Worlds Away

what the nomad brought home

Lamento della zingara

“Da due mesi o poco piu…” *

Summer’s green deception now unwinds itself with straw,
The daylight tips and tumbles in reverse,
And fireflies are fading where we fantasized we’d glow.
The grass we never set ablaze just cuts
Into my legs the imprint
Of a scene that never was,
The disconnected lines of names we hardly knew,
The lacerating echoes of our unborn shouts into the night,

And now,
While sterile sunlight spills its gold
Upon your back and turns
Its back
On me…
I wander sticky streets alone,
Instead of melting,
White-hot, liquid moon beneath
Your secret,
Silver tongue.



“Io non mi fidavo; era solo sesso. Ma il sesso e un’attitudine, come l’arte in genere. E forse l’ho capito. E sono qui. E scusa… ma se non urlo, muoio. Non so se sai…”
(“I wasn’t committing; it was only sex. But sex is an expression, a state of mind, like art in general. And maybe I’ve got it figured out. And here I am. And forgive me… but if I don’t shout this, it’ll kill me. I don’t know if you know…”)

Still not ready to return to WordPress, guys. I feel bad about being almost completely inactive, but it’s been a stressful sort of time. This isn’t quite the type of post I’d prefer to be dropping by to leave either (so gloomy!), but I’ve spent the last several days steeped in poetry and wracked by an Italian ballad I only somehow just discovered this week. It’s called “Imbranato” by Tiziano Ferro, and it’s been my soundtrack as I try to articulate some things that have been bugging me.




The title of my post is a tribute to the Italian ballad that gave voice to my unrest. It’s also something of a tribute to my own Italian heritage and my lifelong nickname, “zingarella.” The title evokes the dilemma that lies at the heart of this poem — there are pains attendant to being something of a “zingara.” My family began calling me “zingarella” (diminuitive form of “zingara” or “gypsy”) when I was very young. They had sensed, even then, my passion for the exotic. And the person I’ve become has lived up to her name. But gypsy travelers and free spirits move in transitory circles. And so a thousand laments are born of the way these sorts of people live and learn, love and lose.

So here I am with one of the poems I’ve been working on. It’s not “finished,” but the line from “Imbranato” about the passing months made me feel it was timely to post something now. Aside from tonight’s visit to WordPress, I’m not sure when I’ll be “back.” It’s difficult to stay away for so long, but it’s even more difficult to reconcile my love of writing and of the writing community with the less than poetic demands of my Ph.D. progress. Again, friends, I offer you my apologies and my sincerest hopes that we can be in touch again when I may finally make more of a lasting return. Peace and love to all of you.

July 31, 2010 Posted by | Memories, muse, Nostalgia, Poetry, Sex, Solitude, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

November

Stagnant light falls sideways,
Expiring in a graveyard of branches stripped
By the fire of dying trees.
Remnants of the life of summer brittle underfoot,
The full moon turns to ice,
And the season’s short-lived blaze burns out precarious
As flames shrink into kindling, drop —
Apologetic embers —
To the earth, whose dreams of ripeness and fruition withered
In the cold and hollow winds that slashed the morning,
Forced their way in through its wounds,
And have replaced the warmth I lost
When autumn stole my sun.

I’ve never liked November.

 

After a long drive today through rural Maryland and Pennsylvania, I couldn’t help but feel that the weight of autumn has finally fallen upon us.  Barely any color left, it’s cold, dry, and dark-too-soon.  When a string of depressed, tiny towns gave way to where I live now, it was already near dusk; a day barely begun was already ending.  As you can tell, I’m not a big fan of the month’s arrival.  I sat down to write this very disorganized, hasty poem.

But my apologies to those who have a fondness for November — I don’t dislike the whole month.  I just don’t like the beginning of it.  But by the end of November, the holidays are approaching, and the warmth and color that have drained from the outdoors have reappeared inside homes and shops and hearts, and there is life again!

November 1, 2009 Posted by | Poetry, Time | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Aqlla

So you sing to me again
That hollow, interminable lament
Which tears me from my sleep
To shackle me with dreams.
You always find new tricks to bring me home —
This stubbornly devoted concubine
Who finds privilege in the humble shadow
Of your fiercely glacial air,
And lingers with surrendered reverence
Around your volatile, smoldering depths.
Yes, I recognize your invocation;
It’s a breath,
A regal salutation,
And a kiss.

But tell me, love —
Do you remember our game?
Do you remember
How I once melted in your embrace?
How completely I surrendered to the searing pain?
How obediently I waited
As the flames of passion threatened to destroy me?
How I believed that I would suffocate
Before you let me go?

Do you remember
How I branded myself,
Playing with fire
To cauterize your wounds?

I will return
With a torch
To clear the shadows of your long, tormented night.

Just, please —
Don’t burn me now.

