Mercy 1/2 (after M L Smoker)

An answer arrives,
but it’s not words,
not even something
that you can hear.

–not that you
ever listen to anything
anyway–

How do you
recognize it?–
but you know
that your inside has shifted
into what it wasn’t–

At the same time
you are still where you were–
you still face towards impossibility
in every direction—

And yet your mind is not the same–
a strange memory you cannot name
has cleared a path between
the synapses of despair
and you can breathe again.

Is the light lost?
You leave a candle burning,
place it in the window–
come home

For the earthweal prompt of Seasonal Changes 1: IMBOLC hosted by Sarah.

Last year I wrote a series of poems inspired by M L Smoker’s poem, Mercy, which can be found in the anthology Native Voices, published by Tupelo Press. This poem is a combination of numbers 1 and 2.

mercy 4 (after M.L. Smoker)

one morning you wake up and
the reasons for everything
are gone

the sky has already fallen
and the wind changes direction
continuously—the trees
wave wildly as they try
to keep their roots
grounded, hold tight to their
branches and seeds and leaves

the birds have long ago
disappeared into
the expanse of nowhere
that used to be a horizon
not even a line anymore
but bottomed out
down and far beyond away

you appeal to all spirits
any spirit listening
asking for some small
sign that things will return
to a state of understanding

slow down at least and give
you time to adjust—to what?
what is left of any
configuration? will it be
improved by changing
the velocity?

nothing is sensible or even
nonsensical

you yourself appear
only dimly in the mirror–
perhaps even your bones
have taken leave and only
your thoughts remain

invisible
mad
beside themselves
alone

In July and August I wrote a series of poems inspired by M.L. Smoker’s poem “Mercy”. As I’ve been having trouble writing anything new, I decided to revisit them, and I’ve been worrying this one, #4, all week. I’m not exactly sure it fits the Earthweal challenge this week of a haunted wilderness, but it’s in the spirit.

“Everybody’s crying mercy when they don’t know the meaning of the word.”
–Mose Allison

“Mercy” is not available online, but you can read about M.L. Smoker, and read some of her other works, here.