The emotions I feel when I read a piece that has me react like that by a poet I know, or one I have just encountered, are often a mix of gut-wrenching and enlightened awe. Sometimes my admiration is from afar, and other times I dash in to leave a comment that shows how enthralled, enchanted, or devastated a particular poem has made me. I regret times when I say nothing, but understand, when it hits me, I am either brought to my knees, or flung up to a corner of airless atmosphere where I can hardly breathe, let alone think. When this happens, I murmur under my breath what I believe is the highest regard one poet can give to another poet: "I wish I had written that." Please know that this journal of features is FAR from complete. Perhaps I can do a part two in future. Enjoy these features that have moments, in part or in their entirety, that remind me how far I have yet to go, in a good way, and keeps one grounded:
Harvest MoonThree a.m. moonlight
across lazy dust motes; a
tree scrapes the window.
Your arm weighs on my hip like
whispered promises of love.
free agentwell she
that she'd vanish
into the forest
for four years
come some secret dream
lent specter who'd
all conscious thought
wanted or not
in the solitude
this tiny light
who taught my
and so I
made her name
our time would hear
and I dis-
between my ears
yet the moon
often makes possible
lovers sometimes do
and we do
and we do
oh! and dreams
oh! what dreams
to who dreams
who dreams dreams
I Mean to Get You AloneYou have sharp
the stuff I imagine heart attacks
are made of
I'm bent on selling you a handful of smiles
to distract you from the fact that
I have almost nothing to say
and now you're steering this conversation
in a direction that suggests you've
forgotten that I
don't watch movies or do much of
anything but work which maybe
explains why one glass of wine gets me
wrapped around you
car to streetlight
breeding curious onlookers and my insurance has
you're leaning in and all I can think is
I don't have insurance
Painting ThunderstormsI will remember you in flowers, dead and never given.
We are broken promises and shattered glass.
In your traitorous arms,
I wish I'd never closed my eyes,
You are like all good headaches
in that, you will fade away,
In painkillers and flowers on a grave.
What Soft DreamsWhat soft dreams we lay -
What soft dreams, like infants put to rest -
Frightfully bare, and compromised,
Our kisses on their breasts.
We close our eyes and trust them safe,
Kept 'til break of dawn -
Forgetting that the night is fickle,
And dutifully, as long -
It safeguards some,
Moved by neither coin nor threat
Nor anguished mother's cry.
The Farmers SonWe sat sipping grappa as the storm clouds rolled in from the ridges
like the smoke from some great unseen inferno,
the wood walls and shingles of the house complained to us
in low groans,
of the wind coming up hard, through the valley,
and there was flickering light from a candle,
and she told me how light from a prism dissects into different colours that correspond
in some way to our bodies and that all of life was a rhythm
and I believed that part,
and I believed there were stars beyond the sight of man on any grey day
and that they might hold some greater secret than prisms or rhythms
or any question a farmers son could ever mutter,
and the wind slowed to a stillness
and the rain moved in and our voices gave way
to what my Father would call The Lords Music,
the pitter-patter of water
on the dry and flaking earth.
You cut to tatters my red skirt, the red of Jezebel's blood.
You wear black pants, white shirts. You want to be a preacher,
God's words cleansing you. "How many angels
can dance on the head of a needle," I ask?
The dogs drink until their muzzles are painted tongues, arthuriums.
And somewhere else a king sends his beloved's husband
into a battle where he will die. Maybe the dogs will drink his blood
and transcend into feathers. His blood is innocent
caked with sand and grit, hard as a pea. The princess shivers sleepless,
a hard knot of something unknown prodding her spine.
My heart knots whenever I see you with love and sin.
When you hold me down, your fingers spread like twigs
from my shoulders. I fall, wanting you not God.
"They have no bodies," you whisper, "That is grace."
Redemption is a stone you suck on to forget the taste
of my skin, thirst. The princess wakes wanting red wine,
no unknowns, nothing that can touch and prick,
leaving a slow bleeding inside. Oblivion not abs
Bird on the WireI am a bird on a wire
full throated with song
these hollowed bones
know just what notes to play
to usher in the dawn
Forgive me for plucking sleep
from your eyes
Forgive me for tucking the darkness
beneath my wings
I know not everyone enjoys the music
I play . . .
Is that a shoe?
