Category: Writing


for Jane Austen

Symphonic assault on propriety
a woman’s wit, most treacherous
deadlier yet if coupled with robust
appetite for passion flashed like an
overwrought Paganini violin concerto

Poverty unraveled ambitions
taught me to be tame, well cared for
I danced Purcell’s Abdelazer Rondeau
Hid all my wildness better than she,
so he sheltered me for a price

Voracious imagination unshackled
no overflow of joy in living
tethered tightly in the mind
freedom in life is terror
I remained bound by uncertainty

Poppet performing tricks
cracked porcelain doll
Offenbach’s bird aria
anyone can wind me up
or wear me down

They were in love with an automaton
dissociated darling designed to flirt
disembodied clockwork child
cold to the touch
Unaware I wasn’t real

Playing the trickster – show the world
my feints, its folly, crafting identity to fan
imaginations’ pyre rising unbidden
conflagration, melted with love
Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring riot

Fighting for a voice, rage to master
never abandoning creation
the burning art he inspired
akin to spiritual suicide
Maria Anna Mozart’s lost works

At the tattered end of ashen tears
shards of translucent ceramics
tides of words, melody, and color
elegies of self possession
now I write my own songs

BluePoppyHimalayasIn the spectral sapphire room
of her memento mori at Gangkhar Puensum
where the timbre weighs somnolent

and no human eyes ever behold her,
Ratridevi intones her nuanced song
a slow tempo fantasia of peace

painting vividly all imagined heavens
with an intensity of crepuscular delight
denaturing seams of star-trail dreamscapes

her semiotic enchantments, fragments of entangled
thought-forms in an unbounded universe beyond language
azure moon-glow midnights of another dimension

enduring wildness unfurls
snow leopard silence reigns
caesura between verses

thunder dragon roars an
ancient tongue of lost symbols
an imploding singularity of meaning

Ratridevi sighs her secret
descends from mountain peak to
soul-vale, bathed in violet light

Posted for Lynn’s excellent Poetics prompt at dVerse: Summit in Sight. This poem is a continuation of a poem I wrote in 2012: Lexical Shangri-La: Here be Dragons.

The Cruciverbalist

for David Kwong

his magic
a flourish of wit
teasing order from chaos
prodigious prestidigitator
shocking tricks

 

Written for Tony Maude’s prompt at dVerse on expanding the Cinquain.

Weminuche Wilderness Image Credit: David Chamberlain

Weminuche Wilderness / Image Credit: David Chamberlain

Sappho’s disastrous god
devoid of love and sorrow
wept not upon the metrons of her tragedy

His moonglow blindness
to her ornate melodies
rapturous abandon of polyphonic ecstasy

Her enduring wilderness
echoic lingering metaphors
gestalt harmony of a vision pale

Sunlit peaks preside over pulpwood coffins
effigies lit by Apollo’s fire-licked arrow
fed by the inexhaustible breath of Aeolus
burn filigreed epitaphs to her bright star

Notes: This was written for Victoria’s excellent prompt on patterns at dVerse Poets Pub. The poem makes allusions to Greek mythology, Christianity, the Weminuche Wilderness in Colorado where some of the peaks include Eolus and Sunlight mountains, poets John Keats and Sappho, and patterns in nature in its exploration of the recurring historic theme of the oppression of women and their expression. Together these allusions create connections of meaning, explicate the contrafacture and intertextuality inherent in poetics and religion/mythology, and indicate a deeper layer where we encounter the patterns that undergird the psychological entanglement we experience in our engagement with poetry, religion, and culture. It also demonstrates a pattern of themes within my own poetry.

