Two poems I penned for the true Muse, shining chanteuse Liv Monaghan, of the jazz/indie duo Bird&Bass…

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Liv Monaghan with contrabassist Sava Medan. http://www.livmonaghanmusic.com/

Summertime Seagull Song
“Your statues of gods
& photos of yogis keep
ogling at me,” she reported,
during a visit meant for
toast & tea, which obviously
had veered toward the surreal.
“Their behavior is out of
my hands,” he retorted,
“but not out of this world.”
She gave him a straight look, & exclaimed
“Are you joking, you crazy bloke? –
‘Hi! I’m from the moon!
Do you need a boost?
A bit of healing?’ ”
He laughed vigorously for precisely
3 & ½ endless minutes –
a seagull craning his neck back
on a little river rock
to bark at the cloud-free sky.
Then the surprise of cooled silence…
“Bird, I wish to be
a maintenance-free devotee
of my guru. Dreamt about her
since I was 5 – she’s had to work
too hard watching over me.
I called her my Other Mother
as a little kid – I really did.”
“Well, I am not afraid
to be high-maintenance.”
She grinned & gave him a wink.
This exchange changed
the prescription of his glasses.
________________________________
Bright Blackbird
“Gesang ist Dasein.” (To sing is to truly exist.) -Rainer Maria Rilke
“Human beings are the musical instrument of God.” -Hildegard von Bingen
Just one bird, bright black, flits
In & out of my chest –
Ribcage thrown open
In a moment’s first listening
To thunder & lightning
Lighting a long white night.
The warmest touch of August rain
Makes its way through windows
Forgotten open –
This bright blackbird dances in
Place, precise flight on free breezes that still
Reveal her stillness –
Motionless movement.
The air she shapes with her lips
Is a kind of consciousness.
Realm of calm.
Golden hue
Of a just-tapped temple bell,
Whose rounded sound
Stills the wild mind.
Framed by wide deep strings
That resound long & longer,
Around her dusky arias…
Sentient hands of a swaying
Weeping willow.
Her interwoven melodies
A garland of Stargazer Lilies.
Long soft alto song spins
Through air to my ear, its welcome home,
Where I have built a humble wooden shelter –
Out of the woods, deer shyly gather to hear.
This blackbird’s plume feathers,
Pens dipped in
Almost-midnight ink,
Weave silken threads into
Sudden strong meaning.
I cannot hold this bird inside
My fragile bones – won’t close the cage.
Instead leave all openings open & begin
To dance alone in a constellation of
Faces – luminous forms
In darkness lit, scintillant.
Adorned with notes shaped of the
Same molten silver from which the
World is molded – whether necklace,
Bracelet, earring, or ring.
I listen long, Songbird, & when your last
Lilac Wine tones pour over all who
Gather ’round your sound, intoxicated
By your grace & strength of spirit,
A silver shiver shakes my spine.
Yes, silence waits for its chosen time –
But your sterling song merges with
Exquisite listening.
The chant dances on warm air,
Flits in & out of my wide-open ribs,
Becomes an awakening blackbird’s
Wingéd energy of delight.
-David Leo Sirois
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“Der Himmel Über den Zeitgeist” – a pastiche of lines from poets much greater than I, from Eliot to Déborah Heissler. Plus a new poem by DLS, “Lost at Sleep.” Painting by Iana Sophia.

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“Clouds” (c) Iana Sophia

Der Himmel Über Den Zeitgeist

(The Sky Over the Spirit of the Times/

Heaven Above the Spirit of the Age…

A pastiche of lines from Yeats, Eliot, Blake, Whitman,

Andrew Marvell, Theodore Roethke, & Déborah Heissler in DLS translation)

 

Out-worn heart, in a time out-worn,

some are born to sweet delight,

some are born to endless night.

 

I wake to sleep, & take my waking slow,

I learn by going where I have to go.

 

We who were living are now dying

with a little patience.

 

Two thousand years of stony sleep

vexed to nightmare –

if only there were water,

if only there were the sound of water.

