Nature

Sea Horses

6/100

100 poems/52 weeks challenge’ 2018

The Rising Tide by Jason deCaires Taylor

Prompt: “The last river on earth writes a poem. What does it say?”

I met a man once,
after my mother snuck me out
and lapsed across time and space
to become a dark space
of cloudless sky.

He told me
there was a river inside his head
‘If you could talk to her?’
and so I ate his mind
like those before him,
their memories my bedrock
I, an odyssey.

The sky is purple through his eyes today
and an another smell his child’s crayons
I tell them to sleep,
I stir them like honey in warm water
but they come up like adolescent rocks
trembling across the pond
as if thrown away by teenagers.

I tell them to sleep,
the world falls in my lap like freshly-washed clothes
and it is my last job
to open a cellar of salt
and fold them under its whirlpool.

The last man,
buoyant by all the salt of the sea
that sits like stones under eyelashes,
stirs for the last time
and asks me of ‘what of your end?’
and I fish some babble
and wave
‘Oh, but the end is me.’

            Author Notes: Yes, I can make puns.

In the sculptures, the head of the horses are replaced by oil pumps to critique pollution. I found this picture after I wrote the poem and I find it delightful that it is almost a soulmate to it. The horses here, refer to the horses of apocalypse in Christian mythology and are the central theme of poem as well.

 

 

 

 

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A walk in the mountains

 

20171224_150830_Richtone(HDR)

The roads I have walked on; 24th December 2017

I believe nature has a grand door like death. You have to knock at it to start a conversation. So when you see men and women standing at dangerous edges, looking into the vast space with a thoughtfulness in their eyes, I reckon they are invited for supper by the all-seeing nature.

It must be an honor. But as a matter of fact, you don’t need to stand at “dangerous edges” to start a conversation. You might as well be walking past a garbage bin and may happen to see a tree with a color that seems rare and special and all sorts of magical and then, right then you are having what I have already called a ‘conversation’.

But it is not a conversation. It is foolish to see it merely so. It is a semiotic system rather obscure I would say. The more you are involved, the more you understand it.

On December 24 2017, I had a profound talk and I did not even need to open Tolkein or Keats–people who were much more benevolent in this discourse than I ever will be (Yes I was carrying the big mammoth Lord of the Rings on trekking!). Well, the profound talk began with a lot of cheerful cursing (in my third person monologue). You see, I am not really athletic and although I enjoy trekking, I’ve barely have had much past experience with it. But to walk alone was something brave I was doing. The ground fell miles and miles below beyond my right foot and silence was no longer a phantom as he is in the town.

It was a cloudy day and the outer anatomy of the mountain began to trace like a map in my mind. What clothes it had on? Winter. The cold brown dust and gnarling trees shooting out of the mountain like its nails, and still ever so glorious? It was strange to me. I pondered the meaning of beauty and what was my ideal for it. But it did not matter. Thoughts evaporated from my head, up beyond my woolen cap and were eaten by the sky that looked unreal. I guess, nature serves mind in its invitation. It also occurred to me that the mountains–over which I walked on and the ones in front or adjacent to it–were wrapped in ribbons, as if knitted in a sweater. On plains, the only way you reach the 4th floor of the building is by the mechanism of stairs installed inside the building itself. But isn’t it absolutely ridiculous that you may climb the sand hill beside a the mountain house and all of a sudden you are above someone’s terrace. And I kept thinking about ribbons. How the mountain lets you in. Upon it are fossils and scars of battles unknown. How long will it stand after I will die?

These are the questions, I’m sure, that you can easily pick up from a geography book but the walk, I think (in the spirit of David Thoreau) it is also about the science of interiority. What valleys run past your lungs and what river sings in your heart. So I think that the mountain is a ritual. To me it is a wall that you put your ear to, a wall thick as a world, and deep inside there is nothing but the beating heart that is life.  When you put your ear to it, your life begins to mimic it.

When I walked, I walked past the lumps in the dusty ribbon, the dangerous launch of a tongue that rolled out in a sheer power of the will of the landscape. Good small passersby who were small in an ironic comparison to the vast civilization of nature. And everything was so far but close. A man who clipped at trees for firewood, three roads below mine, was like a neighbor with a common wall. The waterfall near the dam roared at me from miles away, its icy blue like a pebble in the sand. Apart from occasional odor of watery caves and moss, there was no smell in the air at all. The cold bit the tip of my nose whenever I tried to look for it. I wanted to sit but was excited about what I may find next. Did I ever wanted to turn back?

