Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category


I felt lucky today at the gas pump at Cumby’s
the pickup trucks with their dragon breath
refueling, and New Order on the outside radio
as they pulled up and parked,
got cigarettes,
and the coffee from Ipanema
(available for a limited time)—

I decided the blinding sun and cracking icicles
were a sign, and invested
in the lottery:
the scratch-off cards hung
like ripe metallic fruit,
not at all forbidden
because we all deserve to get lucky—

And it doesn’t matter if I get
the horseshoe, or the wild eight
because I can see that winning number
already, pulsing and alive,
glowing in 3D from its portal of scratched silver
like I’m entitled to this
like a glittering birthright

I won’t say I didn’t win today
because I know how to read the signs,
and when I scratch it with the dime in my pocket,
I scratch it ALL—just to see how my desires look
in space and time, ink and paper
I’ve been rehearsing this number so long
and baby, I’m ready to roll

It’s a bright blue morning, and
today I’m an ambassador from insomnia,
carrying stardust in my smile
and supernovas in my sweatshirt pockets.
I carry the night’s dreams
with the steam clouding my window.
They are safe with me,
here in the light.

Today I feel lucky just to be here,
in this place of shiny and dark things
as my car fills with scents of coffee
and gasoline, and I’m still humming
Thieves Like Us as I put in the key
and as I drive off into this young day,

I know there’s a place for me
here today
because I am lucky —
I am all the winning numbers
hidden away in secret drawers
waiting for the mischief
of surprise

© Sarah K. Noack 2017


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I have just dicovered the secret
of King Midas

who each morning, awoke to his throne
and slept at night with his crown
because it helped him think

and as he watched an alloyed world outside his window
full of leprosy and deceit,
far beyond the reaches of his own mortal grasp
he felt as powerless as a sparrow
as all arrows pointed toward him alone
to solve the riddle,
cut the knot
and distill the secret
of philosopher’s stone

so he honed his third eye
and let in the sun,
closed his chambers
to everyone—
forbidding even shadows
to enter his royal presence

until the light broke through
into his closed eyes
and danced from his fingers
in magic rays,
spilling out into everything he touched,
and he offered the coins
of his soul
to the needy who gathered and took

but it was so much, so much
he didn’t know how to stop it–
when he cried, he spilled sundrops
and when he bled, he gilded
the surface of the world,

paving the streets
like the hallways of heaven,
bestowing new luck
on the karmically impaired,
raining abundance
on the just and unjust
until the ordinary
in all its color
became obsolete
until gold itself was the disease,
and even love
was impossible for the hero
who sold his soul
for a magic touch—

I understand you now, Midas—
it wasn’t greed that moved you,
but this kingly burden
that follows you in waking and sleeping,
and this cloak you wear of silence,
that carries the weight of the world.

You longed for the kiss of life
that would change all tears to coins
and make all sorrows golden—
but when you turned to kiss your child,
her body froze to stone.

© Sarah Noack 2008

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burden of light

(inspired by Munch’s series of paintings of of the sun, in which he actually suffered retinal damage from looking directly and continuously into the sun)

The strangest pain is too much joy—
I stagger under its weight.
Born too bright,
I crave shadow,
my face fading
in the burning light.

There is no skeleton,
only skin—
There is only pleasure,
never sin.
I levitate easily into the sun:
in dreams I float right in,
atom by atom
in its permanent grin.

The worst pain is having known and seen

and living in the green afterglow
of the burnt-in cornea,
hearing the roar of eternity
in my blown cochlea
but when I look in my backpack,
it’s empty
and I feel suddenly so alone

and knowing I’m supposed to find it again
somewhere under a bush
and share it with you
and then when I look,
it hides, laughing, and flits behind me
Sometimes I dig something out of my pocket
and it blinds me,
a post-it note from God—

ecstasy is a switch
that, once pulled,
stays forever turned on
so, burning and electric,
I fight the urge to dance
at odd moments
and cloak myself in clouds
so I won’t be noticed—

maybe if I seek the night,
the stars will oblige
one by one, to share their light
divulging subtleties
in their constellations
without the side effects
of ultraviolet radiation

Or maybe I’ve missed the point
and didn’t realize
that all along,
the bush itself was burning
and so am I
and everything that dances
in my wake—

ecstasy is no currency
in a world of corners
if anything,
it is a weakness
so use it accordingly
and guard it preciously
but distribute it freely
and realize there are no dualities
paradox is orthodox

and syntax is the substitute
semantics are gymnastics
understanding is confining
to a prison of the past
Don’t try to make this last
Don’t try to explain,
just close your eyes
and notice the patterns
on the backs of your lids
that form a landscape
if you look long enough
an inner city
within easy commuting distance

I know I am awake
and that my eyes are superfluous
but until I learn to see through the blindness,
it’s so hard to burn alone,
living in this secret place
where joy and sorrow are one.

© Sarah Noack 2006

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dirty (villanelle)

I was feeling in a villanelle state of mind as I was walking home in the rain. Villanelle states of mind are rarely good things, and this wasn’t really any exception. But villanelles are always complex, interesting poems, despite the brooding, stalker-ish obsessions that tend to bring them on.

