Toward a finished poem

I’ve been feeling like a suburban home,

family-bound, dog-eared, cat-haired, dust-bunnied.

The floor sprawls, covered in lines of loosely connected

bits of string and tape, shoes without mates,

things without name or purpose or place,

shoved in too many drawers, beside stray Tupperware lids

unsure where home is.

I’ve been thatching a wayward garden,

long since surrendered her virginity to the fate of

time and neglect. Her gnarled roots now

the bed of fools – those with nothing to do 

but wait for another dry Spring and

long, parching Summer to follow.

I’ve lost the memory of how to cultivate in her

whatever tempts or teases a solitary bud.

I’ve lost my place in the song,

where happy, drooling drunks drop their lines

of sprawling melody, disconnected from time or tune

or taste, but dripping, soaked in the solicitude of friends.

Old lyrics lie waiting for my attention,

faithful old soldiers of forgotten wars,

older still, fought on fields among the family

of tables and tumbling talk, well-practiced lies

in well-memoried songs.

I’ve been acting like a poem in progress –

a toss-about of lost words, tongue-tombs tied

together by accident in a free-falling frenzy.

Outdoor syntax lost in the mall,

painted-on ivory-tower lips for her rent-a-friend parties.

The ironies, playground of op-eds and writers of no

fixed address, wasted in wordless

sentences no one can read.

 

But the best poems are never really

finished

What’s so different?

LFIMVFUM2JEXRI7GBYQ2WNAHSI.jpgWhat’s so different,

now that one bundle of thirty,

arbitrary and detached, passes,

barely noticed, from one to another?

We have a time.

 

What’s so different,

as we look out from inside the same

rooms with their corners, known but

unobserved, safe but stultifying?

We have a place.

 

What’s so different,

the streamers fallen, wine now flat

in decanters of promise, jokes all told,

recognized, congratulated?

We have another.

 

What’s so different,

these moments of grey ineptitude

encased in more moments, equally

lacking in certitude?

We have ourselves.

 

What’s so different,

promises made, unkept from the year before,

through wine-stained teeth, and 

blurry, careless shrug?

We have a hope.

 

What’s so different – 

she still can’t remember your good things;

he still doesn’t recognize your worth;

they still haven’t apologized

from last year’s infraction?

We have more time.

 

What’s so different?

We’re alive to ask the question.

Just before you

Just before you swing wide the curtains

to let in the lusty morning light,

close tightly any wafting vanities of

night-time fears. Hush those petty insistences

of self and its imposters.

Hide the shifty catalogue of excuses you

handily slide under rumpled sheets.

Look out upon many discoveries to be made

in newly open fields of day-turn pages.

And start again.

I could say that

I could say that this hour

is set apart for prayer, the obligations of my station.

My expected obedience.

A fitting praise.

A suitable gratitude.

A reasonable confession.

An obvious adoration.

A humble intercession made in proper posture.

I could say that.

 

I could say that this hour

is ours to do the business of heaven,

The diary of eternity.

The stuff of paradise,

changing sheets and fluffing pillows

for the angelic choir.

Making coffee for saints.

Cleaning up after holy gatherings

of those whose leisure time fills the eons.

I could say that.

 

I could say that this hour

is to learn the language of God.

Syntax of saints.

Songs of millennia of songs sung

and sung again.

Singing still.

Poets poeting.

Writers wording.

Artists arting.

Lovers longing.

So many people still laughing at old jokes,

funnier with each telling, always new.

Always the first time.

Constant punch line surprise.

I could say that.

 

I could say that this hour

is an exercise in self-discipline.

The prowess of patience.

the wages of praxis,

paid in full with each Doxology.

Invocations only please.

There is no need for Benedictions

to forever stories.

You don’t preach any sermons.

You are the sermon.

I am your words.

I could say that.

 

I could say that this hour

is the first of many just like it.

A rehearsal in minutes for what will

soon become lifetimes.

Epochs.

Never less.

Always more.

Without the constant threat of boredom,

the language of loneliness,

all sentences run on.

It doesn’t matter, if they all matter.

There’s no hurry for anyone

to make their point.

I could say that.

 

I could say that this hour

is mine alone.

These shoulders carrying

no burdens, since I never need to

look over them to see another.

A solid silence,

never morose.

No longitude of self-abasement.

No latitude for self-praise –

coordinates of old religion in the checkmate of grace.

I could say that.

 

I think I will.

Guest Post – Melissa Snyder Novak

I don’t do this enough – act as generous host to other poets, whether established or otherwise. Let’s rectify that, shall we? Today, I’m proud to offer this wonderful piece by good friend, Melissa Snyder Novak. I trust it takes you to similar places that it takes me.

Enjoy…

Cliff Walk

In the summer of my soul,

the waves crash against

the jagged cliffs of memory.

My heart, burning sun-hot,

draws a mist of longing from these eyes.

All thought, suspended.

All desire, unfurled.

 

Along this rugged cliff walk journey,

the misshapen boulders line up –

leading me to places previously unknown,

down, deep-soul’d places.

I walk unsteady, uncertain, afraid, holding out hands

for you to guide me in mystic vision, sweet.

But, once again, you are gone.

 

Feet sink and slide in sand, and

I struggle to press on, breathe, know –

Will you be there when I arrive?

Will you meet me?

Will you help me see the small, shattered edge-stone pieces of shell

that wait for foot to fall?

 

Waves push, invite –

Will I let myself be swallowed by your sea?

Will I open to your crushing waters?

Excruciating, this pleasing thought of being overtaken by you,

sweet uncertainty.

 

In the summer of my soul, alas,

the deep darkness begins to rise,

even against the backdrop of midday sun.

Winter is making its return in me,

anxious to hurl over its blanket,

waiting to devour with nights, cold.

 

The thought delights.

Ocean Pic.jpg

Somewhere, long ago

Somewhere, long ago, I lost a language.

Words, like jeweled coasters perched light on window-sills,

just out of sight; carefully lettered, dim-lit hallways,

diffused in a dappling dawn –

a reverie in lost sentences referencing only themselves.

I sought what little I could find,

rummaging in refuse, refusing the catalyst of tongue

and tooth when, better equipped, silence met me instead.

Still, as phrases found the furniture of faith,

they stood a bit taller than the mouth that spoke them,

and, in a final flash of familiarity, returned.