Ode to a Clepsydra – #poetry

Ode to a Clepsydra

Ode to a Clepsydra

To the alchemist’s eye, water = emotion, and so it is
that our moments can be marked by the rise and fall of
feeling, a steady stream of anger-eager-joy-hope-faith
devotion to emotion.

Days that pass without touching the interior of
our mortal casings are deadlier
than disasters. Moments that come and
go unremembered, unmarked by impact
on our souls, are the ones we most
regret, when we consciously number our final breaths.

So let’s trade the customary tiny grains of rock, sifting
  down
   a
 narrow
   hole
     to peak beneath their ingress, for a steady liquid
stream — drain
     water,
   drip
  drops. Let the pool beneath rise and w i d e n.

>Plop<

should be the sound of living life.

And

>>Splash<<,

the sound of life lived well.

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Watch that WHCD clip with Michelle Wolf – #poetry

Watch that WHCD clip with Michelle Wolf – #poetryWatch that WHCD clip with Michelle Wolf

You will feel better.

It doesn’t matter
whether or not you agree with her, or you
think everything she said
is in good taste.

She told the truth
in a series of extended thoughts you actually
have to follow
past a second or two.

Just figuring out if you’re offended by what she said
is a worthy exercise. As is
googling it, or searching YouTube to find
the full 19-minute-plus version
without commentary
from the damage-controlling peanut gallery.

Everybody’s got something to say about what
she said.
Said / we said / they said.

Make up your own mind.
You will think better.

 

~ Kay Lorraine

May 2, 2018

 

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Winter Showers – #poetry

When the rain starts again, comes the relief. The relief of being loosed
from months of being careful-so-careful about how long
you let the water run at the tap
or linger in the shower.
When the rain starts at last in November,
you can forgive the desertlike stinginess of September,
thumb your nose at the fiery threats
of October.
You can smile at the sight of reclaimed waste
water spraying its broad horizontal arcs
through vertical winter showers.
And the cows look, well…
happier.
When the frogs start their horny chirping,
you all are.

Written sometime in the early 1990s

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World of Flesh – #poetry

I. Through the day, you are in it, whether
sucking down piping hot coffee
at seven a.m., or moving
your bowels at 7:30, or
craving some-
thing — anything at all that’s sweet and filling —
in the midmorning hours.
In the walk of the woman
in front of you
in the hall, whose heavy hips
still sway with onetime
accomplished, perhaps-now-forgotten
seductive swish
it reminds you.
You are in it.
You are
Here.

II. Don’t run and hide. Don’t
bury your fingertips in a keyboard and
glue your eyes to the screen, groping
at the mouse to flick the screen saver out
of sight again. Don’t
pretend to work. You can’t, so long as
your lively mind wanders back to last night —
You are not
here.
We’ll find you
where life cascades through
a gorge cut deep into the bedrock
of daily subsistence. We’ll find you
tumbling through memories
of her —
Don’t pretend to be here.

Lick your lips.

Written sometime in the early 1990s

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You live close to my bones, you… – #poetry

You live close to my bones, you
with your soft eyes that can
snap
hard in a turn,
your solid arms with their sure
embrace around my heart,
every bit of you, from ten solid
toes to strong-wide shoulders
forging through life
with your iron will — you
inhabit me in the nearest,
dearest of places, shedding light
on my most secret marrow,
counting out,
in red cells and white, the flow
with every beat of my heart
for you.

Written sometime in the early 19902

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On Remembering An Almost-Overdue Deadline For Work That Was My Idea, In The First Place – #poetry

glowing coalsWhat must be done,
Must Be Done.
I can procrastinate all I like, plumb
the depths of my lazy rationalizations
all I care to, excuse
my inaction with a chock-full
calendar…
But what must be done,
Must Be Done.

It’s not like I didn’t know
it needed doing.
It’s not like
I could have gotten out of the commit-
ment I
myself
signed up for.
Duty calls — but I called first.

 

2006

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Aftermath – #poetry

Aftermath

leaning birches

I.

Now, walk up the road, to see what’s what.

And yes,
Everything does look like it’s had the shit torn out of it.

Because it has.

Five major winter storms in four weeks.
Two of them coming
after the official start of spring…

I remind myself, this is New England.
These things can happen.
Especially in the so-called, alleged spring.

There are plenty of pictures and stories
to prove it.
A whole forest leveled overnight is nothing
to take as a harbinger of
The End.
It happens more often than you’d think.
More often than we
remember, short
memories
that
we

have.

 

fallen snapped off trees

II.

Winter was kind to us
Until March.

Then came the surprise fury, the dumping of meters of snow.
Refreshing our memories of an Earth we ignore, till
she demands our full attention
for a day or two.
The takedown of trees and lines and power, phone and cable television,
essentially
all the ballast of our modern lives.

The chain snapped free of the anchor, just as the wind picked up.

Any chance of us getting off easy this year
Was gone by the third storm.

The only consolation being that the snow covered up the damage it had done.

No more.

No, here we all are
in our dead, twisted, contortions of devastation lite,

Tired,
so
tired, what with everything
that’s going
on.

