Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Poetries #8

I think by now, a careful reader with an appetite for punishment will have figured out all my tricks and inclinations when it comes to poetry.  I like to think I'm fairly diverse with the forms and techniques I use, but I also know I'm not a genius at this.  Talented maybe, but clumsy, impatient, and definitely undisciplined.  Discipline is a requirement for great poetry, and you'll find little of it here.

It doesn't really matter though, because I had quite a lot of fun writing these poems.  Yes, even the mopey ones.  These poems are all from the month of July 2016, a month in which I had little to do and plenty of time to ignore it.  I think I had a few good ideas that came out in decent shape, so here they are for your reading pleasure.

As far as content warnings go, The Security System Fails makes reference to school shootings; Came to Grips and Coughing both have to deal with illness (nothing serious, I just had a bad summer cold); Honey Pot and We've Been Here Before have some kind of weird food/sex vibe going on.  Honestly I don't know why that keeps happening.

As usual, commentary at the end for the patient and forgiving.

Flashes of Light in a Terrible Drought

Embers sparking in the streets
of south Eugene at two in the morning,
close to where the bowling alley
went ablaze a year ago.

White and yellow, Chinese Lanterns
cut the deep blue night to ribbons,
down the street from the empty lawn
where Civic Stadium used to stand.

Candy coated reds and blues
pollute the darkness of the moon,
pursuing drivers on the run
across the bright Willamette River.

Advice for the Young Growing Old

Celebrate a life
of gentleness and kind words;
cultivate a quiet state of mind.

Find a peaceful home
within your heart for all the
wild, impulsive marches of the soul.

Love the entire world
as much, if you can manage,
as you despise its worst injustice.

Be as human as
your parents and your children,
breathing deep the air of growth and grace.


Hanging by his ankles from the wide
window, his feet betraying no concern -
a lazy smile, seven stories high
and over ninety million miles beneath
a nonchalant, recumbent summer sun.
A finely cultivated air of rapture
emanates from truly unrepentant
troublemakers in the prime of life.


Depending on you,
accidents will happen;
night bird flying,
capturing moods.
I found a reason
not to touch the Earth -
give it time.

Honey Pot

Honey, spread on flesh and seared to fine amber,
sprinkled fresh in batter, smeared with butter; honey
with agave, honey blessed with maple syrup.

Pure and unadulterated honey pot,
such impressive composition, say the judges,
spoonful after spoonful dripping cool with bliss.

Bursting spring, when nectar, honey are in season!
Honey pots are overflowing, spread on flesh and
baked in bread, a splash of lust, a blush of honey.

Came to Grips

I wore a bit of cloth between myself
and the cold night that whispered through the blinds.

He closed on my throat, pushed my shoulders down,
and drew my breath across the length of my chest.

The fine hairs on my arms ans legs protested,
they resisted being called to rise.

An urgent cough was satisfied, another
cough suppressed, another half released.

A hollow circle, whole and battered, swung
around, and dissipated what it stole.

The Ecstasy

Heaven is a faint cloud
of noble gasses, lit with ball lightning
an instant after closing time.


Her parents named her oldest brother John
in trust that God would fill his heart with grace;

they called her second oldest brother Rob
when they foresaw a future in his face.

Their youngest son was duly christened Fred
in yearning for the dawn of world peace -

and then they named their only daughter Hope,
that from her chains she would obtain release.

The Security System Fails

Hard iron blast shields
torn, shaken

          Black rivets
screeched, scattered.

          Charred fingers.

Dead blisters.

          Red bullets
struck twenty two students.


Cough so loud
the old guitar
beside me hums
in harmony -
cough so loud,
the sweetest sound
echoes through
her body like
a soft volcano,
trembling in
her hollow breast.

We've Been Here Before

Wet with citrus,
weighted down with sweet juice
in the steam of hot days.

Orange fruit
and lemons, ripe and palpable
through bright, dimpled skin.

A mist quickens,
percolating from the air
and sweetening the brain.

Baskets dip,
and liberated tangerines
burst loudly with color.

A hand is reaching
up, further through thick leaves,
claiming nature's touch.

Barely conscious
of the cool scent, the young picker
gladly obeys commands.

A whole day
to be lost, overcome with wet
desire, lost in the orchard.

Madame Owl

Silent feathers, silent talons clasping
electric branches in the urban dark,
and still she sings in lovely tones.

ripple forth from errant motorcycles,
and she calls them, hoot, hoot -

                              She calls
aloud, to wheels roaring, engines brilliant
with oil, hoot, hoot -

                    To sleepless city
lights with wild screams and candied colors,
hoot, hoot, she murmurs,

          She will be their mother,
sing the missing lullaby in gentle
measure, send them back to moon and stars.

My Heart

I forgave my heart for breaking,
Lord have mercy, I was gracious
in accepting tearful pleas
from a sad and stricken penitent.

I forgave my heart, but I
did not forget its base, craven
treachery, its sabotage
and painful, pitiful surrender.

