October 18, 2005

Two New Poems

The first one is brand new, and by gutter rat I mean a person, since there ain't no such thing strictly speaking, or so far as I know, as a gutter rat rat. Though I guess a rat would do as well! The second has already appeared here, I believe, but is now in another incarnation, its nth and hopefully its last. I finally like it, I think, but time will tell. If I look at it a month from now, I may change my mind. As you will note, the first section remains the same always. BTW The Latin in the middle of the second poem translates thusly: I am poor. I have nothing. I will give my heart.


Monsoon greased the streets with wet leaves.
I came searching for a bone, an answer.
I hid behind a faceless mask.
No feeling, tears, smile.
I would not react
to any curse or blessing hurled my way.

Proud old Hindu, he squatted on the staircase
to the silken household.
He did not deign to give my question, like a counterfeit coin,
more than his teeth.

I ached and shivered. Why was this so hard?
Did I have a devil’s face?

No one I want to know
imposes, he pronounced
eyes grazing the brown oily street beyond
such inquiries as these.
Old men are old. Do not ask them.
Old women do not answer questions.

The no-mask slipped,
anger rouging my face.
My heart drooped, disconsolate.

How many rats must drown
in sacrificial gutters, I wanted to know,
before a single soul’s eyes are opened?

That was all. My question regarded the living soul.

I have traveled all around the world to find out.
Each dawn: more dead rats,
more blind souls.



“What is particularly curious about quantum theory
is that there can be actual physical effects arising from...
counterfactuals -- that is, things that might have happened
although they did not...
Roger Penrose


I didn’t marry the right man
for twenty years and now, see
how fat he has grown
against the sickle of my body

He knocks at my bones
asking nothing

For the rest of my life


Each year new death
feast and celebration

hard to swallow
as this knot of pearls
choking my throat

Ego sum pauper
nihil habeo
cor meum dabo

God’s long shadow
dogs my heels


Danger dances with opportunity
nothing is certain

Streams rage, cities
topple, an army drowns
in the flood

The plum-eyed girl
pursues her death
ripe within the purple muck

In spring, a child is born


I climb
the yellow hill
above my new house

Memory gathers shadows
three bushels
in half an hour

A swinging door sings
in the four-cornered wind

A fork I don’t remember
a cane, a coat hanger
doorless cupboard, legless chair

Posted by pamwagg at October 18, 2005 05:38 PM


Hi Pam,

I listened to your story today on NPR and you read a poem you wrote on forgiveness. It touched me profoundly and I would like to ask you if you have it published anywhere? I would like to be able to read it often.
I am meanwhile enjoying perusing your site, and your beautiful poems. I am amazed by your life, and glad for your spirit.

Posted by: jen at January 2, 2006 11:00 PM

rats don't need to drown for another's eyes to be opened. the only person who can open ur eyes is urself. take care pam, love, puzli

Posted by: puzli at October 19, 2005 09:14 PM

Pam,these poems bring tears to my eyes. You are becoming one of my favorite poets. Your images are startling and beautiful.I have no doubt you will publish a collection. As a person who shares your illness, I am awed and inspired by you.

Posted by: Samantha at October 19, 2005 07:37 PM

Dearest Pamela(or is it Emily or Sylvia or Sappho of the isle of Lesbos in ancient Greece?),

To me(I care not if anyone else agrees,even you)Your poetry gives dignity to the printed word. It plays like a symphony(composed mostly of violins which break my heart)so that while the eyes see and the mind tries to comprehend your complexity, all the while the strings of many harmonious violins, effortlessly reaching the highest notes my soul can bear, delight my ear.
Pam, non sum dignus ut intres anima mea. Sed tantum dic verbo et sonamitor anima mea.
I give your poems the honor
of Summa cum laude,
A song of praise from Paula

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at October 19, 2005 10:42 AM

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