War Paint

Just saw on poets.org that Natasha Trethewey will be serving a second term as Poet Laureate! I am okay with this, because I am still not very familiar with her work, and now I will have more opportunity to become so while she is still in the spotlight. The blurb adds, “Trethewey will undertake a signature project: a regular feature on PBS NewsHour Poetry Series for which she will travel to cities and towns across the country meeting with the general public to seek out the many ways poetry lives in American communities.” Pretty cool, says I. Maybe she’ll come visit New York and I can meet her this time without getting all tongue-tied.

Meanwhile, a poem. I’ve been trying to write more and more not to prompts, instead drawing on random happenings around town, random memories and thoughts/dreams I haven’t cannibalized properly yet for material, other works stumbled across, and experiments with sound and structure. So this one was part memory, part meditation on childhood, I guess. I tried to be as deft with the subject and my opinions of it as I could, but I don’t think you have to dig very deep to unpack the full idea of it. If you have any problems, um, let me know?

War Paint

First graders under the lone mulberry tree
take up the purple berries and crush them
between thumb and forefinger, smearing pulp
beneath each eye. Cowboys and Indians,
today. These boys hollering flecked with dirt,
their women in the root-hollow, rolling pebbles
into the centers of muddy spheres.

The blacktop with its fragments of glass
stained pinkish with the sorry shit of sparrows
singing in the mulberry becomes a mesa
which becomes a battlefield. Both sides charge
and collide. Missiles exchanged.
Black and purple berries and the red clay mud
pound back and forth, while the voices reach
that child’s pitch part laugh, part scream,
and rattle the chain-link fence.

After the skirmish, their women tend wounds
with spit and mulberry leaves. Some things
are learned too late; only old medicine will do
for now. The teacher blows her whistle.
And the fathers will remember their own wars
and shudder at the same old machinery.
And the mothers will say, well, they’re just
children. Yes, they’re only children.

The Refinery: joseph harker(??)

Tomorrow evening the vacation begins! It is much needed, and I am hoping that it will be the appropriate balance of relaxing and productive. Donna is doing a summer residency, and I thought, I wish I could do one of those too; but then I took a page from Peter Murphy‘s book and thought, I’ll do a retreat on my own time. A writing staycation, if you will. So, it’s down to the homestead for several days, and I’m committing myself to writing time each day. Then back up to NYC for the last evening of poetry workshop on Monday. I had kicked around spending next week in Canada or New England, but the logistics ran away from me, so I think I’ll stick to the Hudson Valley if I go anywhere at all. Perhaps some city exploration and finding new venues to write will do some good for the old muse as well.

But meanwhile, I’m doing the thing I’ve threatened to do for a while, and carving myself up on the Refinery altar. I do want to spend some time editing and revising some older pieces, so I ought to get in the habit of doing it. Workshop is nice because it’s an opportunity to hear feedback on the poems you know aren’t quite right yet, but can’t put your finger on what the problem is. (I don’t habitually bring poems that I know are terrible, out of embarrassment, nor the ones that I love, for fear that they are actually terrible, too.) When you have those middle-of-the-road poems, particularly the ones that grow out of prompts, I think workshop is good practice for external critique, and a lot of the strategies people use in them can be adapted for internal as well. This one that I’m going to tear apart is one that I put down a couple weeks ago with the hunch I’d use it for this purpose, so it may look familiar:

“Heart’s Thaw”

After such a long time heartsick,
to see the birds’ northward line
and the archery of homecoming–
from the bone to the flesh grown thick
moans a green sound, the rhyme
of the body with the sky hums
vowel on drowned vowel– the signs
meaning spring and rain running
will fill each part and cavity– the sun
paints bird backs as a flame the wick,
gravity claims their upward climb–
and the flock tacks right, lowly divine
with the sleepless heart caught undone
in its wake– knotted by the quick
turn, by the art of so many dimensions
and leaves who burn with becoming.

