Our language

I overlook the green garden
The wind is almost invisible
A sheep is bleating, nearby

Look at the evolution of
Our language, she is layered
She is a flight
And a hiding place
Some people make it

The green garden doesn’t make it
The wind doesn’t make it
The sheep doesn’t make it

Our language was originally published on Meandering home

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Reading: Nocturnal Sailing by Mario Wirz

Mario Wirz (1956-2013) was a German poet and writer who started his career as theater actor and director. I read a poem in a translation by Renate Latimer:

the wind in your dream
swells the curtains into a sail
tears asunder
all the things we have collected
in the fearful light of the bedside lamp
I search in vain for our life vests
high waves rise above your sleep
and toss the night onto the side of the moon
perhaps you’d rather be
the sole sailor
untroubled by my fears
this question too
I now cast overboard
cautiously descending into your dream
and following its course
the sea which I haven’t questioned
all these years
imagines in our sleep
a new story

This is a gentle poem about love and anxiety. The curtains becoming sails and the pale moonlight dancing over the ocean’s surface imitated by the bedside lamp are a straightforward metaphor.
The author is cast overboard (intentionally?) because he didn’t want to bother his partner with his fears. That at least is what I read here. It gives him the chance to finally question the sea itself, and it creates the opening for a new story.

Reading: Nocturnal Sailing by Mario Wirz was originally published on Meandering home

we burst heartlong through life

we burst heartlong through life
before the silence
we don’t know the probability of a thermonuclear war
& other reflections of the mammalian brain
________that rascal!
butterfly wings are rife with functionality
________or take phantom limbs
we tool like a tool inside a tool
& that is confusing too but also wonderful
like feeling the warmth of a sunrise on our eyelids

we burst heartlong through life was originally published on Meandering home

Advice for the digital age

I stretch out a finger.

On most of the days of our universe, that finger has been and will be

no finger, but a loose collection of atoms not involved with one another.

And they couldn’t care less about being a finger.

 

I point the finger at these characters.

On most of the days of our universe, there is nobody around to hear the divine in Bach.

 

The finger I call a miracle. Writing about it is no trickery.

 

I raise the finger.

I roll it up to claim the membership of a fist.

Advice for the digital age was originally published on Meandering home

Starlight

last night, ancient starlight fell onto your arm
it was billions of years old
and had traveled the entire time only
to smash into your barren wrinkled skin.

there was a team of people who rushed in
to help you wonder, and to make sure
you understand the grandure, the sheer
magnificence of it all.

they held your hands and used strange words
for the starlight, and still stranger ones
for the wondering. You frowned at me,
lost, as if in a foreign plot.

Starlight was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: Sudden Movements by Bob Hicok

Bob Hicok (1960) is a poet from Michigan who writes accessible and meditative poetry. He currently teaches creative writing at Purdue University.

My father’s head has become a mystery to him.
We finally have something in common.
When he moves his head his eyes
get big as roses filled
with the commotion of spring.
Not long ago he was a man
who had tomato soup for lunch
and dusted with the earnestness
of a gun fight. Now he’s a man
who sits at the table trying to breathe
in tiny bites. When they told him
his spinal column is closing, I thought
of all the branches he’s cut
with loppers and piled and burned
in the fall, the pinch of the blades
on the green and vital pulp. Surgeons
can fuse vertebrae, a welders art,
and scrape the ring through which
the soul-wires flow as a dentist
would clean your teeth.
And still it could happen, one turn
of his head toward a hummingbird,
wings keeping that brittle life
afloat, working hard against the fall,
and he might freeze in that pose
of astonishment, a man estranged
from the neck down, who can only share
with his body the silence
he’s pawned on his children as love.

I like this kind of poems that paint a world with a precise and prosaic description of a life and its discomfort, to redeem it with considerable verbal magic (share with his body the silence / he’s pawned on his children as love).

The metaphorical unity of the once strong father who cut through the green and vital pulp, and the weak old man who is estranged from the neck down, is an obvious device and some may call it boring. The nerves are called soul-wires and they are now cut off. Life has become mysterious to him – is that what the son calls ‘something in common’?

I think so. The father has learned astonishment at the hummingbird-like fragility of life. He has learned about love.

Or: Silence can give you enough cash in the pawn shop of love.

Reading: Sudden Movements by Bob Hicok was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: Carson McCullers by Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) was a legendary American poet, and writer of novels and short stories. I read a summer poem presented to me on a poetry website:

Carson McCullers
she died of alcoholism
wrapped in a blanket
on a deck chair
on an ocean
steamer.

all her books of
terrified loneliness

all her books about
the cruelty
of loveless love

were all that was left
of her

as the strolling vacationer
discovered her body

notified the captain

and she was quickly dispatched
to somewhere else
on the ship

as everything
continued just
as
she had written it

Carson McCullers (1917-1967) was a novelist who died of alcoholism in New York (as far as I know, not on an ocean steamer, but perhaps the City is an ocean steamer in Bukowski’s mind).

Of the novelist, only books remain. We could say the same for the recently deceased Philip Roth. It’s a sad affair, the whole “what remains” thing. “Dispatched to somewhere else on the ship” – that’s what happens when we die. And everything continues just as we had written it. Or, our imagination is immortal – is Bukowski hinting at some form of consolation here?

The image of the young woman (she was 50 when she died) on a deck chair, wrapped in a blanket, is so lively. I am compelled to imagine a glass of dry Martini in her hand and the beginning of a lustful smile from underneath a pair of gilded frame luxury sunglasses as she checks out a passing deckhand’s buttocks – something I would rather associate with Mr. Bukowski.

Reading: Carson McCullers by Charles Bukowski was originally published on Meandering home