That number is not a lie. I've done this ten times, ladies and gentlemen: my poetical impulse cannot be contained by mere single-digit numbers. It will take more than nines to stop me, I fear.
Tonight's poems come from the period of Autumn of 2011 through approximately Summer of 2012; quite recent, by the standards I have on this site. I have reached a point where I have a certain degree of confidence in my poetry that I did not always have. Namely, I feel confident in stating that my work actually is poetry, and not a clumsy pile of the worst affronts to the very idea of poetry. I've put on a brave face this whole time, but some of my earlier work is questionable in that regard.
So, it's poetry. Is it good poetry? I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to say. If someone would like to tell me, I'd really appreciate it. In the meantime, enjoy Poetry Jam #10. Several other poems from the same time frame are in my folder and on my desk top, in states I consider to be fragmentary or otherwise incomplete. I see promise in many of them, so I'd like to finish them, but for now we have the following to consider:
Welcome to Monday; you're six hours late and the
sun is unfazed by the schedule you're keeping.
she's halfway across and you've only been sleeping,
so drink all your coffee and be on your way,
happily lonely and happily driving away.
Open your eyes if you want to see clearly. You
won't see the sun if you're happily dreaming,
she'll fly by the clouds with her countenance beaming;
you'll never be certain to see her in time.
smile, don't mention you're happily losing your mind.
Am I a child?
Am I young and immature?
A wild and wide-eyed innocent,
A messy pile on the floor;
Do I feel alive and hurt
Or am I dumb and bored?
A child grows, and what's a grown-up for?
The children want to know;
Am I a child,
An uncompleted work of life?
Am I growing up or down
Or standing still?
Am I just a vessel filled
With questions, needs and wills?
A child grows, and what's a child for?
The children never know.
Am I a child,
Will I grow?
Have I grown too much?
Am I such a mystery
I cannot solve myself?
The Iris and the Shell
An iris and a little shell, dissolving
in a million bits of violet light;
I see them in the future, and I know
it's coming soon. They're coloring the night
and painting pictures with the falling stars,
illuminated indigo and white.
Powdered into diamond dust and ground
into a pigment, dark and dimming blue;
I see them in the future and I wonder,
if I see them, can you see them too?
All spread across the water? Hanging in
the evening breeze, embellishing the dew?
Can you see the future, see it blinking
in the sun? The iris, rising tall
and growing stronger in the little shell?
I see it; it is beautiful, and all
the words I know could not do justice to
its grace. I'd like to watch its petals fall,
To see it standing bare until the spring
returns; I want to know the blossoms' smell.
Their future is a supernova burst,
their voices like a shining crystal bell:
Now, can you see them be reborn in cosmic
bloom, the heavens' iris-colored shell?
My hand is numb from cold, and fire
burns my feet: my reach exceeds
Too scared to fail, too dumb to win;
too shaken up to feel secure.
In fact I can't remember when
I felt secure, or why I did;
it seems so silly now, to think
I might have felt like I was safe.
Today I'm lonely, lost at sea,
I'm isolated, up a creek.
I can't remember what to do
or how to do what needs be done.
And who can help me? Can she help?
I think that she's the key, but she
is locked inside the cabinet,
and where's the other key? I left
it somewhere, but I've lost it now.
Who keeps the key? Who makes the rules
that govern love and emptiness?
Who locks the lonely people out
and offers them excuses? Says
"the door was never locked, in fact
the cabinet is open wide,
and all you need to do is reach
your hand out, grab the key and turn."
But who is grabbed? I feel sick,
like something's got me by the lungs.
Too little air; the window's locked,
Is she the key? And can she see
me on this side? Both panes of glass
are foggy, and I'd like to clean
them, but I'm scared they'll break.
The End of the World Will Not be Violent
The end of the world will not be violent,
baked in blood and burnt;
the Earth won't shake.
For the world will end in a whisper,
in a quiet lullaby of birds
who sing of longing and laughter, as they fall asleep
and dream of sunny skies.
