Kisses on the Rhine

I sometimes miss those kisses on the Rhine,
The Europe trips, our sips of corkless wine,
And penny-flips, with which you’d slap your wrist,
Hand over fist, and say “guess which it is!”

I miss those laughs you used to gasp, the croaks
I used to call them, giggles caught in chokes;
You’d flash your teeth, though not quite perfect white,
All mostly straight, save that one to the right.

I miss those nights we’d share, the sights we’d see,
But never you, yourself, dear Charity:
It seems sometime while lost on memory lane,
You slipped away, were never seen again,

But you were present there much more, before,
When reminiscent missing still felt sore,
And present-me would drag behind the past
To ask what part about it couldn’t last,

Though not so now; it’s turned periphery,
Like so much else I’ve lost to memory.
I sometimes wonder if you think of me
Those times I almost think of you.

~Michael Danger Caskey

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Published in: on September 3, 2014 at 11:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sing a Song of Sixpence

Sing a song of sixpence, pockets full of rye,
Johnny with your sixpence, bellyfull of wine,
Pulling down the drink since there’s something on your mind,
Quit searching for that sixth sense, the other five are fine,
But you’re not one to think when you’re looking for a sign.

Jenny with some rue seeds, better take some rye:
Pockets full of wishes never gonna shine,
If you get your sixpence, give it to the grind;
Money where your mouth is, bread is close behind,
But Johnny’s got your sixpence, and Johnny’s doing time.

Johnny’s on the down-low, Jenny’s on the climb,
He’s looking for his chance, but the stars won’t quite align,
She’s taking what she can, but the can won’t ever chime,
So sing a song of sixpence, sing a song of rye:
Songs with happy endings always cost a dime.

~Michael Danger Caskey

Group Therapy

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Group Therapy

A single burning lamp ahead, a shadowed hand behind;
The candle may have lit his face, but wrapped around his mind,
The shadow sent its tendrils in–the dark fruit of that vine
Had planted seeds inside his head that grew on teary brine.

Connected to that shadow-claw was yet another man
Who gripped a plastic bottle in his shade-reflected hand
With doses of forgetfulness–a memory per gram–
While inside fighting demons of his self-turned reprimand.

And all around the two of them were men like glass in stain:
All colored, fractured fragments of a broken window pane,
Which bore a jagged, splintered edge, but none of them the same,
As they had been transfigured since they broke from all the pain.

But in that shaky candlelight, beneath their private shade,
What no one seemed to notice was the picture that it made:
With everyone as jagged glass so carefully displayed,
A stained glass of a hopeful dream was finally portrayed.

Observers to this fateful scene were few and far between,
For everyone who gathered there were after their lost dream.
Not even I escaped their cry–the rape of therapy:
That shadow-hand was in command, and next in line was me.

~Michael Danger Caskey

Published in: on December 2, 2011 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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Poetic Monologue

So I’ve been reading Robert Browning recently for class. Dramatic monologues and all that. So I thought I’d try my hand at one of them for once, or at least a poetic bastardization of such. If that’s the word I’m looking for. No, the right phrase is probably a dramatic bastardization. Anyway, I like it enough.

I Heard the Leaves

I heard the leaves as they were falling, once,
And they were singing songs,

Or so I thought.
The leaves, at least, were falling and they made
Some kind of noise as each of them were caught
And carried off by gusts,

But anyway,
Their song was hardly mournful or distraught,
Despite how, in that very wind that sought
The leaves, the barren branches left behind
All rattled, shook, and seemed to howl at time
For bringing such a fell fall wind around
To drag their fragile children to the ground.
However, their autumnal agony
Was drowned out by their spinning progeny:
The leaves all seemed to dance in revelry
While singing “Hallelujah! We are free!”
But I–

I see the look you’re sending me
Askance; a glance that seems to ask me why,
As if I’m sending back insanity.
I know that they could neither talk, nor cry,
Nor sing a thing, of that, you can be sure,
But bear with me some more.

