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Dramatis Personae

(x = space)

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Dramatis Personae

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The cast

Our parts

Shakespeare

Jaques

Elvis

We fret upon the stage

Curtains between acts

Performance

And performance

The show is over

Take a bow

Remove the makeup

And we’re done—

Cast party, maybe

x

Someone directs

The writer is in the audience

All our family, too,

And with our friends

x

The spirit has been able

The flesh does what it can

There has been some interest in

Memorizing,

Though much of the performance

Has been impromptu

And once it’s done

Everyone gets to be a critic

x

Though it’s the producer

Who decides

How long shall be the run

How many weeks

How many seasons

x

There is stage fright,

Of course

There doesn’t have to be

(and we can use it)

We can train

We can learn tricks

And once out there

We can have joy

Seven stages

For a scene

A play

A résumé?

Take more

Even have some fun

There will be reviews

(nerves in the offing

and then after)

But to get to do this is a treat

And not a one to miss,

If it at all possible

x

Than can be profit so

Variously drawn

But once you’re here

That part is taken:

Costume well

Though for a queen or king

There are many fools

Either can look splendid

Or look drear

x

There are rehearsals

We can practice

How much to worry—not

So much as we do

We can expect each other

From the wings

There are many places

On the stage

Some of which

We get to choose

x

I don’t know if

The play’s the thing

We deal here in metaphor

What is real

Is what happens after

This cold reading

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C L Couch

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drafted while watching (and hearing) a play within a play

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Garage Theater is a theater company from Qom, Iran. Garage Theater researches in the field of Laboratory theater.

Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

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The Telling

(x = space)

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The Telling

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Pain and need

And maybe quotidian pleasures

This is a lifestyle

And it could be worse

It is, I know

x

Which means it is all maudlin

From time to time

Though sometimes

Easygoing

When meeting with friends

Or hearing someone else’s story

God bless the phone

x

And should there be

Accomplishment,

Not quite

An accident of birth

Then gratitude should follow

With what might be appropriate

Surprise

x

But don’t we grow each day?

I like to think so

Maybe it’s a matter

Of discretion,

Not today I will be brilliant

But I’m writing and I’m reading

I’m listening

So closely sometimes

The grinding of old Earth

Is heard

The motion, twenty hours at a time,

Is felt vibrating ‘neath the heart

In the center

Of synapse

x

We grow, we also

Slow down

Three score and ten

I hope we take it with us

To the next stage,

Arriving in time

To be useful there

x

C L Couch

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Photo by Omar Mohiuddin on Unsplash

Pakistan

(there is a painting by Turner of a moving train that this reminds me of

and, yes, there is a reference to Star Trek here–in the words, that is)

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Reading Lists

(x = space)

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Reading Lists

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Adrienne Rich

Wrote about Aunt Jennifer’s

Rings and tigers on screens

And diving into a wreck

x

These were the poems

We interns were assigned

To read and teach,

And that was all right

x

But reading on one’s own

With no one’s rubric but

One’s own

Is so much better;

I’m sure we were supposed

To instill some kind of

Critical process regarding

Life and reading in it

x

But I’m not sure

How well that worked,

What kind of processes

We might have instilled,

What seeds grown,

What personal

Allegiances to one’s own

Mind and heart

x

So was a new generation of

New readers of poetry

Begun?  Has it flourished?

Are they among the ones who

Turn to poetry when there’s

A tragedy?

x

(read up how we

took to verse after the

Towers fell)

x

I like Rich, though that

Would not be enough

In that we were serving

A learning process

x

It was a small, state school;

I never heard from anyone

Again, though nothing and

No one is due me

x

A state away and many

Years, I wish us well

And to take up small books

Of miracles from time to time;

I do this, Mary Oliver’s

Most recently

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C L Couch

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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

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The Necessary Shadow

(x = space)

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The Necessary Shadow

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If we

Turn toward light,

We’ll need some shade

Not the kind to throw

But that kind that is

Provided by

Glasses or

A hand over our eyes,

Better still by

Trees inspired by

Craters on the moon

x

Unmoored,

The light might take us far

If our eyes will need contrast

Even shadows

Providing shapes

Familiar or strange

Along the way

x

I’m not sure that

This is death

When it might be something new

That will bring us home,

Afterward

The end of an exhausting day

As at work

Or an amusement park

x

Light and darkness

Shape and shadow

Strenuous meditation

And there is such a thing

x

The quiet life is not

An easy one,

Given the world

And our natures

While listening

Is hard as well

And nothing automatic

x

Listen for the litany,

Expression and response

Between root and branch,

Wing and song

Listen for the turn of

Earth and the stretching

Of the band with

Its own satellite

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We are part of all this interaction

The universe a living place

For us

Life in life

All loves excelling

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C L Couch

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Photo by Thomas Richter on Unsplash

