Saturday, November 06, 2010


Suffer the little clouds in my mind to become bigger clouds.
Rakes of punctured trigrams obscure the sun; going down slow.
If days of travel, driving and being driven, can make you tired,
how much more likely then is it that I'll stumble.
Frustrated I can't do more, can't help more. Nothing
takes me out of my own abbatoir like being of service.
Even then, failed monk that I am, I can't fix even a corner
of the world, of this house, without another corner caving in.
Ashes, we all fall down, and the chimneys crimson with sunset.
The old house windows into the new, making logs into ash.
If there's a nobler part to suffering, which is doubtful though some
say it, it comes from the honest democracy of pain. Accept what's there,
stop telling tall tales. Even poets can be liars, if it suits the tale.
Nothing's intended, although the weak-willed keep flailing with blame.
Try to become less irrelevant. Make a radical revolution of the heart.
If there were something like a box I could put you in, I wouldn't.
Boxes spin into more boxes, obligatory puzzle of the self.
My feet for some reason are restless, wanting to chasten this cloister.
Maybe it's the wind, the last day of fine weather.
Leaves falling everywhere, shocked out of the sky by last night's
impossible storms, bracketed by placid cool blue suns.

Then suddenly we're in the Cajun moonlight, a hoodoo violin
mapping territories woken from old grids of Germanic regularity
trying to organize the bayou into regularized overlaid streets.
it's absurd. No wild thing would would walk those ways. Certainly no singer.
Where did I exit? This wasn't part of the plan.
The town plans got lost in the mangroves, chewed by manatees,
pecked to nothing by egrets. Suffering alligators, it's hot.
We've gone astray again. Time to return to pretending to be
normal. Thickets in northern Michigan seem more normalizing
than the Everglades, but perhaps only to boys who grew up
walking carefully to avoid trampling the protected woods trillium.

And the redwing blackbird, sentinel that shouted hunger into my mind.
Finding other ways to wake up. A thicket rather than a swamp.
Somewhere I left a stash of letters to mildew, maybe in an old desk
abandoned at the old house, too heavy to move with memories.
Oak is a lesson in stolidity. Its very surface a black pollen
of forgetting. Black pollen of hail and thunder, of night storms.
Black incense of forbidden desire. Now we rove back to it.
There's nothing here but the recordings. Enough soul-searching.
If it doesn't serve, cease. Stop everything that won't stop.
I've taken enough tollbooths, there's no certainty past that bridge
back to where we begin.

Notes on the poem series, again:

Is this series of poems brought on with summer's brush with near-dying running dry? It doesn't matter, of course. I'm gearing up to do some music composing, and I know that when I'm musically satisfied I tend not to make poems; or at least fewer. And indeed I have made fewer poems of late. That surge that arrived with the darkest times this past summer may be passing on, now that my health is gradually climbing out of the bucket again. The urge to write is less urgent; I have other things to think about, too.

Some poems remain in my journal, untranscribed. Some are half-finished; they started well, but then something interrupted me—like a doctor entering the room—and I lost the momentum. I will go back, perhaps, and finish them, if I can find the momentum again. Some I think are only sketches or warm-ups; maybe there's a salvageable line or two, but not the whole piece. I am gradually going back to look through this set, however, as time and interest move me currently, so a few more poems may appear here.

I feel right now as though the best of this series of poems was made in the summer's darkest hours, when I was as down and out as I've been. But I also, hopefully wisely, don't fully trust my own opinions about my own art. No artist should; it risks self-delusion. You can, with practice, be ever more objective; but never totally so, as that would also be delusion. So I can't predict what the best poems of the series are. I can only on my taste and intuition. For all I know, the best is yet to come.

Forward momentum is the key to endless creativity.

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