I forgave my heart, and I
remembered why it broke, forever,
and I never let the sobbing fool
forget its shame and sorrow, either.

Five in the Morning

Sweat in my sore eyes,
I might never sleep again -
have to click "refresh".

She Looks Straight Ahead

The sky is clear and the day cool, but soon
you know it will be hot; you are prepared.
A fan positioned by the open window,
a pot of Arnold Palmer - your breast is bared
and the soothing breeze reflects across your shoulders.
Through your blinds, the common swimming pool
erupts with laughter, dazzling and delighted
with itself for hosting such a jewel.
She walks with such assurance, you could swear
she was Astrud Gilberto, her intent
to make love in her lithe, familiar guise
to someone equally magnificent.
The light across her shoulder blades is kind,
but oh, you watch her so sadly through the blinds.

Flashes is the sort of poem a Californian writes after watching Oregonians make merry with fireworks on the Fourth of July.  Aren't they afraid of wildfires!?  The police are of course pursuing drunk drivers, since the fireworks are totally legal.  Civic Stadium and Southtown Lanes in Eugene did both burn down a year ago, so this poem gets a little bit of historical dating in that regard.  I don't know if fireworks were involved.

Advice is really about me advising myself, though it is phrased as advice for others out of sheer, unbridled arrogance.  This is the best way to give yourself advice.  The poem arises from my continuing efforts to internalize attitudes that promote peace of mind.  Call it a therapy poem.  Maybe one day it will be found on a therapist's wall.

I'm not sure what brought on Indestructible, but I got the image and I had to write about it.  Just some troublemaker worrying the neighbors while dangling from a window, feeling the limits of freedom.  Hope he has sunscreen.
Playlist is kind of dumb.  Kind of really dumb, actually.  For starters, it's an acrostic, which is just... yeah.  An acrostic of the word "dancing".  And each of the lines is a song title taken from my iTunes library.  Ugh.  I did my best to choose titles for good effect, but let's be honest here.  This was a goof.  A goof from start to finish.  At best it's cute.

Mmmmmm, Honey Pot.  This is me in a sensual mood.  It's scary.  This poem is notable for its hexameter lines, which is longer than I usually write.  It's a little repetitive and draggy, but mmmmm.  Honey.

Came to Grips is kind of a strange one.  I had a really bad cough that was keeping me up at night, and I started thinking about ancient depictions of nightmares as demons or incubi that sat on people's chests and drained their life out.  Spooky.  The lines are pentameters, with a lot of long feet placed in for variety.

The Ecstasy comes out of my recurring fascination with the difficulty of properly rendering haiku in English, leading directly to misguided attempts.  Here I went with a 5/7/5 pattern of words rather than syllables, because everything is made up and the points don't matter.  Ball lightning is a very mysterious phenomenon, and noble gasses like neon glow with colors when electricity passes through them.  Pretty straightforward for a poem about transcendence.

Now I like Etymologies, but we should be clear that it is not much more than it appears to be.  I like the idea of parents giving names to children on the basis of deep research into the historical meaning of their names, rather than for silly reasons like tradition or novelty.  The three brothers only exist, of course, to set up Hope's couplet, which is a neat little bit of Feminism 101.  The whole thing came to me after considering why it is that so many girl's names are also abstract nouns like Hope or Faith or things like that, while the same is uncommon with boys' names.  Of course, once upon a time all names had transparent meanings in their original languages.

The Security System Fails was an experiment in spondees that went dark quickly.  I think the experiment was successful, as the ratio of stressed to unstressed syllables is two to three (more than that just would not flow).  It got kind of a scary mood, and turned into a vignette about the limits of visible security measures in the face of determined malice.  Twenty two was chosen for sound and visual purposes, and is not a reference to the casualties of any actual incident.

Coughing is another poem about this damn cough.  It's about trying to find beauty in a painful inconvenience, and was inspired by an actual guitar.

Oh damn, I got all sensual again and seriously abused the word "wet".  We've Been Here Before is about memories of picking fruit with a lover, poetically transmogrified into rampant debauchery.  Avert your eyes.  It also continues my recent fascination with the spondee.

Madame Owl is basically made up of pentameters, but I tried to give the lines a more interesting shape.  It's an attempt at describing the sounds I often hear through my window at night.  Not sure why I can't describe the lights on police and emergency vehicles without referencing candy, but I think it works.

Mopey shit in tetrameters, that's what My Heart is.  Kind of a cracked attempt at getting to the bottom of a heartache that never really heals.

Five in the Morning is just a regular old syllabic haiku about insomnia.

I'm glad it turned out to be last, because She Looks Straight Ahead is my favorite.  Lust, longing, and the Girl from Ipanema in sonnet form.  I'm actually kind of proud of the rhyme work here, especially intent/magnificent.  It looks almost wrenched, but it's really not.  Well done, poet.  The "you" in the poem is not me, but I think "you" and I are kindred spirits.

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