A Series of Poems on the Senses
A series of poems on the senses
Twilight is devoid of light
When the moon is hidden
By the sun.
Even if it tried the moon
Could not be seen even
If it used a gun.
And on those days of
Twilight is quiet like
Those “not even a mouse”
Moments where breath
Without sound my world
is not deaf; it is not disabled;
it is magnified as shadow
Communication is more
Pronounced, sound being
So apparent as if to drown
When sounds make their
Presence heard I must listen
I must obey I must respond
If I can.
This is my relation to sound
No else’s, I cannot speak for
Others I can speak for myself
As sound allows.
I hear no better than when I
Don’t make a sound.
Sound dances best when its
Vibrations hit me like dance
Upon my skin, upon the placid
Lake of life.
Music is to sound as light speed
Is to darken stars at the edge of
orbits as they race to be seen by
Those on the ground.
And if we are to bath in sound
Let us quiet to the notes of nature
And the timber of shimmering
Snare drum time.
Sounds matter in the reaction
They create upon the universe
Of cues. Process being the end
Sound the means.
Words of history, words of
Science, words bubbling streams
And the age-old query again
Asks: if a tree in a forest falls
Does its sound matter
Second in the series on the senses:
Autopsy photographs, whether in color
Or black and white, startle, intriguing to
Some but horrifying to the innocent
Who upon seeing them wish they were
Sight, oh dear camera of my eyes, negatives
All processed quickly even if I had wished to
Toss them aside.
Grand Canyon vistas, the Himalayas in the
Morning light, the first breathes of life of
Child or yearling alike.
The close-up, the far away horizon, the
Timed blink that makes everything seem
New and sparkling again.
Nothing is lost. All is retained. Once seen
It is no longer a dream. It is that thing all
Know as reality.
Always seeking to see. Sleep but a rewind
Of what the day has been. Even as I image
I continue to see.
Lens are different for everyone. What the
Philosopher or scientist see is so different
From the poet’s visual acuity. One sees only
Surfaces, others the beyond.
When my brain seeks information it first
Asks me to see. I return with data that
Life is a gathering, forging enterprise.
Minds filled with moments, thoughts
Sight does not differentiate. Its job is not
That of judge or jury but like a sponge
It squeezes and gathers.
Thank the powers that be that it gave
Us eyelids to close our eyes for sight
Can often be too much see.
Third in a series on the senses:
The first memory I have of smell
Is the lactating mother’s milk
That sustained me early in
Life. I remember it vividly,
Even today, because my
Mother chose to breast
Feed me until into my
As I grew, I realized that most
Of the smells that caused me
To squint my eyes and move
Away were coming from the
Differing orifices and cavities
That made my small body a
Human foundry of bellowing
But as life let me walk and I
Could move freely about I
Smelled flowers, kitchen
Smells that changed by the
Hour, outdoor fluttering
Nature with its floating
Parade of trees, earth plants
And creatures with their own
Food odors of the sweetest
Kinds became a sounding bell,
Causing me to run toward what
I knew would be something that
Taste would join with smell to
Create pleasure, warm comfort,
satisfaction making me feel I
was uniquely whole.
The first time I smelled the body
Of another from its hair down
Through all the treasures buried
and hidden from sight through
most hours of day and night then
and only then did I feel human not
in a civilized way but in what Eden
must have been like, skin-to-skin,
devouring lustful, loving, unabandoned
I have smelled birth. I have smelled
Death. I have smelled the joy of
Dance. I have smelled the morning
After heartache. I have smelled success
And I have smelled failure. I have smelled
Unwashed clothes and fresh hung laundry.
I have smelled the wild native flowers after
a Texas rain. I have smelled Paris and London and
Rotterdam. I have smelled New York City
As the street cleaners wash the jazz night away.
I have smelled life.
Fourth in a series on the senses:
Sweet and sour, smile or dour,
every taste associated with others
given more flavor by comparison
as if its taste alone were not enough.
Sweet sugar cane crushed between
your teeth, squeezing juice that runs
down your cheek and introduces your
teeth to the reality of cavities.
Sour pickles, tart fruits, honeyed yams
mother's milk, yogurt tang, creamy butter,
hot peppers, earthy vegetables, tubers and
roots, seeds and grains, salt and spices.
Smell and taste are conjoined senses. One
introduces and the other lets the introduction
linger, perfumed invitations to taste and smell
God's Eden creations, feral, fecund, sensation.
Delicious, scrumptious, enjoyable, pleasant,
berry, juicy, acidy, chalky, clean, jammy, musty,
rancid, smoky, yeasty, pungent, green, tangy--
words that seek to define a sense sublime.
When the word is lifted from its body, it takes
on the ephemeral flight of giving sense to
inanimate objects hanging on walls, a cascade
of colors on cloth and furnishing galore.
We are attached to the senses and they give
primal joy to the electricity of living, taste
the current whose flavor racing through
the tongue, savored in our mouths, alive.
Fifth in a series on the senses:
Skin and delicate fingerprint touch
Paint sensations soft and hard on
Canvases in mind.
Hand and floating hair and furred skin
Sculpt images of flowing wheat and animal
Feet and toes and socks and mud and water
Form the molds of warmth or squeezed dirt
Mush that flower.
Fingernails scraping and touching strings
Bring together touch and sound to make
Touch heals, touch hurts, touch fixes, touch
Destroys, touch emboldens, touch depresses,
Touch is intention.
Touch withheld can traumatize, touch misused
Evokes havoc, touch done right soothes, touch
Is two surfaces made one.