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Sample Poems by Barbra Nightingale


The Geometry of Dreams

Origins can find their own way out. Life
a parabola of hyper extended curves
intersecting the trials and tribulations
of an ordinary line. Where are the transformations,
the great leaps of dichotomous innuendoes?
Where are the rotations, the quarter and half turns
to which we all move at some point in time?

Look in the mirror at our reflections!
The plane is flipped, all our invariant selves reversed:
symmetrically, to be sure, but flipped nonetheless.
Have we become, at last, nothing more
than fractal images
forming and reforming, repeating and repeating
until we are nothing more than an event,
a equidistant function of the same equation?

And what of the circle that surrounds us?
Bisect it, and we are all on one side or another.
Traverse it, and it is all the same again.
What can we do? Ride the circumference.
Ride as if the least common denominator—
what we all are—were a linear equation,
not this double arc of circumstance,
this sloppy slide toward radical expression.
Ride as if you really were going
Somewhere.



Becoming Beautiful But Going Mad

You order me to write
and like a good girl I listen.
The night is cool
and tastes of salt.
I have just finished
your latest book
and want to cry.
I wish I were Latin
or Greek, something
with a history
wider than my own.
Even the crickets know
a language I can't imagine.
I try talking to my cat,
holding her intensely.
She scratches my arm
and twists out of reach.
She sits like a statue
and stares at me coldly.
I know she thinks I am to blame:
I don't know her language either.

*
So why is it we say the night
is full of stars? Don't we remember
so is the day? You can
see them. Close your eyes.
They speak Portuguese.
*
In a poem you said music
was mathematical. You forgot
to say love. Everything depends
on music and love.
Imagine a world with no music,
no sound. A equals B.
That's why when you take it apart
you are left with nothing.
Somewhere there's a song about that.
*
In the same poem you said
"only the truly beautiful go mad."
That's what you called it.
What do you call a night
as light as day?

*
It is summer. No, winter.
How can we tell? Here in the tropics
the heat drives us mad.
It is carried by mosquitoes.
The madness, not the heat.
Perhaps both.
I have listened to the wind tell stories,
the trees drop their leaves like applause.
When will they start spinning?
What is snow?
*
My skin is the color of raw almonds,
smooth and beige with a yellow tint.
I've stopped talking to you,
I'm speaking about him.
He says I taste like summer.
It is no wonder. It is always summer.
He is the only one who tells me with conviction
with his eyes, his hands, his tongue:
I am beautiful. And mad.
It is my only solace, my prize.
I wear it like a silk dress.
Endings are only beginnings in disguise.
Something always follows.
A vowel then a consonant
then another and another.
No one ever has the last word.


Particle and Wave: Quantum Physics

Say there is a wall
and a gun
and atoms clustering
where they can't be seen.
Each "bullet" floats
to a Bell curve
as clearly as if pasted,
as unexplained as light
exiting before it enters
like two people
whose spatial planes
move together and apart
in the destabilized air
if only for an hour.

What quark of recognition
ignited in that time?
What charm created or broken
in the unstill space between them?
Does movement make a sound?
If so, does it go ta dum
ta dum or tinkle softly
like broken glass?