I have, somewhat reluctantly, given Just Poems a makeover. Although poetry itself is enough (as my About page assures us), appearances can add to its appeal, and I think this new Theme allows for enhanced readability. Let me know what you think…
Anyway, back to business. Here’s a haiku, let’s call it ‘Fashion’:
It is important To look smart so I straighten Up my straitjacket
Captive Flux Who named the days? Tell me who! What god or beast? Valhallan? Olympian? Jupiter’s priest? What lion in what zoo?!
And why label the gloriousness Of our sun-bound spins? Our relation to the fire begins And ends anew each day, nameless.
Haydn Your music is inside me, Joseph – The wind in Cretaceous fronds soothing my mammalian mothers, The pressure forming strings of iron in the earth Around my burrowing fathers, The skin under my flesh, Wind in my chest – Your notes echo In marrow, Bones bored like flutes, mere oaten reeds To sound your serenades.
To April Chaucer, Eliot, Millay: Poets have many things to say To April. What would I say to it? Nothing – it is a construct. Yes, the moon turns, The earth too (to dust), The sun burns Out days, but I distrust All timeframes, the rigid Collars of clock time Dripping days digit by digit, And the natural, cycling kind Appearing to repeat, like April, Like Friday, all coming alive, But actually being new and making older, a mill Grinding all things into grime, Grimmer and gaunter grains Of being – chains. And after all I guess that’s what I have to say to April.
Concerning CERN Smash it, mash it, bake it in a pie – White coats, clipboards, standing by; Crash it, bash it, stand it on its head – Smaller things are easier said; Whack it, smack it, give it a thump – Measure each mote of the insect’s jump.
Fading into the photograph some of your classmates, No less important, no less alive, but not you – you stand out, A sullen rose, having a bad day in 1936, or that’s just how You look. No less hopeful for it, a whole kaleidoscope of life Spirals out from the black-and-white school picture, The market streets alive with sensory richness, Galway alleyways Leading each to different lives. Perhaps you became a nun, The school selling it well, perhaps a nurse, living by the hospital, Perhaps a corpse hours after this was taken, the sullenness sickness.
What became of you? And why is the became more than you are This 1930s day? Just a rose, unpruned, a flame on film, ready to bloom Like a camera’s flash or to fade like your friends Into the drear background. Why? Because I cannot know, Because the narrative act of lining you all up And saving this second forever sets suspense – what happened next? And next, and next, and after that, and then? What happened?
What is happening, forever now, frame-sized, is you standing, And standing out – your cardigan maybe blue, your eyes as well, Hair light and easy on your well-held head – and looking out, Out at lives coming, possibilities, the schooling done, the ticket To America, to India, to some escape from your life back then, From discipline and rules and drudgery, from poverty and fools And from, oh from, the stings and thorns that are coming, As surely for you as for your fellows, the failures, the regrets, That what ifs and the if onlys, the sullenness of a girl Deepening into the well-worn despair of womanhood, The children and the husband and the house, the parents Sickening and needing care, the bills, the aches, the worries, All the things that go along with any joys, joys of parenthood And love, if such you knew, joys of shelter and of family, All the joys that sit around a grief, expectant diners Waiting for a feast, the servants lined around the board, The silver shining and the linen laid, the wine all ready, Just to be uncorked, the dishes coming in, set down with care, The lids lifted, and the horror underneath. Ah, had they but been empty, Then what care? But the rotted flesh, the shattered bone, The food of monsters set out like a kill – And all your ravenous fellows tucking in.
What pains you saw, what joys, what black-and-whites, Will not be known. Only this lonesome rose will grow and die, And only she will ever know the world she found, And what she made of it, and what she left.
[frame by frame] I have pieced you together from glimpses [the swollen black pools of your eyes] A doll sewn up by candlelight alive [tumbles of thready hair] A black-and-white stop-motion film [your chalk-white back] Gaps filled in by fancy [shadows of limbs] Holes resonating with the peal of ragged breath [your rising waist] And the chainlink clinking of a heavying heart [your fingers delicate on dimpled skin, the fruitful fullness of your lonesome chin, the round foundation of your lip-loved cheek, the turning of your shoulder from your neck]
Now what is cloud and what is hill? What’s star and what is streetlight? Sometimes when the evening’s still Distinction is recondite. What is land and what is sky And what’s the sea between them? Seen from this Portmarnock height All worlds look one and equal.