Refilling the Bucket Full of Nothing But Holes

The old man’s creation days 
have long since passed. 
Says he feels useless as 
a bucket full of nothing but holes.
Every day he still shuffles 
to his well of invention, 
but his arms aren’t long enough 
to reach whatever new is left 
way down that once splashing shaft.
And even if he could reach 
whatever sloshes down in the dark, 
by the time he hauled it up 
all his creation would’ve 
run through that old bucket.

This saddened and perplexed 
the old man, who judged his worth 
by what he could create.
“I’m done. I’ve no reason to go on,”
he said to his muse, who never 
gave up on her creative old man.
“You can, too, still create,” 
she told him one night in the dark, 
for this is where they did 
their best work. “If you can’t reach 
a shiny new creation, why don’t you 
create a well-polished old one 
all over again? There really isn’t 
anything new anyone pulls from the dark 
out into the sun.”

The old man spent but a minute 
pondering his Muse’s inspiration, 
because she always was the smart one, 
and said, “You know, your favorite’s
a squint-eyed look at one of Stafford’s. 
Over here’s a slant re-telling of Emily.”
And so he began to recreate the created. 
Because this is what poets do 
until they stumble over the new. 
And that’s what muses are for --
tossing inspiration out there in front 
of their old men to stumble over.

Trompe la Mort

Among the papers that I’ve kept 
to remind me of who I was, 
I found a story, and almost wept.
Not that it was sad, just…because.

Because it stirred a time so bright
when this was like respiration,
autonomic, just sit down and write,
instead of wheezing desperation.

The open vein has run its course,
I can find nothing left to bleed.
When you were my art's driving force,
of these banal rhymes I had no need.

Perhaps the old I shouldn’t see
if all they did is bring more pain.
Maybe I should just reinvent me,
and tap some imaginary vein.

No, you could tell it wasn’t real,
and more fraud than ever I’d be.
So I’ll just tap the scars I feel,
a roadmap to my heart, maybe.

I’m not that same man, no longer,
but a poet of love and light still.
I cheated his death, now I’m stronger.
Just need time, my life to refill.

If I recall, a sorta-kinda translation of the French phrase “tromp la mort” is something like “cheating death” or someone who does. And it looks like I might’ve done just that.  

Trying For a Mountain When a Molehill Will Do

I’m sitting at my window watching
a mountain being born upon 
the swatch of ground between me and 
the shed. Something out there wiggled, 
distracting my eye from this sheet 
of white, which lies as flat and dormant
as my inspiration and the near-frozen 
ground from which -obviously - 
mountains can happen. 

Again it shakes and an eruption of fresh
earth spews forth, cascading down 
its conical form like I wish 
great words would from my pointy head. 
And I spit curses at myself and Nature 
because there She goes making 
perfect molehills again while I’m 
stuck trying to make mountains.

True happening. Too true failing.

Freedom to Write Bad Poetry

Where do I start except top left,
since my language runs to the right?
But lately my words lack any heft,
lack anything since they’re out of sight.

Can’t blame the muse, she tries her best.
Besides, I’m not one to cast blame.
If I can’t write words at her behest,
then Her Poet’s a name I can’t claim.

And so I write without a thought,
nor inspiration I can see.
If any sense I’ve herewith caught,
I thank my disembodied She.

So here it is, some free-write rhymes,
Coldplay’s “Fix You” planted the seed.
Or was it my muse gave me these lines?
Then I got what I want, but not what I need.

Maybe someday we’ll meet somewhere,
but if not, I do understand.
If I’m a bad poet, She doesn’t care,
as long as I stay her good man.

And yes, this was indeed a free-write poem. I just sat and started writing, since my poetry machine has been in the shop for a few months. I thank my muse and Chris Martin for whatever magic sparked on the page by the time I was what might be “done."

I Believe In You Because You Believe In Me

I tried to believe there is no such thing
as a muse to incite some kind of art.
But now I’m empty and the birds don’t sing,
the leaves have all fallen and so’s my heart.

I have no words with which a net I’d knit
that I might capture your dear heart and soul.
And now for two hours I’ve done naught but sit,
with a net not made of words, just all hole.

