Thursday, May 16, 2013
What colour is hunger? I don’t really know myself, but I do know it
has a thin shadow, and with sunlight it has none—
It looks sort of like a starved old lion, maybe a horse, and a camel
with dried up humps (I’ve seen them in Egypt, too).
I discovered these shadows in Haiti back in 1986—in Ranquitte!...
People there live on a dust and dirt floor; like in the market place,
the inhabitation in Ranquitte, is a story unto itself.
One of my idle wishes was back then, was to feed some…
But I found so many, scraping the dirt and stone, squatted in the
marketplace, sweet faces, infinite: uncertain with painful care! Selling: a few eggs, nearly skeleton fish: I bought some, alone with
some hard breaded biscuits, picked out a family with many kids
and gave it all to them…
And then went to eat my goat stew, which was delicious!
Evora, and the Temple of Diane, which was built by the Romans, still stands today, unmoved, drawn into something like sleep—yet it has its victorious past. Roman engineers, built this immoral or almost immoral temple, perhaps dreamed how to place ever stone, giving a new shape to the air, and when they approached it I’m pretty certain the people breathed sparingly, some with a hush, others with a whisper. Today, in the fall of my life, or perhaps more towards winter, the steps are now crumbling, perhaps in a generation, a handful of grains, in a another hundred years or more, no more than a melted down hill of sand, but today, today I climbed those steps without falling off its rundown edges, or its wide-brimmed rim, around its platform. It was impatient to write this to you, because I do not want to waste time.
By the Mississippi in the early afternoon on the city-side of the shore,
bums and rats have left their litter and dung especially in the caves and crevasses— but debris everywhere: at night the place must look like a war-zone. But its
summer and school is out and I’m eleven, my friend Mike Rossert, a little younger, we always romp this area, along the cliffs below the city,
no trees just caves and crevasses, and humongous rats: brown with rustic fur, eyes that pierce like needles, when they spot you, hurrying
from the shadows beside the cliffs to the strange new light along the edge of the river. Steadfast I stand; let them pass—I say, soundless in front of me!
More often than not, —the bums are still sleeping, Mike and I kick them in the shins, the feet, trying to wake them—ready to run, but they just
toss and turn and yell, they want to be left alone.
This morning I’m alone, the rats follow me carefully with their eyes,
already lit, and sloped as if ready to attack.
Three rats today, some moving some hardly.
The air is dry, —far up the cliff is the City of St. Paul, inside those cliffs is like a fortress, old Civil War storage rooms, iron gates now locked, I’ve
climbed them many times, alone and with my pal.
Climbed and climbed and made it all the way up to the city proper.
But today, this
very day, I’m alone and the three rates facing me, grimly snarling, maybe want to devour me; no songbirds around, it’s a long summer, I step
back, slowly step back…back…back, back to the river, with my shadow and the shadow of the rats: they don’t attack.
The Author and his wife at the PAX Cross, 4-2013
The room where they serve the mass one can almost walk past the tall cross in the dark corner, when not in service, easily overlooked. But vivid when noticed, and resembles Jesus Christ quite well. His body limps back, loosened here and there against the wooden shaped cross, sleek and dark, smooth to the fingers. It is clear, the life size body serves all, resembles Christ’s vows.
I look up to the right ribcage, then to His face, there is something in this figure, in life that doesn’t know it is just fiberglass, I drop my eyes and touch the feet, and my body trembles inside. I touch the back of the cross, swirls of energy comes, rushes through me. All at once I am transfixed. I love wherever is happening to me. I withdraw my hand, fingers.
Last night I dreamt with a heavy chest, of the cross, not often have I.
Notes on Poetic Prose and the poem: First, the function of poetry is to nurish the spirit. I think this poem does. Second, he story in poetic prose is more important than the language, I believe. Third, the poem should grip into the reader’s skin. Forth, come close to the object. Five, focus is on the changes the mind goes through as it observes. Six, the poem allows the poet to be intimate; this is where its strength is. Seven, often spontaneous. Eight, the poet is allowed to stay with his senses. Nine, between the personal and impersonal, there is no tension, as one can see in “The PAX Cross”. Ten, the current has taken out most of the: it, it is, or or it’s for the o’s or oo’s or ow…allowing for a better flow. Of the 153-words to the poem, 40-have o’s.
(In 2004, the author and his wife visited Glastonbury and the Tor)
As we rode the train from London to Castle Cary, through the slow, cozy green countryside, I began to fancy England had gone back to its old medieval days. All the little towns outwardly no more than pinnacles, dotted here and there, sort of. Set delicately at the top of rising mounds.
From Castle Cary, we went to Glastonbury, where King Arthur and King Richard the Lion Heart, long ago, both drew their swords in the glistening light of the far-off meadows, of Summerset and on top of the Tor of Avalon, where the Celtics practiced there magic.
And there I stood too, on top of the mound, looking down, on the hurried past.
In one way it was a long afternoon on top of the Tor, now long past. The old ruined Abbey Tower always in sight, I wondered up and own the mound exploring, paused long enough to stretch, came to a herd of humongous cows—broad and tall, lazily eating the long grass, and my wife paused, frightened somewhat. Then exploring its sides, I got thinking of an old legend, from the days of the old monastery of friars: and I came to imagining looking down at the extending roots in a crevice, when the three friars hallway up the mound found a tunnel on the wall, below the ruins, young and ignorant they wanted to search it from end to end, in spite of the precisely dangerous calamity it might bring—and as they did, currents of air snarled among the stale winds that spiraled in, from the mound’s exterior, it was all they had to breath, besides the endless tunnel’s mud and dirt and moss-shadows. Thus, throughout the labyrinth: roots tumbling everywhere, body snagging on old useless rocks: only one friar ends up alone at the other end, half insane, half dehydrated, after a day’s wondering. His mind dry as his mouth in dire thirst, scrapped into crumbs never to be pieced back together again: appearing to have no more sense than that of a mosquito.
#3888 (April 28-29, 2013)