Terra Incognita

Some years ago, I had an e-mail address–with a provider which is now defunct–that was forever inundated with spam. ( I have the nasty suspicion they sold my address to various and sundry unsavory operators.) I discovered the crooked e-mails contained scraps of random prose. It appealed to my inner poet, so I cribbed snippets of prose from those and other spam.

I figured since I couldn’t block them all, I would at least subvert them into a bit of beauty. Transform them into poetry. Years after I began I stumbled across the term–found poem. A new poetic form!

Silk from a sow’s ear.

 

Terra Incognita: a found poem

What should I have been without him? Still
I lost him into the silence like a sloping roof,
as if he were a stranger upon earth,
a revelation of human inconsistency.

Underneath burning glass, he looked strong.
There is something I want to tell you, he said.
Trust me no more, but trust me no less,
than you would an inspired heap of sand.

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Desire Lines

I love reading. I always have three or four books going at a time. A life-long habit which may or may not have had any bearing on my making a career in librarianship. While I wish I could say all of my reading is profound and enlightening, I’ll confess to really liking a good vampire romance.

Years ago, while reading an eclectic and enlightening bit of nonfiction–like Rebecca Solnit’s Wanderlust, I stumbled across an architectural concept–desire lines–which fascinated me.

Basically, architects build structures but will often leave surrounding pathways unfinished for a brief period to allow users of those spaces to choose the pathways they desire. The architects watch for those pathways or lines of wear in the soft surfaces, like grass or sand, to figure out where to set permanent pathways, i.e. sidewalks or gravel paths.

I love thinking my need for a quick way between university buildings dictates where generations of other students will wend their way around campus. Or how my love for solitude decides the direction of a hiking trail.

Reminds me too of how when writing poetry I can influence a reader’s very breath.

 

Desire Lines

 

The man, sharp in the humid froth of budded trees,
is convinced his hand’s map explains his failures. He watches
briefly the women, cool in sheer tops and clinging wisps of skirts.
Waves of them move past his green isle of a bench.

The pocketed scrap he uses to wipe the fine spray of sweat
from his face flashes a white arc when it slips his grasp. He knows
what must be done now, sees the pathway clearing before him.
If thy right hand offends thee, cut it off.

Medicine

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.
–Proverbs 17:22 King James Version (KJV)

The best feeling in the world is to awaken with a joyful heart and laughter in your mouth. I’ve only experienced waking up mid-laugh a few times. I yearn for more.

Another rarity, my attempt at writing formal poetry: a pantoum.

 

Medicine

 

laughter followed
circling up
yellow bright in morning air
blessing and welcome

circling up
around the bed and room
lifting from sleep’s void
bodies loose in release

around the bed and room
effervescence in the gravid house
bodies loose in release
stretched beyond holding

effervescent in the gravid house
laughter followed
more abundant in sharing
yellow bright in morning air

Houdini

Late one night (or really early one morning), I caught the ending of the movie, The Great Houdini, on TV. Paul Michael Glaser’s depiction of Harry Houdini mesmerized me.

[Disclaimer: I was a kid in elementary school and more than half in love with Glaser from the TV series, Starsky and Hutch. At the time, I even owned a Starsky and Hutch poster. Their red Ford Gran Torino with white stripe featured prominently.]

I quickly read up on Houdini and his tricks. Just the thought of Houdini escaping from canisters and slipping out of chains altered my idea of what is possible and what is impossible.

 

 

I am learning to let go

and not look back
at the places        things      people
trailing like breadcrumbs behind

I will not be Lot’s wife
turned to stone with the weight
of sorrow and regret

I keep my eyes forward
moving toward the distance
even if I have to run

Favored Things

When I was kid, I’d wait every year for the special showing of The Sound of Music. For me, the star songs were My Favorite Things and Climb Ev’ry Mountain. The music and singing made my heart crack open with joy.

Many years beyond childhood, I don’t wait for a special time for joy. My heart is always open.

Favored Things

i.
sinew and muscle
tapers to those steady broad
hands encradling my own

ii.
I thought it myth
a saying or perhaps
a social falsity

when they say
eyes sparkle or light up

when they say
eyes are the soul’s window

but what can I say
with the truth before me
as I bask in your glory

Lady Lazarus

We tell our own stories, and listen to others’, to understand life and our place in it. We tell these stories so we won’t be alone.

 

Lady Lazarus

I wish I could say I died once
but that’s not so.
Maybe I should confess
death found me alluring enough,
it returned for encores.

It could not bear to leave
with my taste still lingering
in its mouth. The way I gave over,
still thinking this was just courtship,
thinking I knew the dance.

Seventh time the seal.
I was promised. Death’s first dances
led me with skirts awhirl. Fourth, fifth
sixth, it dipped me low, then into
a tarantella of motion.

Death spun me away, drew me back.
Its cool fingertips my only anchor. Revelation
near, death paused its unmasking for one
final sip from my parted lips. A hard insistence
laid across its shoulder. Life was cutting in.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I’m starting NaPoWriMo a little late…but better late than never.

What is NaPoWriMo you ask? NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April.

Never tried writing a poem daily. It’ll probably be ugly but what the hay? I’m taking a chance.

Why don’t you join me? 🙂

under skin
plates shifting
crashing against self

heat arcing
a line down
side to center

gathering weight
speed then slow
slower still stop

a sizzle
dancing waterdrops
across cast iron

lather rinse repeat