A metamorphic ode and other poems

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
OVID-19

People don’t just disappear,
something happens to them.
I constantly wonder what it would be like
to fuse to the point of no return.

Every morning I try to find it, drawing lines in transit,
listing recent selves in traffic.

Line number 1 reads: consider ‘scarcities’
as a portmanteau, and if, within that triple entendre,
you see your Life’s lived
in a bustling scar,
a scared, barren, flirtatious place -
then we can truly begin.

Number 2: there’s almost nothing that I haven’t been
in the elevator I take every morning.
I’ve been you. I’ve been a horrific virus.
I’ve been the dawn
of a revolution doomed to fail, dirty Latin poetry,
a spacious public library, a pile of dog shit
baked to a crust on the sidewalk,
and, once or twice, I’ve probably even been
G-O-D.

The trouble is, I can only perform
this astral transmutation of my soul
a little bit each day.
I’d rather not get caught in the act by my fellow tenants,
so I have to make sure I’m not settled too deep
in some other-world
some other-life
when the door dings open
and my perfumed neighbours enter
through whispering doors
to descend together in a normal silence,
preparing to greet another day.

Number 3: last Tuesday,
I was an unbridled optimism, saying,
“Next summer, I think I’ll work at Wal Mart
instead of McDonald’s,”
and though this exchange drew far too close
to the day I traded my high school eating disorder
for a collegial life of substance abuse,
I still managed to experience the thrill
of Mr. Harrison down the hall,
as he telepathically read my thoughts
stuck in the stale air,
a coyote’s grin
dissolving his wrinkled fortress,
his “kids-got-no-career-ambition-these-days” theory
blissfully disproved at last.

On Wednesday, I was an overgrown lawn,
newly-mown,
heaped with wet yellow piles
of beheaded buttercups
left to desiccate in the sun.

I wasn’t anything on Thursday,
I was late,
so I sprinted the stairs,
even leaping down the two bottom flights
like it was a jungle gym,
jamming up my ankle a bit,
but probably shaving seconds off my overall elapsed time
and, despite a throbbing limp,
I even managed to haul my hobbling, sweaty ass
to the bus stop
with a few moments to spare
during which I savoured the totality
and the sweetness
of my victory.

On Friday I was a woman
grinning nervously,
sitting cross-legged on the bright sidewalk
behind a black
teak-and-pearl typewriter
– yes, I was two relics of another age –
and adorning the tiny typed sign taped to us
were the hopeful words
“free poems, any topic you like,”
our stacks of paper
sun-stained
and untouched for decades.

On Friday I remembered I was supposed to be counting
and was Line Number 4: a group
of embittered anarchists,
200 strong,
trying to claim they could all equitably share two bathrooms
without incident.

This led directly to Number 5: everyone knows
terrible communities,
whether because they’ve done time
in them
or because they’re still there.

On weekends
I’ve heard the neighbours tearing at their floors.
I press my ear to the cool back-alley window
where their house sags, fatigued and flaking,
half-devoured
or perhaps now upheld
by thick vines of ivy; blackberry canes
vaulting high in strong parabolas; white bursts
of morning glory blooming;
and I glimpse through this fertile chaos
their yard -
heaps of shingles and rotting wood
and an alternate reality
like a vast wealth of potted herbs –
medicine
drenched in Southern sunlight.

On weekends I don’t use the elevator
because I can’t get out of bed
unless I’m forced to
at gunpoint –
I can feel so much
just by closing my eyes, laying still, and listening,
asking
who would you rather be – Awakening
or Dream?

Last Monday I got caught
being something I wasn’t
as the doors dinged open. But I was caught
being the most important thing yet –
I was an adventure.
I was us.
It was like we were the only truck on the road,
and we blew joyfully past all those brash red eyes
glowering in the stoplights.
All those streets we crossed,
and we could see right down
to the end
of every shimmering asphalt line
to where all the roads end,
swallowed by the mouths of mountains.

In my notebook,
Line Number 6 suggests that a disaster
does funny things to people –
you take on strange new types of behaviours,
like incessantly dreaming yourself anew
while borne numbly down the mechanized shaft
to another eight joyous hours
of middle management,
strait jackets and chloroform,
stocking shelves
and your overflowing mind.

