GERALD HOPMAN                   Home       Poems 1956-2012       Latest Works       Bio       Statement      Contact

Book of Lamentations


break open the cask
for the task is to ask
when the pearly tooth
                                                     and the truest truth
           both sag in the cage of age




What now my gathering hosts--my voices
muffled yet the same inconstant guides to where -why-for whom?

I listen hard and ask again--
am I the sounding board for memory grinding echo after echo
out of  cogs and grooves long set in place by fears and wants--

or are there hints-- at least-- of an openess beyond
that seeks the seeker to fulfill the time of both
with words words words into images and visions
linked to  signals- clues- codes from nothing less than
the very rustling of the cosmos itself--
the crackling birth of stars--
atoms popping out  of mystery floors beneath
humming and buzzing--making for--
yes---words tieing the self--my own sweet breath of life--
to all that is--was--will be perhaps--
and even ends-- meanings hidden yet waiting to be found
somehow--someday--perhaps perhaps perhaps.

Or shall I cite-what!--angels whispering in my ear?
spirits of the past breaking through?
or simply-- once again-- fragments of the self
responding to the calling of the self
responding to--etc. etc. etc.?

Let the lines decide.



What cause to cite for a planet that wobbles and spins
as it alters and fixes

that turns sunlight into memories
and moonbeams into want

that takes a  rabbit -- a flea-- a snail--an elephant’s ear-- a kangaroo and a human face out of the same pot of brewing atoms

that mends clouds and undoes shadows but  only in play with never a rule to uncover and master

that chips away at a turtle’s shell-- a vulture’s beak and a lizard’s tail to seed a canyon that waits to become a city ringing with prayers and moans

that gathers and stores up words in the air to rain down judgment on the worst and the best with equal surprise?


I do what I  can to be easy and free with the stay and go
but wishes fly up and needs cross over and I in the middle am forever a jump  behind or a  stumble ahead of the darting pace.

Still leaping and falling over and over I go on with my trials
led by the thought that whatever is done  must someday reveal
the good of its effort and the single true way of its doing---but when? why?





What quality is there in us that allows for the strains of the unknowable to bend the demands of the known?

 I puzzle over puzzlement
and turn a circle that connects the head and tail
of elegance and certainty
diminished in proportion to the nearing of its core.

Do redo undo in vain--what!--numbers for a bridge to pass
through ghostly mists that shroud what lies beyond---a promised answer for the final hold of reason’s grasp.

It can not be but seems that calculations end- as if by plan- where logic hides and magic rules--as  was supposed so long ago.




What! another leaf another tooth another cheek another hand tightly clasped-- another serenade --not remembered but invented!

Ah rapture- bliss- pure merriment and even tears.

Oh look to its binding force--
follow its mapping from chamber to chamber of the mind’s eye
and heart.

a knee lifts -an elbow swings-  chin and jaw alert the spine
and what’s below--

Ah the warmth--  yes --    click cliick --and

x into y over m past g through ohr carried to i  plus nx times f take away
u carry b squared into cubes  or somesuch--
and behold!--

the color of the music  sweeps up and around
bathing the emptiness between the separate links
of wheresoforth and howsobeit and thisthat and when and whichever
into a triumph of wholeness--

every frame and tug of the body
except for a finger and a toe pointing to what? what! lying not a hairsbreadth away in the vast outside.




Which which which is the monster and which the angel
when both are masked and in the gathering fog--what?-- are those flapping wings?--  and exactly the same for each?

I study and search but their eyes are equally blank as swords
and commanding.

Capes and robes are loosed--bodies bared and singing from every direction entrances as  outstretched arms-whose? which?- beckon with the promise of comfort and ease.

I am called to approach in the manner perscribed--that is--a dancing mode set off by a tapping rythm akin to an even pulse reduced from the thumping beat of fear or daring.

I stand between  the crouching figures and gesture for a sign-- a clue to help  advance my misson.

Silence--then--floors shake and begin to sink--walls crack and crumble and what I see before me are twin pillars of fire angrily swirling!

Have I  opposed or diminshed the purpose of my encounter here by asking for aid?

I lament-- argue--  insist-- review --cajole-- threaten-- beg!
Silence-- I close my eyes. Am I asleep and dreaming or awake as in a dream not knowing how but knowing nonetheless what I must do--  touch --kiss--embrace --which?which!  ---and what!--  will the world --the stars in the heavens--the all in all vanish in a puff if I choose wrongly?

I reach out and feel -- nothing-- but wait --yes--the sweetest warm breeze caresses my lips and fills me with a sense of joy that attaches only to the finding of unsought treasure.

Is it done now?  I shout

A final silence--then--why?why!--laughter--first from one then two then two
into one great roar--as I open my eyes to an empty room and a darkened



What burns as it holds together?
What gives away as it acquires?
What  selects as it flows into pattern?
What strengthens as it touches to discard?
Life? Love? The lion’s stare after a feast?  Water? Grain?
The earth’s initial bud becoming--what!--
A tongue? an eye? a heart? the cradle of the universe?

