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Sometime around six o’clock
afternoon train rhythm, rocking numbs
my thoughts into semi-subconscious
pattern, creaking, my hands carefully
laying slick playing cards on the
trembling plastic tray folded out
from the seat in front of me

Outside golden light tilts and gambols
carpe-dieming it up with fields
blank but for the endless grain
waving amber fruited majesty

I place a comforting hand
on my coffee cup, distracted
(Queen of Hearts matches Jack of Spades)
thoughts whirling like a nickel
slot machine, chasing symbols
images, random ideas through
space but nothing connects, stays
Charles, did you remember
to pay the phone bill? God
how I love your smoky eyes
There are mountains in the
distance the same exact shade

Time passes, fields slip into forests
so thoughts of you fade into static
like voices on a weakening cellphone
I take one last sip of cool bitterness
as I watch purple streaks impinge
the bleary sky like shadowy fingers
beckoning the solitary moon, she’s
shyly clutching the curtains of twilight
as though afraid to mount night’s stage

Dim light flashes through the line of
windows, flickers cinematically
over the slack faces of fellow travelers
strewn randomly about me, a man
looks up from his paper, far away
eyes smiling, faintly, briefly, in recognition
(this is the way strangers touch)

Tomorrow I will see my
great-grandmother lying peacefully
in her casket, my grandfather
standing stoic beside, one
palsied hand on her powdery brow
light as a moths kiss, trembling
But before that, my parents
on an unfamiliar train platform
gentle as stick figures, graciously
sweeping up what’s needed into a car
which will drive us through undulating
mountains, valleys into old ancestral home
long left to sleep, now withering
in dusky dreams of what was once industry

I should know how to do this
I’ve come and gone so often I’ve
learned how to keep myself
packed and ready like luggage
Yet there’s always something
forgotten, which taunts in absence
(How many days we should have
spent together, how very many
things I should have shared
but I was shy as a moon slip on
the cusp of an autumn evening)

After all the things which go
unspoken, adulthood cultivates
an appreciation for the
disarmingly succinct – I don’t
rage, anymore, at restrained formalism
I understand constant change crafts
cherished anchors from the smallest
gestures, the slightest details, like
the sweetness of caretaking, briefly
a steadying brush across twilight hours
the scented promise of living funeral wreaths
at last, the sigh which says you’re there
For rolling propels, the future is
falling: days turn to nights turn to day
and slowly or quickly, seized on or savored
everything… everything…
everything slips away

"All the darkness in the world
cannot put out the light
of one candle"

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The following comments are for "Subtler Progressions"
by hazelfaern

first 3 last 3

The title to this piece is decidedly apt. The first three stanzas do little more than set the stage, beautifully as usual, but I'm left feeling that these stanzas regardless of their technical and artistic merit aren't really necessary to the meat of the poem. With a little work I'm sure they could be crafted into a completely seperate and equally beautiful piece.

The last three stanzas are where you really shine in this piece. I think they could stand alone and be twice as powerful without the prelude.

This of course is all just the meandering thoughts of me bored at work. Thanks as always for the gift of reading such elegant work.


( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: July 10, 2004 )

Bart: Two 3s
This is what I was trying to do and you can tell me if it makes sense.

The first 3 stanzas are, indeed, a kind of prelude. I wanted to set up certain kinds of imagery and then connect certain ideas to them at the end of the poem. The imagery in the beginning should make sense, contextually, and then have greater meaning in conclusion.

Sitting in a train
pulling at a pattern
subdued and thoughful
in this vessel
outside waving carpe-diem

a comforting hand on my cup
she's clutching the curtains of twilight
a man, eyes smiling, briefly
(this is the way strangers touch)
grandfather, one hand on her brow
a steadying brush across twilight

we all go through these patterns, unspoken
hands carefully
laying out what's needed
(Queen of Hearts matches Jack of Spades
great-grandmother peacefully in her casket
my cup, her body, funeral wreaths, steady me)
drive us home into ancestral
until dreams become dusky lapsed industry

thoughts of you fade into static
I should have shared, spoken
but I was shy on the cusp of August

one last sip of cool bitterness
purple fingers beckon the moon
the sigh which says you're there
(and then you're gone)

card patterns, thoughts whirling
nothing connects, stays
I don't rage anymore at restrained formalism
these are cherished anchors
the future is falling
and everything slips away

( Posted by: hazelfaern [Member] On: July 11, 2004 )

both ways

I think both forms of the poem work quite well, but agree with your choice of the longer - powerful and profound.

This is one of the best works it's been my privilege to read lately, compares favorably with the greats.


( Posted by: johnlibertus [Member] On: July 21, 2004 )

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