I’m going to break from usual Refinery practice and not introduce the author because it’s, you know, me. And because it’s me, I can flesh out some of the rationale and resistance a bit more thoroughly. But otherwise, what’s bothering me about this poem is:
– In workshop, we often talk about the cry of the occasion as an essential ingredient for a poem, that is, the event/thought/image that demands a poem be sculpted around it. And I tend to get Socratic when I look for that cry, continually building question on question: why did I choose to write about this? But is it really worth writing about? Is there some element I can nail down as the compelling part? Is it really compelling? Why? And so on. I know that this was done to a WWP prompt, asking for a “body-soul Zen moment”, but the danger of prompts is that it’s a forced choice. The event in question here is seeing a flock of birds returning in the spring; is it compelling? Am I looking for something deeper than what’s there? This isn’t to say that simple observational poetry, nature poems, or basic emotional poems don’t have the value of others and shouldn’t be written, but there ought to be something damn compelling to make them pop. I’m not convincing myself that this momentary event, which (to be honest) didn’t actually impact me enough to be called a body-soul Zen moment, so the poem feels a little bit fake and lacking in depth.
– But part of that good be chalked up to the prompt itself. Remember: prompts can be cages as much as they can be foundations, and it’s good to break free of them if the poem demands it. I think I did toss aside some elements of the prompt — it was part of a longer series that I haven’t been taking part in — but not enough. If you’re going to let the poem spread its wings enough to cast off whatever prompt-egg it came from, you have to flap them hard to get those little bits of eggshell off. In workshop, we also talk about the second subject of the poem, where you have the other “what is the poem about” underneath the surface interpretation. I think that I got caught up in trying to create this mood around a one-dimensional image, and though I wanted to dig a little bit deeper, I didn’t do enough work in that regard to give the poem depth. (I was also distracted by other elements, though, which I’ll get to.) Not to toot my own horn, but this is another reason I try to give multi-faceted prompts: they force the mind to do more than one level of work, and give the poems richness. It’s a skill I’m still trying to master too, though I suspect it’s easier to be effortless about it.
– I think I was too cryptic at certain points, too. The title and the poem’s events may give some context to the emotional information in the poem, but there’s not a lot of reflection, just a raw sense of feeling X, Y, Z. Again, not to say that’s not a valuable impulse to share, but it wasn’t what I set out to write, and it feels clunky in the trappings I tried to place it in. Never leave the readers confused; tantalize, mystify, and entrance them, but don’t perplex them. How many people can honestly read the poem above and say they understood every single word and the work it was doing among the others? Because I can’t, so if you can, do fill me in!

That being said, there are some things that when I look at, I’m proud of:
– This was an image I’ve tried to get down for years without success. Although it may not be as profound as I make it out to be/felt I needed to portray, and though there’s not a lot of specifics given, I’m glad I finally wrote something about it. It was a day in spring when one of the trees outside my house was just completely chock-full of birds. They all rose at once at one point, and formed this flock that dipped and turned as one, hundreds of them, sounding like thunder. And there was nothing transformative or enlightening about it beyond the simple wonder of the power of nature. The challenge with writing about that in verse is to keep the core of the idea from being so cloaked in poetry’s devices that it gets lost.
– There really are a couple of phrases I’m really proud of, which were the genesis of the poem to begin with. I think the archery of homecoming came first, and looking back, I almost feel I wasted it on this poem; though after revising it, maybe it will become a more solid piece that I’ll be more comfortable with as a box for such phrases. And the rhyme of the body with the sky was another one I liked, though I must have re-written it twenty times trying to get the mouthfeel of it just right. The idea of tangible, primal things being vowels, and then the unexpected rhyme between them, was something that occurred to me and filled me with delight. Lastly, that knotted by the quick / turn, I knew it had to enjamb. That sudden curve of the flock was what I wanted to capture, though I’m not sure it worked out. Don’t get me wrong, there are other phrases that I think fell kind of flat, but I think those three I feel happy with.
– And of course I was trying to do kooky things with sound. In workshop, they call me a sound poet because, perhaps due to my linguistics background/day-job, I love experimenting with rhyme and meter, throwing lyrical flourishes in, creating nonce forms around internal sounds, etc. But as with all things, all poetry is a balancing act between what the poem needs and what you want the poem to have. The sound got in the way, probably, of a lot of explanation — or at least suggestion to, again, entice and entrance — that would have better served the lyric. Now, there are plenty of poems (e.e. cummings, anyone?) and songs (Sigur Ros, anyone?) that play with sound and language, and don’t concern themselves with much else, all well and good. For me, though, I like to keep that intentional, structured sonic richness in poems that have a heartbeat when I can, and it’s very delicate to get right. That being said, I do like the sounds in this one, too.

