The Palace

Here’s a recently rediscovered poem that I wrote when I was about twenty.  I suspect that the “beatings” suggested in the text were emotional rather than physical: otherwise it seems surprisingly modern.  It didn’t have a title, so I am calling it “The Palace.”

 

In a dark, deserted palace
Where the sun must never go
Lives a bitter, beaten maiden
Whose Fortune I know.

Many men, they have abused her
With their practices unclean
Now she lives in utter darkness
So her sores cannot be seen.

Something must be found to heal her,
Something found to help forget,
Death is lurking ‘round the corner,
Time for her to hedge her bet.

Listen to me, gentle maiden
Whose Fortune I see,
You will never have a future,
Unless you have it with me.

Come with me, oh gentle maiden,
I am blind to your scars.
I, too, have known the palace
With its shadowy bars.

 

I will be reading The Palace, along with other poems, at 5 PM  tonight (Wednesday, May 30th 2018) at  Atlas Coffee 300 Main st. Santa Rossa

 

An Adaptation

I’ve been recently in my acting class with a modern adaption on Chekov’s Uncle Vanya, a play called “Life Sucks,” it occurred to me that I could apply the concept of an adaptation to some of the translations I was doing.   In other words, I would translate the original poem into English and then turn it into a poem of my own through the process of adaptation.

Here is the poem I came up with:

2018

An adaptation of 1909 by Guillaume Apollinaire

(Translated and adapted by Guy Conner)

The woman had a dress,
A silver sheath,
With straps across her shoulders.

Her eyes danced like angels.
She laughed and laughed and laughed.
Her face was like the flag of France –
Blue eyes, white teeth, red lips.
Her face was like the flag.

I could see the outline of her breasts,
Beneath the silver sheath.
Her hair that dangled brazenly,
Her beautiful naked arms.

The woman with her silver sheath,
The straps across her shoulders
Her red lips,
Her dangling hair…
She was so beautiful,
You would scarcely dare to approach her

Women of the neighborhood
Used to attract me;
Working women, sweat on their brows
Creatures of our technocratic age
But this woman was so beautiful,
She frightened me to death

 

And here is my original translation:

1909 by Guillaume Apollinaire

Translated by Guy Conner

The woman had a purple dress
And her gold-embroidered tunic
Was composed of two panels
Attaching at the shoulder

Her eyes danced and danced
She laughed, she laughed
She had a face like the Flag of France
Blue eyes, white teeth, red lips
She had a face like the Flag of France

Her dress hung low all around
Her hair done up in curls
Her beautiful naked arms

Midnight will never come

The woman in her purple dress,
Her tunic embroidered in gold
Dress hanging low
Shaking her curls
Her golden bandeau
Dragging her tiny buckled shoes

She was so beautiful
You would not dare to love her

I liked the horrible women in the parts of town
Where each day a few new beings were born
I liked, I liked the people skillful with machines
Luxury and beauty are only their foam

That woman was so beautiful
That she made me afraid

Sleepwriting

The poem below, a haiku, was in my head, completely written when I woke up this morning:

 

Death Vigil: The Eighth Day — A Poem Whose Title is Longer Than Itself

Her breath is raspy.
Outside, rain begins to fall.
Even God is sad.

poetry reading 2

I promised several people that I would repost this; I will also do a Facebook invitation.

 

I am pleased to announce that I plan to do my first poetry reading at the Atlas Coffee Company, 300 South A St, Ste 4 Santa Rosa on Wednesday, January 31st. Doors open at 6PM; readings start around 6:45

A Brief Foray into Politics

I was speaking the other day before a group of people that I hadn’t known for very long about the need for a new constitutional convention. I advanced the opinion that the flaws that have become obvious in our governmental structure – the disproportionate representation for rural areas, the electoral college, the ludicrous notion that corporations are people, the disproportionate share of influence that goes to the wealthy, just to name a few – are as serious now as the flaws in the Articles of Confederation were in the 1780’s.

The reaction I received surprised me – “Why,” I was asked, “Isn’t anybody talking about this?” My audience hadn’t thought about the issue, because no one was raising the question.

Somewhat reluctantly, I have begun to put my mind around it.  It’s a good question, and the answer has a lot to do with the corrosive effects of the chemical reaction between modern technology, money, and the gullibility of the average citizen. In the coming weeks, I will have more to say about this issue, and we shall see where it leads me.

Hermits and the Internet

The Hermit

The hermit, huddled on the hill,
Tries, by exercise of will,
To do away with loneliness.
Yet he is a hermit still.

His aged hands, beridged by time,
Are streaked with blood, and dust, and grime.
(The cuts are wrapped without success.)
All this the fruit of his weary climb.

Down there, the village whence he came,
Where once, a woman knew his name…
But all of that was long ago..
And yet, it matters, just the same..

Now time and tide have passed him by,
And he hasn’t tear enough to cry.
Henceforward he will stay away,
He wants them all to wonder why.

The concept of a hermit seems to have faded from the public consciousness.  When I wrote the poem above  ( I was 19 or 20) , the image of a hermit — always male, always dressed in rags — who lived in a cave, apart from society, was quite common.  My poem imagined  a man who had separated himself from the world because he was disappointed in love, but the more common concept of a hermit was of someone who had withdrawn from the world to ponder the secrets of the Universe.  The hermit was thought of as a kind of Oracle, to which a pilgrimage could be made to find answers to Life’s most pressing questions.

So why has the hermit faded from our imaginations?  Part of the answer is the Internet — Google is a kind of Oracle; all questions can be answered (or appear to be answered) by a Google search.

Another part of the answer is, I think, mankind’s evolving consciousness.  There is a theory that our  consciousness is evolving rapidly — rapidly, that is, in evolutionary terms.  The idea is that, say, a thousand years ago or so, mankind thought with a kind of hive mentality; everyone knew their place in the system.  Then, as the functions of our left and right brains became more distinct, we began to think for ourselves.  The obvious next evolutionary step is for us to begin to be able to read each other’s minds.  We have all experienced the sense that certain other people seem to know what we are thinking before we say it, and we should get used to that feeling; it will only get stronger as we continue to evolve.

In short, then, we don’t need hermits because we have the Internet.  And, soon, we won’t need the Internet because we have each other.