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Poems copyright to Norman Porter


I came to write a poem
and found only words
cluttering my brain.

In some speck of eternity
I suppose these words would be enough
for anyone else to use for a poem.

But for me, down where I write
in the stocking of my mind,
I suspect these words will fail me.


I creep along to getting old
some thinning thoughts here
some bald passions there.

Why was it so important
          when I was nine to nineteen?

And now that I am way past nineteen
          why is it important to be nineteen again?

I know more now than I did then
          but I knew even more at nine

I profess no rush to grow old no desire to tinker
          like old men always have
          with widowed old ladies down the street
          where a peek of bloomers
          stirs the energy to recall a whole life

This thought it seems to end...

Why is it so important to be nineteen again?


In my barred ringed room
I often dream of being somewhere else
where I could shed this shadow
I lean upon and act myself
without benefit of pretense
cowed under by degrees
to the man's psycho-whip
as I keep myself in good standing
even though sold out
what a need to escape all that
and take myself to the woods
on leaves of mental image
like someone feigning Napoleon
and trip across the fields
barefoot in flight on hoarfrost
gone quick in the morning light
like my thoughts
gone quick in hearing
the screw's whistle
up in evaporation
not at all like
the solid state
of my barred ringed room.


I went to a funeral today
roses smelled my nose
half-opened lid cover
exposed my thoughts
for others to mourn
I celebrated
death and rebirth
worm to cocoon
to spirit
floating free
mourners marched by
1776 exploded
brass shells expended
hanker chiefs dampened
I celebrated
my own death
while others mourned
my passing
roses smelled my nose
I went to a funeral today.


Yesterday I did the same thing
I did for 4000 days.
I spent my time doing time
in the neglected hallways
of my master's house.
Cobwebs spin spiders in my head:
rabbits run wildly domesticated
and breed no youngin's
elephant tusks made of copper,
someone once rigged a still
and made gallons and gallons of green beef stew
and fed it to us for supper:
striped tigers assault non-striped tigers
- no violence here -
they have no teeth and only gum each other
in the nooks and crannies of the square concrete building;
little old ladies carry machine guns
spitting out regulations and rules killing everyone
with wad after wad of emaciated tampoons:
the shadow knows what evil lurks
in the key tumblers that lock men's eyelashes
and breathes down his neck
his own foul breath
4000 days.


Wiffed puffs of haze
pelt my forehead
dipping rivulets
of broken mist
into the corners
of my eyes
and I can see
why I write poems
like this.
What other way
to say
that I felt
for an instant
for a brief instant
what that haze was.
And to tell you
with words that recall
- not words that were there -
a poem is where I've been.
To you it might be
a wiffed puff of haze
then you and I can both say
we saw what was worth a poem, once
and how we're trying to remember.

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