Why Did I Flee?

“The world that used to nurse us

now keeps shouting insane instructions.

That’s why I ran to the woods.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

You wonder why I fled?

Well, what was left?

 

I ran to the woods,

thinking I could be Thoreau

just go–

you know?

Escape the insanity,

the inanity of the world

where insults are hurled

at the weak

and those who can’t speak

for themselves

when life is bleak.

Then I dreamt I had a dream–

well, it seemed

to make sense at the time,

full of poetry and rhymes

I don’t remember,

but wish I could.

So, I decided to leave the woods.

I hiked a new trail out of there—

ignoring the signs that warned, “Beware!”

Why did I flee?

I suppose I just needed to see

what is and was and what could be.

 

Ivan Shiskin, “Forest,” [Public Domain] Wikipedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is for Day 22 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, poetry based on the poetry and work of Jim Harrison.

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The Search

“I see today that everyone on earth

wants the answer to the same question

but none has the language to ask it.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

She gallops the globe, dawn to night

searching for wondrous words to say–

what are the sounds, what can be right?

She gallops the globe, dawn to night

seeking the language to bring light

to darkness—she questions the way.

She gallops the globe, dawn to night

searching for wondrous words to say.

 

To sway the world, what words are right?

What to ask, who knows what to say?

Still she journeys, circling through night

to sway the world—what words are right?

Perhaps they’re doomed, without the light

stuck, hope at bay—what is the way

to sway the world, what words are right?

What to ask, who knows what to say?

 

This is a double triolet (is that a thing?). I felt it needed a second stanza.  This is for Day 21, of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason. We are writing poetry inspired by the poetry and work of Jim Harrison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love is a Song: Ghazal

“Love is raw as freshly cut meat,

mean as a beetle on the track of dung”

~ Jim Harrison  from Songs of Unreason

 

It can be painful and raw, sometimes it’s wrong, but love is a song.

It’s sung both in hearts and in brains–if given free rein–because love is a song.

 

It makes lovers dance and full of romance because love is a song.

But what happens when dampened, or gone with dawn, will you still say love is a song?

 

It can make someone evil, cause great upheaval, but love is a song

with notes that can sway, make some go and some stay for the love of love is a song.

 

You can love one child or ten, again and again, because love is a song

that makes mothers sigh when parted, cry broken-hearted, because love is a song.

 

The notes can be doleful and soulful and wonderous and wise because love is a song

that grows and expands without any demands—love is love is love is love is love is a song.

 

Love of country is sung, by those with forked-tongues, because love is a song

to convince some not to think, or to look at the brink, just sing that love is a song.

 

Its music can frighten, can make our hearts tighten, but love is a song

that may protect a few or cause trouble anew, but love is a song.

 

Listen to the stars and moon, listen to the celestial tunes—high above love is a song.

Listen to the birds and bees, listen to the earthly seas, listen long and sing along, love is a song.

 

This ghazal is for Day 20 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrion’s poetry (and other works).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Words

“I’m quite tired of beating myself up to write.  I think I’ll start letting the words slip out like a tired child. “Can I have a piece of pie” he asks, and then he’s asleep back on the cusp of the moon.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

Oh, the words. . .

they spill

heedlessly,

sometimes needlessly

breezily,

dreamily fluttering

gliding owls

against the moon

hearing her tune

(she hums and croons)

echoing it back

with a hoot and screech

just out of reach,

the right words

flittery flit

lazily split

do a dip

then flip

from my mind

(leaving me behind)

they fly,

I sigh . . .

and wave goodbye.

 

This is for Day 19 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason—poetry inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison.

 

Breaking Free

“We’ll know as children again all that we are
destined to know, that the water is cold
and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far”
~ Jim Harrison from Death Again

 

Torn from parents

hearts ripped apart–

how it starts–

the cycle of hate

spinning behind gates.

Business we’re told,

souls are sold

in heat or dank cold

children are taught

the rotational fear,

fraught frontiers–

till some break free

to lead us

from insanity.

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse, where Kim has asked us to use the word cycle, and a response to Day 18 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison. Last night we saw Audra McDonald in concert. One of the songs she performed was a medley of “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” from South Pacific (Rodgers and Hammerstein) and “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods (Sondheim).

 

 

 

 

Unfinished 2

I told the poet,

I think

I think

of my dad more now,

of love not really disguised

but not quite recognized,

now the way broken

and the words unspoken.

Those days

trips to places,

open spaces,

drives to historical sites,

we always stopped

to eat,

no outing ever complete

without food,

and those restaurants,

the lingering traces,

scents and memories mined,

and entwined

with all the things

we never said–

too late regret

for what was,

remembered,

perhaps imperfectly.