And the little nitpicks that make these Refineries so much fun:
– The middle of the poem is the weakest. I feel confident saying this.
– There seems to be some ego-deletion in the poem, on another read, which is surprising but not unwelcome.
Aunt Emily, with her hyphens and penchant for deleting function words, may have made too heavy a mark.
– I do think the poem is exactly the right length. Not too long, not too short. A haiku wouldn’t have done it justice, a sestina would have been interminable (as they often are, let’s admit).
– What was I thinking with the title? I can’t tell if it helps or harms.

Well, I have generated for myself at least some food for thought. And if the fact that I’m doing one of my own poems was too subtle a hint: send me poems! Email is best (linksfreude) (gmail) (com) (fill in the blanks), but links in the Comments box are always fine, too. If you don’t feel like sending one for revision, and would rather have a prompt, try this one on for size:

Choose a memory of yours based in sound, and write a list of beautiful, bizarre phrases to describe it: then pick your favorite. Examine the rhythm and sound of that phrase. Is it iambic, dactylic, trochaic, some mix of meters? Does it repeat consonants or vowels? Try to create some specific sound and meter rules for yourself and invent a nonce form just for this poem, based off that line. Describe the memory and what you learned from it, no more, no less; use at least one body part, one color, and no verbs with more than one syllable.

Complicated enough for you? I certainly hope so. ^_^

The Spider

And also, a poem. DVerse wanted a “bathroom poem”, however that is to be interpreted. So I rolled with the spider theme, having seen one in the bathroom the other day; but also, another attempt to exorcise this idea of the spider as the spirit animal. I think she’s a good shape for that analytical part of ourselves that (for poets in general, maybe) takes the tragedies of others and turns them into writing, which always strikes me as callous on top of whatever other value it has (instructive, cathartic, etc.) What is the psychosis of the writer that death leads to good writing about death? What is the animal shape of that part of the spirit which simply allows itself to mourn?

I think I was also trying to do subtle things with sound, but they were so subtle they disappeared. Womp womp.

The Spider

She stares eightfold from the showerhead
before continuing her web.
A grey body skirts along blue tile.
Barring water, the little deaths
will string their constellation to the windowsill.

It can be so easy to claim kinship,
confusing webs for words,
when the epilogue belongs to someone else.
The spider is the one who dangles from it.
She is just out of reach in the totem-dream,
harbored on the underside
of the cabinet, shaded by the shelf.

Some of her outdoor cousins
are long-lived too. You’ve seen them spin
between tree branches, webs well-built
as ten o’clock fog in early June,
those scraps too stubborn to melt.

reading: jane hirshfield, “nine gates”

Cripes, have I really been silent for a week? Sorry about that.

I am in a weird place today. First of all, I spent five hours in line starting at 7 this morning (which those of you who pay attention to my Twitter may have seen) waiting for Shakespeare in the Park tickets, successfully acquired; as a result, I am Really Very Tired. Then, because I had been away from the Web for almost 24 hours, I came back to find out that the mother of a friend passed away yesterday afternoon. And a few hours later, the child of two other friends was born. It was just strange to see that mix of extreme sorrow and joy while sleep deprived, I guess, but it constructed this weird place around me, so that’s that. I suppose there’s no better time to write a book review thing, is there?

I’ve made much ado about Jane Hirshfield‘s book Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry lately, and I’d like to share some thoughts about it. First, if you haven’t read Jane Hirshfield’s poetry, please do so; good places to start might be “This Was Once a Love Poem” and “Seawater Stiffens Cloth“. I’d hazard to say these are longer than typical pieces of hers, but they maintain her same sensibility that smacks strongly of traditional Japanese poetry, Taoist and Buddhist sensibility, a keen observational eye for nature and a gift for surprising metaphor. If you want to know how to do haiku or tanka in English “correctly”, Hirshfield, along with traditional luminaries like Sandburg, Snyder, and Williams, is an excellent resource, not only because of her poetic skills, but also because she is trained in Zen Buddhism, and is a prolific translator of Japanese poetry. (Nine Gates features several haiku that are nice to keep in your pocket.)

