We Came from the Sea

Image by Christopher Campbell.

Image by Christopher Campbell.

winnowing treasures from the sea

her hands are coarse sand and

swirling shells crying

for the wind

as she turns the sun another degree:

“Look,” she says, “Look,”

without protest from the recess

of notes worn in threadbare hair

–remnants of hippie days, one supposes—

things my fingers can twist

merely into deeper shadow

like bare feet under summer maples.

Gradually, the tide takes us

our footprints carried into the waves

that we might walk on water

drowning only flesh

in the reflections

Curling at the Edges

(A blast from the past. Now with full audio.)

Roiling at the seams

in browned spots

the print, smeared

still holds flecks of the image

the profile was meant to be.

 

Lower, still

the ageless quality of a tree

rising from the hunched cranial

(let us admit: too large) cavity

rooted in the faded flesh

our fingerprints

 

so gently blurred;

without a stream to drink from

it curled and devoured

the paper that gave it breath.

Perhaps, even, its branches

would die to give us this moment.

 

I have heard it called quaint,

our gentle hording

of a memory,

 

but the thoughts that resurrected

the flesh beyond those roots

was once quite dear

though without the stream

it rippled free into distortion

like the beating of a dream

 

of a drum, of a thought;

the water carried me away

one day

rootless under the surface

with nothing but the edges

of a curling notion.

Anonymity

Searching for anonymity

is dancing nude along desire’s paths

white moon to black sun.

A month in the whole enterprise

drifts like paper cutouts

mad men strung between the rafters

leaving sadists to admire

photographs of life

and naming them poetic

for the exposure

it never gave them

the memory of heat on bare feet

as he submerges.

Ghosts in the Cracks

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall by Captain Hubert C. Provand. First published in Countrylife magazine, 1936.

Lives twist through keyboard cracks

emptiness defined in empty pages,

howling wolves, the wide eyes

like saucer-pools drinking all

the hidden truth of prophecy

self-actualized, self-realized

to breathless fraying

of emotional rope by which

one and all, we hang

another fabric, another hope

before the grasping cry for voice

in the unseen void—

heat-sleeved arms reach

like ghosts from the computer screen.

Poetic Spotlight: Let America Be America Again

Langston Hughes, image care of Wikimedia Commons.

This week, we’re trying a little something new (with a little something old) here at the Waking Den. Every Thursday I’ll be doing my best to sift through my library (yes, I’m 22 and I would say I’ve got a good start on a library going) for some of the great works by classic poets – both known, and unknown – to bring before your eyes. Some will be personal favorites. Some will not. All will be here for your benefit, put forth, archived, and ready and waiting for any of your discussions of these immortalized poetic greats.

Today, we kick off the affair with something hardly “lightweight” in subject matter – Langston Hughes’s powerful “Let American Be America Again”. It packs a punch, as a forewarning, as well it should – it speaks to matters many would wish to forget, or to sweep under a rug and keep out of sight, at the least. It speaks of freedom and equality – critiques and hopes, longing–it rings out in a voice that echoes through the ages…and works as such are rarely gentle. Enjoy.

“Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed–
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek–
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean–
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today–O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home–
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay–
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose–
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain–
All, all the stretch of these great green states–
And make America again!”

Bedside

* A work in progress – critique welcome!

Broad strokes, bedside

broached the topic of

wedded blasphemy,

through bygone whispers

renovated in bravado,

battered with the blue breeze

bloody braggarts call carnal bastardization.

An immigration of conscience

instituted something like incontinence.

Winged Aphrodite pulled hormones

through the shaft of her soul,

but ringed Bast barred in gold;

lovers circled bane and bust,

but the band bonded true—

like a shadow, lust, pulled

through the needle of love’s eye.