Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Death"

She silently slipped into my room
            bringing night’s enveloping velvet blackness
                        in her sunken eyes and raven hair
Her hands reached out for mine
            coaxing me to dance with her
                        along that icy rim of eternity
My head felt heavy upon my pillow
            My arms and legs merged into my bed
                        immobile and leaden
Her breath poisoned the air
            seeping into my lungs with molten heat
                        chilling my blood into a sluggish, frozen river
I turned my eyes away
            staring fixedly into myself
                        Yet she was there
                        Empty and hollow
                        a void—nothing
            and I moved toward her
            even as I moved away
she whispered words I could not hear
            and yet I did her bidding
sobbing for days
            Until my eyes ached red and dry
            and my heart bled into
                        itself
            wracking my body with unreal pain
                        no one but she understood
I fought to escape
            turning to flee
                        with nowhere to go
She stood before me, beside me, behind me
                        within me
Then I heard
            faint and distant
                        a trill of laughter
                                    bubbling and rippling through the starless night
            an intermingling of voices
                        high and low—calling my name
                                    giving me direction
                                                away, away
I pulled myself away from her deathly dance
            Yanked myself out of her clutching grasp
                        moved toward the golden sounds
                                    of love and light
She followed me
            she stayed with me
                        now and forever
I sense her presence
know the sound of her footfall
            instinctively sniff the air for her scent
                        careful and cautious
She still wants me
            her pull and determination both suck me into her orbit
                        and repel me with horror
            But those voices of laughter
                        with the eyes of sunlight
                                    and smiling mouths of delight
                        carry a stronger current
They always rescue me
Take me where she cannot reach me
            protect me for a little while
                         . . . love me

Copyright 1999 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


Haiku Experiment

The Experiment
distilling daily dreams—thoughts
one drop at a time
July 4

Morning view outside
velvet red upon green stalks
symmetrical rose
July 4
Daily poetry
huge mountains of words to climb
an endless challenge
July 13
Twelve days of poems
forcing creativity
through the sieve of words
July 14
Impatience is gone
vanishing within a smile
the mood shifts again
July 23
Happiness and joy
are acorns planted in fall
and rooted in time
July 27
The poetry helps
by healing my tattered soul
bandaging worries
August 2
Plunge into a book
evade all-consuming thoughts
escape tomorrow
August 3
 Night’s muffled sighs sound
distant humming of autos
gentle songs of sleep
August 5
Today’s words are forced
curbed and restrained emotions
cotton wraps my mind
August 8
Retreat into sleep
play out other worlds and lives
leave yourself behind
August 8
Hold onto sunshine
gently cup it in your hands
optimistic thoughts
August 16
Sleepy Saturday
singing soft lullabies
snoozing silently
September 11

Copyright 1999 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

For a six month period in 1999, I challenged myself to make my journal entries through some form of poetry. Often, the day's events seemed best expressed through haiku. These are just a few entries from my experiment.

Friday, March 11, 2011

"Eight"

Eight
            Look at the word
                        How do you say this word anyway?
                                    Look at the number—
                                                8
                                           8
A Mobius strip
            Unending
Two circles stacked
            One
            on
            top
            of
            the
            other
A number of depth
            Purple rooms
            Playing poker
                        Growing
                                    lectures
                                    radishes
                                    corn
                                    up
“Mom, why can’t Paula take me swimming?”
            Life
                        in full color
                                    first fetal photos
                                                explained in one afternoon
Eight
            With Uncle Red
                        and root beer
            And collections
                        of dogs
                        of teapots
                        of memories
Layers of happiness
            enfolded in blood
Dad’s cheerful letters
            from a distant war
                        News flashes
                                    Bombs
                                                Destruction
            Charlie’s lip
                        torn away
a bloody hand print on my thigh
                                                8
                        unending
                        Wrapping back onto itself
                                    joy and fear entwined

Copyright 1994 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

This piece reflects my memory of the images of the year my father spent in Vietnam, from my eight-year-old point of view.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Future"