A funnier thing happens
when the doors ding open
and your descent has ended:
you realize Line Number 7: that the real disaster
was your daily life – where all your problems,
despite your earnest prayers,
would never get big enough
to just finish you off
once and for all -
so you transform
to find new ones -
but in so doing,
warp,
and fuse,
and find
that you are
a mountain meadow;
a When without time;
a Where without space;
a hungry How
chasing flocks
of plump and elusive Why;
you are beings without Who;
you are the ‘What’,
alive in a broad friendship
with all and everything;
that you compose strange days without measure;
that you are
as you have always been;
the point
of no return.
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
When Last the Heavens Fell

You staggered for the mountains,
laughing, sobbing.
The little lords of the sky
rose to greet you
from the grass –
in unison
singing in
a red and wounded dawn.
By steps of grief,
by steps of joy,
and in such a wretched glory be –
some way,
somehow,
you walked out
of the ruined city of your life
when last the heavens fell.

Four times the earth shook
as the hot breath
of some wild God
flashed and snapped and flattened
some eighty million trees.
The taiga folk
briefly saw a second sun.
One old bear-woman
within her flattened hut
looked in dream
at the devastation
from the white wings of a Swan.
Spelled in the charred remains
around that smoking halo
she saw an ancient word
of warning
when last the heavens fell.

On the first day of the month of Mars,
a long-haired star
smiled down
on London-town.
The mathematicians quailed.
The rivers choked with corpses
as the children of Europa
plunged in transformation.
Some were taken
by that inner darkness,
black hills
drawn bursting from their skin
by the comet's eerie light.
Others stalked the hollow streets
with new heads
of birds,
applying leeches to their dying kin,
when last the heavens fell.

When by humans
Hubris calls
Nemesis comes a-charging.
But by these twins
the innocent
are very rarely spared.
Once upon a time,
nigh thirteen thousand years ago
all the loves
and all the lives
of Abu Hureyra
were swallowed in a wave
of welkin-blasted molten glass.
So it came to pass
that a copper-winged Simorq
on dammed Lake Assad holds vigil
o'er their remains –
a massive mound
of tiny diamonds –
their aqueous sepulchre forged
by those cosmic siblings
when last the heavens fell.

At dawn, the cock was silent.
The hens all screamed like roosters
as he cowered weeping in his coop.
Coyote laughed and yawned
and licked his lips
and marked the wisdom
of a chicken little
named Cassandra –
somehow so attuned she was
to the procession of the astral realm
she knew
that just as some things change
many never do.
No one listened,
then as now
and yet her tragic throat
was shouting raw
when last the heavens fell.

At the risk of being honest,
I'd be lying
if I said it was good to see you.
Maybe it would've been
a better lie
if you hadn't come at all.
For a bright-eyed truth
dropped from the sky
and wrested hope
a-writhing
from my once-tranquil waters.
Sometimes I see the past.
Sometimes I see the future.
I see us now –
I'm pleading
to your memory:
“In light of all
what I couldn't say and do,
and how what I could
was not done well,
please know this –
I still love you
just as much as I did
when last the heavens fell.”
 

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iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Any idea how to rename this thread? I figured to change it from the title of one poem to 'My poetry', as it feels good sharing these here, and I'd like to continue to do so as poems keep showing up!
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
~Ameratasu~

Fire burns.
Forests burn.
Cities burned. And never forget
that the sun is growing – the sun
is growing old.
What speaks thunder in you? Have you not tasted
many uncommon sensings?
Seen One-Eye with his two Ravens?
Witnessed the One, “I”?
Felt the rising drum?
Caught scent of the civilized mind
that inspires to exhalation
– or, grander – extinction –
and spoken of ‘Our Time’
as a ripe fruit, heavy on the bough?

Have you not heard the refrain
of The Bird Tribes singing down
to the lost ones wandering
high forests of sensation,
forgot to our beginnings,
when we all spilled onto this evanescent plain
in a frenzy of linkage?
We forgot how much
it all meant to us
back then –
finding kin
as kindling in the green,
in the dark, eyes
like wedded labyrinths
joined in planes of light
around the bonfire
of celebration.
Dear one –
though you may weep
for bodies, labyrinths mapped
and lost, embered
in the blazing fall
of an Idea, your world,
a God, the village, or Love –
perhaps in the bright of those flames
you can see
that we don’t always know how to say, "I'm sorry"
– maybe it’s just because we're just so scared
of saying goodbye.
I've been told
that in unerring trust,
solace will arrive,
arrayed
on dawn's vast horizon –
and when our body-labyrinth dies, the leaves
will dance, cascading
to smooth our tired geometry
with papery autumn fires
after all
the untasted apples have fallen
and burst –
and we will drop to explode
into a next-ness unthinkable
to feed all the winged beings and crawling ones
that ready the soil
of another evanescent plain,
another host of un-common sensings
in the rot –
ashes
and frost
and falling snow
blanketing sleeping seeds –
already
you're another tangled gathering,
pregnant with
another green spring of uprising blades,
of full, flowering fields –
you teem
with little changelings, a song
of songs composed,
in this, your membering –
already
new generations storm and flood the plain
of what we'd known –
already
the trees are groaning with delight –
already
our hands are synchronized
in aeons of this craft – already
we are a continuum of discovered motions –
we are
something animal that lived, yes – but also
always
already
in the coals,
we stand revealed
as Souls
after the Fall.
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
~Your Father's Ladder~