A brief anecdote: Hirshfield reminds me a little bit of my high school creative writing teacher: they have (in my opinion) similar features, are close in age, and share interests in both Zen and women’s poetry. (OK, so maybe the similarities end there.) Recently, I was chatting at dinner with that teacher (who is also a Life-Mentor for me) about Natalie Goldberg’s philosophical and imaginative Writing Down the Bones, our “textbook” from that class, and mentioned that Nine Gates might serve as an equivalent for poetry. It turns out that is not quite the case: Hirshfield’s book does not contain exercises for writing individual poems, or strategies to get yourself to write more. But I do think that it could be considered the next step, if you feel that you’re ready, and it’s a book rich enough to be read and digested again and again. A lot of the terminology, history, philosophy, and vocabulary in it are not for the faint of heart. Heaps of care are put into every sentence, making the book fantastically rich, but not suited for a quick skim or piecemeal adoption of methods. More than anything, it’s a primer that gives training on how to write: the mindsets and thoughtful considerations a poet must take on to get into their own work.

(Start with Goldberg. Then go Hirshfield. That’s my advice.)

And once you do wade in, there are some wonderful topics that are covered. Each chapter is one of the “gates”, ranging from how rituals and spaces affect or strengthen a poet with the sureness of any religion, to keeping the delicate balance between the self and the self-destructive, from the origins of poetry as a cultural necessity, to the difficulties of translating from one language to another. There’s something for everyone in here, and though the author guides with a firm hand, all she does is get you through the gate itself: you are the discoverer and recorder of what lies on the other side. What is helpful is the way that she names and categorizes aspects of writing, the self, and the interaction between the two, in ways that you hadn’t thought of before. For example, she discusses the three “modes” she labels subjective, reflective, and objective: those poems that have an “I”, those where the “I” is present but not front-and-center, and those rare ones that are (almost) entirely divorced from the “I”. At another point, she also discusses the six “energies through which poetry moves forward into the world it creates”: music, rhetoric, image, emotion, story, and voice. My favorite might be when she draws on two Greek myth-figures, Mnemosyne (the Titaness of Memory) and Hermes, to discuss the oral versus the written traditions, and the nuances poetry takes on in/from each.

For all of these terms and more, Hirshfield helpfully provides examples that range from ancient Egyptian love poems found on papyri to Whitman and Dickinson. She quotes the opening of a 12th-century Japanese Noh play and Allen Ginsberg with equal ease. I always appreciate the showcasing of such encyclopedic knowledge because it truly demonstrates the universality of poetry; the Egyptian poems from 3500 years ago are just as coy and colorful as a similar verse written today might be. Every series of words put together in the right order has its proper time and place, which could be anywhere, anywhen. I guarantee you won’t care for every single poem in the book. This is an advantage, because you are then drawn closer to authors you admire. The book reinforced my suspicions that while haiku are delectable for me, I don’t think I will ever be satisfied only with that aesthetic of negative space: I appreciate it and can admire it nonstop, but in my own writing, I feel more confident that the reflective mode, the energies of music and emotion, are more important to my work.

At least, I think so. Which brings me to the final, most important point I’d like to make. The book has made me seriously question, again and again, my own writing. Today, especially: my friend added a poem of Li-Young Lee’s to his mother’s eulogy that was heartbreaking, and I thought, I will never write anything like that. It might not be true, but I think Hirshfield’s book has made me more self-aware. However, it’s the kind of reality check that does more good than harm. Rather than having the editor-voice which just spits and says “this sucks” for what you write, you get more of a philosopher-voice that gently points out the wavering thought-space you were in as you drafted your peace, a geomancer-voice that shows you the bad feng shui blocking your poem’s energy, the muse-voice that brightly suggests you reinforce X Y or Z aspects of your style, etc. If you have the same reaction that I did, you’ll find yourself writing less, but writing much more mindfully, and feeling better about what you actually struggle through. Not everything needs to be a throwaway piece to keep your hand moving (though of course, you should never give up that valuable practice entirely either).

Overall, I think this is a book that will be at my side for a long time. Read it when you’re ready; then immediately read it again. Then keep it with you, ready for some kind of divination, when you need a key to unlock a thing that has no name. It’s a remarkable way to train your writing and to get it into a place where you are comfortable with it. I feel assured of this, even if I haven’t yet gotten to that place myself. But yes: it’s a climbing rope, a blunt knife, and a microscope of a book, all at once. Consider this my hearty recommendation!


TGIF indeed, ladies and germs.

