Over at Drachenthrax, my friend Joseph has posted a splendid poem of love and death and the arrow of time, called Inklings of Hope. I commend that to you. Go and read it – chew it carefully a few times (always the best way to eat poems) – and come back here.
Joseph’s poem put me in mind of a poem by Pablo Neruda, which begins
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
Write, for example,’The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’
The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.
And it brought to mind this poem I wrote about 15 years ago.
Sleepy Little Dog
I begin to write: the little dog
is sleeping by the door, breathing
the sour dampness of the yard,
her paws moving slightly, dreaming
of rabbits and the taste of grass….
I have come to know this pen,
the weight of it, the point
which must be turned just so.
The cheap gold pitted
by the sweat of my hands.
My pen is hard and cold;
with it, I can write only words.
Your voice and even least
amazing smile are lost
to the physics of thought.
The ink I use is black.
I used all the blue for failing at love.
I thought love was soft color,
carousel horses and a rainy day.
But maybe it’s arc light and violence,
a tiger and a spray of blood.
So I was wrong, and this old
pen is useless, dead
without the rhythm of your step
and the flight of your hands.
But now it’s all I have, because
the dog has drifted off to sleep.
We went very different places when we began to think of ink as a metaphor. He toward hope and I another way. But I affirm that there is something primal about the act of inscribing the world with color, leaving one’s mark.
Sleepy Little Dog by J. Kyle Kimberlin
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License.