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"Do not be decoyed elsewhere: That is the whistle of the wind, it is not my voice, That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray, Those are the shadows of leaves." -- Walt Whitman
These two poems, still undergoing revision, were written in an online workshop as exercises in the basic poetic techniques of imagery and the use of metaphor to convey abstractions.
HummingbirdIn memoriam J.W.S. He saw a hummingbird address a morning-glory high at the vine's tip. I watched him study its stalled body, probing beak, and wingblur. It may be he pondered the energies expended by that tiny creature to stay so steady, level in mid-air. Yet I believe that with an expert pilot's depth-perception he gazed beyond the bird at skies clearer than any transparent wingbeat while he assessed his chances on the morrow for a grassy landing, The surgeons survey his shaved belly, their black latching of stitches, and mark arise-and-walk day on his chart. He paces, toting his plastic urine-satchel. Tile by tile, he trundles his I.V. stand forward. Its bottles chink; a needle fangs a vein on his bruised hand. He shrugs my fingers from his elbow. He is stalking on ahead-- O my hunter, your steel-barbed arrows lean in the locked cabinet by an unstrung bow. Your skis lie racked in the attic. You turn and tell me to remember: stop by the kennel, walk those hounds. Anywhere, hummingbirds instantly bring this all back to me.A nurse settles him in bed, rehooks bottles and the blood-dark bag. Green drops of morphine, a shot for clots. Drowsy, he talks of fresh challenges; come fall, he'll take up hang-gliding. Which is why I took the ashes up the mountain and the north wind swirled them all away to dart and swoop and hover, invisible above the grass.© N.E.Phillips, 2003DementiaThe forest does not slump at once to swamp, diseased, rot in heat and lymph seeps, or crumble, shot by lightning, to burnt deadfall. Its tough roots still grope, burrow to a shrinking water-table; its spindly twigs unclench small leaves. But mudclots throttle the slow streams; black nightshade berries bloat; a rash of fungus-splotch mottles the treebark. Frayed puffballs dangle their dry spores in dusty sunshafts. While the speckled owl snuffles in sleep, whole timber-years fade blurred on the stump rings. Then birdcall stutters in the branches; the leafmash muffles the stumble of wolfpaw and boarhoof. Sometimes the old king of the copse strays blinking on the outskirts and random sungleam sparks a flash from his dulled jewels. All our darktower heroes, vowed to fetch him forth, report a haze, a spiderprowl of twisty trail through thicket and mossweb where the compass needle wobbles awry, and no one there.© N.E.Phillips, 2003
For more workshopped poems, please link here.
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