Thursday, November 16, 2006

Aural Snapshots

A cold darkness has fallen
and the sound of the dogs
barking from down the block
sounds thin and thready,
a hoarse sound, quickly
dying into the thick-lying
leaves of brown, into the
skeletal trees pointing
stubbornly skyward and
into the deepening iron
of overcast.

There is a scuttling noise
behind the woodpile, a
furtive movement beneath
the stacked lawn furniture,
a residue of pulverized
concrete at the corner of the
empty room in the basement,
filings that time’s rasp leaves
upon the dusty corner of
a car that hasn’t run for
many years, and its tires
have cracked, sagged,
annealed to the floor over
the seasons let slip and now
forever gone.

The telephone pole cants
toward the cracked pavement
of the access road just a bit more each
year, eaten away at its base,
pressure treatment and
creosote worn away, unremitting
weight of the frozen power lines
pulling against weakening wood,
waiting for the day when the
gods of morning spit up a
tempest fit for the task, fit
for the falling, fit for spitting
high voltage against the
roughened black top.

The old, red-painted brick of
the house across the street has
weakened to powder, weakened
to chalk, and the woman who
lives there, hardly walking, the
sole survivor of her generation,
the single bastion of another
age, rarely appears at the window
or climbs the rickety steps, and
the house belongs primarily to
a brindle colored cat who looks
black from a distance and would
cut the back of your hand, should
you reach to pick him from his perch
on the dry-rotted fence, and the
younger neighbors park their cars,
too expensive for the houses, next to
the falling fa├žade, next to the unkempt
lawn, next to the fire hydrant that has
not given forth water since the ancient
ages of the earth.

And beyond the naked trees, beyond
the houses and the highway and the
railroad lines, the blasted remains of
the mountain stands, lit by the gas
fires of the refinery pipe, lit by the
purple reflections of downtown, the
cast-off luminance of the people who
huddle and scuttle beneath their
shadow, scheming, each step blind,
each mile graveward, storms of
exhaust and wasted breath pushing
them ever further from what they
wish for, and the city remains asleep
and dreaming badly, and the desert
move a restless step further outward
in every direction.


Anonymous said...

A verh moving piece of work. Sensitive and full of imagry.

M. Shahin said...

This was an eerie snapshot; there were many tense moments when reading it, and I kept expecting something to grab me into the poem. I liked that quality while reading it.

I especially felt the atmosphere, the old woman, and the cat in 4. Wow! That was very amazing.

One beautiful line among many is the "fire hydrant that has not given water since the ancient ages of the earth." Powerful and deep, and a bit unexpected from the rest of the poem, which is why it stood out to me.

I was glad to read you will continue writing poems. I was getting worried there at first :-)

Thanks for sharing. There is a nice versatility in your writing.

Anonymous said...

I felt like I was walking through the neighborhood with you as I read this one. I found it a bit melancholy in places. Watching the erosion that comes with time, inexorably wearing and changing the environment. I really liked this one.

MB said...

Great little snapshots, Patrick. I, too, was especially taken by the fourth with the cat. I also liked the near parallel or echo you set up between the "blasted remains of the mountain" and the "city remains asleep."

Patrick M. Tracy said...


Glad you liked it. Keep on chuggin', huh?

m. shahin,

Anytime people use "tense", "Amazing", "Powerful", and "Deep" in regards to my writing, it's a great feeling. Thank you for your lavish praise. I'll keep on writing 'em if you keep on reading '


Very much so. I do take a lot of cues from Rose Park and the nearby areas. The slow change and decay seem to have rich veins of ore within them. Good to hear from you.


Nice catch with the parallelism. Often, I do that without being consciously aware of it on the first draft. I'm glad you felt them to be snapshots, as I called them. I felt that each one existed like a still photo or painting, and the whole group formed a sort of collage. Perhaps I editorialize too freely...

In any case, thanks to everyone who came by, and I hope to see you again soon!

Anonymous said...

I particularly liked numbers 5 and 3. You really give breath to that sensation of a gray future looming up on the horizon. There's an elegiac tone to #5 especially that was quite moving. It made me remember the lights on the oil fields at night in Louisiana.

Now my 2 "constructive comments." First off, a hasp doesn't leave filings. A rasp leaves filings. Or, if you filed off your hasp, I guess you'd have filings. I don't mean to be a picky ball-buster -- it just made me bobble. Otherwise, I dug the whole scene of that snapshot. (Although it made me think sadly of my own neglected yard.)

I also (sorry M. Shahin) have an issue with
"the fire hydrant that has
not given forth water since the ancient ages of the earth." Hmm, the hydrant's been there since the neighborhood was built . . . the house has brick and a fence; I'm picturing post-war tract housing circa 1946. Surely the hydrant gave water at least until, say, the mid-sixties? I was born in '69; I don't want to hear that you consider that to be "the ancient ages of the earth," dude. Anyways, that snapshot, #4, is overall excellent in its intimate portrait of a neighborhood sliding into decay. I don't think it needs a mythic dimension to lend it dignity.
Okay, I hope you aren't cursing my name in secret. I hope these comments are useful/palatable.

Patrick M. Tracy said...


No worries about your critique. I'm honored that you read closely enough and cared to share your thoughts.

The fire hydrant comment was, as poets are allowed, poetic license. I have no idea when the last fire truck hitched up and drew out water. Probably some time within the last ten years, truth be told. Someone sets their roof on fire with July 4th bottle rockets ever so often, I'm sure. I never meant for the phrase to make someone feel old, regardless of their birth date. You're not ancient, btw. Stop worrying.

You're dead on about "hasp". I think I meant to write "rasp". I came down to the word, and thought, "Filings from the file? That doesn't work." I'll have to go back and change it when I get a chance. Maybe it doesn't matter.

In any case, it was great to hear from you.

Anonymous said...

WHEW!! I was a little stressed out about it, to be honest. Ugh, life comes at ya so fast. Today I had a weird blog moment -- somebody friended me and left me a comment and I had no frickin' clue who he was, ew. I had to go to his page and stare at it for a while to finally identify a coworker of Norman's. Freaky!

Pat Paulk said...

Spectacular images of life. Each unique, and as you say, form a wonderful collage together. Enjoyed reading!!!

S.L. Corsua said...

I was especially intrigued and impressed by the title (i.e. by the word "aural" describing the "snapshots"). Reading the piece, I could close my eyes after a few lines, and then savor the sounds of the scenes portrayed. From the barking of the dogs, to the scuttling noise, to spitting high voltage, etc. An engaging experience for a reader. Thanks, Patrick. ^_^

Patrick M. Tracy said...


No worries. I wouldn't post 'em unless I could take the critiques. Anyway, these often go up with only a short time of editing, so there are sometimes some rough edges.

As far as anonymous posts, I found that you had to be a LJ member to post with an identifier. It's easy to forget that people won't be about to identify you. I think that LJ would be well advised to put in an "other" area, like Blogger.

Pat Paulk,

Thanks a lot for your kind words. It's nice to have a new "face" here. I hope to see you again, and I hope I can continue to meet with your approval with my forthcoming pieces.


Hey, old friend! Thanks for coming over. I thought that title would tickle at least someone. Hope to see you more in the future, and I'll try to swing by and check your progress, as well.

Thanks to everybody who came over to read this time around. Don't forget to check out my website (listed in the complete profile), and make any comments you come up with at Wolf Hawkwind, my other blog. Look for another post on Hawk Circle soon!

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