THE NEXT PART OF THE JOURNEY
a moment suspended
out of the other moments
out of the lifetime
a frozen moment
somehow pulled out of the others
to become memory
a foot stepping down to a platform
someone’s balancing hand
at an elbow
the cold, night-air on the face
or the hot, day-air
or a sound at the edge
or a movement
a moment of contemplation
or a moment in which
all the awareness gathers
and will stay forever in
its collected sensations
its forces that brought it together
like a new
or a déjà vu
or even a moment
or something about to be
the mystery of the next moment
not this one
steps down upon the platform
the hand at the elbow
the vertigo of realization
shifts back into balance
fit back into place
the shudder of awareness
and time is entered
(first pub. in Poetry Depth Quarterly, 2001)
THE INVISIBLE TRAINS AT NIGHT
After “In the Train Compartment” by Gustave Fischer
Who sits near you in travel—
in the next seat? or across the aisle?
It’s hardly romantic.
Maybe in novels :
the handsome man, the pretty girl—
too old for her, too young for him.
Or, the teasing thoughts
of a dangerous fling
worked out in the imagination :
the glance, the smile, the surroundings,
the fast train rocking on the rails,
the world floating by in the old direction—
who does this nowadays?
But ghostly trains
clack slowly through the city at night—
the hollow mourn of their warning whistles,
Wrapped in slumber.
Transparent and intangible.
Body going through a pane of glass.
Becoming ghost of sleep.
Return-prayers on echo.
Sound become soundless.
Portal of light.
Why is this important?
Answers turn away.
Answers are not important.
Variegated light breaks upon glass.
Only the delusions.
Hope for nothing.
Nothing hopes back.
Cry ‘save me’ and be saved.
After “Mourners in half light” by Carol Frith
Here where mourners struggle in the half light
of your poem, I remember the occasion of life.
Words are not that different, you remind me.
They are common to the errant usage of love
and how it endures. The light is so artificial here,
I marvel, so thin and transparent along the edges.
You murmur that darkness is always the reason:
bracing the energies—building the center
with a constant treading. Then how, I ask,
can you explain that color—and that color,
blurring by at the speed of slowness—
slow enough to wonder at the strangeness,
You tell me that color always moves like that . . .
like that soft goldness . . . and that thin silvering.
When will we truly find each other, I question.
You hear me and mention the time spent
in dreams —in conjurings and forgettings—
all that will evolve into all that we ever wait for.
ROAD SIGNS: DRY COUNTRY
After Coreen Spellman, “Road Signs”, c. 1936
a confusion of distance
a mis-read of signs
turned every-which-way by the winds
a metallic ring of bullets against the posts
each way to go
the ground swivels its post holes
and the poles resist
placed there forever for the traveler
who finds himself lost
reading the directions
of places no longer there
a few small rooftops try to suggest a town
the sky passes easily overhead
in all the directions
and the old winds bluster forth
whenever they want
tugging and shuddering against the signs.
I’ve gone the length of this day’s sorrow
and I’ve come home to tell you
of the sameness of the journey.
I hear the birds crying now
in a fierce delirium of telling—
how do they know what to say?
I listen to the heart distort the sounds
of this closing, heavy day.
It feels like a dying.
THE NEWS WE BRING
The news we bring has burned a tardy path in our slow
journey, looking for you here, at peace, involved with
simpler thoughts—not thoughts of the news we bring.
The news we bring has bodies of small birds that were
sent too far. They broke their wings. They could not
find you—strollen from the door—thinking of ram-
bling paths, not thoughts of what we were sent here for.
The news we bring has lost its urgency. We took
wrong turns, stayed over, here and there, were never
paid enough for what they paid us for. Eventually, we
brought the scraps and rags of chances that had time if
we just got here soon enough. We did not know you
were in need of time—in need of chances, and of
better memories than you had—not these cold clues
you could have used—not these regrets.
THE MANY ILLUSIONS
This is our penance:
that we go
that we enter the
places of love
with a vague regret
that life is
with moments only for
and the insidious journey
of the leaves
that what we find
is never what we looked
the questioning age
we do not know
that we are
has put the self
WHEREAS . . .
the water seems to lean toward the boat,
its image shuddering with drowning light—
reflections of the mind, the day, the way the
boat responds with creakings, how we cling
as though in earthquake : vertigo that’s new
and old—remembered and forgot.
What are we doing here? It’s growing dark—
moonlight crossed with clouds, and still we
ask where are we? in a tone of apprehension.
Where we are is here. And when is now.
And why is not enough to ask. The water
makes a sound. It lisps and leaps with little
murmurs while the light goes deeper with
its echo made of dark.
Our little ark is safe enough for now,
a simple journey over time’s remorse.
And who are you? And who am I? Two
strangers, each with a different shore.
Our quarrel lasts. It’s not enough to love.
How true is that . . . ! The boat nudges
the dark then bumps away. An island,
or a myth. Not here. Not yet.
The water stretches out the quietness we feel.
Perhaps we’re but a dream that will forget.
Oh, but I shine for distance
which must follow me
as I go down its
I am the
mark at the
beginning and the
end…I am the map between…
(first pub. in Acorn, 1999)
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and photos, as she talks about expeditions, our Seed of the Week. Our new Seed of the Week is My Misspent Youth. (Or what you can remember of it…) (If anything…) 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.
Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back