Archive for poetry

Dance

Posted in Memoir, My Poetry with tags , , , , on September 3, 2017 by sethdellinger

In all these tiny useless shops, with all this
torn and tattered furniture and too-small coats and
half-working vacuum cleaners, I have never come across
a velvety orangeish curtain like the one we hung
in the living room on Big Spring Avenue; it was
wide and garish like a Lady Pope’s vestments
and it kept the heat from pouring down between the
hardwood floor slats into the musty dirt basement;
likewise, in none of these big city shops have I ever
danced around with a cocker spaniel like I did
with ours–Cocoa–one bright Saturday morning
when I was all alone with her.  I did the funny dance I
only ever did with Cocoa, one hand in my armpit,
jumping on one foot, the sound of my skin half-drum,
half-fart, the world at last and for a moment a perfect
sun-filled room, a dappled meadow, Cocoa just
staring with all-black eyes, shimmying just to
get out of my way, me whirling and singing a song
I can’t recall, then laughing and laughing in the
sun beaming through the windows, falling down
with her, as if we were dying, as if we could
never stop–in 1984, in Newville Pennsylvania–
beautiful strange small-town Newville,
home of Laughlin Mill and the Bulldogs–
a hundred miles and thirty years away from
this dingy city thrift store I stand in, remembering
the orangey curtain and the drafty floors and the
sweet temperamental dog so confused with her
round voids of eyes, she’s gone now, so gone even
her dust is gone, oh giant universe, oh wild universe!

Anyone Other Than Me

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , , on August 18, 2017 by sethdellinger

You have rescued me from a trail of tears.
In a world of fear
did you know that I’d be there?
Every time I speak your name
there’s a shiver that holds me close;
from a pin prick famous place
where forever forgets what we should know.
Did you think it would be anyone other than me, dear?
You’ve outlasted all my friends.
I buried roots and you dig them up
and you share with me my place.
A perfect circle– never give it up.
Did you think it would be anyone other than me, dear?
Empty bottles and hallway shoes;
you whisper close to my body hush.
‘Cause if every word could change my face
not half as much as I need your touch,
did you think it would be anyone other than me, dear?

Eternal Life

Posted in My Poetry with tags , , on April 3, 2017 by sethdellinger

Night.  Street.  Lamp.  Stop sign.
You might live a hundred years and still
this will be outside your window,
the dim and jaundiced light,
the silence, the stillness, the porches.

You’ll die and still it will persist,
you’ll be reborn and fly to the window,
the yellow light, the completeness of the light,
the street a frozen grinning canal.
Night.  Street.  Lamp.  Stop sign.

On Anti-Fascism, Veganism, Church-Going

Posted in Rant/ Rave, real life with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2017 by sethdellinger
1.
 
