The treachery of ardor
is an arrow in the eye
and in the bloody gush
of I-mush and you-mush,
vision schisms to scheme,
where we are only seen
in the cross-hairs of each
other’s cyclops’ glares.

One weeps,
but the salt seeps always
into recapture,
tears wrung out and again,
as if pain were a bucket,
as if pain could be filled up
to its top
then dropped in some deep well
to let us be well.

We fight
as if war could fill that bucket up
but fast
(with something other
than ash)
then full (we might say, won)
let us be done.

But actions, unlike flesh,
do not turn to dust before
we even turn around;
and an eye once lost
is rarely found
in not-looking.


A poem of sorts for the prompt of a word list put together by the wonderful Grapeling on With Real Toads.  Yes, it’s a draft–in the moment before posting I cut out an eight line stanza–maybe the best stanza, but it seemed to just make the poem go on too long.   

Grapeling- Michael–expressed interest in the removed verse so I put it below–it was a second verse and this was one of a few iterations, maybe not the best, but what I took out last minute–sclera means whites of eyes. 

We lid our cribbed gaze
in righteousness,
let pride steel love,
train out any tender bend
towards anguish’s white flags, the sclera of
the vanquished (or simply the scared),
temper mettle
to sword.

Also, please do check out my new book, Nice, available in paper and kindle.  Please also check out my old books, Nose Dive (humorous novel), Going on Somewhere (Poetry), and 1 Mississippi (Elephants!)   They are all pretty cheaply available (most on Kindle for 99 cents, but I am happy to send a free copy to anyone willing to review on Amazon or Kindle–and the review does not even have to be pre-vetted!

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover

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16 Comments on “Tactics”

  1. hedgewitch Says:

    Yes, actions live on lost past the actor, and the cyclops glare never seems to focus, seeing everything in a blood-tinged blur.Great use of the list words. k, to circle in concentric and narrowing ripples around the always rethrown stone of war.

  2. mhwarren Says:

    It’s the ardor of the abstract (concepts, beliefs, doctrines) apart from the interconnections of the real humans that gets us in trouble.

  3. claudia Says:

    where we are only seen
    in the cross-hairs of each
    other’s cyclops’ glares…. my fav stanza… when it comes to war there are only losers…

  4. “But actions, unlike flesh,
    do not turn to dust before
    we even turn around;
    and an eye once lost
    is rarely found
    in not-looking.”

    This is the stanza that really got me. Maybe it’s the way in which you organised the words, but it spoke volumes to an earlier version of me. Thanks, really loved this “poem of sorts”. 🙂

    Greetings from London.

  5. I can’t add anything to these wonderful comments. This is an amazing piece summed up to perfection in your final verse.

  6. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I read your poem yesterday, karin, but felt too brain dead to make a coherent comment. I have returned today to tell you how much of an impact your thoughts had on me – and still do with a second reading. To quote one line would be to leave out all the others I thought were so well constructed. Thank you for always writing according to your conscience.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks so much, Kerry. You comment so much it must be difficult. I know I get very numb with it sometimes–just can’t focus–which is a reason I am trying to learn to shorten things where I can–I realize that even readers not reading so much have a hard time! Thanks again for your kindness. k.

  7. grapeling Says:

    k, I admire the word play and especially that final verse – though of course curiosity makes me want to see the one you removed. and I think Brendan has shown us that fortitude is worth the effort, so I don’t mind longer poems from writers I respect, like you. thanks for adding your voice ~ M

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks, M–I just find it is hard for me to focus on longer things these days although I do read Brendan’s and am always admiring.

      I started to post the verse in this comment, but it comes out all run together so I’m going to make it (right now) an addendum to the post if you are interested. K.

      • grapeling Says:

        that is a fantastic verse on its own, and it does fit the tenor of the longer piece as well. thank you for stealing a moment to share it ~

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Thank you for coming back! I did like it also–but I felt the language of the rest was so much simpler, and honestly, when I was reading it through, it seemed to deflect energy. But I was thinking I might try to use it for something, or revisit.

        Thanks for the great wordlist! It is so wonderful to have material to spark a dead brain. This has been rather a fraught time for me, and I really appreciate the inspiration –also of your own poems. k.

        On Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 1:06 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Thanks again. I’ll think about it if I even put something longer together–poems–the art of cutting is so difficult–I often have a first thought that is quite simple and then am capable of elaborating so very much, that I really get confused as to what works. In general, I tend to think, however, that people/readers get tired, and that unless I have some kind of narrative flow, I owe them some relief! k.

        On Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 1:06 PM, ManicDDaily wrote:


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