The stars will pierce the atmosphere
to dissipate the clouds from great distances,
and soon they'll disappear,
to lay the pearly heavens bare.
The birds will start to snore
as their nests grow deeper and deeper,
and the skies grow starker and starker
and merge in one great sky
the likes of which has never been seen above our heads before.
Unseen it will grow and the Earth will end
as it shrinks.
The silence will be cool, and glow
with gentle light;
a nightlight for the sleeping birds
who dream of sunny skies,
that once upon a time
combined in one great sky.
One More Year
I think I've got a year to live;
if nothing turns out horribly wrong,
explodes in my kitchen, burns my lawn,
or breaks into a million pieces on
the sidewalk curb,
I think I can make it that long.
I think I've got a year to go
to London, Mars, or somewhere gone,
to fall asleep with only a yawn,
to find myself awake at dawn
and pass a dream;
I'd like to live that long.
I think I've got a beautiful year
to write a very beautiful song,
and sing it to a cheering throng,
and learn to sing it like I belong
on stage at all;
I hope I can make it that long.
City of Angels
I'll see you in the city of angels,
a dirty place I'd never like to see
again; a place for killing dreams and schemes
that hatched too soon. I'll see you there,
in months or years, at somebody's party;
I don't know why I'd be there, but I know
I'll be there soon. I read the invitation:
"Come at once and bring your money, all
the money you can spend in an evening."
I'll bring the most but you'll have more; before
I know it you'll have spent me, I'll be spent
and lying on the floor, crying for
you, falling for the city of angels.
In dirty tears, in dirty thoughts, in pain
and lots of others, feeling bolts of light
and arrows in my bones. I'm all alone,
the party's slowly tapering down
and now you're out the window in your Euro-
diamond car, off to paint some sketchy,
filthy, unhygienic bar a deep,
disturbing, healthy lavender-red.
I watch you speeding down the boulevard
and watch the guards patrol the streets below,
forever mindful of disruptions: guns
and needles in the city of angels.
It worries me to think that you're so good
at this; I wonder if I pegged you wrong,
as wandering shadows dirty up the walls.
Feeble Falling Snow
I watch the feeble falling snow outside;
it sits upon the ground in pools of water,
melts before it settles down to touch the street.
It chills the air across the window,
fogs the pane outside and melts away,
like every other flake of ice that falls at thirty three degrees.
The snow above,
the rain below,
the crystals frozen in the gutter;
nothing cleaves to mist and dew,
It slips and slides across the frosty glass.
The Huntsman Dying in the Snow
West of the midnight sun,
the lightning strikes the huntsman as he
watches the caribou run
across the grass and snow.
Under the arctic sun
he lies, alone and smoking whispers
into the said and done,
and hearing no response.
East of the evening sun,
the sky is falling on the huntsman's
body, and one by one
the stars announce the night.
A Beautiful Life
A beautiful life in forests and fields,
cars and trucks,
the highways bound for bigger towns,
and Radiohead on the radio.
Hand in hand between the hills, the
the wind still sends the air below
that warms at the sound of our voices.
By mossy jeeps and the resting timber,
beneath the slopes of green and snow,
by wheels on the slippery road.
On a whim we stop, and taste a memory,
drink a cup;
the winter on a country drive
will carry us, bringing us home.
Light the Way
Light the way, I'll follow you,
I'll walk across the city streets
if you'll be on the other side;
light the way and I'll be there beside you.
Light the way beneath the stars
with lamps along the sleepy streets,
and take the darkness from the sky;
share the light that reaches out and scatters.
Light the way that brings me home,
and if you hurry we will meet
where scattered lights have come to rest;
Come together, living all around us.
This concrete wall is bigger than me,
this bridge extends indefinitely
as far as I can see;
I am as small as anything
that I have ever known,
smaller than the dirt below
my feet and infinitely tiny
in comparison to this,
the work of your machines.
The Road Looks Like a River
The road looks like a river today,
with droplets sparkling on the black
and tires sinking under the surface,
under the sinking tar.
