Friday, February 18, 2011

Poetry Jam #6

I'm not sure why, but my poetry backlog is about a year and a half deep.  It's not that I write all that many: they tend to come in spurts, and I can go months without writing any.  But when I do, I write a lot, and then I sit on them, until time and distance have forced me to reinterpret them in a new light.  Actually, that sounds like a good justification.  Let's go with that.

Anyway, a year and a half is far too deep, so I'm going to post a whole bunch of poems today.  Hope you all like them!  If you don't, I hope you don't hate them?

A Dark Soul

I detest, I deplore, I degrade, I desire,
I denounce, more than that, I do loathe and conspire,
I hate, and through hate I seek to empower,
To denigrate, self-destruct and inspire
The same wretched impulse to hate and to hurt,
I feel pain, I inflict, I instruct in the worst

I delight in the lack of delight that I feel,
I neglect, I attack, and I feel I must kill
To justify living and breathing at will,
I murder and I lash out, I instill
My fear in the eyes of the weak of the soul,
I am dead, I break down, I would bury the world.

Fire and Water

Fire and water, opposite powers,
Water consumes the flame,
But break it down into its parts
And fire will stand to gain

For oxygen and hydrogen will
Make it burn the brighter,
Until they will exhaust themselves
And likewise starve the fire

The fire will burn itself to ashes,
The rain will fall again,
The ashes make the stuff of life,
From mud it will begin


The question of substance is pressing against me,
I brush my hand against your skin;
The theory has been that our bodies are different,
I wonder why that has been

The weight of the world and the life in your whisper,
The carbon and water and blood,
The eyes of the children who've grown into adults,
They see, they are blind, they love

Regardless of whether the question is answered,
The flesh will remain here at hand;
I wonder whether we're different at all,
You answer as best as you can.

Call Them to Breathe

Call them out to breathe the vapors of the morning
And recall the scent into the evening meal
With the vegetables and entrees of the table,
Thus enhanced by the memory of waking
And the gratitude of making
A space within the universe,
To live and not to be disturbed
By ever aging discontent,
We will be happy to have kept our good perspective
And we'll spare ourselves the worst of our invective
And convert it to its harmless, inert state;
When we have the wisdom to accept our standing
We can stand to face our own uncertain fate

Experiment: Blank One

Beneath the tunnels, underground a monk
laments the cosmic crack, which split the Earth
and drained the seas into the yawning wound
of time, a wound that heals but never mends,
and only he can see the scar that marks
the catastrophic site.  He sees it in
his mind, because his mind is ravaged by
disease; what seems like simple truth to him
is madness unadorned.  The doctors all
agree that this would best explain his mental
state, and give him pills to calm him down;
his sons and daughters bring him home, to dream
his nightmares all alone.

The world ends in lonely minds that lack
the vision or perspective of their youths,
and cannot be retrieved or saved.  The world
simply disappears, where reason fails
to give it form; and without form it
sublimates, as gas escapes and leaves behind
the yawning wound of time.  The living one
becomes a monk, though he has never taken
orders or received a solemn cloak;
his brain is cloistered in the nothing and
the key is locked inside a chest.

Prison Piece

Wandering in rows and numbers are the people
Who are caught up in the larger system,
They rely on lights and signals to survive the
Maze, they stumble into walls and prisons,
From the borders of the body
To the limits of the soul;
If the fences were much higher
They would swallow humans whole

All the while I am here, waiting for the signal
To be sounded by whatever sounds it,
Wondering if noise or light bulbs will announce it
Or, if I will know it when it passes;

Water flows into the body
And the plasma to their hearts
With the spark that makes a heartbeat,
And the wheel of freedom starts.

After Noon

So much for the patch of blue sky,
Now obscured by rainy clouds;
The sky is wet with shady vapor,
So much for the afternoon.

You cannot tell the day from night,
Except that daytime has no moon;
The winter overcomes the fall
And brings the evening very soon,
You stumble headlong at a lamppost,
In the dark, hours only after noon.