 

*A mentor told me years ago that she thought I was an aqlla in another life.  Kind of a random thing to say, but I resurrect the idea here.  This title, from Quechua, is a play on numerous levels of meaning.  I’ll break some of them down, should you be curious:

Aqllana/Aqllay = to select/choose — This poem was inspired by an opportunity and the need to make a decison.

Aqlla = (lit.) chosen one

Aqlla = (historically) a bride of the sun.  The aqllacuna (pl.) were taken from their homes, having been singled out (hence “aqlla”) for a life of political and spiritual service to the Inca Empire.  This decision, externally imposed, was based on physical appearance, and one could not refuse to be an aqlla.  Furthermore, as the state appropriated an aqlla’s sexuality, she lived under perpetual surveillance.  Owned by the empire, she could be given as a concubine — or sacrificed — for the greater glory of the state and the higher interests of the people.  Stakes were high; an aqlla was not free, and “transgressions” of the flesh, as well as any sign of disrespect toward the men she was ordered to serve (service), were punishable by death.

In this poem, I refer to fire not only for its simultaneously destructive and purifying effects, but also because tending to a hallowed fire was one of an aqlla’s sacred responsibilities.

A little pre-Columbian trivia for you  😉

October 7, 2008 Posted by | muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Travel, Wanderlust, Woman | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Woodworking

Hunched over your work,
And low to the ground,
Meticulously, you chip away
At the scepter
That will one day make you king.
You’re carving an unwitnessed masterpiece —
Starting outside at the roughness,
Moving dutifully in.

I stumble startled over you,
Confounded,
When I pull open a familiar door
And find it was a portal
Where a stranger sits in wait.

Patient, pensive, out-of-place,
You hang your head,
Impervious to the siren breeze of summer
That calls to me
And dances on the air
Just yards from where you sit.
Yet still you stop to lift your gaze
In recognition of the child
Pondering your presence.

We need no introduction,
Yet we don’t know any names.
Does either of us know why you are there?

And so we meet in knowing silence at the threshold,
Somewhere in between
Dark and light,
Work and play,
Indoors, outdoors,
Maturity and youth,
Confines and boundlessness,
Artifice and truth.

You smile a greeting through the stillness
Before returning to your curious craft,
And I drink this vision in.
And though I skip away to carry out my childhood,
Turning back to the silent stranger
I have always never known,
I realize some accident of fate
Has crossed the years,
The miles,
The laws,
The lives
That disconnect
Again when I wake up.

But I’ll grow up remembering
That I forgot you between lifetimes,
Always wondering
Which you it was I saw,
And understanding
That I’ll stumble into you again
When I
Come back from my adventures,
And you
Have finally finished freeing
The all-consuming masterwork
That brought you to that stoop.

 

This poem tells the story of a dream I had as a child.  Consequently, it’s somewhat strange and probably makes little sense.  But I’m sure some of you can relate to the experience of waking up from a dream and feeling, “….Something important just happened.”  Or having encountered a stranger or received some bit of information in a dream which you’ve never been able to forget.  Well, that was my experience way back when, and that’s what this is about.

The image of this stranger and his serious, dignified dedication to his carving work, juxtaposed with my carefree childhood spirit, was so powerful to me that I decided to attempt to honor it by writing these lines over a decade later.  So, for what it’s worth, this piece isn’t too refined, but I believe it’s time to put this out there.  Here’s to the woodworker I stumbled over years ago.

“And through a fractal on a breaking wall, I see you my friend, and touch your face again.  Miracles will happen as we dream.”  Seal — “Crazy”

September 2, 2008 Posted by | Memories, muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Soul Memory

It’s like a memory
That you have in childhood
And never recall again,
That awareness
Of what once was
That fades into the present
Once the blank canvas of new existence
Starts to fill with visions of a life in progress.

Thus is the calling–
The song that carried me through ages,
Accompanied me over ancient seas,
Followed me to sacred summits,
And lulled me into sleep through a hundred eternal springs,
Until it led me
Obediently stumbling to your door
Where origin masquerades as destination,
Fate takes the guise of intention,
And guest entwines with host.

So I knocked
And waited breathless on the step,
Remembering why I came,
And who we were,
And what lay there within,
Only to begin forgetting
And find myself abandoned to the unknown,
The moment you opened the door.

July 19, 2008 Posted by | Memories, muse, Poetry, Reincarnation, Time | , , | 3 Comments

Stargazer

I was born of the Moon
While the Sun waged war
In a violent sky
Against the defiant light
That had charged a dying night’s blackness,
And I, made of the water
That drenched that morning,
Come careening down the centuries
To spill over the fires of Mars
In that smoldering burn
That transforms both
When ancient battles have ceased
And the phoenix fields are ripe for germinating
Seeds of realization.

This universe, you see,
Is a playground,
And blinded by the swirling nebulae,
I build castles in the sands of time,
Attempt hopscotch in constellations already drawn
Only for folly,
And artfully wield Mercury like a ball
Which I toss serendipitously to you
For the fun of the sport.

