Archive for ‘Doug’

March 23, 2020

Silences

by HemmingPlay

What an odd boy, they used to say of me.
They’re still saying it.
But I’m a writer, my dear, and not right in the head.
That’s all it is. But I do know how to
take my time and listen,
sitting under the willow tree in the spring as the birds
bring me happy messages from God.
I will take my time with other important things, too,
so lay your curves of water here beside me.

If this pleases you,
You may pay me back with your
gift of second sight,
and tell me where my true nature hides,
where my pain
scuttles unhealed,
my illusions fester.

I will love you all the more for it.
These are gifts we give, freely
and they bind us in profound ways
because they reveal.

read more »

March 20, 2020

Love in the Time of Corona

by HemmingPlay

I’ve grown tired of disappointing women.
And of being disappointed in them.
I know that’s too broad a conclusion
from a very small sample.
Don’t care. I need a break,
and Corvid-19 is a convenient excuse.

I’m hiding out from another virus
of my own making,
sheltering in place and
eating frozen vegetables.
Aware this might become permanent.

I had a long life with a woman who died,
a life better than most, I think,
not as good as some.
But still, what do I have to complain about?

Younger people have their difficulties,
stemming mostly from being naively stupid,
but older men and women bring
a lot of experienced stupidity to the bed, too.
(If it ever gets that far.)

read more »

March 16, 2020

Vanities

by HemmingPlay

Feel your belly button,
where you were attached to
your mother. But
try not to think about
about the night you were conceived.
Whether it was a result of
a hand up a skirt, urgent kisses
and fevered promises
and premature explanations
on your mother’s couch.
(After consultations with
your inner editor,
let’s instead say it was
after a long talk over wine,
Chopin on the stereo,
tender kisses and happy plans.)

What does it matter now? You’re here.
Don’t screw up.
That’s what it comes down to.

Or wind your watch forward
(humor me, you digital ones)
a thousand years.
Was there ever a coffin
built to last the whole trip?
One that was worth the price?
We could ask Tutenkamen, I suppose,
(Who was bad at office politics
and is still dead.)

read more »

March 12, 2020

Old and Young

by HemmingPlay

A difference between

the young and the old….

Most of the people the young loved

are still around.

March 11, 2020

Eyes

by HemmingPlay

I met a widow once,
wrapped in loss.
She said
she could not see a better
day coming.

I looked over my shoulder,
along the long road,  
and gave her my eyes.

March 11, 2020

A Modern Man

by HemmingPlay

I walk too often in the echoes of a cold canyon,
sometimes accompanied by my wife,
dead now barely two years. She’s silent, amused,
faintly attached to this world and soon to go again,
impatient with me for hanging onto melancholic vapors
when it’s obvious–to her, anyway–that I just haven’t wised up yet.

But I’m a so-called modern man, allergic to undue connections,
Even when a dream comes and I
am lurched through a deeper portal and part a
gauzy barrier to walk with skeptical ghosts.
All I know when I wake is this bag of meat and its
pedestrian priorities.

She knew. She told me to find someone.
Knew I would only trust the secrets, the warmth and dampness,
the round softnesses I could hold,
with nipples like rosebuds and mysterious eyes;
knew that all man’s scripture could be held on a 3-by-5 card,
if he weren’t so stubbornly drunk on himself.

March 2, 2020

Purpose

by HemmingPlay

Sooner or later
each of us asks
did I have a purpose?
What was I born to?

I had such a moment this morning.
Each of my life’s 2. 22 billion seconds
had to have gone exactly as it did
to bring me to this,

to experience the flock of warblers
that burst out of the sky
into the middle of my morning, singing
of their wild and precious lives–

up from Mexico, or Central America,
bonded in struggle from all those days aloft,
looking for food,
for grass and moss for a nest.

The things prayers are made of,
for this moment.

 

March 1, 2020

Mountain Morning

by HemmingPlay

The mountains, lustrous at dawn.
Below, here in the valley,
the droplets of last night’s rain
shimmer on blades and twigs, their
molecules respond to the sun
like a woman rising to
meet a beloved’s touch.

