Post-Disaster Poems,
Mid 1990's

Writing and poetry
From the 1990's

by Richard Van Ingram

One-Eyed Meditation on My Inheritance

I. I am told my ice-born name means 'wisdom of the son'
and, God knows, wisdom screaming from each father runs.
Odin, one-eyed, five eyes the Skalds say he possessed-
Hugin and Mugin, ravens picking scraps from blessed
or damned folks- rich or poor, fallen or sleeping above or below
fields of planting or battle: four eyes to go
and retrieve what a careless god might miss otherwise,
busy with Valkeries and their complexities.
So Wisdom, wandering, flies on night-dark wings and screams
while fathers, half blind, beget sons, beget dreams.
They have the children to catch the Wisdom they cannot,
the dreams to obscure clear vision of their lot,
the lot bequeathed to them by progenitors from Adam
on, to search for what won't be caught, or Madams
caught with mere dollars and a sweaty kiss for the Devil.

II. Women, wisdom;
learning, love.
All antinomies
and but other names for vanity.


I. Life outstrips poetry
For all life's much despised brevity;
Poetry lingers immaculate, immortal
Because it knows nothing
Of toil, of love, of death.
It has never drawn even one breath
Nor has it known the arms and bed
Of a beloved all passionate and flirting with sin.
Art is a jewel-encrusted skin
Which the serpent leaves, silently, in its wake.

II. So here I am, poet, with my pretty box
Of words again,
Words masquerading here as the peacock's
Rainbow plumage,
There as the flashing eyes and flaming mane
Of a war-horse fit for Charlemagne.
My marionettes all dance charmingly-
The Beggar, the Fool,
The Paladin battered by years of dissipation,
The Sun, the Moon, the Devil,
And God Himself take the stage,
Each in order of station.
But I am only a man
And I am a sham deity in my role as Artist.

III. I, too, must take my turn
On the cruel stage
That I've suffered everyone else to cross,
To speak or sulk or scream
Or stand blear-eyed and confused.
But you and I
And all that is or was or ever will be
Overflows my pretty box
And ruptures the pitiful prisonhouse of words
With which I rule the universe
For moments at a time.
There is no saying for what I want to say.
IV. Look into my grey and sleepless bloodshot eyes
And read what you find there.
Look at the miserable pages
That I have raged out, day and night,
With your name whispered into every penstroke.
Look at my perverse and pitiful things,
Things made to break time and save
Something of my love for you from utter destruction,
To send something of my love through
The unbridgeable infinity
That lies between your secret self and me.
I cannot do what cannot be done,
But can in my failure succeed
In making my passion as solid
As the verdant kiss of spring.

V. I have flown sorties on your soul
Not to ravage but to kindle flames,
Hungry flames to feed on the worn-out
Yesterdays that have unmade your gold
And left you with lead and misery.
Pitiful little I have to give,
Bankrupt pauper, tattered sideshow magician,
Singer without voice, song without singer-
And I'm to stir your heart to joy?
Yet, how can I not try,
How can I not fly
And send my incendiaries
Flaming into your cities?
Their falling whistles are
That song I cannot sing.
Their impact is all the riches
I do not have
And all those other tricks beyond prestidigitation.
Paper airplanes dripping ink and words,
Unfit gifts for the woman
I have grown to cherish.
Unfit, but all that I own.

VI. I will not build you castles in the air
And all I know of the future is
That one must beware of Las Vegas,
Land of diamonds and glass.
No castles in the air,
But what, here, upon the ground?
What can I say or make or do
That would make me half the man worthy of you?
I can only be the mirror, and cracked at that,
And pray that one who was, is and will be
Can live together in your mind.
Can you overlook imperfection
So that I, imperfect, may make the world over
In words, in symbols,
All to your glory, your perfection.
Art, outstripped by life, might yet
Make straight the crooked,
Taught by the gaze of your ice blue eyes.

How It Is Called

What is that disease
Where the guitars play deep
And they pull the sheet up
Over your head and say
There is no hope?

What is that disease
Where you meet the girl
Passing by in a moment
On the sidewalk and you know
There is no hope?

What is the disease
That causes you to grieve
For unsayable things
In the loneliest of nights when
There is no hope?

You will never taste her mouth
And you will never see her eyes again
And your bed will go empty
While her hands unknow your hair.

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