HIS PRIVATE GRIEF
...Fall, turn, and now,/ what to do. Feel it. You are hereby given/ permission to fail. Let us be led together, / all fall, hands swallowing each other’s hands. ---Hannah Stephenson, “Permission to Fail”
Even so, I keep creating, I am capable./ I will calmly allow its heaviness/and stand when it goes. It will.---Hannah Stephenson, Pressing Ghosts
Dread is all that is left to fear.
How fearsome can dreadful be?
When pounding the writing pad
will not work, and periphrasis
shrouds the shape of feelings,
you are there. Have you lost it?
Have the empty spaces taken over?
Nothing devours as quickly as holes
that make up a mind’s sinkholes,
unforgiving vortices not unlike
the death of remembrances, temps
perdu gobbling life like corn off cobs.
Where have all the pieces gone?
Even the sundown shadows dancing
on empty walls are now chimera,
spelling nothing, nor are ideographs
from crude outlines of senseless
Rorschach designs any help now.
When have they conspired to eat
language up, leaving cobbled blocks
of fancy aspire toward the nadir
of fearsome nightmares and silence,
where meaning is pure confusion,
where a heart throb is an aching itch?
Dread is all there is left and courage
is a mocking harlequin proclaiming
power to move on, go on, write on,
bleed on, live on, creating the cipher
known only to absent phrase hewers
who pretend a hoarse hem is a song.
---Albert B. Casuga
This is Poem 16 in my poem-a-day project celebrating National Poetry Month (April). Ohio poet Hannah Stephenson's project to study the core of writers' fears. and how they goad or stymie their creativity, provided the trigger for this poem which I had to finish beyond midnight, fearful that if I did not sit at my writing desk, the Muse will bring the poem instead to a more courageous "hewer of phrase" or "a periphrastic expressionsof thought and feeling.