“Content with My Delusions,” I Wait

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Content With My Delusions, Jacqueline Hurlbert, 

Only I could see him,

my dark friend, slim

with rabbit ears

and glowing eyes—

so kind, so wise.

 

He comforted me

I spoke to him alone–see

no one else believed in him,

but friends we were and are–

and from me he never strayed far.

 

I gave him a gift, a striped shirt,

and he said, sorry, don’t be hurt–

but I’ve got to go away for now.

somehow, remember us, don’t fuss–

this is only a phase, it’s ever thus.

 

(Count the days. Discuss.)

 

Today is my ninetieth birthday,

and I think I feel his glowing gaze

from somewhere in the night.

He’s come for me, my old dark friend—

Hello, good-bye, this is my end.

 

(We begin again.)

 

Today on dVerse, Linda has asked us to write poems based on the work of artist Jackie Hurlbert.  Her Web site can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Bodies and Souls

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When we were both younger.

Monday Morning Musings:

“Here is a thing my heart wishes the world had more of:

I heard it in the air of one night when I listened

To a mother singing softly to a child restless and angry in the darkness.”

–Carl Sandburg, from “Poems done on a Late Night Car”

 

“And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

From, Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night”

 

Beneath the beauty–

pink, red, yellow-petaled–

nectar flows,

pollen-dusted bees

hover, their buzz

a soothing lullaby–

the sound of if, is, was,

and will be

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What will be?

From my mother’s body,

I came,

my earliest memory, her

(she was beautiful)

shushing me,

telling me not to wake my sister

 

My sister and I played,

sang the songs of Broadway

and our lives,

nonsense words became family slang

over the dinner table—

the sound of family dinners,

and playing the dictionary game.

 

From my body,

my daughters came.

Sisters, they played,

sang songs of Broadway

and their lives

nonsense words became family slang

over the dinner table—

the sound of family dinners,

and playing Scattergories.

 

They look alike,

(but they don’t)

anyone can tell they’re sisters,

the way they talk and gesture–

we look alike

(but we don’t)

anyone can tell I’m their mother,

it’s in the blood,

our souls

from bodies, the blood of

grey and green-eyed ancestors

generations stretching far back

to first hearts beating

and blood flowing

women, men,

loving, hating,

beautiful and ugly bodies

crawling, walking–

in the cold May rain

we go to see my mom

no longer young

with body failing

and mind not as sharp

(not as it was, not as she was)

but heart beating

and blood flowing,

we make her laugh

she’s in the hospital

(first docile, now demanding)

it’s the anniversary of my dad’s death

hearts beating

and hearts not beating

once my father raged,

against the dying of the light

till he raged, no more,

 

body and soul both gone.

I don’t believe in ghosts

and spirits

(But I do.)

There are things in the air

we can’t see, can’t hear

the songs of stars and bees,

the humming of the moon.

 

Can two people share the same dream?

The woman asks in the movie—

because it happens to her and a man,

It happened to me, once long ago,

to my daughter and me

a dream forgotten now– except

“someone played a flute,”

we both say, when I mention it—

years later.

 

Things unexplainable,

things I hear in the air,

that I wish we had more of,

I remember singing to my babies

My mom’s cousin says,

“people remember

the songs they heard

when they were children.”

Perhaps there are things

in the air–

If we stop and listen,

the sound of stars and bees,

the humming of the moon.

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Yesterday was Mother’s Day, here in the U.S. My mom has been in the hospital for the past several days. My father died on May 11, 1998. I remember going to the hospital on Mother’s Day, for what would be his last night.

My husband and I watched a Hungarian movie, On Bodies and Souls on Netflix. In it, a man and a woman share the same dream every night. (Warning: there are scenes at the beginning in a meat-packing plant, but keep watching past that.) It also features a beautiful Laura Marling song.

 

 

Harbinger

 

The rose once technicolor bright

now sepia-toned, left, an oversight

to blend into the background.

 

And she, nearly devoid of color

doesn’t see it, everything now duller,

except when in her dreams.

 

Her frail body, a slight bump beneath

the blankets, but her mind unleashed

flits between sleep and waking–

 

she sees a vision of their summer home

the cottage colored sand and sea foam

and brightened by its rose garden,

 

and always scented by the sea.

But here and now, she

hears the ocean, waves lapping,

 

slapping the rhythm of the tide,

calling her—to slide

into her memories–

 

or no, a harbinger it seems

of what is next, not dreams.

Her sun is setting,

 

and now the room glows

a well-loved voice she knew and knows

says, “Come, Love. I’ve been waiting.

 

Sarah at dVerse has been pondering the word “harbinger,” and asks us to do the same in a poem. Lately my poems want to be stories, and my stories want to be poems. Perhaps this is a harbinger of something yet unknown (to me).  🙂

 

 

 

Forest Dream: Magnetic Poetry

From the forest

languid language soars.

You watch the rain beating

on rocks,

say my skin smells of dreams

and water runs fast beneath my feet.

A ship screams at the lake,

“who is driving death?”

And I cry,

aching if and why.

 

Henri Rousseau, “Le Rêve,” (The Dream), [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t consulted The Oracle in a couple of weeks. She gave me this bit of surrealism. It fits my mood.

 

Unfinished

“I took a nap and wept for no reason”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

My sisters and I

sat at my father’s deathbed

he, though unconscious, raged–

we held a vigil through the night,

waiting for the dawn,

and light

to see him released,

the raging ceased.

