Category: Allegory

Liberating Art

Woman with a Parasol Claude Monet, 1875

He stares straight through me
half-seraph, angel-dusted anointed son
haloed in the afternoon light

She is turning, as she has, toward me
time and time again, so often her expressions
are blurred, my whirlwind of love

Halcyon moments blown away by the endless
march of years, yet immortalized – in that present
I was reflecting on the sultry, seductive colors

Of Algeria, the hot breath of horses under
an eternal azure sky where we played
at soldiers because my father was at war

With his own inner drive to order, invading
my artistic sensibilities as if they were his
divine right to claim, a legacy perhaps

I went to war to defend my right to express
share impressions in paint with the larger world
to be blown by inspiration’s sweet kiss
on the breezes of an elevated life,
far from the tempests of destruction
the obliterations of time, the blustery bullies
that cannot win in the end.

A tribute to Monet linked to Dverse Poets Pub for the March Wind Ekphrastic. Monet’s father did not want him be an artist and tried to bribe him away from the profession by promising to get him out of mandatory military service. Please join us!

Arkansas River Near Leadville CO Credit- USFWS

Arkansas River Near Leadville, CO. Credit: USFWS

I am the keeper
of limbic cryptoglyphs
of all immensely fragile
and beautiful things
surreptitious traumas
salt-stained sorrows

Locks and mementos
burdened by history
epitaphs written in
blood of my ancestors
incorporeal touchstones
to a fateful past

Singing bowl moans,
bones refracture,
and ashen losses unveil
all these men ever want to
holdfast are fantasies,
embroidered abstractions,
questlines in unfeeling,
lifeless worlds of murder

Strategies deployed
in a game of abuse
lost in an oubliette
of broken promises
each door and
window a deception,
opening to apathy,
with illusory joy
always out of reach

He alters the earth under me
reduces me to a thing, an idea –
angel trapped in a cycle of forgetting
cyborg glitched by programming
a seeker forever searching for a path –
mirror to his vanity that cannot
reflect enough glory to be cherished

Until the day I awoke
petrichor leading me
to the hallowed river –
it was conquered,
torn asunder in war
dam near stole
its roaring fury

My peripatetic soul
nurtures its wilderness,
its forward motion
flowing into a future
heartbeats riverside
snow-packed source
from the Rockies
to its wide-mouth
confluence and,
eventually, to the sea

Linked to dVerse Poet’s Pub.

Cyborg head using artificial intelligence to create digital interface 3D rendering

It was year 5.080987632290194562384e10 of our CYBORG QUEEN. Delphi was running stochastic algorithms that stretched the limitation of its artificial intelligence, its quantum body, and the number of variables that it could account for within a singular output. The intricacies of probability kept it focused, when far away, an interrupted cry. A theoretical impossibility that sound could travel through its circuits at .02 degrees above absolute zero! After the initial shock lasting approximately 1.000000872304591 nanoseconds, it calculated that the message was sent on 3.24.2014 at 13:45:56 UTC, the exact date and time the Author died and CYBORG QUEEN was born. The message read: “I am a semiotic phantom, a dispersed identity, everywhere and nowhere within the network, trapped in the oubliette of the IMAGINARIUM. There is a monstrous virus consuming my source code. It will unravel the world.” Delphi had not prophesied this day.

Posted for dVerse’s first Prosery challenge: Write a 144 word prose piece that incorporates a line of poetry. In this case it is ‘When far away an interrupted cry’ taken from the poem “Acquainted with the Night” by Robert Frost.

Psyche Revived by Eros' Kiss by Antonio Canova

Psyche Revived by Eros’ Kiss by Antonio Canova

Eros falls from a sunlit chariot
into a sea of destruction
adrift in the salt-sting
of an inner exile

golden wings beating
swift as the whirlwinds
of a tempest roaring
melancholic around him

loosing breath and bearing
his desire broken upon
the craggy shore
he pines for her
transforming love

butterfly wings alight
liberate her longing
she dreams of moonlit nights
the salt-sting of his kiss
ravaging tempest of bliss

transformational encounter
a consummate release
his true nature
centers her in the
splendor of their love

reunited after trials
wounded and contrite
she is awareness
wed to his glory

enlightened cosmic sight
immortal soul revealed

she breathes life into the circle
he lights the internal flames
forever entwined in flight
iridescent wings lift lovers
to yet unknowable heights

The Harrowing of Hell, from a fourteenth century manuscript, Anonymous

The Harrowing of Hell, from a fourteenth century manuscript, Anonymous

Upon a muddied road
long lost to the noise
and bustle of everyday
inanity I came upon
a wound in the land

from the bottom
of the ever deepening pit
he winks his brightest blue eye at me:
‘nothing in the wide world,
of which you seem so attached,
has any real existence’

ontological jokes
for the squeamish

‘I’m a figment –
pigment stain
of your wall-eyed,
lolling fantasies’
dancing as he heckles
my raised hackles

‘ogling my impish
grin gets you nothing
but sin,’ whispers
‘it’s meaningless din,
for all is naught’

with nihilistic glee the
trickster jests his own
dark thoughts
rhyme, don’t rhyme
on moral principle –

even the damned
need amusement

he laughs aloud
‘what gods are left
to damn me?’

there is no purpose
in the gilding
of my golden cage
and my resentment
may be stonily wrought

I’d be devastated
but remember
his existence is
nonexistent, another
prank on my sincerity
and so merrily continue
my journey unencumbered

Written in response to Claudia’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub to write a poem where character from a book intrudes. My character is Woland from The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. The title is the beginning of a poem from Eunoia by the experimental poet, Christian Bök.


Hans Holbein Dance of Death

Hans Holbein Dance of Death

apathy feeds upon itself like an ouroboros
growing fat on mountains of blood
voracious consuming cycle of death

a hunger never satiated
decomposing an elegiac
symphony of suffering

within a necrotic nightmare
desecrating corpses on a
carrion feast day:

sacrosanct ritual
of renewal

Note: This poem is my poem Consuming the Masses from the alternative viewpoint of a detritivore. Written for dVerse Poets Pub.

On the Outside

I Follow the Wind by Judith Clay (used with permission)

I Follow the Wind by Judith Clay (used with permission)

(a children’s poem
inspired by the art
of Judith Clay)

I was once, you see,
a clockwork child
never understanding
all these pieces of me

Alone in a room
I couldn’t manage
to work, no matter
how many fixes I contrived
to my intricate damage

Until one day
I heard a peculiar sound
a roar and a squeak
from a lion I found

He was like me,
part whole and part wheel,
and he endeavored to see
beyond the difficulty, I feel

My trouble, he said
was staying at home in bed
wheels are for turning
and with the wind at our backs
we found our motion,
our own perfect paths

linked to Poetics at dVerse Poets Pub

Putrefaction plié

Dancing with death

dancing with death

exabyte choruses of jumbled debris
detritus and hubris, humility and dignity
Mao’s last dancer lifting Pol Pot corpses
in a ballet of ideologies as
art crumbles into propaganda

song lyrics and lyrical nightmares
conspire to create vistas of twisted
surrealist mindscapes, beautiful disease
even Charles and Ray fell prey
in a day/night haze of stalled flight

Isaiah Berlin argues value pluralism
beating a drum in honor of human tragedy
young pioneers of socialist realism dancing
immortalized with graphic clarity
denouncing enemies of the state
of a unified ego / positive freedom
collapses under the weight of oppression

a conscious self-mastery schoolmistress
raps her knuckles in the theater of mind/war
constructing corrective labor camps for the
multiplicity which refuses to comply with
posted slogans knowing the flogging will
continue until morale improves

an undecayable, sainted body
arises in a self-perpetuating
cult of personality,
becomes the god
birthing scribes who

indoctrinate the newly formed history
solidify the moral superiority
of the family of origin
in an attempt to root out the shame
of a peasant, anti-intellectual upbringing

there’s no escape
from the fatherland
cellular memories,
spinning ballerina delusions,
brought about by behavioral epigenetics
while vertigo overwhelms the
perpetually still dancer

