Poetry: Donna Snyder

Donna Snyder
Place through song 

I.

The slap cracks

Fist on wood

Knuckles gleam with sweat

Blood glistens

A rose clenched between teeth

 

Lips pulled back

A snarling smile

 

Dust flies up from the feet

Settles on the smoky wine

 

Only the woman with a neck like a swan

Can hope to dance through worlds

Her flesh and bone given over to the music

She moves beyond the sound of violence

Into an emptied-ness born of physicality

and despair

 

II.

 

Within these walls

Enigma

 

That time was so harsh

Small protection

from wind and cold or rain and heat

 

Only the wildest crones knew the healing arts

Doctors were mere butchers

Women and others were chattel only

 

III.

 

You

The ego hisses in my night

You are the only one

who can do what must be done

 

Muscles knotted in the neck

Pain palpable as minerals or dust

No possible relief imagined

 

The least respite denied

 

IV.

 

Colors flash

Images pulsate

then attenuate

Already nothing before you can discern their meaning

 

V.

 

I have a friend who dreams

of a world where there is no sight

and so everyone can be beautiful

 

And when I dance

And when I dance

If I give myself over to the music

and truly dance

 

I go there

 

I close my eyes and feel my body stretch

I move until I become nothing but dance

Flesh and muscle sing the joy of sweat

 

And I move into emptied-ness

That other place

That world where no one sees me

And I am beautiful beyond beauty

My motion beyond dance

My existence beyond this body

 

V.

 

Breathe in

Breathe out

 

Follow your breath until “you” disappear

The individual gone

In another dimension

An emptied-ness replaces ego

Narcissism gone

Words of a poet

flee clichés born of flesh and sloth

With each exhalation release the ego

 

Release the pride that keeps you stuck

in a world that does violence to that something

that remains after you breathe

 

Release the words

and breathe

 

VI.

 

That time then was terrible harsh

except for the grace born of strings

beneath a poet’s hand

 

Savagery calmed

 

And harshness

***

 

Untimely death declared (one day left!)

One day left

Time to prioritize

Assume the stars say do whatever

you want with what little time left

 

Spend the rent on charming ballet slippers

Dance at the ball until way past midnight

Laugh until you wet yourself no matter

 

Turn all your oh, no!s into oh, yes!

Say hello to spring which won’t become a fall

Make some room for pudding—the real kind

made of whole milk and eggs

 

You will need your dogs with you

They’ve never heard of hour or year

They will give miniature barks in their sleep

and deep sighs when you give them kisses

 

Begin now the journey until your dying day

Write your own prescription for poetry

Read out loud every poet you’ve ever loved

Eat a feast prepared with you in mind

 

Remember the power of word medicine

Confound folks with your command of facts

Suddenly you remember everything you ever knew

Nothing forgotten now

Dementia just another state you’re passing through

on your trip across the great planes and spaces

 

Tell your stories to an appreciative audience

How you danced to drums in Sitka

How you disappeared into the ocean mists and midnight light

Enjoy mesmerizing accounts of adventure tales

 

Marvel at a flock of eagles in a single tree

Find a boy who knows the meaning of life

Feel the energy of warriors fallen to a massacre

 

 Tell the folks you won’t be home Christmas

Fly to Edinburgh and drive to Skye

Take the high road

Let the others take the low road

 

Sink deep into a leather sofa

Don’t expect anyone to understand

No one will love you with a love sublime

When the last grain falls through

the hourglass figure you never had

join an angel chant in 3 part harmony

 

We understand

We understand

There was one day left

And you sucked the marrow

of those final 24

***


A despair born in lack

Lock yourself in a room above a jeweler's shop. Look close in the waste bin in the
alley. There is an elixir made of diamond dust, the antidote for despair born of
lack. No one knows the recipe.
Now you’ve done it. Your feeble efforts fail and you’ve lost the key. In the
moonless night you groan like a lover moans in grief.
The pool where we splashed is nothing but desert. Debris gathers, blown in an ill
wind.
The bereaved stay silent.
Courage takes a train that never leaves the station. The rails are blinding white,
fire the alchemist’s only friend.
***
Donna Snyder’s fourth collection of poetry will be published by Gutter Snob Books in the summer of 2022. She founded the grassroots Tumblewords Project in 1995 and continues to coordinate its free weekly writing workshops in the Texas/Chihuahua/New Mexico borderlands.

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