for the forgotten firecracker in your pocket with a latency
that could've killed you--but then it wouldn't be for nothing after all. fill in their name here and here and use it to punctuate this sentence. use them to fill in any gap that makes you ache sharply,
but i will love you cheaply. i am panting and examine the guts plugging through the body, the crushed wings.
there are some things i cannot clean. My favorite phase of the moon is gibbous. I love the shape of waning and so call it waxing. I know not to tell a friend when they've lost weight. As a child, the moon embroidered me into the car seat. I would look at the stars and tell the moon stories. I know not to look God directly in the eye as I confess. mashing insect carcasses, eyelashes, ballpoint pen
nicks, paper cuts, scabs, ear plugs, shots of whisky, diary entries, test scores, prayers, pollen,and eggshells onto my body. The problem is to tell when they have stopped actively peeking,
accept their weak repentance, crack the jar and let them float up: puckered, sour, and bleached.
mild velvet--the storm leaves a great divide: peat and pitch glycerin and lye the named and instinctthe rose and tonic of whipping blood the frost and unfrost influence and seizure and you--all palms and bergamot--and me, hinge joint and ginger
with all this time inside
I did not speak -- I saw her face;
Her face! -- it was enough for me;
I turned about and heard her cry,
Oh misery! oh misery!
And there she sits, until the moon
Through half the clear blue sky will go;
And when the little breezes make
The waters of the pond to shake,
As all the country know,
She shudders, and you hear her cry,
Oh misery! oh misery!
0 joy! that in our embers
Is something that doth live,
That Nature yet remembers
What was so fugitive!
The mind of Man is fram'd even like the breath
And harmony of music. There is a dark
Invisible workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, and makes them move
In one society. Ah me! that all
The terrors, all the early miseries
Regrets, vexations, lassitudes, that all
The thoughts and feelings which have been infus'd
Into my mind, should ever have made up
The calm existence that is mine when I
Am worthy of myself!
I dipp'd my oars into the silent Lake,
And, as I rose upon the stroke,
Went heaving through the water, like a Swan;
When from behind that craggy Steep, till then
The bound of the horizon, a huge Cliff,
As if with voluntary power instinct,
Uprear'd its head. I struck, and struck again
And, growing still in stature, the huge Cliff
Rose up between me and the stars, and still,
With measur'd motion, like a living thing,
Strode after me. With trembling hands I turn'd,
Back to the Cavern of the Willow tree.
There, in her mooring-place, I left my Bark,
And, through the meadows homeward went, with grave
And serious thoughts;
and after I had seen
That spectacle, for many days, my brain
Work'd with a dim and undetermin'd sense
Of unknown modes of being; in my thoughts
There was a darkness, call it solitude,
Or blank desertion, no familiar shapes
Of hourly objects, images of trees,
Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;
But huge and mighty Forms that do not live
Like living men mov'd slowly through the mind
By day and were the trouble of my dreams. Not with Man,
But with high objects, with enduring things,
With life and nature, purifying thus
The elements of feeling and of thought,
And sanctifying, by such discipline,
Both pain and fear, until we recognize
A grandeur in the beatings of the heart.
We don't like to admit that our love for the form is so deeply rooted in nostalgia it is easier to understand how we feel now through the lens of "how did I feel then?" We repurpose the nostalgia. We manufacture the past. Your friends gave you back your shadow.
Your enemies gave you back your shadow. They said it was heavy
and would cover your grave. When you died your shadow slept at the mouth of the furnace
and ate ashes for bread. It rejoiced among ruins. It watched while others slept. It shone like crystal among the tombs. It composed itself like air. It wanted to be like snow on water.
It wanted to be like snow on water. It wanted to be nothing, but that was not possible. It came to my house. It sat on my shoulders. You shadow is yours. I told it so. I said it was yours.
I have carried it with me too long. I give it back. They mourn for you.
When you rise at midnight and the dew glitters on the stone of your cheeks,
they mourn for you. They lead you back into the empty house. They carry the chairs and tables inside.
They sit you down and teach you to breathe. And your breath burns,
it burns the pine box and the ashes fall like sunlight. They give you a book and tell you to read
They listen and their eyes fill with tears. The women stroke your fingers.
They comb the yellow back into your hair. They shave the frost from your beard.
They knead your thighs. They dress you in fine clothes. They rub your hands to keep them warm.
They feed you. They offer you money. They get on their knees and beg you not to die
When you rise at midnight they mourn for you. They close their eyes and whisper your name over and over but they cannot drag the buried light from your veins
They cannot reach your dreams. Old man, there is no way. Rise and keep rising, it does no good. They mourn you the way they can.
It is the winter and the new year. Nobody knows you. Away from the stars, from the rain of light
you lie under the weather of stones. There is no thread to lead you back.
Your friends doze in the dark
Of pleasure and cannot remember. Nobody knows you.
You are the neighbor of nothing. You do not see the rain falling and the man walking away
The soiled wind blowing its ashes across the city. You do not see the sun dragging the moon
like an echo. You do not see the bruised heart go up in flames,
The skulls of the innocent turn into smoke. You do not see the scars of plenty, the eyes without light.
It is over and nobody knows you. There is starlight drifting on the black water. There are stones
in the sea no one has seen. There is a shore and people are waiting. And nothing comes back.
Because it is over. Because there is silence instead of a name. Because it is winter and the new year. The origins of poetry are highly speculative. The earliest poetry recedes into the vast mist of centuries of oral tradition before writing inscribed, and thus transfixed, these texts.
We do know that throughout history oral expression can and has existed without writing, but that writing has never existed without orality (Walter Ong). There is a strong continuity between oral and written verbal art forms. Writing immobilizes texts in visual space, allowing us to linger and internalize them to scan them backwards and forwards, reread and study them. It creates a space for introspection. But it is fundamental to remember that all over the world peoples have considered words to have magical potency. The interaction between the singer and the group provides one strong model of participation in literary exchange. Writing removes us from such face-to-face communication. it calls us deeply to each other.The written ballad, the written blues, the written work song--all these forms model a particular kind of participatory relationship between the poet and the community.
They are poems with stories and refrains. They use oral elements to empower the relationship between writer and reader. Perhaps we should speak more often of the work of poetry, the work that poetry does in rhythmically restructuring time. That restructuring is at the heart of the work song, which is one of the fountainheads of poetry itself.