A sample of my poetry



The girl I would have married


The girl I would have married
had we met
is on the other side of the street,
a walking blur
I only notice for a second.

And her hair is a shade of blonde
or maybe brown I can’t recall,
nor anything about the jacket
she’d been wearing nor the boots,
only that for some silly unknown reason
we would have married had we met,

maybe at the bookshop
where I would have bumped her arm,
said sorry for my clumsiness,
which caused her to drop her classics
and a dictionary too;

or it may have been at a party,
hosted by a mutual
friend,
finding that we shared
a favourite song,
or that we’re social
democrats,

or that neither of us
can stand
the sight of blood;

then again, it may have been something
random,
her seated in the row
just ahead,
in a theatre
with a paltry slope,
her failure to remove the hat
that blocked my view,
my gathering the brazen courage
to tap her shoulder,
whisper into her ear
that I’m unable to see a thing.


©2016 by Andreas Gripp







November Rose


It's a Jane or Johnny-come-lately,
the solitary rose in my garden,
a harvest holdover or belated bloom
that's risen when the others have died.

It has none to compete for attention,
isn't lost in a sea of red.

I ponder its predicament,
think of it as lonely,
regretting it didn't blossom sooner
when the buzz of flying insects
were droning their affection.

I'll water it in the evening,
as stars speck the sky in Autumn's cool.
I'll sing it to sleep
as I retire,
pray for grace
should the frost strike swift.


©2016 by Andreas Gripp






Early Morning Rain


In the yard,
you felt sorry for the slug
that crept so slowly up the stem
of one of your greens.

Poor thing,
it doesn’t even have a shell
to call a home.

Afterward,
I compared it with its cousin,
the snail, several of which will
gather in the garden
after an early morning rain –

sturdy,
in the swirly cave it carries
on its back,
a place to retract its head in
when it pours,

feigning it isn’t there, perhaps,
should a desperate, homeless mollusk
come to call,
knowing there isn’t
any room
for two,

and yet burdened
by that extra weight,
its inability to travel
wherever it may wish,
at its turtle-like, sloth-like pace,
like a car that’s always pulling
a camper/trailer,

never having the mettle
to face the world
when things get tough,
even ducking in its hovel
when there isn’t a cloud
in the sky.          




©2016 by Andreas Gripp


  


The Language of Sparrows


Your sister is dead.

We plant seedlings
by her grave in April,
when Spring seduces
with all its promise,
moisten the ground
with a jug of water
and say how, years from now,
a bush will burst and flower,
be home to a family of sparrows,
each knowing the other by name.

I ask you if birds have names,
like Alice, Brent, Jessica and James,
if mother and father bird
call them in when it rains,
say settle here in branches
amid the leaves that keep you dry –

not in English, mind you,
or any other human tongue
but in the language of sparrows;
each trill, each warbling,
a repartee,
a crafted conversation of the minds.
 

I then notice
that we never see the birds
when it rains,
how they disappear in downpours,
seeking shelter
in something we simply cannot see.

When we’re old,
when we come to remember
the loved one that you’ve lost,
they’ll be shielded in our shrub,
not a short and stunted one,
but a grand, blessed growth,
like the one that spoke to Moses,
aflame, uttering
I AM WHO I AM,

one that towers,
dense with green,
a monument
to the sister you treasured
and to the birds
that she adored,
naming the formerly fallowed, hallowed,
sacred, remove your shoes,
Spirits and Sparrows dwell
and sibilate secrets
we’re unworthy to hear.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp






Before You Die


Before You Die, it seems,
has been springing up in bookstores
all over the place.

“1001 Movies to See Before You Die” –
double-faced in Performing Arts.

“1001 Places to See Before You Die” –
yields a tepid trudge to Travel.

And every genre,
it seems, has its own
Arabian Nights-inspired thing to do
before the hooded hangman calls:

“1001 Foods to Eat Before You Die”
“1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die”
“1001 Books to Read
Before
You
Die.”


It’s worth noting
that with all this talk of death,
the titles continue to fly
and booksellers can scarcely keep up.
 
Maybe that’s due to the fact
that you’re never, ever told
exactly how you’ll die,
for it’s unlikely you’ll see:

“1001 Dances to Learn
Before You Develop Cancer” 
or
“1001 Liqueurs to Drink
Before You Get Hit by a Train”
OR
“1001 Puzzles to Solve
Before You Get Shot in the Head.”