I’ve got this incipient cycle of poems that are for a certain persona. Not sure where it’s going to go, but I’ll probably be focused on them for the next couple of weeks, and drafting not-so-often here. (Although I said I was cutting down anyway.) And I put in for vacation from the 6th to the 15th of June (plus the weekend after, so really the 17th), which I hope will be a much-needed jolt of relaxation and time for writing. Not sure if I’m going to travel anywhere yet, but the Berkshires are looking mighty tempting if I can swing it, as is Montréal. But hell, even just reclining at home would be nice. And my sister-in-law is due in mid-June, so I’ll probably want to stay around these parts to go home for any impending becoming-an-uncle…

Speaking of having time to write, that was one of the key components in my poem for Sam Peralta’s prompt at dVerse, to write a glosa. I’ve seen this form before, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried it before: it involves taking a four-line snippet of a well-known poem, doing four ten-line stanzas off it that successively end with each of the four lines, and rhyming lines six and nine in each with the last. (Plus, tipping your hat to the poet’s style helps.) Since it’s often a tribute form, I chose a dead poet I’ve been admiring more and more lately, Jane Kenyon, and used her poem “Dutch Interiors” as the basis for mine. This character of the merchant’s wife, so cryptic yet elegant, interests me. I started thinking about what Kenyon’s personal heaven might be like, and wondered if there was an echo to be found in this poem that is ultimately a slightly cheeky take on the presence of the divine.

But, you know, just read it as you will. I wrote it as such.


And the merchant’s wife, still
in her yellow dressing gown
at noon, dips her quill into India ink
with an air of cautious pleasure.
~ Jane Kenyon, “Dutch Interiors”

This is what comes, after:
always the sun just beyond reach,
a fat bumblebee in the blossom
gathering pollen to make time
(which will seep and slowly flow)
but too drunk. He never will.
Instead all things are frozen:
the room, the table, the water glass
forever beginning to spill,
and the merchant’s wife– still.

Far below her, the counting-houses
churn their presses, the fisherman’s
fishing, and the king is up a tree.
When you’ve no more life left,
how dazzling to see it spread out
for writing! She gazes down:
what else to do but memorize
the flicker of light on silver scales
and the color of the king’s crown
in her yellow dressing gown?

And she forgets the feel of silk
and the tumbling coin’s sonata.
Only the words, now. The words
join together in her like knots of wind
meeting overhead. Up here,
it is all the glory of watch and think,
waiting for the sun to start up again.
And she feels its wings click close
as her hymn reaches its brink
at noon, dips her quill into India ink.

The merchant’s wife, who is poised
without need, who smiles when
there’s nobody to smile at, knows
when things are too good to be true,
and when they’re just good enough.
This place: she’s taken its measure.
In other houses, other bargains:
but here she is content to be a hand
spilling its simple treasure
with an air of cautious pleasure.

reading: lesley wheeler, “the receptionist and other tales”

Another book from the stack! I do have a few more that I’ve read in the last few weeks (or will have finished by the time I feel like posting another reading post, at least), so maybe this will be the formation of a Good Habit. And then I can always shuffle back in time and pick out some stuff I’ve already slogged through that I think you, dear readers, might enjoy. If your appetite is whetted for some reviews, then mine is too for writing them.

So, Lesley Wheeler (whose book also arrived as part of the April Giveaway, and whose website can be found here) is an academic-poet, who (in my experience, at least) are rarer than one might think. Recently there’s been a meme going around the Internet about how various famous poets held other day jobs (doctors, mailmen, etc.), which seems to underscore the idea of not needing to be an English professor to be a poet. As someone who will most likely never be an English professor (maybe of a different stripe), there is some relief in that; but it still pays to have an appreciation of the tremendous depth of knowledge and training that Wheeler, and other professor-poets, go through. And she has done a remarkable job of portraying the world of academia with the title piece of her collection The Receptionist and Other Tales, with tongue firmly planted in cheek: there is an equal mix of everywoman sensibility, nuanced university politics, and a rich literary allusiveness.

First, the structure of the title piece is impressive: Wheeler presents thirty-three terza rimas that get playful with their rhyme and meter, but stick pretty closely to thirty linked lines of pentameter each. (I’ll assume that the number of “cantos” and their form is a send-up to Dante; and the narrative is itself reflective of a climb down through hell and up to heaven.) Over the course of those 990 lines, a coherent semi-fantastic narrative emerges slowly but surely, with each piece having a title reflective of the trope keyed by the individual poemlet: “The Priestess and the Primitives”, “A Glimpse of the Dark Lord”, “The Final Confrontation”, etc. (I note with amusement that Wheeler acknowledges Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to Fantasyland, a must-read for anyone interested in the genre.) (And then, Jones’ book is a spinoff of the Joseph Campbell tradition: more allusion.) To carry a story that long in verse is most impressive, and I think the divisions — each terza rima is a bite-size two pages — were a wise choice, as a poem of that length can quickly grow stale for readers.

