Six Poems at Underfoot Poetry

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I’m thrilled to have six poems up at Underfoot Poetry. Many thanks to Tim Miller for adding me to his line up. A note on the formatting: your screen may adjust the lines, especially on the first four poems, which consist of a phrase per line. To get the intended effect, you could widen the screen setting. But you might prefer the interesting enjambment offered by your default setting.

Three Cinquains under the Moon (for Adelaide Crapsey)

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These were originally written for a “Full Moon Social” celebration hosted by Jeff Schwaner in October 2014..

October 8, 1914

Listen…
three silences
none harsher than your breath
dissipating into the night’s
bright mouth.

Later

Rainfall
and wind. How I
would like to have touched you
if only with words trembling from
my lips.

October 8, 2014

A moon
that we might share
from mountain to the sea
a gift belonging to no one
but you.

Adelaide Crapsey’s last full moon lit the skies on October 4, 1914. She died four days later, at age 36. A poet well ahead of her time, she created the American cinquain, a five-line form of 22 syllables which I have followed in these three poems.

I discovered only after-the-fact that the Full Moon Social Jeff Schwaner hosted on October 8, 2014 fell on the 100th anniversary of Adelaide’s death. These poems were written with that particular evening still looming brightly in mind, to honor Adelaide Crapsey and the moon, whose separate but entwined lights we still share and celebrate.

In my hand is a copy of a slim volume of her poetry, titled Verse and published posthumously in 1915. The following cinquain is from this book:

Moon-Shadows

Still as
On windless nights
The moon-cast shadows are,
So still will be my heart when I
Am dead.

Those interested in further details on Adelaide Crapsey might look here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/adelaide-crapsey

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Ikebana

leaf on stone

Ikebana (You without You)

Between frames, between presence and negation, authority.

If your body lies in the earth, why are you here?

Limits admired and sought: the way of the flower.

I pluck leaves from the lower half to achieve balance.

Shape and line detach, yet comprise the whole.

My father, awake in his chair, mourns quietly.

A naked twig forms one point of the scalene triangle.

Starkness implies silence, resonates depth.

Heaven, earth, man, sun and moon invoke your absence.

As you trickle through the interval’s night.

* * *

Ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arrangement.

chair

This first appeared on the blog in March 2016, and is included in my mini-digital chapbook, Interval’s Night, published by Platypus Press in December 2016, and available via free download.

Ashes

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Ashes

To sweeten the dish, add salt. To bear the pain,
render the insoluble. She envied

the past its incursions, yet the past yields to all,
avoidance to acceptance, trees to smoke.

My mother brought to this country a token of her death to come.

Now it sits on my shelf bearing implements of music.
In her last days I played Sakura on the mandolin,

trusting that she might find comfort
in the blossoms fluttering through the failing notes,

a return to mornings
of tea and rice, of
warmth and paper walls and deep laughter.

Today the rain spells forgive

and every idea becomes form, every shadow a symptom,
each gesture a word, a naming in silence.

Scatter me in air I’ve never breathed.

* * *

“Ashes,” first appeared in Extract(s) in 2013, was reprinted on The Reverie Poetry Journal, and is included in my chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform.

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Setting Fire to the Origami Crane

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Setting Fire to the Origami Crane (the one floating on Muscongus Bay) at Sunset

Who is to say which comes first, the flaming crane
or the sunset’s burst just over the horizon

and under the clouds? There are causes and causations,
an illness named bad air and another attributed to wolf

bites, neither accurate. There is the paraffin to melt,
and the folded paper resting comfortably nearby, with

a small, unopened tin of shoe polish and the sound of
tears striking newsprint. You know the myth of the

Viking burial — the burning ship laden with treasure
and the deceased clothed in all his finery. But pyres

are lighted to make ash of bodies, to ease the soul’s
transition to the heavens. Think of how disturbing

it would be to come upon the charred lumps of your
loved one washed ashore. And other myths — various

versions of the afterlife created to bend wills and
foster hope where little exists — to which have you

departed? There are no returns in your future, no more
givings, and your ashes have dispersed among the clouds

and in the water. They’ve been consumed by earth and
sky, inhaled and swallowed, digested, coughed out but

never considered for what they were. So I’ve printed
your name a thousand times on this sheet, and will

fold and launch it, aflame, watching the letters that
comprise you, once again, rise and float, mingle

and interact, forming acquaintances, new words,
other names, partnerships, loves, ascending to the end.

 

This was written for the August 2015 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. To read the story behind the poem’s title (which I was unaware of), you might visit Jilanne Hoffman’s blog.

Bone Music

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Bone Music

But how to reconcile the difference? Consider
drag force, velocity at impact, position,
surface tension. Gravity. I drink more wine
and drift, trying to recall that last conversation,
those few sentences revised in the moment,
exhaled and consumed in passing. It’s
likely that fractured ribs lacerated the heart and
lungs, or severed major arteries. Sometimes
words evaporate, leaving behind only the faintest
residue. Or they might absorb the ocean’s power,
the beauty, the blackness of the deepest
nocturnal canyon or the weight of a dying
high mass star’s core, crushing any deliberation,
any attribution, with remorse. Sky above,
the earth below, silvered leaves. A shared moon.
This fluttering from great heights. The outward
thrust. The shearing. A fluttering within. Each
morning I acknowledge pain and fear, refleshing
the night’s bones phrase by delicate phrase into
numinous forms greater than their divisible
parts, their intractable sums, into bodies and
shapes extracted through a moment’s glimpse,
brief afterthoughts groaned across the opening
blue, saying I was right, I admit inaction, I
confess it all, water, water, I knew too little.

“Bone Music” first appeared in Gossamer: An Anthology of Contemporary World Poetry, published by Kindle Magazine in Kolkata, India. I was thrilled to have several poems included in the anthology.

moon

Ikebana

leaf on stone

Ikebana (You without You)

Between frames, between presence and negation, authority.

If your body lies in the earth, why are you here?

Limits admired and sought: the way of the flower.

I pluck leaves from the lower half to achieve balance.

Shape and line detach, yet comprise the whole.

My father, awake in his chair, mourns quietly.

A naked twig forms one point of the scalene triangle.

Starkness implies silence, resonates depth.

Heaven, earth, man, sun and moon invoke your absence.

As you trickle through the interval’s night.

* * *

Ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arrangement.

chair