Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Forbidden Language

—Poems by Neil Ellman, Livingston, NJ
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, Ca


On a Sunday in April
   he came with his wares
as he had come
   so many times before 
full of promises
   in his saddlebags
and snake oil
   in his veins
a smallish man
   made taller
by his stovepipe hat
   filled with cooing doves
and bogus cures
   for dyspepsia,
bronchitis, arthritis, warts,
   the common cold
and impotence
   everything to calm
the nerves and soul
   and make us feel alive
when we could never be
   but memory is weak
and he came again
   and again
with a preacher’s voice
   of promises to keep
and, for a nickel,
   we bought it all
his potions and words
   as if the they were true.



Is it a secret
that we have a hidden life
of limbs entwined
on ivy-colored walls,
of wanton sex
in the pitch of night
as if no one sees
our indiscretions
of leaf and life?—
surely, it is no secret
to suspicious minds
that we speak to each other
with lascivious words
in a language unheard
and unhearable
alone in the darkness
when we speak
our private words
but never reveal them
to you
who would spread them
like seeds
throughout the world.     

 Pink Flowers


In the morning It was a quiet leaf
unperturbed by the gentle rain
and northwest winds

Then noon
When the sun Appeared
an unexpected presence
in the near-death light of dreams
before it would vanish
before it could speak—

and of the leaf
It fell
like so many others
of its shape and color
regardless of the weather
and its worth.



In the forbidden language
of the earth
there is no alphabet
nor sounds that represent
the thoughts of men

stone only and rivers
passing to the sea
the glaciers’ groaning
and warble of birds
flying south for their rebirth
in a silent land

where words are unspoken
messages never revealed
not even by a flame
over invisible ink.



Being whatever you are
is what you always were
and always will.

There is no metamorphosis
from a man to bug      
with antennae
and compound eyes
no transubstantiation
from the spirit
to a loaf of bread
no transcendental connection
to animals, plants and rocks
no transmutation of lead
to gold.



In another life perhaps   
risen from the ashes
of the present one
a spark ignited
in the oxygen
of the afterlife
and after-after lives
I could be anything
other than I am.

If I could, I would
but destiny
out of habit
like a lathe
without a plan its own
repeats a shape
and repeats
the thing I always was.

Without escape
no ladder to the stars
I am what I am
and will always be
in whatever avatar

I may assume.

Accept it:
you are separate and alone
unconnected without hope
of being anything other
than whatever you are
in a microverse of is.


Today’s LittleNip:
There are moments, above all on June evenings, when the lakes that hold our moons are sucked into the earth, and nothing is left but wine and the touch of a hand.

—Charles Morgan


—Medusa, with thanks to Neil Ellman and Katy Brown for today’s fine June offerings!

 Celebrate poetry!

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