            We walk through nightmares of the past,
living an existence of future fears.
            Desperately struggling among the mountainous
crags of pre-fabricated foods and chemically made beer cans,
our test tube babies weep with bitter need,
as automated mothers
rock rhythmically back and forth.
            No one saw today as it was to be.
            We run through our own living hell,
Never feeling, desiring, or loving.
            Mirrors are no longer needed,
nor are youthful photographs taken—
for images of ourselves are seen scrambling
among the barren garbage dumps
searching for rustic vestiges of yesterday—
an identity.
            No one saw today as it was to be.
            We trudge through old decaying minds,
trying to forget our own impotence.
            Whimpering trepidations never cease,
for like howling canines long starved for passion,
the souls of society disintegrated
into a pile of biological residue.
            And no one say today as it was to be.

Copyright 1975 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Another old poem, but one that seems to apply to today's climate.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

“The Rope of Love”

My hands grasp it
            rough and coarse
            prickling against my fingers
I test its strength
            tugging hard
            yanking it this way and that
Tentatively, I test my weight
            Will it bear me?
            Will it hold me up?
            Will it carry me
                        across the chasms
                        over the ridges
                        through thundering rivers?
I examine it carefully
            searching for flaws
            weaknesses in its entwined strands
Winding upon itself
            enwrapping my fingers
            enveloping my hand
I trust it
            swinging over the unknown
            over the pit of my insecurities
It gouges my hands
            rubs me raw and blistered
            as I swing
It bears me
            holds me
                        carries me
            even as it hurts me
I don’t let go
            and the pain lessens
            my feet touch the ground
I unwind it from my hand
            my shaking fingers
            smoothing against its heat
I untie it
            bind it loosely around me
            feel its weight
Its rough and coarse hairs
            tickle my cheek
            and I smile
                        in safety
                        in security
                        in satisfaction

Copyright 1995 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Many of my poems originated with classroom assignments given to my students. I wrote this poem as "homework" when I instructed my students to create a poem in which rope was used as a metaphor, simile, or symbol. As a teacher of writing, I always completed the homework I assigned. First, it gave me better judgement on the difficulty of the assignment. More importantly, I always participated in the class sharing to model my own writing.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Play the Melody Again"


Play the melody again,
softly hum the harmony
Reach out to catch the notes
of the song you sang for me.
Catch the flight of youth
gently within your warm hands
Hold together the memory
of our magic Wonderland.
                                                We belong to yesterday’s dreams
                                                of endless flights on moonbeams.
                                                Where love is meant to always be
                                                and life is as it seems.
Try, when the overture ends,
to capture the last refrain.
Tenderly recreate for us
that fragile lover’s strain.
Stroke the strings of sound
and whisper into the wind.
Take us back to that day
when the love did first begin.
                                                We belong to yesterday’s dreams
                                                of endless flights on moonbeams.
                                                Where love is meant to always be
                                                and life is as it seems.
Touch again the quiet fire
that rages within our grasp.
With lyrical wisps of rhythm
feed the embers of our past.
Play the melody again,
sing out the harmony.
Carelessly laugh and smile,
and sing our song for me.

Copyright 1977 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Many of my poems reside within the pages of my old journals. I'm slowly going through the volumes and creating a compilation of all my poetry. "Play the Melody Again" was set to music by David Chapman and is one of my favorites.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Thoughtful Day"


I stood alone against the sun,
a shadow of distant warmth,
feeling each  bursting molecule’s
cold flame.
I whispered my name into the wind
and it echoed through my heart;
it rippled across the silent seas
of youth.
I danced across the horizon,
walked slowly down the hill,
and sat at Priam’s palace
of old.
I wept for all lost gods
and watched the fresh spring flow
down into the whispering ocean
of hope.
I climbed the hill again,
gloried in the setting sun—
called goodbye to the day’s
loud silence.
I stood alone, I whispered,
and I danced, I wept and
then I climbed high into
the stars.
                                   
Copyright  2010 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

"A Galaxy"

Spellbound
Feet rooted on rocky ground
Head tilted back
Eyes skyward 
Dizzy under the velvet
Stars evermore

Released 
Soul suspended in the sky
Spirit swirling away
Body forgotten
Honored within Nature
Stars evermore

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman