Saturday, March 21, 2009

Clay Heart, Cold Words

Here are more poems from Dec. 13. I read a poem by Julie Buffaloe-Yoder and I had to respond. This is the poem I created. Unfortunately I did not note the name of the poem that included the mule and the dusty clay, but if you asked Julie I she might be able to tell you, and even better, if you search her archives looking for it, you will find many delights. She is a magnificent poet.

Clay Heart

I swim in shallows,
Know it when I hear from you
The story, the truth
Of the deep of things,

The dusty clay heart of things.

The smell of the dung
Of the mule who kicked
Her face is still strong and good.
And I shrink from it.


This poem happened in the evening several hours later. I don't remember what prompted it at all. I have had to edit just a little. I tried something and at this point am sure it didn't work. I tried originally for a rhyme and it was so out of character with the rest that it only drove home what I know. I don't try for rhyming poetry because I can't rhyme. I don't think right for creating living rhymes, can only make stupid clunky foolish rhymes. In forty years my best rhymes only succeed in making me squirm.

The only thing worse is dialogue. I can't write a fiction to save my life because somewhere along the line I have to use dialogue and my best dialogue makes me nauseous. That's why I absolutely love Gregory MacDonald. McDonald? He wrote the Fletch and Flynn books. He was president of the mystery writer's guild. He got awards. His Fletch was made into a movie. Some of his work is almost 100% dialogue. God.

Cold Words

The words between us
Are so cold they freeze my lips
And drop to the ground.

I can't get it, how you've left.
You say words straight but I can't


Your cold words crash me,
Hurt my ears, freeze them white shut.
They fall off my head.

Why do I say these cold things?
Why do you? What has happened?



  1. So incredibly real ...real about loss and change and whatever we wish was ....but no longer is

  2. "They fall off my head" true

  3. I would have preferred this experience to not be so universal. I keep hoping that there is some paradise where people just don't go through this stuff. I have difficulty finding an up side to experiences like this. No one wants the capacity to navigate here, no one wants to be here. Being here doesn't teach how to avoid being here.

    I don't want to know how to look straight at this, so that I know how to sit beside you as you look at this and eventually put on survival eyes too. I don't want you to go through it in the first place.

    When I accept this is how it can be, not always, but far too often, to complete the picture I have to also accept my aversion completely. At that point and in this way I can't help feeling abandoned a stranger in a strange land.

    At that point I am required to recall that in my personal myth I asked, even demanded to be here. This implies that I had a choice then. But I don't now. Every direction I look this is out and out loss, retraction, lack of power, dilemma.

    There are other ways to learn compassion, damn it. Really? Maybe not. No wonder there are many who secretly say, Fuck compassion, even when they pretend otherwise.

  4. We often say the most harmful things to the ones we love. And they seem to keep coming back for more because of the hold we have on one another.

  5. Well Christopher....
    In addition to the poem. I am sorry if it is universal. It is also intensely personal.

    The comment is also too true. There are too many times when I have looked at this kind of this sideways...while I am
    inching away ...fearing bleeding to death...I hope I never want to be there. I hope I never close the door to that deep need and connection. I still fantasize there is least at times....some levels of detachment with involvement..I admit. I do not often achieve it. Rather I aspire to it I guess.

    Lorenzo also may have the right of it. Who knows?

    I do know I love and appreciate your writing. That I can say with certainty.


  6. ...And if I built this fortress around your heart
    Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire
    Then let me build a bridge
    For I cannot fill the chasm
    And let me set the battlements on fire...


  7. "I swim in shallows" -- love that line! I feel that way too often.

  8. Ghost, I have a feeling you might like me, but we'll keep it ectoplasmic, no one can see and know one knows.

    Karen, the great thing about poetry is I get to tell the truth and I get to write fiction, and I don't have to let anyone really know which is which and when, always when.

    This is like Astrology, where everyone is all twelve signs, but there is timing and emphasis, some longer term, some for the whole life, and all the rest comes and goes more or less according to cycles and attitudes.

    So I'm a sober horse thief and a saint and a this and a that and who knows what else and I KNOW I'm not the only one.

  9. We always have a choice.

    Sometimes we just need to tunnel our vision a little and stop looking at the whole.

    There is beauty to be found in the 'small stuff'.

  10. So true -- for that very reason, I share my poetry with very few of those closest to me in the real world. They can't seem to differentiate between the me they know and the me who writes this stuff. Hence, the name of my blog.

    One thing I find in writing poetry is that I'll start with one idea and the writing takes itself somewhere else. I know I'm somewhere there, in the place it goes, but often it's my imagined self or someone else's imagined self that I write.

    Linda said your poem is universal. I think that's one of the things that keeps us reading poetry -- finding ourselves in others, making connections.

  11. Yes, Karen. I have many people in my life though my family is all gone. These people see me on a daily basis. They know, most of them that I write poetry. They certainly know that I try to live well. They could care less but I am not sure how. Oh, they would not want to belittle anything I do really. They all care about me. They just don't care for poetry, do not live in the world where poetry makes sense.

    I have had to make peace with how few people there are in the world who have this kind of inner life. This is one of the things that keeps me wondering. I know that people like me exist. You lovely blog friends proove that. But we have to go international to get a community going. Why are we so rare? I am sure it is a mistake to think this makes us some kind of elite. If anything it is a goad and a source of loneliness if we cannot make peace with it. If we do make peace, then it is a calling.

  12. Thanks, Christopher. I loved "Clay Heart" when you first wrote it, and I still love it. "Cold Words" is another winner. That first stanza blows me away.

    I like your comments here about the loneliness of the writing life. Most people don't get it. Even among my peers in writing workshops, I often felt lonely and separate. Many of them wanted to turn it into a competition, instead of a bond. I guess it was nice to keep me on my toes. But it's much nicer to meet people like you who get what it's all about.

  13. Love clay heart.....I really get that. Sorry I've not been round, life, busy, busy.....sigh.

  14. Jo, I do think you have a real life. :)


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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