There are certainly plenty of words out there in the world right now about the current state of our country, and our president, and protesting, and on and on. I realize there’s not a whole lot of original thought I can add to the mix, especially since I am far from an expert on these matters. But I feel as though I should at least take a brief moment here to elucidate exactly where I stand. So here is my elucidation: free speech is an awesome thing. It is one of the truly great things about America. An open and fair exchange of ideas is crucial to maintaining an evolving culture free of dictatorship. However, many folks have pinned this down as the absolute unchangeable linchpin of America, and believe it to be boundless and without exception. And, to the letter of the law, they’re mostly right. The Westboro Baptist assholes have the right to their hate-mongering, and Free Speech lovers like to say things like, “I hate what they’re saying, but I’d fight to the death for their right to say it.”
See, the thing is, some ideas don’t need room to breathe. I grant you that these ideas must be limited to very few, otherwise “free speech” as we know it ends. But ideas that espouse the denial of basic human rights to other citizens DO NOT NEED PROTECTION. Your precious “free exchange of ideas” does not have to extend to Nazism, white nationalism, or other hate rhetoric which, once given any sort of official platform, becomes normalized. The word “Nazi” is getting thrown around a lot in the media today, but only with the pallor of the Holocaust implied. It’s time we said it out loud: we need to take every pain we can to prevent anything even CLOSE to the wholesale murder of citizens from happening again. And it starts with labeling groups, sanctioning hate, rounding people up. This sort of activity has begun in this country. And we can no longer sanction speech that furthers these ideas. I’m not suggesting we outlaw it—that would be tricky—but the citizen policing of this vile threat is perfectly fine by me. Well beyond “punching Nazis”—WHATEVER IT TAKES.
We have seen how these kinds of things end.
2.
On a similar but totally separate topic, allow me to wax whimsical for a little while on the topic of veganism.  I’ve addressed it a little bit previously in the blog but on the whole, not nearly as much as I’d like.  I’ll try to be really gentle about this.
See, I totally get why you non-vegans get really touchy about us vegans.  Veganism–and animal activism–is really the only philosophy I can think of where, by virtue of subscribing to it, you thereby indict literally everyone else who isn’t following it.  Non-vegans sense this (usually unspoken) friction just by someone announcing they are a vegan and become defensive despite a vegan not even directly addressing them on the topic.  This is understandable; as I said, the non-vegan (henceforth referred to in this blog as carnists) senses that their very status as a meat eater means they are at odds with my worldview.  This is not incorrect.
Like any group of people, vegans come with many nuanced views and philosophies.  Many believe that we should be gentle, encouraging, non-confrontational, educational.  Some believe we should work as hard as we can to disrupt the status quo and that by causing loud friction within the world, we do the most to help animals.  Still others just want to be vegan–eat no animal products–and leave it at that.  Obviously, I mostly adhere to the disruption school, but on the whole, I say if you’re a vegan, I’m not overthinking how YOU want to do it.  But my belief that animals are our moral and ethical equals forces me to try to change their plight as quickly as possible.
If you’re a carnist, you have to understand that I don’t think you’re a bad person or an idiot.  How could I? I ate meat until I was 38 years old!  And I fully understand the ways in which our modern culture raises all of us to have blinders on when it comes to the misery the meat, dairy, and egg industry causes, but even more than that, the way our society ingrains in us the belief that we are superior to animals–so superior that we can actually create FACTORY FARMS of them.  The mechanism that can make us all blind to this is powerful.  It isn’t your fault that you don’t see it.
But see, it’s my job to try to wake you up.  And this is where I fail.  On social media, in “real life” interactions with friends and family, I still care more about your comfort and “keeping the peace” than the animal who suffers so terribly so that you don’t have to change.  Many, many people think that since I’ve become a vegan, I’ve changed, become “smug” or “judgmental”–but the problem is, I’m not even doing nearly enough.
For fuck’s sake, they’re out there right now–in the damp cold, in tiny stalls, being force fed, they can’t even turn around, they’re covered in their shit, and they know–those poor, poor animals, they know.  
And I’m not saying or doing enough to help them, just so I don’t rock the boat.  What monsters we are!
3.  Check out this masterpiece Philip Larkin poem:
“Church Going”
by Philip Larkin

Once I am sure there’s nothing going on
I step inside, letting the door thud shut.
Another church: matting, seats, and stone,
And little books; sprawlings of flowers, cut
For Sunday, brownish now; some brass and stuff
Up at the holy end; the small neat organ;
And a tense, musty, unignorable silence,
Brewed God knows how long. Hatless, I take off
My cycle-clips in awkward reverence,

Move forward, run my hand around the font.
From where I stand, the roof looks almost new-
Cleaned or restored? Someone would know: I don’t.
Mounting the lectern, I peruse a few
Hectoring large-scale verses, and pronounce
“Here endeth” much more loudly than I’d meant.
The echoes snigger briefly. Back at the door
I sign the book, donate an Irish sixpence,
Reflect the place was not worth stopping for.

