Here it comes again, Ladies and Gentlemen: a partial selection of my poetical output. While the most terrible of my poems are routinely filed under "Recycling Bin," even those I see fit to keep in my archive are not necessarily worthy of being placed here. So what you see here is la crème de la crème (as selected by a person with, admittedly, a spotty taste in crème).
I write poems for a lot of reasons, from boredom to deep emotion. I wouldn't assign a consistent theme to any of them, though someone who is well qualified in such matters may see it. Some of these are quite meaningful to me, others not so much; in any case, I like them enough to share. These poems are from the spring of 2009, with the exception of Footsteps, which is from the fall, and is included here as a tribute to Kirk Rankin, who inspired it.
It's a Riddle
My world comes to my home through the wall
Courtesy of a modern ghost;
Face upon the wall,
His body is not to be seen at all.
He always looks surprised to see
That he can even see
Without a proper set of eyes
From nearly every wall.
Tonight I prayed to the guitar,
Invoking on its singing strings
The sound of what I wanted most,
The woman of my wildest dreams.
I strummed it with my every skill,
And plucked it with my clumsy hands
And tried to make her come to life,
But still, she did not come to life,
Her nylon strings remained the things
Of which my wildest dreams are made.
Gold is Love
Gold is love, is falling in the sea,
It's nowhere to be seen,
Until a trawler comes along
And raises it to me.
Gold is love, is buried underground,
And it cannot be found,
Until my shovel strikes a vein,
And makes a ringing sound.
Gold is love, has fallen to the side
And makes no move to hide,
So now it sparkles in the sun
To catch my searching eyes.
It's warm outside,
And things are looking sunny
For the first time in a while,
For the first time in a while
The girls are bathing on the grass,
They're soaking in the sun
And everybody's having lots of fun
Because the sky is blue again,
And I will say hooray,
Hip-hip-hooray for mild weather
'cause it makes me feel best,
And right at home I am again
Though nowhere near my house;
The river shines reflected light,
The silver rays obscure my sight.
As I walk across the bridge
And wave at rafters down below
I see the goslings on the shore,
Picking through the grass for more of
What will make them big and strong,
Just like the geese that guard them,
As graceful as a swan;
And there's just one thing
That I want to know,
Where did the showers go?
My Ship is Coming In
You don't think you hurt me, but you did,
And it's true that I've been taking this a little bit too far.
'Cuz I've been hurt before, and it kills
Me to think that you're going to keep on talking, talking,
Talking, talking, talking, talking over
Everything I say to make you stop.
But my ship is coming in,
And it's going to carry me
Where I can only hear your praise,
And I only have to see you
On those rare and special days
When everything turns out my way,
Because my ship is almost here,
And the rest of you will have to talk
Amongst yourselves and I
Won't have to hear it,
Wouldn't we all be better for it?
A man sits in a little room
Beneath the branches of a tree
And out the window, sees a sky,
As grey and cloudy as a sea
That's sailed upon by lonely birds
Who are, above else, wild and free,
While man is bound by roof and walls
(Which seems a bit unfair to me)
And orders up another tea.
The Mottle-Breasted Sparrow
The Mottle-Breasted Sparrow wandered in the coffee shop
And nibbled at the cookie crumbs that lay upon the floor;
He was the only Sparrow to have wandered through the door.
The Coffee Man said "Sparrow, you will have to pay for those,"
And gestured to the register above the sparrow's head;
The hungry little sparrow flew away at what was said,
And fed upon the cookie crumbs outside.
The ants are walking single file
With leaves over their heads,
To keep the rain from falling on
Their tiny little bodies,
Even though the sun above their heads is shining;
They're too small to see the sky,
And it could turn at any moment,
So they'd better be prepared.
The climate brings a change in those
Who work without security,
And losing hope, they would propose
To watch the world burn.
The summer and the endless drought
That forces inactivity
And leaves the people down and out,
What else to do but do without?
