Showing posts with label poem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poem. Show all posts

30 March, 2018

Darkness as the absence, not the opposite of light (For Smiley) - A Draft

Mick Parsons Poetry

 My father, I think,
wanted to be a deliberate man.

On days when the boil in my blood near overflows
I imagine what the sensation must feel like.

These ill-humors do no one any good.

Do I blame the rain? Should I pray for the sun?
Would Heaven part for the prayers
of yet another more sinner?

Ghosts of a stern religious past
cast my lot in with theirs –
resigned, at last, to darkness.

At least there is no rain.

I think of my father.
I hope for the sun.

The floor is dirty
and dishes to be done
and obligations to fulfill
between now and moonrise

when all our dead fathers rattle their chains
and bade us revenge
this murder most foul.

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25 May, 2017

Exile Verse #2: desgracia



I knew the message was clear. In the dream
a hungry tribal pig climbed into my bed
sank its carnivorous teeth into my wrist
and dragged me under.

I knew by the painted markings and hollow eyes
from what parts my harbinger hailed. We’d met before
when neither of us was lean or tired or branded.

It knows my terrible secret:
on my own, I am not particularly brave.

I battle the inevitable exile
send poems to defend my father’s good name.

It’s only in those moments of pure uncertainty and terror
when ecstasy takes over and I find my own power.

Thinking back, I try to remember
when I was thusly marked.
Remembering is hard.
The maps have all disappeared.

I reject every advantage.
I flaunt the politest of instructions.
I laugh at the kindest admonishments
and mock civilized law.

Heaven embraces the fool society will not suffer.
But there is no Heaven here.
The black birds tell me it is too soon.

I know this world will grind me to dust.
If there truly is Grace, I hope I keep my heart intact.

If I am to be destitute let there be a grand symphony of words.

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21 April, 2017

Letting loose the Gonzo: the baboon formerly known as a civilized man

GonzoFest 2017 was a wonderful experience, in spite of the fact that I remembered everything I needed but somehow managed to forget my copies of the poems I'd prepared to perform. 

It's true I was nervous. I wasn't sure how large the audience would be. Then again, I've performed in front of audiences ranging between one and 100 or more, in venues ranging from open mics to Moth Story Slam stages, to bars full of drunk post-punk Gen Xers and newly non-bearded hispters looking for a new craft brew experience. I've read in front of church marms and firebrand preachers and people who, in another world, might be considered saints, as well as some others who embrace the truth that we are all sinners.

But lately, I've taken a different approach to taking the stage. Regardless of whether I'm performing with a music soundtrack or reading poems, whether they are written to be performed or written to be read (and yes, there's a difference), I've decided that it's better to be confident than it is to be humble. I've known some fine poets who stand up and exude supreme calm and supreme humility, and supreme confidence. When I'm being honest, though, I'm not that calm patrician poet who can charm the audience and let the words roll forth like thunder.

Poetry, for me, is lightening. Poetry is an epic baptismal flood. Poetry is a god damn holy fire. And while I hold some poets in high regards who can carry the day with gravitas and civilized restraint, the fact is that there as many different kinds of poets as their poems. 

And while I have tried to become something like a member of civilized society, the fact is that somewhere along the way, I lost the part of me that might have been able to embrace a completely socialized life. It's not even that I was ever NOT socially awkward. But the fact is, somewhere underneath all of it, there was something else. 

Poetry -- and the arts in general -- do help civilizations be more cultured, kind, and heartfelt. However, when poetry -- and the arts in general -- takes hold of a person, it's more akin to demon possession. There's very little surety in art. You're constantly bombarded with different ideas and different people and different cultural pushes, all of which act to influence you, your art, and your vision. To be an artist is to be comfortable in uncertainty and to be willing to embrace mysteries. It means following your own bad advice sometimes, if only so you can make it out on the other side and write about it.

I was lucky at GonzoFest because I was able to ask my wife to run home and get them. But when it was time to take the stage, I knew there was no room uncertainty.  I was rattled. I was entirely too sober. And I was worried that my first live performance using a music track would fall as flat like a flat-earther's science test score. 

But since I've come to terms some of the more unsavory parts of my character, I've found it easier to let go of my nerves. You take in enough demons and you end up becoming one... or partially one. 

The part of me I lost, the part of me I never found, the part of me that, was maybe never there to begin
with, filled up with poetry.  Or, at least, with something that may feed my need to write and chase poetry like a rabid baboon.


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03 February, 2017

Day 13 into the Burning of Rome (poem)

We are digging around for answers.
smoke and ash make it difficult to read the etchings.

Somewhere over the ridge
a child is drinking dirty water.

Pale hate marketeers are pedaling contaminated snake oil
to combat the accompanying stomach illness.

Only the preachers and paleontologists know
the answer is in the dirt.

The Sisters of Perpetual Consummation are in the temple taking on new parishioners
for less than the usual market value of pearl-esque flesh.

Corporate Grand Wizards whisper their secrets into the ears
of corrupt mistresses who, for a few strips of half-rotted meat
and a few sips of stale beer
will sell your soul to the highest bidder
and auction off your testicles
for mothballs and a mouthful of pre-apocalypse scotch.

Teflon-suited oligarchs march forward
carrying on their war against the unsightly poor:
they declare new operations against Appalachia

while self-appointed store-front charlatans
(posing as holy men) proclaim their gospel
for a perpetual tithe of ten percent
and the choice of congregants' virgin daughters to bed.

The preachers and paleontologists make some progress.
They've called in a small group of esoteric linguists
and neo-formalist poets to aid in some of the translations.

But the work is slow and filled with delays.
The road between the dig and the camp is littered with shrapnel
and the giant rusted bones of all our fallen deities.
And every few miles there is a new toll to pay.

