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Poem

Knowing Is the Only Knowing

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She put her hands above her face—

Fingers long and slender—

Extended her neck so she could see

Behind the shadow and under the moonlight

As though a longer neck would help her eyes

To focus.

 

 

It is funny the things we do

When we want to

See

What is real.

We stand up taller

Use a cloth to clean our glasses

Rub our eyelids and

Open them wide.

Perhaps

We are the only animals

To do such things

And the only animals that

Lie.

We have to make concessions.

 

 

He cupped his hands to the back of his ears—

Strands of hair got in the way—

Hid behind a tree so he could hear

The songs she sang to herself

As though his hands were gathering

The sound.

 

 

It is desperate the things we do

When we want to

Hear

What is real.

We bend at the waist

And strain our backs

We twist our necks and

Close our eyes to block out

The rest.

When we want to hear

A voice and

Presence of another

It is a choice.

We cannot rely on chance.

 

 

She lifted her nose toward the winter branches—

Her neck lay all the way back—

From inside the crook of an Oak

She could vaguely smell the cigar he smoked

The dampened mud rose to

Camouflage the scent.

 

 

It is urgent the things we do

When we want to

Smell

What is real.

We close our eyes

Soften our lips

Lift our nostrils

Like wisps of smoke

To conjure the

Air floating in invisible wafts

Around us

Brought down by

A spell wrought by the will

To discover the whole instead of a sliver.

 

 

He touched the soggy leaves under his shoes—

Buried his fingers all the way through—

To ask the earth if she was near

His fear was that he would not feel

Her footsteps

So he crawled until an indentation appeared.

 

 

It is passionate the things we do

When we want to

Feel

What is real.

We bend our knees

Put our faces to the ground

Cover the backs of our heads

With our hands

And roll our bodies down

As low as we

Can go

Because the

Earth will tell the truth

About how to lay ourselves low.

 

 

She kissed the back of his head—

He was kneeling in the mud—

Told him without words

That he was found

And to the ground

She sank beside him.

 

 

It is magnificent the things we do

When we want to

Taste

What is real.

We open our mouths

Let the edge of our

Tongues

Invite the textures

And the taste

The sweet

The sour

The bitter

The salt—

Nourished by the whole.

 

 

For a moment each of them broke

Like a glass

And their senses spilled

On the ground

Gravity let them fall around—

Sight and hearing,

Smells

Touch and

Taste

No longer necessary

Because when a thing is real

Knowing is the only knowing.

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by a sculpture created by German artist Isabell Kamp.  The sculpture is entitled, Past d.  If you would like to see more of her work, please visit her Facebook page and/or website: Isabella Facebook Page ,Isabell’s Website

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How To Rise and What To Do

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Consciousness rising on the wings of a sound

Blaring out as the sun glares down

Calling me into the day

In only the way a machine can arouse

And disregard the drowse and

Pull my hand forward

Like Pavlov’s dog

Reaching for a bone.

 

 

The machine sets the tone

With a rigid pace

Delicate as a calloused hand

Caressing pantyhose or

Hand sewn lace

Wrapped around the legs

Of a beautiful woman

Smoking a long, slender cigarette.

 

 

I lost the bet

Between the moon and the sun

Middle man to what I wanted and

What I knew I must become

And so again, I rise

Like an obedient fog

Lifting from a treasure filled bog

No pirate came to loot.

 

 

Throat covered in soot

I cough and dust comes out—

Not the kind you can see,

The kind you can feel

When you wanted to say a thing

That is true but

No one really understood the meaning

Or you—

 

 

I sneeze like the color blue

Mellow enough for the sky

And deep enough for salty fathoms

Where currents travel through

And mysterious things sway—

Supple enough to be moved

Strong enough to stay—

And then begins the day.

 

 

The side of my neck leads the way

Then follows my breast

And my belly, which sway,

I am traveling through the age

When muscles sing with muffled voices

A little bit of tightness

Wrapped around choices

And the gravity of yesterday’s Noon.

 

 

My shoulders erect, my eyelids immune

To the pull of invisible balloons

Tied with strings attached

Ascending with a helium hope

Pulling to carry me up and through—

A gentle persuasion to stand and to move—

Yet my eyelids protest and rest

In the colorful shadows drawn on by light.

 

 

There is stillness and there is flight

Invading my room—

Rocking like a newborn’s cradle

Fighting like an old man’s fright—

One whispering a map of retreat

The other laying chills on my skin

Bumpy with a battle waged against

Defeat.

