Bardo Mind [Free Verse]

lost in a disembodied
Bardo state

fantastical happenings
mainlined into consciousness

with a side of swirling 

and all the angry demons

and all the faceless gods

churn around the periphery

The War Mangled [Free Verse]

I heard the dead children,
their voices lilting on the wind.

The war-torn twice born
came crawling in under the wire,
bloody and shell-shocked,
but among the living, 

but the rest floated away:
their words
becoming both milder 
& more raucous,
never fully drowned out by
bombs or crossfire chaos.

Suicide Slide [Free Verse]

One burning moment --
taffy-stretched to the edge of reason:

stretched so broadly that one 
can't fathom escape -
like Monkey on the Buddha's palm

One burning idea --
cloned, and then carved
to make infinite variants,
and painted infinite shades:
the dark tone of each
darker than the last

Burning ideas populating
the vast expanse of a
burning moment,
until the urge to escape
insists that one carve a hatch 
into living tissue

But what is it that does
the stretching of the burning moment
the cloning of the burning idea?

Can't that stretcher and cloner
 be wound back,
scaling all to proper proportions?

And can't it be done before 
that terminal instant 
is carved in jagged stone?

Midnight Circus [Free Verse]

The Midnight Circus
was not as it seemed.

It was bright colors:

It was the tinny monotony 
of music box-style 
tinkling tunes
organ tones.

One could even make
out the scent of fried foods
and cotton candy,
among the many other

But there was also the story
a mind wrote to
dance sensory facts 
into sensory fictions;
that was where the falsity lie.

If one opened one's eyes,
letting them focus:
there'd be sparking wires,
 flames licking ever closer.

The shrill organ tones would 
become screams.

The summer night's 
humid heat would become 
third degree burns.

The circus smells would
become dust and death 
and acrid burnt combustibles.

So, he didn't open his eyes
to war or his impending demise,
but let his mind march
into that big musty, canvas tent,
surrendering to its irreality.

DAILY PHOTO: Mausoleums, Atlanta

Taken in November of 2021 in Oakland Cemetery, Atlanta
Taken in Westview Cemetery of Atlanta, November 2019
Oakland Cemetery

Cemetery Walk [Free Verse]

And in the end,
the dead are still
and the graveyard's quiet
is not so bad.

The monuments weather;
in due time,
letters become less crisp
dates become debatable.

A clean read means
there maybe someone 
left to mourn.

And fresh flowers mean that someone
has tracked their melancholy 
through the place,
and the air feels heavier,
and my mind feels heavier.

And I read names:
familiar & not,
popular & not.

I read names to distract me
from thoughts of my own dead --
to avoid tracking my own melancholy
through the place.

For, you see,
I've brought no flowers.

Jacob’s Ladder [Free Verse]

I'm dripping into midnight --
my world has disappeared.

My eyes crack to light and life,
but I forgot to hear --
the silence is broken 
& I hear a rhythmic clack.

But I can't help but wonder,
where it is that I'm at?

I'm at the bottom of a wooden staircase,
too steep to be sound,
looking up until perspective
makes the case vanishingly thin.

Should I climb the staircase?

What else can I do?

Will I wake
half way up,
and find myself
in the blue?

The laws of dreams force my hand,
I can't stand paralyzed,
and I'm halfway to infinity
by means that I know not. 

And I'm thinking of the line from that 
children's prayer:
"If I should die before I 'wake,"
and I think:

"What the hell is wrong with parents?"
that's the thought upon which you're going
to leave with your child
to "go to sleep?"

And you're wondering why the 
kid is up all night?

Because dying in one's sleep
doesn't start to seem
like a fine prospect
until one is an octogenarian. 

And so I sleep...

Quick to Dead [Couplets]

I gasp in my last minute living loud,
I'd dreamt of being carried on a cloud.
My body 's too heavy, my mind too light,
and nothing remains once I'm failed by sight.

Just a pile of death stacked before the door,
as carrion feeders squawk out for more.

In eternal darkness, that endless void,
I was once created, & now once destroyed. 

BOOK REVIEW: Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke [Trans. Vita & Edward Sackville-West]

Duino ElegiesDuino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars Page

Out: February 22, 2022 [In some markets it may be out already.]

This is a reissue of the original English translation of Rilke’s elegies composed on the karst cliffs of northeast Italy in the early 1920’s. The book consists of ten medium-length, angel-laden elegiac poems. [Yes, dude was just that into angels.] The translator’s notes are posted as an epilogue and the volume has a new preface. It should be noted that the translators suggest one think of it as one long elegy in ten parts.

I’m far from qualified to comment on the skill of translation from the perspective of how well it catches the meaning and nuance of the original poems. However, the Sackville-Wests’ words are evocative and impactful in their own right, and I enjoyed and was moved by this collection of poems. [In their notes, the translators say they decided it was most productive to try to artfully paraphrase rather than getting too caught up in strict literal translation.] I’d highly recommend this book for poetry readers.

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