 

But at my back I always hear

time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near.

While I stand on the roadway,

or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

 

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,

a shape with lion body & the head of a man,

slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

 

I mark in every face I meet

marks of weakness, marks of woe,

near where the chartered Thames does flow.

 

Sweet Thames, run softly, til I end my song,

Sweet Thames, run softly, for I speak not loud or long.

 

This is the dead land.

This is cactus land.

 

We are the hollow men

We are the stuffed men

Leaning together

Headpiece filled with straw.

 

What are the roots that clutch,

what branches grow out of this stony rubbish –

where the sun beats,

& the dead tree gives no shelter…

 

If the doors of perception were cleansed,

man would see every thing as it is, Infinite –

the silver apples of the moon,

the golden apples of the sun.

 

Rule the shadows of the wood,

& the white breast of the dim sea,

& all disheveled wandering stars…

the human form divine.

 

Horizon like a journey without end.

___________________________________________

Lost at Sleep

 

This is the time to become strong,

& laugh along with the wild gods

who walk on our ocean crests & deserts

throughout the night & all day long.

 

Forever feeling a little lost,

I can’t see where my feet are

floating. I turn my head ’round

far as a snowy owl’s & still –

 

I cannot find the man I am.

 

When almost young I sculpted

out of mute clay

a bust of this machine

that is my mother’s son.

 

I had studied the depths of a

mirror, & felt this pale face’s

landscape – can I create an

inner renaissance?

 

A better maker made his

way past the atélier in night’s

silkiest silence, & said the next day

my eyes would not let go of him.

 

But living now on this pine-green bench,

I can barely see two feet ahead.

 

The coast of dread emerges

near a lighthouse which my ribs

attempt to clutch, & touch

last year’s man, the future’s elusive

illusory wife, & a blood-red

supposed cure for pain.

 

You must change your life

or die, David.

 

 

Déborah Heissler, in translation by DLS, from her collection Sorrowful Songs, on Aencrages et Co. Published by Terre à Ciel. Photo by the brilliant Alexandra Breznaÿ. Her exhibition ends September the 15th, @ La Little Big Galerie in Montmartre…

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https://www.terreaciel.net/Deborah-Heissler-traduite-par-David-Leo-Sirois#.WYroE9KrTcs

Thank you to genius poet Déborah Heissler, Claire Perrin of Aencrages et Co., Sabine Huynh of Terre à Ciel, & visionary photographer Alexandra Breznaÿ…all my angels. 🙂

Love you all!

David Leo Sirois

Alexandra’s show, at La Little Big Galerie, 45 rue Lepic, Montmartre (with a special showing til 11pm on Thursday, August 11th) : https://www.facebook.com/events/154170208470241/

New poem by David Leo Sirois, “Sweet Mistake.” Photograph by the brilliant Alexandra Breznay…

Beloved

Sweet Mistake

The sun must have climbed
over our blind cloud horizon

from what seemed sleep

 

Woke to find my
hunger for the future
& thirst for long posterity lost –
emptiness in my head
except the notion I am nothing
but a hungry deer
that runs from

rifle blasts

 

My eyes addicted to
this dust-skinned window –

I allow rain to fall

 

Give me one compelling reason

to exist this morning

 

Still I am grateful to my hands
for their ceaseless volunteer support –
they can grasp or let go
of any kind of cactus
forever free &

bound

 

I starve for sense
but carry nonsense notions
of perfection that drench me –

yellowed wet newspaper

 

I could instead gently sing
each brilliant accident

& sweet mistake

 

On the splintered stage of experience
with one nearly-naked tree
I have waited endlessly
for Godot –
many chances to make
my fruitless faults

lose leaves

 

A hunchbacked human being named
Lucky was pursued & whipped
by his lifelong companion
while I witnessed

powerless

 

Warm tears are dirt-dry
compared to these diagonal streaks

of chilled rain

 

I have swallowed the water
that fell from insignificant
blue chameleon eyes
for how many of my

countdown’s hours?

