poetry


Somebody knows who that is—
or they did, once,
and maybe they told their kids,
or maybe they did not,
before they themselves became
just another old photograph
of strangers.

Faint pencil markings on the back
sometimes give cryptic clues:
“Mother at the lake.”
But whose mother, which lake?
“Baby Jean, 4 months old”—
and you realize if Baby Jean
is still alive she’d be very old.

Ephemera,
handled with such confidence,
believing someone will always know
what and who and where.
Inconceivable that someday
they will all be gone
and we will, too,
that even these subtle clues
are ephemera, meaningful
to a few and only for a time
before time and the people it holds
slip into the past
and are gone.

—PJ Thompson
May 16, 2022

Death knocked twice on the door today
and when I opened up, smiled
and said, “This is a courtesy call.
Your time will come but not today.
Today I’m here to remind you
that time is not your friend,
that what you must get done, do,
that busyness is often just a mask
for fear, that no matter how hard
you try not to hear, the bell tolls,
and if you love, let them know.
See you around.”

I shut the door in Death’s face,
turned the music loud,
and danced around the living room,
as if I had nothing better to do.

—PJ Thompson

Random quote of the day:

“In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in the case of poetry, it’s the exact opposite!”

—Paul Dirac, quoted in Brighter Than a Thousand Suns by Robert Jungk (tr. James Cleugh)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“Those who refuse to listen to dragons are probably doomed to spend their lives acting out the nightmares of politicians. We like to think we live in daylight, but half the world is always dark; fantasy, like poetry, speaks the language of the night.”

—Ursula K. LeGuin, “Fantasy, Like Poetry, Speaks the Language of the Night,” San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle, November 21, 1976

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Listen, and I will tell you a story
from the deepest reaches of sleep,
from the land of dark mists and
impossible hope, the aisles of cold stone
turning into light and darkness turning
into frogs. Listen, listen to them sing.

Let us reach down into swamps of nod,
deep into the mire, pulling up weeds
that turn to rods of gold, snakes that eat
their own tails, your neighbor clad in scales,
the postman trailing love letters from
fingertips clasping stones made of epics,
the plumber mucking out the drains with
a unicorn horn, shining pearl and diamond.

Let us revisit events of the day, transfigured;
assay our philosophy turned to poetry;
let us listen to the cool singing of sirens,
beneath waves of sleep which never crest;
let us dive deeper still to the primordial reaches
and pop out again, reborn, ready for the new day.

The river beneath the river
pushes through the desert
where the old woman gathers bones.
Bones, bleached white, cluster
at her feet, skulls on the banks
roll onto the warm sand beach
where the oracle sits, knitting.
Stitch by stitch, each to each, one by one,
she urges the bones back together,
singing songs of reconsecration,
singing soul-songs of life renewing.
Done, she flings them back into the flow
to float upon the river beneath the river,
to bob onto a new, green shore,
to stand upon their feet, enfleshed and flexing,
to walk the earth once more.

This is my soul-song, my reconsecration.
These are my bones, floating along.
This is my fur flushing across my skin.
This is life returning to my soul.
These are my legs carrying me onward
into the new land, the green land, bound
for I know not where.

—PJ Thompson

House

Each splinter of this house knows his name;
every mote of sunlight shimmers with his skin.
The bricks are mortared with his sweat, windows
glazed with his breath, and the mirrors forlorn
because his reflection comes no more.
He walks the boundaries of his place, boots
crunching at the gravel of the drive and
thumping the wood of the welcoming porch,
whose planks of arms reach out to him with love.

Fingernails scrape along the door, a hand
impotently turns the knob, and he wonders
why he gains no entrance to this place
which contains him, blood and bone.
I push the door wide, invite the dark inside
to sit by the fire, which longingly breathes his name.

I cannot tell you, love, that I want you here,
not this wraith seeking wisdom from stone. 
Do not torment this house, moaning at your touch,
yearning for the one who loved it into shape.
Do not torment me with questioning eyes,
and lips which cannot remember my name.
Earth has you now, fit into her house of clay.
There is no returning through that narrow door,
no matter, my heart, how great the love before.

—PJ Thompson

Gone

Soft sighing of breezes in the tall grass,
soughing of the wind in the millet stalks,
cascade of wind chimes, the mourning of doves,
seed heads scattering in a shattering of wings.

The palm’s fronds bend and raise and bend
performing a ritual to life—a tiny life,
creeping and sighing all around and
in the clustering of fronds at its crown.

Far across the field, the dog barks,
quieting the sighing and the creeping,
but not for long. Life is insistent: a chittering
of sparrows battling, a fierce squeaking of mice.

All this life, all this quiet noise,
gone, gone, forced on,
to other fields where wreckers have not reached,
and big diggers leave the earth unturned,
where only small burrowing things disturb the soil—
far, far away from here.

—PJ Thompson

Random quote of the day:

“I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman.”

—Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“It’s the dream we carry in secret
that something miraculous will happen,
that it must happen—
that time will open
that the heart will open
that doors will open
that the mountains will open
that springs will gush—
that the dream will open,
that one morning we will glide into
some little harbour we didn’t know was there.

—Olav H. Hague, Dream
    (tr. Robin Fulton)

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

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