Thursday, April 05, 2012




I have nowhere
to put my arms away
for the night and so I avoid
taking them off, which
only causes more problems.

Lying on my back is novel.
I could write a poem in my sleep,
for instance.

Sooner or later, however,
my spine takes on a limb of its own
and the inferior mattress is just too much

I have considered a futon
of the roll-up variety in my Zen arcs.
Head on oblong block. Face open

to the closed eyes of night,
floating along in space
in tandem with the poem
that flies through the air
with the greatest of ease

and gets up and walks
on its hands
come morning.

April 2012

Art notes:
top: blue acrobat by Picasso
second: acrobat by Picasso
third: acrobat with flowers by Marc Chagall 


The Solitary Walker said...

Oh, this is pure delight, Ruth! I don't know how long it took you to write this poem, but it dances in the air "with the greatest of ease". And has its feet and arms and legs firmly on the ground too! Your productivity continues to amaze me, as I know I've said before.

Gwen Buchanan said...

Dear Ruth, I hope your hands can feel better by some means... Sleeping on ones back is suppose to be good for the spine once one gets used to it. We are creatures of habit and to create new habits is an effort indeed.

Peter Olson said...

I admire this mixture of poetry and an obvious real little (or big?) problem!

rosaria williams said...

The poem says it all!
I do hope your body heals and your spirit continues to soar.
Happy Easter.

erin said...

i come away from this repeating this that i believe is indisputable, life begets life.

i get this sense, too, that life and light find their way in through the cracks, this is poetry, a great realignment of body and truths, no matter who walks on what; the organized is all just a grand illusion.

(your comment my way garners weight inside of this poem, as well. it runs about on sturdy legs:)


The Bug said...

With a wonky left hip & a wonky right shoulder I do know from where you speak here :) And sleeping on my back just isn't real sleep - my mind is so close to the surface when I try that. But I'm not getting poetry out of the experience.

We do have a futon which we use as our couch & one or the other of us is on it almost every night. Snuggled, cocoon-like into its crook is almost like being safe in our mother's womb again.

Kathleen said...

All marvelous. And I identify with nighttime acrobatics.

The Broad said...

Sometimes the ridiculous really is sublime! Now, I must really get some sleep! Happy Easter, Ruth...

Anonymous said...

Don't know much about what was actually going through his mind when he created these, but your poem could well have given us a scenario! But what a laugh Woody Allen has made it into: Have you seen Midnight In Paris? The first painting here is the subject of debate in the movie.

ds said...

There. You see, you are a natural yogi ; ) The fourth into fifth stanzas are your savasana and what riches you bring from it! Your arms may hurt (it grieves me that this is so) and still you kick up your heels.
Thank you--and Namaste.

hedgewitch said...

Yes, the arms are so unnecessary when trying to sleep, especially when they hurt. I don't know if this was what you were going for, but I have a vivid picture of tossing and turning and scientific evolving of geometric positions in a search for comfort,(that third stanza is perfect) and the metaphor with writing is canny and fits precisely the scheme of contortions and comfort zones we are often involved in. Even if I'm way off base, i enjoyed this much, and the lively pictures as well. Chagall was my favorite artist as a child.

Anonymous said...

O Ruth, the doors you have opened, suffering as you do your limbs ... Comforting into sleep can be a difficult road when things hurt here and there -- hard enough when the mind's burdened or the soul heavy -- But the poem takes a page from dream to liquify matters enough so that passage is possible in soak and float. Surreality's a good sleepy time tea. Loved the swim. - Brendan

Marcie said...

Love how you've paired your poetry with these artist images. Really and truly inspiring! Hope your arms/back feel better soon...

Grandmother said...

When something hurts, it takes on its own life and turns us into acrobats in search of relief. It astounds me that you turn this pain into poetry. Isn't that the native American description of medicine? Healing comes in many ways.

Ruth said...

Dear Robert, thank you so much! I wrote the poem in a few minutes. I don't seem to have much tolerance for revision or poems that require more than an hour or two of work any more, though I greatly admire those who do that kind of work. It's like the soul has something to say and must just spit it out, right now.

Sweet Gwen, thank you, and yes, just so. I crave lying on my side, that comfort, and then my shoulders ache. Slowly, gradually, I'm changing the habit to lying on my back, which my osteopath says is the only way to sleep. :(

Thank you, Peter!

Ruth said...

rosaria, thank you for reading, and for your comforting words. Happy Easter to you as well!

erin, everything is everything. Thank you, my friend.

Dana, that is such an interesting way to put it: my mind is so close to the surface . . . Yes!

Ruth said...

Thanks, Kathleen. I remember seeing a high speed progression of photos of a person sleeping through the night. It was so wild looking!

The Broad, I'm smiling. Happy Easter to you, too!

Arti, I looked up that wonderful scene in "Midnight in Paris" (yes, I saw it twice), and I found an article that said that Picasso indeed had dreams about removing his limbs!

Ruth said...

ds :-) You are clever and kind. Thank you.

Hedge, this was an instance when I found the images after writing the poem. Funny though, your (and perhaps Kathleen's) vivid picture makes total sense, but what was in my mind was simply the floating between trapezes that acrobats do, and wishing I could feel that effortless. Thanks for reading.

Brandon, thanks for stepping into the surreal with me. Dreams and restless nights can make good poem prompts, which is some solace, I suppose.

Ruth said...

Marcie, thank you very much!

Oh hello, Mary, I've missed you. Thank you for connecting this with Native American sensibilities, which I admire. And yes, sometimes even though the body aches, the soul finds beauty.

California Girl said...

Your poem goes well with the images. Wish I could take off my arms at night too. They get in the way.

Miss Jane said...

Wonderful poem, Ruth! I don't know if I can add much more to what has already been said. I do admire the way you have joined the images to your poem and how you have observed your malady and fashioned it into art. I've noticed in myself, lately, since my movements have been so restricted with my bad back that I'm dreaming of myself doing all sorts of twisting, floating and dancing in almost a sort of awe twinged with a little fear--can my body really do that?
Thank you for the wonderful post. You always do such enlightening and intriguing work.

Pauline said...

Marvelous! Inspiration from an uncomfortable mattress!

Ginnie said...

Ohhhhhh. If I had to sleep on my back, Ruth, I'd keep Astrid awake from my snoring. I guess you don't have to worry about that with Don. HA! But the pain you must can't possibly be worth all the poems, can it? For us maybe but...for you, too? I'm so sorry.

Pat said...

I can relate to this poem! It has become so uncomfortable for me to sleep at night - it hurts in any position that I lie in - it wouldn't be a bad idea to take my different parts off and then get some blissful sleep! I love the poem AND the paintings!

Montag said...

This is an incredible exercise in insomniac eroticism. "Poem in my sleep..." indeed.
I shall read it again much later in the day, as it is not safe for he early hours.