cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
young poets

You take another long, slow drag off your cigarette,
then grind it beneath your heel.

You start writing poetry because of death
and a conviction nobody else could possibly understand

and then you move on to sex, and then maybe death
again, or death and sex, and then eventually

after you've gotten all the doths and souls out of your system,
after you're experienced enough to know

you're so much better than that now, you move on
to death and sex and cigarettes.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
dream poem no. 2: stabbing the spider man

I told you to get the gun from the car
but there was no gun
and now there is no you -

just me and the old man
with eight eyes and eight limbs
brandishing a deck of cards and leering,
hooked nose and ear hair
and dried blood in the corners of his mouth.

He is just playing with me,
it is only a matter of time.
I don't know where I got the scissors in my hand,
but there are scissors in my hand
and there is no gun.
This will have to do.

Three nights later you come home.
I am in the shower,
one of your shoes is on the bathroom floor,
and you ask, "Was there a bug?"

"Yes," I say, "but I killed it."
But I didn't kill it.
I hit the ground beside it
until I chased it out of sight
under the sink.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
April 15, 00:30

The architect and the captain are the first to realize
they aren't going to make it to New York.
Music and voices drift in from the deck, amplifying the silence
on the bridge, where they stand together staring
at the plan of the ship, unmoving, unspeaking, like ice.
Two simple facts are blindingly, immutably clear:

The ship can remain floating if four of the front compartments are full,
but the water has flooded five;

The lifeboats can fit 1,178 passengers if filled to capacity,
but there are 2,240 aboard.

The architect stares at his hands and lies to himself
that there's some small, cold comfort in the knowledge
that at least he won't be around to feel the shame
of his mistake revealed to the world in the morning.
When he speaks, he means what have we done?
but he says, "What do we do?"

The captain looks away. "Tell them to lower the lifeboats,"
he says, "and tell the band to keep playing."

by the way

Oct. 6th, 2010 05:31 pm
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
If anyone wants to give me any sort of feedback on any of these poems, I'd welcome it. They're all rougher than kinky sex on a beach made of sandpaper, so they can use all the refining they can get.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
three portraits locked in a closet

1. n. as a department store mannequin

it looks just like her:
the same watercolor-blonde hair
the same vacant gaze
modeling green & black lingerie
under stark fluorescent light

the same rigid posture
the same jointed limbs
the same black satin ribbon round her throat
the same silence

2. sister hyde

she stands with her right hand clenched
and her left on the back of the dog
at first it looks as if she is holding back
the feral beast, her hand tangled in its fur

but the brush strokes make it hard to tell
where she ends and the fur begins
the dog could be her hand and if you can look
away from its glittering eyes and slavering jaws

there is nothing in her face but fury
she is looking right out of the painting
right at you

3. cora at an early age

she is wearing a white nightgown
the kind with an old-fashioned high collar
and long sleeves

it matches the ribbon
holding back her brown ringlets
and the blindfold
which she is peeking out from under
and laughing

this picture must have been taken
just after the accident
white was a bad choice
you can see the blood soaking through
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
i picture myself dying as i walk down pitt street

it's all about the way the ants come into sharp relief
as they run through the cracks in the sidewalk
as my head hits the pavement,
colliding head-on and then rushing past each other
like magnets attracting then repulsing
like commuters grabbing a newspaper while catching a train

and the way the sun melts
into my skin, like a kiss

and the footsteps going past
private metronomes
a hundred thousand heartbeats
ticking patiently along
a hundred thousand alarms ready to go off

the world is so beautiful
as soon as we see it clearly
the only thing left to do is go blind.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
April 14, 23:30

The ship doesn’t hit the ice
so much as scrape alongside it,
making a noise like a shriek harmonizing with a groan,
which resounds across the empty Atlantic
for a good thirty seconds or so.

In her first class cabin, Miss Marguerite Frolicher sits up in her bed
and stares into the dark, wondering why
the ship is docking so suddenly, and so late at night.
Men in the smoking room put down their cards
and wordlessly walk over to the starboard window.
Somewhere in steerage a baby starts crying.

In the moonlight, the ice mountain looks otherworldly,
beautiful and ominous all at once. It tears a hole
in the hull and pops out twelve of her rivets,
flooding five of the forward compartments,
but on A Deck the most spectacular effect is the snow
that suddenly starts to fall, a brief blizzard
of shaved ice – most pieces a fine mist, but several
large enough to fill a man’s hand, and a few
the size of buckets and bowler hats.

After a long pause, a ripple of applause breaks out.
The band, which had been ending its set, begins
a lighthearted reel, and a few couples resume dancing.
The men from the smoking room pour onto the deck
and pick up a game of foot-ball, using a larger chunk of ice.
Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim gazes out across the water
for a moment, then scoops up a round, flat ice piece
the size and shape of a pocket watch.

“Do you think,” he asks, turning to the nearest steward,
“That it would be possible to have this shipped home, as a souvenir?”
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
We are awakened at sunrise by the bird
sitting on the eave by our window
picking out first one bizarre cackle, then another

not really what you could call birdsong
but more melodic than any other available in Sydney.

B. groans and stuffs his head in a pillow: "Mynas.
They're going to build a nest there, you know."

"I kind of like it," I say,
and he mutters, "That's just because you haven't
had to hear them your whole life."

