Poem: The Great City

I realize that I really like these kinds of rhyming schemes. Oh well. Here’s another one!

The Great City

I used to be in a great city
with the houses all lined up in rows
The buildings all towered like tapers,
glowing like midwinter snow

I used to belong to a city
with walls of cradle and care
each brick a brilliant memory
racing up through the layers of air

The soil was soft as the silkwebs,
The grasses as gentle as night
The earth had smelled then like honey
The air had tasted of light

The wind had sounded like smiles
The glass was as clear as the rain
The sidewalks all smoothed out and stretched
like the neck of a new paper crane

I once had beheld the great city
cradled in the cracks of my hands
And the infinite planes of the city
had held me, cracked though I am

I once clung on to this city
who nestled me in the strings of her streets
She hoisted me on her high rises
And hid me in deep wells of wheat

The city had given me wishes
The city had given me strength
The city had given me everything,
Until everything was given away

And the sun had set on the city,
and my shadow had reached for the dust,
for something so golden in sunset,
for something to sate all my lust

I used to be in a great city—
And the city had resided in me—
but I wandered in search of my freedom
without knowing what it means to be free

 

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Poem: Swirling

Swirling

We are swirling
turning in top-tabled towns
And we spin, spin,
dancing in past paper gowns

And the echo
of faint footsteps falling
and curt cattails calling
The summer air over there
where
did we go?

We kick up the glitter dust
with our Achilles’ heels
And we wind our way ‘round
like a set of cartwheels

And we whirl,
wooden birds, we take a dive,
pictures all prepared to glide
Paper airplanes,
folded with creases and
lines in between us
and cracks inside

Our tiptoes are light as a
stack of matchsticks,
And we construct cake-castles with
a series of clicks
As we build up the walls,
the castle, it leans
and we fill up the moats with
good gasoline—

We’ve got a flare there,
burning in cinders so
slow that it lingers, oh
tingling across all our times
here.

We are swirling
turning in top-tabled towns
And we spin, spin,
‘til we will take the dive down

Poem: I Crushed Myself a Human Spirit

I Crushed Myself a Human Spirit

I crushed myself a human spirit!
Yes, I really did;
T’was a precious, jubilant, juicy thing,
and I’d slain it where it hid

T’was easy enough to find it,
‘tween the chinks and chains of mail—
T’was easy enough to strike it,
and laugh as it grew pale

That jewel, it was a-beating—
a-glowing, a-pumping, alive
That bird, it was a-singing,
a-screaming just to thrive

Oh, I hated that vibrant spirit!
That tulip-and-daisy sprite
I loathed that burning ember,
that star that fell by night

So I trampled the spirit’s guiding shine,
tamped out its warming fire
I slashed the flowers’ tender stems,
and trod them in my ire

My sword had come up ruddy,
still sodden from the kill
And though I’d washed it many times,
bloody is it still

I crushed myself a human spirit,
and since have not returned
And I will continue to crush those lives,
‘til I receive what I have earned

Old Poem Trio, Part III: A Page and a Half

And finally, the last part of the trio– A Page and a Half, which was originally untitled as well. A Page and a Half actually was not written for an assignment, unlike the other two poems. I believe it was written in the cafe section of Barnes and Nobles one very fine Sunday night in the middle of winter, last year I think. Quite nice. Again, hope you like it!

A Page and a Half

I am a page, a page and a half.
Nowhere near complete.
The stray dog that wanders from house to house,
But doesn’t get a bite to eat.

I am the girl in the corner of the room,
Whispering fortunes foretold.
But no one can tell me what will become of me,
When I am gray and withered and old.

I am the cup of the burning-hot drink,
a cider, a scotch, an ale
I glide lovely velvet, a comforting friend
though it is the foe I most truly hail.

I am the cat, on the sill of your window,
who crosses as you reach the door.
I see all, but say only nothing,
and will remain silent forever more.

I came and I went, never truly a whole
A traveler, apparition, a myth
Though I have many a trick up my sleeve,
I do not always exist

Be careful, when you see me,
Be careful, when you don’t
Be careful, if you should be me,
Because the others won’t

I offer you this warning
for I know what here does rest
for should the box be opened,
you shall never escape your guest.

When you wander, when you dream
When you become untethered from your world
Remember what I have told you,
the events that have unfurled

Though I am nothing but a page and a half,
know and honor this—
Where you stand, I once stood
and there is much that I will miss

Old Poem Trio, Part II: Whistle, Whistle, Sweet and Low

Okay, part II– as I mentioned earlier, these are just a couple of old poems I found sitting in the bottom of a box, so I thought I’d put them up here. This one was a then-untitled poem written two years ago for yet another unit in my English class, one on To Kill a Mockingbird and Langston Hughes. The exact prompt that I had written for the poem said: “Write an original poem about what I think Hughes would have wanted to say about Tom’s case and how he was being treated by Maycomb’s citizens.” So here it is. Not terribly original, but nice none the less. Enjoy!

Whistle, Whistle, Sweet and Low

Whistle, whistle, sweet and low
through
the birdcage’s iron bars
in the cage
out the window

Snipped my wing
caged me in
Though I’d done no wrong
committed no sin

Even if I could get out
I’d still not be free
Because this world’s an iron cage
a cage meant just for me

They mock me for my darkest feathers,
Condemn me for being of the night
They may have the judge with them
but it does not make them right.