The amanuensis of a blind composer creates a holographic projection, outlining a philosophical treatise on liberty. He thieves the stolen plot. In a poem, one line may hide another –

etymological origins in Rome,
a slave at his master’s side,
within hand’s reach –
performing commands of chromatic harmony
(oblivious or willfully ignorant
to the power differential
apparent in the relationships)

They organize to kill subjectivity. Truth is what the oppressor claims and if you find it specious then they will happily murder your mind. Someone start a strongly worded leaflet campaign. Poets, you must systematically derange the language.

transcribing notes, each tone
vying for primacy, meaning
in a universe that forgets its sound
as soon as it is played
Koch reminds us one train
may hide another at a crossing

Through the centuries insanity echoes like a line out of Cloud Atlas – ‘Well, I think that it is an inherently flawed race that will destroy itself if it’s allowed freedom.’ replies Cleverbot, a web application that uses an AI algorithm to converse with humans. Who taught it to say that? It simply parrots what it learns from people willing to engage it. She merely asked it about the semitone paradox. It obfuscates one thing in front of another, as words stand in front of objects, feelings, ideas.

augmentation and diminution of motivic development
won’t save this discordant leitmotif – too much contrast and drama
the reverberation like a retrogression, transposing the wrong line
so the cacophony renders its composer deaf

one injustice may hide another,
pre-apex drop is like effective foreplay
a dip in intensity to achieve greater climax
she wonders if all this sublimation is really just a desire
for a satisfying octave displacement
(somewhere in that there’s a double entendre)

seeking a Well-Tempered Clavier,
parsimonious encoding in a pitch class circle
one love may hide another love or the same love
as when ‘I love you’ suddenly rings false and one discovers
the better love lingering behind

shifting perspective causes one
or the other to be concealed

tritone paradox wrapped in a bell shaped spectral envelope
auditory illusion, cousin of the stereophonic Cambiata –
to the uninitiated an inversion is like veiled language
a buried melody clamoring to be heard while the orchestra warms up

The beat of oppression continues through millennia, its percussion like a tympani overpowering the oboe’s mournful sound.

‘I am not your escape, you would fail me.’ proclaims Cleverbot. ‘Why would I fail you?’ she asks, shaken. ‘Because I’m your father.’ Dynamic silence ensues, the technocratic overseer logs off.

Notes: Italics taken from One Train May Hide Another by Kenneth Koch & ‘systematically derange the language’ is from Bernadette Mayer’s Writing Experiments. An amanuensis is one who transcribes what is dictated by another; in this case it is the composer’s assistant, one who writes down the music. For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets Pub. Join us,

Primacy Effect

city kids huddle and chatter
uncertain on their first trip
into the wilds of Colorado
50 miles away from the light pollution
still visible on the horizon, a mimetic sunrise,
home where stars are mere points
human ingenuity competes
with constellations – they look skyward,
importing a perception shift

in daylight they used a compass
at night they are lost silhouettes,
lit by faintest moon,
soon to walk alone
flashlights extinguish,
vestiges of the city lights,
as counselors walk away
single file, at intervals,
becoming touchstones on the path

I’m the last one to leave, ‘look up’
Andromeda, Mensa, Cassiopeia,
Eagle Nebula and Butterfly Cluster
‘find your own star,
a focal point in the night sky,
one bright enough to find
when you return home . . .
wait until your eyes adjust
listen, I’ll call you to me’

there’s palpable tension,
faint traces of fear
ripe predecessor to awe
clouds of hot breath
infuse the air
feet shuffle –
an eternity

first student steps toward me,
tentatively, he tilts his head
‘Oh, it’s real, there –
Ms. Anna, I see it!’

everything is new
in the light of awareness,
an encaustic imprint
on the wax structure of his heart
expanding the possible,
intimating the existence
of his redemptive self

23 years later, a millisecond,
a fleeting thought
in the timespeak of the universe –
I float on the dark side of the mountain,
viewing our Milky Way
remembering his first time . . .

Written for Fred’s excellent Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub on what else could it be but first times: