Saturday 5 February 2022

Five Fabulous Poems by Duane Vorhees

The calligrapher writes the landscape 

The calligrapher writes the landscape.    

The rain's crow quill

points ink across

pigeon grey parchment sky

and draft indelibly themselves

upon an eager gravid ground   

and the sins and memories,

and hopes and charities,

that take root,

grafted into the earth,

remain ensoiled

past the droughts

and floods to come.  





Every future remakes its pasts 

to meet its present needs. 


Historical records 

are lost or found 

are interpreted 

are redacted 

or ignored 

or invented 

or deleted 

to create 

a suitable  

collective memory. 


My inner chronicler 

collaborates with 

my inner seer 

to recast Bystander 

as Hero 

as Villain 

as Victim 

as Martyr 

to reflect 

a moment's 

psychic mirror.




Well, in medical terms, 

the brain is superior to the shoulder; 

also, in social terms 

(and not only among the status holders). 

But, though the brain may learn, 

without the muscle it can't move a boulder. 


And, in medical terms, 

the shoulder is superior to the heart, 

but not in social terms 

since people believe hearts center love and art. 


And, in medical terms, 

the heart is superior to genitals, 

but not in social terms: 

in art -- thought -- love, passion is fundamental.





Auditioning for my cock fight 

(one of life's meticulous rites) 

I earned compliments and complaints 

from my fellow scoundrels and saints. 


The sacristan prepared my spurs 

to assuage his superiors, 

(not all of whom smothered their laughs) 

and the presbyters blessed my gaffs. 


We each took our turn in the pit,  

strutting about, crowing a bit, 

flourishing ferocious wings, claws... 

to elicit the world's applause, 


and (judged to be weak or potent) 

who to be culled and who chosen. 

Our names were entered in some list 

and then, like that! we were dismissed.




I believed love would transcend all fashion 

and outlast all time and surpass all distance. 


Memory would always recall the "once" 

even though that moment's lovers would change. 


Memory, I thought, forged eternal chains. 

Now, none of the jigsaw pieces will match. 


They repose, inert, scattered, unattached, 

though I recall some names, some body parts. 


I can't make out their shadows in the dark 

though I know they once lit up my passion.


Duane Vorhees lives in Thailand after teaching in Japan and Korea for many years. He was raised in Ohio and received his PhD in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. Hog Press of Ames, iowa, recently published tree collections of his poetry, THE MANY LOVES OF DUANE VORHEES, GIFT: GOD RUNS THROUGH ALL THESE ROOMS, and HEAVEN.

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