Under an infinite night sky,
with nothing to grasp in one’s hands,
the mind still seizes its fair share.
But the test of whether one can
grab onto something new is whether
you can let go of the old.
The voiceless voices make it wicked.
I’m surrounded by a dense thicket.
I hear what’s not there — seeing naught.
I catch, I think, just one snippet…
Oh why would woods say such a thing?
I feel it like a toxic sting.
Be still, that beating in my chest.
The bile, in throat, is now rising.
I only sought a forest bath,
but incurred this old forest’s wrath.
Oh, what have I interrupted,
while trodding down this ill-worn path?
People were too high on pseudo-vindication to mourn the death of journalism. Each day they got a tsunami of information and information-like content that confirmed the world was as they believed (and wanted) it to be.
No matter where one fell on the political spectrum, one could find a site that would ensure that not a single wrinkle of cognitive dissonance would ever befoul one’s brow. Uncomfortable and inconvenient facts were weeded by roving teams of hourly workers.
One might think being a merchant of misinformation would be easy work, having no concerns about factuality. Verification — at most — required a positive focus-group score, rather than time-consuming and often unfruitful research.
But, the shear volume of keeping people hip-deep in content required off-shoring to destinations where one’s readers’ heroes and villains were often unknown. It was hard for the meme-makers in Moscow and Manila to keep square who pleased which Americans. How could the cubicle-dwellers construct appropriate quotes to attach to pictures if they weren’t sure if that person was on the naughty or nice list. Heaven forbid a staffer mislabel a photo — putting it in the “loved” and not the “loathed” folder. Worse yet, what if an actual quote from the pictured person was attached? Talk about egg on the face.
Headline: Meme-Maker Mistakes Condoleeza Rice and Maxine Waters, Human Head Explodes
[Fortunately, the explosion was captured on video and will make a sweet meme.]
In the past, archaeologists had few fragments with which to reconstruct dead civilizations. After the Infocalypse, the archaeologists will be in an ocean of information, thirsting for a fact.
I’ve seen these fleeting glimpses of the world.
They dissolve — memories of dream soon lost,
and leave me longing to see raw, rich truths —
the craving lies — a deep itch in the mind.
The ghost of cosmos future threatens me.
It shows me worlds with all the wrongs righted,
and asks if I’d push a button of change,
and feel my suffering grow in exchange.
And would I walk a road paved in torment,
if the tormented souls were thus made free?
I know not whether I’ve such heroic bones
to take that change and pay the entry fee.
Is virtue stuff from which heavens are made,
or is it yet another kind of dream.
a slanting rain,
pounds the ground
with these mean rains,
my invite to outdoors
has been revoked
its flipside is dry grass –
yin to its yang
on the fringe of fungus
drip in due time
the sky – such as it is – a claustrophobic ceiling, clinging to the tops of tall bridges and buildings.
Nor will you find those Blues in the rain-swollen bodies of water —
bodies of water, murky in the absence of penetrating rays and churned with flood detritus.
Walls and billboards, painted blue, will be inflected [perhaps, infected] with gray — the gray that permeates all.
Don’t look for the Monsoon Blues, they’ll find you.
I tracked one once across a snowy heath,
and when the winds did shift, it caught my scent.
It could’ve wheeled about, baring claws and teeth,
but it had a sniff and moved on – content.
Did I dare stalk the beast any further?
Was I being led into an ambush?
Did it seek concealment for my murder?
And then the break — a gasping air inrush
A sudden realization, I’d been duped,
and was pursuing myself in a loop.
This collection consists of one hundred poems crafted to emulate the spirit of Sappho’s work. For those unfamiliar with Sappho, she was a poetess of ancient Greece who was well-regarded and influential, particularly for her lyric poetry. (And this was “lyric poetry” in the original meaning of that term – i.e. meant to be musically accompanied by a lyre – as opposed to the contemporary meaning [short, emotionally evocative poems often metered to produce a musical quality.])
Emulating Sappho is harder than it seems because the vast majority of her poetry has been lost, and only about 650 lines of poems and fragments survive today [out of what was believed to be more than 10,000 lines.] In fact, little is known about Sappho as a person today either, and – like the name of her home island, Lesbos, – her name has largely been reduced to shorthand for female homosexual relationships.
The one hundred poems are all structured verse, though of a wide variety of line, stanza, and poem length. The subjects include: sensuality, love, nature, and Greek Mythology. Much of the poetry is reminiscent of imagism, poetry that heavily emphasizes visual depictions of scenes and events in clear and vivid language. Imagism’s heyday actually came later than this collection, and it’s been suggested that Carman’s work was influential in the movement.
Whether you have an interest in ancient Greek literature or not, this collection is worth reading. The poems are crisp and well-composed, and — given the centrality of imagery – they aren’t hard to follow. That said, if one knows a little about Greek Mythology some of the references to deities and mythological events will be more deeply understood.
Originally published in 1904, the collection is in the public domain, and is readily available at little or no cost.