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Guest Poet Peter A. Danzig


I thought my heart would break,
and I called,
but you left me half empty and barefoot;
so I took your shower curtain
and cut myself moccasins.
Now I walk over mountains.
True, I have little patience,
but my heart is tortoise-shell.

Why do you still look?
Why do you sit open-doored;
and sometimes wear my shoes
and stomp?

If you gave me anything,
it was the freedom to walk unafraid in the sunlight.

February, 2001

Peter A. Danzig's Questions:

1. Do you feel the title is appropriate?

2. Can you relate this to any experience in your own life?

3. What do you perceive as the connotations of a "tortoise-shell" heart and moccasins made of a shower curtain?

When In Great Waves

When in great waves of comfort,
lost at sea, I try
to calm my torrent but
I have eaten the bolts of my
bindings, my loose-leaf
soul flutters in the butterfly wind.

When I ate chalk
I thought of all the things I would write
on my slate stomach
with licorice fingers,

to answer the call,
to answer the ringing,
to answer the ringing of others,
to answer the ringing in my leaden ears.

On the wall, the
Prophet has written in letters of white
the cool words of mourning.
Their effervescent shimmer stretches
like a pool of water.
and drinks my voice as it pours down my throat.

When I have swum in the water,
when I have drunk the coolness,
when I have washed,
when I have drunk and washed my eyes,

I am not at sea,
I am not an eagle,
I am not a pool of water,
I am not a blackboard.

When I wrote the words on the back of my hands,
when I wrote the answers,
when I did this,
I let my soul loose to fly among the waves
and follow the surf.

I am driven,
I am lost,
I am drowning,
I am washed.

February, 2001

Peter A. Danzig's Questions:

1. What do you perceive as the emotion/event behind this poem?

2. Do you sense any connection between the "waves of comfort" in the first stanza and the "cool words of mourning" in the fourth stanza? If it is not discernable how could I strengthen that connection in the readers mind?

Out of the night my father sang me

In the cavern where I was sung
my father's voice echoes
like thick vapor.
Shadows swim in the deep pools
and ripple my face.

In the stillness of extending
circles, in the stillness
of the cavern,
in my father's voice,
in the echoes,
I am a mirror,
have been sung a mirror.
I am the stippled surface of
the song.

The echoes grow
and my father's voice
fills the cavern.
His vapor,
risen to the ceiling,
falls into the pool
and the echoes of his voice
spread across me
and sound in the deep pools,
and I am the stippled

In the stillness,
my fathers voice fills the cavern,
and in the echoes of that sound,
in the extending circles,
in the stillness,
I cling to the songs that sang me.

Shadows swim in the deep pools.
In the broken mirror
the face I see is my face;
each shard an age,
and each age a song.

February, 2001

Peter A. Danzig's Questions:

1. I was trying to evoke the imagery of circular ripples expanding from a drop of water. Is the repetition functioning this way? Is the repetition boring? How could this aspect of the poem be improved?

2. Do you feel that the poem is complete? What about the transition from the third to fourth stanza?

3. Do you feel the title is appropriate? What does it suggest to you?

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