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Stuff of Life

Stuff of Life

 

I should say something about love

Because I know

Nothing special

You can read the book as well as I

Write in the margins

Receive advice from those

Who live it closer

It’s not a single set

There are swords as well as feathers

Lions and sheep

Living near each other off the page

In a vision manifest

Somewhere for real

 

For now, nature’s what it is

While we borrow from it flesh and blood and bone

Muscles protecting organs

That will work on and off for a while

Is there love in this?

I think so

Gifts of Earth

Set in motion long ago

With us, we with it, for a time

And we hope longer

 

An existentialist should have her way

This moment, this now

We can count on this

Live on it

Not for wages

But for the working of those organs

As the gift of now

Unbroken moment without contract

Though gratitude would be appropriate

And spices all the rest

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Andy Holmes on Unsplash

 

Anna Pauline McAnally Couch

Anna Pauline McAnally Couch

(15 February 1925—13 June 1983)

 

The day after red and white

And pink

It is the ides of February

My mother’s birthday

Pauline was born in 1925,

Died in 1983

Only in her fifties

Such is the ravaging of cancer

I wish she’d had a better life

She was a singer

I wish she could have sung more

A manager, I wish she could have

Run things more her way

I wish she’d had a partnership

Rather than passive and aggressive,

Which she enabled

And then both of them

Passed it on to me

Before the term

Before its time

I don’t remember the real name now

But she knew Doris Day

Before she was Day

My mother was a Southerner

But had no trace of accent

I’m not sure why

Except maybe it was cultured, then

Not to give away

The humble origins

And hers were humble

To the point of terrible

Orphaned of her father

Let go by her mother

Saved by Methodists somehow

I have the picturesque baptism paper

Moved or was moved

From small-town Tennessee to Cincinnati

Set in two states

(for all intents and purposes),

Both sides of the river

 

I was her middle child

Maybe it’s fair or at least

Mathematical that I should do

Some chronicling

On her behalf

On this, what would be

What is

Her ninety-fifth birthday

Born in Shelbyville, Tennessee

Died in Cincinnati, Ohio

Lives in heaven

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

she liked rabbits

 

A Response to “Cleon” by Robert Browning

A Response to “Cleon” by Robert Browning

(which has stuck with me for years)

 

Yon swimmer is an ode

Cleon says so

I paraphrase

To Proteus or something in authority

A tyrant in the Classical sense

A tyrant who knows virtue

They had those back then

And a patron

To the speaker of the poem

The writer of a letter

 

That does not hesitate to compliment

But also makes the case

For what is true

In your tyranny, perhaps

Argues Cleon

You might be missing something

When you elevate my art

Not that I don’t mind the support

Artists need that

But in understanding why the art is there

To tell you in itself

That life is better

 

Our art records and re-expresses

Interprets who we are and what we do

But the actions so much better

All the attributes that make us

They are real

Poets know this

Beyond an abstract exercise

So we will write

Sculpt words on paper

Into pieces that might find you

Whole, more whole for this

 

While replacing nothing

Enhancement, we hope

Greater clarity

A lesson, if we must

Learning in other ways

To trust

 

I recall because it comes to me,

Now and then

Having looked up nothing for a while

(the swimmer is a rower,

and Proteus is Protus

while English majors smoosh words to pass

the comprehensive)

But the epistle goes on meaning much

To me

I try to keep it real

Real enough,

As Cleon’s maker trusts

The last apostle who wrote letters

To the faithful

 

C L Couch

 

 

(from) “Cleon,” Robert Browning

. . .

The many years of pain that taught me art!

Indeed, to know is something, and to prove

How all this beauty might be enjoyed, is more:

But, knowing nought, to enjoy is something too.

Yon rower, with the moulded muscles there,

Lowering the sail, is nearer it than I.

I can write love-odes: thy fair slave’s an ode.

I get to sing of love, when grown too grey

For being beloved: she turns to that young man,

The muscles all a-ripple on his back.

I know the joy of kingship: well, thou art king!

. . .

I cannot tell thy messenger aright

Where to deliver what he bears of thine

To one called Paulus; we have heard his fame

. . .

