The Full Moon Tonight

Last night on Facebook, an old friend posted a photo of the moon seen through cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms demand haiku.

The Full Moon Tonight
for Sue Hughson

The full moon tonight—
just one more brief, white blossom
in the cherry tree

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Poem (“Lead burns red and makes you dead”)

A condensation
from the coils of synthesis:
hundred fifty proof

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The Gift of Night and Storm (with process note)

I took the title of this poem from a phrase that resonated with me near the end of David Helwig’s column in the March edition of the Buzz, which column is a fine little meditation on the appearance of snow buntings after a storm. I thought, “I love that phrase, ‘The gift of night and storm,’ what can I make with it?” So I wandered a while in the bright cold afternoon letting my mind explore associations.

What it settled on were my memories of my mother telling me stories about winter births in the first half of the twentieth century, including her own. And because the circumstances allowed me to play off Robert Frost, I did that too. So thank you, David Helwig, Robert Frost, and Mom. Now here’s a poem about my mother’s birth—which is as much a lie and as much a truth as any poem I’ve ever written.

The Gift of Night and Storm

What’s this that arrived in callused palms
with the last shudders of the house as the nor’easter
blew itself out? The hospital’s ten miles
as the crow flies, no nearer now in the aftermath
than it was at the height of the storm.
Might’s well be in Andromeda for all the hope
that exists of reaching it today, or of the doctor
reaching here. Even with the horse and sleigh—

such drifts the poor beast would have to breast—
they’d have no choice, mistake or no, but to stop
by woods halfway here in the growing dark.
And she’s here now healthy anyway as I wrap her
well in flannel against her shivers. I touch the dark
damp hair as Pearl says, “We’ll call her Ethel.”

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When I Am Dead, I Will Not Be Gone

When I Am Dead, I Will Not Be Gone

When I am dead, I will not be gone.
I will be dead. Death is not a destination,
nor a vehicle to a destination. It’s not
a taxi we hail, not a flight we board
at the last breath of lungs, not a bicycle
we pedal through a sudden bucolic
landscape of the past where long-mourned
gaits and stances are glimpsed in the shade
under distant trees. All that remains of me
or you will be ash or decay-inhibited flesh
boxed and buried, stashed as if some use
for it might remain—that and, perhaps,
an occasionally coherent pattern of neurons
flickering, fading in another’s brain.

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February Haiku

Snow piled to the eaves—
now who complains we don’t live
amidst abundance?

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In Paris. The Portraits

I actually took a commission yesterday to write a poem for the birthday of a friend of a friend. It was a fun and interesting exercise. I worked mostly from a list sent to me of associations and interests of the person—and wants and wishes as well, one of which was to go to Paris. So….

In Paris. The Portraits

In Paris, the painters have no free will now.
They stand outside cafés begging the wind
To bring them strands of hair you left mingled
With wild grasses pale under the summer moon.

They stand outside cafés, forgotten red wine
Evaporating from clear carafes while they beg
The wind for strands of your hair to twist
Into brushes to paint you again on the morning

You rose singing from the seafoam, gleaming,
Hair dark and wet, tangled on your shoulders,
Water parting in sorrow from your torso, limbs,
Falling back to waves breaking at your feet.

The canvas refuses all other underdrawings
In Paris. The portraits are all of you now.

 

Update:

My friend David Nicholson just noted that he specifically chose the following to listen to while reading the poem. I like his choice, so I’m adding it.

Posted in Art is lies, Art is theft, Cliches, Commissions, Creativity, John MacKenzie, Mythology, New poems, Poem tweets, Poetry, Process, Summer, The Moon, The Sea, The Wind, Tide, Time, Venus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Posthumous Diagnosis of Muhammad

Under the cold desert stars the prophet’s tics
waxed and waned with the unsettled moon.

Everything depends on where it began and so
between spells cruel men re-sharpen his sickle.

Listen. You may still hear his throat-clearing;
it is the stone’s incessant rasp on the blade.

And in stone those cruel men have written
his repetitive, involuntary utterances.

Was it his disease that left him seeing women
as threats? They walk veiled now, by his order.

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