Friday, April 11, 2008

The Dead Are Forever Writing Letters


The dead are forever writing letters,
their bodies mulching into leaves.

Maple parchment tells me a young bride
was killed by the undertaker’s son.

Snow and dirt and time
archive the words we choose in death.

Free verse or rhyme,
we are all published in the end.

36 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

An interesting metaphor here. I've been working for quite a long time on a poem about humans as language but have not been able to develop it to my satisfaction. This does a good job of creating a similar type of metaphor.

TomCat said...

Very interesting, Billy. Thanks!

Jo said...

I love where you went with this, unusual and clever. Great images and comforting too.

Lisa said...

This hit me like a ton of bricks
In just 8 lines...

Wow

Raven said...

Lovely.

paisley said...

now that is a thought provoking piece.. i am going to save it and stew in it a bit......

SnoopMurph said...

I really love how you invoke such sentiment and push us to think with such economical use of words. I am looking forward delving more into your work.

Scott from Oregon said...

I thought stanza one, three, and four were perfect.

I thought the second stanza took the poem out of credible metaphor-realms.

In other words, I thought concretizing this into an actual occurence (a murder by the undertakers son) made me queston the validity of the original statement "The dead are forever writing letters" which I thought a wonderful sentiment until you told me you really meant it literally...

gautami tripathy said...

THis can be interpreted in many ways. I like the title very much.

One thought provoking verse!

Geraldine said...

This is very powerful Billy. I find myself re-reading your poems and writing, to contemplate further.

Your choice of photos, perfect.

www.mypoeticpath.wordpress.com

raine said...

we are all published in the end.

Oh damn that's good, lol.
Thank you, Billy, I loved that.

Hotwire said...

wow - that was fantastic! loved what you did with this!!

writtenwyrdd said...

One of my favorites so far. Love the imagery of leaves for anything. I keep using them in comparison with hands, lol.

writtenwyrdd

Janice Thomson said...

I always find your short pieces give us lots to chew on with an ending that usually packs a punch, as in this one: 'we are all published in the end.' Awesome line William.

Britta Coleman said...

Great first line, pulls the reader in.

Billy said...

Charles, I thought about this title for two years. Initially was a long, rambling poem, which I finally pared down. Thanks!

TC, thanks for stopping by.

Jo, a bit surreal, but then so is much of modern and (post-Eliot) poetry LOL.

Lisa, I'm trying to work on a much smaller canvas as you may have noticed -:)

Thanks, Raven. Glad you enjoyed :))

paisley, I love it when people print out my work :) As I told Charles, this is an old theme that I reworked.

Linda, thanks. Delve, delve! LOL

Scott, I think modern poetry is a bit surreal and so I wouldn't remove the 2nd stanza. Given the extreme compression of poetry since early 20th C with Pound and Eliot, the narrator has more latitude. I don't know that the stanza must be taken literally, and in fact I didn't really mean it to be.

Guatmai, the title was in my head for a very long time before I wrote the actual poem.

geraldine, thanks. this poem was years in being born -:)

raine, LOL I thought it was a good ending to a serious poem since I liked the idea of all writers beating the literary marketplace in the long run.

hotwire, thanks!

Written, I'm partial to this myself, and the metaphor seemed natural. Biologically, the leaves do tell a real story, so I took it one step further.

Janice, thanks. I've been reading the shorter poems of W.S. Merwin to try to compress images as much as possible. I have poems far more difficult and elusive, but I find that people have trouble with 20th C/modern poets, labeling their syntax as inaccessible. I try to steer a middle course.

Britta, thank you very much. The line was stuck in my brain for years.

Beloved Dreamer said...

billy, another excellent poem. It's words ring true within my mind. I fear the beautiful images you have painted fill my dreams. Well done.

love-l-bd

qualcosa di bello said...

my mind kept venturing back to the epitaph etched in granite & yet with each re-read i could see more in it...for such a supposedly morbid topic, this has much comfort in the sense of 'we're all in this together'

Miladysa said...

What an amazing title and a haunting poem!

Just up my street :-D

SandyCarlson said...

Billy,
If you don't have a publisher, please be your own so we can buy these works and carry them around and share them at all the right times.

