Forgotten Waters | Résumé | Poetics

Selected Poems from "Why Dragons Think Glitter is Theirs"

Why Dragons Think Glitter is Theirs

Foreword by Daniel Deardorff

At it’s best, poetry works like the imagination: by deforming what is presented to the senses. The best poetry gives new life to our “linguistically constructed world” by twisting the fixed and ordinary “forms” into images that startle us into canyons of deep memory and the sheer heights of wakefulness.

 

This particular, and perhaps idiosyncratic, idea of poetic function does not suggest that a poem need be declared “good” by academics and publishers—as medicines do not have to be “approved” by the government to be efficacious—making this kind of poetry is more like making a potion or a healing ritual; it is done simply because the gesture is demanded by know-how and circumstance. It is a kind of soul-work which requires a profoundly cultivated ability to respond—responsibility, empathy, courage—and this coupled with a healthy dose of abandon: “To write poetry “ in the words of  Rilke, “is not wanting not desiring anything that can ever be achieved.” This is the situation that the old stories call “undertaking the impossible task.”

The poetry of Randy Jones comes weeping and raging, raving and crooning; out of the night, erupting abruptly into the circle of our awareness; suddenly the world is wider and wilder than we had thought, and there be dragons for sure.

 

Daniel Deardorff

Mossy Rock

2013

Daniel Deardorff is the author of

The Other Within: The Genius of Deformity in Myth, Psyche, Culture

116 pages | Cover Art Little Woo | Unpublished Manuscript

 

Unpublished Manuscript Copyright 2018 Randy Thomas Jones

 
 
From Elements of Travelling Back and Forth between Here and There

Two halves of a life

Two halves of a life.

And a hinge.

Where to put the hinge?

Tommorow, Today, Yesterday?

What? Used up your hinge?

Don't worry, here's another -

we call it a ritual.

You live in the hinge factory.

It's called a village.

There's a lot of expertise at the hinge factory.

Specialists in memory for one thing -

and additional skills in spark, flow

and grounding the concept.

This is the nature of things.

So I just thought I would mention it.

I'm not sure about today,

But it is beginning to look like

I might have lived

through yesterday.


Earlier on, someone said:

"You know, there's still time to call this whole thing off."

And another wise one replied:

"Not only that, it's actually worse than you realize."

Just like us,

the old sages knew

how absolutely hopeless the whole situation is.

 

It's funny to say so, but there used to be an old proverb that declared:

If someone tells you there are two possibilities,

They might be lying.

From
She Will Tell You After Dinner

Why?

Why?

She said . . .

You know I’m not the kind of girl

that goes for censorship

or unexplained recommendations

Anti-free-speech protocols

hazy injunctions

outright taboos

prohibitions deletions book-burnings

simple-minded negations

they give me frustrations

I want the facts mister

Then I’ll make up my own mind

Like Calamity Jane

and Amelia

and Cleopatra and Madonna

I’ll vote, swear, think, dance,

fight, love, laugh, cry

Don’t—tell—me—where to go

Who to see

What to do

How to use my bo—dy

ALRIGHT?

 She said . . .

I’ve been to the river of tears

I’ve slept in the meadow of a thousand joys

I’m ready for the truth.

I thought you would — understand!

I thought you — would understand!

I thought you’d understand.

 
From
Braiding the Hair of the Warrior Monks

Foolish, but Not Awkward

foolish, but not awkward

out of control—but not out of bounds

crazy, but not insane

naked—but not defenseless

dirty, but not unclean

 

singular, but not alone

spirited—but not possessed

brotherly, but not familiar

dignified—but not comfortable

vulnerable, but not weak

 

These are the foolish, out of control, crazy naked dirty men

who brave to taste the sorrows of this world

 

I traveled into an unknown realm with men such as these

As night fell, our human bodies turned back

But still we continued with the determination of warriors

Some died in the mud

Some died in the fire

Most of the rest drowned in the water

And yet there were a few who survived all three

(I hate to tell the truth as much as the next man

            But sometimes it's necessary.)

 

After that part of the story happened,

we were all left wondering

about what was going to happen next

 

We knew

things were going too well

for this to continue much longer.