Perhaps we prefer that Death
keep its own swell of incense,
its own black curtain,
its own cryptic crossword,
one not deciphered
by reader or writer alike.

But why that extra one after one thousand?
That little bonus, as a P.S. or encore –
to make amends
for the penultimate trip or film?
 

Where you’re much too anxious
about your impending expiry
to enjoy that stroll in Oahu ...
too perturbed about your nearing demise
to laugh through A Day at the Races ...

and only Banks’ allusion
to The Sweet Hereafter
will make that final book
even tolerable.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp






Third Trimester


The Beatles are on Sullivan
and I’m about to be born.
There is no correlation
other than my mother
is watching them on television,

and though my eyes are developed
by now, they’re closed inside her womb
but I swear I’m hearing something
with these new ears of mine
that I’ve never heard before
(not only this thing called “music”
but the frenzied screams
of American girls);

and yes, once I’ve entered the world,
the melodies meant for me
will be simple and patronizing,
designed to soothe,
make me slumber,
and I’ll wail, scrunch my face
instead, demanding, in my own
wordless way, that the mobile
above me start to chime
She Loves You Yeah Yeah Yeah. 




©2016 by Andreas Gripp





Anthem


The path to peace it’s said
is found in sacred books of old,
on parchment, scrolls and ink;
in a choir’s hallelujah,
ringing bells and fervent prayer.

Let’s scribe our wishful reveries,
our old prophetic songs,
say the bomb will never fall;
that police will join the protest
and the judge will grant a pardon
to the Native kid in chains.

For it’s not that hard to add a verse
and paint a pretty picture:

Governments disband,
there’s no more need to demonstrate,
and prison gates swing open,
those who leave bear violets,
while violence drops as dust.

Faith begets trust,
trust begets love,
and the one who was your enemy
brings you candy in the night,
saying all is calm in Jerusalem,
and flags are neither waved nor burned.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp






Miracle


Tonight I will ask you to marry me.
You will surely say I am mad,
in the British sense of the word,
and then laugh off my promise to love
and commit as I-must-have-stopped-over-
at-the-pub-and-had-a-few-too-many
before our coffee date on this insignificant
middle-of-the-week kind of evening.

But this day is anything but ordinary:
Look at my hands, they are stained
from painting my kitchen the colour
that is your favourite
even though my eyesight is failing,
and I’m convinced that both our God
and the birds have given us their blessing
as shoots sprouted in my garden overnight
from seeds dropped from above
and the weather person on TV
said there’d be no rain
for the next seven Saturdays to come. 




©2016 by Andreas Gripp






Coda III


That page at the end of my notebook,
the one that is blank,
is the best poem of mine you’ve ever read,
you say to me as I choose which to keep,
which to toss and pretend I never wrote.

I went through it
when you were away, you reveal
in a tone bereft of innocence,
like a boy boasting to his friends
that he managed to swig some vodka
when his parents were in the basement,
perhaps sorting through laundry
or checking on the furnace
or doing something that required him
to be cunning and to seize the moment
like a vulture that dives to the ground
while the corpse is still warm enough
to pass for something living.

Your metaphors are silly, you say bluntly,
your analogies make me laugh
those of scavenger, Russian drink,
mischievous youth.

Take the last sheet in your book,
the one without writing:
it made more sense than anything else
you’ve rambled on about.

I reply that you are right,
that pallid vacancy and lines of blue
have more to say than verbosity,
that I should just write “white”
instead of “pallid,”
that I misread my spiny thesaurus,
that what is simplest
is most complex
and lives in a realm
no words can elucidate
or yield direction to;

that it’s a sign of literary innovation
to have an entire volume
of nothing but lined paper,
that the next time I buy a notebook
I’m best off to merely scrawl my name
upon its cover
and wait for the accolades to pour in
from those who know the work of a genius
when they see it.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp




The Astronomer

Even on the eve of June
you’re early,
your telescope set
by six o’clock
to scan the roofless sphere,
as you used to do with your child
before the day she succumbed
to sickness,
before her locks of hair fell out
and your lulling-to-slumber stories
were heard by eager,
itching ears.

She’d said from the hospital bed
her ghost would guide you
to discover –
stars and worlds
not seen by a sea
of billions and billions
of eyes,

when the hues of tranquil sky
have come to lose
their sun-birthed blue,
  
become
the midnight black
that’s needed for light
to speak from afar.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp






The Birth of Lovely Veronica


On the morning you were born,
covered with film,
coated with the remnants
of your cocooned state in the womb,
a knife was lodged
in Thomas Murphy’s chest,
stopping his heart
with the hardness of steel,
and the thug who cruelly robbed him
ran into a sheeted night
of just-fallen rain,
in that nebulous wetness
that remains
before wind and air
dry each drop to nothingness.

