poems

Mirror Mountain

Nine to One

Nine to One

I always thought I would change the world
with a Great Novel for my time.
So sure I was meant to be
a Great entrepreneur,
or a Great artist,
Great anything.
But instead,
I’m here.
Small.
Human.
And I live,
and I have love,
and I feel passion,
and I have confidence,
and I let my mind run free,
and I do not dwell on regrets,
and I savor moments of Greatness.

For 2016, A Villanelle

I like writing poetry because it’s like condensing the feelings that are slowly expressed in fiction down to a few raw lines. I like writing in forms because it’s like a creative puzzle. The villanelle is tricky, because by the fourth stanza or so I feel like I’m really reaching for those rhymes, but it’s still fun. This form repeats the same two lines with only one other rhyming sound (A1 b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 / a b A2 / a b A1 A2). Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas, or Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath are exemplary of how powerful the form can be.

2016

Last year’s “new leaf” was a broken promise
folded by April, might have been May.
Here I am, the same five sweaters in my closet.

From then to now, twelve bucks in my pocket.
Yesterday’s commitments abandoned today,
and I was so confident I’d keep my promise.

Wasting my life away in an office,
My peers are fulfilled while I wait for Friday,
wearing the same shitty sweaters in my closet.

Cynical, yes, but it’s at least honest:
The scale hasn’t budged, a full ashtray…
enough evidence to refute my annual promise.

I fantasize what could be—solid, flawless—
But it’s a dream. Temporary. And I’ll wake
with scuffed shoes and pilled sweaters in my closet.

“New Year, New YOU” is an advertisement. Word vomit.
Self-reflection, decisiveness—that’s the language of change.
To 2016, I make no guarantee and offer no promise
Except to buy a new sweater for my closet.

Explore the villanelle and other forms, or just read some good poetry.

The Best I Can

A Rondeau…

My mom said “do the best you can”
back when I was nine or ten.
It recently occurred to me
that my “best” is an anomaly,
something to strive for now and then.

Who works magic time and again?
Can’t I say I don’t give a damn
without flinching or feeling guilty?
I mostly do the best I can…

I work hard and I love my man,
I hold doors and I follow the plan.
I read books and I earned my degree,
I tell jokes and I’m drug free.
I eat fries and I drive a sedan.
I am doing the best I can.

***No, that is not me in the photo. That is a cool French girl photographed by Christopher Hue.

“One Slip” by Pink Floyd

A restless eye across a weary room
A glazed look and I was on the road to ruin
The music played and played as we whirled without end
No hint, no word her honour to defend
I will, I will she sighed to my request
And then she tossed her mane while my resolve was put to the test
Then drowned in desire, our souls on fire
I lead the way to the funeral pyre
And without a thought of the consequence
I gave in to my decadence
One slip, and down the hole we fall
It seems to take no time at all
A momentary lapse of reason
That binds a life for life
A small regret, you won’t forget,
There’ll be no sleep in here tonight
Was it love, or was it the idea of being in love?
Or was it the hand of fate, that seemed to fit just like a glove?
The moment slipped by and soon the seeds were sown
The year grew late and neither one wanted to remain alone
One slip, and down the hole we fall
It seems to take no time at all
A momentary lapse of reason
That binds a life for life
A small regret, you won’t forget,
There’ll be no sleep in here tonight
One slip … one slip

(Listen to One Slip )

Written by David Gilmour & Phil Manzanera
for A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

Having a Moment with Sylvia Plath

I’m working on a feminine drama with portions set in the mid 1960’s and decided to do some supplemental reading, which brought me to The Bell Jar and works of poetry by Sylvia Plath. I remember Mad Girl’s Love Song being the first example of modern formal poetry that was both accessible and captivating for me. The more I read, though, the more fascinated I become with the author. This latest read caught my eye, because the title was borrowed for an episode of “Mad Men” (which I am also having a moment with).

Lady Lazarus
by Sylvia Plath

I have done it again.
One year in every ten
I manage it——

A sort of walking miracle, my skin
Bright as a Nazi lampshade,
My right foot

A paperweight,
My face a featureless, fine
Jew linen.

Peel off the napkin
O my enemy.
Do I terrify?——

The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?
The sour breath
Will vanish in a day. (more…)

Sonnet for Someday

Sonnet for Someday

Someday, my sore foot won’t even matter.
Someday, I’ll take an inventory on
my life and barely recall this chapter.
Am I unhappy? No… But the day’s gone
so fast, and I can’t remember what I
ate for breakfast let alone what memor-
able thing happened. People tell me “try
to live in the moment!” I can’t afford
that, though. I can’t play Ferris Bueller and
seize the day. Who will pay my rent, or do
my homework, or write lame sonnets? I can’t
take a break without my plan falling through.

Eventually, The Grind will abate,
Just like today is yesterday’s Someday.