Several Of My Heretic Poems With Comments
Continuing in the vein of a recent post, below are several of my poems that will probably never see the light of day anywhere but here. I am, however, attached to each in some compelling way not only explainable by ego. :-) A couple were submitted for publication to places I felt might be appropriate, but to no avail. All have been languishing in my files. I have edited and re-edited each numerous times, but never to my satisfaction; I basically consider them failed poems as they stand now. Not that I ever consider one of my poems necessarily “successful,” just not “failed.”
I will make comments following each of them, and maybe get at what their holds are on me.
She had the look, not of someone who had no apertures – reflective or impervious – but of one whose many openings were stuffed. As if on finding herself in public of a sudden she had seized upon appropriately shaped objects in the room. And was now busily stuffing a well-polished dinner table into the gaping wound over her heart, a store bought braided rug into her stomach, and various and sundry ashtrays and knick-knacks into the seemingly random pock marks along her arms and cheeks.
[This was first of a series of prose poems that starts “She (or he) had the look of ....” The series is over 20 years old. I do remember trying to give over totally to my intuitive associations and let the images fall where they may. I think its pointlessness generates puzzlement rather than recognition. Although I always knew this particular one was prompted by my food/emotion issues, I only now see just how deeply it reflects those issues and how it pointed to the main one: as the over-used expression goes these days, social anxiety.]
* * * *
Your death tore through our lives
like a prairie tornado.
But unlike Dorothy and Toto I have been dumped
right back in the dust bowl of my life,
bearing memories that wave
in the corners of my stare
like worn work shirts on the backyard line.
Is this all the living every really know of death:
these daily, hourly, minute-to-minute absences,
these sudden holes in the middle of everything
like the pupils in your drug-dilated eyes?
The last time you looked at me past the pain,
that last time I looked into your eyes
their light faded slowly
like great white birds
in a spiraling updraft.
[This one is about 20 years old and has been revised extensively. I think I keep coming back to it because of the intensity of the emotions that generated it. The first stanza has always been fairly complete, but the second and third are still problematic. It’s not a cohesive poem though it says what I want it to, even as it breaks apart on reading.]
* * * *
“there was always...”
there was always something
tender and raw about her
never more than when her newest infant
pulled at her breast
red and intent
I and the others
crowding that kitchen
wrestled for the least drop
of her expansiveness
never failing to leave her
sated by the sweet taste of blood
[I don’t even know how old this one is, but it has to be at least 30 years old. I can still clearly see and feel the experience that generated it to this day. Responses to it when I’d read it at poetry readings all those years ago ranged from “Isn’t that a bit over-stated?” to a repugnance at the final image. But I still stand by my experience. She was an ultimate Earth Mother and I feared for her; even as I benefitted from her attention and even as I hungered for it.]
* * * *
A curved black shape sheds water,
obscuring my excitement:
no whale here, only
the murky outline
of an off-shore rock.
But by what am I then clarified
as it watches this world through me,
warm and alert inside my skin,
pressing outward against my roundness
as if I were an old bay window.
[Oy! This one is about 20 years old and has been a thorn in my side. I am extremely clear on what my experience was, but any time I’ve tried to make it more obvious in a re-write for the reader’s sake, it has sunk the poem. As it is, it just generates a “Wah?” from readers/ listeners. I’d be tempted to say that the poetry “trope” just does not exist for this sort of mystical experience, but it’s far more likely it’s my writing.]
* * * *
Heretic Sister: Of Fire and Filaments*
Standing here in the teeth of your hunger,
I see we are much alike, old worm.
I face a fire fierce as yours
each time my taboo passions
rouse the millennia of sisters,
whom bearing me, I bear.
My designs burn as surely as yours,
extruding their melange
of intimacy and destruction.
For both you and me, old worm,
satiation promises cessation,
only to rise to hunger once again.
You and your sibling ‘trout resurrect
to weave new lives,
a pearl of unknown price
tangled dreaming deep within.
While I restored
further contrive fine golden threads
with which to warp a history
and cautiously cradle
galaxies of brilliant sisters
reacting in my blood.
*based on the Darwi Odrade character of HERETICS OF DUNE, by Frank Herbert.
[This one is at least 20 years old, also. It is quite problematic since it references and relies on knowledge of a particular sci-fi character. Not only that, but I am not referencing an actual portion of the book she’s in, but creating a comparison in her voice with the central element of the entire book series. I still feel attached to this comparison – never made in the book – between the worms and the sisters that I develop in the poem. I did submit this one to a sci-fi publication but it bounced resoundingly.]
* * * *
Well, if you got this far, thanks for reading these heretic poems. I’d love to hear any comments you may have.
Resource: Author’s Den an online community of authors and readers. You'll come to a registration page. Just click on "click here to login" to check it out before deciding. I’ve not joined yet, but will probably do so in the future as a place to get some feedback.
‘til next time, keep dreaming,
[aka: Patricia Kelly]
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