Shadow Man & Other Stories

At one point, I was seriously considering the pursuit of a coffee-table book of some sort. It would be poetry and photography, entitled The Shadow Man & Other Stories. I had considered it since I was around 19. Of course then, the title was Teardrops from a Blind Eye (from the not-very-good poem of the same name). Upon adulthood, I learned, sadly, that the only people that value poetry are other poets.

It is open to debate whether photographers have the same loving relationship with their craft. In any case, I realized that I’m not good enough to get published, nor famous enough to be acknowledged irrespective of the actual value of the art. After having written 4 novels, I’m still not convinced I’m very good at writing either. But we write, we do.

I’m odd for an artist, in that I have NEVER had writer’s block, or poet’s block, or photographer’s block. What I do have, however, is unabashed pragmatism.

It is hard for me to pursue a course that I believe is marked in futility. Most nights, like this one, I am certain no more than a handful of people will ever see my work. I should ignore the knowledge, I know, and be prolific. Prolific, such an interesting label. My sister gave it to me years ago, and it’s the only one that still fits. Were it not for a full-time career, I could easily write 3 books a year, take 10,000 photos, write 100 poems.

I don’t. They are in there, I can feel them trying to claw their way out. I keep them bottled up, though. Like Virginia Woolf, they will have to fall off my tree on their own, for I won’t pluck them.

Hell, if I’m lucky, they’ll die with me. Being unexceptional has never been a thing I could tolerate in myself.

Never.

Poet Trees

Devalued by pretense
and greed
our brown fruit bears a bitter seed
It grows in sons,
untended crop
It festers death
we cannot stop
We sold our fruit,
Ashanti borne
We watched it die,
but wouldn’t mourn
In southern fields,
new fruit we grew
and watched it hung
from trees
it knew

With the autumn,
headed north
to urban streets,
that God set forth
We picked the best fruit,
sold it there
on corner lots,
with purchased hair
Bought it things
to make it sweet
not knowing
sugar
brought deceit
We found no jobs,
we paid no rent
We paid our dues,
we found lament

Anarchic days,
infernal nights,
we burned
ourselves
we claimed our rights
to grow new trees
to bear sweet fruit
that bitterness would not pollute

But in our naïve struggle there
we missed that they no longer care
The angry dead still win the day-
we hate ourselves
much more than they

And thus, we’re here,
though we are lost
We’ve won the war,
but at what cost
when we supplant their
bigotry
with our self-hating
niggatry

Summer Storm

he showered in her youth
washing the years’ creases from tired eyes
let the gray drain from thinning hair
she dripped on him mercilessly
like a surprising spring rain
all at once, engulfing him in her

washed the dirt from beneath his nails
she ran the length of him
slipping past his bulging waist
to his knees she trembled, waiting
before gleefully jumping to the soiled earth

he bathed in her damp innocence
and she was like golden kisses
butterfly kisses in the rain
soft and sopping but shivery cold
without his sweltering attention

his arms encircled her
and he was her sun, her heat
with his light she discovered her power
her rain was warm with him
and she would turn to stream
to river, to ocean, moving mountains
forging gullies with the force of him

and when they joined, furiously
like an angry summer storm
the wet of her, and the heat from him
they roared in sultry summer
and shivered in his autumn’s rain
and with their spending
did they make rainbows
glorious, that even God would take notice
and smile, and call them
one.

