MARBLES

21 February 2015

IN AN EPIRUS


1:  ΔΩΔΩΝΑ (DODONA)
Stark and therefore more beautiful,
Its striking plainness,
Its lack of verdant lushness –
Grasses and weeds,
Clusters of thorned shrubbery,
Their low growth amassing 
Upon the mountainous surface.
The uncultivated herbs,
Aroma of sweetened dust and pungent myrrh
Roots spreading in greater expanse each springtime
Ancestral seeds having settled here  
Since their jumping off days,
When they unclasped and Aeolus also let go,
Moments before he skimmed the precipice
Which walls off this wilderness,
This plenty of stone.

From shapeless rock
An amphitheater was chiseled
Smooth of proscenium and stage,
To mollify actors, perhaps
Or to appease a thunderous oracle.
Such a long time ago it was
The rains own it now, and the cloudy sunlight.
The orators, the spectators,
Substance altered into dust
Who were they?  But they were, once.

Stone remaining,
Returning to itself out of the abandoned ruins.
  
There is always stone enough to spare
For fashioning fences and walls
That carve and parcel up these hillsides.
I’ve seen them, layers of rock,
Resilient low-lying barriers
Serpentine meanderings   
Easy to stumble over, I imagine.

And why not fall and lie upon them? 
It is who I am: 
An amalgamation of weeds and rocky soil
The product of an impoverished land
And an indifferent earth,
I am a crooked bend, a curve, a rover.



2:  ΠΑΡΑΣΚΗΝΙΟΝ (PARASKENION)
I stood on the wings and I shouted
My door is open, I shouted,
But only stone walls crept in.

Other times too I shouted
Listen, listen to me, I shouted,
No, you do not hear me, I shouted
Listen to what I have to say.
To walls,
I felt as though to walls I had shouted
And that is the problem with walls,
Even flesh and breath walls –
They cannot hear
Therefore they will not listen
And if such is the case
Why should they respond?

My fists are worn from pounding.
I once hated the look that loved me
Now I crave glances from a stoic beloved 
The ill-timed hour, the ill-timed hour, the ill-timed hour
Straddling both sides of my infinity.

Sanguine beads
Upon the stones which gave me birth
If it pulses out, where will it turn, my blood?
Out of the heart of the impassive earth
That died before and will die again,
Oblivious to infinity.


13 February 2015

DIRTY LAUNDRY

“He’s dead,” she said.

“Yes, he died of cancer.
I heard about it.
Did you know him?”

“I knew of him, mostly.”       

He was not her sort,
Therefore she tried to recall
All she could.
This was intrigue to her.

Three at the kitchen table
In the cupboard across,
The cherished wedding china displayed,
Green scrollwork on white background.
This visitor next to me
Had an air of elegance,
But which elegance?
Trait or pretence?

She continued:
“Once in a while
I’d run into him at a coffee shop.”
 “What did you think of him?”
She narrowed her eyelids,
Thought,
Answered:

“He was somewhat of a rascal,
I considered him a reprobate,
He cursed a lot, tough guy slang.”
“I don’t remember 
Cursing or slang,” I said.

“How could you remember that,
You were so young!”
This from our hostess,
As she poured coffee into porcelain cups
Green scrollwork on white background.

“He had a mistress,
She was young,  
He bought her a car
They say he paid her rent, also.”

Our hostess poured cream, offered sugar.
“Sounds as though he kept her,” she said.
An old friend,
She guessed why, my curiosity.
“What did his wife think?”
I asked.
“Nothing to think.  She put up with it.”

“What happened to the girls?”
I always worried about those
Two daughters of his.
It was hilarious.
They never passed the
Entrance exam.
The son of a bitch
Wanted them to attend
My school.
I worried for their safety, though.
“Did he still carry a knife?”
I didn’t ask.

I was happy to hear
What the visitor said.
Even with limited information,
I felt avenged 
Because it showed, his nature.
He was a
Slick
Crafty
Knave.
It’s been almost half a century.
Have I lived that long?

When I think of
Those late afternoons
During childhood

His presence hovering,
My state of confusion,
Hands smothering panic

I start to believe
I’ve lived long enough.
Hang it up, hang it up,
Filthy shard of an old
China cup.
Spectral memories
Coiled in the background,
Hang it up, they hiss.

The three of us had coffee,
Hot, strong.
Late June
Late afternoon
The cool, Sunday breeze
Inviting after
Saturday’s wedding,
And we guests tired
From the night before.

