelation, one. for that 
is how fate forged us. and we have only now reahzed our 
incomplete complexities, but incomplete, no more. 



55 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the penetrating rose 

the focus shifts to your hand, youi' soft hand, the hand 
that brushes aside my hair to gaze into my eyes when 
that is all we date do for feai' of showing the caids 
of our hearts to tlie riverboat gamblers who charge 
and bluff and cheat their ways across this game, with 
film and cautious resolve, you guide tlie penetrating lose 
to its vase, or peihaps, to a new bed, iich and nuitiuing. 
where it will take root, and grow strong as an expression 
of passion and love. I staie deeply into yom' bmiit honey 
eyes and see the fiie in them, as paits tlie impediments 
to tlie penetiating lose. I see your eyes. I feel your eyes 
locked into mine, sending fire and pleasure hke some 
great spiritual semaphore, a smgle sound escapes your lips. 
and tlie penetrating rose slides softly into place, and 
you bmsh aside my hair again, witli the soft hand that 
guided the flower to its new home, where it takes root. 
and blossoms as yom' eyes, hand, heart and flesh desue. 



impressions 

neivous. playfiil. warm. wiUing. 
giggling, trembhng. exploimg. gentle, 
tender, himgry. cautious, merging, 
merging, sharing, caring, passionate, 
mad. consuming, melting, flowii^. 
bumii^. blendmg. bmiung. blending, 
exploding, sweet, chaotic, dancing, 
caressing, sweet, smfling. wet. 
nervous, playful, warm, willing 



56 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the precipice 

I kiss you, gently, and watch the fire iii yom: eyes flickei' 

and illuminate as you impale yourself, no hesitation. 

just hinder and a desire to be fed. here, in this bed 

of the penetrating rose, you beg tlie question of endurance 

of hearts, of souls, of dreams, of flesh, and I have 

not aU tlie answeis. but seeing you dance in tlie 

gaiden, cauglit in tlie chaosfire of my passion, feeling 

yomhrnigei. feeling you draw fire fiom me... seeing 

the look in your eyes as you become a marionette to your 

feial needs, dancii^ on stimgs of floodir^ release. 

the sHppeiy slope of merging fonns and hearts is with us, 

you nde your dreams and illusions, and I feel you melting, 

nirming as more tlian fleshes merge, we verge on unity, 

and, m a moment of flash and thunder, we leap fiom 

the precipice, together, and are lost in ourselves, forever. 



the communion of the warm wine 

you smile that saintly simiei' smile 

and beg to take tlie communion of the wann wine. 

you would taste my life upon yom' tongue 

and dieam of notlung moie than what is. 

reality, thick and luxuriant, listening 

for my pleasure, measurii^ it in mches 

and ounces and the wann, lingeimg kiss 

of the flesh, deep and dai^erous. and you 

drink deeply and completely, and you smile. 

seemg. lieaimg, feeling, tasting my pleasure. 



57 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



melancholy /the morning after 

heie. in these plastic shells 
we shape aiid polish and hone 
to show in hght of day, bone 
and flesh, nothing is shaied. 
in tlie end, notliing is dared 
but tliat which we discern 
to be ultimately, to the tuni 
of events to cushion our hells. 



58 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eleventh Panther Cycle: 
Seven Kisses 




A rather complex cycle, built upon a theme: seven kisses . 

Some of tlie pieces are clearly erotic, some are romantic. Stylistically I am all over tlie map, but 
that happens often in tlie more thematic cycles, as I feel empowered to play with foim and style 
when 1 don't have to worry about keeping them linked by more tlian the theme. 

I haven't nm into a lot of poems about making love witli a pregnant woman. I thought tlie 
imageiy went well and to be honest, it positively put her in heat. A Pantliei in heat is a tenifying 
thing, on some levels 

The release of this one was delayed to my inner circle, as 1 was unsme how they'd take the faiily 
heady eroticism. I needn't have wonied. People turned back flips over this one, and I was 
gettmg propositioned regularly by women onHne who thought they might be "the panther". 

Note to fliture generations: The was one "Pantlier". . .she was a real, flesh and blood woman. If 
you aie her, you know it. Otheiwise, it isn't you. 



59 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



60 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

introductions 

except to God, tliere is a fiist time to all tilings, 
so it was with us. fiuiibling. tiiiiibliiig. gliding 
down like waterfall eddies into each other's grasp. 
Hp to lip. eye to eye. a denim dress sliding 
upward, hke a shield raised in surrender 
and greeting, no wanner comrade made than 
in tliat moment, no welcome softer, or sweeter, 
or so, so anticipated, soft and iipe, I peel 
the fabric skin away to expose the beckoning 
fruit and take my fill as you take yours. 
and two nervous smiles give way to pleasure. 
and a memory undimmished by time. 



61 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

dark kiss 

a warm kiss, low and inside, 
sweet fire, desiie and himger. 
a promise made of dark intent, 
a gentle dental mental fiiry. 

intensity upon intensity, 
a terrible, wonderfiil fire, 
higlier. liigher. flashpoint 
and beyond, electiic and eclectic. 

you serze. andserzeup. 
too much, too much, like 
a marionette on endorphin ice. 
inarticulate pleasme turrung to fear. 

feai^ and excitement, 
a barrier breached, the pleasure 
of surrender', you don't remember 
when the wall was passed, or how. 

just file charge, tiie surge. 
the large swellii^ of nerve ending 
army ants consummg your consciousness 
like a swarm of pleasuring wasps. 

another kiss of the waim. rt lingers 
and the stingers drive home the venom 
of ecstasy, and the feai' fieezes on fips 
disabled by a cuiming lingmst's trips. 

you float m blackness, unawaie. 
thrown upon the shore, helpless 
and uncaring. obMvious to tiie lover 
who patiently waits for your retiini. 



62 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



while we are in you 

a merged life, haploids joined to fonii newgrowtli 

inside yoiir smooth, romided fonii. I kiss the ciuve 

of the skin of the chamber wherein we are together. 

and lead you once more to the place where silent oatlis 

gave rise to new life, where we paired and daied 

to show hope in tomoiiow and our love, tlie sheer neive 

of lovers in this giaceless age, the dark weatlier 

of the caieless night, gimding dust fiom what we shared. 

I lay against you, and feel us in you. newHfe, merged 
and glowing, synthesis and synergy, a one of us. 
yom' eyes tell me your need for reassurance, your hands 
speak vohunes of love and passion, mtimacy encouraged 
in a time of great joy. passion and reverence, a touch. 
abmsh. a smile of knowing lumger. a tender tluTist 
of gatliering blood, wishing to lock us in fiised bands 
of soulmetal and dreams, a moment tliat says so much. 

I slide my angel hands down your hips and rest them on us. 
the us that is within you. shared and conceived, 
loved and living, tlie givii^ of tlie flesh, youi' song 
is giacefiil and beautiful, for what is more sensuous 
than a woman canying tlie child of tlie man she loves 
and who loves her? what is more honest tlian lust relieved 
by lovers swoni and given? what is more riglit than tlie long 
and thrilling fire that engulfs us? now. and you are so beautiful. 



63 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

baby kiss 

ten tlioiisand tunes I've kissed that moutli, seeing it drawn 
in contorted passion and measure of pleasure, now, I see it taut 
with an intensity of fulfillment, a birth of dreamer and dream . 
in comforted pain and attainment of life, tlie star is caught 
in your soul's web and brought foitli in a cliild's first dawn. 

how rare it is to see such passion, were that I could stir fiom you 
a smile as that which creases youi' face, exliausted fiom the effort 
of giving ready flight to anew angel, bom of a love supreme 
among meie mortals, reveient and impassioned, no mere sport 
of passion, this cliild conceived as lover's seal between me and you. 



64 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

a thirsty kiss 

she sleeps. 

a newborn's peaceful 

and honest rest, sated. 

but you and I do not. not yet. 

for there is fiie in your eyes 

and a lover's kiss to reconcile. 

face to face. 

an embrace 

that entwines us. 

your dancer's legs lock about me. 

yom' hands cradle my face to you. 

your body receives me with 

eagei' and pleased abandon. 

I kiss the sweat from your neck. 
and trace the trail of a slow, seepmg 
path of whiteness from yoni' breast. 
and plug it with my thirst, not stopping 
it, but draining eagei' nourishment 
with my lips as your loms diaw 
eager nourishment from my flesh. 

1 feel yom' pleasiu^e as you ciadle 

my face to you. the tension in your thighs 

teUs me all I need to know, and I 

am thiisty for you and your love. 

and dimk greedily, diaining you. 

as you do to nie. 



65 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

wet kiss 

a captive tiopical raiii, lush and cascading, 
paiading down your flesh, drawing out the fatigue 
earned in houis of earnest, amorous battle. 
the ahen wetness feels so good, serenading 
your flesh with new vigor and life, m league 
with desire unrepentant, it renews flie call 
to you and I to touch, to taste, to feel, to share 
again this joy of discoveiy. in a wet kiss ofhfe. 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the kiss of the reawakening rose 

exhaustion, sweet and suiiple. 

tired limbs, earning their rest and respite. 

we lay, linked togetlier in all 

ways, slow and tempered, consciousness split 

by tlie gentle, regular breathing of lovers, sated. 

the penetrating rose awakens. 

slowly it presses foitli its stem, pushing aside 

aU barners, seeking deep fen 

to blossom, stietching out for the liglit inside 

of a woman's passionate embrace, illuminated. 

slowly you awaken to the bloom. 

you marvel at tlie sensation of giowtli and reach, 

as the rose seeks a proper room 

in which to giow, in wliich to show its petals, teach 

its lessons of passion and fiie penetrated. 

you reach back to me and touch 

my face. I rouse and am aroused by the renewal 

of the binding, the bonds of such 

an exquisite vase, enhancii^ tlie rose through all 

the shared sensations of tlie fire consecrated. 

my tired limbs aie reborn 

and I puU you to me, burying deeper still tlie rose 

withm its proper' garden. 

and exhaustion has fled, and we kiss, again nose 

to nose, hptohp. backtofi^ont. reinvigorated. 



67 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twelfth Panther Cycle: 
The Wedding Cycle 




This cycle came at a time when we pretty much figured we knew what was going to happen over 
the rest of our hves: I would get a divorce, we could marry, have two cMdien and hve happdy 
ever after. 

Man plans, God laughs. 

But, regardless of any future reality checks, I wrote this set, spinning off of the visions and 
images we were creatii^ m oni' little cloistered comer of reality. Never mind that I had not yet 
asked for a divorce. Never mind that we had spent all of about foi1y horns in each otlier's actual 
presences. 

I had gone from, in a matter of only a handful of months, someone who had never used tlie tenn 
"soubnate" in conversation to injectmg in just about everything I wrote, so certain I was of tlie 
situation and its eventual outcome. 

Man plans, God laughs. 



69 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



70 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

promises 

the promise is made and the covenant sealed 
between strainers no more, their passion revealed 
in a reverent givmg and taking of bonds 
forged m their name, in their hearts, by their hands. 



sonnet: the journey 

I have stood at the edge of eternity and watched the gravel 
beneath my toes fall away mto the endless void, down 
into the abyss, for so loi^ did I wander free and travel, 
deemed mad by all who saw tlie decade's dance turn brown 
the greenery of my youth, alone and arrogant, I fraced 
the line of a sliinii^ path of cmmmg calculations cnUed 
from my perceptions of Hfe and love and god. and faced 
with mortahty, I laughed a hearty roar, and when called 
by fate to answer for my sms, I took my cross with grace 
and peace, knowmg that truth was a better companion 
than anyone I'd ever known, until now. I turn my face 
from tlie lonely wind and hold out my hand to askyoujom 
this lonely quest, alone no more, for I have foimd wortli 
in one who shares so much and I would share my time on Earth. 



processional 

ever closer'. 

our souls draw ever closer, 
boimd to end in a bmdrng 
of a Gordian knot, bhnding 
us witli joy we will remember 
to remember. 



71 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

purpose 

we aie not here for weakness relieved 

but for stiength buttressed in a commonality 

of affection and respect, this derelict 

heart has found a shelter where his skills 

may be part of the whole, a solution 

not a problem, and for tlus, he is forevennore 

grateflil and given, hfe lived for pmpose. 



rivets 

words of respect, 
words that deflect 
those awkwaid, often tunes 
when our hearts' petty crimes 
would rob us of our dignity, 
there is an infinite affinity 
between kindred souls, resonance 
that exposes the most chance 
of variance between hearts brave 
and given to hope as honor's slave. 



72 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

synergy in white light 

like a feedback loop of iiifiiiite power, 
moment by iiioiiient, lioiu' by lioiu; 
my power grows, focused like a pure beam 
of coherent light, like the newborn scream 
of nucleai' fire m a newborn star. 

lancii^ out into tlie chaos night of 
mortal weakness, the faihu^e shown in love 
forged in fires too cool to tnie temper 
the iron of oiu' hearts that would never 
survive tlie memory of a love scar. 



73 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

first dance 

to tlie outwaid obseiTer. 

our fiist dance would have been an awkward affair. 

slow and ponderous, we were 

uncertain where to place our hands and anus, but where 

we rested our limbs was not 

as important as the quintessential why. for in tliis simple 

expression of desire not 

to proudly ignore souliuate found, we found our heaits giaceM. 



74 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirteenth Panther Cycle: 
Panther On The Beach 



^ 




I was now experiinentmg witli foniis I had only dabbled with before, most notably tlie French 
sonnet form, the villaneUe. 

But, look closely at the poem "the Panther on the Beach". There is a subconscious thread tliere, 
apart of me sensing that maybe I was the only one certain of our joined fate. 

Note also tlie reference to "La Belle Dame Sans Merci". 

We all know how that turned out. 

Foreshadowing was rearmg its ugly head. 



75 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



76 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the Panther on the Beach 

A poet's dieaiii and invocation of dark divinity 

spun of the ethereal webs of chance and sweet mortality. 

A futiue memory calling of tlie pantlier on the beach. 

Forbidden and forever. Tlie rose, she grows just out of reach, 

representii^ a resonant sweetness, nectar of a peach, 

a poet's dieam and invocation of dark divinity. 

So iimocently tlie Judas goat, la belle dame sans merci. 

My blood, it bums in cascade turns, now in bondage to be fiee: 

a ftitiu^e memory caUing of the panther on tlie beach. 

Hardwired, soul to smew, as if tlie vengeful prophets preach 

a fallen grace of lost face, disremembering what we teach. 

A poet's dream and invocation of dark divinity. 

I gaze, in rapt amazement, committing all to memoiy, 

ragmg in a cage called propriety. A false dignity. 

A future memoiy calling of tlie pantlier on the beach. 

A visit to tlie edge of the enamored infinity. 

Woven in words incarnate and the elegance of my speech. 

A poet's dream and invocation of dark divinity. 

A future memoiy calling of tlie pantlier on the beach. 



77 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

rationale 

if sometimes I seem possessive 

or suspicious, please forgive me. 

itis no comitagaitistyou. Hive 

for your love and thiough my eyes I see 

no reason for one as wondrous 

as you to love such as I am, all too 

mortal, and sometunes, this marvelous 

gift of yoiu^ love, bestowed on me tlu^ough 

no worthiness of my own, makes me fear 

that one day you will regain your reason 

and see me for all my unwortliiness, not near 

to all you deserve, and m tliis season 

of senses reawakened, you will depaif 

as you came, a hunmous herald of joy 

unasked, tlie gem of wonder witliin my heait 

that grants me the most perfect peace any 

man has ever known, my derelict heart bleeds 

to think one day I'll be insufficient to youi' needs. 



a kiss of intent 

you kiss like you mean it. as if every 

touch and taste and wann embrace were 

an expression of tliinly restrained tliirst 

for the deepest draught of wann wine. 

I return your passion, moved and very 

ready to surrender all my restraints, sure 

that I am willing to suffer the very worst 

our merging could create, a brush witli the divine. 



78 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

my heart 

I do not contiol my heait or iinise. 
they take will of tlieu' own and amuse 
themselves sometimes, by what or who they choose 
for me to be drawn to. Fisher-king bruise. 



spike 

we lay, togetlier, serenity 
reigning down on us m regal 
splendoui'. it binds our pretty 
words mto cniming constructs, fiill 
of meanings shared, passions dared 
and tlie rich illusions we piepaied 
for such an occasion, shattered like 
brittle glass on an upturned spike. 



song 

1 love to hear yoiu^ song. 

sweet and transporting. 

it fills me with longing 

to shaie my hfe and biing 

all my heart to stay forever 

in youi' hfe's artistry. 

to be with such as you and nevei 

be less tlian what you need me to be. 



79 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Panther's Dance 

Two legs, not four, she takes tlie floor 

tracing out rhythms of desiie and more. 

The smiple, sinfiil giace of the pantlier's dance. 

I wasn't looking for beauty in an elegant romance, 

but she drew me m, by her chann, by chance. 

Two legs, not four, she takes tlie floor. 

Such lovely grace and spint, I'll sing forevermore, 

and place it in liistory, this passion mto lore: 

the simple, sinfiil grace of tlie pantlier's dance. 

The Renaissance of Italy, tlie Golden Age of France, 

both faded, futile memories, witlun tins lover's trance. 

Two legs, not four, she takes tlie floor. 

I caiuiot take my eyes from liei', a poor 

martyi' an I to take liei', yet for this I implore: 

the simple, sinfiil grace of tlie pantlier's dance. 

Her feline lines and feral smile, impossible to ignore, 

and tliat I be her chosen, a most blessed twist of chance. 

Two legs, not four, she takes tlie floor, 

the smiple, smfiil giace of tlie pantlier's dance. 



80 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fourteenth Panther Cycle: 
Panther Eves 




The poetic cycle as tlierapy. 

To me, this cycle is one of the most important to examine and evaluate. To consider, not just as 
ait or literature, but as a minor or a lens tliat tlie Hglit of reality must boimce off of or bend 
tluougli to emerge to the page. 

The first piece, "Panther Eyes" is a well-wrought enough viUanelle describing her eyes . 

But tlie final iiiree poems, tliere's tlie Master's Thesis waiting to be written. 

"unworthy" frames me as perhaps an unfit suitor, my own doubts about myself, largely fueled by 
my infidelity, weie eating me ahve. . .tlie next few montiis would ravage me, emotionally. 

"scrutiny" is a simple observational work, examining a moment fiom oiu^ meetii^ in New York 
when she left the table to find a waiter. She wanted lime in her Diet Coke, he had brouglit 
lemon. I watched her as she moved away, fully aware that I would almost certainly be seeing her 
fai' more intimately in just an hour or two, but admirmg her grace and beauty. 



81 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

"felicific" a vision of happiness, of good foitime. A vision of hei', watching Cassiopeia chase 
butterflies on a sunny day. It was an image that made her always feel good, and I believe at tlie 
time I wrote it the purpose was to calm her down, as her guilt feelings were beginning to gnaw at 
hei, as well. 



82 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

panther eyes 

burnt honey eyes, rich and rapturous, 
a hunter's hunger made perilous, 
eyes aglow with passion and deHglit. 
smile affixed in soul's coherent hght. 
framed m dark illusions of tlie niglit. 
burnt honey eyes, rich and rapturous. 
the moment the fire consumes us. 
I camiot look away, flesh made porous. 
eyes aglow with passion and deHglit. 
later, alone in the swirl of bright 
memories, I see your smile, so right, 
burnt honey eyes, rich and rapturous, 
sitting in a crowd of fiiends, to us 
there aie more tlian words comiecting us. 
eyes aglow with passion and deHglit. 
all I need is your glance to feel tluTist 
into file chaos of passionlight. 
burnt honey eyes, rich and rapturous, 
eyes aglow with passion and deHglit. 



simple pleasure 

shall I write poems of passion 
that raise the peoples' fire? 
shall icons of you I fashion 
to stand, idols of desire? 
or better should I freasure 
every moment that we claim 
and seek the simple pleasure 
of a common home and name? 



83 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the kernel 

in tlie flimace of my desire, the infenio 
will bum away all doubt of my tnitli, and you 
shall be left with tlie immutable kernel comprised 
of my love, haider than fallen star's steel. 

and, in your timely examination, you shall know 
the purity of my love, tlie heat, beyond blue, 
beyond violet, and you shall be left witli a gem prized 
above all mortal treasures, a piece of something real. 



Wings 

If I were to play Daedalus 
and fashion you your wings 
I would not build from feathers 
and bind with wax and strings. 

Instead I would seek butterflies 
and beg them from my plight 
to share with you their chrysalis 
so you may, the winds, ahght. 

For such is your perfection 

you need no graver lift 

than the scarcest liint of summeiwings 

to bear Aplu^odite's gift. 



84 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

unworthy 

I have always been what I should be 
to brace youi' stiength and set you free 
from all youi' demons and diversions, weak 
am I, clay with flecks of gold, but I seek 
to be what you need, accept me back, take 
me for all my flaws and failures, flus snake 
does no more wrsh to seek to brmg you suffering 
than you would ask for such a false bartering 
of intentions, do not reject me and I will see 
yom' joy as great as it can be made, as my duty. 



scrutiny 

once. 

when you were unaware of my scnitiny. 
I watched you cross the room and I 
marveled at youi' fonn and elegance 
as you made poetry of sunply motion. 
filling my heaft with inspiration 
that even now, months later, I can 
recaU with sweet fondness and emotion. 



felicific 



a vision, a woman, undoubtedly you 
by hei stance and fonn and essence, 
standing at file window, watcliing 
a cliild chasing butterflies across 
afield of wildflowers. and smihng 
as the afternoon sun warms them 
both, and the clouds are always white. 



85 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fifteenth Panther Cycle: 
The Goddess Cycle 




When in donbt, go back to tlie thematic cycle. 

For this one I chose from the goddesses of several ancient mythologies to depict aspects of the 
Panther and women in general. 

Mixed results, but this was a good exercise is seeii^ how well I could identify patterns, images 
and tendencies that were stalling to emerge. Most notable? I was lying to myself The mere 
choice of the theme should have warned me that the "deification" process had begun, I was 
dispensing with the human woman and replacing her with something divine and perfect, flawed 
only as a goddess would be flawed, issues of temperament rather than fragility or dishonesty. 

Under tlie growing sfress of seeing my niaiiiage dissolve, and the subtle condemnation of some 
who had seen through the ridiculously thinly veiled disguise, she was buckling, scared, feehng 
isolated and condemned. 



87 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Idun, Norse Goddess of Youth 

You share yom^ apples. Thoughts and dieams carved 
of springtuiie desires, forged in the sun to giant me 
my wagered immortality. Conceptuality set fiee 
to giant me the life I would shaie, as a man starved 
for the essence, tlie trutli of love and beauty bright 
with promise and youtli. And I would take a bite. 

Ishtar, Egyptian Goddess of Love and Fertility 

Sands of time. Sands of crime against tlie pillais 
of passion. Love wasted, never tasted from wells 
cut in the sandstone of the arid deserts of Hfe. 
The wmd blasts our souls and demands sacnfice 
of our failed desires. Fires that bum in tapers 
of wax and gold, stolen from the illmninated shells 
of our still hving sarcophagi. The ritual kmfe 
that peels away the withered skm as falsehood's price. 



Bast, Egyptian Goddess of Cats 

I have often wondered what it would be like to be 
inabody fehnemnatuie. graceful, predatory, 
like the cat-headed goddess I saw m tiie museum, 
proud and beautiful, she is able to be free 
on hei own terms, to hve. to love, herliistory 
iiielevant hke a lover's dream uninvoked m fear. 



89 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Brigit, Celtic Goddess of Fire and Poetry 

yoiir words are like the sparks tliat light tlie kmdling 
hidden deep witliin me, like a slumbering, flammable 
giant, imaware of his liibemation until tlie awakening 
in the aims of a woman both beautiful and capable. 



Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty 

lovely you are. lovely and love-wortliy, like 

acliild oftlie Gods, herself a Goddess. I am struck 

speecliless and mindless and without will 

by the power of your beauty, the duty of love 

if to expose the truth magnified m tlie dove 

of peace and the raven of mouiiung. the fill 

of my soul by tlie hglit absorbed by tlie luck 

of my eyes being open when you entered my life. 



Tyche, Greek Goddess of Good Fortune 

a twist of fate, the card turned to fill the open straight 
is insufficient, sometimes, but not today and the trove 
is mine, a tliousand fives worth of wealth m the kiss 
of an angel of dark grace and the fire of Erin her soul, 
a worthy paramour', a peei'. an imasked victory, lucky 
at caids or lucky at love? I fold, for I have won all, 
all I will ever need m tliis life, and an content. 



90 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Isis, Egyptian Goddess of Fertility 

whether the seeds of my love, nmtiired aiid perfected 
the bosom of oiir twin-helixed heails and soiils, or the 
geiTiiination of oiir offspring in youi' nmtiiring flesh, 
I am awed by tlie shared moments we aie granted 
in tliis life to make onr creation mamfest. I love you. 



91 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



92 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixteenth Panther Cycle: 
Dark and Light 




"dieams of goldeiiliearts and remnant of red" opens this cycle 

A crack in the wall. It was at this time, during a particularly strained point at my relationship 
with tlie Panther that I penned 'The Goldenlieait Cycles" which have been argued as a fittmg 
rival to tlie Panther Cycles foi tlie top of my artistic pyramid. 

Apples and oranges. Or lathei, jimgle cats versus Neil Yoimg songs. 

The Goldenheart was a protege of mme who was m sharp contiast to tlie Panther and in our 
discussions of poetic form and themes, she had touched a part of me that had remained luicut m 
the eaily months of my lelationsliip with tlie Pantlier. Imiocence. 

There was no illusion of innocence here. I was cheating on my wife, pieparing to ask for a 
divorce so I could many my separated yet-to-be-divoiced giilfiiend I'd met on tlie internet then 
bedded in a New York hotel (okay, amcehotel, but nonetheless...) 



93 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

While this cycle continued a string of well-wrouglit and introspective expressions of my heart, 
the emergence of tliis single line should have flagged me tliat I was yearning for a purification, a 
lustiation, fioin the guilt I was caving under. Tlie Panther was fading even faster tlian I, despite 
a second rendezvous, tliis time in suburban Virginia, near' where I lived. 

I was keepmg it togetlier by a tluead and my perversely inhuman cardio-vascular system was the 
only tlung tliat stood between me and a massive coronary or a stroke. 

I was in fliU amomancy now, invoking her favourite images and fantasies to keep her' near, to 
give me some comfort, but she was more drained tlian I by now. 



94 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

conflicts 

dreams ofgoldeiiliearts and remnants of red, 

the cmlain drawn on an antique bed. 

remembering what I tliought, remembering what I said. 

we aie not what we were, but more. 

the proof is in tlie shadows, tlie fiie in the dark, 
the joy IS in tlie bitter tears, wept angry and stark 
alone, we are blindfolded by fate, at the mark 
where tlie cold bodies wash on shore. 



walls 

the walls come down, 
blasted by tlie heat of our passions, 
as the twisted bucks aawl and seek 
to resurrect tlieii' fonu before 
we can kiss again. 



defiance 

the wmds of time are not always warm and gentle. 
they chum and twist, puffs of aii' to lieUish screams 
that would rip tlie flesh from you in a mental 
hurricane, category 6. and all the dreams 
must clii^ to you, their nails dug in. stand, 
take the blast, lash to the mast of ego 
yoiu' desires, your dreams of a distant land 
that was beneath your feet a moment ago. 



95 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

dragonrise 

who are you, to awaken me? 
I have slept longer tlian many 
have Hved. and by choice tliis voice 
has loi^ been silent, can you see 
the shadows on my wall? a penny 
for my thoughts would price 
me out ofthemaiket. 1 would 
wrap you in my wings when I 
ascend, but 1 need them to catch 
the amber winds of the dawn. 
cling tightly and with me fly 
to the cherished land, watch 
dreams bloom when we are gone. 

union 

do you really want to love me? 
I am miwoitliy so often, self-absorbed 
and given to tlie excess of ego of my 
gender and my art. 1 wiU never see 
a mirror without my demons, barbed 
fangs and nails clinging tightly, why 
you would want tliis tortured man 
is a puzzle to me. but you give me 
love and seremty. a home foi tliis 
vagabond heait. an holy band can 
bind us, but no tighter than I wish 
to be at one with you in an eternal kiss. 



96 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

tasting the fire 

a statement of fact, lacking tact. 
I am guilty as charged, my love for you 
shall be my undoing, and that of so many 
things, but I stand ready to taste the fire. 

this passion foi you is no act. 
others tried tliat con on you and knew 
your disdain and subtle smile, imcamiy 
yom' gift to see tlie tiTie natuie of desiie. 



hold fast 

hold fast to me, my love, for I need you. 
yes, I said need, few men speak those words 
in anything otliei tlian calculated lust, tnie, 
but I am not any man. I have spoken shards 
of the eaitlienware heart, spit in rainbow hue 
and black and white, tlie night is memory. 
and thus is it cursed by all who care to 
pondei its implications, my soul's apogee 
is bound to your orbit. tluTist mto the blue 
of the lover's night, I feai' no evil, when 
you passed the minor's test and knew 
before I did, the names of om' cliildren. 



97 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



98 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventeenth Panther Cycle: 
soft reflections 




Perhaps the most reiiiaikable thing about tliis cycle is the stepping ont of my own voice, tlie write 
a cycle made up entirely of foui-line poems. It was by design, I had noticed a tendency in recent 
works to go to tlie excessively verbose, and I was trying to force myself to thmk in shoif biu^sts. 

The last two pieces describe actual events fiom hei visit to Virginia, a movie we went to and oui' 
farewells at the aiiport. 

It would be the last tune I saw her in this hfe witli us on good terms. 



99 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



100 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

edge 

I know oiily tlie very nearest edge of my love for you, 
for so deep is it tliat I caimot see tlie faitliest piece. 
I know it IS buried deep in my heart, like an arrow tlu^oiigh 
my reality. I shift my focus and live a lover's peace. 



summer dreams 

my dreams for us are the flavour of the memory 
of a summer's day. when the clouds are spun sugar 
and tlie alien blue cheesecake of the sky, for me 
holds nothing but hope and wannth and ardor. 



shining epitaph 



remember me when I am cold and memoried, 
songs sung by fading friends and tliose who never 
saw me m life, but I will be remembered. 
the inspiration you give me will slime forever. 



a kiss 

I thirst for your beauty, my tongue is made dry 
by your absence, and I would faint. I would taste 
deeply of your Hps, and be mmdfiil of the reasons why 
I dare not wander far. a nectared kiss, well placed. 



101 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

again 

I would lie beside you, once again, to share anew 
the wanntli and pleasure of our textures and om' heat, 
in many ways your soul is all the sustenance due 
my hungry heart, but it is m your arms I am complete. 



the theatre 

we sat m the dark and watched tlie fhckeimg pictures 
tell a tale irrelevant to our lives . but witli your hair 
against my shoulder, and our fingers meshed to captuie 
the touch again of flesh denied, a stolen kiss, I dare. 



parting at the airport 

as we paited, a missed oppoitiuiity for a last kiss 

stiU mocking on the aii', 1 considered how much I felt 

in watchii^ you walk away, and 1 wept, knowing I'd miss 

your touch and await your retiun. a tempered sadness welled. 



102 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighteenth Panther Cycle: 

Unborn Memories. Poetry Written 

by our Unborn Children 




Did I get slammed for this one? 

The self-indulgence of putting words m tlie mouth of imbom cliildren, cliildien not even 
conceived. 

The sheer insipidity of "tlie meeting". 

There are times when 1 tliink I'm losing what gifts I have as a writer, after reading this one I was 
sure I was fading in the shadows, as if my sins had torn my powers from me, like a Nazarite 
shorn of his locks. 

1 was writing more tlian I had ever written before in my hfe, as much as a cycle a day, and I 
could not vent the poison witlun me fast enougli. 



103 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



104 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the Meeting 

did you ever hear the stoiy of how they met? 
yes, a tliousaiid tiines. how father tliought all 
the while he was talking to a man. how they set 
to tlieii' debate on how to spell "Neandeitlial". 
how they giew to respect and enjoy the minds 
of one another, tlie way tliey reasoned 
even when, in casual conversation, he finds 
she is a woman, and is world is overtunied. 



the Confession 

loi^ before 1 was bom, a shy plu^ase 

spoken, ahnost silent, a footnote 

to a long and rambling letter of a praise 

for a fiiend foimd dear, a dust mote 

of affection, expressed and found fecund. 

a fertile tliouglit planted in a field 

of willing embracement. love beckoned 

in a daring slight of memory, healed. 



the Kiss 

he told me once, about their fiist kiss. 
awkward, and ambush, an elevator I beheve, 
riding to the sky. a sudden impulse to seize 
this mstant and violate all plans and scripts 
to touch lips witli the woman he loved. 
and stdl does . 



105 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the Dress 

I saw it in the closet, the legends aie tnie. 
green and brilliant, short enougli to show 
those dancer's legs (bold and powerful) to 
all who had tlie comage to staie. I know 
she bought it for hiin, to tempt hnn to 
dance tliat evening. I'm glad she dared 
to court his favom; or you and I, my 
sister, would not be alive to share 
this stoiy. or to, in oui' hearts, why 
they did not dance tliat night, they cared 
enougli to dance, but they did not try 
for fear that eveiy eye would be on tliem 
and know their secret, a stolen gem. 



the Fight 

I heard motlier tell tlie tale (though father does not speak) 
of the lost poems, something about a discovery, 
brought to hght late one night, tliat smacked of treachery 
to his way of thinking and drove lum mad. the weak 
bonds, still fresh, tliat bound tliem togetlier, split 
and tore and he had to iip tliose pages from liis heart, 
never before or since, takmg in his moutli the bit 
of madness, and drawing the coach of hell apart 
from all. father could not endure tlie pain and cut 
himself off from his words, burning tliem Hke leavings 
of aiefiisepile. smouldering, mouldering to shut 
the flue of fading hope, and imiocents' giievings. 



106 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the Book 

words of his expression of love, sculpted witli liei aid, 
boimd together to bind tliem togetlier, a serenade 
for the ages, the pages not yet old enough to turn 
yellow with age. yet with timeless fiie they bum. 



the wedding 

an anny of liglit, givmg tlieu' blessing, tlieir seal 
on the nieiguig of lovers, destined to give birth 
to you and I, my brother, my fatlier and mothei, feeling 
all that they did and do, had little choice but bring foitli 
their love in pubHc ceremony, tlie flowers faded and knelt 
befoie motlier's radiance, and fatlier knew joy undenied 
in tliat moment, he called it his birtluight, a passion felt 
in tlie coiners of heaven. 1 have seen tlie pictures and cried. 



107 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



108 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Nineteenth Panther Cycle: 
Seven Wonders 




This one helped, a lot. I refocused, using a thematic stnictiire. Again, tliank God for all the 
"Sevens" in hteiatuie, mythology and culture. 

"Tlie Statue of Zeus" was a rare flash of himiour in my works at this tune. At tlie tune I had met 
the Panther I had been writing an extemporaneous 'Top Ten List" column for the Writers Club 
on AOL, every Simday Niglit in tlieir legendary Writers Cafe, so I was comfortable laughmg for 
a moment. 

It took a little research to get beyond the names of the oiiginal Seven Wonders, but all in all it 
was woitli it and I learned a few tilings along tlie way. 



109 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



110 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Pyramids of Egypt 

standing even against tlie blasting sands of tinie, 
wliich wear away the face of man and liis creation, 
my love stands, weatliered but defiant, a subHme 
statement of our patience and dedication. 

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon 

The life giows and spreads out, twisting and vinii^ 
its way towards tlie aicing sun, prayitig to light 
and tlie moishire-nch morning air. Like twining 
lover's fimbs the stems embrace, supporting bright 
blossoms of amber and ciimson and iiidescent blue 
that spread tlieir fiagrance like a blushing memory 
on an airplane. Knowing everyone can see the tnie 
nature of your love, and marvel at the beauty. 

The Mausoleum at Hahcarnassus 

No crypt of stone or ancient wood shall hold our bones. 
It would be sacrilege to our passion, a pile of stones 
on a rainbow of glory, strangely out of place, defacing 
our faith in the afterhfe. A memory's disgracmg. 



111 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Temple of Artemis 

I bum the ofFeriiig in the brazier, as the priest has shown, 
to summon the unage of love in the eyes of tlie goddess 
of the feral creatures and tlie hunt. For I have long known 
that my destiny is with a jiuigle cat, and to bless 
this umon, 1 will seek the elder communion, that which 
tells the myths of memories faded, jaded and serenaded 
by bards and skalds. 1 will hold my aiiows and bewitch 
this cunning beast into my arms, a passion divinely fated. 



The Colossus of Rhodes 

epic and silent, our passion shall stand longei 
than the Colossus, m muscled aiticulation stronger 
than that construct of the unage of Apollo, fallen 
now with the movement of tlie earth, no sullen 
set of cliiseled j aw shall communicate our desire, 
but tlie immortality of words spoken in lovefiie. 



The Statue of Zeus by Phidias at Olympia 

I am glad we do not live in the time of the ancient Gods, 
for Zeus was known for liis knack for spymg tlie most 
beautiM and comely of women, and I would not like to 
have to go toe to toe with the Kmg of the Gods, as he 
would, imdoubtedly, kick my ass from heie to kii^dom 
come, unless the other Gods said "Look, big guy, they 
are in love.. .can't you cut lum some slack?", and tlien 
the ambiosia would almost certainly lut tlie fan. 



112 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Pharos at Alexandria 

I ciave iiiiinortality for our love, m the flesh, yes, 
thiougli our cliildien, but also through the light 
that radiates out from my soul when lost in serene 
contemplation of our binding, oui' shaimg. oui' decision 
to care to choose to love, like a pieicing incandescence 
that cuts the darkness of despair for lovers, biiglit 
and almost a Hvmg thing, tliis photonic link between 
the somce of my affection and future generations. 



113 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



114 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twentieth Panther Cycle: 
Fragments of Dreams and Memories 




I shook it off, the doubt, for a cycle and dove flill in. I recall vividly writing tliis one, willing 
myself inward to embrace feelings and impressions that were free-floating in my mind. 

