Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Coming From The Cinema I Met My Soul

[reimagining a PBS interview with
Dame Maggie Smith, the poem beng her answer to
the questions about her "process"...in the form of a dramatic monologue with her own soul.]

coming from the cinema I met my soul
caught in the tread of the moviegoers exiting;
whirling in the turnstiles.
dream on dream in the seam of all this seeming
I feel carpet-tacked under the shuffling
sometimes in the scarlet lobbies of the world

she said to me, on the escalator, going down.
is poetry dead? is there an arrow in my back
skimming the moonlight at the crossroads?
it snows on the screen and I am cold

and stitched by the anti-heroes to the track

with my best silver sash I never lent them
and only God to lean on when the train comes.
somewhere there is thick soup and a pale blue shawl,
Chopin’s etudes and the blossoming trees
beyond all this popcorn and the flatlands’ flash.
and is my jeweled kaleidoscope
still trained on the moons
I left for you at home

dissolved in sequined weeping near the weeping cherry?
oh nowhere do I find
the citron country sung of long ago:.
the silken maps the missing compasses

for the kingdoms broadly confiscated, never atoned for…
oh what can I begin to say
who still can see in bright array
the subtexts of the brave and free
shifting imperceptibly
from stage to stage.
at the gate of every village left on earth gold coins
rained down her face instead of tears
as in the ancient fairytales when the sun appears

or near the atriums, decked in pearl-on-pearl
she merely stood
embroidered with laments from the dream-time.

unraveling:

like party favors at a birthday.
or what can I pretend to know
who saw the weeping cherry go
in winds that heeded not my will
in a tinfoil crown that’s shining, still…
is there feeling anymore she asked the straggling children
in the afternoon-
before the sun fizzles or the universe or

wouldn’t you like to know.
what is the sun they said
descending like no twelve
princesses ever could.
she fastened her words to the spokes of 

the winds behind them-
are you lost she said, almost in velvet

prodding with a violet hatpin

a tearful music, missing home:
 ..brief -  charioteers-
in the mesmerizing tread of the tread and the tread of the knock-off party shoes

plodding on in front of you, and filing on and on

into a dungeon, and not a jeweled mine?
oh Love from love cannot be severed when
enchantment’s  thistledown blown down the opaline anything
chimed from the stage God would have staged for you forever

in any summer evening’s lemon sheen…
lean, lissomely, to hear
her least soliloquy in a lilac picture hat
for the last rose leaving…
take the pale green daydream
wrapped for you in snow.
I really think you should
she whispered to the last child in line,
the one with the Juliet snood
and the cherry car-coat…
it may do you good.

mary angela douglas 23, 24, 25, 26 march 2013

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Where Is The Beautiful Kingdom Where You Were

[to Van Cliburn at the piano playing “intuitively”  (July 12, 1934-February 27, 2013)]

where is the beautiful kingdom where you were
whenever you played music; its Niagras, at first. misted, far away?
the secret listener knew, surprised by an inner chromatic marveling
intensified from unseen castle to castle as you
sorted out the battlements
or were welling up from so many underground streams all at once-
iridescent in the night’s own studio with the windows flung wide open…
scattering the sweet pea blossoming sounds ..
until we were as you, yourself, unwaveringly,
solely comprised of music as the Heavens are of stars
from then on…

this is the mystic’s parade and vanishing
the soul said softly to the Trinity, no longer mystified:
is this how we’ve been breathing underwater all this time
imagining we heard music asked the child
and lapsed into a fairytale silence,
the rest is happiness.

these were the heart’s requirements always when
wishing through the lens of another world
the one we’d missed, somehow, like a cherry bright bus
at the corner of the everyday
that just comes once going somewhere special
in the childhood of a Spring

that can’t be cherished twice  yet now we hear again

the hue of something glimpsed, glittering that flits away
at the corner of the eye or through the eye of sound
Rildia would say the clarity
that can’t stop pouring out with a
drifting loveliness that must not die
oh searing everyone.or  only you, who are always listening – listening…
for the taproot of music startled into daylight’s continents.

And glistening…
now you are going away
taking
all this light, grieving. piano, pianissimo, sown while
dreaming concert halls keep the glow of something

we have lost again like children in the long-ago
thinking it’s still in our pockets with the last lemon drop, small
petal of the honeysuckle;
too young to know that the ripples rippling out from the
genial smile, the cadenced voice the sunlit heights
will not return just because you asked them to.
or how much it can cost to unlock a world.
but where are the snipers at Beauty now?
what have they dreamed into leaves and flowers recently
who named your career short-lived, too little gleaned

too much too soon, too
unassuming in intellect as if it weren’t enough to
be glad for the music in you and to give it all away.
every time you played for anyone:
these  lustres of the
piano moon dropping no grace notes over Texas, filling the room
as if it were the universe.
and it was.

dumbfounded, they would have been then and crystal faceted, themselves
before they found the crooked mirror things to say out of envy
when you called the beautiful

kingdoms down delineated and delineated
and all around us, green or snowy fragrances
alive as L’Isle Joyeuse floated out to us on a breeze
in the lone colours of your piano only
or the rose of Rosina painting your music red
crisp garnet hummingbird rubied and rubied...

as you distilled the deepening shadows of your blue gold fissions
charming the ineffable
wreathing, joyously near at hand
beyond all vividness, kindness we knew to be possible in this world
until we understood, weeping violet,-
turreted:
it was there within our own hearing
the tomb of buried Music emptied
into the singing Empyrean.

mary angela douglas 13, 14, 15, 16 march 2013

Note on poem:  I loved listening to Van Cliburn very much as a child in the first and second grades and from then on when I first heard his recordings in my grandmother's piano studio.

