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Archive for the ‘Poems, my own’ Category

here is the poem now

Breath of Snow

each flake is
a message

dreams numbered and ordered
until they fall into chaos

if the facts wouldn’t melt away
and I could hold proof
of the year that passed
in my waiting hand

the biding of time
the unbidden rhythms
that rise and fall like breath

I am trying to make
a rhythm like the snow
sixes
or sixes split into 2s and 3s

I can’t

because I have fallen outside the laws of
science and nature

I fall
and fail
and seek
a crystal from another galaxy
where the numbers shift into different forms
and I find the one
that was made for me

where I belong
unfallen

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Happy 79th Birthday to my mom!

As her memory goes, I wonder what I am responsible for. Am I the holder and keeper of her memories and secrets? When can I tell them? What does my brother know? What does she remember? Is what I know true?

I do wish my mother happiness, but it seems an elusive wish. She says she has always been lucky, lucky to have come to the United States and to have found the life she did. But her childhood tells a story, not of luck, but of trauma. I wonder how this fits into her definition of luck; but I will never ask her.

I titled this selfish because I am not using my post today only for a birthday wish for my mother. I don’t really think I’m selfish, because it’s my blog and I want to use it just for that—for myself. But I do feel guilty a tiny bit. I think being a mother, a daughter, a wife, means I always have a tiny lingering guilt. I am sure not all women are like this. I wish I could shake it, but apparently I am not yet evolved to that point. Perhaps this could be my Christmas wish for myself or my New Year’s resolution.

I have snippets of writing lately, nothing coming out whole cloth like I used to have. I know, honestly, most of that needed heavy editing anyway.

What do I wish for? Better poems, more poems, dream poems, publishable poems, poems that will make you swoon, will make you weep, make you laugh, make you buy my books (what books, twinkly? oh, right), fruit poems, frozen bud poems, bloody blue poems, pink poems, feather poems, leaf-and-snow poems, mom poems, wife poems, marriage poems, sex poems, fuck poems, love poems, fucking poems, magical poems, clear poems, anatomical parts poems, important poems, a-political poems, no-more-guns poems, deep poems, no-murky-bits poems. Enough! This kind of thinking is so anti-Alexander Technique that I can hardly continue to allow myself its luxurious indulgence.

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Here are 2 recent poem snippets:

(SNIPPET ONE)

When Shall I Be Delivered

I begged for more from the world

It started inside
a pinprick
where I was once attached

You have not delivered me

With each bout
of bleeding
my density increases
alongside my insatiable hunger

My marrow
pumping erythrocytes
for every drop
that falls

Not much
they always say
a few tablespoons

If men bled
they would find
a more poetic measure
than cups and spoons
(a woman’s place is in the kitchen)

But I know the feeling
of the soldier
draining into the muddy earth
the sand with its greed
taking more than its share
pints and quarts and gallons for drenching

I am ready for the firing squad
or operating theater

I am ready for my uterus
to be yanked out by
its mooring ligaments

No scars
only
a virginal torso
left

I didn’t need you any more
anyway

But thanks
for the ride

(SNIPPET 2)

December 17

My mother is a husk
a Christmas walnut
cracked open

The meat of her
gone

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I can’t remember the last time I wrote a poem.

I’ve been working on a couple of manuscript submissions among a few other things. I suspect once I’m back home and done with my deadline, I’ll write again.

Without further ado….

All You Can Eat

The city’s grime on my hands,
my feet

I hike my leg into the sink
watch the dark water
rinse down the drain

no homeless
no bikes
no traffic
just me
and my feet

I wonder how long
before I am obese

like the man picking a quarter cup of coffee
out of the garbage

all I can eat
every day
I’ll go
and stay
for 2 hours
4 kheers after 3 servings of chicken tikka

I’ve eaten enough
now straight to the source
I’ll fill the bowl
with rice pudding and rose petals
and soak

no more food

time to starve

time

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There was a time when I did not know what the word apocalypse meant. Then, in my late teens, I suppose I felt embarrassed or ashamed. I am older now and I realize that I will always be learning new words if I am lucky. The older I get, the less well I seem able to retain them. But guess what, my turtle doves? My memory is improving of late.

I thought that all of my friends who grew up with church or religion, who went to Sunday School and who had Confirmations, the Catholics, almost the whole lot of them (this was Ohio, after all, chock full of Catholics), all knew all of the stories and words from the Bible, New and Old Testament. I realized at some point that I knew more than they. It was all a sham. They did not know how to spell apocalypse, nor its etymology. They didn’t know what Jesus said, what the Jews said. They did not know any of it. I still wonder what people do in Sunday School if not learn these stories. I do not know what real testament is for anyone and I think most people don’t know this for themselves.

Each time I become anemic, the wear and tear on my face is more dramatic. This time I look older. Though I approach 50, I have some mistaken notion that my youthful body will last. The flesh of my face will stay. The frown lines, which aren’t so much from frowning as exhaustion, grow more pronounced. I used to push up on the apples of my cheeks with the thumb and middle fingers of one of my hands when I was driving in the car (safer than texting!), but now I’ve forgotten to try.