Wait.
Something is going on up there
on the deep-packed slope.
A whirling figure of white, of mist,
there, yet almost not;
A snow giant,
like a tranced dervish, twirls in
the morning’s new energies—
it whirls violently,
fingerless, wispy hands thrust
high into the cold blue,
200 feet tall, or more.
A mile, maybe. It’s hard
to tell from here, as it’s
insubstantial. Massive.

read more »

February 26, 2020

The Curvature of Water

by HemmingPlay

The curvature of water

And here, in the kingdom of clouds,
vast continents of mist
dwarf the mountains,
lumber lightly
in from the ocean,
float improbably, silently.
They sometimes, when the air is cold,
leak acres of crystal
in the high wilderness of fir and grizzly,
burying the trees and crags of the
inaccessible mystery in white.

And here, over the empire of emeralds,
they sweep and swell and
break apart and spill out
mighty rivers and silver lakes,
wash the air clean and
sift down through my willow tree,
bit by drop, sink from sight and
hurry to refill the ocean.

read more »

February 6, 2020

Questions That Come With Age

by HemmingPlay

185762016_0

The clock… relentless.
What’s my allotment going to be?
How to make the best of it?
How to keep dignity,
avoid a failure of imagination,
avoid self-pity….

“Savor each moment…”
Yes, well that’s a cliché.
I know what’s coming,
What I’ve lost for good.
The trick is to
Savor these, too,
With a little grace.

No lies in the mirror.
No false smiles.
No regrets.
No cruelties.
Kindnesses given
with no expectations.

There are enough
bitter herbs around.
But

One surprise smile is enough
to recharge a whole day.
Thank you, darlin’

read more »

February 5, 2020

Among Thistles and Roses

by HemmingPlay

I’ve disappointed a few.
A few have returned the favor;
I’m angry for a while at both of us, but
also wonder if I am simply wrong
to expect more.

My beard is grey, but inside
is the deluded spirit of Ulysses,
yearning to go down again to the sea
in ships, to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
But let me refill that cup, and from somewhere,
perhaps in my own throat—
is that a bird? or merely
the cry of a frightened child,
longing to be gentled
against the soft comforts of
undemanding love?

February 3, 2020

Island Moon

by HemmingPlay

Full moon sliding fast over the water,
enough to read by,
be burned by,
rolling bright and cool
to the west, painting
a wrinkled, twinkled path
on restless waves of
aching blue turned dark,
reflecting clouds and stars.

Magical island nights, but doomed.
As the moon waned
a little more each night,
so did the magic.
Precious, but fragile.

read more »

February 3, 2020

Distorted Passage

by HemmingPlay

I swim in
streams and rivers
instead of on land,
looking up
through ripples
seeing mere refractions
of unknowns
filtered through milky moonlight.

Down small creeks,
under
branches splitting
the sky,
dark firs waving in
the breeze like monks
chanting,
and oaks bragging of age;
rocks and crags,
shifting, rippling,
dropping dappled shards of
sunlight on
crystal, chuckling waters.

read more »

January 31, 2020

Cowgirl

by HemmingPlay


I encountered a young Colorado woman, once,
from a distance. Our trails crossed in our personal badlands.

A beauty, she had the raw fire of a mustang.
I caught her at a terrible time in her life.
Or should I say, she caught me.

Her marriage was coming apart,
her husband having lost interest and sunk into cruelty and betrayals.

We never met, except
as passing
electronic ghosts. She writhed and wrote of her pain,
her bruised pride and injured beauty.
She touched us with her anger and anguish,
her soul’s search for beauty nonetheless,
In that state she painted lurid images of
what she would do with me,
to me, what she wanted from me,
pinned against a wall, legs apart,
full of anger, fury, revenge.

read more »

January 29, 2020

Passion, Courage, Choice

by HemmingPlay

I have chosen to seek
each day the path of courage
and passion.
I fail, often.

I don’t
say this with bravado,
because I do not feel brave.
If I could choose something
easier, I would.
It never gets easier.

But to make the choice each day,
Each minute, to turn and
face the sadness and suffering,
of the world; the pain and joy,
each on it’s own terms
and not be defeated by it—
that is something that
must be chosen again,
and again, and again.
It is the job of poetry.
No compromises.

It is not a choice of pleasant fictions,
a diversion of entertaining nothingness;
nor like the fog of opium that
leaves us still breathing,
but dead.

