Saturday, August 13, 2011

Poetry Saturdays

I just discovered Kathleen Lynch's poetry.

There are the poems that read like tales:

The poem said: Now we must all eat beautiful women.
The poem-cutter cut out that line
and took it home. He read it over and over
then sauteed the words in butter
and ate them.
He ate them and now he is stuffed
with the words he has learned by heart.
He has learned a new hunger
that is an old hunger
and he is covered with shame.
The mother with the book of poems
found that the line was gone,
carefully sliced and taken away.
She knew it meant danger.
She knew it meant danger
so she locked her beautiful daughter
in the closet telling her:
There is a man out there in the moonlight
who is covered with shame
She locked her daughter in the dark room
and every night now she lays a small poem
on the porch. Eat this, she says,
There are no beautiful women
in this house

She loves her husband, even though he is a fish. They
both had to make a lot of adjustments to married life.
Her friends and family don't see what she sees in him
and seldom come around any more. He had to leave
all of his friends and the spacious ocean to be carried
around in pans and jars or plopped into the plexiglass
tank in their apartment. Still, they're happy. They like
to watch TV together or listen to music, but mostly they
listen to each other. He tells her of his travels to the
primitive black deeps of the ocean, and of the beasts
which lurk there. He exaggerates, she knows, but she
loves a good story, so she pretends to believe what he
tells her. She tells him everythingshe's a real talker.
Of course, they can never have children, but they enjoy
many cool baths together. On the whole, they have a
pleasant relationship. Only her hunger could change things.

And it came to my bed
and lay upon me. It pressed
on my body and stretched me
full length. It wrapped me
three times round and turned me
every way of turning.
It spit hot exotic spumes
of breath all about my face
and its voice came from a place
deep in my brain: Wake, it spat,
Wake to this. And it turned me
over and shoved its thumbs
beneath my blades, wrenched
at them, oh, the pain,
and someone yelled, Wings!
And it took all I had
to fling it off, to turn my body
back to the pose of sleep.
And I never said a word.
Never opened my eyes.

And there are the instructional poems:

Love: The Basics
Start with something harmless
a stone perhaps. Choose one
large enough to sit on, one so heavy
it cannot get up and hit you of its own accord.
After that try loving a leaf
preferably one lying nearby,
preferably a dead one. Do not taste it.
Next: something with a rudimentary
brainan insect, or the spider on your shoe.
This is where it gets tricky. The most beautiful
are often toxic and their interest in you
is minimal. When you turn to mammals
hunger becomes an issue.
You can even open yourself
to another of your species, with a brain
and body like yours, capable of anything.
But if you are afraid, stay
with the rock. Remember though
it will not feed you,
or speak, or answer.

How to Build an Owl
1.     Decide you must.
2.     Develop deep respect
        for feather, bone, claw.
3.     Place your trembling thumb
        where the heart will be:
        for one hundred hours watch
        so you will know
        where to put the first feather.
4.     Stay awake forever.
        When the bird takes shape
        gently pry open its beak
        and whisper into it: mouse.
5.     Let it go.

The poems about her mother:

My mother gave me my first science lesson:
The sun does not rise and set on you, young lady.
Teachers who came later proved her right,
as did the major and minor desertions of my life.
It is a matter of perception that we see ourselves
as central. Fact is, earth circles the sun.
Fact is, the sun is a small star burning out.
Tongues of hot gas, each larger than earth, burst
from the sun's face. When we catch first sight of it,
we call it morning. These mornings
I pull back curtains, crank up her bed, raise
her face to the light. Wake up, Mom, I say,
the sun is rising. And I want her
to open her eyes, to believe what I tell her is true.
Even though I know the sun stands still and burns.
Even though I know my science.

