Sunday, October 30, 2011

Haunted Houses

abandoned house, Detroit

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Living in the Elephant

I resigned from Facebook yesterday and find that already I've got more time, will go to bed earlier, have thought about writing and praying.  I woke up the other day with an elephant sentence running around the brain pan and have written a poem about bitter elephants in heaven, which needs to cure for a while.  Here is another elephant poem for your dining delight, written several years ago and based on the poem beginning, "There were six men of Hindoostan to learning much inclined, who went to see an elephant though all of them were blind..."

Living in the Elephant
(A post-modernist allegory)

Looking out little windows on a larger world,
we argue endlessly over what we know--
holding wars and zoning battles and filibusters.
We are separate, alone.  Lowly.
Wandering aimlessly around the house---
going from window to window
hoping the owner will show up.

We eat the food, rearrange the furniture
and figure out the appliances.
The owner of this place may be an alien
and each light socket a way to reach the stars.
He may be our father,
and that yardstick in the corner would be for our rear ends.
He may not be there at all.
Perhaps we build this home in our dreams,
inhabiting it only in our waking hours,
confused as to our truest calling.

The house seems to get larger with each passing year.
Doors appear in thin air and windows give way
to sudden vistas.  How did we get here and
where are the damned blueprints anyway?

No six of us could make sense of this place.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fascinating Rhythm

Just before that final breath,
memories will circle your heart with song—
memories in harmony,
in counterpoint,
in dissonance, and sweet release.
Memories take measured steps
on a pebbled path round your heart and they sing—
accompanied by flute, or brass, or drum, or bell.
Your memories move toward a sacred threshold
to cross into the sanctuary of truest you.

Not everyone gets the orchestra.
Some death is accompanied by silence,
or the thin wailing of lament.
Some hear tinny music from TV sitcoms and laugh-tracks,
finally understanding that this will be the score of an
endless hell.

Others, whose memories are complicated and messy,
all thrashing and struggle to leave the womb,
these hear something new, 
something aleatorical,
maybe instruments playing jazz riffs
off the unsteady rhythm of their suffering.

How do I know this? You may well wonder.
I’ve circled round the dying often enough
and listened,

with my ear pressed to a heart gone still.

                                 Mel Torme sings "Fascinating Rhythm."  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It just begins to live that day....

Throughout this (not quite a) year of postings, I’ve often wondered about the wisdom of putting my own poetry on my own website.  There is a traditional process that poetry goes through on its journey to eternity.  Of course the writing and the re-writing and the re-writing.  But then come the submissions to the millions of little journals publishing poetry for other poets to read.  And the contests.  And the setting of readings for the faithful few.  And the state poetry societies.  It is a lengthy and time-consuming process, especially for those of us who come late to the practice of poetry.  It has the advantage of making the poet work hard to improve her work, to make it speak truly and well. 

A young person with real discipline and love for the art has the time to put in her 10,000 hours in the long trans-continental pipeline to transcendence.  Ted Kooser woke at 4am every morning of his life to write and re-write (before going to his other job) and look where it got him (i.e being named Poet Laureate.)  Emily Dickinson literally did nothing else but write, and still truly never knew if her writing had any merit, let alone the eternal kind.  At 50 or 60, a person with a job AND a love for poetry makes some choices about time.  A person with access to the web and easily built blogs makes other choices, for once published on the web the poem is no longer an “Unpublished Poem.”  I’ve almost entirely stopped sending my poetry out to the “littles,” (can’t keep track of what is sent out and what is on the blog anymore) although I keep getting responses back from submissions made months and months ago.  Here is a poem just published in  “Star*line,” the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association.  I remember being so happy to see a journal combining my two favorite genres.  Now that it has already been published, all publication rights revert to me.  Does anyone here in the cloud care that it has been published before?  I think not.  Is it read by anyone, in a “little” or on the blog?  I can only guess and hope.  Will any of these poems make it to the future? 

That’s really not the point.  The point is still, and always has been, the writing and the re-writing and the re-writing.

The Poet Addresses a Theory of Quantum Mechanics and Dyes Her Hair Simultaneously, Thereby Proving that Particles can have Two States at the Same Time.

