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Afterworlds (A lyric meditation in 18 sections)


Afterworlds

1.

You depart
but do not let go

You leave the keys
but take the door.

2.

I thought I recognised your silence,
but it was the world which turned apart
from me.

I cannot hear you –
of me, you may ask anything.

In time I may answer.
I do not remember what the night means.

In time I may follow you:
your voice leading me into the world.
It is quiet; the wind stirs a little,
I can no longer recognize the earth
from what it is not.

Night after night
I listen for you,
a voice enough for this life -
a voice that tells me:

I resisted.

Silence meant I heard.

3.

PARADOX 1

A blind man told my father:
light enters our eyes and hides in us forever.

4.

I am still.
I require nothing more from the earth.

The stars are absent.
Promising nothing
of the riches I read hopefully about
yesterday morning.

The air has become cold, there is no light,
only that which I imagine.

I cannot longer relate to the world –
human warmth means nothing:
I limit myself to touch only suffering,
for one moment it is that which
returns me to the world – that relation to pain,
more tangible than joy.

I lie upon the earth, discovering for
the first time the longing which has kept
it apart from the soul.

The core of the earth -
fire, molten rock:
a lone heart applauding
a body it was given to defeat.

5.

We are alone now:
We have no need for words,
for the promises the body will make
in defence of itself:

In silence I receive your body.
Together we become silence.

6.

Above: the stars only,
saying fiercely:


You will not know me.

You come –
hesitate and pass.

That is my eternity.


7.

To choose time is to save time.

8.

No wind here.
The earth is still -
estranged from memory.

Deep blush
of clematis flower –
a marimba above the dark earth,
petals:
wreckage of silk
drawn across the summer moon.

In the silence the sky opened a little,
enough to show it has not changed,
enough for the stars
to invite time
and all things complicit in time into their
darkness.

Of the morning I knew nothing.

It seemed so utterly implicit with the earth,
but the night: childless -
at a distance from the world.

It seemed to say:
I only own to disown you.

Above me, light began to fall.
Pieces of it like small birds
descending.

9.

I am in the world, though that means little.
I know nothing of my origin.

If the world would touch me,
I would disappear.

10.

I punished the earth for what it was not.
The world, a slave because it required life
separate from such an unconditional kingdom.

I was denied memory.

What I desired was all knowledge
of this world beginning,
the intention of what it meant to exist.

What binds us
is what separates us
is what binds us
is the same.

I have faith in the otherworld –
the eternal phantom wound
at my side does not know what it means
to give life,
only what it means to take it.

11.

Here, in this world, peace gazes at madness -
its reflection.

12.

I am still.
I require nothing more from the earth.

The stars are absent.
Promising nothing
of the riches I read hopefully about
yesterday morning.

The air has become cold, there is no light,
only that which I imagine.

I can no longer relate to the world –
human warmth means nothing:
I limit myself to touch only suffering,
for one moment it is that which
returns me to the world – that relation to pain,
more tangible than joy.

I lie upon the earth, discovering for
the first time the longing which has kept
it apart from the soul.

The core of the earth,
fire, molten rock:
a lone heart applauding
a life it was given to defeat.

13.

Do you see how easily I move
between you and the world,
between you and the heaven
you have created without knowledge
of sin.

I did not enter you from another world.
But you always said it was that which kept us apart.

The moon grew obsolete -
defeated by its own reflective act.

14.

Tonight the earth is glorious in all
that it conceals. My body deep
with shadow, tender to partner
the late moon.

And you, not obsolete, but nearing,
what could I ask of you, but to keep
me at a distance from the world.

How we invited the warmth from deep
below the earth to enter the whole
of our souls.

There is no promise of a new light here.

I can afford to die here.
The earth, darkest in summer,
the soul, the one inescapable body.

15.

We sit down in love to speak of truth but the truth is not in us.
One by one we go into truth and do not return.

The answer: Sometimes when we remember
we forget.

16.

Like the earth I had to beg to descend.
Thunder began. The moon rose,
parting mirrors from the world –

In the field birds flitter among the wild marsh.
The cool, breathing coppice of willow rattles the sky,
pushing whisper after call into the light.

Midnight of the earth: chosen
in the beginning for its grandeur –
how it rejects the body now.

The water is dark: content in its
outspoken solitude.

Above: the night sky
a pack of cannibal stars.

17.

PARADOX 2.

We may fall

together, alone –

sound barriers breaking between us.


Last edited by CF90, Apr/22/2009, 4:57 am
Apr/22/2009, 4:46 am Link to this post Send Email to CF90   Send PM to CF90
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Afterworlds (A lyric meditation in 18 sections)


First read through, CF. This is clinically clean and tensioned. First section pulled me in immediately. What follows does not disappoint.

I'll come back over the weekend for a closer response. Good stuff.

Tere
Apr/22/2009, 6:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: Afterworlds (A lyric meditation in 18 sections)


Thankyou Tere.

I await your sharp eyes and mind -

Best,
Chris.

ps.
hope you are well.
Apr/23/2009, 12:04 am Link to this post Send Email to CF90   Send PM to CF90
 
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Re: Afterworlds (A lyric meditation in 18 sections)


Now I am ready.

Chris, this is one potent, strong, muscular poem. In a sense it evokes that place beneath all conceits where we sometimes, infrequently, meet. A place, say, where two lovers or two friends finally meet just before a parting of ways. It is kind of like two lovers or friends say to each other, okay, now we understand, but now we can't go back to how things were. This is one level on which I read the poem.

