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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fast Day 108 June 27 2009 {Will and Testament}

Lace and Ribbon Heaven - vantiani on flickr

Will And Testament

If my voice should die on land,
take it to the shore;
fire it on a viking strand,
scatter ashes on the sea
with a broadcast quick and carelessly.

If my voice die on a mount,
take it to the valley plain,
and erect a strong redoubt
there circle bold megaliths upon,
as ancient treasures to Agamemnon!

If my voice die in ocean trench
raise it from that deep abyss;
stretch it on the littoral bench,
like a whale whose youth misspent
seeks Leviathan and will repent.

If my voice dies in the air,
then do not cry
and do not care
for I am but a step away
from lace, from ribbon...and eternitay!


strong ... megaliths - great blocks of stone, like that circle of stones in England - I forget the name - ah, Stonehenge. One megalithic monument in Greece was misidentified for years as the Treasury of Atreus - for which name I substitue Agamemnon, who led the Greeks against Troy.

Leviathan - I pretend the Leviathan of Genesis is a name for God among the Whales.

lace and ribbon - as I approached the end of the poem, everything became very Emily Dickinson and "lace" and "ribbon" not only seemed appropriate for her, they seemed a bit obscure as were many of her images. Obscure or not, it is still obvious they refer to a beautiful heaven.
I found a photo by googling "lace" and "heaven" on the first try, so it may be an image and metaphor more common than I think.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fast Day 107 June 21 2009 {Fathers' Day}


Fathers' Day

I had to write a weekly poem for my blog;
having gone to my parents' for Fathers' Day,
I had risen early to write my poem;
no concentration.

My father had gotten up at four o'clock,
and he was in pain, and he felt discomfort,
I heard my mother say my name and suggest: think?

Reminding me of that year before of ills,
year of Katrina, we beat a doctors' path
back and forth to hospitals and procedures...
unending hallways.

Climaxing in iliac aneurysm,
and the first doc said he is old, let him pass
with what dignity remains; he is old.
second doc the charm!

The poem died and lay unresurrected;
we spent Fathers' Day without him, our father,
who lay in a fitful, dizzy bed with chills;
gnawing at our joy.

It was the flu, and Monday morn he was up
and feeling much better, thank you, and thank God!
and by noon, he was his old self once again:
making me wonder...

For he revisited those old, old complaints -
what's wrong with Obama, the neighbors, ...and us!
and we suspect the rosy dawn now changing,
Oh, his former self!

And this is human, oh, all, too, too human!
to rise so high, see so far, be so brilliant!
to spend to maintain our body illusion...
souls remain with chills.


I was going to stitch together a the remnants of my previous poem from the weekend, and append a note on why I was late getting it up - my parents' have no computers or internet stuff.
So as I booted up this morn, I thought to combine the two things. So here it is. It is a first draft, and took exactly 52 minutes to cobble together....and it shows it.

However, what is interesting is the use of the Sapphic verse form - at least, I think it's interesting. Sappho was one brainy gal.

Anyway, as I thought of doing this particular thing at 4:30 am, I also thought, why not use haiku? Then I immediately flashed on a potentially long poem of haiku, which would be a tower of small objects ready to fall down any moment.
So, why not Sapphics?
The traditional Sapphic verse is two lines of eleven syllables, followed by a third which starts with eleven and adds on five more at the end...for good measure. For my purposes, I wanted something like a haiku...only I used three lines of 11 syllables, then a fourth line of 5. The fourth line should stand alone and sort of make a commentary of what's gone before - much like the third line in a haiku.

Two examples of Sapphics:

So the goddess fled from her place, with awful
Sound of feet and thunder of wings around her;
While behind a clamour of singing women
Severed the twilight.

Allen Ginsberg
Red cheeked boyfriends tenderly kiss me sweet mouthed
under Boulder coverlets winter springtime
hug me naked laughing & telling girl friends
gossip til autumn

notice that Ginsberg's easily transforms into my version of the Sapphic - if we scan it like:

hug me naked laughing & telling girl friends ;
gossip til autumn

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Redraft Fast Day 106 {Head like Seaweed Braids}

I did a re-make of the previous week's poem.
If anyone has time or inclination, let me know which form of the poem you prefer: original (1) or this re-worked version (2).

When My Head Was Like Seaweed Braids

When falls the rain, I join - I shriek from fear of heights and spires;
we overshoot misty tarmacs of
aerodromes of clouds; we stream on, pell-mell, to the lake,
like the water-pals we are!

When fire-flies come out, I start my motor up with ardor
and burn the black sheets of night, chasing
all girls and boys back to roasting marshmallows on the beach,
to bon-fires richly burning!

When they go a-fishing, I cry: beware my finny friends!
beware wood lips painted tawdry red:
meretricious bait! for it will make you sometime soon
a deadly trophy on a wall!

I gossip with crickets, and swap stories with the buzzing bee,
and sat up all night with the merry,
drunken lark of morn, with slurried voice, who sang his song:
all top gallants to the wind!

Dear Life! did I hold on for, when I had split and cleaved
the head of grass! lithesome, silky seed!
blue and green gramineous escarpment, from whose top
I madly rappelled to earth!

When city-side, I do not rise, I cannot freely fly
as naked as fire-flies burning
scrub, and till, and bush. In city-side no one sees
my glow - oh, Lord! - my glow!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fast Day 106 June 14 2009 {When My Head Was Like Seaweed Braids}

When My Head Was Like Seaweed Braids

When falls the rain, I join in, shrieking from my fear of heights;
and we bounce off the quilted hills, and tumble down
and run pell-mell to the lake, laughing
as only water-pals could!

When the fire-flies come out, I start up my motor and ardor
and burn the black sheets of night, chasing
all the girls and boys back to our glowing
marshmallow bon-fire!

When they go a-fishing, I call out: beware my finny friends!
Do not believe that meretricious bait!
It'll make you a deadly
trophy on a wall!

The river reflects the sun with a million mirrors
and each one tells a tale to my frantic eyes,
hanging out the car's window
panting from delight.

I did gossip with the crickets, and swapped many stories
with the buzzing bee; sat up drinking all night
with the merry, sodden lark who set
all top gallants to the wind

In high water I swam over the submerged county road
with the silver bass; we laughed at the tarmac
beneath us, from dust to dust
and water to water.

I held on for dear life when I split and cleaved the head
of grass when I was a lithe and silky seed!
From that blue-green height
I rappelled to earth!

In the city, I cannot bend and I cannot blow, I cannot freely fly
naked as a lightning bug; it's not where everyone can see
and know: there's that desire that - Lordy! -
makes him glow now!
It do make him glow!

top gallants to the wind = drunk, as in four sheets to the wind.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Fast Day 105 June 5 2009 {Works and Days: Autumn}

Works And Days: Autumn

orchard, apple trees, blueberry and gowan everywhere one looks.
cordgrass and big blue stem, queen anne's tatting
the thousand blooms launched in Troy
and given to Achilles;
but he would none of it,
and went in exile amidst the general camp
and only brave Hector's blood could call him forth to fight.

of apples: the cole, the pippin, alexander and hawthornden
codlin, the hoary morning and the pearmain
tell us the date and time of year
when the builders moved
and destroyed the one square mile
of reinette land...of rows of trees...the great die-off
of the species of the land with a sign as sure as iridium.

It was just before the bottom fell from out the housing boom,
and left a scar of land, untimely ripped like MacDuff,
from the nurturing mother's love;
yawning between arid hummocks
until that future age and small perchance
when Birnam Wood does resurrect and clamorous comes
to Tel Aviv - as we sit blinking, blinking, in our cage of glass.

I miss the fruits globular, the oval, and apricots of sweet
and bitter kernels both, and the wild hyssops
tall as royalty, wearing original blue
and fleur-de-lys
wild camomile, costmary, chive-
rough diamonds undiscovered - like the value
of all human beings, cut down like trees, crushed like weeds.

© 2009


generally, a meditation on the destruction of large areas of land during the housing boom. Just before the end, there was an area one square mile destroyed nearby. I can never drive by there anymore. Nothing so far has been built, and it is an open wound as well as retribution.

there was an apple orchard at one time, and the names of many autumnal apples are used.
when I was younger, people used to tell me that Inuit peoples had a couple hundred words for snow and ice in its various forms. what I did not realize was that English speakers have hundreds of words, not only for ice and snow, but for all the things which grow.

{gowan} Scots word meaning wild flowers

{ Achilles } a reference to Achillea Millefolium, or yarrow, and sort of an old-timey invocation to the muses who guided Homer's song of the Iliad.

{ iridium } the element marking the KT geologic boundary which is part of the argument establishing the great die-offs of that age as due to a comet strike.

{ MacDuff } Scots thane who defeated MacBeth; we speak of his birth by Caesarean.

{...arid hummocks } a tasteless pun on something of Horace.

{Tel Aviv } where Adolf Eichmann was tried.

{ last stanza } all mankind has value - none are to be considered as collateral damage.