I’m terribly disappointed that I posted yesterday’s poem at 12:03. Whatever, it counts. It’s just that in my WordPress reader ap, the date skips from the 14th to the 16th, and I so wanted to keep the dates consecutive for the whole year. Given the time of night that I am able to begin writing, posting by midnight doesn’t seem possible. What is a clock to a poet anyhow? I woke up yesterday and it was the 15th and when I went to bed, it was the 16th? Who decided that? Bogus. If I write it on the day I wake, it counts, I say.
The familiar apprehensions. Again, life has provided much material, but little time. And I’m not really feeling my poem from earlier: “Another day, 200 fewer dollars a month. Escrow analysis. Fuck. Some days the world loves us and is our bitch. Some day not.” Or this one, “Teaching a book about massacre in Haiti. Rich white students whine about homework after watching starving betay children. How is that like your life, Haiti?” Both ideas have legs, I think but the words haven’t come yet.
Earlier tonight I happened across Paul Verlaine’s Ars Poetica. In it he writes that “when the poet’s vision / Couples the Precise with Imprecision, / Best the giddy shadows of his song”. He says that your verse should be like “Music first and foremost, and forever! / Let your voice what goes soaring, sighing, / Set Free, fleeing from the soul gone flying / Off to other skies and loves, wherever. / Let your verse be aimless chance”.
Tonight I have no choice but to let my verse be aimless chance, because I don’t know what I’m doing. Also, I don’t know how to write like music. Seems like a good goal, though. Ars Poetica reminds me of my brother, because he has the first line “Music first and foremost, and forever!” as part of a really cool tattoo on his upper arm. Also, because he is a composer, and a much better composer of music than I am of words.
While I was reading that poem, Black Sheep, by Martin Sexton came on, which also reminds me of him. So I am going to write a poem about my brother, who is so great and funny and smart and talented, but who feels the world so sharply sometimes. I’ll try to write it like music, whatever that means.
Black Sheep Home
Sitting and listening to the songs on my computer at college, the reeling silk of the universe combined and I knew in my fibers that my brother and I were listening to the same song. Once or twice, probably, that was true.
Sometimes he would call me and from the sting in his voice I could tell he had been pacing for hours. Majors and minors and notes and musicians, poets and philosophers, theorists and rock stars sliding back and forth in his head, a drunk chorus he’d have to feed to silence.
I remember being a child at a lake high in the mountains, a scary story of The Oregon Lake Monster, and screaming for fear that the beast was not coming to crunch our bones, but to carry him away.
How bright and strange the light slanting through the bay window onto his child face when the dimensions falter and my mind pitches backwards. How bright and strange.
Tickle torture was a real torment, along with the tiny infinite injuries of siblings, the taunts and games of doctor and the boogers, and the sharp shoves forward in time that were like pushing him off a dock.
I had needed an accomplice but I was part of the world that would bruise him.
He could soothe the shrieking world with an orchestra, but he wanted to play us all lullabies,
and because we wanted to listen we let him.
We drove too fast to school, or sometimes too slow on purpose. Today when I wanted to go back there it was the songs that took me to back to that jeep and the smell of clove cigarettes floated through my living room. Hey, 1996. In my death flash I want to be in that jeep again, just us, just for the four minutes and 47 seconds of that song before class.
Because my brother smiled in allegros and sang arias for his teachers, rock songs for his girlfriends, but he raged in the darkest symphony. They called him a perfectionist, but maybe he was a flagellant, and instead of three thongs, his scourge had six. Like Van Gogh with his own guts on his palette.
On time I tickled him so long he turned blue and cried without sound, and when he needed help and we couldn’t find him I got my comeuppance and turned into the guppy on land, I was seven again and certain the lake monster had come for him, and I bargained with everything.
Saying into the black night,
“You, you and I are listening to the same song right now, wherever you are, and what ever you are doing you are breathing.
You! You are fine now, and will be for always, because we it’s one to get wet, two to get cold, three to get freezing and four….to….go.
You! You know they wouldn’t let me put you on the floor to play with minutes after you were born? I had known you had come because I needed you. I will go to church and I will say prayers and believe in sin if this phone will ring and you will speak to me.
I’ll drive. We’ll head for the border. You keep the pesos, and I’ll keep the pistol.
In our family all the sheep are black. Don’t go thinking it’s just you. Just call me”
I should clear this by my bro before posting it on the interweb, probably. Plus, I think this might be one of the squashy souffles, because it isn’t getting me in the feels yet. Happy Thursday. Or Friday. Or whatever.