For years, we loved within each other’s arms,
both cradled meadow-happy, and convinced
the spinning Earth beneath we two was ours.
How long since naked, salt-encrusted winds
were born from out our ever-smiling eyes?
How long since we could trust the sun to fly,
or trust the nest of sky from which it hatched?
Each morning of this present day, we doubt,
and wonder at our lack of wondering,
and wish for more of almost everything,
despite despising all the glut we own.
In every way, we’ve lost our vantage point,
and build new lives within electric haunts
as thick with fear, as ripe with simple wants.
And with the florid, hothouse taste of brass,
of robot life and oiled love, we learn
each pain, learn gear by gear, in straining lust,
facilitated screw by perfect screw.
We hope to disenchant entire worlds,
and coax the zephyrs of rebirth from dust.
But if revivifying hope dispels
this scorching of our souls, our loves might bloom
as more than metaphor, and thrive within
our minds as in a forest canopy,
as dreams of screaming primate impulse, loose
within the tangled jungles of our cells;
as dreams of all their red, red loves: of food
(or what food means), of sex, of might-have-beens,
of limbless dangers lurking in the dim
below the silent mental jungle floors;
as primate shrieks, retelling tales of fear
in song, replete with warnings and alarms
about the coiling appetites of cold
and writhing foes. The glowing scales on scales
are rising, now, to monkey heights; a light
and avid flicking tongue, invading nests
of consciousness, to crush and swallow calm.
We must seduce the zephyrs of this Earth.
Enchant their hearts, and partner them within
our scheme to mastermind our next rebirth.
We sensate things – we wailing "selves", have once
again learned truth: we have been put upon
a shell of rock and rain and fire and air,
and now, we play at living, dwelling there
amid the scents of revelation, sharp
and biting as a minstrel’s well-plucked harp,
and accidental as a harpy’s wail
within Aeolian halls where zephyrs sail.
The scent of revelation wakes us, now –
a wet and icy compress on our brow.
So hot we are, within this crafted world;
such fevers break – in those who stand before
the Bard who rides the everpresent wind.
Mostly pretty regular iambic pentameter.
This poem is about the choices we make, as we assemble verse, or knit sweaters, or build chairs. It is about how any poem comes to be a poem. Easily extrapolated to any of the many human conditions: the having always cheapens the getting, and the losing always sacralizes everything that came before.
Recipe for this poem: bits from 2016, other bits from 2008 – mix thoroughly, trouble me not for some time, and voyluh, a pome.
Serve cold. Or hot. It’s like tomato soup.
The poem title and the three section titles are derived from what we humans imagine we understand about sub-atomic structure, and I let my limited knowledge drive the nature of the poem. In elemental terms, shell M holds a maximum of eighteen electrons with three sub-shells of 2, 6, and 10 electrons (and note that these sub-shell values have driven the sub-sections of the poem).
When the M shell of an atom is full, and its electrons are balanced and synced with the protons in the atom’s nucleus, you have element 28, I think – not sure – it’s been a long time since chemistry class.
There are many elements for which shell M is the valence shell, or at least implicated in its valence, and for those of you who don’t know this stuff, valence lets the different chemical elements interact, and gives the different elements some of their character.
The M shell is kind of a big deal on Earth. Much of what makes the Earth the Earth is because of how busy shell M is, in our local physics. Shell M is the Lyndon Baines Johnson of atomic number – a gladhanding, dealmaking, old schemer. Just as with LBJ, with shell M you can never know whether you’re being done a favor or having a knife slipped into your ribs… or both. Like this world? Thank shell M. Hate it? Blame shell M.
I don’t really know how this subatomic hoohah got wrapped up with this poem – it just did. I let the theory drive structure, and tried to let it drive content as well: the subject of the section titled "Two" is a couple; the subject of the section titled "Six" is a small group, and the subject of the section titled "Ten" (you know, ten? The number of completion, if we’re still primitive enough to count on our fingers?); is the entire world.
Maybe there’s something in the metaphor after all.