Poetry: Our Place in Line (NaPoWriMo) Day Eighteen

Today, the NaPo lady challenged me to write an elegy of my own. One in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.

As far back into childhood I recall,
they say my day, my time, will come.
One day, perhaps quietly
or in some fitful mental agony
it will be my time to die.
But the bell has not
yet tolled for me—
soon enough—
it will.

Every pet, dog or cat,
lightning bug in a jar, turtle
or Easter chick; every snake, worm, or
ant; butterfly or bird, fish
or tarantula , things that flew,
crawled, walked or ran,
or just a sighting in the wild—
they’re all dead now—
I don’t know
what that is—
but they’re gone.

Every childhood friend is dead,
my mother died long after dad,
sisters both gone,
(estranged brother
I don’t know about,
he may outlive me,
if so, let it be).
I won’t know.

Uncles and aunts, one cousin (sort of) all
gone and others I don’t know about,
but they (ones I knew) are dead.
There may be some still doing,
but people of my memories
are past life. And this,
my friend,
is normal.

Some things don’t die, all people do.
Poets die (some never replaced)
but poems don’t.
The two most important
breaths we take,
the first and the last—
all the others
we call living.
That’s life,
Frank.

My sister would telephone,
“Billy” she’d say, “guess who died?”
she said, and then
she’d tell me.

When everyone and everything
I know of has died,
how do I know
who is next in line?
Is it I?
Or is it you?
Not if,
but when!

© Bill Reynolds, 2/18/2019

Know why you look both ways, otherwise, it is simply a meaningless turn of the head.
There will always be gaps but mind them anyway.

Poetry: The Stock of Love (NaPoWriMo) Day Fifteen

Today, I’m challenged to write a dramatic monologue poem. I tried to create specific voices of character that act as both narrators of the poem and participants, which could be acted out by someone reciting it.

****

He is just there, out of reach for now.
Or is it us? So waiting and watching his stare.
Dare we touch such darkness, or look upon him,
in a time to sample solutions?
To this time we have come, as you and I will have done,
to seek his work in our lives.

The darkness that follows, at times closer or farther,
but always, always there.
We look not to see into his darkness
as he looks upon us with calm eyes
for seeking an inevitable time, when we
feel his welcome breath as a wind of the wise.

With a song he beckons us to release
this pain of our suffering into his care.
This love has been our personal world,
but now we may touch an eternal threshold of peace.
Release me not, but allow you go with me
in search of our final love of his prize.

With pain and regret I feel deep in my bones,
to him, I send you in my despair.
Such shaking a coward deep within me,
I step into our eternal new home.
As we lie here in the dark, and together we sleep,
for a time never again to rise.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/15/2019

Look both ways to feel the times of birth, love, life, and death.
Mind the gaps in space and time.

Poetry: Evil Darkness Denied (NaPoWriMo) Day Thirteen

Today, I wrote a poem about something “mysterious and spooky!” (As the prompt challenge defined it.) I mused the denied duality of human nature as set forth in the classic Jekyll and Hyde, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [1886] by Robert Louis Stevenson. My review of the book is here.

***

Not evil I but you
Live with a darkness
of truth denied with
not to Hide mind
what must be true.

Wretched are you
to ask me to see
a truth as part of I.
Created by god
no evil must I be.

False belief is
the sinless soul
of self-righteous evil,
within you disguised
as good and pure.

As Lanyon needed
Jekyll’s truth to see
from Hyde’s reveal,
to accept the two,
both part of you.

There is no light without darkness,
no good without evil,
no truth without lies,
no life without death,
no two without one.

Seek out truth in you,
of more than half,
balance reality or die
from the only good truth
is really a lie.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/13/2019

Look both ways to find evil and good in you. It is your one and only truth.
Mind the gaps of fear and self-deceit, they hide your Hyde.

“O God!” I screamed, and “O God!” again and again; for there before my eyes—pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death—there stood Henry Jekyll!” Dr. Lanyon’s words and recollection serve as the climax of the story. The question of Dr. Jekyll’s relationship to Mr. Hyde is resolved.

 

Poetry: Blue on Blue (NaPoWriMo) Day Eight

Today, I’m challenged to think about an argot of a profession and to incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives my poem.

Blue on Blue is an example of a euphemism for a euphemism. It is a way of saying friendly fire – shooting at your own side.

The real-world situation I used was the death of Patrick (Pat) Daniel Tillman on April 22, 2004, from friendly fire by his own men in Afghanistan. I also read Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade before penning this, consequently quoting or adapting phrase from that classic war blunder poem.

Blue-on-Blue

Down Range into the mouth of the canyon
they rode
into the Valley of Death.

