Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Thick and Senseless as Bombs

Clouds gather, frowns against the changeable
face of these weird heavens, devoid of the
elements that have survived inside the dry,
empty boxes of our broken mythology, and now
that we no longer know what names to call the land,
what the hard, unripe fruit of the lowland trees
tastes like at the back of the throat, though we
are told it is poison and bitter, we are yet bereft,
yet lost upon the uncharted surfaces of all that
has taken place while we have been busy with
our incarceration and our grander visions,
perhaps selfsame and perhaps differing only
in semantics best left to minds built for
such gymnastics.

Now the clouds dissipate for our watching,
intermittent and without patience as it might
be, we who shuffle our feet at the edge of the well
worn track from here to here—yes, for there
is no there anymore, no linearity or logic for
the journey that has turned in upon itself and
swollen, as ingrown hairs swell and sometimes
burst red and terrible against the paler flesh
below the shirt collar.

We sometimes think about wandering, about
finding new things, being Ulysses upon the
sea and braving the siren's song, putting out
the cyclopean eye with trickery upon our
tongues, even being sequestered in Circe's
cave and under the wildness of her sorcery,
but we are not questing, not finding or being
found in any of this.

If we are anyone, if we can be drawn to
hard points of similarity, it is to the captured,
burly slave, lashed to the wheel of the gristmill
and set upon an odyssey of circularity, our devils
and deep blue seas only in the gray fields of
unsure remembrance. Each step falls a thousand
thousand times, thick and senseless as bombs
dropped blind.

And so we win free for a moment and hope to
be meaningful, all chains momentarily dropped
from our limbs, all claims upon our bartered
flesh revoked, but we stare at the inscrutable
face of the sky, or our own mute and calloused
hands, dumb animals too long inured to the lash
and the meaningless, trudging footstep to seize
the golden chalice and drink when it is offered.

For we have forgotten what names to call this
land, what tastes we once knew—of the river
when it runs muddy, of the unripe fruit of the
lowland trees, the brine of gulped sea water,
even the face of devils we would now
account as no worse than we, with our
uncomprehended task half done and half
too far to damning to ever contemplate
its continuance.

Confounded by all that we once understood,
all that damage done to the ghosts within us,
those true things, better than flesh, those parts
that make us something more than reflections
of reflections upon the roiling water—we sit,
tucked up close and chins against knees, while
the sun makes its exit.

No longer changeable, we return to the wheel,
we return to the chains and their petty music
as we describe the same arcs that have become
like inscriptions upon us, permanent as burns,
tangible as limbs lost to war, unavoidable as
the gap between molars broken off at the gum line.


Bill said...

Damn.. blogger ate my last.. and oh so witty comment... actually, it was a short note to let you know I'm still digesting this one.

It's conjured up some great images, and emotions... I need to let them simmer a while.. then I'll tell you what it tasted like!

Braleigh said...

This made me feel sick (mentally and emotionally) in a way that increases my admiration of your capabilities (I love works that can cause that intense a reaction.) It would be impossible to pinpoint select lines that struck a chord...there were far too many.

Firehawk said...


No pressure. I can wait. I described this one to a relative as, "A real muther&%$@*)". Maybe I should be the one dredging up the fart jokes.


I'm cautiously optimistic that I will one day be able to induce vomiting. I know, it's a lofty goal, but one must drive himself if he hopes to one day be infamous.

Seriously, thanks to both of you. I think I may have scared everyone else off.

Stranger Ken said...

"Molars broken off at the gumline": if ever there was an image of despair and the manner in which it frustrates people's attempts to be nourished by their lives, then this has to be it. Indeed, your imagery throughout is very visceral, although it seems to be barely able to convey the strength of your mood, nonetheless. Is this a "State of the nation" poem?

Firehawk said...


Certainly, my dismay and dissappointment shows out here. The U.S. is my home, and I grew up being very proud of it. Some of the developments of the last five years have shaken me. There are days when the news of the world is hard to bear. I wonder at how we got here, and how we get back, if there is, indeed, a way back for us.

Thus far, I haven't made this site a pulpit for my political leanings, but some of that does bleed through into the poetry. Suffice it to say that I have a fundamental disagreement with both the policies and practices of the current administration. I don't remember ever being this frightened of my own government.

I suppose these poems are my own small moments of rebellion and catharsis. To clarify, though, I didn't mean this one as a strictly political piece, rather aiming it at the broader human condition.

Again, thanks for coming by. I always appreciate your thoughtful and incisive readings of my work.

Bill said...

Damn... Ken beat me to this! It dawned on me about an hour ago why this piece was so troubling.

It really conveys the unrest, uneasyness, a lot of us feel these days.

I don't attribute that entirely to the government (their not blame free though), but more to a general state of a 'cracked foundation' that seems to permeate the land today.

I think the events of 9/11, and the subsequent actions, yet inability, of the world, to find, and bring these folks to justice eats away at our sense of safety.

Time will tell if what's been done will ultimately be judged 'right or wrong', but for now we're left feeling pretty damn exposed.

This piece touched all of that.

Anonymous said...

Patrick, Great poem. I'm impressed. It definitely resonates on an emotional level and kicks you in the private parts.

Keep up the good work and keep the wound open and bleeding...


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