Her Eyes Poems by Joseph Farley Copyright 2012
Introduction Poetry flows inside our veins. The poet bleeds these words onto paper and displays the product to the world. If an audience is found for this lurid display it is because those red words have somehow touched the mass subconscious. The poet has become one of the “unelected legislators of the world,” a prophet uttering truths the masses have felt in their bones, but have not quite had the skill or the time to articulate in succinct and memorable form. The life of the individual and personal struggles is valid fodder for poetry. We all live human lives, poet and reader alike. We all suffer. We all experience joy. We sing best when sad or happy, less so when in between. The poet’s song is his or her own, but the emotions can be recognized, experience and give catharsis to those who have felt similarly. From a technical perspective, I try to use as many of the tools I have inherited from poets of past generations as I can. I believe in breath lines, rhythm, and even rhyme when I feel it is necessary. The overall structure of a poem tends to be organic. It grows from the thought and music driving the poem, creating a unique prayer or unique song. The success of each of these word experiments can only be gauged by the reader. If a piece stimulates thought or a desire to read the words again, then at some fundamental level, it has been a success. If the reader finds an image or phrase haunting his or her mind hours later, then the poem has been an even greater success. The sound should be addictive; the meaning thought provoking. I have said what I must say. Now read, and decide whether or not these poems speak to you. Joseph Farley April 2012 Acknowledgements: “Caught in the Wind,” appeared previously in Eye Contact, Fall 2011 “Follow the Dots,” appeared previously in Windmills, No. 8, 2011 “Mere Words,” appeared previously in Gemini, October 2010 "Without Parallel," appeared in Enhance, Issue 7, April 2012
Her Eyes in her eyes are mysteries more wondrous than supernovas. in her eyes are pools filled with the bones of the sacrificial dead. in her eyes are the long silence between distant stars. In her eyes there is no present, no future, no past, fire and cold, and unspeakable knowledge. those eyes, those eyes I cannot stop looking at, wait patiently to devour me and spit me out
Me and Lady Macbeth Me and Lady Macbeth. We have a thing going on. Don't tell Malcolm. Don't tell Duncan. Don't tell Banquo or any other would be king. Blood and pussy, cash and power, we want it all and she takes it all wherever I give it to her. Our hearts may be cold, but no one can see hearts. We make love as if it were war, biting and slashing and beating and scratching. She rides me at noon time. I ride her during tea. On weekends we talk politics and plot our ascendancy. No vows are sacred. No god scares us off. We enjoy fear and pain and the challenge of pulling it off. Guard the crown and guard the bedchamber. It will do you no good. We are more than half-way to our goal. Throw your corpse upon the heap and we will be closer still.
The Obvious The obvious remains obvious no matter how we try to avert our eyes. Look. It is there. No illusion, no mistake. The dream is to believe that it is somehow different, that you are exempt from basic facts that spell out misery and deceit.
The Big Squeeze When the rich run low on money they simply squeeze the poor. Twisted and rolled like so much toothpaste, the poor will drop a dime on anyone or anything. Just listen to them squeal and sing. The butchers wait, those practiced pigs, to trim the fat and slice off legs. Who needs to walk when you can crawl? Who needs arms when you can wriggle? “Sink like the worms you are and we'll collect you in a jar. You'd serve well to bait a hook to catch a golden carp that will promise us the world before we slit and gut it.”
Beast the animal that is in me is the same as the man that is without, a collection of skin, bone, hair, sinews that somehow thinks or thinks it thinks if I howl at the moonlight it is only natural I am following an instinct buried deep inside if I chase you, hunt you, love you like a beast, it is all part of the same nature I was born to if I write a poem, how unnatural, yet maybe this too is part of something ancient and as sacred as bird songs or monkey calls linked to a rhythm found only in the brain or the pattern of seasons and passing stars
Without Parallel There is an illusion with parallel lines that they join into one with distance and time. The fact is they remain separate forever, never drawing closer or gaining greater insight. So it is and has been with you and I. Long we have traveled our separate paths often within sight of each other, but never close enough to understand or achieve true intimacy. We continue mirroring each others movements ignoring the noise that sometime emanates from orifices. And so it seems we shall continue until we merge with that distant spot on the horizon and become one with oblivion.
Slow Dancing Barefoot On Hot Coals The music changes, but we go on entwined in movement, a rhythm once begun so hard to stop. The flames lick our heels, but we hardly notice, having been dancing together for so long. Neither one of us has caught fire yet. There is always a chance my pants or your dress will start to smoke. I see your skull beneath your skin. Do you see mine? Should we sit down, or change partners, or just keep going one painful waltz at a time?
The True Meaning of Vows There was a time when you liked me to look upon you. Now if I gaze in your direction you try to gouge out my eyes. Hatred is not easily hidden, but some prefer to stay rather than go, to torture and be tortured until death does them part. Marriage requires both patience and inertia in order to last.
Bitter Draught The passion in your eyes Drains into the cup before me, Yet I drink it down As I do every day, All the accumulated bitterness Of a marriage dead long ago, Held together with glue, And made to move By the magic motions Of sun and moon. Pastiche monsters that we are, We can not die so easily. All this poison that we consume Is so much water As we breathe and live And seek love, Though never with each other, Evil in all our limbs, Longing to continue Pretending to be happy, Or to genuinely become so.
