Shadow Catcher in 9 pieces

Shadows of Nothing – yamabuki
“I know that I live not in the world,
but in the shadow of the world”
— Patrick Dubost
“If it bleeds as it cries,
That is all there is to it.
Nothing more, nothing less,
Nothing in the middle.
It is a very, very simple
Dark thing.”
— Richard D. Remler
What is the use of all our poetries
All our shadow words of nothingness
Limping through the darkness
Edging through those wordless nights
At the flaming edges of yellow fogs
Dripping with flickering orange rhymes
Having passed the empty songs of longing
While the dead pages scatter in the wind
And spew metaphors wildly
With long forgotten thoughts 
Past our longings for meaning
To some bitter coldness
Or burning desert waste
Where we must endlessly wait
What is the use of all our poetries
Again will I ask this unanswerable question
When yellow smoke slips by
Silent as death’s footstep 
Without making answer
That we can hear
All we will retain are echoes
That speak the deadly shadows 
And creep past in darkened lines
Visions of fuligin, darker than dark
The shadow of what is not yet arrived
The tears of sad sestina eyes
Followed by hollow days
That feel like dazed concussions
And mock our foolish words
O those lonely lines of poetry
Watching us dispassionately
Waiting to catch a flagrant verse
Slipping through stanzas
Falling from broken books
Searching for cadence and rhyme
Will their words never end
Where do we send them
Those broken hearted poems
And where leave off
When they sink ‘neath the waves
Breaking the wayward rhymes
Of our cloudy visions
Breaking our lines
Into bits of shadowy detritus 
That haunt our fevered nights
Of what use these poetries
Will they bring what you seek
Fame or Fortune, surely not
Those two terrors of misfortune
Certainly not love or family
For Poetry is a lonely road
Through a desolate land
Afflicting us like a disease 
That ensnares us unawares
Haunting our restless sleep
Saying write, write, write
Or you will surely suffer
Yes poetry is our fate
But also our salvation
Its fever melts our skin
Its meanings may heal as well
But don’t count on it for anything
For the muses, like the fates
Have their own sense of congurity
And woe to those of us
Who choose to ignore it
Poetry’s shadow crosses our path
Black cat stalking us in darkened rooms
Jumping out like fear personified
Still such abstraction is not so useful
Nor likely to ease our shaking hands
Think of trees and roots instead
Slowly growing their thoughts
Leafing their seasonal feelings
Swaying in the wind’s moods
Clinging to earthen stone
Commingling with the deeply dark
Rooting widely for strength
Leaching watery mineral feelings
Building their rising sap thoughts
Into their poetry of growth
Poetry does not follow rules
Not if it wants to explore shadows
Sure you can find sweetness
Sunlit orchards full of fruit
Precisely rhymed to flow
In exact rows of tree filled delight
But that is not what you’ll find here
Not in these shadow filled dungeons 
Does it seem odd to speak of poetry
Within what purports to be a poem
Are you starting to doubt my poetness
Could I be writing something else
That only pretends to be a poem
But really seeks to seduce you
Into some dark corner
To mug you or worse
To steal you soul
April 2011

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