The funny dread

The beast, it takes its fill.
Mother frowns and shakes her till.

And...

there the mites are a'mourning.
Trembling few,
ensconced in warning.

The funny dread of complicit rage
be the muted distress 
of every age.

And we,
you and me all the while
bear benefit and burden
with lacquered smile.

As for those who fight
we may wonder on their lives:
if their struggle be a light?
Or but a flippant lie?

Irrational Stasis

The covenant of men:
see as, say nothing.

Then here we are,
the fruitless multipliers of
the irrational stasis.
Wedded once and forever 
to each other and the
notions of our weaker selves.

Who called for prostration amongst these glorious beasts?
Who but ourselves could form the will to surrender?

Terror of the tawdry

I wrote this poem after reading this excellent post.  I’m often mortified by the casual disrespect that men engage in vis-a-vis women, and to my mind, every man is responsible for ending such actions.  That anyone would be forced to “erect defenses” for merely living their lives is an absurd notion.  Let’s relieve a little human suffering by engaging those of the opposite sex with the same respect we ask for ourselves.  If we create a vibrant enough echo perhaps the madness will stop.

The petty
and their predations
can,
therefore, they will.
It's that 
subtle shift
of power
to force a 
nervous target still.
What right
have they
that press
to pronounce an
ill intention?
Drown them all
in a vibrant echo,
and through 
the flood 
erect defenses.

Light of burdens

Living in the light of burdens
astride the great heavy dull.
Wherein masks diverged from
faces plant themselves in
history's embrace.  
And sing-song nature's revel 
in the deep and wide of the world;
it spewing fodder for men
of the fullest persuasion.
Light me amid these dark moments
that I might know fear and,
in so doing, feel the pain of
finitude that is every person's
fate to feel.

Death Rattle

Among the evolving
there's a devolution.
There is a siren
wailing the savage
song of loss.
A wave of tension,
that as it strikes 
the shore of progress,
emits its high, holy
death rattle.

And oppositional forces,
motivated but unaware
that malignant aspirations
reside in futility,
suffer the universal 
tendency toward disorder
as it stands firmly
in opposition of their oppression.

In these final stages,
when the thrash and temper
of humankind reveals itself
in part so ugly, so cold.
Then does the tightening
grip of mortis set in
begging for the decisive blow.

The succor they seek,
the fruit and fallout
of their belligerent designs,
can know no forever,
no perpetual peace.

And like all death throes
before them,
cling as they might,
they will leave behind naught
but the high, holy
death rattle. 

Martyrs of the faith

I suppose I should have added a note to this piece since it is ripe for misinterpretation.  It is not, dear friends, a lamentation of the effects of life/society upon the religious.  Rather, it is a lamentation of the effects of religion on all the rest.  Here, “faith,” is a reference to those who continue to strive for the greater good, not because it is a decree from on high, but because it is the worthy aim of their lives.  Religion has so permeated the highest levels of power in the United States and abroad that I would find it difficult to write a lament over its having lost anything (other than sight of its stated aim).

All that said, let me assure anyone reading this that people of all faiths, political persuasions and identities are welcome (encouraged actually) to read and discuss my writing.  I look forward to spirited commentary everyday and would be hypocritical if I didn’t explore various viewpoints.

One sad and slow
for the martyrs of
the faith,
us all.

A retread
of the trodden,
where wisdom
whistles its
low longing.

And the good
are forced
into order
with a march
maiming 
all their deeds.

They step too.
They step over.
They step on.

The martyrs of
the faith
are we.

Weight of the prolonged

Under the weight
of the prolonged
rests the peaceful
disintegration
of a name.

			What is your hope?

It is feeling,
oozing past reality
to where experience
suffers spasmodic fits.

It is the long 
and sullen
attaining 
critical mass.

(The belief that)
with a push from
the other side,
the anguish disperses
and comes relief.

Maybe this is 
where you find
it.
In the remembering.
In the soothing.

To mean,
to suffer --
sister soldiers
of internal discourse.
To verily believe
the unbelievable.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784)

Phillis Wheatley holds the distinction of being the first published female African poet in the American colonies.  Her story is a dizzying tale of enslavement, achievement and the unpredictable nature of life and talent.

It’s nearly impossible to do her justice in poetic form.  While her life seems a lesson in the righteous power of the human spirit, her story is rife with irony, which makes it exceedingly difficult to honor.

Though born in West Africa, (either Senegal or Gambia) she was kidnapped, transported to the colonies and sold into slavery at 8 years old.  By all accounts she was treated *kind* and given an education well beyond what most men and women (white or otherwise) received at the time.  While developing her talents she embraced Christian dogma and the societal conditioning of colonial life, going so far as to decry the “pagan” nature of her homeland.

Her major work, Poems of Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), was published prior to both the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the commencement of the Revolutionary War, putting her at the vanguard of a movement of independence that would offer no immediate relief to those in her position.  She corresponded with George Washington at the start of the Revolution (he rather obnoxiously referred to himself as her ‘obedient humble servant’) and was remarked upon by Voltaire in European literary circles.

Wheatley eventually tasted freedom upon the death of her master after which she married a free black northerner.  The couple had three children in all, two of which predeceased her, the third died only a few short hours after Wheatley herself, in 1784.  Unfortunately, her husband had not the ability nor financial wherewithal to grieve her properly.  At the time of her death at age 31, he was serving out a sentence in debtor’s prison.

I wrote the piece below in an effort to explore Wheatley’s life with its many tragedies and triumphs.  I don’t pretend the piece is fully reflective of the woman — no one poem can ever do justice do someone whose life was so complex and so curious.  I do hope, however, that the work serves as an homage to her many struggles and successes and brings to light some of the complexities of a woman history all too often neglects.

**Author’s apology — please excuse the .jpg formatting of the poem.  Due to its length and style I found myself unable to post it directly in my blog.  Hopefully the image form will not dissuade otherwise curious readers.  I believe the read is worth it.

phillis-wheatleyphillis-wheatley_001phillis-wheatley_002phillis-wheatley_003

 

Shadow world

Heartbeats and shadows
patter, beating out the cadence
of the ancient lover's cry.
	
		Tense is the refrain
		secret endearments claim,
		a melting of resolve
		does not such deceit absolve.

Were all our failings so,
better that we might perceive
enchantments and phantoms.

		Oh! The tacit consent
		of sweet and innocent,
		erectors of sturdy lore
		set to avert the bore.

And then when uncovered,
pitiful in undulations, 
left to strip a quiet thrill.

		The last of those to feel
		may know of shadows real,
		such as is plain
		for lovers without name.

For TJ, for myself

That I may remember the man and the moment

during sunny-side soon-eves,
we stood thoughtful, wondering:
are there waders in the offing?

with blasted hollow tethers 
beneath us sounding depths.
and rickety planks, the boundless energy 
fusing one in to the other,
over and above a customary step.

"I've a mind to dive!"
and set self-sinking in the sludge
to wrest from this paralytic 
a darkened grip fathoms below
the surface plain.

Cheapened talk then, hearty to me now,
but arresting a bold effort.
Here lies a preface to a promise:
reclamation of that tether.

Time was time did not matter;
only the attempt,
to attempt anything was a living proof.

With dynamism, accoutrements,
and slipping awkwardly beneath the still;
all weight shifting,
cask like,
then pushing and probing a wasteland.

Mine eyes were weak there.
That trait so roundly prized
owed nothing from the deep
and so, received nothing just.

Cutting through surface slop,
wrapped in film,
a grin resting familiarly with
the ferocity of youthful error.

Failure?  But a moment.
Success as well,
and a bond formed fit and deep
worked its way inside.