Assorted Odd Ends with Occasional Stuff on the Side
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
MaPo/JuPo & Miscellaneous Stuff
MaPo is over, so it's on to JuPo, which will be rather different; the goal is to post only one poem every three days, but poems that are a minimum of 20 -25 lines in length and more developed than the NaPo/MaPo pieces have been. I'll be posting them here but also in the NaPo thread over at PFFA.
The red bell pepper, heart of the earth, ripens the sun's heat into flesh, union of soil, water, light into shape and sweetness.
On the pepper bush, ripened, pods of exuberant red whales breach, suspended in air from the green curve of their spouts.
Within, the chapel of the seed, filled with small disks flat and white as hosts and aromatic light seeping through the translucent stained glass of the pepper's walls. Opened, incense gladdens the air.
Crisp silk skin yields to teeth with a snap, then succulent flesh floods the tongue with joy, the juice of the sun spicy sweet. The heart of the earth beats life.
Brassy, jazzy trumpets open with the heat; the sensual wah-wah of the plunger mutes, the spectral glide, sets the mood tense and drawn-out, and here she comes, summer the chanteuse, swaying in slow time to the moaning blues beat, orange dress against dark skin, husky voice heat itself as sound sinking into the shadows of loss and want deep within until they simmer to the surface.
Can I interest you in this low-mileage poem which was only ever read by a little old lady on Sunday afternoons to her cat who didn't pay much attention, thus saving a great deal of wear and tear on its capacity for evoking emotion that's still like new? The finish is clearly pristine, and there's hardly any tread missing from its metaphors which still grip the road firmly, so it obviously can see your soul safely through the worst imaginable bad weather, and after all isn't that what we expect from a poem when we need one?
The sound of the rain wakes me; I think it's you in the shower for one sleep-blurred moment, and I reach to help dry your heat-reddened skin, pink-brown nipples, and darkened hair. Awake, I pray for drought.
Potbellied sucker of rugs, floorsniffer, forager in narrow places forgotten by light, gatherer of the frayed edges of our dreams collecting in unregarded spaces and weighing down the corners of our lives, you feed on our losses and open the way for fresh air and new light.
The river's dropped its drawers and bared its ass at us, pimpled with mudbanks and scarred with sandbars. Western wind, where the hell are you and your small rains? This drought's become a matter of public decency.
I love to watch your fingers shelling peas, how delicately you snap the ends, pull and discard the string, then pop the seam and flick the peas out with a thumb into the banded ceramic bowl. And not because your movements are erotic, although they are, and I await their coming touch.
But here, now,
what takes me are the small repeated acts of skill and grace, the unself-conscious love for us whom you shall feed.
I saw the old moon in the park tonight, sitting on a bench beside the path. He wore an old Tigers cap and a tan raincoat, and he seemed to be waiting for someone, I thought maybe the young lovers walking hand in hand, but he just ignored them as he did the gentleman being pulled along by his Labrador, and any number of others who passed by. Then I saw her come around the bend, jogging briskly toward him. As she got close, he stood up, opened his raincoat, and flashed her. She looked intently, smiled, then took his hand, and led him off, back, I'm sure, to her apartment, where he spent the rest of his last night-- the old moon wrapped warmly in the new moon's thighs.
I unbutton your blouse and remove it, then take your breasts in my hands, warm, soft, hot-nippled, as you remove my shirt and run your hands across my chest. We stand, full of the other's touch, trembling. Then I unfasten your flesh and peel it away, bare the gleaming bone to my fingers, and you open and slip off my flesh. We revel in the firmness of bone, the rootedness of rock. Now I unlatch your ribcage and swing it open, spread wide about your heart. A snick as you open mine and turn it on its hinges, just like your own. We pause, anticipating the climax, then each unplugs the other's aorta and and snaps it into our own heart. We throb to the other's pulse, strain to the other's need, burn to the other's heat, each filled only by the self of the other.