The eponymous receptionist Edna (and could the author have picked a more perfect name?) seems to sum up several kinds of boundary: her family had the original benefactors of the university where she works, but she herself never finished college, she is invaluable as an administrator, but tends to side/identify with the professors, she is down-to-earth but has a number of preternatural moments that reinforce the poem’s feel. On the surface, the story is one you know well: sociopathic boss abuses his power, put-upon employees realize they must hang together else they all hang separate, etc. But presentation is everything: the drama and wry humor of the scenario is brought to life (and just as carefully put back to bed) from page to page with the fantasy element. Consider this:

…the drama professor billowed in,
followed close by the work-song-humming
medievalist. Edna dimmed her crystal
ball discreetly with a click. Her pulse was thrumming.
“The Dean,” Galina declared, “is a scoundrel.”
Her role: Head of Women’s Studies. Her métier:
to hex his sly designs.

These characters have a pulse, and use all manner of verbs to express themselves, and are doorways to side stories that flit in and out of the main one. It takes a careful read to keep track of them all, but as with any good novel, once you get involved, you make room in your brain. And look at how seamlessly “crystal ball”, “hex”, and even “medievalist” are worked in there. On the higher, architectural level, the poem makes clear when it is leading us up and down the standard paths of a fantasy narrative, but on a finer level, the genre shakes a thousand droplets of itself onto the words. And it is that best kind of fantasy, confounding a sword-and-sorcery male-centered genre with unlikely heroines in what could be the stuffiest of modern settings. You feel as though Edna, Galina, and the rest are people you know, and may have a hard time divorcing them from actual individuals in your mind. (I know I did.)

I don’t want to give too much away about the specifics of the plot (that snippet I put is from the third part, so it’s not too deep in for spoilers), but as long-form poems go, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find one that is more accessible, friendly with its allusions, and steady as a steam engine. (I’m as much a fan of The Waste Land as anyone, and The Changing Light at Sandover is still on my list, but they’re not easy reads.) So let’s turn our attention to the “Other Tales” mentioned in the title, which fill out the rest of the book. It can be tough to carry an entire book on the strength of just one poem, though I do think The Receptionist is lush enough that it overbalances the other poems in the collection. Still, they carry Wheeler’s same English-academic wit, love of received form with its quality of sound, and relationship with fantasy as subject matter. The Waste Land itself gets a send-up with “Zombie Thanksgiving”, and a number of well-known antagonists get their say in a series of near-sonnets called “Villainous Creeds”. From this latter poem comes this example snippet from the segment called “God”:

…I need my space,
I have earned the right to insist, and you won’t
ever be sure what lives behind the door.
Get used to it. Pray, worship all you want,
sacrifice a virgin. Your fix is dire:
yes, your parents helped to cook your head,
but I am the best bad idea you ever had.

Excellent stuff, that. I think what I find most memorable about the book is that, beyond the individual factors which are rare enough (who writes terza rima these days?), their combination sets the collection apart. Wheeler’s voice and storytelling tactics do not disappoint, and the technical execution helps any uncertainty about the subject matter or English-major wellspring go down very easy. (Plus, I see from her website that she has a BA from Rutgers; represent!) And that, I think, is all I have to say about that.

Have I earned a banana protein shake? Yes, I think I have.

Heart’s Thaw

Oh, what the hell, why not a random poem. We Write Poems wanted a Zen poem about body-soul connection, and while I can’t claim this is either Zen or a body-soul connection kind of poem, I guess it veers, like a wheeling bird, slightly close to both. I just wanted to have some fun with rhyme and structure, and come up with an image or two worth repeating. It was just something to do for a Monday evening, I suppose.

Heart’s Thaw

After such a long time heartsick,
to see the birds’ northward line
and the archery of homecoming–
from the bone to the flesh grown thick
moans a green sound, the rhyme
of the body with the sky hums
vowel on drowned vowel– the signs
meaning spring and rain running
will fill each part and cavity– the sun
paints bird backs as a flame the wick,
gravity claims their upward climb–
and the flock tacks right, lowly divine
with the sleepless heart caught undone
in its wake– knotted by the quick
turn, by the art of so many dimensions
and leaves who burn with becoming.