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Archive for the ‘PHOSPHOR (tryptich)’ Category

midas

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,
dissolving
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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loose

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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Water

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
everything—
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,
thirst
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
grace
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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Saturn

black flowers bloom

awakening spaces of night
inside my day
I found another grey hair
today

my eyes strain and blur,
and the letters of my book
expand into blackness
filling with constellations
and on the inner curtains of my lids,
new galaxies take form
and the negative spaces
between words
take on hidden meaning

If you played my heartbeat backwards,
would you hear subversive messages?

If I remain silent for long enough,
will flowers grow on my tongue?

Some would lament
the passing of time,
but I feel it more
like an elevator
that can move
in many directions,
or the slow lateral spread
of the banyan tree

Sometimes it skips stops
or regresses
or even progresses
to another dimension

It is good to be wistful,
but better to be wise:
like the dead,
memories return to the matrix
to be sown among the stars

Once I thought miracles
were something that appeared
on the neon signs
in Times Square,
flashing a message
with some celebrity
combing her hair
and looking
with a knowing glance
to prove that it was fate
that I’d been touched by grace

now I know better,
and just wake up
to live another day,
knowing the miracle
lies in taking in
the everyday
without skipping ahead
to the good parts

wishing is good,
but patience is better:
without my presence,
the present is an empty page

and I live in my car
I walk without speaking
I have learned to survive
I work in disguise
I wear my own shadow
communing with the infinite
in a trance
with the inanimate
dizzily scaling
catwalks of memory
and demands of subsistence
on a scaffold of my construction
a delicate structure
of tension and compression
a quietly hovering
question of compassion
inhaling the perfume
of a thousand strange flowers

I now know
why the firefly glows
even inside a jar,
knowing even the sight of trees
is no more illusion
than the forest itself

my skull is a geode —
if you cracked it open,
you’d find amethyst,
a personal Eden
you might mistake
for my own creation

but until I learn
to not claim this as mine,
I prefer it intact.

© Sarah Noack 2006

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air

I am ever-wary

of luxury



and cautious

of delighting

in foolishness



but sometimes I forget

that the soul has its needs,

and sometimes need

means more

than reason.



If I open my mouth

while driving

I notice:

air has a taste,

I can feel it on my tongue



so I know it exists,

even if I can’t sense it

except while in motion


which only proves further

that I must get up

and run 
just because

I have feet

and I don’t want

to forget the way it feels



I am not afraid

of the empty spaces

that some would call lonely:

lonely to me

is the empty mouth

that’s forgotten 

what it wants

to ask for,

no matter how

seemingly

frivolous.



The tongue in the mouth

too long

grows bitter,

the voice unspoken dries up,

and soon the self follows



our greatest wealth

is always unseen—

in wind

and space

and dreams.

©Sarah Noack 2006

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helium

I thought I could just let you go,
but now I know
how the wind itself remembers
this silver thread
connecting you
to me

eternally—

you never needed shelter
and I never detained you
in your flight to the stars,
yet here you are—
following me like the tethered moon
across the pale blue morning.

you are pure helium,
floating and drifting
along the glittering edge
of akasha,
playing in treetops of my highest canopy
where rare birds nest,
whose feet evolved
in spiderweb delicacy
from lack of contact
with the earth—

you are the guardian
of my breath,
home of my laughter,
resting-place of my secrets—

and because of this,
you will always follow me:

I who grasp the thread,

because you ask this of me.

Have you mistaken me for the star
you were programmed to seek?

Each time I release you,
you keep returning
with stories of heaven
for which you show no awe—

forsaking its splendors
for the earthly warmth of my hand.

© Sarah Noack 2008

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