Here we go hungering after life again,
despite certain hallways and dark-hung mirrors
where we continually walk toward
and through ourselves
as if the walls never taught us
anything. The least structure failure
and we lose who we are,
depending on memory to recreate us.
Each day is like this,
created and uncreated,
life after life, learning the maze of resistance
which is our illusion of difficulty.
We have not been here before,
though part of it seems familiar,
We trust anew, and mistrust eventually.
Why are we singular and not blent
as the smug words say—part of
a single consciousness?
Though I try to enter your space of being,
I feel my difference. I am blocked by my selfness.
I can only imagine you.
Our thoughts combine, and what was confusion
is now love, though we destroy it
with our inability to know, and be known.
Hungry for touch, we reach
and recoil. What is that sensation
that it devours us with such desperation?
THE BITTER ROSE
(After Galway Kinnell)
Well, she has kissed the bitter rose
and now her lips have blood on them.
One thorn for love is what her grievance knows.
This blood red rose that once was talisman
she makes symbolic with a kiss
and dried up tears. She’ll not surrender this.
The taste of blood is bittersweet.
She mocks a bitter laugh. Her lip
shines red. She bites it with red teeth.
The rose has died, as now her love is dead.
She peels its petals for her crimson shrine
to all her dead heart vows to keep confined.
Love on the verge of failure,
risking themselves on one
another—how can we
bear to watch them—
happy as fools—
following the light in
each other’s eyes, holding
hands on the dark pathways.
Here we are,
on the other side of failure—
far from each other now,
and the old beginnings.
You are the one I almost love.
How will I hold you now,
my arms are cold and distant;
I wear an old song in my mouth.
You are coming toward me in warm light;
you are carrying a rose.
Oh, you are carrying a rose.
I reach out into the emptiness between us.
You are walking through me
in the warm light. It is the mirror.
It is the mirror between us.
I am on both sides. You are on neither.
It is the false light that hinders everywhere.
It shifts and loses us too easily.
It cannot hold.
No wonder I cannot find you.
Now you are sitting in a circle of your own
a new-formed sea, surreal as always.
I move toward you,
but there is no substance of reality.
You cannot hear me or see me.
I am under water,
AGAINST THE UNFAMILIAR
After “Sculpture” by Flavio Zarck
The wings are too heavy now, the body
too weak, the bent pose not surrendering.
Time has lapsed, ruin has taken over,
the mind is in a trance.
A wall of light expands, the bent figure
leans—leans—against the unfamiliar,
The wings shred further—
scarred and broken, in pain of motion,
still attached to the tensioned shoulder.
The figure is unaware of wings now.
The heaviness is heavier.
What is troubling the mind—the lack of
remembering, the question diminishing;
what is here to love, or feel defeat for,
what happened—what happened?
The light failed—no trail of glory,
the metallic wings still flapping.
I go to the vast window
with its scenery that falls away.
I have no cat—even though
birds avoid my gaze and disappear.
I hold the curtain back with my shoulder
and watch the day—how it shortens
and grows chill. I should turn away,
but something holds me here . . .
THE HELD NOTE
Holding one long note of music within the music,
inattention comes to irritation—is the note stuck—
holding itself in one long tremble—the other notes
probing around it? Is there intention—this held
sound—longer than breath-holding—like swimmer
under water? Will the held-note merge back into
the lost smoothness, otherwise pleasing, except for
the annoyance of the listener . . . ?
A TEAR JAR
It is funny how I have no more tears,
no more weeping—no more—for any
of the dyings, no matter how close. No.
All my weeping was spent on little things,
the first tantrums of life—the first failures
and losings—all my tears were used then.
My jar is empty. I keep nothing in it now.
My tear jar stands useless, a pretty ornament.
I do not know what to put in it now.
It is a tear jar, and I have no more weeping.
“ . . . there never was a word for her / Except the
one she sang and, singing, made” —Wallace Stevens
Her world was made of joy beyond the
nuisance-price of trouble; she kept her hope,
admonished all my pessimistic gloom—
would never be defeated—not by sorrow—
would not at all surrender to those forces
that would vex her spirit—laying claim;
she’d swear a bit, then laugh them all away with
her defining, all-redeeming word—Tomorrow!
I too can write a sonnet—love and loss
balanced between the lines for you to read
and see—and try to understand the cost,
perhaps less subtle than what you can heed
at first, but buried like a word, and how
to struggle with it—as I’m doing now—
you, so pompous—sitting there, so smug,
the way you turn me off with just a shrug.
No more will my word-failure be assuaged,
baiting me to scorn my tireless need,
challenging my heart till it is freed,
unfeeling when I’ve wept, and when I’ve raged.
I’ll finish this somehow and back away—
admired or not—with nothing more to say.
IN THE MAZE
Take no credit, take no blame,
let be—the frustration
of your struggle:
the mind in the maze,
no out or in—just there,
in the maze you puzzle through.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s poetry and original art, playing with our Seed of the Week: Frustration. Her “Useless Sonnet”, by the way, is an Onegin Sonnet: Iambic Pentameter,
a b a b | c c d d | e f f e | g g
Our new Seed of the Week is The Air We Breathe. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.
And a reminder that the deadline for Sac. Poetry Center’s annual journal, Tule Review, is this coming Sunday, April 30; see spcsacramentopoetrycenter.submittable.com/submit/.
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