poems as hand- and foot-holds on a glass mountain

Breaking the Line

      1.

The bridges are still burning

over the Rhine, the Seine, the Tennessee

our running feet can barely take

the heat, our shoes melting

we weigh the odds of reaching

the other side against those

of surviving a long swim

in the dark river laughing at us

the moment swells until it has no outside

we’re airborne between bridge and river

not falling not moving 

stalled in an unexpected time-seam

of intense magnification

the still air is filled with sand-colored light

from the one square eye of a large multicolored bird 

with stone feathers on the wall of a Toltec tomb

its stone mind radiating

sharing its energy/mass with us

soon we will be heavy enough to fall

into the laughing river we will become again

have once been but lost unless it recalls us

in the sly reciprocity of forgetting and forgotten

                         2.

forgetting is a transfer

to a job in a different city

perhaps a foreign city where they speak nerdish

all you need know is a few phrases

gestures and acronyms, body-language

what else you remember seems of little use

at first, until by its sheer persistence

you begin to see what it offers

a venerable old inn sits near the railroad tracks

with wide porches and rocking chairs

overhung with a low roof 

like Neanderthal brow ridges

the windows give away golden light

of candles, wood fires, oil lamps

neither more nor less real

than the pale electric present

but older, from outside the current frame

a mental composite of thousands of horizons

integral with every experience

each center of focus needs edges

or it would leak away and not return

it is their edges we grip to pull them back

a hidden welcoming waiting to be noticed

in this new-to-us grey city sending us this reminder

                            3.

reminders hold us back from the escaping newness

of each moment dragging us away

from all coherence as if we and it

were all ‘freedom’ or if you prefer, ‘chaos’

air hissing from a punctured tire

inside stink from an opened window

the have-you-heard of a gossip

broadcasting someone else’s secrets

if the new were frameless

we wouldn’t see it at all

we and it are both this two-faced rushing-onward

and holding-back, a hooked trout fighting the line

irreconcilable and yet neither would be

without the other

Adm. Nelson breaking the enemy line

at Trafalgar pauses a long moment

in his quarterdeck pacing

his mind far away, mutters calmly:

‘for every line a fish would break 

a thousand thousand others wait.’

4 Responses to “Breaking the Line”

  1. Burl Whitman

    Hard to know where to start on how much I like this. Worlds within worlds, cuts loose the ordinary mind moorings and looks for what only suffices for now, what is truer than just now. Images of hope and forbearance in a dark tide. Love it.

    Reply
  2. Craig Brandis (aka Burl Whitman)

    Trying again..last comment didn’t seem to post…hard to say how much I like this. More honest and patience and wildness than we get in many of today’s poems. Real, imaginary, truth in a song, like Whitman. Worlds within worlds, all full of promise.

    Reply
    • place9011

      Thanks Bro! For both comments, one of which got automatic approval and one I had to approve manually. Who knows why. Both much appreciated. I keep trying to do new kinds of poems, fresh ones, and I keep reading other’s poems, like yours. Which I greatly enjoy.

      Reply

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