April 1, 2014 – Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne
Daphne is fleeing Apollo
and her face is an open book of terror.
She’d rather be a laurel tree
than live the captive life
of an object of once passionate pursuit.
Apollo’s hand slips around her waist,
her abdomen already transforming to bark,
yet through the wood he feels in her gut
her beating, throbbing heart,
and he, his passion a misdirected vector,
could not care less. Look at his face.
His focus is the hunt, the game,
her fingers leaves, her arms now laurel branches.
The transformation is itself a meditation.
April 2, 2014
“The legends say something happened in Chaneysville.”
And legends don’t normally lie, though they may embellish,
just a bit. A big city history professor returns to his rural roots
when he learns a father-like figure is dying.
A transference occurs, a passing of the seat of authority:
now is his turn to sit on the leadership stool.
Truth knocks at the door, the scales of justice
are unbalanced – a historical wrong must be righted.
The old man taught him in his youth how to track game
through the woods. He used those tools in his new field,
a sleuth tracking information through layers of noise.
But now his sense of direction must be straight and true.
Leave the self-perpetuating baggage in the city:
discovery and redemption require a certain resolution.
April 3, 2014 – Triversen
three days in
might be three days late
for a beginning poem.
my compass was confused,
I lost my way
in the thickness of the fog.
a late start
is not the end of things –
it is still a beginning:
and I still have you,
and you, me,
and we, each other.
So let’s make a go
of this poetry month
and celebrate each day,
early or late,
lost or found,
beginning to end.
April 4, 2014 – A charm for all that ails
Measure equal portions each:
ground ginger and cinnamon sticks;
whole peppercorn and clove buds;
cardamom pods; nutmeg; and black cumin seeds.
Mix in a grinder until powdery and fine,
store in an airtight metal tin.
Heat one teaspoon in four cups of water
until it forms a shimmering slime on top.
Add tea and steep for taste,
or brew in coffee, per your choice,
in similar proportion. Or sprinkle
on ice cream or your favorite dessert.
The spice mix will de-stress your mind,
soothe digestion and aid regularity.
April 5, 2014 – On attending a lecture by a Nobel-prize winning astrophysicist, Pt. 1
The universe has no beginning nor end,
expanding and unbounded in undefined space
and time. Every event is an act on a stage,
a plot that continually evolves.
Our paths cross like two distant stars –
each a separate solar system –
but from afar, from Earth, perhaps,
we appear joined, fused, as one.
And sailors use our apparent light
to steer their ships by through the darkened night,
and stargazers reckon the passage of time
by the single light they think that we emit.
Yet all their precise calculations miss
the mark, based on a truth that is false.
April 6, 2014 – On attending a lecture by a Nobel-prize winning astrophysicist, Pt. 2
In one year, or in a thousand years
our galaxies resume their chosen paths,
and from afar, from Earth perhaps, the truth
will be revealed: we are not one star – but two,
or many, diverse, distinct, passing through
space like ships in the night. And sailors still
reach their destinations, despite the inexactitude,
still sleep in loving arms’ embrace the long night
through. So what’s the moral of this story,
what’s the sonnet’s point? We seek defined lives
in indefinite space. We try to reconcile
our every act, our every word, each thought,
but ere the end all bets are off,
and all is naught but drifting stardust…
April 7, 2014 – On attending a lecture by a Nobel-prize winning astrophysicist, Pt. 3
At our center
is a dying star
an empty space
a black hole –
It once emitted light
to all inside its orbit,
but now it only absorbs,
and robs, and depletes –
And yet it still
has force and grace
to bend us at its will
and hold us all – together –
April 8, 2014
Jupiter in Cancer
Mars, Earth and
Sun in alignment
blood moon coming
roll the dice
a bumble bee
a swollen thumb
an ocean voyage
April 9, 2014
I used to call it sing-songy French,
the occasional sweet things you’d say
in your deep southern, swing low tone.
We lost all contact over the years:
marriages, divorces, voyages,
wars and rumors of wars,
storms and floods and broken dikes –
and now we are too old
to put the scattered pieces back
into their right places.
But though scattered, the random pieces
of our lost love – words, verses –
refuse to go away completely,
to abandon us hopelessly, altogether.
So we stare at them, the pieces,
the fragments, impossible to ignore,
yet equally impossible to re-assemble –
and the pieces stare back at us,
the sing-songy notes, the French words
we used to know, the whispers,
and rest in peaceful sleep.