Dream dream and again dream---
There are no riddles--everything is given for the sightless to discover
and make known




What!!What! What?
The moon sits.
The tides whirl or vice versa.

Boundaries slip into boundaries.

I steal an apple.
You step into water up to your chin.
Do we share the first clue of death
or life?

Oh comrades at the edge
I’ll reach out my hand if you desire it
or pretend.



Upside over the fence and away my darlings --
into the wind--through the snows--beyond the hills--
across the burning sands --or sins--far far far to a waiting place
amdist a quieted throng where every wisp informs  and every caring sigh responds to child after child tinkering and testing  as they inch around
a narrowing ledge balanced toe to toe above a seemingly bottomless gorge.

Oh let  their fumbling uncover a system  that  machine-like holds back
the tiniest false step ahead--
or  that the last wild hope of nothing less than a cosmic bounce
opens  a path through twisting  rock to --why not?--
what’s longed for--strived for--made life’s companion
through wreck and loss--pain and the final half smile of defeat--
an island blanketed eternally in gentle mists
that refresh and heal and wake each to the task of reminding the next--
that its play alone redeeming the hour for memory’s delight
whatever the search--whoever the seeker--however the burdens compound--

or--a pocket of incandescence at the end of a trail
that leads from ice-hardened cliffs
to a valley sheltered from storms by a circle of mountains
ablaze with colors as if in celebration
of our nearing the source of a wondrous glow--
too radiant for eyes alone to absorb.

Ah how could we not then abandon our fears
and take up a joyous urge to leap ahead
and dance along with the dancing light--
dance--freer and freer of weights and stops
until breath by breath--cell by cell--
we matched the pace without--within--
and--even as music builds note by note to perfect themes
that could never have been foretold
so too --perhaps--we would become at last--what?--what!

A vision--pretty smoke my dear ones--or
hard gem for the digger after riches--who?  when?




who have I not abandoned
thrown over the side
into the weeds
far far from the castle of wonders given freely and never in error?

Goodbye to goodbyes.
The beseeching of exiled loves is like the calling
from a distant field whose byways are smothered in rubble  and lost from view.
Oh if I but  had a measuring rod to gauge the steps and time
I would take myself on a journey there today I think or soon perhaps.



What challenge now must I imagine?

I ‘ve  counseled.
I ‘ve paraded.
I’ve built a tower that threatens.
What now! Shall I empty a desert --spoon by spoon?
Shall I push the sea into a rusty cup?
Shall I make a forest into a hallowed shrine
with candles to match an endless sheet of bursting stars?

Or shall I mute the roar of a billion cheers in return for
 just one sigh unlinked to fame or deeds or worshiped rank?
What then if not a simple longing --drawn from eye to eye--
a passion without cause--
love--adventure for the daring without stop--never to weary--always to replenish once begun. 

Oh  be quick  quick whomever.




I have not--can not--will not ascribe
a meaning--a pattern--a goal to the challenge
        of beckoning horizons.

Let the winds follow me
if they would prevail.

I prize nothing--claim nothing--share or shred nothing
as I grapple to contain a flood of unending plenty.

In the midst of crisis I sleep.
Daisies in winter suggest my aims.

There are echoes from places yet to be given boundaries
           and shadows that make for limits--
I hover at the center in darkness--reaching-- pressing-- tasting--
ever in doubt but always hoping  to know--  if only by chance--
the true drift of what is--and persuade it--yet infinetesmally--
toward a sweeter--surer--tug of reasons to go on--

despite what seems a longing by each and all --why? why!--
to sink as if fated into the coils of order--sameness--halt-----despair.




Lost lost lost--
a face--a scratch on glass--
broken wheels in a meadow--
a boot torn stained--
doves in flight from ruined nests of course--
smoke bundling into clouds--
ashen moons--
a creeping into and out of weeds and shards--
the scent of---

Oh stop!  stop!
Sing off the howls at midnight!
Bang the pots--lift the chairs--shake the tables!

By the magic in my waking eyes
I vow to attend your guileless quests--
a feast--
a petal at the doorstep--
a body resting on a body--
a welcomed dawn--

and desolation?  oh its weave is tight
but yes--mark this as true--a law--
when strongest nearest to its end--
its ties sprung free as if by--

what final what?

Universes tremble as answers bubble up from nothing
into something and commence becoming real
and dear as sunlight on an upturned palm

one lone traveler under the stars





mix mix mix until the pieces fix
and the shoddy body rises and surprises
reaching afar for its home in a star.

Drift drift oh my children here and gone away.
To puzzle and fail is our lot----
                                            GIVE THANKS!


© Hopman
     GERALD HOPMAN                   Home       Poems 1956-2012       Latest Works       Bio       Statement      Contact