Sunday, September 5, 2010

104. ere the eye

Coming to the cold lake’s views
And summer almost done,
Finding, oft, the loons afloat
And paddling through by boat,
We sit until there is not sun.

Resting in the hemlocks’ ease,
A sheet of wind for sail,
We’ve rent the shade in two
And given nothing away that’s true,
Marking not a means to fail.

The clouds are ships cerulean
In shapes that multiply the eye
Ere can we see the form it takes,
Ere can we find the beast it makes,
And learn that everything’s a lie.

Against a cool September shade,
A host of leaves above our heads,
We wait for wintry breath to come,
We wait for when our skin turns numb,
And slumbering’s warm within our beds.

*

O, Warren, I
Simply cannot take it: to write
In the style of Melville’s poetry: the clumsy
Meter, never steady, never playing unsteady
Against a steadiness; and all those
Hyphenated words I could not even
Bear to emulate (“jack-straw,” “needle-ice,”
“Ice-cube”), the stilted diction, the exaggerated
Music (“A lumbering lubbard loitering slow”),
And the mere pointlessness of the poems, giving us
Neither beauty nor edification, as if
The second were of any worth.

A poem is a thing of words,
And it is those words that must first work,
Not the history behind them. Every word
Lives in the context of its text and its culture,
But history alone saves nothing.

Yes, we are here
On the shore of East Caroga Lake,
The family come together
To enjoy the cold that rests
Around our ankles, the cold
Coming in, the fall
Almost here, and this is the last
Time we will be here together

For the year, school starting,
Work continuing, the harvest
Of our separate lives held off
Long enough. We leave,
Or will leave, tomorrow
For our own wherevers.

And I’m well aware this
Is a lousy poem. Bad poetry
Sometimes is poor inspiration,
And I can live with that,
Even with a bad poem,
A little late for your birthday.

Also up late, but that is usual,
So “late” may be meaningless,
And I’m facing a liquid diet tomorrow
In preparation for a little peek
Up my colon the next day.

Sometimes, something sneaks up
Behind and surprises us. Sometimes,
We ask for the surprise of it. And I will sleep
Through mine, my eyes turned dark
By Demerol, the gentle kiss of her,
Then descent, and I could hardly wake
From its comforts last Thursday
For another test, didn’t feel awake
Until my eyes opened and I found
The world waiting there for me
And the bright lights, because I work
By my eyes most, looking some nights
Out the dark windows of this camp
For the loons when they sing, but
Seeing maybe moonlight’s shimmer
On the water or a few small lights
Across the water. Did see two loons

Today, though, a pair off in the water,
As if they belonged together and also to
This simple little lake reaching
Towards winter and another way

Of seeing.

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