When shortages subvert the case
For notions of morality
And wages cannot keep their pace
It's time to make the world burn.
Authority cannot contain
The passion of the raging sea
Or douse the bright and furious flame
That boils the ocean into steam.
And from the fire comes new life,
Doomed to make the same mistakes,
Until the world burns.
Footsteps: His, and Yours, and Mine
Wherever footsteps pass, they pass forever
Forever dissipating, never fading into dust
In such a way to disappear completely;
Beneath the earth are the tremors of a memory,
And they are always shaking
And we never cease in making fresher footprints,
All the planet is a-quake, the planet trembles.
And as long as there are feet there will be footprints
Though even that is not to say forever,
When then there will be no one to remember;
Yet the memory still vibrates under mountains
By the waters of the muddy lake
I see the footprints rippling by
In incandescent waves,
And they cannot be forgotten
And they cannot be ignored,
So when my own life is over
They'll continue to be felt forever more.
To Live Is
Socrates has drunk a magic potion,
In doing so he learned the final truth,
He was deceived no more by the illusion,
And has no further questions left to ask.
Alchemists have sought the panacea,
But never found it, and they never will,
Until the day there's nothing left to heal,
Not even an equation still to solve.
Every child a creature of creation,
Growing old and understanding less,
Waiting for the final resolution,
And finding little 'til the bitter end.
Mephistopheles has promised wisdom,
Faust has foolishly ignored the price,
For if he sought an end to his confusion,
He would never have to pay a cent.
Did you figure out the riddle? If you didn't, don't worry. It's really not very clever. I just like the way the words turned out (though I cannot for the world remember why I chose the word "enervated").
The Guitar actually has a companion poem, written on the same night, entitled The Girl in the Shining Green Dress. I had intended to share it here as well, until I actually read it again, and well...it's a little out there. I guess I was feeling lonely that night? I recall I was at a party, and parties often do that to me.
Gold is Love has kind of an odd meter pattern: five beats, three beats, four beats, three beats. That adds up to fifteen beats per stanza, which means I could have re-written each stanza as three lines of iambic pentameter, if I were so inclined. This is, as far as I can tell, the most interesting thing about this poem.
Springtime doesn't make a lot of sense. It's kind of a stream-of-consciousness thing that I composed in bits in my head while I was walking home from school one day. You see things, you feel things, you throw them in a poem, you try to pay minimal attention to meter. Not great work, perhaps.
My Ship is Coming In is some pretty emo stuff, I'm not going to deny it. Something must have set me off, but I can't remember what it was. I'll chalk it up to graduation stress.
View, Sparrow, and Ants were all written when I made a habit of spending a few hours each week in a coffee shop near the corner of 6th and High Street called Gary's Coffee. Sparrow is actually based on a true story, which may interest you, or may not. I just realized it's in perfect iambic septameter, which is a pretty cool meter. Other poems were written under the same circumstances, but most of them are pretty dumb.
I definitely had fires on the brain when I wrote Incendiary, because I was researching for my Senior paper at the time. The topic was arson in 18th century England,and well, yeah. That's about all there is to be said about this one.
I wrote Footsteps in my Aunt and Uncle's house on the shore of the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. My cousin Kirk had died recently, and the family had all come for the funeral. It happens that this weekend is the anniversary of his passing, and so I thought it best to include it now, rather than keep holding it in the queue. I worked very hard on it, so I hope it came out alright.
To Live Is is sort of a cliche poem. Death is the meaning of life? Relentless classical allusions? I forgive you if you're bored. But you may have noticed the rhyme scheme, which goes "ABAC," rather than the more conventional "ABAB" or "ABCB." Nobody does that! It defies your expectations as a reader! OK, so the second stanza is sort of a cheat, but I don't care. I still think it's kind of cool. I also think it's cool how it goes back and forth from iambic to trochaic meter, but other people will probably think I just screwed it up.