I napped then

for days it seemed

dreaming

I heard his voice,

crying when

I realized

it wasn’t real,

but love

disguised.

 

This poem is for Day 13 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using Jim Harrison’s poetry for inspiration. I guess this is an early Father’s Day poem.

 

 

Red Teeth of Death

“Her nights are full of the red teeth of death”

–Jim Harrison, “Life,” Dead Men’s Float

 

Blue is the color of sky and sea,

green are the blades of grass in spring

when the world is born again, and new

shoots raise their heads to the golden sun

whose chariot flies till day is done.

But no less vital is the color red

that drips at birth and stops when we’re dead.

The color that men fear to see

afraid of its power—or destiny.

For though Death may arrive gentle and pale,

her teeth are like spikes, or the sharpest nails.

When she comes for you in the dark of night

she’ll smile–as if to say it’s all right,

but her teeth are scarlet within her grin,

and life is soon gone—after she slowly leans in.

 

 

Apparently, Death is a vampire. Who knew? Mysterious messages and some truths come from Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, based on the poetry of Jim Harrison. This is Day 6.

It is also the anniversary of D Day, June 6, 1944, and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968. I suppose blood and death is on my mind.

 

 

Morning Reflection: Haibun

I stand at the open window listening to the robins, sparrows, wrens, and cardinals twitter, tweep, cheep, and trill as they tune their instruments, getting them just right to perform the sun salutation. The mockingbird rehearses his aria, long warbled phrases, chirrups, and chirrs. The birds perch high in the tall oaks and maple trees so that their voices echo, breaking the quiet of the early morning. I savor the moment. Soon, black clouds will come, the sky will weep, and the birds will take shelter in those wind-whipped high branches. I will gather then with others; together, we will express our sorrow to a grieving widow and children, and, say good-bye to a friend.

 

Spring a chimera–

rosy petals bloom, then fall

silver tears of rain

 

“Seen on KSC grounds, a robin pauses in a Brazilian pepper tree filled with red berries.”
NASA, via Wikipedia Commons, Public domain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for belong and dream

For Frank’s Haikai challenge, using “twittering.”

Dying Crow: Haibun

This is for Frank Tassone’s haikai challenge. He asks us to write about ravens, but he also says “kangarasu translates as ‘cold crow,'”  so I’m going with that. I really like crows. When my daughters were little, there was some sort of illness that killed many crows. I knew not to touch the dying crow in my yard, and I called animal control. They collected his body at some point while I was away.

 

I hear the sounds of crows cawing, over and over. They have gathered in the trees around their fallen friend, as he lay dying on the ground in my backyard. I stare into his eyes, which seem to plead with me. What is he asking? How do I answer?  I want to comfort him. I wish I could. His eyes still haunt me.

 

windows to the soul

dying crow’s thoughts never voiced

winter without spring

 

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Mikoláš Aleš [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

The Race: Yeats Challenge

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge.  Sorry for so many posts today. I’m doing them while I get a chance before I’m back to projects and before Thanksgiving.

This quote is from “The Old Age of Queen Maeve.”

“out of the dark air over her head there came
A murmur of soft words and meeting lips.”—W.B. Yeats

 

Once she was young and fair of face,

she lived life as if it were a race

where she was the brightest and fastest, and before it stopped

she would need to make it to the top.

But now she was confined to a castle tower

so far in time from her bridal bower

and instead of those who loved her well,

it was to her a sort of hell

with only servants and guards who gaped and glowered.

And so, she sat, and sometimes she’d spin,

sometimes ponder, or wonder about her sins

(of which she thought there were many

but as with her life, far from ordinary.)

Of late she had begun to tire,

become very cold, even before the fire,

she thought sometimes her husband, her lover,

was there in the night, his spirit would hover

as if to say, soon, though not today

once again, you’ll dance and sway

in my arms—we’ll be together,

it will be like yesterday

when you were young and fair of face,

but you’ll no longer be running in the race,

a few nights later he came for her,

took her hand and opened a door

the glowering servants saw a faint glimmer

that grew bright, then dimmer in the night

and she was gone, to dance in the starlight.

 

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Ford Madox Brown, “Convalescent: Portrait of Emma Madox Brown,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Night-Tide: Yeats Challenge, Day 10

For Jane Dougherty’s A Month with Yeats Challenge, Day 10.

Today’s quotation:

“And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night-tide,”

—  W.B. Yeats.

 

From the cottage window

he watches the winds blow,

scurrying and hurrying

for the day to be through

to turn evening’s dusky violet hue

into the starry indigo of night.

 

How she had loved that sight,

the clouds dancing in the air

the wispy bits of angel hair

white against the darkening sky.

And still he cried

remembering how she’d died

drifting away at the coming of night-tide.

 

He’d been there, sitting at her side.

Now weary, burdened with a heavy heart,

wondering what to do or what to start

Then softly he hears her gentle sigh,

and though it waits for no reply,

as the moon hums and the reeds grow dark

he knows she’s there somehow, a spark

in every fox’s bark and singing lark

her spirit roams by house and glen

somewhere, sometime, he’ll see her again.

 

'Starry_Night'_by_Edvard_Munch,_1893,_Getty_Center

Edvard Munch, “Starry Night,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons