Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Mr. Senescence

July 20, 2017

There were those that would have wept to step barefoot into reality…                            —Wallace Stevens

A picture of my family:
My mother and father and me,
all wading in some river.

Must be 1949 or so.
I can’t really remember it.
I would have been two.

But my feet were wet.
My father had his trousers
rolled up to his knees.

And mommy had a dress on.
The cold, clean water ran
through our toes.

(I could walk then. )
When your tongue reaches up
into the sky, the sky kisses it.

Yippy yi yo kayah.

Cry, the Quiet Child

June 12, 2017

Cry, the quiet child, for there is such a stillness
in the air this morning, the meadow seems silent as frost.
So subtle is your murmur, it seems we must confess:
your voice must be the one—or be the one that’s lost.
For we were planned and planted deep at birth
to have the inner strength to free
the earth of all the world’s debris,
it must have all its hopes in grave and gravel earth.
So cry. Cry of august trees awake.
The sky, awake. The lake, awake. Stay, terrain.
Cry of song and psalm to shake
the house alive, massive in refrain.
Cry of moss and flowers frozen in the frost.
Cry the quiet child. Your meadow now is lost.

The Glories Undefined

May 18, 2017

Through a thrill of flowers that cannot be found
in any other meadow, the slimy vine is
thought to be extravagant; it seems to seep around
the luscious soil as if it were molasses
going uphill in January, cold and numb,
attached like wings to the ‘flesh-like’ roots:
Will the glories come? Will the glories ever come?
Many of the glories have routes
they have always used and have won with.
The glories grow inviolate in a violent mind.
The glories all want this urge to transform ‘kith’,
unprincipled, into a glorious morning, undefined.
But summer’s sun returns day after day.
The sky clears; the glories swell and sway.

 

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.