Introduction: This is actually a reworking of an old poem, originally titled An Affliction, published in Isthmus. It is a small experiment in remixing—something musicians do quite often, yet writers and poets seldom try—but it wasn’t the feeling of inadequacy that lead me to rearrange it. It was curiosity. A published work is merely one output and one conclusion among infinite possibilities, and a remix or rewritten piece is an additional output. It is an exploration of what could have been or should have been or might have been, a variation tinged with the effects of time, a curious perspective at an odd angle. It’s also a lot of fun to tinker with.

Songs in the Amber Night

witchdoctors must have a helluva time

with jujus and spells and voodoo bells

trying to figure out doozy cures

for ailments beyond the human spirit—

take Schumann’s Geistervariationen

and its little fine net of madness,

a palmful of songs in the amber night,

rocking against milky memory shores

with the heart growing heavy like a thousand

weary soldiers dying somewhere under suns,

like an age-old affliction with time to spare,

like a loose anchor pulling its own weight

along the ridge of a quiet young spine—

I still cannot fathom its intimate melody,

just as I can’t see why a smile breaks

when the ocean breathes like a chiffon skirt,

why the wind adores whiffs of caramel salmon

floating down the sleepy wharf,

why this heaving ache never ceases

to rack my body when I gaze at

an untouched meadow,

when I dip my hand into the sea,

when I realize I didn’t know

I loved the world like this.


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