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“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” a hymn

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Counting Days

(x = space)

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Counting Days

(days that count in pandemic time)

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You know, folks

Have a good weekend

I know there are fires

I know that in my land

The President is sick

So somewhere there are those

Discussing the Twenty-Fifth

While I imagine

He will act as if he’s tougher than disease,

Though he is not

x

But we need to live

And it’s Friday afternoon

I will stop counting days

When I no longer lose

My way

            If you told me it were

            Tuesday,

            I’d be inclined

            To believe it

This should be,

As I say,

The year of doing nothing

What we need for life

Yes, fighting the fires

And retraining other violence

From nature, then,

And tragically

Of our design

x

Otherwise, it should be

Science and care

Support the end of the disease

And watch out for each other

In the mean time,

Such watching out meaning

We’re busy

Feeding, sheltering,

And yes occupying

Each other

x

It’s Friday afternoon

(I’m pretty sure)

Have a good weekend

Pray for the President

Pray harder

For citizens who

Did not ask for this

Pray for you

Pray for me

Praying for our aching world

Pray for peace in nature

And our designs

x

C L Couch

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Photo by Keyvan Mansouri on Unsplash

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Antecedents

(x = space)

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Antecedents

x

I told my students,

Not so many pronouns

Making sure the subject is at hand

And it agrees

Not for the writer’s sake

But for mine

And any readers—

Say, a boss

Or those who must approve

The presentation with

The recommendation

x

Yet here I am, often

Making a mystery of it

I want you to work a little

Sorry

To track the subjects

And to understand

How often they are intertwined,

And that’s real

x

We have antecedents, too

Those who came before

And sometimes it’s a mystery

That we work out

With records and with words

To have something

Of a story

The genealogists with

Wisdom

And best-guessing

Giving answers so the rest of us move

On in the present

x

Where we come from

Is Earth

In a gorge that was a garden

In a crescent

By three rivers

It’s a story and a good one

Whether Genesis or

The Silmarillion

Or Gilgamesh or

Theogony (when he believed)

Or Metamorphoses (when he did not)

Or the God

Who placed a hand down from the sky

To Earth

To spread the plains and, around the edges,

All the mountains

Or one who came up from below

Closer to the ground

And loving it

Did make mortals when going below

Was needed

To sort out all the hot things there

(I made this last one up)

x

But all (real) depictions

Seem to contain a fall

Divinity or demons

Or our bad choices

They all live with us

(divinity, demons, choices)

Not only for the Calvinists

But as a reason

For the failures in a day

In an hour of time

Under the sun

Or in the argent light of moon

Wherever we trip,

Try to right ourselves

To dance again

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C L Couch

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Photo by Matt Nelson on Unsplash

Vonore, United States

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Same Noises at the Window

Same Noises at the Window

 

Might the birds

Be back again?

Another nest to go?

I shouldn’t think so

Born in spring,

Training over summer

Wild living in the fall

(cool the blood)

Sleep in winter

 

Well, maybe they’re

No more systemic

Than we are

We think we know September

But birth happens

Anytime

Not to mention sex

That typically goes first

(though there are

other ways of having babies)

 

They are with the bees

That have their seasons, too

Their own calculations

Maybe they follow

Birds

 

So there are cycles,

And there is each day

Today I think maybe

The birds want to try again

And why not

Living, we may understand,

Is secure in birthing

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash

 

After

After

 

When everything is done

With all the apples and the oranges

The sixes and the sevens

All the things that didn’t merit

Placing on a scale

Of our making

 

You and I will look out over

A silver sea

Hoping to see a fin or tail

The nose of something

Welcoming that says,

There’s still living here

 

We’ll hope for the best

Skip fearing for the worst

There will be life or won’t be

Maybe we’ll have

A part in it

In spite of all our peers have done

 

We can live along the edge

Recalling everything behind

Until

All memory has changed

Opposites are lived out

As they should be

Amen

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Thomas Lipke on Unsplash

Sailcone’s Grizzly Bear Lodge, Mount Waddington A, Britisch-Kolumbien, Kanada Columbia Canada

Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens)

 

Causation

Causation

 

It’s dangerous out there

I know

(sometimes in here)

Sometimes in

All the things

That do not sensibly

Go together

Illusion of peace

While there is war

Freedom while many

Are slaves

Breathing in

What seems a pretty sky

With all things we’ve put in it

Do you get it?

I’m not sure I do

So many killing things

With industries to keep ourselves alive

 

When they arrive

Extraterrestrials will wonder

What we’ve done to ourselves

And why

Unless they speak among themselves

Yes, we remember profit

We remember cheapened life

Thank goodness

And our gods,

We grew out of that

Discovered what they really mean

To have

And have not

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Artem Labunsky on Unsplash

 

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