Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dusk, with Fireflies

Another long night out by the window waiting for rain
that might never come. We keep missing each other, like
two lovers separated by the tracks and paths of a steam-filled
East European train station, in an avant-garde Russian film.
Why don't people kino people ever kiss except when it's
negotiation? Another line of storms flattening the counties north
but all too dry on the southern lip of the state, grass drying
dying and gasping. At last there's a dusk wind to cool the skin.
You spend most of your life struggling out of the water, coming up
on land for the first time, evolving lungs, learning to breathe all
over again. A higher, thinner moisture. Lungfish dried out along
the shore like lumps of dry coal, unable to go back and down
into the thinning tide. Stranded on the shores of the infinite,
some poet once declaimed, but left it there, no suggestions or
solutions of what to do next. My own rivers have unclogged at last.
A roar in limpid veins of whitewater foaming towards red dawn.
Everything I know is reduced to blood, sinew, this incessant cough.
Let those with daybooks and planners, who insist on carving up
the day into incremental sequences, speak to this wind, and try to
change its mind. The roar of cicadas in the pear tree fills
the twilight with sounds from a place between worlds, the droning
abyss, the summer day's heat in which people disappear into rock
needles and caves and never return. Except perhaps if you catch
the last spur of fluttering shirt in the still air. Wind from another world.
Nothing stirs there but the light and its opposites. I don't plan
to figure out why; why is an accident. Nothing ever ends.

Fireflies are rising from the tall dry grass as the sky cools. I left
part of myself beside this morning's sudden pond, and never looked
back. Something met me between the rain sluices, opening a door.
I don't have a name for it; many somethings have no known names.
Finding is naming is mastery. No, the clouds are lightening, the wind
thinner, we're going to get missed again. There will come soft rains.
Après moi, la dèluge. Where do fireflies hide, when it storms?
They're back the next quiet evening, as though remembering brings
them out again. At night the lungfish leaps in my chest, hammering
to get out, afraid to retreat in. Lungfish and lanterns, the bioluminescent
trash of the deep abyss. The deep well of the ocean a place already full
of too much white trash. In Java, in Bali, the fireflies pulse purple
instead of the green of North America. Ricefields are full of them
at dusk, rising slowly, pulses of light mirrored in still water,
cool stars also reflected in the paddies, lights above, lights below.
Where are you? Rain on me. I've lost my way in this breathless dark.

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Blogger Elisabeth said...

Art, this is breathtakingly beautiful. You have such a way with words, such a passion for images.

I read your words again and again and all I can do is gasp.

Fireflies and lungfish, winds and water. My words don't do justice to the experience.
Thank you.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Hi, Elisabeth—

Wow, I'm not sure this deserves such praise, and thanks regardless. :) Passion for images is really what drives it a lot of the time.

This was spontaneously written this evening, which I've been doing occasionally for a few weeks now, after a long dry spell. I expect to go back through it once or twice more, to sharpen a spot here, trim some fat there, that sort of thing. I'm finding myself, lately, writing a few in this form, this style, out of the intensity of what i've been going through in personal life.

Making art is always the best revenge.

1:19 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth said...

I couldn't agree more, Art, about making art as the best revenge. In other words, 'doing well' as the best revenge.

It puts all our enemies to shame.

1:54 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...


And the only enemies I acknowledge, at the moment, as worth battling are time, and my own limitations.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

This is another very evocative piece, Art. You’re definitely on a roll. Some beautiful imagery and thought-provoking lines. Not sure why, “After me, the deluge,” needs to be in French. It doesn’t hurt anything but I don’t see what’s gained either. I don’t understand ‘kino’ – can you explain?

Again I cut the text and reformatted it in Word. It helps considerably. It’s not just you. I have problems with long blocks of text. I’ve written them but that’s neither here nor there. I find my own blocks of text hard to read.

After reading through this though I think it should be split into at least two parts. I’d split it after the line “Fireflies are rising from the tall dry grass as the sky cools.” I think that’s a good place for a natural pause. I can also see scope for other breaks that would make reading easier for the likes of me but would also break the piece into blocks of thought – paragraphs in the traditional way of looking at them.

Personal preferences aside this is still a good piece.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

I do sort of feel on a roll. I haven't talked about where these are coming from, although I might soon. Basically, in the midst of the personal medical crisis I've been going through, I started writing these poems, in this form, mostly, after a hiatus of writing virtually nothing for many months. As you know, Jim, most of last summer was spent writing a long piece of choral music. I'm still a little surprised that I'm writing any poems at all right now. But every few days, I seem to be doing so. Life is strange.

The quote's in French because that;s how I hear it in my head, in the original. The allusion works better for me that way, it's nothing more than that.

"Kino" is the Russian word for "cinema." It's sort of a film inside joke.

I can see breaking it into two sections, there is a natural pause there. I'll think about it, but I might also want to keep the form. I'll think about it, but I don't know yet.

This is all still evolving, and a little vague to me as yet.

Glad you're liking the individual pieces so far, though.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Jim Murdoch said...

It would be helpful if you italicised 'kino' then the same way you did with the French quote.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Seems reasonable. Consider it done.

10:31 AM  
Blogger C. H. said...

Just wanted to stop in to say thanks for the recent comments over at Are You Outside the Lines? And how wonderful to get to occasionally witness the poetic mind behind the comments. Bravo!

11:59 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Hi, Christopher, and thanks very much for stopping by. You've been inciting some very interesting thoughts lately, which is why I've been commenting so much. Lots to think about!

6:36 PM  
Anonymous suzanne said...

I have photos and words up
of my soon-to-be Wisconsin digs
at my blog

10:52 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Welcome to Escape to Wisconsin. :)

1:14 AM  
Anonymous suzanne said...

I view it as a Coming HOme
since it will be my fourth coming to Wisconsin

I have a friend of 35 years
who lives now in an added-to one room schoolhouse
close by my new digs
she has about 2 acres of incredible flower/grasses gardens
I'm sure she'd be happy to trade some plants/bulbs with you, Art

6:49 AM  
Blogger Art Durkee said...

Sounds like a great idea. maybe this fall we can plan on a visit and/or trade.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous suzanne said...

you're on, Art

plus I have some music making
things, I think you'd get more use from
than I do . . .

word verification: nuseer *!*

6:30 AM  

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