Her family had warned her, but it made no difference. The stack of poetry books on the table by her red leather chair grew and grew, as if in competition with the Christmas tree by which it loomed. It happened gradually, as things do, one book pulled from the bookcase and added to the pile one week, two more the next, and then another, and another. Finally one day, the inevitable happened. It was just before Christmas, the house aglow with candle spirits. A spicy Cabernet had been poured. The woman in the red chair hunkered down for an evening's read under the alpenglow of her poetry mountain, the crackle and hiss of the woodstove in her ears. But alas, when she slid Keats out from the foundation, the whole damn tower tumbled and buried our poor sitting duck. When they dug her out, a miracle had occurred. She lived! And the volumes of poems had coalesced into a condensed Pompeii of a poem, layered and conglomerate. Two lines of poetry from each book had tumbled out from precisely the pages where their bookmarks were tucked, not one page in either direction, beautifully inscribed through some unknown alchemy on a page of freshly scraped parchment. And, these couplets were joined in exactly the order in which the books had been stacked (except that rebel Bukowski tried to get to the bottom after being on the top; he's a reverse elitist, you know).
Our bruised and concussed woman has requested the help of her blog friends to interpret the mystery revealed in these aggregated lines before she sends them off to Dan Brown. She feels there must be great portent after a near poetic death by suffocation. Please read the mystery poem and leave your interpretation (or get well wishes) in the comment box.
(You will find a list of poems, poets and the volumes of poetry in the Babel-rabble (or is it Babel-rubble?) at the bottom of this post, with links to the poems that are available online. There is a podcast of the poem here, which somehow begins to make sense of these joined couplets.
a conglomerate of couplets from fifteen poems by other poets
Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the house
The tastes come from afar
and slowly grow nameless on the tongue
There is a hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness.
We are lutes, no more, no less. If the soundbox
Misquote me and cause confusion, there is a voice that
doesn’t use words. Listen
He says, “There is nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Once I looked inside
as the shadows assume
The nights are not made for the masses.
Night divides you from your neighbor,
Once in a while someone will make a pronouncement
about the movement of the stars, the density of silence,
and in the wild transparency submerged
your celestial geometry of flight.
Those who have chosen to pass the night
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning
A quiet family, one mother one father one
toddler, around them the breath of the earth,
The house settles down on its haunches
for a doze.
O magic sleep! O comfortable bird,
That broodest o’er the troubled sea of the mind
- by the following poets . . .
Listen to a podcast of this found poem here, recorded by the recovering woman of the avalanche.
Couplets are from the following poems and books, in the order that the books were stacked (except for that rebel Bukowski), and only lines from poems at the place of each bookmark were magically contributed to the new poem:
"A Visit from St. Nicholas" - Clement Moore, Christmas Poems
"Summer Fruit" - Rainer Maria Rilke, A Year with Rilke
"Fasting" - Rumi, A Year with Rumi
"Being Slow to Blame" - Rumi, The Soul of Rumi
"The Sunrise Ruby" - Rumi, Rumi: The Book of Love
"The Hermit Crab" - Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems
"Cornered" - Charles Bukowski, You Get So Alone at Times That it Just Makes Sense
"Human Beings at Night" - Rainer Maria Rilke, The Book of Images
"The First Geniuses" - Billy Collins, Questions About Angels
"Not Alone the Albatross" - Pablo Neruda, Selected Poems
"Violent Storm" - Mark Strand, Reasons for Moving
"Four Quartets" - T.S. Eliot
"Unknown" - Sharon Olds, The Unswept Room
"Afternoon in the House" - Jane Kenyon, Otherwise
"Endymion" - John Keats, The Complete Poems