I Will Not Eat the Darkness: A Moment of Thursday

Poetry is music, but the reverse is also true.
Listen to this, and it will make your Thursday better.
I promise.

 

The summer dusk,
Falling close and airless on our shoulders,
Tucks its ragged edges into the grass roots,
Settling in for the night.
The jaded sky hangs overhead
And we hug our knees,
Sweat coating our skin and dampening our clothes
While we stare into the trees.
Not a bough moves,
Each leaf is paralyzed,
Save the tiniest rustles of insect feet
That traverse the thin veins of their green faces.
Flowers, which typically dip and sway themselves to sleep,
Droop in the heat,
Immobile slumbering, ill-at-ease,
Their thin fronds and petals drying moment by moment.
We, too, can hardly bear to sit here,
The grass prickling our clammy skin,
But we remain passive,
Too uncomfortable to move our sweat-slicked limbs,
To push the limp hair back from our empty eyes,
To stretch our bare feet out, dirty from the day.
The stagnation is appealing, somehow,
So that we cannot leave it,
Cannot break it,
As though some harsh spell of stillness has been cast.
The light continues to weaken,
The sun fading into the horizon like an anchor.
The world is hushed and we dare not speak,
But in the dark we see the first firefly,
The small flare sent out to break open the night,
And now the slightest breeze wakens us all.

 

Listen here:
Over The Rhine’s “I Will Not Eat the Darkness”

I Will Not Eat the Darkness: A Moment of Thursday

Early Morning Range: A Moment of Thursday

Poetry is music, but the reverse is also true.
Listen to this, and it will make your Thursday better.
I promise.


When you are so tired you can’t sleep,
Recall the plains,
Apt-named.
Perpetual swaths of dirty earth
Lashed and beaten by rain and sun,
Flattened like worn-out laundry,
The interminable fields of century.
When you are so tired you cannot stand to sit still,
Recall the plains.
The wind reigns king,
Pushing and pulling all things to its will, deigning and decreeing.
The wheat stands and bows,
And someday you will learn.
When you are so tired you cannot hold yourself together,
Your fingers clawing at your own ribs to stay in one piece,
Recall the plains.
They are broken and still exist,
And so do you.
The wheat, endless, is not brown
But golden,
Like your hair in the sun.
The expanse of empty sky is the same in your eyes
As they stare without seeing
In this state of weariness complete.
When you are so tired you cannot give up,
Recall the plains.
The earth has given up to sky,
And thin stalks of grain, despite all, grow.
And so do you.
Lay out your burden,
Give it up.
When you are so tired you can’t feel,
Recall the plains,
Ceaseless sweep of susurrus grass.
If you look deep enough into the fields,
You will find the loveliest of flowers,
Roses wild and full of thorns that bite,
Drawing forth crimson drops from your hands and knees,
A pain you can feel.
When you are so tired you can’t sleep,
Recall the plains.
In their dead appearance they must be tired, too,
The wheat and grass and roses,
All worn.
Barren whispers curl on the tails of wind,
Cawing with the bleak voice of crows,
A keening elegy to the earth, pallid plains.
But still, within, they are alive.
And so are you.

 

Listen here:
George Winston’s “Early Morning Range”

Early Morning Range: A Moment of Thursday

Ides of March: A Moment of Thursday

Poetry is music, but the reverse is also true.
Listen to this, and it will make your Thursday better.
I promise.

 

The musty suitcase smell of indoor summers
Fills up whole corridors of memory.
Wallpapered halls with floors warping
So a marble would travel unhindered
To certain corners
Which you well know.

The warp-wood doors each opening,
Creaking,
Disclosing the secret lives of each year of youth,
Distinct personalities of each summer.

The peach-painted room,
Quiet rumpled bedclothes and wilted sunflowers,
Sand filling the chinks between floorboards,
A small cotton dress hung on the wall to air
That you can’t remember wearing.

The room of windows and nothing else,
Full up with empty light,
The bare floors nonetheless inviting,
There for the stretching out upon,
Nothing of care or grace,
Simple and wooden,
The bare elegance of artless repose.

The room of grey,
Perfect-made bed and ordered desk,
Papers stacked trimly aside an ink-black typewriter.
Clean paper, waiting for the words,
The worn-out shoes kicked against the baseboard
After long walks full of thoughts
And no speaking.

The room you haven’t seen yet,
The door at the far end of the hall.
A light shines from the thin gap beneath the door,
And sometimes you lay flat-out,
Your shoulders pressed into the floor dust,
Your neck craned like a heron
To get a glimpse.