 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43749/cleon

https://www.public-domain-poetry.com/robert-browning/cleon-6646

(two places easily to find the poem)

 

Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Puerto Marina, Benalmádena, Spain

Momentos antes del inicio del Triatlón de Benalmádena.

 

 

Life-Calling

Life-Calling

 

The seasons change, we know

Except in the middle

Where the change has more to do with

Now it grows, now it doesn’t

As in California (when I lived there)

There was a green time and a brown time

(still goes, I think, though a red time

must be added

for the fires)

But the Earth changes without

Relenting

 

And more of us are wondering

Where is it going

We care, I think, more and more

But here’s the thing:

We make life too hard for too many

Too many thirsty

Hungry

Fearful for shelter

Security in life

We shackle ourselves

And take too many with us

The lower, wider level of the pyramid doesn’t

Hasn’t

Had the chance

Much less completion

To be Maslovian about the metaphor

 

We need to decide that

Practically and spiritually

Life matters

That Maslow’s self-actualization model

And motive makes sense,

More so if we acknowledge other-actualization

To make that happen, too

We cannot fear for food

For jobs

For the chance to come together

Lovers, families

Present with at least a slight gaze

Toward the future

 

We say (some say), well, we must make profit

First

The world is an oyster

I’m not sure why this device

Except for pearls inside on

Occasion, though that is treasure

We might have, might not

Metaphors aside (though they are helpful

for the learning)

We are born with life

And life should be extended

It is its own virtue

(its own treasure)

Life warrants the living

For the Bedouin, the citizen in Hong Kong

Activist in South Sudan

Broker in Germany, cowboy in

Argentina, polar researcher

Suburban dweller in the U.S.A.

 

The pantheist, agnostic

Jainist, Buddhist, Hindu

Muslim, Jew, Christian (all kinds)

Those whose belief is not to have

But value the

Immediate

 

Those who see the spiritual in the land

Those who value more the material

Itself, instead

Nearly all has value

 

So those who can must choose

And choose for others

For the sake of motive and salvation

Of the world, others must matter more

Inconvenient, maybe

But there it is

It’s not a death to selfishness

The self is too important

But we make a web,

A net

For life

Where everyone might rest

In time

 

What prophecy might drive us

There are good words everywhere

But make life possible for all

Just short of boredom

Though wouldn’t that become the better

Problem?

For those who are angry

Those who are afraid

Those who feel need too desperately

To those who think that sin is better virtue

 

Like rough wood on a lathe,

Turning will be needed

An inner mission, not to be contorted

From outside

Much might be sacrificed before

Each part becomes a whole

Each one has a reason

For building in a season

 

What prophecy might drive us

The word upon our hearts

The mind once set on course

Better, if inspired, by

Stories in the stars

 

Like Rosie, We can do it!

Like Martin, we can dream

Like Tutu and the Dalai Lama, forgiveness

Can be forged

All good theory put in practice

A few absolutes to share

 

Life is good

Food and drink for life

Homes built

Pay earned

The chance to grow inside

To find and have

The pleasure in each day

 

It is not a promise for lesser accomplishment

But freedom to make so much more

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by balaji sundaram on Unsplash

 

Spacetime

Spacetime

(as a single word, a thing)

 

I’ve been learning

About this

I’m amateurish

But it seems that it’s a gift

Of fluidity

Against intractability of

What we take for

Metronomic living

 

I could take a trip

Come back still alive

Barely older

When the cure has been invented

And those on Earth might

Wonder how we

Lived so long without it

Then recall

By my spaceship evidence

We didn’t

 

Light bends

Takes its time around galactic clusters

Because it’s needed elsewhere

Later than the normal pace

Allows

Or maybe it’s a cosmic celebration

Of forlorn parts

That, folded,

May come back

 

You see, it’s faster and it’s slower

More wonders to be added

More paper in the capsule

More pencils by the cosmonauts

Who already learned

To write upside-down

 

Fear not

Schools will expand

Along with all the options

Requiring machines

To be stretched into curves

Reshaped into marvels

Potters know the way

 

Each moment will be new

A little chaos is good for everyone

And twisted into tapestry

So that everything

The cosmos and our lives

Is also home

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Genessa Panainte on Unsplash

