Spring has come, true and real:
3 May 2015
The huge, wet, soft music rained down on us ceaselessly; sleep was disrupted where limbs would embrace.
I cannot understand how I was first made to bless myself, then the next mirror-borne face,
and then—someone else. I’m a ghost in a pattern of blankets my own people never once wove.
Now I am sworn to a new magic answer where threads are inwoven with—other-wise love.
Am I a living soul wrought for reception of endless night-magic as songs fall like rain?
Am I the one sense that old solemn trees leak like tears, making flowers that leave a red stain?
Am I the one you’ll still want when you wake up tomorrow, and all this old world’s fallen off?
We might not walk hand-in-hand, though the seas rise and swell, then subside. Let your underhand cough—
and catch the next shy, fallow answer. I’m dreaming outside my own window. Rise up like the Sun,
and let me know—While my love’s dreaming the answer, he’ll only just spare me the dream he’s begun
to let leak on either side, morning and midnight, as new dawnings claim a sweet reason to wake.
Maybe he’s shy, wet, and sad, but he’s already woken to know how much love he can make,
and we are the women who’ve always held out our first arms to embrace a man good as the grave.
He’s not a babe out of every least heaven; he’s a good spirit who’ll always behave—
like prayers in a whirlwind, a silo, a temple—where many grass blades give their all, then give way.
Music falls down here like rain through a memory love wants to summon through wave after grey,
grey wave of the oncoming magic of tides—beneath a low heaven that’s salt as the sea.
When I wake up in my dark, solemn chamber, eyes are alight, and they’re yours upon me.
Child of the ancientest, most sunlit marvel, child whose lorn soul is the source of my own,
when I wake up in the moment of truest true sunrise, your soul will be what makes mine moan.
Other-Wise, and Glad to Be Alive–
Yes, it’s been that long. Yes, I’ve been seemingly quiet, but no such thing in real life. Soon to follow is my latest report, but first I want to share a significant part of the soundtrack to the work I’ve been composing, including last night’s (as I prepare to work again). My main teacher is still Dorothy Love Coates, but this song, and performance, carry me almost too high for words:
3 February 2015
Say To You Your Name
You read your roommate an old solemn testament’s power of oath right out loud, till they cried
for the most holy angels to signal their presence, and then shadow over the sea so long skied,
the lorn and lone source of true words came well over the both of us. Then we lay down and fell still.
Music, so like a religion, will play itself forwards and back, but if ever ill-will
should take notice of why it’s a frail lonely pallor away from the graveyard, whilst still seeking rain?
Then it’s a weird sort of presence; a dear lovely human who’s reading a mirror of pain,
resolving their own beyond-wholly-unholy recordings of one human shadow cast real
out of sad, lonely, poured-out-of-misery readings of poems I don’t know how to measure. The wheel,
the great flapping masses of huge dove-grey visions play, over and over, in sight of my tears;
their wheel sees the fulness and turn of the Moon meet a river’s low watershed many wild years
have driven toward a low, half-settled place, a haven of ancient reminders of your—
sacred littoral, living alive in a place we were born to behold, but far more—to adore—
for there, in that sad small salt pocket of skin that was where we once carried our far-inland food—
I shall stand tall on a mountain that must have been clam-shells and deerbones. A lover once wooed
the woman who ran with a foal by her side. Her vision was strong, and it carried out far,
but she will lie always alone in the night till the stars shine aright and he questions her star.
If she wakes up in the darkest dark night with her heart in her throat, and her skin slick with sweat,
won’t the most terrible ghost of the half-woken Earth knows she’s dying, but cannot die yet?
Read to me, sharer of rooms in the places where silent Earth shadows bear eaves that cast light.
Woe-holy angels, I need you to know me. Need we turn aside at first shadow-cast sight?
Reel like a wild band of wings in a spiral of gladder than glad uphill motion. Please be
the reason I woke up too early. I fed you; and maybe a little too much, but—we’ll see
long scrolling lines flying fast over a page in which so much true song turns to beauty more true—
and then in the close of an eye, till it opens again—If Love ends here, its last word was You.