Each night, darkness does not fall.
That is the wrong image.
Rather, when the earth spins away
from the sun, it rises up from the deep places
of the earth and the oceans, from
the caverns and the bottom of rivers and lakes and seas.
A deep exhalation.
A time for alternatives.

read more »

January 28, 2020

Too Anything

by HemmingPlay

She said it was too hot,
too slow,
too fat,
too skinny,
too long,
too short,
too near,
too far,
too messy,
too loose,
too tight,
too much,
too little,
too soon,
too late.

We were too drunk. Too stoned. Then, in the afternoon,
too sober.

But it was not, and never would be, too anything.
Except, maybe, too unkind.

January 28, 2020

School of the Electric Fence

by HemmingPlay

Photo by Richard Calmes

I suppose I knew this,
once upon a time,
but love is a little like
the electric fence I used to
crawl through to get to the woods.

You have to be cautious, not timid.

(I wouldn’t go so far as to agree with
Crosby when he said being with Joni was
like falling into a cement mixer.)

read more »

January 26, 2020

Grief Journey

by HemmingPlay

 

Loss and pains.
though just part of living…
set us apart,
others didn’t understand.
But we knew. We just knew. 

We wrapped ourselves 
in each other’s griefs,
grateful to need no explanations,, 
understanding without words;
afraid of more losses
(can I go through that again?) 
resisting pain, 
change and the unknown.

January 7, 2020

Primitive

by HemmingPlay

 

By Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds

 

I have heard about the civilized,
the marriages run on talk, elegant and
honest, rational. But you and I are
savages. You come in with a bag,
hold it out to me in silence.
I know Moo Shu Pork when I smell it
and understand the message: I have
pleased you greatly last night. We sit
quietly, side by side, to eat
the long pancakes dangling and spilling,
fragrant sauce dripping out,
and glance at each other askance, wordless,
the corners of our eyes clear as spear points
laid along the sill to show
a friend sits with a friend here.

January 5, 2020

How To Write Poetry

by HemmingPlay
wisaawa-szymborskaAdvice for blocked writers and aspiring poets from a Nobel Prize winner’s newspaper column. 

INTRODUCTION

From: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/articles/detail/68657

In the Polish newspaper Literary Life, Nobel Prize winning poet Wislawa Szymborska answered letters from ordinary people who wanted to write poetry. Clare Cavanagh, translates these selections.


The following are selections from columns originally published in the Polish newspaper
Literary Life. In these columns, famed poet Wislawa Szymborska answered letters from ordinary people who wanted to write poetry. Translated by Clare Cavanagh.

To Heliodor from Przemysl: “You write, ‘I know my poems have many faults, but so what, I’m not going to stop and fix them.’ And why is that, oh Heliodor? Perhaps because you hold poetry so sacred? Or maybe you consider it insignificant? Both ways of treating poetry are mistaken, and what’s worse, they free the novice poet from the necessity of working on his verses. It’s pleasant and rewarding to tell our acquaintances that the bardic spirit seized us on Friday at 2:45 p.m. and began whispering mysterious secrets in our ear with such ardor that we scarcely had time to take them down. But at home, behind closed doors, they assiduously corrected, crossed out, and revised those otherworldly utterances. Spirits are fine and dandy, but even poetry has its prosaic side.”

To H.O. from Poznan, a would-be translator: “The translator is obliged to be faithful not only to the text. He must also reveal the full beauty of the poetry while retaining its form and preserving as completely as possible the epoch’s spirit and style.”

To Grazyna from Starachowice: “Let’s take the wings off and try writing on foot, shall we?”

To Mr. G. Kr. of Warsaw: “You need a new pen. The one you’re using makes a lot of mistakes. It must be foreign.”

read more »

January 3, 2020

Finding Home

by HemmingPlay

I can’t go home, because
home has not stopped
moving yet.
But I do know that
this moment is real;
I know how your lips feel,
I know the heat and
weight of you
In the dark,
or pressed against me
at a dock, oblivious
of jealous eyes,
saying a goodbye,
wordlessly telling
me what feels right.
I know loneliness
melts
in the heat of the
grace of you.
Stay with me a while, dancer.
Let’s walk on the beach,
and look in the sands for courage,
and sit at dawn,
watching the day come up like thunder.

