July 11, 2008

Bagatelles by Don Bogen

Posted in poetry tagged , at 1:40 pm by placeinthestars


What ghost threw
                            my hand across my face?
He roamed my sleep
in that room dark under pines.
Another cried softly for an hour,
till comforted.
Lakes, mansion, woods, studios—
all of it loss
                    and the love of art.
Mornings I’d stare at an old story:
the touring car draped in a tarp,
wet grass, a little lump
where all the children lay.


Skin as stone.
Strokes of green and ocher defining
a thin light.
What the eye sees,
the hand, he knew,
                               can make.
Perfection, that sphinx calm,
eludes and terrifies.
He sang to it.
Solitude, he demanded perfect solitude,
stared into himself,
                            came to love death.


When she came back from Bali,
what she heard most clearly
was silence:
                      smooth, continuous,
framed merely
by the hushed tide of traffic.
Music deliberate,
                              set apart:
no talking in the festivals,
no wind chimes marking
air as lost time.


Lip to lip,
breath moving over the silver mouth—
the air turns new shapes
as you work with it,
                                  following changes.
A long open sigh, a slit,
each tone has its own needs
and calls to make you—
now, where?—
                          nip and sway,
rising to meet it.


Flesh music had caught up once
sinks and aches.
She slumps in khaki,
slow fear edging her eyes.
A dancer’s instrument
sags in its time—
                              so the art is loss,
a curse its precise, relentless
beat: What do you have,
what do you have to give away?


Three pen nibs over the rim of a box,
pencil tips sharpened for different uses,
brush, corked jar of blue ink set
                on the sketchbook.
That study of his tools
a prayer to potential, a blessing
on gifts:
                his room,
an hour of sea breeze through a window,
working in watercolors the light fades.


mere gestures
                          in dry air,
each pluck a dot,
strokes marked on silence
reaching into the dark.
Beauty is strict,
                          it passes:
an echo, a wedge
of harmony, sudden,
broken—Who goes there?

~Don Bogen



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