Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dragonflies And Mayflies On The River

Below is a work-in-progress, which keeps changing whether or not it works!

That's no longer true. Endless revisions have led close to a finished effort now. I'm very pleased wiith this poem now that began as one of my most casual "blog" poems. Sometimes, strange things happen.

Last update: 08/07/08

Wings And Wages On The River

I been down to the river
With my headphones on,
I was listening to the blessed nothing
I was deep into the rhythm of the bleeding in my soul!
Oh, it was coming in so clear,
It was coming in so clean—
It was like I wasn't there,
It was like there was no I,
Only the part that listens or mistens
When the breezes come so strong
That we all believe in the river at last and nothing else,
The river that flows so fast beneath us even while we dream!

If life doesn't fester while we sleep,
If the corpse of your or my gone sister in the twilight doesn't weep
While the rest of us jive smartasses
Have ripened on the bough and jeered at death,
But still we nearly fall to ground and rot
While we await the next hard leap and dodge the cops!
All the darkness in this designated box just smells at first
Like some lost lady's purse imbued with the toxic smell
Of black perfume and used kleenex and stale cough drops—
But before the careless undertaker
Lights the incense or the candles,
Before the well-dressed ladies turn away and shrug
And go out together to light up another smoke,
Even the drunk old doctor snorts
And says he thinks the whole thing stinks!

Now it's been coming on so heedlessly, all could see,
All pigment blue entombed like gross tattoos
In all the softish folds of flesh
On all the boys and girls these days
Who have fattened so they have such veins,
Who say they don't like to read,
And indeed no one here does read,
Not even with the gilding added to these heavy hieroglyphs and
Not where this expensive deep-cloaked velvet lining shines
From every corner of this slightly damaged royal bier!
That same gold-leaved brass-adorned wooden casket
We imagine for each other in these days,
It shows just like a cold despair in here
Except it's rather pretty and it costs much more!
Though there is no mention of the worms,
There's a fell and musky fume inside our heads
That pulls the pure blind air right out of me
And out of you,
And the hairs on our arms and in our ears
And in our nostrils stand straight out now
As if electrified or stung by acrid house-fire smoke!

Oh, if I could have always only heard you say
That we will wed and wed again
And never ever part, the winged catbirds
And the sparrows that stayed might not just play,
And the angels who some said were standing by
And counting coup amid the timid varicolored turtledoves
Then could rise and float away from all these ashen aches,
And all but I could sail into the heavens high above and far away,
Further than a Fender guitar tune a gypsy plays for strangers
That is so loud it almost makes the angels sing,
Further than a lover’s best-known song he plays as if
His own soft heart-beat on hard piano keys in his living room.
I guess I'd be left outdoors to rise within myself as if in song,
As high as ever need could be on mortal earth,
While those aloft knew suddenly what Beauty was
And blushed as if it mattered and then they called my name,
Daring all that ever dared in one of us on earth—
Now all took heart,
And all was well in paradise,
And I content to please them all—
You know we'll never fly again like this,
Like straight-vaned arrows that soared so true
(We never knew!)
And pierced both heaven and the nothing all at once—
For after that, my nerves assert, we will all be sent back down!

We'll be okay, but the flood will come
And we'll be low, locked down,
Viewing first the dragonflies that search
And then the mayflies that never can escape, never sleep,
And all are mixed like fog just flitting on the river.
They seem to joust at times,
Jiving through their tiny lives, akin to ours,
Never moaning, never mourning as we do,
Or so it seems—
There's just their lightly veined exquisite double pairs of vanes
Falling and accumulating as they surf
Near the shaded bushes at the still water's edge
While a child must watch in wonder.
It is almost like a whispering at some ghostly wake,
But the child will never know it—
For him, it's just a river going on for now,
Purely water full of life
That moves the wind that powers wings
And sings now softly, with you, with me,
And with that small blonde child,
How the wings that shall remain they still must rise one time more,
But here seem still and are as ready for the restless living
And beyond as it is possible to be,
Those wings that only go so far,
And dart about so fast, and only last a while.



  1. A friend of mine once said, 'A river (poetry) without banks is a flood, not a river.' Maybe that's why this felt unfinished, it leans more toward free-verse than structured form. I've found that free-verse, by it's very nature, tends to defy an ending.

    Not to say I don't like it, because I do.

  2. I was glad to see you both back and to read your encouraging words. Poetry without banks?--Might be music. Endless guitar-led music! Santana? Frank Zappa? Led Zeppelin? Eric Clapton?

  3. Nice work Ron.
    Say, FYI: when I try to view your blog in Internet Explorer, I get an error message and your site doesn't load at all.
    It does load OK in Firefox. Just wanted you to know.

  4. Marc, it was giving me the same business yesterday, but at least once today, it's been okay! hope it stays.

  5. Hi Ron, your blog is loading fine for me now. Actually, when I was getting that error message on your blog, I started noticing it on many other blogs, so I'd suspect it was a system-wide issue.

  6. Yes, I bumped it because I've rewritten it so much. It might happen again later. This poem may last longer than a box of all-day suckers!

  7. I don't think the early parts of the poem match up any more with the later parts. I need to work on that or maybe just make a giant deletion.

  8. One giant deletion HAS been done; another likely will follow. A large revision also took place starting in the third stanza and working down.

  9. While this version is longer, it's much better. I don't understand it all, but that's part of the allure of poetry. You don't always have to get it to be moved by it. Keep it up.

  10. Yeah, I hate to say this in a Blog context, but one is meant to GET the meaning of poems or lyrics gradually, not all at once like you just swallowed a fluid pill!

    Speaking of fluid pills, I will try to keep this poem from swelling up any more. I'm not sure if it can be thinned down much, but there's always a chance (slim chance)!

    I am delighted that any of you liked it. If masterq were here, I'd make her sick and tired of me trying to explain the stupid thingn, but we are as we are and she's safe from me at present! (say, what is that skull?)

  11. Wow. That made the hairs on my arms stand up. The corny title I came up with: "Dragonflies, Mayflies, Timeflies" or just "Timeflies." Or "Wings on the River" or just "Wings and Wages."

    I wish I'd seen it evolve. A writer's process fascinates me. The only thing I'd change is maybe more stanza breaks to allow space to absorb what you're saying.

  12. I was just getting tired and contemplating dismissing the thing from my mind when you wrote. Your titles amuse me, but your other suggetions are worthy of consideration as well, and I might carry some out. I've been delaying for a week but did intend to break up the lines into smaller bits, but also to shorten them after that. The two together have been intimidating me.

  13. Thought I had an email for you, Debbie, but I guess not. This is YOUR fault!

  14. If you send me your email, I'll send you the oldest version that I can find. At least, it shows the old structure and length as opposed to this one which I am still hammering on.

  15. This is a badger skull. I bought it at the MN State Fair some years ago.

  16. Well, I wont hold it against the state, but I knew there was something about badgers I didn't like!


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