"Kisses" is a quite pleasant expression, and has garnered a fan' amount of respect from readers. 

"When the shoe falls" was taken from a conversation we'd had about my preparing to ask for a 
divorce. She had expressed that it wouldn't seem real to her until it happened, that nothir^ could 
come tnie luitil the wait for tlie "otlier shoe to fall" was over. 

This upped the pressme to move ahead as quickly as possible with my divorce. Every day she 
seemed more and more frightened that nothing would happen. I was the quaiterback now, and I 
had tlie ball (and no, I didn't use tliat metaphor in any of the poems). 



115 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



116 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the day is long 

the day is loi^ without yoiir voice 
to soothe my mmd and let me know 
that yoiir love is not some illusion 
1 siunmoned to make my life of woitli. 

to love you is my best and sweetest choice, 
despite all the obstacles over wliich I must go 
to dispel the pain and the nervewrack confusion 
that signals life and love and rebiitli. 



kisses 

how sofl yoiu' lips, as they sHde mto mine, 
sharii^ youi' passion, like a consummate wine 
decanted for my joy and in expression of warm 
and willing fantasies, as I embrace yom' form. 



honey eyes 

I see the gold in your soul 
deep behind tliose honey eyes 
that were, on first glance, 
a sweet and bright smprise. . . 
having expected a dark 
and soulful countenance, 
soulful you are, and sweet, 
so sweet, fire in every glance. 



117 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the merging flames 

I hold yoiu^ clenched hand, 
not diawn in anger, but 
consuming passion, and feel 
the fire m your veins. ..it 
leaps in jets of holy violet 
and arcane crimson and 
ignites my soul.. .driving 
me mad and mindless. I bless 
youi' love and share my 
file, my desiie, as well. 



the walk 

a long and leisurely pace sometimes. 
at other times, a brisk and ragged run. 
but togetlier, whenever and wherever 
possible, oui' Hves, in rain or sun. 



when the shoe falls 

we have waited for this moment, evidence 
of commitment, proof of tlie stiength 
of the fire tliat bums me daily with its 
intensity and incandescence, we chanced 
so much in loving, and, at lengtli, 
we aie rewarded witli an opportumty wliich 
we daie not waste, oui' dreams advanced. 



118 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

I fear 

I fear nothii^ in this life more than losmg 
yom' love. I would Irve if that were tlie case, 
but it would erase so many dreams of takmg 
this flue romance all tlie way to tlie embrace 
of the grave and beyond. 1 would not falter 
in tliis path, I would love and dream and dare 
to kiss your soul, notliing shall, this need, alter 
withm me. imless you choose not to be there. 



119 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



120 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twenty-first Panther Cycle: 
Flowers 




This IS actually one of my favomite cycles. The images aie so mtimate to me, even dating back 
to my mother's snapdiagons when I was a child, that it helped expand my vision of time and 
relax me. I do not know what I would have done without this set of poems to soothe me. 

The penetrating rose makes a re-appeaiance here, as does my perhaps too orthogiapliic 
explanation of why I love jasmine tea so nnich (it tastes Mke a woman) and tlie afoiementioned 
snapdragons . 

It would not be mitil tlie cycle known as "Cassiopeia's Garden" tliat I would enjoy the flowers so 
much again in my writings. 



121 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



122 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the rose 

I remember that mght 

a tliousaiid lifetimes ago 

when we lay, j oitied by tlie light 

of oiir passions, the penetiatiiig rose 

servii^ as budge and condmt 

for onr hungers, onr needs. 

onr open and honest love tlu^ongh it 

feeding our memory, planting seeds 

of revelation and obscuiement 

of issues we did not wish to embrace. 

the petals, their colour and scent 

intoxicating us. a smgular vase. 



dandelions 

some would call them weeds, 
but seeing our children tickled 
by tlie explosion of windbome 
paiatroopeis, I call tliem flowers 
oftheliighest order, for if we 
call it beautitiil, and know in 
our hearts how tliey bring joy, 
how can anyone else's attitude 
bend us to tlie fiown of society? 



123 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the orchid 

I lay in fields of roses, tlieii' tlionis 
binding me, grinding me to the dust 
of my days, and the immortal dream 
of orchids retmns to me. your face. 

yom' face lingers, in upturned eyes, 
dancing on the wind like tlie scent 
of the orchids, exotic and sensuous, 
real and iich and iipe and wondrous. 

wondrous, so is yom' love and mine 

returned a thousandfold, no game 

is this, I do not take the harvest 

of your heart so lightly as you may think. 

you may think I understand your love 
in ways I do not, for I am mortal, 
and as I am oft befiiddled by tlie 
simple beauty of the orchid in my hand. 



124 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

honeysuckle 

perfiime on wind of change, 
sudden and unexpected 
like honeysuckle suddenly 
made apparent, projected 
fragrance on an holy wind. 

1 do not pick tlie blossoms, 
but let tlie fragrance live 
on the wmd and wait for them 
to drop into my hand to give 
themselves in theu' own time. 



lasmine 

I drink my tea with jasmine 
petals in it, so that I may diink 
therichMqueur oftliem. men 
may aigue the merits, you may tliink 
what you will of this taste, 
but it contents me and brings thought 
me of you. I would not waste 
your memory, fragiant and hot. 



crocus 

fiisthfe. first light. 
the thaw of tlie soul. 
the rebutli, the goal 
of all creation, blight. 



125 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the snapdragons 

my mother had a gaiden in wliich she planted many tilings, 
but most withered and died, except tlie snapdragons, despite 
our best efforts (it some times seemed) to engage in floral 
genocide while showing oiu^ friends how the jaws worked. 

ignorance of beauty is not tlie crime, lack of respect brings 
the guilt, we must turn our tlioughts inward, the distant mght 
where we lay, in pledged commumon, is old bones, but for all 
it's distance, it is real in tlie garden of time, and respected. 



126 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twenty-Second Panther Cycle: 
winds of change 




"Feral hearts sing songs of victory" (from the final poem of tliis cycle) is ahne that has been 
used in more than one review of my work. I have never qmte fatliomed why, aside from the 
obvious sfrei^;th of the image. 

This IS another tliematic cycle, but one where 1 experiment witli ascendancy, or the building of a 
them . . .the strength of tlie winds get more and more mtense and we get ftuther into tlie cycle (I 
latei do tliis witli fire, and I beheve there are otlier cycles of similar build). 

Emotionally, this cycle rs all over tlie map. . .one of several written during tiiis phase in our 
relationshrp, it reflects my own internal tunnoil as well as tlie hot and cool communrcations I 
was getting from my lover. Guilt was desfroying her, at this point, so much that I should have 
aheady seen the mevitable shattering of our relationshrp by it, but I was too lost in my own pain, 
like a bhnd man trymg desperately to fight hrs way through the choking smoke m the bummg 
house he is m. 

Not sure of where to go or what to do, but knowmg that standmg in place was certain disaster. 



127 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



128 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

calm 

in my most placid moments 
I look inside my soul and see 
youtliere. living and giving me 
life in all its currency spent 
in gambles and offerings 
made to tlie gods of chance, 
a sweet and simple dance 
with all tlie hope it brings. 



gentle breeze 

just enough to stii' my hair, 
like yom' hand across tlie table, 
soft and meaningflil, a cable 
into my heart, communicatmg care. 



stiff breeze 

wliippii^ across my consciousness, the wind 
snaps the baimers on the towers of my keep 
in shaip, ihytlun actions, your face upon them, 
they seize my attention with every crisp sound 
and pound my loving mind with trebuchet round 
after roimd after roimd of all you mean, column 
of hght and fire, you illume my shattered sleep 
and giant me a pure grace when I have sinned. 



129 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

gale 

howlii^ outside, 
don't let it in. hungry 
to blistei' you witli cold 
and angry rain, like 
lovers you forgot 
the day after. 

cyclone 

turbulent and coherent, 
like my soul impassioned 
with your burnt honey eyes 
and dancer's thighs. 

I twist my passion 
into a feral knot, hot 
and corrosive, explosive 
and expressive. 

like a fieight train 
of ennobling pani 
twisting, blistering alone 
into a lover's cyclone. 



130 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Hurricane 

in tlie eye of this storm 
I wait for you. hoping against hope 
that the rope that ties me to tliis tree 
of life is strong enougli, long enough 
to keep me here when tlie winds return. 

and I will wait, as long as I can. 
for I know that riding out tliis tempest 
without you is bitter victory, and I do 
not wish to diink the cup of defeat, today. 



131 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

soulwind 

no leaf is stiiied. 
none, tlie dark 
serenity is total 
and focused. 

you have tapped 
into the sonic boom 
of my heart m moments 
captured in your world. 

I have seen our flituie 
in tlie golds of a smiple 
sky, held transfixed by 
a prophetic constellation. 

and when it roais, it 
is deafenmg to all 
but your voice, my choice 
is made, and I will fly. 

my wings are new, 
but built fi^om an ancient 
design left ravaged on a 
distant liiU in fear and pain. 

and I will not return, 
never, to this graveyard 
ofmy immortal soul, feral 
hearts smg songs of victory. 



132 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twenty-third Panther Cycle: 
Constellations 




This cycle was originally conceived as just aiiotlier tlieiiiatic cycle, poems Hiiked via a common 
theme. . and so it remained. 

Despite my fondness for things astronomical, and my paiticular identification for the 
constellation of Orion, I just didn't have the gas to truly make this a standout cycle. I even went 
so low as to make "Pisces" merely a letelling of a classic joke. 

This was a strange tune, where I would not hear from tlie Panther for days on end, so intense was 
her withdrawal under the stiess of our plans. This left we alone, ruddeiless and trying to fill my 
time and cycles any way I could, resulting in the occasional underpeifoiniing cycle such as this. 

That's not to say that none of the poems are worthy of praise, I was just not happy with the 
finished feel. 



133 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



134 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Orion 

Huntsman. lam. 
Predator for need 
and want and nature. 
Not sport. I comt 
yoiu' favour not for 
the j oy of conquest 
or to test yom' resolve 
and my chann . But I aim 
myself with tiiie affection 
and seek the sustenance 
of your smile. And touch. 



Ursa Major 

The beai' m the sky points tlie way 
for millemiia of lost voyageis, blown 
off course by tricks of nature 
and judgement lost m the mists 
of a dawning awareness of truth. 

So I set my course by the bear 
and steer for the Panther's lair, 
fully aware of tlie shoals and currents. 
But resolute and willing to speak 
infinite tniths and foUow destiny. 



135 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Hydra 

love is like a Hydra. 
if it is truly that iiiytliic beast, 
mere decapitation will not suffice 
to brmg it down, the magic released 
will sprout two heads for one, slice 
upon slice merely empowers it. 
emboldens it. motivates tlie monster 
that hides m the open, fate showeis it 
with powei beyond yoiu ken. captuie 
it? are you mad? do not play with tliat 
which could consume you witliout tliought. 
give love its way and at least its flatline 
power, imdisturbed, leaves you luicaught. 
love is like a Hydra. 

Cygnus 

the Swan ponders in desperation, 
hesitation leads to eartliward 
plummet from the summit of fliglit. 
and yet, he sings his song if loi^ 
denied his natiu^e and his tnitli, 
proof enough of his nobility, if 
only held m a natiue luichosen. 



136 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Leo 

the proud beast, released 

by tlie dance of the decades 

to predate among tlie common 

creatures of tliis life, priest 

of the last iites, playing charades 

of forgiveness for human 

failii^s. roaring defiance 

in tlie face of the storm 

and seeking out tlie vahdation 

of his heart and soul, penance 

torn, bom fi^oni the clotli made warm 

by its owner's annihilation. 



Pisces 

1 bait my hook with poetry, like in the joke 
where tlie old sage told lus fiiends, as he spoke 
in a mouthiiil mumble, "my secret to lelate 
in tlus regards, is the wannmg of your bait." 



Cassiopeia 

the darkness of yoiu' myth will live in soulful eyes 
reflecting proud lineage and a heritage of passion, 
carry yourself proudly, my child, and know that wise 
men and women do not mock tlie gods of creation 
without a champion at hand, and I stand ready, 
luitil Perseus makes his entrance m the tlurd act, 
to fill tliat role, as is my puipose and intent, steady 
to tlie purpose of youi' conception against reasons packed. 



137 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



138 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twenty-fourth Panther Cycle: 
Inevitability 




I remember what spawned this return to tlie ardent, a phone call. 

She was panicked, frightened, convinced that notlung was going to work out and that all we had 
been through was going to be for nothing, tliat we would not stick, so I qmckly wrote tins cycle 
about how mevitable our love was, how powerful it was. 

I found myself, on more than one occasion, hammering home this message to reassure her. It 
was about this time she began asking her to reassure her tliat I was not leavmg my wife and kids 
"for her". 

I understand the psychology behind it, but I also felt it was terribly unfair of her to make me say 
something to soothe her that we both knew was a lie. My marriage had problems, serious 
problems, but this divorce was being plaimed, executed and contained under the duress of trying 
to get us together for the third act (you know, the "happily ever after" and the curtam call). 

I should have realized what that desperation meant at tlie time, but I had already streamlined my 
psyche into siege mode and had made tlie offer to end all offers to get out of my maiiiage: 
Everythii^, and then some. 

I guess, in some ways, tlie name of this cycle cuts in more than one direction. 



139 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



140 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

I am not God 

I am not God. I lack the omniscience and ommpotence 
reqmred to make certain that all ends well for all concerned, 
and I hold my faith in reasons often mocked and overturned 
by tliose who do not see my soul and all its intiicacies. 
1 caimot cuie this mesaUiance as one would a disease, 
giving medicines of amiilulation and viial poisons chance 
to work their arcane detriment on tlie innocents, tune grants 
clarity to tlie seekers of truth, and all we can do is build 
on our feeble knowledge culled from the pain tliat filled 
us yesterday. I am with you, my love, forever hence. 



I heard your voice 

reflecting yom' soul, I caught tlie tone in your voice, 

fiill of apprehension and fear, and love. 

do not be dismayed, I am here. I could no sooner 

sell my soul foi iiddles than timi my back 

on yom' peace and passion, your patience brings me pride. 

I know that you want what I want and need and call 

to God to bless, in spite of all my faihngs. 

love, just once, an honest love without illusions. 

without the artifice of codependency and weakness. 



bigger pockets 

how can you love so much? my pockets aie not big enough 
to hold all tliat you manifest, but as a mother does not love 
less hei second child, or give only half her heait to a twin, 
my capacity to love has blossomed witli your coming in. 



74? 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

gentle serenity 

I am at peace with my life. I have not sought to bring pain 
or sufFerii^ to those who aie innocent, and always have tried 
to speak the truth. 1 am unwoitliy of happmess, and love 
is not a commodity I have any but a pauper's measure to barter 
for. I have spoken openly witli God and listened, not in vain, 
to tlie counsel of friends and tliose wiser than I. I have cried 
in botli pain and j oy. and always given leave to all to prove 
their innocence of accusations, and tasted kisses like holy watei. 

bitter waters 

a taste, misplaced, tlie waste of our hearts, 
tart and succulent, we do repent, but not relent 
our desiies, fires and wiies tliat mteiface 
that place between seienity and divinity, where 
we are torn asunder, from mider oiu^ hells it 
tells that paradise is priceless and ours. 



your face in my hands 

all 1 ask of hfe is yom' face in my hands, to see 
those bmiit honey eyes reflect my soul as I lase 
with coherent passion to the kernel of your essence. 

to bear the children of tlie muse your presence 
provides me, to mstill a thousand hearts witli praise 
of the gods of love, soul merged and free. 



142 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Panthers and Poets 

Panthers and poets. I did not design tlie tapestries, 
but tliere tliey are, spread before nie m red and gold 
and gieen and a fiery black brought fi^oni distant galaxies. 
I would ride to tliem witli you, for I knew when bold 
I quenched my tliirst for holy communion in your kiss 
that this is where God meant me to be. tliis mislaid 
destmy. I will find my patli, pickmg among tlie ruins 
of those who can not, will not, daie not bless this parade 
of the life aitists within us. but it is tnith of iron 
and Hvii^ silver, and just this once I will diink wmes 
the path oidained. fiie ennobHng cuttii^ of my open 
heait will bring me down to my knees a fiiousand times 
for Climes imagmed, but without yoiu^ love I well 
camiotlive. and I will not. evenif shackled in Hell. 



143 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



144 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twenty-fifth Panther Cycle: 
tenderness 




A transitional cycle, not so major as just expressive and fillnig tune and air. "Open Secret" has 
an interesting message. Even tliough she had taken on a screen name witli her totem in it, and 
we would greet each other in crowded chat rooms where everyone knew about tlie cycles as "iny 
panther" and "my poet", some people just didn't seem to grasp the clues tliat weie theie and 
would pester me for the identity of the Panther. 

We were both in pretty bad shape at this time, emotionally, and a goodly pait of this and 
sunounding cycles was taken up witlijusttiying to reassme her that all would be well. 



145 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



146 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

fractures 

Tracing fingertips on tlie hot soft textures 
of your skin. Liquid sin held togetlier softly 
by membranes of tissue, an osmotic tap slowly 
pulls tlie essence. Yoni' passion, in colloidal 
suspension of lipids and saline. A coUoqmal 
expression, an impression of summoned presence 
made manifest in thrs act. A factor whrch presents 
itself in a smgle touch. A wounded soul's fiactmes. 



cubes within spheres 

spaces we hide our hearts m. 
places we place our secrets in. 
traces of dreams we beheve m. 
all boimd up in memoiies of graces 
imeamed m tlie maimers we were taught, 
unturned in our final burial plot, 
imyeamed for in tlie quintessential spot 
where we are bmied with om' love imspunied. 



147 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

solitude 

the cold IS not all that bad. 

sad 

maybe. 

but not the reaper's twisted grimace. 

a two fisted violation 

of the consecration. 

a ft)rgotten promise and premise. 

locked away too cracked to play 

with under the Cliristmas Tree 

of forgotten promises. 



chameleon 

I broker pain for pleasure. 

trading my gain for the leisure 

of the approval of the masses 

instead of what finally passes 

for sanity, the granularity 

of holograms, focused, tlie haze 

in kalerdoscope greys. 

fading now. 

shading power 

and the illusion 

of it, the confiisron 

of it. a tower 

of promises 

enforced. 



148 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

open secret 

silence m the shadows, greys perceived by only 
by tlie casters of tlie rimes, everyone knows. 
no one shows any interest in tlie wealth of stealtli 
storming aioimd tlie tm sheet stage wlusperers. 
closed eyes to hide behind, we stiunble blindly 
over om' own diversions... our confiision shows 
in tlie syntax of our conversations, a wealtli 
of clues left for the bhndest of inteiTogators. 



building bridges 

sometimes in life we find the ground has shifted 
and we have drifted into new temtory. Hfted 
fiom our sheltering borders, we tense and cry 
out with vivid fear and a strong desiie to deny 
our ahenation. but the game is not played 
in tlie plans we made, tlie sinister charade 
of trepidation making icewater of our heat. 
those who build bridges to make complete 
the tiansition from yesterday to tomorrow 
can make the inevitable into joy, not sorrow. 



149 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

silver kisses 

memory will not fade or taiiush 
the memory of yoiir lips, the vanguaid 
of those kisses you gave me, melting 
away all my doubts, shouts of waiiung 
from my conscience's guardians vanish 
in tlie vapors of expiessed love, hard 
enougli to feel your desire, tlie venting 
of restiaintin an embrace all-consuming. 



750 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Twenty-sixth Panther Cycle: 



Fire 




I know, anotlier thematic cycle, aiid not tlie best. But each one caiiies its own baggage, 
sometimes subtle, sometimes not quite so. 

This one inchides reference to "the Maglich toroids". Wliat is a Maglich toroid? Look it 
up... sometimes we geeks and wonks use tlie metaphor and allusions that work best as we 
understand the universe, forgettmg oiu' audience may not be quite so "clued in" on some of what 



75? 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



152 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Spark 

flint, steel, dissimilar hard matenal. 
struck. stiTick. stnick. for the single bit 
offiieseed. some wasted, some tasted 
by tlie kindhng and famied into ethereal 
ghost dances, and tlms the night is split. 



Taper 

flickering liglit. illiuninatii^ a safe and small 
cucle of comfort, we carry tlie liglit, high and proud, 
on the end of a single wax spire, tlie fiie tall 
against the crouched shadows of our fears, loud 
against the photic silence of the night, feral eyes 
reflect it back to us, and we see om predators 
thiougli the mirrors over their souls, no smpiise 
tomght, hm^y waves to crash upon our waiting shores. 



Flame 

within my soul, yom' love is a flame, 
dancing on black pantlier coals I name 
for your totem, do not fear tliis fiie 
for it is fueled by a deepening desire 
to see our love sacred and manifest 
to stand tlie obstacles and fully test 
our resolve and spirituality, bmnmg 
with an unquenched heat, and tuining 
the twigs of doubt to ashen powder 
in tlie face of om^ passion's power. 



153 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Blaze 

There aie tunes when tempers flare 
and tlie air about us empts with gouts 
of Prometlieaii fuiy. Surely we caie 
enougli for one another tliat tlie doubts 
we wave as signal torches as we stand 
in agonized unity will be remembered 
as gained insight and not tlie twisted hand 
of sinister sacrifice to be immolated. 

Conflagration 

Burning down an infinite row of bridges sold 
to ford tlie sheams on a road to nowhere where 
I really wanted to go. But the day was cold 
and I was weaiy and lonely and someone there 
was needed to carry the basket. And now I am told 
that to return to who I am from whence I fare 
I must lose the love of all I care for and hold 
dear. And I must lay to torch to aU who care 
for me to achieve all that I was forged to be. 
Then hand me the torches and let me be fiee. 



154 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Nuclear Inferno 

You can never reach breakeven, tliey say, 
the fires will fall away before you get 
the power to a level reqmied for fusion. 
But tlie secret is not in the converging 
lasers or tlie Maglich toroids, but tlie fiiel. 

Nothing achieves the flashpoint if the way 
you seek flie fire is in putting in sweat 
for the flaws in tlie hydrogen cores. Wlien 
you find flie signatine spectnun eiuergii^ 
from tlie purest tritium, the reaction will nile. 



155 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the Fires of Love 

I didii't come tliis way on purpose. But here 
I have to admit I am fiighteuingly comfortable. 
We fit. If God carved me a merging mate, surely 
he gave her soulful burnt honey eyes and a feral 
pantlier's dance. A simple stance from chance 
revealed me in want of this fiactuied fragment 
of my spirit's hologram to dispel tlie haze 
of confusion. If arriving late to the banquet 
thrown in my honor is sm, tlien I am guilty. 
Let the fires be lit and the flames point 
the way, let every woman or man have a right 
to tlieii' panther. Let flie dreams be illuminated 
with tlie fated touch of lovers cut of single 
cloth but obscmed by fate or foUy long past. 
Stand on tlie parapets of the keep and watch 
the firewinds of love sweep the valley free 
of the debris of sad night songs. Sfrong 
is the power of love. Made in the image of 
God, we seek the divine spark fliat lights the 
taper, tlie taper of hope tliat catches flie flame 
to set flie blazing hearts to bum as they race 
towards conflagration. And, when the hght 
is made coherent m the poets dreams and 
themes, and flie fuel is pure, the fiision 
is achieved and we build to the fire of love. 



156 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Twenty-seventh Panther Cycle: 
the Nature of Love 




The nature of love. I was seeking, in this cycle, to speak to the very essence of what I thought 
was drawing us together, to ennoble the affair in such a way as to reassure and elevate her above 
her doubts and the criticisms otliers were levelir^ against her. 

She was catching a great deal of flack fioni those who suspected or knew about us, it seemed 
everyone was egging me on, excited by my writings, but condemmng her for bemg a "home 
wrecker". 

A little hypocritical, 1 should say. But, in our own ways, we were in the same bind. 



157 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



158 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

honesty 

the natuie of love is honest. 
for there is little room foi 
the twists and turns of lies 
in tlie corridors of a heart 
made earnest in tlie vested 
dreams and vessels that poiir 
ont our hearts in follies wise 
and souls no longer apait. 



patience 

the natuie of love is patient. 

you must 

take tune 

to bmld 

the case 

and place 

your faith 

in God 

that all 

will be 

fulfilled 

in time. 



159 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

tenderness 

the natuie of love is tender, 
you must respect tlie surrender 
of the baiiiers and acknowledge 
the vulneiabiHty. you must pledge 
before God and yoiu^ beloved to give 
over yomself in gentleness and live 
to share the dark seremties as well 
as the quiet moments of that tell 
you that words will not sufHce 
to mend this suffering, the price 
of love is restramt as oft as action. 
in all ways seek yom' love's piotection. 



passion 

the natuie of love is passionate. 
warm til given away to heat that bums 
you up and down, and tlu^ough to the seed 
of your bemg, fleeing sanity to sate 
our darkest desires in tlie fiie that chmiis 
our flesh mto a tsunami of released need. 



160 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

spirituality 

the natuie of love is spiiitiial. 
there is no way in science to measure 
the force tliat bmds two souls in sweet 
resonance, regardless of your final 
views on theology, tlie exquisite tieasiu^e 
of twinning lieaits to be complete 
begs tlie question of divine mteivention. 

trust 

the natm.e of love is trusting, 
hard this is, for the crusting 
of the lieait ovei' the years 
we spend casting our tears 
into tlie living sea of dreams 
can make us cautious, it seems 
that we so feai' to be made 
the fool we often paiade 
around m paianoiac rage. 
inventing our own cage 

eternal 

the natuie of love is eternal, 
it does not fade in the infernal 
furnaces of age and deatii, or dry 
up in any season, no matter why 
we may be imable to hold fast 
to our dieams, the love will last 
as long as theie is a measuie 
of tune to record tliis treasme. 

161 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



162 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Twenty-eighth Panther Cycle: 



Gems 




A small offering of precious stones, this tlieiiiatic cycle. I liked selecting tlie stones to evolve the 
works fiom, then letting myself fiee associate imtil tlie words caine to me. 

I've never been one who makes the distinction diamonds = love (let's face it, that's a marketmg 
move that people with a hell of a lot more money than 1 wHl ever have use to make more money) 
but gemstones are beautifiil and can invoke different moods and thoughts . 

Note tlie reference to tlie diess in "Emerald". 



163 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



164 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Diamonds 

the facets are cut, reflecting and refiacting 
the liglit of our shared experience, distiactmg 
us from paui and enhancing cm' dreams tomglit. 
pure and perfect, first water and blue-white. 



Alexandrite 

hi tlie hglit of day we are more than fiiends, 
but express it so subtly in the play of oiu^ eyes, 
our gestures, unwasted touches of subtle 
delicacy and passion but when day ends 
and the darkness falls, we stalk the prize 
of ecstasy in wild and passionate battle. 



Ruby 

ciimson. the pme coheient liglit 
ofalaser. cutting with fire and bright 
focus, ahungry kiss of hps stimulating 
moie tlian mere photons, simulating 
our merging souls in bright and clear 
expression of our radiant hunger here. 



165 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Tigereye 

you aie watching me. you would deny it 
but I see the subtle movements in tlie slit 
of darkmtersectiiig the burnt honey stone 
set m your soul, cutting to the bone 
as you calculate the effort required to 
make prey of tliis creatine, but you 
didn't know tliat I was, as well, hunting 
you. hungiy. needing, and wanting. 



Sapphire 

if my heait was as true as a sappliire 
blue stone, emblem of fidehty, I would 
not, could not feel more attached to you. 
I love you, and want only yom company, 
no stone is tliere I would rather openly 
set m the diadem of yom soul than new 
pledged love and eternal passion, blood 
shall stay blue in veins merged in fire. 



Onyx 

black is my heait when in dark seienities, 
where I give myself over to tlie despair 
of my darkest demons, but I cut fiom these 
times a precious ornament for you to wear. 



166 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Emerald 

like that dress of legend. I see you iii it 
(when my fantasies are clotlied), lovely 
and elegant, legs for days and the sweet 
beauty you possess focused by the way 
yoiu' eyes catch the green fiie. my desue 
was held at bay, there witli everyone aroimd, 
but I was taken witli your charms and proud 
that every man took at least a moment to steal 
a lupine glance at you. and wanting to dance 
with you. as I would, later, with tlie 
emerald clotli set aside, but in my heait. 



167 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



168 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Twenty-ninth Panther Cycle: 
in the words of the Ancients 




I have on my desk a tliesaiuiis tliat, in one of its many appendices, has himdi^eds of foreign 
language quotes. 

To create this cycle, I paged tlu^ough, lookii^ for phiases tliat caught my eye, caught my fancy, 
then let the words come forth. 1 enjoyed tlie exeicise, immensely, and some of tlie works in this 
cycle are veiy well done and evocative. 

What do these pluases mean? Look tliem upl 



169 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



170 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Acre perennius 

words do nor erode or coiiode. 
they lay the foundation for thouglit 
and heart and tliat part of oiu' son! 
reserved for the tiTith and tlie most 
beautiftil of our illusions, tlie cold 
metal of oiu daily shells will rot 
away witli time and tempest, sole 
heir to tomorrow will be dieams unlost. 



sunt lacrimae rerum 

everyday need not be daffodils in springtime. 

joy sometimes must make way for the trampling 

feet of tlie wmtei of our hearts, tlie lovecrime 

and tlie paialyzing cold of fear eventually filling 

our hearts with tlie measme of pain we need 

to fiiUy appreciate tliose moiuitaintop visitations 

when tlie tears are evaporated by the wmd. freed 

of our complacency, we better grasp the transfigurations. 



invita Minerva 

by sheer coherent emotion, biult on the sands 
of madness, I have foimd the colom' of music 
and sung the songs of the rainbow, taking stands 
against the dreams of tlie damned is a tragic 
patli to lifeloi^ suffering, but with tlie bahii 
of your eloquent kisses 1 will triumph, someday, 
for 1 shall drag the chaos fi^om tlie hungry calm 
and hml the die of honest passion mto play. 



77? 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

dum vivimus, vivamus 

like light, like life. 
the sugarkiiife 
cuts hack the strife 
and to the bone 
we stand alone, 
our enemies shone 
the way of pain, 
the lovers' chain 
the keeps us sane. 



hinc illae lacrimae 

I have never wanted to see you cry. 
it cuts deeply and witli jagged, ragged 
rends to my heait. cold and salty air 
on the open woiuids tliat I forced 
with my aiTogance and insecurity. 
I do not deny your pain, rather 
I magnify it within me. forgive me 
if I am wounded by my self-imposed 
exile, my self-inflicted wounds 
bom of the knowledge of imtliought 
words I have spoken to you 



172 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

omnia vincit amor 

what higher pmiciple is tliere tlian tnith in tlie face 
of love? driven to the depths of aninimolatmg despair 
and tlie heights of ecstasy, shall we allow disgrace 
to be our paramour? no. we must take tlie dare 
in tlie face of all mediocrity, fear and self-doubt 
to make a challenge to tlie muuons of mediocrity 
and raise our lieaits and passions . to boldly shout 
our amotations as we dare to claim oui' victoiy. 



Satis verborum 

the poet does not have a lock on tnith 
or expression of same, there is a fonn 
of communication that passes between 
us when we embiace, comfortmg and waim, 
that speaks volimies of eloquent sooth 
1 camiot translate with mere words, filled 
of joy and peace and hunger, I have seen 
it spoken in your eyes. Ambrosia unspilled. 



173 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



174 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Thirtieth Panther Cycle: 
Aspects of the Panther 




A sincere attempt to capture some of the aspects that I saw in her (whether I really saw them or 
projected them I leave to fiihire biographers) by expanding on them. 

I believe that eveiyone has botli bad and good in them, and tliat we are all so nniltifaceted that it 
is not difficult to focus on tliose aspects we admiie or find attiactive, in tliose we caie for. 

The Panther was and is, not doubt stiU, a gifted poet, and tlie piece in this cycle entified "Poetty" 
makes point of tliis, commg fiom several conversations when she expressed doubts about the 
quahty of her works. 



175 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



176 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

creativity 

hei' mind is a marvel to me. 
wheels witliin wheels withui 
strai^e foiir-diiiiensional spheres 
that leave a trail that disappears 
and IS reborn from wliim. m 
the essence of creativity. 



beauty 

speecliless. I did not expect one 
so intelhgent and wise to flood my eyes 
with such shimmermg sensuality, reality 
danced that mght, as I absorbed the concept 
of an angel made incarnate, tlie state 
of my soul timied mside out and back 
to watched you walk away, tlien back 
for a first kiss, and I melted mto you. 



wisdom 

you have this gift, annoyii^ on occasion, 
to look inside a problem and find flie one 
liidden tnith, tlie key to the conundrum 
that has eluded me. greater than the sum 
of your experience, there is a divine 
spark alive witliin you. spiritshme. 



177 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

sensuality 

you stii' witliin me the animal, the primitive 
creature of the hungiy id, to bid you suiiender 
youi' flesh to the alembic fires that would give 
me over into you. ambrosian eyes tliat tender 
the currency of love in a com I gladly take 
and mvest in tlie fliture, a thousand ways worth 
moie than anything I have to barter. I slake 
my tliirst in tlie geysers of yoiir passion's birth. 



sensitivity 

you see my heait. and it matters to you whetliei 
I am happy or sad. and beyond this, I have heaid 
you cry over another's misfoitune. you will nevei' 
seek tlie haim of anotlier person, and have stirred 
yom' own life on more tlian one occasion to make 
room foi tlie troubles of someone who needs your 
tender consideration, like me, a stray you take 
in and heal, now resting in tlie aims of tlie Pantlier. 



178 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Poetry 

you have the iinise. 

oh, sometimes you doubt it, 

but when tlie coffee house 

pations stop sturing their 

overpriced 

decaf 

to catch the hini 

of a phrase you constmcted 

and brought to me like a 

child 

showing off a 

handmade kite, 

you must know 

bettei. I have 

learned fiom you 

and youi' work 

stands on 

its own pentameters. 

resonance 

you know my heart. 

you have seen it and merged with it 

and I suspect, were bom a part of my kanna, 

like my poetry and my soul. 

and as such, it would be a sm to 

ignore this half of my essence. 

this answei to my Hfe's riddle. 



179 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



180 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-first Panther Cycle: 
Virtues of the Panther 




When associates want to beat up on me for the Pantlier Cycles, this is the one they usually turn 
to. Wliileitis admirable to embrace tlie virtues of someone you are in love with, in some cases 
in tliis cycle (and I won't go into that) I was obviously not walking witli eyes wide open and 
actually seemed to be describmg someone else. 

That "someone" I have come to legaid as tlie abstraction of the perfect muse, the perfect woman, 
reflected in many of my works that have been thouglit to be about a particulai' muses or muses. 

I call her "Abstra". 

Neveitlieless, much of what is in tliis cycle had its seed m my relationship with the Panther and I 
will state that I said it, I meant it at tlie time, and that's my story. 



181 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



182 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Justice 

there aie reasons to wrath, we all 

know them, or most of them at least. 

within us all rages the beast 

of reactivity, tlie call 

to battle before we have found 

the foe. my love has already 

been given ample cause to see 

me at my worst, but gives me ground 

to speak my piece and in this way 

spares me the piejudice of pain 

left by otliers. she parts the cold rain 

and kisses honest tears away. 



Fortitude 

couiage in tlie face of opposition, 
the abihty to beai' a cross with grace 
and dignity, tlie nobility of tlie iron, 
flexmg only enough to, in tlie face 
of pam and misfoitime, stay m play 
to win anotliei' battle, fighting back 
against the rabid rabble to stay 
a regal beast against the fleas' attack. 



183 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Prudence 

Whatjimgle cat 

caimot 

creep qmetly 

up to its 

prey. 

Then tag it with 

claws 

like cupid's arrows. 

Then playfiilly 

dance away? 



Temperance 

Life IS a feast, but tliis beast 
does not gorge herself, lest 
she be sluggish when tlie wish 
for new prey is manifest. 



Faith 

I have seen the Panther praying in the glass. 
Her every sense attuned to tlie passage of God 
in tlie wind, her spirit dancing as her sweet 
serenity radiates her awareness, placid and acute. 

The open sky is like a chapel's arch at Mass, 
fittii^ tribute to tlie soul and its creator. Odd 
that mortals should seek truth in artifice, eat 
scraps and leavings when tlie tiees are full of fiiiit. 



184 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Hope 

when there was nothing left to resurrect, 
she stood beside nie. tliis feral hiuitress 
that even best fiiends had warned me back 
from daring to ally myself with did impress 
me with her vision, and when I was aacked 
and bleeding from a tliousand spmtfaUs 
she hfted me up witli her words and tacked 
the pieces back togetlier, to heal the walls 
withm me. she is not immmie to despair, 
but finds her strengtli when it is needfiil 
to lift a friend, however ephemeral, raie 
is a bird with wings so grand and beautifiil. 



Love 

I have heaid tliis word in a thousand voices, 
but so often witli so little so tliat it seems 
almost a blasphemy before fair Aphiodite. 

When my love speaks it, it carries the choices 
she has made to be by my side, it holds dieams 
that once were stillborn, a piayei to tiie almighty. 

And passion in rainbow colours that is twice as 
bright as my grandest fire. A poets best themes 
aie woven of such inspiration and destiny. 



185 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



186 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-second Panther Cycle: 
musings of a troubled heart 




Origmally I thought tlie "tioubled heart" fiom tliis cycle was hers, as ui tlie tuiieline tliis was 
diirii^ tlie peiiod of time when she was puUmg away for tlie first time, suddenly emotionally 
distant (then, suddenly, nislung back). 

In part this was an attempt to reassure her of oui' solidarity. The problem was, even I was 
sliowmg the signs of the stress, the guilt of my impending divoice pounding on me fiom moment 
to moment. 

In many ways, this was an attempt to reassure me, to nse above the day to day blistering I was 
endmmg fiom those around me who thought I'd lost my mind. I was, in my mind's eye, a 
plioemx, self-immolating m order to survive the next turn of tlie cards of fate. 



