WINTER INDOORS

Outside, the snow witnesses the cold
Early on the clock, darkness falls
This, the Solstice, the year’s darkest day
When we anticipate the coming of Light

The light of a small candle flame
Set before a Sarasvati statuette, Goddess
For students, musicians, poets; for me
In my indoors, today, I contemplate poetry

Made not of special poetic language only
Or a language obfuscated out of meaning
Rather, rhetoric coalesced around meaning
Truth in perfect words

Musings shining in my small Christmas tree’s lights
Every cloth gnome, owl, snowman, and mouse on it a gift
A cup of tea on the end-table next me
A pad of paper, my favorite pen, and ink on the page

Settling into a season I’m reluctant to accept
Seeing it coming in the early autumn sunset
On an outdoor patio of a favorite coffee shop
Thinking, then, about the candle, cup of tea, Christmas lights

Just as well, I don’t have any money
And COVID has closed most businesses
Locked us down, mandated us homebound
I take refreshment in the piercing candle flame

DURGA PUJA

My laptop broke and tech support where I bought it wasn’t being helpful

So I called Hewlett-Packard on their direct tech support line

Of course, they routed my call to India, to a pleasant tech named Deepak

He apologized for the background noise on his end; the festival Durga Puja

Was being celebrated today this, the final of 10 days

I vaguely recalled Durga from a religion class 34 years ago

And I asked Deepak of he knew of the Goddess Sarasvati

She, the Goddess of music, learning, and language

I, a musician, scholar, and writer

Sarasvati gave India the Vedas, when religion was verse and verse, song

Deepak said he knew Sarasvati and She is the exact Goddess for a musician

I told Deepak I have a statuette of Sarasvati in my apartment

Across the miles and ocean, his soul touched mine, and tears welled up

In his eyes, Sarasvati is alive, and as he spoke, my statuette

Seemed to shine with an unearthly color and a strange light came over just my statuette

Only my eyes could see

Mother India, home of our western languages

Cradle of civilization unearthed at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa

Durga, the Mother who birthed all of creation

Mother to Sarasvati, not just a footnote in a religion class

Alive and real to him as is Jesus to me, his Durga Puja like my Christmas

He completed my service order and I wished him well

During the remainder of the Durga Puja Festival

Deepak said that he is sadly homebound due to COVID-19

And couldn’t celebrate with his family, and I

Don’t know if I can go without a computer for a week or so

I looked at my statuette of Sarasvati and the unearthly colors were gone

DAINTY FLOWERS

I think you love those flowers because they’re small

So much that several times you showed them to me

I never would have noticed them at all

In fact, I wondered what it is you see

 

The tendrils are as thin as silken thread

And end in tiny flowers like white spray

So delicate it’s as if moonlight bled

Into dreams that bloom when angels pray

 

Outside of a coffee shop/bookstore

Different kinds of flowers have been planted

I recalled a chat I had before

Concerning certain flowers the owner wanted

 

She struggled trying to craft exact language

To paint a picture so my mind could see

The flowers that her memory kept in image

Even talking with her hands to show me

 

But she succeeded finally to convey

That what they meant especially to her,

Talking on the patio that day,

Was, as she put it, how dainty they were

 

Frost names flower types in his poetry

Like pale orchises and Rose Pogonias

Flowers aren’t objects of study for me

Their images aren’t in my ideas

 

Sometimes I ponder why they’re there at all

Why a random, pointless drive of nature

Would evolve some shape so beautiful

Don’t they argue for some kind of Maker?

 

Now, flowers bloom in my mentality

And delicate as moonlight tiny sprays

Grow in meaning for philosophy

Merit in heavy thought a rightful place

MUSINGS ON MUSIC

Music isn’t just pretty sounds, a pulse

Rock isn’t just a distorted guitar

Blues isn’t just a 12-bar form

Music should strike fire from the heart, so said Beethoven,

Music is poetry of the soul, heart and soul

Soul music, the existence of the soul

Touched by fire, music is a living thing

Life-giving, live or recorded, alive through ages

Living with individuals through life, through aging,

In youth or age, youth and age

Peasant and king hear the same music, so say the Chinese

Pounding through the heart, hearing, heard with soul

Existence of the soul, sounds’ salve, alive

Conducted through electricity in the brain

Singing through synapses in the soul

Symphony of the senses sent from on high

Humans sang before they spoke,

The lilt of language’s inflections

Performances perfecting the human condition

Culture, cultivation, culmination of the muse’s calling

Meaning so much more than pretty sounds, a pulse

ETUDE

I paint with words the colors of my moods

In language, I play the notes of my soul

With nouns and verbs, I construct structures of meaning

The script that is scene and act of my life’s issues

And if I am true, my words are yours

Poetry that is about language only

Means nothing to the ages

Word play, alliteration, assonance, rhyme and rhythm

Are scholastic toys unless vehicles of meaning

When dancing language denotes reality

Poetry is loved and lasting

APOPHATIC EXPERIENCES

Not every aspect of human experience

Merits verse

There are readers

And conjuring

Some conjurings merit exorcism

Words convey

There are nameless entities

To be forgotten, not versified

Pollution of language

Heart and mind and soul

Oh, you know it

But do not make of it poem or song

LANGUAGE AND TRUTH

Your first written impulse isn’t always

The truth

And so revisions

Paring away distracting words

Imprecise words

Replacing the vague with

Clarity

Sculpting truth

Epistemology and What Words Are

Words are created by people;

They help us function.

Words have meaning only when

Our experience meshes with the origin

Of any given word.

Then there is the consideration

Of experience.

To Locke, experience is

Inner and outer.

The motions of our soul are inner.

The world we all share is outer.

Words created to mediate what is inner

Confront what is outer.

When they coincide,

We call it truth.

A preponderance of words from what is inner

That don’t coincide with words from what is outer

Is what we call a lie.

Linguistic processes affirm the art of epistemology.

And there is what we call truth.

For those who care.

Sonnet: Carol and the Limits of Language

When Shakespeare sought to praise his love

He found that words and language failed

No metaphor or symbol was enough

Every comparison simply paled

 

If no one used our language better

And the words of our best poet wouldn’t do

How could I arrange line, word, and letter

And begin to rightly praise you?

 

Only with the language of my heart

And only with the truth that’s in my eyes

Can I begin to hope to try a start

To rightly tell the beauty that in you lies

 

The limitations of the written word

Will never speak as loving hearts when heard.