Thursday, June 25, 2020

The No One Poems

I’ve been trying to write a poem in praise of the protestors, but I haven’t come up with anything that seems to work.

As I was contemplating how to go about writing the poem, I thought about all the people, the activists, that I’ve known over the last thirty years, who have been doing the same work, day after day, year after year – and found a deeper love and appreciation for how they have held to the truth, and never wavered, across the decades. 

Maybe that’s what I want to include in the poem and have not quite found a way to do it – interweave the beauty and courage of the current protestors with those who paved the way. Keep it simple. But not simplistic...

Instead, here's a link to a series of poems that appeared this spring in  

(a magazine of Art, Literature & Contemplation, 
edited by Alyson lie, Margery Cantor & Carolyn Dille)

Li Po

These poems were written in 2018, as part of a manuscript influenced by Classical Chinese poetry. I've come to call this series “The No One Poems.” Each poem is in slight imitation of the sometimes joking, sometimes bitter voice of the Tang Dynasty poet Li Po (or Li Bai), along with the work of the cave hermit poet Han Shan, all starring a character called “No One.”

You can find the new crop of “No One” poems here.
Below is the beginning of one of the poems:

No One Watches the Men Talk Behind Podiums

No One watches the press conference
over and over. Words endlessly

tumble out of official mouths. Insects
sucked dry. No One wonders how

these men managed to open holes
in the world with such shriveled words.

Holes that let the dead back in. All
the dead who believe they are owed

a second, a third, a fourth chance.
Endless repetitions: I'll get it right

this time. Victory will be my sun-
chalice, a golden wall. No One runs

outside, watches the hummingbird
moths in the lavender. Their wing-

chants, counterpoint to the sound
of bees. Tongues arc toward purple

blossoms. For a few seconds,
the tongues fill the holes torn in

the earth, the sky, in so many hands,
faces, torsos…

You can finish reading the poem here 
at Leaping Clear. 

Other "No One Poems" can be found at:

(in The American Journal of Poetry)
(in a previous issue of Leaping Clear)