 

 

I am hypnotized by the seductive treat

Not to choose,

I seize with silent tears,

Which cling to no emotion

But fall with misplaced devotion

To security—enemy of the future,

A temptress whose promises dull

My sense of mutiny—

 

 

So flows my rehearsed litany

Of past and further back,

Of angles I have mined and unpacked

Of risks I wanted to take

Of decisions I thought I would make

And a stake of failure

Sticking me

To the ground.

 

 

Then a sound

Like a song

But more piercing

And singing on for too long

Like an alarm

But not the same one

That began the day

And the thoughts and the decay.

 

 

One single note and then an array—

An audible morsel

And then a buffet—

Rush through the window

At which I debate

The winged singer comes too

Singing a tune with no words

‘Til my eyelids abate.

 

 

My curiosity inflated,

“Why have you come?”

I asked with a stutter

And then the bird mutters,

“I did not come,

I was sent.”

I want to believe

He was sent just for me.

 

 

“Out there—somewhere—you are free

do not stay here long,

I would hate to see—“

He interrupts my plea,

“I can leave when I wish

and so can you

neither is trapped,

we’ve directions to pursue.”

 

 

Then he sang through

And as the rhythm grew

A seed inside of me

Rattled anew—

Because one time I knew—

Where there is breath

There is time, and where there is time

There is Hope for something new.

 

 

I leaned forward as if I knew

How to rise and what to do

Then through the sound

Of my knees protesting

I stood to my feet

And looked through the frame

In a clear view investing

In what to become, not what I became.

 

 

“Courage,” the bird exclaimed,

“I knew it was there

buried between your flesh

and your bone,

pulsing in veins

that are not merely your own

but mirroring those who came before—

the ones who shared

their blood and

their stories

their failures and

glories

and then the ones who came after

who collect your tears and

your laughter

in treasure boxes of their own.”

 

 

My indecision was overthrown

Like a dog who wants steak

But is given a bone—

It’s for his own good and

For his delight—

I let breath fall into my hand,

Then followed my hope,

Next came purpose and, finally,

A plan.

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo Credit: This poem was inspired by American installation artist and assemblage sculptor, Edward Keinholz’s piece,  In the Infield Was Patty Peccavi.)

Hush, My Dear.

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Quiet now

You half of a whole

Who in being seen

Meets your goal

And being touched—

Like a violin—

Strikes a chord

Dissonant but

Silent still.

 

 

Hush my dear

Let it trickle down

From eyes

Mixed with brown

And a shade of

Wisdom not profound

As much as weak

With a penchant

For not sticking around.

 

 

There was a word

I longed to hear

Tied to the back

Of your throat—

Loosened by

Bubbles in a beer

Or stinging swirls

Inhaled between

Being okay and

Shrugging in fear.

 

 

So now is now

Or, at least no more then,

Moments away from

Tomorrow

Years from yesterday

But stuck in a pondering

Swimming in a wondering

Of drowning letters

Detached and suffocating

Signed with your name.

 

 

But still, you say nothing.

 

 

Presently, a sentence forming—

Then, conceived as a question

Now, shaped as a warning—

Spray painting the sides

Of my mouth

Colors brilliant but

They taste like doubt

Still, let the cans be emptied

And the sentence come out

Arrayed in vibrant display

Like a vomiting spout.

 

 

“I give no credence

to what they thought—

the ones whose judgment

was tied like a knot

at the center of you

and I

and the time that went by

in silence and

steam pouring out from

the sides of my ears

like a cartoon whose head

might explode.”

 

 

Sorry to unload.

Oops. No, I’m not.

 

 

“Rolling inside my tongue

are the anchors of love

and I promise

they were enough

to keep us grounded

instead you jumped out

and drowned in the

waves of ‘goodbye and

I would try but my courage

spilled out’

like oil contaminating, suffocating

innocent ducks and

the part of my heart

that gave a fuck.”

 

 

Your visage complex

Shaded with light

Contoured in darkness—

Three dimensions of

Your one-dimensional lack—

Rises from the back

Screams to the front

Where you speak

Like Big Brother

Thirsty for blood

And for the hunt.

 

 

The projector is filled

With your face—

My god,

What a waste—

And the taste of regret

Pushes behind my lips

Clenched with force

Like fists

And you tell me,

Almost fell me,

With the words

That are signed with your name

Now composed

In the quiver and taking aim,

“You are to blame.”

