Blooming Sunsets

compressed and sad
the face of a lost and lonely academic
eyes that flutter like the pages of a book
thousands of tiny characters
small black words that nervously flit through his lashes like a murder of crows
a scripture of sadness scrolls down his cheek with heavy lines
the circumambient smile rims the edge of his face
a pathway to a perceived paradise

he was white like an angel elevated with a paradisiacal knowledge
of pulchritudinous verbiage
a looter of the grand logophiles from the past
sumptuating his present with an old trace of perspicacious wisdom

the sot the sorrow for this tormented genius
whose eyes gone so far back into his head that he could see yesterday
it is about to slip beneath the horizon where his heart and mind seethe as one
it lights around the corners to his thoughts like a lazy spider leg
he remembers
crude crystal images thick with the dull opacity of time
again again again
his steady heartclock insanely ticking
humming the timbre of the pungent plundering of his internal landscapes
the mute darkness of his heart
calling out in unctuous pleas
help me forget help me forget help me forget
inky blots impressed forever upon curled crisped yellowed apprehensions

the turning living pages of time
sunsets blooming in the scintillating morning dew
a light that swells
silently companionably
inside the silver-cold walls

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A Death in Scott Valley

When there’s a Death in Scott Valley
the mountains heave
and the shadows fill
like deep waters
the townspeople moan
soft unspoken
like rain
their eulogies
sprout flowers in the small town gardens
their colors catch you
and take you into deep tones of sadness
and memory when the man was alive
made of wood smoke and laughter

When there’s a Death in Scott Valley
the panther stands erect
and the pine boughs sing songs to the stars
their voices rain out
a great vibration of green
the face beneath the dark undulation
of the night sky

The dead bring songs
from the mountains surrounding Scott Valley
the eternal eye so rough and aloof
aligned with the beauty of trail-weary souls
now green branches conducting
windy voices

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In Memoriam

Today I learned what a friend is. It is not someone you cozy up to and tell all your problems to and they will magically have all the answers for you. Secrets don’t have to be shared. They can be kept by those who create them. A friend is not someone that you spend a lot of time with, buy presents for, talk to on the phone with or gossip about others with. A friend is not necessarily someone you will see often but when you see that person, you will know by the warmth and familiarity of their smile that that person is your friend. A friend doesn’t have to know all your dirty laundry and you don’t have to know your friend’s dirty laundry either. You value them as you know them and they value you as they know you.

I went to my friend’s funeral today. He was someone I knew professionally. He helped me along in my career as a teacher. He encouraged me. He smiled a lot. He always said kind and positive things to me and to my students when he was in my classroom and he made us all laugh. He was an interesting man with a quick tongue and a sharp eye. He loved his country. He loved his home. And he was a devout Catholic. He also enjoyed a shot of good whiskey while he told a story. I had heard small town gossip about him. It’s what people do. Imagine and talk. Out of boredom or cruelty. And sometimes just because they have too many chatter demons in their brains. But I never saw the evil in this man that he was accused of. He was married to the same woman for nearly 53 years. He raised 3 sons. He had 7 grandchildren. And he cherished them all. And then he fell. Accidentally. And he died.

He left me with the warm impression of what it means to be a friend. A soft footprint on my heart that the years will not wash away. Thank you, my friend, EFH. May you rest in peace and may I be a better person for having known the better parts of you.

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flowing oddly eternal

Note: another Plath inspired bit of verse – god, I love her
#plathpoetryproject

the music streams
it is running and clear
on small sharp feet
i cannot stop it as it runs over
my hands
it cuts into my fingers
red consuming white ribbons
twisting pink blossoms flow
a contorted kiss
of my swallowing thoughts
am I not that hungry moonlit child
cold and alone filled with dark harmonious light
adrift aloft and humming
in a single contrary motion
i run back to the beginning of the river
it is the end
i run forward to the end of the river
it is the beginning
the music begins to sigh
and shake its lonely head
my eyes blacken
abysmal singing pools
filled with dark purple reflections
oily rings where my feelings spread
their fragile hopes
fingering the edges of a rhapsody
i drink the poisoned waters
little small me drowns in song
my loves that die in my rapt postures
each time i whisper their
name i sing them songs
instead into the night light
my mouth forms a single hollow
yellow light
upon the flowing river
that ends from the beginning
and begins with an ending
a contrapuntal joist of round round round
we go merrily merrily merrily
is but a stream
flowing oddly eternal

