Tag Archives: writing

Lament (a Cento)

Our one forever,

when it stole through the red gates of sunset
left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass
is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song you might have been.

No longer mired in waiting to begin.

They tell us the night means nothing,
and the candles their light the light.

Nothing is hid that once was clear,

then gone and then to come:
all the time, except the split
second, except—

What is there to say except to lament.

You live in the wrong place.

There’s no flowering time to come.

The hands fell off my watch in the night

and you counted the time
from this instant.

**********************
This Cento contains lines from the following poets: 

Kenneth Rexroth, John Koethe, Lola Ridge, Brenda Hillman, Martha Collins,  Melissa Kwasny, Katharine Tynan, Esther Louise Ruble, David Yezzi, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Jonathan Galassi, Michael Goldman, Robert Francis, and Lucille Clifton.

 

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Layering

First, lay down a crumble of moments in a dish,
childhood memories and first visions evoked –
if you have them – mix them with a butter
sauce of retention.

Smear a layer of simple exuberance – whisked and sweet
over the base. Linger if you must, smoothing and spreading
a zestful meringue until it glistens reflected light.

Next will come chunks of a weightier kind.
Dropped upon the dish,
they will indent the surface.
They will disrupt your coated enthusiasm
with texture, and by themselves, will be unfulfilling.
Do not allow them to cover in total,
but position them throughout – they will later add contour
and context to your beginnings.

Prepare a lime gelatin containing your favorite morsels
of triumph (and defeat)-
One cannot come without the other-
Spoon it over the patina of your past until covered.
Cool and let it set for a time- until solid.

When removed and sliced, savor the different
complexions – the marrow and the substance in between
and within the continuous and smooth.

Add layers.

Thoughts, and Prayers

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the use of the phrase “thoughts and prayers,” and its use after events of loss and suffering.  We all tend to say it.  Your best friend’s Grandmother passes away, and your response is “my thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of loss.”

What does this phrase mean?  Thoughts and prayers of what, exactly.

In this case, I think these are thoughts of sympathy (or empathy) and prayers of comfort directed towards those who have lost someone.  The thoughts are just to let the person know that you have them on your mind. It seems kind, and harmless, but I believe that this is most meaningful when you know them, or have shared the relationship that they just lost.  Prayers of comfort (in our society, from my perspective) stem from the Judeo-Christian belief in an all-powerful God, one who can (for lack of a better word) gather you up and give you a big spiritual hug.  I believe this expression is less effective (for the person who experienced the loss) when you don’t really know them, or you sense that the conveyance of sympathy is insincere.  The issue of late, where our nation’s leaders express their sympathies (time and again) over a repetitious tragedy – that could have been avoided – is an example of this.  Their approach to this expression of sympathy weakens the concept of prayer.  Why? Prayers are supposed to be powerful, they are intended to reach us, change us, and help us.

Let’s talk about prayers a bit.  There are different kinds of prayers:   thanks, confession, hope, comfort, deliverance – to categorize a few.  All prayers are goal oriented.  They are intentional- to get us to believe, to convict our minds of something, to help out someone, to give ourselves clarity, etc.  They are meant to spur us to action.  The strength of our humanity is in our ability to act, in compassion, of one mind.  I think prayer facilitates this.

But the issue is, you must act.  Prayer without action at some point, is empty.  The very act of prayer should indicate that you are considering a problem that needs a solution. Our lawmakers offering their prayers to those who have lost loved ones in a senseless mass killing is an empty platitude without some intention to make their suffering worth the cost.

Churches should know the power of collective and intentional prayer. It is the “superpower” of churches (I know it sounds silly, but in today’s language – this is it). Yet, I believe, in these times the focus has been misguided.  Too many are concerned with their belief that “we” have pushed God out of society and they pray for supernatural intervention.  First of all, the idea that an all-powerful, ever-present God could be pushed out is – ludicrous.  Did you ever think that God may have taught us about prayer so that we could discern and then act with conviction to make changes that impact each of our lives, to meet people where they are, to comfort them out of love, or to right wrongs? Perhaps, that it is a lesson to learn to be more like him.

This is complex, but not hard.  Lawmakers should take up and pass better legislation that reduces assault weapon availability and improves mental health assistance. It is heartless and cowardly to not do so.  Those who pray for supernatural intervention should pray themselves for discernment about the importance of lawmakers who can act in the best interests of all humanity, collectively and individually.  They could also pray for strength to act out of love – not morality, not condemnation, not prejudice, not to point out faults, and most of all – to not be afraid to admit they are wrong.

And then do it.

 

Soundly

An artless man dreams no dream,

writes no poem,  cannot scheme.

He sees no beauty in those that wish

for better efforts netting fish –

Building hopes – not a gist.

Money talks – lime and twist.

A feckless man walks no walk,

Only chitters on in talk.

Shares no elegance in wit

spewing anger, bile and spit.

Polished words – not a skill.

Poisoned venom – strapped and shrill.

A useless man will he become?

Continued uninspiring thrum –

Whilst the beauty grows in spite

filling in the space and fright.

Magic overtakes the ill.

Speak it soundly, you know the drill.

 

 

 

In wandering and being inspired

I jump over waves in the wind, now thinned-
causing a splash on descent, and the water imbues.
I walk in circles in some well-trodden shoes,
soles that are worn to the heel.
And the crestfallen face of my mind
urged in the gentle spell of her lines-
the brushstrokes of her pastel flowing gown
compel me to write something down.
I frolic amidst the swell and soak in
the flow of her form that rescinds
the aches in my well-trodden soul.
I stand embracing the image and whole.

 

Words

Borrowed light from the edge of the blinds
illuminates and too, reminds
a claim that words festoon –
Be it despot, king, or brass baboon.

As wind-blown foolishness accounts-
judgement – dogma- can win out
if echoed loud, with sheening rancor.
Out to dull our dreams, this cantor.

But tides roll in to shape the sand
and acrimony leads the damned
to an ever-shifting, deep abyss
where nothing left can calm or kiss.

So to this hole of excrement
trash words of hate and their assent.
Endow more words to raise and soothe,
and stem the shit of brash baboons.

Ghost light (Cento)

When you came with white rabbits in your arms,
not for greater gifts of genius,
the wispy, the lightly lifted or stirring threads of existence.

I’ve learned everything is falling outward –
Quickening for the land and sea,
Drawing contours, shapes, and lines.

Shining nowhere, but in the dark
watching illumination upon illumination,
plunging and lifting, the grain spilling back.

Another circle is growing in the expanding ring –
and vanished into where they seemed to start
They are the future of us all.

**********
 This Cento was composed using lines from the following poets.

Rita Dove, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Christopher Buckley, Gail Wronsky,Stephen Edgar, Henry Vaughn, Robert King, Barbara Howes, Tami Haaland, Dylan Thomas, May Sarton, Seamus Heaney