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
work ye like a peasant
and live ye like a King –
carry your head held high
in the long days of mud –
and when the Fool laughing jests
at your soiled crown,
let your guillotine stay rusty –
with a knowing smile,
let your self-importance die
and propose a most offensive toast
to all His stupid bloodline.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
you won't know
if you're having a spiritual experience
or are in desperate need
of medical attention.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
as you hold it in your hands,
from within yourself
emerge to speak
the first Word
of thanks
you've ever truly spoken
like a little turtle
who fell asleep
and dreamed inside His shell
and almost forgot the world.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
lash it with a golden thread
to your makeshift raft of principles –
bid farewell to Mother's shore –
kiss her one last time –
and set off at last
into the ocean waters
of your chest
to collect yourself
as treasure buried
in your strange and distant inner lands.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
take off the hungry
jealous god
who devoured all His children
that you carry on your wrist –
that old hungry spectre
has already stalked too long
our conception of what is.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
think about how small you were
when half your little body
came rushing
out of His –
and in that looking
see how much
you grew
into the smallness
that he gave to you.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder
throw your ears wide open
that they become
your Eagle wings –
and leap into a listening deep
to all the Beauty
His absence brings.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
sing:
Stars above
smiling down so sweetly
Stars above
stories in the sky
Stars above
mystery that you are
Stars above
thank you for your light –
Flowers high
that bloom in heaven's garden
Flowers high
mystery that you are
Flowers high
we ask you for your pardon
Flowers high
thank you for your light –
Holy Sun
rising in the morning
Holy One
giving us each day
Holy Sun
we see us in your glory
Holy One
hear us as we pray

When you inherit
your Father's ladder
lean it on the wall
you built around your Soul
and see in all His fallings
how He rose again –
again
with a paintbrush in His hand
to colour heaven's heights.

When you inherit
your Father's ladder,
set it firm on Mother earth
and follow Him into the sky –
go up into His legacy
standing tall
amongst those scattered thousands
of distant dancing campfires
and join in all the broken wonder
of where you are
and where he's gone.
 

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Mikkael

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I just finished reading your OVID-19, and I'm moved and strangely touched. It feels like as if I just landed right, um, I don't know, my head is still spinning :-)
I feel intrigued to read it again. Looking forward to dive into more of your poems, but I'll save it for another day.

My favorite parts:

Last Monday I got caught
being something I wasn’t
as the doors dinged open. But I was caught
being the most important thing yet –
I was an adventure.
I was us.
It was like we were the only truck on the road,
and we blew joyfully past all those brash red eyes
glowering in the stoplights.
All those streets we crossed,
and we could see right down
to the end
of every shimmering asphalt line
to where all the roads end,
swallowed by the mouths of mountains.
A funnier thing happens
when the doors ding open
and your descent has ended:
you realize Line Number 7: that the real disaster
was your daily life – where all your problems,
despite your earnest prayers,
would never get big enough
to just finish you off
once and for all -
so you transform
to find new ones -
but in so doing,
warp,
and fuse,
and find
that you are
a mountain meadow;
a When without time;
a Where without space;
a hungry How
chasing flocks
of plump and elusive Why;
you are beings without Who;
you are the ‘What’,
alive in a broad friendship
with all and everything;
that you compose strange days without measure;
that you are
as you have always been;
the point
of no return.
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I just finished reading your OVID-19, and I'm moved and strangely touched. It feels like as if I just landed right, um, I don't know, my head is still spinning :-)
I feel intrigued to read it again. Looking forward to dive into more of your poems, but I'll save it for another day.

My favorite parts:

Thanks Mikkael, I'm glad you found something to enjoy here! Those favourite parts of yours are my favourites, too. Kinda like, "Let's get outta this PTB chicken coop and go on a road trip!"

I feel to share about the title, too. The classical author Ovid wrote 'Metamorphoses', compiling Greek myths of transformation. Then you have COVID-19, and the way it has transformed our world. So when you pair them... (Ovid = metamorphosis) + (COVID = transformation) = OVID-19.
 