187 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



188 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

labors of love 

for we have piilled 

down 

the skies and made tliem onr own, 

repenting for sins we cannot atone 

in complete modesty, 

for we find cm' motives 

pure, if puzzling. 

dragon nuzzlii^ 

pantlier. an answei 

to a riddle luiasked 

and made a task 

worthy of Heracles . 

nor for a mortal man, 

but I am game 

and tlie sad shame 

of cowaidice 

is not foi me 

at any price. 



divine wind 

we can tell, we know 
what tlie hell, we go 
to tlie top. om' fates 
kill this crop, the hates 
planted here, bytliose 
held in fear, we chose 
poorly once, but time 
sheds the Hght. our crime 
magnified, om' right 
to shaielove. and light. 



189 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

darwinian hearts 

passions pressed agauist the wall 
like lovers too anxious to wait for gravity 
to consummate their union, tlie fall 
of more than barriers of fabric, energy 
modulatmg to match the resonant 
frequencies of a soulmate. kisses cut 
from ice sculptuies boni of our anogant 
illusions of love, saimshaw intiicate 
and illegal, poacheis in tlie heart preserves 
posted long ago. but tlie honest mstinct 
to love is immortal, and om' patience sweives 
into the stieam of life to prove us not extinct. 



massage 

my hands, with sfrengtli and tenderness, 
melt mto yom' shoulders and draw slowly 
the toxic stiess from you. a single kiss 
to the nape of your neck and tliis lowly 
vagabond heait resumes his rhythmic 
rub. soft and warm is your neck, a part 
of you so lovely, made wanner by metliodic 
sfrokes of my palms, ftngers and heart. 



790 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

coldfire 

zero based emotions, 
we measure om' hearts 
from tlie intersection 
of past and present, 
dreams impleasant 
not wakmg us 
bnt takii^ us 
past tlie invocation 
of memories, we start 
the fire m void devotions. 

the philosophy of lovers 

held in the superstring web of time and space 

yesterday was an illusion, 
aside from evidentiary resonances 
and remnants, tomonow is conceived 
from tlie seeds we plant today, one 
by one by one. the savage dances 
of past mistakes relented and relieved. 



191 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

hard wire 

coming tluougli tlie new machine, 
a modem's wail like a banshee's keen. 
dreams now spim in words on white. 
a cold connection in the night. 

file, subjugating now om' will, 
wine tliat flows where glasses spiU 
more tlian tlieii' contents . secrets 
shared m private piiouettes . 

images absorbed in coated glass 
to ilhmimate with faultless class 
our thieady desiies . passion shaied. 
fates dared, and fi^agile souls bared. 



192 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Thirty-third Panther Cycle: 




Okay, the isolation was getting to nie. . and I was desperately trying to bnild, witli words and raw 
emotion, bridges to a coming day and place where 1 would be absolved of my sins, forgiven my 
deceptions, and blessed for my steadfast love. Okay, I was delusional. But, fiercely and 
steadfastly so. 

In tliis cycle I souglit to weave imagery, never my strongest suit as a poet, but the effort was 
cieditable. 

Some were of things that had been and I wished to recaptiu^e, some were thii^s that had yet to 
be, but she had sworn to me, or I to her. 

And all fell to the coming winds. 



193 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



194 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

L 

and when in words once judged absmd 

we have heard 

oiir dreams unbound, 

we find oni' paths will nialce us laugh 

in sad wratli 

of love unsound. 

the dreaius now make what we would take 

for the sake 

of our sweet piize 

inconsistent, if we repent 

and relent 

oiu^ love's disgmse. 



II. 



ciiiuson amber, the tears of aNemiconi, 
lubiicant for the whetstones on wliich edges 
aie honed, sins atoned in penance stillbom 
in tlie cauldrons of passion, broken pledges 
like broken wings of a wiiiddiagon. the skies 
remain, but the laiii of tlie sticky red tears 
leaves an immutable monument that pries 
away tlie daik capstone entombing your feais. 



195 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 
III. 

a game of shame and magic, 
a hidden destuiy. 
a finit both sweet and tragic 
plucked from a fabled free. 

eyes now frlled witli the vision, 
a lecogmzing staie. 
the loveis dream a prison 
both base and debonafr. 



IIII. 

we challenge, and we daie not bHnk 
in tlie face of the fire, m tlie name of tlie Hnk 
that combines us to one, our sacred task 
is to answer tlie questions most would not ask 
for fear of the power of trutli to desfroy faces 
held as more tlian facade, to fill tlie places 
we keep hollow with ashes of fallen dreams 
baked in their fusing fires to silence saeams. 



there is a subtle message in the comfort of your kiss, 
a signal tliat anotlier man might, to lus own loss, miss, 
a teUing of a stoiy and a spirmii^ of a thiead 
that daises and entangles all who, in tlus one sense, bled 
for the readmg of the riddles, daik mysteries unfiiought 
in pondering tlie puzzlewebs in wlucli we all are caught. 



196 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

VI. 

we have been apart so long, a diop in tlie temporal bucket 
next to the times spent wandeiing past wildernesses, 
but still I ache for yom^ embrace, tliere is a comfort I get 
from looking into those eyes, biunt honey and rich fiie 
flowing Mke tlie magma of an intemperate soul, tliey set 
my soul aflame and beg me to act to leap the cold crevasses 
of our arctic desert, time marked, nights wasted, a ducat 
of wood painted with metallic gold to lure us into blind 
and fooHsh meanderii^s. but barter enough for Pascal's bet. 



VII. 

I stood, like a casual bystander caught in some 
elegant sfreet drama, and watched you with great 
cuiiosity. Your attention focused, Mke some true 
master of a bygone age as he mixed his hues 
and stioked the canvas with an eye towards 
expression and immortahty. Your hand pressing 
the brush witli confinned fiimness and the grace 
of practice and an artist's soul. Majestic lines 
to summon deep emotion and admiration were 
invoked and you staied, wifli the artist's eye 
towaids perfectmg the work. You shot me a 
sideways glance to ascertain my level of 
deHght or apprehension and, seeing my 
smile of approval, began the otlier eyebrow. 



197 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



198 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-fourth Panther Cycle: 
a day in my heart 




A gentle cycle, this one, an expression of a serenity. But, it was actually a stretch, a moment 
between such tliouglits where things were looking shakmg, trymg my best to re-invoke tlie 
emotions. 

The stress of eveiythmg had been very rough on my panther. Rmnours were flying around 
online, rumoms that pointed at her, accusations of her breaking up a marriage, much as her own 
parents' maiiiage had broken up when she was young. She was ragged, emotionally, and had 
foimd a Mend, anotlier woman, who was tellii^ her it miglit be best to cut her losses and dump 
"tlie married guy". 

But I still believed m tlie improbable. That's what real Romantiques do. 



199 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



200 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

let's play, sometimes like children, 
with an air of joy and discovery, 
colours, soimds. scents tliat wend 
their way thiough om memoiy 
to leave an mdelible tracery on 
onr lives foreveimore. or more 
like the growimps we pretend 
we are, forced by time to shore 
onr biicli bark canoes and stroll 
baiefoot and open-heaited through 
the dark forests of our souls, 
the joy of life transcendent and tme. 



conflicts 

to many who observe us 

we make no rational sense. 

but tliey have never seen us 

hold one anotlier or felt 

the electiicity that arcs 

between us when our eyes 

lock 

and run togetlier, 

drawing ns to stiike 

sparks 

like flint and steel, 

into tlie tindei' 

of immortality 

and passion 



201 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

wishes 

I would, if I could, kiss you right now. 
it would be youi' say as to whetlier 
it would be a gentle bnishiiig of the lips 
or a fiery merging in tlie fiie of desiie 
fanned by our enforced separation, 
but I would kiss you. and hold you 
for as long as you wish nie to. 

rain 

you love covers me like the slick 
of a summer downpour, fresh from 
the ocean.. .the scent of tropical air 
ei^;ulfing me and tianspoiting me 
as the moisture brings a fickle 
purity to my foim. the storm 
awakening me to tlie day, aware 
of all the rainbows only you see. 

colour dreams 

I did not dream in coloiu^ 
until you confessed your love, 
it was as tliough a great and 
hidden dimension, once obscured, 
had burst forth like desert 
blossoms after a sudden storm. 
and all tlie world took on tlie fife 
radiant in your fransfiguiation 
and blessmg to my soul and fate. 



202 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

in your arms 

there is no place of greater contentment tlian in yonr anns. 
no fear can touch me. no sorrow betiay me. no darkness 
calls to threaten my joy. I suffer not when in youi' presence, 
look, can you not see that it is this bastaid time and space 
that holds us apait tliat is the seed and sprout of all misery 
we have encountered together? let us sever the bonds of 
distance and share breath again, for I miss being in yom' anus. 



huntress 

have you, at last, found 

what you are searching for? 

and, if this is the case, 

will you lii^er and explore 

with me the lovely 

topography of our fates, blended? 

I would ask this himibly, 

for you must decide if yoiu himt is ended. 



203 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



204 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-fifth Panther Cycle: 
dancing dreams 




Yet another uigent, mgmg cycle. A desperate attempt to rekindle tlie sense of magic. Om' 
conversations were becoming tortured... she was fiightened and guilt ridden, I was just 
friglitened, trying so hard to make sure everyone got a happy ending. 

Some of my most nniversaUy beautiful and loving works may be foimd here, expressions of 
resolve and passion and patience. "Jasmine tea", "in tlie pubhc squaie" and hfe. and the coiu^age 
to Hve it" all express an luiflagging romanticism that was consuming me as my world flickered 
and faded aiomid me. 

1 wasn't focused on survival, by this time. Most people fall back mto smvival mode. My fiist 
instinct is to get everyone else to tlie lifeboats. So, here I was, lolling myself trying to reassure 
her and make sme that my children and my wife were taken care of, all the while feeling my 
flesh peeling away in tlie flames of my own failures of judgement. 

And the dieams just kept dancing. 



205 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



206 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the wire of dreams 

I did not know what tears were luitil one day 
when I felt alone, for you were not there to 
raise my spirits and let me spread my wings 
onthe winds of Hfe. the knife never came 
and I am hberated by yonr honest persistence, 
resistance is not flitile, even if aU you gain 
is the nobihty of knowing you fought for 
principles higher than most can even 
believe in or conceive of tlie wiie of dreams. 



in the wrong light 

diamonds taste like glass. 

if you look at tilings the wrong 

way, they say the wrong things 

and wii^s are useless luiderwater 

except to tlie stmgray. a future 

imreaHzed is a mad vision, 

an honoiable piomise is a prison 

if you don't know tlie way 

to taste glass and diamonds. 



Spanish guitar 

your voice registers to my ears 
as a well -played Spanish guitar, 
moody and briUiant, an eloquent music 
to Hft my spirits above tlie tragic 
bum and chafe of tins world, fai' 
from tlie wash of mortal tears. 



207 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Jasmine tea 

you taste like jasmine tea to me. 
warm aiid rich, tiill of promise and 
a taste tliat lingers on my tongue 
as the exquisite stingers diive me 
to aching, arching, exquisite agony, 
wantmg just another soft sip 
from tlie lip. from tlie liip. 



panther's dance 

you dance hke a cat on tlie prowl, your growl 
not a threat, but a promise, a hungry kiss 
and again you spm, frapping my eyes m curves 
cut to split tlie wind and steal my breath, 
grace, and a dangerous face with a smirking 
smile that shows passion lurking aroimd 
every bend, a friend, yet so much more. 
and I try to resist to the core of my being, 
but looking mward, I am seemg you there, 
waiting, and baitmg a tiap I am aheady 
held helpless and happy in. 



208 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

in the public square 

as loi^ as I have you and two coins 
to nib togetlier, it won't matter whether 
or not tlie world approves, I've got the game. 
I've got tlie name we whisper when no one 
else dares to Hsten, but would love 
to hear us say out loud, m plain sight 
when the night is long and the shadows 
liide the mcamations of tlie nunouis 
we laugh about, and cry about, and 
even used to he about to buy a 
half measure of privacy for a 
private affaii' in the public square. 

life, and the courage to live it. 

the radiance of life grows 
from your soul, illuminating 
my existence and making me 
long for the walks on tlie beach, 
sand between my toes, pausing 
only to leave sand angels where 
we make love in tlie tidal rim 
of the infinite sea, wluch we 
have cast oui' love upon in 
coinage and desire. 



209 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



210 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-sixth Panther Cycle: 
under pressure 




I finally gave into the pressure, the stress, and wrote of it in this cycle. "Clinging like a mad 
dragonfly on the side of a 747" was a pretty accurate image to my life at tliat point. 

I was resolute, but resolve m flie face of fiactuied judgement is not a virtue. I was hying to be 
strong enough for everyone else, and eveiyone else was just telling me to lay down and give up. 

1 went so fai' to ask the Pantlierif she wanted out. She asked me to tell her tliatshe was notflie 
cause of my divorce. She begged me to tell her that. She said she couldn't live with tlie guilt. 

So, Ihed. I told her that she wasn't the cause. Sheknewit was alie. I knew it was a lie. But, 
as a small child who is told a fairy tale explanation of something horrible happening before their 
eyes, she was consoled. 

And I was more alone tlian ever. 



211 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



212 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

mad wheels 

in tlie silence, my soul explodes m a fountain 
of file and showers of electric spaiks tliat 
ignite tlie tinder m tlie box of my vision 
of who I am and what 1 am and where 1 fit 
inyour miiverse. tlie blessir^ and the cm^se 
ofthepoetsonl. to know tlie essence 
of love and hfe and God, but to reach 
with fingers numbed to the cold presence 
of moitahty so that I can never teach 
these truths to tliose my kismet chose. 



draining the muse 

lancing tlie festering emotion 

piled deep 

and dark. 

stressing tlie soft tissues 

it has infected, 

improtected, 

for the poet gene 

leaves it naked 

to its parasites. 



213 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

destiny 

The tnith is eimoblii^. Higlier tnitlis tlian 
most can grasp, a principle at stake, like 
Joan of Aic. Bnt no polarizing pontificate 
will light this pyre, and there will be no 
bonfiie for the marslunallows we began 
to toast on our passion fiie befoie we liike 
up our w alkn ig boots and keep moving, fate 
only providing a map. We provide the go. 



Avatar 

Chnging hke a mad diagonfly to tlie side 
of a 747 on taxi, I don't really know 
what will happen when we bank and climb 
into the skies undreamt, but tliere is pride 
that I have held on tliis long. 1 show 
my scars, but I call no quaitei, no time. 



A rose discarded 

it's purpose done, tlie lose lays cast aside. 
the dance is finished, and deatli and decay 
are inevitable, no moie to serve to slide 
its fiagrance between the common day 
and tlie infinite night of a never forgotten 
tryst, a wistfiil kiss and a song I sing 
even now as I pen these words, when men 
recall this era, fiiey will know the stmg 
of never loving wifii a dieam tliat did bmn 
and will once again, when roses return. 



214 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

distance and dances 

I camiot kiss you goodnight tonight. 
I caimot hold you close and tightly 
meld my sleepmg breath with yours 
as we dream together, visions pure 
andplutonic. memories we shaie 
in a fliture life, time that will bear 
down on us like a welcome train 
carrying us on a honeymoon m Spain. 



loving my friend 

1 camiot imagine not being your friend 
forever, your mind is so Hvely and I 
can sit for hours and listen to you speak 
of nothmg and everything as you bend 
the clock with weaimess . 1 would lie 
to say I do not love you witli a deep 
and abidii^ passion for yom' absoiption 
of me like two raindrops merging on 
a fresh-waxed car. botli friend and lover. 



215 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



216 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-seventh Panther Cycle: 
meander 




A series of fragments to my view. Tiying to fill gaps. Trying to keep dancmg, even when the 
music wasn't playing. 

I was allowing myself to bleed to the page. Words himbled out of me like drops of blood and 
senim, trying hard to cleanse tlie wounds. Fragments that might not have otherwise been worth 
tianscribing fiom heait to mind to page. 

That's not to say these are not good. Indeed, they are. But also you can see the nakedness of 
them, the way the coloms have not been blended, but build in thickened lines of pigment and 
bnishstroke textiu^e. 



217 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



218 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

thirsty waters 

I want to feel those precious fingers of you giipping me, 
slipping nie the secrets of your desiie as you enwrap me 
in your flesh and drink down the thirsty waters that bum 
like an mfemo of merging essences, dreams that turn 
to tlie edge of reality, then suck us in to assimilate 
one another like a pair of symbiotes when they mate. 



the green dress 

wow. 

I was dazzled and proud, 
but could not aloud 
teU you what I thought. 
too hot. way too hot 
were tliose pictures that 
flooded my mind, cats 
in chaotic nit 
andflie emeiald 
drape that curled 
about you like my eyes 
in delicious smpiise. 



219 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

pleasures and treasures 

I feel you take the helix shared 
in passionate coupling and pirouette 
my essence with yours, ensnaied 
and absorbed in sudden and wet 
exchange of pleasures and treasures. 



a dream 

standing, both of us on the same side 
of that wliite picket fence that one time 
seemed so far away and wrong, pride 
and principle kept us alive imtil tlie fine 
details of our affections could be cut 
into tlie metal of our souls. I still cany 
your heart withm me, as you mine, but 
it is so merged witli lue that 1 barely 
can tell where my flesh ends and your 
sweet and gentle essence begins, and we 
look down and see om handiwork, fom' 
years old and smiling up at you and me. 



220 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

I fell in love with a friend 

old story. 

guy meets girl, but because of tlie inediiun, 

he doesn't know he's a she. and tlie siun 

of their experiences make tliem into fiiends. 

but this is not where tliis stoiy ends. 

nope, no way. 

in time, when tlie smell of tlie sea rises 

to tlie late summer winds, he surprises 

Imnself with his own words and discovers 

a lurking passion and affection, lovers 

destined. 



noses 

our noses sometimes give us trouble when 
we kiss, for me it is because I hate to 
break my gaze into your soulful eyes, few 
things m tins life mesmerize me as being 
face to face, flesh to flesh, hp to hp 
with tlie woman I love, sharing breath 
and dieams and destinies tliat death 
will not deny me. and forgiving the noses. 



221 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

glass souls 

glass souls break 
and we take 
the fragments 
and glue them 
back to seem 
together, 
but tlie heat 
is reqmred 
to fiise tliem 
perfectly. 



222 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-eighth Panther Cycle: 
Pride in the Panther 




A series ofmetaphoiical and allegorical expressions of actual events. Having a drink m New 
York. Her, tellii^ nie about a publication ciedit, or confessing an infidelity. 

Again, I was doitig all I could to shore her up. I knew I was locked m on tliis trajectory, 1 was 
not certain of hei', and was tiying to reassure her, to bolster her confidence and ego. 



223 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



224 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

at lunch in New York 

a memoiy emerges, tliree of us at lunch 

in a strange restamant near' where we thought 

Irttle Italy was. waitmg for the waitiess 

who looked Mke Ohvia Newton-Jolui's older 

and less clever srster to brmg us the 

impossibly fouled up orders. I sat 

and watched witli perverse pride as 

our obhvious friend took every 

opportumty to shoot a Siamese cat 

look of adiuiiation at you, lost 

in your sandwich, he did not know 

how much a compMment he paid me 

as well, and perhaps would have 

felt like our waifress did when you 

put on your busmess face and went 

in to straighten thmgs out. 



the reading 

I wasn't there, damn, nearly a thousand 
miles away and havmg to listen to your 
post-mortem. I love that poem, it changed 
my life and gave me a new star to pour 
my dreams out to. and now you read it 
to a room fiiU of sfrangers and fiiends. 
some rU never get to see, in that split 
instant of understanding, or if it ends 
still an enigma to their experiences. 
1 would have miderstood. no sign of fear 
in yom' words, and much tnith. traces 
of gemus. 1 wish I could've been near. 



225 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

truth 

it hmt. 

gettmg my soulteeth piilled 

without anesthetic. 

but you handled it well, 

asking to speak to nie directly, 

no words typed on a 

screen of glass and liglit. 

and you told me, you 

could have obscured, 

but you recognized 

what was at stake. 

and you showed me 

what you are made of 

when the chips aie down. 

even when they are your chips. 



getting through the day 

there have been days. 

more often tlian not, my fault. 

where tlie sedentary greys 

go black witli sadness and halt 

the ability to fiuiction 

in tliis woild. but you have managed 

somehow to function, 

even with a heart tliat is bandaged. 



226 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

casting me out 

there have been times you have needed to 
cast nie out of Elysimn, back to Valhalla, 
where one of my temperament is more to 
the tastes of tlie gods. 1 fiune and call a 
disemboweling of the cliicken, and rage 
becomes my weapon and words bmiung 
with venom and anguish strike tlie page 
and iicochet into your gentle heart, wings 
of glass prove metal m tliat mstant as you 
rise away and above luitil the berserkei' 
fury in me calms and I show you the tnie 
affection you need and deserve fiom a lover. 

the prize 

you called and told me of it. 
so excited 

like a cliild witli an A+ 
on a really tough spelling test, 
you said it was no big deal, 
but I could tell what it meant. 
someone somewhere had 
seen yom' heart on tlie page 
and felt tlie tmtli in your 
words and placed a iibbon 
of approval for all tune 
to mark those words 
in his or her heait. 



227 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

dreaming 

havmg been tliroiigh the stagnating life all mortals 
are subject to, the pantlier has risen from tlie muck 
and gloomed herself to the glistening, inky black 
coat that is hei camouflage and distinction, all 
that she is, she point towards the horizon, dieaming 
of Hves unlived, children unborn, a train ride 
across Europe in tlie company of her proud mate 
(who leaves liis Viking hebnet at home to state 
he has retired from war now tliat so much pride 
has been fulfilled), and new horizons aie still calling. 



228 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Thirty-ninth Panther Cycle: 
Passion and Dehght 




I was trying to send her off with a little fire in her. She was heading to a writer's conference 
(supposedly m the company of her disapproving best friend. I'll never know for sure.) and 
would be out of touch for a few days. 

I was about to fravel to Pennsylvania and finally meet, face to face, the Goldenlieart. 1 had to see 
if my most grand illusions were out of control, 1 had to meet the one person who had stined my 
creative juices as much as had the Pantliei would affect me tlie same way. 

So, I lit the fire under a cycle largely made up of sexual fantasies we'd shared. . .and tmsted 
they'd not be wasted on her. 



229 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



230 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the kiss of life 

toucliing you witli all my flesh and feeling the meshuig 
of our essences, tlie presence of our love overwhebuing 
all fear and tunidity. tlie heat makmg complete hearts 
of our twin halves. Aplirodite lauglis and is pleased by 
the fire m om' kiss. I miss tliis and would taste again. 



gentle impalement 

softly, slowly, a reverential 
taking of me into you. a gentle 
merging of lost souls, providential 
iiiour time of love, a sacramental 
sharing of pleasure and our eventual 
coupbng of bves to create anew soulfall. 



the spirituality of making love with you 

there is sometiiing tliat touches me when we are unified 
in tlie flesh. I cannot describe it, for my words aie weak 
and I dare not speak in shadows, lest you tliink me tried 
and found wanting as a witness to your inner beauty, speak 
for me, my hmbs, my mouth, my hands, my sex and pride 
will teU you what humihty camiot. tliere is notliing I seek 
more holy tlian your love and our joining to take om' side 
against the world, within your anns my soul is at its peak. 



231 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

holding the grain 

my fingers play across tlie fields of dark giain. 
witness to tlie fertility of tlus field. I would plow 
this soil under and plant deeply witli summoned pain 
the seeds of my surrender into youi' earth, now 
is when I need you most, a toast to the rain 
I shall water youi' field witli and wait to see how 
well file seed spiouts. and if I need sow, again. 



against the wall 

I would finish what we started, 
you, yoni' back to the wall, your 
desiie playing acioss your face 
in a moment of pleasant shame 
and carnal hunger. I would Hft 
you up to impale yomself upon 
me and feel you buck and ghde 
your ride upon my penetration. 
I would press my Hps to yours 
and feel youi' catcliing breath, 
the deatii of all bamers tiiat 
held back tiie dammed future 
we are destined for. feeting 
yom' surrendei' to my conquest 
of your flesh and acceptii^ my 
expression of enntted passion 
as you smile tlie panther smile 
and give me your soft trilling 
purr and giggle of pleasure 
consiunmated. yet not sated. 



232 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the flight 

you tumble giaceftilly, fully aware of 
the gleam in my eye, my dream of your 
body laid open and face down upon the 
fabiic of tlie caipets. your breasts 
brushing the rough fibers as I split 
your thighs witli my hands and take 
you, fiom beliind.... 
you feel the coaiseness of my hair 
against your soft buttocks and gasp 
withtlie power ofmyhur^er...the depth 
of my thirst to phmge into the well 
I have drank my fill of in a thousand 
dreams and daikhng prayers. I hear 
the sounds of my moans and grip tlie 
carpet tight as you feel my final 
thiTists into you, bursting thiough 
the mental barriers ofreseiTation 
to flood you with tiie rich perfiime 
ofmy shaiedlife. and you feel my 
teeth at tlie back of your neck, mad 
like a mttii^ leopard witii its mate. 



233 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the contest 

my dark kiss against youis? 
how delightM. a wortliy challenge 
to two souls whose fleshes have found 
as much joy as our twinned heaits 
and souls have. I will diink deeply 
every drop of moistuie from you, 
slowly suckling the very taste of 
you until you feel tlie flow of yom' 
senses into me, wliile you take your 
fill of my warm wine, and, as flie lulls 
crest and tlie test of endurance grinds on, 
I will make you mad with ecstasy and 
passion imtil you feel yourself dance 
amoung the dark stais of an infenio 
of pleasure, grippmg with tense fingers 
and releasing your passion sHcked tongue 
from its perch to drift away in pleasure, 
as I tiemble with the last vestiges 
of my own consciousness. 



234 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fortieth Panther Cycle: 
Illusions 




There is tliat moment, when tlie walls fall down and you are so cnished beneath tliem tliat you 
can't breathe. 

Just moments before I wrote this cycle, I had been cast out. Li a few terse words the Paiitlier had 
told me it was over, that she couldn't take it all. I was devastated and angry, twisted and 
desperate. 

Dead man writmg. 

I had akeady negotiated a sepaiation agreement tliat would pledge me to eternal poverty. I had 
lost nearly all my friends (tliose few who came to me to offer tlieir sympatliy were told to support 
my soon to be ex-wife instead, tliat she would need their emotional support). 



235 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

As soon as I himg up with her, I wrote this. Tlien I laid down to sleep and had a tormented 
dream that broke only when tlie figure of a small gul appeared in it anieassuiedme tliatall 
would be well. 1 took it to be Cassiopeia. 

When I got up tlie next nioniing I asked to be taken to tlie hospital, where I checked myself in to 
the psychiatric ward. I know 1 would never really hmt otlieis or myself, but I recognized that I 
was exliausted and lost. 



236 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

labels 

we draw upon om^ heaits to tell us the tiiiths 
we dispute with tlie labels we camiot reflite 
for they are learned and apphed in wisdom 
and in pain, stain and rej ection, and from 
this we provide our own emotional 
buttressmg. it has been this was from final 
call to genesis and fore again, the war lost 
in silent sfrategy made by generals who tossed 
out tlieii' agendae and left the field feehng 
benumbed and broken, pawns left reeling. 



as a friend 

as a fiiend I momii tlie loss of your love, 
whether it ever tmly was as I imagmed, 
or if I merely was a fransition to prove 
to you fiiat love was possible while the end 
of your sadness was held accoimtable 
in words you shared witli otliers, children 
left in tlie celestial pipehne to dangle 
in words never meant, the desolation. 



237 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

faith 

and m the end, not even tnist. 

not even the gentle respect thmst 

so hard in tliose October fiuiiaces. 

wings folded and the necklaces 

of dreams imconsummated tlirown 

down to strike the floors of cm' own 

perfidy, the knifeblade handled sword 

falls back on its master, the cord 

is severed with casual bemimbment 

and I am set adrift in a flaming finnanient. 



logic of a panther 

you were ever the logical one. seeking validations 
for your feelings, tiying to apply the shell science 
of psychology to the vagaries of tlie heart, stations 
taken, 1 always knew youi' deceits when they chanced 
to make no sense, and yet, I smiled, for here was one 
in such deep and soulful pain and gentle concern that 
she needed tlie time and space to find her way. gone 
now is facade, howevei' played, proven but an alleycat. 



larger than life 

I do not feai' being epic, 
indeed, my life is bmlt 
on the necessity, fate felt 
and lonely. I have killed 
my soul, and betrayed many 
in this game of ascension, 
left with pirated questions 
and a sad laugli of irony. 



238 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



hunger 

the luuiger is not slaked by tlie dance 

of words across my reality, tlie chaiice 

to live aiid love betrayed in backroom congiess 

and mocked m subtle sidesteps. I bless 

my God who warned me tlms and prepared 

me for this, the oracles assmed I faied 

better than I might have, the hunger 

fades not and in otlier aims shall pantlier 

take her rest wlule I am left to tliirst 

on the rocks of a Salt Lake sandbai', cursed 

to love with hope and not timidity. 

words stiTick down m aggressive passivity. 



moving on 

adilemmaunfolds. will loving again 
make mockery of what I have felt. I do 
not know, for the pain is might and when 
I look inside I see the vision of tlie two 
daik pantheis, the bloody dove and demon 
clutching the mockery of the twinned heart. 
I will mourn for a season, but having gone 
beyond the PiUars of Hercules, make a new stait 
and now made wiser by schoolyard politics 
make my way to the altar of tnith unsemantic. 



239 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



240 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Forty-first Panther Cycle: 
Reweaving the Tapestries 




There is a point to one of the Laws of Thermodynamics. The one that says that nothing 
is ever created or destroyed, just changed from energv to matter or visa versa. 

Within days of the fall, 1 was back on mv feet. The onlv really rough spot was the first 
of my three days in the hospital when a nurse walked by with hair just like the 
Panther's... it was too vivid and bizarre. 

1 checked myself out of the hospital after making sure in and of myself that I was going 
to be okay. Within hours of that, I wrote this cycle, and gave myself a new totem: The 
Bard Dragon. I guess 1 felt it was about time that 1 got a fantastic creature for my 
symbol in mv works. 

In any case, these poems showed a determination to wade out of the emotional mire. 
Indeed, it was only a few days after this that the Panther contacted me and asked for a 
second chance. 

And thus began the new cycle that would be the pattern of our relationship for the next 
year or so... 



241 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



242 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

pulse point 

hei' heart is all tliat beats within me. 
and when tlie pulse points are faint, 
I paint my face ashen and withered. 
the som'ce of all the gieatest joy 
receding m the veins of time, many 
are my sins, and I am no mortal saint, 
but God has blessed me, sadness cured 
and hope made manifest for eternity. 

BardDragon 

wings are not standaid equipment on all 
aeatuies of tlie fantastic reahns of life. 
the BardDragon must come to miderstanding 
with tliis, knowing that jungle cats may 
only make leaps of faith and not soar on 
leather wings, and, for a season, to MfiU 
as best he can, oaths made in honest love 
and passion, he must fold his wings and rest, 
prey to the pickmgs of tlie wolves of fear 
and tlie canion feeders so long avoided, 
he shreds the membranes and settles m 
for the longest night of his existence, 
praying against the darkness of his own 
trepidation and insecmity. for nowhere 
in this umverse will he find another beast 
as regal and beautifiil, possessed of soul 
and voice of dieams flowii^ in sadness 
tempeied by love and honest emotion. 



243 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

avatar 

I have seen tlie avatar. 
seen her stand asttide my 
soul, sharii^ her love in hopes 
and future memory far 
beyond mywildest dreams, sky 
of gold reflecting tlie slopes 
of her radiant beauty, 
invokmg my heart's duty. 



within the shell 

within tlie spidering cracks 
ofbroken hopes, joy is found 
in the rebrrth of love drowned 
in sorrows and the poisoned jack 
of forbidden fruit, now miboimd, 
dreams may yet rise to confomid 
the smgeons at Lazarus's grave, 
a simple faith, a curTency brave. 



244 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

serenity 

and when I am tired. 
and uninspired 

to live my life beyond 
the momii^, dawn 
holding teiTors dreamed 
in a toituied scream 
into a pillow, I recall 
the words so small 
they fill the umverse 
andhfltlie cmse 
of fear from mymadness. 
and I am blessed 
by yom' love, and raised 
for the coming days. 



unborn children, weeping 

having dreamed tlie dreams, I must honor 
the love of futiu^e hves and take my ragged 
feet again to tlie patlis of silent echoes 
as I seaich in vain for the source of cries 
of sadness, no flutterbyes will conj our 
a smde fiom your lips without a snagged 
piece of psyche twisted in epic tlu^oes 
of lost love, yet luisuiumoned. time denies 
so many things, but it is yet fuitlier 
down this road where I may rest, haggard 
hopes and baby kisses, no one knows 
as I do. there is nothing that love denies. 



245 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the realm of dreams 

I am regent in the realm of dreams. 
and I will take my tluone and iiile 
with wisdom you have given me. stieams 
of awakening imderstanding. crael 
words I have cauteiized from my pam, 
lashing out m suffering at an innocent 
lover, held too fai' for unity, the chain 
was too short to escape and arrogant 
self-pity was my sin. but m tliis realm 
I rule, and I shall chart a new hebn . 



246 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Forty-second Panther Cycle: 
seven roses 




Another tliematic cycle. I guess I couldn't ever get enougli of tliese. 

While not a flill dozen, tlie seven roses gave me a chance to express various facets of the moment 
and tlie vision, fiom white tlirough red to black. 

Yes, I know, tliere are no trae black roses, but I worked briefly in a flower shop m liigh school 
and knew of the sprays they used to touch up flowers and foliage. Tlie black rose had been my 
symbol for years, a symbol of intensity and focus, of beauty even in the daikness. 

1 was amazed I was stiU writmg, even as I pondered my fate. I had bought my way, Mterally, out 
of my first marriage, and eventually, after the Commonwealth of Virginia added tlieii' share onto 
the heap, found myself owing more a montli in maintenance and support than I was bunging m. 

Homeless, hopeless and loveless, sometliing had to break. And I knew it wasn't going to be me. 



247 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



248 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

white 

a gentle thought, respect and 
admiration given and taken, love 
shared and nurtured in a season 
yet invoked in dreams caught napping 
like kittens, eyes closed in youth, 
the tnith of om' adiniiation set 
dancing hke gulls nmmng from 
the foam of an encroaching sea 
of the curious and the fiirious. 



pink 



modesty forbids 

I speak of kisses 

warm and intense, threads 

of affections twist 

aiomid and bind joy 

in a chrysalis 

of bashfiil loveplay. 

an encroacliing bhss. 



yellow 



when the fires bum to hot for us to dare, 
to care to touch the iion of om' cauldron'd brew 
of new memories and old prayers we float 
on boats m the stieam of life, om' umty 
will be in om' kmdred interests . we can touch 
so much of one anotlier in thouglit and deed 
with need of no invocation of our passions, 
and one day reopen the petals to drink nectar 
we are saving for a more propitious time. 

249 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



red 

red as the blood in her vems, feeding her soul 

the desire, the fiie, the entire symphony of emotion 

she dances on the beach to. tlie crimson bowl 

that catches tlie sacnfices she has made in motion 

with tlie jm^e winds she cuts in dark control 

of her glim and playful pmsuit of a new predation. 



lavender 

a hint of the soft solferino of youiHps, 
beckoning me in innocent insmiection 
against the tides of self contiol that grips 
me not fiimly enough to avoid tlieir confection. 



blue 

mytliic. 

like a nemiconi 

cavorting m a field of blue roses. 

legend. 

like a dieam panther 

taking my soul and making poetiy. 



250 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

black 

if my propensity 

for intensity 

drives you away 

I understand 

for this mortal man 

sometimes plays 

with an edge dark 

with his own stark 

visions of an errant 

martyrdom, tlie bloom 

must rend tliis gloom 

to grow sweet and radiant. 



251 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Forty- third Panther Cycle: 
actions of love 




This was the first cycle after the great fall tliat I really thought showed me back on the track. Not 
emotionally, as I know what I can endme in that sphere (I'm emotional, but diu^able) but 
aitistically. I was getting my feet back imder me and reachir^ for eloquence again. 

I tliink the public response to "kisses" was remarkable. A worldwide sigh. Everyone was 
rootmg for me to hang in there, telling me to keep the course and keep the faitli, tliat she was just 
"confiised" and no woman could walk away from all I brouglit to the table. 

Well, maybe I needed to explain things to tliem more clearly? Or maybe tliere are just so many 
people in this world who honestly and totally do beheve in love? 

I'd like to tliink that. 



253 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



254 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

words 

more than just the words 
spoken in proper order, tone 
and timber of voice soft and lofty, 
the integrity of what is heard, 
the edge we delicately hone 
on onr blades of tnist, freely 
wielded and yielded to frll 
a lover's heait witli a sense 
of the ambrosia offered 
in tlie lover's Hving will 
iinbued with words in suspense, 
awaiting promise raptured. 



embrace 

lean in my arms and accept 
my shelter fiom your dark moments 
and I will allow your shadowdance. 
I would not steal your deep romance 
with tlie dreams of sorrow, preventing 
not your inspiration. I accept 
your emotional integrity, but would 
feel you in my arms and share good 
warm til and pleasiuing pressure 
as I fold myself in your essence. 
the stiength I draw from you lends 
me great serenity and subtiy bends 
the tight to halo you as a presence 
in tlie pantiieon of dreams of pleasure. 