And still someday I believe
the iron bars will crack
Set the clocks, await the hour,
because someday it will come back

Our fathers will all be colors there
not merely black and white
We will all fly side-by-side
And sing into the light

And I will sing a happier tune
Let our voices swell and grow

Whistle, whistle, sweet and low,
Through the birdcage’s iron bars
out the cage
out the window

Old Poem Trio, Part I: The Cargo Train

Hi all! I was going through some old papers of mine (getting ready for college, you know), and I found a bunch of old poems that I thought I’d share with you! This first one’s called The Cargo Train, and it was written two years ago for an English assignment. I think it was supposed to be the unit on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and rhyming couplets. Hope you like it!

The Cargo Train

Down in the pass where the graces don’t go
A weak, one-way bridge lies, near crushed by snow

When he, shadow of dark, draws near, he aims
To take his prize, drink deep, collect his claims

And there, a lavish Train runs off its rails
Crying out to the night with awful wails

Quick sparks spring swift, closing precious light’s gate
Black coal burning within reflects their fate

He laughs, “Rose cheeks, naïve, so defiant!
Shrill, vain, and greedy now become silent.”

Repurposed World

A Fence Somewhere Else

Repurposed World

We start over, building the world again

Taking blocks and
pressing sand
to powders

So that they can all be used once again

All that was old has been taken apart

Repurposed
so it loses its old face

But keeps a new name—
new time—
new purpose

We can build towers,
and ships,
if we want

Scale the highest heights
sail the ocean blue

If we rid ourselves of the shackles first,

And try to build them up again—
anew

They’ll Never Know

They’ll Never Know

They’ll never know that she cried that night.

They’ll never know that all her self-confident smiles
were scribbled on
with old fragments of once-bright crayons and markers
now dried up
only a desperate grasping of what they once were.

They’ll never know that strength is only a show put outward
and that sadness
is a poison breath taken in and held

They’ll never know that anger is just a siren and flashing red lights
and that the real storm lies within.

Deep.
Dark.
Destruction.

They can’t see that she’s hurting inside
That they are ruining her inside
that she is wasting away
behind her mask
and one day all that will be left is a shell.

An empty.
Hollow.
Useless.
shell.

And they won’t see it still
because they’ve put up a mirror
between her
and them

a wall.
a barrier.
shutting her out.

All they see is themselves.
Reflected back.
The barricade.

The barricades press in and
box her in and
trap her in
so she is trapped,
trapped in this dark little world.

They lock out the air and
lock out the light and
lock out the love

And without these things she will die,
although she was already beginning to be gone,
long before she noticed them closing in on her.

And she will scream and
kick and
shout and
roar
but no one will hear her
no matter how much she cries

because the mirror walls not only reflect sight
but sound

And all they can hear is their own voices and
all she can  hear is her own and
how alone it is and
how it echoes, in that worldless little box.

And they’ll never know that she cried that night,
because they’ll never truly see her again.

A Glass Perspective

Glass Lamp

• • •

A Glass Perspective

I will never understand this place where I stand.

Life is a matter of perspective. It is subjective. It bends and twists and breaks, it moves in tandem with us, shifting as we do.

Glasses are often stated as half empty or half full, as either-or but never both. The glass bends the light as it catches, and the light turns and shines like a lighthouse or a firework flare, all depending on how the glass is standing. Where it is standing. Where it is moved.

We live in a hall of mirrors, each mirror distorted and misshapen but utterly reflective. And depending on where we stand we see different versions of ourselves, reflected back in wayward ways. Are we tall? Strong? Do we look curled over, sad, small, weak? Are we who we think we are? Is this mirror me? Or is it this one? Which one shows me who I am?

Do they all?

Maybe none of them are.

We are what we wish other people to see, because people see what we want them to see. And we want them to see us, and we want them to like us.

But these are not always mutual things, seeing and liking. We see the mirrors, but we do not like them. We know that other people can see us reflected in them. If only we’d step aside, look in a different mirror—one that does not make us appear a withered stick or a formless shell. But we do not move.

We choose the ugly, the scarred, the broken. We see this. We know others see this. And we do not like it. So we drive our hands across the glass and tear it down, relishing in every crack, every shard, every shatter.

We cut our hands and destroy our image and we continue until there is nothing left of us, nothing but an empty place where once a shadow of us had stood.

If only we’d moved.

If only we’d stepped aside.

Then we would be able to see what a select few have the advantage of observing, being in a more perfect perspective than ours. They stand in a different light. One that flatters us, though we cannot see its sweeping bow, nor hear its applause; we do not feel its shouts for encore, nor taste the roses it throws at us.

And it is a silly thing, this thing we forget. For this stage-light that embraces others may not fit us, not the way we want it to.

We are seated on the balcony, but we wish that we could perform.

We are ballerinas behind closed theater curtains.

Orchestras in a soft-edged room.

But I do not understand that my place is not here, where I was put, where I have fallen into. It is not here, where the mirrors all turn back on me with sharp angles and twisted jaws and haunted figures. It is not here, where the light does not hit me unless it deals a heavy-handed blow.

No, this is not my place. But it is my only place, the only place I know.

I, but not you.

Sometimes someone else must move us—they must take our hands and lead us, assure us that they will catch us if—when—we fall. And we will fall, in this new territory. We will stumble upon mirrors that do not glare at us. Lights that halo us.

Crowds that see us, and like us.

But we still have to have the courage to move our feet for ourselves. To alter our perspective. We must find ourselves a new place to stand.

And then the world will bend around us.

• • •

The picture up there is a lamp/light fixture-thing I saw in a store in Granville Island in Canada. I didn’t have a tripod with me so it’s a little shaky, but I just thought it was pretty.