Yet stop I did: in fact I often do,
And always end much at a loss like this,
Wondering what to look for; wondering, too,
When churches fall completely out of use
What we shall turn them into, if we shall keep
A few cathedrals chronically on show,
Their parchment, plate, and pyx in locked cases,
And let the rest rent-free to rain and sheep.
Shall we avoid them as unlucky places?

Or, after dark, will dubious women come
To make their children touch a particular stone;
Pick simples for a cancer; or on some
Advised night see walking a dead one?
Power of some sort or other will go on
In games, in riddles, seemingly at random;
But superstition, like belief, must die,
And what remains when disbelief has gone?
Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky,

A shape less recognizable each week,
A purpose more obscure. I wonder who
Will be the last, the very last, to seek
This place for what it was; one of the crew
That tap and jot and know what rood-lofts were?
Some ruin-bibber, randy for antique,
Or Christmas-addict, counting on a whiff
Of gown-and-bands and organ-pipes and myrrh?
Or will he be my representative,

Bored, uninformed, knowing the ghostly silt
Dispersed, yet tending to this cross of ground
Through suburb scrub because it held unspilt
So long and equably what since is found
Only in separation – marriage, and birth,
And death, and thoughts of these – for whom was built
This special shell? For, though I’ve no idea
What this accoutred frowsty barn is worth,
It pleases me to stand in silence here;

A serious house on serious earth it is,
In whose blent air all our compulsions meet,
Are recognised, and robed as destinies.
And that much never can be obsolete,
Since someone will forever be surprising
A hunger in himself to be more serious,
And gravitating with it to this ground,
Which, he once heard, was proper to grow wise in,
If only that so many dead lie round.

You Aint Free

Posted in My Poetry with tags on March 31, 2017 by sethdellinger

I was sittin’ down in a greasy diner
thinkin’ ’bout eatin’ the food I bought
(yes, I bought).
The meals were piled ten feet high.
But I just couldn’t wait for the bill to arrive!
Well, man, you can have anything you want,
but you know there’s gonna be a cost.
No use gettin’ on your knees.
Somebody’s gotta mop these floors
and get these dishes clean–
but don’t look at me!
‘Cause you aint free.

Well I was sittin’ on a bench on Market Square.
I was sittin’ watchin’ the cars drive by.
I was watchin’ them put their break lights on,
smellin’ the fumes made by their gas,
the radios blastin’ tunes and talks,
the lease agreement tucked in the glovebox.
Well girl, you can drive anywhere you want,
but you know there’s gonna be a cost.
Somebody’s gotta keep the system greased–
but don’t look at me!
‘Cause you aint free.

Observations From a Made-Up Climb in the Himalaya

Posted in My Poetry with tags , on February 18, 2017 by sethdellinger

So, after all this time,
these are the Himalayas.
I have read so much about you
but never thought I’d stand here,
high inside your secrets,
your startling ripped canvas of sky,
holes punches in the sea of clouds.
Everything feels muted.
A white muting,
thrust up into nothingness.

Where is your citizen, your Yeti?
Yeti, down there we’ve got Friday,
and alphabets, and packaged bread.
Roses of deep red,
and shiny storefront windows.

Yeti, crime is not all
we do down there.
Yeti, there is beauty out of the wind,
out of the cold howling.

Yeti, we’ve got Shostakovitch,
and Scrabble, and canned pears.
At nightfall, we turn on lights, Yeti.

Up here, it’s neither moon nor earth.
Tears freeze.  There’s nowhere to turn.
It is a placidness beyond pain,
acute solitude.

Yeti, down there we have found a way to hope.
You could watch us as we birth children
among our glass ruins.
We master the art of forgetting.

Oh I would stay if I could, Yeti,
resident of the Himalaya,
never turning on lights at night
inside your four-walled avalanche
stomping on the everlasting snow
waiting for nothing.

I Know the Place

Posted in My Poetry with tags on February 6, 2017 by sethdellinger

I know the place.
It is true.
Everything we do
connects the space
between death and me
and you.

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