For a few years now, I’ve had an ongoing schtick where I invite people to give me a one-word cue for poetry. It’s a blatant cribbing of an idea I first saw in the movie, Before Sunrise, when the two main characters come across a gondola captain who does the same for them.
The cue-words were whatever people wished to send in, ranging from the ordinary to the deliberately difficult. Usually written within 15-30 minutes and tailored to resonate with the person they were written for.
Seeing how they’re stored in an inbox with fixed storage space where they will someday fade into the ether, perhaps it’s better to memorialize them here over time, instead.
Part 1 will be all the ones written in the first half of 2011.
* * *
When blue bowls from wal-mart sit soundly, unused
and fifteen green onions are thrown out, refused
When milk is not easy to find, nor is Tang
When sunset then sunrise go out with a bang
When day and night blend, when the future seems bleak
Take joy in the promise that saved are the weak
That trial, then triumph will soon run its course
And praise will return, by grace and not force
Shalom be your blessing, Selah be your prayer
As truth become known, and sorrow become care
* * *
The days are long, the sights are bright,
The effervescent characters: their burdens, light.
A song to sing; fine food, they ate,
In fifteen moments, hesitate
for time so scarce, they dedicate
to joys of now, to memories hence
* * *
To some I grant amnesia
A blessing in disguise
Of outer peace and inner grief
That one cannot despise
But speak of courage, speak of truth
speak of memories, strong pursuit
In short accord, these acts subside
Replaced by sloth, replaced by “sense”
Replaced by dread ambivalence
And slowly, as the passions fade
An empty shell, no more remains.
* * *
Prompt was an entire quote…
Celine: “I always feel this pressure of being a strong and independent icon of womanhood, and without making it look my whole life is revolving around some guy. But loving someone, and being loved means so much to me. We always make fun of it and stuff. But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”
One little mirror; five shades.
Lips red, lashes long.
Like a picture to be taken.
Three inches closer to the ceiling
Stretching, reaching, seeking to be known,
To be seen…to be remembered.
But not yet, not for this,
I don’t want to be a Janice;
One face is hard enough to know well.
The people, they want their Rachels,
Intricate. Out of reach. “Earned”.
To me they sing “Hey Jude”…a song for the Leahs.
And the band plays on, harpsichord and piano
Requiem or redemption…
I don’t know yet.
…but someday I will.
“Hey Jude”…a line, perhaps?
For now, unknown.
And still, I can rejoice.
* * *
in the night.
Who are the mad ones?
He wants his lyrics back.
…but it’s late! Surely he
of all people would let me be,
let me see…prosaic symphony
of imagery dense,
of sound and sense,
of finer lights, of fairytales
so often heard, so often would
in haste, be misunderstood
as children drift…to…slumber…
* * *
So you want to be a a winner?
The road is quite the challenge…
A thousand little factors
I think will lie in balance
A setback here, a blessing there
A quest, it is…a gauntlet.
And on that journey most encounter
A foe, a foil, friends and kin,
perhaps a doppelganger.
But go, you may, you must, you shall
and earn the fruits of valor
For crippling thoughts of loss, of fear
Must never be your master
* * *
So this is a story, I be tellin’ you now
bout fifty five dimes and twenties all over town
My rappin’ got a major contract and I be rockin’ the house
With all the lyric avocationals that scorch the sky with their mouths
In good ole San Francisco I been spendin’ my days
With the Hayes Valley superstars, where I hear people say
“Illin’, maxin’, chillin’, villain, still in good times we be livin’
and you best be here now, so you can be rememberin’
that the DMC crew, they said “you! Stay in school!”
But like an arrogant guy, I said “nah, I’m too fly!”
And so I bummed around the neighborhood with rhythm and rhyme
What’s that? “Dumbass!” Such flack
I caught, the more I thought about my name in lights
it said “Comeback!”
And so my mind got me thinkin’
That with all the milk I’m drinkin’
That the double-duty superstar is all the more a legend, czar
and medical emergencies, they need some lyric ABCs
to free the fingers, speed the mind
And save some lives, so they can shine
So here I am like Dr. Dre
But all my beats, they’re here to stay
Cause someday I be like ole Snoop,
From intern onto resident
attending, then the president
The masterful magician
And as well a pediatrician
The rappin’ doctor superstar
Stay with me, yo, we go far!