 

My dear other father
who earned the Sanskrit title of Siddha –
Perfected One –

wishes for me to forever remember:

 

“A perfect life
is one that is free

of complaint.”

 

Let us not taint it.

 

Let there be strong water
to spill from our inner sky’s
charcoal clouds
Let there be mortar

to hold our shaken bricks together

 

Let there be light
that sunflowers & hollyhocks follow

as the sun walks its invisible path

 

Yes, I can live –
an Eden that empties its
rich crystal pitcher of
doubt & want
to water these clusters
of thirsty courtyard trees…

“Luminous Nothingness” (revised & with Taoist epigraph). Paintings by Iana Sophia.

Morning Impression, by iana sophia. Oil on canvas.

 

Luminous Nothingness 

“The tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal Name. The unnamable is the eternally real. Naming is the origin of all particular things.”

–Lao-Tzu

 

What are the roots that clutch, what branches

grow out of this stony mess of

semi-precious memories –

 

all the spirit’s detritus –

almost-valuable pebbles,

sloughed-off skins, clear quartz geodes

open their unpolished cores.

 

Scarlet agate the eons have

turned into hardened heartflesh,

red sand held almost forever

in time’s lost & found fingers…

 

Before the last, of course,

I grip this gravel with

curled toes –  but I wish for what’s

before the first.

 

“Look, & it can’t be seen.

Listen, & it can’t be heard.

Reach, & it can’t be grasped,”

I was warned by the eternal boy.

 

81 poems about nothing,

the boundless Tao te Ching.

A book I can grasp in hand –

blue eyes clutch at the land.

 

Tell me what you cannot say,

whisper to me when you have quit this Earth,

alert me the moment you fall asleep,

allow me where I cannot follow.

 

Failed beginnings, all unfinished stories form

a garland of unsung words,

unuttered prophecies, misinterpreted nightmares.

 

Confronted by a sudden mirror, I glimpse

my own inevitable end behind

anxiety’s wrinkle-edged eyes.

 

I carry 11 blissful minions

inside the heart pocket of my showy

suit jacket, stroll over cobblestones

sporting a grin of misguided pride –

 

dandy with a peacock feather behind my ear, I

act as if nothing comes to an end.

 

But one blow from that

inescapable ticket-taker

will arrest all my laughter

in an instant.

 

Don’t ask my why I forget

why I am here –

I am not yet aware.

 

The leaves of appalled birches attempt to point

me toward where the straight path’s no longer lost.

 

Straighter than pure sin.

Midway in this journey of

unadulterated folly…

 

Am I sick of my sacred duty to this dawn sun,

warm mouth of a winded warm-down horse –

 

sweet medicine

of efforts to unfold the silvery foil

wrapped around every incident –

taste the sweet blood-orange

at the heart of all experience.

 

Back in my prison, window-shaken

 

dust, bright enumerations of scared seconds…

there is a weight to these stern

white walls, which presses upon

the mind until I no longer notice.

 

Better to wander the knit streets of Montmartre

(famous for simply being itself)

at sun-up, drink freshly-made delicious winds,

& sing my secret aubade –

“Ah, but I was so much older then.

I’m younger than that now.”

 

Let us go then –

break the warm bread

of sunrise…nothing holds

down our hands’ shining silence.

 

“The Earth is my witness,”

he said as his soul snuffed out,

& touched liberated fingertips to soil.

 

“Luminous Nothingness” -new poem by David Leo Sirois. Painting (c) Iana Sophia.

Hafen, by iana sophia; oil on canvas.

 

Luminous Nothingness

 

What are the roots that clutch,

what branches grow out of this

stony mess of

semi-precious memories –

 

all the spirit’s detritus –

almost-valuable pebbles,

sloughed-off skins, clear quartz geodes

open their unpolished cores.

 

Scarlet agate the eons have turned

into hardened heartflesh,

red sand held almost forever

in time’s lost & found fingers…

 

Before the last, of course,

I grip this gravel with

curled toes –  but I wish for what’s

before the first.