Now, where was I?
Ah, right: I could not help but wonder if
These singers knew they were not long to live
And their unbound rejoicing would not last,
For freedom’s only meant for dust and ash,
Since their reward is freedom’s final price
For falling leaves that spin like loaded dice
Or flipping coins with both sides tails, or heads
Cut from the trunk and wishing they were dead
But betting for their life. These leaves, I think,
Are too too sordid; far too much like me
For me to look on them and really see
Just a leaf: an ounce of compost for the grass
In final rites for passing Advent Mass
With mourning branches shuddering above
And silent ground so welcoming below.
Christian men and women all around
Look on the sight, and hear the raspy sounds,
And say “oh, how I love the autumn day
When leaves are changing in the best of ways!”
But they ignore the branches, stripped and bare,
And buried leaves no longer in the air–
Blinded fools! the beauty’s where you cannot see!
Lift the blanket, look below, and there will be
Your truth, your beauty, and your free! But no,
It may be really foolish me. I know
The leaves were making sounds of revelry,
And this design was drawn up by the trees;
Their fall-inspired offspring must have known
Of their mortality as they were grown–
Their dance was no coincidence of wind,
With songs of Hallelujah to the end,
But that these very leaves–

I see no need:
You seem to have no interest in this–
Just like a newly-planted thought, or seed,
That died inside my heavy-handedness.
I may have spoken anthropomorphically:
Indeed, some trees may be deciduous,
And grow their leaves in spring, but finally
Re-absorb them when the daylight’s less,
But that’s not really what my story’s for–
Jesus Christ, haven’t you heard of metaphor?

~Michael Danger Caskey

Tennessee Williams and You

So I’ve been watching a large number of Tennessee Williams plays recently. I figured I may as well sooner or later, being part of a University whose theater department is funded on half his estate. My analysis, for the most part, is such: he is a terrible playwright. Not terrible in the unskilled way; he was extremely capable in my opinion. No, he is a terrible playwright in how his plays portray consistently terrible situations, usually with no clear resolve at the end. His players are losers who continue to lose, and his scenarios are bad and only getting worse. In all honesty, why would one ever go to watch one of them in the first place? After every single one of his plays I have seen put on, I have been left with a sinking hole in my heart reminding me of the despair of the human race. It is not exactly comforting.

It is, however, beautiful. I cannot describe why, but the characters–even in the midst of their despair–present a rare insight into the greatest part of the human condition (if played well, of course). I must say that, while I do enjoy comedy, it has never moved me half as well as a good tragedy. Perhaps another part of this human condition is a fatal attraction towards drama, tragedy, and ill-fortune–kind of like how one cannot help but stare at a car crash in the making or why public hanging became so popular that it was eventually outlawed. Perhaps, as my brother has suggested, tragedy becomes so popular because the audience lives vicariously through the play and are reminded to their relief how their life isn’t. Perhaps we are in love with emotional trauma, and good ol’ Williams knows just how to serve it. God help us, though: we are misery junkies, and God help me, I am hooked on Tennessee Williams’ plays. Gimme my fix, Blanche DuBois: I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

But this is all tangential to my poem-post. If blogging is the food of thought, then here would be the main course:

To Her Sad Condition

O terminal affection, unconditional disease,
To her you’re no infection, but a love she cannot leave.
I’ve seen your wretched smile and I’ve seen your toxic grin
Stretched between her ears, but in a curl ’round her chin.

From there your agents whisper to her all-too willing ears
Bitter sweetened nothings that she made herself to hear.

Meanwhile, through her smile, down her throat, and in her chest,
You lie in cradled comfort as she holds you near her breast—
Dear cancer, how you hold her back! O hands around her heart!
Squeezing warmer blood away until it falls apart,

You cannot just be cut away; that treatment’s surely wrong,
For when the surgeon pulls you out, her heart would go along.

There’s no abusive manacles who make her stay this way,
And nothing forced her starry eyes within a weary gaze,
But Tragic Touch, Lamenting Love, I know you made her smile!
If music be the food of love, then yours would be the bile!

Despite her sad condition, though, she still insists she’s glad:
She wore your wretched smile ’cause it’s the best she’ll ever have.

~Michael Danger Caskey

Published in: on July 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Riddle

A Riddle

He snatches the stars and he catches the moon,
And traps them inside of a looking-glass tomb.
He plows through the earth and he drinks up the sea:
He’s son to Prometheus, brother to me.

His words are of stone and his home is of sand,
Crumbling together on sturdiest land.
His hands are a cradle; his fingers, a cage
Confining his brothers inside for an age.

And he lasts through ages but numbers his days:
We may see the ground, but he sees his own grave.
In one breath he curses and pleads to be saved;
He doesn’t know why, but he prays anyway.

He rides off to war, but against his own parts:
He holds his sword backwards and aimed at his heart.
His helmet’s adorned with the sun’s stolen plumes:
He’s the son of Prometheus-also his doom.

And finally, when all the world’s his own,
He’ll call to be praised but he’ll find he’s alone.
This riddle’s a question: who can this man be—
This son of Prometheus, scion of Eve?

~Michael Danger Caskey

Published in: on January 13, 2011 at 3:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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