Seeking to flee

our parents

and love—

the things as children

we never see

but now–

so much of them

(unfinished)

in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This goes with my Unfinished from a few days ago. Robert Okaji’s “Empty Cup,” got me started.  I realize it also fits Jilly’s Day 16 (yesterday’s) quotation for her 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrison’s poetry.

 

“You can’t write the clear biography
of the aches and pains inside your skull”

~ Harrison from Skull /  Songs of Unreason

 

 

 

Unquiet

“I’ve spent a lifetime 
trying to learn the language of the dead”

~ Jim Harrison from “Sister” in  Songs of Unreason

 

In the graveyard they lie

cool and peaceful, undisturbed

by us walking there—so we deny,

forget they suffered, dying, the verb.

 

What is the language they speak–

they in their graves, and we strolling by

reading a headstone, what truth do we seek–

once she lived, now hear the sigh

 

of ghosts who wander just out of sight–

that shadow there behind the tree

you almost see, a dress of white–

and wonder now, memories or fantasy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is for Day 15 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrison’s poetry. We’re just over halfway through, but you can still join in the fun.

I’m also linking this to Open Link Night at dVerse.

On Its Banks

“The hardest part is when the river
is too swift and goes underground for days on end”  

~Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

Here,

heedless of morning light

or evening flight

of geese across

the river runs,

through history

of people who

in transitory transit

camped along its banks

when silver shad streamed,

fished for oysters and pearls

of wisdom

flowing from,

with,

to

the sea.

Rolling river

pushes and pulls

life through seasons

and time

changes

everything.

Turn, turn

around

and underground

the hidden bones

turn, turn

to dust–

ghosts walk

beside the water

dreaming of what was,

waiting for what will be.

 

Delaware River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is for Day 14 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason–poetry inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison.

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.

 

 

Read the Signs, the Truth in Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“I want to know what’s true,

Dig deep into who

And what

And why

And when

Until now gives way to then.”

–“It All Comes Back,” Fun Home (the musical, music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel)

“How do you measure a year in the life?. . .

How about love? . . . .

Seasons of love”

—Jonathan Larson, “Seasons of Love,” Rent

 “Nearly everything we are taught is false except how to read”

~  Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

In and out of rain,

we find ways to spend our days

in theaters, or with wine

time passes–

the summery glow

flowing like the rain

that later comes and wanes

then comes once more

driving us indoors–

but in sunshine

and feeling more than fine

we sit and dine

eat the pizza,

sip the wine

Auburn Road Winery, New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wanting to stay

in the moment

in this day

that seems so perfect

in a world weighed

down with suicide

and rules defied

by those should lead

but have no creed–

except desire and greed–

those who raise the false

to say it’s true

and don’t read

except in snippets–

whipping it

up for the masses who follow blindly

where he leads–

despite his misdeeds.

I wish I knew why

or what do

(Read—the facts—what is true.)

But how about love?

 

We celebrate with friends–

retirement from a job,

but not from life,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there will still be stresses

and strife

though lessened

with time to enjoy,

as she’s now unemployed—

hope springs

and with it, a thousand things

that might be. . . if only

we remember what’s true

and love.

how about love?

 

We see a fair

magic on the street

and in the air

divers and floating

 

PIFA Street Fair, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and people emoting.

we stay for a while

then walk through the city

parts pretty, some gritty,

to see a play

we’ve seen before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but wonderful story,

wonderful score,

the musical version of a memoir—

of coming out and suicide

of being young and older,

still alive,

the story of a father

and a daughter

the lies he told

They discussed books

but she never noticed the looks

he gave to young men he employed

or to boys–

She later read between the lines

things were not fine. . .

time and memories open a gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to see what was and what might have been.

Families are complicated

to understand the whats and whens

when we relive in our heads again—

but was there love—

how about love?

 

I watch the Tony Awards,

where the themes of diversity

and inclusion

are not an illusion

though it’s the craft of acting

to make deception real

but we feel

when the students,

witnesses to horror,

of bullets and blood

sing “Seasons of Love”

feel—

all the feelings

true and real.

(We all must feel)

How do we measure

a life and love?

Celebrate with pride

do not divide

into us and them,

stem the growth of hate

and celebrate–

bake all the cakes

for everyone.

Don’t shun

the moments

in the sun

but remember

to fight the danger

of those who do not read

and who would cede

our world

to those who should not lead. . .

but be aware–

stop–look for magic everywhere.

Magic in the Streets Old City Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve linked this to Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using the poetry of Jim Harrison to inspire.

This is Day 11.

We saw Fun Home at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia and went to the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) street fair. It’s raining again here in S. Jersey, with a flood advisory in effect.