Archive for April 2015

Last Words (As a Writer) (At the End of April and Other Times)

April 30, 2015

Last Words  (As a Writer)  (At the End of April and Other Times)

It is hard to speak of last words–
we don’t much believe in “last”
and we’re reluctant to fast
from words– ‘talk’ a favorite verb,

and ‘verbal’ where we rest assured.
But, in life, syllables sometimes cease–
when even cries of ‘help’, ‘help, please’
are unable to procure preferred

relief, breath itself become absurd
(though we still crave it).  I want, then,
to say ‘thank you’, and say again,
‘thank you,” till nothing more from me is heard.

If, so….  And, so….  I tell myself too,
I should probably start this morning
(in case of no advance warning).
So, thanks, I say, bowing low to you
as deeply as words can bow, thank you.

***********************************

One more draft poem for April, for Izy Gruye’s prompt on With Real Toads to write about a time  of bang and hiss when words may not be longer available to you. 

The thanks are very sincerely meant, for all the support you have given me this April National Poetry Month of a poem or draft poem a day–thanks to the prompters at Real Toads, especially to Kerry O’Connor who arranged everything and shows so much depth and inspiration and integrity in her work–thanks to all the poets, and special thanks to those who managed to read thoughtfully and supportively despite the very real pressures on their own time and energies. 

The animation is an old one done by me–a bit silly for the poem–but closest to a bow I could think of.  Thanks again!  

ps this has been edited since first posting.

Coat, bought, brought back

April 29, 2015

 Coat. bought, brought back

It sleeves, collars, pockets itself
as brightly as the birds
of paradise outside
her front door (unthinkable in life before
Florida).  “Here’s my jacket from–”
she says, “where’s that place?” cocking an eye, “you know,
with all the dogs?”
“Katmandu,” I answer knowing both
the jacket and the Katmandu she thinks of (in the ‘80s) and remembering
that same mustard-brown dog who stood
rough-necked, at every other corner, and she says,
“oh yes,–now is that
Nepal?”
and I say, “yes,” and she says, “in the mountains?”
and I nod.  “Beautiful,” we agree, “with a lot
of temples?”
and I wonder as I remember this
myself, whether the next time, she’ll add,
“the place with that earthquake,
right?”

How is it that we lose
knowledge, let it slip between fault lines, behind
cabinets, into the cracks
of our brains, and I don’t mean here the memory
of Katmandu as it was then, a prayer flag
against sky’s blue, but the knowledge that
whatever is here now,
what has been on this earth for centuries, or maybe only as long
as a certain angle of light (my mother’s flowers seen
from her front stoop) may in the next now
be unrecoverable;

and though we can’t expect to see
into the future, no matter
the alarms, surely we might see
what’s here now, not just coat
the skins of things like
a tourist’s jacket, our flags unfolded only
for show and tell–
Katmandu, how can we mourn you so far
from our front doors, we of the eyeless
beaks, fleeting as
flamed petals–

**************************

Very much of a draft (and too long) poem for Magaly Guerrero’s prompt on
Real Toads to write about a flower that’s an animal, or a bird that’s a flower– Magaly asked for short–so sorry!  

Almost there==that is, the end of April, this is poem 29 or 30–

So sad for Nepal. 

Finally, this is not my photo–happy to take it down, in my fatigue don’t mean to infringe a copyright–

Finally, finally, this has been edited since first posting and probably will be more edited!  

Drift (Would)

April 28, 2015

IMG_1862

Drift (Would)

After the initial sink
into bed,
we float.
Night lightens us
the way a sea hollows wood
to its cells’ shell, splinters smoothed
to palm’s sculpt; each jamb keeled
into the shape of
what looks almost
like a close-winged bird.

We drift, limbs lapping in creases of shine
and murmur, curl away
as tides of warmth
and too much warmth,
and ooh-let-me-get-you-warm and not-
the feet–
crest,
retreat–okay
the feet–
curl back–

Day breaks and bark re-sheathes us
like clothes’ pleat, feet too
are replanted, splinters re-mis-aligned,
though we try for a while to extend that soft sail
in swallows of warm
darkness–you take
your coffee
black–and, oh, so strong
is my tea.

*****************************************
This is very much a draft, but it’s tired here on some night in late April, 2015 National Poetry Month.  I am linking this to With Real Toads Tuesday Open Platform.  Pic is also mine; all rights reserved. 

Socks, Shoes

April 27, 2015

20150427-201355-72835962.jpg

Socks, Shoes

He had learned from his mother,
whose same fingers managed
to knead dough
and flatten
sun-dried cloth, easing out rumple with such calm
authority that the fabric
wanted to bow repeatedly
into folds
just as bread rose
to greet her,
that order was part of a recipe for
a good life, that self-respect included
respect for one’s lowliest objects, that these too shared
the same sun, had their proper–that is, rightly given–
space–like prayer five times
a day, like the direction of
one’s kneel and once planted
in that direction, like the placement set
by the red wool rug whose woven temple showed
the forehead where
to touch, and too, the toes,
and so,
though order had fled from his life
like teeth
and that bulk he used to carry
at his arms, the small soft fold
at his belly, and the certainty that used to warm
his forehead when it felt the brush of that red wool as sure
as the heat
from his mother’s breads;  still, as the swordsman waited
behind his mask,
he thanked God that his hands were as
free for this moment as birds whose wings alone
have been clipped but not their legs diced
together and gently rolled one sock
into one shoe, the other sock into
the other, so that they might not
be lost,
so that they would be there
when next needed,
so that all would be right
in their world, a world he still
could care for, honor.