I live in the margins of life. 
Those nightmares,
What did I survive them for?

11 February 2015

SOFTLY

Slowly, softly,
Love died
An ending 
Resembling notes
Of a mournful sonata,
The bleaker notes of lament

Hollow echoes in an angry landscape
Is spent love
Useful as a pocketful of broken violin strings:
This one snapped during practice.
This one? 
I can’t remember why this string died.

I hold on to broken things.
In its hiding place
My white embroidered cardigan,
A gift once best loved
Now out of vogue
The pockets filled with broken violin strings.


Hours evolving into
Uncounted years
Seasons flying or crawling
The act of living

I wait for the courage to sever
Each unbroken string. 

04 February 2015

FEBRUARY POEM

Ombra mai fu ... cara ed amabile, soave più.”

I
From my window
Snow drifting
Covering the landscape ahead

Fragile threads of ice
Interlaced tightly
A blinding spectacle
Resembling windswept petals
           Of springtime
Orange blossoms, almond blossoms, star magnolia

Frozen-crystal-blossoms

How hurried and hushed their moment
Falling, falling rhythms,
Descending unto death –
They melt with
A soft plunge into water
Brushing against its surface
Welcomed to the flow of rivers,
Shoulders of the brine

A handful of snowflakes,
Captured as they pass in flight – ­
They will have safety in my arms
Fever being absent,
Remote now,
Having ascended like a wisp
           Threading through cirrus veil
And my frenzy as a consequence is chilled,
My loss deep,
Its roots of an iceberg

II
From the window
Snow spreads steadily,
Covering my landscape ahead

When I opened the door
I stared at a whiteout:
An unending taffeta cloud it seemed
With a smiling brilliance 
Obscuring shadows and horizons.
I ran to it, happily pondering  its power
But soon felt trapped
And  craved the jumping lines
Between earth and sky,
And hoped the darkest shadows,
Vestiges of an unspent love
           Still could be seen

III
Asleep

Snow moving with stealth
More snow falling,
My woolen cloak is made of snow –
Fiber spun from nothingness,
Frozen vapor.
More snow falling,
White, whiteness is blank,
The finest stark-white plaid

Asleep,

Exceptional warmth is.
           Found underneath a blanket of snow,
And there I sleep.
Overtop people are moving stealthily,
Bullies masquerading as seekers
Proselytizing with purposeful eagerness,
They are the busiest bees flying in wintertime
They will reeducate 
Those they have already reeducated
           Thirsty,  
           From guilt and pity and without love I loved them
           These sermonizing automatons

Asleep – ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

I memorized their sermon
Before climbing the parapets,
But I was not cut from automaton cloth
I saw them, those waiting for eradication
I saw myself in their midst
          
Asleep.

Two months ago
Autumn turned into winter
Scarlet maple, Japanese maple, Platanus
Their tumbled lacy leaves
Are with me underneath the snow,
           As are the phantoms haunting me:
Predators, harpies,  
Their decaying flesh,
           The spit and polish on their visage.
Inevitably all will turn to compost –
If I stay here so will I

IV
you are my sugar maple,
you, rock maple, hard maple tree,
the orange, yellow, red
of breath and breeze in fall.
I embrace you at nighttime
as we float
your pulse over me

from my window
sugar maple syrup till first sunblade
rock maple tree
tenderly, leaves are sprouting
swaying faint with a softer wind
sugar maple syrup till first moonbeam

V
This winter has played me out,
Each week lasting a decade

But there is no surrendering my war,
It seems I’ve chosen to persevere

A tenacious belief
The possibility of the unfeasible,
I hold on to it,
To the faith of spring
The hour when bleeding hearts carve the woodland floor
And rise above to bloom

Today I stare at denuded branches,
Listen to their silence

Once upon a time a whisper
Made me happy
           And I leaned back into it

                     From sun and shade
The canopy fashioned patchwork squares
Their umbra became our shield, revealing everything

VI
just once more

one last exorcism
followed by
a freedom run
a fire on the beach
I am alone or with,
but better with
           whispers
when I disrobe
I throw my garments
into the flame
           the blaze is visible
from the water, shoulders of the brine
           again we take
our hesitant, our imperfect
           first swim,
imperfect enough
to make us happy
and that is perfection
and that is a genesis   
                     of more,
                     once more,
                     much more,


"Ombra mai fu" from  Serse,  George Frideric Handel