Mikkael

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
Was rereading today Ovid-19 - once, and then a bit later afternoon again and each time I get closer to the story, deep chords are strung, which has captivated my imagination positively all day but I will give it rest now :-) .

Indeed, what a road trip and it felt like moving in two directions simultaneously, horizontally - in transit - and vertically - in elevator - had interesting unhinging effect on me. I guess that was metamorphosis! One thing I want to mention is that the favorite parts are now fused with the whole after rereading and it feels complete. Mysterious beginning which got me curious in the first place, remains mysterious after all. It has me hooked though. Definitely relating to this kind of good stuff.

I feel to share about the title, too. The classical author Ovid wrote 'Metamorphoses', compiling Greek myths of transformation. Then you have COVID-19, and the way it has transformed our world. So when you pair them... (Ovid = metamorphosis) + (COVID = transformation) = OVID-19.
I completely missed at first that the OVID/COVID had any place in it at all, but then I'm usually slow connecting dots which I actually did today before finding your reply.

Was this your first poem?
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Was rereading today Ovid-19 - once, and then a bit later afternoon again and each time I get closer to the story, deep chords are strung, which has captivated my imagination positively all day but I will give it rest now :-) .

Indeed, what a road trip and it felt like moving in two directions simultaneously, horizontally - in transit - and vertically - in elevator - had interesting unhinging effect on me. I guess that was metamorphosis! One thing I want to mention is that the favorite parts are now fused with the whole after rereading and it feels complete. Mysterious beginning which got me curious in the first place, remains mysterious after all. It has me hooked though. Definitely relating to this kind of good stuff.


I completely missed at first that the OVID/COVID had any place in it at all, but then I'm usually slow connecting dots which I actually did today before finding your reply.

Was this your first poem?

No, my first poem 'happened' when I was ten or eleven years old. I remember it quite vividly. My family had gone to Australia for a year as my parents were teachers and secured a teacher exchange gig. They often had to go into the school to work on weekends, and my brother and I would go along, either to play in the gym or use the school computers. So there I was with my brother, waiting for my turn to play a horrible hack-and-slash video game (Diablo II). I was biding my time on an adjacent computer, and a poem came rushing out. It was about an enormous fly (4D STS?!) that was stalking the protagonist (innocently minding his own business, crossing a bridge over a river). The protagonist was saved by a giant spider who caught the fly in its web (4D STO?!). Ever since then, the poems kept on happening, to varying degrees.

Thanks for your commentary, glad you enjoyed the road trip!
 

Possibility of Being

Administrator
Administrator
Moderator
FOTCM Member
Any idea how to rename this thread? I figured to change it from the title of one poem to 'My poetry', as it feels good sharing these here, and I'd like to continue to do so as poems keep showing up!
Well, I kind of combined the original title with your suggestion so that it's easier for members who visit this thread to find it next time. But if you don't like it, it can be changed to whatever you think fits best. It's your thread so you decide! :)
 

Mikkael

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
I've read the poem Ameratasu and as the name sounded familiar I went to look on internet and found very similar name of goddess of light, or Sun queen of Japanese mythology. Her name is Amaterasu. Could it be her? Nice poetry again.
What speaks thunder in you?
:-)
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
I've read the poem Ameratasu and as the name sounded familiar I went to look on internet and found very similar name of goddess of light, or Sun queen of Japanese mythology. Her name is Amaterasu. Could it be her? Nice poetry again.

:-)


Yes, the Sun Queen is what I was going for, I think I just used the wrong spelling! How embarassing.
 

Mikkael

Jedi Master
FOTCM Member
When you think about it, it's peculiar. Like perhaps, being uncertain about name of your thread, which You clearly have delicate handling with words. It occurred to me, that perhaps you tried to fit the name for poem and thread somehow in rush or outside of your.. usual process?
 

iamthatis

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
When you think about it, it's peculiar. Like perhaps, being uncertain about name of your thread, which You clearly have delicate handling with words. It occurred to me, that perhaps you tried to fit the name for poem and thread somehow in rush or outside of your.. usual process?

This is true, a good insight you picked up on. Thank you!

My process with writing usually involves a large amount of revision and editing. There is definitely an element of uncertainty in this, or a busy-ness to it, like carving a block of wood. Many passes are made to make the right shape. But sometimes when I look at 'the carving' long enough, I can miss the obvious, because I am totally focused on a different detail. You've given me a good reminder to take a step back, take a breath, and look at the overall piece.
 
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