I’m still officially Spiritual-But-Not-Religious, whilst growing more and more spiritual every day.
Of course, I saw the new year in in my customary way: alone, and singing.
Here is what I heard, as live as may be, and unedited:
1 January 2015
Begin as You Mean to Go On
Most candles guttered out slowly; the few that remained past the midnight’s cold tolling sank low.
Only a frail sense of presence reminded my flesh of the reason love’s song loves you so.
Maybe the Moon comes too frozen tonight, the sky clear as ice in a still windless place,
but instantly I can’t recall how I died of remorse, shame, and bad magic. Show a glad face,
the ghost in the shadows that lurk past the door at the back of my mind tells me: Let your love shine.
Nothing’s the matter with you or with me, and that’s why it’s difficult. Maybe I pine
for something that casts its high shadow, so gentle and fragrant, across my strange, long-casting own,
but till I can know it forever, it just wants to lie in a cold place and dream all alone
of the gathering breath that will soon force its moment. Wakening has to continue, once sleep
has fled with its pale apparitions. Oh woeful astonishment, here’s where we cannot help keep
our secrets inside an embroidered enclosure so delicate, aye the first love-breath will rend
its lightly-plied feathers apart as if they meant to fail. What will next you, dear unweaver, send?
Ghost of a breath as it lightly draws forward, tangled threads lay themselves lightly and long
across the most beautiful bed carved of hardwood and warped only once, by the eeriest song
that now plies your hearing with echoes of where we came first to the knowing that this is the fine
ceremonial blanket about to be woven between us at last, with god’s oldest design
the winding that overlays every cast answer, each small little crossing of vision and nerve.
Meet me awake in the morning, much changed between now and the moment all love songs deserve,
much strengthened by madness allayed, and by dread sorrow changed out of all recognition: You knew
the portent fast-rushing toward you; you knew you would rise amid song amid new morning’s dew;
you knew who I was, and the instant you felt me, the weather beyond the first ocean grew wild.
Aye, we are terrible seers ourselves, yet the tides of our eyes have borne song a new child.
Far, far apart, rise the waves of first hearing. Nearer they come, yet we feel more alone
than ever before. Pain so woeful, yet healing, tell me we’re come to where flesh rejoins bone.
Work goes on, regardless of all else. Here is an intermediary report:
23 December 2014
Will You? Will You Not?
Close as air, when it’s inside, is all the voice I hear. You cry
across the very narrow valley you and I still have to lie
on either side of just a little longer. Whilst your wails ring true,
the words of them, the way you chant—that visits me in nightmares. You
are death’s most dear, embodied outline, ghostly in a right loud way.
If I want to fall asleep alone again—I can’t. You stay
within an elbow’s ribcage—Who’s the bedmate who steals all the sheets?
On and on, a poet dons her mourning dress, a red sheep bleats,
a pair of braidless hands won’t cease to shake, and someone leans too low.
When she rises, taken from her rightful place to love’s wild glow
as if in such a wild man’s eyes he stared her back from heaven’s verge,
and she fell staggered back again, and rose, and then—as souls emerge
from fearful superstition into clear, benignant, streaming light,
she wakes within his arms again, and welcomes double—triple—sight.
Close as very air within the lungs that burst in this deep sea,
won’t you be the one to lay me down and let me die and be?
More updates probably coming soon!
The title of this post is a near-mystery, and for that reason I wish to honor and publish it. It came up when I tried to copy and paste the verse text to follow into my Word file for this blog. That is to say, I started to compose a new entry, but the page opened up with the title already on it, without my putting it there. I know the Bessie in question, or at least I hope I do, but I haven’t yet written about her here. Or have I lost track? It’s possible! I’m a poet; I live with this every day: I opened my poetry text file for December, and the page I left dated but otherwise empty for tonight showed me the title line, never, I swear, typed by me: Bessie’s Testimony. It makes no sense, and yet it makes all sense. Even if someone comes forward to offer a logical explanation, that still won’t explain why these machines were reading poetry in the first place.