The shadows of something are visible,
Variegated patterns that shift and alter
Like trees mottling grass
Or stars spilled onto dark velvet
Or marbles wobbling down a dim hallway.


Listen here:
Hanneke Cassel’s “Ides of March”

Ides of March: A Moment of Thursday

Goodbye Eilis: A Moment of Thursday

Poetry is music, but the reverse is also true.
Listen to this, and it will make your Thursday better.
I promise.

The weariness of day brimming in your shoulders
So all you can do is stretch out on the grass,
Though you know the rain is coming.
The air, fresh on your face,
Smells like liberty and fresh-turned earth,
Swaying your hair into a waltz
Across your face.
And you blink in the wind that lashes tears into your eyes,
Though you feel no sadness, you let them fall,
Some rain to wash off the dust of routine,
To wipe the grime from the window-glass.
The first drops fall from the clouds,
Peaceful, without hurry,
Beading up and resting on the grass where they land,
Rolling, vanishing into the dirt.
Slow trails slip down the leaves of the live oak not far away.
And then,
With little notice, the sky is opened,
Like a gate swung wide before caged wild horses,
And all the heavens rush forth,
A veritable flood.
And you breathe it all in
And out
And in.
Your aching limbs lying gracelessly
Are drenched and seem to come alive,
Arms stretching up aimlessly
To feel the dead air wash into existence,
Movement everywhere —
From the brown shoes of grass
To the green hats waving free in the hands of the oak,
Like saying hello or goodbye
(There’s little difference now).
So whatever trickling droplets escaped your eyelids
Are now lost,
The storm wipes off all trace,
And no one will know.

(Note: The film that features this song is stellar and one of my favorites.)

Listen here:
Michael Brook’s “Goodbye Eilis” (from “Brooklyn”)

Goodbye Eilis: A Moment of Thursday

Tokka: A Moment of Thursday

Poetry is music, but the reverse is also true.
Listen to this, and it will make your Thursday better.
I promise.

Mystery,
Like the sound of footsteps in leaves
Dead and left over from winter,
Frozen and thawed,
Weakened time after time until they crumble to dust
At slightest touch.
Like trees stretching over your head,
Their arms full of new buds that you won’t see
Until they fall under your shoes,
And then you’ll hardly notice them –
But now they hold your eye,
Waving like hands at the point of each bough and twig.
Like the path,
Nearly hidden in a blanket of coarse loam
And the overgrowth of wild hedges,
Swept-earth dirt smooth with age,
This track has known few feet
That did not belong to deer or mice,
And has been here longer than your memory serves.
Mystery,
Like the chirp of a robin you can never see,
But who, no doubt, is watching.
The murmurs of vines follow you
As you wander further.

(Note: Because of the minute length and general magic, I often listen to this song on a loop.)

Listen here:
Agnes Obel’s “Tokka”

Tokka: A Moment of Thursday

Dvorák: A Moment of Thursday

A moment of Thursday.
Take a moment of Thursday to listen to this piece of music and do nothing.
Stare out of a window, let your eyes glaze over.
Be swept into the rippling leaves of trees that have been coaxed to dance in the wind.
Become lost. (I did.)
Do not read these words while you listen, please.
These words are thin and paltry in comparison to this immaculacy.
Do not read anything.
Just listen.
The trees, I think, understand this music, and any music.
The trees know things we do not.
Or perhaps we know, but have forgotten.
There is no time for good music in the scramble of modern life.
If you cannot find 12 minutes of uninterrupted time to listen to this music, do not even bother.
But if you can scrape together a mere 12 minutes, please:
Listen to this.
Hear this.
There is a difference.
The trees will dance in perfect time to every rise and fall of note, I promise.
The trees know.
We are learning, remembering.
Poetry is music, but the reverse is also true.
Listen to this, and it will make your Thursday better.
Dvorák: A Moment of Thursday

Deepest Pains: A Poem

Deepest Pains

 

How much does it hurt, my dear?

Tell me the number of aches in your bones,
Take a tally of the pains that run through your veins.

Count them up, let me know,
And I’ll pick you a flower for each one.

For each pain, have a posy,
A cascade of daffodils and daisies.

Tell me, my dear, how much does it hurt?

I’ll point out enough stars to cover your scars,
A burst and a blaze in the night.

Your arms, once a war-zone,
Now painted alight with luminous spheres,
The plasma now dancing and ebbing.

How much does it hurt, my dear?
Tell me – and I’ll tell you, too.

We’ll count up our cuts and our bruises,
Fill our arms up with galaxies
And stellar bouquets.

We’ll gather up rosebuds and planets, and find
The deepest pains are not here to stay.

 

 

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Deepest Pains: A Poem