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Posts posted by TomPeters

  1. Poetry

    Pinelands bushes

    Reclusive lowland hearties

    Pink blossoms,

    Dark cranberries, punches to the tongue

    Laying low and heavy in the scratch.

    Come men with sticks

    Beating old maid fruit from

    Chaparral’s maternal clutch

    White sands cluttered with rootless exiles

    Each berry pitted with a hidden puff of air.

    The berry’s latent lightness

    Caged greatness waiting to rise

    Waiting upon mild craft,

    On husbanding attention,

    On weight, pressure, moments made.

    The men flood the bog

    Crash of water,

    The broken bob a-twitch

    From their momentary sea-bed

    Holy Ghost buoyant

    Pulled sky tall

    Rupturing the wine-dark surface

    Winning crisp and happy Barrens wind.

  2. RevAl, thank you for your insightful expansion on my comment. Such a substantive exchange of ideas actually itself somewhat eases my sense of solitude. There is intelligent life on Earth after all!

    Our shared sentiments, though made worse by the modern age of technology, have precedents in earlier times. I think it was Thoreau, in the telegraph age, who said that soon we shall have the ability to speak instantly from one side of the country to another, but the question is whether we will have anything worthwhile to say.

    [ETA: I think the Thoreau quote is this: "We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas, but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate. . . . We are eager to tunnel under the Atlantic . . . ; but perchance the first news that will leak through the broad, flapping American ear will be that the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough."]

    Technology's a big part of it; I think also economic mobility and the fracturing of the family; a reduced sense of confidence in any definitive set of core shared values or even any canon of art, literature, or thought; as well as an unbelievable amount of economic specialization such that it's often very hard to identify a profession or trade you're part of an interact with on a daily basis. I don't think there's any social solution -- just the individual choice to make the effort and reach out -- or not.

    Friendship is a sacrament.

  3. Happy Groundhog Day to all my fellow Americans! Brings me back to Groundhog Days of yore, when grandma would bring out sizzling sticks of groundhog kabob, which we'd wash down with fresh savory groundhog milk, topped off with her patented Marshmallow Groundhog Surprise pie. And, of course, if grandpa saw anyone's shadow, we'd have six more weeks of ALF reruns.

    Good times!

  4. Dear Sarah,

    One: Postcards From Your Flesh and Blood

    You, my older sister, were born dead.

    Tiny, blue, and cold.

    No warning, no reason.

    A year later, to universal relief and joy,

    I came, kicking and screaming.

    The medical chart for Baby Boy Bond noted,

    “conjoined supernumerary spiritual appendage”.

    Telling the parents was “contraindicated”.

    Two lifelines line my palm, one faint and one strong.

    Doctors often misdiagnose a heart murmur,

    because they hear through the stethoscope

    both my loud lub-dub,

    and a little echo trailing after.

    You and I, my sister Sarah, share one life,

    I the broad pane of glass,

    And you the spirit etched thereon

    Eyes burning black with feverish death

    Bony hands gripping Holy Scripture

    You’ve torn out every chapter but Lamentations.

    Enough, big sister.

    I sing of peace, and love

    The heralds of the soon-to-be

    Speak of a redemption

    Only so far denied.

    In this, if in anything, I believe.

    Two: Plea for Reconciliation

    Sister, confess your mysteries to me.

    Let me purchase from you,

    By my industrious silence,

    All the unworldly treasures

    You hoard and shield from light.

    Touch my fingertips.

    Read my open eyes,

    Soft blue and green,

    Pupils ringed with gold,

    You see no judge,

    Nor petty magistrate.

    I would not presume

    To badger you with

    Mere law,

    Right and wrong,

    When there is so much more

    Breaking beneath your ice,

    Beauteous, bountiful monstrosities,

    Cannibal gods,

    Platonic forms,

    Poison spiders gleaming on produce.

    I’ll forgive you,

    Oh, everything and more,

    Just know that I,

    Like you,

    Burn with the ghost of a flame.

    Three: The Childhood of the Living and the Dead

    Dear Sister, do you recall on childhood’s edge,

    You guided my hand and filled the world

    With crayon icons of the monstrous?

    Old souls

    Hatched from tabernacles

    Of no line, no modification, no descent

    Bearing the thumbprint of the Living God

    A mark indelible

    From before the first shuddering intake of breath

    Our father and mother made.


    One had eyes like shoeshine;

    One slept at the bottom of the sea like a concrete ton;

    One danced across the marshlands and lonely places;

    One buried the dead in the lands with no name;

    One wrote intolerable family updates;

    One brandished its loss like a rapier;

    One was known only to itself,

    a secret, like a violin without strings.

