+ Elegies


page… Themed Collections | 2 |

=================================================================

26, by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Your names toll in my dreams.
I pick up tinsel in the street. A nameless god
streaks my hand with blood. I look at the lighted trees
in windows & the spindles of pine tremble
in warm rooms. The flesh of home, silent.
How quiet the bells of heaven must be, cold
with stars who cannot rhyme their brilliance
to our weapons. What rouses our lives each moment?
Nothing but life dares dying. My memory, another obituary.
My memory is a cross. Face down. A whistle in high grass.
A shadow pouring down the sill of calamity.
Your names wake me in the nearly dark hour.
The candles in our windows flicker
where your faces peer in, ask us
questions light cannot answer.

About this poem:

The imagery and language of the gun in the American memory must be buried. There is so much more to hold up, more to praise. This elegy is for all of us, because we all need to remember how to live in ways that reassert our humanity. This is one of the most literal poems I’ve ever written and it is like, as so much is in the times we live, an unanswerable flare, a cry for change.”

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

========================================================================

Another Elegy, by Jericho Brown {2010}

This is what our dying looks like.
You believe in the sun. I believe
I can’t love you. Always be closing,
Said our favorite professor before
He let the gun go off in his mouth.
I turned 29 the way any man turns
In his sleep, unaware of the earth
Moving beneath him, its plates in
Their places, a dated disagreement.
Let’s fight it out, baby. You have
Only so long left—a man turning
In his sleep—so I take a picture.
I won’t look at it, of course. It’s
His bad side, his Mr. Hyde, the hole
In a husband’s head, the O
Of his wife’s mouth. Every night,
I take a pill. Miss one, and I’m gone.
Miss two, and we’re through. Hotels
Bore me, unless I get a mountain view,
A room in which my cell won’t work,
And there’s nothing to do but see
The sun go down into the ground
That cradles us as any coffin can.

=======================================================================

Another Elegy, by Jericho Brown {2013}

To believe in God is to love
What none can see. Let a lover go,Let him walk out with the good
Spoons or die

Without a signature, and so much
Remains for scrubbing, for a polish

Cleaner than devotion. Tonight,
God is one spot, and you,

You must be one blind nun. You
Wipe, you rub, but love won’t move.

====================================================================

Before and Every After, by Marianne Boruch

in memory

Eventually one dreams the real thing.

The cave as it was, what we paid to straddle
one skinny box-turned-seat down the middle, narrow boat
made special for the state park, the wet, the tricky

passing into rock and underground river.

A single row of strangers faced front, each of us
behind another close
as dominoes to fall or we were angels lined up
politely, pre-flight, like that was
a coffin we rode, the go-to, take-out end of it,

a shipping container for a giant.

Now every after—
Not to embellish, but I count the ice age in this story
since its grinding made that cave.

I count us too, as mourners.

A smart, full-of-fun-facts park ranger poled us
past summer. A cool which meant dark, meaning
I pictured the giant in life before
he lay down in that boat

under the blood in us, under our breathing.

Upright, his long bones
and knobby joints. He slouched in a doorway
smoking cigarettes, talking What-Would-Bertram-Russell-Do
kindly and funny to the dumb
all of us who adored him, not dream and then dream.

Repeatedly, that thing about us adoring him.

The ranger pointed out the obvious
spare mob scene of caves: the endless drip to make
a stalactite, tiny crawfish and frogs transparent, hearts
by flashlight, visibly beating away.

We got quiet drifting deeper.

What does it mean, something over and over
with your eyes shut?

I remember us from before too,
from museums. I love us there still, the same
us, the way the ancient Egyptians kept their dead
safe crossing over, smallish
intricate models—who they were and even
their sorrow to scale—those
rowing tireless to the other side.

A boat the length of my forearm, faces
to freeze like that
forward, released, the blankest wonder though I think
we came back. Of course he did not

and could not, the giant I made up

for the passage. But all night, how the whole dream
grateful I was to others
patient, more steely practical with
things sacred, who took the real one across

hours before we got there.

==============================================================================

Elegy for my husband, by Toi Derricotte

Bruce Derricotte, June 22, 1928 – June 21, 2011

What was there is no longer there:
Not the blood running its wires of flame through the whole length
Not the memories, the texts written in the language of the flat hills
No, not the memories, the porch swing and the father crying
The genteel and elegant aunt bleeding out on the highway
(Too black for the white ambulance to pick up)
Who had sent back lacquered plates from China
Who had given away her best ivory comb that one time she was angry
Not the muscles, the ones the white girls longed to touch
But must not (for your mother warned
You would be lynched in that all-white Ohio town you grew up in)
Not that same town where you were the only, the one good black boy
All that is gone
Not the muscles running, the baseball flying into your mitt
Not the hand that laid itself over my heart and saved me
Not the eyes that held the long gold tunnel I believed in
Not the restrained hand in love and in anger
Not the holding back
Not the taut holding

===========================================================

Elegy in Joy [excerpt], by Muriel Rukeyser

We tell beginnings: for the flesh and the answer,
or the look, the lake in the eye that knows,
for the despair that flows down in widest rivers,
cloud of home; and also the green tree of grace,
all in the leaf, in the love that gives us ourselves.The word of nourishment passes through the women,
soldiers and orchards rooted in constellations,
white towers, eyes of children:
saying in time of war What shall we feed?
I cannot say the end.

Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the
seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.
Years over wars and an imagining of peace. Or the expiation journey
toward peace which is many wishes flaming together,
fierce pure life, the many-living home.
Love that gives us ourselves, in the world known to all
new techniques for the healing of the wound,
and the unknown world. One life, or the faring stars.

============================================================

Elegy in Limestone, by CJ Evans

If the water, everywhere, and if she

is. If ghosts, like water, like if all

rivers and oceans and rains are one

ghost, surrounding and throughout.

If she is, like if the lakes and bays

of Seattle define Seattle, if the ices

Of Mars and Massachusetts,

hidden in their deep stones, define

Mars and Massachusetts; if she is.

A thirst unmet, alkaline or saline,

the water not touching that thirst,

if my thirst wants something else

entirely. If she is. Water, if it is in

and is blood. If invisible until

exhale. If science lies and water

doesn’t reflect sky but sky this

water. If she is the sound, if it isn’t

essential until its lack. If she is

the sound of. Waves. If in the body,

the dew in morning, and the moon.

If she is the sound of the water.

If rising, if breaking, if throughout.

About this poem:

In the places I’ve lived—Seattle, Portland, New York, San Francisco—water is everywhere, dictating the landscapes and cities, even though in my day-to-day life I so often forget to consciously see it. And loss is the same as water—everywhere around and within, even when not consciously attended to. Loss becomes the unacknowledged dictator of the entire landscape.”

CJ Evans

=======================================================

Elegy in X Parts [Kafka said, A book], by Matt Rasmussen

X.

Kafka said, A book
must be an axe

for the frozen sea
inside us, which sounds

great, but what good
is an axe against

a frozen sea?
Perhaps this is why

he said, while dying,
Destroy everything.

There is little comfort
in knowing there

are worse undertakings
than killing yourself.

Is it dangerous
to say these things?

I don’t think so.
Or I do. Either way,

don’t believe me.
There is no refuge

from yourself.

=====================================================

page… Themed Collections | 2 |

 

 

 

 

{your interpretation/general thoughts}

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s