I wrote a bit of something just now, some words gathered around from tonight and before. There are problems, so many problems. I usually refrain from saying what they are, but now, I will tell.

There is the title which is pretentious, but which I like anyway. I like the Dutch vanitas paintings and I like the Latin.

There is always the overdoing, the more than I need. But that is what blogging poems is for. To pare down later.

There is the mixing of metaphors or images. There is the land and earth and there is the sea. But I love them both and I am not confused, only enthusiastic.

There is this which harkens to another poem, one which remains incomplete in my computer. The barn and the harvest, the emptiness and me.

There are the too many and the mixing images, again, of the body and death. This is what yoga is for and this is how the poem takes shape.

And there is stealing. Or snatching. Sneaking the words that came before, sometimes knowing whose, sometimes only vaguely.

Here you go. Here are the words.

Memento Mori

After I am vaporized
the imprint of my body will remain
flattened on the wooden slats
the barn
barley-filled

swing  open  the  gate
swing  open  the  gate

After the apocalypse, the burning off
I am drained of blood
my skin deflated
my bones a fine powder

My skin sinks
but finally

I  remember
I  remember

It boils down
to this

Goldenrod, my ovaries
the shining
harvest
in the hollow
of my groin

I  remember

the coiled snake
the quaking stalk
the base of my spine

Plough  the  ocean  blue
Plough  the  ocean  blue

*

Tonight, I got to hear Tim Eriksen play in a small coffee/deli/bakery in downtown Amherst, The Black Sheep. (The Black Sheep, btw, was one of the first things that caught my eye and attracted me to Amherst. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores. OH! the bakeries. OH! the bookstores).

I have been in Amherst since August of 2000. I have put down a few roots. I can feel them.

I have been singing shape note since August of 2004. I am rooted in tradition.

I didn’t go to this particular concert, The Newport Folk Festival, in late summer 2006. I wanted to but somehow didn’t manage it. Tim organized a big group of people from our local Sacred Harp sing. Here is one of the things they did on the big stage. He played it tonight at the end of the concert and we all sang again. This is NOT a song from the Sacred Harp, by the way. It’s something Tim likes to refer to as “Northern Roots Music.”

And just so you know, my turtle doves, I don’t believe in the apocalypse.

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1. Number of poetry submissions since July 29, 2012: 20. THAT’S: TWO ZERO; T-W-E-N-T-Y

2. Number of poetry submissions, so far, in my 30 poems/30 days: 16, ONE SIX; SIXTEEN. Did you even understand the difference between #1 and #2? Because I already don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about.

3. Number of rejections: 2. TWO. DEUX. DOS. ZWEI. AND I can say two in Greek and Hungarian and Hebrew and Japanese, but not so much the spelling of them, so…..

4. Are you bored yet?

5. Number of acceptances: 2. TWO.

Yes, that’s right. Now, I’ll be honest and say that one of my acceptances was from before I decided to do my 30/30 poetry submissions and was a sample of my work in order that I could “apply” to be a featured reader at Rao’s’ last Friday reading last month. You already know about that, so maybe it’s not really news or really an “acceptance.” But fuck it, I’m taking it.

The other acceptance was of ONE poem from 3 which I submitted to an online poetry journal and I can’t yet “talk” about it because, you know, nothing is finalized.

7. Amount I’ve spent so far submitting my poems: $56. Mostly, this amount is broken up into little bits and often covers the cost of receiving a copy of whatever journal even if I don’t get published. More often, it is because some of the submissions are for “contests;” a different matter than an “open submission” period.

8. Number of uses of the “eff” word in the poems I submitted: I have no idea, but off the top of my head I’d say 3.

9. Being a poet is exciting, n’est-ce pas?

10. Am I happy? I don’t know, what do you think?

11. Yes, I’m going out to dance my fucking ass off on Saturday night. Are you fer or agin me? I will be wearing more than these lovely ladies are wearing. Because you know, it is in the 30s outside tonight.

12. Is she holding a wimpy riding crop or is that a stalk of a wheat-like plant from the floor vase (you must pronounce it vase, with a long a, like you are French, okay?)

13. Did you notice how often I used unnecessary (or “dubious” at best) quotation marks in this post? Because one of our favorite signs we read many many years ago on a gas station pump and it said this:

Please “PAY” first before you “PUMP”

Isn’t it fine?

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The Underside of Sleep

1. verba volant

the words play tricks on us at night
fireflies flashing in a summer field

connect the letters
to spell summer
before the lake forms from the ice melt

before the hickory nuts fall open in the road

when the earth plumed sulfur

2. autumnal

sounds like tumble

the morning turns pitch
and smooth like onyx

hematite, marcasite
black-mirrored minerals
hard iron oxides

The last blood
trickles out at the wrong time of year

late summer crickets
a static
to the traffic

3. winter

Sleep sifts
like snow drifts
inside my head

When I wake
and open the doors
a mound of snow pours onto my feet

the way the beginning of darkness
pours out of me

4. carving infinity with a scalpel

I trace the sideways symbol
on the underside of my arm

the skin soft, spotless

the rain sounds like an animal

spring rushing in

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