Tag Archives: poetry

Green

For St. Patrick’s Day, and for Poetry Friday, here’s Green, perhaps the best poem I ever wrote:

Oh, and here’s me reading it, too, over here: http://drbacchus.com/green/

Green
Dec 5, 2007

My favorite color?
Well, the question lacks context
and therefore meaning.

My favorite sky is
sharp aching blue,
the kind of blue you can
cut your fingers on
until they bleed into
and African Sunset
and plunge into a
deep purple African night,
with the diamonds of
faraway worlds scattered
like the dust thrown up
by the passing herds.

My favorite sea is
gray-green-blue stormy
swirling seaweed churned
from depths beyond imagining,
the sky a reflection of a
reflection of infinity,
winking back at you from
a million million miles down.

My favorite earth is the
dark maroon red brown
of the Maasai clay
brittle and cracked
under the Tsavo sun,
gummy sticky under the
monsoon rains
sweeping up from Victoria,
thundering past on their way
to green the highlands,
glisten on the tea leaves,
pound the coffee flowers
from their branches,
and drench the faces
of the beautiful children
running around in what
God dressed them in,
laughing and shouting
in a language I will never know
but that sings fluently
in the memory of my heart.

So, you see,
the question is unfair.
As well ask a man
to choose one food
to live on forever,
one wine to drink,
one song to sing,
one painting to gaze at
for all my days.

But if I must choose,
I choose the green
of the Kericho fields,
stretching to the horizon,
the beginning and ending
of my world.
The green of a
1952 Ferrari Barchetta,
with its greedy grinning grill
sucking in the wind
of a winding Italian mountain road
tires squealing around the corners,
flashing past a
sleeping countryside
content to be stuck in a simpler time.
The green of
the foothills of Ngong,
acacias and baobabs
clawing at the
dark, angry sky,
promising threatening delivering rain,
the hills singing to my heart,
come and walk our paths,
come and feel the
wind tugging at your hair
come and
lay on your back and
watch the clouds dance
across the sky,
dance from one end of the sky
to the edge of the world,
where the
blue falls back once again
into the red dust
of the far Mara horizon.
The green of my voice,
singing across the years,
telling my stories to
the attentive ears,
the deep green eyes
of the friend of my heart.

Ode to Box 1 (of 2)

IMG_20160611_101704You taunt me,
box 1 of 2.
What, and where
is box 2?

Is there even a box 2?
Is there any relation
between the utterly random
assortment of junk in you
to the cornucopia
which is box 2?

Ah, box 1
half of an unknown whole,
kept, I think, only to wait
for your long lost sibling,
languishing, somewhere,
waiting for you.

 

Endnotes

Endnotes

She didn’t want
to send invitations.
Why invite people you know aren’t going to come.
Seems a waste.
So her Daddy’s daughter.

It’s traditional,
says Mere,
People like to know.

She didn’t send invitations.

And now she sits,
easy to find with her purple hair,
in a mob of her classmates

awaiting a short walk,
a slip of paper,
the endnotes of this chapter
that she doesn’t really need to tell her
that the next one has started.

Almost spring

Almost spring

The final creme brulee crust of ice
clings valiantly to the surface of the swimming pool,
but vanishes at the lightest touch of the fingers

I pretend it’s warm enough
to be outside in bare feet,
pretend not to shiver when
the water gets on my neck.

Pretend it will be
warm again some day.

Vincent

Vincent

“Sit anywhere.”
He pushes some things off of Paul’s chair –
a swirly sky of stars,
a couple sleeping on a hay stack.

I stub my toe on pair of old black boots,
brush my elbow on some cherry blossoms,
and sit.

“Just a few things I’m working on,
they’re not done yet.”
He wipes a smudge of paint from his cheek,
gestures with a paintbrush,
getting yellow on the floor.

So much beauty scattered about
it’s hard to squeeze through
without knocking over
a vase of dandelions.

 

gauguins-chair

MY PEOPLE

MY PEOPLE

Thomas Butler,
my great great
great great
grandfather
was a wool weaver.
I hope to find him today,
sleeping in his homespun
at St. Catherine’s.

But my Irish roots are right here
at the breakfast table.

Good Lord, these people know how to eat.

Baked beans, eggs, sausage, bacon,
potato, pudding,
toast and marmalade.

And the coffee is good.

These are surely my people.

Spinning your straw into gold

Spinning your straw into gold
For E

Emerging from under the haystack
halo of straw around your head
the night under Claude Monet’s hayrick
and the dreams still
caught in your hair

You squirm like Rumpelstiltskin
stamping your feet and shouting
as we chase the rats back into their holes
tease out the tangles
find the treasure in the brambles
spin your straw into gold

Wheatstacks_(End_of_Summer),_1890-91_(190_Kb);_Oil_on_canvas,_60_x_100_cm_(23_5-8_x_39_3-8_in),_The_Art_Institute_of_Chicago

O Captain, my Captain

O Captain, my Captain is the poem that got me started reading Walt Whitman – one of many works mentioned in Dead Poets Society that got me reading particular authors. Not exactly Whitman’s most cheerful work.

Mom used to tell stories of her grandma Nace (my great grandmother) throwing apples at crazy old Walt Whitman as he went for his daily walk near his home in Camden, The kids of the town thought that he was a crazy old man. But he was a man who took his personal tragedies – mostly having to do with his brothers – and turned them into beauty, poetry, and a lifetime of service to the wounded of the civil war.

And now, when so many people are quoting “O Captain, My Captain” in reference to Robin Williams, I have to wonder if they’ve read past the first line – a deeply tragic poem about the death of President Lincoln, in which he is imagined as a ship captain who doesn’t quite make it into harbor, after his great victories. Chillingly apropos of yesterday’s tragic end to the brilliant career of Robin Williams.

Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

Island

Island

feb 24 2013
LAX, Gate 47A

island

The travelers cling to the island
fighting for a foothold,
for a chance to pluck the limited fruit.

Their phones, laptops, and tablets
balance precariously on the tiny table,
their cables drinking from the meagre outlets.
They sit on the floor, lean on the wall,
look longingly at the
only-slightly-more-comfortable
fellow passengers,
sitting in the cramped seats
around the A Concourse,
trying not to bump knees,
squirming to be comfortable,
in seats designed more for the rowing galley
than for comfort.

Waiting for their turn at the island,
watching carefully with seeming unconcern
for the moment when an outlet
becomes available,
and they can dash across to claim it,
take their spot on the island.

The tide goes out.
The tide comes in,
and a new crew of castaways
cling to the island.