Mass
January 12, 2013

With all our limbs in limbo,
your feet next to my neat pairing of hands,
breath on breath, scapula on stomach,
sing me the birth song of your
every miraculous turning over in the night,
my arms flying buttresses
to your rib cage cathedral,
your rose window-wide eyes,
and your stone shoulders.
You have convinced me that
we were all immaculately conceived
in the tiny cupped hands
of just one corner of the universe.
This is not a dream
but a secret the universe whispered to me
through stars and the perfection of your shins;
in this hall of your body let us make new sins
because all those old giants have paled,
and we are new and bright and
oh so ready to make fresh transgressions
with this flesh on flesh test of humanity,
so come with me, love.

firsts and lasts
April 23, 2012

“I wrote you too many poems in a language I did not yet know how to speak.”

–Andrea Gibson; “Maybe I Need You

I will still always maintain my belief that
the cough drop on your breath smelled
like mustard when I knew no better;
that the moving of my hand to your breast
in the dark was love; that to kiss you
in the night, half-asleep, dreaming
before lying back into the pillow, sinking
into us, your arm behind my neck —
that was the end of all beginnings.
I will maintain that compromise was
concession, that change was
a surrendering of too much pride —
holding hands was pushing off,
deflection void of contact.

I put your letters in a box
covered in pictures of stars.
The memory of your sleeping
form curled into mine would not
fit with the paper envelopes —
in the interest of closing the lid,
I am keeping the memory elsewhere.
For now, the warmth of you
in the sheets, every tingling
whispered phrase slipped into
the pockets of the dress
you left in my closet: these
are the things I wish
I could bring myself to toss
into the recycling bin,
to be repurposed, shredded
and reassembled for someone
else’s romance, but my weak
hands are stuck in holding on.
Besides, the bin is too small
for all the things we held
between us.

 
I hope you are crying and
I hope you are losing sleep.
I hope you are writing poems
that I will read in 30 years
in a biography of your life,
lines of verse crowded in a
footnote for that girl
you fell in love with, once,
when you knew no better.
She was a poet of silences,
making you realize
you liked noise.  Too bad,
(I hope you write, one day,
that) we made such great love
with our eyes closed.

a poem for Shelley-Jo Talvacchia
April 17, 2012

This recent article from NPR describes a young poet whose only profession is sitting in the street with a typewriter and writing poems on topics suggested by pedestrians.  In the spirit of this brave individual’s endeavor to live off poetry alone, I have written a poem on a topic suggest by Shelley-Jo, my mother’s friend.  She asked for “a victory poem for love and kindness,” and so hopefully, the poem below speaks to her request.  If you would like to request a poem, by all means, let me know, and I’ll do my best (which, according to my mother, I always do).

Take all your slow winding-downs,
the watch hands sweeping out their
shadowed paths on pulsing wrists,
the sleep-darkened eyelid corners
where fear collects at the end of
the day, light fast fading.

Her breath is a whisper in
moonlight, silvered and silent,
but here, see her opened mouth,
her heart beating under the thin cloth,
see her hair laid out on the pillow,
hear the dreams spilling from her
lips, from her up-turned fingertips,
feel the strong, imagined, embrace –
take it.  It is the only thing laced
with the terror-free taste of
kindness (her sleeping self,
the characters of her most familiar
fantasies with their laughing hands,
their impossibly opened arms.
Fall into them.)  Let this be
the healing of every unmended thing.

oh hey there
March 5, 2012

No, my dear blog, I did not forget about you. I’ve just been so busy writing new poems for my workshop that I haven’t had time to revise any of my already-written poems.  And much to the chagrin of certain people among my readership, I (almost) always revise my poems before setting them free to jaunt about the internets.  It’s like tying your kid’s shoes before letting them loose in a playground (or perhaps it is more like making sure they don’t do weird things with scissors to their own hair so that they won’t be mercilessly picked on by bullies).  But anyway, the long rambling point I am in the process of making is that I’m here and I’m still writing.  And because I just came from a poetry reading and feel a need to live up to the artsy standard I have set for myself by being a part of said reading, I suppose that a poem is in order.

