Thursday, December 3, 2015

Poetries #4

I don't know quite how, but I have essentially exhausted that overly-comfortable buffer that once existed between the writing of my poems and their publication (if that is the right word) on this blog.  That's a little bit frightening, if only because I wonder what level of productivity is most fitting to this activity, and whether my work might benefit from more waiting and editing.  I am always putting too much pressure on myself.

Anyway, here's fifteen more of those things I do.  They are not, all things considered, bad.  Ironically, the title and tone of the first poem in this group asserts the opposite.  Maybe someday I can write in a self-aware style without being so relentlessly negative, hmm?  That's a challenge for next time, I suppose.

The time span of these poems is from October to December, 2015.  As usual, boring and unnecessary commentary can be found at the end.

Edit: An earlier version of this post included the poem Into the Hidden Garden, a poem which previously appeared in an earlier Poetries post.   The person responsible for this error has been flogged.


This is Not a Good Poem

I don't think you'll like this one,
it hasn't got the adjectives
you love so much,
or crushing turns of life 
and blood,
of bone and breath.

No one smokes a cigarette
or puts the ember out with their skin,
and no one dies
of cholera, consumption,
or purple death.

I haven't read the classic books
in Latin or in Ancient Greek;
I haven't read
any Burroughs, none
of Bukowski,
not even Pulp.

This is not a good poem - 
a poet always knows a failure,
and I have never 
known the rules: when 
to rhyme,
or when to stop.

Tender Loving Care

You thought of everything,
considered every angle,
approached the job with care - 
and happy birthday to me.

I opened my eyes to find
you'd given an ideal gift - 
something of the moment,
something of eternity.

Correct in every detail,
gentle as a mother tigress,
I could not deny
you have the taste for this.

And here's the stroke of brilliance - 
you know that to enjoy this grace
I have to be serene,
surrender to your loving care,

to trust your love,
to trust your instincts,
trust your teeth
with all their kind intentions.

Happy birthday to me,
I feel you humming, sweetly,
and again I close my eyes
in praise of this ideal gift.


Everyone is smaller
at the edge of things;

the divers and their never-
ending quest for treasures
from the mouths of clams;

the statues, weathered by
the whistling winds of age;

the fishermen, diminished
in the spray of winter
by the swell of whales;

the sailors learning how
to swim (the hard way);

the victims and survivors
of the seaside village
clinging to their boats;

the tiny people, gazing 
in the tight abyss

with buckets at the ready
and screaming for their lives.


The boy,
he ran around October
through the pumpkins,
making paper of
the leaves.

He caught
the girl between the forest
of October
and the frozen pond
at dusk.

They laughed,
exhilarated by the
chase, and spinning
in October's chill 

The girl
delighted in the blushing
of his cheeks, she
slipped her fingers in
his sleeves.

Her back
across October's papers,
red and orange,
making love, they hailed
the dark.

It took
another seven weeks, but
in the end, he
had to let October

Twenty First Century Man

They say that nineties kids can never forget,
but these are not the nineties anymore,
and I am just a twenty first century man,

and I was born in nineteen eighty seven,
but I really can't remember those days:
I wonder if the other children can.

To Boldly Go

Let me help,
she said;
it was the most beautiful
sound I'd ever heard,
like salt breezes
through a temple's pipes,
the sea-blown music
of relief.

Please help me,
I said;
it was the best that I could do
as far as harmony,
the one and only
fair submission,
humble counterpoint
from the stars.

If Her Love Was True

A silver sterling blade,
as precious as the flesh it cuts,
as warm as every drop of love it looses - 

it cuts in many ways, from front to
back and forth, to death
and through illusions dear to peaceful dreaming.

A slice, revealing plain that love is of the flesh,
and if her love was truly love
then love can die.

Clothes and Bones

I am secured against the underground
by concrete walls and a cloak of poly-plush,
yet through the night the frozen stones surround
me, and I know the Earth intends to crush
my chest, enclose me in their icy hush - 

Recalling lovers perilous and sweet,
ascending from this cellar makes me blush;
I fear my clothes are ages obsolete,
but up or down, my boots must grow to fit my feet.

