an almost sestina lente

by Mike Dickman

 

today is the spring festival of poetry:
the moon is on the wane
and I’ve not done much with the day at all:
slept with the cat, played a little music,
translated a bit, cooked,
and now I sit to write this.

it’s strange for me to use a set form, and this
is possibly not going to turn out very good poetry,
but, well enough prepared, perhaps, and cooked
beneath the as yet unrisen moon in wane,
I’ll manage yet to somehow figure forth the music
… or maybe not at all.

a bottle of anjou, perhaps, is all
it really needs. this
and some species of quiet music—
the qin, for example. is this not the very stuff of poetry?
it certainly was for the chinese, who also thought to watch the moon wax and wane…
at least till their goose was rather abruptly cooked.

alchemists have cooked
herbs and minerals and cinnabar, blending together and separating again all
that is fixed and volatile, and, catching the dragon on the wane,
and subtly augmenting the tiger, waited as this
strangest and most subtle of poetry
unfolds, listening for the music…

the slowly mounting music
that warns them that their materia is finally fully blended—cooked.
some—most, even, I suppose—imagine this is mere poetry,
but it’s not. it’s the ripening of the all,
and, when full–blown, this
is indeed the medicine that will restore all that’s on the wane.

all moons, they say, and even muchnesses must wane,
but such waning is never final—never definitive. the music
of the plucked and caressed string vibrates… the primordial heart of poetry
thrums where there is ultimately no silence. all
creation is the cauldron, the materia, the fire, the cooked.
the sip of wine, the grateful ears, the stroked cat—all are this.

and that’s all there is. this, however much it might seem to wax and wane…
poetry… music…
blended here, and gently cooked… and then again, possibly not at all.

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