Broken Wing

Dreams – Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
The Blue Bird – Marc Chagall

Both these impressions came on the same day. Strangely. I ended up writing this:

 

Broken Wings

How much sky can a little heart bear? Birds
don’t know how to fix their broken wings.

There is no repair shop in that far-bazaar,
no shaman in a flowery cape, with poultice

and a magic spell, to wrap a wing in lengths
of cloud, to dab the sweat off a throbbing

brow, to chant healing into a feathered
ear, while crossing her fingers behind her

back to say: here, here, universe, your path to
repentance begins here. It’s funny what you

want to see, looking up, alone, at a moondust sky,
when you don’t dare admit that you are hurting.

Let me be

The storm – J.M.W. Turner (1840-45)

****

If that is all I learnt:
to see a storm and
draw a teacup around it
so I can feel safe
so I can stay calm
so I can be in control
if that is all I want now
if that is all I am now
then I don’t want
this growing up

Let me look that storm in the eye
Let me paint it bigger
so it swallows the horizon
Let me paint it louder
so it can match my scream
more anger, more anguish
more hyperbole, more
theatre of wet and light and dark
Let me chain that feckless moon that
slips in and out of the churn
Let me mock the heaving sky
that turns itself inside out
Let me feel the trembling
underbelly of the universe

Let me shatter your teacup
Let me steal all your boats
Let me be until I am
Let me be that storm

Paradox

(life as a game of snakes and ladders)

As you roll the dice, you wonder if you can
train a snake to uncoil slowly, so you descend
in stages, arriving gently at the bottom. The

snake is an excuse to cancel the light. To return
to the womb. To become a root, seeking
water, having never seen a leaf, a flower in full

bloom. You feel the ladder, made of mist and
hope, always two rungs short of home. But a
goal is a function of desire and luck as much as

laboured ascent. The ladder serves the myth
that elevation is a need. Because stars and gods
live in the sky. Because the higher you go, the

further it still is. You move seven squares forward,
dodging a venomous fang, not quite at the
lowest step. It has been raining for days. If

there was a sky, it has collapsed into the ground.
You wonder how things would work, upside-down.
You turn the board around, count down from the end.

**********

Finding a process that works, that cuts through the numb silence and translates stirrings to words is half the battle. I found my way around writer’s block by doodling my thoughts and putting them aside, letting the words come when they were ready.  It hardly matters if you can’t draw to save your life. It also doesn’t matter if the words aren’t exactly what the image intended to be. The poem is the journey! Am learning to enjoy it! 

Chaos

the chaos is real
tangled inside and out
you try to iron it like a shirt
but it creases against skin
over every warp, every scar,
over the forgotten, the elapsed —
like the delusion of stretched blue sky
that turns as it comes closer,
into viscous cloud, into grimy light,
dead stars falling into unopened eyes:

the knots connect thick and deep
in the end you let them be
because to unravel one
you have to undo everything —
because a patch of garden on a sand dune
does not improve the desert,
that is not its burden,
but it keeps the thirsty traveller walking
in the hope there will be another one…

A connection between soles

All the inversions: friday night and I set a
memory on a skin of spilt beer, feet touching
feet, head two body lengths away, unseen,

suddenly truth is a connection between soles.
Every morning for twenty years, mama took
three buses to work. The radius of childhood,

measured by wheel on wheel on a clouded film
of yesterday’s rain. Which wheel is real when
we talk of the past? Later, putting me to sleep,

the night reflected in her tears: two formless
skies collapsing into one. A false singularity.
Darkness, a perfect mirror of darkness.

 

VV-Feb-2020-Omid-Armin

Image by Omid Armin (Picture prompt provided by Visual Verse)
First published on Visual Verse (Vol 07, Chapter 4)

 

Finally sent something out this year and am glad it found a home. Visual Verse has great picture prompts and I love ekphrastic poetry but it also pulls together a gorgeous contributor page ! Just realized I’ve had 14 poems published there!

A hoarse ripple

Sometimes a word or two would
break the surface, a hoarse ripple,
as if a frog had sighed in a dream
or a fish had stretched and yawned
and then the water would straighten
its creases, the silence separating
us, sometimes, fusing our bodies into
one, the muzzled light opening and
closing wounds like a flautist on
a distant stage. There wasn’t that
much left to say. Not that night. Not
in that place. Not with words, anyway.

mountain-lake-1024x829
Mountain Lake: Salvador Dali, 1938

Collecting blossoms

I pluck flowers from that painting every time
emptiness shapes itself into a room, into a bed,

into a voice. I hide them where you cannot see –
at the bottom of my teacup, on that window

sill where the light can’t reach even at noon, on
my shadow that never falls in this unerring

darkness, in my closed fist. Come very close,
closer, can you see a petal plotting an escape?

It has been trying for thirteen years now. And
still I pick flowers from that inexhaustible tree. It

smiles at me even as I reach for it, as if we are
sisters, dressed alike for the harvest festival. I tell

her I am collecting blossoms for my grave. She
smiles wider. Bends lower. Is this kindness or

chicanery? I dream that every time the emptiness
shapes itself into your body, another flower blooms.

1024px-Vincent_van_Gogh_-_Almond_blossom_-_Google_Art_Project

Almond Blossoms- Vincent Van Gogh

Used to be easier

There must be many gods up there, yours, mine, the god
of unbelievers. Used to be easier. All people wanted was

to be safe from life, from death, from gods. Now infinite
prayers litter the space between lips and stars. But

prayers are not gods. They need feathers and hollow
bones and ways to breathe. And ways to survive till they

find the right god. The skies are crowded like the
vegetable market on Sunday morning. We slithered and

jostled through curses and shoulders and sweat to find
the best mangoes. It was the lunar new year. We prayed

for twelve months of happiness. We got two. That prayer
must have broken a wing or run out of air or died in a

stampede of buoyant yearnings. Maybe you were saying
something that day. Maybe I couldn’t hear in the din.

Even gods can’t hear in the Sunday market with every
single person crying out for something. Used to be easier.

VV-March-2019-1

 

Image by NASA (Picture prompt provided by Visual Verse)
First published on Visual Verse (Vol 06, Chapter 5)

As large as a truth

we build bigger
so we can feel smaller –
somehow the small are not accountable
for their smallness, benevolence
is the burden of the unsmall – our gods
are big, straddling skies and
holding up universes,
anything as large as a truth
is more than we are
obliged to bear: lies, on the
other hand, are weightless.

plazawieza_sc

The Temple by Tomasz Zaczeniuk
Used with permission.  Instagram fotowizjer

 

Written for a picture prompt at Real Toads that requires a 55 word response.