Friday, April 24, 2015

NaPoWriMo - day twenty four

a nature poem

this was supposed to be
a nature poem

i had good intentions
of celebrating this earth

having lived in the mountains
majestic off the back porch

i wanted to rejoice in its fecundity
its embarrassment of riches

glacial pool, cavern, fold and thrust,

black-footed ferret, swift fox, grizzly bear,

greater sage-grouse, whooping crane,
mountain plover

boreal felt lichen, prairie fringed orchid,
townsendia daisy

instead, i think of stewardship
of how much we lose

even when we discover
new species, or entire ecosystems

i think of the northern white rhino
surrounded by men with guns

saddened, even shamed
the recognition of failure

the question of why
we didn’t stand guard earlier

Seven Paintings by Breughel by Anne Simpson - NPM24

The Triumph of Death

These watches. Ticking, still. Each hour is cold:
the rims surround quick voices. Shut in rooms.
Gone. Tick. The towers. Tock. Of fire. A fold
in air. We're smoke, drifting. A painted doom
where cities burn and ships go down. Death's
dark sky--a grainy docudrama. Time
swings bones on circus wheels. Listen: wind's breath,
a shriek. Theatrum Mundi. In their prime,
the living. Leapt. That buckling of the knees.
Then gunshots: plastic bags on fences. Snapping.
Or loose. Thank you--shop--at. The lovers see
nothing. He plays a lute. She sings. Clapping--
machines sift through debris for the remains.
A sales receipt, a shoe. The silvery rain.

Landscape with the Parable of the Sower

A sales receipt, a shoe. The silvery rain
has many hands. A stream--Fresh Kills--elides
with river. Think and slow. A landfill plain:
a ghost in biohazard gear. Gulls ride
the thermals, circling high as barges come,
a linking chain. Blue metropolis, far-
off glints of light. The cranes all lift and hum,
making hills of metal, bone. Crushed cars.
So garbage rises: this stench is monument.
Yet Brueghel's farmer takes the seeds, flings wide
his arm. A miracle: small event. We meant
to go, but every boat was laden. Tides
pulled home, pulled here, then left us for the birds.
We take the shape of soil, abandon words.

The Tower of Babel I

We take the shape of soil, abandon words.
The world will change without us. Did we glean
a little shine? Perhaps. These wheeling birds
drift down to earth. Crying. The air, unseen,
seeks entry without keys. All locked, shut down.
A spackled light gets through. We merely craved
a taste. Hello, my name is _______. A crown,
a king. One makes the other into slave.
Behind is Babel's core. Red as a heart
opened for bypass. Laid bare. Wind, idling.
It's quiet. Still. The horses, loaded carts,
are stuck. The ships, the docks. Thin bridles
of cloud. All stopped. Each thing unclocked, undone.
A man who kneels to plead his case. Warm sun.

The Tower of Babel II

That man who knelt to plead his case, that sun:
they're gone. In time, air hardens, growing dark.
The wars go on; beyond the TV, guns
talk to themselves. One, two. They whisper, bark.
Erotica. And Babel: height's desire
is weary of itself, but there's no end
to greed. A cruise, a condo. Guests for hire.
On the rug: a shirt, a shoe. Whatever bends
one body to another. We've forgotten.
Those painted clouds are knives. Slipped in walls
between the ribs. This plot device: rotten--
the thing exploded from within. Small
papers, white flakes. Last wish. Someone's cellphone.
("Are you still there? Are you?") A voice falls. Stone.

The Slaughter of the Innocents

"Are you still there? Are you?" A voice falls. Stone,
unbearable stone. It grinds. It tastes of grief.
Don't watch. Go blind. Oh Lord, those moans
will haunt us. This one. That one there. Brief
lives. Snow. And here, between the black trees, blood.
A leaping dog. A bird. Everywhere we turn
there's whiteness in the air. And memory, a flood
of killings no kindness can assuage. Urns
half-full of ashes: nothing that we knew
of those we loved. So young. Such shining hair,
those gleams recalled. A silence follows through
the rooms of when and how. Now, up the stairs
a rescuer is climbing. But he's too late.
And look what happened. This. Short straw of late.

Hunters in the Snow

Who knows what happened? A short straw of fate,
all that. Years ago. But now we've changed;
those terrors tucked back in the heart. "Just great,
that weekend special: everything arranged."
We return; the house looks strange. Each thing
deceives. The counters, the cutlery. Believe
the chairs; they guard the table in a ring.
The hunters come. They're trudging, slow. Reprieve
makes curving flight, a song in evening's sky:
pale green at dusk. Some children skate; they laugh.
And history has no place. Easy to lie
on queen-sized beds, dream a little dream. Half-
heard, the phantoms speak: No, you weren't there--
We turn; we sleep. But once there was a prayer.

Christ and the Adulteress

We turn; we sleep. But once there was a prayer,
a way to finger mystery. It floats,
one plastic bag, freed from the fence, that snare
with loops of wire. We translate into motes,
a glimmer in a shaft of sun. One glide,
we're gone. A painted scene: against this plea
is set a stone. An end. Each thing is tried.
A man makes notes in sand. The wind goes free.
One gust: his words are ghosts. The dust, absolved,
has vanished too. First kiss, last glance. Tick. Tock.
All goes to ground. We kneel down and dissolve.
Turn in. Turn out of time. Where nothing's clocked.
A touch: so light. Love's breath. Things we can't hold:
these watches. Ticking. Still. Each hour is cold.

Simpson, Anne. "Seven Paintings by Brueghel" Open Field: 30 Contemporary Canadian Poets. Queyras, Sina, ed. New York: Persea Books, 2005. 201-7.