Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Dying to the World

—Poetry by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Sketches by Norman J. Olson, Maplewood, MN


I’m reading Mirabell, The Inner Room,
“Lost in Translation,” understandable
—As victim, between mandible and mandible,
Can apprehend a swift-shutting oral tomb?
The pun is mightier than the sworn avowal
—Love, lust, rue, elegant argument in Merrill,
Hung, swung, between extremes of camp and feral—
Rage spurring its own consonance, as a rowel
Wheels the quick-stung sonnet on, to conclude
With cryptic gesture, or with dizzy zest:
“Mine eyes dazzle” from a lexicon endowed
With milk or ink, is it squid-cloud or cloud-cloud?
His works seem much more sensitive, undressed;
Yet, strip-searched, bared their most vulnerable, not nude.


I want to die still conscious, heart and brain,
As humans at their best can do, not die
With eyes aimed wholly inward on my pain.

Our beagle Skaidra felt her life-force drain;
Last days, her valiant tail could still wag high.
Her eyes, though, aimed more inward on her pain,

Till even sleep, then breath, would cost her strain.
She stored up strength: refusal to comply
With darkness, keeping conscious, heart and brain.

Pride radiated, old good beagle, plain
Pride desperate Powers from her worked hard to pry.
Her dark fierce gaze trained inward on her pain,

She labored, still could walk, sniff all the grain
Of grass and whiff of beetle, bird, grub, fly,
Nose keen, eyes live, dog-conscious in the main.

Soon, listless, with me she came; her last great gain
Was hypodermic mercy. Left to lie,
Unconscious drift, her easing free of pain.
I covet her death, my heart against my brain.

(for Stephanie Hopkins Hughes, “onlie begetter”
of the theory herein mentioned)

The Earl of Oxford dies in 1604,
His Hamlet (revised) his last breath, last word-world…
Or does he die? Odd leave-taking date, if bound for
The never-ever realm, far too absurd:
June twenty-fourth, the solstice day of revels,
Playwright’s symbolic play-date of escape
From rules, roles that condemn free spirits to levels
No self-respecting self would choose…his jape,
An escapade contrived to purchase leisure,
Foretold in a strange Duke’s urge to skulk “dark corners”;
He absents himself a while…to take full measure
Of how deputed rats gnaw virtue’s garners?
Take time to repair to a forest, quiet the soul,
Encrypt repentance and poems on one last scroll?

(If accepted, this claim of Oxford’s “dying to the world” would help explain the gap between the late surge in “Shakespeare” publication extending to 1604, then the relative blank till Troilus and the Sonnets emerge in 1609. Likely Oxford, on his prolonged retreat into forest seclusion to finish his life’s work and “debate with his own soul,” as the expression had it, finally realized that the resources to tap into could be found in his own mind and heart: a compendious memory, a wish to settle old scores, and a need to clear accounts with his Maker.)

(in memory of Penny Wofford, writer and friend)

I read “A Little Hope and Half-Rotten Peaches,”
Your “Typhoon Lily,” again, just to name two
Fictions you wrote: to savor what your reach is
In poetry. You’d say “Story.” Your poems, few,
If we take “poetry” with a literal heart.
Yet “Simple Pleasures” does insinuate cats,
Bread, milk, car exhaust, vividly into art.
And literal hearts are surely no poets. That’s

A motto I’ve taken for mine. Sheer poetry’s
All lifting any art practiced to poem-condition,
As you did. Living itself, a relish for family,
For bringing folks near you, out of their inhibition.
You did this for Nora and me, how many more.
We treasure your stories…may we be part of your store.


Today’s LongerNip:

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

young bards, expired library cards, do write!
just let the words cry out their heart and soul
your perch above the burgh will see the light
Mulholland Drive, down to Hollywood Bowl

okay, the kisses got away real fast
she’s preggers with all your family jewels
you’ll need to work three jobs to make it last
don’t even try those old-West-style duels

the river Shakespeare had is not your bed
so don’t think that could be a good retreat
it’s cement flood control channels instead
that offer scum and nothing good to eat

return the books, you deadbeat bards, I say
or surely there will be some Hell to pay!


—Medusa, thanking Tom Goff and Norman Olson for today’s fine post, and to Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) for his tongue-in-cheek addition to same.

For upcoming poetry readings and workshops available online while we stay at home, scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

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