Hasty Exit to a Scene

I never knew the art of rainy days,
the composition of the melting streets
and clouds of storm and wonder in your hair,
the rendezvous that never quite repeats
when the tears have dried, and the brush is cleansed with paint;

I never knew my way around the beats
we used to dance to, never knew the steps
between the raindrops, where the autumn meets
the magic, and I haven't learned them yet;

I never thought I'd make such quick retreats,
betray myself with such a slow embrace
and linger in the worst of those defeats.

The Fantastical Human Kite

If the Santa Ana winds would blow
me off my feet like a springtime kite,
to fall into the ocean,
would I drown?
I know
the wind is strong,
and I have arms like paper - 
fair enough to fly, perhaps,
but much too thin to bring me back to shore.

The Night Slicer

Every dream, a different scandal
is my shame.
A bullet, or a butcher knife,
in any case there's always blood
and it is not my own:
I am the blade that whistles.

I am very fortunate, indeed:
the only person who can blackmail me
is me.

A nightmare sits
on its victim's chest
like a greedy old ghoul,
but I'm the sitter
and I haunt the ghosts of my guilt.

The Local Crowd

Iridescent little weirdos,
buzzing through the fence poles
for their taste of plastic flowers;
they have given no account

of themselves or their intentions,
fair or foul.  Taken for granted,
taken for the local crowd,
speaking at fifty beats per second

in a low, distant murmur,
the taste of nectar on their tongues
and hunger boiling in their bellies,
they never stop, they never stop.

A Fever Dream

I am your sinister conspiracy,
the hidden source of every secret move,
the prize you stake your reputation on
because it makes your lips explode with taste;
sufficient cause to sneak behind their backs
for covert trysts in shaded corners, breathing
promises exchanged for wine and silk, 
intoxicants of tongue and tempted skin.
A life in shame is an exquisite risk
to hazard for a kiss, the danger of
exposure for the blissful thrill of sex;
but would it truly be a sin, to spill
your secrets out in a whispered conversation,
the pretense of your innocence betrayed?

A New Generation of Suckers

Today's American Fascist
needn't even bother
with red, white, or blue.
He smiles, confident
we've memorized the script,
and offers something true:

honesty with his
intentions, his contempt
for justice, for law, and for you - 
while happily, you and all
his fascist fans provide
the red, white, and blue. 

To Wind the Clock

A click,
but how many twists does it take 
to tick,
how many turns of the wrist
to tock?
A spring in the shape of a disc,
to tick
the seconds to task,
to tock, to tick:
to tighten,
to tock, to tick, to tock,
at last,
to tick, to tock, to tick, to tock...


In the event that This is Not a Good Poem is monumentally misguided, puerile, or embarrassing, my only defense is that I warned you in the title.  I was feeling a little frustrated when I wrote it; now I sort of regret that it leads off this group, but oh the things I do for chronological accuracy...

Just skip Tender Loving Care.  It's a fine poem, but if you pay any attention to it you'll know it to be scandalous and naughty.  If you don't skip it, you may also note the metrical oddity in stanza number five.  I have no crazy explanation for that, only that I liked it worded exactly as it was.

I am pretty sure Smaller was just idle practice at first, not particularly inspired.  I was on the fence about including it today, but I made a serious revision just now and decided I liked it well enough.  There's not much to it beyond the imagery, though.

October is another poem about a love affair, but a totally licit one, unlike A Fever Dream.  It's just young folks playing around in the woods, is all, having a good time.  I regret not fitting the word "October" into that one stanza, but it's not the end of the world I suppose.

Twenty First Century Man is about being old.  Just so damn old.  Twenty eight, man.  Whew.  Anyway, there's a little saying on the internet that "only nineties kids remember the nineties", which is nonsensical and inane and that special way that only happens when a generation attempts to describe itself.  I was never sure if, having been born in the eighties yet spending most of my childhood in the nineties, I actually qualified as a "nineties kid".  All I know is that I only remember those years in patches.  

