I
literature

Is, Was, Will Be

16
9
0
610 Views|1 Today
i.

There was an oak tree, a bench,
a stream, and a willow.

All of these things have no place in this poem,
but poetic significance never made sense to me anyway. Let’s say
the oak tree is me, and you are the bench,
although I think you’d rather be the stream,
and I wouldn’t mind trailing branches and whispering leaves.

No, I am the oak tree, and there is bound to be something
in how I’ve grown from something warm, brown, and wrinkled,
cupped in a palm and patted under earth. There’s nothing romantic
about being a bench.

The stream is better. Let’s say that we’d sit for it, as it drew us
always, in watercolours. (This may seem obvious,
but you know me, I like to be thorough.)
Always, the ripples across your nose and cheeks - always,
the willow tree, dragging its limbs across us, smearing us together.

Smearing is such an ugly word. But then again, so were you;
an ugly word, all consonants and a lack of Italian vowels. Your a’s were brash,
and every ‘h’ was breathy. It didn’t matter. I loved you anyway.

I didn’t mean to say that – not so soon.


ii.

Let’s go to back to the start.

I was the one they warned you about.
I was the one they told you not to look at, in case I saw you looking
and looked back. I was the one they dragged you from,
as you insisted loudly, ‘it was only a glance!’
and besides, you had lowered your lashes, so what harm could it do?

I went up an escalator today and missed you, and your lashes,
and the way you had nearly looked at me. I’ll admit,
I want to fall asleep to your fingers fluttering over my back,
and your palms cradling my ribs. I won’t tell if you won’t.

But enough about me.

I wish I could talk about you, but I can’t describe what you are
and I can’t describe what you’re not. Believe me, I’ve tried
and all I’ve done is compare you to a bench.
Forgive me, darling, I’m trying.

Let’s talk instead about soft, blurry days,
and the time you measured my spine in spans of your hand.
Or let’s not talk at all, and sit by the stream that isn’t a stream
under the oak tree that isn’t an oak tree, and listen to the willow
that isn’t a willow.

The bench is still just a bench.


iii.

I take it back; you are far too abstract to be a bench.
You would wonder, chewing on a pen or a leaf or your hair,
if a moon can be nervous and a morning can break. If,
given time, we would all learn to appreciate Dante,
or music written for a vacuum-cleaner duet.

Come, I would say. Let’s stay up, and read Dante, and listen
to a vacuum-cleaner. Let’s see if the moon can be nervous,
and if we can break the morning.


Come, I would think. Let me chew on your pen, or a leaf,
or let me stroke your hair.


And then the words I didn’t dare to think, like ‘stay’, and ‘cradle’,
and ‘you’, you, always you.

I’ll be the moon if you’ll be the morning. I’ll try not to break you
as long as you remember - I’m only a moon, waning anxious
and waxing lyrical, mourning for a morning that hasn’t broken yet.

Mind you, if I’m the moon and you’re the morning,
then how will we meet?


iv.

Something ends, and something begins.

It doesn’t matter, anyway;
there is an acorn and a vacuum, a moon and a morning,
an escalator, a pen and a leaf, and always, always,
an oak tree, a bench
a stream,

and a willow.
Recommended Literature
S
Sleepless
His eyes are spoons, empty and bright. He has taken to counting the clock- ticks in absence; pages flutter in his lap, but he does not read. If I should listen hard enough, some old dead will find the voice to speak into these hours, he thinks. Nights pass like this. There is only quiet; that endless tick ticking, those pages as they ruffle beneath his patient fingers, the creak of furniture like scolding old friends around him. ----- ----- -----
A
Afterlife
My name is Jamie. I am five. My parents think I'm still alive. One day after church A man grabbed me and then He pulled out a gun And put it to my head. "If what you say is true, Then this boy won't die." He pulled the trigger. Mommy cried. My parents were sad For a very long time, But eventually they decided I was still alive. Mommy prays for me. She says I was "saved." That I'll live forever In a wonderful place. I'm not sure what she means. I'm still here. I've been watching my parents All these years. They don't seem to hear me And I don't think they can see That I still live in our house Just invisibly.
M
Mentally Disabled
 There is no way to be politically correct and tell this story. I attract the mentally disabled because I am one of them. Grandma poisoned me with god-knows-what, until the day I started convulsing on the floor, freaking her out right good. I seized and seizured until I was all tuckered out, and then seized and seizured some more. Grandma stopped sticking pills down my throat and adding bleach to my soup and I grew up hating old people. The end to that particular story is adequate enough, if I do say so myself. She died. They say your brain resets during a seizure, and I think it’s true. Whatever happened that day marked me and res
© 2009 - 2019 wonderfulrachel
this is me trying to write in the style of richard siken, who, if you haven't read yet, you really should.

