STREET DANCE–and the process

I wrote this last year. The finished poem, if a poem is ever “finished” is the first one. It’s followed by the rough draft and various revisions.

 

STREET DANCE

We have not come so far;

we are so close to home—

our brains—those soft machines— 

still live in caves of bones. 

There are bears among the stones.

Everyone knows how to dance—

the woman twirling in her short skirt,

her partner in his green shirt,

those flirting girls, 

old people and their little dogs,

the children in their wild cavort.

 

 

how I got there:

 

STREET DANCE

At sunset, young animals 

make ephemeral alliances 

and run and run.

Human children here are doing that now

while adults dance, or watch,

or play in the band.

Everyone knows how to dance,

even the people sitting in the folding chairs

chatting, eating ice cream.

Mostly it works, 

what we do. Even though

we’re too far away.

We think we’re here, 

but our brains—

those soft machines—

still live in caves of bones.

A tiger behind every tree.

We need mates, enough space

to gather and hunt and defend.

Our children.

Bands of brothers. 

A powerful sisterhood.

Sharp memory of every fear.

The gods need room 

to speak to us—

they leave spaces in our skulls.

If the gods are gone

we fill the holes ourselves.

What will become of us—

these children in their wild cavort,

the woman twirling in her short skirt

and her partner in his green shirt,

those flirting girls, the old people

in their baseball hats, sitting

on the benches in front of the post office,

holding their little dogs 

or resting their hands on their canes.

July 17, 2017

 

STREET DANCE

Consider: our brains—those soft machines— 

still live in caves of bones. We need 

mates, children, enough space to gather and hunt. 

There are bears among the stones, panthers in the trees.

We remember every fear. The gods 

need room to speak to us.

If the gods are gone we fill the holes ourselves.

 

At sunset, young animals make ephemeral alliances 

and run and run. Human children 

are running together now while adults

dance, or watch, or play in the band.

Everyone knows how to dance,

even the people in the folding chairs

eating ice cream. Eating ice cream

is another way of dancing.

 

What will become of us—

the woman twirling in her short skirt,

her partner in his green shirt,

those flirting girls, the old people on the benches 

in front of the post office, holding their little dogs 

or resting their hands on their canes.

Our children in their wild cavort.

August 28, 2017

 

STREET DANCE

We have not come so far;

we are so close to home—

our brains—those soft machines— 

still live in caves of bones. 

There are bears among the stones.

Human children in their tribes

hunt across the green.

We all know how to dance—

the woman twirling in her short skirt,

her partner in his green shirt,

those flirting girls, 

old people holding little dogs 

or resting their hands on canes.

Young primates in their wild cavort.

undated  but with the comment: (Fairly soon, there will be no poem left.)

 

STREET DANCE

We have not come so far;

we are so close to home—

our brains—those soft machines— 

still live in caves of bones. 

 

STREET DANCE

We are so close to home—

our brains—those soft machines— 

still live in caves of bones. 

September 14

April prompt #9

April prompt #9

KEEP STRANGE COMPANY

Ray’s #1

 

We prefer tunes in the Crixian mode.

We turn our cranks backwards.

Our shoes have pointed heels.

We knit socks from dental floss.

No wonder we have so few friends.

We give our neighbors pies of greens

we stole from their gardens in the night.

Five roosters roost on our roof.

Every single morning, no matter what

the weather, we greet the dawn

with Morris dancing on the lawn.

November Writing Challenge: #1

The challenge is to write a play every day, “Good.  Bad.  Whatever.” So here goes. (Bad, but what can one expect at 6 in the morning, what with EST returning, and all?)

 

NOVEMBER 1

The stage is empty, except for a tombstone carved with “Gladys Barnes” and dates that indicate she was ninety-two and died recently.

Cast:    Young Woman— in her mid-teens, doing a project for school

two old women—One and Two, carrying baskets

the ghost of Gladys (who is concealed at the beginning, behind the tombstone)

Enter Young Woman, carrying a notebook. She examines the stone, writing in her notebook, turns to the audience.

YW:  Ninety-two. Really, really old. No other stones around her, so I wonder if she was single, or had kids, or whatever. No flowers or flags or tacky stuff. No epitaph, but the modern ones don’t seem to have them. Just an old lady who died. I bet she had a pre-paid deal and bought her own stone. I wonder if she had it all figured out. She sure as hell had time to. Okay, on to the older graves. I need epitaphs and urns.  Exits.

Enter the two old women. They stop before the stone and stand quietly for a few seconds.