The road looks like a river
the cars are underwater and the
lights shine from below
like a graveyard of lost ships
The river is alive!
The ripples dance across the hoods
hail the breaking cloud
and split the surface of the black
in grains of sinking tar.
You Are So Young
Your face is laughing
and you are so young,
your heart beats faster,
seconds faster than mine can beat.
I've had enough of
this walking along;
Let's take our shot a
hundred miles and years from here!
Now nothing makes me
believe in my heart
like you: you send me
far from here and far along.
But why should I be
so eager to fly,
when you are here and
we're together on solid ground?
And why should I
surrender this day
when you are here and
sunshine glows in the open air?
Your face is laughing
and you are so young;
Music and Lyrics
I believe in a word of love
and hope, because it sounds like bells
when spoken, melts like water, cools
and cleans me, makes me think of you.
I believe in the light of music,
twice reflected in your eyes
as lightning in a sky of diamonds,
music and lyrics by one and two.
The ink was hot, its fire spread across
a thousand books, and arson was the crime.
The knowledge, grace and beautiful words that rang
like keys were lost when the music burned to ashes
and the ink was poured on vulnerable heads.
A history was written in their place;
an inky darkness scorched across their pages.
Commentary is unavoidable. Prepare for it!
Happily and Child both find me in a state of self-doubt, familiar to those familiar with my poetical works. I don't think Child came out the way it originally sounded in my head, but I can hardly remember how it sounded way back then. I just tried to be honest.
I wrote The Iris and the Shell in a more or less transparent attempt to impress a girl I was seeing last October. We'd been on a few dates and I liked her, but I sensed that she was not exactly enraptured with me. So I spent days crafting this poem, to provide some evidence of my value as a thinking, feeling person who could do at least one thing well. As it happened, she never read it because I never saw her again, but the loss did not plunge me into my usual bout of despair and depression. True, Locked Out came out of that period, and it's pretty depressing, but all in all I came out of that one alright.
The End of the World Will Not be Violent and One More Year are further indulgences in my obsession with what I privately call mellow apocalyptica, a word I apparently made up. To wit: we're all doomed, but it might be kind of pretty when we go. I guess I think about things like that as the year comes to an end.
I was ridiculously proud of City of Angels when I wrote it, and I still think it's pretty damn awesome. It's also a fact that I thought it up while slightly drunk at four in the morning, wondering what an ex-girlfriend I hadn't seen in years was up to at that very moment. Through bleary eyes, I saw that the hastily improvised meter worked, and it made me smile. In the morning I realized I had been absolutely insane: in all likelihood she was just sleeping, like I and all ostensibly sane people should have been doing at four in the morning. But it still works as a panicky nightmare piece. That's valid, right?
I wrote two poems in quick succession about snow, which is only fair because it was winter and snow was on my mind. I like living in a place where it snows, though it doesn't always come in the kind of fluffy blankets you see on Christmas cards; hence, Feeble Falling Snow. As for Huntsman, it just seems I can't do anything without being at least a little depressing, but I think I came up with some good turns of phrase here.
A Beautiful Life, Light the Way, You Are So Young, and Music and Lyrics are my favorite poems in today's collection. All of these poems were written for and inspired by my beloved girlfriend, Tara, whom I met in January and has transformed my life into a field of lollipops and other delightful treats. The first two came early, and in fact I gave a copy of Light the Way to her as a St. Valentine's Day present. I'm such a smoothie! I composed Music and Lyrics during a prep period while working as a substitute teacher in a history classroom. The lesson consisted mostly of showing a video, so I thought it was the best possible use of my time. Thus far, Tara has only seen those two, so I present the others to you and to her with all of my love.
Underpass is a lot shorter than the others here, but it expresses a very simple idea that came to me while I was walking under a bridge. It really doesn't need to be any more than it is, and I really like it as is.
Hot Ink is a metaphorical sort of thing, the sort of poem one writes when trying to be very serious about something important without wanting to seem overly transparent. Why be transparent when you can be arty?