Forward, charge for the guns.

Into harm’s way each soldier will
do as they are told.

Theirs not to make reply,
theirs not to reason why,
theirs but to do and die.

They were unaware
that all would not go well
for a hum of the defender’s dude.
As all the world just wondered why,
they drove on,
into the mouth of hell.

Into moon dust places others cared
not to be,
this the second bat, 75th R&R,
Serials One and Two,
and a broken Humvee.

As the shadows of dusk and death
brushed and touched their fear and fight,
a flash burst out and turned onto the path
brave men would here now die,
before that night arrived.

Confusion stormed with shot and shell,
yet into a fire and fight from hell,
they blundered.
A wave and a nod as more shots flashed—
Then,
from a barrel
the missile was launched,
fired into the skull of our hero.

Now our boy, a man lies dead
upon the sad dusty ground,
killed by his own,
in a wild dismay with
that bullet into his head,
A price too high to pay,
and a loss too much to bear.

When we set out to stay alive,
and for others to die,
do we ever ask
or even stop,
and try to reason why?

We kill and we maim,
both friends and the foe,
for some god,
or maybe our country.
Yet somehow,
when it’s like this
it’s nowhere close to the same.
Charlie Foxtrot! Blue on blue.

©Bill Reynolds, 4/8/2019

Look and listen for the voices of the innocent dead.
Mind the gaps and beware of the dark canyons.

Poetry: Possibles (NaPoWriMo) Day Six

Today, I’ve been challenged to write a poem emphasizing the power of if. I wrote a poem so-titled last September (read it here). This is different. It’s less personal – more philosophical and asks a lot of questions.

The Possibles (of Impossible Ifs)

If lives were perfect, would they be?
If not for night, would we know day?
Does pain delight then go away?
To live forever, would be okay?

Abraham would be a joke, see
Joan of Arc would be alive.
If life was perfect, would I survive?
What if I were you, and you were me?

What if we felt neither sad nor woe?
Where the hell would happy go?
If this might be, could you vote yes or no?
Or do banal waters float your boat?

Everything is possible. If that, why so?
Would perfect make me want to go?
In a perfect world show, what is not?
If the answer’s here. I want to know.

Leave the gaps. Let’s not be saps,
When we die, they’ll still play Taps.

There’s something here, I clearly see,
This imperfect world is alright with me.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/6/2019

Look both ways, imagined and real.
Mind gaps you see, for honest sex appeal.

 

Poetry: Searching for Nothing

wandering the halls, pacing, here,
then there, this way and that – in
corridors between over-decorated
rooms of the hopeless romantic lover
and the stark stripped-bare
reality of a stinking nihilist’s
hopeless shit-house of oblivion,
with its dullness and pointless obscurity

looking for answers in pain
where
too many unreal illusions
are at one end,
and silent nothingness
at the other,
just the bitter taste
of death
following me – chasing me

divining into these closets of insanity,
the brutality of life pounding
and raping each victim as one
reaches for love to taste
no eternal bliss or to miss –
eternal silence, quiet, peace.

©Bill Reynolds 3/28/2019

Look both ways. You need to know what’s coming and going.
Look again to mind the gap.

Poetry: How it was

 

we were wine drunk in a sad state
rain fell softly, our feet bare in tall grass
we discovered and devoured everything
it was a time, I wish we could go back to

a place that no longer exists
nothing is the same
we are not the same
like rain runs off an old tin roof

we did our best
we were all winging it
without a book of instructions
we loved and tried and cried

sickness taught us about mortality
and of time
of right and of wrong
of a balance of life based on mystery

life gave us as much as we took
we were brittle, we were broken
we looked deep to encompass pain
to draw a circle around it and around us

the circle around us, that was grace,
I, just a boy, you, a girl, we
to each other, every boy and girl
we had ever had and lost

we wanted to leave, to not exist,
to go leaving no tracks or marks
to be forgotten and not followed,
we yearned only for us to be

we wondered how to live
for ourselves and for life and
because we believed
in each other as one spirit

we wanted to see the sky,
to go home, but how ?
we did not think past us
over our shipwrecked lives

everything was falling and not falling
the next toehold in life was
sore tired hearts and bodies
of the children we were, we are

we lost, unsure of what was real
we didn’t know what to do or to write
or to say or to ask, to only feel a sad
liberating acceptance of a deeper sadness

we were stripped of a dignity in life
of all things tried and failed
all the love we’re ever given
can be invoked long after it’s gone

I’m here
we are here
in this moment, this place, a time
when once there was this: us.

©Bill Reynolds 1/21/2019

Look both ways, but love the past we’ve lost to the cosmos.
Those gaps are gone, sadly.