This is marvelous. (I think I say this every time I visit, and I always mean it!)

All the stories that snow and dirt and time keep. When I walk along my parents' dirt road surrounded by magnificent, tall, old trees, I wonder what secrets they keep, what they know, and what they honor with silence.

So your poem is for me the artful, wonderful, unique "that's what I was feeling" connection that excellent poetry provides.

Billy said...

Lanie, as usual you inflate my ego ... which is perfectly alright -:)

qualcosa, yes indeed, this poem tries to "land softly" despite its ponderous subject. Thanks!

Miladysa, yes, I think this is right up your alley after reading your lastest post -:D

Sandy, if nature doesn't speak to people, I feel sorry for them. Star Wars got it right--the force is everyhwere and in everything.

I have never sought to publish the poetry except in print journals (and a few ezines). A former editor of mine at a small prss, however, has been on my case for about a year to collect poems of similar style for a POD if nothing else. Thanks for a response that made my day :)

Andrée said...

Oh Billy, this is a powerful poem. It is so sad and final. But there is life going on because of our death. That idea is hopeful. This poem will be staying on my mind for quite a long time.

writtenwyrdd said...

yes, pod chapbook. I'll help with photos, if you like.

lluvia said...

we, a part of nature making life sprouting for ever...

Billy said...

andree, death is simply a transformation and, as Deb (above) said, part of a circle of life. I am so glad you liked this and appreciate the kind words.

Written, you are soooo kind. I need to gather poems, not only of the same style, but also that have some kind of commonality that can be subsumed under a title/collection, albeit loosely. I never seem to have the time to get very far, however, especially now, when the recessions is not favorable to people spending money on ghostwriters. My time is really spent now trying to get clients. Only about 2% of queries can understand the literary marketplace or have a decent idea or publishing platform. I may be working at a convenience store soon arrgh!

Lluvia, yes, it is an unending cycle. Thanks!

Lane said...

This is a great poem. The first line (and title) a complete stonker.

As a couple of your other commenters have said we need these poems in solid form - somewhere we can dip into. We may all be published in the end but it would be nice to read these in this lifetime:-)

Billy said...

Lane, thanks. You continue to educate me with words like "stonker." I love that and will find a dozen ways to use it before the day is done. I must have been British in a previous life -:) ("Tetchy" wasa good one two!)

As for the chapbook... Geez, I getta get my arse in gear!

Carole said...

Hi Billy,
I wrote a comment here earlier and then had trouble signing in. I think that this is a superb poem with a wonderful title, which you could almost run straight in. The images resonate and the editing you did has paid off. It reminds me a little of a poem called 'Leaves' by Irish poet, Derek Mahon.

Carole/watermaid

Lana Gramlich said...

That last line made me chuckle. Love the photo! Sorry for the recent absence...Mundania, again!

crimsonflaw said...

brilliant...

SzélsőFa said...

Wow, this was really interesting, Billy!

Bernita said...

Late, as usual, but What They Said.

Sarah Hina said...

I read this a few days ago, and couldn't comment. But it stayed with me, and settled into me. I'm all in awe, Billy.

I love the brevity and the sentiment. And that last stanza is immortal.

Billy said...

Carole, thanks for the kind words. I'll be visiting your blogs again this week. THey're really good!


Lana, thanks .. . and no need to apologize for absence :) With tax time and a million other things, I too am inundated with mindania and am having trouble keeping up with blogging.

Crimsonflaw, welcome, and thank you very much!

Szelsofa, thank you! I have been visiting your blog but am not as familiar as others on your current WIP and didn't want to sound dumb -:)

Bernita, thanks ... I live my entire life late these days. I can't even post more than two or three times a week in the last month.

Sarah, I'm glad it stayed with you. I must have done something right LOL. Thank you as always.

spacedlaw said...

Strange. I was SURE I had already commented on that post. (but maybe the comment I meant to go on that post went on another one - It happens to me every now and then).
Anyway. I wanted to tell you how much I loved this piece and the images it summons.
Thanks.

Billy said...

spacedlaw, thank you very much. I do the same thing--sometimes commenting on the wrong post.