inside out

the sky is inside out

the rain falls
and feels like blood
from
a fatted calf, sacrifice
gone awry

she has broken
into a million shards
of rose-colored glass
and I stand, stone in hand
misremembering
straining my darkened memory
for a hint that I threw the stone

i remember the angry words
the passion of satan, evil
i lustfully allowed access
and she was cracked
her mirror
seeing her distortion, my
mis-reflection
i taught her to fix it
long ago

and shattered it
willingly with her
she defines herself
in the very terms that destroy
mother of the world, unmotherly
embracing without embraces
loving without love
she is misdirection
and I turned, wrongly
to the sky, open’d mouth
to taste the rain
and drink in poisoned blood

she has cut herself on her
broken pieces, wields them
like a million swords, she
is pain, and fury, and guilt
and heartache, a perfection
she, always perfect, now
the perfect insanity show

lies to protect her calf
yet slaughters it herself
when the pursuers
have lost the taste for hunting
she turns, cuts, and drinks
her offspring’s blood

while

i accuse, and tear
and rend, and wail and
weep and still
don’t
notice her

torment

she has rent me asunder
me
who she loves endlessly
and i believe the lies
of being unloved
i tongue satan’s whispered
kiss-stained lies
fornicate with darkness

we have sinned
against you my
Lord
and in turning
from the path,
rainbows are now
merely bloodstains in the
heavens

she is lost, her pieces
shattered, while i
hold her rock, the one
rock i always promised
i would be
and i cast myself
at her fragile
mirror

and we have both
shattered
torn from heaven
and cast directly
into hell,
we two, together
we burn in eternal
damnation, as one

hells fire dances in
disco balled delight
reflecting two million
shattered shards of shell-shocked
shit
we have become
and I cannot fix her
broken glasswork

for i am the rock
she threw at herself
and i bleed across the sky
in fury

cannot repair her shattered
mirror, for her pieces
i have used to fix
my own
and

have no more for her

perhaps…

she still has a few
of mine that would fit
i am shattered
and my perfect mother
mary’s little lamb
has been led to
slaughter, crying
for her savior

and i have no
salvation,
i have no magic
mirrors, and though i rend
the heavens with my
roar, and the skies weep
at my command
i have no power

to save her

for i am lost

yet,
still, i remain

hopeful

 

8 Comments

  1. Beautiful poems Bill. I think we must keep on writing poetry, for ourselves and also for others – people ‘see’ themselves in the poem that says what they can’t say. i feel as is I get to know the deepest part of myself through writing poetry .It also helps me to show myself to others in my life and I often find the intimacy of a poem can connect us when conversation is too uncomfortable. It’s like a song, but without music (except for the rhythm.of the poem, that is ) Mt last blog was about passion and I in my case i was referring to poetry – I only really found it in my 40’s but I can’t live without it now.

    1. Thank you. Even though I’ve written complete books, I don’t feel like a writer unless I am writing poetry. What discourages me is how they are teaching poetry. Now, rather than lyricism, they are teaching people to write little short stories.

      It’s as if the music is being squeezed out, and only a drum beat of occasional meter remains. If that day happens, if we allow the music to stop, if no one knows our songs, it is the world that will suffer for it.

      Keep writing. Always do.

  2. Summer Storm left me breathless – stunning. I can see everything – you gave me just enough words.

    I always thought it would be fun to take a photo and write to it – many of the photos I take while on my hikes contain words. Would be interesting to see how it speaks to each person. Could be an anthology that hasn’t been done yet. Each Chapter a different photo with the words of various artists.

    I would submit to that 🙂

    1. That’s actually a great idea. I’d love to arrange something like that. I often write to photographs – even in my novels. I’m visual, so it helps me pick out the salient details. If they speak to me in the photo, then, I believe, they will speak in the prose or poetry.

      What’s interesting is how quickly your mind can go beyond the photo, to describe what should be, rather than what is.

      I’m getting increasingly away from poetry, which is a shame, as my poems seem to end up in my books. I don’t know how it happens – but scenes come up that immediately bring up a poem I wrote. I guess that’s good, in that I’ve never been able to judge if a poem is good or it sucks. People respond to the ones I don’t, so I’ve gone to just posting most of them.

  3. I commented before I read Inside Out. It actually made me cry.

    I never cry.

    Well done.

  4. Thank you very much. If it’s any consolation, I was crying when I wrote it. True stories tend to do that.

    1. All stories are true – or else we wouldnt write them. Look forward to seeing more.

Comments are closed.