An Ode on Facebook

[Just Poems has just joined Twitter! To celebrate I post this poem about that other well-known social media site.]

You who enjoy the famed pastoral form
Might like this ode on Facebook, blue and warm.

Swift-dawning springtime field! Webpage, wake up!
Ads open in the screenlight, banners drop
Their soothing symbols onto thirsty eyes,
The keyboard chirps its song, the keen mouse flies.
All through the logged-in woodland bees of code
Buzz, hum and bumble with their data-load
And links like pixelated pollen spread,
Filling the air with stories to be read;
And fertile flocks of updates too take flight
On wings of whimsy, singing of delight
In this online demesne, ambrosia-sweet,
Where victory’s not diluted with defeat.

Sing, Site. What’s new? Achilles brave checks in:
“In Troy with Ares #forthewin”;
Crafty Odysseus, wand’ring near and far,
Stops for a craft beer at a hipster bar;
The urban muses raise their photo-herds—
A thousand pictures paint a million words;
Orpheus shares some blogger’s quote profound,
A cropped snapshot of nature the background;
This nymph you worked with once, but don’t know well,
Is pregnant and is showing off the swell.

Ah friends are they not grand, these selfie-ish feeds
That crown with glory’s garland sheepish deeds?
And can’t pitch-perfect profiles spurn the shade
And pipe forever on where no flowers fade?
Or are the cows for crueler climates meant?
What is it haunts this forest, Harvard-sent?
Do doubt, barbarian of foreign breed,
And thought, that exiled, poking, choking weed,
Rob us of depth as buckets drain a well
When they discard fair fashion like a shell?
Are storms foretold in CPU-fan wind?
What does the freezing of the page portend?
Ah stream of duck-loud nonsense, honey-thick,
Is it that life is ended in a click?

Old death goes viral in remotest glade
And cares not for nor spares your proud parade.

Two Sonnets in June

Volta
“I will make this,” thought God, “I will make that.
(One of the thats can name the thises then.)”
And all He had to do was say each thing
And it was done, and good, and all was right.
And then came man, and this one thing God named,
And then this Adam named this that, that this,
And then God gave him woman, Eve, by which
To breed and lead to us—beasts did the same.
There was a flood, of chemicals and such,
Which bounced around aboard a barren rock
Holding all beings’ potential, earth’s whole stock,
Till tongues of lightning (maybe) made it twitch.
All life came from this flood, and this is good—
We all are equal, and there is no god.

Turn
There are no gods or goddesses abroad,
And nobody is perfect, heaven knows
(And it knows nothing, for it just arose
From our old wish to turn the bad to good).
And you’re not perfect, love, how could you be,
Being a mix of your parents (both mad),
Your crazy country, and whatever odd
Odds and ends you brought yourself to being?
Perfection’s for our Christs and Christesses,
Those dream immortals after whom we lust
Down in this rubbish bin wherein the dust
Of our desires is dumped—God bless! What’s this?!
Dear Goddess, as your eyes gaze into mine
The water in my veins turns into wine!

Rose

I thought one of the pictures which inspired this poem might contribute something to its enjoyment. Can you see which girl is the Rose?
I thought one of the pictures which inspired this poem might contribute something to its enjoyment. Can you tell which girl is the Rose?

Fading into the photograph some of your classmates,
No less important, no less alive, but not you—you stand out,
A sullen rose, having a bad day in 1936, or that’s just how
You look. No less hopeful for it, a whole kaleidoscope of life
Spirals out from the black-and-white school picture,
The market streets alive with sensory richness, Galway alleyways
Leading each to different lives. Perhaps you became a nun,
The school selling it well, perhaps a nurse, living by the hospital,
Perhaps a corpse hours after this was taken, the sullenness sickness.

What became of you? And why is the became more than you are
This 1930s day? Just a rose, unpruned, a flame on film, ready to bloom
Like a camera’s flash or to fade like your friends
Into the drear background. Why? Because I cannot know,
Because the narrative act of lining you all up
And saving this second forever sets suspense—what happened next?
And next, and next, and after that, and then? What happened?

What is happening, forever now, frame-sized, is you standing,
And standing out—your cardigan maybe blue, your eyes as well,
Hair light and easy on your well-held head—and looking out,
Out at lives coming, possibilities, the schooling done, the ticket
To America, to India, to some escape from your life back then,
From discipline and rules and drudgery, from poverty and fools
And from, oh from, the stings and thorns that are coming,
As surely for you as for your fellows, the failures, the regrets,
That what ifs and the if onlys, the sullenness of a girl
Deepening into the well-worn despair of womanhood,
The children and the husband and the house, the parents
Sickening and needing care, the bills, the aches, the worries,
All the things that go along with any joys, joys of parenthood
And love, if such you knew, joys of shelter and of family,
All the joys that sit around a grief, expectant diners
Waiting for a feast, the servants lined around the board,
The silver shining and the linen laid, the wine all ready,
Just to be uncorked, the dishes coming in, set down with care,
The lids lifted, and the horror underneath. Ah, had they but been empty,
Then what care? But the rotted flesh, the shattered bone,
The food of monsters set out like a kill—
And all your ravenous fellows tucking in.

What pains you saw, what joys, what black-and-whites,
Will not be known. Only this lonesome rose will grow and die,
And only she will ever know the world she found,
And what she made of it, and what she left.

Two Poems

Nameless, that is what I must be.
But even “I” is a name, and even “be”.
Anything which only is,
I must be as anything which only is.

                                               first thought: “which is like this”

                                               second thought: “which is in this way”

                                               third thought: “which only is”,
                                               might be called the final thought
                                               because it was the chosen one,
                                               but that too is a name.

                                                                       A poem to be called “Final”

Nameless, really,
Slip your name,
                                  the heavy breath of others on your birth,
                                  the heaviness of your own thoughts, of “your” and “own”.
                                  There will always be thoughts,
But let them rise like bubbles from the deep
And free themselves in empty air, leaving the surface calm,
                                                                        the water more fully water.