Category Archives: Poetry

There is no such thing as a real void

void

There is no such thing as a real void.
I just read this
in ‘seven brief lessons on physics’.
No thing is ever really empty.
The glass, or the bucket,
before it is filled,
swarms with the tiniest of particles –
invisible forces that leap and bump,
disperse and collect, like a
flock of finches in the midst of flight
gliding across the vast and open sky
as if inseparably, one.
There is no such thing as a real void
so when you tell me you are empty
or lost to yourself, when you say
hope has dried up and left
behind only a hollow husk
I know we are blinded by sight.
There is no such thing as a real void.
You contain multitudes
and I am determined to leer
beyond the first glance
beyond the grime that lurks at the surface
beyond the reach of my arm
and its inability to grasp air, space, time
and loss. I am determined
to leer into the void
where all that is born
is of the same celestial seed,
where snails and turtles,
butterflies and humans
all share one ancient ancestor
and where, in the darkest and loneliest
and bleakest of holes,
all we know
is that when a star collapses
a universe is born.
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2017 Incantation

A call to spaciousness, to
space that looms between – 
opening outward and upward
like the lotus and the lily,

a hand written invitation
to all of love’s names
in its fluid multiplicitous 

roaming in the forlorn emptiness
between the luminous stars, 
the planets and all of the un-named
spheres of plasma and gold – 

breathing, in the soft exhale
that meets the gasp 
of your inhalation –

flying, on those imperceptible gusts
that guide the monarch
to unforseen landings – 

hiding, in the hypen – 
that line that joins
and separates the noise
from the silence –

each, the space that holds
the possibility of the other,

and finally, living – 
in the body’s razed desires
to inhabit the world 
and to be inhabited
by nothing less than
the infinite promise of
the ellipsis…

an indwelling of it all,
of the and, and, and,
of a lively and radiant universe
that never stands still.

Thin Traces

thintraces

Thin traces
of tracks
not yet laid
like invisible lines
or a long thread,
golden and white
running through,
held at either
end, at once taut
and loose,
swayed and buoyed
by forces
of love and
time, like a guide
that beckons
from a past
into a future,
mouthing your name
in sand
or rocks
or steel,
a formless form
that winds its way
to make a track
or make a life,
both,
yet to be
laid
down.

Forget everything

red zone river

(Image: Iain McGregor)

 

The land was empty,
alone,
bereft of the world
that once occupied her,
was she mourning
for the lost sounds
of children’s
hearts and feet,
pounding to the beat
of their laughter, lives
and freedom?

A no-man’s land,
mile after mile of barren
green, of do-not-enter, no
unauthorized access, of long,
stripped harakeke clumps
and a naked river
that mends its way along
cracked roads
and blocked off streets
with names
that used to belong
on google maps,
but now when you look
all it says is
forget everything.

Forget what breathed
and flourished here,
the barking dogs and
sleeping cats, the
gossiping neighbours
and lifelong friends
sharing food
and love and stories,
their water, porta-loos
and their breaking, aching
exhausted hearts.

Forget how the earth
shook and cracked
and ripped apart,
once, twice and
5000 more times until
you can forget
no longer, for the shaking
earth lives here
in your bones now.

Her core is buried deep
in yours, like a ghost
and a vampire, she haunts
your nights, and treads
lightly through your days,
at your side, ready to pounce
and steal
your breath,
when your children are too far
and the building is too high,
and there are too many
people between you
and the exits and in this
new city there are too many
buildings that could come down
and even though
the shaking ground
was only a bus rumbling
past, your body will
never forget. And you wonder,
you wonder,

is this what it means
to grow up
and out and in and
through, to be pierced
by loss and life so that
your body is marked
by the world,
holds and becomes the world
and it is all the same,
the world and you,
maybe there was never meant to be any
forgetting,
maybe that
is the whole point?

Post-script

blue-1326154_640

I want to be blunter, sharper,
hotter. To provoke,
to burn, to sear your
insides with words.

I want to stop
bargaining, with
God, the archangels,
and the universe (I want
to know where
to put my faith
and rest there, as if
I were already
in heaven).

I want to stop
offering to be better,
kinder, and more loving
to my body, in return
for a benign
biopsy result, as if
rewards only come
to those who live
the worthiest of lives.

I want to stop
trying to trace a line
from A to B,
mark out a trail and
follow the breadcrumbs
as if finding an X
will lead to the gold-
en cure or somehow,
at least,
give reason to the
reasonless, the random and
the inexplicable.

Like, maybe, I haven’t
eaten enough green and diverse
fruits and vegetables, or done
enough cardio exercise that
really got my heart rate up,
or maybe I spent too many years
smoking menthol cigarettes
and losing my mind
in alcohol infused binges,
or is it because
I stressed too much,
worked too hard,
and drank in pain
like I was swallowing
water. Or maybe I just
waited too long to
have my babies,
and spent too long
holding anger, instead,
so finally it found a spot
to set up permanent home,
in my breast. Or maybe,
I kept too many ‘bad’ secrets
that weren’t mine
to keep, or maybe
I just never
loved myself enough.

Or maybe, it’s like
my nine year old son,
the oldest, and sweetest,
poet I know,
just said,
‘why do people
have to die, it’s so unfair
and so easy, you could
get hit by a car
or a bus, or a
missile.’

(Post-script: it was benign)

Lost and Found

lostandfound

The light turns,
I gently press my
foot to the metal
and pull away on
automatic pilot.
Moments pass as if
I’m in one
of those movies where
time has paused, and
I am the only one
continuing on
against a silent backdrop
of animated stillness.
I am abruptly returned
to the intersection
of my body’s
beating heart,
to time and space
colliding in the rush hour
of my mind. Relief
ensues, I slip into
the forward flow, where
my mind can return
to dissociating
from my body,
to making mess
and making mud
and making room
for endless mazes
with no way out
for zig-zag crossings
that miss the point,
for winding roads in
the dead of night,
where getting lost
and being found
face each other on
silent grass verges,
vying to become
the next
place of rest.

Revolution

Girls can do anything,
they said,
on A4 posters slung
around old
’80s classrooms
seducing our eager bodies
into believing
we were invincible.

You can have it all
they said
with their ’80s shoulder pads
broadening their
edges,
slimming their bottom
lines, making out
like those who
ruled the world.

Can you come
to camp, they said,
on this school trip, what’s
for dinner, did you sign
my form, make my lunch,
find my shoes, love
me unconditionally?

Did you answer
those emails, pay
those bills, mark
those assignments, work
your 40 plus hours, but don’t
switch off your email,
ever,
they said.

How come, they say,
you’re so busy
out of breath
tired
grumpy
exhausted
unhappy
crying in the bathtub
beyond
the edge of reason?

Why don’t you just
get more sleep
take a day off
start a fitness regime
drink green smoothies
do more yoga
work less, do less, stress less,
they say,

as if they somehow knew,
but didn’t really
know at all, that the
not so secret answer
to breaking
that grim and gritty grasp
of capitalism,
lay in and around
the collective
curves and contours,
of that fierce and aching
body
of all the world’s
women.

#diveintopoetry  with jenaschwartz.com