On the morning you were born,
you cried your first cry,
and Kim Yung cowered
in a solitary cell,
awaiting another visit
from the torturers,
the ones who never forget
Tiananmen Square
or his shoutings
that Mao was dead.
He wishes he were dead,
 
that someone on this earth
gave a goddamn,
that today they’d just finish the job.

This morning, when you were born,
a Sudanese mother
cradled
her skin/bone son,
rocked him
in her shrivelled arms,
sang return you now to Heaven
in her own, raspy tongue
while nurses cleaned you off,
prepared you for our smiles,
our initial touch and kisses,
our deceiving ourselves
and the world
that you’re in a safer, better place
than a mother’s cave of calm
or the planes of ghosts
and Gods.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp






The Decoy


My hunter friend,
the one I haven’t converted
to my “animals-have-feelings-too”
frame of mind,
uses
a wooden decoy
in an attempt
to lure some ducks,

the painted, smiling duplicate
successful
in its duty:
three already shot today,
bagged and ready to carve.

If objects had living souls,
I wonder how it would feel:

a traitor,

causing the death
of what it mimics,

floating on water
like a wannabe bird,
even feign it could fly
if it wanted to, 
have its pick
of choicest mates;

like Pinocchio,
eager to be turned
into the real thing,

hoping its rifle-bearing
Gepetto
will make it
flesh and bone,
allow
a brook of blood to pump
throughout
its winding veins,

pray it might even
bring salvation
to this hunter’s
calloused heart,

spot a chance
at its own redemption,

have its maker
see its feathered shape
as something
more than food. 



©2016 by Andreas Gripp






Fabric Carnations,
or My Dog was a Vegetarian


The flowers in my house are a fraud,
marigolds that never wither,
forsythia forever fake
with vibrant yellow
that doesn’t fade,
daisies dotted about
as if I had an eternal supply,
the faint of sight
and squinters
never guessing
the awful truth,
nor those who call, congested,
unaware
they’re counterfeit.

For years, before I built
what’s bogus,
this simulated sham of silk,
every bluebell, phlox and lily
were rich in wondrous
redolence,

concealing the smell of “Spot” –
my shaggy, shedding dog
with neither blotch
nor original name,
 

who’d eat the roses
when in season,
plucking petals
when backs were turned.

The dog was mine for a decade,
had a couch he claimed as his own,
an old stuffed cat
with which he played
but never thought
to bite or chew.

When he died,
I was told to go back
to blooms, genuine,
the ones that I’d discarded
after "Spot" had overate,

rid the rooms of imitations,
inhale the fragrant scent
of life.

It’s all a fabrication
I replied: aromas
from the freshly
cut, telling the world
they’re bleeding,
their beauty-in-a-vase,
embalming;

that flowers too
love living
as much as a man
or departed pet,

that my forgeries
are better,
no perfumes
to pronounce what’s dead.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp





White Wigs

In the 18th-century,
men who could afford them
wore white wigs.
Presidents and noblemen,
shopkeepers and servants,
Baroque musicians playing sonatas
for an audience, the males applauding
all crowned in white wigs.

I pity the ones with glorious red curls,
blonde flowing manes
and those who were thirty and yet to grey,
all forced by social norms to don the look
of the worn and the aged,
no one knowing if they might be bald,
had dandruff, or were hiding some other
follicle disaster,

maybe one of them having a chance encounter
with a beautiful woman,
her slender, supple fingers
fondling his fake and lengthy hair
and he’d never know how it felt.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp







Winter Solstice


Christmas
with an ex-lover
is spent whenever
there’s time to spare,

so today I invited you over,
with the promise of friendship
and fire,
hoping for kindling wood,

but the flames are merely embers,
like the Sun in its tepid glow,
forsaking us much too soon
on this shortest day of the year.

So I’ll make you Darjeeling,
my darling,
suddenly clasp your hand
into mine –

for gauging a glove size, I’ll say,
feigning I’ve shopping to do,
the warmth of tea and touch
creating such a beautiful lie.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp







Socks


The most insulting reason
you can give
for declining an invitation
is that you have to fold your socks
(or maybe rearrange
their drawer).

There’s nothing exciting
about socks.

They look plain silly
in sandals,

faux pas
as winter’s white.

