Virgil Ron Ellis, also known as Ron Ellis, is widely published and is the author of The Blue Train, a book of poems with a foreword by William Stafford. Audio cassettes of his performance poetry are entitled Open My Eyes and Lunar Crescent Wrench. He has developed his art through years of performing and recording activity, with The Chamber Rock Ensemble, Dangerous Odds, and Fuzzy Logic. A CD of his latest performance work is in production at Laughing Cat Studio. This work is broadcast regularly over WORT (89.9) in Madison, Wisconsin.

Ron has performed his work in many places, including New York, Chicago, Salt Lake City (he performed with William Stafford in an event sponsored by the Utah Arts Council, on August 3, 1991), Milwaukee, and Madison. Ron Ellis earned his PhD in Media Studies from the Union Institute. He has taught writing and literature for many years at the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater.

Recently he began specializing in desktop publishing and multimedia, although his experiments in multimedia poetry date back to the 1960's. He is the editor and publisher of Woodhenge Press. His work as editor includes the Windfall poetry series and seven books of poetry by various authors. He is the recipient of a number of grants relating to writing and media.

Answering Machine in Your Car

Early in the morning the fretwork on the
wedgewood cup of your dream translates into
worry that stressed girders show x-ray strain
patterns that indicate possible fracture. Type A
multitasking gets to the point where you drop
the hyphens in compound words just feel
the tension. Heart arrhythmias cancel beats
and signal disease lots of reggae may be
the cure dance until you drop but
working is so much more profitable.
We could all laugh under a Caribbean sun
but the multimedia version is more affordable.
Under silicon graphics skin comes the deskbottom
publisher's flash that pagemakers seldom excel
at distinguishing have from havenot or
meditating past lotus onetwothree.
Excluding the working poor is as easy as
partitioning your disk because
antigovernment experts do it for you.
Success requires fast hard drives
around tight budget corners with a whiteknuckled
hand around a cellular phone but I bet there's a
market for an answering machine in your car.

Copyright Ron Ellis

Canto 100

out of the bang of our hidden birth
opening wide in strings of attraction
rings around spheres of darkness formed

out of the swarms from our formless mother
whom we seek with instruments of mind
the chance of our blue planet came

though we have breathed long and long
since the first lungs of our suffering
with this breath let the change begin

walking upright let us send
heat-seeking missiles to the sun
and sitting take apart each device

with each breath clear away
each contrivance of the self
though we slip often into thought

it will chance that
we will breathe into the light in our forehead
we will breathe stretching our lungs our new being

breathe filling our hands and our arms
that lift opening wide to our formless mother
may the change begin, the new being stay

Copyright Ron Ellis

Canto 82

The center and from the center shifting fields.
The center and the observer surrounding the center.
The center lost to the observer lost in the singularity.

The center and from the center facets of the jewel.
The center and shifting reflections of light.
The center lost to the meditator lost in the self.

The observer measures always closer to the center.
The meditator thinks always less of thought.
Always more to measure, always more to self.

Measure light-years to the event horizon.
Meditate through space-time to the light.
Be open to the dimension of love.

The event beyond the horizon happens here.
The light behind the jewel shines now.
Be open to powers of the heart.

Copyright Ron Ellis

Our Gaia

You've seen the earth from the empty moon.
She's that blue and white locket
hanging in the dark.

But have you seen our Gaia from the deserts of Mars?
She's a pendant sapphire
of living light.

Have you thought if you were light-years away
she could be hard to find?
That she might be one of a kind?

Do you know how Gaia gets along,
linking living and non-living together,
like rapport between trees and rain?

Did I tell you she glides along the edge
of chaos? That she calls to the one
who eats, and to the one who is eaten?

Did I tell you we've stumbled to the edge
of chaos? That she's holding out her hand?
Are you ready for where she can take us?

Consider earth from the empty moon.
She's that blue and white locket
hanging in the dark.

Our Gaia from the blue methane
of Neptune must be a mote, a
pinpoint of living light.

Have you thought if you were light-years away
she could be hard to find?
She might as well be one of a kind.

Copyright Ron Ellis

Ancient Girl


We found her body protruding
from an eroding bank on the edge of the Arctic Ocean.
We melted away the ice block surrounding her.
She wore only a bird skin and feather parka.

Thank you for your fingers of flame.
You broke the circle of waiting.


Fluid in the thoracic cavity suggests
she had pneumonia. We're waiting for results
from tissue tests, radiocarbon dating and
heavy metal analysis.

Spears of fire came with every breath.
Sometimes I flew up close to the sun
but then I shook with sheets of blue cold.


The lungs are dark with soot, which even affected
her lymph nodes as far away as her abdomen.
It wasn't a typical burial. Someone probably put her there.

Father gave the last food to me. When he died
the flame did not want to live either. I heard
a voice when it flickered out: "you must cross the water."


There is no food in the stomach; gravel
and what appears to be fur
in the lower intestine indicate she
may have tried to eat some non-food item.
The bones are unusually soft.

By the sea many voices sang, walrus and eagle.
The sky called with Mother's voice.
The earth said "swallow me and you will bear
a great hunter, and you will feast."
But I knew the voices lied.


Near the body we found a 4-foot baleen toboggan
and a stitched skin that may be part of a kayak cover.
There's a burial ceremony today in Barrow.
We're working with the Inupiat Elders for guidance.

Now the great circle forms, bigger than
any ring of fire. It grows into a huge sun
calling me with its voice of light. I come.

Copyright Ron Ellis

Nurse Logs

Hiking in old growth
we see roots forced up
loosen their grip

so clutched stones
and earth fall back.
We admire root shapes.

These fallen logs invite.
When bark softens
seeds get up their nerve

and suckle good juice.
The more they nurse
the more such logs relax,

become long mounds, or
waves on the forest floor
you can hardly see.

Copyright Ron Ellis


Now we know out there in Orion
dust and gas conspire
around a typical star
to form blobs that could gel
into worlds like this one.

Any one of them
could be another story
where water gets tickled into
wiggles that stand up
and begin to wonder.

It's possible these wigglers
will want to explain things
by imposing familiar shapes:
what are demons without hands
and legs? or the sky without a belly?

They might even think
so hard they put two and two
together and then start taking things
apart, as if the whole is a sum
and everybody is really numbers.

They could even get past
shaping and counting
by thinking up words
like "extra-sensory" and "emptiness"
and then have nothing to do.

Conceivably they'll stop
thinking about not thinking
and have heads so empty
that something might happen,
something they might call happiness.

Nobody can say all this will be.
But it could mean space and time
are not the whole story. If that's so
they may be where we could go.
I hear them calling. They may be here.

Copyright Ron Ellis

Working Against the Pattern

- for Larry Giles

to give the pattern air
showing the pattern a pattern
it never knew was there.

On the way to chaos,
coming up for air,
what Lorenz showed us
is non-linear.

To work on ourselves again and again
caring where we are, or going,
how long we've been coming--
the system is never the same.

It takes a strange attractor,
a period-doubling cascade,
or it's just the cycle of pain
over and over again.

The genie in the convection cell
learns to melt the seal,
each has a fractal guide,
another genie outside.

in the trance of iteration
in the stream of the third eye
in the words of Tseng Lao Weng
the pattern is cosmic shen

The ch'i returns in the breathing,
the breathing a matter of course,
it's all a pattern of scale--
the mind becomes the Source.

Copyright Ron Ellis

Return to Spondee.NET