Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Variorum \ Found: Sound Sound

Nancy:  Day after day, week after week – I’ll never know how he saw us or what memories we may have revived.
Did Thomas Hardy sit,
sit waiting, in his last years,
for poems to happen by, an old gentleman
in his study, sitting –
– My neighbor sat
at the wheel of his car, which was parked
in tall grass.  He blew the horn
at girls.
He blew the horn at girls, in salute;
at me, big bellied with my son
and pushing a stroller;
at my landlady with her print dress,
her farmer’s arms and flat chest.
Like Hardy, perhaps, he revisited us,
clothed our lusts; as his eyes failed
he may have had a thousand second chances
at the breasts and buttocks of his memories.
One day he blew the horn at the postman
and slid forward, his head on the wheel,
and we came from the houses
all around, women, came where he sat
waiting, all day, for us to pass by.
Alan:  In the 1970s, the Poetry Society of London was housed in a once elegant but by then seedy building in Earl’s Court.  In its dusty environs I was exposed to a variety of poetrys, from the rantings of Bob Cobbing to the flinty mythology of Basil Bunting’s “Briggflats.”  It was an era of “found poetry,” “sound poetry,” “concrete poetry” and who knows what else.  Combining two genres, I wrote the following: a found sound poem.  To be read aloud, andante, with a gently rocking rhythm.
Found:  Sound Sound
Bartholomew’s Gazetteer of Britain, 1977
The Sound of Shuna
the Sound of Ulva
the Sound of Vatersay
The Sound of Papa
the Sound of Pladda
the Sound of Raasay
South Sound
The Sound of Shiant
the Sound of Scalpay
the Sound of Islay
North Sound
The Sound of Gigha
the Sound of Barra
the Sound of Handa
Sound Gruney
The Sound of Harris
the Sound of Hoxa
the Sound of Rum
the Voe of Sound
The Sound of Monach
the Sound of Mull
the Sound of Luing
the Ness of Sound
The Sound of Eigg
the Sound of Arisaig
the Sound of Eriskay
Upper Sound
The Sound of Jura
the Sound of Kerrera
the Sound of Iona
Sound Heath
The Sound of Insh
the Sound of Bute
the Sound of Sound
the Sound of Sound
“Variorum” first appeared in Slow Dancer magazine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Affirmation \ At Milerepa Center, Barnet, Vermont

Nancy:  Caught sometimes in the never/forever, I’m reminded by the world that things change.
If the blackberry were a bitter tangle
of thorn, or were grudging of leaf, or sullen
of flowers, I would shrug.  December.
Reason enough.  For which of us
has not had Decembers, when cold gripped us,
times of dark days, iron nights?  Then
Words like trust and love are nothing
but frost flowers, abstractions; we are
cold to the core.
But the blackberry arches green, not in denial
of December, but in affirmation of July,
and in the grace of its abundance
Crowns the meadow with flowers, and draws light
into the shadows of the trees.
Let Decembers come; they are passages
through which love and trust will come in their own time,
just as in the dark of the year
The blackberry had within it this green,
this grace of flowers, this affirmation of July.
Alan:  To offer well-wishing to the universe seems like such a hopeless act.  But then, who knows where the threads of our prayers may lead, and to what uses they may be put?
At Milarepa Center, Barnet, Vermont
Red and yellow,
blue, white, and green,
the prayer flags
move slowly
in the morning mist,
their long lines
silently belling
between farmhouse and flagpole,
pole and barn,
barn and farmhouse.
In every weather
they give blessings
to this sahā world,
and fade, fray,
releasing themselves
thread by thread
to the air.
I have seen birds’ nests
woven with fur, hair,
bits of yarn,
rug sweepings,
bright plastic grass
from last Easter’s baskets.
I would like to find, somewhere
in the thicket behind us,
the nest of the catbird
that has kept us company all week:
a secret, cupped offering:
a rainbow at the moment
it disappears.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Black Dog Runs In The Grass \ A Sumac Brake/A Jungle/Polynesia/The Peaceable Kingdom