But still knowing full well that we got off easy,
considering
that a lot of those trees could’ve fallen the other way, and hurt us
much worse than they did.

I, for one, have a hard time saying “snow storm” without preceding the noun with an expletive adjective.

Fucking snow.
Fucking storms.
Wrecking our recollections of that vibrant autumn that got a late start,
but still rewarded us with so
much
color…
Canceling out the promise of Spring – right around the corner, we’d
hoped – after such
a bitter
cold
snappy
couple of months…
Dragging our thoughts from anticipation
to immediate exigency,
our cabin-fevered minds kicking
and screaming like kids who can’t get on
the ride they love most
because they got there 10 minutes after the gate closed.

True, clearing fallen limbs and filling out insurance forms
is a far cry from not getting to ride the teacups,
but still.
Bruises, lacerations, pulled muscles, and a monster
burn pile stacked on the far side of the yard
have a way of affecting the mind
as well.

Eh, never mind.

We all know this is the price we pay for such beauty, as we reckon
with nature’s less welcome interruptions.

We’re all adults here.

Still,

I’m glad that shit’s over.

Road-killed frog

III.

And up the road I go. No heavy jacket needed today. But then again,
not a light windbreaker, either.
We’re at that point where the roads are wide enough to comfortably walk again
without getting run over,
which means you warm up quickly — long strides, pumping arms — and then
half a mile later, you’re stripping off
layers.

Chill wind on my neck — Should I have worn a scarf?
Hot gusts rising from my torso as I move, mixing with the cold.
No.
I should not have. I’ll be fine.

But never mind me.
Look around.

The forest… the woods… Oh…

Splintered, frayed, stripped, bent, flayed, snapped, crushed, battered, lost, dwarfed, amputated, ugly.

Gone.

Amid this musty, dusty stack of kindling we used to call the woods, the sound of spring peepers echoes,
their guttural chirps filling the enlargened air that used to be crowded by
living, growing
tree trunks.

Frayed, snapped-off toothpicks of once-towering Ash, Hickory, Maple, Pine.
The frogsong rings free, where it used to bounce off all those hard spaces.
They seem now both
fewer
and more
than I remember in past years.

And in the vernal pools, growing trees look all the more precarious,
their days numbered
knowing what we know about trees rooted in soggy ground
when the winds pick up.
Vulnerable as the road-killed peeping frogs who just wanted to cross
the asphalt ribbon of death
to do what they do in the spring season.

The warning signs for drivers to slow down seem no more effective
than our expectations
of what should happen, weather-wise, in March.

Against the backdrop of pattern-defying weather,
I turn the corner of the road.

Past the burned-out shell of a house that once stood here.
Car coming….
Step off the road and in
to what used to be the widemouthed entry of their driveway. Look around – look around.

Someone
has been here with the mower.

It wasn’t this clear last fall.

Maybe the original owner finally wants to sell the place.
Or
the town has complained about the mess.
Or
something new will be built on that spot before long.

I should see piles of deer droppings.
But no.

broken-down garage

IV.

A rustle behind me.
I turn and wave to the neighbors across the way
watching me
from their darkened screened-in back porch.
If they wave back, I can’t tell.
Too dark on the inside.

Seems they’re keeping an eye on this place, perhaps to buy it.
Perhaps
to figure out what the heck is going on over there with all the brush and small trees disappearing from the lot between
when they leave for work and when they return home in the evening.

Each day, a little bit more is gone, as though
the shoemaker’s elves got bored
making shoes
and decided to clear underbrush instead.

Now step off
the road and onto a path leading back into the conservation lands. Through woods blasted lower than
they were last time I was here.
Falling branches,
felled trunks,
logs blocking the path,
some of them sawed off,
others broken.

Someone has put in a yurt on their field, with a small shed beside…
it looks like maybe a chicken coop on wheels…?

Amid the storms’ devastation, new construction is like a stable armistice, bounding
the arboreal battlefield
just beyond the rock walls,
spelling out how we still go on, no matter what.

A yurt’s easier to put up than a house.
Quicker, cheaper, in some ways
just as good.

And you can do it.
So, some do.

fallen trees

V.

Clouds are coming in.

I’ll have no shelter till I get back home.

Turn, put the path beneath my feet
and the deadfall
behind me.

Return to the road.

Turn back towards my house.

Whatever has happened here in the last month has happened many times before, and it will keep on happening.

Keep walking.

Accept what comes next.

 

April 8, 14, 15 2018

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Ethereal – #poetry


Ethereal

The ancients trusted their guts — they knew
as well as we (but were braver in the saying) that
all we are,
all we have ever been,
all we will ever be, is made of
air.

Breathe in… breathe out… there’s magic in that — the stuff of life
ingested from invisibility, the building
blocks of flesh and bone
loved
into the palpable. Breathe in… breathe out… there’s magic in that.

They call it “stepping down”, that chain of commands
from saint
to teacher
to student
to life,
the pulling out of the atmosphere those invisible lessons that should make us brave
and noble
and good
and kind, those traits all too rare that should make us
much more than animals and a little less
than angels,
traits
that are rarely measured, except
by the good wishes and good-bye parties and the sorrows of those left behind,
whether by job transfer
or dropped-body passing… all of us along the way
hoping
that life will give to student,
who will tell teacher,
who will show saint,
that this life dwelled among pulsing veins and moving fluids and the tyranny
of the anxious loveless and the rise and fall
of wishfully
affectionate ways amongst onetime strangers
is one of those things
that truly matter,
that really counts
for something.

How do we number the ways that we fall — for things, for people, for ideas, for all those qualities
we crave? In falling,
we rise —
to the ethers,
to the upper, purer air above us,
to the celestial realms that have meaning for us now
only in shadow
and unenunciated veneration for ritual and symbol that,
no longer in style, molder
among winsome monks and devoted nuns of every ilk. All of it,
again,
is made of air,
ether,
that stuff that the ancients had full faith was the root of their existence, folding
over into their tolerance for mystery, much higher
than ours… their need of it,
their trust in it, exceeding the capacity of modern logic.

We want,
we want,
how we want,
how much we want. Putting
our fingers on what it is we really desire
for ourselves, is no more easy
than counting motes of dust aloft in a sunbeam, and half the time
we kid others
into thinking we want it for them, when truth
mumbles
something
less noble, less
easily justified and quantified, but far
closer to bone and flesh and pulsing fluid than slips comfortably past our lips.

The ancients trusted
our guts — they said what we are
too cowardly to admit — that
all we are,
all we have ever been,
all we will ever be, is made of
air.

Breathe in… breathe out… there’s magic in that.

 

1998

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Waking up to something better… picking up where I left off

morning fog over a pondI love when this happens. I woke up this morning with the solution to the sticky problem I’ve been having with a manuscript I’d all but given up on.

I started a novel back in 2015. This was for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) during that November. And I was making good progress with what I felt was a really interesting storyline. It’s basically the tale of a woman who meet one of her college friends after 30 years of almost no contact, and notices some striking difference in the way she behaves and interacts with everybody around her. It’s about how we connect (ha – no surprises there) and how we perceive others (and ourselves), when we learn new things about them.

Of course, I had to throw in some technology too… so the main character is one of the founders of a startup that’s struggling to finalize it working proof of concept for investors.  There’s tension there, too — generational tension, programming languages conflict, even a bit of Emacs vs. Vi contention. How could I resist? 😉

Anyway, I was making really good progress with manuscript some four years ago, and I was sure I was going to be able to get it done by the end of November.

But, of course, life had other ideas, and I ended up getting stalled during the last third of the book. Actually, it wasn’t just life that stalled me, it was the technology piece that I was writing about. At the time, I felt like I had a pretty good handle on the company’s fictional approach. I thought I understood the underlying issues the company was aiming to solve. But the more I got into it, the more I realized I didn’t know. And the less confident I felt writing about that whole piece of it.

It wasn’t something I could fake, without undermining the whole premise of the book.

It’s tricky, right? If you’re going to write about something, you’d better know more than a thing or two about it. You can’t write a novel about dogs if you really aren’t familiar with canine characteristics, behaviors, and all the things that make dogs… dogs. Likewise, you can’t really write about technology if you don’t understand it, especially if you’re writing about a company that’s developing an innovative product that’s going to solve a sticky problem for an entire industry.

That derailed me pretty well, so I tucked the manuscript and my notes into a couple of manila folders and put them on a book shelf where I wouldn’t lose sight of them, but they wouldn’t get in my way. Every now and then, I’d look over at the shelf with a sense of longing… and then get back to what I was doing.

But this morning when I woke up, I found a way through. I realized I could write much better about a completely different type of technology that’s much more familiar to me, and which I really do know inside and out. I understand the ins and outs, the persistent issues, as well as the opportunities a better solution would provide. Heck, I even built a similar solution over 10 years ago, when I was noodling around with some ideas I had.

So now I can take a step back, rewrite the technical pieces, and really flesh out that part of the story in a much more satisfying manner.

The main thing is that I do justice to the story, as well as readers. The last thing I want to do is insult anybody‘s intelligence, and I also don’t want to overreach if I don’t know what I’m talking about it. Some people can fake it, but I’m a terrible liar, and anyway, I’d just as soon write about something I’m intimately familiar with.

So, now I can go back to work on my novel. I’m probably a lot closer to finishing it than I think I am.

We shall see.

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Brought together from a distance

Beloved Distance

setting eclipse moon near a small mountain The setting eclipse near Mount Wachusett

One of the amazing things about distance is how it can really bring us together.

Watching the full blood blue super moon eclipse yesterday morning, and then watching rise that same moon rise last evening, I was struck by how that shared experience connected like-minded people — all because of distance.

Yesterday morning, my partner and I watched the moon as it sank in the west, as the upper left-hand side was gradually obscured by the earth’s shadow. We hadn’t realized that the moon would be setting at just same time when the eclipse was at it’s peak and the moon turned red. But as we watched it sink towards the horizon, trees hiding its descent, we realized if we didn’t do something, we were going to miss the full drama of the eclipse.

We were both still in our pajamas, and it wasn’t…

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