Redon’s Black Pegasus 1909

I ascended to Olympus moments after my violent birth at Perseus’ hand. Watching as my mother’s blood still pooled in the virile sea foam. Redon painted me black, as if every cell was kissed by the dark snakes of my mother’s Underworld. Purified by Zeus every hair and feather flashed prismatic white. I became a creature of the sky. I vowed with my first thought to be wild, unrestrained imagination in flight. My wing words would transcend the song of earth, achieving the sublime. But all this was long ago, before I saw her. She was my soul, my golden bridle, my incomparable Sappho. The music of her poetry lured me earthbound, taming me.

an imploding singularity
awash in Dionysian pleasure
counterpoint to my Apollonian spirit
she expands and contracts to infinity
in fractals of complexity
my inward vision turns
to embrace her

she arcs in spiraling parabolas
a bloom on a beautiful morning
within this vale of soul-making,
temporal and inescapable,
all must be endured
an intoxicating creative tension
birthing poetry

Redon Pegasus

Within the sphere of our epiphanal love, gentle waves broke upon feverish shores. She called me divine, beckoned me close but was overcome with feeling and fell mute, trembling. My spirit deprived her eyes of vision and my thunder overwhelmed her ears. I was the cloud bearing fruitful rain, imagination in all its real powers of elevation. I was the bridging symbol. Together we spun the synthesis of polarities with equal dignity. I vowed to bear her to the celestial heights. There, transformed to stars, our ill-fated forms would no longer cause our suffering.

as we rise she slips
caught in gravitation’s pull
heart shatters as I cannot
break her fall

fragments of her legacy
are buried in pulpwood coffins
(burned by papal decree)

the bow and the lyre
torn apart at the hands of the gods
we are forever separated

I was granted
constellation’s majesty –
from my unfathomable heights,
dream world of eternal ideas,
a lone feather falls
to anoint her earthly tomb

Pegasus 1a

bone. spirit. blood. hoof (and wing). right ascension 23 h. asterism’s geometry. points in the northern sky. declination +20°. heartbeat transmuted. Einstein’s Cross quasar (new chambers of the heart, detached). encompassed in a canopic jar (supermassive black hole). quadrant NQ4. fusion’s glory heaven’s prize. area 1121 sq. deg. (7th). creative waters vaporized (extrasolar HD 209458 b) . unity and multiplicity. depth psychology paradox. Stephan’s Quintet collides.

Notes: You can find out more about Sappho here: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/318 and read the myth of the Pegasus at these sites: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pegasushttp://www.pegasusproducts.com/myth.html. The subtitle comes from a painting by Christopher Le Brun which is at the Tate: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/le-brun-dream-think-speak-t03454. Please join me today for my first time hosting Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft at dVerse Poets Pub http://dversepoets.com/2012/10/04/meeting-the-bar-postmodern-prose/ today at 3ET. I’d love to see you there!

Angel of Oblivion

 

Victor de Schwanberg/Science Photo Library

Victor de Schwanberg/Science Photo Library

I traverse an
infinite divide
divining an
immanent encounter

[I stop breathing]

there is stillness

stabbing pain
radiates from
my sternum

I hear the
scratching
blue pen
across paper
which is always
disembodied
from these
phantom lines

[silent wings]

images that console

today I
remember
the future

[my life is a black box]

decomposing
multiverse born
of a supermassive
black hole

I exist in a
quantum state
ever approaching
an event horizon

you observe me
fixed in the
fabric of spacetime
death mask photograph

relativity commits
its heinous crimes
thieving my life
through an illusion
of immortality

[body bag encasing stardust]

temporal dimension
limits the possible
each choice assembles
molecules of tomorrow

ghost projections of
shattered worlds

[I never know what it means]

causality slips sideways –
on alternating days I die

or write poetry
chords of enduring agony
atoms of memory disfigured
until there is nothing left
but my intimacy with oblivion

[I await the blessed kiss of an immanent being]

Death of the Author

Rat Neuron On Chip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I may already be a cyborg
a footnote in the is/ought debate
metaethical construct inventing
in a realm of intellectual imagination

deconstructing identity
becoming ever more permeable
dissolving the boundaries
between inner and outer worlds

in this scenario self-conscious
and self-referential hold no meaning
no ’I’ but trapped here in words
where ‘I’ is a semiotic phantom