    We thought ourselves among their confederacy, you and I,

    But in the winter darkness, small and sorrowful,

    We huddled together under

    The unrelieved crucifix

    White flags hoisted high

    Pining for the erupting miracle

    That would sweeten, mend, and free us

    To simply chase fireflies

    To simply rule the world.

    But when we came to the front of the line

    And the Host was raised to our tongues

    We vomited it out, wracked with wrong

    No priestly comforts here.

    Four: You, in the Negatives

    You were there in the first flickers

    The brittle yellowing paper of my first memory,

    Helping our little sister escape her playpen,

    The cherry chapstick of my long ago first kiss,

    The black-and-blue Little League bruise our father was so

    proud I played through,

    Our alcoholic uncles performed wild magic

    Howled at the moon;

    Pinched great-aunts, saintly and savage

    Told in lip-smacking certainty

    Of eternal Hell.

    The gray-green seas of lazy summers,

    Even red-hot wickedness, greenstick fractures of the mind.

    But especially at night I felt your fingers on my heart

    Even in the seedling years

    Every day was a new day

    Task-crawling, burden-crammed

    Life, and life’s caterwauling din;

    But there is only one night

    The pause to which we ceaselessly return.

    We owe debts to the night that we can never repay.

    We could never grow but in the recess of the world,

    When work runs out, and petty tyrannies take uneasy rest,

    Slave-catchers fearing the wild, dim landscape,

    Too close to dream,

    Too near that otherworldly judgment.

    We have so much old business to hear

    In our little, anarchic hours.

    And, Sarah, we know why

    All prophecies are written on pillowcases

    And the symbols mean “forever”.

    Five: A Pilgrim Writes to the Delivered

    It was appointed

    In the waiting rooms of more important people

    That you should start at the end

    And that I should be a pilgrim to that place

    Taking the hard pilgrimage

    On skinned palms, knees bloodied and bent

    Crunching down on gravel and particles of broken green glass

    Cars honking, incredulous, screaming for speed,

    Down Route 206

    I'm always approaching, never reaching

    Mile Zero, my sister’s other home.

    At night, following man-made lights

    Suspended in space

    On off on off on off

    Spiraling out

    Repeating and repeating

    Lesson One to the uncomprehending moon.

    I'm inching past

    Inflatable King Kong roadside displays

    All night neon diners

    I'm rummaging through my pockets

    Paying another small town holdup toll

    I'm chanting childhood rumors

    Of the all-engulfing sea.

    And when I come

    Sister, we will baptize one another

    In the tears we shed for others

    And tears others shed for us.

    Six: An Answer to Objections

    Sister, you remonstrate me

    That I have lived and you have not

    That I do not bear the cross of a life that only could have been

    Even if my life were not yours

    There are so many mes as stillborn as my sister.

    I visited the Me Hall of Fame

    In Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

    Brushed elbows

    With legends of me

    To which I

    Am only a footnote.

    Took in breathless exhibits:

    The origins, future of me

    Me in popular culture, film star.

    Toured the burnished plaques

    Like third-degree relics

    the richest me,

    the strongest me,

    me the lion-hearted,

    the me that went to Japan to be a sensation.

    In the blistering cold

    Of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

    In the dead of Carbon County

    There is nothing for anyone to do

    But pay their $16.95 and

    Ruminate on all the things

    I could have, should have been.

    Sarah, we are all

    Rebuked by times unlived.

    Many shrug and smile.

    But happiness doesn’t claim every child for her own.

    The people of the tribes

    Made each stranger say the word “shibboleth”

    And he who lisped was slain as an enemy.

    Make you or I say “happiness”

    And any would detect instantly we were not to this word born.

    But still I fumble with it

    Like a knot of traps

    Unhooking its abundant intricacies with your

    Sometimes patient, laughing, collaboration.

    Seven: Our Hope for Future Days

    Therefore, I unjustly ask you

    Be thou patient yet a while more.

    We spread blankets on Palmer Square,

    And eat end-of-the-world gelato

    The inky night grows

    To gunpowder black

    White lights blazing through pinpricks

    A hush

    The clock runs counterclockwise

    Constellations break apart

    Come back together in new old patterns

    The mansions of the heavens

    Regress to astral hovels from which they came.

    And from the ashes

    The mighty glowing empires reform.

    We lay back

    And drink in

    The sudden reflux of the ancient past

    What seemed to be forever

    Was only for signs and seasons

    The hours wane

    All come to dust

    We brace

    For the very beginning

    At the very end.