As a matter of fact I did. The mountain behind was very primordial and my mind’s home for no man but Yetis. It was all buttered up in snow and glowed mysteriously in cloudy sunlight (sorry for unnecessary metaphorical suspense in the beginning there but that’s how I blog). It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. But sad to me (not in the poetic rumor that all beautiful things must be sad)  was the idea that I kept thinking this scene is like a drawing room scenery or an instagram picture,that I cannot translate  right there and then. Like my walk near the summer river and mild flower beds in June 2017, I  suddenly remembered having the exact same thoughts then too. A friend also echoed them without my participation. What weird urge to find something so magnificent and to somehow locate it in trivial matter of life? Yet I made peace with the urge. I tell you, you should too. You should forgive your friends who take too many pictures as you must forgive a friend who must decide to paint the land carried away by a similar urge. Thanks to my Visual Arts paper last semester, I can understand this urge better. Velasquez’s Las Meninas, for one, gave me the cleverest of all examples. Las Meninas had been a mystery to scholars for a long time. It is a painting interrupted. The painting captures the exact moment when animation of the maids, the clowns, the princess and a painting painter is brought to a sudden halt when the royal couple walks into the room. There is a mechanism to see them in this act too. Behind the subjects is a mirror which faintly captures King and Queen in this act of interruption. But wait a second, does it now? Most scholars disagree. The reflection in the mirror is the reflection of painter’s ongoing painting and NOT the royal couple. So my point is? My point (which I am borrowing from people who do long studies of paintings) is that truth is stranger than fiction. The royal couple are much more brilliant than a painter can ever paint (a painting is a mirror you see, so Velasquez is literally indicating to that) as is seen through the effect on the faces of the subjects interrupted.

Painting by Diego Velázquez, 1656

My point being? When I walk the mountains and take them away as a memory, I wish, I wish, It remained as glorious as it was when I saw it. It is a Shakespearean effort to capture the now-time.

This urge is the basis of ‘conversation’. The idea that you want to carry it in your hearts in its true form. But I think we remain what we are, foreigners. However, some people are less foreigners than us. Those who live and breathe the mountains and call it their home. Where villages have their own problems and celebrations and mountains merely happen to drop in the beverage they call life. The same is true for where you live. No wonder I love my city (in a landscape and people way) even when people escape to mountains and the problems never disappear.

My 24th December walk was profound. I encountered dangerous edges, a phantom mountain goat, hotel-running smart lady with  apple red cheeks, nice people from my own city, crunch of my own foot and the voice in my own heart. I think it is very important to hear this voice as it happens to melt into other voices and then you can’t tell which one is yours. Right now it is in the act of writing for me, but at other times it is in humming, cooking, jogging and even simply walking (not-that-simple-actually) upon the never-ending ribbons of the mountains.

 

 

Gardening 


How do I find time?

I left it under the potted plant

Where my neighbor bends upon to smell a flower

And asks me about the full moon. 

He says 

There is glory in the gardens of the others

But here, the slugs ate away all the bloom

And made it seven words shorter

From a love poem

You were willing to write. 

I fight the winds

And grasp his hand

I tell him, I am a gardener of words

–Often other than the unkempt personal pronouns–

I collate 

A bag of off-shoots

Till they look like they have eaten time 

Over which my neighbor once bent upon, sorry,

Right before I unmade him

And went to sleep. 

Image source: hiveminer

Law of attraction 


Of a neon glow

Traveling throug a space-tunneled gullet

Into a bloated starry sky

Where to each eye

Her own reality.
Billions of stars looking down from the sky.

Billions of eyes looking up to the sky.

 

Because she is never stationary

And always moving about like Van Gogh’s winds

Whenever I stretch out my finger into the cold dark night

She stretches in a great cosmic yawn

To caress my arms

Until we melt in our atomic marriage

Of neither star

Nor human.

 

Vanitas

Mariano Peccinetti, Mount Moon


As I must grow old 

And wilt

With the laws of gravity;

The horror is surreal

Of balding the moon off her throne

Into the sterile. 

How is that they must define us as a lack 

And in the same breath

Call the lands which could not bear the life

A null 

A void? 

So must I be

Either empty or full?

I wish I was easy as the glass. 

Northern Winds

Jakub Schikaneder’s Snow (Twilight in Winter) 1899

Then

happened a soft autumn day

where I let my untamed foot fall

off the silk edge of my ordinary bed,

to let it fight with the tarnished wooden door

hunch-backed by a snoring inverter

when past the dust-coughing jail-skins,

there came a ruffle from the

dark of tall surmounting trees

necromanced

nodding outside,

breathing on my ankles,

in all oddity of the oncoming winter.

 

Then I had dug under the culture’s paws

Asked them, of what of the Winter gloom—

That gentleman

So languid upon my prickling skin,

In me,

He had protected life.

 

 

Now

There rests a diabolical caress

Of sandpaper bed-sheets

Till my feet are sore

From the coaling livers of the winter-verse.

Oh, to look for light switches in the dreadful dead-dark,

Paranoid chants that the curtains must not move—

All my sacred pathos intruded

Into the

Red demonstration of corpse-like darkness.

 

Do the old—as the Laker Poet once cried—must only lament what can no longer be felt?

