Inspire | Expire When You Speak Out

I will write a slow poem for you
that drifts down the Mississippi
on a pontoon raft created from upcycled
piano parts and plastic milk jugs.

That seeks to be snagged
by venerable tree corpses.
That detours into the mutable thickness
of a quaking bog

where walking becomes the flipside
of a footrace, and all
the duckweed-eating turtles wear
orange ribbons on their necks.

I will become your slow
poem to recite
when everything begins
to go out of tune.

Slow down,
you move too fast.
You got to make
the morning last.

And it all unravels
into yet another
late and soon.

Wordsworth and Simon and Garfunkel
and every ekphrastic poet I know
will give me a little help
along the meandering way.

Let’s live
a slow poem life
backwards and sideways
and inside out—

giddy at the sight
of another highway
closed for reconstruction
over a long weekend.

I will revisit that museum
in Cleveland
where I made my own
slow art day.

Seated on a cold wood floor,
I paused
before her
for over an hour,

tears blurring the view.
Freshly released
from the weight
of addiction

one moment at a time,
I was hanging onto
anything I could grasp
with pried-open fists.

Then a raspy voice whispered,
It’s your duty
to tell her story
any way you can:

(“Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone,” sculpture by Auguste Rodin, Cleveland Museum of Art)

Rodin’s Caryatid

Bronze pillar come rest
your arms upon your right knee,
bow your head beneath the burden
of your stone.

Your robe has fallen, a bundle
upon your left thigh,
a foot exposed, arching
taut as a dancer’s.

You would be lovely
outside those gates of hell
should you one day risk

standing. Bronze is a liquid
when boiling. You would be
lovely without that stone.

One thought on “Inspire | Expire When You Speak Out

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