*********************************

This is a draft poem for Bjorn Rudberg’s prompt on With Real Toads to write a poem that includes a recipe.  It is some poem in a bunch written for April 2015 National Poetry Month.  (There were a couple of days of writing two.)  (I mention this in case I don’t make it to the end!)

This poem was inspired by a photograph by Gilles Peress in a 1999 New Yorker magazine taken in Bosnia of a corpse of a person executed in the fighting there in the 90s.  The corpse was a man who died next to his shoes, where each sock was rolled into the shoe.  In the case of that photo, it was not clear whether the man was one of the last Bosnians killed by the Serbs, or a Serb killed by the Bosnians in the early days of retribution. In my poem, I was thinking also of the killings undertaken by ISIS in more recent days.

My own picture was made by me and not a very valid reflection of the Peress; I’m not totally happy with it, but this is April, and have to move on.  All rights reserved.

 

 

Horseman

April 26, 2015

20150426-233641-85001399.jpg

Horseman

The horseman rides across the hours,
the horseman rides along the sea;
the sand that froths about those hooves
grinding at what grinds in me,
slow, but surely sapping powers

that I had thought ingrained in grooves,
wearing down the bounds of channels
till flow becomes a bird long flown;
north/south/east/west turned to panels
as he flattens direction’s moves.

The horseman harvests salt that’s sown
by all like me who try that way
along the sea, across the hours,
through waking night and darkest day.
Oh, at our side he rides along,
that horseman who reaps salt once sown,
until we lay our burdens down,
until our burdens we lay down.

*******************

Here’s a draft envelope stanza poem for the wonderful Kerry O’ Connor’s archived prompt on With Real Toads.  Thanks to Margaret Bednar for hosting “play it again, Sam” on Toads and bringing Kerry’s older prompt up, since I’d not seen it before  I have deviated slightly from the form, by adding a few extra lines at the end.  

This is some number of poem for April, 2015 National Poetry Monthly.  Note that pic as well as poem is mine–all rights reserved (even though I couldn’t fit in a horseman!) 

PS:  A great example of this form is The Wall, by Hedgewitch, a/k/aJoy Ann Jones, posted on her blog, Verse Escape.  

Pink Tea Cup

April 25, 2015

20150425-230919-83359717.jpg

Pink Teacup

The young don’t typically understand how the heart’s
a pink teacup;
they imagine something more bird, or if they consider
inner breakables, tend towards
the ceramic–a mug perhaps
with a jolly motto: “you don’t have to be crazy
to be me
but it helps,” or
“drink up me hearty–”

But as one ages, one feels the glass inside
grow thin, become bone china, have a harder time holding
the hot,
and the question one asks, increasingly,
is not whether the cup is half-full or half-
empty, but where the damn cup
went–

Chipped at
the lip, fine-lined by fissuring cracks–
Who, one wonders,
would ever cherish the pink teacup
the heart has become; one hopes for a person, who,
when they look into their belled
swallow, takes joy in
a certain aubish glow–
aube being the French word for dawn,
which, if you are like me, seems a fairly reliable test, since
any one saying aubish is not likely
to raise their pinkie with
any pretention but
to be generous with their socks,
at least, so the chest that holds
that old cup
hopes.

***********************

A rather odd, but I hope, entertaining draft poem for Grace’s prompt on With Real Toads to write about “pink.”  Actually, one of my personal favorites of my poems is a sestina called Pink that may be found here.   This is one of many poems and draft poems written each day this April 2015 National Poetry Month. 

 PS – this has been edited since first posting. 

Thinking about the Tales of the Brothers Grimm

April 24, 2015
92424035

Mound of Glasses at Auschwitz, property of Getty Images.

 

Thinking about the Tales of the Brothers Grimm
(through the lens of Spring 2015 Trial of Auschwitz Guard )

In even the simplest tales,
there’s always blood somewhere.
(One is not allowed
to photograph the hair.)
Bird-plucked eyes, a roll in nail-blasted barrel
(It’s not something you can truly compare.)
saved up for those craven or foolish.
(It did not matter how good you were,
if you were Jewish.)

The heroes adhere closely
to strange instructions
(We were only following orders)
given from some animal, crawling from earth, sea–
crawling even out of the sky–
(an ostensible reason: that reparations had starved
the country–a wheelbarrow
laden with currency not enough for a loaf of bread
by the time it was rolled
to the bakery–)

(Yes, yes, I knew, but I didn’t myself do–) 

Some live happily ever after.
(One complainant in the current Auschwitz case
lost 49 of her family members.)
An evil step cuts off her heel to make foot fit
and for a bit no one notices–
(Though many won’t even admit knowing)
–all the blood.

****************

A draft poem for Ella’s prompt on With Real Toads about Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  I actually find Grimm’s Fairy Tales very interesting stories, but the originals are pretty grim, as is often noted.  When thinking about the stories,  I could not help also thinking about a war crimes trial going on right now in Germany of a man who was a former guard and bookkeeper at Auschwitz, charged as an accessory in 30,000 deaths, and a recent article that I read concerning those people who work as preservationists at Auschwitz.  (Apparently, one is not now allowed to take photos of the mounds of hair that were found at the camp on its liberation.  At that time, there were 7000 kg of hair, which was a small fraction of the hair actually collected.)   The preservationists have (in my view) a sacred, if very difficult, task.