Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Poetry Jam #12

Today's round of poetry, containing works both light and not-so-light, was written between August and December of 2012; quite a time to be alive, as I recall!  Our President was re-elected, and I was frantically trying to move out of a house I'd only been living in a few months.  That's...pretty much it, as far as noteworthy events.  I probably don't really need to sit on my poems this long before releasing them to the eyes of the world, but you know me.  Lazy.

As always, a few notes and commentary at the bottom for those who like that sort of thing.  Lord knows I must.

My Face

I was surprised to see my face;
I thought that I looked different,
but I guess I just forgot myself
from looking in a mirror,
and now I can't believe my face
is who I'll be tomorrow.


The right of self-destruction may be ours,
it may be plain for all to see
but isn't it odd that we claim it?

The right to misadventure for the young
wherever youth runs stray and free,
but isn't it odd that we claim it?

The right to burn our organs to the ground,
to douse our minds and light the smoking oil,
as evident as things could be,
but isn't it odd that we claim it?


How fine to see an hourglass alive
and dwindling, not diminishing, but turning
sand from top to bottom, bulb to bulb;
descending, frozen in a fluid moment,
stopped in space and passing time by time.

How fine to be reminded of the glass
that has been turned, and hasn't been, but will
again if someone finds it standing steady.
Every space an endless era, filled,
and emptied, spent, and wasted, filled again.

Mary Jane Around the World

Mary Jane is not at home;
tonight she sleeps in the arms of the sun,
blinded by the light of stars,
eyelids shut across the eyes
of Mary Jane and her beautiful one.

Mary Jane is far away;
today she lightly embraces the moon,
glides along the beams of grey,
silver on the glittering dress
of Mary Jane in the embassy room.

Mary Jane is gone for good;
a lonely thought in a wandering mind,
corresponding to a girl
gone to England, France, Japan:
the Mary Jane who has left him behind.

Music Machine

Noise and silence break the filter,
and that's the way the first song ends
like lightning crackling through a tube:
broken sounds like blues.

Thirteen songs to go before
the fade out
crackles out again.
Noise and silence break the filter,
split the speaker end to end.

Nightmares of Mine

I read your book before I went to sleep,
and yes, I liked it.  But it gave me nightmares:
trees came tumbling from the sky, and saws
flew loops between them; women's faces sprung
from mirrors on the bathroom walls at night.

But I still liked it; yes, I mean the book.
I found it gripping, and I couldn't stop
myself from reading, even when my dreams
began.  I'd turn the page, and owls would peer
from windows hid between the words and call:

We know that you'll be sleeping soon; good night,
and don't mind us, we'll just be sleeping too.

The Notable Gift

You've got the gift, and every one will love you for it,
everyone will love your gift,
They'll come from miles in all directions
Just to watch the way you kick.

So now you've earned a cheer, a kiss,
a headline in the student paper
for your single notable gift.

Una Vez en Español, Por Favor

El alma de mi fuego, levántate,
vuela tú sobre el sonido
de mi corazón ahora.
Esta noche, tú me levantas
y me duermo;
sueña tú juntos conmigo.

A Larger Fire

Our evening hasn't lacked for candlelight,
we burn beside a fire
many stages larger than the flames
of little wicks and wax.

Those candles melt away
but ours will burn until it ashes
several forests worth of wood
and brings this little restaurant down.

Train Tracks

Angry trains at midnight
break the silence of the station
with their unrelenting whistles
and their endless clicker-clacks;

This town could stretch for miles, 
but we'd always be in earshot,
and we'll never get to sleep 
until the trains are off the tracks.

Tara's Eyes

If I were writing of your eyes
I couldn't keep my hands from shaking;
discipline and self-control
are stupid notions when I think
that I could see you and be seen
by you, reflected in your lovely,
loving, incandescent eyes.


Painted on the sidewalks
and the uninspected walls,
sprayed across the concrete,
over bricks and private roads:

Omar the Relentless
keeps his head below the tall grass
so the public doesn't see him.