Hit me in my chest—

Where you used to

Lay your breast—

And watch me resist

The temptation to fall,

“I will wear the blame

like a badge of atonement,

like an arrow doused in flames,

but there is one thing

I cannot do—

could never agree to—

this badge will never

undo the truth

you know is true,

I will stand here for them

clench my teeth for them

look like the monster for them

but the weight of the guilt

will reside

inside

of you.”

 

 

Be quiet now

And I will too.

 

 

There was a time

When the rhymes

Hidden in these unformed words beat

Like a drummer on repeat

Syncopation rattled me

And all I never said

And the dread

Defining the we I knew us to be—

But there is a free,

A settled and buried and a—

What is the word?—

A me

Whose jaw has been loosened

With the rusted metal

Of speaking what is real

And what is no longer

Hidden,

Revealed.

 

 

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: This poem was inspired by mixed media artist Mark Waldman‘s piece, “Psychpuppet lll,” available at El Cuervo Gallery, El Segundo, CA.)

 

 

Traveling Into After

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There was a before

There will be an after

In the middle was a question

In the end, an answer.

 

 

The answer I sought

Was not what I found

You were not what you said

Still, I played your clown.

 

 

I performed my role

With the grace of an actress

Bowing before the crowd

As the grand curtain came down.

 

 

I knew more than you know

Felt the crack before it showed

Hoped you would apply the glue

Yet somehow—I knew.

 

 

Not all was lost

Time to count the cost

Pick up the pieces and

Move into after,

Without you.

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

 

(Photo Credit: Gabriel Pacheco.  http://www.gabrielpacheco00.com)

The Padlock and the Keys

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In his hand he held it

Cold like the air around him

Heavy but no heavier than his heart,

Metal and the color of

The sky just before the stars open their eyes

And sunlight tiptoes into

The tops of trees to sleep

With changing leaves.

 

 

He clicked it closed

Turned the key again

To watch it open

Like the door of an old friend

Who he could not wait to see—

The silver glistened against

The subway lights

As he held their padlock a little too tight.

 

 

All across the city he wondered if she

Would be there to meet him

As she said she would be—

But she said it once before

And he was alone

To hold his own hand

Hardened like stone

And breath that could not breathe.

 

 

That was before. Perhaps not today.

 

 

It was the plan

For each to bring

The keys to the weight he carried

To toss them to the sea

Mirroring pitches made all along

By lovers whose promises

Were promised and

Strong.

 

 

He found the place

Like a scout on a trail

Where their solidarity of heart

Would be stayed in the midst

Of a garden of colors and

Words etched with pride

The dates of a thousand choices

The names of two thousand tales.

 

 

A bridge high above

A sleepy canal

Where glitter and shadows

Fold into themselves

With wrought iron twisting

From railing to floor

This is the place he had chosen

To seal relation with she he adored.

 

 

He stepped off the train

And into the night

Passing by strangers

Pale in moonlight

Walked to the place—

The bridge and canal—

Where he waited to see her

With sighful exhales.

 

 

He clicked the padlock

Then twisted his key—

Open and closed—

A ritual he relied on

Until her face he could see

It kept her close

Inside his hands

Mirrored the place she held in his soul.

 

 

The evening cool

Turned to midnight cold

He fluffed up his scarf

Looked left and then right

No one in sight but a lonely dog

Sniffing the edges of a lowering fog,

Who looked with sad eyes

Then curled up in a doorway to sleep.

 

 

The clock in the tower

Struck only once

Four hours passed

The time they had set

The anniversary

Of the first time they met

Now come and gone—

The lonely dog stirred and then yawned.

The man remembered a time

When first they decided

To secure the padlock

Hours beyond their bodies uniting

It was a gesture of “yes”

A wish of “again”

And he realized now

They should have done it then.

 

 

The time had passed—

Too much time—

From the first to the last

So she changed her mind

She left him behind

Which never could have been

If the cold metal was clicked,

Their keys making love to the sea.

 

 

He sat on the edge

Looked into the glitter,

Which looked more like litter

With no light shining down from his eyes—

He remembered the sunshine

Climbed to the other side

Whispered her name one time, then

He dove into the water

With the padlock at his side.

 

 

The lonely dog sighed and walked into the night.

copyright Jill Szoo Wilson

(Photo credit: this poem was inspired by German artist Ruprecht von Kaufmann‘s piece, Under Water, 2004.  http://rvonkaufmann.com/home/ )

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