A poem always starts from a flash of color out of the corner of your eye. Then a mad scramble for a pen, some scraps of paper. Close your eyes, the racing heart, the do or die or missing it altogether. So the words come like puzzle pieces lost under cushions. Piece it back together again. Pastiche. Collage. It fades fast. And there always comes a point in a poem where you lose the scent. Not sure where you’re going, what it was supposed to have meant. It can’t be avoided. If you don’t get here you haven’t gone in deep enough. If you get stuck, then crumple it up. It may have just been a desert mirage all along. Either way, in the end, it all works out. This half slip of paper, marked up in black script, so light and clean and trifling, is the thing you’ve fetched from the depths of the oily dark abyss.
Saturday, April 11, 2020
Lost at Sea
Trapped in this drafty house
I can feel lost at sea,
Capsized from my couch,
Another midnight mid-Atlantic tempest.
The hours are equatorial doldrums
In which I pace and ponder and nothing gets done.
There is a scurvy resurgent that even oranges can’t sate.
The mind reels and the bones too easily break.
Does the wave even see the shore?
Is it worried about what’s coming?
Or is this just me seeing a wave
From a porthole in my home,
Unfurling itself in rhythmic drift
Before it falls over in a splash of foam.
The wave is the one that swims
While I am the flailing white froth:
I should have seen the rocks before the cliffs.
Backyard lined with dying trees,
The lifeblood sucked out, devoured
By the bronze birch borer disease.
The leaves don’t come
Anymore and the shade they cast
Is no longer the blue cooling canopy;
Stick-like slashes of black
Hatchings across the grass.
The storms come, strong winds
Snap the distressed branches.
I am left to fetch fallen
Fragments, pieces, alone, the next day.
Piles and piles of rotted brokenness
Stacked to dry out in future suns;
Kindling for an indeterminate blaze.
Now is the time to thicken your bark,
Reinforce the shields that have thinned.
You can’t afford to look away or yield;
Even the smallest things can get under your skin.