Friday, January 04, 2008

New Poem: Landscapes


the anonymous dream: a garden
of wind-worn stone, petrified trees,
vultures circling overhead
waiting for my collapse

my lungs are liquid, veins of granite
stiffen my flesh, legs rooted in soil

isolation, loss, a scene
replayed in the mythos of night

always just out of reach, the words
I have sought seemingly since birth
dance around a fire, singing the song
I always wanted to write for her

but that was years ago and still
the dream, a one-act play repeated

I can't remember her face anymore,
wrapped in veils, hidden in poems,
the woman, an apparition I once knew

the carnal crawl of minutes erases
so much, buries me in fine grains of sand

I knew her once, tasted her,
surrendered myself
to a raging river of desire
and drowned

flesh and blood of the first kiss,
marrow of loss,
transcendent psalm

it wasn't me, I object, but
the dense forests of dream
contain my DNA, so little truth
in memory's ossuary

dream-space: knotted roots
can never be untangled
by mere words, deceptive minutes

still the need to say
what can never be said,
to see her eyes reflect
the landscape of her soul


Anonymous said...

Perhaps this sort of commentary is unwelcome, in which case let me know and I'll shut up with it:

One quality I very appreciate about your poetry is the consistent impulse you have to draw abstract thoughts and feelings down into concrete imagery. I love concreteness in poetry, and a use of metaphor which points to simple, tangible objects. I keep having the impression, however, that if you trusted this impulse a little further, and stuck with wedding a single class of metaphor with the stream of your developing thoughts in poem, the resultant poem would be much stronger. What am I talking about specifically?

Take a look at the stanza beginning "My lungs are liquid..." notice the parallelism you begin with lungs=liquid, veins=granite, but then drop with legs. Don't drop it! You've built momentum, don't lose it now!

But look at especially at the stanza beginning, "the carnal crawl ..." through the stanza ending "transcendent psalm". What a terrific mesh of loss, desire, and time wedded to physiological imagery (carnality, flesh and blood, marrow) you begin to establish but abandon in that middle stanza and abandon again, too soon, when you go from "marrow of loss," to "transcendent psalm." Perhaps you will disagree, but I think a careful, sustained development of one class (or successive, sustained classes) of metaphor joined to the development of a single poem's theme strengthens, clarifies, intensifies the poem's communication far more than metaphor which willy-nilly roves all over the place. Something to think about.

Anyway, sorry for the long message, and thanks for sharing your work with us!

Kai in NYC

william harryman said...

Thanks Kai,

I very much appreciate your careful reading and critique of the poem -- that is exactly the kind of feedback I need to get better.

When I was in college, and even when I lived in Seattle, I always had a group in which to work on my poems -- don't have that here, and I miss the insight that other readers can offer. It's easy, as the writer, to be too close to the material to see its flaws.

Anyway, I agree with what you said, and I very much appreciate the help.

All best,