A second level is how the poem looks to address the essential condition of what it means to be human in a universe frankly indifferent to human dreams and wishes and desires. This is the level on which the poem speaks to me existentially and touches a nerve. The poem's lyrical I/Thou address is starkly effective. As I say it touches a nerve. I can't know the circumstances giving moment to the poem. I do know it speaks to something essential, and universal.

This is one of the more heroic poems I've seen in a rather long time. What makes it heroic is the way it unflinches in how it says what the poet as unflinchingly sees.

About the devices (the tricks) employed I have no crit. The poem works for me as it stands. I catch how the poem repeats certain motifs. I also catch a certain judiciousness in the repetitions, which speaks to poetic control. Frankly, I wish I had written the poem exactly how it reads. The poem's conception just might have the features of originality. This is a poem, the rare thing.

Tere
Apr/26/2009, 4:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
CF90 Profile
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Re: Afterworlds (A lyric meditation in 18 sections)


Thankyou Tere for coming back to this.

When I first started writing this, I hadn't written anything, good or bad in a while. At first I feared the silence. I felt it solidified that I would never be able to become a writer, that the thing I love so much I could never do. Confession: I am 18rs. when I first started writing (say a year ago) it was really bad stuff, as can be expected, but at the very least I wrote something, it never seemed to stop. And now I find myself being less and less able to do it consistently, one can profess it to be merely a "maturity", even after a very short while of writing, one does begin to 'improve'...if I dare say that - one edits ones thoughts etc before they are written.

Anyway, I hadn't written, then I heard in my head the line: a lone heart applauding / a body it was given to defeat. And I began, quite stumblingly to write. I had no confidence in what I was doing. But the funny thing was, I never understood what I was writing about, it was incredibly intuitive; satori self. The sections were also disparate, fragments here and there. So I cobbled the sections together over a long period, feeling that what I had written as a whole had a gestalt, sections resonated with each other. Looking at this now I think it still needs work, (of course), perhaps an expansion and a lil more grounding in something tangiable.

I appreaciate your interpretation and it gives me great pleasure to read how your mind navigated through this. Your response is incredibly kind and generous and I thank you deeply. I don't feel the poem is there yet, I will give it more. Some sections need to be fleshed out better. I suppose I have time. emoticon I am working on another piece similar to this: both structurally and tonally, called Tartaros, when I am finished tinkering with it, I will see how they go together, perhaps I can thread them so as to make one very long poem.

Best,
Chris.


May/14/2009, 7:42 am Link to this post Send Email to CF90   Send PM to CF90
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: Afterworlds (A lyric meditation in 18 sections)


Thanks, Chris, for sharing your thoughts on craft and process. It always fascinates me how process is individual to all poets, with no templates to rely on, and how every solution to the problems that can come a poet's way are also individual to the poet. There will never be any other circumstance describing the writing dynamic. In a sense every poet is the first poet. He or she must find original responses.

In the spirit of exchange my confession would be I am approaching sixty. Having been at poetry since age 16 I guess I got forty plus years at the craft. What you may find interesting is that while perhaps I do not have to face the starting-out or first-round problems and challenges, nonetheless there are challenges every time I sit down to outing, so to speak, the germplasm of the poem in me. The two biggest problems I have would be: constantly having to develop new ways, and a new syntax, for expressing what I perceive, and constantly stripping back on the protective layers that tend to stand between us and experience as we grow older in order to get at the essentials of things. I mention this so that you know that, in my view at least, there is no a such a thing as the accomplished poet. You simply solve one challenge only to go on to a set of new challenges.

I respond to how you describe the way "Afterworlds" got conceived: you had a first line. Your comment rather supports something a French poet called the ligne donnee, or the given line. He said the first line is gven, it appears, it is there in front of you. But the rest of the poem has to be built. So I get what you mean. And there are other ways too. Sometimes while I am working or walking a poem will come to me and by the time I get back to my desk the whole of the poem's conception is in front of me, leaving me to the task of figuring out execution.

At running the risk of giving advice there is one more thing I want to share with you. When the first writing is upon you and you are committing yourself to the first draft, pay no attention to the committee of critics inside your head. Instead, trust yourself to your own lead. There is always time enough later to get self-critical and let the committee direct you, telling you what to leave in, what to take out, what to hone, what to file down, and what to amplify. Your first job is to simply get the thing in a body on the page. Even if it is a bust you'll better know next time how to proceed. This is my way at least. Rough it out first. Then come back with scalpel and blade.

By the way, I am not sure you want to mess with this poem too, too much. There is sinew on its bones.

Tere
May/14/2009, 6:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
dmanister Profile
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Re: Afterworlds (A lyric meditation in 18 sections)


The avoidance of contractions in this signals its stance as "high style," or formality.

It does get a bit stilted, like hearing T.S. Eliot on a bad day. You might try making it a bit more conversational and less pontifical Moses-on-the-Mountain.

Also its length. You're asking a lot of a reader in terms of time and effort. I don't find the revelations worth either in the poem's present state.

Try cutting it in half, replacing the high formality with a more down-to-earth tone, and see what you get. Of course save the original. You can always bring back some or all of it.

Diana

.
Jun/3/2009, 8:33 am Link to this post Send Email to dmanister   Send PM to dmanister
 


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