One day when passion becomes too much for my lungs to hold and my hands to resist,
I will bind your wrists to bed posts and trace maps across the territory of your torso,
explore the vast uncharted wilderness of pulsating skin.
I will leave teeth marks and make muscles sing,
uncap pens with my teeth and scrawl masterpieces of the most primal kind.
I will discover language for the first time,
new and living on your limbs, under your breasts, down your spine,
and the lines will lace your deep blood with the glorious ache
of making love out of nothing but dark ink.

Je t’aime d’être faible…
January 15, 2012

Poème original de Renée Vivien
Traduction anglaise d’ Hannah Trees

Je t’aime d’être faible…

Je t’aime d’être faible et câline en mes bras
Et de cherche le sûr refuge de mes bras
Ainsi qu’un berceau tiède où tu reposeras.

Je t’aime d’être rousse et pareille à l’automne,
Frêle image de la Déesse de l’automne
Que le soleil couchant illumine et couronne.

Je t’aime d’être lente et de marcher sans bruit
Et de parler très bas et de haïr le bruit,
Comme l’on fait dans la présence de la nuit.

Et je t’aime surtout d’être pâle et mourante,
Et de gémir avec des sanglots de mourante,
Dans le cruel plaisir qui s’acharne et tourmente.

Je t’aime d’être, ô sœur des reines de jadis,
Exilée au milieu des splendeurs de jadis,
Plus blanche qu’un reflet de lune sur un lys…

Je t’aime de ne point t’émouvoir, lorsque blême
Et tremblante je ne puis cacher mon front blême,
O toi qui ne sauras jamais combien je t’aime !

I love you in being weak…

I love you in being weak and affectionate in my arms
And in looking for the sure refuge of my arms
Where you will rest as in a warm cradle.

I love you in being red and like the autumn,
Frail image of the Goddess of autumn
That the setting sun lights and crowns.

I love you in being slow and in walking without noise
And in speaking low and in hating noise,
As does the presence of the night.

And I love you most of all in being pale and dying,
And in moaning with sobs of dying,
In the cruel pleasure that perseveres and torments.

I love you in being, oh sister of the queens of the past,
Exiled amidst the splendors of the past,
More white than the reflection of moonlight on a lily…

I love you not to move you, when pale
And trembling I cannot hide my face so pale,
Oh you who will never know how much I love you!

Ce poème est de la collection de Vivien, A l’heure des mains jointes.  Lisez-la ici (sans traduction en anglais).  Et trouvez ici son œuvre complète.

Anarchist Poetry, Fourth Installment: Loaves and Fishes
November 20, 2011

In Day’s account of the Catholic worker movement in Loaves and Fishes, the element of her political thought that made her stand out among the anarchist thinkers I have read was the centrality of religion to her social movement.  Day’s Catholicism was the driving force behind her humanitarian approach to social engagement, and it is her religious faith and dedication to love that I get at in my poem.  Specifically, I was inspired by her statement, “Jesus is the fat lady.  Jesus is this Jackie who is making advances.  Jesus is Baby Doll, her cellmate.”  During her time in a women’s prison, Day dealt with individuals who made it difficult for her to adhere to her personal ethic of indiscriminatory love, and her belief that Jesus lives in and through everyone is what reminds her that she must try to continue to love even those individuals who seem unlovable.  Her constant striving for an egalitarian, universal love for all is without doubt the defining feature of her particular form of non-hierarchical communal living (i.e. anarchism).  She tells us in her book that “young people say, what good can one person do?”, and she answers “we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time; we can be responsible only for the one action of the present moment.  But we can beg for an increase of love in our hearts that will vitalize and transform all our individual actions and know that God will take them and multiply them, as Jesus multiplied the loaves and fishes.”  This miraculous multiplication of love through individual action is what I have tried to draw out in my poem.

“Where there is no love, put love and you will take out love.”

