Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Balloon (Ready for a long one?)

My longest poem was 4-5 pages long, but this comes pretty darn close. (Based on "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop)

The Balloon

I caught a tremendous balloon
and held it beside my car,
half out of the window,
the serrated ribbon
silvery serene in my hand.
It didn’t fight.
It hadn’t fought at all.
It pulled languidly,
quietly bantering with gravity,
enormous and geranium
and loud. Here and there
its crimson skin was tautened,
stretched like too little butter
over the harsh irregularities
of a loaf of brown bread.
It was old,
small scratches denoting
where it had been pummeled
by the unforgiving inequalities
of bumpy sidewalks.
In some spots it was saggy,
drooping like an unfitted
pillowcase, half-dead for want
of air. It was stained
and dirt-stippled,
the inky grime of the city
clinging tenaciously
to its scarlet sides,
deeply ingrained,
blackly infesting the knot that held
buoyancy to control.
While it was slowly being sucked
of the hydrogen that kept it afloat,
the terrible equation
of air pressure
tilting in its favor,
I thought of how it would look
defeated, a mere
deflated apple,
a cherry-toned shell,
a dried, shrunken husk,
squeezed of life:
the flame produced
by sunshine through rubber red,
quenched, the blood-stained
light bulb snuffed out.
The reflected sun
off the ruby globe
was like a glowing eye,
shifting with the wind,
uncomfortably tangent
to my gaze,
the white focus
of a flashlight
in a red mist.
I admired its florid face,
the overwhelming vermillion
blank even in its passion,
and the small rosette of the knot,
firm even in its delicate equilibrium,
and then I saw
the fingerprints, lightly pressed,
like the ghostly grey runnels
of forgotten rain on a windshield,
opaque blurs on the pure coral,
echoes of those who had longed
to hold the inflated garnet,
but felt its weightless enormity
slip from greedy fingers.
Dents in the ribbon,
like marked height,
counting age,
or notches on an Indian staff,
counting captors,
were like medals, inverted badges,
proud valleys and deep depressions
in the silver string.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the battered, green pickup,
from the pool of leaked oil,
where the thick liquid had spread
a rainbow around the rusted engine
to the rust-flowered hood,
to the dust-smattered tailgate,
to the elephantine wheels,
the door sills— until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the balloon go.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wind Song

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." ~John 3:8

Where the mountain roots go twisting down,
In crumpled sandstone to the sound,
Where the white crests curl before they break,
And the waves plunge forth in quivering jade,
Where skies at sunset’s brink are streaked
With scarlet fire at their peaks,
The west wind’s source is drowned, asleep
In the echoing caverns of the deep.

And the people clap their hands and sing,
And through the courts the west wind rings.

And from that aqueous core, the wind
To these chapel doors did spin,
And streaming through the paneled oak,
(Like the Voice Divine that spoke,)
Shattered brittle hearts, and rolled
Salt- dusted, in the depths of souls.

And the people clap their hands and sing,
And through the courts the west wind rings.

It seems a deathly role to play—
To grieve Him till that final day.
So if you’d see the goodness in His eyes,
And let His warm touch take you by surprise,
And let the venomed playthings go,
And hear the wind thick-humming low,
And lay black-crusted burdens at the cross
And let the blood of the Divine diffuse
Through every thought—

And the people clap their hands and sing,
And through the courts the west wind rings.

You’d see the wings of something filigreed with gold
Ignite your deadened heart of dry and Arctic cold,
And all your heart’s stone corridors melt down with flame—
You’d whisper that you cannot stay the same.
You’d feel the scent blown in from Heaven’s fields
The misty, deep refreshment joy divine could yield.
And all the slimy, massive chains you wore—
Crack— and lie in mangled heaps upon the floor.
You’d find yourself fallen upon your knees,
Before that awful, radiant majesty.
That wind would bow your head before the King,
The weight of splendor o’er your head would swing.
You’d be swept up within the shining song
Of Heaven’s warriors in mighty throng—
(Holy, Holy, Holy!)
But if the wind is blowing all too hard for words,
For any sonnets starred with crystal blue,
The only song (the sweetest) would be thank you, thank you, thank you—

And the people clap their hands and sing,
And through the courts the west wind rings.

For if the wind is blowing hard,
Your rigid pride will lie in shards,
And in the hollows of your heart,
Strange strength will rise to fight and guard.
The words— so longed for— bubbling, come
The west wind’s whistle forms the sum—
You’re running at a different speed,
On different electricity:
You’ve tasted and you’ve seen.
A blaze of unimagined hues
(That burn for You, that burn for You)
By the west wind fanned to flame
Stirs up a passion for the Name
Which cuts men’s hearts and stills the waves,
And turns our wants to seek His face.

And I like to think this mighty part
(This gold-sweet wildfire)
Came from somewhere in Your heart.

And the people clap their hands and sing,
And through the courts the west wind rings.
And the west wind rings, the west wind rings.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Swimming Pool Ceremonies

My seven-year old toes
grasped rough, warm concrete,
with the primeval terror
that sc
for sun-baked stone,
as I tottered,
knobbly knees weak.
I reeled at the knife-thin line
between edge and water.
The vast liquid expanse
lay, blue, blue, blue before me,
Legends of sea serpents
flickered in bookshelves of memory.

My throat dry,
I realized
that I could not go home that night,
damned coward.
And with the effort
of a host of stallions
dragging a secret,
bumping along,
monstrously reluctant;
eruptions of dust
burst in its wake,
I pushed
off the steaming poolside
through the sapphire surface
into chasm depths.

And in the name
of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

I thought I would die in solid turquoise,
the currents wrapping me
in overpowering presence,
the water warm as blood,
deafening my eyes, drowning my ears.

Then, the trapped sunlight
fluttering in pool corners,
threading thick fluid,
rushed, in a glisten-winkling frenzy
of coruscating flurry,
into soul and core,
igniting my granite-heavy heart,
releasing a hundred doves.

And in the name
of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

I found myself
borne up by watery arms,
the mystery of floating;
the feathery beating
of white, white wings,
pounding in ears,
vibrating in veins
in restless quicksilver.

My head shattered the glass surface,
hosts of drops exploding
in liquid fireworks,
sunlight glinting
through a million prismal facets,
runnels of chlorine
straggling down my cheeks
like tears
while the dizzy world cracked wide
in a
of laughter.


The kind of insanity you sink into, half-asleep, when your thoughts become a small mountain of pebbles sliding sliding slippery onto the calm surface of a pool, releasing a chessboard of ripples, that collide and multiply in a web of liquid flurry, an ever turning, ever-expanding kaleidoscope of a million shades of blue. The kind of crazy thoughts like agitated storms of birds in a glass figurine shop, a mad beating of wings smashing vitreous Minerva into scintillating bits. The kind of mindless murmur that sounds like detergent poured into a fountain (naughty Cupid,) bubbles on bubbles on shining mounds, a sea of translucent worlds, weightless, nothing. The lunacy I slip into when you hold my hand; electricity shivering in runnels, through vibrating veins, bursting in violet potentials.