The string theory posits a great many dimensions:
a dimension of sight.
Probably one of sound.
A dimension of plastic furniture from the ‘60s
and a dimension of china dolls.
A dimension of very small teapots
and one of faithful lovers writing sonnets.
These dimensions exist simultaneously
winding throughout the known universe;
throughout the unknown universe.

Physicists ponder these theories but why don’t they ask me?
I could take them to each dimension,
explain the d├ęcor and point out all the doors and windows.
They’re searching for a dimension of innocence,
and I still have an old map showing
the faint path in that direction.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Another Baby Boomer Love Song

It was 1969.  There was a
Peter, Paul and Mary feel to the night.
Love was disease-free and
we had mountains to climb,
wars to end,
peace to establish.

On the battered couch
of a sincere coffee-house
we created dreams and new worlds.
We invented hope again.
Your brown eyes
pulled a languidness
out of my belly
dispelling the cold
of silent ancestors.

You left, soon enough, on a jet plane.
You never came home again
and oh, babe, I've grown so old.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

please let the light that shines on me....

A: All right, who moved the moon?
B: Because last night it was there and now I
C: can't find it where I left it.
D: Darn moon.
E: Even when I look up it isn't there.
F: Finding something like the moon shouldn't be so hard.
G: Gonna have to call the moon lost and found.
H: Had a star once, kept it in my pocket,
I: inside my pocket was a hole--
J: just a little one, but the star slipped out.
K: Kinda cruel. Lose a star. Lose the moon.
L: Losing everything it seems.
M: Miss the light. Miss the sparkle.
N: Never knew how big a hole the moon could leave.
O: Oh, wait. Over there. Oddly placed but
P: perfect. That shine just on the horizon.
Q: Quiet. I'm listening for more light.
R: Really? You hear it too?
S: Sobering thought, isn't it? We can both hear Light
T: trying to push up the big blanket of darkness and
U: unless I'm mistaken there's the moon and my lost star!! 
V: Very small and very shiny.
W: What would we wear if it weren't for stars?
X: Xylophones?
Y: You are silly. Now, put on your star, I'll put on mine and we will
Z: Zippideedooda on outta here.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Falling in Love

Acceptance involves a loss of failure,
as when light loses darkness,
health loses one germ after another,
peace loses the possibility of war and thank God.
I accept these words that appear one by one
thereby losing confusion and an absence of truth.

I accept stars on warm summer nights
along with your hand holding mine
and I give up so much. 

                    I give up so much.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Bridge

Alone on an ancient stone bridge high above the falls
a pulmonary season surrounds me—
mist clings to my skin—
water cascades over boulders, one level to the next.
I listen to this mighty conduit of life stream through an earth
breathing wetly, breathing hard. 

Near me a tree is halfway through its ten-year tumble—
mighty roots reach out for faltering earth.
I look deeply into the growing cavern ‘neath the tree
to see only layer after layer of leaf mould,
and the memory of small habitats. 
Worms tunnel toward an unseen precipice—
about to experience the unconfined freedom of open air
and the extreme pull of gravity.
Someday root, leaf and bough will join the little aeronauts,
heaving out of the dirt and into the void,
creaking, cracking into green water far below. 

But for now the roar of ancient water showers us all
with peace,
and an eroding, evanescent beauty. 


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Le Tres Riches Heures

There’s something astonishing about
reading these geese overhead—
airborne musicians scribing transient maxims
into a sunset of lapis and purest gold.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

True Friends

Each friend sends up a beacon light
to guide me home on a straight path

Your song, in my ear or in my heart, pulls me
into the feathered nest of belief and trust.

The memory of our time together, soon or late,
transmutes any pain into a reason for life.

Someone said it takes ten thousand efforts to get it right,
to learn perfection.  I remember our ten thousand and first joke,

our ten thousand and first laugh, our ten thousand and first
peaceful silence.  Your life is a temple, dear friend. 

My prayers soar up from here.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

For my fellow wanderers

for my fellow wanderers, 
 wondering if they will ever latch onto 
one true thing...

(you are the true thing.)