I am red
In tooth and claw,
Within my mind;
My nails are short and soft from wear,
My teeth off-white and round;
Within my mind
I'm thirsty, brutal,
I am red
In tooth and claw,

And now I see,
My eyes are burnt by morning air,
I hear the din and sound
Beneath the fog,
I am encumbered;
I am red
In tooth and claw,
I can't be stopped,
I give a deadly, deadly stare;

My eyes fall on the ground
And gather dirt,
It irritates me;
I am red
In tooth and claw,
Through dust I crawl
In search of muddy, bloodened fare
From cold and rainy ground;
I am afraid

I wander, mumbling,
Am I red
In tooth and claw?
I wonder still;
My back is straight from standing there,
I spring at sudden sounds;
I shudder at
The thought of that,
Am I red?

I am red
In tooth and claw
Within my darkest dread and drear;
I taste the iron in my soul
And cry with salt-less fear.

Just What Are You Asking Me?

Give me a blank sheet with none of this scribbling,
And see that I don't go mental or crazy,
I can't take this shit right now, I can't,
I can't take it anymore, I can't,
Give me an empty space in the writer's room
To fall asleep with my pencils,
I can't take this right now.

A Poem About a Fire

Fire, burning indiscriminate,
Children inside, outside, where?
Tears of youth at such destruction,
Baying hounds; for us, despair.

Dimming Blue

If your sparkling eyes were water
They would splash across my shoulder
On the bridge above the river;
As my heart was turning over

And my fingers felt your sweater,
While a chill wind made them eager,
I would bless the pleasant weather,
Hold you tight and not let go,

Would you kiss me in the sunlight?
I would follow you forever;
If you led me back to Earth and
To the warmth of your embrace,
If you fell upon the flowers
I would fall beside your body;
If the rain should start to fall then
We should hurry home with haste;
I wouldn't hesitate to follow you
Until the skies were dimming blue,
Then you would follow me.


Sing, Jingo, sing your heart out,
Sing to your adoring flock,
Everything will soon be settled
By a song, no time for talk!

Sing Jingo, to the millions
Who admire your every word,
Sung with anger, fire and sulfur,
Cry and shriek, you noble bird!

Jingo, you can see for miles
Underneath the northern lights,
Jingo, you can sing for hours,
A single song for every night

Sing, Jingo, sing your sorrow,
Cry yourself at night to bed;
A cup of tea will surely help your
Peace of mind, your troubled head

Jingo, you must raise the beacon
Of the city on a hill,
And salt the Earth, let it be salted
With the blood of those we'll kill.

Inspirations of Joan Miró

I see you, blood and darkness,
Thorn and thimble, eyes in azure night,
The crescent affirmation
Purple heartstrings, birds in violet flight
I want to close my eyes and fall asleep,
Revolution opens, shatters, tears the streets,
Within me, within reason
Such a pity to be lost in sound,
The horse and fish and monster
Tear my center, pieces all around
I want to close my eyes, I fell to dreaming,
Revolution, Revolution on the streets.


Barcelona by the ocean,
Trilobitely resplendent,
She is resting by the sunny ocean side,
Resplendent by the ocean shore,
And sinking to the ocean floor:

A la Rambla, to the sands of
Beaches under Spanish skies,
She is basking in the shadow of the hills,
Diagonal to ocean waves
And gazing up to sunny days,

Resplendently she gazes up
And sees her fleeting borrowed time
With her gift of second sight,
The Barcelona Trilobite.

The Sea-Elf

I woke in love, and loving one who'd gone
Away beneath the silver setting sun
While singing in a voice of ice and storm
"The moon is up, the skies are lit,
The fire is out, the frost is come,"
To Elvish lands the dreaming girl had gone,
The Elf girl of the ocean's sighing song

Although to her I knew I did belong,
She left me stranded in the sand alone;
To Elvish lands the dreaming girl had gone,
And I could never hope to bring her home.

Drowning in the Fire

Fountain, fountain
Mountains in the water
Rising up through smoke and fumes and fire,
I am choking on my indecision,
Drowning in the dying tombs and pyres
I am burning inside out and through,
I don't know what to say to you
The words aren't even coming through

Fountain, fountain
Bubbling in the laughter
Crashing into stone and brick and marble,
You don't know the things that I am thinking,
Rushing through the channels, streams and brain cells,
A flaming river, blazing blue,
I'm drowning at the thought, it's true
Just tell me what I have to do.

Water Tower

It was midnight on a hilltop
And I couldn't see the stars,
They were hidden by a hazy bank of clouds;
The horizons were a fuzzy orange tint
From the shining of the lanterns on the street,
And it stretched across forever
At the end of time, the end of the world
Without a soul in sight,
You could almost call it night.


