no prompt, just me on a lonely winter walk.
i have a lot of poems like that.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
I crunch the wind-shocked snowpack, cast out
into Saturn, the last eponym of the season’s storming.
This is me cooling off in the rip of a come-back winter
jet stream, furious with the battle I make against this
relentless and offensive weather—boots angry
on the stairwell at spring so far away, so unhappy,
unwilling to work against unhappiness anymore.
I am no one’s favorite tonight, even my blood seethes
against me, withdrawing from fingers seeking stumbling
words. It’s just me and this Marlboro—God damn,
there aren’t enough poems about girls
with cigarettes in the snow, breath and smoke
indistinct below the wind-hull, hands cold. I want
to go home and lay low—maybe I’ll dig
into this drift here—emerge on the other side
to a parking lot apocalypse, sparrows falling
like ice-heavy limbs to the street, chased down
by a prowling hawk. Then wanders a misplaced
carol: Do you hear what I hear? No, if only
the scrape of shovels against cement echoing
in the reverb of a blizzard-tide. If snow falls
silent against the steel and glass, persistent,
then the trunk coming down in forgotten woods
must make the most desperate and lonesome sound.
The listening portion of the Beach Boys course I’m in right now is kinda driving me crazy. The love songs are so happy lovey-dovey, so I decided to write a song-poem that turned that shit on its head. Love is a scary, dangerous thing, folks. Too much of a good pop song can break you.
Kiss Me, Baby
I was not afraid when the bottle bashed
across my jaw and awakened me to love.
You and I under the florescent falls of suburbia
too full of Brooklyn Pilsner and bladed words
for the time of night. The front door with a broken
hinge, the mildew seething in the kitchen tile–
you grabbed my arm and the soft space
between the nest of your palm and my wrist
drew maroon puckers on my skin.
Please, don’t let me argue anymore—
The white curtains with pink roses, grubby
from years of neglect. The sting of my fingers
as they shattered over your temple. The evening
thunder loomed, far away with darkness
like the clear water I’ll use to wash out the wound
as Brian Wilson whines on the stereo.
Kiss a little bit, fight a little bit—
The sheets of rain crushed into gray piles
on the stoop outside where you smoked.
KISS ME, BABY, LOVE TO HOLD YOU—
I felt the blue drapes of my body
loop over themselves, thick and rubbery
as the heat of busted-bottle blows bloomed
down my neck, slow as a caress
that stabbed me, stabbed me, stabbed me, cold.
Inspiration comes from so many places. The other day, the Google sidebar called out to me. It was an article about a squid ship from Japan resurfacing near Canada. The picture, to me, was kind of haunting. And the impacts of the tsunami are still being felt in places. I wanted to access that emotion, that haunting, in a way I understood. It may not be a real reflection of the news, but as a writer, I take internal truths, ghosts of the news, and reconstruct them in a new way. So, here:
“An aircraft patrolling the seas off British Columbia saw the vessel… from the Haida Gwaii islands on Friday. It is believed to be the first large item from the millions of tons of tsunami debris to cross the Pacific.”–BBC News
The oceans pushed me back to land with an azure hand
after the clap of saline and spray that washed me away
from the coastal teeth of the Hokkaido. Take me back
to rock-strewn sea-cliffs, to the scream
of water against Earth, the rushing collision
of waves straddling themselves as they teem
towards the shore. I was vast once, holding inside
myself the heavy tools of nautical labor, dark and solid
and greasy with saltwater. The Pacific lapped along
beneath my keels and nets, and I was strong
in my stroke against the currents. Then the tremendous
upheaval, the rapid flood of tidal bores into the harbor
like the whipping of one great sheet in the wind,the smashing
force of shoaling crests, the draining drawback
that yanked me from the jetty and swept me adrift.
In that blue emptiness, that suspended stillness
of so many depths, the rust blossomed along my hull,
and my sea-tossed body refused to sink.
Approaching that black brow of horizon again,
I know I am all hollowed out, a ghost of myself.
I feel like this trend is developing in my writing of having mini existential crises in bed when I feel ill/depressed and the weather is bad. There’s the couplet poem about a storm, the nightmare from when I was sick (
which I didn’t post because it was kinda lame), and the writer’s block I experienced during a particularly dreary day. And now this.
I was told that I’ve been pretty ‘safe’ in my writing this entire semester, and I would say that’s true: I know what works with my style and language and I go for it. I know what mistakes I make and how my readers will react. Mostly I did this because of time constraints…a poetry assignment needed to be done so I just did it. But I want to try to branch out. I want to try to create something where there is some uncertainty in its reception. I just don’t know how to go about doing that. Maybe if I try getting more personal and less reliant on my ‘research-oriented’ form of writing, the results would be riskier, more interesting.
But this is what I have for now.
5 AM Thunder
This is the space you’re allowed to occupy
in my head. White-violet ribbons rip my eyelids
apart: the isolated roar of bus route runnings,
the soft marbles of rain clattering in the gutter.
I will wait, I will try to listen to the way
my landlocked heart contemplates like the rush
of waves in a shell—my own blood pooling
in tidal-rocked rhythms. A musty electric scent
rises from my sheets as I shift, every sore
muscle clenching fistlike against my skin,
while bones cut and pinch, snuffing out
circulation, sending limbs back to sleep.
Your animal turns over in the saddlebacked
mountains of my brain, murmuring with cloud
convulsions and gale-washed sighs. I could
give so much more to you, but I am stuck,
frozen fast in the knotted fingers of this storm,
a fire under glass burning the edges black.
Working with forms is great, but something within me continues to resist the rules of formulaic poetry writing. I was supposed to experiment with rhyme in this couplet exercise, buuut…I hate rhyme.
Anyways, here’s a little ditty. Kinda a failure. Kinda sparse for me…no research went into the creation of this poem. Weird.
as its own
the way navy September
snatch away the smoke
of a cigarette
is to know
the dark curves
of your own
the blowing copses
of your lungs,
of your body
I’ve been writing too much about childhood too much, I think. First with the siblings poem and now this. A pokemon poem. Poke-em?
The prompt for class was to write about an imaginary animal, and why would I use my imagination when I can steal from the imaginary prowess that dominated most of my childhood? So, here is my homage to the most famous imaginary creature of my generation. Dare I say of all time? My emotions still run pretty deep about it, as this poem indicates. Hope it takes you back, if you can access the reference.
When lightning strikes, the creatures flock
to the smoking, shocked earth to feast on the dirt
that tastes of roasted almonds and mesquite, flashing
in their mouths like spearmint triboluminescence.
Electricity coursing over munching rose-blot cheeks,
they race through fields like currents measured
in amperes of intensity as powerlines ignite overhead
and crackling charges spiral through their scamper
in squealing snaps. They thrive under the storm-tossed
sky of a rural Okinawa night, crooked tails
and nimble paws dancing like St. Elmo’s Fire.
Bolts skitter across their saffron bodies, build
in their rodent-bones until they cry out, and blast out
with hungry fingers of fire and light. No thunder
follows their strike, only guttering sparks haloing
cherubic faces: glittering eyes and a small smile,
with pointed ears pricked, electric, twitching—
the subtle touch of a blue-blossom static charge.
A relic from my childhood I'm too attached to let go of. Embarassing.