Poem Therapy: 11 September 2012

2a abstract feulingartstudio

Poetry is our first language. Poetry has the longest memory.

Andrew Motion

he voices live which are the voices lost:
we hear them and we answer, or we try,
but words are nervous when you need them most
and shatter, stop or dully slide away

so everything they mean to summon up
is always just too far, just out of reach,
unless our memories give time the slip
and learn the lessons that heart-wisdoms teach

of how in grief we find a way to keep
the dead beside us as our time goes on -
invisible and silent, but the deep
foundations of ourselves, our corner-stone

Sunday Morning
Lucille Clifton

for Bailey

the st. marys river flows
as if nothing has happened

i watch it with my coffee
afraid and sad as are we all

so many ones to hate and i
cursed with long memory

cursed with the desire to understand
have never been good at hating

now this new granddaughter
born into a violent world

as if nothing has happened
and i am consumed with love
for all of it

the everydayness of bravery
of hate of fear of tragedy

of death and birth and hope
true as this river

and especially with love
bailey fredrica clifton goin

for you

To the Words
W. S. Merwin

When it happens you are not there
oh you beyond numbers beyond recollection passed on from breath to breath given again from day to day from age to age charged with knowledge knowing nothing indifferent elders indispensable and sleepless keepers of our names before ever we came to be called by them you that were formed to begin with you that were cried out you that were spoken to begin with to say what could not be said ancient precious and helpless ones say it

History of the AirplaneLawrence Ferlinghetti

And the Wright brothers said they thought they had invented
something that could make peace on earth
(if the wrong brothers didn't get hold of it)
when their wonderful flying machine took off at Kitty Hawk
into the kingdom of birds but the parliament of birds was freaked out
by this man-made bird and fled to heaven

And then the famous Spirit of Saint Louis took off eastward and
flew across the Big Pond with Lindy at the controls in his leather
helmet and goggles hoping to sight the doves of peace but he did not
Even though he circled Versailles

And then the famous Yankee Clipper took off in the opposite
direction and flew across the terrific Pacific but the pacific doves
were frighted by this strange amphibious bird and hid in the orient sky

And then the famous Flying Fortress took off bristling with guns
and testosterone to make the world safe for peace and capitalism
but the birds of peace were nowhere to be found before or after Hiroshima

And so then clever men built bigger and faster flying machines and
these great man-made birds with jet plumage flew higher than any
real birds and seemed about to fly into the sun and melt their wings
and like Icarus crash to earth

And the Wright brothers were long forgotten in the high-flying
bombers that now began to visit their blessings on various Third
Worlds all the while claiming they were searching for doves of

And they kept flying and flying until they flew right into the 21st
century and then one fine day a Third World struck back and
stormed the great planes and flew them straight into the beating
heart of Skyscraper America where there were no aviaries and no
parliaments of doves and in a blinding flash America became a part
of the scorched earth of the world

And a wind of ashes blows across the land
And for one long moment in eternity
There is chaos and despair

And buried loves and voices
Cries and whispers
Fill the air

The Entry of Osam bin Laden into Paradise
Max Speed

Imagine that it exists, and that he travels there-
The bright warrior star-the meteor
Climbing forever up a rainbow reputation.

At his hands, at his feet are angels one-five at angels one-five.

Their singing unravels death's mysteries and its stillness,
Causes the dead to wake, to swarm like bees
Outnumbering all the living.

Their waking voices gasp and echo in Heaven's pyramid hives.
Some spill into its cavernous, rumouring streets,
Death's if-onlys and its might-have-beens.

Some, the more restless dead, sit astride Heaven's
Terra cotta rooftops, its Chinese warrior horses.

They stare upwards at Heaven's runway,
Unrolling like a famous tongue to meet him

From Sirius to Polaris, their hands sway like anemones
On coral reefs. They lift their children so he can see them:

So many dead
So many dead.

C.K. Williams

I keep rereading an article I found recently about how Mayan scribes, who also were historians, polemicists, and probably poets as well, when their side lost a war—not a rare occurrence, apparently, there having been a number of belligerent kingdoms constantly struggling for supremacy—would be disgraced and tortured, their fingers broken and the nails torn out, and then be sacrificed. Poor things—the reproduction from a glyph shows three: one sprawls in slack despair, gingerly cradling his left hand with his right, another gazes at his injuries with furious incomprehension, while the last lifts his mutilated fingers to the conquering warriors as though to elicit compassion for what's been done to him: they, elaborately armored, glowering at one another, don't bother to look.

II Like bomber pilots in our day, one might think, with their radar and their infallible infrared, who soar, unheard, unseen, over generalized, digital targets that mystically ignite, billowing out from vaporized cores. Or like the Greek and Trojan gods, when they'd tire of their creatures, "flesh ripped by the ruthless bronze," and wander off, or like the god we think of as ours, who found mouths to speak for him, then left. They fought until nothing remained but rock and dust and shattered bone, Troy's walls a waste, the stupendous Meso-American cities abandoned to devouring jungle, tumbling on themselves like children's blocks. And we, alone again under an oblivious sky, were quick to learn how our best construals of divinity, our "Do unto, Love, Don't kill," could be easily garbled to canticles of vengeance and battle prayers.

III Fall's first freshness, strange: the seasons' ceaseless wheel, starlings starting south, the leaves annealing, ready to release, yet still those columns of nothingness rise from their own ruins, their twisted carcasses of steel and ash still fume, and still, one by one, tacked up by hopeful lovers, husbands, wives, on walls, in hospitals, the absent faces wait, already tattering, fading, going out. These things that happen in the particle of time we have to be alive, these violations which almost more than any altar, ark, or mosque embody sanctity by enacting so precisely sanctity's desecration. These broken voices of bereavement asking of us what isn't to be given. These suddenly smudged images of consonance and peace. These fearful burdens to be borne, complicity, contrition, grief.

Invitation to Ground Zero
Into the smouldering ruin now go down:
And walk where once she walked and breathe the air
She breathed that final day on the burning stair
And follow her, beyond the fleeing crowds,
Into the fire, and through the climbing clouds.

Into the smouldering ruin now go down:
And find, in ashes bright as hammered tin,
A buried bone-white naked mannikin
That flung from some shop window serves to bind
Her body, and its beauty, to your mind.

For You
Jessica Greenbaum

Of course there is a jackhammer. And a view, like Hopper,
but happier. Of course there is the newspaper—the daily
herald of our powerlessness. Easy go, easy come: thwash,
the next day another, an example of everything that gets done
in the dark. Like the initiative of the crocuses from a snow
that was, as it works out, warming them. Or in this case,
the strange October weather warming them. There were the
conclusions we jumped to. To which we jumped. There was
pain, and then there was suffering. Of course there was my
ambition to offer you the world, but one that I have rearranged
to make sense. Here are all the sensations of being alive
at the turn of the twenty-first century, here’s how they ring out
against each other, here’s how one brings out the sense of
another, here is the yellow next to the fathomless blue.

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