Calgary, Canada

Fairy Dust

I believe

 

And Welcome to It

And Welcome to It

 

I wake up half in pain

My neck is sore, my head full

Maybe I simply didn’t sleep

Enough

The car is at the shop

I’m nervous about that

It could be totaled, technically

I’d go without until

Something else could be arranged

Besides, I like my car

I have to park it on the street

Where someone else could hit it

And she did

I say she to be accurate

A he could have hit it just as well

And added male ego to it

I have a nice, new rental in an alley

And took collision out for it

I know, it’s money sucked into a vacuum

Of a service that will go unused

A gimmick of the company

But at the moment I’m gun-shy,

Which is why the new car

And it’s new

Will be at rest a ways away

I’ll take a walk to and fro,

Which been my week so far

I hope yours is easier

I do have food and a water filter

Fall is on the way

And it is trite and true

That things are tough all over

My world of one, as

It’s one, is not singly terrible, while

On a world of nine billion

It is worse

And it is glorious

Elsewhere

 

C L Couch

 

 

Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash

Wales, United Kingdom

A 360 panorama stitched and warped to create the tiny planet effect. Image sequence taken by drone above a community field in Wales.

 

Still Life by the Window

Still Life by the Window

 

The light comes through just right

And when it doesn’t go that way

I have the chance to

See it all tomorrow

Next to the air-conditioner lines

There is a work lamp

Good for reading under

There are eucalyptus branches in a jar

Actually, these vibrate

Challenging the lesson of still life

 

There are candles on a stool

A phone resting in its cradle

A coaster that’s a tile, promoting

Science in Puerto Rico

There are matches in a glass

Some English candy in an (English) tin

A pinecone

 

An ancient folding chair is folded

Next to these

(ten dollars from a store that whose

stock was old things)

Next to the jar, some crayons in a cup

Reminding me of color in the head

And in the world

No braces of birds or fruit cut in half

No mirror framed in gold

Or furniture I’d find in a museum

Now

 

This is my exhibition

Of my time

The early twenty-first century

By now, many were expecting

Keys to hovercrafts next

To gloves for flying jetpacks

For now, the guy who few in Lost in Space

Will have to do

We’ll catch up by leaping forward

 

I have a corner

And in yours

 

C L Couch

 

 

Still Life with Grapes, Peaches and Snail, signed by A. Ruysch and dated 1685

Anna Rausch – http://hoogsteder.com/paintings/still-life-grapes-peaches-snail/, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38783341

 

Life on Neptune

Life on Neptune

 

I selected Neptune

Because I’ve never read

Anything speculative about it

Most of the time, it looks blue

On a map

Like a blue piece

Of sea glass

I might have around somewhere

Life on Neptune would be

Hard

Poison for an atmosphere

Contrary gravity

So distant from our first home

More so from life-giving sun

How grace might provide a

Reason for the colony

 

We’d be that much closer to

Life among the stars

In company with everything far-flung

In our system and

Not to dissemble

Our own galaxy

We’d have to think that way, or else

The nearness of our labors

In such a lifeless place

Static resources notwithstanding

Should drive us mad

For having dared

Such faraway commitments

 

C L Couch

 

 

Image by M W from Pixabay

 

Ice Age

Ice Age

 

Nothing moving

All is frozen

There might be life in there

We won’t know until we

Excavate

 

I guess I’ve known people like this

I hope I don’t become one

Inside, that would be terrifying

(no fun for a claustrophobe)

I can do much with a illusion

Light, space, and motion

Eventually

 

It would all come through

What I’ve pretending

While the borders would come closer

And I’d need

More medication or something

 

Pray, let’s not be frozen

Keep it supple, keep it moving

Use whatever means

Short of murder

To chip through, if that’s all

There is to reach

The inner core

Not for samples but

(this is not clinician-speaking)

But for release

Of something real

 

Life through to the surface

And the light of day

Time and space to beckon

Once again

The living can respond

Then take back

And then move forward

In thawed time

 

C L Couch

 

 

An artist’s impression of ice age Earth at glacial maximum.

Ittiz – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9237442

 

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