December 27, 2019

Magic Flows in the Wounded Places

by HemmingPlay

Magic flows in the
wounded places,
brings new life,
growing pains,
new patterns,
new hope.
But the risks…
it’s hard to take the risks.
We’re surrounded by
unfinished things,
always taking the present
and turning it into the future,
over and over and over and over…
it doesn’t end until we do.
Creating courage never ends,
is never perfect,
always full of doubt,
always becoming
—but only through risk.

read more »

May 25, 2019

Survivor’s Guilt

by HemmingPlay

(Note: written several months ago as part of the recovery process.) 

Hissing down Highway 1
in the rain,
Baltimore in the rear view.

Brushing against old pain
repressed for 20 years,
but suddenly bleeding
through my chest,
three grey hours ahead.

I wasn’t the one
who was sick, I said.
Not the one who died.
I was just the supporting cast
the nameless crew member
in the red tunic.

read more »

April 6, 2019

What Comes Before Silence

by HemmingPlay

Death is not bitter
death is a silence
But dying is bitter.
Dying is hard.
With you,
it was the sound.

It was like drowning,
no detail spared,
in slow motion…

with metastases of cancer
that filled the lungs
and grew, sending out
ghastly spawn to live in bone

read more »

April 4, 2019

Memories Over A Glass of Wine

by HemmingPlay

I Want To Dance with You_Kiku Xue

You weren’t my first summer girl—
But were the first one to take me over
Body and soul (and OK, I admit, it wasn’t all that hard to do)
But you are the one from the early days I remember

With only a few sharp regrets, since softened by time.

But also rises in me a wistful toast
To our being so young and eager, so serious, so clumsy,
So lost in hormones and music on the radio
Sitting on the lawn under a black sky sprinkled with stars,
Fumbling, clutching, giddy with freedom, while
Bullfrogs’ song charged the humid darkness with need.

read more »

April 1, 2019

Standing

by HemmingPlay

daro.jpg
And oh, my dear,
what joy
to hear the robin’s call,
the cardinal’s challenge,
the excited chatter
of all the returning
migrants, full of stories
about tropical fruits
and sunny days and
nights among the
trumpet vines and
camellia blooms
on the Gulf of Mexico.

read more »

February 27, 2019

It Was the Sound

by HemmingPlay

Note: Don’t be alarmed. I am OK. This poem deals with something that happened nearly a year ago, but I’m just able to work my way into it objectively. It will be in a collection soon to be published, but as I prepare the pieces, I find there are still loose ends that need to be tied up by remembering. This was one.

Death is not bitter…
death is a silence
But, the dying is bitter.
Dying is full of the noise
of the going out.
It was the sound, I think,
that still haunts me,
the sound of your
struggle, the
death rattle.
(Such a bland phrase,
nothing like the
horror of the real thing.)

It was a drowning,
slowly,
inevitably,
the lungs full of fluids produced by
the metastases of cancer
the ravisher of lungs,
scatterer of foul seeds,
ghastly, evil children to stick in bone
and brain.

The relentless
sounds of drowning, your
poor, battered breastbone lifting,
tough heart refusing to stop
long after it should have.
Morphine hid the pain
but took your mind,
filled it full of phantasms
but it at least lay a
warm blanket over the pain

But the lungs were full
and drowned you deep
in dreamy waters, hours
after your spirit had
abandoned the failing husk.
An old friend said you visited her
in a dream hours before.

You had a spirit body,
alive and vigorous and young, happy, she said,
dressed in spring clothes
and driving a sky-blue convertible.
While I tried to give the body
some peace, and listened to
the rising dreamy waters, rattling,
It was a comfort to learn
you had escaped, and
driven away on your
great adventure.

In bright sunshine,
free, in a blue convertible, like the
one you had when we met
50 years before.

hemmingplay.com

February 23, 2019

Kintsugi

by HemmingPlay

thesink I will remember the kisses
our lips raw with love
and how you gave me
everything you had
and how I
offered you what was left of
me

–Charles Bukowski

And now, for a time, I must find the parts of me I’ve lost, and glue them back into a new whole. Kintsugi, finding beauty in imperfection; the art of precious scars. Perhaps I’ll mend the broken edges with gold this time.

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