Poetry in April -- in celebration
This is my Second Book of poems. I may not have eaten the plums from the icebox, but I am guilty of writing poetry without thinking too much, without laboring over words and lines.
This Is Just to Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold
by William Carlos Williams
You, too, forgive me for I only love the writing process; the result is secondary...And please never mind that I am also aping William Carlos Williams's false apology.
From where does the title Beetlebung and Kettlehorn come from?
The name Beetlebung and Kettlehorn has to do with ancient whaling practices and Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod.
During the nineteenth century, because of its dense white wood, the tupelo tree was used in whale oil casks made of copper. Beetle was the mallet made from the Tupelo tree and bung was the stopper in the cask hole. In Martha’s vineyard, the Tupelo tree is still known as the Beetlebung tree, and at Chilmark there, is a Beetlebung Corner, with shops at Chilmark Center, from where roads lead to other interesting points.
Kettlehorn, as well as being an ancient surname, refers to a piece of equipment resembling to but much bigger than a shoe-horn, used to stir the hot blubber and separate the fine oil from the denser particles. Whale oil was a popular commodity and, as a fuel, was used for lighting the dark, burning to provide heat and as an aid in cooking. After the whale was hunted, men in a boat cut strips of blubber from the whale's back, tied them together and rowed ashore. There the fat was cut into smaller pieces to be boiled into oil in large copper kettles.
In addition there exists kettle corn in Cape Cod which are corn chips fried in kettles and sometimes mistakenly called kettlehorns.
For some reason, way back when, the words Beetlebung and Kettlehorn were used together and, at one time or another, were given to shops and other things that go together as titles.
I adopted the name for my on-the-spot poetry in reference to the idea of blubber.
"Poetry the shortest distance between two humans"
Maybe it is good to grow spines
to dodge marauders,
pierce reptile tongues,
bounce unhurt when you hit the ground
after a climb.
But don’t you think sharp things
would be your undoing
when you sink to the bottom of a pit
and hands cannot hold you?
prompt: hedgehogs in the wild or as pets
|How can you endure this earth?
You must feel you’re buried alive
like a low mood.
And skirting the snow in tight burrows,
you must dream of an early spring
and irrelevance of things.
But do perform for prediction,
seeing what I cannot see or do
for I am not at ease with shadows
as this is not the planet I wanted.
|distant music in dark rooms
a golden candle, smoldered, bent
to a penumbra, heavy
on child shoulders
the figure saddens me
unlike the gutsy original
a flaming reflection on stained screen
bitter sweet, this life subdues dreams
to burn another relic into space
chasing nowhere circles
on a slow dance to oblivion
|Back to work, one more day...
Go chase papers
on your cluttered desk
and forget the layoffs, but
you’re a mallard bobbing
on choppy water, and
you might grow wings
at the sides of your head
to dodge the hunters,
aiming to put you away.
The ringing phone…
Just hope the secretary
doesn’t forget you’re out of reach.
But what if she does?
Do not hedge but stay low
Keep your cool.
No one ever gets paid for angst,
and if you avoid the shots,
your achievement award
for lifetime is
Eighteen thousand breaths a day.
Prompt: Back to work
|Vision with eyes closed: Vulture,
a clown-faced trickster cawing.
Vast message: shadow,
the fear, yours and mine,
stiff as carrion.
Funny, how we confront
the secret blotch,
brandishing swords in unison
at parallel images
and call it confusion!
Then, we throw questions in the air…
Why can’t you listen
what I have been trying to say?
Why don’t I accept your
While the pathogen distrust hides
in the mind’s immune system
to forbid awakening.
Prompt: group dreaming. Google Inception (a film) or Jung/Jungian archetypes in dreams
|Whirring, the blender
bumps and grinds
ice with vodka and schnapps
while the bartender flings
things, squeezes taps, and stirs,
letting only the clinks
speak with people around the bar
who watch him measure
nothing, except with his sixth sense.
And I, as always,
check my watch to see
if he'll beat his earlier record
then I sip my iced tea.
My folly: Checking how fast anyone does anything.
Prompt: Personal folly
|I’ve been at this before.
I’ve shifted the scene
many times over,
a tiger after the hunt,
after spotting the prey,
sneaking close, sprinting
then pulling apart with claws.
Since I’ve had my fill, I’ll cover
the carcass with dead leaves
to return to it, if need be,
so I can lie in the sun
where the field quivers in haze
and a flock of vultures circle above.
I’ll wait for the next start
and open my eyes to new dreams
to watch a savage spirit dance,
telling human tales in another realm.
|Some perch on benches
shadow-warmed under the trees,
spout up and down
on green grass and kids
to make shrieks born.
The pier reaches
eight hundred feet over the sea,
and I walk on water
with the wind at my face.
From the stone gazebo,
the sounds of a sax swoop
upon us all, their spell spiraling.
An old man in red
breathes the blues
into polished brass,
sober from a distance.
Ever so grateful, I want
more of this music, and
there is nothing else
I'd rather do than
lean on the railing and listen.
| “Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.”
King Lear to Cordelia
Past the frog’s song and its thumping leaps
in the middle of the night, I know nothing
about chasing an amphibian without
unnerving both of us, though I can see me
in fantasy moves, a vaudeville princess running
after a frog, saying, “My love for you is like water;
please, scram, get out!”
Oh, Frog, teach me the way, for I ask
What do I know? Inward answer: “Nothing!”
