poetry from the freezer door
June 20, 2011

poetic dialogue
June 5, 2011

The poem below is my expansion of the poem I found yesterday (which you can read in my previous blog post).  I tried to incorporate as much of the original found poem as I could.

Findings

barefoot bluegrass tumbleweed
swirl the smoke of your soul
that drifts on wind that sounds like waterfalls
you who are curling up because
you are rolling better that way
with arms and legs tucked in
sunburned sighing tumbleweed
with the grass poking through
the spaces between toes
and tickling away the woes of never
staying in one way of living
here you are chasing
echoed women whispering from the past
who drift on wind that sounds like springtime
sweetly singing tumbleweed
playing people like music
and fiddles with strings to sing
out every vibrating strand of
the her the life the footsteps
you follow without telling
tumbleweed
you sleep with your hips and lips
against the ground because
love is earthly
you have found

free verse
May 31, 2011

Living is for this

I have emptied myself too perfectly
of every last childhood reminiscing to be alive,
and as each raindrop falls onto my tin roof,
I am drifting further out to sea
on the puddles welling up in my front lawn
and on the water filling the potholes of my long driveway,
and soon the grass will be completely underwater
and I will walk barefoot through the mud
and let earth push itself between my toes
so that I can feel how the earthworms live.
I have emptied my self of my humanity,
and I don’t want it back because
as I was dreaming while lightning broke the night sky open,
the devil came to me in my sleep
and told me that he tried to cry out
and leave every trace of horror behind
and live in paradise and destroy himself
and care for nothing but the patterns of monarch butterfly wings
but life held him back because what are we
without something to struggle against?
But I am done with suffering.
I have turned in my ticket to the afterlife,
and I have renounced all my humanity
that was tied up in every moral wishing for better
because I am done struggling
against every unseen evil that lies nascent
in the sharp stones of my driveway –
the evils that lie waiting underneath
the tongues of the eight-year-olds
who have known too much for their age
and will let it all loose
when the adults have left to commit their own sins,
but I have emptied myself of the concept of sin.
I give up my guilt.
Guilt is for nothing.
Guilt is for making us feel like we cannot be human,
and so I have given up on being human.
Let me be an animal without words.
Let me live with my toes in the mud.
But oh my God,
how I love to sing.

lyrics
May 22, 2011

I’ve been working on this song for a while, and I think I’ve finally gotten the lyrics out of their awkward phase.  That being said, they read like song lyrics, not like a poem (in my opinion), so keep that in mind.  I would highly suggest just making up your own tune so that you can sing them, actually, and hopefully I’ll make a video in the near future so that I can share the music as well as the lyrics.

Dirt roads

I am a gardener,
my calloused hands are never clean.
My knees are always green with grass stains;
my ways are not fit for your fast lanes,
but come on, come see me.

Why don’t you take a ride in your fast car
and amble on down to the countryside?
I’ll give you seeds for your window box;
come see me, I’ll open up all the locks
for you, just gotta come here, dear, to me.

Hey there, my city dweller,
climb up out of your urban cellar.
I’ll be your sunshine,
and I’ll be your April rains.
I’ll be all of your springtime flowers;
I’ll liven your life for all of your hours
if you would just come see me.

Come on, take a ride in your fast car,
just take your sweet time
cause I’m really not that far
away, today, you’ll see me.

I’ll give you blueberries, apples, and kisses.
I promise this country will grant
all of your wishes.
I’ll be your summer shade,
and I’ll be your backyard creek
if you’d just come see me this week.

I’ll be your sunshine,
and I’ll be your August storms.
I’ll be every one of your summer flowers;
I’ll liven your life for all of your hours
if you would just come see me.

free verse
April 10, 2011

Awakening

The lightning is asking me to shout thunder back at it,
and the wind is telling me to let my hair fly long and loose,
and I am listening to the entire world as it speaks to me!
I am opening every window of my house
and beginning the spring cleaning
and sweeping everything old and dusty and dank
out from under the carpets
and over the threshold,
and the wind is taking it all away.

In the night when the moon seems brighter
than every star combined,
I will sleep on the dewy grass
and leave a crumpled outline of my self
for you to find in the morning.

Won’t you join me here?
Won’t you let me bring you close to my self
and embrace you with my long bare arms
and let you see that this is part of
whatitmeanstobehuman?
Let us be human together!

