The World Is Too Much With Us

Lament in the Key of 4G

 

Out here in the Heartland, wind howls
hot across browning grass and concrete and cars.
We lose our voices; lose the sound of words
we use when shouting above the din of our lives.

Nothing provides comfort, so needed here –
this loud life.
                            So much to remember.
We carry expensive dig-
ital phones to track our appointments,
send our truncated messages in dig-
angelic text, take our calls, give us
direction so we are never lost wherever

we are and wherever we
go we never escape; noise follows footsteps and driving
and spending and
                                      working and working and working.

 

© 2015.  All rights reserved by author.

Here’s What People are Saying About My Latest Book

“The poems in Shawn Pavey’s Nobody Steals the Towels From a Motel 6 examine the seasons in the author’s life, broken down into days and then into moments, whether it’s a warm Kansas City wind, drinking on 39th Street, or a moment of quiet contemplation filled with the uncertainty that comes with just being alive in the 21st century. Pavey’s poems are straight and honest, taking the time to just live now and put it all down on paper, something that the rest of us usually put off until tomorrow. His words are as spare as bone, leaving the wind and taking nothing for granted.” John Dorsey, author of Appalachian Frankenstein

“Shawn Pavey’s poems capture the longing we feel when we lift the needle from a record album. In the turntable’s wishwiswish between Stratocaster riffs, there lies hope and resignation, Bruce Springsteen and hungry cats, maple leaves and ‘plastic blasted into space.’ Pavey’s poems give voice to our hunger for life, a medieval song heard through 21st Century earbuds.” Al Ortolani, author of Francis Shoots Pool at Chubb’s Bar and Waving Mustard in Surrender.

“In Nobody Steals the Towels From a Motel 6, I was reminded of how a gifted poet like Shawn Pavey doesn’t try to convince his readers to have things we don’t need but to slyly persuade us to open our eyes to the presence of the treasure of those things we cannot live without. In this book we have love, surprise, death, angels and more pictured for us in a flow of language both ordinary and extraordinary gracing us with a dancing vocabulary’s most lyrical and unforgettable choreography.” Chuck Sullivan, author of Zen Matchbook and Alphabet of Grace.

Universal Fireworks

Leonid Meteor Shower with James

 

I.

 

Our bodies clothed against air cold

      enough to freeze water where it stands,

James and I stand and look skyward, to the northwest,

 

      sipping coffee in the dark of our yard.

 

Crazy enough, we two,

to watch rock burn in the sky

        as the matter and the atoms of the matter

break down,

component parts reassembling

into something altogether new.

 

II.

 

This, we will not see again.

 90 years will pass.

We will not see

this rain of rock

of fire                          of ash

 

mingling with the air we breathe.

 

We will not taste on our tongues burning

sky, crackling energy, as steam

from our breath swirls a silvered

motion away from our bundled up selves.

 

Big as fists, big as elephants’ heads, as small as a grain of sand,

meteors

 

sizzled dark sky two hours before dawn

November’s July 4th fireworks

raining bright fire

down on us,

incandescent particles

exploding into air connecting us

to all that is in

this infinite expanse

where we spin in perfect symmetry.

 

III.

 

90 years will pass,

politicians will die.

Captains of industry                will die.

Priests                                      will die.

And monks.

And James.

And me.

 

Before meteors meet us again,

lighting a dark night with embers,

we will all die.

 

IV.

 

Bringing fire,

meteors will shimmer a dark sky,

 

they will pour upon the earth,

spread dusts from places we have not seen,

 

they will come again

out of darkness as before

 

when the world still steamed in the chill

from its new birth.

 

They will bring with them

fire, a breath they will breathe

into bones and dust and ash,

 

they will breathe into the air, stain the sea,

vapor into clouds a fresh mattering.

 

Who will stand in the cold dark then?

Who will smell the fire in the night?

 

Will they coat themselves against frost and ice,

drink the black coffee of morning before light,

will they delight in a spectacle of fiery mists,

 

will they fix their eyes on heaven?

© 2008, Shawn Pavey.  All rights reserved.

For Lucille Clifton

Dear Lucille
On the passing of Lucille Clifton, 1936 – 2010

I would like to think
that B.B. King named his guitar for you.
I know he didn’t. We in the know
know the myth
the real story –

we know that it is not you
whom he played to make music so sweet
that I, a grown man, cry when I hear it –

but I am comforted thinking it is so
even though you did not need a man
for making music, your wide hips
spinning men like tops
(we never doubted it for a second!)

and your words spinning out
to the sky because the pages could not
hold them for long, Lucille,
could not keep them silent all black and white

your words like you bigger than what they laid upon
and they echo like you now that you’re gone

so that sadness cannot take
hold for long, Lucille.

© 2010, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton

Little Big Star: for Alex Chilton (1950 – 2010)

“I never travel far without a little Big Star”
— Paul Westerberg of The Replacements in the song “Alex Chilton” on Pleased to Meet Me

All that mattered was the song, Alex,
the letters and the words
and those succulent poppy hooks.

We danced for you, Alex,
we learned diminished chords for you, Alex.
We bought your records.
We played them on our turntables

until the vinyl wore so thin
that light passed through the grooves

and it is that light that we miss, Alex,
but it shines on wax and gleams in bright
binary code like the light we drank from you –

our “Blue Moon” in darkness.
It will sustain us for now, Alex
until that next misfit unearths
a copy of “In the Street”
without a thing to do
except talk to you.

Aah.

Previously published by PresentMagazine.com.
© 2010, Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.

Spring is Around The Corner

Thaw

In winter, the body knows
it is born to vanish.

Flesh turns to dirt, bones
wash white in March rains.
Life churns, returning
to wet layers of earth.

We – dead and dying, rotten and rotting –
look up to a sun far away and wait,
wait for the body and the solar body
to pull each other closer,
moisten skin with sweat,
heat blood,
crack seeds,
green the dead husk of the world.

In spring, the body knows
it is born to sing.

Previously published in the Winter 2011 issue of The Main Street Rag Literary Journal.
© 2011 by Shawn Pavey. All rights reserved.