Memory III

Memory III

For all time,
as the cockatoos and walruses did wage eternal war each upon the other:
that bastard Ragnorak of pets and zoo animals,
my sleepmind vapored and rose above to gaze sadly down
(and yet happily)
upon my still and benodded bodybody:
the grim toes, those crooked lips, that hairy belly.
There was a screeching and a’gnawing upon the door,
and I watched my bodyself rise to open, sighing “no”:

hungry silence and salivated words upon my doorstep
toothy words at my door
oh, and darkness too:
dark which enveloped my head in a thousand blazing caricatures of itself.

“Why is this here?” I cried.

The quiet stretched on and on and always,
as I watched my small and fragile formbody standing at the edge,
sitting coldly down, gnawing carefully—oh, so carefully!—
chewing on my bodyhand’s empty ringfingerbone:
looking down, I felt the dim pull of pain:
a quick rushing, and I sat once more between my ears.

Yet, I did not waken:
I sat clutching soiled words and empty fingers
and toothy lightning bolts were hurled ‘cross the sky:
those eyes within my head were stunned,
broken with their thick lashing.

In silence,
for there was no one there,
I scratched my ears
in silence.

***

I’m noticing that certain things keep coming up again and again. OK, yes, I’m sort of self-conscious about my toes, which are kind of crooked, and I usually don’t wear sandals for that reason. Also, I was having some pretty weird dreams in my early 20s. I was also really interested in how daily life could be mapped onto mythical or mythological things. I read a couple books on Norse mythology at one point, which might have been an influence here.

A cockatoo lived in our house for a while when I was a kid. One time it bit my ear so hard that it bled. It also pooped on my head more than once. So, I think I’m gonna have to come down on the walruses side in this one.

Memory II

Memory II

Tortoise shells were raining from my forehead today.
I almost caught it: nose bleeding, head thrumming.
The bedclothes were all twisted up
my toes’ thick nails were pounding beneath the skin;
there was a mess of daisies and lilies and snapdragons.

“What?” I said to you. “What!”

but there was no reply:

Rising, deciding to dance:
placing those pink buffalo slippers upon my dainty feet.
It was there you made your mistake:
underestimating my resolve.

“This ring: take-it, take-it.
“I beg you: take it
“for I wish to blow away in the wind.
“My black umbrella catches
“and I float away from you forever
“among lands of spice and dreams-made-reel.”

***

I have a memory–I no longer know is true–of waking up from a dream with a nosebleed and   writing down something on a piece of paper that later became this poem. I think it was a pretty strange dream.

The original is long gone. I revised these poems so many times. I used to carry around this 3.5″ floppy disk with my writing on it. I’d load it up and tinker away at them, over and over and over again. It became a kind of comforting ritual, I suppose.

For me, the ending of this poem conjures up the movie Mary Poppins. The “dreams-made-reel”, I know, made it through every revision.

Perhaps the “you” in this poem was whoever sent me the dream and the nosebleed. These days, I have real people to greet me in the morning. Much improved.

Memory I

Memory I

the winter is glooming now
dripwater is sliding down the windowpanes
the frost on my mind is hoared with weather,
slicing clocks and stale breakfasts,
muddied plans and senseless perseverance

there was a time
when the rain would have driven me mad
pounding, pounding as it does, on the eaves
[like the old story by the old dead man where it rains and rains and rains
[and no one ever gets to see the sun
[and the rain always dripping, sliding slipping into face
[between eyebrows, down ears, past neck
[and trickling into partially opened mouth]
but not now: I’ve girded myself about with walls,
bitter fortifications and disembodied trenches.

it is raining

and when I open my eyes, in the dark,
to the sound of music or clamorings or rustlings in the night
I often think I am still asleep
that my nightbrain is conjuring dream-murmurs to strangle me
but then I feel the burning still in my eyes
and I know that I have never been asleep:
still waiting to ride that wyrdness into dream.

the darkness raining

a nightmare haunted my chair demurely
weeping softly in the night
and I was swarmed by a thousand
thousand hungry toothsome ducks, all wanting my bread
though I had none…

***

I’ve been looking over some old writing. Where else to put it, except this old weblog? In my early 20s, I wrote a series of poems called Memories. Simply, they were moments in time that stood out as almost mythical to me, so I scribbled down some poems–I probably have the notebooks and scraps of paper still packed away somewhere–and compiled them all together. It was the most serious, personal writing project I’d done up to that point. I even printed and bound about five copies of them. I gave them away as Christmas presents one year, when I was super broke. They may be floating around somewhere, still.

Older me looking back wants to rewrite these poems and “fix” them, but I’m gonna show some compassion to younger me, here, and leave them as is. Younger me did the best he could at the time and who am I to begrudge him his passion and emotional meanderings.

I do still quite like “slicing clocks and stale breakfasts”.