Regarding tonight’s poem, before all this: I had brownish, but slightly reddish, hair when I was young. It was thick enough, and would grow to seemingly endless lengths. I wanted to look like a classical nymph or goddess, Burne-Jones style, but it also bothered me, it felt itchy on my skin, and my nervous disposition finally deteremined all on its own that hair-pulling was the least destructive release of otherwise unbearable excessive energy.
After growing it, cutting it, growing it, cutting it, and fighting for and against it always, I now cut my hair off every two or three weeks, velvet-close, and it honestly makes me happy for the first time since I was a child. It feels so lovely to touch, and it never turns into dust-serpents (we can hardly call them bunnies). Cast-off human hair is a serious hazard to birds, and birds are among my best friends, so I am also happy to know that doing something for my own well-being is also so good for them.
Bessie is Bessie Griffin, and this is my favorite place to hear her testimony:
4 December 2014
The Hair She Plaits by Night
The fine, silken hair that took acres of legends of dreams out of time out of mind to grow long
just lies like a sad waste of everything mindful, one half in her hand, and one half in the wrong
sort of mirror. Its lovelessness showed her the nothing that wanted to rise from within her and feed.
Small little ocean of tears I command, steal down from me swift as the tide. Full Moons bleed
on and on through a sheet frail as magic, and thin as a tissue of lies where a virgin once lay.
Let their red witness just play through your mind, then come back and tell me the things you will say.
Sing them, if brushing the mane that’s so silky will help the mare run at past ghost-speed this night;
sigh them, if that will feel safer. We’re still going to number the shed-count. We won’t get it right
altogether, but we’ll get it all each and severally real as the cast of your eyes when you read
the lines I had sent you—dawn, yesterday—and the soft words that amazed you, and all that you said—
when you first met my meanings, and we knew we’d always arranged for this meeting. It’s come, plaited hair
such as mine used to be—but I pulled it out, all of it. Now it’s a velvety layer I wear
because once was a burden I sang and I tried hard to love like its cultivar, song made of lines.
Birds come to me with their feet all bound up with long fine human hair and it hurts them. Such signs
wing toward me, wheel round me, encircle me, shiningly, happily know me, and seek me, and feed.
All my old brush-hair just had to be fed to a furnace to keep my friends safe, as birdseed
is food most of all to the god of high song as he knows me and sends his reminders I’m loved.
I have no more hair to plait, nor will ever, but I am a woman impossibly doved.
By night, in her dreams, sometimes she is an angel who’s dear streaming draft is a long silver wake.
That’s where the hair of me shines. That’s where wearing wild non-sense is real. Waves, you never there break.
We all struggle with the way we want to see ourselves, and the way we feel we are. None of this is particularly real, and absolutely none of it is permanent. Time is the sickness we need to see through. Then, we will see each other and ourselves as we have always been and will be.
New tonight, after many old loving thoughts and memories:
15 November 2014
Please Don’t Try to Know What Love Means Here
All night, I walked out too far and too long, and somewhere along the cold way, I went wrong.
Small little creatures the width of my palm or much smaller went scurrying. I sang our song.
Warmth was the pledge at the heart of it; warmth round a hearth, or a bonfire outside, on the beach.
All the old branches of sad garden deadness just gathered and fed to the flames the near reach
of pure magic has called to embolden our senses: Children, these flames reach high year after year.
You’ll never know why your seeking has sought out and found the high reaches that songs will call near;
such subtle calling well back of the mind you’ve been taught to acknowledge—that calling’s our own,
ours, as we run round the ditch and the beach, each alike, where old ghosts give new morningside moan.
Oh I’m a lass made of angels right up to my eyelids, yet I dance with eyes cast right low.
Someone’s my own, yet my moaning won’t own him or me the least sight of the seas that must flow
before we can cast our eyes back and be wed with the magic that sang us awake, and will sing
before the strange shivering silence’s lowness arrests what can die if that’s all we can bring.
Maybe I’m going to walk on, for a small little long ancient way, far past columns that glow
in sight of ideals turned to holidays. All night. Just let us walk on. Don’t let on what we know.