 

“Look, & it can’t be seen.

Listen, & it can’t be heard.

Reach, & it can’t be grasped,”

I was warned by the eternal boy.

 

81 poems about nothing,

the boundless Tao te Ching.

A book I can grasp in hand –

blue eyes clutch at the land.

 

Tell me what you cannot say,

whisper to me when you have quit this Earth,

alert me the moment you fall asleep,

allow me where I cannot follow.

 

Failed beginnings, all unfinished stories that

form a garland of unsung words,

unuttered prophecies, misinterpreted nightmares.

 

Confronted by a sudden mirror, I glimpse

my own inevitable end behind

anxiety’s wrinkle-edged eyes.

 

I carry 11 blissful minions

inside my showy suit jacket’s

heart pocket, stroll over cobblestones

sporting a grin of misguided pride –

dandy with a peacock feather behind my ear,

I act as if nothing comes to an end.

 

But one blow from that

inescapable ticket-taker

will arrest all my laughter

in an instant.

 

Don’t ask my why I forget

why I am here –

I am not yet aware.

 

The leaves of appalled birches attempt to point

me toward where the straight path’s no longer lost.

 

Straighter than pure sin.

Midway in this journey of

unadulterated folly…

 

Am I sick of my sacred duty to this dawn sun,

warm mouth of a winded warm-down horse –

 

sweet medicine

of efforts to unfold the silvery foil

wrapped around every incident –

taste the sweet blood-orange

at the heart of all experience.

 

Back in my prison, window-shaken

dust, bright enumerations of scared seconds…

there is a weight to these stern

white walls, which presses upon

the mind until I no longer notice.

 

Better to wander the knit streets of Montmartre

(famous for simply being itself)

at sun-up, drink freshly-made delicious winds,

& sing my secret aubade –

“Ah, but I was so much older then.

I’m younger than that now.”

 

Let us go then –

break the warm bread

of sunrise…nothing holds

down our hands’ shining silence.

 

“The Earth is my witness,”

he said as his soul snuffed out,

& touched liberated fingertips to soil.

 

 

 

4 poems published in The Opiate (print & online).

Thank you Big Time to the editors of The Opiate, & to M. Malik Crumpler, who royally encouraged me to submit!

Warmly,

David Leo Sirois

Heart Pigeon

(“Heart Pigeon,” drawing by iana sophia)

https://theopiatemagazine.com/2016/11/11/vanity-pigeon-by-david-leo-sirois/ (link to online poem)

 

The Flavor of Water

 

Whatever’s left of me.

 

These fragments I have

more than the void.

Floes holding clusters of

floating ice.

 

My name a vestige of

identity, that falsehood

forever cocooned in mystery.

 

How far away my heart’s heart –

my home & final destination,

my other mother murmured.

 

I glimpse a verdant island there.

Attempt to see nomad wind

as it haunts these leaves & grasses.

See myself untied.

 

At this moment

I wish to rise awakened

but this stolen boat

holds me by the spine.

 

Wooden boards

won’t let go of me.

 

Sudden waft of hyacinth –

scent of purple scent of pink.

 

Everything is melting.

Buildings trees people.

In which world do I walk

without ceasing?

A little prince

on my own planet.

 

A white-haired woman once

attempted to instruct me –

“Life is relationships.”

Still can’t grasp it.

Don’t believe her.

 

For me, poetry –

which is forbidden to

discuss in a poem –

is a planned flâneurie.

Unnamable

city of silence.

 

There are sounds,

but they take no form

inside this inchoate mind.

 

In these shattered

rooms of mirrors

I am nothing –

silhouette seated

at a cleared table.

 

What is separation but

a split from everything one

has ever known?

 

But I enjoy this strangeness

called ‘alone.’

Means a blur of wine time longing & song.

Cocaine & countless cigarettes with

strangers on a sidewalk bench.

