A Question of Coherence
God wound the watch, and it’s been losing time.
My body, I fear, will never become a fossil.
We were frightened by fairy tales,
but only before they were true.
What I took for blossoms, on a closer look
were the raw twig ends left by trimming.
There are too many stairs in the world,
how far do we want to climb?
Worms were meant to catch us fish;
we are made to host bacteria.
We were scared of the dark,
but the sun is killing us.
Learn from cat-tails, hollyhock, leafhoppers,
who never get bored or cheat on their taxes.
Geese, for some reason, hate me.
All I ever wanted was to be
a twisted old tree, to do some good
at least to owls and rodents.
Will I be damned for loving too much
the smell of wet cement and rotting wood?
Sometimes, I do like a poem just after I’ve finished it. That’s the case with this one.
Of course, I often decide later that these poems are pure dreck.
I was a coward when young, and weak —
let me admit it. I shunned distress
of any kind, ran from fights, retreated
into books or daydreams, even fainted
when no other escape opened.
Pain came into my middle life
like a strange dog walking in an open door
with a look that says, I’m home.
He follows me, sometimes trips me,
and when I forget him, I don’t forget:
he sits nearby and watches with patient eyes.
At least he’s faithful, unlike my lost pet ease.
Seems to be a continuation of the 4/24 theme, at least in the opening lines.
While I Forgot to Watch
Working a 70-hour week, so tired
my eyes water, I barely had time
to look at the tulips
and the sky — my favorite show —
I’ve missed several episodes now
and in my life I’ve forgotten
who the characters are
and I’ve lost track of the plot.
Yes, it’s self-pitying. Leave me alone. Go write your own poetry.
As children, we learn
to bruise a feeling someone
was stupid enough to leave
unguarded, to threaten
the timid and gang up
on the weak — important training
for employment, marriage
and parenthood. But if you
are the small pummeled one,
you have no tutor but yourself
to teach you to pretend not
to see smirks, hear japes,
feel blows; to walk away from fights
as if on principle; to become a lie.
You learn — as the strong don’t have to —
that the world, wild or civilized,
is still a game of predator and prey.
I don’t know about this one. It surprised me in the writing, but that’s not always good.
Of course, I’m never sure about anything I write. I have a superstitious fear of hubris.
Why She Left
he was sick, and
burned other hands
From a random phrase that came to mind. I hope it’s not an unconscious plagiarism.
Rain, and rain, and rain. The bannister
is sticky, and damp spreads through the basement.
The yard’s a rice paddy. The driveway is a pond.
I’ll stock it with carp and sit beside it
to drink wine (watered more by the minute),
watch the clouds where the moon used to be,
and write poems that drip down the page
and bleed into the gutter.
I like what there is of this one (as a rough draft), but it needs more. I think.
Mindless nature brought forth rational history
and the unreasoning gods. Her same ministries
sustain the philosopher and other brutes; her children,
through her earthiness, exchange molecules, magnetic tugs
and The Question. She must watch her human offspring
like a stand of trees staring at a ship — a small wreck
of a boat, a fragmented dream of a great
sinking into a swell of poison
spread from its own hull, the passengers
dying in certain hope of rescue
except for one old man maybe who’s seen too much
who thinks, How can one death come from her
and another from us, and how at this late moment
can I trade one for the other,
or does it matter?
I don’t like this one, either. It doesn’t cohere.
What are you doing here?
After years of wandering, you’ve come back
to your beginnings, eh? As I recall,
last time you wanted work to do,
maybe something in image management,
and we said we’d call if you were needed.
All our positions are full.
I was just looking for my old garden
and an old friend I sometimes met there.
That plant is closed, and He’s away.
If you want, you can always send a message —
you know the proper channels.
I’ve tried that. He never returns my calls.
If you’d like to leave a message with me,
I’ll see that He gets it. It might be
an eon or so, though. He has business
in another galaxy, subduing an insurrection
of rogue photons impatient with His limits.
Yes, please. Tell Him I stopped by,
I wish Him all the best, and —
He’ll want to know this —
I forgive him.
This one might be so hackneyed as to be beyond fixing. I’m already ashamed of it.
Her flesh and she and a muddy leaf
had the same memories of him.
What she would recall was the smell
of dirt roads, the webs hung
among the trees, the ripples
in the pond where fish pecked
at fallen gnats. His voice
would be the drone of cicadas,
his face a cloud, changing
every time she looked at the past.
Mary is yet another heteronym. I think at some point the whole bunch of them (plus myself) will have poems titled “After.” It seems to be a favorite theme among the group.
For some reason — maybe I clicked the wrong button — the poem for 4/18 got saved to drafts instead of being posted. I only noticed after I posted the one for the 19th. That’s why they’re out of order.