255 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

kisses 

I miss yoiir kiss 
and want it back. 



caresses 

the gentle touch of one so tender 
is like lightnii^ in my soul, 
iUiuninating and electrifyii^ 
my every neiTe with energy pure 
and perfect. I return tlie touch 
and lend my love a rechaiging 
of the ecstatic static of pleasiu^e. 



smiles 

the way you cock youi' head when you smde 
at me. it hngers like cut stone imagery left 
upon the sepulclue of my love, wherem lies 
my halfhearted atteuipt to fly, stnick down 
like Icarus in the sun of sorrows, too high 
to hold my feathers, too low to escape tears 
lapping m waves at my feet, sweet and final 



tears 

whether they be sad or glad or mad or bad, 
the tears you issue are Hke liquid gems, 
radiant and priceless, honest and reckless 
they shower tlie unfeeling earth and leave 
tigei stiipes upon a pantlier's sweet face. 



256 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



walking together 

I will never be alone, for m my heart I cany 
the memories and majesty of you. I'll marry 
myself to what tlie fliture should have been 
and live witli the repercussions of once again 
dreaming beyond my means, by my side 
is but a phantom, a zujembie bride 
cut of the pride I felt m yom' elevation 
of me to the plateau where, in celebration 
of hfe and love, sadness and joy, panthers play 
their games of life art and chase pain away. 



257 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



258 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Forty-fourth Panther Cycle: 
afterimages 




These were healing words. Expressions of love, of hope, of memoiy. 

I am blessed (or cursed, if you will) witli an emotionally photograpliic memory. I can invoke 
emotions I've known m the past, and even find new emotion m old experiences. As a writer it is 
apoweiMtool 

As a spmiied lovei it can get pretty rougli (editing this volume has been bnital on me, I can 
assure you, but it has helped me to get over some otiier issues in my fife, sort of an emotional 
self-mutilation to take conhol of your own pain). 

I still hope to outhve oi outwit the prophecy m 'Vings of glass". 



259 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



260 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

ambush 

life held in a light and lovii^ embrace 
pauited mto a proud and patient silence 
held captive in a haploid heart sent skittering 
across the ancrent arches of our mystery, 
enigmatic and pragmatic poets automatically 
sharing secrets sold in silent pantomimes of 
legends that lend tliemselves to lachrymal 
endorsements at the end of om' eternities, 
cold water poured in a cup of hot tea 
made molten by a kiss tliat still is tasted. 



embrasure 

warm hands touching, clutcliing 
offered rewards for lovii^ without legard 
for the shards of broken cookie jars 
we dance upon, children held in hmbo 
wliile the supple dance dips imder tlie bar 
and tlie alchemists recommend base metal 
for a golden heart misplaced in disgrace. 



tenderness at false dawn 

even in your shadow 
the ail' is waim and 1 can form 
my own following of meandering 
dreams held captive for a restive 
prayer played to the finish, true 
words spoken harslily. tlie dark marsh 
of oiu^ momiung in the momii^ 
of a diapery diawn aside at ten. 

261 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



the curve of your face 

the wmd regrets its duty 
every mommg, to slide aside 
ratlier than hnger on your lips 
like a kiss forever frozen 
on a sculptor's visioned beauty. 



wings of glass 

the sands of time are smelted into 

crazy-daisy patterns of crystal forms, 

frozen in the heat of the winds 

sweeping across my memoiy. dreams 

spimiii^ ice cream drippings into 

angiy flechettes tliat teai' souls 

and awaken the darkness witliin, 

fear 

like a child 

in a quiet house. 

waiting 

for morning 

when there is no proof 

yet perceived of a benign deity. 

faith 

in tlie hands 

of the infidel, 

tool 

and a weapon 

for a commg stonn 

where tlie wind will lift me 

and I will not know peace 

again, in tliis life. 



262 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

a handful of wind 

my legacy will be words 
and second generation echoes 
in tlie words of others inspired 
by a sad and mad Sisyphus, birds 
that fly witli razor wings as blows 
the hurricane 1 reaped in fired 
flimaces where 1 walked tliinkmg 
myself accompanied, then blinking. 

elegy 

1 want to dance, 
but my legs are weak 
and my words speak 
of alost chance. 
an epic stance 
taken in tlie wind's face 
when 1 dared embrace 
a panther's prance. 



263 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



264 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Forty-fifth Panther Cvcle: 
no war is ever won 




This is a crazy qiiilt of a cycle, fiill of dark images and playful wordsniithing, I think it represents 
well how all over the emotional loadmap I was at this time. 

I was facmg, due to tlie financial burdens of my divorce, a need to find a way out of my 
situation. I didn't write about tliat m my works, as I still considered healing the Pantlier and 
reumtii^ witii her more important tlian my own survival (part of tiie divorce was a half million 
dollar fife insurance poficy onme, made out to my ex... so if I didn't survive, at least they'd be 
cared for.. .and I wasn't any of their favourite persons at tlie time, anyway. 

But I kept focused on the person I'd pledged to, finn in my belief tiiat once she and I worked 
thmgs out, things would fall back into place in all otlier ways. 



265 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



266 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

in tarnished memory 

in tarnished memoiies made mockery 
by om' weakness, left on the nightstand 
like a wilting rose, discarded and unregarded 
as we move to other sport, we contort 
our dreams to match oui' patlis and laugli 
with self-deprecating hiunour at the iTunours 
we can validate only in silence, the violence 
of tune, worked on us all. the seconds ticking 
and tlie phone ringing a iiide song, bunging 
imknown answers to dancers too far apart 
to ever touch agam. and, as such, in pain. 

leap of faith 

all love is a leap of faith, whetlier bom of honest passion 
or fashioned from our own desperations we deny, we fly 
in tlie face of past follies to risk our frail frames m tlie sky 
of a hunter's season, reasons irrelevant, lovers made sentient 
by a tliiist for God and continuity, the beauty burned away 
by tlie liglit of day as we are made Nosfeiatu by our fear. 
the mortar of hope placed against tlie clay of tlie poet, golem 
animated by the solemn tnith of stiengtli peiceived tlirough 
burnt honey eyes, hfe denies us our timidity if victory 
is to be more tlian a philosopher's stone at tlie pawnshop 
where we stop to raise stake for our Pascal's wagei. 



267 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the price of penance paid for passion 

the integrity of love in tlie heart of the romantic 
is a maddemng thing, it brings out tlie tragic 
spectacle of nioital man made naked and epic 
in tlie winds of an embrace and an abandonment 
by all but liis darkling sanity, profanity spent 
in a dark room, waitii^ for the worms now sent 
to consiime the last morsels of fading light 
once bright witli the promises of a lover's delight 
in a dare taken over three deep breaths, wliite 
stained red, fading to blown and pmified in time 
by unknowing souls paid mmimmn wage to clnnb 
the staiis and sweep away the crmnbs of crime. 

it is time 

yom serenity baiely ripples, 
like a pond at siuuise reactmg to 
a distant fiog's graceful swim, 
as you wake me to take me 
befoie the evidence of love. 
I hold yom' hand and speak 
the woids rehearsed moie times 
than eitlier of us dare remember 
as the merging melts and spawns 
a legacy of triumph and patience, 
even a hard-boiled egg takes time. 



268 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

in the silence 

in tlie daikiiess of your creative serenities, I am with you. 
I have looked into yom' eyes at poet's tune and seen tme 
divinity biu^st from you like a iipe seed pod perftirming 
its duty to future generations, there is a bitter ring 
oftiTitlito the sound of tlie bells I strike in an insuiTection 
against the joy you wrap me in whenever I hear one 
more sigh thiough your sweet hps. my pockets aie laige 
but empty now. a maityr to the magic of romance, charged 
with imfailing love and a desiie to be sHent in your presence, 
if even buned deep witliin the eaitliwomb. embracing silence. 



bop 

a poet's chance, sold. 

a panther's dance, gold 

like the jasmine I taste 

on your hps. sweet. 

and youi' hips . . . .beat 

a rhytlun I have chased 

down this road, caught. 

easy load, not 

looking for di^eams misplaced. 



269 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

joy incarnate 

love, it always stands triumphant 
even when the lovers fail. 
I am not a victor always, 
but my needs, iti truth, must pale, 
we are faced witli such illusions 
proud delusions of om' pain, 
we must learn to rise above it 
and om' destinies reclaim. 



In the counsel of the masses 

we will find no relevance. 
Love is foiuid in poet's promise 
held inside a pantlier's dance. 
Diinkii^ draughts of hfe and promise 
joy and peace and cliildien strong, 
we find our proof m subtle raptuie 
tnitli within tlie pantlier's song. 

Ecstasies we will fiilfill yet, 
tapestries composed in white. 
We will find a way to vic'fiy 
like a taper in the night. 



270 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Forty-sixth Panther Cycle: 
Songs of the Panther 




By this point we weie conimumcating regiilaily agaui. 

She admitted being of two minds, with many forces in each campt. It seemed to basically come 
down to her gmlt over my divorce (and tlie criticism of her friends for it) and hei' passion for, if 
not me, at least "being tha Pantlier". 

So, I did what I am good at and sat down and composed a cycle that helped refine and define fiie 
identity of the Panther of my works, the image, the abstraction. 

I can't speak for the rest of tiie world, but when I have an avatar; an abstaction, to live np to as a 
role, it strengthens me. 



271 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



272 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

predator 

I shall choose my prey, today 
and take my feed and fill. 
I shall choose my path, and laugh 
or cry as smts my will. 

I shall choose my dreams, it seems, 
lest they come to choose me. 
I shall choose my life, and strife 
shall be, at lengtli, set free. 



tomorrow 

tomorrow is a day for sun 

and yesterday was tlie rain. 
the weather comes for everyone 
and gives both gam and pain. 

and lovers walk m silent pairs 
and part to walk alone, memoiy 
kisses the morning sim, and dares 
to come to set me fiee. 



bard dragon 

a curious beast 

a ftuious feast 

and bones that never fade. 

a passionate bhss 

in a haploid kiss 

and a pleasuimg pain's parade. 



273 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

eyes of sorrow, soulful 

soulflil eyes, like a web 

of daik burnt honey, dripping 

from a scorched nest, testmg 

the resolve of a lover shadowed 

by his own baggage, sorrow 

in a thousand hues descends 

and bends even smiles beneath 

it's matriarchal gravity. 

the solemnity of hope. 

a way to cope. 

the pull rope 

to tlie Clacked bell of 

patience, lewaided. 



the song of the panther 

a voice like a haven from deatli, 
breath passed tluough a soul 
dancing in pain, in vain to escape 
the rape of time, the field 
of orchids is not yet in season 
for the roses are still 
omnipresent and pleasant 
enougli. petals testii^ the 
mettles of us all. a choice to 
voice sorrow and a cmious 
question that belies resolve, 
to solve the iiddle 
of the sphuix I met 
in a quiet restaurant 
when I touched tlie face 
of God. 



274 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



the panther composes 

the pantlier composes herself 
and writes it down, words 
on a page. . . sage and honest, 
reflecting a worldview of 
inevitable sadness iUnmmated 
by moments of joy and passion, 
she fashions a totem from a cat 
to a killer, dark and deadly, 
whose claws can pull a dragon's 
heart in pity and remorse, power 
in tlie metamorphosis, beauty 
and a soul deeper than any phimbmg 
of despair may evei' reach. 
an angel, revealed. 



the panther laughs 

the pantlier lauglis when the mood 
takes her. tlie essential food 
of hei feast is sadness, but I 
have been blessed to see her eyes 
grow large with pleasme 
and take tlie treasure 
of this soft and sensuous 
giggle of dehght 
to perfectly hglit 
the attic wherein 
my goblins labor 
to understand love, 
not m vain. 



275 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



276 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Forty-seventh Panther Cycle: 
exile and passion 




Thepassion was obvious. But the exile? 

There was a duality to that. Partly tlie exile from her while she worked through her guilt and 
feelings. And the otlier part was, in order to hve up to the obHgations I'd made to my family, I 
would have to take ajob that was being offered to me in Los Angeles, 3,000 miles away from 
my cliildien, almost as far from my agmg parents and my family and all my professional 
netwoik. 

I referred and still sometimes refer to this as being sent into exile. 



277 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



278 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

dreams of love 

imiinitable. cut from stone 
made warm by a smgle word 
uttered after tliree deep breaths, 
alive and forever locked 
in legend and memory, a 
boomerang kaima, paths 
paiting as ill a sad prophecy, 
denied but invoked, hope 
held regent, love, love and dieams. 



back into the jungle 

there is peace on the savannali 
but no panthers, and I have 
had my soul forevei fixed on 
the Soutliem Cross, pomted 
by Cassiopeia and a time plucked 
on a cliild's mandolin, and I smile 
as the leaves part, for tlie darkness 
of thrs feral himtress's territory 
is the one place I feel at home 
and at peace witli all I am. 



279 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

embrace 

I will cry the next time 

I feel yoiir honest aims enfold me, 

hold me, scold me for being so long 

away, for I know no otlier 

lair where my heart may rest, 

tested and contested between 

heaven and hells forged in 

a heartbeat contemplated 

at four in the morning, a 

warning, and a summons and 

a prayer for time and luiderstandmg. 



bottle of sand 

one night I will drink to you 
on the beach, alone, but never 
truly so with your heart firmly wedged 
in my chest. I will sift tlie sands 
of that peacefiil ocean into tlie 
drained vessel and have it borne 
to you. not as invocation of 
aloneness, or of barrenness, 
but to let you know tliat on that 
sand I made toast to you and 
dreams of sand angels yet impressed. 



280 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

meeting of minds 

where will a man, made god in his own mind, 
find a peei wortliy of liis muse? can he choose 
liis heart to follow, or does the resonance 
of fate or destmy or chemistry or god knows 
what else might be to blame or bless, pick 
liis dreams for liim. I care not. I merely 
know I have found it. and will sit here, my 
heart on my sleeve, my words on my tongue 
and a taste for subtle laughter in my eais. 



conquest 

it is not meet to conquei tliat which you love, 
for it has already conquered you. stnve instead 
to be woitliy and honest, self deception leads 
only to pain and sonow. I have not taken 
well my own coiuisel, but knowii^ I am mortal 
and bHnded by youi' beauty, tiuuideistiiick 
by youi' voice raised in song and twisted 
to a strangled cry by yom^ passion, I will 
take my seat at the foot of Atliena and 
tiy once more to be what is requisite 
for my life to be worth Hving. 



281 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

dancing 

will I ever dance witli you to the song 
of the seal, words gilt upon our base 
metal hearts to guide us into fires 
still not fiiUy contemplated? fate 
mocks US, then locks us into joy if 
we show an iota of courage and 
faith that the wiaith now immaterial 
camiot touch us witliout our 
wilHng it. killmg it is impossible, 
for it is insubstantial, so let us 
ignore and share tiie dieams 
we forged a thousand times over, 
one day. if not soon, one day. 



282 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Forty-eighth Panther Cycle: 
Dreams of Iron and Sapphire 




This IS a crossroads cycle, a mix of new and old miages, new and old emotions. 

The "neniicom" of wliicli I speak is a heaikening back to 'The Nemicom", my first lover. I love 
to coin words, and I later had coined tlie word "Nemicom" from "nemo" and 
"unicorn". . .literally "no mortal unicorn". To me it was represented by a black uniconi witli an 
ivory or silver horn, and it meant someone or sometliing you loved so intensely you 
mytliologized it. 

You know, hke a Panther. 



283 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



284 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

sapphire lasers 

niby IS for lasers, 

but it was a beam of light 

bom ill sappliire gieen 

that cut tlie shell 

of this behemoth, 

wakii^ the dead 

ill diead 

of memories tliat fled 

before the aurora 

of a subtle smile 

sustained in soulfiil eyes. 



heartbeat 

one day 

I will lay my head agam 

again your soft back 

and Hsten to tlie reassmance 

of your heart, 

beatii^ out a rhytluu 

clocked by God 

to let me hve 

and love at a level 

unimagmed before 

you moved my hair 

with your hands 

and made me promise 

names to our fliture children. 



285 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

lost and found 

I lost myself 
for a season, 

beyond reason 

and rationale. 

yom' love fed 

me so perfectly 

I wanted nothing more. 

I hamited a distant shore 

in Hghtliouse lanterns 

that you turned from 

in fear of tlie rocks. 

and I understood. 

and Ht tlie fries 

on the beach. 

not with our love, 

but with my words 

and heart 

and stiength, 

rediscovered 

in a room 

where I was watched 

by tliose who never loved 

enougli to smrender 

their sanity. 



286 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

wings of a black dove 

the nemicom came to me 
inanewfonn. warm witli 
promise and power, a flower 
of black silk, milk sipped 
greedily fiom nursing breasts 
to test the passion that fashions 
a monument immortal, but feeble 
in tlie face of a black lace fan 
of wings rising from tlie bold 
shoulders ofa panther franscending 
the groimd, ascendmg to boimd 
with die di^agons in tlie skies 
where dies no legend. 



courage 

life calls us to couiage and comprehension, 
embracing ourselves and oui' apprehensions 
about omselves and oui' dieams, we wake 
from GUI' sleepwalk and sleeptalk and take 
stock of GUI' options. I will make my iron bend 
in tlie hunicane of your need and be the friend 
you would ask of me. no task of me denied, 
I step aside and put away my dreams, witli pride 
that you would even tolerate my petitions 
of love and desire, memories of brave decisions. 



287 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

a clockspring 

I understand your loneliness 
and only wish I had the answers 
you will need when your evolution 
reaches the next bardot. 1 know 
them, mostly, but aiu inarticulate 
and feeble and my affection 
disaedits my wisdom in your 
eyes, truth in tears and tensions 
reset for a fliture clockspring. 



worth 

shall I measure you by mortal standards. 

I tliink not, lest you become arrogant 

and tlie air be filled witli errant Hes 

andjealous venom, those who would 

deny you your due so tliat they may have you 

ontheir plane of existence, resistance 

to greatness is the hallmaik of any 

democracy, but you were not shaped by 

the hands of a democratic God, but one 

wilhng to test the edge of tnith and beauty 

with elegance, excellence, and a panther's dance. 



288 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Forty-ninth Panther Cycle 
an tig nil 




These poems, all of them, speak of items or artifacts of om' relationship. Some real, some 
imagmed, some abstract representations. 

The brass box was real. Tlie cookie jar was a reference to the poem "bare feet on a wooden 
floor" which was the final act of "the Goldenlieait Cycles". Yes, it was somewhat perverse to 
take the images I'd given over to tlie Goldenheart and recycle tliem for tlie Panther. 

But I tliink in tliis we see the evidences of the abstraction of my affections at tiiis point, tiiat I 
wasn't writing to one woman, but to an archetypal lover. 



289 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



290 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

infinite mirrors 

I look inside tlie infinite mirrors 
and see reflections botli forward 
and back, a catalog of horrors 
I would not have survived witliout 
the strength lent nie by a noble 
friend, costing her the peace 
of mind she souglit. cauglit 
in a clouding web of twiliglit dreams. 



wingsong 

black lace wings, 
dragonfly wmgs . 
fitted to a great beast 
who, 
in time, 

will learn their use 
and seek again 
the skies of dreams 
locked away mider 
kudzu vines of pain 
and guilt and regiet. 



291 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the brass box 

it sits m silence 
on the shelf where 
once sat a Cliinese 
fan. containing 
what IS left of dieams 
waiting a key 
entrusted, 
incrusted 
with splintered 
emeralds. 



serene horizons 

looking out, in silence. 

warm tliouglits 

I tliouglit 

were mine alone. 

but somewhere 

someone 

thmks tlie answer 

and IS merely 

too distant m space 

and suffeimg 

to answer 

the riddle. 

a dancer 

on the sands 

of memory. 



292 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

poets, pretenders and pagans 

poets are tlie smallgods. 
sometiines they aie 
usurped by pretenders, 
sad souls speakii^ 
quick enough and loud 
enougli to share tlieii' 
practiced spontaneity 
and scrimshaw, 
but the divuie spark 
isnottliere. where 
they speak, tlie weak 
aie swayed to stay 
their look for tnie gods. 
and remain pagan 
outcasts, cauglit in the 
philosophy, not the 
revelation. 



293 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the cookie jar 

it did not break. 
I did not know it could take 
a fall fioni so great a heiglit. 
grand is my delight 
knowing that tlie ceramic 
skin over this romantic 
soul is more resilient 
than first thouglit. spent 
crumbs spicing tlie aii' 
whenever the lid is opened, 
but sometimes we pretend 
not to caie what is inside 
out of hmiger and tlie pride 
bom of fear, fear tlie oatmeal 
raism prayers will not find real 
satience intlie jar. and so 
we will starve, alone with no 
hope, just memories of ajar, 
kept empty, kept far. 



white noise 

our perceptions are wlute noise 
to cm' affections, we laugh 
and cry for the same actions, 
take days or weeks or months 
apart, if our hearts have taken 
a dive in the img for a payoff, 
many fear to fall fiom a great 
height, a night 1 would not have 
assented to foi a handfiil of dead 
petals and a dream in tlie dark. 



294 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fiftieth Panther Cvcle: 
In the Land of the Gods 




Welcome to Kyiienar. 

In this cycle I began to weave a complex tapesty of legends and myths of alandtliat existed as a 
place wheiethe Pantlier and 1 coiild be togetlier. Wliere lovers werejudged by their love, where 
poets spoke m epic emotion and were not cmsed as fools. 

It was a Utopian rdeal, but it was a place forme to retreat in tlie aftermatli of so many losses m 
so short a tune. Now thousands of miles away fiom tliose closest to me, sittir^ in a hotel room 
in Century City. Most nights my only comfort being my computer screen and the words of 
friends whom, for tlie most part, I still alive yet to meet face to face. 



295 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



296 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the temple of joy 

behold the iTims. 
study tliem carefully. 
they stood before you and I 
foimd them one evening, 
locked in om' game of 
masks and charades, 
if you listen, careftdly, 
the wmdbonie serenades 
can still be heard, 
follow tliem to tlie gates 
of wliipped qmcksilver 
and you hear them yet, 
echoes played by gliosis 
that yet have flesh 
and yet play amoung 
these ruins, fortius 
temple is not tluown down, 
and gods never tnily die. 



297 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the altar of sacrifice 

offerings brouglit at twiliglit 
from tlie beaches where we saw 
dancing creatines of legend 
play in tlie surf, tlien inn 
into the woods, first two. 
then one. then three, we see 
the frails followed by tlie 
daik-skuUed followers 
of the rhyming wynn, 
and fresh scratches 
where new words, 
amotated in tlie surf, 
have been cut mto this altar. 
taller than tlie sky. 



the Well at Kyrienar 

the dry well, ever dry of water, 
butnotofjoy orpmpose. 
made as a monument to a daughter 
who chased tlie winged faeries 
in tlie clearing, neaiing tlie curve 
of the songs at their apogee, 
if you stand at tlie rim and sing 
the ancient songs, you will hear 
more than your voice return, 
for Cassiopeia's faenes dwell 
in the dark when she is away, 
and play munible-tlie-peg 
with sphnters of sapphire 
until she gets home from school. 



298 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the Mountain at the Edge of the Jungle 

no one knows if fate 
or random comcidence 
cut this mountain out of the sky, 
like a biscuit diopped in lazy 
plummet, here at tlie edge 
of thejimgle of legends, 
but it was foituitous . 
for it was here that souls 
met in tlie wet war of words 
and teais and dieams that caused 
a race of myths to build this 
city of onyx spires and sapphire 
palaces, one last dying gasp 
of a race of mortals not ready 
to taste tlieii' own divmity. 
dreams of love and peace and 
ultimate truths, tied up m 
a dragon that never was and 
a panther tliat could have been. 



299 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the Oracles 

thiee statues of stone 

stand at the lip 

of the volcano 

of madness. 

each one speaks 

in his own turn 

and you learn. 

nothmg. 

words tliat are but 

tattoos on the tongue 

of the fool who repeats 

them without comprehension. 

the Arena 

Quixote fought tliere. 

and, I have been told, 

Cyrano bested his personal 

best of one luuidred foes in a night, 

laughing with tlie delight 

of a child catching fireflies. 



300 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the Castle 

she dwelled tliere for a season. 
and, finding it fit, yet anotlier. 
but soon she wearied and went 
on. and tlie Castle, just at tlie edge 
of the land of tlie Gods, fell into 
sad disrepair, but, when she had 
grown her black lace wings and 
strei^th and reason and the urge 
to build on thirds witli some 
resonance became a new thread, 
she had rt refuibrshed. and she 
would daily wave fiom the highest 
towei' to the herb merchants 
in her courtyard and go down 
to taste tlie essences of whim. 



301 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



302 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fifty-first Panther Cycle: 
Shades of Time 




The clock was my enemy. 

And I was its most determmed nemesis. 

Pateince is the final virtue learned, ont of necessity. It is in waiting for it tliat we learn it. 

This cycle spoke of time, in many ways, but there was always a sense that my patience was 
thinning. The dysfimctionally brief moments we had spent in Tampa as I flew to Los Angeles 
had been bracing, but ultimately more strange and satisfying. Months later she could not even 
remember the gifts 1 gave her that day, as she stared out my hotel room window and told me she 
couldn't imagme a fiituie witliout me. 

And here I was, with nothmg. Not even really pronnses, just time. Mocking me. 



303 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



304 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

long winter 

it has been so loi^ a winter, witli oiily moments 
of warmtli. scarcely a word spoken, no token 
of respect for hang on my wall next to the trophies 
of sharks and meadowlaiks, pale himters next to 
the feral creature I wish was here, but snow 
has piled too liigh to see over and tlie cloverleaf 
and spiiit-tliief have conspired to liide tlie siui 
which runs away fioni me, enigmatic and sad. 



the hourglass 

1 broke into the wall today, tliat wall of 
jagged green glass, haid as an axe head 
and opaque witli age and arrogance, the 
splinters tore my flesh and lodged iii 
my soul, but I had to see how much, 
how much sand, how much sand was left 
in tlie damnable hourglass, and tlie 
answer terrified me. 



two years 

two years told in a wink and a smile. 
the style of the assent is not a demal 
but it brings back memories of words 
and action more tlian a knowing smile. 



305 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

if I were made of iron 

if I were made of iron 
I woiild wait forever for tliose 
black lace wings to giow back, 
rust would merely lattice me 
with reds and browns, to soften 
my image and lend chaiacter. 

but I, too, am merely flesh, 
and standing m the sahne reign 
does moie than rust me. it 
slowly steals what httle 
life remains. 



schedules 

we live by schedules, 
we set the clock and rock 
back and forth to the rhytlun 
of our impendii^ demise, hes 
told to steal j oy while we 
run the other way. honest 
lies we learned from friends 
and teachers, so afraid of dieams. 
we welcome tlie alarm clock. 



306 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the patience of a poet 

the patience of a poet nuis hot and cold and cleat' 
and mmky. the unlucky souls who hve in glass coffins 
never luiderstand tlie pleasiu^e of tlie passion of being 
intemperate, we do not wait for the mediocrity 
that everyone polishes to put on their mantles, 
but hght candles that bum tluee wicks. 



candle 

fists fiill of icmg, crowing like a rooster 
on a booster seat, Cassiopeia finds tlie ftin 
in undoing two hours' decoration in an 
instant, one candle, for this moment, 
a tliousandyeais stood still, and tlien 
began again its march when tlie candle 
went out. and a baby giil squealed 
on her birthday. 



307 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



308 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fifty-second Panther Cycle: 
Adoration 




Thegenie was out of the bottle. She used the word again. You know, love. 

She said she just needed time and space to find herself, her way, some sense of forgiveness for 
her hand in my divorce and we would be together again. 

I ran up a phone bill the size of a small coimtty's GNP calling her everyday, and we'd talk for 
hours. Well, I'd talk, she'd hsten (hey, she said tliat's what she needed, so I obliged. . .yes, in 
retrospect it did seem a little one-sided). 

She began talking about us marrying, and having children, again. Two of them, a boy and a girl, 
and of her commg to Los Angeles 0ier business was one she could easily move, indeed, she'd 
probably do better in LA tlian Tampa). 

I was not completely sold, but encomaged enough to begin writing more optimistic pieces. 



309 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



310 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the measure of love 

iiieasiu^e my love by tlie size 
of my heart, by tlie roads I have walked 
from tlie veiy start of oiir tmie 
together. I am not tlie last man 
or the best mail or the man you 
would have chosen a year ago. 
but I have proven my heait and 
thickness of the soles on my boots. 



the eyes of my true love 

I look into tliose burnt honey wells 
that I am destined to look mto 
all the rest of my life, in joy 
and m pain, mthememoiy ofthe 
stam of all smvival. and I see 
magic, anincantata ofdeific 
beauty and majesty unaware. 
I would dare anything to close 
the space between my hand 
and tliat face m which rests 
the eyes of my tnie love. 



311 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

handmade quilts 

my mother will make handmade 
qiiilts for oui' children, if tliey are bom 
before she is too old to stitch them, 
thread pnUing together patches of 
old clothes, colourflil and meaningful 
like two Hves, lived well, now 
stitched togetlier by brave hearts 
what want to keep onr children 
warm and safe at night, and keep tliem 
alive m our hearts so that they may one 
day lay between us and dream, under 
a handmade quilt. 



sand angels revisited 

in my heart I walk along a quiet shorehne. 
dawn of anew day. and the tide only now 
is coming in. I see the ciu^e of tlie sand. 
last night's sand angels, a lifetime ago, 
before me. and the morning tide creeps 
closer to try to wash away the even tlie 
memory of yom' passion, and I will stand 
between tlie sea of time and allow myself 
to drawn in the cold waters of pain before 
I will allow tlie memory of what we once 
were to be lost, lost to the waters of time. 



312 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

pedestals 

I do not have use of pedestals. 
they would put you out of my reach 
and I have to stand on tiptoe as it is 
to have a prayei' of a hope of a dieain 
of a chance of being standing when 
you finally descend and bless 
mortal man with your love. 



next kiss 

the next tmie you kiss nie. 

really kiss me. 

I want to heai' more tlian 

a sigli. I want to hear 

yom heart open up and 

the fire transmit 

itself to your lips and 

hear my name 

on the voice of a lover. 



clockwork 

I am always fighting against the box 

you put me iii. 

but tliat IS okay. 

for I have heaid tlie voice 

of god and know tlie colom' 

of the sky on worlds 

that no one has ever been to. 

and I can dream that one day 

I will be more than a convemence. 

313 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



314 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Fifty-third Panther Cvcle: 
Cassiopeia's Garden 




We had a senes of long discussions of our fiitiire cliildien. Ninety percent of those discussions 
were her talking about the daughter she wanted to have, named Cassiopeia, and what she'd be 
hke. 

So I wove her a cycle of poems about our daughter and her garden. 

Now, I nonnally despise my shorter pieces, I'd ratlier go ape for twenty or thirty or tlnee 
himdred Hnes. But 1 have to admit 'Vildflowers" really gets me every time I read it. 



315 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



316 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the low jungle 

the thatch of grass is like a jm^e 
to two year old toes. ...tai^Mng 
and tripping even tlie best intended iiiii 
for the flutterbyes . falling down to see 
the startled honeybees take wing 
to bimg you tomorrow's breakfast 
spread for yoni' raisin bread. 



dandelions 

daddy taught her how to make 
the dandelions explode in a puff 
of air. a thousand httle dancing 
ai^els, lookii^ for a place to land 
to make a thousand more angels 
each. Hke love in the heart 
of this cliild of my heait. 



317 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

daffodils 

as she cuts tlie stems of tlie 
daffodils that grow by the house, 
mommy sings to herself a song 
I can never hear the words to, 
but it makes her smile. 
and I will sing it witli hei' 
when I am old enougli 
to know the words and know 
what tliey mean. I have my 
motlier's eyes and she holds 
the daffodils to my face and 
smiles and talks of my eyes 
lookmg like honey, and we 
giggle a lot. 



apple trees to climb 

the green and gold and red 
fruit hang just out of my reach, 
even on tiptoe, 
but I am leainmg to cHmb 
and soon they wiU be mine, 
all mme. and I will 
eat apples still warm 
from the sun. 



318 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

roses 

I look out my window at night 
and see daddy and mommy 
taking roses from my rosebush 
and cuddlir^ as tliey talk 
in quret vorces and see them 
kiss like I miglit get tlie brother 
I asked ftir tlus Cliristmas. 



buttercups 

the buttercups butter up 
my yard and make it 
pretty on days when the 
green grass is boring and 
the Sim shines ofif them 
like sliiny glass beads 
of sunshme caught in 
the green skies 
of my heaven. 



wildflowers 

fistfiils of colour 

to give to my mother. 

to show her I love her. 



319 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



320 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fifty-fourth Panther Cycle: 
the High Desert 




Living ill Los Angeles, I drove out to Joshua Tree and fell in love with tliat area, witli tlie high 
desert. 

Everyone had warned nie about the Santa Ana wmds and how tliey'd make me feel bad. . .but 
instead they fed me power like a high voltage hne. 

1 loved the hot wmds and tlie plaintive moans of the wind m tlie bmsh and the little lizaids that 
ran aroiuid (I decided that they were baby sand dragons). 

She was, at tliis time, tiying haid to get a handle on herself She kept saymg she needed to find 
herself, that to be light for someone else you first have to be right for yourself (I take tlie 
opposing view, tliat in our love foi otliers, we find ourselves). 



321 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



322 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the high desert 

there. 

in tlie heat 

and tlie hght. 

the cnicible 

of God where tnitli 

is all that is left 

1 will find 

the answers. 

I am not the Clirist 

so my trutlis are not 

so profound for it 

to take forty days. 

merely tlie fiie 

as I walk mitil 

my limbs fade 

and burns away 

my impatient 

heart. 

rumination 

and when 
you find yourself 
will you still be 
someone I can love? 



323 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the tidal dream 

there's a dreaiii that I have that keeps waning 

then roaring back with a blast 

it keeps thiowii^ nie into a flitiue 

that is built of an enticing past 

only realized for an instant 

then snatched from my empty hands. 

built upon roses that penefrate 

and miages left in the sands. 

I nonetlieless stand as tlie acolyte 

until the end of the twain spirit's night. 



nunc dimittis 

never knowing 
just what it is 
nunc dimittis. 
never showing 
what he misses 
nunc dimittis. 
passions glowing 
and the wish is 
nunc dimittis. 
coining, going. 
the end, it is, 
nunc dimittis. 



324 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

eloquence 

I asked for love and it was granted, 
handed me like a merciiry-tiiggered 
themionucleai' device, witliawrnk 
and a smile God said it was iiime 
to deal witli as best 1 could. Oh, good, 
just what I need. . .riding close enough 
to tlie edge I can feel tlie gravel beneath 
luy wheels in that childhood niglitmare. 
waiting for tlie doors to open and see 
what makes me screaiu. notadieam. 
but I rule my heait, or so the illusion 
goes. I chose to harness the team 
of horses of greatest power and tnist 
one day I might control tliem. and for 
a tliousand reasons they lead me down 
a load I can tliink of a tliousand reasons 
1 should not travel, my sanity unravels 
and I am left to tie tlie last sweater 
thiead off to tlie pillais of tlie temple 
of Aplirodite, in hopes that, in this 
world of honest ignorance, there is tnitli 
left in my left boot, to be poured out 
like water after a walk in the puddles 
left by a rain tliat won't be back luitil 
a season on a calendai' I do not have. 



325 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



like a cyclone dancing in the fields 
and all I can do is hope tliat tlie compass 
points this way it finally makes 
its cut. for when all is said and done 
I am tired or bemg a scarecrow 
in tlie fields of love and devotion, 
not so tired to qmt, for I am made 
of sterner stuff than fiiat, I will let 
my anns wither and drop before 
I turn away fiom my heart's duty. 
and I will let the skyshaiks pluck out 
my eyes and tear tlie straw that once, 
above the busy streets in tlie apple 
orchard, was not straw, but iron. 



in the end 

in tlie end 

will tlie epitaphs 

read merely that we 

so outsmaited ourselves 

that we could not 

find oui' ways back home? 

or was it tlie patient 

impudence of impiTident 

certainty, knowing tlie 

kaima was in tlie bank, 

we felt the anogance 

of our cowaidice was safe? 



326 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

ab initio 

from tlie begimiing 
I knew what was before me 
the fates oft ignore me 
when I take my wirmmg 
hand and present it 
to tlie croupier to pay 
on the impossible play 
just won. the gambit. 



327 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



328 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fifty-fifth Panther Cvcle: 

an afternoon in the company of a Sand 

Dragon 




This cycle is best explained in context tluough later cycles and their annotations, so keep your 
eyes open. 

1 do make note of the fact tliat I got bored of coming up witli titles for the individual poems and 
substituted Roman numerals. 

Also please note tliat I did use the proper Roman numeral form for "4" of "1111", not "IV", which 
1 understand is a modem invention 



329 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



330 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

L 

Why ain I here, you ask? I see tlie cock 
of your leathery head. . . tliat questionii^ 
look of challenge. I wiU tell you riddles 
and share wrth you my water, here, liigh 
above the ocean m this sea of sands and 
stone, alone we are. and I can answer 
you, free of judgement, and tell you 
of legends and lovers, of panthers 
intlie juices of the soul, dusts 
of tune and crunes of tunidity. 

IL 

you ask me of my purpose, 
how so? do you not understand 
the need for serenity not forced 
by tlie hand of madness, but to 
see tlie patli between the rocks? 
clarity evades me sometimes 
and my own crimes beg answers 
1 do not always possess. I confess 
to my sms, but wrsh to visrt not 
the valleys of judgement, bmlding 
beauty on failures admitted, love 
is not always the quickest path 
between two lines and I laugh 
at how swiftly so often we 
outwit ourselves, lost m the 
pride of our weaknesses. 



331 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 
III. 

what do you know of love? 
rest youi' feet m tlie shade 
I provide and let me serenade 
you witli words without melody, 
an emeiy board to the quick 
it is. dieams spilt in gmlt 
and terror, no eiior in love, 
but ill flight from it. like 
seeking shade m tlie cold, 
bold passions demed only 
make the heait sick, slick 
demals and tlie martyr's trials 
self-enforced in the course 
of making ourselves unliappy 
for a purpose miproposed. 
do not look at me like that! 
I am not some cluttering 
desert rat, caught circling 
the seeds left at tlie base 
cactus, practice of self-denial 
places on tiial tlie tmtli 
of our passions, yes, we 
are mad, after tlie fashion 
of all who tlunk too much 
to feel too honestly. 



332 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

mi. 

I would like one day, my sandy friend, 
to bimg my cliildien here to meet you. 
peihaps by tlien your wings will have 
sprouted, I have never doubted but tliat 
you aie a sand dragon, and it is only 
fitting you meet my cliildren. sitting 
as the sun shdes on its invisible rail 
across the sky of impossible blue, we 
will talk of dreams you are feeding me. 
I see it in youi' eyes, do not deny it. 
it was you who called me here, remember 
how you stole my sleep? and now 
I share my water, pouied out to 
give you precious moisture, while you 
teach me introspection and comage, 
two gifts I had lost, with my Hfe, 
to tlie winds of feai' and separation, 
no hesitation, had I it all to do 
again, tlie only change I would make 
would be in not coming to her side tlie 
moment I saw she was sad. months 
lost, maybe the patli. and with no 
backup for my seed, tlie quiet fear 
that one day, the dreams will be ended 
hke a chandelier, cut suspended 
to crash into my heart and give her 
reason to seek another. 



333 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



when yoiir wings arrive, will they 
be crow feathers on leatlier, as mine, 
or will they be the black lacewings 
of a panther-nemicom? 1 have worn 
my dark membranes proudly, though 
often they weigh me down when 
I have flown too long 
too far 
too hard 

to hft myself up anymore. 
and so I may need you to carry me. 
give my daugliter Perelandi^a tlie 
wisdom you have learned in tlie 
wilds, give my son Elric tlie secret 
of breathing fire in tlie nights, 
give my son Dante tlie strengtli 
to iTin beneatli the sun of tlie 
higli desert, give my daugliter 
Cassiopeia tlie grace to dance fi^om 
rock to rock across tlie ridges 
ofthelugh desert, and show my 
son Caspian tlie way to tlie caves 
of dreams, wherein you wove 
your wings and sang to me as 
I sailed seven miles above. 



334 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

VI. 

the water is evaporating. 
the fiitility of livii^ 
in tlie sand, banned from 
the greenery, the scenery 
of desolation, pocked by 
ten thousand homes of the 
rats, the snakes, the spiders, 
the sand dragons, and legends 
of file in tlie branches 
of the Joshua tree. 



VII. 

The sand beneath my shoes 
makes noises louder tlian 
the wmd in the arms 
of the succulents sunomiding 
me with their prickly anus. 
and I am not lefreating, 
but letumii^ to my world, 
sfrongei and surer, the truth 
of the sand dragon etched 
in my soul, survival, and 
simple questions best answered 
one word at a time, and only 
when the watei' is still wet, and 
not bound m clouds held beyond 
our reach. I wiU captiu^e clouds 
for you, and make tlie rain, 
that you may dance with me 
and tlie sand dragons, and tlie 
children tliat we love, all the 
children, tliat we love. 



335 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



336 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Fifty-sixth Panther Cycle: 
the sound of the fire 




A great yeaiiimg is foiuid in these words. 

Our daily talks were keeping me fed, but only to the point of not starving, emotionally. I began 
again to play Amomancer, a weaver of speU with words of love, to imagine a great flihiie with 
epic adventuies and beautiftil children and laymg in each others' arms, unashamed. 

Note tlie reference to daffodils in "witli gentle fingertips". She'd sworn to me that we had just 
passed thiougli a wintei of om' lelationsliip and spring was ahnost upon us, and tliat tliere would 
be "the daffodils" to annoiuice this spring. 

I foimd for hei a small china pin dish at a yard sale, decorated in daffodils, and sent it to her, as a 
symbol of tliat promise. 



337 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



338 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the sound of the fire 

sitting here, awake, absorbing the day 
as you slumber, regaming yom' stiength 
for the next assault on Irfe. hills callir^. 
roads to be cut in the stoneheaits of tliose 
who live in fear and would drag us down 
with tlieni to live nioital lives. Atlas acts 
as a wedge to keep the sky from touching 
the ground, liis hands burned where ApoUo 
ran his chariot too close one day. you 
turn m your sleep, and you curl like a child 
into the lap of dreams, and 1 can onlypiay 
that I am in them and tliat they aie as real 
as mme were and one day will be again. 



the sounding stones 

silent aie they, incapable of articulation, 
but tlie wind thiougli tliem makes music. 
and you are tlie wmd through my heart, 
aeatmg moumfiil and loving and playful 
sounds tliat echo thiougli tlie lugli desert, 
sounds that leave the listener changed 
forever, your love cut these courses 
and tlie passion I feel for you foices music 
eternal from them . and I am imchanged 
except by youi' passage tluough me. 
and m the eyes of those who daie listen. 



339 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

cocoon 

you diess yourself within your cocoon, 
spoon-fed oatmeal and sips of herbal tea. 
we know your blossoming is inevitable, 
but you can feel tlie wings emeiging 
purging out the sadness to make waves 
on the wmd. and 1 can only watch, impatient 
to lift tliat hem . prayerflil to be the mirror 
in which the narcissus of your soul 
will seek to stare at wings of black lace 
that trace tlie destmy of lovers foiever. 

a valley beyond my experience 

a valley beyond my experience waits for me 
to explore tlie seams of its stone and learn 
the names of all tlie plants that dot the walls 
of terra cotta and granite, if I pace like some 
schoolboy, anxious for tlie bell, know you that 
I am only anxious to see the smi use ovei' 
the castles built from afar, before my eyes fade. 

pain is luxury 

havmg fallen and twisted my ankle, 

but still miles from home, tlie desert 

sun rising to strike like an hammer, I learned 

that pain is a luxury, to dwell m it means 

to give up life and love, tmtli and joy, and die 

beneath tlie ten thousand blows of firesteel. 



340 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

with gentle fingertips 

with gentle fingeitips I stir the still-cool soil, 
praying to see tlie fiist sign of the daffodils, 
praying they are strong enougli to survive my 
impatient putteimgs. for I so miss them. 



labours of love 

and as I hold your hand and gaze into tliose 
burnt honey eyes for the ten tliousandth tune 
I see tliem narrow witli effort and wonder and 
realization as the cliild of tlie haploid hearts 
enters the world and utters her first poem. 



341 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



342 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Fifty-seventh Panther Cycle: 
seven cards 




I have never been one for tlie casting of nines, or accepting that someone can, witli a deck of 
cards or a book of ancient Babylonian relrgious sigils, determine your fate for you. 

But, I had a friend who wanted very much to read the Tarot for me, and I let her. And these were 
the seven cards she pulled. 

I lave it to those who have followed my life and movements smce then as to whether or not there 
was either any validity to tlie reading or if even 1 subconsciously reacted to it in such a way as to 
make some tlungs more or less likely in my Hfe. 

I did find out, about tlus time, that she had been to seek a storefront psycliic, just before she 
broke things off for the first time. According to the tale, tlie psychic told her that she would 
marry within the year a man who was a writer. 

And that his middle initial was "J". Which was why she had origmally decided to dump me. If 
this IS true, it's a grievous handing over of so much responsibihty to a forty dollar prophet. 

1 never did ask her if the story was tnie. 



343 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



344 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the hermit 

solitude, thenide 
awaieness of isolation 
held fast in tlie last 
breath of shared atmosphere, 
a wall of stone and wood 
fastened witli pain and enigma. 
and tlie angiy wind of words 
made penance m the silence. 



the lovers 

legends on the beach, 
now out of reach 
to all but tlie few 
willing to embrace 
sometliing more than 
the sting of surrender 
to tlie daikness of pain 
left as a pebble in a shoe 
on the road of Hfe. 



345 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

strength 

whether an ilhision or not. 
my shength is yet what 
I thought it to be when 
the fire resided within me 
and I can finally see 
the pmpose to tlie exercises 
withm my soul tliat built 
me the way I am. strengtli 
for anotlier's needs, not 
my own. bone polished 
to tusk of adamantimn 
that you may have a sword 
worthy of your destmy. 



the page of cups 

wildcard, tiy hard if you wish 
to spiU the wiiie but it will 
be notliing but a second act 
in the hiptych. washed away 
in the resolve of the diamatic 
resolution wheie the audience 
leaves, sated, fated to remember 
this perfonnance witli but a sad 
smile for the bit parts. 



346 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the queen of swords 

deep the blade reaches, but tlie seed is intact. 
in fact, tlie pain forces a new geniiination, 
a termmatron not of hfe, but of tlie frailty 
that nearly did me in. twist it not witli mahce, 
but to focus me upon your presence, draw my fire 
and desire with your attentions, painful as they 
may play upon the stage of my heart, and I will 
take my fill of my own wounds, waiting to live. 



the king of wands 

sparks incandescent. 

staves iridescent. 

living in tlie present 

to make room for the fiitiire. 

dreams, the best teacher. 



the tower 

I rode mto hell, once, dai^k coiiidors painted white 
to hide the festering sorrows I had to face, to race 
the red drops of tears leavened with pain, now I find 
I must dismoiuit and clnub the dizzying rails that circle 
to a sky I never met before, a wai' I never wanted, haimted 
by truths too bittei' and brittle to smile upon me, fiee 
to wreak havoc Hke homids let to nm in tiie woods 
where tiie pantiier sleeps, where the panther creeps. 
and where I will be, once tlie tower falls beneath my siege. 



347 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



348 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Fifty-eighth Panther Cycle: 
the deathless cycle 




When I wrote 'listening with your heart" I wept. 

Because I knew it was true, and light, but sorrowful. Despite my desire for us to be together, I 
knew the deck was stacked in uncertain ways and that there was an excellent chance we would 
never be together as lovers again (liey, my middle initial is "F"). . . 

But I did want to let her know tliat I would hve witli what she chose and be glad for hei 
happiness. 

Isn't that what love is about? 



349 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



350 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the reason of love 

we caimot tiiiiik faster tlian we feel with om' hearts, 
but om' arrogance and conceit will always drive us 
to seek to outmn tlie hght. stnigghng as though 
we know something we cannot beheve, as if we grieve 
for a tnith of ancient days, but only recently discovered. 



passion for a friend 

1 dreamed a dream again, a dream of passionate 
friends, locked in an embrace of hunger and joy. 
hp to hp, heait to heart, flesh to flesh, carpet bmiis 
and tlie exquisite taste upon your breasts, fresh 
and waim like you smile in a doorway a lifetime 
ago. a forgotten dime ago. a leopard changes 
spots in the season of apanfliei'. black on black, 
we stack the truth in gunnysacks and cairy it 
like pieces of a cross awaiting assemblage 
the next tune, face to face, daiing destiny. 



distance 

we aie all strangers to love, we camiot shove 
past it with any hope of siuvival, a revival 
of the conflicts of time and intemperance. 
the elegance of a dance in a black dress 
superseding even the fall of emerald sequins 
like a virgin's tears tlie morning after. 



351 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

friendship 

a stuidy base is no disgrace 
to arelationsliip. it is only 
pamfiil when struck on tlie way down, 
but soon, the bruised soul may stand 
again and try the handstand that got 
him shot down in tlie first place. 



the music of Valhalla 

a voice echoes in tlie halls, 
proud and pained, words of kisses 
and roses and graves, the truth braves 
us all for a solitary minuet, a surrogate 
across a continent, and as long as 
the masks come off when the dance 
is compleat, a playful retreat 
to survive the coldness of the 
niglitmist m the equinox's sprii^. 



in the high desert 

in tlie higli desert, all thmgs are possible, 
sand dragons come to make piomises 
that seem beyond hope, a rope becomes 
a serpent, and tlie seipent, a staff to be 
carried by an holy man as he leads 
to tlie Promised Land, or just another 
goddamned reservation. 



352 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

listening with your heart 

sometimes words aie never spoken, 
but tliey are meant, bent tokens 
and fallen totems, the calling diadems 
that crown the regents of oui' champions. 
and on beyond our accepted limitations 
is the tnith and we must merely wait until 
the tree bends in tlie wmds of time, then 
reach for it. and pray our fillers still 
have the stiength to seize. I do not know 
what comes, but if it pleases you, I will 
endoise it and dance at the wedding 
of the woman I love, even if it is not mine. 



353 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



354 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Fifty-ninth Panther Cycle: 
seven visions 




Did I mention tliat we woiild be traveling back, from time to time, to Kyiienai? 

Well, Sony. . . I meant to warn yon. 

This cycles is a series of images, nested in fantasies and mythologies, with even a rewiite of my 
piece from "Tlie Goldenlieart Cycles" - "bare feet on a wooden floor" as "bare feet on a dirt 
floor", trying to franspose the sense of love into yet another milieu. 

While far from the best of the cycles, this one piesents a breather, a crystal tower of sorbet 
between comses of sfrong flavour and rich texture. 

Bon appetit. 



355 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



356 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the fields beyond Solferino 

he lay. destined aiid defeated, blood once proud 
with tlie dreams of love, now rivulets of regret, no 
body for the pyre, no kisses for the consecration, 
desecration complete as tlie spear pierces liis heart 
and tlie folded ainotation tucked away to mclude 
in tomorrow's dispatches, foimd only by the ravens 
and tlie wonns. red violet banners waved to celebrate 
a battle won. a war won. a love lost, and only 
known if burnt honey eyes watch the returning coliunns 
for a man too honorable to stay away ftom courage. 



in the time of the calling 

nmners left to stand on sands far from the slaking river, 
giver of dreams, giver of hfe. giver of gifts once cherished, 
now perished m the remnant of drought, stout hearts 
bursting to caixy witliered Hmbs to tlie land of the dancmg 
ancestors, fields of golden flowers a mirage on a horizon 
beyond the tempest and file memory, fading, fadmg. 
fading, family fleeing to hope, tlie four made one in 
comage. made thiee in the darkness, two by thirst, 
one by flie fiie of the desert sun. and none by despair, 
withnolove. no hope, nodieams. no hfe. fallen 
on the sand and waiting for tlie pain to fade. 



357 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

lovers at the well 

kisses like candy set in handcut wooden bowls, 
torches unlit to hide in the darkness, stolen 
embraces, traces of love, faces touching 
the wind, once skuuied knees, now merged 
souls, cliildien to matuiity, purity of passion 
by tlie well where they played not so long 
ago, pretendmg to find fascination in tlie stones 
the peddler kicked wlule calling out liis waies. 
copper knives and wooden bowls, mixing miscliief 



bare feet on a dirt floor 

I ate an orchid today, (to settle a bet between my little one 

and my woman if I could or would.) tliis hunter is not so ancient 

that he has forgotten tlie value of play in tlie stalking wild 

of a forever new world, this woman has been patient, 

but loves and lives for and with this world, and late 

at night, while om' babies sleep, makes ritual 

with me in tlie large room, dancing strange visions stored 

in medicine bowl hearts, imbroken. bare feet on a dirt floor. 



358 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the troubadour 

he plays each night in the coiirtyaid. 
songs like distant winds in tlie niins. 
words like a lover's kiss, sweet and hard. 
songs like distant winds in tlie niins. 

laments and passions, dieams of hght. 
songs like distant winds in tlie niins. 
memories of pain a flower's delight, 
songs like distant winds in tlie niins. 

to tlie veiy step of the lady's tower, 
songs like distant winds in tlie ruins, 
he lingers there, in tlie midnight hom. 
songs like distant winds in tlie niins. 

unless rousted by guards at the Lord's shout, 
songs like distant winds in tlie niins. 
he plays until lus voice gives out. 
songs like distant winds in tlie niins. 



359 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

by the witness tree 

he waited by tlie witness tiee. tluougli the mglit. 
she did not come until tlie light stole fiist flash 
across the fields of daffodils made radiant by verdant 
fields beneath her tread, like tlie goddess of the spring 
brii^ng the waimth witli her. had you seen Imn 
an houi' before, you would have tliought him dead, 
but as tlie flowers bloom before her, so does his heart 
and tlie pait of liim fliat always held a sHver of her 
awakens to the call of the feral cat. sleek as kisses 
fiom an ardent lover, proud as a poet on flie cusp 
ofinspiration and pain, soft as the sound of a lovers 
heartbeat as she sleeps, let her sleep that she may 
have the stiength to love again and come m spring, 
when all things are possible, even the impossible. 



the gods at Ka Latil 

no one remembers the names of tlie gods once 
worshipped in tlie youtli of our race, ruins signify 
great temples and worn and weathered monuments 
that took slaves a generation to assemble, tiemble 
before the fate of all stone, to be flirown to dust, 
just know the names and celebrate tlie words heard 
raiely enough. tiTiflitiTimps labours, the sacrifice 
was too steep a price, a virgin a week, blood spilled 
fiom innocence that tlie cymcal may prosper, flaccid 
merchants in the temple selling parrots and pillows, 
gems and jaguars, idols of god that we can't even 
recall the names of amotations written in lost 
tongues so tliat future generations will never know 
who lived and loved here, but in their time, tliey 
stiU were gods over all fliey domained. 



360 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixtieth Panther Cycle: 
the hours 




This was written during one of the parting times, when she would grow impatient, or a friend 
would frx her up witli someone and she would stop talking to nie for days or weeks at a time, 
only to come back. 

I don't know why. Maybe she really did love me but was imable to reconcile herself witli the 
breakup of my marriage. 

Maybe she was insecure and I was a safe haven. 

Maybe she couldn't not be the Panther. Even though, at this wilting, we have not spoken in any 
form in years (I heard of her marriage through a third party, months after the fact) a few months 
ago I heard she still was usmg the screen name she adopted as homage to my works and my 
passion. 

Maybe a pantlier, like the leopard, is fixed in colom' and pattern. 



361 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



362 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

daylight meridian 

shadows as compact as they can be. 
I sit beneatli the tree and wonder 
where she IS. what she is doing. I hope 
she is happy and well and that, from 
tune to time she sees me heie. 
beneath tliis free, and for all 
the fire and brimstone and iron 
and ice and day and night and love 
and fear and hate and cold equations, 
knows tliat I am thmking of her. 



mid afternoon 

how many days have 1 stopped when I saw 
the instant approach, an anniversary m seconds 
and mimites, not days and years, sometimes 
qnesfroned, sometimes challei^ed, always 
answered well, a dooi opened and closed, 
signifying passage, not an easy hall to fread, 
not a comfortable bed all the nights since then. 
bnt still woithy of tlie mention and the memory, 
forever. 



363 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

twilight 

she wrote a poem, once. 
beautiM and perfect, as she rs . . . 
a laugh withm a tear' withm a dream 
withm a fantasy resplendent, dependent 
on my arc. and so Ilaimchedmy soul 
like a balhstae buUet, and stayed where 
I landed, deep in a jiuigle I will always 
stay in. even when driven to tlie edge. 
I will travel in tlie company of lesser beasts 
and drink from stieams where tlie waters 
are quenchmg, but not sweet, beat the bushes 
to flush quarry to kill wit verbal sling, sing 
songs tliat echo in tlie valleys beyond Lur. 
and watch my panther dancing on the beach. 

midnight 

the days change, sfrange how they aiTange 
themselves to make liglit of the night, bisecting 
it. directii^ it to be defined in two days, not one. 
will tomoiiow ever be here. Itiunk. but sometimes 
at midnight the clock sfretches like molten taffy 
on an apple witli only two bites fiom it. and I 
hunger for Eden, yet I will wait for the season. 



4 am 

I wake at 4 am and listen for your heart, 
but it has fled, and you aie in anotiier bed. 
circumstances favor a prepared heart 
and I cannot restart an insistent heart. 



364 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



dawn 

if you stietch joy for thiee tlioiisand miles 
it tears aiid splits and bleeds and aches. 
imtil all that is left is a ragged woiuid. 
stunned silence, the violence of passion 
shell-shucked hke an artillery peanut, 
tasty morsels baiely remembered, 
ei^endered dreams are kept aHve for now. 
but only by those witli tlie staiuina to dream 
of tomorrow, beyond soiiow. beyond sohtude. 



6 am 

fresh from youi' reflection in tlie morning mud. 

sweat sheened, preened by tlie wind and efforts 

to perfect those Hflie Hmbs and that elegant back. 

hair tossed and matted, like a cat not quite done 

with tlie glooming. I heai' your voice, bright and sweet. 

and remember it like the smeU of burnt honey 

the night flie candles burned down to flieir wick 

and we could not stick aioimd to keep tlie lights 

on. a butterfly reborn a slug sighs and falls when 

the wmgs are spread but the wind is far away. 

and tliere is no answer anymore at 6 in tlie moinmg. 



365 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



366 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixty-first Panther Cycle: 
seven wishes 




Seven small things to wish for. Images of love and contentment. 

The final piece of tliis cycle, "yom' joy," is the bomb in this bushel basket. I can not teU you how 
many wiiters have told me that they wept when they read it. I still do. 

Otheiunages spiling to mind and pen. Her distinctive wmk. So obvious, but endearing. A 
lunch we had m Fairfax. Her suede sldit. 

To quote Roy Batty. . . "I have seen things you would not believe." 



367 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



368 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

a smile 

little more than your smile, a friendly smirk 
sometimes a gateway to a giggle or a langli. 
head cocked, eyes bright, the Hghtiiess of mood 
dispellii^ clouds that sunonnd you, that have ground you 
imderfoot. like bells in the frig, like light 
intlie daikness. like memories. Hke tlie smell 
of moiiung oatiueal, earned in the drizzly haze 
of anotlier morning. ..pressing for joy. 



a kiss 

no clumsiness, no fear, lips wann and ready, 
open to admit moie than air and softness, to 
allow two souls to sMp freely between two bodies, 
the polish to tlie gem. thehght of day. we play 
like tigei cubs, earnest and happy, soft and passionate. 



a wink 

it means somethii^. any man who sees tliat wink 

of yours is frapped. slapped from his reveries and boimd 

to follow like a puppy on a string, who can resist 

a panthei's playfiil invitation to come closer, closei. 

near enough to touch, to comfort, to share, to dare 

to ask foi more tlian a warm touch. fiiU of life. 



369 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

lunch 

to talk over a salad and mugs of tea. like in tliat 
restaurant in Fairfax, or tlie cafe in Little Italy 
where the service was so poor, but it didn't seem 
to matter so much as long you wore your suede 
skirt and there was a flower shop down the stieet 
where I could buy roses of intention, lingering 
of moutlifuls of food and eyes full of love and di^eams. 



heartbeat 

to once again press my weaiy head against yom' back 
and take m the soimd of youi' heart, holding the line 
between hfe and death, between a world of joy and love 
anda world without legends, without panthers, witliout 
a love that sigmfies all, vahdates all, liberates all. to feel 
the tears course down my face witliout a man's disgrace 
at being touched, like fingertips on a distant screen. 



peace 

to know what will happen aroimd tlie next comer, to know 
no fear, anymore, to hve without regret, to be able to bet 
all I have and tmst tlie croupier is tmly cognizant of what 
she holds in her small, cool hands, confidence bom 
of love, of hope, of tmst. of destiny audits acceptance. 



370 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

your joy 

my grandson climbed into my lap and held ont a book 
to me. weatliered witli age, each page burned into my 
memory like an immutable brand, he asked me who the 
pretty lady was, whose pictm'e maiked tlie frontispiece. 
I bHnked back a few tears, shed a lifetime ago on a 
battlefield where I was too busy agonizing over my role 
in tlie conflict to take the point, as was my puipose. 
I told liim tliat she was just a dream I once met and 
made happy for a season, tlien I sent lum to play. 



371 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



372 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Sixty-second Panther Cycle: 
just a man, just a woman 




Sometimes when we spoke or chati:ed or exchanged emails, she expressed frustration with the 
role of being ail icon. An absfraction. 

She once asked if a day would come wlienit would just be two people, sitting on a porch, eatii^ 
apples and talking about "tilings". 

This came out of that, a cycle of images meant to express tiie beauty of ordinary people sharing 
an exfraoidinary love and lives togetiier. 



373 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



374 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

everyday lives 

we live everyday lives, 
love like eveiyone else, 
maybe a shade more epic 
and mtense tlian most, 
but honest and grounded 
in oni' sense of where we 
aie and where we belong, 
together. 

the sound of distant thunder 

sitting out, watching the stonn pass on the horizon, 
listenii^ to the soimd of distant thunder out of 
synchi^onization with the flickering folks of light 
that dance between the grey lint clouds, sippmg 
iced tea with lemorseless greed as the diy air bleeds 
the day away from our pores as God's artillery roais 
defiance to the dry eaitli and pelts it witli watei. 

the dance of the hours on a grey day 

tune held ransom by a sudden tempered sadness 
poured out like spilled oats on the floor 
by impatient hands, soft and siftii^, 
lifting tlie edge of the darkness just long 
enougli to let me inside to cradle you 
in a beai-like hug, tnie and gentle, 
sentimental fool tliat I am, letting you ciy 
youiself out to make way foi tlie rainbow 
tomorrow, when tlie daffodils and roses 
meet m the vase of a haploid heart. 



375 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



sand on the front steps 

I sweep aside the sand witli tlie old broom, 
heirloom of a summer not so long ago when 
I bent more freely in the effort, but I hear 
the rustle of tlie skirt you wore once to 
frut with me outiageously even tliough 
you already owned my heart, and the sand 
is not so heavy, and tlie broom is easy, 
and my heart is liglit witli love and memories. 



warm apples on a summer day 

picked fresh 
from tlie tree 
that nurtured them. 
like your love 
in my heart. 
I take a crisp taste 
and offer the rest 
to tlie woman I love 
and will one day rest 
beside in the ground 
beneath tlris tree 
and tlie memory of 
this gentle world. 



376 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the other blue 

you knew 

when you let me 

play with the palette 

that I was not the aitist you were. 

but since you are 

a remaikable poet 

I feel tlie need to try 

to keep up with you. 

so I make sometlimg 

that could almost be a sky. 

using tlie wrong shade of blue 

to keep the illusion, 

but you just laugli 

like you did in the cafe 

at two a.m. when you saw 

me playing too much the fool 

but loved me anyway. 



the next time 

the next tune I see you 
I won't let you walk away, 
and if you choose to. take 
whatevei' weapon you can 
and slay me first, a mercifiil deatli 
ovei tlie slow one otlierwise. 



377 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



378 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixty-third Panther Cycle: 
the wind in the desert 




Yes, I was tlie crazy man witli the half-empty bottle of Evian. 

It was my practice when I drove up into the desert to take along a bottle of Evian and, after I 
found a rock away from the road to sit upon, wait until the desert lizards showed therr faces, tlien 
pour a puddle of tlie water mto the shadiest spot I could frnd. They loved it, and I loved grving 
them that joy. 

To me they were and are sand dragons, cousms to tlie bard dragon who needed just liis hours m 
solitude to pull togetliei' tlie threads that were unraveling as he stared into an uncertain fate. 

The Panther was and is an artist, and a photographer, and we had discussed when we were able 
to be together again having a house out m the desert, near Joshua Tree, and how I, as a writer, 
could stay home with Cassiopeia wliile Mommy went off to photograph some old niin oi 
whatever. Some of that found its way into here, as well. 



379 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



380 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

at dawn 

filled witli tlie promise of a day 
never before seen on this earth. 
the birth of new life, priceless 
and perfect, hope made memory 
made legend made hope again, 
when the dreams return with 
the momii^'s first wind. 



tumbleweed 

scrap of sciTiff 
propelled, homeless 
and heartless, 
seekmg root 
with roots dried by 
lost grip. sMppii^to 
the edge of tlie desert 
to witlier 
forever 

as an object lesson 
for too long adnft. 



381 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the wind in the panther's fur 

on the ridge overlookmg 
the twisted tiee tliat represents 
eternity, the panther cools 
herself in the wind as the sim 
raises tlie tips of her ebony 
fur to new heat, sweet and dusty 
scents entice hei' senses, 
defenses to be conquered 
and trails to be tiaveled 
before the end of the day. 
before the losmg of the way. 



the sand dragon as food 

the paranoid hawk returns 
to feast on the skittering 
Hzard who thought liimself 
a dragon because some crazy 
man witli a half empty bottle 
of Evian told liim he was . Only 
Moses should ever have paid 
attention to voices on the wmd 
of the desert heat at higli fire. 



382 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the wind at night 

the sweat of tlie day is gone. 

on beyond the howling in the rocks 

where a thousand years ago a priest danced 

prayers unanswered by a god he imagined 

gave a damn if he died of thirst, cursed 

to haunt the valley for all eternity 

luitil he learned the light steps. 

and it cools me to sit here, in 

the Hglit of the stars, and dream 

dreams just as damning. 



the infinite sandbox 

I picked up my Mttle daughter from 

out of tlie infinite sandbox that is her backyaid 

(deserts do have tlieir appeal) and told her that 

Mommy would be home today, filled witli stories 

of distant lands not as exotic as the smell 

of the mesquite and the sound of the wind 

in tlie needles of tlie cactus at mghtfall, 

but beautifiil nonetlieless, and tliat next time 

we would go with her to watch liei' stand 

next to scenes we only see in National 

Geographic, but none as beautifiil as 

liei' Mommy's smile when she sees how 

much the child of her lieait has grown 

in two short weeks playing 

in the infinite sandbox of her backyaid. 



383 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the desert wind at night 

sometimes at iiight I lay awake 
and can baiely heat' the soimd 
of the deseit wind in the eai' 
not pressed against your back 
as I marvel, yet anotlier night, 
at how beautiful your peace is. 



384 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixty-fourth Panther Cycle: 
the tempering of sadness 




A friend once said that tempered sadness is the springboard to ecstasy. 

I don't know if tliat is a tniism or an excuse for bipolai' behavior, but I'll take it at face value. 

This IS a sad cycle, expiession of quiet sorrow and acliing regrets. 

What caps it is the oathm 'If I must be a man". A long time ago 1 walked away fiom tlie first 
great love of my hfe when she asked me to put aside my poetiy. Tliis even after I wrote "my 
electric lady" which was about the regiet I would feel, but the choice would make, if I had to 
choose between poetry and "my poor and mortal birthright" so that "I could touch the sky and 

seetnie tilings." 

And yet, here, ahnost two decades later, I was sweaimg to leave it all behmd, to renounce my 
identify, in tmtli, if that was what it would take foi us to be reconciled. 



385 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



386 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

tears 

soft and bitter, brittle, bom 
of dreams broken like fiozen 
taffy struck a solid blow, low 
and ascendant, dependent 
on prayers that reside m the hearts 
of those tender enough to love 
even the unworthy, proof protected 
in tlie fall of saline ram, ringing 
upon the tin roofs of om' heart's 
cottages, set in the fields of love. 



laughing at legends 

as the tailor, 1 must now protest 
the mockery of the Emperor's dress 
and his proud carnage swayed by 
the revelation of charade on tlie pait 
of me. clotlies cut and stitched 
fiom moonbeams, left to dry 
on the rocks by the stieam 
of consciousness, silkworks 
and tlie taste of bmnt honey 
left in tlie pockets for a ramy day. 



387 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

embrace 

I would hold you, if you would let me near. 

askii^ notliing, but needu^ everytliing, 

silent but for sobs wasted today. 

for we aie all in oiu^ shells iniu^ed 

to tlie pain of others, as in oui' ears 

our teais 

bum the loudest 

and tlie proudest 

of us must face 

the path alone and mocked 

for having dared to love 

and stood by liis vows. 



rainbows tomorrow 

there will be rainbows tomorrow. 
and tlie next day, but not now. 
now is the time for mourning 
lost Hes and illusions, balloons 
burst by tlie worst means 
possible, but we are strong 
and feral creatures, whether 
wings of raven's fletch or the 
blacklace membrane of the 
dragonfly panther, and we wiU 
soar again, and maybe not to 
tnumph that day, but eventually, 
for we aie woitliy and wiUing. 



388 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the patching of hearts 

souliiiates 
left to fates 
to meander 
in fimtless pani. 
the savage stain 
magnified 
by ignorance 
and darkness 
as the dinosaurs 
of Venus come 
between us. 



serenity hke death 

to hold the panther again 
I must learn a seremty 
like death, tlie breatli 
draw shallow and slowly 
to not disturb her heart's 
slumber as she heals, 
not again to the level to love 
like a common creature, but 
back to the edge of tlie 
amora where once she 
danced in glee and joy. 
destroy my soul and she 
will build it back a thousand 
times with a smgle smile. 



389 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

if I must be a man 

If I must be a man to win back 
that wliich I have lost, someone tell 
me now, tliat I may accost 
the cowaidices within me 
of no longer wearing scales of gold 
or hftii^ raven wings to tlie sun. 
one by one, my baiiiers have 
cracked and fallen, and I have 
no use for tliis facade if it costs 
me all my Hfe and joy. someone 
tell me the price of penance 
to regain tlie love I lost 
thiougli no sill of my own. 



390 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixty-fifth Panther Cycle: 
the seven lessons of the Panther 




"Tlie common tongue" is one of my favomite works, expressing an issue I have moie than once 
encounteied in this Hfe. 

I have been accused of bemg too eloquent, my vocabulary too large and my tendency to take a 
simple thought and spin it into symphony of words sometimes getting in the way of being 
imdeistood. 

But all of tiiese works weie attempts to express thmgs I had or should have learned from the 
Panther, or from my relationship with her. 

No one has ever accused me of being the quickest study on haid experience, but at least I could 
express these things. 



391 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



392 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

life is never silent (Listen with your heart) 

a tliousand times you kept me near with words 
unspoken, promises unbroken except by a temporary 
deiaibnent. and yet, each memoried impalement 
drove hard against my soul, promises made by 
a panther hungiy to lay kittens at the feet 
of the woild, hungry to share her milk with 
the child of hei heart and tlie son of her soul, 
to wrestle playflilly tlie lover who cut her totem 
from stiips of black clotli worn as she raced 
the wmd to piepare her self for tlie wedding 
of soulmates in tlie chapel of dreams, and I hear 
the music from time to time, kissed roses 
blooming upon penetiating tlie saciaments 
drained in dooiways to lieaits hai^dened 
inpiide. having to close our eyes and open 
our hearts to dieams we can both face freely. 



panthers sometimes need the shadows (Trust love) 

having lived my life m tlie slummering, sometimes 
obscurii^ light of a slummering fiiestream of emotion 
fed on hghtning and self-mimolative emotion, I could not 
imdeistand her fondness for shadows. I read it as a 
reaction of rejection, not protection for a fragile 
heart yearning, burning foi love and dieams that 1 had 
jomed with m a haploid instant of transcendence, 
but I needed to learn to frust. to reahze that merely 
liei vanislunent into tlie shadows of soitow was not 
a banislunent from hei heart and head and arms and bed, 
but a need to bleed in peace and release her saline rain 
to foim streams of consciousness forever beautifiil. 



393 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

faith like a poet (Believe in dreams and dreamers) 

you planted tlie seed witliin me, caived with the genetic code 
of all the tomoiiows you cannot yet see. but here, on wings 
reopened by a kiss on an elevator, 1 can sail above the days 
you count luitil the swiinnieis dive again and the fluids 
of our souls mingle to make a new comnuuiion, and see the 
tomorrow you bound me to witli fantasies more real 
than tlie feehngs foi tliat wliich already lived, and so great 
was the beauty of tlie vision you cut into my heart, 1 would 
mourn tliem hke my children if tliey never lived, and the 
power of that emotion is beyond anytliing I have ever felt. 
the power of belief iii a beautiful dream of destiny and love. 



wings of jade and amber (Share joy) 

Imiflirl tlie jeweled wings of rejoicing. 

the somid you made when I first said 1 love you, 

crystalHzed into a stone of infinite beauty. 

the duty of affection, worn Hke a millstone to many, 

but m the hands of tlie amomancer, a tool of levity 

and levitafion, to raise the shaft you cauglit yourself 

on in practiced passion seeking to find the fount 

of biitli and rebirth, tlie woitli of dreams between 

two bodies, as I birthed you, you birthed me and we 

together are a web of souls, dancing on tlie lattice 

of your gloiious wii^s of light and beauty. 



394 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

she did pounce, she did play (patience like a hunter) 

out of the darkness 
comes 

nothing. 

for she waits 

luitil the prey 

is close enough 

that it is all a nimdgame 

and tlie prey 

will play another 

day but this time 

at a safer drstance. 

let go the pain (Surrender without fear) 

you caimot hold long to tlie pain before 

it bums hes into yom eyes 

and you are left blind to all but 

the illusions. 

awaken like a kitten, 

eyes fresh to the world and able 

to tell a saucer of milk 

from aratfrap. 



395 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the common tongue (Speak plainly and with truth) 

the oithography of poets 

belongs in poetry. 

not in words spoken 

in pain or anger or fear 

of losing something or someone 

held so dear 

that you feel death upon you. 

that is a time for the baby steps 

of simple words, where commonality 

is more likely true, a basic 

toi^;ue where tmths are not 

gaibled amid tlie noise of well meaning 

friends who read letters hke 

Rorschach tests and listened tliat night 

you raved luitil late, finding hate 

in woimded love and bitter tears. 



396 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixty-sixth Panther Cycle: 
Reflections on a Fading Past 




I am of two minds on this cycle. One tlie one hand it has "that half a heart"- for my money one 
of the best works of the entire tapestry of the Pantlier Cycles. 

On the otlier hand we have "a story from my yontli". TiTie story, needing to be related to our 
ownHves, but somehow I just never hked it, never hked it of and by itself and certainly not as 
part of the cycles. 

I guess it IS like a kiss. Ifyoulovetliem, and tliey kiss well, you might overlook tlie fact that 
they had onions on tlieii' sandwich. 



397 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



398 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

undefined 

I remember how you wept 

when I spoke tlie words 

to you. undefined 

the role you would play. 

it made you walk to the fence 

and ask for a dictionary 

that you might feny your heart 

to a safe place, an embrace 

between lovers destined 

and damned. I am here now, 

at the fence you built. 

where sits tlie Raven. 

and you left a note for me. 

"major, yet imdefined" 

cryptic words before a dance. 

deadly words tlie moiiung after. 

the mourning after. 



399 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

a story from my youth 

when I was yoimger than now, 

my parents had a small dog. 

a Pekmese name Chaily. 

my brotlier David loved that dog, 

as he did and does all animals. 

one day I found Charly, howling 

mad, seated in tlie back loom, 

his jaws tiembling, liis eyes 

protniding like a caricature 

of disease seen in to many 

Satuiday morning caitoons. 

and I closed tlie door and warned 

all to stay away wliile I called for 

assistance. 1 knew, 1 knew 

that he was beyond redemption. 

needing put away for liis 

and oni' own good. 

but David slipped m and foimd 

the problem, 

a lock of ear hair tangled 

in a long claw. 

pain and frustration. 

and he slipped tlie catch. 

and told me to hai^ up the phone. 

because, in his willii^iess 

to look beyond my feai'. 

he fomid tliat destniction 

was not the answer, 

merely an open heart. 



400 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

that half a heart 

I wonder if you still have it 
biiried in your breast 
or is it on a shelf witli 
the shirt I gave you. the legacy 
of seaicliing love retired 
having foiuid the prize like 
Moses at the Promised Land? 
40 years in the desert to be told 
that I will not pass. 

aie the daffodil cup and the 
crazy ceramic wizard holding 
niglitly discussions? 

or are they 

with tlie boxed knick-knacks 

held in impossibly tiny hands 

as we made love. 

in oui minds. 

in our souls. 

in om dieams . 

in our lives. 

in our pasts 



401 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

half a dream 

I did not see yom' face 

at the window where I placed 

the candle, sometliing was 

there, hair dark and perfect. 

soulful eyes of burnt honey 

to steal my soul. 

no, make me whole 

from tlie coma of my heart. 

a resunection laid 

on a lullaby back 

to be earned 

tobemaiiied 

or be bmied 

with tlie dreams 

no loiter woitli havmg. 



402 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

fantasies 

how many dieams daily do I launch 

of you and I, fiiends. lovers. 

like the kiss I stole on tlie elevator... 

well, you handed rt to me, 

but I felt Hke a rogue. 

I guess I needed you. 

and when the secret 

flew past my face and 

the bongo played its part, 

was my heart fliUer tlian it is now? 

ciTimbs left on a plate 

in Soho at two in the morning. 

a meal regretted. 

I guess I loved you. 

breakfast delivered 

to shaie with conversation 

and reclamation of dignity given up 

lite blood to arose, toes 

that touched the floor of my soul 

like a morning discovered 

at 10 am. tlie sound of your 

heart now etched indelibly 

in the ears of a poet. 

I guess I had you. 

butterfingers that I am . 



403 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

pillar of salt 

one day you will, inadvertently, 

forget to turn aroiuid 

to watch the consiunption 

of this city. 

and tliat time 

you will be free. 

my love 

will go with you, like spaie change 

in tlie bottom of your makeup bag. 

forgotten and uimeeded. 

then spent 

casually on a pack of gum to get the 

taste out of youi' mouth. 

matador 

when they pull 

the post 

and tlie bull 

is host 

to my fears 

will the tears 

not yet shed 

words unsaid 

for so loi^ 

make me strong 

enough to rise 

to rron skies 

when I know not if flight 

with bimg you back 

or give you leave to go? 



404 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Sixty-seventh Panther Cycle: 
Heisenberg through crystaUized souls 




More mystical or metaphysical than romantic, this set has some sharp and vivid miagery, and a 
return to an introspection ratlier tlian a reminiscence. 

The first piece "dry lake" came to me while flying back to Los Angeles after visiting my cliildren 
in Virginia. This was always rough on me. I loved and love my cliildren, and 1 know the 
divorce was very rough on them and unfair to tliem. I regret that, and wish tliere was sometliing 
I could do or say, some penance I could perftjnn to make tliat all riglit for tliem. 

But on tliis tnp tlie sky was quite clear and out the plane's window I saw a dry lake bed iii tlie 
desert... and before I knew what was happening I had started scribbling this cycles in a legal pad 
notebook I always tried to carry with me for just such occasions . 



405 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



406 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

dry lake 

in flying over tlie desert 
I saw the dry bed of a lake. 
the metaphor struck me like 
a New York taxicab needing 
a brake job. perhaps by 
accident, but nonetheless . . . 

once teemmg witli life, witliered 
by heat and evaporated di^eams, but 
leavii^ boiuidaries of what was, 
to spring to life again 
when the rains may return, Mke 
love long denied. 



407 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

dwindling dreams 

dwindling dreams 
as my hemophiliac heart 
slowly, mexorably 
drips towaids silence. 

the vile violence of neglect 
slips hke assassms 
into the cold, golden shadows 
after tlie test is failed. 

the test of tlie kmfe. 
all too well the error 
of my life, hencefoith 
to Hve, not as a poet. 

but, as a man. stiipped 
to this walk and to stand 
in tlie safer and saner 
patlis of mediocrity. 



silver spiders 

seven silver spiders, dancmg in a septagiam 
once woven of eclectic dramas played to slam 
windows shut tliat you said blew us away from tlie tack 
of our hearts' voyages, baggage, hke a gnimysack 
filled with things held dear, yet painfully, slowly moulding 
with the naicoleptic fear of munbed pleasme, boding 
failure from within our prayers, mourners stai^e away 
a Chiistmas toy lost two weeks before Valentine's Day. 



408 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

proud love 

and if allowed to love as proud 

as my heait calls me to, tlie 

pride inside blossommg in reverent 

glee, my poetry's day of Pentecost. 

when words spoken in a foreign idiom 

suddenly make sense in a revelation 

of love, a celebration of love. 

a consecration of love in wliich 

we both prove the worth of souls 

leftover ftom a tliousand failed 

past lives, poisons purged in passions 

mged like tlnee deep breaths 

that tiansfigured tlie world. 

tender dreams 

I have shared my tender dieams with many eyes 
and ears and hearts and miiids. tliere are no hes 
behind my passion for you. tnie to the mark, a sling 
propelled me high m a ballistic aic to you, to bring 
a taste of lovei's candoi to tlie Pandoia chest 
locked away by doubt and despair. I dare to wiest 
the liigh abandon from your avatai' and take 
into me his identity. I do this foi tlie simple sake 
of your love, for if a man seekmg to be divine 
cannot court your favour, perhaps it is at last time 
for the spark to fold itself, mold itself into a sphere 
of human emotion. .. .that I may, at length, draw near. 



409 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

hailstones 

the Panther laid a gentle snare wrtli 
the touch of her hand to my hair 
in a moment when I was so spellboimd 
by soiilflil, bmrit-honey eyes, tliat I 
could do little but weep m despair, 
precognition telling me we were doomed 
to never share more tlian a saddening tryst, 
words kissed fiom the sky in wet regiet 
like hailstones on a hot Florida day. 



renewed communion 

my arms encircle you to lay my 
healii^ hands on tlie small of yoni' 
back, back m my aims, youi' dancei's 
legs embrace me and yom^ body ghdes 
to encase ine in tlie womb of your passion. 
I kiss the shuddering from you as 
the impalement takes it's toU and 
you, with failing control, hold back 
the months'-dammed hunger to drink 
from witliin me the sin we share 
in caring for one another. I kiss 
the soft and risii^ pink meimgues 
of your breasts and softly suckle 
as if to draw strength fi:om your 
warm fluid, a new id forms and 
merges through us, merges to us 
and sphnteis the lock once set 
against us as you feel me give 
up the warm wine in a renewed 
communion of lovers forevennore. 



410 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixty-eighth Panther Cycle: 
love without regret 




I am still amazed when I look this far into the cycles and see new imagery and thoughts. 
Someone once told me that romantic poetry was dead because tiiere are only a finite number of 
ways to say "I love you". 

Guess tiiat guy was wrong. 

Here I go, speaking of love, both in the abstiact and in images from both the past and oui' 
fantasies of our fiituie together. A bit all over the place, but still a good run of words and 
thoughts and emotions. 

I wanted so bad to feel love witliout regret, without feeling like I was domg something wrong. 



411 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



412 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

cinema 

dreams dappled like the back of a pony 

seen in a long-forgotten Disney film 

where tlie heroes always won 

the villains always lost 

and lovers only kissed. 

and tlien, only in the final reel. 

I feel sometimes caught between 

the sprockets m tliat proj ector, 

imable to change anything 

but tlie showtimes, as tlie wheels 

turn and the light bums the images into 

the minds of the onlookers, never knowing 

that the hero is really tlie villain 

the villain is really a nice guy 

and tlie lovers did more tlian kiss 

last night in the dark of a theatre. 



the touch of life 

your hands. 

like God on tlie ceiling 

of the Sistine chapel. 

givmg meMfe. 

giving me hope. 

redempfion through grace 

and tlie kiss of an angel 

too long in a distant heaven. 

too long between communion sips 

fi:om tlie hps of a feral woman 

made legend 

by my words, 

but only speakmg tlie tiTitli 

of what IS mside. 



413 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



umbrellas of hope 

perhaps they are not sturdy enough 
to endure tlie winds we tlu^ow at tliem 
in foohsh pride and aiiogant self-doubt. 
but we must pop tliem out and take oni' best 
shot at keeping us free from tlie rain, 
gales of tender tears, spent on lost frails 
following will-o-wisp illusions tliat pronnse 
pleasure without pain, dreams without waking, 
giving without taking, medicine show theatrics 
as the rain is made by God, not man. 
not even poets call it, we merely know 
how to read the clouds, and promise 
to be tliere to sweep the mud from 
the sidewalks of youi' soul so that clean 
passage is possible again, maybe this tune, 
maybe not. maybe I'U never agam know 
the colom' of tlie siui. but 1 remember well. 



414 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

4 am revisited 

last iiight I awoke from a soiuidless di^eaiii. 

luimemoried. my mind clear as liglit in 

imtiammeled sky. and I did not ciy out. 

1 did not grimace witli the loneliness. 

I merely tmned inside myself and listened 

with tlie heart you helped fashion me to witlistand 

the dark passions to be unleashed by your 

passage tlu^ough my hfe. 

and I heard soft echoes. 

a heait tlu^ough a lullaby back, 

a gentle sound, boundless with joy 

that tianspoited me back to time 

befoie compHcations. 

where I will go again. 

and hve. 

as only lovers may dare. 



walking like wheels 

an eternal cycle of one foot in front of the othei'. 
a dying dream of lover and friend and fatlier and motlier 
held aloft like a baiuierette befoie the annies of care, 
where amomanceis cast spells and lay wards at tlie caves 
liigli above tlie valley of tlie shadow of deatli, where I 
one, twice, fell, no, was pushed, and no one caught me 
but my dreams, dreams that stiU live and everyday that 
they breathe grow closer to the Hght. and I have climbed 
higher and fartliei' and faster than any sane man would dare 
and now feel the iron winds in my hair, demandii^... 
commanding me to leap, leap into amis oidy now beginning 
to open, and if tlus fall is all theie is. ..then I will 
sing death songs on my fall and pray tliat love is not 
just an illusions, but live witli the results of the wager. 



415 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



kisses 

may I kiss you once again? 
knowing tliat if the barriers break 
we may take a long time.. .decades... 
recovermg our equilibrium, tlie sum 
of the actions and reactions m that 
gentle meeting of himgry lips may diive 
us beyond tlie edge of wheie we thought 
we would daie to stand, to sit. to lay. 
and tlie delay is unbearable, but 1 would 
rather kiss you. and have you mean it, 
than waste my life on lesser loves. 



the return of the bard dragon 

lettmg go liis false idols of love. 

he opens patchwork wings, scar tissues 

baiely fading from the red of pain... 

in vain surrender to liis muse, he arches 

his back and slides mto the passionwmds 

he still feels in her soul... praying for life 

but daring death as he spiials in to see 

if there is still love enough foi legends 

toHve. oi if he is must find healing 

bahus at tlie apotliecary of anotlier enchantiess. 

but he is game to seek to fulfill liis true fate, 

knowing it his not his flaw if the winds 

prove false and fickle, sick with fear 

he diies a tear witli a single word of flame. 

a name he may only speak in piivate. 

for now. 



416 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Sixty-ninth Panther Cycle: 
The Next Night is Forever 




We made a litHe pact. 

And that is what this cycle's title is about. 

She vowed that if ever we slept togetlier again, it would be an end to all doubts and hesitations, 
that we would stay together and live together and niaiiy and have cliildien and grow old and die 
as a couple. 

Pressure? You bet. But I have always been one more for tlie grand romantic gestiu^e. 

"and the rain washes away all sorrows." 



417 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



418 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

surrender to the kiss 

lips approaching the event horizon of souls so giave 

and distant, tliey have spiraled in like neutron stars 

in the death gnp of their own giavity. faces that slide 

across one another to sniotliei' tlie pam of too long kept 

apart, a start reborn, tapestries worn to shield us 

now yield us a soft wall to crash into and tluougli as 

we tumble like aciobats into the nets our hearts wove 

so long ago. fire and negation, arms racing to embrace. 

and tlien. 

and tlien the moment of tmtli. 

the truth passii^ between Hps touching and parting 

and merging Mke tlie dancing souls behind tliem. 

sliding like arms fiimbling against cloth yielding. 

fielding questions 

iiielevant 

in time spent too far away 

too cold, too long demed 

and so we must make penance 

in a penetration yom body rises to m sweet memory 

like aiemembrance ofwildfloweis of ayoutii only montlis 

befoie. and the lips never part, for fear tlie kiss 

will end. and so we share breath for fiery moments... 

as 1 come home and take my rest and joy witliin you. 



419 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

taste of blood 

predator unleashed. 

too long without tlie fresliMll. 

taking her fill of tlie flesh 

she remembers tasting a season before. 

sweet, musky, a trace of rust and blood 

that tangs her tongue as she suckles out tlie 

jmces she needs to bleed tiie pain from time 

lost, the cost of hesitation repaid a tiiousandfold 

in golden kisses, sweet and sinfiil. brinifiil 

of the white wine of lovers' communion. 



a pulse of life 

we stop, silence, and feel oui' pulses blend. 

befiiending tiie trutii. acknowledging tiie proof 

thiobbmg deep inside a penetiated panther. 

a dancer, on pomt, on fiie. on the wire of life, 

daimg to be wife to a legend, to be a legend. 

to feel his pleasme and tieasure her own in a 

slow and driving grind of fragrant fiir against 

the hunter, sated, tiie cries of tiie vanquished 

taken as token of himger and tiurst and tiie asphyxia 

of a heart quenched m the air between your tiughs . 

surprising us both. 

the pulses merge. 

and m a surge tiiat rockets fioni my soul, 

through my flesh. 

into your flesh 

and finally, into youi' soiti. . . 

life is affirmed. 



420 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

entry 

eyes locked in lovmg tribute 

as you feel tlie weight upon you. 

you feel the fate within you. . . 

giving groiuid. . .making way 

so tliat heaits may play 

on the fields of pleasure. 

the wings unfold 

and m conies 

the comeistone. 

the missing bone of the puzzle 

needing to be solved. 

pleadii^ to be absolved 

of everything but love. 

and tlie need to be as one 

when such is tlie design. 

sinking into place. 

spreading wide tlie way. 

bringing into play 

recesses and comers 

unilluminated for fai' too long. 

fai' too long. 

and tlie pantlier's song. 

rises in beauty and delight 

all thiougli tlie mglit. 



421 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the rain washes away all sorrows 

like sugar nirmiiig in the flood 

the blood 

of martyrs is washed away 

as we play 

in tlie thunder 

that punctuates yom' cries 

as I punctuate yoiu' gentle body. 

the liglitning 

arcs like youi' back as you attack 

me over and over.. .swallowing 

my seed, my soul, my life 

in yours . . . 

and tlie rain washes away all soiiows. 



fear in your eyes 

a labour of love, great and promised. 

perhaps mtiinidation, perhaps apprehension 

as the dimensions of your desire. 

you conspire to hide it, denied it 

for so long... 

but as you smk on bending knees 

to please ns both. . . 

there is fear in your eyes. 



422 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

coming home to die 

making love with my panther 

is like coming home to die. 

for all the fear, rt is as it should be. 

and tliere is no other place 

where I will know peace. 

the pain will cease and God 

will smile at my muic dimittis. 

for He knows tlie song of my soul. 

and He is happy that I have found 

the answer to my quest, and am blest 

to be here, witli you. toniglit. and forever. 



423 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



424 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventieth Panther Cycle: 
the city of legends 




Kyrienar now had anotlier name. The City of Legends. 

In September, 1996, 1 sat down and tauglit myself HTML, (Hypertext Maikup Language) and 
bnilt myself a website on Earthlink, which 1, in a fit of whimsy, named 'The City of Legends" 
after tliis cycle. 

Two weeks latei' 1 saw it listed on Yahoo, which at the time was the #1 search engine on tlie web. 
Along witli file Milk was a description of myself as the "Romantic Poet of the hitemet". 

Never give up a good sobriquet. 

These poems expressed tiie joumey, the patience, tiie effort involved in waiting for my Panther 
to get herself into tiie emotional condition she felt she needed to be in order to make tiie journey 
to be with me. 



425 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



426 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

early on the road to the City of Legends 

so far so good, we should be fluUier down tliis road, 

but considering the wheels are worn and the load 

is much heavier tlian previously estimated, we have 

done remarkable tilings on tliis voyage, we can laugh 

at tears once shed in dread of niglits spent apart. 

we can kiss and not fear the mergmg of this haploid heart. 

we have conquered, many battles still wait for us, fed 

by fear and forces imcounted. but when all is finally said, 

1 shall be here for you. more scars tlian 1 wanted, yet 

tiansfigured m your love into a paramom', whole and perfect. 



without regret 

in tliirteen cycles of tlie moon 1 have tiaveled far 
and tasted botli victory and defeat, the sweetness 
of a feral jmigle cat's embrace and the disgiace 
of bemg locked outside tlie gates at niglit, wliite 
with fear and black witli the soot of effigies bmried 
for vanity, sanity deep dip baptized in a river nuuung 
like a fantasy child across the wildflowei' meadows. 
windows opened as door slammed shut so that the 
dying heart could flee to save itself but did not. 
love sustains me. feai' restiains me. silence pams me. 
and all the wliile I love witliout regret or let. 



this heart 

this cliild of my heart may never be flesh. 
but m my heart, she is flilfiUed in words wiUed 
by one who has earned my love witli courage 
and grace, no place for the timid, this mantel 
in tlie himtmg lodge of mysteiies to be unlocked 
like yom' passions in the aqua night of satin. 

427 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



if I am to live without fear 

if I am to live witliout fear, then it must be in yom' aims . 
for without them, the confusion and pani is a monument 
to fallen hope, love will lay in niins battered by the stonns 
of a thousand tropical summers, the coinage long spent 
on tounst-trap trinkets unwortliy of our dreams and touch, 
buried in mountain snows to not melt in tlie history of man. 
cnished beneatli the tread of titans birthed witli such 
venom that they can only be the sons of a lage that began 
deep within tlie despair of Sisyphus, we, as mortals, need 
our Gods, for whether tliey are real, oi myths, the legend 
sustaining our souls, teachii^ us to live above our fears, lead 
the woids you have summoned from a lover and a friend. 
for when tlie next cluonicles aie taken, a pantlier and a poet 
will live in these pages, for love, no fear, no legret. 



428 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

I will wake up tomorrow 

I will wake up tomorrow 

and you will not yet be there 

beside me. 

inside me 

you are always there, 

but sometimes I want to 

touch the woman that I love 

so well. 

to smell her hail'. 

to hold her when tlie cold world 

kicks her a httle too vividly. 

but even thougli she 

is for now 

distant 

and I am alone. 

I will wake up tomorrow. 

and tliank God she yet lives. 



429 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

water from the well 

the water from the well 

tastes sweet 

and cold. 

and old 

wives' tales 

tell me that there 

is magic in every sip. 

would that 1 could 

take a drip 

and botdeitto sell 

to tlie shaman 

in tlie canyon. 

to make a chaim 

of sand dragon skins, 

with wliich to bring 

yom' love back to life 

wliile I yet endure. 



a panther in her den 

matted grass, 
she lays on matted grass. 
and stietches early in the day 
to begin hei hunt, new life, 
new prey, she will play 
for a time, then hunker down 
and glow steely and resolved 
like the predator she is. bright 
and Stygian, black and glossy. 
in my heait. in my mind. 
in my life. 
in her den. 
for now. 



430 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-first Panther Cycle: 
passions of a bleeding soul 




From time to time out conversations and exchanges would tmn from absfract to erotic and she 
would tell me ofhei' fantasies and desires, wliich of coiu^se didhttle to ciu^b mymipatient fever. 

Here is an immodest selection of works about fantasies we'd shared (or lived out, aheady). One 
reviewer said it was like peekmg in your parents' door to see tliem m the act of making love. 

HopefiiUy we aren't tliat old that everyone tliinks of us their old folks, but just two healthy, 

passionate, loving people, eager to share their desires with one another as an expression of their 
love. 



431 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



432 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the darkness 

we feed the darkness witli our desires. 

luitamed fires held back by pitiful firebreaks 

that hold no more at bay the tongues tliat play 

at consuiuii^ us, dooming us to the wet and wanton 

consummation. 

penetration. 

the deep 

deep 

deep 

dive of sunender 

as you lock youi' eyes in mine 

and twine about me legs that beg 

for the pain 

the pleasure. 

the greatest measure 

ever taken 

ever dared 

ever bared 

to stab inside you 

and draw the blood 

of your ecstasy. 



433 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

sharing liquid 

drmk fiom me, if you dare. 

I'll hold yoiu^ hair in my hands 

and span yoni' soft, sweet, hot 

flesh witli my tlurst. 

cuised to feed on you 

as you stmggle vahantly 

to hold on long enougli 

to drmk first. 

but as compellii^ 

as the arguments 

on your hps, 

you slip and find my 

wonutoi^;ue 

buried deep witliin you... 

drawing out the cries of despair 

and anguish as you feel the 

flood of blood explode 

inside you and you ride my 

hps to file edge of sanity. 



434 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

a new entry 

never touched. 

never taken. 

now forsaken 

baiiieis falling 

to tlie cmved steel 

of this samurai. 

sliding 

in 

and out 

as you grip the 

fabrics of the boudoir 

and cry out in pain 

and pooily liidden exquisition 

each piston diaw suckmg out 

the demons of degradation. 

each piston pliuige 

a lunge of hot iron 

that makes you roai' 

as you soar on winds 

of wicked desire. 

seven times 

seven times m a single battle 
drawn to tlie gates of heU and left 
to fell tlie tallest of the temples. 
heart poimding, breath soundii^ 
loudly and tortured in ravished lust. 



435 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

merging in the afterglow 

in tlie afterglow of your evening, 

I feed on you. 

drawing sips of warm nectar from 

breasts unashamed to let me take 

my essence fi^om tliem as you rise 

and iide 

and glide 

and slide 

up and down on the carousel. 

my hands against you, pressing you to me 

as 1 lap each stolen drop 

of your nourishment. 

and return it in fluids white and musky. 

sharing tlie flood. 



dancing like demons 

my hands dance like demons 

across your back. . . . 

taunting 

haunting. 

pressing you to the rough shag 

as 1 lay against you and take 

what you would have denied me 

had you mn swifter. 

the force so intense 

it rubs you to cry out. . . 

content m the passion. . , 

youi' senses dancmg like demons 

beneatli my baiTages of pleasure. 

beneath me. 



436 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

tomorrow 

tonight we have each othei'. 

an illusion of dieams tliat screams 

for incarnation. 

but tlie immolations 

of yesterday 

still bum within ns 

and we are boimd to follow 

and fall 

in other spheres . 

tears a poor substitute 

for the sweat of honest toil. 

we soil 

ourselves 

with om passivity. 

the perversity 

of the joke captures 

not GUI' fancy, but entianced 

by tlie dance of the damned... 

we can do little but laugh. 

and when tomorrow comes 

it will only be a question 

of who wakes up second 

to find the otlier 

gone like a dream 

into the fading halls of memory. 



437 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



438 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-second Panther Cycle: 
Truths without Exception 




Tmtli is elusive, but simple. Tmtli is atomic, to deteniime the integrity of a tlioiight, look for 
iiiovmg parts. 

Tmtlis should be without exception, and I tried to state seven tmtlis. Tliat tune has not held them 
all together is not a denial of tlieii' integiity in tlie moment tliey weie reaMzed. 

1 do still believe in what was and what was to be, and I was content in knowing that I had loved 
as well as I could. 

Call me inept, but not insincere. 



439 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



440 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

I want to grow old with you 

I want to grow old with you 
and see the years blend tlieir art 
skillftilly into yonr face, their tiace 
of wisdom blossoniii^ in the hair 
1 love so nnich to touch late at night 
when the liglit is low and you sing 
nie to sleep, to keep commg back 
for more caiesses and long, honest 
discussions of dreams and soiiows. 
sharing all my tomorrows witli the 
woman I could never love another after. 



I believe in you 

1 am an aiiogant man, 

spoiled by liis talent and successes. 

a man who professes to like the person 

he has made of well -wrought raw materials. 

so I would not sell my soul 

for less than the finest companion. 

1 have witnessed your mmd in action 

and marveled at its cunmng and wisdom, 

seen you care for a wounded fiiend 

and held yourself tog etlier in storms 

of tears, liglit bitter hunicanes of pain. 

no one is perfect, but you love 

and give of yourself so well, and I tell 

you there is no one in God's creation 

I could betieve m more tlian you. 



441 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

I need you 

every day without you 
is like a sickness unto my soul. 
daik and leeching, 
stealii^ hope and joy 
once rampant in tliis heait. 
pait of me died when you went 
away, but enough survived 
that I may yet rise on wings 
of lavender-black membranes 
if tlie pantlier so approves. 



442 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

you need me 

forgive my anogaiice. 

I am a poet, and such creatines 

as we (for you aie one, as well) 

may tell aiiogant truths without 

fear of pretension. I mention 

this ill preamble to uiy point 

(such as it is) to be made without 

delay or distiaction. of course, 

you note 1 am rambhng on... perhaps 

I aiu trying to find a polite way to 

say something uupolitic. or perhaps 

I am hoping you do not requiie me to 

spell out for you a truth so profound 

that it seems everyone who knows you 

seems to know it in seconds, but is so 

afiaid of countermanding what tliey see 

as your will tliat tliey keep still and add 

a coward's vote to tlie Clime. I'm running 

on, I know... 

lunmm . . . 

oh well, heU. 

the smipletnithis, regardless of all the 

pain and problems brouglit down by something 

as intense and painiiil as om' love, you need 

me. as a fiiend, yes. as a paitner, yes. but 

also as you love, your soulmate, your paramour 

and husband, all tlie wonderful titles you once 

bestowed on me witliout regard for the 

damnations of otliers. youneedme. and I 

stand ready to stand service to you as long 

as I hve. and, enwrapped in tlie joy of your 

embrace, I pray tliat is forever. 



443 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

I cannot love again once you have gone 

if fate should stiike me down. 
and you, in feai' or folly, flee... 
that is all for me. I will Hve, 
I know. ..but my heart will die. 
a slow and lingeimg deatli with 
a scream like Krakoa. and the world 
will know tliat tliere is great art 
and mfiiiite pain, in lovmg 
too much, too well. 



I am your poet 

you woke me from tlie deatli of my sleep 
and fed my love and fantasies, 
earning my affection 
and my adoration 

with your kindness and love and beauty, 
it is my duty to record what I have seen 
and felt and tasted and heard and smelt... 
and tlms, forever more, even if 
exiled to tlie pagan shores of another's 
arms ... I am your poet. 



444 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

you are my panther 

grace IS giace. 

granted, agape over eros. 

granted, kairos over chronos. 

Hove your face. 

and youi' feline walk. 

and tlie way you laugh. 

andyoui' giggles. 

the way you think 

and tlie way you drink 

your diet coke with lime. 

and no matter wliich path 

you choose. 

whether I win it all 

or lose 

my soul forevennore. 

you aie the panther. 

and I pray, mme. 



445 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



446 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy- third Panther Cycle: 
the colour of dreams 




This was brutal on my brow. We had just gone through a time where she had fallen from the 
faith, doubtmg if she did oi could love me, tlieie was just too much baggage. 

In my melacholy tliese words oozed from some dark recess, to state my sorrow, my hope and my 
resolve. 



447 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



448 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the Reich of self-discipline 

you aie alone because you choose to be alone. 

I am alone because you choose to be alone. 

the balance is not there, but the justice is. 

tiTitli like a peach, 

ciimson with oveiiipeness, 

nectai' oozing iii iivulets of pink sweetness 

not unlike tlie last feast of passion I will ever taste. 

memories unerased by the passage of tune, 

the message of crime imcommitted. 

unremitting love. 

sad. 

as sad as a clock's song of solace. 

less than the truth, more tlian a lie. 

we ciy in comers hidden fiom the watchful eyes 

of our internal, eternal, infernal critic. 

epic and poetic epigiams tliatslam doors 

of opportunity as tlie fruit 

slowly 

slides 

from its anchorage and 

falls. 

falls. 

falls from tlie summit of dark kisses 

and tlie joy of love play 

into the isolation of the hard eartli 

amid the bitter blades of sawgrass 

and the Reich of self-disciphne. 



449 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

too many clocks 

hands set 

to get 

us up and ninnii^ 

for the horizon. 

too many clocks 

mock us 

with each tick and tock. 

we grow angry at them 

for remindii^ us 

that we have fickle hearts 

and fates mtervene. 

so we smash them 

and trash our dreams, 

for it is not our fault. 

we blame tlie clocks. 



at ground zero 

at groimd zeio 

we find tlie hero 

we once admned 

is now miied 

in tlie mud of humanity. 

baikmg the insanity 

we once took for ait 

and beauty 

the duty 

of the gods, humility 

instilled skillfiiUy 

or brutally. . . 

whichever works. 



450 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Darwinian hearts 

Darwinian heaits 

paits played 

in a charade 

of emotions 

too deep for tlie sleep 

of saints . 

the restraints 

that bind om destinies 

can be cut. 

bnt. 

would you forgive me 

if I tried to live free 

of your sphere. 

every time you pass near 

1 weep. 

1 sleep 

alone. ..woimding atlioiisand 

worthy hearts 

in silent prayer 

for an unwilling suitor. 

pewter, not silver. 



451 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

when tomorrow blossoms 

the winds will be sweeter then... 
stais pock a sky like infinite 
pinpiicks in the skm of a black tomato, 
boiling to shed flesh 
infliejmces oftlie dawn. 

the scent of stone and sandalwood. 
the feel of sand, once destined 
to make angels of, 
now spread beneatli cautious feet. 
the music plays and the pipes 
haunt you with sweet memories 
both commrtted and plaimed. 
fires famied, then banked 
as coals as goals once central 
became feais and teais and near 
death experiences. 

I will not be there witli you. 

for the day before you 

realized what you needed.. . 

I fell in battle 

with my heart. 

out of ammumtion. 

and too proud to cry 

smrender 

and beg for my soul. 



452 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

trip hammer 

rapid fire 

the red wiie 

snipped 

tnps the detonator. 

I cannot hate her 

for seeking life 

above my love. 

the magic glove 

must be worn 

at all times 

to protect us fiom 

ourselves . 

and tlms 

we insulate 

ourselves fi^om all 

but a semblance of joy. 

and I will pick up the 

shards of red razor glass 

that is wet witli my blood 

and rebuild tlie golem 

for anotlier vain dream 

that will never be. 



hope 



I pray you live to love again. 

but never in pain 

and never iti vain 

and sever the stain 

fiom tlie tapestnes 

once woven with pride and shame. 

and a name to be shared. 



453 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



454 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-fourth Panther Cycle: 
dreams and verities 




I still believed in the daffodils, m the dreams, in tlie fantasies, in the Panther. 

She did too, from tmie to time, when the isolation and distance did not swallow her up. When 
judgmental triends did not wag fingers in her face. When thii^s seemed possible. 

"Tliree becomes two becomes one" was the inversion of tlie concept of us making Cassiopeia in 
our love ("two becomes one becomes tliree" being our plnase for having a cliild). 



455 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



456 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

kissing with my eyes closed 

soft lips, tlie fiunble of noses 
seeking the right angle of parity 
and claiity of contact, my hands, 
your hips, pretension slips away 
on kitten feet. . silent, but clumsy 
in a delightful way. senses play 
not tricks, but trutlis, on us. 
and we know what tliis means, 
even when we lie to ourselves 
and iTin and liide. I piide 
myself on the kisses we have shared, 
daied to lay as foundation for 
hope and love as precious 
as a baby's first laugh. 



457 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

pride of authorship 

we pride ourselves on om^ creations. 
and yet, onr greatest work lays 
obscured by all our work-room 
clutter emotions, sawdust and 
that lost hammer, thrown in a 
comer, not out of disrespect, 
but haste and auteui's passion. 
this scnpt is giander than any comedy, 
this poem is sweeter than any cycle, 
this evocation advertises the best 
in woman and in man, better than any 
brochure or slogan, we aie the art 
and will be judged one day in 
the eyes and minds and hearts 
of those who descend from our 
actions and our fleshes, based 
on our pride of authorship. 



458 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

was it you? 

was it you who daied to hold me 

on a legendary night 

and kiss away tlie cowaidice 

of the sun in bright 

surrender to oui' love? I thought 

it was you, for tlie fingerprints 

stiU lii^er on my heart, 

nails dug in writliing 

pleasures, treasures 

left at the foot of the altar 

of the all-seemg god 

who is impassive, for we 

must find our own divinity. 

and make cm' own tiinity 

of two become one and beyond... 

three wishes 

someone asked me the otlier day 
what I would do witli three wishes. 
a simple quest, but not one easily 
answeied. for there are emgm as 
withm a wish, action and reaction, 
no retraction of hastily worded 
desiies before a monkey's paw. 
but I know what I would wish for. 
I would wish you love and hope 
and happiness, for in yom' peace 
is where mine would be bom. 



459 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

dancing on the beach 

toes cuttmg a nig on sand. 

bland liglits left far behind. . . . 

the twilight shadows beckoning 

us to make sand angels as the mght 

wears on and we are left 

with httle but tlie all of 

who we are when we are at our best, 

wrestii^ love from tlie sadness 

and clarity from tlie madness 

of this graceless age. 

but here, witli you, dancu^ 

on the beach, rapture is in reach 

and God turns up the volume 

on the waves, to keep time 

and let us know He likes 

the step we take. 



460 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

three becomes two becomes one 

I was once a mail for you. 

thiee dimensions, five senses, 

infinite possibifities. 

and m time I faded. 

distance and fear. 

other distiactions, 

other evocations. 

down to two dimensions, two senses. 

paper and words, sometimes heaid. 

sometimes too intense 

to dare to speak aloud. 

no touch, no taste, to fiagrance 

of your skin at 4 in the morning. 

mouiTung lost pleasiu^es. 

and how loi^ will it be 

imtil I and we are merely 

a sii^e pomt, senseless. 

a lesson learned of fingers burned 

because we lacked the courage 

to seize fife when offered.... 



461 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

I want it all 

life caine to me one day. 

pantlier footed. 

it offered me a life. joy. 

love, the fire of my soul 

fanned into its destiny 

to create a legacy. 

a love, a dream, a child 

of your heart... 

and now tlie puzzle comes apart 

and I am asked what slice 

of this dieam is enough. 

and tlie answer is 

none. 

I want it all. all of you. 

all of me. all of us. 

all the promises and all tlie pleasiu^es. 

the infinite treasures we once 

bartered everytliing for. 

and even if I must wage 

war witli fiie muverse 

to claim my birthright. 

I stand ready, tonight, 

to iide into Hell on 

the back of death hunself . . 

for I wiU not be less 

than what you made of me. 

for that insults you. 

and tliat msults love. 

and I am a gallant man. 



462 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-fifth Panther Cycle: 
kinda/sorta 




A long time ago, in the early days of the whole Pantlier controversy online, a lomantrc rival 
(indeed, tlie feUow who was the otlier side of tlie triangle behind 'The Eightli Panther Cycles'") 
asked me in chat one day if I was married (lie knew the answer, he just wanted to tar me as an 
adulterer) and I replied "kinda/sorta". . .and the term stuck for "Yes, but don't try to pin me 
down." 

I was howling my pain m Venice Beach, feehng love dance away, smiounded by suitors who 
had been captivated by my word and heait and wanted to be tlie next "Pantlier". 

1 was faitlifiil until tiie end. For Baid Dragons aie monogamous creatines , when tliey ai^e 
emotionally healtliy. 



463 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



464 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

commitinents 

wordless words of love, 
a wingless dove 
shot througli tlie heart 
with a starter's pistol... 
blanks fired into the ranks 
of the army of tlie loveless, 
legions who will never ever 
know the spark tasted 
in a moment of guards 
dropped to blow wasted 
years and iiTelevant fears 
away for a day. and forever. 



passions 

is it no sweat? 

no regret 

that we have yet to consecrate 

the contiact of oui' hearts? 

aie things as obvious as they seem 

or aie we obHvious to a dieam 

we camiot reveal, tlie seal 

is unbroken and we share a token 

embrace in aims across a 

continent of discontent. 

soon enough bridged 

by tlie force of will and love. 



465 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

a wooden box 

secrets sent in a wooden box. 
icons of goddesses smpassed. 
lii^s of metal and hematite, 
sent to you, bent to do 
my symbolism, someone worked 
hard to carve the flowers m the lid 
and sides, taldng absent prides 
in their artistry, day afler day 
for thrrd world wages, never 
knowing tliat one day their work 
would carry an aniotation. 
an amotation tliat would remake 
the world in a wanner image. 
in a distant land. 
in a wooden box. 



romantique 

flower petals on satin sheets. 

bought for a poet's ransom. 

ambiance in tlie aiTogance 

of daimg to love, caring to share 

a path where others could 

not tread, for tliey do not know 

the value of beauty, jaded hearts 

will not cut the key to peace. 

sands shifting m the narrowing glass 

as we pass the days waiting 

for the call to anns in the 

hot wai' of wills and smrender. 

tender mghts, a presence 

of pleasant joy at 4 in the morning. 