OW1 (touching the stone):  Dear Gladys. I miss her. Nothing is the same. It will never be the same again.

OW2:  Of course not. No one ever promised us that anything would ever be the same, whatever that means. But we’re not hear to moan around. We have work to do.

OW1:  I know. Yes. She reaches into her basket and removes a trowel. Slowly, paintfully, she bends over and starts digging in front of the grave, her back to the audience.

OW2: This had better work. Rosemary doesn’t take well to transplanting. She takes a small plant from her basket and hands it to OW1.

OW1:  Taking the plant and putting it in the ground.  If Gladys was right—if Gladys is right, it should work fine. She knew—knows— far more than we do about this sort of thing. And now she knows the truth.  She stands up, brushing off her hands.

OW2 takes a small lamp from her basket and lights it and sets it on the grave. She then takes a bell from her basket and rings it vigorously.  Both women chant, several times:

OW:  Return, return, we summon thee!

By bell and flame and rosemary tree.

Gladys Barnes, arise!

Gladys arises, looks at the others somewhat sternly.

Gladys: What took you so long? It’s been four—no, five—days.

OW1: We couldn’t find the bell.

G:  I left it right where I said I would.

OW2:  But it wasn’t there. It was under the sofa. It must have rolled there when they carried you out.

Gladys:  I don’t remember that. But I had other things to think about, so I’m not surprised.

OW1: And the important thing is, you’re out.

Gladys: Yes. At least for now. So shall we get on with it?

They join hands and circle the stone.  

Enter the Young Woman, unseen by the others.

YW:  Wow! Two old ladies kind of dancing on the grave. Really, really weird. I’m out of here.  She exits, and the others continue to dance.  Fade out.

April Prompts #27

Twenty seven down, three to go.

 

April Prompts #27

Janice’s #2:  I am a musical instrument

RIDDLE

 

I am old. Christ, I’m old. No one knows my home.

I’ve sung in cloisters and begged on the streets.

I’ve sung with the blind and danced with the poor.

At Compostela they carved me in stone.

I’ve been played by angels and skeletons.

Bosch set me down in his horrible garden,

vision of vice and lust and damnation.

I followed the peasants to town, helped them drown

their longings in wine. Churned by girls I sold

flywhisks and brooms. Tangents and tuners, bridges

and pegs, little chien in his shaky home.

My voice is harsh and sweet. I squeal and moan.

 

My wheel, like the wheel of the world, turns round

while my keys clack down and my strings resound.

April Prompt Number 13

April #13

Janice #1: Bewitched, Bothered and/or Bald

 

NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN

 

Here on the shortest night

we dance back the dark.

 

All along the slope

St. John’s yellow flowers

bloom for the healing

of sadness and fear,

shining like stars

in the blackened grass.

 

The mountain unfolds.

The music pours out.

DEAR PINA,–Part Three

Watch:
these are my                                             words
these shapes
on the page
Watch me
tilt, orient differently–
tilt, pivot, zig zag, tilt,
give the back a break,
tilt, pivot, zig zag, tilt,
give the head a break,
tilt, pivot, zig zag, tilt,
and circle into self
to adjust placement
to start again. And
circle into self to
adjust placement to
start again. And circle
into heart to adjust
placement to start
again. And circle into
self to adjust place
meant to start again. And
circle into self again
to just the place to
start again.

I mean
to start.
Again.

My path is on the outside track.
I’m carried in the head, not the leg–
head through the space in the arm,
head towards the left shoulder,
head resting on the neck,
head into the pivot,
head down.

Look at me, if possible.
Hold my head while
I circle into self
to start again.

~found in rehearsal notes from Hannah Dennison, the choreographer of Dear Pina,

DEAR PINA,–Part Two

2.

These are my                                       words:
Open them, reach out with them.
Get them to move like dancers,
make them tilt
and cup the neighbor head.
Idiosyncratic–
these
words
brush the dirt
or torso over into parallel.
Let them
brush back down your body
as you uncurl.

I am
small and contained.
There is breath in my arms
my arms
are involved but not big, my hands
big hands, my hands
in loose fists.

Let my                                                     words
run your diamond
path. Give me my place
in the tango,
that stomping clump.
I will take
the first count of five
and go where I need to
be.
These are my:
1) words
2) gestures of sound
3) feathers
4) flickers
5) beads-on-a-string

Some of this section refers to rehearsal notes from Hannah Dennison, the choreographer of Dear Pina,.