I've been sitting on this post a while because, as a busy busy teacher man, I have not had time to write all the commentary you all love so much.
Well, I've had time. But I'm also enthusiastic using my freedom in the pursuit of nothing. So there you go.
But now that I have a lazy Saturday evening, it's time to hit you all with another hot mess of poems, scribbled from the depths of my soul-thing. They're all from August and September of 2016, a fine pair of months in which good things happened and I was fairly creative.
Content warnings for some light sexual and supernatural happenings.
in a long dream,
for ages after I woke,
completely out of touch.
in car doors,
keys in slit
touch in mental illness.
lost the penalty kicks too,
I left my left shoe.
On resetting the counter from six hundred and nineteen to zero days.
I will lie
awake for nights
in the deep of thought,
examining and dissecting
for the slightest sign
that I am guilty of a casual sin.
Over and again,
I will lie
on this bed and rationalize
until I am well convinced
that I didn't use her
without the noblest intentions.
I will lie
on a pillow my head doesn't fit
and recall, with perfect accuracy,
that she called it off
before I did.
With a thick, red grin,
I will lie
on my back
and take comfort in knowing
that I was the model
of a patient man.
I found an empty washing machine
with three quarters in the slots,
and without thinking, I attempted
the aggravated mortal sin
of stealing seventy five cents.
Mighty God was clearly watching
when I pushed the sliding lever
and found the coins would not go through:
I gave him such a blasphemy,
for wasting a cup of good detergent.
I loaded up the other machine,
and then I thought, at least I'll have
the last word - so I pulled a key
and pried the stubborn quarters out,
to stuff them in my cotton pocket.
Two of them came loose with ease,
but something struck me wrong about
the third; I took a closer look
and found the reason for the jam -
the face of Queen Elizabeth.
It feels strange, but I have never
even been to Canada; now
I have her royal highness on
a shelf, and fifty good American
cents to put towards a visit.
Pouring salt around our door
and chanting Anglo-Saxon,
you were not surprised
to have eluded their possession,
any more than I was shocked
that you had found religion.
Back when you were casting spells
with kitchen herbs and spices,
carving soapy talismans
and wearing black disguises,
your mother was convinced
that you were just a bit misguided.
Your father wasn't worried,
since you passed in all your classes,
and even when you bought grimoires
from alchemists and witches
he preferred to write your interests off
as adolescent wishes.
As long as no one else could see
the revenants and spirits
menacing around our dorm
with eyelids cold and viscous,
a quaint obsession with enchantment
wouldn't seem suspicious.
But I could not ignore
the spectral hellions' endeavors,
nor the lore you had amassed
in circles carved with scepters,
iron charms and sacred songs,
enchanted wards of heather.
The wonder of it was,
the transformation was successful,
and how your tender form became
a shining, potent vessel -
an aegis from a goddess,
raised to infinite potential.
the lady of the parlor whispered,
join me in the parlor for an
the woman in the ballroom whistled,
see the way I balance on my
stylish, modern heels.
the maiden of the kitchen whispered,
find my kitten, I'm afraid the
little dear is missing.
the matron of the garret whistled,
let me out, I guarantee that
you will not regret it.
the disembodied spirit whispered,
the shadows called me by this name,
before they did me in.
On the Leather Seats
A dozen efforts
and several muttered curses,
then a loud, remonstrative
a helping hand,
and then a satisfying
Rock and Roll, and Other Children's Records
Maybe, when you think about it,
but what do I know? I wouldn't know.
This is all I've got to add:
pop was a mistake, and rock
was always just a misguided attempt
to take it back. But don't be sorry;
it turns out all we needed
was rhythm and blues all along.
Three successive days,
strange versions of "Caravan"
lift the radio.
Tuning out, I take a moment on my phone, I lean against a convenient pillar,
and then I see from out the corner of my eye a friendly, feminine face -
she looks at me with auburn eyes, expectantly, as if she were an old friend of mine.
And I am at a loss for words - I stutter, "hey", and ask if we could have met before -
I was confused, I said, because she looked as though she wanted to talk to me.
"No", she answered, before returning to her sisters, "I was waiting for you to talk to me".
She is gone, and with an instinct I depart across the room, to the open bar,
for now I have become a handsome man without a witness.
Before the Dawn, I Know of Such Release
Before the dawn, I know of such release,
as only joyful tension can provide.
The twists of night are settled down in peace,
and in anticipation, I abide
without the aid of any false alarm.
It is a blessing to awaken now,
because the day is scattering its charm,
and I am overcome with thinking how
I'll soon be gathered up in your embrace.
And like a rapid river I am free,
though miles separate me from your face -
a thousand millions couldn't hinder me.
You only need a little patience more
to find me flowing sweetly by your door.
Eye delighted, ear delights,
and mouth inebriated -
so delightful, says my skin
with liquid, cool detachment -
nose cannot reply, because
the scent has left it speechless.
Stubborn bees discover blooms in empty parks and gardens, growing from dead bushes.
On the Passing of a Hateful Poet
The best that could be said on his behalf
was that his politics, philosophy,
and all the record of his acts and deeds
were calculated cruelty - and yet
his book of poems named him "hypocrite".
Crying Out, the Cruelest Plunder
Soldiers, treasure hunters, mighty governments
have gathered at the bottom of a faded quarry,
further wearing out its porous limestone walls
with steam machines and lights like pale, imprisoned stars.
Their shovel-hands have come to excavate my bones,
my skeleton of ashes, middens, ancient graves,
and precious works of art, endemic to my soul.
They work in ceaseless shifts with automatic drills,
to separate the songs and legends, words and faith
(which they confess they never wanted anyway)
from out the rock and soil, bone from bloodied flesh.
They come again, from year to year, in search of plunder,
always something different, always something else
to feed on from the sorrows of my burdened body,
and never once in all the passing centuries
of scavenging from me, has any vagabond
been satisfied to wait until I'd truly died:
they'd gladly tear my ribs to see the living blood.
At Champoeg State Park
Held across the sky, a wind-blown barrier
stills with the lightness of the breeze.
With a step and a high vault,
I could reach across the threshold
and fall into the smooth sea of slim birds.
Cloud fire arcs across the rim,
burns leaves in seven shades of green;
half of them in the dangerous night,
another half aglow,
and I am born aloft on a circus dare
through bold canopies, sail in hand.
Left is a little dance of irregular lines, a short meditation on a typical state of my mind. That makes it sound more interesting than it probably is.
I kind of had to write On resetting the counter, though it may have been a little TMI. It's literally true, I did break my sexual dry spell this summer after six hundred and nineteen days, with the help of a woman who I have not seen since; she sent me a text two days later about just being friends. Having never been in a position quite like that, I tried to express my ambivalence about what we'd been through and how it ended up. My life has changed since then and I'm pretty over it now, but this is a good record for me to have.
Laundry Story is another one of those things that I think is pretty funny, and it's absolutely based on a true story, with only a few fudged details. I tinkered with the meter with all the love due to a really bad joke, and I will always be fond of this one.
Magick didn't turn out with all the majesty I'd hoped for. I had this idea for a rhyming story with rhymes that didn't quite work, and that is exactly what I got. The impact feels a little meh to me, but I tried.
I aimed for creepy with Wiss and I think that one succeeded well. It has a Victorian ghost-story feel to it, and while I'm unsure if "Wiss" is a real (or even plausible) name, the whole thing sprung up from an idle thought that it was a sort of creepy sound. Sometimes that's all it takes.
On the Leather Seats is a sexy little fake-out, the kind of thing that brings a smirk to your face when you've read it. Hopefully. I'm smirking anyway. I'm sure there have been plenty of real sexual adventures that started like this.
Rock and Roll is one of those weird sort-of-free verse poems that I sometimes write with the intention of sounding kind of sleepy and drunk. I swear, it really is on purpose. It's a little sermon on music, and the fake-drunkenness is a small attempt to make that more interesting.
There are two haiku in this collection. One, "Caravan", Again, was based on nothing more than an observation that I'd heard three different versions of that jazz standard in three days. Stubborn bees has a little more to it. It is both a reflection on nature and the seasons, as a true haiku should be, and also arranged as a single line. It is my understanding that this is the way of things in authentic Japanese haiku, and I thought a long line would be more interesting and less "choppy".
After Dark is another true story, pretty much exactly true. It describes an interaction that took place over perhaps twenty seconds, but was sufficiently strange to remember. I was also heavily under the influence of Whitman's Leaves of Grass that night, and tried to imitate the kind of free verse he used so masterfully.
Before the Dawn and Senses are very special poems, both being written for my new girlfriend, Ariele. I met her shortly after my aforementioned "adventure", so scandal-mongers be at ease! I wrote her a sonnet, as that is the most classic form of romantic poetry; though I tried to put a twist on it with a rethinking of the rhythm and line arrangement. Senses is less labored over, but it's also pretty cute.
On the Passing of a Hateful Poet is a little clumsy in the meter, but it expresses a particular thought I had about people with shitty personalities who nevertheless produce beautiful creative work. I've actually forgotten who I specifically had in mind, and that's not a cop-out. Anyway, it bothers me that a person who thinks beautiful thoughts can fail to live up to them, and I feel it's a kind of hypocrisy if those thoughts come out as art or poetry. But hypocrisy, I fear, is inevitable for all of us.
Crying Out, the Cruelest Plunder is a solidarity poem, for indigenous people who continue to be threatened by colonization. It was written as I learned about the issues surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens the Standing Rock Sioux community. It was originally to have been in free verse, but the first line led me to favor hexameters.
At Champoeg State Park is another nature poem, written on a school field trip to the place of that name. Just a short meditation on the look of trees and clouds, with a wistful imagined flight to provide some action. Bonus information: I learned on this trip that the customary pronunciation of "Champoeg" is /ʃæmˈpui/, which is just silly.