Musing on My New Chapbook (2)

From where do these poems come?

The second poem in the chapbook, (serpent, door, eye), grew from a snake-eviction experience one Friday evening, and questions about perception. I marveled at the strength the snake’s body evinced as it wrapped itself around my wrist. What does it see, I wondered. How does it sense? What sequence of events has brought me to this place, now, standing in the grass with a snake in my hands, the sun hovering just over the horizon, cicadas thrumming all around?

And of course the poem rumbled around in my subconscious for months after the incident. What took me back to that time and place? Who can say? Perhaps a flash of light through the oak’s branches, rain dripping from the metal roof, or the fragrance of burning juniper. I never know, but it slid out, somehow, onto the page.

The book is available here to U.S. residents for $7.50, shipping included.

Non-U.S. purchasers can order it directly from me by emailing aBirdtoWhistle@yahoo.com.

 

Musing on My New Chapbook

From where do these poems come?

Beats me. I can’t explain how I write poetry. It just happens, generally at a desk, word by word, without prior planning.

So it was with the pieces in I Have a Bird to Whistle (7 Palinodes), my latest chapbook. I was staring out the shack’s window, through the bird imprint (months earlier, a dove had smacked into the glass, leaving its body’s smudged outline behind), when the first words of the poem came to me: “What falters in translation?”  Which of course led to thoughts about assumptions and traitorous actions, passageways, Robert Johnson, slide guitar, truth, perception, flight, refraction, etymology, deflection, Jung, and much, much more. Thus the book’s title is taken directly from Robert Johnson’s lyrics, inspired by a dove’s misperception, and filtered through my mind’s colander, with the residue dumped out on the page. Not en elegant process, nor a quick one, but there you have it.

The book is available here to U.S. residents for $7.50, shipping included.

Non-U.S. purchasers can order it directly from me by emailing aBirdtoWhistle@yahoo.com.

 

Bent

 

Bent

We’ve seen some version of the nail
curled over, the head angled at 90 degrees
or parallel to its body, just above

the penetration point. Three years ago
a tornado powered a single straw stem
through the oak’s bark and into its trunk,

illustrating the Old English beonet, for
“stiff grass,” and sadly conjuring the image
of a blade affixed to a firearm’s muzzle, the

etymology of which lies elsewhere, in Gascony.
And when we consider mental inclination,
signifying deflected, turned, or not straight,

we might also include an earlier past participle
meaning “directed in course.” But even the
tree’s armor could not deter the twister’s

wrath, and the hammer, no matter my aim
or purpose, seems intent upon glancing off
the nail, twisting it, leaving us, again, bent.

“Bent” first appeared in the print publication Ristau: A Journal of Being in January 2018.

Autumn Winds (after Li Po)

IMG_1951

Autumn Winds (after Li Po)

Clear autumn winds swirl
below the moon’s glow,
scattering the gathered leaves.
The startled crows return.
When will we see each other again?
This hour, this lonely night, my feelings grow brittle.

The transliteration on Chinese-poems.com reads:

Autumn wind clear
Autumn moon bright
Fall leaves gather and scatter
Jackdaw perch again startle
Each think each see know what day
This hour this night hard be feeling

* * *

“Autumn Winds” last appeared here in May, 2016. I started the adaptation in the heart of summer, hoping that it would offer a respite from the unrelenting Texas heat…

Bird Fall MGD©

Palinode (translation, passway, glass)

window

Palinode (translation, passway, glass)


(translation)

What falters in translation? The dove’s silhouette resides
on the window three months after the sudden refusal. I
observe wingprints, the skull’s curve, a history of assumptions
angled in the moment of impact. And after, residue. Light’s
incident rests. One body whispers another’s shape and the
next rumbles through the narrowing passway. Traitorous,
I call it fact. I name it truth, and naming it, reverse the coat.

(passway)

I name it truth, but considered denial, root of the renegade’s
term. I have a bird to whistle and I have a bird to sing. Misperception
in flight. Betrayal’s gate, unhinged. What comes next? Sunlight
slants through the window each morning, and departs, bending
in reversal. Stones all in my pass. Dark roads. Another naming,
another transition. Trials waged in the grammar of refraction.
The deflected word.

(glass)

The deflected word reciprocates and the sky opens, outlining
its missing form. I have pains in my heart, they have taken my
appetite.
Derived from wind, from eye, from hole. Once through,
what then? Mention archetype, and my world dims. Mention
windows, and I see processions and enemies lined along the way.
Boys, please don’t block my road. We select certain paths, others
choose us. Wingprints on glass.

* * *

Notes: italicized selections are from Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway.”

This piece first appeared, in slightly different form, in ditch, in January 2014, and last appeared here in July 2016.

alley

Patterns

dead-dahlia(1)

Patterns

For one who moves in uncertainty, this
flower, the petals of which

gently fade, as if reason
is found in the decline of beauty
and its comforts.

But all you touch remains
touched. If silence reveals the body

of music, what can be said of darkness? Words
appear motionless until they blossom, a
pattern seldom seen yet carried to us in

all manner of conveyance. Listen,
for there is no purer voice.

Let the earth speak.

file6581268573240

“Patterns” first appeared here in March, 2015, and again in June 2016. I wrote it 30-some years ago, placed it in a folder and promptly forgot it.

In Praise of Darkness

P1460193

In Praise of Darkness

Night falls, but day
breaks. A raw deal,

no doubt, but fairness
applies itself unevenly. Who

chooses weeds over
lies, flowers over truth?

Last night’s rain fell, too,
but didn’t crack the drought.

Again, we think injustice!
Again, we consider falls.

file000313199234

“In Praise of Darkness” last appeared here in March, 2016, and is included in my chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform.