later— ····she brushes wild-flowers from her floral ············dress.
rain ····on her back—rain pooling ·········inside.
3: Three Summer’s Erotic Haiku • November 9 2015
The first haiku is a bit of a joke, obviously; but the joke is a stab at Japanese haiku. Anyone who’s read enough Japanese haiku will recognize the common complaint—’The Heat!’ It seems to have been a tradition that included Basho, Buson and Issa, among others, to begin their haiku that way. Thought I’d give it my own irreverent twist.
Tom O’Bedlam, of SpokenVerse, has beautifully read Skeletons. I was unfamiliar with Tom’s readings until recently (and astonishingly), but I’m a bit of hermit. Tom read Browning’s poem My Last Duchess, quoted my summary of the poem and provided a link to my post. I listened to his Duchess, then other poems, and then was so taken by his readings that I wrote Skeletons for him; imagining a poem to suit his voice. In truth, the poem is dedicated to him. So here it is, once again, and beautifully read by Tom O’Bedlam. I’d be happy to write him a hundred poems. He’s inspired me.
My skeleton and I go out for walks, Although he mostly likes it in the closet. I’ll hear him tap, tap, tapping His skull for some conundrum; there are many. It’s no small thing for any skeleton To think. His skull’s a ruined house, its clasps And door-locks long since gone. ························He teeters, grasps — Ideas are fretful winds. They blow into And through his vacant stare, emptily tumble; Then out the way they came. He stands perplexed, A sharp forefinger’s bone upraised, his jaw Aslant — he’d almost had it. ························So it goes It’s times like these that we go out. I keep Our walks discreet though every now and then We’ll meet a passerby (my skeleton And theirs will pay no mind). We pass a cape, A woodpile covered by a sheet of tin, And laundry—skirts and sheets. They billow ghostlike Above the ruined dooryard. ························He walks With fingers laced behind his spine; looks A little this way and a little that. The dust recoils between his toes and smolders At his heels. There’s nowhere he’ll stop Unless it’s where there used to be a house, Midfield, where now there’s just foundation stone. He’ll gaze with longing and he’ll heave And here and there a leaf snagged in his ribs (And bones withal) will tumble down. They’ll scrape And skitter through and in between until He stands in them. ··················He lingers. He’d share A secret he kept in life; that now, In death, keeps him. I never asked and yet One day he pointed where the house had been With such a trembling grief He might have been as likely reaching to touch Another’s unseen fingertip. ························A gust Took from the cellarhole a crackling smoke Of leaves.·The sheets of the house nearby Were chased into the field’s conflagration Of nettle, thorn and thistle. Too late They fled but couldn’t flee. The sudden gust Confounded them — the mother and her child! I saw them both. How like a mother’s hand, And like the daughter’s where the small sheet clung If only by a clothespin to the larger; As if they’d change what was already done, As if this time they’d reach his outstretched sorrow; Undo, a hundred years gone by, the crows That rise like startled ashes from the ruins— Their screams dispersed into the neighboring hemlock And birch. ······His lowering finger curls beneath Their rake of knuckles. The sheets lay motionless Under a settling soot of leaves and wildflowers charred By frost. ······He never afterward did more Than linger. I’ll not swear that what I saw Was true, but then I can’t be sure that I Won’t too, for guilt, regret, or for some sorrow Dwell in your home. ······You’ll know me, if I’m there— My bones, a few remains, shelved in a poem; Willing, if just for company, to share Your walk and should you need me to — your pain.
Here lies the preacher Zebediah Grey: A pillar, incorruptible, severe;
Who suffered not the children at their play Nor tidings but humility and fear. “Tempt not,” said he, “the wrath of righteous love— The love that strips the unrepentant bare. Lure not that retribution from above; Look on God’s works, ye blithesome, and despair: How fleeting be your joys, how little worth!” The congregation trembled at his scowl And with him daily praised this hell on earth; But friend if only you could see him now ····Whose sneering adumbrated mankind’s sins— ····If only you could see him— How he grins!
Zebediah November 16 2014 • by me, Patrick Gillespie
As promised, a sonnet — Shakespearean. I can’t bring myself to write any other kind. This isn’t at all the way I started, but once the idea got under my skin, I had to. I wrote most of this yesterday, on the drive home, sparked by the bleak landscape of November’s first snow. Readers familiar with Shelley’s Ozymandias will pick up on a good many echoes.
You might have had ten miles clear road ahead,
A sunny break of fields along the way
And breathed the scent of daffodils instead—
There’s nothing like a crisp New England day—
But life gives nothing isn’t marred or flawed.
No, certain as a ten inch snow in June
And all the passing lanes gone by, by God
You’ll not be anywhere on time or soon.
The S.O.B. is only hell-bent sure
For just so long as takes to cut you off
Then drives as if he took a Sunday tour
And now’s your luck to watch his tail pipe cough, ····You’d swear, with malice of the kind that’s flaunted. ····You haven’t lived until you’ve been Vermonted.
Vermonted February 25 2014 : by me, Patrick Gillespie
Guess what! This was translated into French (unbenownst to me). How apropos. Now this vile poem can afflict the selfsame nation that afflicted us with the Villanelle. You can see the original here. Or click below: