Monday, August 21, 2006

Work permit

(please view the orriginal artwork that inspired this poem HERE )

I have been dead all my life
Flat like the sea
Choking horizon
Close and endless

All the pleasure I have known
The guilty touch of shiny leather
The crude grail of silk
All the rotten reals
Of dead animal skin
And no hope of transformation

I have surfed like a job
Over the birthplace of clams
While a solitary skate
Is flying on whale song
Across the valley below me

There is no home
That wasn’t a house
(With a hanging hat
Strangled in haste)

Diamonds strung on spider webs
Were pictures in magazines
On orthodontic visits

The sparkling world and shinny teeth
Presidents and Princesses
Long cars with fins
Sputtering whales

Couldn’t prepare me
For a moment alone
A spastic second spent
In my own embrace


Pat Paulk said...

I may be missing this, but I see the hectic illusion of a materialistic world running like a trainwreck, and when the wheels finally stop the embrace of the real spirit is awkward and uncomfortable. Some wonderful imagery here:"Diamonds strung on spider webs
Were pictures in magazines
On orthodontic visits"

Russell Ragsdale said...

Thanks for the great comment, Pat! I think you've got it almost completely. The one element that you missed is that this is about a frightened religious person. This means that he is afraid, most of all, of himself. This sometimes happenes with such people as the nature of that fear tends to be irrational, just as is faith and they blend together into something less than optimal.

The materialistic world is all that a person like that gets to experience because of the fear they have about themselves. Getting in touch with their own souls would, of course, be the key to opening up the spiritual world for them. Since this is not possible they are left with this superficial material world which leaves them feeling as if they were dead. They then head for the world of the soul but run into themselves at the doorway, experiencing that unacceptable moment I describe at the end of the poem.

Thanks for the great comments!

Pat Paulk said...

I see the light!! Thanks!!

Russell Ragsdale said...

Thanks Pat! Miss Sam Duffy's piece of artwork is about a shallow and frightened cleric. I think we all know the other type,as well. The one whose belief in God makes beautiful this temporal world (as well as the next). That's why Miss Sam's image was so painful to me. As Yoda says, "fear is a path to the dark side."

ozymandiaz said...

Religion without spirituality then, hugh?

csperez said...

great poem and intelligent you want to link up?

come by and say hello ;)


Russell Ragsdale said...

Hi Ozy! I think perhaps there are as many variations of religion as there are people practicing them. Thanks for having a question. I, too, have a lot about this puzzling life.

Russell Ragsdale said...

Hi csperez! We are linked and I enjoyed your site (had a liesurely read of some of the fine poetry there). Thanks for the great comments and I am looking forward to more visits. Congrats on your reading.

Berkley's a great place. Spent a bit of time there in the 60's.

Sue hardy-Dawson said...

I think this is my favourite poem ever, the last stanza chills to the bone-it drags me through so many violaties-yes I really really like it

Russell Ragsdale said...

Thanks Sue! I'm delighted you had such a reaction to this poem. I found the illustration it is based on sad and chilling. I am so pleased you really like this. Thanks for the encouraging words.