I shared this site with an old friend I've recently reconnected with. I decided to go back and skim through some of this stuff - wondering just exactly what I've revealed of me. I confirmed a few things I knew were going on in these daily posts: 1. I'm quite repetitive. 2. I'm quite repetitive. 3. I'm not great at getting my point across - that's why I'm a visual artist.
I'm deciding to get even more personal for the next collection of posts. When I was a youngster - full of life, chasing fireflies, reading beat poetry (ugh), sitting out all night on asphalt warmed by the sun, exploring, and falling in love - I wrote quite a bit of "poetry". (The quotations are on that word because I refuse to don myself a poet. In fact, it wasn't too long ago that I had a celebratory bonfire to burn up volumes of that horrible stuff - remembering the great John Baldessari's proclamation, "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art." I still need to embrace that one - much more!)
Three years ago, I realized how I had all but ceased to write love poems to my former beloved. I'd slip her a silly drawing once and awhile and I did try, in my own miserable way, to convey my love but it was all pretty dried up. There wasn't any affection in either direction. She had insisted that I leave the house (after the three months of begging I did to avoid a separation) in November. I had vacated on the 2nd. Our anniversary was coming up on the 17th. I was certain things would be just fine by then but the closer it got to that date, I understood how screwed I was. She did, however, agree to go on a "date" with me for our anniversary. Technically, we were still married so it was (albeit the last) our 23rd anniversary.
I spent a week crafting a poem for her. I had not written a love poem in ages. It was a painstaking process and when I was done, I was quite proud of the work. This was the one that would win her heart back. I bought her a small gift, printed the poem out, and took her to a nice little restaurant. She ran into someone she knew at dinner and introduced me as her "husband". Considering the noticeable distance in her, I was quite surprised that she introduced me that way. There was no comfort in it. It was almost like stepping on a clipper ship in the morning under a beautiful red sky.
The meal was delicious but it was like a blind date. I was the one who was eager and she was the one who was eager to leave. It was short and quick and as soon as we were done she gave a half-hearted hug and said, "Thanks! Can I drive you to your car?" I declined the ride and walked alone downtown for the next several hours sobbing my soul out in little puddles.
Later that night she texted me and said, "Wow! This poem is so beautiful!" Such a simple thing to say but it felt loaded with emptiness and I knew it didn't matter what I had written because it made absolutely no impact on her heart.
This was the start of that long journey I've poured over again and again (see points "1" and "2" at the top of the page). It was begging, and gifts, and petitions, and rage - and poems. I wrote a number of poems that ended with the poem titled, "Cicada" (read about the show paired with that work here). Many of the poems were written under the spell of the cicada lament. Although some were penned in the winter months, my thoughts were constantly plagued with swarms of cicada. Those reasons should be obvious but included ideas related to emergence, rebirth, growth, what lies just below the surface, reflection, change, and so on. You can find all sorts of conspicuous stuff in Totemism or other mystic ideology if you want to get real ridiculous about it all.
Now begins the first of several poems I've selected to share from the Cicada Verses. These poems are full of symbolism and insight that would only be understood between the one I used to love and myself. If you feel like you need a deeper explanation for any of these, feel free to inquire by navigating to the Contact form. Otherwise, chew them up and savor - or spit 'em out.
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1625, Apollo and Daphne, Marble, 93” at Galleria Borghese. Photograph: Andrea Jemolo/Scala / Art Resource, NY
This is what I remember:
Eyes of blue smoke - enchanted by their spell
Lips red as the blood that beats through my heart
Smile - whitest pearls that were dreamier than opium den dreams
Rose petals for cheeks
Breath as sweet as honeysuckle
Neck of ivory that lifted her head to the stars
Shoulders cascading like a soft waterfall muffled by the winter white of her complexion
Arms like long branches to perfect hands - tips dipped in pomegranate
Waist of cotton where one could sleep - never caring to wake
Long legs like a gazelle
Feet - perfect feet - chiseled out of marble from the Pentelikon quarry
Altogether more breathtaking than the Three Graces combined
Alas! I, like Whitman, "discover myself on the verge of a usual mistake"
And the bees
No longer domesticated
No fuel for fire - to smoke them into a trance
No guard to keep away the sting
No hope to retrieve the sticky, golden, delicious, healing honey
I should have protected the hive from
Wars, looters, envy, hate, callous belligerence, impatience, malice, resent, sarcasm
Quarrels of all size and shape
Left what "I remember"
On yellowing notepaper in drawers
On reels of film susceptible to vinegar syndrome
On cassettes with coos and giggles
In data storage
The glow of embers are covered with ash
The cold of night is now apparent
The days, treacherously mundane, remind me that
Peneus has rescued his daughter
And I, like Apollo,
Vow to render Daphne ever green