because while some truths lend themselves to equations, others are best described in verse

grandfather on God and Richmond, right-justified

 

………. I’m not sure about God.
I’ve seen too much of ugliness for it
to be intentional,
………. too much
of beauty for it     not to be.
……….  ………. Take,

for example,
……………….. the downtown silhouette
from across the Manchester Bridge
on a winter’s early evening, the
moon just shy of full,     blushing
behind lit twelfth-storey windows, the soul-eyes
of a city half-wrapped in rivermist
and dinner plans, grinning teeth
of January jack-o’-lanterns reflecting
over rock and rapid.
……………….. Or
Fourteenth and Main
on a rainy rush hour,     drops
………. spilling river-ward through traffic light
and streetlamp, tires
leaving splashmarks across
the footprint of cavalry and

………………………… slave.

Better yet, walk    with    me
through the whispers
at Belle Island, where the voices of fallen prisoners
haunt the college kids sunning like
………. sea lions out over the self-same
rocks. (Have you seen what they feed them in those cafeterias lately?)

……………….. When autumn comes,
the waters will rise in waves, creeping up
………. on the empty beer cans and cigarette
……………….. packs, washing them down
past Chapel Isle and the ruins of the Confederate boatyard
as the river     runs         home.

………………………….. When
I’m dying,
take me to the old hospital
where McGuire’s successors taught
medicine with stolen bodies;     no
chain-linkedSaint-named designer cure
for this gentlesoul.            Andwhen

I’m dead
take me to
Hollywood
………. and a spot
……………….. where I can see the river
………. from a grave
without a cross:
I’m still
not too sure about God.

16 responses

  1. ah but i guess one day we will be…and maybe they will answer a few questions…loved the culture in this…hope you get your place…smiles.

    March 9, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    • thanks, brian. glad you liked my history lesson though technically it’s my grandfather’s “place”… 😉

      cheers.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:04 pm

  2. Great read, well written and conveyed.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:30 pm

  3. I think you could start this at “Take, / for example,” and ditch the opening lines; you don’t need them. Nice images work your thesis well.

    March 9, 2011 at 5:53 pm

    • thanks, asthemoonclimbs– appreciate the feedback. There is definitely a triteness to the end of that first bit; I’ll give you that. I’m not sure that I agree about getting rid of it, though; I feel like it sets up the story and allows the ending to come full circle. And I like the impact of that very first line. Maybe the lines that follow need trimming… hmmm.

      Anyway, cheers, and thanks again.

      March 9, 2011 at 10:11 pm

  4. dustus

    I admit you had me at the first line—perhaps a quicker lead into your examples though. Riveting imagery.

    March 9, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    • thanks, dustus; I’m particularly proud of some of this imagery. 🙂 And I suspect you may be right about a quicker lead; good advice.

      Best,
      –jsl

      March 9, 2011 at 10:17 pm

  5. I enjoyed the sweep of history and humanity in this piece, Joanna. I’ve loved my visits to Virginia, always trying to learn things from natives just by listening to them talk about their lives. So many bring up their forebears and the land and The War. You’ve got it all here, with a wonderful photo, to boot. Thank you for the wonderful trip!

    March 9, 2011 at 11:03 pm

  6. Amazing!
    Word choice,form, cadence, inference all contribute to the ease of read and beauty of the piece.
    Glad I finished my day with this one!

    March 10, 2011 at 12:22 am

  7. Very intense and powerful, Siubhan! The contrasting examples, the fine lines between good and ugly.. it was all so beautifully done here!
    Oh, and a peek at some of those historical monuments and city glamor…superb!!

    March 10, 2011 at 4:21 am

  8. Words Asunder (great name btw!), thanks for stopping by– appreciate your comments.

    Joe, thanks. You got from this just what I was trying to give, I think. Next time you’re in Virginia, look me up! 🙂

    Wow, Kim– happy to be able to end your day on a good note! Glad you enjoyed. 🙂

    Kavita, always love one of your visits. Thanks mch, my friend. *hug*

    peace all,
    –jsl

    March 10, 2011 at 7:58 am

  9. Pingback: The Jewmanist » Blog Archive » “grandfather on God and Richmond, right-justified”, a poem (not mine)

  10. Well, as Buddy Wakefield said about God, “that guy hasn’t even spoken in like, ever.” (‘Information Man’)

    Having trod over most of the ground that you mention (the Confederate Museum mural is a thing of beauty) I have to say you struck a solid middle chord between the narrative & the imagery. I took the pseudo-cliche moments as integral to the poem. Working with the familial historical line, it would be dishonest to ignore the cliche of the whole circle of life thing. It’s just how it is, especially given the cultural background implied.

    At any rate, the overall poem read like an interview with an ethereal presence that had watched both ends of the story and was resigned to seeing it play out again & again. No, not God. (Great usage of that symbol. Serves so many purposes even for an atheist; by which I mean me, not you. Though if you are, congrats and if not, apologies. Enjoyed the poem; lotsa food for thought & next time I’m trampsing through the Fan drunkenly wondering where it was Jeff Davis walked when he needed to think, I’m sure this image will come to mind. Take care,

    crb.

    March 11, 2011 at 5:17 am

    • I like that quote.
      I think you saw God for what he was here–a symbolic frame of reference to tie the thing together. You’re right–your beliefs (much less mine) are neither here nor there for the intents and purposes of this piece.

      Tell ya what, next time you’re “trampsing through the Fan drunkenly” wondering about Jeff D., drop me a line and maybe we can wonder drunkenly together. 😛

      Cheers,
      –jsl

      March 12, 2011 at 11:40 am

      • Lol, deal. Though I think we should have god sit this one out. Smirk. Take it easy,

        crb.

        March 12, 2011 at 1:19 pm

  11. Another winner.
    So random in the way it’s told. impressive

    March 13, 2011 at 5:11 am

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