This morning, the traffic light at the major intersection's out, just in time for rush hour; the upper third of the hackberry's fallen and blocks the park walkway, ripped branches and torn leaves scattered around; a single worn hightop sneaker rests in the dent on a streetparked Lexus; the battered grocery cart lies on its side on the sandbar by the bridge.
In the thin hours of night, hedgehogs had uncurled from the minds' dim recesses, stretched, and emerged by ones and twos, then drawn, gathered into platoons, squadrons, brigades, phalanxes -- moving together through the dark, silent, determined, purposive.
Graffiti appear on underpasses and the doors of boxcars; the carcass of a bicycle stripped of wheels, seat, and handlebars blocks the boat ramp; a pair of one-legged jeans sprawls on the bus-stop bench; the mockingbird's nest fallen from the elm, its eggs cracked.
By dawn, all these minor maleficencies are in place, to make us question whatever we try to believe.
There are days when roses are just pollen carriers, the morning sun is only a blob of institutional mustard, and strawberries packets of seeds looking for spaces between teeth to creep into. Those are the days the hedgehogs have curled into balls with spikes out in the darker corners of your mind.
This strawberry, lumpy and unsymmetrical, with a whitish unpigmented fold, may well be only a reasonable approximation of a perfect strawberry, its taste a little thin but still sufficient to stun the tongue with wonder. Your thighs, somewhat heavy perhaps, ridged a bit with cellulite, and set off by the stretch marks on your belly, may well be only a reasonable approximation of perfect thighs, but, opened to me here in our reasonable approximation of a perfect bed, we share a more than reasonable approximation of perfect joy.
Here's your reflection from the mirror; it kept showing up whenever I tried to shave and blocked my view. Here's the space between us in the bed; use it for extra room when you're trying to parallel park. And here's the air you never shaped to words; it'll make a whole zoo of balloon animals.
Having carried that stone all those years across your shoulders, alone, you thought what you'd experience first on setting it down would be freedom, or at least relief. Who would have imagined it would be absence instead?
There are days when the wind wears a hat. Those are the days it stops, takes off its hat, and bows gently to the trees and grasses, gentlemanly -- its way of apologizing for those days it goes bareheaded.
Stones that tumble round down the streambed, the press and surge of water, its spill and splash around them, flecks of quartz and mica fired ice-brilliant by the sun, the shift and shimmer of the Hyades on the surface at night -- from time to time to remember all those things for which death holds no mandate.
Somewhere, even after the sirens fade, the smoke from the fires drifts away in the dusk, and the last of the blood washes along the gutters to the drain through our silence, someone still carefully folds up today, wraps it in a fine lace handerchief, and stores it in a drawer among sprigs of lavender.
"I've got to kiss that red for luck," the elderly lady said, seeing my African Gray's red tail and tossing him a kiss. And all day, what I've seen is red: the slowly deepening red of ripening blackberries; the light red of cranesbill seed pods, obscured in high grass; the fishing line's bright plastic float, neon against the brown-green river; the swing of the watch's second hand; the collar on the chihuahua in the driver's window of a Lincoln Continental; the orange-red of burning charcoal; plastic beer cups on the patio of a Mexican restaurant; a filet mignon, rare-red; faces anger-flushed; the shriek of brakelights in the dark; the dusky red Antares, Scorpion's heart beating through the night. Tossing kisses, I await the results.
It is the broken, the fragmentary, which endures: the fire stirred, shattered lights ascend, return at dawn as pinpoints trembling in the dewstrung spider web, and quiver now at noon in our mingled sweat across your breasts.
Technically, this might be considered cheating, as this is a much rewritten version of a piece I wrote almost a year ago. So sue me. But it's at least a bit better than the original, although it still has a very long way to go. "The Riverwalk at Night"
The breeze stirs the willows along the river's edge, faint sibilent shimmer in the moonlight; the drupes of the ripe mulberries echo the moon's shape, miniscule crescents of mirrored silver. One mulberry, still holding the day's sun, rests warm and firm against my tongue like your nipple, and stirred I turn for home and you.