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The Little One

Note: This is from one of my journal entries from the 1990’s – when my children were young and small. We struggled to raise them; financially as well as ideologically. But to find this bit of verse took me back to another time of being a busy preoccupied mother of young children.

in the middle of a busy day
i stop to compose myself in a deep sigh
i mentally walk away
yet there it is to
grab me back
a small puddle of grape juice
trickling from the
edge of the sink
in what seems like an unbroken dam
“oh must there be another one?”
a greenish stain remains
on the cabinet below
after i vigorously wipe it away

my arm feels like a sprung spring
my thoughts a whirlpool
drifting drifting
down to a quiet place of
rest

i look at the kitchen mat
an inevitable trip to the laundromat

and yet The Little One
who committed this crime
with eyes as wide as a fawn
maneuvered by a steady innocence
The same Little One
who opened the chicken coop this morning
(god don’t let those chickens get to the neighbor’s garden)
skips away merrily
forgetting me
forgetting the mess
smiling infectiously
arms flailing
dancing joyfully
grabs his brother’s trucks
and the chase is on

i look at him silently
sorrowfully
unnoticed
i want to grab him and hold him
and tell him the world really isn’t a bad place

i hang my head dutifully
and wipe up the juice

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Robin’s Egg Blue

Note: This was a response to Plath’s poem, Pheasant, composed 7 April 1962
#plathpoetryproject

It was a little bird
With birth stains clinging to its flesh
A soft skeletal coat of thin gray lines
A future of feathers for the light 
Of an early spring sun
Or the warmth of her mother’s beating red breast

The little bird had fallen from its nest
Into a bed of hearty English Ivy
The leathery green
Of songless empty beaks
Held the small captive
In Memoriam

I walked past it stupidly
Bearing its sounds of uncontested pleas 
A voice I translated as my own
Feeling small and unprotected

There is no feeling left for this creature
Only the shelter of leathery green beaks
Its mother as helpless as it
To return it home

As I approach her fallen one
She cries and circles me
As if to wage war
My fingertips wet with dew
I lift the small bundle
From her unwelcoming home
And dig a small plot
Where we both find rest

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the disappearance of her

Note: this poem was written in response to Plath’s work An Appearance written 4 April 1962 – prompt via plathpoetryproject.

the look in her eyes
like a bulging zipper frayed
too full of higher knowledge
angry threads and bright red bits
she scratches away with a
calculated glance

deep purple protestations
protrude petulantly
from her white alabaster neck
her head to one side
crooked

Tuesday
Ironing Day
hot flat curses
seal her mouth
shut
broad linen swathes
the gown for this
Domestic Goddess

what is love
if not bits of duty
sewn into the hem
of every day life?

the dreams awake her tremulously
as she mends each eye shut

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Heard Something in My Sleep – A Dream-Thought

I am pretty sure this is my response to Plath’s Little Fugue written 2 April 1962 via the plathpoetryproject.

I sleep Wide Awake
My Back a Sounding Board
to the Background Noise
of Noiseless Dreams

I hear no one Crashing Loudly
in the Middle of My Night
the Blinding Sunshine Screams in My Ears
the Darkness that
Surrounds Me
A Grotesque Menagerie of
Distorted Features
Eyes that End Life
Lips that Stop the Heart
They press Heavily on my Weightless Life

Suddenly Speeding by My Thoughts become
a Memory from Someone Else
Who is that Man with a Box Like Refrigerator for a Heart
Who is that Woman with a Blood Letting for Tears
And Smiles that melt into a Semi-Conscious Pool
of Subterranean Life

It is a Dark and Cold
It is a Grim and Slimy
I sit on the Eroding Edge and Dig the Dirt out with my Teeth

A Full Service Dinner set with a Smile
A Knife and Fork that Digs into Someone Else’s Brain
Like that Creeping Creature beneath the Yellow Wallpaper
Like that Screaming Blue Wall that was just Someone Else’s Window

Her Shadow Dance was ordinary as She Dressed her Children for Bed
Then dug Them with a Knife till they were Dead
She smiled and Woke up
Licking the Blood and Horror from her Lips
As if it were a Rich Dessert
Then threw herself at the Authorities
and Swore she Didn’t Do it.

