Monthly Archives: October 2011

Inside Things

 Thank you for visiting……..

Inside Things

They don’t tell you, you see
about the things
the inside things
the real things
the things that matter
they hold them in, you see
to trick you

Those apocryphal angels
obscuring truth
hiding the meaning of life
pointing you this way
pointing you that
but don’t let out the things
that matter

Life isn’t real
it’s about what you feel
and they laugh
they laugh when you feel
and make you think
life isn’t real
That you shouldn’t feel

And so those hordes
those denizens of deceit
have stolen you
stolen your inside things
locked them in a dusty trunk
in the attic
marred only by your tiny fingerprints

And you, alone
thoughts roaming
inadequate
selfish pig!
How dare you feel?
How dare you need?
How curdled this bile they puke on you

But you were there once
so long, long ago
stooping in that tiny attic
knees finding splinters in the wood
touching that great black trunk
breathing its moldy waft
your hands and eyes but a childs

Oh, those treasures within-
inside that trunk
a lost life
memories gone rancid
gathering dust
alone in the attic
mere traces of someone’s heart

Your eyes ablaze
senses attuned
as you rape those memories
defile that lost soul trapped there
steal the thing he once was
and can never be again
that part of him locked away, gathering dust

To think of him
another man
another time
another place
and that he once had feelings
the deceivers laughed at him too
and so locked him away

And there you sat
a child rummaging that trunk
a mantle clock
a photo or two
an old Army uniform
moth-eaten and stinking
He lived then, but a thousand lifetimes before

And so how could it be?
This young soldier, your father
who wound his clock
and gazed his photos
loved and laughed
before you knew him, a thousand lifetimes ago
he had feelings too

But he was locked away
another time, another man
whom he can never be again
the demons laughed at him
and expelled him to this trunk
his young heart, his lost feelings
and left him just a shell, the man you knew

And so where are you now
how have you come to be
that same man?
living, loving, lost
feelings sprouting from your core
another trunk, another attic
your young heart locked away forever

And will another child come?
Scrape his knees on a bit of plywood plank
bump his head on a short rafter
to find you, alone
gathering dust in a trunk
your cares and your feelings growing yellow
age losing you, leaving you just a shell

And what would you tell that child?
what note to lay
beside the tokens of your life?
Tell him to care?
To feel, to love, to share?
or just to be aware
of the demons lying snare?

Or tell him to hide them-
those inside things
never let anyone see
those feelings that don’t belong
not to you, not to me
harden your heart
or end up like me

The best part of me
locked away with trinkets
mere novelties of my life
a love, my life, you
a time ago, elsewhen
I loved you so
And I still do

I would tell that child to love
to laugh
to wonder
to see
what your love
has done for me……….
It’s worth a thousand trunks, and a thousand years

© 2011 John Richter

Advertisements

Fourteen

Poets write about sex because it is a part of  life.   This past week I revisited EE Cummings work “She being Brand… (XIX)” and discovered Billy Collins piece “Taking off Emily Dickinson’s Clothes.”  Cummings captured me again with his metaphorical humor, and Collins described an encounter so intensely sensual that I actually felt a twinge of angered jealousy over the prospect of someone doing that to a woman I love.  That is just good poetry.

I also studied some of Keat’s intense use of assonance and alliteration to bring rhythm to his poetry, and my own following poem is an exercise to duplicate that flow of rhythm using assonance and soft rhyme along with 21st century, very plain English.

The poem below is about my rather late “coming of age” and I hope that you will find the rhythm in it that I intended.  The first half is boring and was intended to be that.  It describes a boring year.  The second half comes much more alive when things seemed to change.   Thank you for visiting and I apologize in advance if the subject matter is not to your taste…..

.

Fourteen

Fourteen, as a year, was pretty much a waste.
My hovering face just filled a nothingness space.

From dawn to dusk, all my days were the same,
routine was a must, with so little to gain.

A paper route took my evenings by score,
And then again on early Sunday morns.

School seemed to be my only change of sorts,
I think you can see that it too fell way short

of keeping my interest on any single day.
finding life’s zest always sloughing away.

I jumped into public from a parochial school,
Where classes had been tougher, as a general rule.

So I sat in those chairs without much to learn,
Never really aware of life’s continual churn.

And I laughed at all the other boy’s remarks,
the sexual tones caught my feigning a lark.

Because I didn’t know what they were speaking of,
having never been visited by that goddess of love.

Although mine was late, I certainly should say
I’m glad for the wait and that it came that way.

For one day in our boring Civics class lecture,
the teacher announced he had a great pleasure.

For three days in a row we would avoid his voice,
by watching some movie of his insistent choice.

I don’t remember that film, not really well,
only black and white and boring as hell.

But the movie is moot, if you read on and see,
it’s that the lights went off in room two -oh- three.

In the back of the class sat Barbara and I,
her tight little jeans suddenly caught my eye.

With the click of that flicker and in the dim lights,
I scrunched my chair closer as quietly as mice.