The only heed
I pay them
is when I check they’re not
mismatched.

I’d never give a pair
on Christmas Eve,
or Valentine’s,
or even Office Workers’ Day;
  
and what they cannot
and will not be,
aside from a token of love,
is an excuse from a family function
or an escape from a date
that’s made,
with the girl you think is too
ugly,

the one you’d like to flee from
though you’ve never checked her out
below the knees.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp








My girlfriend hates Roy Clark
but hasn't heard of Sufjan Stevens



My composition of song,
for you, has been rejected,
not because the sentiments
were bad, or the structure
of verse and chorus,
but that I played the chords
on a banjo
when I should have used a guitar.

You say the banjo
is a trite,
hee-hawed thing,
for barefoot, hick-town loafers
with dangling straw
between their teeth.

I’d like to change the words,
dedicate it to another,
one who doesn’t ridicule
the music of the mountain,
one who’d know its origins,
before Burl Ives’ arrival.

Bania,
in the Mandingo tongue,
 

from the minstrels
of the African west,
whose moonlight lovers
never shunned
their poignant serenades.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp






Another Hallmark Moment


On Valentine’s,
I didn’t think of hearts
but of shamrocks,
of St. Patrick,
the lush and kelly greens
of the Irish,
the luck that clovers bring.

So leave your blood-filled, beating
organ at the door
and your chocolates, flowers, with it.
Let me pine for almost Spring
and a romp under leaves,
through grasses.
You can have your snowy day
and diamonds, pearls, to go.
You can have your lover’s kiss
and night of heated sex –

No, I’m lying.
Forgive me, Triune God,
and Mr. & Mrs. O’Shea.
Your time has not yet come,
for I need to hold and be held,
love and be loved and make love,
and dream of Dublin another day,
another month, when the vestige of red
has melted with the white.




©2016 by Andreas Gripp









Psalm for Aquarius


In the days of my naiveté,
when hope blasted blue
in carbon cloud,
the constellations
stepped out of line,
formed new patterns,
gave my dreams names
that they'd discarded:

Pisces, someday she'll adore you,
hold your hanging head
beside her breast,
pluck out poisoned hooks
inside your heart.


And of love, it lost
its battle with beauty,
lives on to cut to the quick,
chain the soul
in heavy iron,
to thrash hopelessly,
like fish in a sweeping net,
then hauled to shore
while salvation ripples beneath,
so cold in all its glory.



©2016 by Andreas Gripp







Nine


There’s a beauty to our numbers
that I note with admiration:

the shape of cipher 6
and its curving, crescent close;

8, with its weaving, double loop
that skaters strive and scratch to mimic;

3, and its ability to complete,
to divide as trilogy, to manifest
as Trinity;

1 which finds the wholeness
in itself, never wishing to flee
its core or essence,
for the sake of multiplying:

One times one times one
will always equal one.


2 is the sum of love
and the most romantic of all
our digits,
and in terms of teaching math,
it gives a break to all our children:
 

Two times two is four,
and the answer’s the same
when adding.


7 is Biblical,
the time for God’s creation,
the length of telling tales
of Harry Potter,
of Narnia,
the complement of 12.

5, the Books of Moses,
the fingers and thumb
on our hands,
giving us ability,
the gift of grasp
and molding, making shapes
from slabs of clay.

4, a pair of couplets,
the voice of poems
and song, the rhythm
and march of the saints.

Yet when I come to number 9,
my spirit starts to sink:
 

it has such lofty expectations,
aspiring to reach new levels,
only to fall so painfully short –

missing the mark of 10
by just a meagre, single stroke,
always being known for
“almost there,”
remembered for the glory
it could have gained
but never got,
its cousins –
19, 49, 69 –
bearing the brunt
of all its failings.

99 is but a stepping stone,
a grating lapse towards 100,
a number we only watch while it rolls,
a humble countdown to celebration,
unable to give us merit on its own.

I spent all of ’99
yearning for 2000,
anticipating a new millennium,
 
the fears, excitement 
we thought awaited us
in a dawning, changing world,

never enjoying the year for what it was,
practicing the writing
of an exotic date –

January 1, 2000

and eager to see
the masthead of that early morning paper,

ridding myself of the nines
that only accentuate defeat,

thinking I’ll pass some kind of threshold,
a singing, flowered archway
bidding come, enter,
leave what troubles you
behind.




©2016 by Andreas Gripp












                                                                                

No comments:

Post a Comment