When you touch her pale skin,
Then the world stops turning round
And you scarcely hear a sound
While your heart is beating loud

And you wonder where you've been,
Who has lost what you have found?
And you wonder this aloud
Though your lips are tightly bound.

Thursday Night

I had a dream about you late at night,
And I thought you had been crying
Since you had that crying look in your eyes;
We were in the smokeless section
Of a lighted outdoor bar,
But the smokey air was blocking out the lights

You told me things I knew could not be true,
And I'd say that you were lying
If I weren't lying down in your eyes;
We were feeling slightly tipsy
When I bought another drink,
And I took the words you told to be the truth

Beneath the lamps your hair was shining bright,
And I'd give up half a lifetime
Just to catch the quickest glimpse of your thighs;
But it was the loudest section
Of a crowded outdoor bar,
And I barely got to look you in the eyes.


They say Kayla was an acrobat
Who wore an open cloak and laughed at death,
And if you asked her, she'd say yes;
She'd go sailing through the circus tent
And hear the laughter everywhere she went,
And she would send them each a kiss

They say Kayla was an honest girl,
Her cape was speckled blue and green and pearl,
But then her eyes were apple red;
I saw her leap in Brandenburg,
She vaulted up above the crooked world,
And when she landed I was sad

Kayla was an aeronaut who never flew away,
Kayla stayed and gave her smile away;
Kayla was an argonaut who couldn't sail away,
Kayla smiled and gave herself away

They say Kayla was an open book
And anyone at all could take a look,
And if you asked her, she'd say yes;
She would cast aside her precious cloak,
She'd stand before the world, all alone,
And if you asked her, she'd say yes.


I'm not really sure what I was trying to do with the first seven of these.  Dark Soul is a character piece, a sort of diagnosis of negativity in the world.  I also liked the euphony of all those negative verbs.  Blank One is not so much a poem as a rambling example of blank verse.  I seem to have been trying something with the rhythms of the other ones, and for the life of me I can't remember what that was.  There were several other poems from this same period: approximately July to December of 2009.  Those others were not very good at all, so I didn't include them here.

But Red, that's where things get interesting!  I don't know why, but starting grad school in January of last year was a very fertile time for me in terms of poetry writing.  I like writing things that include internal contradictions, and Red is just like that.

A Poem About a Fire and Inspirations of Joan Miró are both essentially the product of my showing off in front of my classmates, and were written spontaneously in response to classroom prompts.  The first I must give partial credit for to my friend Jeff Martin, who is a genius and deserves kudos for anything tangentially related to him.  Inspirations, on the other hand, was written as part of an activity where we responded to abstract paintings; mine was a work by Catalan surrealist Joan Miró.  I can't find an image of the specific painting I responded to, but here's a gallery of his crazy, crazy stuff.

Jingo is a political poem.  In a sense, it is easy to understand, but it is also kind of obtuse and weird and really bad.  I guess I decided a Jingo was a kind of songbird?  Oh well.  Back in early 2010 a certain politician of a certain political party was making noises about how we should invade Iran or not sign a nuclear weapons treaty or some nonsense.  Mockery was needed: mockery in verse, no less.  There is an alternate final stanza that references the Mayan Apocalypse meme in connection with the next Presidential election.  I am not sharing it with you.

Trilobita is a ridiculous poem.  I know I promised not to do any more ridiculous poems about trilobites.  I couldn't help myself.  It just sounds so GOOD!

The Sea-Elf is inspired, as you might guess, by Tolkien; specifically by a biographical work on Tolkien I was reading at the time.  Tolkien is one of my favorite authors and I assumed that he'd probably had an influence on my writing in some way, but I wasn't really cognizant of what it was.  I wrote something touching on one of his favorite themes in order to try and solve the riddle.  It didn't work, and I still don't know what aspect of my writing is Tolkien-esque, but I think the poem is pretty.

Some of these poems, including Dimming Blue, Thursday Night, and Kayla, are vaguely erotic in nature.  I'm not in the game of writing *that* kind of poetry, but I do think that it's good to spread out into unfamiliar and uncomfortable terrain.  I think I was also trying some kind of weird metrical trick in Thursday Night, and it came out kind of muddled.

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