Tower Defense Queue

Four or five to go, I think,
perhaps as few as three; I hope 
that I won't have to settle...
Only two?  While we could play
with two, this only seems to
raise the question, if I 
really need to play with you.

Wax Shell

There is life inside this shell,
but its lifespan is determined:
there is no escaping that.

Every second that it lives
and consumes its precious matter
is an ash along the path;

When it slowly flickers out
there might still be a reminder 
of the life it hasn't lived,

But the shell will be alone.
It will only be remembered
for the light it didn't give.

Shatter-Colored Window

Now you are broken glass on the floor,
strained like sand and water and a chore
to gather up, a hazard for our feet,

A color-crusted window to the door
beyond perception,
the subjective,
the release.

Something Important to Say

Natalia warned the speaker to
beware of falling icicles
when speaking in the frozen room:

"A single block could crush you dead,
the smallest point could split your head,
and then your speech would never carry
promise like it did before."

Natalia smiled, then she sat down
without betraying her dread.
The speaker bravely said her peace
because it had to be said.



I don't think Rights is very elegant as far as meter goes, but I like everything else about it.  The middle stanza is weak, but I think the third one more than makes up for it in terms of content.  I'm not a teetotaler, but I do think that our bodies are worth taking care of, and I have never been comfortable with the notion that being young is not only a license, but an invitation to hurt yourself.

Hourglass has some nifty metaphysics and philosophy going on, but mostly it's about word sounds.  "Turning sand from top to bottom, bulb to bulb?"  Sometimes I impress myself.  I am easily impressed by plosive consonants.

Mary Jane Around the World, on the other hand, is more about images and feelings.  Loss and liberty, you might call it, if you were allowed to title it.  I have half a mind to re-title it right now.  But I won't.

My notes indicate I was drunk when I wrote Music Machine.  I don't want to give the impression that I always drink when I write poems, but I do often feel the urge to scribble when I've had something to drink.  Sometimes, it's halfway decent.

Nightmares of Mine is almost a story, written as it is in blank verse.  The title is literal: those are images that used to recur in my dreams when I was a small child.  Some of them even feel like actual memories, even though the laws of physics preclude them from being possible.  I wanted to give them a little touch of immortality through verse.

The Notable Gift touches on anxiety, about being hailed as brilliantly talented for being able to do one thing sort of well.  I have this problem sometimes.

I am almost a little embarrassed to be presenting Una Vez en Español, Por Favor.  Yes, I wrote it in Spanish.  I didn't write it in English and then translate it, I went word by word in Spanish.  If I've fucked it up in the grammar, please let me know and I'll fix it.  I just really wanted to try something different.  I don't know much about typical meters in Spanish poetry, so I treated the stress more or less as I would in English and did my own thing.

A Larger Fire and Wax Shell were both originally untitled and are both, more or less, about candles.  I was surprised at how sexy the first one turned out to be!  But the second is not sexy.  Not sexy at all.  Anyway, I like candles.  I like the way they smell and I just like the way they burn. 

Tara's Eyes is for Tara, but you guys can read it too.  She really does have beautiful eyes.  It's the biggest cliche ever for a poet to compliment a woman's eyes, but at least I successfully avoided the word "limpid."

"Rumo?" is based on some actual graffiti I saw in the park one day while I was walking home.  The same person seems to have made multiple tags in different places.  It looked like they were spelling "Rumo," but it was so stylized I couldn't be one hundred percent sure.  So I reversed it (sort of) to Omar in the body of the poem, and I liked the mental images it gave me.

Tower Defense Queue is about StarCraft 2.  In case you were wondering.  I'm not often moved to wax poetical about online games, but it was a silly day.

I wrote Shatter-Colored Window to give myself something to do between classes when I was substituting for a ceramics teacher at Springfield High.  You take some of the things you see around you, and sometimes you can make something really pretty out of it.

Something Important to Say appears, at first glance, to be heavily laden with allegory.  It totally is.  Trust your instincts.

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