There is talk of moving the camp
but all the translators have gone on a hunger strike
and no one can establish a quorum.

And no one has the audacity to simply stay.
(They exchanged their backbones for exit visas.)

The truth is in the dirt.
Every morning is spent removing the mud
from the previous night's damage
and tracking the inevitable erosion.

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04 April, 2016

Poem Draft: Baptism in the Nose Bleeds


Hope rises expectant on Opening Day.
Last season’s transgressions are forgiven.
For a moment, we are wide-eyed.
For a moment, we are in love with the scent of a well-oiled leather mitt.
For a moment we are eager to knock off old dirt
and silence everything
except the welcome canticles of beer and hotdog vendors.
For a moment we shut out the prognostications of cynical game announcers.
For a moment unbelievers pray the Yankees don’t buy another pennant
and the faithful prepare to have their faith justified
or risk persecution by the All-Star Break.
For a moment all our digital distractions disappear –
politicians and their polished shit soliloquys are shushed
and all the noble rivalries rise to the surface.
You judge your friends by whether they watch the Cubs or the White Sox
and if they know Tom Seaver’s number
and if they embrace the dream of seeing Pete Rose in Cooperstown.
For a moment
the day, the hour, the minute, and the weight of all the ages past
rest upon whether that first pitch and the sound of the ball hitting the bat.


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22 May, 2014

From the Daybook: Waiting for Gonzalo Guerrero




Waiting for Gonzalo Guerrero*

There is crystallized dirt as far as the eye can see.
Age old trees groan in the throes
of the mathematical expansion of ice.

Only the bluebirds are out this morning,
stripping the last few berries off the holly branches.
Already, the mind carries these bones into the future:

long hours of sleep haunted by dreams of an unknowable Spring.

This moment fades like December Solstice light
and we play the someday game
after the manner of our venerable forebearers.

This moment flashes and the image
is a poor representation.
Each trip to the grocery store,

we behave like Times Square tourists
who need pictures as proof
because no one trusts a memory.

Memory is a starving dog
covered in crystallized dirt
huddling outside the back door.

Sentimental as we are, we like the dog
until it chews the old man’s chair and is banished outside
left to wait for that unknowable spring

that might as easily bring bounty or conquistadors from the subterranean depths.


-- 4 Jan 2014, Louisville KY





Mural of Guerrero by Fernando Castro Pacheco (1918-2013)
 


















____________________________________  
*Gonzalo Guerrero was a Spanish mariner from Palos who was shipwrecked on the Yucatan Peninsula. He was captured by, and later won his freedom from, the Mayans. He eventually married a Mayan woman, raised three children, and fought with the Mayans against the early conquistadors. Although no written record of him exists, his children were supposedly the first children of mixed descent in the New World.

10 February, 2014

Regarding Gator Men

Jake The Alligator Man, Marsh's Free Museum, WA
I don't know if Gator Men actually exist. From a purely biological and ecological point of view, it's not outside the realm of possibility that alligators can live in the Ohio River. (See this report from the Portsmouth Daily Times about a gator found in the river.)

I've never seen a gator in the wild, and certainly nowhere around where I grew up. And I'm not entirely sure where the idea of Gator Men entered my subconscious. I was reading through a collection of old journals about the early wars between French trappers, British military, and Native American Tribes in the Ohio Valley and there was a short reference to them in an account by the journaler about a conversation with a flatboat operator.

Of course, it' significant to mention that I went looking for that reference to Gator Men.

I was sitting one day in the Part-Time Teacher's Dungeon in the Rhet and Comp Division at the University of Louisville. Office hours are mandatory and occasionally useful when you have a backup of student essays to read... and of course, we're supposed to be accessible to students in spite of the fact that 1) they will rarely stop by and 2) will more than likely shoot off a series of 10 separate emails with 20 different questions at 3 in the morning and then claim you never answered them when you don't respond by 7 when they pass out. In the absence of actual work or actual students, I read, I scribble, I day dream. On this particular day, after once again having to argue with cogs in la machina about whether or not I was really a real person and employee on the campus of That Other Kentucky University, I closed my eyes.

I allowed myself to drift -- not to sleep, but to relax. My colleagues, most of whom were doctoral students who eyed me with certain suspicion because I was not, ignored me (as was their custom) and when on complaining alternately about their students and their professors. And as I was drifting, the phrase echoed from the itchy back of  my brain, where all my better notions are born and where all my odd tendencies take root...

Gator Men live in the river....

I'm still looking for more evidence of them, the Gator Men. It's hard to tell because all accounts I've read thus far are historic and never first hand... always some British interloper writing about what he heard while on his way to murder Injuns.

I did get a poem out of it, though. I'll think of a title eventually.


Higher piles of learning and ennui stifle the city of Atlanta
and the snow is seventeen men deep in Carroll County, Illinois.
We do not mark time in that manner here.
Ohio Valley folk keep track, not by the high tide
or by the count of barges carrying coal westward
from gutted Appalachian hills.
Not anymore. Everyone exists elsewhere –
dreaming of a permanent summer sun,
imagining the right circumstances
under which we will leave this place,


our world view defined by a modern indifference
to locks and docks and the swelling of the tide.
In the absence of all-knowing and immortal river men,


we search the horizon for some fresh landscape, unspoiled by memory
where the Gator Men do not hunker down
in dank and murky dreams
waiting for us to slip beneath and sleep
so they can take us for a sweet death roll
and show us
where all our childhood treasures are buried
never to be rediscovered.


_________

By the way: if you think there's nothing living in the Ohio but 3-eyed muskies and catfish with an extra set of teeth (and there are..) check out this article about an octopus that was fished out of the Dirty, Sacred, River. Sweet Dreams.