MeanderingHardly a mountain, though on lowering days its head sits wreathed
By the mists of a passing front, aged and befogged as bygone elders
Doddering about before there were names for the malaise
That hazed their thinking
And from this modest crown there slouched and sloped
A long shoulder, meandering down to meadows below
Pausing now and again to coddle a pleasant hollow
Casting a sloping pitch enough to rush a torrent
After a sudden shower
Its glint and glimmer burble among the stones
To join a rill and plash and swirl and putter about a root
It's there I'm apt to wander
Not much of a path, hard passed and thorny
As twisted and narrow as the thoughts of bigoted men
Treading there finds stern resistance and stones to turn the foot
The clatter and crunch of brittle leaf acorns pop and skitter
A plenteous crop, beyond the appetite of wild things at forage
Leathery husks abound, pignut hickory the ebon stains of walnut
On taking pause the quiet lay, a
The Hungry SeasonThe Hungry Season
The next season will be the hungry season.
Moses M. Kolinmore
A stem, a leaf, a stem,
a stem again,
and the army of our bodies
hanging from the branches
of the Dahoma trees.
We come to this as moths
on Saharan winds
with no malice but the wings
direction, our caterpillar mouths,
our waiting numbers
cocooned in dirt. We are
aching and glutted
but hungry still, even as
we strip the canopy bare of leaves
and foul each river black
with waste below us
our gruesome chatter asking,
as we fall into the dirt
to reshape what we are,
can you imagine the hunger?
But of course you can; of course,
you hunger the same as we.
Desolateif you are parched tonight,
the pale of your lips cracked
with thirst for that which
will not claim you;
if you hunger -
the deep and shallow collapsing
into slivered vibrations;
if blindness rejects you, says
no, watch now.
this is the way of it;
if you are breathing the world
into cinders, inhaling each poison
on purpose, striving
toward an apocalypse
because that is chaos
we can categorize,
then you may understand.
A hard CRACK while sitting in
a soft chair. No pain registered.
The absence of it
is like watching explosions in space.
You follow the curve of your skull. You remember
how skulls are formed like tectonic plates.
Your head wants to be a planet,
volcanic, living, in change.
You continue to your left shoulder,
the one with all the problems.
But today, it has nothing to say.
Your rib cage moves
like oceanic waves, expecting a storm
that hasn't come.
You stand up,
you consider your legs,
nothing feels wrong,
But you can break
more than your body.
MoonI will meet you
where the mad, mongrel moon
sways from course
and crests over the chimney tops,
leaving his shadow between our sheets.
we will make him our ardent lover,
his junkaroo smile
brimming the cusp
of our hips like swans,
the bright wasp
of his longing gaze
like a canopy of sighs
where the morning
cannot find us.
who said "Valletta's Dead"To those who said "Valletta's dead"
The Valletta I know
is the one that comes out after dark,
when all the shops are closed
and there's not a soul in sight.
She's an old lady pining with melancholy,
weathering downpours of regret
with weary sips of herbal tea.
She's a sonata that goes unheard
by men deaf to subtle notes
but watch the stupor of the cats;
hush, they hear it too.
Did you expect to see her in full bloom,
this flower, this survivor of attrition?
No rose besieged by Turk and terror
can hold on to every petal.
No rose ravaged by the drought of time
can resist the truth of wilting
yet see how well her roots endure,
and who said that soul
is fresh and red?
The Valletta I know
is not dead, nor dying,
within the musk of its mystique;
a drowsy moth at twilight.
31:12N, 121:30Emy Dear i just noticed
my balcony is shaped
and the wind is billowing
the moon up, up to-night
in her dusty purple garb
and i think
no Dear i do not want
to leave here: where men
build bridges over oceans
and live inside of mountains
like river dragons
where the sun shines
not at all at noon but gleams
like an orange at sundown
where the moon walks home
surefooted to where my neck
The Cat MistookNo zebra
but the old mare;
she bumps the stall door,
seeking sun with blind eyes.
only the neighbor's dogs
drunk with escape;
the ferment of wet woods on a grey day.
The cat mistook itself for a tiger,
not knowing that the caught vole
was one of a vast race--
that it had happened before.
petrichorhear the rain radiating from rocks sub rosa.
we percolate unspoken words, unwritten truths,
condensed particles of what could be
rolling off intangibles, but not the tongue
made of roses. we are playing the rain
over susceptible skin and i am fading
through your stomata. enfold me in your petals
before i evaporate away from you.
i am transpiring through leaf-lined avenues
to weight the air with leaden cloud ready to weep
at the pressure of lips, the press of hands enfolded.
your slightest breath hints at a heat wave;
i can't handle your humidity. everything you
are to me is soaking through my bones and
i am helplessly, hopelessly wanting.