* * *
Nineteen hundred fifty three
Arthur Miller’s “heresy”
Joe McCarthy didn’t see
That every man has dignity
Nineteen hundred eighty four
Eric Blair pens Winston’s lore
The ministry of doublespeak
Prophetic in its picture, bleak
Twenty ‘leven, three months dire
Afghani blood in friendly fire
Darkness on the eastern front
Our soldiers weak, our shovels blunt
And when they come back home from war
Their knuckles white, and numbed by horror
A thankless battle, now no more
And normal life, the mind now sore
The flashbacks, gunfire, now routine
Marriage, now, to pharmacy
The past now lost, the future vague
Thy purpose now called “yours to make”
But scars and scares abound thy heart…
…It’s not that easy, a “fresh new start”
* * *
What? A bus from the sky, you say?
Of what company, do pray tell?
A staff of one? Intriguing. Not a soul in administration?
Ok, bizarre as it seems, perhaps it is plausible.
A bus, for all its complexity, needs but a wise driver to reach home…
And where is this depot? Some silent meadow on the outskirts of the city?
A busy kingdom beyond our horizon?
Some alabaster palace, whose roads are paved with solid grass?
This house above a midnight calm,
but a shadow in the morning sun, you say,
So dim from where we see, so dim through our primitive lenses,
Truly, tis a place worth our venture?
Very well. We need no bus, but this destination you speak of seems grand indeed.
Let us prepare our finest carriages, our noble steeds,
Let us travel in style
Let no luxury be foregone
May it be our vacation for the year
We will go forth in August day,
With grapes aplenty and a cup of silver
We shall enter in style,
That this unknown kingdom should know our worth
And seek instead to come to our own fine land, Graytown.
Why is the driver laughing? We’d be happy to follow his route,
tow his unsightly little bus and seat him in our own facilities.
We are, after all, in his debt for telling us of such a land.
Here we thought we had seen all the world’s beauty,
And he comes speaking of something beyond?
Oh! The gravity of his testimony,
That he should so move us with his words!
Surely we are in his debt, and never do we leave debt unrepaid…
So vast our resources, so vast our powers…
It would be an embarrassment, a cruelty,
Schadenfreude of the highest degree that he not see our capacity for riches,
The upstanding character of our townsmen!
Why, I dare say that we are the best in the land,
Not at all like those Rintrahnian groundlings with their cheating hearts
No, we are honorable fellows, honorably governed.
Tell him we shall repay him in full, that he need not take us there in his excusably gaudy crimson bus.
He refuses? But why? Have we not far better means of reaching his homeland?
He rejects our steeds? What? Why, he makes no sense!
Surely we can simply have him talk with our skilled navigators and craft a path
What’s more, we shall be taking all our riches with us and showing this land of his how well-off we truly are?
What? He claims that his is the only bus that will take us there,
That he refuses to take payment of any sort?
That we should take nothing and accept the hospitality that will greet us when we arrive?
I will see to no such thing.
We in Graytown are fine people indeed,
and to take us as we are without regard to what we can offer is an insult.
How is this not obvious to him? Are we not showing him all that we have to offer to him and this far off land of his?
What sense is there in going if we cannot go forth with our creature comforts? Our many talents? Our extravagant riches?
He claims his are greater still? Well I never!
An insult beyond all insults! To hell with him!
We need no blasphemer of out kingdom,
we need no heretic in our midsts!
Send him on his way! I care not that he says so with a gentle laugh;
His words betray his homeland pride!
We shall not take this offer of his;
To refuse compense is to deny Graytown’s fine heritage.
We will not stand for it!
He can go on ahead to Rintrah! They might take his offer; they may truly need it, given the murky swamp they dare call home!
But we shall remain here in fine Graytown,
This city built on the beaches of Gomerea!
* * *
Oh the woes of foreign travel
Thy plans, they oft unravel
Thine plane has left
Thy seat, bereft,
Thy only option, saddle
* * *
Oh, the many woes of adventure
To pack your bags, leave all behind
And go forth with hearts like ember
The people plenty, cultureshock
The lovers union, affirmed by locks
Atop the city’s highest point,
A memory sealed
The timeless moment, forever remembered
The sights of Seoul, a view pristine
The waveless waters, a mirror, sheen
The silence there, to speak thy passion
To share thy dreams, without distraction
And in thy friendship, burning bright
To know as kin, thy burden light
Two simple travelers, across the world
Yet at home, still, the earth, thy pearl.