Wednesday, June 19, 2013
In the apple orchard's clear, octagonal well,
The hero reveals the Gorgon's head to his prize.
He's killed the sea serpent before it ate her nude
Beauty her frightened father had offered to sell
To appease a god angered by arrogant lies.
But why show his bride-to-be what's vicious and lewd?
Medusa made man or woman adulterers.
Enchanted by her shameless, urgent moans,
Her mad green eyes and wild, seductive leers,
Their surging blood turned them to stone.
(They died dreaming of her enchanted caresses,
Not because they abhorred her serpentine tresses.)
Perseus seems eager for her to see the head --
A pledge of fidelity, or to inspire dread?
Thursday, June 13, 2013
I have seen shadows outrun the sunrise,
Moving faster than the speed of moonlight,
Just as our blinking can outrun our sight,
(Eyelids being the shadows of our eyes).
I have seen the shadows lengthen the day,
Stretch out a minute into two or three,
Or hide an hour like a bird in a tree;
Asleep at dusk, the hour dreams away.
I have seen a shadow's hands on the clock,
Its skull aloof, indifferent to time;
Not so those hands, forcing the clock to chime,
Whipping the tic along faster than toc.
I have seen my shadow run without me,
A fleeing murderer of memory.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
For the Victims of the Belvidere Tornado, 4/21/1967
When Hercules tore the horn from the river god
Before the harvest could be washed away,
The cornucopia -- benign tornado -- spilled
Its yield of grain, gourd, and fruit as the cloud
Of Achelous's rage began to twist and sway.
The next day twenty-four farmers were killed.
The funnel's path, cut by the bull's remaining horn,
Left nothing but the uprooted, scattered, and torn.
They say the sun died and the sky turned green,
That the god's roar was a detonation of spleen.
Hercules was never seen in those parts again.
Did he run or was he ground into human grain?
The one-horned bull rages on, rivers overflow.
No hero's left to rip from him the tornado.
Note: The victims of the Belvidere tragedy were not farmers,
but mostly town residents, thirteen of them children; but,
for the purpose of the poem, which is based on mythology,
"farmers" was more consistent. Click and hold on the image
to see Benton's remarkable mural in greater detail.
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Am I what I think more than what I see?
An obvious thought and pernicious truth,
It seems; thus, we have made a mess of things.
A broken tree is just a shattered knee.
The logic of zealots, rampaging youth --
The loner's automatic weapon sings.
The smaller trees surround the fallen trunk
Like children appalled by their father drunk.
We teach them to love our wide-eyed blindness,
To rationalize even one's kindness.
The painter's tree is no truer than mine.
We see the same, sad ending of a life.
But all of his splintering is a sign
Of unnatural and murderous strife.
If a tree falls in the forest....the old saw goes.
That cliche has become the source of all we know --
The answer being the answer is no answer.
Our consciousness is a kind of benign cancer,
Creating forests by invading their silence;
By dying we wreak universal violence.
Consider the wreckage where each tree broke apart,
The sundering of sinew, the breakage of bone,
The surrendering of structure to mere air, blown,
By what, all in the creation of works of art.
To see, to think, to know, to make, and then unmake.
To discover, to climb and fall, and then to break.
The happiest man revels in uncertainty.
We are the tree-makers or we are the tree.
Friday, May 24, 2013
What if the universe is an illustration,
Matta seems to say, just our assembly
Of images, some structured, and others,
Colors bleeding, a crystal seeking formation,
Ideas spinning with empty possibility,
Something the end of consciousness smothers?
A pilot, when the moon is full, will say,
"What a nice night for flying," but in space
Every moment is the same starlit day,
Or is it, without pilots, or the human race?
We strain to create boxes, not a shape
Found much in nature, only to escape
The elements, and that is how we think --
Though even boxes vanish when we blink.
Note: Loosely translated, the title means,
“How a consciousness is made universe (maybe)”
Thursday, May 16, 2013
this moment this moment this moment this moment
Dragons on graph paper and images of beasts
March to assembly, an army at war within.
A propped mirror is the instant when time is rent,
What's done from what's about to be released,
That instant we neither recall nor contemplate a sin,
(The mirror internally, eternally lit),
Since we're in the act of committing it.
We are those silver, faceless, and unmoving orbs,
Who, before and after, our reflection absorbs,
While the dragons, a danger, but oblivious,
Circle us endlessly, meshing, silent terrors,
The jailers of the placid, dim, and unconscious.
the mirror mirrors the moment this moment mirrors
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
I lived in the shadow of Pikes Peak when a wind
Knocked a tall Ponderosa Pine onto our home.
I watched it cascade down and feared the roof would cave.
The wind blew all day like the words of a mad mind,
Or endless release of energy from a bomb.
A thousand trees went down into an open grave.
Beneath Mt. Fuji the wind, fitful, capricious,
Is believed to be a spirit, both mischievous
And, at certain times of the year, avaricious.
Unbidden and unlooked for, it suddenly gusts,
Making kites of hats and snow of poets' pages,
Stirring up despair like blown kisses fanning lusts;
Or, like a petulant child, it writhes and rages
At the cold, dry mound it has suckled for ages.