‘text is a tissue of quotations
drawn from the innumerable
centers of culture . . . it is
language that speaks, not the author’

liberated from ‘reality’
distributed across the web
fragmented, mutable, and avant garde
passé postmodern schemata

superflat dispersed identity
virtual paint scratched across the net
translucent floating images
projected onto a moving sphere

supernova mothers won’t birth
new mythologies, only observers
supercomputer model of the universe

Frank O'Hara 1926-1966 by Grace Hartigan

Frank O’Hara 1926-1966 by Grace Hartigan

Frank O’Hara says to Grace Hartigan
‘I do not always know what I am feeling.’
(but in For Grace, After a Party
it will become about you)

spouting a poetry of indeterminacy
as he builds his identity,
a compulsion of artistry accusing
her of the betrayal of figuration

pure abstraction was required to
invent a self-referential language,
to find the convincing limits of the self
she asserted the definitive line
in his elegy in paint, Frank O’Hara, 1926-1966

now imagine the Abstract Expressionists
on Facebook, drunken missives
of fluid modernity existing within
the persistent lateral surveillance of decorum

gorging on sycophants sexting naked pictures
from the front facing cameras of smartphones
deKooning’s women couched in
an art of internalized misogyny

in this iDubai world of conspicuous
consumption, anything can be a commodity,
masquerade as a pretense or solipsistic dissolution
accompanied by a string orchestration
to score a cinematic self-expression

all devolves into projection and reflection
tactical apologues in the life of the mind
code-talker paradox a side effect
in a cyber-context devoid of meaning
simultaneously blocking and enabling communication
digital age where we cannot make marks
that depress the paper, only unembossed gloss

we’re so far from the sumptuous feasts
debauched scenes and willful obscurities
of Lycophron’s Alexandra, offering instead
staid symposia and motivational speeches
forgetting the orgiastic origins
and slave owning of the intelligentsia

Plato was the first literary dandy
explicating the joys of exploitation
revived by the Queen of Versailles
time share dream pushers building
90,000 square feet of opulence because they can
suing the filmmakers for life story rights

we bleat mutilated themes like Adele anthems
(registering attempts at emoting)
obsessive tracks running on elliptical trainers
to avoid over-hyped terrorist psychosis

virtualization is an act of fallacious connection
Time polls reiterate being rich will make you happy
performance art in the social hierarchy undermining
Rich’s dream of a common language

private and public merged
process and product revealed
so that the art and artist are one
unheeding the warning signs
Pollock’s unveiling killed him because
he knew the falsehood he stood upon
(cigarette butts and ejaculate
embedded in house paint)

how could we not continuously turn
to the melodic tones of dancing limbs?
pregnant looks, throwbacks to lover’s songs
ingestions of longing, You Belong to Me
melds into Make You Feel My Love

both speak intensely of possession,
of an invented and distorted humanity,
at the edge of thought as it becomes volition
or fades into the void, a gnat’s worth of life energy
in the storied American pursuit of happiness

Virtuous Compositions

‘You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity’*

poetry compresses and pressurizes
the ragged edge of an improvisational ocean/sky
I confront the integrity of the line
purity of sketchbook ruminations now outlined
in graphite strokes of velleity

phase shifts embedded in oil stick
color whispering, pressed lips to canvas – bleed/drip
every touch a blossom brush with death
branching iridescent highlights of
a monumentally intimate asymmetry

I come upon the space enfolding
the butterfly lovers, immortal,
burning swans screaming in flight
silhouetted against a murderous apathy

internalized terror of what cannot be released
what rains down upon us, drawn and redrawn
by everything outside ourselves and our control
tracing a watermark of interiority

delineating Whitman’s path
between reality and our souls
infinitude revealed through our separation
I search for a home within
the windowless reading room

……………………………………………………
* from Telescope by Louise Glück
‘The land and sea, the animals, fishes and birds, the sky of heaven and the orbs, the forests mountains and rivers, are not small themes  . . .  but folk expect of the poet to indicate more than the beauty and dignity which always attach to dumb real objects. . . . they expect him to indicate the path between reality and their souls.’ from the Preface to Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

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