Category Archives: Villanelle

Unreal.

“Spit not in the Fire, nor Stoop low before it neither Put your Hands into the Flames to warm them, nor Set your Feet upon the Fire especially if there be meat before it.” G. Washington

How did everything real come to be so long ago?
Those days of dragons and dreams, before language twisted,
beating hearts into four-cornered boxes to hold woe,

torquing cooling glass that shatters. These are the slo-mo
days of Babylon, when we spark, flare, tower, hiss …
How did everything real come to be so long ago?

Torches were real, once, before guttering down to glows,
and now this fans them back to flame, coal by coal, encysted,
charring hearts into four-cornered boxes to hold woes,

answers hammered into broken questions, … so it goes.
Divided and whole all at once … it’s what existed.
How did everything real come to be so long ago?

Now unreality carves strange curves, distorted, slow;
shadows limp as if beaten down, while we’ve resisted
beating hearts into four-cornered boxes to hold woe,

saying, no!, these are not the places we want to go,
the crowds, soldiers, sadness, fears uplifted & fisted …
How did everything real come to be so long ago,
beating hearts into four-cornered boxes to hold woe?

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The Kindness of Entropy (Unmentionables, 33)

Forgetting begins even as the memory is born,
compressed with some veiled biological imperative
that dissolves, discards, thins, transforms, losing nothing to mourn.

What I recall isn’t possible. (This, said with some scorn).
The telling changed the story, permuted the narrative.
Forgetting begins even as the memory is born;

unless, that is, unless at that moment, the mind is torn,
memory locked in a loop, on replay, repetitive;
not dissolved, discarded, thinned, or transformed, but reborn,

preserved like a well known prayer, with its beads polished and worn.
Words, images, run on grooves in the nerves, pleading, “Forgive.”
Forgetting begins even as the memory is born,

as the tale is told, retold, reduced to one short word: “Warn,”
and from there to shreds rather slight, slipping through a light sieve
that dissolves, discards, thins, transforms, keeping nothing to mourn.

Fragments float, transmuting. The morning fog soothes and adorns
leaves with sparkling prisms that catch the light, bright and festive.
Forgetting begins even as the memory is born,
and dissolves (discard, thin, transform), leaving nothing to mourn.

Confession of Awe (A #TEDMED 2012 Villanelle)

How could I have imagined this question?
Help me hear gossiping of galaxies & cells.
How could I not have imagined this question?

Schumpeterian theory makes a suggestion
that poverty drives risk-taking, more than cartels.
How could I have imagined this question?

Penile design integrity—what a session!
Barefoot navigation of ocean swells.
How could I not have imagined these questions?

What is the role of natural selection
in flipping over farms, learning, models?
How could I have imagined this question?

Frozen data, shopping cart gene expression,
astrocyte astronomy, dance with no pulse, …
How could I not have imagined these questions?

A wireless tether connects my tensions
to miracles. “Live longer” rings the bell.
How could I have imagined these questions?
How could I NOT have imagined these questions?

Secrets

I have a couple new poems in progress, but in the interests of catching up on some of the sleep I so desperately need after last month’s marathon, I am sharing an old poem today, from several years ago. I think this was around 2005.


SECRETS

Last night the darkness in your secret places
crawled across your silence into my dreams.
This morning I painted my nails the color of blood

clotting darkly in black hair curled flatly against
a head wound. The color is called blackberry.
Last night the darkness in your secret places

had me curled tight against you, hands pressed flat
against the black hair of your chest, muttering.
This morning when painting my nails the color of blood,

my hands ached, my hands shook. Crooked paint
on feet walking too many crooked miles.
Last night the darkness in your secret places

scratched eyes open to see the same as when closed,
dark images overgrowing my night like thorns.
This morning I painted my nails the color of blood,

the color of the darkest petals of the darkest rose
when they dry as blood dries, as dreams dry in that
last night’s darkness of all our secret places.
This morning I painted my nails the color of blood.

Erosion of a Poetess

Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain

Ayat al-Ghermezi, 20, had recited her poems
critical of the government, then went into hiding.
She was almost ghostly until she was almost no more.

Security forces threatened her and raided her home,
insulting letters and emails left the police laughing.
Ayat al-Ghermezi, 20, had recited her poems

in Pearl Square, the Roundabout, the Monument now torn down
once stood for cooperation, traffic lights replacing
its almost ghostly glow until it is almost no more.

Doctors confirmed that Ayat had gone into a coma
after being captured, raped many times, at last dying.
Ayat al-Ghermezi, 20, had recited her poems.

That is all we know for sure. They say this is a rumor,
to make the news look like fools — a phone call proves she’s living.
She was almost ghostly until she was almost no more.

But the news says she died today, and her call made by phone?
Was six days ago. Alarms ringing, she slammed the ruling,
Ayat al-Ghermezi, 20, had recited her poems.
She was almost ghostly until she was almost no more.

Image: Pearl Roundabout, Bahrain by Jacobs Creative Bees.

Erosion of Dreams

Threads that tangle into crumpled sheets
jerk lightly at hollows grown sheer as a sigh,
spin quick sparks, shred and break, melt like sweets.

There is a sense of being lost on streets
once familiar, now Dali-esque, awry.
Threads that tangle into crumpled sheets

scurry like insect legs over shivering feet.
The confused heart twists, slurs, bends, denies,
stutters sparks that shred, break, and melt like sweets.

Uncertain of the rhythm it should beat,
it dissolves with heat into slow pliant
threads that tangle into crumpled sheets.

Astrocytes shiver with sugar, replete;
dendritic touches, delicate and sly,
spin quick sparks, shred and break, melt like sweets

or rise into steam (bubbling offbeat),
or curl into hollows and gaps, still shy.
Threads that tangle into crumpled sheets
spin quick sparks, shred and break, melt like sweets.