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Limbs

I have been responding to prompts from the plathpoetryproject. The idea is to write a piece in response to each of the pieces Plath wrote during the last year of her life. I thought I would share them on my blog. This one is a response to The Munich Mannequins written in January of 1963. Her life ended February 11, 1963 so I will be moving forward and backward upon her final year timeline as I share my responses. My sense is that this piece reflects her response to the artifice of human beings. As Sylvia once said, “The truth comes to me. The truth loves me.

I watch you
Inside deep your heart
You scour a place to hide
A bloody remnant of a phrase
That sounds as if you know what you speak
Invisibly needling hands form the soft bumpy orifice
Your pain is visibly sealed

Old bookworms nibble on torn and lost thoughts
Forged now with popular phrases
Words do not die
They are the immortalized thoughts
Blown from the corpses that once gave them a voice
Now a pain visibly sealed

From inside your shiny new car
You purposefully avert all eyes
With a papery thin smile
Your thoughts are fuel
For your narrow unctuous eyes
That melt like rubber on the road
How many times do you speak a falsehood
Wanting to impress strangers
With figs as thorns

My words have stretched over
The rainbow-filled bottles of promises
My lips are old cracked rubber bands
That snap and snarl
Like an angry parade of hissing snakes
They emerge from ocular crevices
Thick overhung partially closed lids
No one expects anything but a vision
From these sleepy stony eyes
That seethe in silence

My dead numb brain
Squashed into a soft indifferent mass
It is dark and consuming
A thick purple trickle inching its way
Into the crevices of my heart

My words my thought-filled immortals
Spring from the earth like the blood-bearing skeleton
Wielding a dull tongue for a sword

I roam these acres in silence
Peeling my memories as fine and transparent
As a rotting onion
I dare to bare myself
To this inky mass
Of a violently purple paradise

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I Imagine Thomas Wolfe

ah ha ah ha
on days the silver chord is struck
my innards resonate with unknown memories
pre-life stuff anachronistic sensations
to resonate with the dead the gone the buried
is to find a ruby on the road
a thinking road
like time and space shifting through
different phases where maybe i would
have been better off
knowing people i love only from
words and music

Look Homeward Angel
i haven’t read it yet
it’s an electrocuting anticipation
a satisfying jolt to my heart
i could choke on the joy and sorrow of it
and be breathless and breathe
all in one moment
isn’t that what good books are all about?

it will be good for longing for reflection for the ah ha’s
life’s little sweet dark secrets revealed in carefully crafted prose
like fine linen in the funeral parlor?
that’s where it all ends
that’s where it all goes
each little footprint one step further from birth
one step closer to death
but all the perfume and fragrance
in between
all the colors of life swirling in and out
a storm of madness and solemnity
of seeking the answers to discover the maze
where we wander as we live a life

my heart swells like a thirsty sponge in dishwater
looking at that boy from the old wood engraving
he sits on fine mound
considers his options in adulation of the sunset
his mother had made him a fine dinner
his father left the table after he told him
he wanted to be a writer
his sister slipped him a note inviting him
to meet her at the old barn
she had a secret to tell him
it wrenched from her a most dissatisfying consternation
he knew what it meant
trouble of the consorting type

meanwhile the wind blows hard outside
if it had been a future it would have run away
and hid hard from anyone to find it
it makes me worry when he works outside in the wind
the sharp bite of the grinding wheel
it could take his finger off and it will run off
with our future and leave us stuck in some old rotten
tooth of disaster and unspeakable sorrow

but i won’t know until i read his book
rummage around inside his age of innocence
and sense it turn dark red and gray
from his hyper-vigilant pen
the momentum of memory
a time of clean hard-working innocence
to a time of toil and dismay
he was too early for the death bed
and too late to tell us anymore stories

his words rise in praise to his thoughts
full blown clouds
cast aside
by a cold hard wind

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