The Innisfree Poetry Journal
by Grace Cavalieri
WHAT I MEANT TO TEACH
Introduce a world with no end to its story.
Make it believable sentence by sentence,
how the purpose of pain is to locate the wound.
Give your characters a central dilemma.
Do this before you tell their story.
The center of a story is a dream
where all thought has become memory.
Start with a phrase. Your personal vision
will be motivation for character.
Pretend you saw a color
you loved and had never seen before
and it was on a large leaf
and young people held it now
and you wished you had seen it sooner.
Put in rhythm, of course,
which turns it to a poem
but always keep your biography.
Take the map of relationships, hold
it in your hands. It is flimsy
and irregular and flaps over in despair.
Lift one corner (almost damp, it is so delicate.)
See how beautiful it is by human standards.
Reenter through memory. Surrender yourself to words.
Utterance and breath will make up your story
alive with characters altered by experience.
Rub a tear between your fingers.
See how it slides on to the
sweetness of speech.
Discover the stranger inside yourself.
Write to the world. Sleep's mind
will retreat from your eyes. This is what you
wanted from the beginning.
GUILT BY ASSOCIATION
Jan appeared last night
looking trim and well dressed.
I shook her hand, formally
for the dead have no feelings
and are bothered by
She went toward the door,
looked back, then she left, closing it.
I thought she meant to stay
but she was walking through to tell us
she'd be waiting on the other side--
this was her way to say
the person I was with would be joining her soon.
I cannot remember who it was.
I strain my thoughts, to find him,
to warn him.
Who was that night companion I brought along
to stroll through a dream, as
company for me,
never knowing he'd get fingered by the dead.
Who was unlucky enough
to watch from my close distance,
blundering into my dream like that
we were all enjoying the same thing at the same time,
if indeed that was who she meant, and not me.
TRULY A PROBLEM OF REFERENCE
It'll be a poem,
looking at the lines that
go side by side, if there resides a
shadow inside, a form not
too hurried, a little self important
sleeping at the center as it's the only
truth there is.
One day, you'll be
sitting on the edge of the poem like
a couch, and all across the room is filled
with eternity, all the
people you miss, and more of them
than ever, and the couch is getting so
crowded, you walk across
the rug and join them. This
moment charms the birds
as they say, out of the trees
and then I can see the shape inside,
where it moves. The desk softens.
I warm quickly to the task
immodestly forcing happiness
from everything held captive.
FEAR AND WONDER
Hand on the grass
In the woods
Fire in the forest
I was new and went
To the exhibit of water at dawn
The visual sky, pink, white
The invitation of the glance, blue
Thursday away from the mist
The revenge of the gunshot
A pleasant fiction this sky
Blood in the water
Do you think it is really
A dream you would whisper
A garden of herbs, grapes, jasmine
My Lord, touch this pencil
Say we are here for the glory of your empire.
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