Manna (To each his own)

Letters, he said,
are all right-angles
twenty-six conduits
for simple acquisition.
Put your words on the shelf
at night, unpack only
what you need. Stop
mistaking typewriters
for altars. My dear,
your pencil’s not a paintbrush.
The consequence of sound
ends at the softest
decibel.

Why do you need a word
for homeless planets,
the heritage of solitary stars?
Why do you assign
meaning to the gasp
of wonder when you look
out the window and see
home, a cityscape,
an ancient horizon
you can trace with your index?

A miracle doesn’t need
a legacy, I said,
but how can you live that way?
When you lay beside
the river’s midnight lurk,
swans asleep in hidden
nests and yellow ragweed
in your hair, look up-
watch waves of savage wings
and wind roaring over
your head. Believe this
is why ancient Greeks
fashioned myths and heroes
from our galaxy’s rollicking war-cry.
Lean with your whole
body towards the churning
hour and consecrate
rugged euphony with your own
surprised shout, pure
and ephemeral adoration.

All of this and heaven too.
Bless the man who christened
each wisp of earth-hewn pulchritude
the hands that consecrated
these ephemeral gifts,
sonic revelations carved into stone.

17.10.15

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I am understood ?

Vertiginous welter of lingual interplay,
and my head’s rolling on its brittle axis
and I’m stumbling through a labyrinth
of demiurge illuminations and taciturn mouths.
And as hours flee from the crepuscule of hope to starless void
I’m chasing whispers that evaporate
into august nothingness,
scraps of meaning that flee from urgent fingertips.
The sedulous persistence that brought me to this
apogee of babylonian damnation
won’t break my fall.

Do you understand what I’m trying to say ?

These walls know something you don’t honey,
and you better get used to it,
pressing your fingers to the cracks,
asking for doors
where there’s only ever been
millennia of unutterable secrets.
Indelible quiescence carved into a sibylline face.
You’re a half-raised fist, ill-fated gesticulations
infantile phrases that can barely
make it past your quivering lips.

Does anyone comprehend a smile these days?

I don’t need fervent pantomime to make my point,
or to implore the strange antique portal
trembling in its obdurate frame.
Just tell me that you’ve been there,
on the tremulous crossway between illumination
and dismal obscurity,
that belligerent skulls of ireful diatribes
never forced your eyes to the ground,
that you know these roads and streetposts

even if you never found out the name
of the ancient stones rolling on under your feet.

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.

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.