Tuesday, January 08, 2013

In the Hall of Vanity & Illusion

(after The History of Anger by Skinner, 2006)

Stuffed in the closet, a lifetime of hurts and angers. Can’t shut the door now. The ones at the back are suffocating. The ones at the front have no room. And still

more rage is supposed to fit. The suffocation spreads, so the room grows larger to give the closet room, and the house grows larger to accommodate the scale.

But nothing the mind does alleviates the hoarding which can’t surrender a single grievance lest the closet have no more use as a place to hold the collection:

every lost love, every failure, every law of self broken. How can you still reach in to find the one you need to polish and treasure. The heart is about to burst. Two

monkeys quarrel in the mind. Everything is mirrored and remembered. The house is a waddle now—so large it doesn’t even fit itself.


(after “The Feasts of Silk” by Toyen, 1962)

This hanging of silk,
these dresses
that take on shape
of bodies—
three wraiths
in closet light
each time the door
is opened,
caught standing there,
in the light
of your imagination.
Oh, do not
bother them again;
they are admiring
their own
fit and fold,
the shadow-play
their fabric makes
in the shining way
they brush against
each other
for sensation.

(first pub. in Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, 2000)



The luxuriance of cloth with its soft folds—I am dressed in seasons of sunlight and rain. I rustle when I move. My sleeves reach the floor.


I am invisible to the mirror, which wears its own garment. I turn one way; it turns another. We are a dance of separation.


Behind us another mirror closes it eyes. We cry reunion to ourselves. The other mirror opens its eyes and lets us in. Now we are three.


The fourth mirror is in the closet of the dream; long torn dresses hang there, the favorite ones in the center. The back of the closet is the mirror.


I go through the mirror, which closes behind me. I am in the hall of vanity and illusion. I laugh and cry with the same sound. There are no more mirrors.

(after “A Love Song of the Empress Wu” by Wu Tsê-t’ien, 624-705) 

My tears have not dried. My dresses are still wet
and my closets have nothing to say.

My secrets are scattered all over the garden,
staining the ground where I have walked—

tending my sadness; the moonlight watches them.
I have worn the path hard with my pacing.

My hair is limp and my hands
have quit beating the walls of my wrath.

All night I have flung my curses at love
and endured the silent mockery of the listening night.



Go. I am the walls.
I will fail you.

Go. I am the windows.
I will watch you.

I am the things you leave.
You cannot take it all.

I am the floor.
You are the walking.

I am the ceiling your eyes have
stared through.

I am the spaces above and
below myself. So are you.

I shudder and sway.
My daylight makes a long search.

Go. I will not call after you.
My night will remain empty.

Go, you are not moving fast enough.
How can I assist you?

Shall I open cupboards and
closets for a last look?

There is an argue-bone . . .
there a cold gray sweater . . .

there is a shoe without the other . . .
in the trap a withered mouse . . .

I will grow all the dust
I want now.


Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix! Good to have her back in her Tuesday slot after a well-deserved holiday break.

Let us call attention to a couple of articles for you to check out: First, SnakePal Trina Drotar has a review of Edythe Haendel Schwartz's new book of poetry, A Palette of Leaves (which Edythe read from at Sac. Poetry Center last night) at sacramentopress.com/headline/77807 

Second, Scandinavian SnakePal Publisher Henry Denander writes that the new issue of Rusty Truck is online and features an interview with him and some of his art and poetry at rustytruck.wordpress.com

Speaking of publishers, we have a new one on the Sacramento scene: The Gap Toothed Madness, a lit mag which will publish poetry, short fiction, essays, ramblings, photography, art of all kinds, and whatever else. They'd like submissions (Word file or rtf; art in jpg of at least 300dpi) sent to gaptoothedmadness@gmail.com "even if you have never submitted your work anywhere before, especially if you have never submitted your work anywhere before." Until they get their website set up, see facebook.com/gaptoothedmadness.

Are we going the way of the Rapa Nui? I dunno; what do you think? See www.netaxs.com/~trance/rapanui.html for info. That's our Seed of the Week; have your way with it and send the results to kathykieth@hotmail.com


Today's LittleNip:


And who am I dreaming to become—
heaviest in sleep—lost in my own mind,
waking to a closet closing after me.
Where have I been,
and who,
and who were those others?

Start of the long day begins heavy
with a glance at the window
to see what sort of day I will enter.
What will I wear?
What will I do?
Which plan is more important than another?