Tuesday, August 11, 2015

This present alchemy (of art)

photo by Ik T

I find him in the jungle among the fronds, discarded
from palms - their gnarly trunks crooked as spines
& he is on his knees

                               in a white button up shirt w/ blue collar,
yet to be stained with grease from a pump filling the pool
for hundreds of smiling tourists, from New York,
Greece, Nebraska, old Russian states, I can not pronounce,
a mix of accents rich with promise ---
                                                              all still currently

He is Cuban,
and his "r's" roll like waves kids jump & squeal
as their mother takes pictures.

I am looking for coconuts,
storm gods sent Earth-ward last night.

You have to be early or the black birds will beat you
pecking holes deep through the husk, cracking the nut,
to drink deep the milk
                                    & he is

building Machu Pichu,
sand piled high, & torn grass, old shells, a trashed cup,
2 pop tops, turned over as the eyes
                                                          which are really
                                                          only reflections of the sky

"I make it like ---"
&does his hands like steps
                                             "---you ever seen it?"

not in real life."

"I see it in a movie once. So beautiful."

Every morning he rebuilds it,
at his first break,
while all the others get coffee.

It's in the cup of his hand
against the moist grit,
the shape. He can't help,

having touched the power of creating something
beyond himself.

He knows where all the bodies are buried,
I want to tell him there are sacred places
where the light hits

just right. He uses leaves for turf. There is
a tremble. We ignore, we embrace,
in the silence of never
                           quite                alone ---

it transcends
our broken English & interchangeable syllables
is the reason our necks hurt
                     looking up

at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, on the shoulders
of Atlas,
is what I feel
as the vowels of your name christen my lips

& history replays,
a movie cast on a fluttering sheet,
whole civilizations


  1. Oh I love how the man creates his dream, a vision every day.. maybe that is how these ancient objects really live. They might be stones hidden in the jungle, but they are history and life, they are graves and echo with the people that once where there... A great way to blow life into those old artifacts.

  2. "He can't help, / having touched the power of creating something / beyond himself."....aha, this is the soul of the poem as well as the creator's...that urge of expression is beautifully pronounced...i read the poem as a canvas and the man as the artwork itself....so beautifully written...

  3. i love his devotion to building what he's seen...there's a fascination in exploring those ancient places, their history and magic.. and bringing it into the presence in a new way - love that last part as well of how it touches us and changes the way we look at the world...

  4. This is a lovely and moving set of interconnections between people and creative urges. A very sweet poem and love the little details-- the hand gestures particularly. Thanks. K.

  5. 2 pop tops, turned over as the eyes
    which are really
    only reflections of the sky

    as the vowels of your name christen my lips

    I so wish I had written this, outstanding, really beautiful piece


  6. The wisdom and faith these ancient places had are collection of all the parts of nature, modern day architect can never match any of it.

  7. I do wonder if those early sculptors / builders really thought that they were building something beyond themselves. I'd like to think they realized it, but mostly I think that they were slaves who were forced into the role of creators. But, of course, the Sistine Chapel was another story. Now that was an inspired labor of love, I think.

    1. I dunno, Hector (the guy in the poem) and I got to talking about it one day - places like the pyramids that somehow were built, but then the tech or whatever was used to build it was lost - for a time at least. Why is that? Did they forget, or what was it that caused the knowledge to be lost - never go other places and such.

    2. Well, you have asked some good questions. We will probably never know!

  8. You poem the most interesting characters. How fun would it be if you could walk backward through your life and hand poems to all those strangers you've written about? Can you imagine how excited they would be?

    These are my favorite sections of your poem:

    "He is Cuban,
    and his 'r's' roll like waves kids jump & squeal"
    (How old was he?)

    "There is
    a tremble. We ignore, we embrace,
    in the silence of never"
    (also some of the layering in this section, like "never quit" and "we embrace alone"; I love that that could mean either "we embrace [even though we feel] alone" or "we embrace alone[ness]"; also, I see "in the silence of 'never quit,' it transcends" ... or "... it transcends our broken")

    "our broken is the reason" (two kinds of reason)

    "on the shoulders of Atlas, is what I feel" ... This could either mean that you feel like you're being carried, like you're weighing down those around you ... or without the first part, it could say "of Atlas, is what I feel" ... meaning that you feel like the weight of the world is on YOUR shoulders. Either would be painful and stressful.

    "as the vowels of your name christen my lips" ... Gorgeous. I'm sure this will be everyone's favorite line!

    Beautiful, sad ending.

    I really like these too:
    "in a white button up shirt w/ blue collar"
    "all still currently sleeping" (or all [are] still, currently sleeping)

    There's a "step/steep snow" in there as well. Great work! I missed your poems; glad you're back.

    1. Hey you. Sorry I did not email you back, the internet at the place in Miami was not the best - and as much as I could complain, the alligators were not listening. So where are you now?

      He was in his mid to upper forties. Cool guy. I was about the only one out early in the mornings, so we talked several times - and I would always ask how Machu Pichu was doing that day. I would sneak back to see it, when I could.

    2. I kind of like picturing him as a child instead.

  9. How I love this! The man "having touched the power of creating something beyond himself".......and why our necks hurt looking up......the way the light hits just right....sigh. You lifted us up and away with this one, my friend. A moment of shared humanity.

  10. We humans are an innately instinctually and intuitively creative animal that will build and share new creations in stuff others can see.. hear.. taste.. touch.. smell with other senses like proprioception and infinite nuances of emotions just for the love of each other and associated subsistence and survival if given the opportunity.. oh and so many of us.. are so separated from sensing and feeling what we do in our lives work for subsistence and survival.. where there are so often no human smiles and connections along the way of making life moving connecting creating ART.. instead of cold steel metal of machine in life.. At least Zombies get a pArt of human in what they do.. and on a more macabre point people who cannot feel love from others or express that often turn to violence and more macabre ways of making some.. any kind.. of human bloody connection.. oh.. the song of us.. can be so lonely and separated from us.. i'm just glad i have an opportunity to sing at all.. and most importantly connect in feet of flesh that dance a life of now..:)

  11. A lovely vignette sweetly told & shared, & always so imaginative. You had me at /is the reason or necks hurt/looking up/at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, on the shoulders/of Atlas/. Of course, I adore your line breaks too.

  12. History replays - that's so true...and now I know why your style seemed so familiar.

    "having touched the power of creating something
    beyond himself."

  13. I adore your concluding lines!

  14. Oh, X, this is so beautifully expressed...kinda gave me the chills. "He's" all over the place, in every era and what would life be without him. (her, too, of course). Without him the world would be even more troubled and desolate.

  15. 'the vowels of your name christen my lips' - what powerful imagery, every word sounds so right in that! I love the 'building sandcastles' imagery - a pursuit we all engage in, no matter if we think what we are building is eternal...

  16. If I could put in picture what you wrote, I'd be in heavenx X

  17. I admire the deft and sharp portrayal of the man & his dreams, ever building it every day ~ You saw something deep within him, beneath the broken English, with "the vowels of your name christen my lips" ~ I was reminded that every man has a history of lost civilizations ~ Amazing write X ~

  18. so much detail in this... read like a story

  19. Oh what a journey - what a world

  20. Creating your dream, day after day, an artist's true devotion

  21. "& history replays,
    a movie cast on a fluttering sheet,
    whole civilizations

    God how much of history has been rewritten, retold with *creative license* that is taken for truth by those who will never know the full or real truths. How much have we lost in these re- tellings over time.

    Such powerful lines in this modern world of one line sound bites.