Every night, we lose ourselves
In this mystical haven,
All carefree children
Illuminated by stars
Where chaos is order
And time is a farce.

This Earth
Like a slingshot
Is blazing your course,
And only when the sun eclipses
These celestial wonders
Does it seem like an illusion.

Well, it’s not.

Just trust.
Climb up on this comet.
And play.

April 6, 2008 Posted by | Poetry, Reincarnation, Time | , , , , | 2 Comments

Musings at 23

What is time?
If not a tie that binds
And yet
A smokescreen
Tucking truths away behind “impossibilities”
Created only by our fallible awareness
And our unquestioning obedience
To rules that are anything but universal
And we
Counting the years
Overlook immortality
In seeing only moments already dead.

And what is life
If not a game
A choose-your-own adventure
Of amateur play-actors
Who screw up their lines
Bump into one another on the stage
Knock things over on the set
Yet always, each and every one, steal the show
Once they finally heed their cue?

No, no one gets a standing ovation
Because the seats are empty
The audience is on the stage
And each production is a rehearsal
And
Just maybe
Every curtain call a past-present-future simultaneous beginning.

So imagine
How magnificent the work
If all the actors were awake!
 
 
This random musing was partly inspired by the Quichua/Quechua concept of pacha — time, space, Earth/earth/ground/land.  It’s all the same.  When a Quechua refers to the future, he gestures behind himself, because we are completely blind to what lies behind us.  And when a Quechua speaks of the past, she motions forward because it stretches ahead of us, represented by everything that we are able to view.  In a sense, I suppose, “Western” notions of time seem to deal greatly with movement; what we are approaching, and what we are leaving behind.  But to the Quechua, the focus of time is on vision, clarity.  Just a thought to ponder…
(This post was also born when my sugar crashed one afternoon.  On that note, read below a bit and check out “Sugar” to see what that experience is like!)

March 27, 2008 Posted by | Reincarnation, Time | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Hourglass

Minutes, hours, centuries, millennia–

Torrents of time that, taken alone, are unremarkable–

All come funneling through the hourglass at once,

And I, inside, buried in the swirl of measures,

Watch, bewildered, scared, as eternities slip through my fingers–

Upward.

The endless dunes, wastelands of yesteryear–

The weights that kept me grounded–

Gone, and I kneel exposed,

In awe and shaking with….

Fear?

I see familiar footprints in the now-transparent, endless, rolling landscape,

Leading from one era to the next,

Traversing lifetimes to connect the dots between every reality conceivable,

All stretched out over the entirety of existence.

Scenes of the exotic, the ancient, transposed

Over this “normal” and this “now.”

You see….

Today I hear in the bustle of the subway station

What yesterday you will play in the still hours of a mountain morning on your ocarina

And which tomorrow I performed before an ancient king in his court to welcome you home.

And on this underground note,

The soundtrack to my desert wanderings,

I toss a token of gratitude to the prophetic piper

While we rush to catch different trains on the same track

Which will collide for the thousandth time

In a fearsome, brilliant spray of sparkling sand

No sooner have we learned to let the minutes pass us by

And the moments carry us along.

November 15, 2007 Posted by | Poetry, Reincarnation, Time, Writing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To the rooftops!…

Time.
Every sinking sun heralds another day that I will never know
And yet that I’ve already lived.
Like a farcical princess in a real dungeon—
A refugee
Of the all-consuming, merciless beast terrorizing the sacred hillsides below—
I watch from my window
As the bleeding sky before my eyes
Fades somewhere else into a festive night
Of friends, of music, of spontaneity, of life.
And while the spirits of ignorance dance, and whirl and meld,
And crescendo into the colorful laughter of abandon,
My own voice, my own form are absent,
While I watch and ponder the fate
Of the beaten, the violated, the penniless –
Because, tonight, their dusk, their chill is mine.
And we are all together.
And we are all alone.
And we are all forgotten.
And I learn all too late that the height of a cloudless summer
Is a time I would infinitely rather spend in the damp cover of the glistening snow,
And that yet another night delivered on the icy tails of the autumn wind,
Leads at this very moment into a joyous spring that I will never regain
And binds me, helpless, to the certainty that these
Are hours I will never recover.
So now that I—
My dreams, my soul, my hopes, my passions—
Have become, for myself, simply too much,
The fear twists deep within me that I’m still so very far from enough
And that perhaps it’s too late to prove
That I ever might be.

 

 “Listen as the wind blows from across the great divide — voices trapped in yearning, memories trapped in time.  The night is my companion and solitude, my guide.  Would I spend forever here and not be satisfied?”  — Sarah McLachlan (Opening lyrics of “Possession”)

July 26, 2007 Posted by | Memories, Poetry, Solitude, Time, Writing | , , , , | Leave a comment