WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
Have you ever noticed
That if you pretend
To know where you’re going
And that you have a plan
Others will follow
Without having a clue
Of where in the world
They are going to?
—Photo and poem by Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar
We can go by that door a dozen times
in a day and do that for years, maybe, without
thinking what's in there, paying it any heed
or needing to: why look in?
It's as much as though the room weren't part of the house
though we know, of course, it is; we think of it
in passing and dismiss the thought. Other times,
prompted perhaps by some occurrence, we pause
to consider whether it might be better to sort
things over there. Maybe throw some out.
Aren't we the strong ones, though, aren't we here
as masters of the house! We are, indeed, until
one day we come by the door or where the door was once
and the door is gone. In the fetidness of the air,
we can barely breathe. Something nourishes,
as a plant might, in the dirt of the floor, grows
in the light from the window or in the dark at night.
Horror is what it is called. It is the whole
strength of the house, will be there when we move out,
hang deep in the cellar-hole when the house is gone.
Our Seed of the Week is Down in the Cellar. Horror, like the poem says? Maybe not. Rodents or teen-age recreation? A cellar that fills up with water, or the cool, quiet protection from tornadoes, foundation of the house, larder for roots and a season's worth of preserved food? And of course there's always the metaphor of the subconscious... What are your cellar secrets? Send 'em to email@example.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.
—Charles Mariano, Sacramento
i look now
at a note to you
written weeks ago,
never followed up
and it disturbs me
that you never
are you offended?
are you lost?
are you still there?
in the hustling, bustling
of this crowded room,
by nooked crannies
and smoked mirrors
becomes too late,
and i’m caught
to these blurred
last i heard
you were ill
please forgive me
am i too late?
Three from Simon Perchik, E. Hampton, NY:
A book or a coat on a seat
but how do you save an empty room
—the stuffed bear, tamed
trained —this crib
is already taken :low flying planes
and these walls by a cry
for later, by a blanket —the soft bear
so close to the window :a trap
rusted shut —every song
already knows your words
—the bear even now
listens for the dark mountainside
bending over your lips
—you have forgotten how to fall.
You look for an edge
but every chair has magazines on it
or some mail or a hat or the unpaid bills
or the dust that saves a place forever
ticking close to your ear
as if you are missing, are rocking a low stool
and your heart already asleep.
At night you can tell the stones
remember when light piling up
fed from mountains, grew strong
—now its glare can devour the sun
though there's still some shadows left.
They grow wild now, close to the ground
too weak to hide by themselves
—they too remember when the morning
higher and higher disappeared —in the dark
what would soon be the Earth
and some lost flash falling into light
and splendor —you can tell
by the weight, each stone
still heats your hand —at night
their eyes too are useless
and stones remember this
remember the first cloud come back
to start a breeze again —head on
and from your heart its shadow
so close to the sky
to the only distance you know
the here to there that never reaches
without some great heaviness and care.
You bark as if a knock
means everything —you will die
answering this door, trusting its sound
its worn out, not used anymore —your jaws
already far off, so sure the sun
just by licking this paint
would be restored, every board
a tree full bloom, at once
half leaves, half fur
half how could a door
uncover such a sky, a light
weathered by the long winters
the waiting, so sure I'll let in
your neck swept back
by an ancient hill
making the rounds, filling your bark
with not enough time
and holes are everywhere the same.
You bark all you want.
Dig into the air —this door
stays closed, behind it
such a steepness asking for papers.
WHERE DO POEMS COME FROM?
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
poem comes in slowly
under cover of cloud
you can’t catch it
it’s been meandering through starfields
likes being alone
if it happens to catch sight of you
well, it has wings
will flutter right out of your reach
you can’t pin it down
you have to wait thru the night
watching its firefly antics
now you see it, now you don’t
but don’t panic
it’ll come to you
all on its own
like a child who loves to play
then grows tired
finally stumbles home to bed
to be bathed, stroked, kissed
you’re its mother, right?
give it some warm milk
tuck it in
now I lay me down to sleep
you could think of the poem as a sore
festering in your brain
god damn what am I going to do
with this thing?
it just won’t leave me alone
until I’ve soothed it
hand me some aspirin, okay?
oh brother, worn myself out over it
all the time
secretly having so much fun with this
you get the idea now, don’t you?
[Iris] never forgot her English grandmother saying to her one day, "If you read so much now, there'll be no books left for you when you grow up."
—from Iris Origo by Caroline Moorehead