As a lioness in prey, so very sure and slow,
I sent my hand her way and just grabbed ahold.

I studied her mug to see if she’d notice
my hand on her rump and if she’d be pissed.

But she just stared straight ahead and I suddenly found,
hands are good for more than passing papers around.

How could she not know?  My hand was there firmly!
Had she no tail feelings?  Was this something wom’nly?

So for 45 minutes my arm stayed a’stretched,
all the time wondering if she’d have thought me a letch.

But the bell rang clear and she just got up to leave,
and I sat there amazed as this thing washed over me.

I had to sit there another five minutes or so,
the problem under my zipper wouldn’t let me go.

The teacher asked me if I was alright,
I told him my eyes needed to adjust to the light.

The next day I ran to that class to prepare,
I grabbed her seat, pulled it closer to my chair.

And then she came in,  her book bag in tow,
looked down at her chair and smiled with a glow.

She used her knee to push it  next to me,
and sat down with a wink, I could suddenly see

that life at fourteen could be so much more
than what I had thought it ever was before.

I didn’t know it then but my whole life had changed,
always to be indebted to women in tight jeans.

Occasionally others will come to ask,
if I ever had a most favorite class.
And I’m really not trying to avoid being crass,
I just surely don’t know which answer to pass.
Because Creative Writing was an absolute blast.
But it might have been Civics when I learned about ass.

Both are amazing fun, so it’s really just a coin toss….
Heads — or tails?

.

.

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.

-Dorothy Parker

© 2011 John Richter


Ode to Emily Dickinson

Lately I have toyed with the idea of writing an ode to my favorite poet of all time, Miss Emily Dickinson.    A quick study of odes found two poets that really stand out to me. Keats and Shelley.  Keats mastery of assonance is simply not attainable, so here I focus on Shelley’s style that he used for at least two different odes that I know of.   The ode inspiring my own attempt below was his “Ode to West Wind,” (Click here to see Shelley’s Poem) and it was written in terza rima, rhyming scheme a-b-a, b-c-b, c-d-c, d-e-d, e-f-e, f-g-f, g-g.

.

.

Ode to Emily Dickinson

Oh dearest Emily, thou crafty pen aflare,
thine eyes once fell on nature’s things,
whose tamed songs you sang aware.

And in this world of hushed flusterings
where strife once owned thy soul
we’re left to dredge meanderings

to find thy rhyme of rhythm bold.
Whence thy soul passed thru those golden gates,
with lost loves safely a’stowed,

and earthly devils cracked thy crates,
and spil’t thy lifetime of prose,
did you think them once confederates?

Or old friends in beggars clothes?
That they should traipse your savored scripts
and in your death did’st fame arose.

My Emily, sleep thou safe in crypts,
Eternally rest thy tempest soul
Allow promises from my sparing lips:

That ever most dear my heart shall hold,
Thy words closer than any love e’er told…

.

.

Emily Dickinson was born in 1830 in Amherst, Massachusetts,  and lived in the family home all of her life until she died at age 55 in 1886.  Having spent her younger years at different learning institutes where she met and became friends with other poets and writers, she moved back to her family home and slowly became reclusive, communicating mostly by letter with her dear friends.  Except for a younger sister, most of her family and friends passed away early in her life, leaving her sad and somewhat fixated on death.  But I don’t think her poems are dark, just incredibly sensitive and emotional.  She is my favorite poet who has ever lived.  While alive she was able to publish only a handful of her poems, which were edited heavily by the publishers.  Emily’s style was way before it’s time, and her poetry did not follow the normal standards of poetry in her day.  So basically she was shunned in the field of literature, which is what irritates me about those who would attempt to define what poetry should or should not be.  Emily was a prolific poet, anyone who knew her knew this about her.  But after her death, everyone was surprised when two of her acquaintances found nearly 1800 poems stashed away in her home.   The two published her poetry almost immediately, however they edited it heavily again to meet the poetic standards of the day, or they thought they were.  In 1955 a historian Thomas Johnson published what what he believed to be a complete collection of her unedited poems, but no one really knows that for sure.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was born fairly aristocratic in England in 1792 and died at age 29 in 1822.   His fame was due in large part, (I believe) to his close friendship with fellow poets John Keats and Lord Byron.  Shelley was a bit of a non-conformist as a young man, and even was expelled from college for his views.  He married and his wife became pregnant, at which time he abandoned her and actually met and moved in with lover Mary Godwin, who later became his wife Mary Shelley.  You might recognize her genius name as the author of “Frankenstein.”   At some point his first wife was found dead, floating in a river, I think, which freed him to wed Mary.  I think Percy was a bit of a social blundering idiot, even Mark Twain derided him publicly for abandoning his wife.  I am of the same mind.  I also think that he took his position in the literary world for granted, approaching it in a non-chalant way as if it was a natural order of things.  Percy was an incredibly talented poet.  But his life as a human is just sad to me. 

Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.

