Inked Well

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.


Creative Commons License
Sleepy Little Dog by J. Kyle Kimberlin
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States License

3 thoughts on “Inked Well

  1. Oh, my, but where to begin. Your poem has so much transiting within it it creates its own cosmos. Just lovely and a stellar keeper. I would gladly use Sleepy Little Dog as an input poem to start off a workshop session. Or as a potent seed for a new song.Inklings began after reading on The Writer's Almanac® that Neruda used green ink to write his poems because green is the color of hope. The rest tumbled out.Erik made me laugh with his dowsing for the proper organ from whence these poems emanate. Where is fancy bread? In the heart or in the head? . . .the blue for failing at love . . . arc light and violence,a tiger and a spray of blood . . .Yes, there's music in this. And that depiction of the Lascaux cave painting, well, it remains historically among our first love stories, failed and otherwise.Equilibrium is not mandatory, in fact, I highly recommend walking on Earth in a metaphorically bulky space suit at times. Sometimes balance is overrated. Unless you're a high-wire artist. ;-)Ever pointing north, your amigo.

  2. Thanks Erik. I think it's in the ears, from a lot of listening and a finely tuned equilibrium. This keeps poets in tune with the cycle of the sun; vital, since poetry runs like a current or chi from east to west. We ruled out the influence of water in this area long ago, since its minerals makes people tend to point north. 🙂

  3. I've left a comment on Gallo's blog about his poem, which is wonderful, as is your Sleepy Little Dog poem, of course. It's the "of course" that both amazes and confounds me. I don't understand what you two–among many others, I suppose–possess that allows you to write about common and uncommon scenes and sensations using words that depict them so differently than those which we Normal Folk might choose. Must be in the blood, or the heart, or the liver. Or, in your case, that well-worn pen.

Comments are closed.