 

Supposed poet

porting an awkward guitar, secretly stealing

Napoleon’s pointed black hat,

symbolizing being

the self-crowned emperor of

performers.

 

I know good people at first sight,

seeing sapphire in their eyes –

then “Cast a cold eye

on life, on death.

Horseman, pass by!”

 

Carved on the king of the

Celtic Twilight’s tomb.

In his heavy lifetime tome

he reveals

what all conceal –

“There’s no fool

can call me friend.”

 

Who am I?

Don’t know.

 

I press a strange tongue

against my palate,

& pretend to be.

 

This is the flavor of water.

 

https://theopiatemagazine.com/2016/11/12/he-suffered-he-suffered-he-suffered-then-on-the-seventh-day-he-took-a-break-then-he-suffered-by-david-leo-sirois/ (link to online poem)

 

“Rest works wonders.”

 

I appear upon your screen

totally out of focus.

 

Help me arrive at where I am.

 

Even now, after 45 turns of

kind chaos, still I

fight to let myself be drawn

by the natural magnet

of my heart’s

heart.

 

Negative & positive poles mixed.

 

Seagulls flutter in & out of

my chest, in search of a

fresh or salty

body of water.

 

So often unfulfilled.

 

Midnight & where is my old mind?

Slipped between the slats of

reality’s trellis.

 

The head of one last gold rose

dignifies this servile kitchen table, &

complements my well-dressed skull –

pulled from a closet of stuffed bears, snowy owls,

& the 8-foot snake my mother sewed together

for my 10th birthday.

 

Million, the bear I still clutch all night,

worth a million dollars to me,

its neck weak & fur falling out.

Hard to hold my head up

with this heavy ego.

 

Back & forth along

the open window winter floor.

The shocking kiss of

tiles against naked feet.

 

Night’s rarefied silence.

 

An oversized plastic clock

adorns the wall with a cartoon clown –

the steadfast drumming of

the two-headed damaru,

with its stone upon a string, rocking

between the fingers of one of the four

hands of Rudra, “The Fierce Lord,” his tears taking the

form of brown beads encircling my wrist

three times – but at this hour wearing his

meditative face

to perform our never-ending cosmic dance –

 

makes me march in tune

with time, or lose my footing

trying to climb with both eyes closed

this mountain made of dust.

 

Is there really room for lies

when nature is so sincere?

Bound to be myself.

 

But who is this monster

fattening the mirror?

Think I’ve seen him

in some of my mother’s

long-ago-lost photographs.

 

Who has he all-too-easily

become, letting

laziness & sleep

lead his steps?

 

It is purest logic

to replenish an

empty glass,

& fill it with a blood-red

cure for pain

as often as the atmosphere

requires.

 

Darkness slips in slowly,

almost imperceptibly, until

eventually it claims its trophy.

 

At noon I saw a hunched grandmother

rolling an empty stroller

along a silent sidewalk –

my so-called presence still keeping it

vacant –

by her side a girl of

perhaps 2 & 1/2, pushing

an empty pink stroller herself.

 

Perhaps in 80 years this blond child,

in whose face I could already see the

soon-to-be adult, will graduate

to a futuristic make & model of a walker.

 

I saw that it was good

to be held upright.

 

I have seen so many things

(forever remaining ignorant)

& accomplished much less,

suffered in little educational ways,

& least of all had flashes of

the light that lives in sidewalks

& other living sculptures,

pulsating power

only seen by unfurrowing the

brow, softening the gaze, & listening

to the likes of William Blake –

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed

every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite.”

 

“We look not with, but through, the eye.”

 

Who, then, is this witness?

It saw & remembered last night’s

dream about wandering the streets in the

dark, feeling that my cold

winter coat lacked a Christmas gift

wrapped up in its pocket for a generous artist.

 

This witness watches my messed-up mind’s

blizzard of wayward words & letters.

My other father said “Don’t even let the

letters come together. . .Never become anything.”

 

Sometimes the countless seagulls that flit between

my ribs find a ripple upon which to sit

& rest.