A starry-eyed ramble (with some translated poetry thrown in)

Hello dear ones,

With such a brief interim left before I leave Texas and start university in Angers, I’ve (temporarily) diverted my attentions from poetry and devoted most of my free time to preparing for placement exams and ameliorating my French as much as possible. Every day I’m astounded by how much there is left to learn and by all of the subtleties of the language (there’s an entirely different set of tenses used exclusively in books, and I don’t know whether to venerate this literary complexity or just shake my head and ask the progenitor of the passé simple, But why?). On the whole, I’m incandescently thrilled to begin this period of unprecedented adventure and growth in just four days.

I really hope that moving to Europe and all of the experiences it entails will help me rediscover and revitalize the words that have been relatively dormant since I left Austin. Throughout my first year, my repertoire of poetry proliferated and diversified, and in a matter of months this craft became an indelible part of my heart. God, I ache for that urgent press of words on my fingertips, a fervent denouement ushered onto the page, the profound gratitude of having something to say and a way to say it. The words came easily there, where I found myself in a truly exquisite place of wisdom and humanity, among peers and professors who strive and hope for the triumph of compassion over the malignity of apathy. Whenever I left campus, which was quite often, the city’s grit and pervasive struggles against poverty and violence at once broke my heart and fortified my desire to equip myself in such a way that I may, in some way, be a part of the solution. And all of it, the urban vitality and the fevers, bus rides and strangers, library books and sidewalk prophets, drove me to the pen over and over. Away from university and that strange city, far from many people that I love, the paper has become cold and most of my attempts at poetry, contrived. So during this interim, I’ve dedicated myself less to producing and more to taking in whatever I can learn from other writers, philosophers, historians, theologians, and linguists, with the hope that cultivating my general knowledge and global comprehension will lend more depth and cogency to my own work. And it’s been wonderful to have the chance at so much independent study, but I believe it’s nearly time to pick up the pen again.

Now on the cusp of a new voyage, I cannot fathom what I’ll find in Angers, but I sincerely hope that I use my time there in the most proactive and compassionate ways possible. This is also a time to explore language more intensively than ever; August is devoted to an intensive French program, and in September I will begin Spanish and start volunteering at the city’s anglophone library. So in anticipation of this great lingual exploration, I attempted to translate one of my older poems. Some of you who have been with me for awhile may recognize it. Thanks for sticking with me this far, and I can’t wait to share with you all what’s to come.


 

Après la tempête

Ombre velouté qui voile
le bourgeon naissant de printemps
le couvrit en solitude épaisé
et l’enveloppe dans le linceul

Viens, dans la maison, mon fils
et chauffe cette merveille fragile
Car l’hiver acharné a laissé
sa cicatrice
mais la baume de ta caresse
fait precieuses ces iniquités.


 

After the Storm

Velvet shade that shrouds
the fledging bud of spring
coats it in gentle solitude
and wraps it in opaline garb

Come, into this house, my son
and warm this fragile pulchritude
for the pinched freeze has left its scar
But the balm of your caress
makes precious
such iniquities.

Lionheart

In the phantasmal spectrum of faces
I look across the clouded evening,
stare right into the passenger-side vacancy
and whistle softly,
call to your ghost, your halcyon trace
that illuminates my shadow hours
with gentle refulgence.

Dear heart, draw near to me
because I will always need your hand
when the corners pile up with broken glass
and hoarded grief
and you will always keep me
turning long after the music stops

and we will always know our place
is on backroads and back seats,
your head on my shoulder and my heart
giving thanks for the effervescent wonder

of you, whistling in the dark.

letter

Paper Plane Pilots

i know this world. i know its ashes, stale smoke. i know the insides of every man, woman, child. i’ve seen the bottom of every bottle. i’ve seen the no-shows and the take-me-or-leave-me’s. needles, scalpels, blood lost blood gained, bones bones bones. i’ve seen the dead placed into the soil i’ve seen the veins. i’ve seen through me. x-ray machines, overturned cars, mirrors and mirrors and mirrors. i’ve seen the sand and the satellites. the have-homes and the no-homes the hopeful and the healers, the hungry and the hurting. i’ve seen the concrete and the names. names etched in stone, written in skies, on walls, letters. memories fade, shrinking brains. i’ve seen the happy and the whole. i’ve seen real and make-believe. i see a ghost of you, somewhere past the train tracks and the sea lions. i see you in the salt. i see you in traffic lights, road…

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Stirring

There are these
words, glittering in my palm
like obliterated glass,
christmas lights,
reverent stones
gathered at the bottom
of the illimitable river of language.

they fluster and shake
their heads and trip
over themselves,
a tremendous back
space of thought and unsettled
phrase, they

stutter and flail
their trembling wings
a mad quorum of sound.

unsure of their
long lettered bodies
wayward adolescents passing
the amber bottle,
twisting the lock on the door.
Still in their tremulous nascence
and churning.

A miracle of bodies,
a star-washed nativity,
phenomenon of tablet and holy tools.

Stuttering, then
an agitation of wings.

poems

i set them sailing on the lake,
paper lanterns with your halcyon
smile burning on the water.

before they left my fingers
i kissed each and said
a prayer to poseidon
that all these words
would reach you somehow.

if i’m an equation with a 5-digit answer, what does that make you?

You are a numeral

start to finish.
Sterile digits that line up on clipboards and hallways
dixie cups with your allotment of fugue and quiet.
Skittish eyes (295.60) in the waiting room
will hiss that mirrors aren’t to be trusted.
Miss 307.10 will nod, shivering in her cotton swaddle.
You are havoc
locked into an odd geometry of needles and query.

They will call your name and say it wrong,
or say the wrong name altogether.
They do not realize that outside the door you all are frenetic molecules in wild entropy, crashing into trees and parking lots with the gospel of vindicated insanity rattling around your skulls, crippled cortex to forehead, but still alive and breathing and dreaming of equanimity and a calendar where x’s stand for bells and sex and plane rides, not plastic bracelets stuck on your wrists like costume jewelry.

One time someone got it right and said you have, not you are, and you cried,
human tears, and did not count them at all.

There are two languages in your purse, three if you look
closely. They won’t. Instead they will ask what day it is,
who’s the president, how to crush a spider
(you assume they mean the corner-dwellers, and not the tarantella of legs and poison in your head)
ask you to put a name to the wind.
They will ask to weigh you and demand to know why you are fundamentally fucked up
chemically altered. You are not obliged to tell them why.

It takes you six years to learn this.

Someone comes and changes the curtains, folds the sheets.
The stark white covers turn your lower body into a ghost.
You ask them their full name, what day it is, ask them to
explain please the etymology of the word “pathetic”. They don’t
understand the question. Are you sure (you’re alright)?

Testing, it’s simple. You have seen this
before. Swallow down the aftertaste,
the undissolved tablet of amorphous dimensions

without question.
The answers may be there in the morning.