, , ,


I thought I had recovered from the shock
of seeing a near-me bound and tied,
unable to write poetry, but the high
priestess of Samarkand took one look
and said, you have to let that spying self
die. Paranoia is the first of four who
will seek to persuade you are unread.

In truth, spies are, by nature, dead, so read
to me what you have written. Her look
when I was finished froze me solid. Who
are you writing for? For, um…tongue-tied…
for me…maybe for the ones I hope to shock?
Compete against? Please? I told my warring self
I had no need to fear her penetrating high

and mightiness, which helped to make her look
less threatening. What you think of as shock,
she said, is not electric but suppression misread,
sustained beyond its need. Your vibrant self
agreed to bide by numbness long ago, tied
by circumstance to feeble strings too high
to reach or cut. Now you don’t know who

to please. The tones of your deep self
come out in poetry, and there’s a high
to that. But when you’re done, you look
around and if you don’t see someone who
adores what’s now the past, you read
the clues all wrong. You’ve been tied
to this cave too long. It’s time to shock

your system into higher ground. She tied
some food into a sack. I have some friends who
want to meet you. They don’t easily shock;
they never ignore or pretend to read
and like you. They live peacably, way high
up. We trekked for days, came to a valley. Look!
She pointed to the peaks. Do you see yourself?

Jagged? Snow-capped? I wasn’t sure who
of the mountains’ metaphors I should read.
Those peaks are you while you write. Your self
lives at the pinnacle, collected, centered, high.
Is there anyone down here who cannot look
up and see that? Or is it a disappointing shock
to learn you have never been restricted or tied?

That night, our food was stolen. I wanted to high-
tail it back to the cave. I was telling myself
this is just the beginning. One bad thing is tied
to another—Excellent! Your thief is in shock.
What? Shivering, I had no idea who…
She pointed to our misplaced food. You read
the clues wrong. It’s time you learned to look.

The loopy four can read, but they can never know who
your self is. While the spy & thief look like you when high
or tied in knots, they can only settle glumly into shock.

to be continued…

© Elaine Stirling, 2014