Life’s not hard enough,
And even though we call on everything we know
We may summon the gods, too.
The sky. And the sky above that.
The exchange of unmentionables between mouths.
Other people’s shame.
My friend says we never write about anything we can ever figure out.
For him, it always involves sadness.
For me, it’s a language I haven’t quite found the language for yet.
The astonishing smell of a baby’s head. Morning coffee perfectly doctored.
Clothes fresh from the line. Mark Knopfler’s ballads.
The sound of someone leaving who doesn’t want to be heard.
Other voices in other rooms.
The day I decided getting out of bed was a greater effort than I could summon.
The high school dance at St. Joe’s where I stood all night against the wall pretending it didn’t matter. The time in Grade Six when Sister Benedict asked us what we wanted to be and I said poet
and they all laughed. Poetry lurks in the lines between things most important and least said.
A way to bear witness that we were here.
How I might have found a way to conjure words no one else had,
if I’d only found them.
~~ Tricia McCallum
(after Rebecca Lindenberg)
We are left adrift it seems.
Dr Laura is too busy plugging window blinds to be taken seriously.
And these days Dr. Phil appears a mere dead eyed huckster
for his wife’s line of miraculous subterranean botanicals.
Archbishops are led away in handcuffs
while princes in island mansions prey upon the under-aged.
In search of wisdom we seek out the ancients,
the tried and true,
yet again resurrecting their voices that remain intact,
unsullied by dictates of time
Can their savvy translate to the now?
Would Plato mask? Sappho march for choice?
I somehow cannot picture Marcus Aurelius open carrying.
We tease out the answers as best we can.
Learn yet again that wisdom cannot be hijacked off a page
but comes deep within the bone
over canyons of time
and to precious few.
For all of the girls and the women who trusted too much… those found and never found, the lost ones, the lonely ones, whose stories go untold, their heartache entombed alongside them.
Last Text from Gabby Petito
No service here, but at least I’m free
from the cage bars of my body;
remember what I’d blogged in observation
of birds, chipmunks fattened on the scraps
left in abandoned campsites in the cold
after the fires are snuffed out, and the stars—
oh, these stars—how they’re arranged
without number, and how they disclaim
the disappearances inferred of them,
but instead declare the secrets upon
which all darkness preys. Insects
I doodled on notecards
and sent home already will testify
of my whereabouts—imagine the how,
the when, the why revealed in the
caricature of the dragonfly—
I’ve lain looking up so long,
the windswept grass retains
the shape of my body, moonlights
as my spine; after the rain,
the sky in some parallel agony
soaked out of me some heavier
silence I’d always felt in the earth,
and to it, a kind of mooring far more
real than the live honeysuckle
and wild licorice I could almost
smell; and the caddis with their assorted
thoraxes retract into clipped
thumbnails and cut
grass; their buds—my own
body—are, to the pile of ants,
a worthy and contrite fodder.
What astonishing weight
my own thoughts make
at the moment, the unravelling
of many ropes set to anchor;
think tie-dyed everything,
the clasping peppergrass
and what lies in the green water
under algae, what sloshes through
the culverts mixed with sand
and gravel. Please know I was not
gunned down or knived in half,
but cast on a spit; I was spun
clay on the wheel of a potter.
He created the soul of me.
He loved me, then hated me.
He hated me, then kissed me.
He kissed me, then hit me.
The ocean of him swept
over me, a certain, undocumented
upwelling, of all the places we’d been,
cheap-shotted and piece-mealed out
to sea; and even here I am writing
in my mind that knows nothing but
to feel my heart leap out and breathe
into me everything that had died
in it before.
~~ Susan Doble Kaluza
Simply too good not to share..
There’s a dark so deep beneath the sea the creatures beget their own
light. This feat, this fact of adaptation, I could say, is beautiful
though the creatures are hideous. Lanternfish. Hatchetfish. Viperfish.
I, not unlike them, forfeited beauty to glimpse the world hidden
by eternal darkness. I subsisted on falling matter, unaware
from where or why matter fell, and on weaker creatures beguiled
by my luminosity. My hideous face opening, suddenly, to take them
into a darkness darker and more eternal than this underworld
underwater. I swam and swam toward nowhere and nothing.
I, after so much isolation, so much indifference, kept going
even if going meant only waiting, hovering in place. So far below, so far
away from the rest of life, the terrestrial made possible by and thereby
dependent upon light, I did what I had to do. I stalked. I killed.
I wanted to feel in my body my body at work, working to stay
alive. I swam. I kept going. I waited. I found myself without meaning
to, without contriving meaning at the time, in time, in the company
of creatures who, hideous like me, had to be their own illumination.
Their own god. Their own genesis. Often we feuded. Often we fused
like anglerfish. Blood to blood. Desire to desire. We were wild. Bewildered.
Beautiful in our wilderness and wildness. In the most extreme conditions
we proved that life can exist. I exist. I am my life, I thought, approaching
at last the bottom of the sea. It wasn’t the bottom.
It wasn’t the sea.
~~ Paul Tran
There are absolutes.
Not just in physics, dogma.
Untrue is stronger than not true.
It seems the cat didn’t come back.
All boats do not rise.
Dreams trump wishes.
The light of a late November day prompts a very particular longing.
I always wish I had said something wiser.
I will never stop missing the mere sound of your voice.
The Elephant Man finally relented.
He wondered what it would be like to just once
sleep like other people.
So he laid his gigantic head down on a pillow
instead of resting it atop his knees.
Just that once.
By morning he had suffocated under the weight of it.
In some people’s lives
there are no words for happiness.
There are only ones for sorrow.
Close the drapes.
Mute your phone.
Revisit botched endings in turn
like a row of dominoes.
Research poetry awards you’ve never even heard of
that you will not win.
Walk very far in cold rain.
Visit random cemeteries. Linger.
Listen to each of the stories within.
The times you turned away, didn’t show,
said the unkind thing.
There are limitless ways, really.
Try it with me.
Recall the times you promised something
you could never deliver.
Dig out old love letters, the ones received,
the ones you never sent.
It’s a muscle you can develop,
and in time learn that
sadness teaches you a thousand times more
than happiness ever will.
None of them ever read fiction
as far as I can remember.
If asked collectively they would no doubt respond
it is a waste of time.
It’s unlikely any of them read poetry
couldn’t name a poet besides Longfellow
to save their lives.
The men that have come in and out of my life
leave me wondering what they saw in me.
Pragmatists every one,
I realize now.
Not one of them ever ached at a sunset.
Come and see it,
I would plead to each of them,
their unified voice calling back
wearily to me
from other rooms:
It’s just a sunset, Tricia,
There’ll be another tomorrow.
It is an exacting quid pro quo.
The deeper I bury what I need to say
the loftier my cakes become.
The frosting atop growing thicker, sweeter,
the longer I wait to excavate
my deepest self.
When my freezer is filled with home baked goodies
my words in turn remain unwritten,
buried beneath heart shaped Teflon pans,
obliterated by scorching ovens.
My rhubarb cobbler oozes yet more succulent fruit
with every twinge of pain, every self-discovery
that goes undocumented.
These days my famous toffee bars
are overflowing their trays with caramel,
no end to the decadent treasures
they hold deeply within.