BY JAN HAAG

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

INTRODUCTION + POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART + HAAG'S BIO




THE CHATAUQUA POEMS



CHAUTAUQUA

11-9-00


 

I have simplified my life down to the bone:
One exceedingly tall stemmed vase with yellow flowers,
Chrysanthemums, feathered like the firs,
A few dark clothes,
Nothingness.
 

The imagined soughing of the pines:
The wind lifts, waves, rides the undulating branches,
Fresh blowing rain, and the lake,
Mossy roofs, dark windows,
Emptiness.
 

Behind the thick-paned windows in warmth:
Reading about Cambodia, I nurse a heart of despair,
I can eat what I wish, go where I please,
Wear dark clothes, court
Nothingness.
 

Imagine the monstrosity of the world:
 In silence is the puzzlement, the pain, the unendurable,
The rain, death by starvation,
     Decapitation by mines
Emptiness.





THE BEGINNING OF WINTER


11-13-00

The terror grips my soul
As if I were a Cambodian
Running before Polpot
I belong no place
All the places I have been
The lives I have lived
The people I have loved
All have been destroyed
By time and disaffection
The failing of my senses
The loss of my hands' grip
The failure of my ability to love
The need to find comfort
To find peace of mind
To find solitude
To find silence

My soul is dead and I linger on
Why?
So willing to go
God does not choose me.

My flesh calls
My skin itches
No longer smooth
Splotched
Excrescencies
Stings and pains
Tiredness when I fold a sheet
Effort when I climb the stairs

I think it is true
We live for others
And if there are no others
Why live for me?
It would be so much more
Comfortable dead.





TWO DAYS


11-19-00

Well, this is the first day that I feel alive enough to write.
I write from Chautauqua, out of the snow,
the winter of my heart, the heart of despair.

I read about Cambodia, I have spent days doing so,
now drifting into weeks. At last,
in The Gates of Ivory, I have found someone,

a novel character, who thinks as I do,
that, somehow, an alteration in our society
was called for, was due, was a good

idea. No matter how grotesquely wrong it's gone, at the heart
was a protest against the horror of the ways things
are, and continue to be. Where not even

one five billionth of the world's population
enjoys the spoils of it all. The rest are slaughtered daily
in spirit, and in body, by greed, by crudity

of aspiration, by hacking away of the environment,
by the nothingness to hope, the keeping busy-ness to life
so that one might not live to or think about the second day.





BENEATH THE SNOWS OF WINTER


11-19-00

I am in prison, the prison of my own life.
I am serving time, my sentence, my doom
Surely, I can be as gallant, as motivated,
as courageous as any political prisoner.

The food is terrible --
the awful food.
I eat and eat.

My sleep is disturbed.
I sleep and sleep.

My anguish is unrelenting.

I circumscribed my character,

cultivated opinions,
adopted stances,

loved and lost,
loved and won.
Others died.

Desires, plans eliminated themselves.
I built the walls high and dense with stone.
I am serving time, my sentence, my doom.
I am in the prison of my own life

beneath the snows of winter.





SNOW


11-19-00

The skittering, the ticking
the electrical air,
the softness,
the whiteness of night,
it couldn't be rain...
Lights came on.
She couldn't sleep.
She squinted her eyes,
peered into the dark.
She turned off the light
She sat by the great window,
overlooking the great lake,
grey in the night,
alone,
watching the drift of
what could have been ash,
but it went on and on
until the whole bright world was
white.