April 10, 2014
like gears engaged our lives unwind, unfold,
become enmeshed, entangled in the race.
the buildings that house all our livelihood
contain us, stifle, choke our spirit self.
we are like bees, slaves in a tall hive house –
up and down we weave and work, in and out –
confined and circumscribed, enslaved and drugged.
an enemy sneaks in with a food that kills,
destroys our young – no honey if no brood –
our storehouse of fantasies robbed by thieves,
pimped like whores, a birthright lost, foreclosed.
April 11, 2014
I wandered through a shopping mall looking
for a telephone, a land phone with two lines:
dying technology, I would soon find out.
The mall, normally full of shoppers, was empty,
quiet, flat. Where were all the shoppers?
A few old men sat at tables in the food court,
rustling through papers with young couples,
and big, tatooed men passed through, I could tell
they were ex-soldiers by their swagger, by the glaze
of combat still in their eyes. Looking for jobs.
No jobs today, everywhere, stores are closing.
In Baghdad, the Marines used to say, “America
is not at war, the Marines are at war.
America is at the Mall.” Not no more.
April 12, 2014
A friend from overseas asked me in a card:
“Ray, what’s it like to live in a country
constantly, always and forever at war?”
I didn’t have an answer so I rolled three dice.
Drama masks; a ladder; catching butterflies.
The masks are for deception when they speak,
all actors on a temporary stage.
The ladder: an escape; a rescue;
a fortuitous disassociation.
Catching butterflies: they will try to lure you
you back. Stay on your track, ignore their call.
So what’s it like? Constant bombardment, spin,
propaganda, fake stories, subliminal appeals.
Don’t think about the guy behind the curtain.
April 13, 2014
The Five Laws of Poetry (being a take off of Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science)
Poetry is for use, for reading, reciting, and study.
Poetry is universal. There is a poem for every person.
Every person can understand poetry with effort.
Poems should be short enough to convey the message.
Poetry as a literary genre is a growing organism.
April 14, 2014
Blood moon rising
I’m outta Zertec.
The weatherman said
it might snow tonight
And I don’t know
if I am early or late …
April 15, 2014
no time for poems
and yet poetry
still oozes 🙂
out of my pen
out of my right hand
out of my soul
April 16, 2014
Princeton decides U.G Gov’t is not a democracy:
no new news there, Ivy League buster,
not for those never invited to the table
to sip slowly of the purple Kool Ade.
But isn’t oligarchy what the Russians have?
Where very few rich people control the many,
and every official is bought and paid for,
and voting is a joke? A sham?
But that’s not what we are. Oh no!
Russia’s theory is economic elite domination,
and ours is biased pluralism. Right, buster.
All the same in the wash, Princeton. Thanks.
April 17, 2014
A smiling face in front of a skull and
bones can never be a positive sign –
deception, malevolence, subterfuge –
a woman in the middle is clapping,
or wiping, her hands of the matter.
But right to left yields a better message:
danger approaches or is present –
but the woman in the middle
resolves the matter – as a mother protects
her sun, a lover fixes the situation
for her lover – tragedy transforms
to comedy, romance. Boy is happy, safe.
What a difference direction makes.
“What’s in your wallet?”
April 18, 2014
Everybody’s talking about the one percent:
they have all the money, all the connections,
the networks to get more money, MOAR money.
I say let them have their exclusivity,
build those walls higher & higher, thicker
and thicker to keep out the unalike,
the alien, the dissimilar, the impure.
Let their gene pool weaken from incest
and lack of variation, let their diseases
replicate and multiply inside those walls,
walls that enclose but also block out
light & love & joy & celebration.
Give me life’s richness any day, and color,
and let them perish in their cherished purity.
April 19, 2014
Today’s project task is the writing of
a compelling introduction for the
project report. It is the final step.
Strange practice, one might think, saving for last
the introduction, like ending a website
construction process with the homepage.
Maybe a better analogy is icing
on a cake, a cherry in the middle.
Dare I deliver them poetry? A sonnet,
perhaps, or rubaiyat? Some terza rima
or octava? Of course it will be prose,
of course: conventional, traditional,
paragraphical but purposeful prose,
with maybe an occasional hidden rhyme.
