Friday, June 18, 2010

a friend's poem

I wanted to share with you the poem below, written by my long time friend Susan. We met in college and have kept in touch for many years. I thought it was lovely.


Originally written by Susan Davenport for a Writer’s Enclave meeting 3/3/03 modified 6- 12/13-2010 by Susan D. McLean

“We meet ourselves time and again in a thousand different guises on the path of life.” - C. G. Jung


Mustachioed garlicky men

Sorrows and humor

Etched deeply in their handsome faces

My grandmothers with their dimming bright eyes

Tambourines rattle and sound

I'm dancing in a swirl of skirts

My gold earrings flash like small lightning bolts

Reflecting the light from the fire.

And always as always and ever before

Before we are rested

We must begin to move again.

Staid farmers and merchants

Rooted to their lands and shops

Give us the evil eye that conveys the threat, the message

Get along with you Gypsies..

Get along before you get any notions

That you are welcome here.

And so, after another night under the endless stars

It's the road and the road and the road

We're back to the endless road together.



The heat of a skull and crossbones battle

Fought boomingly and smokily under a tattered Jolly Roger

The cool relief of my watery grave

Or (another version of the pirate lifetales I know)-

Coughing up bubbles and salt

I crawl nearly spent

From days of improbable floating on jetsam

Before reaching the warm sandy curve of beach

On this uncharted banana bird island paradise.

Soon enough, despite my gratitude for the adequate plentitude of fruits, fish and coconut nectar

It occurs to me that those who might still pray for my return are few and impossibly far away.

I make my way back to the water's edge

And swim as best I can back out into the sea.


Prayers and plagues, martyrs and mayhem

And we are all souls bound together

Standing in solitary inward awe, watching

As the Omens and Auguries gather.

For awhile the carts groan by

Loaded with so many of

Ourselves and I know

They will be filled with many more of us tomorrow

And the day after that until perhaps

There is no one left of us to load the carts.

A chanted ding dong theme, a twining wreath of cloistered lives:

Damp grey walls, damp grey habits,

Damp grey bread and thin sour wine.

Monkish studies, crucifyingly closely overseen

By God’s self-annointed Inquisitors and Superiors

Lives lit up yet tightly and (sometimes) chastely girdled

By a rosary bead round and round of days-

Days upon days of fires, pyres, prayers and Hell’s bells, bells, bells.

And yet, too- (too/and/or)

A wild goatherd freedom

A dark mountain of amazement

And a strangely tempered joy.


At night sputtering torch lights along the quai

Weave watery floating tapestries of wonder on the briny deeps.

Chilly daylight reveals the narrow dull cobbled streets of town

Edged with crowded mongeries crouching penitent

Under the shadow of a Gothic spire.

Rainy day relics are on display

In the cathedral's crypt

But I don't go to see them anymore.

And have grown tired of prayers.

Instead, I wander far along the strand

Looking out to sea

Wondering dully (as is my worn-down habit)

If ever my pirate rogue

Will return to this harbor and to me?

Nets are spread upon the sand

A little fire is spitting, roasting kelp

The fisherman I have walked by many times before without a nod

Offers me a taste of his salty starfish stew.

This time I pause, look him in the eye and accept it.


Outside our fragrantly incensed tent

I can hear dates softly dropping in the dark

A camel sneezes, which makes us laugh a little

My burnoosed love and I recline on silky cushions, rich rugs

He has the scent of spices on his skin to mix with the attars of exotic flowers on mine.


Amongst the swaying prairie grasses

I am frightened by the feelings

Stirred in me by the innocent yet knowing breeze

As it lifts a strand of my unbound hair.


All the little dogies have got along somehow today.

Coyotes are yipping at the bright dime of a moon, but they're almost too far away to hear.

The last of the coffee is boiling away- someone needs to bring more water.

(Not very) Old Jim pulls out his flask for a swig and deals the cards again.

(Rather younger) Henry thinks he'll win and bets his boots.

But Henry doesn't win.

After a moment of pondering and another swig, Jim says he'll overlook that fact just this once.

He will let Young Henry keep his boots

Providing Henry solemnly swears on a shared swig to keep that little story to himself,

(Lest another greenhorn cowpoke try to take advantage of a too-forgiving nature.)

Sorely needing his boots, Henry swears, coughs on his swig and forever after keeps his word mumly,

But even so- six – nearly- seven decades later,

Overly surrounded too much of the time by some of his offspring and some of theirs and theirs,

Old Henry finds himself lying pleasantly undisturbed for a few minutes on his prairie town deathbed.

Drifting along in half-dreams like a gracefully tumblin’ tumbleweed

Henry chuckles inwardly yet again, remembering the open range-

The shiny moon, the scents and night sounds of tired and dusty dogies, the distant coyote yips

And the startling rasp to his inexperienced throat from the flask swig.but-

Most especially, most clearly. most amusedly

He recalls the feigned menace of Young Jim’s tone

And the glimpse he got under Jim’s hat brim of a flickering firelit grin..


The nude reclining on the bed below the skylight

Dozes lightly before arranging herself in the desired pose.

She has a few minutes to half-nap, languid while the artist mixes his paints.

He fixes his next canvas on the waiting easel. turns and gestures 'it's time'...

His model stretches, then composes her form as he directs her...

Fruit flies circle last week’s still life as

The scent notes of paint and linseed and basking nude warmed

By the sunshine streaming down from above

Meet rotting fruit, entwining to produce a haunting perfume.

A whiff of country lavender hung to dry is superfluous, distracting.

The artist feels a little drunk with it all and hums what he remembers

Of the haunting gypsy folk tune he heard out in the street last night.


Robin said...

So many lovely images here....each one is like a miniature portrait, yet they all tie together nicely at the end with the mention of gypsies again. I especially like the one of the Artist et Model in Paris. Visually stunning words!

A wonderful surprise for me to read and dream while I have my morning coffee.

Thank you Suki! Have a wonderful Saturday! (I am "riding with the Walkures again" tonight!


♥ Robin ♥

soulbrush said...

what a talent

Anonymous said...

Oh thankyou Suki for sharing your friend's poetry: this resonated so with me, calmed my tired mind; I felt I sat at her elbow and watched her pen on the page, black or sepia ink, words running wheresoever she willed. And I understand just what personal joy comes from a poem well-crafted and could empathise with you and your friend for hour upon endless hour. A.

~Babs said...

These are all very well written in my opinion Suki. I enjoyed them very much.
Your friend has lots of soul.

"My Bonnet Lies Beside Me" may be my favorite,,,very rich in it's simplicity.It creates such a beautiful picture in my mind, with so few words.
Thanks for posting them.

willow said...

I especially like the opening line of Gypsy Campfire. Your friend is a very talented poet!

Your szechuan noodles were a huge hit at the manor this weekend! Since I have adult sons randomly wandering in and out, I made a whopping double batch. It's going to be a regular here this summer. Thank you!! xx

sukipoet said...

Willow thanks for the feedback on the noodles.!! another advantage is they are easy to make.

Everyone, my friend susan says thanks for your comments on her poem. For some reason she can't remember her password or something, and thus finds it impossible to post a comment on my blog or even find her own blog???Otherwise, she would thank you all herself.

Anonymous said...

Lots of visuals! The last is my favorite because it's about an artist and it also mentions the gypsies of a previous poem.