My mother prowled the yard, winding wires around bare stems
of rose bushes, attaching Woolworth's plastic roses
her flowered house dress puffed out full,
hair lifting like flames. I watched, embarrassed
by how tacky, how pathetic
but it had been a bad spring all around
what with Dad's drinking and with nothing
blooming, and from where I stood
I had to admit they looked pretty. The distance
between shame and pride is so mutable we use
both words for the same thing:
She has no shame. She has no pride.
Can this be true? By my calculation over forty
thousand hours have passed since that moment
and still I see her and the bell of that dress,
not a scrim in sight, just sheets snapping
on the line behind her, weeds shivering at her ankles.
And the way she moved, the way she went at it
a driven thinganother of the countless gestures
she would subsume in silence, a look
in the eye we all knew meant: Say nothing.
And when she sank away into the heap of mystery
books on the couch, a theater of colors in the window
behind herthe strange brilliance and juxtaposition
of fake and realI began to believe in hope
as something that could be invented
even under dire skies, even when wind
sliced around thorns and we waited
for the phone to ring, and for spring
to become spring.

Or her children:

You can imagine how ordinary this story is:
I had a baby. He died.
Decades have passed away since and look at me:
I am strong, solid. I step right
into the center of things.
But back then I could hardly recognize my own body
as a woman's when the child bloomed and moved
inside me. There were turnings and tremors
and rigorous shoves. Lunges. I could feel
the ball of my belly and say
This is the head, here is the foot!
Even though I talked to the walls and cried half the night,
I felt excitement, a real connection.
Everything else in my life was undone by this illicit gift.
And then my body clamped down on him,
pushed and cramped and forced him out too soon.
It was not my fault, the nurses said, I was too young,
he was too small. I felt amazed he came here at all,
came through and out of me long enough to let out one cry,
then smaller and smaller gasps. Then silence.
They wrapped him and took him away. Hands
were everywhere, swabbing up the mess, pressing my pulse,
patting me on the shoulder.
None of this matters to me anymore.
I have my story, you have yours. I don't care
that they took his body, poured on water and words
to forgive him. So what if it rained
when his white box went down
into the hole. The only thing I carry with me
is his name. They numbered his grave
because I was unwed. The birth and death papers
list him as Baby Boy. All I want to tell you,
if you are still with me,
is that I named him Joseph.
His name is Joseph.

There too are the realist poems:

Chicken in the Snow
They even had a cabin
Aunt Marie and Uncle Gene
up in Kyburz, the mountains
and that day when I was eight
we drove into the first snow
of my life.
I told them it was beautiful
so beautiful and Thank you
for inviting me. I was too polite
to mention my concern
for the chicken, the crate tied
to the top of the car & how it must be
so cold out there, all those flakes
& the wind blowing
in its blinking eyes.
That afternoon I flung myself
in joy all over their white yard
falling without feeling pain, leaving
my body all over the place
As the bright sky started
going down, Aunt Marie
the chicken cradled in her arm
came to the stump I leaned on
& said Back off, Katrinka,
it's time. And the axe
in her other hand moved fast
and it happened, really,
in one fell swoop, the head
on the ground, one astonished eye
blinking. Its little beak opened
and closed, opened and closed
without a sound. And the body
ran round in circles, and blood flew
everywhere, turning
paler & paler as it sank into the snow.
Later, Uncle Gene came to me
carrying a large pot.
He said If you want to see some magic
help me fill this with snow
and I will turn it into rice
for dinner.
Well it happened.
The windows were steamed
from that black stove cooking
and I was really hungry
when they came with the foodthe best fried chicken ever on this earth
and a miracle: white rice piled
in a deep blue bowl.
That night I had two thoughts
that frightened me. One:
the dead do not die exactly
when you kill them, and two:
God might have made a mistake
putting all the starving children
so far away, and here
where you are practically alone,
all this snow. So much
good food.


1 comment:

  1. Just went blog-hopping now.
    I kind of like this new poet but I'm resisting the urge to read it all. So difficult :(

    I'm loving Love: The Basics and Circle.