But how do I catch what I cannot hold,
my hands stuck in these holed pockets so deep?
My fingers empty of all but the cold,
with no words I can sew, so none shall I reap.

Please touch me with a whisper, my muse, old friend.
remind my imagination how I’ve been wrong.
Together we’ll fill autumn’s trees again,
lift my heart, and the birds’ voices in song.

The Light You Shine for This Blind I

Perhaps it would make you laugh, 
or shake your head and wonder why, 
but no one would be able to see 
these words without the light 
you shine on them. Not even I. 
Even in our darkest times,
I’ve found illumination in your
presence, your soul-light shine 
from over my shoulder.
I tried writing in the dark, 
smearing what felt like 
letters upon the night air. 
But they’d be gone by morning, 
like dreams forgotten when
I’d awaken and find nothing 
but emptiness all about me.
So this is all about you, 
the dawn and noon and sunset glow, 
the land and water and sky,
the he and she and they and them,
that you are to this otherwise blind I.

As I Live and Breathe

Your name is the first word 
I write each day, 
though not in black on white.
No, it’s the clear blank-page
morning air upon which 
I sigh in deep blue desire.
Your name is the final word 
of my daily opus before
my eyes close in sleepy
punctuation. I’ve written 
thousands of such pages 
over the years, 
tossing hundreds away, 
sharing too many, 
keeping some hidden 
beneath my pillow.
And nobody knew but me, 
and few would care unless
they perused them through
your eyes. I know you’d prefer 
not to see your name sighed 
between the lines upon 
the morning air or evening breeze. 
But a man’s got to breathe.

Looking for the Spark

I watch my folded arms 
rise and fall with each slow breath. 
It’s as if I’m trying to give 
flaming life to the pile of tinder 
sitting between and behind my eyes.
This pathetic chakra of cerebral 
cattail fluff, dry and ethereal, 
has all the air it needs to puff 
and smoke and extend a yellow tongue 
to lick whatever kindling I can gather, 
like syllabically stacked cordwood.
But the igniting spark does not come 
and the heat remains out of reach.
I feel my arms rise and fall,
cold and empty, as the light dims
but does not fail.

Day 28's distracted and tired poem.

Your Obedient Liar, Me

You do know, all I am is make-believe,
a lie I tell you I’ve told myself first.
It’s not that I started out to deceive,
but if I didn’t share these words I’d burst.

If I told you stories you’d want to hear,
then maybe you might give me a listen.
But I made them up, some over a beer.
In vino veritas, with Truth missin’.

I’m sorry if your feelings I misled,
I didn’t start out to sow confusion.
It’s not like I tried to get you in bed,
though, in truth, that became my delusion.

La Belle Dame sans Merci, I beg pardon.
My life’s been nothing but isolation.
If all I’ve done is your heart to harden,
then I’m doomed to even more privation.

Without you, this darkness my art confines.
But if you once more my attention chanced,
let this be the first of my truest lines:
My heart and soul you’ve forever entranced.

Day 26 of NaPoWriMo. No prompt involved. I just sat and wrote. Unfortunately it came out in rhyme, but at least my imagining and chronicling worked in tandem. Heck, I'm just happy they worked at all. Thank you, my source of inspiration, my wellspring of poetry, ma belle dame sans merci (Thanks John Keats for that, as well.).

Of Muses and Walking Moon-Shadows

The moon used to walk across the sky
for me and my dog. But she didn’t see that.
She just knew the breeze carried
the identities of the wild and tame
west of us. She understood how scary trees
clacking their branches can be on
an autumn night, unless I was brave.

She knew I’d wrap my arms around myself
as I shivered from the cold norther,
but not fear. I had her to protect me.
But she never saw that moon walk its way
behind the breaks in the rolling clouds.

She’d warn me of the wedge-shaped skein
of geese that made everything in the sky
stop as they honked their way home to
the Chesapeake, though. Deaf poets see
plenty of things at night that aren’t there,
but a quiet dog can reveal more wonder than
any capricious muses when the winds howl
at walking moon-shadows.

Make-up poem #2. Photo by yours truly.