Monday, June 15, 2009


I hear
the jingle-jangle of
guitar chords strumming
a clean and simple tune,
Your cracked voice plowing
the dark lands of
knuckled earth,
Where wonder is the
crop, and bewilderment
the field

How strange it is
to be anything at all

If I could
swallow that truth
from your lantern lips
while belching its
cosmic uncertainty,
It might
(or might notly)
lift into a beanstalk
for the Jack-of-all-doubts
who flip-flops
within a mouth
of mirrors
I guess I’ll call

My soul


The song is from Jeff Magnum,
when he was with Neutral Milk Hotel.
It's titled "In the Aeroplane Over The Sea."
The lyric in the poem's middle is taken from it.


David Cranmer said...

I really dig (to cop a 60's phrase) "cosmic uncertainty" and a most brilliant ending, I might add, to a terrific poem.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Where wonder is the
crop, and bewilderment
the field


What a clever and intelligent poem. I love the introspection and examination of self here. We all wonder if we should move on to something more promising - or at least head in a direction that we think holds more likelihood of success. I enjoyed the song, as well. Loved reading this tonight. Just great, Sarah!

Aniket said...

Talk about packing a punch in the end, you??

"It might
(or might notly)
lift into a beanstalk
for the Jack-of-all-doubts
who flip-flops
within a mouth
of mirrors
I guess I’ll call

My soul "

I absolutely love it when you talk in (parenthesis) :D

Am so glad to see you back in action.

Margaret said...

Good to see you back Sarah. You were greatly missed!

Your wonderful poem takes me to my inner core. In conflict with my deep uncertainties that may linger there.

Lovely song - Yes, how strange it is to be anything at all..

Karen said...

Welcome back, Sarah, and what a fabulous comeback it is!

You have created an magical landscape here, "dark lands of knuckled earth" where bewilderment feeds wonder, and taking in truth sends out uncertainty. I love the beanstalk image and the doubts in the mouth of mirrors of the soul. This is rich and intriguing and evocative of the bewilderment you mention.

The lyrics in the middle really sum it up, I think.

This is an excellent poem!

Vesper said...

Our doubts and wonderment captured in a fantastic poem.

a mouth
of mirrors
I guess I’ll call

My soul



Catvibe said...

God, what a comeback Sarah. The last lines just really get me. I have to ditto everyone before me here, but the part that especially gets me is everything in the last stanza, the flip-flops in your mouth, just the things you come up with to state your truths are unparalleled in their metaphorical genius. I am just in awe of your radiant talent.

Anonymous said...

When reading, I thought of one of the Mars rovers rolling across miles and miles of Martian landscape. I imagined it passing rock after rock. A geologist's wet dream, perhaps, but so barren and unchanging. In those lyrics about being anything at all, I felt held up in comparison to all those things that so fill the universe. Rocks, metal, nebulae clouds. We really are spectacular and rare creatures, in every form, and in every emotion and condition. Something to greatly celebrate.

Sarah Hina said...

David, thank you so much for that. I dig your words. ;)

K, I've been overloading on the self introspection lately. ;) This was very much a poem about getting lost in those tangled catacombs, and trying to find a way out (or up).

Thank you for your thoughtful take and your lovely enthusiasm. :)

Aniket, (thank you). :p

I'm glad to reconnect with everyone, too. And very happy you found the last stanza to be powerful. For me, the questioning and doubting were, at the very least, some kind of validation of the ability to do so, and thus, life.

Margaret, that is very kind of you to say. I do feel badly for missing out on everyone's work for such a long time.

And your description of the poem is perfect! :) Maybe smelling those flowers, and living fully in a moment, can momentarily silence those doubts. It is strange...and amazing.

Karen, thank you so much! :)

As always, your descriptions and insight sparkle for me. I think that search for truth, in my case, is also a search for meaning. It's feeling the bewilderment without the wonder that leads to such darknesses.

But I'm very keen to be thankful for the small miracles of everyday, too. Including flowers and music.

Vesper, I'm glad this rang true for you too. That mouth of mirrors can feel like emptiness reflecting infinity, but I guess it's up to us to insert the meaning. The word soul is lyrical to us and does the job nicely.

Cat, I'm feeling more radiant with your warm words here, my friend. :) Your light is a gift--thank you.

Maybe those flip-flops are the quantum realities of our existence from moment to moment. I'm thinking of K's quote from Whitman suddenly: we do contain multitudes.

Jason, that's a great comparison. I was always intrigued by glimpses into the greater universe, but would come away with such a chill, too. We are a tiny amoeba of something clinging in the midst of a great abyss. As is always the case, having the proper perspective can shift that despairing randomness into a thing of awe and wonder.

We can all choose to recognize a soul, even if we're unsure of what it is or where it will go.

Jennifer said...

Sarah, this is spectacular. I mean, there is not a weak spot, a misstep, a lagging line anywhere. Wonder is the crop, indeed!

I love the "I guess" re: calling it your soul. It's conflicted but somehow just tantilizingly hopeful.

I hope your summer is off to a great start! How is your novel coming? And how do you balance summer vacation with writing?? :)

Sarah Hina said...

Jennifer, I've missed you. :)

I loved how you pointed out that "guess." That was very purposeful, and I'm glad you took some hope from the uncertainty. I think that's the right side of the line to fall on.

As far as summer is going...writing has received short shift so far. I can't blame my kids too much (right now, anyway). I've just been feeling a bit listless about it lately. I think that's turning around, though. :)

I hope things aren't too crazy for you! Did you make a decision about blogging yet? (no pressure, mind you ;))

the walking man said...

within a mouth
of mirrors
I guess I’ll call

My soul

Quite the line to sum up all that came before. WOW!

Although I guess I shouldna been lissening to Slim Shady while reading it. ha ha ha ha

Jennifer said...

Sarah, you, too! :)

Our summer (defined, of course, by the kids' summer schedule) doesn't officially start until next week. And then we thought our respective families were coming in two big bursts-well, they're not. They are all coming at different times, so that we will have someone here almost every single day from just after July 4th until Aug.30th !!! So much for a relaxing (or even mildly productive) summer!

I may not even have time to fight with Aniket. ;)

So no decisions on blogging myself, but I'm still reading and enjoying. :)

I totally get the listless thing--but hopefully you'll feel a burst of inspiration/energy at just the right time!

Aniket said...

"I may not even have time to fight with Aniket"

Whaatttttttttttt??? :(

Sarah Hina said...

Walking Man, I'm sure he'd have something to say about it. ;)

Thank you for drawing attention to that line--I do like it when a poem builds to an apex, and I'm glad you felt it here.

Jennifer, you have so many better reasons not to be writing than I! I'm sorry for the massive influx of visitors. I would wilt.

But I hope your kids will enjoy it all! And that you can squeeze in some writing time (not to mention poking-at-Aniket time ;)).

Btw, I read the Alice Munro book. So good, and so sad (most of the stories, anyway). She is an amazing writer, so I'm very grateful you turned me onto her! :)

Aniket, don't worry. Jenny can't help but fight with Nick. It's in their blood. :D

joaquin carvel said...

i love this song! and i love this spin - the "cosmic uncertainty" and "mouth of mirrors", but also the quiet reflection of it - despite the strangesness, it seems, it's also kind of a "how nice it is / to be anything at all".

considering the alternative, i guess.

(also love "Your cracked voice plowing / the dark lands of / knuckled earth" - nails his sound perfectly)