The Sorrowing Flute

Sometimes those
    West Texas
   still haunt me:
 green blown
outstripping the world –

     the wind,
   the dust,
    the white chalk river-beds;

there is a place I know, 

  where certain
   memories live,

like a covey
     of quail
   on a winter’s eve

     across the desert inscapes;
     night sky

   old friend;
I see

     I found
       long ago –
sharp edged obsidian:
   round and flared –

  etched by hands
     ten-thousand years ago…

Those hands
     reach out
to me
     great between;

    sweaty palms,
     and clean,
like a slap

     the face 
    of time
waken me,
  a telling
only I can hear –

ancient people,
     high songs of earth:

   softly the wind carries
       past us 
even now;
  of a great sorrowing…

The notes
  of a wooden
    tribal age
when wisdom
     dreamsong paths,
and elders
   and peace
 beyond sorrow;
but now
  that song
of another tale,
     of the great darkening ahead,
   of love and death
     across the vast
  the bleak suns
     that pass…

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


“For it must be cried out…”
– Jaques Derrida, Specters of Marx

History returns like an old cartoon.
One remembers the canned laughs,
but not the sick jokes; they seem perverse
to fall between us like fragile thoughts:
postcards from the past strewn across our lives,
like stories for the blind written only in braille –
one can read them only if one’s already dead.

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.



Summer’s Queen

Painting by Tracy J. Anjulo: The Summer Queen

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Summer’s Queen

“Green, green in the ear
Is all we care to hear…”

– May Sarton, Summer Music

Not unlike today.
The blistery heat,
the tawdry afternoon;

the sun like clay,
day’s trimmings floating on the bay;

we came here always in August,

the time of sails, white sails
drifting aimlessly
upon the crèmed indifference of the sea.

Her lethargy,
the ennui
that marked her golden tan,

the liquid closure of the sand,
the tinsel polaroid – 
shaded glazings over the cloudless haze;

she said, “Oh, why didn’t I think of that..”
and, turned away.

That night down by the river

she escaped into the moon.
Her body like a dolphin
swam above the treeless stars,

and I, her lover, stood
upon the bank treading time
like an artificial answer

to the questions she’d never ask.
We spoke that day, quietly,
attuned to the green waves life:

their ordinary froth
upon the shore
brought remembrances

of former days,
the weather
of cheating slippages,

published reports
that compose and decompose themselves

like so many news clips
of a murder scene
no one can remember

and, like all lover’s will,
we walked alone,

our toes
mingling in the sand,
your eyes crossing

as the falling sun –
its sad light fleeing
into twilight’s singular monotony.

The orange and gold,
the slow curve round her navel,
the scarlet slip between her thigh,

and me the trembling
child behind the curtain,
seeking only a perverse thought

that can never be:
the impossible that is
and is not about to be

that follows you
into these satin nights.
Even now

I see her in that chiffon gown,
golden years upon her face,

the untapped moments waiting for desire,

a chance again
for that ancient magic
that unbinds us

from this cloak of summer thoughts,
and we once again stir
the sun

among crimson clouds
of endless dawns.

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

Winter’s Queen

Snow Queen in a somputous wedding gown

– Photo Montage Above:
Janneke Ramaker-Smeenk

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Winter’s Queen

“Winter flies,
and now rises…”

“Bruma fugit,
et iam sugit”
– Anon

It came to that.
The Winter’s Queen –

Her virgin eyes silver light exposed

Like a tale told by a Russian Spy,
or an Secret Agent

Of that other Art –

the Art of Love: cold whispers
from the white bedroom –
an alcove window open:

Her standing there expectantly,

glass in hand – 

the crystal voices azure silenced:
A scene from some baroque
Mediterranean cinema –

Its frames repeating
each word I said

But not as I said it,
but as she hoped I would;

And, yet, we were never there.

I’m here.
But I do not know where here is.
She seems to know.

She always did.
She walked out of my life

like a sovereign knight,

boyish – a superficial twin,
Her gaze was always like that;
she knew even when she didn’t.

Now we live on separate continents.
A life away.

Maybe the days somberness,

the rain that slays
could answer for us –

An after dinner cocktail in the portico,

the moon
Is round and full,
a golden eye

that encloses you;
But, that too, was another age,
a time of leavings

And now the blue clad criminals
distill this moment,

Steal our hearts away,

leave us in this galleon of nights,
The gray sea swell
sharing what remains…

While I, Time’s Traveler,
distant to the thought of love, love you.

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


Galatea’s Revenge

I see the crack
the movement in the stone

sudden exposure
the flesh, the flesh

a finger
a squinting eye

it’s a woman
a goddess

at my touch
her foot escapes

the rigidness
my knees give way

i blush
my skin is pink

the rain upon my face
the scent of myrtle

i turn back
he turns to stone

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.


*Poet’s Notes:

Sometimes I like to go back and imagine just what was going on when the Proteus that is our brain suddenly taps me and reveals an image, a set of words, a sort of movement of sound and meaning, a momentary slice of that sea of data that we as temporary human agents, temporal stratifications of consciousness in transition suddenly receive messages from that abyss. We know from the partial confrontation with these processes of the brain through the neurosciences that we process data at 100herz, yet still work across trillions of bits per microsecond. If our conscious mind did not have that darkness and was exposed to all this data simultaneously we’d sit their stupefied unable to decide or even move. So we rely on what the brain filter’s out more than what there is in its massive storehouse. This is the semantic universe it has created over our evolutionary lifespan that has allowed the brain to communicate its decisions and its messages to this unknowing cloud of awareness in transition: consciousness. We still know so little of this marvelous mechanism, yet what little we know has allowed our species to construct worlds of meaning that rival the universe itself in complexity and amazement. Our civilizations are nothing else than heterotopias: constructed worlds of meaning that we inhabit as if they were real rather than fictions of our own thought processes to defend us against the alien worlds of life and forces that are this universe.

Poetry is one expression of this. I like to keep notes on poems, so will from time to time show after the fact how my thought processes reflect upon such dubious matters; for we truly never have access to the brain itself directly, but only by inference and illusion at best. But out of these illusions worlds have been born.

In this experiment I was trying to convey in as few words as possible the transition in voices between the male / female, a sort of seamless phase shift from one to the other without a marker or break, or any artificial interposition on the part of author, etc. Yet, still convey the figure of the iconic myth in its intent of metamorphosis of an object at once contingent and inevitable.

It all turns on the signal, the term between… “the rigidness” that is of neither gender and could be said by her or him… it lives in that ungendered space between the two forms that could mean:

early 15c., from Latin rigidus “hard, stiff, rough, severe,” from rigere “be stiff,” from PIE *reig- “stretch (tight), bind tightly, make fast” (cognates: Old Irish riag “torture,” Middle High German ric “band, string”). Related: Rigidly.

This sense of both death’s closure: stiffness as in corpse, roughness of stone as against softness of flesh, severity of the hammer as it tortures the stone releasing its immanent life, stretching the imaginal across the solidity as if wrapping it in a band, etc. Then the release from bondage to death, to the rigidity in “my knees gave way” exposes the female transition, the awakening to life and light…

And, then, the phase shift as he becomes passive, rigid, and stiff in the presence of such beauty becoming in turn what he always wanted: a transition into stone perfection at the hands of the goddess he himself was shaped by…

Of course this is the parody of the Pygmalion and Galatean mythos… it’s reversal in a Greek mode rather than the comic of George Bernard Shaw, etc.