466 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



said without words 

I did not get the line I would have scripted, 
words tliat would have lifted me on wings 
of elation and joy. but they were there, 
liidden in the intonation and hesitation. 
I heard them, you confiimed them. 
and I ain lifted again, by love, to dieam. 



return of the huntress 

in pain and defeat she hid. 
Hcking woimds deeper than flesh, 
nicks and picks and penetrations 
into her soul, a tliousand doubts, 
a cat on a log biidge over a waterfall 
of judges and dnidges. loveless hearts 
luiable and unwillii^ to share her dance. 

but m time, the heahng of the seasons' 
sliift wiU lift her tired head and a bed 
of moss and memory will give her rest 
to test twice-burned pawpads on tlie stones 
of the streets that wmd in the ruins, few 
in tliis life have dared to follow the tnith. 

but tlie proof is in tlie perspective when pulled 

away to be observed m honest reservation. 

and tlie womided beast shall feast again 

in a city of liglits and heavenly images. 

dancing on a new beach, out of reach 

of the jagged, ragged rocks where once she fell. 



467 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

how was I to know? 

I didii't mean to fall in love with you. 

how was I to know 

you'd take uiy soul 

and turn me into a cliild, 

newborn and wild 

with desire to Hve 

to give 

all I have 

just for tlie touch 

of your hand. 

a brand 

burned mto me 

so completely I cannot 

stand to live 

outside yoiu^ grace. . . 

away 

from youi' face 

there is no light. 

the night 

goes on forever, 

with promises to come 

still humming 

in my ears. 

the tears 

ofpani 

will become rain 

of lovers' kiss. 

a dream 

a theme 

I'm glad I didn't miss. 

so glad you struck the snow. 

how was I to know? 



468 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-sixth Panther Cycle: 
liberation 




Freedom is a potent prison. It is an illusion, and illusions hold us firmer than any alloy or rope. 

Here I was wrestling with the last vestiges of my dieams and hopes and prayers of a 
reconciliation. By now tiie lelationsliip had settled into a tiavesty of a romance. I was steadfast, 
she was having one night stands. I was locked m my quiet room, writing of hei beauty and 
glory. She was teUing her fiiends she wasn't tiie Panther and tiiat 1 was just "some guy". 

Of course, this isn't tiie pictuie she painted to me, she still needed tiie emotional feed that came 
fiom my worship and adoration. 

But, if we only loved the worthy and the willii^, life would be pretty duU and pointless. For 
doesn't God love the unwoiHiy and the miwilliiig? 



469 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



470 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the freedom of clarity 

to know there aie no liidden shadows. 

half tniths of words and actions incongiTious 

to one another, the mother of necessity 

is invention, for by onr lies we hide 

that wluch we need, never having to choose 

between losing face and losing grace. 

a coin imgambled never blossoms into 

a foitiuie. and tlie tmst required to make 

sometliing more than codependent children 

ofus all, itnevei' aiiives. like a book 

that never comes m tlie mail on yom' birthday. 



the chains of love 

I did not forge tliis metal, but I accepted 
its placement on my wrists, shackles of steel 
stolen from Hephaestus' forge, where once I 
labored, making aiiows of light to shatter tlie 
stained-glass windows of mortal illusion, cold 
and calculating, feral fear, you do not chain 
someone you love, and one day I will be strong 
enougli to slip tliese bonds and walk freely amoiuig 
those who wonder where Orpheus had gone. 



471 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Origami pardons 

folded paper, tlie words look right, 

but tliey are merely meeting one anotliei' 

on the creases that inaease our illusion 

and confusion, you will never fold the air 

and sail on paper aiiplane wings to my anns. 

for by the time your strengtli returns, if ever 

if will, I will have wearied of tliis game 

and timied my face to another star where tlie paper 

remains flat and what is wiitten is read 

and acknowledged with an open mind and an open heart. 



a prisoner in exile 



every mile IS a lost prayer, tliere. another prisoner 
will come and 1 will be left without even tlie rations 
that sour in my hmigiy heart, mevitabihty teaches 
that the ship that reaches out to me with food 
and clothmg will one day never come again, for I am but 
the placeholder. I am not the pimce in an iron mask 
you asked for, I am but he who justifies youi' work 
as a turnkey, one day you will find someone not swift 
enougli 01 ciuuiing enough to nui and then the sun 
in tlie comtyard wiU be forever lost to me. I see 
with the eyes of a child, burned too many tunes for 
crimes imagined but not committed, acquitted of sms 
but imprisoned foi tliat which is best in me. not free 
to seek better accommodations, foi I paid my last ducat 
to purchase passage here and here I shall remain until 
the stain of my existence is rmsed away by tlie rains 
that fall in a newer season, beyond a prisoner's reason. 



472 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

there's a bomb in my head 

there's a bomb in my head. I found it, picking tluough 
the debris of yom' last paity. artistic wiimg I laid 
to catch the currents of your passage through my life. 
a kmfeswitch to be thrown when and if you ever truly 
come back to rest in my world (if ever), and I will 
cast you out to save face. I call the bomb squad to 
find tlie riglit wires to cMp, and hope tliey will not trip 
the primer, the timer ticks mexorably and all you can do 
with yom' little girl voice is ask me not to let you 
be hmt by it. sliit. and 1 thonglit my survival was 
at issue, am I tlie only one left worried about the victim? 
am I so tertiary to tliose 1 care for that I must do tlus 
all alone? atoning foi love witli a penance rii plutouium? 



your hour is up 

with piacticed spontaneity my confessoi/professoi and lovei 
hums hei way tlnough my pain, gaimng little to lecaU later 
but tlie knowledge she at least listened to my latest rant, 
a chant of dry bones and lonely passion, an honorable man 
tiapped by his own admissions and sins of omission/commissioned 
like a paintmg. a poem nevei' written, a paramour smitten 
but held at arms length wliile tlie doctor says she'll be m soon. 



473 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

a prophet in his cups 

at the table in my prison m the city of Angels, I met 

a man. a prophet in his cups, he regarded me witli eyes 

dull and deadly and told me my life, each word rang tme 

yet, thiough it all, I conld not but hope he had you wrong. 

long tlioughts later, I camiot be sure, pure reason mocks 

the ticking clock, tlie calculations are imprecise but elegant 

if tlie intent IS to tell the tale, tlie sale of indulgences 

for a new religion, a snridgen of half-tmtlis, sold to willnig 

convert, looking for her way out of her old faith, a wiaith 

that haunts a distant city, out of pity, out of shame. 

calling a name she no longer publicly would use. to choose 

to lose what little is left and fall mto anus tliat might 

redeem him at her expense, past tense promises never to see 

the Hglit of day and giey eyes meeting bimit honey shadows 

of a gallows I already hung upon for fai' too long, tlie prophet 

reminded me tliat only tlie biave deseive desseit with their humble pie. 



474 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-seventh Panther Cycle: 
Reflections on a Haploid Heart 
fin Response to ^^DNA Hearf ^ 




"DNA Heart" was a poem she had written about me. Well, maybe about me. On more than one 
occasion after being told she had said this or written tliis for me I foiuid out latei' I was one of 
many ''muses". 

But owing to tlie timeline and the references contained within it, I will take her at her word and 
leave it at that. 

In this cycle I took seven lines from the poem, seven images, and responded to them . I ratlier 
hked the results, I only wish I had the original and the pennission to use it. . . 



475 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



476 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

and so today 

and so today you lost custody of your heart? 
no. it is forever youis, bendnig to your will 
and wishes like branches in a hurricane of thought 
and emotion, adnft in an atmospheric ocean. 

you offered it to me. fearless, no careless act 
of lost purpose or cliildliood need for vahdation. 
an honest giving, not dechned, but we bind ourselves 
into tlie twain, synergizing our energies for tomorrow. 

and so today you gained a magnitude of your heart, 
forevennore yours, mixed with tlie best I can produce, 
the juice of the fruit of my efforts, squeezed tightly 
inumficationof two become one. greater than before. 

curious fingers 

toucliing tears at a distance, 
a tip of the hat you wore to shade 
youi' shoulders and nose from the sim. 
cmious fingers run across the asphalt 
of the luunan condition, a confession 
of eager and idle wildness. a tempest 
in a teapot fiiU of jasmine and rose petals, 
poured mto cupped hands to drink, knuckles 
rappmg an impatient rhythm on the silver 
we see our hands reflected in. protected 
in aU tilings by our need to smvive. alive 
we will make it into an uncertain tomorrow. 



477 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

A box of blue sky and white clouds 

yom' heart contains the siuninerday I promised you. 

wliite picket fence, a little girl witli chubby 

fillers clutcliing wildflowers picked for her mother. 

the smell of dreams, waim and honest, anns aroimd 

you and oui' Httle girl's little brotlier. bodies 

pressed tiglitly togetlier to weatlier all that life is 

foolish enough to waste against us . for we have, 

on the darkness nights, in tlie deepest stoims, a waim 

and gentle place iii tlie box in yom^ lieait wheie you kept me. 



Enraptured in the Mystery of it 

what feeble detectives we make if we do not foisake 
our fears to check the pulse of tlie body m the hall, 
no one saw the fall, but we are cauglit up in tlie game, 
a foot it IS? no, more a metre, pentameter, perhaps, 
we lapse into word games while tlie body grows cold 
and we giow old, fietting about how old we are already, 
steady to tlie course we set at random vectors tlnough 
the clouds we pumped into tlie wind, enraptuied by tlie 
mystery of it all, we neglect to recall the necessity 
that brought us together, a dozen hfetimes unwasted 
if we umavel tlus and get back tlie kiss wiapped in foil 
that foiled us, beneath tlie mistletoe we missed last 
Christmas, woiiied tliat we might get what we asked foi. 



478 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Seared by blue-white Laser Love 

I need to be reminded 

I've been blinded by yoiu^ love. 

in tlie interval between flashes 

as Irfe trashes 

each impulse. 

a photon's mass made coherent 

througli tlie glass we look at it tlirough. 

love. 

love. 

love. 

only a word. 

and a destiny for tiiose who can look 

at it long enough to forget they are blind. 



479 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

A single Thread 

follow tlie thiead. 

for I need you to come back to me 

before the winds find me 

alone and push me out. . . 

out beyond the periphery 

of my heart. 

to tlie edge of love. 

I camiot fall again, 

for 1 am fragile 

with tlie child of your heart. 

aadling her within me 

to keep her alive 

for anotlier day 

anotlier hfe, perhaps. 

but I cannot do it 

all alone. 

we caiuiot cut this cord, 

and like a fishing line, it only wearies 

us to fight... we aie barbed, to the end. 

my loving fiiend, 

follow tlie thiead. 

and find the new life 

you want so bad it makes you weep 

alone at night, wishing I was there 

to hold you until the fear fades 

and tlie child can come out and play. 



480 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

I hope you don't mind 

twice strong this haploid heart beats. 

it never retieats. 

even on pain of death. 

an heroic soul. 

a captain wortliy of yonr commission. 

order it to live witlun you 

for it is cold out here 

without yoiu^ love 

to keep the blood 

alive, food 

for thouglit and 

dreams for a DNA heart. 

for we can only make a haploid heart 

between us. 

anotlier one or two 

would carry the DNA of our merging. 

our emergii^ unity 

may yet bring life 

beyond oui' ragged remnants. 



481 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



482 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-eighth Panther Cycle: 
Dreams of Yesterday 




The fire that bums twice as hot was not just tlie title of a poem, it was also a statement of 
defiance. 

Defiance against tlie stagnation and mediociity of most relationsliips, wheie people settle for 
what they can get and regret what they settled for (been theie, done that, own the t-slurt 
concession at tlie edge of the cliff at Lover's Leap). 

I believed in all tliat had happened and dreamt of 1 had diverted my flight West to Los .Ajigele 
to allow myself to meet witli hei m Tampa. She was tlie one who hid at the last moment, only 
emerging long enough to cry over things only made ti^agic by hei leticence. 

I had my dreams, and my words. And the tempeiiiig they botli had provided. 



483 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



484 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

finding the treasure 

spring loaded lock, an idly flipped catch 

and suddenly 

there you were. 

all eyes and lips and legs 

and heart and mind and soul 

and oh my god 

I'm m trouble. 

because I never knew 

what was waiting for me 

in tliat box. an attack 

ofthe best kind. 

a reward for sometliing 

I must've inadvertently 

done very right 

a dozen lifetunes ago. 



crossing the Rubicon 

thiee deep breatlis. 

and a hesitation. 

anotlier aich 

march into liistory. 

anotlier general 

tempted to take the greatest risk 

of his life, in tlie face of odds 

and Gods that are laying good money 

against him. 

but you said 

take thiee deep breatlis. 

and so I do. 

and I win it all. 



485 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

drawing the line 

in tlie dust and ashes of a recent fiie. 

desiie being cradled, our dieains enabled. 

we draw the Iriie aionnd us, a circle 

cut in the ice of the fates, making state of our states. 

a single pomt of promise, guarded from folly, 
nurtured by us daring to let go of tlie glaring 
weaknesses we know, half tiTiths and bluster. 
this lustering gemstone calls us to take tlie fall. 

and so we do, twice, waiting for tlie wmtei. 
and tlie spring and tlie promise of a img 
around hearts and fingers and a song that hngers 
long aftei tlie closmg credits, a fine line drawn. 



486 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the fire that burns twice as hot 

the fire tliat bums twice as hot 

usually 

(note the word) 

usually 

only bums for half the time. 

but if you dare 

to take it up a notch 

to where gas becomes 

nuclear plasma 

and tlie oxidation 

becomes fusion 

it can last forever. 

it is just few have 

the courage 

to bmii so hot 

that they blind 

the woild and 

risk anniliilating 

the luiiverse 

with tiieii' glory. 

for we aie mortals and 

immortality 

fiiglitens us . 

so I will wait 

in the toms 

and see if you show. 

for I saw the spark 

in your eyes 

as you raised your head 

and diopped your guard 

and held me 

in a doorway 

in New York. 



487 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

wheels up in Tampa 

last night we had no chance. 

the dance was over. 

but tliis morning, tliere was 

a new use of an ancient sun. 

and hope bloomed 

in a field in Florida. 

and now I face tlie skies 

uncertain, but alive. 

knowing tliere aie still 

two small hands 

and one monumental heart 

holdmg out hope 

holdmg out love 

and 

holdmg out foi a miiacle 

as my plane sails West to the Promised Land. 



488 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the darkest night 



iiiglitinaies made mortal. 

I will endiire. 

the fire bums away tlie flesh 

and all tliat is left 

is me. 

half a heart rem ains 

and tlie panis 

I pray for do not come. 

but I am stronger 

than my flesh. 

you gave me flie power 

in a kiss 

and an embrace 

and a smihng face 

that told me who I am 

and tliat 

even beyond hope 

there is a rope of reason 

for my existence. 

so I will rise tomorrow 

and walk. 

not to file gallows. 

but tlie road I swore to you I'd walk. 

and we shall see how long 

I walk alone. 



489 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

let it ride 

Pascal sold me out. a bad tip. well, 1 still have the stub 
you handed me on an ofF-chance that this romance 
would last beyond a weekend, my Mend, I have bet 
it all and won a lot and lost a lot and tlie money pot 
is of questionable value right now (not necessarily 
low, but 1 just am not sure what's in it) and all my friends 
give good advice to take the money and nm. but I am not 
sane, by any measme, and I have my eye on tlie prize, 
so I will let tliis bet ride, and I will win. or go down 
in legends tlieyll tell a thousand years from now. 



490 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Seventy-ninth Panther Cycle: 
Static on the Line 




A day before, we had spoken of gettii^ things back on track. 

Then, she called. Terse words to comnuuiicate a message. 

She had "met someone" and wanted to see where it went. The next twenty fonr hours were the 
most difficult of my life. I was alone, cut off and cut down. 

These are the words and tlioughts and uuages tliat got me tlu^ough those hours. 



491 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



492 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

flavours of rage 

cool, like a sprig of mint. 

liidden in shadows 

to express pain and madness. 

hot, Hke habaneros 

roasted in hell... 

a well of anger and excess. 

both tasted and wasted, 

used by tlie less lovii^ gods 

to force us apart, each heart 

damaged, 

savaged, 

ravaged 

by pain and our conflicting 

patlis to the edge of soitow. 

hands that clutch too tiglitly 
and arms that are not there 
to make tlie promised catch, 
flesh torn, bones shattered, 
tomorrow battered 
and filed up to be served 
as finger food to the rude 
deities witliout compassion. 



493 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

near miss in a kiss 

you last words were 

"don't worry. I love you. " 

and so I fell. 

William Tell 

me about tlie memories 

that came for you at midnight. 

laugliing at your tears. 

fears 

made mortal. 

a portal mto hell 

I took no pleasme 

intakii^. 

forsaking an old oatli 

to hide in white washed walls 

where no one called. 

installed in the fool's palace. 

a chalice of venom 

offered and rejected. 

bloody lips kiss concrete 

and the feet 

walk away. 

walk away. 

walk away. 



494 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

when the power failed 

words, only words, 
the big goodbye, 
a lie I told myself 
to keep my voice 
steady, ready, 
to believe anything, 
spring ciTished. 
giggles hushed forever, 
but it was words. 
only words, 
like these. 



walking away 

I had to at least try to stand on my own feet and take steps 
to leave this disaster, this master plan for my dissolution, 
coiifiision cleared, and I was not tlie one. better you should 
stand alone tlian settle for a voice on a phone you never loved, 
but took shelter luidei when tlie rain of self-doubt came pouring 
in tlie windows of youi' soul, better I should stand alone 
than have tlie doubt of being with someone who could walk away 
from all tlie pretty words, justwords. justwords. forgotten. 



495 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

the butterflies 

the garden was black and giay and brown, ash and dirt and filtli. 
nothing of value left, the cleft in the eaitli where you left your 
maul to show even contempt ft)r tlie gaidener. the garden was ravaged. 
the gardener fled to liide in the shadows, then bmy the dead. 

but tlien came tlie butterflies, tlie flowers were all gone and yet 

the reds and yellows and blues and gieens and golds and violets 

all came to dance aroimd my heart and make me feel like life was more 

than defeat, and for a season, they sustained me. kept me alive. 



pretty things 

we all fall for pretty tilings, 
pocket change 
for the jukebox 
the night you forgot 
what you said to me. 
the night you didn't care. 
the night he touched your hair 
and kissed you and suddenly 
you were seventeen again 
and this was youi' chance 
to go to the big dance 
and no longer feel ugly 
on the inside. 



496 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

forced to my knees 

I was never forced to my kiiees 

for I aiii a proud man 

and I will hear the bones snap 

in my shoulders before you can bring to bear 

any hand of man to bring me down. 

Humble only before God. 

so do yoiu^ damnedest. Fate. 

1 remember hate now, 

the poison you fed me once 

a thousand lifetimes ago, 

and 1 will grow strong with this 

memory and hear the cartilage 

tear from its sockets and wet 

the eaitli with my blood 

befoie I give you an oimce 

of satisfaction 

in seeing me 

forced to my knees. 



497 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



498 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eightieth Panther Cycle: 
keeping the Dream alive 




Ever see a prizefighter who has been hit from nowhere when he staggers back to his feet, eyes 
glazed and knees unsteady, trying desperately to hang on, just knowing tliat if he makes it to tlie 
bell he is so far ahead on pomts tlie fight wiU be his? 

Yeah, me, too. 



499 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



500 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

flirting against hope 

I told you that you were beautiful 
but tlie mirror was too far away 
so I played with yom' vaiuty 
as loi^ as I could, making good 
on every tnck and twist and turn 
God gave me to remind you of how 
it felt too loi^ ago when you 
and I were fliiting against hope. 



the Holy water flows 

the tears are sacred. 

vagrant and flagrant memories 

of pain still healing. 

souls still reeling beneath 

the tread of the jackboots of life. 

I will share tliem witli you one night 

and tlien put tliem away. 

our children will not need them . 



501 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

a wooden box 

small comfort to hold small dieaiiis. 

reminders of our love 

our hope 

our dream 

our destiny 

if we can raise om' eyes 

from the wooden box 

and see the life tliat lays 

beyond the paper folded 

to carry it forth. 



buying chairs 



every suitor must earn his place. 

words alone seem not enough 

so I must make way. 

buymg chaiis you make 

with talented hands 

(as well I know them) 

and making plans 

to sit in them beside 

you for pictures at Cluistmas 

and Thanksgiving 

and celebrating a golden Aimiversaiy 

if I am a good enough buyer of chairs. 



502 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

spontaneous affection 

I caimot practice my passions. 

I must be, in all tilings, as spontaneous 

as the combustion of hypergolic 

souls met in a wet chamber. 

seUing sweet surrender 

as a victoiy and riding 

in full retreat to the success 

we both have earned and will 

raise our banners higli above. 

words of power, words of love. 



another Thursday 

anotlier Tliursday has come and gone. 

and we yetHve. 

how is this possible? 

I thought all Thmsdays were doom 

and gloom and lost hearts 

and tlu^own down souls 

and bitter draughts of wormwood. 

I guess we were wrong. 

again. 

so, many me on a Thursday, 

and let's break tliat ciu^se forever. 



503 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

panthers and poets and promises made 

pantliers. 

and poets. 

and promises made. 

payment for passion. 

dragons all slayed. 



and cuddles. 
and soft serenades. 
lullaby back, 
for a pillow, 
for a life. 



504 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty-first Panther Cycle: 
Curves in a world of right angles 




Not only had she left me, she'd left tlie country. A photo shoot she'd landed as a project. She 
had decided this would be a great opportunity foi her to clear her head and come back ready to 
fiilly engage herself in the relationship witli tliis new man in her life. 

So, here I was. Destitute, isolated, and bleeding out my heart to tlie page. 

This was actually one of tlie most creative peiiods of my hfe. 

Just not the most pleasant. 



505 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



506 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

tone of voice 

how often I have read nuance into yom' tone of voice. 

choosing to believe tilings luispoken, taking a token 

hope and wagering it against all the odds, all tlie gods 

forced onus by fiiend or foe. or fear, tears wept. 

tears kept silent for fear we would be discovered, mteiied 

with GUI' dieams. cold eaitli. the smell of decay playing 

in gentle woids. the lilt of laughter when tlie ever-after 

bears no joy. a tell-tale catch when we lie and say all is well. 

we give ourselves away and play at tlie half-lives of our half-hes 

and tliink ourselves smpiised when the evidence is evident. 



words unspoken 

how many words unspoken? too many, but mostly words that once 

poured fiom you in geysers of love and passion, now silent. 

a voice unlieaid in Valhalla for three seasons, woids of love 

in a voice now pledgmg tlie Fifth Amendment, and all the while 

the smile of acknowledgment as if I am to know the tnith 

from tliree tliousand miles away aftei all tlie silence, violence 

in tlie words taken away like candy fiom a child's hands, what 

is left but to cry m uncomprehending loss? but you tell me 

the candy IS still tliere, Ijust cannot taste it. I just cannot 

see it. I just cannot have it, for now. my inner child 

is sometimes dubious... foigive me if I fear, sometimes, the woist. 



507 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

forgotten moments 

more than simple, unadorned words or tlie ortliography of a lover 
cauglit in tlie web of his own spun sugar veracities, picture 
postcard moments that come to me in flashes as a lover trashes 
the meaning of love with her actions, moments in your eyes 
and m yom heait and in youi' arms and in your body, made paper, 
made an old black and white Polaroid, tlie kind you had to seal 
with that foul smeUing tube of pink hquid, or it would fade 
to nothingness, 
to nothingness. 

alone came I into this world, and my memories are all I will take, 
which makes me richer tlian any lover witli the power to forget. 



hesitations 

jump 

I said. 

and we'U be fed 

on dreams 

and honey 

that will recharge 

those bmiit honey eyes. 

and for all tlie world 

we will be safe 

from pain 

andhes 

for we will have 

something real. 

and she said 

let me get back to you. 



508 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

sleight of tongue 

the wiong name. 

a cold flaine bums 

in tlie face of this straw dog. 

unconsumed. 

but assumed 

to linger 

as alight 

where I had long hoped 

only my niby-blue taper 

would ever again be seen. 

redshift to green. 



loneliness 

there is nobility in pain. 

a pmification 

that will remain 

loi^ after tlie suffeimg. 

as long as it is 

not self-inflicted. 

mutilating oneself 

is not a sign of greatness. 



509 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

the power of self-deception 

we call talk ourselves into anything, you know. 
I am always afiaid to not be tliere when you need 
to find a new world, just as you fear that in me. 
fi^ee to float on concepts we wrote on tabla rasa hearts 
we hid for a season for a reason that only make sense 
to omselves and fiiends who, out of fiiendsliip, would 
agiee with anything we say. playing tlie fool in front 
of the Library at Alexandria, limitless knowledge we 
would ratliei' not read, for we plead ignorance to escape 
the subtle rape of sorrow, tomorrow there will be tmtlis 
if we can break the cycle, tlie evil oftlie power that 
coimpts us. tlie power of self-deception. 



510 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty-second Panther Cycle: 
definitions of love 




The poet turns philospher, healing himself with tlie hot iron of intellect and reason, layered as a 
poultice on the deepest wounds he has known. 

That's tlie size of it, tlie scale of it, the temperature of it all. 

Pain does one of two thii^s to you. 

It breaks you. 

Or it makes you over. I was determined to be transfigured in my pain, so I wrote, I wrote until 
my hands cramped and my back ached and my voice broke and my eyes could not see tlie page 
and I would tlien write inside of myself, to be read later like cave paintings when 1 would daie to 
go back into tiiose spaces 1 spent tiiese days wandering. 



511 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



512 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

between mortal soul and God 

an exchange of affections so one sided, moital soul 

call never ineasm^e up to tlie pmity and focns of love 

given of God. selfless, timeless, without exception 

or quahfication. throughjoy and sorrow, today, tomoriow. 

forevemiore grven, taken, and retiinied in shght measure. 

but we do what we can and seek a more perfect union. 

between mortal soul and self 

if God judges you worthy of His love 
and can you not love yourself I do not 
mean to always like yourself, tliere rs a 
wealth of reasons to feel unwortliy of respect, 
but, direct not your thoughts against 
the value you intimsically hold in the universe, 
there is always some meat to tiie maiTow. 
and victoiy if you look at the defeat 
and tiie lessons of each soiiow. 



513 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

between woman and man 

it took me neaily forty years to find love 
like I had always wanted to taste. Foity yeais 
playing Moses in a wasteland of near misses 
and conditional kisses that taught me only 
the flavour of fiiistration and the silence 
oflostmspiration. ThenI foiindlove. I had 
long smce surrendeied my quest. But the jest 
of hfe is that when all hope is given over, 
the fates wake up and smack you haid and happy. 
Playful like a child nmning after butterflies. 
And so I foimd love. Not an easy task in tliis 
graceless age. I pray she found it too. For in 
the liberation of this discovery, 1 foimd a need 
and a want and a passion and a prayer tliat I 
need fiilfilled. I cannot go back into the coffin 
where 1 lay for so long, my heart warm but not 
afire. Tlie darkness stifUng. Maggots rifling 
the pockets of my dreams. But to hold her, even 
once agani before I die, would be a miracle that 
transcends the shooting star 1 saw this moiiung. 
Tears stani my face as I wiite tliese words. But not 
in sorrow, in pent-up emotion an ocean of roads 
untiaveled cannot crush. A soiuid in my heait 
like a choir, you cannot hush this with tlie quiet 
desperation of mortal failure. Deific dreams. 
Dreams of love and tenderness and unity. Eternal. 



514 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

between two bodies (a response) 

I am held to yoiir orbit. 

I only make youi' tides 

and give some glow of light 

reflected. 

I do not shme of my own, 

butm albedo-measured 

muToring 

of hope. 

For you are my sun and my earth. 

motlier of hfe. 

and you hold me forever 

in an orbit about you 

so tliat you may look on 

my face, forever waxing and waning, 

period set by your 

coming and going from my life. 



between legends 

larger tlian Hfe. 

like some story told to cliildien 

to warn tliem of tlie dangers 

of falling in love. 

and tlie joy of falling in love. 

and tlie power of fallii^ in love. 

and the children will only remember 

that we are remembered 

because we fell in love. 

and damn the details . 



515 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

between the sheets 

purrii^ like cats at play. 

forget the day and stay 

with me now. here. 

the sun can be hidden 

and we can take our leave when 

we choose. I cannot lose 

you again to tlie clock or the calendar. 

I should have stayed in New York. 

or left with you in Virginia. 

I know this now. 

but for now, we are 

again, 

unified in purpose 

in pleasure. 

a treasure a measure a hormonal seiziu^e 

of coruscating fire that flows 

ably between us like Moses 

parting tlie Red Sea. 

so I can cross to tlie 

Promised Land. 



516 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

between parent and child 

she came to me in darkest nights 

and told me not to worry. 

that soon enough you and her would meet 

and sweet affections 

would be consummated. 

I still believe in her. 

a remarkable cliild 

for a remarkable mother, 

who will cherish her 

as a person. 

a cluld of her heart 

of her womb 

of her love. 

evrdence of dreams 

and tiie courage to live tiiem 

to live tliem all. 



517 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



518 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty- third Panther Cycle: 
the prices of love 




Love doesn't ask anj^thing. 

Buttlie lover gives it anyway, because they know it is priceless and deserving of sacrifice. 

Here I was tiying to express not just what all 1 had given up to pursue love, but also what 
everyone and anyone who wished to consider themselves a lover should be willii^ to do. 

"Words fioin a well meaning fiiend" was about iny old fiiend Lany Jaffe, a poet of note and a 
real fiiend when the cliips ai^e down. He warned me that tlie Panther would be back and that I 
would be a fool to let her back mto my life. He warned me that she could not love as I did and 
needed to be loved and tliat it was painfiil to see her do that to me and me do that to myself 

Of course, when she called one bleak Tliuisday, to teU me her new boyfiiend had dumped her 
wliile she was overseas, I didn't hsten. 



519 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



520 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

surrendering possessions 

without regret I have given over all I had. definitions 

by tlie trappings surrendeied without doubt, turning inside out 

the metaphors of all the whores of tlie heart who pay prices 

for the ices of October tliat melt in the early spring, rings 

of gold and ciystalline coal making whole tlieii' hoUow heaits. 

1 would give you the pretty tilings in tlieir own season, not for leason 

to unpress you. 1 hope you aie not a woman to be bouglit, but caught 

in her own heart's web. if 1 have judged wiong, at least I have 

purified myself of the barnacles of a former life to find a wife 

amoung the worthy hearts, few that they are, Hvii^ on the ait 

of life, not tlie Hfe of art. I have started down tlie road we chose 

and now the thiid rose diaws its sustenance fiom my veins, my pains 

to start a new world, ordered after your uiiage. a new stage 

on wliich you may command tlie forces of love beyond any you dared 

imagine as a cliild. a universe of possibilities beyond merely 

objects, people and places and the mind laces to tlie edge of God. 



521 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Pascal's wager on a line of credit 

I took tlie money down, plastic issued 

for tears tissued 

one long feaiful time in tlie sun's coast. 

toasting tiavesties 

with gravities and pained jests. 

a plundered chest of riches 

that hitches a star to 

Cassiopera and beyond. 

the payments are small and tliere is no 

interest called or taken. 

profit forsaken for sake 

of yom^ heart, healing 

and reehng and stealing 

precious glimpses 

at the bottom hne 

you so much want to pay. 



522 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

losing self 

I am never afraid of losing myself m your love, 
for you aie a sfrong woman, given to principles 
that differ from mine, and tlie wine you diink 
is of a different vintage than I would choose, 
if I diank wine, you are a worthy partner, 
daugliter of dreams I held close decades ago 
and gave up when love seemed impossible, you 
may absorb me m moments of my pain, so I may hide 
inside you and grow sfrong and peacefiil in yoiu care. 
I dare to give all I am to the all I can be because 
of you and tlie tnie natuie of our souls, so come 
for me, when you can, and tliis man will surrender. 
without feai'. 



losing sanity 

there is nothing I feai' more than losing my mind, 
but I find that you can steal it from me in tliose moments 
when I misplace my dieams luider a plastic slipcover 
in tlie main hall of souls, when I forget where we are 
and where we are going and what it aU will mean one day 
I am lost, tossed from madness to concession to those 
who would freat love as somethmg you freat with needles 
and chemicals and a long session on the couch, ouch. 



523 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

words from a well-meaning friend 

so much for tliat friendship, for a friendsliip 

based on anything otlier than love and concern 

is doomed to eventually be a canker we recall r^iefully 

one day as that wliich kept us from happiness. 

we bless ourselves ten thousand times when we 

well consider tlie rationale and reason for keeping 

people close to us. to nurture us to our fiiture, 

not hold us m their orbits so that they may feel 

superior and protected, and even tlie best of friends 

is not you or me. tliey cannot see witli tlie eyes 

we possess, so, in the end, it is pity tliat keeps them 

worth our while, we chaiitably allow tliem tlie illusion 

of equality as we just shake heads and make our beds, ourselves. 



springboard to ecstasy 

you said it. tliat word. I heard it plainly, love, 
not just as an adjective, but as a verb, you disturb 
me so often with youi' tight-Hpped approach after all 
the blessed promises. 1 understand tlie need, but 1 bleed 
sometimes to lieai' you say you love me. even when 1 listen 
with my lieait, I still need tlie words, for I have leapt 
from a great height and am ready to boiuice into clouds 
of proud exaltation to seize tlie ecstasy you can bring 
in tlie spring of my existence, any day now. rigid words 
on wluch to boiuice lugli and fai' and with wings uniuiling. 



524 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

releasing the butterflies 

my hands open 

and I release 

the butterflies . 

I tliank them for 

their gentle time, 

but tell them the panther 

is back in the 

garden and I 

must get to work rebmldii^. 

the picket fence 

needs a new coat 

of wliite paint and I smile. 



525 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



526 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty-fourth Panther Cycle: 
expressions of love 




"But still, it was good he'd loved." 

What a gieat statement. Tliat love is good for its own sake. That love is emiobling and inspiring 
and npHflmg. 

1 was learning thmgs about myself and tlie world I had not imagined. 

1 was finding tlie patli. Not by pain or ordeal, but by love and purpose. 

You can't be right for yourself if you can't be right for someone else. It is m ouinatuies to love 
and be loved. We need it Hke aii' and water and food. 

No. We need it more. 



527 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



528 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

opus 574: the need to love 

We, as mortals, cannot choose to love. It is tlmist 
upon us like greatness and folly. The qmntessence and dust 
of onr being. Falhng on words like swords raised to prick 
ns to onr deptlis . Like air. Like water. Like God. Sick 
is the soul held away from love. Dead is tlie heart held too 
fai' from the source of all beauty. The duty of the few 
gifted to love witli understanding is to express it as art 
in tlieii' pictures and words and hves. The knives of trust 
carve away tlie iiielevancies of our fears, like a feeble pie crust 
that only interferes with the savouring of tlie meringue of Hfe. 



opus 575: tears at 4 am 

you awaken to tlie touch, not of my hands or face, 

but tlie subtle cool of teats drippmg softly on youi' 

soft and feline back, you do not move, marvehng at the depth 

of love required to bring such tears of joy. pondeimg 

yoiu woithiness. at lengtli you turn and take me in amis 

so wami and honest, like commg home to die. safe and sfrong 

and forever tliere. staring into eyes ripe witli the light 

reflected off tlie saline jewels of a crown of thorns worn 

just to prove my value, my steadfastness, tlie integrity 

of my suit for your affection, and your love is so beautiful. 



529 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

opus 576: all that I have is yours 

My Panther. I have traveled fai' aiid given over 

to otliers all but the barest essence of myself 

that I may be witli you. All tliat remains remembers 

all there is, that I have not foiuid, how skillfully 

I may search, another soul that fits so well 

within the curve of my heart. A single silicon 

thread wove us togetlier. Witliin this simple shell 

I hve, worn to the nub, but pledged to stand on, 

on beyond the fall of all tliere is, to serve this grace 

I found the first time God was merciful and let me see your face. 



530 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

opus 577: legends in the window 

I caimotmake aii Empress of an unworthy, or force 
the course of an unwillir^ flood to turn against tlie tide. 
Yet, msrde of you beats the heart of gold. I have told 
no less than the gospel of my heart. Godspeed my words 
that you may yet read tliem, heed tliem and need me before 
I krss the floor in final fall. Legs locked to not bend 
knee, that all who live will bear wrtness that I loved 
you as a man should love lus paramour. Bravely and beyond 
the call of simple passion. Fasliioning a glass through wliich 
the legends, legends bom of nature not fabrication, may be 
viewed long after your final kiss is given and my soul 
fades mto the wmds tliat shall blow attlie end of all tilings. 



opus 578: walking the road, in patience 

1 walk tlie road alone, listening for your catwalk. 

Kick off tlie leaden sandals and dance on the smootli stones, 

swiftly and with joy. I will guard my oaths to you 

forever. Tetliered by tlie nature of tlie beast, to serve 

as companion and fiiend and lover and mate to but one. 



opus 579: giggles on the phone 

I miss the flirtations of naughty tliouglits caught 
in tlie web of your voice. Gained witli pride and 
the stride of an aiiogant stmt. Gutting tlirough 
my emancipated civihzation to tlie basic animal 
lust you laise fi:om me, fiee to melt with your 
dehght into a rose-scented niglit, penetrating 
the fogs of foigetfiilness and blessing us witli 
pleasure and treasure beyond the leisme of nieasme. 

531 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

opus 580: the black lace wings 

I need your courage. 

I need you to siunmon your natuie 

and glow the black lace wings 

required to meet me. 

Tmie aiid pain 

have beat lue down, 

but I have yet wind enough 

to fly 

before I die 

if tlie sky 

is not hoUow. 

And I will swallow tlie sun 

to hide yoni' shame 

if my name 

is not good enough 

to be earned 

in your legend. 

But I need yom' couiage. 

It is more tlian your turn 

to follow. 

It is your turn to carry. 

If you wish my love, 

pronounce it to the woild 

withjoy and evocation. 

For I give it simply, 

and witli j oy. 

