On the Upbeat

The water of the sound of and in you
spreads light in salted rivulets

from highlit crown to flashing
clavicle and liquid notch

through—gasp—
your heart’s black springs

past dampened cotton collar lip
where goblet eyes and palms

can only guess the gleam
of gravity’s clandestine lines.

This joy can never fully know.
But O! we clutch and sing,

evaporate and brim
our thinning clothes.

2012

2 Responses to “On the Upbeat”

  1. Padma Thornlyre says:

    This one startles me with its veiled eroticism and presumed object (but, I could well be wrong … “highlit crown” made me recall 12/7).

    On a couple of literary/technical notes, it seems that the poem is meant to be in present-tense, but “spread” instead of “spreads” in the 2nd line makes the first five stanzas past-tense. Did you intend that tension between those five, and the last two? Or is that a typo? Also, is “your heart’s black springs” Rachel being goth, or are you alluding to his holiness, Henry Miller (“Black Spring” being the bridge between “Tropic of Cancer” and “Tropic of Capricorn”)?—which would certainly fit the poem thematically.

    Your “goblet eyes and palms” recalled to me a poem I wrote a very long time ago, in fact the first lunal I ever wrote (a lunal is a 13-line form I invented and still continue to use—it probably represents a full third of my poetry): the poem begins, “By the steel lake’s slim / Tide I watch her swim // To vulviform // Chalice waves …. ” I go on to call those waves “cupped hands.”

    I also once wrote a poem with “gasp” in it, but I’m sure you’d hate it. Well, I’m not sure, but it’s in a voice I really enjoy using but no one is willing to publish!

  2. wordweed says:

    Padma, I truly appreciate your close reading of this one. I did intend the first stanza to be past tense, and even grappled with whether or not I should put it in present to be more consistent. After your comment, I think I will go ahead and make it present. It makes more sense this way.

    The black springs were not an intentional illusion to Miller, though I’m certainly happy it resonates with a theme of his work.

    Looking forward to seeing a lunal someday, Padma. I love to see the forms my friends invent.

    Regarding “gasp,” if I were to perform it, it would be a real gasp, a sharp exhale, and not the word itself. lol

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