SAME OLD, SAME OLD

Standard

Once upon a time
in a house on dry land…

after the fierce flood
folded into the lips of mud,
the door flung open to
the sunburned yard
where a woman of salt
crouched over her lost arm

long after sand
shifted the weight of time,
drifting over the litter
of the sandman’s bones
and a bird flew in
with a get-well card

when the overtures
were over
and the happy harm of
war, and two-by-two
were not enough to rhyme
with an immaculate
conception’s dovely tones,
branch bringing only
echoes of
the olive’s flesh singing

after all this and
the nerve-wracking babble
of lesser birds messing
the eaves of the unfinished
tower, the monument
standing broken-fingered
halfway to its heaven
when the hammer left
the hand, and below,
the dumb, nose-thumbing
rabble

even after
the black widow’s power
was washed from each
room where it lingered,
dead rainbows
clung to the windows and

….there lived a whale
in the belly of a man.

14 responses »

  1. Oh Wowza! This is chockablock full, isn’t it! I especially love “woman of salt”, and “dead rainbows clung to the windows”–intriguing ending too.

    • I used to see those rainbows back in the days when I stupidly tried to clean windows in bright sun. A bonus of old age: I don’t do windows anymore! ( besides, I have a Mac). Thanks, “Widow”….I just figured out from whence you cometh…

    • Excellent memory, Marta. This is a rewrite of a poem I think I shared with you and others back in the 1970’s. It’s from my handy compost heap of not quite finished poems I dip into when life doesn’t allow for much musing…I was on the road this week dealing with the sale of my house in Dover, so voila! I especially like what you said about the final couplet…in fact, those were the lines that came first, and inspired the rest. Merci!

  2. Oh wow! Totally in awe of someone (you) being able to write like this Cynthia!!! I so love the idea of a bird bringing a get-well card. 😊. This is such a clever poem; I am unusually speechless!

    • Sometimes the mind travels to funny places….I didn’t mean to render you speechless, Christine, but that’s probably the best response to the craziness of this poem! Thank you!

  3. Cynthia; this one leaves me speechless there is so much packed into it – I have read it several times and each reading unveils an additional level of analogy and depth. I love t he penultimate verse :
    the black widow’s power
    was washed from each
    room where it lingered,
    dead rainbows
    clung to the windows and
    even more than the final two lines even though they are powerful. Gosh lady, you have a way with words and I’m glad that you came to poetry despite your mother’s early input! Cheerio, Jane

    • Such careful reading and consideration is such a gift from a reader. I intend most poems to work at more than surface level, though that’s difficult to achieve with some of the plainer more direct ones. This one is bizarre enough to force playing with it a bit (or giving it up as impossible nonsense) and was a delight to think through and write, if only as a continuum of strangely familiar images. Thank you, Jane, for your continued encouragement!

  4. Cynthia, there are so many allusions in this I’m almost afraid to comment. Just the Biblical allusions are daunting: Flood, woman of salt (and this has more than one allusion), bird (relating to Noah) that is branch-bringing, the rabble beneath the tower, rainbows, and, of course, the belly of the whale. This does not include allusions to the culture of childhood: Sandman, get well card, etc.
    What makes the poem, however, at least to me, is its tone. Tone’s are difficult to describe, but there is a bravo, a throw-caution-to-the-winds bravado about this that is so energetic and forceful it seems like you decided to take us on a trip through creation. The allusions seem to be touchstones rather than conscious narrative, dancing with the reader’s mind that zips you off one way, then another, and then into a whale that lives in the belly of a man. All these birds and hammers and two by twoers building up into a crescendo of images that dance meanings that are jerked away before they become too heavy and weigh us down with too much seriousness.
    But in the end there are those heavy meaning lines:
    …when the overtures
    were over
    and the happy harm of
    war, and two-by-two
    were not enough to rhyme
    with an immaculate
    conception’s dovely tones,
    branch bringing only
    echoes of
    the olive’s flesh singing
    striking like a snake into the playfulness, generating a touch of skepticism that is not quite cynicism, turning the same old, same old upside down even though it is as old as a house on dry land.
    Oh my, you can write poetry lady. Oh my.

    • Such a rich comment I too am almost afraid to reply! This poem began as just the final couplet, which popped into my mind as wordplay often does.(In fact almost all that I write begins and is generated by our language itself).As I pondered that couplet further, it seemed to take on a multiplicity of meanings, all around something hauntingly, impossibly, irrevocably, necessarily large for a man to bear, which was internal, maybe endemic. The biblical allusion being the most obvious, from there it was all “downhill” –a momentum of associations, easy, fast, of “touchstones rather than conscious narrative”, as you so correctly put it. I just went along for the ride. Not many poems occur to me this way, and I am not a fan of forced or pseudo-intellectual obscurity. This poem doesn’t make ordinary sense, I know, but because it so nearly wrote itself, I let it be, and let readers make of it what they will, hoping they find something there to enjoy. Thanks, Thomas

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