Follow the Dots The enormity of it all only hits you after it is over. History, even in the smallest sense, is a shadow on the wall following you as you move down the street and go about your life. Yet that umbra leaves a trail that can be read and followed, and that is how you get caught reading the newspaper at breakfast, coffee cup spilling from your hand, watching the dots grow closer.
the basic nature of man yes, it is true that we all want to be loved, but that does not necessarily mean that we are all intrinsically good. yes, we all want to be loved, but we want to be loved for who we are, warts and all, accepting both the good and the evil that we do. yes, we want to be loved, unconditionally, without nagging or correction, which is more than God or any parent or lover will grant us. yes, we want to be loved, but we want to rape and maim and kill, too, and still feel that warm embrace that says, whatever you do is okay with me. yes, we want to be loved, but that does not mean we are intrinsically good. it just explains why we own dogs.
Even a Dog Knows A beaten dog whines in the night, but not too loud for fear of another kick. A beaten dog knows that love and loyalty are only words recited in the dark to mask the fact of the leash and the hand that holds it. A beaten dog, as all dogs do, will look up at the full moon and feel the urge to howl, but his lungs fail him as he longs, not just to shout greeting, but to go to that cold satellite, or any other place where no one will beat him even though they may still walk on him.
Mere Words A man is not his words and words are not a man. Words no matter how well wrought cannot fuck a woman or raise a child. Mere words cannot hold down a job or scoop the turds from a cat box. Words won't paint the house or get the garden dug. Words, even from a cloud cannot move the weight of a hammer. All words can do is pine and mourn for what we never had or had and lost. What good is that? Just do your job and hum your song. No need for words now or after we're gone.
among the shadows there are people who tell you they exist, but you know they are just shadows on the wall. they move and they talk, but they have no true form. you listen and you watch, but they soon fade away as soon as the lights are turned down. sitting alone in the dark, you might reach out for a hand, that may, or may not, be there, but you reach for it anyway. what you grab may just be sheets. what you have lost may be even less.
Grin and Bear It I turned my back So I could not see That which I knew Would cause me pain, And to better bear The lash of your actions. Your moans and laughter, Harsh in the wind, Cut like glass And rusted nails, Making blood flow From every wound Until I could bear it no more And gathered my belongings In a small satchel, And set off in the dark To bleed alone, Or bleed no more.
Aftermath The hell we make we do not see Until the flames grow all around And scorch the world we came to love, And leave all we were and wanted So much ash and barren sand. This charcoal that once was life Is what was reaped from our slow fall. Who was the one who set the match? Too late now to say “put it out.” All has been consumed, red, raw, gone. No one left can tell the story right. All we can do is rake the ground And search for gold among teeth and bones.
Paper Lives What is said and what is signaled Means nothing, sworn or affirmed Though it might be. Words are only air, Or scratches on paper, Little squiggles, puffs of lies. The illusion continues For as long as you deny That all these years You were living paper lives, Origami masks, twisted with design, To hide what existed Behind those beautiful eyes.
Caught In the Wind you lay about, lazy as a leaf on the ground, fallen from a tree, and pondering destiny, when the wind swirls, and takes you up in its arms, and never puts you down until your edges are dried and brown, and you are too weak to do more than sleep, and ponder why the wind chose you.
The Task Red wine won’t do the job. It takes too long to get drunk. God give me a bottle of whiskey, And let me sleep in emptiness, Mind and soul obliterated For as long as that golden glass Can numb body and senses.
Even Superman Gets the Blues My ability to save the world is somewhat limited today. I sit here on the bed with my hands between my knees staring at the costume and cape still hanging in the closet. Not today. Not today. I think in bed I'll stay. The world can save itself. I'll read a tome from my bookshelf and snuggle under covers with a feather pillow, and if the world is still here tomorrow or whenever I feel better, I will try to don that cape and fight to protect whatever is left.
After the Exterminator I still hear ghosts running in the walls on all fours
Defining the Author An author is not a commodity, he is a conduit, a pipeline to the minds of those who can not speak, saying that which must be said. his words flow like a sewer loaded with all the slime and muck that populates the world and the collective unconscious.
Appendages This pen and this hand, Extensions only of an arm, The arm itself a tool Of the shoulder and the back. The hip drives it all. The brain and the heart Sit somewhere inside Directing traffic With chemical signals And four chambered drum beat. That which is written, And that which is thought, And that which is felt Are rarely the same. Each appendage makes its changes As nerves whisper down the lane. That which was wanted And that which was intended Remains in the distance, Just beyond any reach, Known but unknown, Needed but seldom felt, Waiting to be realized In another place Or another self.
Tomorrow Tomorrow is a dream We must hold on to. We fucked up today. Yesterday we fucked up Even worse. Tomorrow it must be. Tomorrow and tomorrow, With hope ever flowing Like water from An open tap Or a sacred stone Touched by the staff Of a prophet On a desert mountainside.
Two Thumbs Up It is a good day regardless of the facts and even the fainthearted should smile and maybe whistle through broken teeth at this strange sky and stranger sun that brings us light and warmth and the wind and the water that makes it all just cool enough to abide.
Call and Response My father is calling to me, and his father is calling to him, and so it goes on back into time, ancestors laying claim to their progeny. The pull goes back to the dirt, six feet and five hundred centuries. We are all dutiful sons. We all come home when we are called.
Biography: Joseph Farley has lived his entire life in Philadelphia. He has a BA from St. Joseph’s University and an MA from Temple University. He edited the Axe Factory Review from 1986 to 2010. His books and chapbooks include For the Birds, Suckers, Longing for the Mother Tongue, and Waltz of the Meatballs. Bibliography: January, Philadelphia Poetry Project, 1986 Souvenir or Evolution, Taggerzine Specials, 1994 Wolf Poems, Cynic Press, 2000 For the Birds (short stories), Cynic Press, 2001 Suckers (poems), Cynic Press, 2004 The True Color of You, Cynic Press, 2007 Longing for the Mother Tongue, Sketchbook, 2009. Reprinted with editorial changes by March Street Press, 2010 Waltz of the Meatballs, Books on Blog, 2011
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