What I know parades in front of me
now meaning not a thing, and if I speak again,
I‘ll say nothing because my nothing
has hornets in the eaves, fat spiders
in corners, and bats in the attic.
My nothing burns with passion, its ashes
in black ink, which does not free me from pain,
and a frog still thumps inside my house.
|Glass enamel and marble
the other hard stone,
you and I, for perspective,
side by side, cut with edges
sharp; a design envelops us
no longer through luck but with
grout forced into openings.
The deal complete, a squeegee
drags across our surface.
The finished product, rich
with possibility, mocking
the silence that lingers
along the lines where
colors do not match.
What if those who observe
say, “How original!”
|Pummeling the roof,
grasping and rasping
obsessed with a plan,
one grisly storm
sifts from the night
my haunting dream.
My childhood dream
leaks through the roof,
wobbling in the night,
its low voice, rasping,
drones with the storm
in a wrinkled plan.
This faceless plan
of my reckless dream,
fertile in the storm,
captive beneath the roof,
ravenous and rasping,
devours the night.
The resurrected night
ravages the plan,
overgrown and rasping,
and my shadowed dream
claws at the roof,
blinding the storm.
Tossing in the storm,
the low-voiced night
hammers from the roof
the broken plan
of my fateful dream
on a crucifix, rasping.
Exiled and rasping,
I hide a storm
inside my dream,
tied to the night,
shrouded by the plan,
cursing at the roof.
I storm to the roof,
rasping, as dawn lights plan
shackles for the dreams of the night.
The sestina follows a strict pattern of the repetition of the initial six end-words of the first stanza through the remaining five six-line stanzas, culminating in a three-line envoi. The lines may be of any length, though in its initial incarnation, the sestina followed a syllabic restriction. The form is as follows, where each numeral indicates the stanza position and the letters represent end-words:
7. (envoi) ECA or ACE
The envoi, sometimes known as the tornada, must also include the remaining three end-words, BDF
|You reinvent your musical persona
from bebop to hip-hop, sipping
strong coffee, Colombiano Supremo,
from a white ceramic mug
to postpone the conversation
for another unforgiving gathering.
“Have to talk to the kids about stuff
before the final you-know-what.”
Yet, you’re with Alex on the trombone
with bluesy inflection.
“Just for a moment, remind yourself
to face things.”
Not now, for Sonny’s on the sax,
freewheeling. Still, you listen
to clichés, later to avoid them
for the sake of melody,
chord progression, improvisation.
Then, you create on the spot,
leaving him on his own
with his you-know-what,
to make Louis Armstrong proud.
|The wind circles about me, raking
into my hair, as I stroll in the middle of
our easy street; rarely a car passes by.
A neighbor waves, calling me over.
He talks of Arizona, the immigration law,
Leonardo DaVinci, the recent bat infestation,
a restless night, and life overwhelming.
“Happy to see you,” he says, retreating.
The instant he stops, I think
Did he think he made a failed joke?
but his eyes reveal that I reminded
him of his wife, dead eleven months
who once showed me how to crochet, and
with Chanel No. 5 pouring from her pores,
picked up the plates to freeze leftovers.
My good-bye dies in echoes, and the wind
still circles about me, raking into my hair.
|Fragrant flowers under five dollars,
four nights in Disney World,
sugar cookies, promise rings,
"You're the love of my life."
Such a chore, this force of will,
to push away and ignore
baits harboring falsehoods,
then to celebrate yet another day,
like the wild, holy mountain man
saying, "Water overcomes fire."
Or "Love with passion." Not true.
There are fires water will hearten,
and passion cradles possessing.
Possess? Not so, but I never forget
those I weep with or the ones waiting
with blades drawn. Still, when
the pentagram pivots on its axis,
I tell the best lies to myself
with a hundred thousand welcomes.
the pentagram pivoting on its axis. = the clash of the elements. The Earth subdues Water, Water subdues fire etc.
Motto of Gaelic hero Caelte:
Truth in our hearts, strength in our arms and fulfillment in our tongues.
Ceud M`ile Failte'! (kee-ut mee-luh faltchuh) (A hundred thousand welcomes!)
|Last night, standing on solid ground,
I looked at the stars in space
infinite as desert sand, the half-moon
trying to mend, and the fracas under
our skins endless as the ocean. Then,
I thumped on sharp rock, stepped on
the shadows of trees, and heard the
anemic voice of the tilting earth, asking
that we keep our side of the bargain
instead of one hot motto after another
with our pitchfork still stuck in the prairie grass.
|Stars dress up the night,
stitching through its dark
with a roll of Valencia lace,
and the mystical spread
curls into a slow dance,
where the hush is
and a pure light flows
to align years of patience
applying a decoyed glitter to
whatever can be seen
whatever is knowable
like the welcome in your eyes.
Such good this does to the heart
and how serious delight is!
|“Midway in our life’s journey, I went astray from the straight road and woke to find myself alone in a dark wood.”
Dante Canto One- Inferno
Sometime peculiar in my life,
I knew him well
before the perforated stub,
before I boarded at gate four,
before a briefcase sat between my knees
hiding my itinerary, but
lacking the time to make amends,
he never realized I watched
straight roads curve,
dark woods burn,
and that I never cleared
any wreckage, for
what I own is my journey.
|I’m tied up. The culprit:
the law of the heart
a figment of my mind.
Glued to the seat,
I give in to this power
I can’t control.
Across my shoulder
strapped, I tap
on the keyboard,
for I’m locked in place
with zest and abandon,
and echoing inside my head,
a poem forces me to write it.