To Boldly Go is, surprise surprise, about Star Trek, kind of.  The first line ("let me help") is a quote from Captain Kirk in the episode The City on the Edge of Forever.  He describes those words as the three most beautiful words in the universe, an idea I thought fitting for a poem.  The twist comes in the form of the other line, "please help me", which I read in an interview somewhere as an apparent mis-remembering of the line by someone praising the character of Kirk for his vulnerability.  The correct line is more about generosity of spirit than vulnerability per se, and yet I thought about how both reflected aspects of Kirk, and together made for an admirable worldview.  And also I am an enormous nerd.

If Her Love Was True is depressing and melodramatic, but also I think a sober reflection on the nature of love.  It is a cliche to say that true love is "eternal", and I think that perhaps it can be in a fashion.  But it is also true that you can truly love someone in one time, and later come not to love them anymore.  Thus the painful realization that things could have been just as good as you hoped they were, and it still wasn't enough for that storybook ending to take place.  

Naturally I wrote that poem with my ex-girlfriend in mind, and it happened that shortly thereafter I met her for lunch, our first face-to-face since the end of our relationship.  It was a friendly, warm encounter, but of course it stirred up a great many feelings once again.  The poetic result was Hasty Exit to a Scene, a nostalgic little thing I wrote to help settle myself down again.

Clothes and Bones seems dramatic, but its origin is really quite prosaic.  I was staying in a friend's basement in Portland for a week, and I had no warm clothes, and only a single warm blanket to huddle in.  Likewise, I was thinking about how I needed some new exercise shoes, and wondering how long my pair of boots would hold out, when the final line popped into my head.  As it took the form of what we poet types call an "Alexandrine", I thought it would be fun and clever to make what we call a Spenserian Stanza out of it.  Not a form I think I've ever used before, but nice to try out.

I wrote The Fantastical Human Kite during my recent two weeks in San Diego, where the Santa Ana winds blow air across the land with a truly remarkable dearth of moisture.  It was so dry, in fact, that I actually suffered a small nosebleed some time later, and since I am actually from San Diego and was formerly used to the weather, I was quite surprised.  But before all that, the dryness wasn't really on my mind: I was more thinking about drowning, as I was in a depressed mood.  

The Night Slicer is a disturbing poem, at least to me.  It reflects my recent pattern of dreaming about performing horrific acts, and then either accepting or evading responsibility for them before I wake up.  I don't know if this is a side effect of my depression or the drugs I'm taking for it, but suffice to say it's not fun to wake up and remember doing things you would never do.

The Local Crowd was written on Thanksgiving day (the U.S. one, naturally), and is about the hummingbirds that frequent my aunt and uncle's backyard, attracted by the truly exceptional number of feeders there.  It takes a few weird turns, but I mainly find it cute.

I wrote A Fever Dream to indulge some fantasies about covert seduction.  It's an unrhymed sonnet, which I'm not totally sure is a thing, but I made one so I guess it must be.  Note the emphasis on sibilants. 

A New Generation of Suckers is about Donald Trump, who is a fascist and would definitely be in jail if people got what they deserved in this life.  It is a saying, somewhat cliche, that fascism comes to America wrapped in patriotism and the American flag.  Trump certainly wraps himself up tight, but I was more annoyed at the time with the wrappings of his fans and acolytes; few they may be, but no matter what colors they wear they are still Brownshirts.  The "politician" bears the ultimate responsibility, of course, but I am still utterly contemptuous of any who choose to follow him.

On a lighter note, To Wind the Clock is a sound-based poem done in the spirit, if not necessarily the style, of the great Shel Silverstein.  I wrote it on the plane ride back to Oregon, and I was aiming for the sort of thing that would be fun to read aloud with a child, much like the poems in Silverstein's Where the Sidewalk Ends.

No comments:

Post a Comment