Tuesday 5 May 2015

3 Poems by Richard Shelton


When life sighs
Its multifarious surface,
Latent for the moment
Unscathed by the worlds-all,
Not from exhaustion or despair
But sighs from a selfless plunge
Into a solitary timeless concavity
Steep without thoughts weighty pull
A concavity where sensations,
Uniquely alive and sumptuous,
Relieved of the orchestrated forces
Of worldly relationships,
Appear Godly in their calm purity.

Celestial, harmonious seconds
Drift in mindless absence
Until, with unexpected suddenness
Inner lurking blistering beats
Of a boastful heathen heart
With cacophonous force
Jar the concave daze flat
And life’s outer gaze,
Where irrelevancies vast plunder
Spreads its chaos through space and time,
Inoculates the diminutive mind
Against the rhythmic elasticity
Of the expansive self
Recomposing this serene state
With improvised distrust,
Distrust of life’s strident chords
Whose symphonic atonalism
Rends harmony into dizzying
Incalculable polynomials.


If a cause
Is the because
Of what is,
If I am not more man
Because of my suffering,
Hardened as iron
By tyrannous pain
Growing colossal and mythic,
If I live a coward’s life
Drinking down the day’s cheap win,
If with my suffering
I still suffer more
Piling pain upon pain,
If the cause of my pain in diffractive,
Neither this nor that,
No what no why,
If I hurdle vain questions to the void
As it echoes back bleak nothing,
Silent streaks of sickly blue
Too vast for my imaginings,
If I say if
There is a cause,
If a God knows why,
I wish his death with every tear I cry.


Old menacing anguish
Has laid upon me HIS solemn fingers,
Has clasped in the dark
My turning shoulder,
Has held tight my shoulder joint
As I, with all my might,
Cold to the marrow
(Sickened by his grief)
Have sought that relief
Vacuous terror inspires:
To escape, flee this dark
Before the probing thinking starts.
But as I turn with rueful mind,
Swiftly coming from behind,
Feral fingers icy tongs
Scapula-clavicle grip with fear
Forbidding me to leave from here.


Richard Shelton is a painter, whose writings include poems and commentary on art history. His writing appears in publications such as Willard & Maple, The Chaffin Journal, and The Eclectic Muse. His artwork appears in the Smithsonian Art Institute’s Hirshhorn Museum, as well as other museums in the U.S.

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