>Personal Responses

>[Note: I recently re-discovered this old poem I wrote several years ago in response to three films and a book that all had powerful, personal effects upon me.]

como el viento cantando en el incendio
________________________________– Octavio Paz

Pensioners stir the dust
sunlight on Roman streets

(the apartment)
so quiet
dogs lie in doorways
amber light spills
through amber shades
and I am somber
(melancholy stillness)
________I eat complacency
________like the dead

the scarred floor stretches
to the corners
reminding me
of old movies
lights in the fog
make the windows paintings
my mind a de Chirico

How mysterious light
through translucent frames
creates a universe
of eternal shadows

(an ordinary burning bush)
I drank wine and watched
as you suffered humiliation and poverty
I sat in the dark on the couch
while suicide crossed your mind
and I lived my comfort in color
as you lived your troubles in black and white
(could it be?)
do my tears caress the face of truth?
or am I (like the faithful)
under contract?

to terrific
on a country road
severs my soul
________like the sea
________splits the sun

(black screen)
into the darkness of the well
the emptiness of endings
and sorrow
sorrow shaking from my bones
sorrow holding tenderness
dredged from beneath the depths
of inheritance

________so this is human
(my chest asunder)
________so this is my heart
(my limbs stone cold)

in the end it’s only a story
a gift of soulish love
delivered like the morning sky
black with birds
the list of names long past
rolling into nothing

________visions in dreams
________shadows of substance
________details drawn close

the bottle rolls slowly
toward the table’s edge
voices call to me
“come quick the house is burning”
(rain and fire mixing poetic)

again I am carried to the window
as if being directed forward
(a reflection on the meaning of light)
And in the garden
a book lies like an open friend
(solace and things remembered)
tall grass bending
leaves turning gently
lost in beauty

And through dark doors
she sleeps above the bed
her body slowly turning
________fantastical chimera
________diegetic memory
________image of longing
________fabulaic mystery
and I cry out
my stuttering
giving me away

a stone face crumbling
collapsing like facades tumbling
under their own weight
a chest thick with emotions
like the wind howling
at the edges of the sky
________and I sit without movement
(I shall not call out)

Do not walk on the lake
when drops fall from the eaves

my reflection
soul and spirit
wild sorrow
wild regret
wild hope

an era passing before me
(hands wave from the dock)

In the end
it was a generation of
broken hearts and alcohol
Spanish rivers and rain wet Paris
fighting bulls and still fighting
the great war
(and who am I?)

In the end it was the simple
desires of the impotent
and in my young heart
immobilized by a string of words
I hold sadness
like a beautiful flame.

________________(January 1999)

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