width=61 height=87> Voracious Verses
2006


 

 
Scott Malby
featured poet


 
In the Beginning...


After all, each of us must have come from somewhere.
                                  Paolo Honorificas 

1.
In praise of broken things

A salt glazed coffee cup I bought in Edinburgh. 
My mother used it for years before its chips 
and her arthritis got the best of her. A barometer 
of cracked glass. It must have been the glow 
of warm mahogany that attracted him. Broken 
before my father got it. A green clay ash tray
of a man with a beard and a huge, misshapen 
nose my brother made in the third grade, his baby 
fingerprints still pressed into it. 

Let us praise broken things. Those shy and silly relics 
beyond saving, wrapped in cast off love and buried
in the attic of our all too human souls.

2.
Grandfather's Mountain

His hands were builders hands as God's hands might be
and planks of wood held spirits and his house came forth
out of those hands uniting with the spirit of  the trees
a mingling of his spirit with theirs joining together 
in the making of that house on his mountain in Santa Cruz.
And when the deer came, away from the hunters, to his house
he would let them be and the morning I remember most
was waking on the porch and peering down at me a huge buck
in whose eyes a gentle sensibility reflecting back the spirit 
of the trees and my grandfathers hands that built that house. 
Those eyes told me- a carpenter of words I would be.

3.
The poem

This mirage
this trial by errors
of surratious chants
this hurdle of being
that parts the whole
rhythm of movement
this single flower of flame
in perpetual revolt
whose breath is a prayer
that eludes
making up its madness
as it goes
coupling with the moment
that will never be again
this rabid tongue 
of alphabets
lapping at my brain
like a black cat
the symbol of my own
nonfulfillment
this imaginary limb
striving to be whole again
this mote of reflection
of grimacing ritual
grins up at me
as it fades 
back into the mist 
of my own befuddlement.

4.
We who fight with air

a.
Like a moth
whose flight 
is never straight
consider this bum
warming himself
by the heated 
conversation 
he carries on  
with himself 
along whose streets 
to wander
is to know 
clarity of vision 
born of dissonance. 
The bum is me.
I'm in a bar in Tecate
with a whore at my side.
Trying to steal my money
she's got one hand 
in my pocket
while the other hand
fondles my crotch. 
I don't care.
The coin's been tossed.
I lost and now must chronicle
the passion with the pain.
Jon across from me.
He gives the whore the coin.
Kathy is dead.
In a drunken stupor
I keep saying to myself:
Why is it given us
when it's made 
to be taken away?

b.
A grim business 
I'm about, 
gathering my despairs 
into small comforts.
Daily, distractions 
of flesh 
in a landscape 
of temptations. 
Like a three
dimensional 
laser image 
of a crucified 
tearful Jesus 
I canít quite 
comprehend 
but canít 
get out of my head 
the terrors in me 
wade through little deaths 
as I mentally wander
lost to myself
in this seedy bar in Tecate 
wondering if the sex 
will be worth it.

c.
From somewhere
out of the dry night air
the perfumed sage
of memory 
heart holds in hand 
like a plant  red vines hone
to a greater cleanliness 
from whose purity of scent 
almond, sandy voices 
whisper names
I once wrote in sand. 
I marvel over the runes
cast, hunting 
what can't be caught. 

Mother, Father, 
scent of apple crisp,
of orange
and lemon trees 
waft toward me
from inside out
their breeze peels
each fragrance to its core 
revealing hot
California summers, 
granite hills, days
that rocked me
like a ridiculous dingy 
now storm stripped
to this windy tale, robbing 
that past of heat. 

As the sun climbs
into the sky
like a stubby finger,
I move on in my surge 
with undertows,
salty in the aftertaste of love,
driving back from Tecate
to El Cajon talking of death
and toasting life.

5.
Traffic on Narragansett Bay

Moving like a confident lover moves, the unending ebb and flow of the tide runs neither 
toward or away from things, affording a translucent, deathy-deathless scene 
as Kenneth Burke would phrase it.

Prudence, patience and hope like islands in our mortal streams must never be lost site of
if we're intent on a redemptive theme and wish all well

but it's early in the morning and the sound of the water lapping at the rocks seems to echo 
the devil's laughter claiming all's well with America; the flag flies free.

In a time of conflict, conflict is inevitable. Once Truman dropped it everyone wanted it
and we surrendered to the inevitability of it all.

Now, this water takes on a more ominous tone like the voice of a child 
crying, wailing its fountain of stanzas needing neither symbol or metaphor 

to impinge upon the sound of its disjunctive purity and I am lost in name and station,
not knowing how to proceed. In all the universe can there be

anything more mortal than a creative act or more underwrought in its fearsome simplicity?


© 2006 Scott Malby


*Portions of this series appeared previously in the Cork based poetry magazine Default
and in Kenneth P. Gurney's ezine Tamafyhr Mountain Poetry.

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