-Percy Bysshe Shelley

© 2011 John Richter


Abandoned Beauty

Anyone who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s in Richmond, Indiana knew about the two old abandoned Victorian homes at South 18th and Main.  Traipsing through those echoing hallways with flashlights in hand at midnight was a popular endeavor back in those days.  With Halloween quickly approaching in this, one of my favorite change of seasons, I’ve been reminiscing a little on the darker side – thoughts reverting to the ghosts we chased as adolescents……  

Abandoned Beauty

Her rusting iron fence was foreboding,
its spear tops an omen to trespassers.
Unkempt green spilling ‘neath her lion’s paws
told tales of woeful abandonment.

A passerby might look and see,
with eyes full of mystery,
her frightful scale of three stories,
adorned with eerie accessories.
Gabled ends in anguished screams,
murderous throes, her ancient dreams.
Griffins rest ‘neath her pillared porch,
with eyes ablaze as though to scorch
the soul of he who crosses the gate
without pondering his unfortunate fate.
Double wide doors once warm with charm,
now scream of indescribable harm.
Across her roof a width of fence,
moonlit backdrop to her audience,
Oh, what howls there must have been,
before life neglected this dying thing.

Shadows upon shadow and bells at twelve
our spirited hearts endeavored to delve
inside of her anguished majesty.
As flashlights scoured her interior walls,
her grand staircases and spectacular halls,
my thoughts were only of travesty.

For as the others searched the elusive ghost,
thought to roam in our honored host
a most delicate beauty accosted mine eyes;
A wood trim carved by the most loving hand,
Chiseled wood mantles from a foreign land
and angelic newels hung up the rise.

Nothing of her frailty spoke of decay or death,
from amidst the dust she just needed a breath,
a neglected reprieve for sure.
So as my friends woefully filed out
knowing their chase brought nothing about,
I smiled a smile of love for her.
.
.

One need not be a Chamber — to be Haunted —
One need not be a House —
The Brain has Corridors — surpassing
Material Place —

–          Emily Dickinson

© 2011 John Richter


Repetitions of Lady Tetsu-ko

.

.

Days meander, slide together, bleeding.
They’re all the same anymore.
The sun rises and they disappear,
the stars awash in the sunlight.
Like all the parts of my life,
the bleeding parts,
they come out when I’m in the dark,
alone, afraid and just tired of them.
The bleeding parts.
My life, my love.
I am nothing, nothing
without you.

Without you,
I am nothing, nothing,
my Life, my love,
the bleeding parts.
Alone, afraid and just tired of them,
they come out when I’m in the dark.
The bleeding parts.
Like all the parts of my life,
the stars awash in the sunlight,
the sun rises and they disappear.
They’re all the same anymore,
days meander, slide together, bleeding.

.

.

“If I know what love is, it is because of you.”

– Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) Swiss Novelist, Poet

© 2011 John Richter


Through the Corners

Living in the summer sun
not really seeing it
not really feeling its shine
swimming trunks beneath fatigues
towels around the waist
bricked and cobblestone streets
the schwimmplatz crowded
rolling grassy lawn
young lovers, kissing
German girls feigning
so beautiful

Was that ten years ago
or thirty?
you were there too
weren’t you?
Standing aside
friends forever
Do you remember the sun?
I do now, but not then
I don’t remember it that day
It was so clear and bright
shining our way on that lost day

Playing Frisbee for a while
was really good at it too
could throw it like a mistake
landing next to the sunbathing girls
but it wasn’t a mistake
you would dive and
flex in front of them
they trying not to notice
feigning disinterest
but we saw them
looking through the corners

You met your wife
I saved your life
and met Monika……
I loved her
I loved that summer.

© 2011 John Richter


Freundlichkeit

This grey day poured itself thick as sludge
and my weary self destined to drudge
through sadness long as the width of pain.
Lo, angels sang and God be judge
my sorrowful gloom still can’t nudge
as the follies in life slowly abstain.

When has my life ceased to be
in the joyous throes of pleasantry
that a voice can find no care?
When once even a stranger could see
the value of common courtesy
to make life a happy affair.

Gone are the days when one would say
blessings to you sir and good day,
leaving the heart so warm inside.
And now life gives something less away
as tempers flare we find dismay
and our hearts only scamper to hide.

Where once our eyes were apt to meet
and our grinning smiles were sure to greet
our encounters now gruff with disdain.
Our meetings now boiled to things unsweet
quickly maneuvered and indiscreet
as indifference tenures our common bane.

But I shan’t allow this affectionate loss,
even in the face of belligerent gloss
and will kindly offer amenities.
With a smile I shall bear this cross
and allow my dearest words to emboss
with the humblest of guarantees.

And in the end when we do part
we each should check the beat of our heart
to find if one or two should leave with a smile.
For if nothing more I can ever impart
on my daily trek with this old oxcart,
let it be that our friendship lasted a while.

.

.

Here let us sit and bless our Starres
Who did such happy quiet give,
As that remov’d from noise of warres.
In one another’s hearts we live.

-Katherine Philips,  “A Retir’d Friendship”

© 2011 John Richter