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The Hand Is Faster Than The Eye
A Poem From My Book Posted at Jeff Kaye's Blog Invictus
Originally at CounterPunch
The scene is always the same -
Iím intruding in someone elseís dream
Someone much older,
With white hair, pointing
A stick at a bird in a tree.
The moon, of course, is waxing.
Icicles sweet with syrup
Drip from maple branches.
Beyond the split rail fence
Someone slips into the forest.
Itís always over too soon
Before I think it through
Before I remember how
To glide like the redwing
Across the thawing fields.
Her first eye is a diamond
Guiding me through brush
And tangled vines
To her mouth.
Her second eye is a ruby
Drawing me inside
Sparks light my way
Flames lick at
Her third eye is sapphire
Spring fed from
Fear of the Future
To those eating acorns
And huddled around the fire,
The man at the mouth of the cave
Seems tangled in the stars:
In his left hand he shakes a leafy branch
And with his right, he throws stones at the moon.
Through want and hard hunger
They gnaw at bones, suck marrow,
Lick dew off grass, eat roots,
And turn their eyes from the sun.
Blackness and Ruby
It was easy to be lost
among sedge and alder
where the green heron hides,
worshiping sun and corn
and a woman with wings.
Out of the riverbank marsh,
what do I recall of her now?
Her blackness and ruby.
How glad I was to wrench myself
from the sycamoreís trunk
and fling myself into the fire
that burns in her crypt,
How simple it was to follow,
speaking in tongues,
The poems in Doug Valentine's book, "A Crow's Dream" are meticulously and carefully crafted. Many are tender meditations, deeply centered in Nature. Others contain striking juxtapositions and thought-provoking metaphors, like the three baby snakes who appear in the grass on Easter Sunday morning. There is even an imaginative personification of Talent as a beautiful, demanding and fickle girl.
Valentine has an acute sense of what is true; it ranges from the innocent to the mundane to the decadent. Especially rich are his vivid observations of people, from the swaggering Cadillac Jack, to the twirling girl in Shadow Land and the boy who is watching her, to the lost and struggling Marvis Flynn, who "wraps the pieces of himself in a blanket"."
Great poetry is something that you can never tire of reading; some mysterious quality enters your eyes and ears; there's something that you never want to stop looking at, like if you had a Gaugin painting on the wall of your tenement room. Great poetry puts you in a trance, even when it describes complete horror, like in some of Neruda, you are dazzled by the beauty of the language. "A Crow's Dream" is great poetry-- any lover of language and its music just knows it when they see it. Here, listen:
faces in the stream
among passing clouds
have never been so near
or so far:
the look in their eyes
is lost in the time it takes
to give a name.
I could say that over and over again forever. I could learn everything there is to know about life with those few words. There is a great range of feeling and emotion in this collection of poems: vast spiritual meditations like "faces in the stream" to a child's instinctive disgust at false, boring adult rituals and empty beliefs, like "Memorial Day." I will take these poems with me wherever I go.
article by Chris White about A Crow's Dream
featured in my local newspaper
I like writing poems I call Quatrains. Below is a sampling:
A God Who Really Loves
Give me stockings, give me gloves,
Give me a God who really loves -
And give me the gift of blissful quiet:
God knows I wonít deny it.
Oak and Ash
Where oak and ash tower
Over stream clear and shallow
The waterfallís a shower
The noon sun a towel.
Build a Foundation
When it comes to drinking,
You need to build a foundation -
When it comes to thinking,
A way to avoid damnation
Cesspools and Pigsties
Cesspools and pigsties of ignorance
Bred the ancient religions and mythical beasts
Which, wielding the truncheons and bullwhips of the power elite,
Evolved into our current police and priests.
Answers In a Flask
Iíve got six or seven answers
For every question you ask:
I keep them handy on my hip -
Liquid assets in a flask.
Dancing flames curl the paper edges of sky -
Silver and turquoise tinsel remain in the air
Like scars upon the universal eye
From viewing beauty everywhere.
Dream feelings vague at the city gate
Cloaked in alien garb absurdly congregate
And with incoherent shouts in costumes leap
Upon the amorphous landscapes of sleep.
As Never Before
We step, we hope, in harmony
Across a moonlit, checkered floor,
Beneath red lanterns on a string,
In love again, as never before.
Your ephemeral glow,
Your refined sense of reserve,
Your shimmers in the darkness,
Get on my last nerve.
Nothing But Sadness
Nothing I think is as close as sadness,
Or as simple:
If only there were a blanket in my closet
To take away the chill.
Straight scotch donít fill you up,
And itís flavorful too,
Donít need to drink too much:
Nine or ten shots will do.
My habit is small,
Nothing I canít kick -
For a couple of days
Iíll just feel a little sick.
The Shape Iím In
Sometimes I feel fat,
Sometimes thin -
Itís a comment about
The shape Iím in.
tactical nuclear Israeli rock,
that's the beat he walk:
terrorized round the clock, like a bomb, tick tock,
that's the rap he talk.
Chinese Take Out
The colonialists had it right,
Mao is graffiti on the Great Wall:
Greed and the Internet will shatter China
Into a thousand tinkling Tibets.
Call On Jesus
You can call on Jesus Christ, Jack,
You can get down on your knees and pray,
Or you can call on Jack Kevorkian, Jack,
And just call it a day.
Cuban Cigars and Russian Caviar
Cuban cigars and Russian caviar:
The foundations of capitalism.
Napoleon brandy, a guillotine handy:
The tools of radical revision.
Dog in a Crate
The Manís got a good dog he keeps in a crate.
I see the dog pacing, I know he can't wait.
When the Man letís him out, the dog licks his face.
But soon he's gonna eat that Man in his crate.
More or Less
More or less having is only half;
Often one must stifle a laugh.
The charm is of this sense and type,
Working only when the time is right.
Wash and Dry
You always say that fair is fair:
Youíre gonna wash, Iím gonna dry.
So how come I make you laugh,
And you make me cry and cry?
Phases of the Moon
The getting done of this thing
Is planting a garden in spring:
Learning the words to the sparrowís tune,
Following the phases of the moon.
Presenting things we knew, but forgot,
Fishing now in a shallow stream,
The speckled trout slip through my net Ė
And for once the image is free.