Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dreams of Past Lives, Dreams of a Fear of Dancing, Maddening Joy

Happy National Poetry Month!

I now firmly believe in reincarnation and past lives, as I struggle to move closer and closer to specific memories of old souls I have known through multiple reruns. The first poem here is from a dream, a realization that grasping for specifics can be dangerous. The second poem is for another old soul, a friend who may be losing her ability to witness and embrace the absurd. Pleasant dreams, pleasant next lives...

Diving Cylinder

My dreams of late obey no time decorum.
The next disoriented 3 a.m.
leaves trails of cowboy boots, guitar lessons,
hair at the back of her neck,
Lamaze classes, meconium,
kindergarten crises.
“Seven years,” sings Tuxedomoon.
“Seven years in one night.”

When I depended on snorkeling alone,
REM was reliable,
feeding hippocampus and movie screen alike
with familiar flashes of dead basset hounds,
body-snatcher doppelgangers,
the occasional sleepwalk to pee off the back deck.

Trying on scuba gear has been a subspecies of
Ambien zombie drives,
fearful and necessary exploratory dives
to Past Lives Marianas.
Too rich an oxygen mix?
That depends on the goal,
only the faintest echoes now,
but sound always traveled poorly underwater.

A warm September day,
a 1983 still called Bekaa,
began with my startled voice
in response to polite introduction,
“Oh. It’s you. I wondered where you had been.”
ended with languorous cunnilingus
in a cornfield ravaged by borer-worm.
The growing certainty that this breath
was hardly the first instantiation.

Now I’m accustomed to treasure-diving,
even in tectonic trench landscapes
gone ragged with tsunamis.
Rare bouts of insomnia
merely pull me nearer the surface,
While the nightly rituals return me
to the wetsuit.

Down to capture names
that are forbidden to own.
Down to trace each tributary of pubic hair
to its labial source.
Down to clap at phonetic teasers
promising relief from an Alzheimer’s moment -
Melanie, Marina, Malia, you were known otherwise.
Oh. It’s you. I wondered where you had been.

As I stagger to the sink at 3:45, I realize
the name of the pain, the groggy fear.
The bends.
In any subsequent forbidden dives,
the gauges on this tank are not to be trusted.

Loring Wirbel
April 5, 2011

Banishing All Semblances of Fun

It may have been the party of roustabouts
at your mother’s farmhouse
(admittedly a bad idea, it wasn’t me
who invited the lieutenant-governor to mix drinks).
I’ve always shied from Sangria spills
and the collateral damage of smashed end tables,
but your eyes did not suggest
a sanctuary from the boorish or a desire to be left alone.
The infinitely scarier message came from
two irises weary of the dance floor.

The Zen goof assumes an awesome responsibility.
Long past the first 12-step meeting or post-partum cry,
there is a shouldering of a standup comic burden.
We must wake from an epic failure and fall in love
with tedious or unfamiliar figure-ground,
part apostle, part Johnny Appleseed,
with a punchline capable of dispelling each random terror.
Some avert their eyes, some linger,
some fall twelve stories.
Some laugh hysterically another day.
Was it a random Japan that activated your dimmer switch,
or a specific tragedy too far?

The tightrope walker is here,
arm and umbrella outstretched,
spanning a landscape of atrocity rarely seen
since Belsen Dachau Hiroshima.
It is always your choice to stop watching cartoons,
but that may be the day the drones fly once more
over Shamsi, over Waziristan, over Djibouti.
The Zen goof assumes an awesome responsibility.
Lee Ann Womack croons almost imperceptibly
at the edge of hearing.
I hope you dance.

Loring Wirbel
April 12, 2011


Heidi said...

Nice work.

I think reincarnation is reasonable. Energy is neither created nor destroyed... it's gotta go somewhere.

Loring Wirbel said...

Thanks for your comment and for visiting, Heidi - loving your book more all the time, great work.

Ruth said...

"Diving Cylinder" has some deep mythic elements, quite right for a dream poem. Are you perhaps from Atlantis? Something calls us back to the womb, perhaps men especially. And lately I have been called to be womb incarnate, totally obsessed with fertility. Could it be my daughter wanting to start a family? How much deeper it feels now, as potential grandmother. Fine material and digging there, Loring.

I like the litany in "Banishing All Semblances of Fun." There's nothing quite like proper names to liven a poem.

By the way, we are preparing a big sendoff with several events for Diane Wakoski since this is her final semester teaching. One event May 4 a few of us will serenade her outside her office window In Morrill Hall, reading her poems. Fun stuff!

Loring Wirbel said...

An MSU without Wakoski? Unthinkable. Different times. You know, I saw a video of a recent reading of hers, and I thought "Wow, she looks old - wait, she is old, it's happening to us all." Have fun on May 4. And thanks for the comments!

Loring Wirbel said...

And please take videos of the serenade!! Seriously.

Ruth said...

Good idea! I'll suggest it to the band of merry revelers.