 

By this time we were beginning to develop an inclination,

a general feeling of orientation,

one could say a burning desire,

indeed a serious longing,

some decisive plans—

toward going home . . .

 

Do you know how many miles I've walked

always coming home?

 
From
Songs from the Other World as Recited by Companions

From a Distance

A woman who smells like campfire smoke.

And lazily frying bacon,

with a hint of crisp early September mist.

A signature.

And each one different

like the giant cedar

home of war canoes and longhouses and secret totem cults

who begin, by a hundred years of solitude,

to look like the merry grandparents,

seeing what is taking off from the once-dropped greenery.

Snuggling forest wolves and travelling bears

always visiting for fruit or deer

and the owls always finding an hour to drop in without notice.

You can see it even at 50

and occasionally at 30

But at twenty the saplings mostly look tall and lithe

from a distance

though if you approach closer

with an eye for the wind

you can see the twisting has begun.

This one flashing her white birch bark

and another one nearby with the wine red of dogwood.

There, some grace and flutter,

            or, a little further on, a bit of stubborn peculiarity.

I say again—how they reach,

and what then falls,

is called singing and dancing in my country,

not exactly a smell,

more like a prickling sense of danger

located at the back of the neck,

which means either:

“Don’t go there,” or “You’re going there.”

 
From
States of Madness and Repair

What the Worthless Pagan Gods are Up To

Tonight, as the thunder—

and the rest of it—

storms,

the River swells

and rolls

like mad wild horses

corralled against their dark natures.

The Other God of the river

has turned the whole thing into

a sea of flexing muscle which

slips between realities
over the banks of the shoreline.

You had a path there, a friend,

even a child

who could remember

your best and worst.

Like a bow

not curved enough in some places, too straight in others

it can only do good

when bent out of shape

 
From
Friends in This World

Laying in the Doorway of the Temple, Half –dead like a dog;

Exhausted from so many years in the Tavern drinking wine, whoring, praying, and singing out loud.

Friends, tonight the Friend has given us four lines to explain our lives.

Let’s damn well make them count.

Rumi Night

 
From
Seditions to Overthrow the Enemies of Gods

Fear

In that dark French night

You wonder if

you are about to become

a victim

of treachery.

 

Your new companions

about to murder you

in betrayal

 

And dreams of love lay ripped apart.

The doorway is dark.

And no message clear . . .

            save a friendly voice in the black shadows—

                        and from the dank smell of stone bursts

                                    the nervous laughter of being alive.

 

How many times will the black crow

flutter behind your left shoulder?

Perhaps a few more.

Times you will be aware of

and times you will not.

 
From
Fools Shooting Arrows at Clowns

Corvids

Those crazy Ravens

are back at it again

all around the garbage bin

they’re jostling for a position on this topic or that.

Sometimes I think they might be discussing you and me

there’s a percussion

in the beat of those wings

and the enthusiastic nods of agreement

that reminds me

of the way you circle around

and sometimes land right beside me

If I don’t startle you,

will you show me your shadowy graces.

or will you fly away anyhow,

in search of better pickings?

If we listened to the dark forest,

our path would be marked by trees.

 
From
Rough Graphic Language

I have questions

that must be answered in person

By the back of your left knee

requiring . . . consideration . . . investigation . . . improvisation . . .

Questions that must be asked by lips or fingertips.

The vague stage directions, like “enter, stage right,” or

“enter, stage left,”

craftily interpreted

by

Directors,

Choreographers,

Actors,

The Costume Department, and especially the

Grips,

and most importantly, the stage hands . . .

 

I have replies too private to be sent by any messenger

Even under the rules of the white flag

Only instant death would await

That foolhardy misadventure

 

Imagine

A misty field at dawn with wild horses stampeding

They name that noise

Earth Thunder

 

Those horses were called a Wellspring

Because they came from the water land

They were given directions, very clear, like

“enter, stage left” or “enter, stage right.”

 

Why does it take so long for a script to get about its business?

Because all the characters have to have their say,

and according to Achebe,

There is no story that is not true.

 

Why does a poem head straight for wild territory?

Because everything interesting

Moved over there

Last Week

Script