Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Jeremy Toombs writes


Mathematics: time is equal to the distance from point
to point divided by the rate of moving. How long
then for the blood to travel round back
through the heart? All the ways
of losing are measured in the eyes
of those who believe in failure; that losing

is one of the options of love. It is in losing
ego that time can be forgotten: a point
converging on what is to come and the eyes
focused on the longing
and searching for all the ways
that desire can be brought back

no matter how far the feet have gone back
towards leaving. Enough time is spent in losing
time over the miles and footsteps and the way
forward can move through all the points
of the compass until the measure seems too long.
It can be enough to have knowledge; the eyes

don’t need to see for it is with the eyes
that perception can be blurred and the back
trail forgotten among the streets and paths along
the journey. That losing
looms up through the mist, pointing
and pulling the blood the wrong way.

Voices in the head know all the ways
that the blues can cover over the eyes
darker than thunder. More to the point
make the mind go back
on itself until it is losing
that is expected throughout the long

night; questioning how long
can desire last when the ways
are parted,  youth is losing
and all this seen with the eyes
isn’t enough to lead us back
past the breaking point.

Time can be longer than distance when the eyes
can see there is no way forward. Moving back
is covered with lost art. Even this is pointless.


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  2. This is one of those poems that can (and deserve to) be read and reread, When I was trying to decipher its magic I noticed that each stanza had a line that ended in eyes and each instance saw the world differently. And then I noticed that each stanza had the same set of end words (or variants), And only then did I realize that Jeremy had written a very subtle sestina. The form was invented during the Renaissance and soon became adopted by English poets; but it is one of the most difficult and sophisticated of the standard verse structures. For the sakeof comparison, and to show how well Jeremy's effort stacks up to an acknowledged master of the form, I include herein Elizabeth Bishop's cleverly titled "Sestina":

    September rain falls on the house.
    In the failing light, the old grandmother
    sits in the kitchen with the child
    beside the Little Marvel Stove,
    reading the jokes from the almanac,
    laughing and talking to hide her tears.

    She thinks that her equinoctial tears
    and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
    were both foretold by the almanac,
    but only known to a grandmother.
    The iron kettle sings on the stove.
    She cuts some bread and says to the child,

    It's time for tea now; but the child
    is watching the teakettle's small hard tears
    dance like mad on the hot black stove,
    the way the rain must dance on the house.
    Tidying up, the old grandmother
    hangs up the clever almanac

    on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
    hovers half open above the child,
    hovers above the old grandmother
    and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
    She shivers and says she thinks the house
    feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

    It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
    I know what I know, says the almanac.
    With crayons the child draws a rigid house
    and a winding pathway. Then the child
    puts in a man with buttons like tears
    and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

    But secretly, while the grandmother
    busies herself about the stove,
    the little moons fall down like tears
    from between the pages of the almanac
    into the flower bed the child
    has carefully placed in the front of the house.

    Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
    The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
    and the child draws another inscrutable house.


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