Why this?

The occasional poem of my own and a generous helping of work by others that I find inspiring. Site is named for a beloved book by one of my favorite writers, Italo Calvino, whose fanciful work lights--and delights--my soul.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

from “Bildungsroman”

    i.m. Scott David Campbell (1982-2012)

Streetlights were our stars,
hanging from the midnight    
                                  in a planetary arc
above each empty ShopRite    
parking lot—spreading     
                                  steam-bright
through the neon dark—
buzzing like ghost locusts,
                                  trembling in the chrome
trance of an electrical charge
nested in each exoskeleton—
                                  pulling, pooling
a single syllable of light
from the long braid      
                                  of the powerlines
sighing above us as we climbed    
through bedroom windows
                                  with our hair combed
and our high-tops carefully untied—
as we clung to vinyl siding,
                                  as we crawled
crablike across rooftops, edging
toe-first toward the gutters
                                  so as not to rouse
the dogs—as we crept down    
onto cold drainpipes     
                                  through the lightning
in our lungs, leaping at last
into our shadows and at last
                                  onto the lawn,
landing as if in genuflection
to the afterhours fog—
                                  fluorescent
as the breath we left
beside us on the train tracks
                                  as we walked
each toward the others,
toward the barebulb
                                  glow of stardust
on the dumpsters
in the vacant late-night, lost

--Malachi Black

The Oak

. . . It is the last survivor of a race
Strong in their forest-pride when I was young.
I can remember when, for miles around,
In place of those smooth meadows and corn-fields,
There stood ten thousand tall and stately trees,
Such as had braved the winds of March, the bolt
Sent by the summer lightning, and the snow
Heaping for weeks their boughs. Even in the depth
Of hot July the glades were cool; the grass,
Yellow and parched elsewhere, grew long and fresh,
Shading wild strawberries and violets,
Or the lark’s nest; and overhead the dove
Had her lone dwelling, paying for her home
With melancholy songs; and scarce a beech
Was there without a honeysuckle linked
Around, with its red tendrils and pink flowers;
Or girdled by a brier-rose, whose buds
Yield fragrant harvest for the honey-bee
There dwelt the last red deer, those antler’d kings . . .
But this is as dream,—the plough has pass’d
Where the stag bounded, and the day has looked
On the green twilight of the forest-trees.
This oak has no companion! . . . . 

--Letitia Elizabeth Landon

Meditation for the Silence of Morning

I wake myself imagining the shape
of the day and where I will find

myself within it. Language is not often
in that shape,

but sentences survive somehow
through the islands of dark matter,

the negative space often more important
than the positive.

Imagine finding you look at the world
completely different upon waking one day.

You do not know if this is permanent.
Anything can change, after all,

for how else would you find yourself
in this predicament or this opportunity,

depending on the frame? A single thought
can make loneliness seem frighteningly new.

We destroy the paths of rivers to make room for the sea.

--Adam Clay

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Ascribing Origin

To confront a person with his shadow is to show him his own light. —Carl Jung

How many times have I heard myself
chalk up my keep-the-peace proclivity,
my pen-to-paper instinct,
to Dad and Mom respectively;
assign origin of both gifts and hardships
to Eldes and Johnsons?

My two-year-old son has already started.
My coat is from Mama.
My guitar is from Dada.
My book is from Grandpa Randy.
My shoes are from Grandma Robyn…

I wonder. Is this the beginning?
Benign precursor of more charged attributions
down the road? And might I have passed down
the tendency to ascribe origin in the first place
to a son who says often, staring up at his ceiling,
The shadows are in the light?

--Kristen Elde

Personality

For my son

You were two and a half
and had been in the Toddler Room just over a year.
You’d come to thrive there, after some tentative early months
as you felt your way around a new space, new adults,
other toddlers, some of them far less reserved than you,
running pell-mell, climbing the walls and yapping like puppies,
sometimes biting, not out of malice, of course,
but because it can feel pretty amazing to really clamp down.

Eventually you took your place among the ranks
of one- and two-year-olds, your niche one of observation and consideration,
weighing the worth before bringing paintbrush to paper,
plastic dinos to life, your body to the top of the slide
or to meet the embrace of little Josie, Ann, Owen.
Once committed, you were all in, sly smiles and goofball gestures
often accompanying. You came into your own in that room, Finn,
as your caregiver Lee would reflect with your dad and me.

But it was your time to advance to the next level—
upstairs in the Shooting Star Room was where your M–F would soon unfold.
As your mom, I felt the familiar tension between pride and sadness,
though the pull of the latter was stronger.

Your sweet Lee shared with us the school’s protocol:
she would take you up to your new room for ever longer periods
over the course of two weeks, staying with you at first—
easing the transition, comforting if needed.

The accounts came in: you were doing just fine, quick to take a seat
at this table of new cohorts. And our experience at home with you mirrored:
no changes in sleep, appetite, mood.

The last phase of the transition gave you a choice:
after a full morning upstairs, you could either return downstairs
to nap with the old crew, or remain with the new gang through siesta.
On picking you up that evening, we heard the ruling:
you hadn’t looked back, your new place already established.

--Kristen Elde