LIKE DEHISCENT MILKWEED


11-19-00

As the milkweed sheds its seed beneath the blizzard
White fluff in the window, white fluff upon the snow
Small brown seeds, oval rimmed, difficult to identify
On the light brown rug beneath the window turning
Black into the night -- so is my trace upon the world
-- floating, feathered, misty milkweed as snowflakes
In the black, headlighted sky, against a blue-bowled
Daylight, a white cotton curtained cerulean daylight
Light as ash, amazing as the cottonwood producing
Cotton so far above the earth, so close to the eaves
Roofing the everlasting sky watched through square
Windows, glass-paned, glossy, shimmering, a shield
Boldly forced against the evanescent, enduring pain
Of insubstantiality tattooed by a billion multi-pointed
Traceries verging on meltdowns or mounting toward
Avalanche upon mounds of silky-seeding milkweed,
Icy, indifferent to the preservation-mania of humans.





RENEWAL


11-20-00

The day has come awake.
The sickness has passed.
The snow is still falling.
The icicles are three feet
long, possibly four
The computer hums louder
than the drift of the ticking
snow. Every once-in-a-while,
overhead, a giant stamps
his boot, the snow falls
a sonic boom from one roof
to the other, like the thud
of a heart-beat, terror-struck.

Blow your nose in the morning,
get rid of the scabs of heat from
the night. We have trained ourselves
to different discomforts than jumping
squirrels dislodging snow from the hemlock,
exploring the eaves in the night.
I, too, eat nuts in the winter,
harvested from the Safeway.
I'll walk a mile in my boots
today, and back with toilet paper, coffee,
milk and meat to keep the blood
red, the courage high as I face the winter
alone in Chautauqua, accompanied

by puzzled thought of the merciless
Khmer, already a quarter century
moldering, their skull piles almost as high as
Tamberlaine's, their necessity, like the Old
Testament, to murder every man, woman, child
and cow
after their bombardment by Democratic America.

The will of the people where the hardest worker
earns the least, and the greediest schemer wins the world.
Winning the world, apparently, breeds genocide.
Not winning the world breeds servitude.
Your choice.
Where does becoming a monster begin?

In hope?
The day has come awake.
The sickness has passed.
The snow is still falling.
The icicles are three feet
long, possibly four
The computer hums louder
than the drifts of
ticking snow.





SCARLET DEER


11-21-00

The drift of pure white snow, blistering heels, gutted carcasses of slain deer...
scarlet-red, alizarin crimson, maroon, ruby, cherry, cochineal, the redder reds,
the reddest red reds in a universe of living blood are the gashed bellies in which
guts had pulsed, beat, breathed beneath the living flesh of the fresh-killed deer.

There were thirteen of them stacked, not quite one on top of another, random,
hollowed, one's tongue lolled out pink. One hung stretched down from a very
high hook. Between turned-up nose and bent-down hoofs it was nine feet tall,
naked -- many blood-bespattered pelts were stacked to one side -- it hung as

mauves and pinks and bluish purples, pale poppy-reds of "meat" covered with
fat, sinew, musculature, bone. I glimpsed the bones of the spindly legs hidden
by the flaking rosy flush of the exposed suet. A huge deer. Nobly racked, pale
in the shed-- certainly bigger than any of the other fragile, without-their-guts,

scarlet-bellied young bucks lying flattened, one atop another. It was the day of
the worst snowstorm Buffalo, the city, had ever known -- twenty-five inches in
twenty-four hours. Nothing moved. Traffic was forbidden. Supermarkets, schools
libraries, etc. were identified as public buildings. After my walk, I sat by the radio

needlepointing, thinking about the deer, wondering if children, adults, ushered
into grocery stores could pick food and eat. I wondered if slaughtered, gutted
deer whose spilling-scarlet, opened abdomens flashing beauty, terror might yet
inflame or diminish the appetites of those waiting icy, inprisoned by the snow.






Copyright © 2002 through 2015 Jan Haag
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Jan Haag may be reached via e-mail: jjhaag@gmail.com


MASTER LIST: ALL POETRY


BY JAN HAAG

ART & POETRY - ACCUMULATIONS

POETRY + MUSIC + ESSAYS + TRAVEL + FICTION + TEXTILE ART

INTRODUCTION + HAAG'S BIO



21st CENTURY ART, C.E. - B.C., A Context