Posts Tagged ‘poem’

Ships of Time

February 8, 2017

All endings come with a surprise.
The limit is not found but must be allowed
until a fresh coat of snow is available.
For sunlight to equal destruction…
oh boy,
maybe tomorrow…

 For tomorrow’s children
always wake up to the sounds
of breakfast being prepared.
Their beds and books will always
be fond of dreams.
All their eyes can see is
the old men waiting,
clean and clear as bull’s horn—
as if the pale sun shivers
and the ships of time return
and all those Theban guests depart.

From Dusk

October 12, 2016

The word, the frogs, the pond, the neither/nor—
‘Neither’ left the fox too much to see,
‘Nor’ for long—not with all them frogs legs for…

At Dusk

October 11, 2016

At dusk, as the cathedral frogs sing songs
of unprincipled certainty, the fox
will circle the pond in search of what belongs
to every fox no matter how unorthodox.
It couldn’t matter less. Your theoretical
frog is not just a cliché—softened by
the fox’s growl—it is an inestimable
blunder. Why, if their song could even try
to rival a great graveyard in honest terror,
it would be as if all creation waited for
a mot juste from a bare nosed but blessed warrior:
the word, the frogs, the pond, the neither/nor—
‘Neither’ left the fox too much “to see,
‘nor’ for long—not with all them frogs legs for free

The Surface

September 25, 2016

Some people die in sorrow,
some, despite the sleeping shadows,
die like a metaphor.
They compare the earth
to some final value, and
they want to weave the forest
into something good:
some  good new man and woman,
some good new breeze,
some good new  plant
that lives like an onion
at  the bottom of the sea
and watches in wonder
at its huge bulbous skin
as it swims slowly towards
the surface.

A Conversation with a Ghost

August 18, 2016

But look, the morn in russet mantel clad
walks over the dew of yon high eastward hill.[i]

 What he says:

Of course I cannot see his distress.
A blackened bowl is one that makes the most
of the daylight. He is alone, left in the fortress
to have a conversation with a ghost—

‘I want to hold you close,’ is all I say.

Do you believe in ghosts? No light glints from
my disproportionate sight; he had to pray
to me to keep his life, his form, his sum.
All fury is at my dispensation now. To stare,
I see four eyes eyeing my eyes,
one pair medical and concerned, the other pair,
too young to know that death is never fair.
All are seeing in me what he suddenly fears—
the nastiness of ripening him to tears.

What I say:

If only life were like a soapsuds bubble,
or a balloon in a fresh breeze, or dancers
on a ballroom floor—if transience  was not
the very essence of  a life—but only
its tragic conclusion, if only we
could do to life what it does to us—
experienced dancers all—and make each ghost
see that all hot bodies should not end so cool.

‘Sir, I am not what fear is about.’

It’s shouted plain, but is not heard—
even when poured into a shapeless ear—
because even when it’s whispered, all
that is remembered is a stateless tear—
left to glisten here on another unmade bed.

[i] Hamlet.

To Anna

August 10, 2016

For Anna Mark

My poems feel overdressed
when I read your poetry. [i]
I love their nakedness—
or, as modesty would have it,
I love the bathing suits they wear—
worn fully without clinging.

Yes, my clothing does cling—
like everything else—
too much these days.
Of course, one’s clinging to life
is the source and model of all clinging—
and to the life of your children,
the others , whose very otherness
can make it more precious and still—

How this poem clings to its loved ones,
holds then tight, then forgives them
enough to let them swim out
a little further and still further…
It could be a model for the world.
I wish I could swim with them too,
even when your feet touch other shores.

[i] I am talking about Anna Mark’s poem The Lake, which you need a password to access. I will reprint it here with Anna’s permission.
 

The Lake

. She wears the deep water —
….. the clear dress soaks
……her shoulder length hair.

.

If only my words, if only my love,
were that sweet water,
that ancient lake you jump into wholly,
playful and free,
smiling;

living water to your sense of joy, innocence and trust,
darkness beyond the depths of our sight,
beyond reach yet willing to be known,
worn fully without clinging,
rapture without entering too deeply, too soon,
as explored mystery captivating awe —
fear and wonder;

a mother’s caress reflecting light,
eroding the places that harden,
where you’d thrive with me,
your strong root in me for when you shed me,
when your feet touch shores,
when you leave,
when it’s time for you to go,
when you emerge —

 

.

