a sestina of sixes
March 12, 2012

A few unbearable and failed wonders

Brought out in the light, words
have silent ways about them – I
have seen hushed vowels who just
wait for the consonants they need
quietly, like so many children, six
years old, proving they are good.

But nighttime’s hushed space is good
for hearing truths, for sounding words
and slow wonderments, the reality I
know after every eye-closing, just
after every dreaming rest, a need
in the winter’s dawn at 6:00.

Of the soft syllables, there are six
in my room.  They taste good
leaving my tongue, the words
with their rounded edges, and I
look them in the mouths, just
waiting for them to speak.  Need

is the coldest loneliness, this need
for voices in the night – six
pregnant silences waiting to do good,
waiting to prove themselves.  My words
fall to the carpet.  Here I
am, lips parted.  I am just

a magician fumbling in moonlight, just
a mumbling midwife with a need
for strengths I can’t conjure: six
lyrical, brilliant tributes to the good.
I have sacrificed all my words,
all the others.  But still, I —

I
just
need
six
good
words.

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Winter is almost over
March 11, 2012

…and so is my second to last term as an undergraduate.  I finished my final poetry portfolio this afternoon, so those 16 poems, some of which have already been posted, will be steadily making their way to the internet.

Winter Poems

My words are waiting in their fading
ink dresses, lined up on paper park
benches in the springtime of their
long adolescences, waiting for your
wandering eyes, waiting for your
fumbling tongue to let loose all their
consonants and deep-held sighs,
until they sleep with your fingerprints
and wonderings on their skin,
their lips parted in soft silences.

They are every mystery I have
managed to scrawl in dark pen,
every tired beauty I have watched
and wept for. They are every
silent thing I have wished to say,
every warm hand held while
walking, head down, into the wind.

a pantoum
January 24, 2012

While dreaming of pears and figs

There is a secret smoothness to every quiet need,
a familiar stone turned between fingertips, worn
and tattered as every ancient, memorized creed.
I spoke with a soul pulsing, holy and torn.

A familiar stone turned between fingertips worn
down to the marrow, to the bone,
I spoke with a soul pulsing, holy and torn.
I lived, Divinity, with words to murmur, to intone

down to the marrow, to the bone.
My spaces shrunk to accommodate manageable fears.
I lived divinity with words.  To murmur, to intone,
I lived, a breathing wonderment of darkening years.

My spaces shrunk to accommodate manageable fears,
and, tattered as every ancient, memorized creed,
I lived, a breathing wonderment of darkening years.
There is a secret smoothness to every quiet need.

becoming musical…
May 8, 2011

Occasionally, I write poems with music in mind.  This often happens when the poetry is metered and/or rhymed, as most song lyrics are, but as I was writing my last free verse poem, “Enough,” I found that by singing the lines as I worked on it, the poem was easier to write.  And so here is the song that evolved out of my poetry writing.   Enjoy listening!

free verse
May 4, 2011

Enough

I know words for times of crying
I know words fit for embraces
I know words to say when silence is too much
I know words with wrinkled faces
I know words who have swum oceans
I know words whose hands you would not shake
I know words who you would like to kiss
I know words whose music makes men weep

They speak to me in the night
They sound all at once
They drown me in themselves
and I thank them with a silence
that language never knows

I give you words too soft for speaking
I give you words who bruise your arms
I give you words who make you close your eyes
I give you words who leave you hungry
I give you words who know your secrets
I give you words too deep for wonder

Take them
Take them all
Wrap yourself in them to keep you warm
Hold them above you in the rain
and let them carry you when all else fails

free verse
May 1, 2011

Filter

Fall away from the world
and from your limbs;
believe in the promise of relief,
if you can,
and conceive the significance of the sieve
that tries to hold everything in
but through every tiny hole,
lets everything go.
You, with your sieve-fingers
that can hold onto nothing,
trip yourself tiredly on
and step past all the things
you have left behind,
all the words you have let slip
through every tiny hole in your mind.
They are the things that water every
portrait of spring planted in April;
they are the things that hail the
post-apocolyptically pre-dawn darkness
that will come when you have
let every ray of sunlight slip
silently between your
pointer and middle fingers.
You, when you have let slip
every magic word you know,
float up past yourself
to the level of the clouds where
your words have evaporated
and live as drifting vapors
for the geese to fly through.
Inhale them into yourself
again through every tiny hole in your skin
and when they have filled you up
to the brim and the tips of every hair,
fall back to the earth
and march across its deserts
and swim the length of its seas
and lose your words again.
Give yourself up to your sieve-ness
and let the plankton live
off all the things you let slip
through every tiny hole in your heart,
let them feed the whales with their syllabic bodies,
the whales who never see you
as you swim by
but feel the waves you leave behind.
You, let everything slip by.
You, you are destined to lose
everything and to regain it all.

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.