'litany in which certain things are crossed out' is one of my FAVOURITE poems.


i would absolutely love if somebody would give some feedback on this, as i'm thinking of making it part of my portfolio for applying to university :)

i'm thinking the title is lacking, too!
Recommended Literature
S
Sleepless
His eyes are spoons, empty and bright. He has taken to counting the clock- ticks in absence; pages flutter in his lap, but he does not read. If I should listen hard enough, some old dead will find the voice to speak into these hours, he thinks. Nights pass like this. There is only quiet; that endless tick ticking, those pages as they ruffle beneath his patient fingers, the creak of furniture like scolding old friends around him. ----- ----- -----
A
Afterlife
My name is Jamie. I am five. My parents think I'm still alive. One day after church A man grabbed me and then He pulled out a gun And put it to my head. "If what you say is true, Then this boy won't die." He pulled the trigger. Mommy cried. My parents were sad For a very long time, But eventually they decided I was still alive. Mommy prays for me. She says I was "saved." That I'll live forever In a wonderful place. I'm not sure what she means. I'm still here. I've been watching my parents All these years. They don't seem to hear me And I don't think they can see That I still live in our house Just invisibly.
M
Mentally Disabled
 There is no way to be politically correct and tell this story. I attract the mentally disabled because I am one of them. Grandma poisoned me with god-knows-what, until the day I started convulsing on the floor, freaking her out right good. I seized and seizured until I was all tuckered out, and then seized and seizured some more. Grandma stopped sticking pills down my throat and adding bleach to my soup and I grew up hating old people. The end to that particular story is adequate enough, if I do say so myself. She died. They say your brain resets during a seizure, and I think it’s true. Whatever happened that day marked me and res
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Sign In
Comments (15)
sillycanadianwriter's avatar
sillycanadianwriter|Student Digital Artist
Oh my.

This is beautiful.

I'll come back and critique later when I'm not so blown away. If you wish.

Title does need work, though; it's a bit bland next to the loveliness.
Reply  ·  
22thorn's avatar
This is excellent.

I rarely :+fav: poems as I am hypercritical about poetry.
Reply  ·  
vgaer's avatar
how did i just now really, really read this? it's absolutely fantastic.
Reply  ·  
Carousel-Dreams's avatar
I love the title I love this I will always love your writing ever since I stumbled upon it. It commands real attention and focus and thought and afterthought and it makes me smile and it is beyond deviantART.
Reply  ·  
wonderfulrachel's avatar
oh you are SUCH a sweetie :) thankyou, i actually really like this one :)

i mean, more than other things. which is good.

i'm SO glad you enjoyed it, i really enjoy you enjoying it :)
Reply  ·  
Carousel-Dreams's avatar
Awww who's the sweetie now??
I am glad you are glad and I am also glad I can read you work - I've missed it. :rose:
Reply  ·  
wonderfulrachel's avatar
there'll be more. hopefully. :)
Reply  ·  
AGMeade's avatar
I've missed your poetry, Rachel. Absolutely beautiful.
Reply  ·  
wonderfulrachel's avatar
thankyou, Amber. :)
Reply  ·  
ruffienne's avatar
richard siken, interesting-- i thought of billy collins. his "Litany" is remarkable too.
Reply  ·  
RalfMaximus's avatar
RalfMaximus|Hobbyist Writer
If I was still reading for 'slam (if WS still existed) I'd do this one. It has wonderful moments I want to hear aloud.

Much love for it. ♥
Reply  ·  
wonderfulrachel's avatar
i sort of used one of your prompts for it, actually - the 'something ends, something unexpected begins' one. :)

such a useful list! i basically went through it and picked out ideas that i liked, and this is the result.

so thankyou :)
Reply  ·  
RalfMaximus's avatar
RalfMaximus|Hobbyist Writer
Once again, you manage to make me smile. ♥
Reply  ·  
buildthestars's avatar
buildthestars|Hobbyist Writer
absolutely in love.

i could imagine it in spoken word as i read it.

wonderful work.
Reply  ·  
wonderfulrachel's avatar
wow, thankyou! :)

i got the jitters and wrote it in literally forty minutes, suchhh a creative outpouring! haha.

i'm so glad you enjoyed it though :)
Reply  ·  
anonymous's avatar
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Sign In
©2019 DeviantArt
All Rights reserved