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final poems from “Poetics by Praxis: Creative Writing Seminar”

January 21, 2008

Naucrate at the Death-Scene of Icarus

“In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.” (Matthew 2:18)

Hand-spun, now crumpled, wings hanging, gentle
Sails, harnessed with leather to his genteel
Back. Hair, deep as night, lies in folds, laced through
With kelp, on the sky-runner’s quiet brow.
Red shadows of winter trees, stretched across
In congealing, rusted rivers. Limbs, traced
In blood, quiet red seas that gather
Beside him. I inherit Gaea’s¹ wrath
As mother to him, still and quieted.
Time pardons none, not even the dead,
A berry stain of bruise spreading, smearing
Youth’s pinked, glowing cheek. None desiring
Him now. None knowing the strength of his arms,
To serve his own sublime, fool-hearty aims.
The women don’t come with wreaths, rose-wound.
Erota², playing her zither, cannot be found.
Where are the sandy-footed Mourners with
Sable hair? Beauties promised by such strength.
Not here. Not here to comb his soft flesh for feathers,
Nor to dust the salt from his skin. Not here.
I alone, his chattel mother, beside
His cobbled bed, kneeling, tears mixed in blood.
For cover, I raise his mound of lichened rocks,
But cannot move him. The boy’s body speaks
In arched and lengthened lines, toward the sky.
Closed eyes, slackened fingers, reaching for beauty
Even in death. Enraptured, seeking sun,
The failing orange beauty that killed my son.

¹ in Greek religion and mythology, the earth, daughter of Chaos, both mother and wife of Uranus (the sky) and Pontus (the sea). She helped bring about Uranus’ overthrow by the Titans, because he had imprisoned her sons.
² Of the nine, the Muse of lyric poetry.

View From A Window
For my grandmother, C.B.G.

False-cement cherubs holding earth, and heads
of puff-pink crowned geraniums;
her hands deftly dead-heading them. The frail
brown casings rotting with plumbs.
Varnished nails precisely that pink, capping
fingers, bent like cypress knees, from the years
of sewing daughter’s dresses, of holding
china, crystal, Lancomè brushes of fear
in powdered form. Her beautiful prison
bought with purple diamonds, Limoges’ fine
figurines, (his guilt), gilt-clasped tiny
trowels, eggs, treasured bones of porcelain.
How beautifully she bends, in bleach-white
linen pants. Those blue eyes of inlet water
follow her hands across the plants, waking
each with whispered encouragement, tender.
A hundred times I’ve watched those hands, working
the world into its beauty, stripping back
the dead and dying from a polished clean:
learning to layer art without a crack
or unsmoothed wrinkle, like time was the snap
of white sheets, tucked and folded, showing lace,
embroidered underpinnings, superfluous
pillows stacked. Everything in its place.


Miss Coca-Cola, 1943
For my grandmother, I.B.R. (b.1925 – d.1977)
“Passion moves inward, striking and blighting the deepest cellular recesses.”- Susan Sontag, Disease and It’s Metaphors

Your young figure cinched-in by a woolknit,
Striped bathing suit, your fingers enclose
The waist of a coke bottle, dark and fit
As a tiny dressmakers’ dummy, poised
For another fitting-pin. I hold
You now,in frame: wet bark dark curls, long-legged,
Painted lips, sun-sketched collar bones: the mold
That cast my father: born squalling, your third.
I wonder if you blamed “the dishwater”
If he noticed your papery skin, hands
Dappled with bruises. Later, the matter
Of collecting black curls from the wash-stand:
Dyed flax-threads, shredding. Five years of keeping
The secret bottled: cancer’s unfolding.



Washing the trees with white, June bugs ring
The ground: fallen, iridescent, spiny things
Sewn, like sequins, onto skirts for the crape myrtle.
Daddy said the beetles were mine, shining, fertile,
Rainbow-painted like oily car-puddles in sunlight,
Washing the trees with white.

The gems we collected carefully, skewered,
Slid from the rim into the glass jars. Fewer
Into the small ones, with a cotton ball pressed
With formaldehyde, capped in gold lids dressed
With inky fin-de-siècle vines. Was it pesticide or spite—
Washing those trees with white?

One Comment leave one →
  1. Charles permalink
    January 29, 2008 10:32 am

    Very nice. Some terrific imagery. I can see him there. The line, “Time pardons no one, not even the dead” gave me a small chill here in the early morning.

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