In the night when clouds blow past the moon
and cast shadows that remind us that
light must be noticed,
I am noticing you,
you and your green eyes shining in starlight,
and you and your feet stepping silently on packed earth.
Stand with me at the brink and
hold my hand
and you will be alive with me
and we will feel the life of every bird and river
rumble through our bodies,
and I will kiss you once and
it will feel like a thousand times.

an ars poetica
April 5, 2011

As a student of philosophy in the newly forming post-postmodernist epoch, it is hard not to question the purpose and value of writing poetry.  What “work” is my poetry attempting to do?  What work should it be doing?  Does it need to do any work at all?  Does its meaning reach beyond the bounds of my necessarily subjective authorial point of view?  Does it need to reach beyond those bounds to have meaning for me and a different, though no less significant, meaning for others?  These are the types of questions I run into.

I will admit my greatest fear as a poet to you: I am afraid that my poetry has no purpose outside of myself.  In asking these philosophical questions about the purpose and meaning of poetry, I am struggling with the possibility that while the act of writing poetry may have great personal significance for me, the poems themselves, when sent out into the world, do nothing.  I am afraid that the beauty, complexity, and the deep emotional resonance in my poems exists only for me, the poet.  And it may be that as I age and change, the poems of my adolescence will lose their meaning, even for me, and simply become empty words put together by a naive teenager who thought they sounded good.

I am afraid, then, of an inability to reveal and explore certain universal, timeless, and essentially human themes in and through poetry.  Postmodernists tell me that such themes do not exist.  They tell me that every experience is inevitably subjective, relative, hemmed in by the bounds of its time and place.  “God is dead;” grand overarching themes that give our lives a sense of direction and purpose have been shot down; the gun is in the hands of Foucault and his contemporaries.

Despite the force of the postmodernist argument, I cannot deny my feeling that there is something we all have in common as humans, something that cannot be written off as a product of imperialist western thought.  Shakespeare wrote of love, and challenged us: “If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.”  And has anyone proven the error yet?  Has anyone risen to proclaim, “No, Shakespeare, your conception of love and your portrayal of it in poetry does not speak to my own human experience.  You are in error.  I have never loved.  So be it!”  I repeat his challenge; let the man who has never loved speak now.

Poetry is a tuning fork.  The poet carefully constructs it so that, when the tines are struck, it rings out and gives sound to a true, clear note.  Within every human, there is an infinity of strings, stretched to their fullest extent, and we pluck them from time to time and let a music flow out of our being into the world, and when a poem is brought close to us and sounds its note, a part of us resonates and sings out, in tune with the poem.  Perhaps we do not all possess the same strings.  Perhaps we are all tuned differently.  But can I deny that the poems that I hold closest to myself are those that make me think, “I have known this feeling in myself, as this poet once did, and knowing our commonality, our shared humanity, makes this feeling all the more beautiful.  It makes my being sing”?  Can I deny this?  Never.

Kurt Vonnegut, one of my favorite authors, said in his novel, Timequake, that “a plausible mission of artists is to make people appreciate being alive at least a little bit.”  The best poetry does this.  It makes us aware of things that exist both outside of us and because of us, of things that make us human and that we as humans make.  These are the things that give our lives meaning; they let us know that there is more to our limited experiences than purely subjective knowledge.  We are a part of something greater than ourselves; poetry shows us this.  It sounds a chord within us that we cannot mute.

free verse
April 2, 2011

Jolt

When the tabletop stares back at you
and the lamp lights nothing but empty air,
when all the alcoves are dark
and filled with dust and quiet
and the window is open
but the curtains are not stirring,
then you will know that your life
is standing still,
and you will find that you cannot lift your eyes
from the book lying open on the table
and the word you have been reading
for a day and a lifetime.
But if god is smiling on our little corner of the universe,
you will hear the phone ring in the kitchen,
and you will answer it
and forget the word typed in black ink
and the tabletop and the spiders in their dark haunts.
You will wash your hands
with dish soap in the kitchen sink
and remember that you let the dog out
one hundred years ago
and that it is getting dark.

free verse
March 31, 2011

Gifts

I give to you my Sunday afternoons
and the stillness of my 4ams
and my silent awakening at sunrise.
I give to you the wave of my hand
and the sureness of my feet going uphill
and the pausing of my lungs under water.
I give to you the trembling of my faith
and the light of my candle on the altar
and the melody of the hymn whose words I have forgotten.
I give to you the smell of 50 cent lavender soap
and salt water
and the sound of books opening for the first time.
I give to you the earth on my palms
and the warmth of my neck
and the color of my arms in the summer.

Do not be afraid to unwrap them and take them out of their boxes
and to feel the weight of them in your hand.
Do not be afraid to wear them around your neck or keep them in your back pocket
and to hold them between your fingers when you are walking home.
Do not be afraid when the colors have faded
and when the edges have worn down
and when you leave one in the garden and the dog buries it in the corner.
Do not be afraid of the day you forget.
I give them all to you, still.