Which is true enough, in its own way. I don't like mynas
because I find them new and interesting; I like them
because I find them reassuringly familiar.
Sydney has a dearth of birds.

Where I come from there are dozens of songbirds:
the ones that sings whole melodies (cardinals,
bluebirds, titmice, wrens, sparrows,
goldfinches, red finches, purple finches)
the ones that sing one note (robins, grackles, starlings)
the ones that sing their names (chickadees,
bobwhites, whip-poor-wills), the ones that sing
each others' names (catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds),
the ones whose names I don't know.

Here there is the silent, stalking ibis; the glowering magpie;
the screaming cockatoo; the "laughing" kookaburra (who never laughs
at all, in my experience). And the myna, the mockingbird
of the Antipodes, busily building a nest outside my window
and making enough noise to fill the city,
as if determined to convince me my back garden
contains all manner of exotic and exciting flying fauna
as long as I never try to see it.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

which means "shut up"
is the only hebrew word i know
after three years in a classroom with four girls
who sat in a corner, and twelve boys
who shouted, cursed, threw things, abused the teacher
to her face, refused to listen, refused to sheket.

what else can you expect
when the first lesson we were taught
was that man's first and biggest mistake
was to listen to a woman?

it would have been four years but i quit
when two boys threw salt in my eyes after class.
i never learned my haftorah
but i learned something more:

sarah can laugh if she wants to
rachel can get married first
lot's wife deserved a name
and his daughters, and jephthah's daughter
and all of adam's daughters -
everyone deserves a name
and no one deserves to die

and i will not sit quietly in a corner
i will not obey your book
i will not become complicit in a system
that makes women victims and men violent
i will not be told i am not a person
i will not be abused, i will not be a sacrifice
i will not be a gift, i will not be afraid
i will not be nameless

and i will not shut up.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
that i am trying an experiment where i write one poem every day for the next year. mostly to see if i have the willpower. it's a little bit like the 24-hour writing experiment, but in longform, and with more class (because it's poetry, natch).

to this end i have armed myself with this blog and a narrow japanese lacquer box-style paperblank notebook, chosen for several reasons (1. it fits in my purse and is therefore portable, 2. it is beautiful, 3. i have taught myself to write in paperblank journals without having a crisis about ruining something beautiful because my dream journals are paperblanks, 4. i have taught myself to write in paperblank journals on a regular basis [see no. 3]). i despise journals without sufficient width as a general rule, but necessity dictates that i put up with it in this case. perhaps it will encourage me to be concise.

i have also locked all of my non-project related journal entries. they're still there, but if you want to read them, you need to be on my access list. if you want to be on my list, just ask. mostly i'm just doing it this way so that the poetry isn't getting all mixed up with me complaining about work or worrying that i'm drinking too much coffee or whatever.

also, it should go without saying, but since it probably doesn't: all poetry (and other any writing, and hell any artwork i might post on a whim as well) in this blog, both already-written and yet-to-come, are copyright me. i'm pretty generous with my work and if you ask to use it for something, i'll almost certainly agree as long as you give me credit for it (i mean hell, it's not as if poetry makes any money anyway). but if you don't ask, i'll cry. and that will be on your conscience forever.

and now, gentle reader, brace yourself for a year of probably-rather-bad poetry.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
to Nimue, if she should someday return to find me, which she won't

You thought you were tricking me,
but you had it backwards.
You thought you could flatter me
by calling me wise, but I know
all too well my wisdom is an illusion,
a misconception caused by always knowing what will be -

but (as I'm sure you know by now)
magic always comes with a price, and mine
was that while I always know what will happen
I have no idea what I've done.

But - I knew what you would do
if I let you
so I did. You see,
the thing about living backwards
is that one morning you wake up
with the fear you may have atoned for all your sins
before you committed any.

And now I am young but I am old and I am afraid, Nimue -
Do the gates of heaven open in reverse?
Would they let me enter
if I just kept walking as I always have,
putting one foot behind the other?
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
dream poem no.1: it's not what you get out

"I know it's a terrible thing to say to your best friend
but I just wasn't getting anything out of it anymore,"
I overhear her say, and I remember
waking up last night at the bottom of the river
without knowing where I was, but with you
watching me; you didn't say anything, you
just draped my arms over your slender shoulders
and you carried me back upstream.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
we walk down the street and he asks me,
"so have you got the hang of the traffic flow yet?"
"yeah," is say, "except i've noticed something odd,
which is that yesterday i was walking along and thinking
of the united states, and suddenly i found myself
looking the wrong way at corners again."

"that makes sense, i guess," he says, "i mean,
if you think about the u.s. for long enough
you might end up in a reverie, and then look
the wrong way because it makes sense to you,
in context."
"ha," i say, "'wind up in a reverie,' like it's
a wrong turn you make while driving, and then
you're stuck in a roundabout you can't exit
until you go in circles a few times."

"see?" he says. "you just come up with these metaphors
on the fly, and yet you haven't been able to write
any poetry lately. why don't you turn that into one?"
"it must be the crippling self-doubt," i say,
and laugh because i am joking

and i am not joking

and that's the way i like it.
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