Love is patient but
mostly love takes patience
it is greedy like a child
who you cannot give up on
always asking to be held to be
fed to be tucked into bed at night
and you comply and you bite your tongue
when the grape juice is spilled for the seventh time
because patience you are cultivating it
like a slow-growing garden planted
when the ground is still frozen
it takes patience and you know this
and still you love still you bite back
every word you could say that would
end conversations and drive people to
the brink of hatred to the brink of all
falling-outs and cold stares because love
takes restraint and it is something
you might have completely one day
someday love will flow like a stream
down hill and you will love like a river
love like a spring breeze in the country
but now your love is like a faulty train
starting stopping starting lights flashing on
off on sometimes you are in the dark and
you reach out and feel for someone to love
anyone who will have your imperfect
manifestations of divinity of loveliness
and that is all there can be
all you can hope for and have faith in
and that is all you need

 

a philosophy of language
November 13, 2011

preceding essence

I believed in falling into being and
her and the way her mouth moved
when she said the word tomorrow
and I loved her eyes in the morning
and we fell into step on the sidewalk
we breathed together in the midnight light
we knew when to talk and when
not to talk and when to hold each other’s hands
and there is language immanent in every
movement of her arm though we don’t know
how to speak really because we are still learning
the most basic vocabulary of this foreign language
living is a foreign language these
touches are an unknown dialect
I am learning I am trying to learn
I am wondering who speaks this fluently
wondering if I can fall in love with them
so they will teach me their first language
nothing is so easy nothing is natural
to me to my limbs and in the depths of my being
there is nothing there is emptiness and so
I can be anything I tell myself I can fill myself up
with anything I can hold on to
anything I can keep between my fingers
what is this I am trying to find nothing
nothing but that’s okay I can live
I must live I am inevitable

say the bells
October 10, 2011

this is a place of sacredness.
this is a place that will
estrange you from yourself.
your heart will be some alien moon
that you visit to trample with footprints.
your heart will be some quiet room
in someone else’s house.
this is a place that will
turn you on yourself.
this is a place that will
make you love something
that you will never meet.
you will pass it like a
stranger on the street
and not know it for what it is.
connect to this unknowing.
connect to this loveliness.
it is a sprint towards a brick wall.
it is a leap into deep water.
don’t think twice.
this is the end you are looking for.
this is the end you did not know you wanted.
this is the embracing of every
sigh you have let go.
this is the moment of silence
before the offering.

apologies and a petrarchan sonnet
July 12, 2011

I realized recently that it has been far far too long since my last blog post and that apologies to my readers (if I have any at all) are due.  I have been hesitant to post my poetry recently due to the fact that I have been sending my work out to other online publications, and it is generally frowned upon in the literary world to submit work for publication that you have already posted yourself.  Hopefully, then, you will be able to read some of the things I have written recently, but on other websites (response time for most submissions, though, is frustratingly delayed, so have patience).

In the meantime, I’ll share with you a sonnet that I wrote recently.  Petrarch, who is recognized as the originator of the Italian sonnet, wrote a series of 366 poems for which he achieved great fame, and interestingly, 317 of these poems were for a woman called Laura.  This muse was perhaps inspired by a real encounter Petrarch had with a woman, but in his poetry, she is an idealization and the object of his unrealized passion.  As an exercise, I decided to write his 367th sonnet (keep in mind, though, that I have not read all 366 poems that would have come before it).  It is in iambic pentameter with the traditional Petrarchan rhyme scheme of an ababcdcd octave followed by a cdecde sestet.

Sonnet 367

To Laura

This final work is yours, my love and heart:
these tired lines I almost let slip by
in thinking of them always from the start,
from even the first day I met your eye
and fell for every tender turn and nod
your head would make in sleeping and in speech,
and from that fateful day I prayed to God
that yours would be a threshold I could breach.

But, my lady, you are my undoing;
you’ve been my end in 14 simple lines,
for loving you was always self-defeat,
and when my corpse, laid out for viewing,
is washed of sin and all its outward signs,
they’ll find my heart lies trampled at your feet.

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