Writing a villanelle sometimes feels like (at its easiest), about as easy as flossing the teeth on a squirming hamster. I call it the S&M poetic form. Pain! Bondage! Yes! Impose more restrictions PLEASE! Actually, you could call it snuff poetry too, because by the time you’re finished the damn thing, your original idea is always either dead from all the structural handcuffs and duct tape around it… or, magically it has come to life in a new, scarily unrecognizable, and worrisomely obsessive mood that bears little resemblance to its original, much tamer inspiration. I actually find the form very cathartic, a natural way to work through persistent, repetitive thoughts with a twist of dark humor. I super-sized this one with extra stanzas, in tricky dactylic meter… just to add to the torture.



You think that my heart is too dirty to mention.
I told you I loved you, and love speaks in tongues.
An ounce of the cure is worth pounds of prevention.

I don’t want any more of your smug condescension
I just need the caress of your breath on my lungs
though you think that my heart is too dirty to mention,

black with its soot of stale sexual tension
that tunes my violas to ultra-high-strung,
so an ounce of this cure is worth pounds of prevention

though all that I crave is your tender attention,
I really don’t want to know how well you’re hung
(though you think that). My heart is too dirty to mention

and a breach of our schoolyard rules merits detention—
but this ship is on fire, the leak has been sprung
so an ounce of the cure’s now worth pounds of prevention

as I’m caught in the fart of mistaken intentions
while you brush yourself off like my touch is cow-dung;
you think that my heart is too dirty to mention

for your sweet secret feelings cause such apprehension
but I see in your eyes that the stinger has stung
and an ounce of the cure is worth pounds of prevention,

though it seems nothing short of divine intervention
could ever convince you my heart isn’t wrong.
You think that my heart is too dirty—to mention

this unforeseen slip to another dimension
sheds unwanted light on our songs left unsung.
You think that my heart is too dirty to mention,
but an ounce of your cure is worth pounds of prevention.

© Sarah N. 2008

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I’ve been wound up
so tight
for so long,
tangled in knots
and caught on my branches
like a kite on a tree—

so please allow me
this solemn luxury
of being loose:

loose like a shudder,
like a low-hanging sky
like an unchained sob
or the sound of a sigh

like Matisse’s blue
slowing down my heartbeat
like moon jellies pulsing
in the ultramarine deep

like the scent of gardenias
or the flavor of butter
like a worn-out child
in the arms of its mother

oh let me be loose
and let me be sweet
let me open the gates
and collapse on warm sheets

let me bathe away worries
let me swim away cares
let me whisper and sing
through the haze of my tears

oh let me be loose
and let me be gentle,
let me raise all my white flags
and wax sentimental

let me feel all there is,
let my fences all break—
let the dogs come and find me,
let me make my mistakes

let me give it all up
and grin like the fool
who’s realized
there is nothing amiss:

this sudden abyss
that froze my gait
is only this:
my own two arms,
open and waiting,
strong like the earth
and loose like the sun
and its many rays,
woven around me
like invisible skeins—

longing to hold me
and kiss my soul awake.

© Sarah Noack 2006

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new magician,
beware of wishes:
for they become living beings,
awaiting your coaxing touch.

Beware the ease with which
they fall into your unsuspecting arms
in basketless apple-bushels.

Beware the icy smoothness
with which they slip into your life
and snap the tense winter of waiting.

Beware that moment
when you look up and see
that your dream has come back to you,

panting at your door,
loyal to your summoning.

you are its master.
Invite it in
and let it lick from your plate.

In the night as you sleep,
it will call its friends,
whose faces
you have not yet imagined.

Close your eyes
and dream effortlessly.
Learn and possess this magic of yearning.

Let your wish-seeds multiply
and their granting
be the least of your worries—

for our dreams seek us
even more than we seek them.
– Sarah Noack 2008



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when the rain fell that day,
the streets were streaked
with oil slicks
splaying in amoeba-trail fractals
and running into gutters
like let rainbow blood

and the sky collected its moisture
from its many private reserves—

you shared with me the riddle
your ancestors passed down in secret—
if I solved it, you told me,
I would understand
it will sound too easy,
but wait, you warned me—
soon I’ll realize
that life itself
is happening
solely for this mystery

so I observed the clouds first—
since that’s where water came from,
but they told me to look to the ocean.
The ocean refused to answer,
crossing its arms against the rocks
as it whispered its longing for rivers.
And the rivers spoke
of the bodies of creatures,
who opened their mouths and said nothing.

How little I could learn
after all my questioning
of this thing that fills the bellows of the world
and ushers the sprawl of life—
weaving through streets under hidden sewers,
freezing in the blue-green Arctic
and feeding grains and flowers,
falling from mountains in cascades
and trickling through phosphor-lit caves,
resting dormant in underground wells
and fading like wadis in the Sahel—
you asked me the secret of water,
and I thought long and hard
about plumbing,
and nature,
and in the end,
arrived only at silence

and then the rain fell that day—
a sudden downpour
tickling my tongue,
drowning the streets in a sudden answer
of yes
and cleanliness,
aligning with my heartbeat
and starting everything anew—

there is nothing that cannot be cleansed
and nothing holy but this:
the spirit of flux,
the bending touch of forgiveness
trickling in through all of us,
a universal source of data
connecting all our veins
like the secret spread of a delta

flowing helplessly and constantly
into a single ocean
no matter what we do to stop it.

You cannot separate
good from evil—
or water from time and spirit.
Filth is an experiment
doomed to fail
as long as the rivers
hear it.

© Sarah Noack 2008

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