.

.

.for my daughters

.

 

 

Unearthly

August 10, 2016

Unearthly, he thought.
I fled the earth; you fled the water.
Only the sky remained serene.
In your refction, I find
the glass head. It sparks and speaks.
Your head shakes in a mouse’s
self-awareness that is monstrous.
To eat the mouse
you tear apart his skin.
Between your lips—
so rapturous—
you preen them so—
the mouse is like a fruit of the water.

As the rain begins, the clouds,
black as custard, are unearthly.
My eyes obey a justice too inert
to be a thing in itself.
You cannot see a glass head in
a transparent world, he thought.
We feed the earth;
the sky darkens;
the rain stops.

Not for Reading

July 26, 2016

This is my four hundredth post on extrasimile. It is also my 69th birthday. It seems appropriate to include the first ‘poem’ I ever wrote (slightly amended)—if that’s what it is.

Jim.

 

Our language can be seen as an ancient
City
—pace Wittgenstein—who
Surely meant a baptized city, for
The names come only with the blessing…

And even though he boards in Muzot, finds
A seat with a window so he can watch
The rain, a pad and pen and swollen eyes—
His naming is no longer for the living,
He knows that. Squatting, old, narrow-gauge trains:
He studies his reflection in the dark tunnel.
In the glass: There is swelling, that
Awful puffiness, rust in the throat…
Mimetic passion, not rocket science.

Yet still it rains; the rails, become archaic
Through the Goddard Pass,
His final way of seeing mountain peaks.
In 1926 as the snow melts…

He stops. The correspondence…
Tsvetayeva has written:

Your name is poetry! Exclaims:
Your name is poetry! But she always
Exclaims—

May I hail you like this!
Your baptism was the prologue to
The whole of you.

It even smells of death in this train. Dead mice
Under the seats. Why would Marina think
Of baptism here, his baptism?

Herr Rilke, may I help you?

For baptism
Read death, read mort, but not for ‘mortal’, for
A mort is only played if some music
Is needed at the blessing. Mort:
A horn will sound announcing death,
A horn to announce a new beginning,
Of a life’s deep death in deep
Snow…wolves abound…and not a perfect trip
Through the Alps.

Marina Leukemia on his
Baptism into the ancient city:

Herr Rilke your very name

Is a poem. You are a phenomenon
Of nature. The poet who comes after you
Is you.

My dear, Rainer; my soul, my Maria,
My blood coagulates and sinks
Into the snow. I take to my heart:

One poet only lives, and now and then
Who bore him, and who bears him now, will meet.
And never meet. (There is one only) in
A lightning field, canaries in a cage—

How could we meet?
The world betrays us,
I know, for a field of fire, for poetry
Is correspondence from a great distance
Made only greater by our love.

Great honor, great poet.
(signed) Not for reading. Marina.

 

 

You cannot be the Song

July 19, 2016

They call me the Sinatra bird.
This I am not: I cannot be the song.
I sing it backstage;
yet, they keep me in a cage,
as a kind of a pet.
It bounces when
they pull the chain. It rolls
around; it spins.
But when it rains
my feathers change—

I shed this cage like the snake
I am. My skin—fancy that—
a razzmatazz at the climax
of a dance hall musical.
I hide in the old tire
that Junior keeps under
the lion’s cage.
Even a snake wants his freedom.
Imagine me! In a cage!

I’ll sing it for you:
(whistles)
You cannot be the song alone.
Two minds must crave it before…
before freedom begins.
(Whistles.)
Awk-awk!
Polly want a cracker?

 

My Lady

July 15, 2016

Raphael to La fornarina

My lady, come home with me.
Such stars, as they pass into view, are you.
Be my wife, be my hand at your breast.

Be passion as it stands at the station of an old love:
be its honesty, its majesty, its sight.
You must have come to honor the un-honored…

And just as my owlish soul, became yours to inhabit—
the very human hand you see before you—
I have come to need your silence, your grace:

for a room to be the house of poetry;
for a palace to grow in to;
for the timelessness in which you dwell.