Awakening tlie paison souls 

of all the luiiverse 

who sigh in dehght 

at my every poetic kiss. 

Amotations they wish 

they had foi tliemselves. 

Meet me m tlie stars 

and let us make a legend. 



532 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



Or I shall make mine alone 

that when I am gone 

they may say... 

there was a man 

who knew love 

and touched it 

with bare hands . 

A shame he never 

felt it touchmg back. 

But still, 

it is good he loved. 

Nonetheless. 



533 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



534 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



The Eighty-fifth Panther Cvcle 
Needing a Legend 




In the aftermath of our latest reconciliation it was decided we would see each other again, that 
she would come to Los Angeles and we would be together again and work out all the pain and 
coniiision 

I felt, I honestly felt, that a part of the problem was hei inability to walk tlie patli she had so 
openly wanted nie to blaze for her, a trail of legend. 

But, I have foimd myself that one of om' gieatest feais as humans is tlie transcendence of our 
roles mto sonietliing moie than mortal. 



535 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



536 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

a panther in the light 

Elegant and graceflil. A trace of sadness, 

a trace of madness. But an eloquent pictuie 

of life and love. My life. My love. Tlie focus 

of an artists ambitions. Dancing foi time. 

Tune wasted on memories tasted too long ago. 

She has made me immortal and all I can do 

is sell my Hfe for tlie legacy she gave me. 

Love. Andhope. Andjoy. And deliglit beyond words. 



oracles 

the oracles keep comii^ 

at me. 

seeing thmgs 

I believe in. 

and lemindmg me 

that just because 

my voice is not always 

heard, it does not mean 

I am not riglit 

in my visions. 

provisions 

for fulfillment 

made in a moment 

of bold and decisive need. 

bleedii^ to death 

on a cowards field 

of a thousand hesitations 

broken m a last ditch 

tiy to make the prophets 

riglit. 

tonight. 

befoie tomoiiow's doom. 

537 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

I believe in the dream 

I believe in tlie dream we lived 

thiee tunes already. 

love between two mortals destined 

for immortality. 

choosii^ between a legacy of rapture 

and suffeimg. 

losing notliing but time, time to be 

deeply loving 

one another, at close range. 

fearless. 

a chance to win it all. a prayer we 

can bless. 



touching you 

I want to touch you again, not just as a friend, 

but as tlie lover you once embraced, shyly and slyly. 

hands and fingertips and Hps and eyes, no secrets 

no shame, a name bluiied to luiity between poets 

in love, lovers kissing witli dams bursting, thirsting 

for a familiar wine, a taste of one another, luuigry 

for renewal, fiiel for a fiie within, witliout wliich we die. 



coals rekindled 

not a new start, but a restart, a heart spht and shared 
between lovers kept apart by necessity, now unified 
in a suspension of disbelief no grief for lost moments, 
joy for tlie return of the iiglitfiil passions, pantlier's piide. 



538 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

you will know me 

you will know me, when you see me, by the love in my eyes. 
luifaded by time or distance, persistence being a new virtue 
to me, but tiie core essence of my love for you, imvanished 
and mivanquished. 1 wiU build my life for you from this day on. 

you will know me, when you hear me, by tlie love m my voice. 
choices made are totem to tlie carver of time, hearts so tnie 
and yet so fragile need each othei to guard tlieir backs, 
back to the edge of tiie precipice where we damn near fell last. 

you will know me, when you touch me, by tiie love in my embrace, 
all tiace of doubt held away and dropped hke lost pennies 
to tiie floor of tiie world, the moment you dare take me agam 
in a regaining of yom' presence in my woild. oh, tiie love 1 hold. 

you will know me, when you love me, by tiie love in my surrender, 
remembering moments of joy and pleasme, and making new 
memories to reflect upon over the years we are destined to share, 
to stare dead in tiie face and laugh at, mad with feral joy and relief 



539 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

let me be your helpmeet 

Let me be yom' helpmeet when the road goes on too long and the light 

fades. I would die in youi' grace, so I would face tlie daikest night 

with you. I will not turn an angry word or venomed thought against 

you for, although I am mortal, my love is for you. Lami, I danced 

the nights away witli only dreams of you and I, as it should be, exiled 

for a season while woiuids were hcked and fantasies piicked tliat we 

could live apart. But there is gain in my smiender, before the wild 

and pitiless creatures at tlie gates of hell come for me to free 

me of the sanity I would share witli yoiu^ for the rest of my days. 

I promise you two aims to hold you, two hands to carry your dreams, one 

heart to be shared witli earnest faith, one soul to melt witli in the 

dream of an afterlife, and one mmd to labour alongside you to make oui' 

Hves as rich and fiill and remarkable as mortals can hope for. All I ask 

for task m return is your love. It is a great request, but I am a man 

of great destmy, and I want my legacy to be one of hope and joy, not pain 

and sorrow and loss. And you are tlie fiilciTuii of my history, there is no 

mystery to tliat. You yourself revealed this elegant if terrifymg tnith 

to me a long, long season ago, when we were both in better shape to drape 

our laurels on our legions of talents and march witliout hesitation to 

the gates of tomoiiow. I am here for you now. And will stand my oatli 

until the day I die, for there is no one, and nothing, I crave more of this 

earth than that we be reumted m tlie love we have seen and felt between us. 



540 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty-sixth Panther Cycle: 
Echoes in the City of Angels 




At the risk of sounding like Randy Newman, I love LA. 

I moved there in tlie afleniiatli of my divorce, stopping briefly in Tampa to meet with the 
Panther, who spoke at length of long term plans for us. Tliere's a complicated psycho-history in 
thrs, and it would not be fair of me to discuss where she came &om, but I luiderstand what it had 
done to her. 

So, here I am in LA, not tliat long ago having gotten a promise from tlie Panther that in tlie next 
few montlis she'd be movii^ to LA and we'd be togetlier, as a prelude to maiiiage. Her words, 
her oath. 

But as I felt tliat all shpping away, I wrote of LA in the milieu of oui' relationsliip, in part to 
express how I felt about tlie city, and m part to keep her focused on tlie goal. 

Two more interesting bits here: The lugli desert in tlie Morongo Valley, and what I called tiie 
Topanga Rim. 

I love the heat and wmd of tiie Morongo Valley. . .if I won the lottery tomorrow, I would build a 
house there. I feel strong when tlie Santa Ana Winds come, strong and reborn. 

541 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Now for the 'Topanga Run". Early in my time in LA I noticed I wasn't always paymg attention 
to little things around me, like oncoming traffic. I had several near misses. One Saturday night 1 
was on Topanga Canyon Boulevard in the Valley and decided I'd see how much of my survival 
instinct was intact. I pointed "Clemmie", my 1974 Alfa Romeo GTV, towards the Pacific Ocean 
and raced down tlie miles of wmding canyon roads to the coast. 

It was insane, illegal, and exhilaiatii^. And by the time I leached the ocean, I had my answer. I 
wanted to hve. I repeated tiie Topanga Rmi a few times after that, when the isolation from the 
rest of tiie world became too much for me. I never wrecked, never missed a tiim, never 
sideswiped a pedestiian and never got a ticket. 



542 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Sunrise over the Desert 

The heat remmds me of yom' embrace. Warni and passionate. 
A thing of nature, perhaps too intense for most, but this ghost 
of a man is braced for it. All his hfe staling into a rising 
smi to come from tlie East, released from tlie shackles of the mght 
to bite hard on liis own lips, dry with tliirst and cursed 
with a quest to find the horizon amoung the infinite mirages. 
You are tliat sim. Beautifiil and necessary. The heat is sometimes 
too much to bear, but I wiU be tliere, every morning that you 
daie to rise over the horizon.. .awaiting the wainith of your love. 



The Promenade at Third Street 

Like your mind, my love, ever aswiil with a thousand colours 
and sounds, boiuiding over barriers of unagmed limitations to 
aack open tiie wallets of the hearts of all tiie suitors. Pewter 
and silver, glass and ancient books, the movie star and the homeless 
man who sings gospel songs like he knows God personally, all alive 
and milling about. Seeming sometimes so chaotic tliere must be no 
pmpose. But you and I botli know it is pioof of life and the beauty 
of the myiiad hues of existence. Never drab, never boring, soaring 
like a diagonfly with sheathed claws of a panthei, daiting tlirough 
my senses to breach my stonewall defenses and batter them, shatter 
them even in the darkest, staikest glooms I can summon fiom hell. 



The Santa Monica Mountains 

Risii^ over the crest we test our capacity to gasp 
in wonderment, giasping at wordsfraws that slip fiuough 
our fingers like hands clutched tlie last moment before you 
boaid a plane that steals you fiom me. A sea of shimmeimg 
fights that glow like the stars you placed from your heart 
into mine, giving life to me when I was but nosferatu. 

543 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Waves at Malibu 

Thundering down. Blue to white. Foaming with fiiry and salty 

like the tears I have too often drawn from yom' face, youi' heart 

cracked with sadness brought by distance, fought with words 

like these. I would ride tlie swells of yom' heart, daiting 

on each crest with the best of the dream surfers. Finding 

the angle and following it down. down. down, mitil the crashes 

in a consummated roar, splasliing me with a sense of hfe and love. 



A Panther in the City 

A new jungle awaits her. 
Dangers, sfrangers and strange creatiu^es 
that cartwheel through space on celluloid 
ribbons. Images yet to be pamted witli words 
she will put in the mouths of celebrated 
men and women and children. A puppeteer 
for the heart. Apart of the pulsing coil 
of this universe iti a Soutliem California 
bottle of glass and brass and grass watered 
daily to lude tlie desert. Like telling someone 
you love them, everyday, so tlie sands will not 
reclaim tlie desolations of the past. 



544 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Walking the Beach in Venice 

I would walk tlie beach with you, 

as the sand flows aroiuid oui' toes and makes a faint 

gmnting sound as we pad across it, 

both of us thinking sly tlioughts 

of sand angels, but neither 

one daiing to say rt first. 

Your soul is like this vista. 

Pacrfic serenity surrounds you, 

maskmg the turmoils within. 

The sands of time pihng on the beach, 

out of reach once tliey have 

made it to shore. 

So I will swim to tiie horizon 

to buy back lost moments. 



The Roads in the Canyon 

1 admit I drive tliem faster than I should, ventir^ 
my angers in a manner' tliat only endangers me. Gaining 
back the sense of mimortalrty I lost when I realrzed 
that words alone were not enough to wm your love. 
Your heart is like those canyon roads. ...blmd curves 
and suddenly rises, exatii^ and dangerous. Stealir^ 
the strength fiom my Irmbs, but testing me. Perhaps 
besting me one day when I finally let go tiie wheel 
and take tliat slow motion arc over tlie lip, down mto 
the rocks to be made legend and enigma in yom' memory. 



545 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



546 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty-seventh Panther Cycle: 
A new rainbow 




I brought back tlie spectmin concept in tliis cycle, playing witli variations in colour to develop 
the metaphors and imagery. A trifle of a cycle, to be sme, but witli moments of interest. 

Almost all are worthy Valentine's Day poems, brief expressions of a moment or a feehng. Tliat 
there is no deep, insightM revelation tells you two things: I wasn't in the mood to leveal 
anytiiing truly deep and I was emotionally drained. 

When I ain worn out, depression sets in and my self-defense mechanisms kick in. . .1 start writing 
tight romantic works, works designed to Hft my spirits and mvoke in me feelings of peace and 
happmess . 

Yes, I know it should work the other way, but I need to either be in a total pit of despair or 
feeling very anchored to write somethmg tike 'TRIUMPH" or "Diogenes". . and this was not tlie 
case. I was exliausted, butgame. 

And these seven poems aie a reflection of where I wanted to go with renewed energies. 



547 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



548 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Rose 

Evocative aiid provocative, the colom' you flushed, 
you blushed, the first time I saw you. Heart ready 
to leap fiom slippery stone to slippery stone to ford 
the rivers of time and embrace me without a trace 
of doubt. Ready for love, ripe as a rosebud ready 
to miiml its petals to my touch, ready to release 
the shouted fi^agrance of love in bloom to a silent 
world just praying for a worthy song to be sung. 



Apricot 



Rich and golden. Sold on point of hm^ry hearts. Parts 
harvested to wart on the ripening. Wiping away tears 
that now are tliose of joy. Rebirth, and a new awareness 
of the woifli of two hearts made one and raised a level 
of magnitude by passion and pmpose and the pleasure 
of a succulent kiss of your dark apricot heart, pmring 
like akitten, cunng you and I of so many haunting 
memories, taimtmg us until we fall out of srghtmtlie 
orchards we have planted in om' own ways for tlie coming days. 



549 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Sunshine 

Kiss me quick wlule tlie suii is out and tlie gold flickers 
like a hummii^bird's colours in tlie garden of the awakening 
jungle cat. A totem for a woman who in and of herself is 
worthy of all love and cherisluuent. Perish the darkness 
in tlie explosion of yellow Mght tliat knives thiough giey 
clouds and illuminates tlie dreams of the dieamers. The themes 
of the poets ripening iti tlie siuislune of yom' love. The Mght 
proves tliat we aie not tlie nosferatu we feaied, we Mve and give 
off sparks that will ignite the heaits of all who daie to love 
as we daie to love, in the hght of every day that remains. 



Celery 

Crisp and cool. 

A brisk taste of Hfe 

in your laugh, 

like celery snappmg 

between youi' teeth 

as you wrench it free 

and savoui' tlie flavour. 



550 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Azure 

In tlie sky I will daiice you a pirouette. 

No sweat for a poet, 

wet with the dew of tomorrow, 

wet as a proper brownie, 

but sweeter still if you will laugh 

for me, aaft for me youi' desire 

that 1 may pray witli you in tlie mght 

that the day comes swiftly when 

larger dieams catch us as we earn 

our way to play m fields we once 

considered pieces of an untouchable 

sky, gathered in a word basket 

and baked into bright blue loaves that 

taste like your kisses. 



Midnight blue 



I surrender to you all I am. 

a mortal, a minstrel, a man. 

and would melt in the dai^k 

into half of tlie hfe in tlie world 

we share mghtly, brightly beneatli 

comforters my grandmother made 

for just such an occasion. 

Take from me all your sensual delight, 

purple and fine linen fantasies 

wrapped aiound your elegant 

form to wann my dieams and 

give me tlie tenderness I cannot 

find m my own heart, for I gave 

it away to you for a dream. 

A gift I will never regiet givmg. 

A love I win never regiet living. 

551 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Lavender 

The fragrant, vagrant bliss 

of this dark kiss. So long 

in coming. 

Again and again. 

Shall it never end, 

my loving friend? 

Not if you want it not 

to termmate. For I will 

frU yoiir Hfe witli all 

you daie take from me, 

and when you wake with me, 

ask for anotlier kiss. 



552 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty-eighth Panther Cycle 
travesties and injustice 




A vague attempt at standing, but all in all a pretty shocking display of self-pity is this cycle. I 
felt betrayed by tlie very essence of love, as if I had followed tlie diiections as best I could and 
still foimd myself shut out of tlie promised land. 

1 tliink it had to do witli expectations. 

Doing the ''right" thing does not always mean things will come out smoothly for you (ask 
Horatius sometime). Indeed, I have found tliat when 1 am doing my best to be "good" and 
"noble" IS generally when others take advantage of me. 

But you know what? I won't change. Not because I can't. . .but because it would be wrong of 
me to do so, it wouldbettmiingmy backonstionglyheldbehefs. Coie beliefs and values. 



553 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

Years ago, when working as a project manager for a major consulting firm, I put in my status 
report every week that we were not getting tlie laptop computers we were promised to help our 
productivity. This went on for months. Finally, the office manager told me I might as well drop 
it, as the phase where tliey would have been of tlie most use was past, and we weren't going to 
get them. So I 'Vent along" and dropped the line. Tlu^ee months later, I got roasted alive by 
upper management for that. . .tliey said that having qmt mentioning it made it seem like there 
hadn't been a problem to begm with. 

The lesson? Stick to your gmis. Ifyou believe, don't back down. 1 betieved in this love, and it 
cost me just about everytiiii^, tiiat belief And tiieie were times 1 felt tenibly alone and 
betrayed, because I had depended on the words, the pionnses, of anotlier and the notion tliat we 
all get what we really, really want. 



554 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

parking our hearts 

these are tlie dreams of wliich we are spuii 

in battles fought and battles won 

inpyrrliic andphalhc images... 

tainted and sainted 

by tlie fall of rose petals 

from small and tender hands. 

pretender, not defender... 

a sweet kiss tliat misses 

the maik 

paikmg our heaits 

in an orbit of an obit 

apiece at a time. 

crime. 

biiry me where tlie daffodils 

were trampled. 



cutting corners 

cuttii^ comers on a roimd heart. 

stalling a Moebius loop, 

hoop skirts and glietto blasteis... 

masters and mistresses... 

who am I to aigue 

with your well worn platittides, 

your feeble attittide. 

indefensible. 

suspendible 

on a gossamer 

thread 

a bed where you bled 

but not forme. 

not anymore. 



555 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

ratchet 

tightening the screws 

with a ratchet 

that cHcks with each 

fading charade. 

paraded 

by my face in disgrace. 

trace my hand on yours 

and forget me to tlie forget-me-nots. 

for I am gone. 

on 

beyond 

the event horizon. 



self pity 



I only wanted to love you. 
but you couldn't take that dare. 
fair game to tlie travesties, 
hmniliation of the memories. 



556 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

token totems 

I sold my soul for the love 

you said we shared, cared 

to tlirow mto tlie face of oui' critics. 

cyiiics and hypociites 

who fed you venom while 

calling me poison, reason 

to doubt, cause to shout 

challenges from atop 

the silken webs we slip silentiy 

imdei ourselves as we fall. 

predator unleashed and mad. 



no kisses for the damned 

passion fading in a parade of frachiredhomUies. 
freezitigraiiiofsahne and satiety insane, pain 
woven into a multi-coloured coat to float 
our dreams upon in a sea of illusions iidierited, 
feiieted out like blood imder a bloodhound's nose. 
the clotiies we wore recycled for tiie next lover. 



557 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

farewell to love 

alone 

I have shone my hglit 

briglitly. a beacon 

to love delayed, not denied. 

pride keeping me standing longer 

and stioi^er than anticipated. 

and when tlie baid diagon fell 

a well 

to hell 

opened in the heait of the worid. 



558 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Eighty-ninth Panther Cycle: 
seven words 




A very abstiact cycle, held together solely by tlie "seven words" concept, but with some 
proflmdity in it, neveitlieless. 

In fact, sometimes when imconstrained by the very limits of thematic cycles, this is where we 
find the diamonds. 

"Without bravery life is slavery" is one hne tliat sticks out, for instance. 

And the poem "Honesty" is abont her confessing to me that she had been havmg one night 
stands. I was not happy to heai' tliis, as this was in the middle of her swearing to stick with me 
for the rest of her hfe, but at least she had the integrity to tell me about it to my face. 

Of course, hei' practically startmg her visrt with me in Los Angeles withtliat confessron just put 
the whole weekend on sloppy footing and pretty much damned our attempts to recoimect. 



559 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 



560 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

shekels 

corns of tlie realm 
hebii of the galleon fleet, 
sweet to the taste, 
wasted, m false memoiy. 
love traded for a moment 
in tlie amis of tlie idols 
of wood with hammered 
golden skins and eyes of jade. 



patience 

what you demand, you command, 
my heart. .part and parcel of my bemg. 
seeing you with electric eyes that lie 
about nothii^. takmg tlie winds to bear 
us to the East, feasting on tlie bones 
we place om' tnist in, we place om' dust 
in bowls of clay. . .bought in a market 
so far away we cannot remember 
much flirther fioni the tree where we fell. 



561 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

passion 

the fury of release. 

pleasure, most treasmed in measmes 

of flesh and filaments of silk. 

milking cm' souls for every drop of the coal 

black fluids of our consciences. 

remember me to the edge of time 

and I am certain we will find 

no more memories worth 

forgettmg. setting our course 

for a new hoiizon, you and I. 



honesty 



You didn't have to tell me all you told me. 
But you did, and yoiu^ little giil cringe 
told me aU I needed to know. Guilt like 
silt washed down a river of self-deception 
until you could not live with tlie sediment 
blocking tlie harbors of your heait. Starting 
for home. But not knowing the way there 
because you camiot swear you've ever had 
a place like home witliin yoiu heart. 



562 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

silence 

the violence of dieams. 
it seems like we are throttled by oui' pains, 
what remains mottles us m reds and a stiange 
coloui' not unlike burnt honey, money spent, 
every last cent, to buy an echo for the Greek 
choms to Ignore us in. hstening to it all. 
chiistenii^ the world a new beginning. 



courage 

without braveiy, 

Hfe is slavery 

to misbegotten doubts. 

shouts of pain and the stain 

of memory we would as soon forget, 

wet and bloody on the brow 

of our idols . 



trust 

how can I not offer a trustmg heait to tlie thmstmg dart 
of cupid's bow. toe to toe with tlie aichers of oui' most arch 
attitudes, platitudes do not precede us into tlie pit if, with wit, 
we paiiy tlie blows and open oui' hearts and minds and eyes 
and souls and cry with tears of reconciliation our exoneiation. 



563 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



564 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Ninetieth Panther Cycle: 
close, away 




I have been told "she asked my name" was an attempt on my part to make the Panther jealous. 

BnU. 

The truth was what is reported mtlie poem... 1 encountered a young woman whom, in many 
ways, reminded me of the Panther, and we spoke for a wliile, and we went om' separate ways. 
Although by tliis time tlie dysfimctional natme of our relationsliip had lead me to date otliers 
(even as she was, by her own admission, "sleeping around'") 1 was not really emotionally 
available, and I don't engage in sex as a sport, too much dynamite in that cap giui. 

These poems largely summoned my sense of physical isolation and emotional intimacy tliat 
marked this stage of oui' relationship. 

Yeah, I know. Baikmg mad. But my madness, and that madness, 1 honestly beheve, was 
becomii^ an addiction to provide emotional tuel for botli my wntmg and to help me survive the 
cmshing losses I had endured for tliis woman, my Pantlier. 



565 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Here I was, three thousand miles fiom my cliildren, almost as far from any other Hving relative. 
Thos friends tliat had not turned their backs on e were a continent away. 

I had signed away all tlie money I had earned in tins life to buy my freedom, and here 1 
was... alone, al but penniless, and easy prey for tlie emotional ■viiltuies. 

I weai', as a badge of honor, tlie very fact tliat I survived at all. 



566 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

close, away 

I caimot stay so close, away 

and so I make my excuses 

and exit tluough the window 

you left broken beliind you, 

stained glass on wliich I cut myself, 

blood falling like rose petals on a lover's bed. 

closure over a cup of Jasmine tea 

I stopped at Anastasia's. 

they did not have jasmine tea 

on the menu, sol asked rather 

than settle for what was offered. 

1 tasked the fates for tlieir sufferance 

and was rewarded with closme 

in a cup of memory I bled 

tears into, a drink I will never taste again. 



alone in the corner 

alone in tlie comer 

I dare, not to mouni her 

lest she think me the fool 

for being the one to whom the nile 

of the heart and spirit matter 

more than needs held transient, liigher 

than a heaven she doesn't beheve in today, 

but where she has taken my tickets to, anyway. 



567 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

somewhere else 

I am supposed to be somewhere else tonight, 
but tlie invitation got lost in the mail or sight 
failed me when fate rollerbladed by to tlirow 
candy kisses from her fanny pack on the snow 
you left beliind like pieces of a poet's heart. 



line of sight 

out of sight 

out of mind 

in tlie night 

all I find 

are faded imitations 

of the real tliii^, guns 

hired for uninspired kisst 



not in this life 

not in tliis life 

will I love witli such honest intensity, 

a propensity to walk away from all else 

for the love of a sohtary heait. 

forever trying to prove a pomt 

on the edge of elegant elegies 

of other loves and lovers cast away 

so you can play witli your favourite toy. 



568 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

she asked my name 

she asked my name as she sat down. 

hair of gold, eyes of brown. 

and yet I saw in her another 

of transposed demeanor, lonely unto pain. 

and so 1 did not follow when she called 

but spoke witli her, at lengtli. 

hearing teai^s in every laugh and explaining 

her proposition was no gaffe. 

but I cannot, will not be as others 

and use a wounded soul to my ends. 

and we parted, tliat niglit, not as lovers, 

but, in your name, as newfomid friends. 



569 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



570 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

The Ninety-first Panther Cycle: 
precious 




One of the few later cycles that actually addiesses a real world pomt of reference, as I had long 
since descended into abstractions. 

During the ratlier bizarre visit she had made to nie in Los Angeles, we vacillated between 
breaking up and making up. Vacillated is a soft word. We were all over tlie emotional map. 

At one pomt during her tour we found ourselves at the overlook at Stony Point, and as we looked 
out over the land, she stalled saying tliose things again tliat had held me in her orbit for so long, 
dreams of a house and cliildren and us being together forever, making poetry and art and love. 

Another invocation is of our first face to face meeting in New Yoik, wheie a surprising large 
slice of the conversation revolved aroimd oui' waiter's seeming mability to provide hme mstead 
of lemon with a soda. The little tilings cling to us, to help us remember tlie larger vistas. 

You can see in some of tlie works a strong sense of looking into tlie void, to what my life would 
be like after she walked away, but for the moment I climg to the illusion. 



571 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



572 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

fading images 

the pain, tlie stain, all fade witli time. 
tune spent wanii and safe in an embrace 
impossible to define and deny, try as we may, 
we aie made better by tlie love shared, 
daied on the liigh wire of life, not waiting 
for a sign or pennission from tliose 
who have never felt this way and, 
like so many otliers, probably nevei' will. 

I never knew I had this strength 

for you I have endured impossible thmgs. 

rii^s removed, miles conquered, 

sorrows endured, all for the love 

of you. no tnier test of a dream 

woven for yom^ joy. make of me 

a martyr, and I will only be magnified 

in tlie saying of tlie sooth, trath 

is the strongest suit in the house 

of cards you weathered the stoims 

in, alone, release your ravens to tlie wind 

and begin to weave a better tapestry 

as I have seen you capable of, lookup 

into tlie firestorms with eyes cauterized 

but content in the love you have given me. 



573 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

flickering images 

the reception is not always good during tlie stonn 

and we must contend witli static and snow 

that goes too far in hiding from us the scenes 

we need to hold on, fold in to our emotional 

libraries of memories woitli embiaciiig. 

the truths spoken at Stony Point, when walls 

fell for need of an honest embrace we could 

not face tomonow without, an epiphany 

in which we both forgave all and yesterday 

became but a flickering image before 

the cable-ready suiuise of tomoiiow's possibihties . 



574 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

no choice 

there is no choice for me but to love you. 
love you. 

love you with a fire and a frozen dream 
you gave to me with your fiist smile, 
drawing your glasses fiom your face 
across a restauiant where the waiter 
could not seem to imderstand tlie subtle 
difference between a lemon and a lime. 
but we miderstood the polar positions 
that separate what we are from anything 
else we have experienced. I have no choice 
but to love you until. . . 
there are no "imtils" in such a love, no 
conditions to be met for it to exist, 
conditions for tlie pain to fade, but 
that is for us to deal with if we would 
be anythii^ more tlian miserable. 
and I have my dreams, if not my choice. 
but were I to choose, I would but love 
you more and better and sooner. 



a kiss buys eternity 

hold for me that moment. 

locked in satin hands 

and tlie electric, eclectic warmth 

of your lips made mother to my passions. 

take from me my awareness 

of anytiiing else in this umverse... 

for 1 have not foimd dehght 

so perfect, as in yom' anus. 

your hands, your body, yoiu^ thoughts . 

575 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



I need you 

I know you do not like to feel needed. 

it places a sense of obligation on you. 

and you hate feeling like you owe anyone 

anytliing. 

but when I speak of need, I mean desire 

so intense that I am unwilling to accept 

a fiiture without its fulfillment. 

so, I am Sony if past parasites have 

made you unhappy. 

played you badly. 

but I am not anyone else. 

and I need to know yom^ love in my Hfe. 



walking away 

one day, peihaps, 

one of us will need to walk away. 

as we have alieady done so many tunes before. 

ignoring words spoken, promises made and broken 

a thousand times in our complexities 

and om' loneliness . I wiU not easily 

take the solitary road, butifandwhen 

you convince me that it is yoiu^ joy 

at stake, I will make tiiat turn and bum 

the next ten thousand generations 

of man with words of lost love 

and the tiagedy of lovmg that which 

is forever on another path. 



576 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Ninety-second Panther Cycle: 
the thunder comes down 




Despite the stiong images invoked here, you cati smell tlie ram, the coming of a stonii to wash 
away tlie last vestiges of hope from this relationslup. 

Here I am revisiting many of tlie themes she had brought into my life and works, Hke a desperate 
man striking a burnt-out match over and over again, knowing that there will be no more spark, 
but still imcomprehending m his fear of the daik. 



577 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



578 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

ruby slippers 

you left your niby slippers m New York, 
when the liglit faded, kicked under the bed 
as you said dangerous things to a man in love, 
shove the psychoanalysis and kiss me before 
you click youi' heels and realize you are 
already home, and it isn't Kansas in my heart. 



the thunder comes down 

measiuing a modicum of memories, merged, 
urged aidor put on silent display 
in words accepted like a gift horse 
never saddled, addled lovers making vows 
to Gods they don't beheve in anyway, playing 
at promises and compromises one-sided 
and undecided luitil the games get real 
and we can feel the thunder coming down. 



truthspeak 



whether as lover, or partner. 

husband or fiiend. 

I know that, in tmtlispeak, 

our roles cannot end 

in one another's spheres. 

tears of joy. tears of pain. 

tears of glass, which do not stam. 



579 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

bright, black 

briglit, black, folded like golden webs 

spun as cotton candy on a master's loom. 

tomb to the weavei's heait, tlie giiever's art 

of remembering tlie best of what we were. 

and will 1 pass the test of filtered images 

when I am gone? wiU your songs be sweet elegies 

of love lost in a maze, a haze of confiised dreams 

dragged into tlie stieet and savagely beaten? 



illumination 

awesome blossoms bloom in any room 
you enter, centering the umverse 
on the third verse of my lovesoi^. 

and simg with newfound chonis, to implore us 
to Hsten to reason and destiny and tlie season 
of a cliild of yom' most beautiful heart. 



580 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

hope on the road 

I am not want to walk alone 

bnt I will, if I must, stirrii^ tlie dust 

when the eaitli is dry and ciying 

when the night is cold and gatheimg 

gold to baiter at the occasional 

tavern of subtle sustenance, but one day 

she will arrive, like the waim spring 

winds and the sumnienain and tlie smell 

of autiunn fohage. and I will smile 

on this road and laugh sometimes when 

inappropriate, but I will not hate 

or count my fate as a point of sorrow. 

and tomorrow I will render tlie same 

prayers: for peace and love and release 

from my quest aiomid some coming tiim. 

but tlie jomiiey is a good one and my 

fatigue is transitoiy, like my life. 

but not like my hope, my love, and my dreams. 



581 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

defenseless 

droppii^ my guard, defenses hardened 
in years of suivivalism made irrelevant 
when love arrives at tlie edge of my vision, 
peimission granted, dreams decanted to breathe 
airs long forgotten, sultry stings, caught on 
the ripstop nylon of a heart's wmdbreaker. 
protecting me from the winds of sadness, 
madness bmlding to a crescendo, ghssando 
tears nuuiing hke fiiglitened cliildien before 
the boogeyman. aitennatli of a lover's laugh 
of sudden realization, no hesitation, no time 
to waste to taste the heavenly fiiiit at apogee. 
and we wHl find a way, bind a way to blind 
a playful poet reborn in the mom of no more 
momiung. so tiiat I may love forever. 



582 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 

The Ninety- third Panther Cycle: 
The Dreams of Glass... 




This was to be the final cycle, but not the final word. Although written a few months after its 
predecessors, this one flowed rather seamlessly fiom the emotions of tlie moment at tlie previous 
cycle. 

This cycle builds upon a senes of conversations the Pantiier and I had in the mterveniiig months, 
including several half-hearted attempts at reconcUiation, but in flie end it was a dead issue. 
There is no element of that defeatism m this cycle, I had decided to wiite tins as a hopefiil, 
positive capstone, not a tombstone. 

"I Dared to Dream of Night-blooming Jasmine" is one of my favourites, as it refiects my 
romantic code, that you have to hope, to dream, to believe. Yes, I have been savaged more than 
once in this fife by inconsistent or even deceitfiil lovers, but I get back up, dust myself off, and 
continue tlie quest. 

And where will it all end? I don't know, but that's pait of the joy, the mystery. 



583 



William F. DeVault - The Compleal Panther Cycles 



584 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

dreams of glass 

when mishandling dreams, tliere is always a chance 
that they will, in their ciystalline brittleness, shatter 
into a thousand sharp edged memoiies of what you had. 
or would have had. 
or could of had. 
if 

if you had only closed your hand a moment sooner, 
kissed with more conviction, tnisted sometliii^ larger 
than yourself for just one moment wliile daimg fate, 
daimg fate to sliine like sunhght focused in a teai' 
wept like tlie morning dew. when you knew the tiutli. 
and stiU had to wake up, every moinmg, with empty aims. 



the paper fulcrum 



words, justwords. carrying a message tliat haunts, 
that taunts like a demon on the edge of tlie precipice, 
a wrist sht by accident bleeds as deeply as suicide. 
I am not aftaid of words, but I am afraid of the silence 
that comes when woids hang like a chrysahs of life 
left on the branch until winter comes, proving tliat 
the butterfly inside died a fliousand deaths, waiting 
for a spring tliat was always in her hands, alone. 



585 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

everyday in the garden 

I walk everyday to the fields of my soul 
and watch for fiist hght, arising before dawn 
to scan the tended eartli witli earnest eyes 
that have watered too well tlie fiuiows with tears 
that aie of no use in a greening dieam. 

I wait, sometunes patiently in my pliilosophy. 
sometimes m pain and soitow, head lumg low. 
but I wait, raising my head to distant fields seem lush 
with tiie newHfe and oldlife and harvests that are. 
gentiy mgmg the seeds to sprout and feed me. 



pinch 



one word 

is all it takes 

to guarantee, with God as my witiiess, 

that you will never again need 

to feel tiie pinch 

of jealousy. 



586 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

I fear you 

there is no one in this world so capable of making me less than what I ain. 

or more than what I would've been had you not reached down, reached out 

andphickedme from tlie fire I had chained myself in Hke a fieiy Narcissus. 

cuise me my dieams, deny me my birthright, take from me my heart and cast it. 

cast it far. 

cast it out of heaven. 

cast it down to be ttampled by everyone who ever worked for. 

fought for. 

dreamed of 

all that you have been given. 

and have not yet taken. 

there is no one m this world so capable of makmg me so happy and content. 

or more miserable and anguished, had you not stolen tlie light, sharmg it 

with shadows so tliat I might know a pain 1 had never before dealt, despair. 

and if my lesson to you is to be luiconditional love, is yoiu^s to me to be 

fear? 



I dared to dream of night blooming jasmine 

You rose eaily this moinmg and walked the famihai' ftuiows in the caipet 
to stand, as you do, every morning, and watch frrst Mght enter her room. 
if I am awake, I hear you draw a deep breath, awestruck and maiveling 
at the feehngs tliat flood you as you see her sleep, like the promised angel 
of a distant fantasy, dieamii^ of a fistflil of wildflowers once given to you. 
your smile blossomed tlien like the night blooming jasmine, stealing tlie wmd 
to take dieams mto the sky to paint otlier people's destinies, 
but none shall find a heaven half as Holy as I have found in your arms . 



587 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

a poet paces the path 

there is a trail in tlie tall grass. 

pantliersigns obvious. 

and I must follow theiu. 

for, though cursed and crushed. 

and ultimately, made tragedy, 

this IS my patli. 

my road. 

my vision. 

my destiny. 

and, pnnfied or pitied. 

loved or laughed at. 

rejected or raised. 

it is where I will die. 



588 



William F. DeVault - The Compleat Panther Cycles 

Epilogue 

Well, Tlie Compleat Panther Cycles end here. 

And no, I didn't die, although one day I shall, but not from following panthersigns . Tliere have 
been far tougher tests of my nietde and metal since tlien, brutal lessons to be learned but only by 
one willing to wade into the classroom wliich is tlie universe and call tliem down. 

For my progress on my quest, I suggest you keep an eye on my web presence, check out one of 
my readings, and believe in your own hfe as a legacy you leave for tlie fiitiu^e generations, to 
show the value and validity of what you stood for. 

There is a little bit of tlie Poet and tlie Panther in all of us. It is botli what elevates and levels us, 
that sustains us and gives us sometlung withm ourselves to contest witli. 

1 can offer you only tlie advice of my expeiience and perceptions, and my epiphanies may be 
iiielevant to you in detail, but in the grand sweep of human existence, it is imfailingly tnie. 

Believe in love as you believe in God, as a consiunmg and transfoiming core to your bemg, 
anytlung less is blasphemy against our natures and is cowaidice of the higliest (or lowest) order. 

Getieady to take youi' lumps. No onejiunps out of an aiiplane without, regardless of their 
means of descent, at least a few bumps or bruises. Those who dare tlie most, win tlie most, but 
also have the scars to show for tlie edification of the aimchair waiiiors. I can not tell you how 
many tunes people have taken me aside to tell me their stones of not havmg followed tlieir 
hearts, and how much tliey admire my courage for "putting it out there", tlien swearmg me to 
secrecy, as they dare not tell the woild their tniths. 

Embrace your own self, but be aware that you can not be light for yomself until you are light for 
someone else. I spoke tliose veiy words to my Fantlier when she was my Panther and I stand by 
them. We are pieces of a whole until we join with anotiier, tius is tiie natiire of om' hearts, our 
fleshes, om' souls. 

And, when things go awiy, be persistent and ready to roll witii the anvils that tiie less sentmiental 
fates diop on us from on lugh when it amuses tiieni. 



William F. De Vault 



589