Thursday, January 12, 2012

"My Blue Heaven"

[A remarkable new poem from Brittany Newmark-much gratitude for the privilege of posting it on Robert Frost's Banjo]

My Blue Heaven

Heaven is a continent with no oceans.

                    And it stands to reason that
                    all the languages spoken there are dead languages,

So, finally I can use my one phrase in Aramaic
                                                                                                    abra’ ki’dab’rah
                                                Meaning:  from this utterance I create.

But then I will keep my mouth shut.

In heaven all gray pack mules become horses
                    prancing with colored streamers or some become storms, huge dust devils

                     a wild herd across a grassy plain

                    others are armored steeds en fête for the Emperor’s parade.

In heaven the fact that you died ruined, humiliated
and slow, with those dark brown stains

                                                            on the sheets does not matter

because in heaven nobody has any bodily functions to carry

                                                                                                    around or leave behind.

Heaven is the green crack of the poppy bud

                                                                                just before it opens
It is the third prayer of the day.

In heaven David brushes Av’shalom’s hair and all is forgiven.

You can rest; your future is no longer rushing to meet you at some off the chart velocity, weighted by happenstance and awkward failures and phony politics.

Hard to believe but true, in heaven they only play the music you love
That song you long to hear over and over,
                                        and her voice
                                        what is it about that voice?

In heaven the cuffs never fall out of your pants
And a love that ended decades ago one bad winter stays like a secure seam
Stitched into a silk purse made from a sow’s ear.

The light in heaven is not artificial light

(but who am I to speak of the light of heaven,
                                                                                I am getting ahead of myself, I hope)

Mostly, there are warm nights in the Summer garden and friendly games on the grass

Be advised though that there are drastic changes in heaven concerning human
                                        O sweet relief

And after so many azure decades the beloved becomes the lover.

In heaven you will not meet those women with rouged cheeks and ballerina buns they
have gone elsewhere.

I have it on good authority that in heaven there are no arguments, no counter
arguments and no snarky retorts.

I do know that you cannot speak of heaven
Without at some point addressing the here, the now, and

the child that we will meet there,

                    (oh how fast she has grown, into a lovely lady)

on the sweeping lawn, that we wanted so badly to stay here alongside us

                                                                                                          (well I did, I should not speak for you)
 in all the narrow beds that preceded the last one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      just breathe, please just breathe.

I wholeheartedly imagine that even a thief in his tunnel
                                                                                                        who prays
simply not to be caught will be in the Summer garden for a friendly game,
                                                                                          and among friends finally.

You may not know that until you get there
In heaven you can love notions without understanding them
and people that never lived long enough to be.

Brittany Newmark
© 2012


  1. This really is a remarkable poem - not that I'm suggesting John would ever mislead us. To my mind it is a poem about that little phrase in Aramaic - abra’ ki’dab’rah - "with this utterance I create" and then the warning, promise, threat that after it is spoken the poet will keep her mouth shut. The world of the poem is spoken into existence, just as in Genesis God speaks the world into being - "And God said..." And after the world is made, we are left to make sense of it more or less on our own. It's a beautiful world "My Blue Heaven" calls into being - the green crack of the poppy bud just before it opens, the third prayer of the day, a place where David brushes Absalom's beautiful hair and all is forgiven. The poem closes with a reassurance - In Heaven you can love notions without understanding them - just as on earth we can love poems without necessarily being able to unpack every morsel of their meaning.
    But never mind meaning or my interpretation of it. What about this gorgeous line? - "And after so many azure decades the beloved becomes the lover."

  2. Hi Mairi: Thanks so much--it is truly a rich, beautiful, heartbreaking & remarkable piece of writing. & none of that is hyperbole. Your thoughtful readings & comments add so much to the poetry published on this blog!

  3. Hi Alan & Sandra: I agree with you both, & so appreciate your taking the time to read & comment on Brittany's splendid poem. Thanks.


Thanks for stopping by & sharing your thoughts. Please do note, however, that this blog no longer accepts anonymous comments. All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience.