The Changing of the Guard

Desolate midnight street corners me in

darkness divided by street lamp refractions,

the wet balck pavement looks like a Van Gogh

night sky not so still life tear drops blurry lights, leaves

brightly colored and dying not so slowly

these days and these days are moving slow,

the wind is growing colder, blowing harder,

pulling autumn to winter whether or not it’s time

to go and it’s time to go I think to say,

but there’s no one here to listen to communiction breaking down,

as the dead leaves fall and hit the ground

and the headlights like shooting stars

whisper across his canvas nd I know it’s time to go.

UPDATE: Fallen Windmills – An Introduction to the Poems

PLEASE NOTE:

RATHER THAN POST EACH OF THESE POEMS INDIVIDUALLY, WE DECIDED TO POST THEM IN THEIR ENTIRETY AND ORIGINAL CHRONOLOGY ON STOMPING ON THE TERRA.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE POEMS IN THIS COLLECTION.

Autumn Sunrise Through a Window


“Fallen Windmills” is a book of poems that I wrote in 1997.  It’s difficult to believe that it’s been nearly 20 years since I wrote these poems, but that’s how this measures out.  For all their faults–and there are plenty–I thought that I would share some of these as I think they are a fair representation of the youthful romanticism that marked my early writing.

I’ve selected a dozen poems from the collection to serialize on this site:

  • I knew this girl once
  • that nameless thing
  • she thought of painting fire
  • She and I and Perspective
  • atlantis
  • Me vs. the World (a haiku)
  • hello and I’m still here
  • June of ’96
  • in different ways
  • a poetic moment
  • standing outside the coffee shop window
  • a part of humanity that never sat well with me

They are simple poems from a simpler time.  Perhaps this “youthful romanticism,” which I am now inescapably driven to view as melodrama, is the outcome of a failure to recognize that simplicity as it was unfolding.

In any event, this is how I introduced them at the time…

Fallen Windmills (1997)

pour la fleur en le syndicat minuit, 

my constant variable.

It’s the little things that fill the gaps inside when meaning falls short. Sometimes we’ll catch the moment, a pivotal point of revelation – the touch and go tangent scratching the surface of meaning. By the time we know we’ve hit it, it’s gone and we’re left looking back and forgetting just what it was that we saw in the first place so we just tell ourselves that we were wrong, that we never really saw anything significant at all and it’s all so twisted up and sideways that we almost wish we could go on living without really knowing anything at all about meaning or its disappearance. But, here we are, left in the middle of nothing and trying to fool ourselves any way we can that it means something, that there is some truth and unconserved reason behind the fear and void. And so, there are countless meanings of life. Maybe the real meaning is nothing more than a moving variable in the soul equation of the dwindling human spirit. Maybe it isn’t a lock-in, maybe it isn’t one, but many and always changing. Maybe meaning is what you need to soothe the madness for that precise moment – the lost elixir buried deep and ever changing with each new loss and with each new loss the amount of meaning we need to dispel the fear increases. But we accept the fact and understand that the search must never end so long as the pole star shines and drives us onward with eyes opened wide – eager to find the path and follow our own forever.

she thought of painting fire

the radio plays.

            Books pages words press hard.

            Life is sucking the marrow out of me,

            she says and struggles to find

            the smile that usually accompanies irony.

the saxophone sings.

            She can no longer connect

            the photograph with the image in the mirror on the wall.

            She stands and stares for hours at deconstructed femininity.

            She paints sussicraN and dead flowers on the glass.

the trumpet is trilling,

            it bleeds memories of a violin chin.

            She resides in the suburbs of her dreams.

            She sits in her room, painting the city on the wall,

            and all the time she stares – her anesthetist clutched tightly in hand.

as the radio plays,

            she paints herself in skyscraper skies,

            and she has skyscraping dreams and a fear of heights.

            The brush catches tears before they reach her eyes as she hides

            inside the city on the wall.

the saxophone stings

            the trumpet is killing her

                        and the radio plays on.

I knew this girl once…

I found I

like the sound of lost voices:

I went outside

and screamed your name.

My cheeks and lips and tongue felt strangely

out of practice

as they pushed those three syllables

into the darkness.

After a while

it all stopped making sense;

my eyes joined forces with the rain,

and nothing’s been the same ever since.

I try to tell myself

that you’re out there

            calling to me

                        in the dark,

                        in the rain, but

I guess I know you

see only blue skies,

            the kind that keep

            your blue eyes

            from drowning.

I eye that last drop,

            the one I know is in there

            but can never quite get out.

I keep forgetting.

            I hold the bottle to my lips

            to realize there’s nothing there.

I don’t remember

taking that final sip

            or even knowing it wouldn’t last.

If I could have it back,

            I’d make it mean something more

                        …or at least I’d make it mean something.

If I could have it back,

            I would memorize the taste.

                        I would remember never to forget you

as you were.

convolutions.

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight…His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.

– James Joyce, “The Dead”

all of those months

full of hours

full of our dealing with her dying.

one evening in late December of the third year,

three men filled her

with terror and rage,

pregnancy and miscarriage.

It was early Spring when the distillery of bad news released its quarterly report, which reflected a much higher yield than early data suggested. This was the time of her past catching up with her—with us.

sentences were obscured before they were handed out,

and further mangled

throughout the hearing

there was talk of doctors and tests

and “I’ve been sick,”

and her all the time thinking

all of those months

we prayed

to gods we couldn’t believe in.

it was late March

and snowing

that late night

she told me

we sat beneath the hallway window

smoking

In the morning, when the record ended, there was no premeditated sound—no music, no words—just silence and then a creaky chair rocking over creaky floorboards, desperate sips, sighs, deep breaths, and that clock.

tick

tick

tick

“maybe we should do some laundry,” she said.

“yes. and this apartment could use some straightening up.”

that nameless thing

They tell me I

should let her go.

It’s never going to happen,

they say.

Maybe they’re right.

Maybe they should go fuck themselves. Maybe

I don’t deserve her.

Maybe that guy who wants to fuck her

fuck her brain will;

yes,

definitely,

he will end up

in her

bed

tonight –

touching her everywhere

he can

but never getting

to the heart

or even bothering

to try.

Do you cry

when he’s inside of you?

Does he ever really get inside?

Can you still feel the emptiness

or does he fill the hole?

Sometimes I see her

looking like she does right now

and I want to scream

What do you expect?

Can’t you see?

Can’t you see?

Can’t you

see he’s not

that nameless thing

you think you need?

But,

I don’t.

I just hold her

as long as I can

until she pulls away

and she pulls away.

She always pulls away.

STARVE: a note-poem for the hungry. (to be interpreted as variously as possible.)

Originally posted on Stomping on the Terra:

PART I:  In which we analyze and attempt to understand the most basic level of need–hunger–and the outcome of failing to meet this need.


starve

verb ˈstärv

starved | starv·ing

Definition of STARVE

intransitive verb

1          a: to perish from lack of food

b: to suffer extreme hunger

2          aarchaic: to die of cold

bBritish: to suffer greatly from cold

3          : to suffer or perish from deprivation <starved for affection>

transitive verb

1          a: to kill with hunger

b: to deprive of nourishment

c: to cause to capitulate by or as if by depriving of nourishment

2          : to destroy by or cause to suffer from deprivation

3          archaic: to kill with cold

Examples of STARVE

  1. Without food they would starve.
  2. They left him to starve out in the desert.
  3. providing food for starving children

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