Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Word for Home

Bright sky torn across the top;
crow calls where the damaged cloud
picks apart the tufts of soiled floss
and runs a ragged furrow through the trees.

He carried a in an inside pocket (quilted plaid)
surgical instruments in a neat row, polished
and sweet, like the needle teeth of kittens.
He always said that opening the body
was something best done quick or not at all.

The stutter of the cloud fades into purple
where the bay goes silent and the gulls veer
left and right, leaving the straight ahead
to eyes without the sense to pull away.

They asked him if he missed his home
and he just shrugged. I don't remember,
he said, how to say the word
in my own tongue.


carolee said...

i love all the texture in this, its sharp (but frayed) edges.

Dale said...

Would this be better if the tenses matched, if it was all present or all past?

Uma said...

Beautiful Dale. I find 'damaged cloud', 'stutter of cloud' disturbing, I like the way you build into these images. I think I want to read this poem several more times and see what it does to me.

marly youmans said...

Okay, my vote for past. It wouldn't change much in the first stanza but would get rid of that echo of familiar phrase, "run ragged." Still mulling l. 13...

In my head I have made up a story about this character, but I wouldn't mind another hint or two! Of course, if it became a bit longer, that might change my mind about the tenses.

Dale said...

I don't know a damn thing about him. He might be Polish, and the bay might be San Francisco, and the year might be 1850 or so. But what does your story say?

Lucy said...

No, I really like the two tenses, moving between past and present in layers here seems important, the way the mind does. And that dark character belongs in the past. Most of the verbs work better as they are, Marly's 'run ragged' doesn't bother me, 'ran ragged' is problematical in its own way. and I like all the esses in line 3, and once you start trying to put verse 3 into the past it gets very clunky.

I wouldn't normally argue with Marly on such matters!

marlyat2 said...


Go right ahead! You may have thought longer and harder...

Again I'm thinking that I desire a little more, and maybe if I had just a little more the swing back and foth would please.

But then I like long poems... which is mad, these days.

JMartin said...

The two internally-consistent versions surely for me confirmed the wisdom of Lucy and Marlys' responses: the tense-swing is a keeper, if you can add to the narrative.

In other news, you've been dubbed the Troubadour of Portland, and set to serenade public buses.

Deb said...

(Please post the public houses so I might enjoy. ;-))

I keep reading & reading. It layers on thick & gauzy & tender & tough.