Auld Lang Syne

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Poetry Challenge, Week 4


I have put 5 days here as week 4, and will post the remaining 4 as week 5, simply for a little balance in numbers.

Day 22

Dream Job in Maine

Simple, you think, to sit
all day and take people’s money,
allow them to drive onward,
to visit the places they’ve only dreamed
of seeing up close. Onward 
to Khatadin, Baxter State Park,
Down East to Eastport with its tides
rising 32 feet, boats on long leashes,
up and down with the moon’s pull.

Simple, you think, to clock 
in and sit. It’s my dream job
I tell people who laugh out loud
until they get that I am serious.
Oh no, not that I want to sit,
or to collect coins, make change
for a twenty, or suck in fumes
from traffic. It’s a way of seeing
that I want, a way to be more.

I want to see people, relaxed 
or stressed, angry or in love, all
driving somewhere, maybe escaping
from lives they’ve sunk to over time.
I want to be able to watch
them eating their sandwiches, slurping
coffee, putting on lipstick, hear music
that keeps them awake as they drive. 
I want to see parents quieting kid uprisings,
or changing diapers leaned over
back seats as they whizz through my gate.

Poet-in-Residence at Exit 7, I’ll write
this microcosm of driving and living.
I’ll make you understand
how all of us are driving somewhere,
all of us have to pay the toll.

Day 23


Red, white, and blue, waving 
at every ball game or parade.
We stand, hands over hearts, tears 
streaming like the banner itself.
But what of the humble purple flag
flower that grows in the garden, 
raising itself to the sky
without a single hand over a single heart?
How short the life it lives, how much
it depends upon the passion of bees
to carry itself forward another generation, 
how it lives in the shadow of broader blooms
with more impressive leaves. Is the flag
it waves, each petal it presents to the sun,
less important than a patriotic thrill,
a political review? I venture outside today
to drop a tear on it, to water it well
with my admiration, to see it’s brief day
as something bless├Ęd. This is my patriotism. 

Day 24

Night Music, circa 1973

When the quiet hours that wait 
beyond the day...
music plays on the stereo
and in my head, burning from too much 
of too much. The songs try to settle me,
but rain storms my memories, 
making sleep unlikely. I shut off the light, 
try to banish visions

I can’t control, the shade of you 
in the corner that won’t leave me alone tonight. 
I curse you and pray for quiet sleep. 
Love steals my dignity. I watch the fools’ circus 
play on and on. Here’s to the songs 
we used to sing, the times we used to know. 

I hear it. I hear it. 
Your breathing fills the house.
Amazing grace is all I need, 
what I am denied tonight.
There is such a lot of world, so many
lovers, but all I see, all I hear
are ghosts and clowns as the past
floats in through the window, keeps me
awake, falling into nightmare.

NOTE: italicized phrases come from Neil Diamond’s lyrics in If You Know What I Mean

Day 25

Notes on Notes

I am Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, play
past bedtime and into moonrise,
my notes on notes that cleave time
and leave me dangling on twine
above the bed, like a dreamcatcher
with spider weaving mad music
to keep all of us safe in darkness,
to filter carnival dreams from nightmares.

I am strains of melody, running
under stars dead already — beyond
the 186,000 miles it took them
to get their light here for us to admire.
If you make note of my notes, play
them again in daylight, they have flattened
or grown too sharp for your palate,
for the smell of bacon frying
or the splash of juice in the jelly jar
your mother calls “glasses.”

I am fine-honed music, or jazz or rap,
but always playing at night, in shadow.
I am not a brass band on the street
or a booming car stereo. I am steady
bars, glissando or lente. No fortissimo
will do for my score. Eine Kleine Nacht
a little bit of note on notes, a little musik
to make it worth opening your eyes, singing.

Day 26

How To Do It

When you wake up lonely, feel yourself in quicksand
or a bowl of stars a few light years away
from midnight, grab the last thread of the last dream
you remember, hold on and swing down 
into a pond or the edge of a still pool, where trout
can fill in the blanks, hold up a mirror
to show you where you’ve been and the way home.

When you fall asleep lonely, feel a sucking sensation
in your feet, or a sudden lift of your body
onto the lip of the universe, grab the first hot beam
of light that goes shooting by, hold on tight.
Think hard, recall the names of all your lost loves,
say them aloud as you begin to rise and go.
Keep your eyes open as long as the clock chimes.

Losing all senses one at a time, 
finding them again in reverse order —
A dance or a kiss, a wrench or a bullet. 
A rolled out blanket of stars.