A Shadow in Winter.

June 17, 2008 at 8:53 pm | Posted in poetry, writing | 19 Comments
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Choose an animal to represent this obscure thought,
perhaps an ostrich whose head in sand apocrypha
is perfect for the huddling mass
schooling with their briefcase thoughts
as a vulture’s shadow passes over.

One white candle leaks pearlescent pools around its feet.
Robes discarded. We could continue in this fashion
as though some archetype sought expression
but you are crying. Choose an animal from Borges
to indicate this loss, I shall be the tortoise.

Wasted ink on wasted page outlines the shadow
of the vulture passing over. You cried, I wondered why
and then there was the sex and then the sea
like some frozen European mythology.
Some smatterings of polite applause,

haha they might have said, though not out loud,
but they were lost some thousand words ago,
gave up wading through deception and mixed metaphor.
Choose an animal to represent this absence, a snow leopard.
These are not words that there is red wine silting in your glass.

You cried, I wondered why.
Candles gutter, shadows fade.
Somewhere a radio is playing Winter’s Promenade.
Somewhere an exile’s eyes are closing,
Somewhere you have passed beyond crying.


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  1. Can I take this away, carry it around with me and keep it as a reminder of what I should be striving for? If I’m completely honest, I’m more than a little jealous of this poem. I think I will have to come back and do a more lucid comment later when I’ve studied it to find as many flaws as possible, heheh. This poem could be everlasting to those who read it. Scarily good.

  2. i’m with Mary – i need to chew on its delish flavor for awhile before commenting with something other than ooooooohhh and hopping from stanza to stanza with wide-eyed wonder.
    ~rubbing aginst these words like a feline with loud purrs~

  3. Menagerie as mythos…

    Well done.

  4. wow. this is fantastic, beautiful, deep. every piece of it was so carefully chosen, so elegantly delivered that i don’t think there’s a flaw to find.

  5. “haha they might have said, though not out loud,
    but they were lost some thousand words ago,
    gave up wading through deception and mixed metaphor.”

    it seems to be about the tightrope that writers interested in magic must be wary of – a perilous line between wonder and frustrating obscurity, the latter of which we don’t want at all and must avoid at all costs. As such, I sincerely hope that this is a sign of your maturity in thinking about your craft, and not you being hard on yourself and disillusioned in any way. because that would be silly and uncalled for.

    quite often, poems about poems suck. I would tell some less-skilled poets to avoid such poems like the plague, but…ah, Paul it’s them skilled hands again. big, skilled hands, unafraid to go… i’ll drop this metaphor. Anyway, you are not a shadow in winter, you are that life-saving log cabin that someone stumbles upon after walking through miles and miles of snow in the freezing cold, y’know?
    Thanks Peter. That is the great fear indeed, unnecessary obscurity, the abyss of talking only to ones self, but with you around I know there is someone who can hang onto the thread connecting me to the rest of humanity. You are the touchstone of surrealism.

  6. schooling with their briefcase thoughts

    caught me, held me

    so i often i breeze along (i admit, sorry) until eventually hopefully something will catch me, make me give it a go (or not)

    with your work,i get caught right away most of the time and caught again and again and i circle back and around and around cuz your words don’t let go

    i esp love love the way “choose an animal” works here

  7. I would like to have someone pay as close attention to me as the narrator does of the one who is crying, and then went past crying. This is a gorgeous poem, such a flow of words and images, a real delight to read, yet lots of sadness too, like the vultures and briefcase thoughts (great new adjective) and wine silting. All that is sad. But choosing an animal, as a kind of totem to stand in for loss, that’s just a wonderful thought.

    I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a copy of Borges’ book about mythical beasts. I wrote a little silly poem about the alicanto once. I like myths that are not European, nothing against Europe, just a new world woman I guess.

  8. […] a very unique writing style that drips with imagery. He is the Master of Metaphor. Check out his latest poem if you don’t believe me and then come back and tell me you didn’t say WOW and have to […]

  9. ‘Twas lovely. Have any other diminutive, blondish Texans ever told you that you’ve a distinct verve and elan?

    Well, you do.

    Can’t say I know that much about Borges’ book, but with regard to my current paramour and myself, when we get together for a couple of gin and tonics, it’s very much like an afternoon at the Borgia’s–does that count?


  10. i love your way of writing poetry. i am so dazed.

  11. wow. thanks for that.

  12. let me guess. you from australia?
    That’s right. I’m in Brisbane.

  13. Woah. Exquisitely crafted; ingenuously surrealistic…

  14. so achingly beautiful, thank you so much for sharing this…

  15. I want to be the Walrus, but I fear I am instead the shameful oyster.

  16. yeah, what the hare and maria sed… sad, loss, vultures.. but you did say the shadow in winter… still crying… tho not the piano… to me crying is another form of being reborn within oneself… bits are dying floating away as others are being reborn… to others who observe maybe not so… sooner or later the candle burns the light is extinguished… the night calls you out… it is a most delightful poem with wings that stretch beyond today… thanks for visiting back a few and expanding our horizons…

  17. I am numbering this among your masterpieces.

    All of your work is poetic, of course, and pretty much all good, but I must admit I think your verse is the best.

    “We could continue in this fashion / as though some archetype sought expression / but you are crying.” — Very moving. Thanks for the read!
    Thanks for the feedback, Peter. Does that make four, I think, or five. I am keeping track of the ones you mark. I have to respect the opinion of a writer of such amazing prose.

  18. Thanks everybody, these are all wonderful comments. Such thoughtful and informed feedback is invaluable, precious.

  19. This is truly a jewel in your poetry crown Paul. Wear it proudly.
    Thanks, Tina.

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