 

Again

In my heart, I invite

The night

I had shut down my famished words

Again, a prayer

To be fertilized with meaning, I ink

I conjure up my sprite:

In the hearth of a breathing cold

The tepid haunt of a sea nymph

Misplaced

Upon one changing breeze of the earth

Colluding with mist,

Into a body of unknown

That I uncloak, even though I am dressed

In great perspiration

I try

Once again

to reclaim the night.

 

Author Notes

I had an epiphany just now. I actually had a dream about different models of ceiling fans today–funny that I must write a poem dictated by the winds.

‘Something watches and stirs in the dark, it is alive.’

A sublime affair

A space overcomes me

 

I was sitting beside the lemon detergents

When I slipped by my elbow

and found myself upon a cotton tree,

long killed by one milk-selling municipal lady

 

Upon the highest branch,

his hair became the dark of the clouds.

a sullen autumn around, afraid I looked.

Two hushed stars in his bottomless eyes,

and he said,

it was summer still.

 

Upon a grain of thunder, he sprawled like an ocean current

And gasping like the roar itself, gave out his steep palms

Out of which a waning lily coiled out,

a ladder escaping from his fingertips,

as if the guitarist’s chords

tied up by the hair of heaven

 

I gave my heart to this man who was no-man

But a space, that overcomes me.

 

Every rainy night,

as they say,

I forget to breathe

And in me lays the flower, finally awake.

 

Walk the talk

July 2, 2016

Dear reader,

I do not mean to be anachronistic in this stylistic nostalgia of ‘dear reader’, but that is how I feel today. It just might be a conversation with one of my scattered selves that I’ve decided to share with you. Yet dear passer-by, I have now defined you. If you will choose to stay here like myself, I will sit by your knee and tell you all my, most ordinary stories. Of Thoureu’s art of sauntering. Where poetry falls into prose and where people who say, ‘oh, you are trying to write prose today?’ are stared at with silly-unkind mischievous eyes. Arts are nothing if not play, as I propose that this letter shall dive down from heaven to be stirred in your often-impatient mind like sugar in warm milk. Like touching several textures at once.

I have a lot of qualms and illogical desires flooding past me like sneaking foxes. But when I write, they sit by you and me and we pet these wild prodigies like dogs. Such is the summary of the whole mind.

The other day I was walking and I saw that the sky was favorably dressed in clouds as if a giant man with a swollen belly, smoking out beautiful cotton-candy smoke. I walked and if you live where I live, you’ll feel injured by the weight of  faded-jeans blue sky too. But not that fine Friday sundown, I didn’t.

The whole day I had my desires fleeting about. I almost felt that I had left my door open in the noon and that the perverse sun had come uninvited, to sit close upon my heart like some nightmarish incubus. But that can be mortally-worded as dehydration. And I decided to sing aimlessly, as if to let out all the water that I’ve swallowed in this reverse-drowning. It helped. The silence afterwards was of a mystical séance. A bad-throated séance-leader was my old fan. The silence where you could hear the gurgling stream of your own mind. That which is only audible around wishful walking and in-depth dreaming. Dreams where someone is throwing handful of cool mud at you, burying you and preventing you from waking up, especially after you’ve slept more than nine hours of your share. I wonder if that is what death feels like?

When the heat came back again in my heart, I switched on the T.V. and wondered why this even need to be put in a future letter or why can’t I forget about this ordinary twitch and nervousness like most people all around. But I couldn’t, thus the T.V.

Anthony Hopkins came on in Surviving Picasso and took the centre stage of my life. Like most divine interventions, I didn’t enjoy it much, or so I thought

When I stepped outside my house to run an errand. I plugged on my earphones like you take antacids to digest complex food that your stomach may feel clumsy with. Funny, I thought. Only yesterday I had to submit a poem on the theme ‘colour’ and the amount of fight I put up with simple themes, is amazing. If you will tell me to write about the flower-pattern lining inside your professor’s shoulder bag that I’ve never even seen, I’ll invite it for a dinner. Yet I found the muse when I had already fulfilled the prompt. An androgynous muse, who changed its gender every time I took a playful step. I was blinded with all the colours, even though my first thought was, maybe Picasso is not my type. The sky was like a mustard colored duck swimming in her own feathers. The road smelled good. The leaves…the trees that had looked rather miserable as if down with a viral fever yesterday, now looked as if they were dressed for an evening ball where all taboo-sparkles and confetti are allowed. I walked so tall that my shoulders ached with the strong grin they made in my silhouette. A stranger came by and noticed my air, asked me my ‘good name’, I flew away like a skittish bird, still entranced. The joy of being lost in every fiber of the world. It sat in my heart and the road I walked, I engraved in me. That night I dreamt of most beautiful colours in the most playful way. I realized, in me lived something that liked and hated things on its own accord. Something so natural and independent of a conscious me, it would corrupt the moment I’ll write it.

Liberated in a small ladder-house, I write till my blood colours my veins red and I blush with happiness.

Such was my walk. And I hope, such will be this awfully ordinary letter to you. To breathe in false glories is something we do every day.

Love,

Writer