Rildia in the poem as you may know was his mother (Rildia Bee O'Bryan Cliburn) who taught him marvelously well from age 3 to 17 when he was under the guidance of Madame Rosina Levine who, according to the author, Howard Reich who wrote a beautiful biography of Van Cliburn,  (titled only Van Cliburn, Thomas Nelson Publishers. copyright 1993) saw in his music the color red.  (which I have slightly elaborated on to indicate the richness of her teaching him in the Russian style, the grand manner enhancing what he learned from Rildia Bee.

I recognize Van Cliburn meant and means much to people all over the world including his fellow Texans and the Russian people he always held in his heart by his own admission.

To me, he was the first great music I ever remember hearing (although I head Chopin and Debussy first rather than the Tchaikovsky and Rachmoninoff), therefore, the reference to the beautiful Debussy piece he played so well and which I listened to after he died with tears:
L'Isle Joyeuse.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Checking Out Of The Punch And Judy Show

[to Rod Serling
to the Russian people,  forever  the guardians of Poetry


to all the Americas in my heart


to the poets of all lands, seen and unseen…]

“since in a net I seek to catch the wind.”
-Sir Thomas Wyatt “Whoso List to Hunt

“Never forget!...I love you all, from the bottom of my heart…

Forever!”
-Van Cliburn, September 8, 2012, Fort Worth, Texas

(and to my Mama, this small bouquet is rendered)


it’s all candy striped at first you think and carouseled;
you gladly give your hand
and laugh when the others laugh at the same scene
in the movie.
and love the wafting of the buttered popcorn;
sidewalks where petals strew the soda fountained stoop;. blue twilights-

and treading carefully because you still can’t see
your soft red leatherette shoes in the theatre  dark;
you’re waiting for night vision to set-in
gemstoned like Christmas.

but when the score’s your own they turn and stare

and you’re aware the line has suddenly turned surly
for the larkspur ticket torn in half  

is you in your own stories

thrashed candy striped oh not in jest                                             
and sotto voce off-camera, always,
spurned lark beating at a thousand windows

so that it can’t be proved in court or to main street
glitterati  who thought why, everything was fine in study hall
with the one book only and the music stand
stuck to her hands just the way we glued it on in accessories
or was she born yesterday
                                     
you know how she is
living on her own at the doll house museum
near the Carnegie
now that she’s the jester that can’t find the grey-eyed king
in the stereoscopic parlour pacing tinily.

but lingering with her pianoforte,
melting in colour in the final frame.
pure pink spun sugar, vanishing, where?
in a sweetheart neckline in this weather?
into the greenwood.
one could well wonder,  unwrapping the paper cone
only holding air now, a bunch of pale blue ribbons
brought far from the farther fair
oh dear, and promised it looks like
only to you in her last letters
on lavender paper.

oh vellum pressed flowers in a volume of Keats
or Akhmatova or Barrett-Browning in Moroccan leather
slight tissue of India ink.
pressed pleats  pressed out  forever in my poem.
dear pink linen words, keep wrinkling.
(and with eyelet embroideries).

or you’re on the other side of the house-front and it’s sprinkling.

put out in the rain, bad prescient cat, no cream and no gelato!
observe the directorial gleam

on the puppet face smushed in or is it  carry the day, dissolving
in the hose green town with its toy train circling back
from the water tower for you forever in your best black velvet
winking out with the Giant stars…

you’re at the interview within the hour without
another dress to your sunburnt name
sent home to the mannequin station
we’ve just a thimbleful of dream to sell you
but you know you were there
on your one semi-formal occasion out,
oh party-frock laden lament
in a pencil skirt from work that will have to do and a notebook

when the child dissolved in the magic spring
blows in again on your sound stage kitchenette
with her black cherry warning: “ it’s not what you think, remember?”
she washes the Haviland in the sink.
stir the double boiler cocoa double-quick  she says
I want a raspberry phosphate...

why didn’t you listen when the sun melted  on the canvas?
now there’s no Time, I wept for the flickering.
and the Cross lifts shakily from earth  as in the painting by Dali
on the necklace of this dizzy universe Christ,
what did they do to you I cried
in our lost episodes by the stained glass props-
the rhinestone summonses.                                                                               
but you’ll pack early by moonlight
this time, Titania,
ill met by sponsors everywhere
if only they could find you
and just as rich suns are creaming in your mind…
the cocoa boils over, scalding the milk
for the lilac ticket-holders massed outside
thick pure green shutters.
you’re in the wrong line for the aliens they shouted.
reality cried in opals.


when suddenly you were asked rose-red to dance:

wistful in voile by the cake and punch:
by whose list to hunt.

there’s the little girl with the fetched pink handled scissors
from the dressing table,
the gauze spooled bandages , ticked off-
the baby’s breath,. a tiny drop of tea-rose perfume…::
old marionette, with your cold strings beautifully bleeding
through the fabric of His maritimes she sighed lightly
here’s my corsage for you, a hallmark snip was whispered
and the rose rose tear of  it is shed to let you know:
oh, flee!  for the soul’s white night has come too late here
to the children in their dreaming; it’s Christ, in the
windfall of all our twilight endings

light years beyond the countries of
their rending of the storybook rich tick tock
of the fairytale lacquer through the evening skies…

for you, the clasped hands with the sweet peas
Cliburn’s  last Chopin
and my red-rimmed eyes
and all this misplaced  creaking in a jewel-box lock
of the  soul’s  strange, lovely lovely light.
God rest your pearl-drop music its swan-crested flight
sweet, sweet is the night air when we walk out
in a kingdom where they will not  hunt again…

mary angela douglas 26, 27, 28 february, 1 march 2013