April 20, 2014
It matters that Frost wrote “Stopping
By the Woods” in rubaiyat form,
a Persian, Farsi quartrain style,
imported to the Christian west.
And it matters that the same
person who invented TED talks
coined the term information
architecture. An architect.
I roll the dice: a rising star;
an old man’s thoughts, and energy
radiating out from the center –
The message is in the grammar –
the structure that houses the space –
and content – just the vehicle.
April 21, 2014
Five years twittering.
Post Baghdad-funk –
not even a week in Hawai’i
180 degrees away
could shake the sleepless nights;
duty phoned – don’t answer calls
from that office the next time –
definitely needed-to-tweet period.
This is a poem.
April 22, 2014
I know that tree in Bafata,
I know her well –
as a child I watched the old men
meet with her and harbor in her shade,
and whisper in dark, low tones –
we ran circles around her
year in and year out,
and the women took her fruit
and drew a chalky powder
from her brown-green pods
to make a tarty drink – cabaceira!
The memory of its taste
still lingers, still soothes me.
And the ju-ju men in Bafata
worked magic in her shade,
shaking the bones and reading
the eggs and guts of chickens slain,
sacrificed to foretell the future.
That tree has seen generations
come and go. Mostly go.
She keeps giving up her fruit,
and witnesses everything.
April 23, 2014
The first poem I remember studying
in school was The Charge of the Light Brigade.
That was poetry. And Thanatopsis –
that was poetry too. In college I met
a girl who could recite them both by heart.
That was true love at first sight. But she said
her mother told her she should never date
a poetry-writing man. I digress.
Good poems have charm and personality,
like trees, that can shelter you in a storm –
and precision, biting multiple times
in the same spot to send its venom true.
The further we venture from the structure,
the less precise our messages become.
April 24, 2014
I remember the first poem
I wrote: it was for a third grade
bulletin board outside the library
at Bluford School
I only recall one line:
“the sun is brightly shining,”
and a sketch I made
of the sun with yellow crayon –
The rest is lost in time,
in recycled bulletin board trash,
straight pins and bent thumb
tacks, and dried Elmer’s glue.
April 26, 2014 – An Acrostic poem
From a distant shore I found my Filomena
Intensely I sought her, to woo her, to win
Love’s special gift – we were like hand and glove.
On an Autumn day we shared an afternoon from
Midday to midnight – on a Spring day, duplo
Expresso and macchiato after lunch, all
New adventures we shared without an alibi
And without a second thought on our behalf.
April 27, 2014
It began with Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,
but Spring and Summer may have been
enough for a Sunday afternoon in April –
between the soloist and the orchestra;
the barking dog
and the whippoorwills;
me and my enemy;
the whining shepherd
and the thunderous sky;
between the one and the many –
One and the many
one with the many
one for the many
one of the many
out of many, one –
One virtuosity at the core
and the ear of one audience
in the mind of one composer
one radiance everywhere,
everywhere in everything.
April 28, 2014
In a deep sleep I dreamed
some souls return to Africa
after human death –
but it was neither heaven
nor hell – no, not at all.
A wealthy preacher I knew
was there in a sharkskin suit,
giving directions to the flock,
but others were being tortured:
a probe poking into their brains –
denying them deliverance –
to suppress their truth
and punish their association
with truth-seekers in the life here-before.
April 29, 2014
I stopped watching the TV news last year:
too much propaganda and spin made me
dizzy – newspapers too, mere distractions
diverting our attention from the truth
to empty noise. Today I only trust
the story cubes, randomly picked and tossed.
Sunrise, a rainy April morning, a new day
dawning – the beginning of the future –
a straight arrow, true to its aim, direct
to its destination, straight to its goal –
and a man climbing a wall, pulling himself
up with his arms – getting stronger, stronger.
The future is now, obstacles in our path
make us stronger, keep us true to our faith.
April 30, 2014
I needed to clear my mind
so I wrote a poem
some refuge from the daily grind
& so I wrote a poem
My bees were in a tizzy
So I wrote a poem
I was feeling a little dizzy
until I wrote a poem
The skies were looking cloudy
before I wrote a poem
the winds were acting rowdy
& so I wrote a poem
The rain was getting heavy
until I wrote a poem
My palms were cold and sweaty
and then I wrote poem
This month has reached its end
so I’m writing a poem
There’s lots of news to send
so I’m writing a poem.
END OF NAPOWRIMO 2014