(After Tree Rhythm by Paul Klee)
lollipop trees dot the landscape
a child’s depiction
dimensionless with simplicity
the far ones the same size
as the ones in the foreground
round-topped with trunks
straight as arms and legs of
stick-figure people going
over rolling ground-lines
no birds no sky
this orchard is too abstract
has no relative significance
to the logic of
the mind’s perspective
is simply there
artless but somehow art
each round tree
leaning at a slightly
about to fall or dance
to a child’s horizon
happy as candy
The way everything changes color
when you look at it again, like shades
of turning light on the second day of spring,
like old moods gone crazy, becoming
new moods : a boy holds a colored scarf
in his mind, it flickers orange, then blue.
His small dog dances on hind legs;
rain patters around them
and bounces off his green umbrella.
Under his feet a small lake forms;
his shiny yellow boots
stand upside down in the water
and he is happy. A mauve shadow
passes over and becomes a menace.
The boy is stuck in his puddle
and the small dog is barking.
The boy holds a purple world over his head
and looks for an opening in it.
His face is turned away to his new divining.
Somehow the day contains all this on a
single page; it flutters loose
then turns into a small paper boat that drifts away…
like the wish… like the dream…
like the play come true in the small boy’s mind.
THEY WHO LOVE RISK JOY OR LOSS
tamper with spring
as if they were blessed, as if they were
the darlings of fate, perfected by each other in their passion.
would persuade them
otherwise, they who are so willing
to forfeit their good senses to the gods of such sweet miracle?
their newest pain:
the mad scent of flowers on the air,
the sky’s dear birds trilling, their blissful first awareness when they would
only they can have each other—this
power to transcend—too perfect to endure—this sensation of
in its brief surge
of ecstasy. And then to lose it
to the inevitabilities of time with its sabotage—
how else explain
the change of heart that one will have for
the other—love’s own fickleness—that earliest of rejections?
alas, is loss,
forever to retell
in bittersweet nostalgia—to feel again the heart’s first breaking.
THE SOUL AS CAGED BIRD
The soul is a caged bird.
Let’s say this is so.
And you want the bird to sing
and be joyous in the cage.
And you want to own this bird
and praise it—over and over—
for its singing. But
it will not always sing.
Sometimes it will claim its
own silence as a separate power.
YOU ASK WHAT SONG
This is the song. I will sing it.
Bright. Like a bird.
Morning, I will sing.
Morning and sunlight, I will sing.
New day! New day!
I will sing.
Happy, happy, happy . . .
like a silly mockingbird.
And you will call me Mad-Woman
and I will stop singing.
(first pub. in Acorn, 1995)
It is the music—
torn shreds of it,
remembering back into whole pieces;
or maybe it is the lack of it,
the wish for music
as that . . .
indifferent music, joyous for itself,
forgetting its composer,
its poorest listener,
filling other ears with perfection,
destruction, its cost for the envy:
the torn joy
for the ache of it,
to hold it,
so, free it,
tear its pages and
mingle them into something larger—
a cacophony to fit the tears.
THE ILLUSION OF DEATH
This is a time of place; we slip through hours and shadows
of ourselves like out-dated guests.
We are enormous in the light of vast windows
that repeat our reflections as we scan the distances.
Birds with bent wings soar in our direction.
They are slow and deliberate. Their beaks shine.
But this is a place of time. We turn back to the rooms
we occupy. We look at each other then look away.
We go to the cages and enter. Sleep receives us. We are
in vast dream worlds, flying into windows of black glass.
Our wingtips shudder as we brace for the illusion of death.
In the morning we rise into sunlight, shining and happy.
NOSTALGIA IS A BITTER JOY
a bitter joy.
is a price to pay.
O then! O then! O then!
and poke around
the entered mood
We are humble.
With eyes for mirrors.
Seeing in and out.
Into bliss and joy.
We are sinless.
Light describes us.
Nothing touches us.
Dark threatens us.
We are invisible.
Our shadows are one.
Shadows outline us.
We melt into one.
We are landscape.
The moon absorbs us.
We are sky.
Our form is our own.
We are deep as mountains.
We are pure thought.
We are the seas.
Our hearts hold all love.
We breathe, we breathe.
We have messages.
Our minds form words.
Hear us, hear us.
We are only what you are.
If only you knew.
HOW THERE IS JOY
“Religion has touched your throat.”
a bird interviews the morning :
an ordinary exchange, full of religion,
telling me, telling me,
how there is joy in its little life.
I listen to its hymn.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam this morning as she speaks of joy and longing in response to our Seed of the Week: Lost in Joy. Our new Seed of the Week is Quicksand. Don’t get stuck in literal quicksand here; you’re poets, after all, so work those metaphors! Send your poems, photos & 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.
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