Nancy:  Every dog different, every dog a treasure chest of indelible images.
The Black Dog Runs In The Grass
Hay Weather
             Grass falls to the mowers and cures
             without rain or dew, and the men
             sweat and work in the heat of the
             day, sure the weather can’t hold.
Even Now
             The only fields I own haven’t yielded
             a crop of hay in years, “since the war”
             they say, but that was the war before
             the war before the war, still I judge
             the hay as it comes off other fields –
             the rich dusty green, the fragrance.
And Here
             In these run-down fields where brush
             infiltrates year by year, there
             are still pockets of grass, Red Top,
             sweet Timothy, good for horses.
Just After Dawn
             The air is so still that the black dog,
             running, sends clouds of grass pollen rising
             in the sun.  It takes so little, just this,
             and scores of July mornings, a lifetime of
             July mornings, follow the dog, running golden
             in hay weather.
Alan:  After too many trips along the interstate, the thickets and tangles, the half-wild margins, begin to call, whispering of escape.  Something about the sumacs made me picture the paintings of Henri Rousseau, Gauguin, and Edward Hicks all at once, in a strange hypnotic blend.
A Sumac Brake/A Jungle/Polynesia/The Peaceable Kingdom
Tiger-partitioned, green-parrot-feathered,
the sumac brake hides a small child’s intentions
of summer, hides Paul Gauguin’s lost works,
the brown-skinned woman, her brown breasts and brown hips,
hides the child, hides the tiger, hides the parrot.
All of each day, drivers tom-tom past,
acutely unaware of this island just askew the interstate,
this slow eruption of innocence, electric,
deliquescent as ferns, as antennae of moths.
Only the febrile, swift dragonflies and, by moonlight,
the incautious deer look in, past stag-horns’ cinnamon,
seeing Gauguin, his moustache and brushes, his woman,
seeing the child, seeing summer asleep and dreaming,
the parrot fastidiously preening, the tiger
watching, enormous-eyed, preparing
to lie down lambent and languorous with her lambs.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sleeping Into Art \ Yet The Mock-Orange Still Blooms

Nancy:  So much ink!  So indelible!
Sleeping Into Art
While the poet sleeps
the pen wicks ink
and her nightgown blooms
with Himalayan lakes
Rorschach tests
The Dragon and the Phoenix
encompassing wisdom.
Freed of the rigidity
of words, the pen
glides on
fulfilling its potential
on and on
a Japanese screen
a garden lush with camellias
far archipelagos.
The poet is sleeping
     on and on
the pen slips to the floor.
Alan:  After enough years in a small town, we half-know so many people.  They lend their names to the land, at least for awhile, until all sign and memory of them fades.
Yet The Mock-Orange Still Blooms
That’s Bill’s place.
Gone – what? –
ten years? fifteen?
They say he fell asleep
smoking.  On oxygen,
too.  Bad combination.
Went quick.
Left a black space,
charred out
between the road
and the woods.
No one cleaned it up.
Old green garage
to the side,
untouched.  Small.
Hardly room for a car,
tractor maybe.
Last winter it finally
went.  Roof down.
Just two walls now,
leaning in.
Oh, and that shed.
Back there under the trees.
You wouldn’t notice
without a good look.
Last thing standing.
Old.  Eyes
not too good. 
Drove slow.
Way over on the right.
Took his wife around.
Guess she was lame.
Used to pull up
to the mailbox.
She’d open
the window,
grab the mail.
Then he’d swing left
across the road
into the dooryard.
One time, toward dark,
he didn’t see the other car.
T-boned.  Killed her.
He wasn’t hurt.
Stayed on there
‘til the end.
Never knew him much.
Just to say hi to,
around the neighborhood.
Wonder who else
drives by, thinks,
“That’s old Bill’s place. 
Gone now – what –
ten years, fifteen?”