Shouting poetry above the roar


Life is so full of coincidence,
its coincidences coincide.
It is coincidental that we live on temperate Earth,
not steamy Venus or vagabond Pluto,
outlier rock and no longer a planet. 

Coincidental ice freezes down not up,
that we exhale CO2, trees oxygen
(despite what Ronald Reagan said),
that lightning struck amino soup, not tomato,
that gravity makes things stick.

Coincidental we grow old, not younger,
that we are mostly larger than our pets,
that rot makes soil, not diamonds,
that wiener dogs are shaped like frankfurters. 

Coincidental dinosaurs are gone
to fill the tanks of thirsty automobiles
in which we drive a numbered country road
threaded through the forest that remains. 

Coincidental I should find two socks
seemingly my size, with cushioned heel
a Van Gogh study lying on the shale
when, in haste, I’ve left mine at home.

Coincidental I should leave them there
sprawled on the stones in sky burial,
and walk sockless to a nameless waterfall
where we shout poetry above the roar.


A Stirring

When the world begins to stir again, these
highways will be the first to go.
Grass will mortar their fine seams, trees
buckle their crust. By the time snow
has leavened our handiwork beyond reproach,
some sad, human part of me imagines
that our retreat to modest hearths was willed, each
mindful of the heft even children’s
boots bear. But I deceive myself;
when the world begins to stir again, it mixes
from scratch, borrows nothing from the shelf
of our concern, our breathlessness, our sexes’
desperate alchemy. Grasp tight
the iron ladle, stir us into night.

Point Defiance

When I visit her, I find
a sea widow scanning the bay,
hair of braided epiphytes
askew, the blast of wind
across the bay
her keening. 

Footpaths cross her heart:
ligatures suture
rags of tissue, strain
against arrhythmia.

In her secret embrace
anomalous snow gathers,
fistfuls of confetti, forgotten
or illswept. Here
breathing calms.

A tree stump older
than the steam engine
strikes, for a second, sunlight
in its mossy hollow. Where rot
succeeds to loam, a splintered branch
of windfall jabs.
Flagless pole, it quivers,
marking a coordinate
which now mostly bores. 

ASARCO’s airborne plume
casts a century’s tumorous shadow
—copper cadmium arsenic—
from Ruston’s clavicle to Vashon’s chin.
More than we, the Greeks understood
a poison that might linger,
but here no Machaon will salve
Philoktetes’ festering wound. 

Orcas passing through the bay,
half your heroes gone,
circle widely, when the seas
diminish, emulate
the octopus, whose
arms grasp the Narrows bridge:
seek out the secret places. 

Leaning back, I descend
a driftwood colossus,
wavetorn taproots flailing —
how long they served, how hard
to relinquish one’s defense. 

The tang of ocean drops
frozen from the air. 

On sand, I turn and see the giant,
angled toward the sea, now
unremarkable; dozens
so fashioned test water. And I 

cannot decide if they are winter sunbathers
or skiffs readying themselves for the sea.

Poetry above the Roar

At the moment this site will serve to host the lyrics to the songs in the forthcoming CD Poetry above the Roar–the lyrics being ten of my poems that appeared in my 2009 collection Fallow, published with the support of the Tacoma Arts Commission.  (Thank you, Tacoma Arts Commission, for encouraging artists of many genres).  I’ve been fortunate to work with two very talented and generous collaborators since Poetry above the Roar first got underway: composer Gregory Youtz, who initiated the project and whose score for the ten songs covers a range of styles that continues to amaze me; and mezzo-soprano Erin Calata, who interprets the poem-songs with such grace and sensitivity.

In the future, I hope to share some more current writing on this blog, but for now, I’m going to work on getting the poems in Poetry above the Roar online.  

Thanks for stopping by.  

All poems © 2009, 2014, William Kupinse