Guest Poet Paula Grenside

Disquieting Dance

His words step on the stage on tiptoe -

Like Degas' ballerinas, lines stir long stems
of thoughts, crowned with chiffon petals;
they skim the mind, flicker, bend and bow
to the audience of my heart applauding 
such graceful moves -

The curtain falls, words undress thoughts,
they wear  the scarlet silk for a flamenco,
temples knock castanets, blood flounces sway
in hectic tip taps, the eyes drown
in the magic -

A twist, a tighter grasp at the cortex -

All cerebral cells gather in rhythmic bump
to the cadence of a   tango; my head spins,
mouth gasps for air, the dance engages
body and brain; while bending backward,
my dreams sweep the floor -

Thoughts now go fast, turn round and round,
a Black Danube  waltzes on my mind 
that cannot  keep the rhythm; 
chaos replaces harmony, I step on my own feet - 

My mind, blank, listens for a sound ,
a rattle, a beat to say I am still living.
In the back stage  thought dancers are stiff
like puppets strangled by strings of words -

His letter close a notice cancelling new performances-

May, 1999

Paula Grenside's Questions:

The poem tries to reproduce the flow of thoughts tuned with different rhythms and dances, emotions, feelings. This stream is caused by the reading of a letter and the abrupt stop brought in by the close of the letter itself.

Is the poem too figurative?

Does the dance encompass the emotion?

Any suggestion, comment will be welcome.

Thank you.

The Painters' Girl

She was born where the sand melts sunlight,
her toys were shells to store in rocky cracks.
She learned the language of the birds, 
sealed  messages in sea's bubbles.

Gaugin would have craved to stroke thick brushes
to capture  untouched colors on new canvas.

A dark-eyed man came from the sea;
the sails of his boat,  giant seagulls
intersecting with the wind.
Fingertips played carols 
on the girl's body,
a skin  harp
in tune with  		
flute's cascades of notes
in nights lit by
Van Gogh's sunflowers
full moons
swallowing dark in amber goblets. 

Her room opened 
to sunsetrise
of never ending day.

She was born where the sand melts sunlight
and tears shapes pools of stars.
She learned the language of love lies
and sealed her cries in oyster shells.

Picasso would have placed her stiff limbs,
void eyes as last touches to his Guernica.

May, 1999

Paula Grenside's Questions:

The poem presents three phases associated with three painters and three movements in the girl's life untouched innocence; intense joy/hope; despair.

Does it work or is the symbolic reference to the painters too demanding?

The Albany Poetry Workshop