Meeting the Bar: aimlessly

i recognize them by their eyes–
they sit in cars or bus stops
and have emptied into silence

leaned against black holes,
they’re blowing smoke-rings in the air
and watch them ride into the wind head-on

they ask for nothing
& nothing asks for them

despite the sunshine, i put on my coat,
heading for the station –
Basel SBB at 5 pm

a house of tiny ants, crawling aimless on the floor
before the wind starts howling but

it makes no difference
and I feel their weariness

standing at the stop light, bent
into concrete pillars, trying hard to hold myself
I watch them carrying huge blue whales

in tiny rucksacks,
crocodiles with razor teeth, stuffed tight in laptop bags

between is silence, and i hear their moaning
breathing birth pain, pale-blue, smeared,
umbilical cord still wrapped around their neck,

they’re leaving bloody traces on the black tiled floor
& their voice gets slowly swallowed

by the shrieking of the trains

victoria is raising the dVerse bar tonight and it’s about imitating the well-known poets and learn from them but without losing our own voice…my choice fell on charles bukowski and I had his poem “dreamlessly” in mind when writing this…not sure though if I sound like bukowski at all…smiles – If you want to join us – pub opens at 3pm EST. by the way – the reason why i love bukowski is that he saw the people around him… and makes me see them as well..

and on another note..i recently met jens schönlau on twitter and he asked me if he could feature my bumper sticker poem on his fiftyfifty blog. jens writes poems and short stories in german – so for my german speaking friends i can highly recommend a visit

42 responses to “Meeting the Bar: aimlessly

  1. The ending was a tad disturbing and very gritty throughout, enjoyed it much. CAn see your voice in there, wait can you see a voice? Hmmm..haha

  2. holy….umbilical cords around their necks voices drowned by the shrieking of the train….crap…i dontknow if yourending could get more viceral, of course that leads also to unforgetable….the blue whales, ant familys are nice touches.

    i have seen them too.

  3. For me, I would not think of Charles Bukowski, but I think of the great tradition of poetry and how you wonderfully have crafter a single sentence into this wonderful poem.

    This really is wonderful:

    i recognize them by their eyes,
    they sit in cars or bus stops
    and have emptied into silence

    leaned against black holes,

    We think we may be at a stop with that first stanza but clearly we have

    “have emptied into silence leaned against black holes” (silence is leaned against black holes as opposed to them.)

    The fact that we have one long sentence that one must carefully navigate does bring to mind Wallace Stevens’ poem, “The Snowman”

    This is a wonderful poem and you are such an artist at this.

    One question on this — why not:

    i recognize them by their eyes:
    they sit in cars or bus stops (etc.)

    if not this way, one technically has a run-on sentence at the beginning which alternatively can be represented as

    i recognize them by their eyes.
    they sit in cars or bus stops (etc.)

    and so, in my mind, takes away the wonderous single sentence which underscores the title so well.

    Also not sure on
    crocodiles with razor teeth stuffed tight in laptop bags

    If there is a comma there — I hope it is not a full stop as that changes the meaning and, again, we lose the promise of that long sentence.

    What I love so much is that you force us into a careful reading (as in the case of the Wallace Stevens’ “The Snowman.) What appears to be possible ambiguity can be resolved into one clear meaning — but it takes alertness to do so.

    Enough commenting…. Suffice to say this is a terrific poem!

    • thanks walt for your detailed comment – much appreciated..i like your suggestions – not a big friend of : in poems but will make it
      i recognize them by their eyes–

      and include a comma in the razor teeth line…

      also checked out Wallace Stevens’ “The Snowman” – an awesome poem – i much like his style
      so thanks again…

  4. What felt like Bukowski to me was an impression of emptiness and futility. I’m being a bit overwhelmed bt synchronicity this week…first, the fact that both Joy Ann and I referenced Stevens’ poem, then that whole image about ants. A couple of hours ago I posted a poem (not for this prompt) using the same metaphor. In fact, along the same lines. You know me: I couldn’t begin to improve on this, Claudia.

  5. Claudia, I get the feel of Buk here with visceral tone. I have tried to do Buk and I’m lousy at it myself. You did it wonderfully while maintaining your own voice. The first stanza grabbed me and held me throughout.


  6. I too love the visceral response I had to the poem and the dreamy language, the animals, the setting of scene. The only stumble I had and it could of been my reading was the transition between the lines Basel SBB at 5 pm /a house of tiny ants, I was disoriented by the shift in focus (though this may have been your intent). You’re work continues to amaze me, it’s stunning.

  7. That last image of the train is so raw and arresting. Beautiful write.
    Thank you for introducing me to such a powerful poem, I can’t believe I haven’t come across it before!

  8. Claudia, I think that I will have to read more of Bukoski. You are an observer of people too, and often I think that internet poets are better than a lot of the ‘famous’ but just haven’t been discovered through connections which many of the ‘known’ have had. You rank among these. So much to be seen in a train station, when people are in a hurry and generally don’t think about being observed. And I can just hear the shrieking of trains! And see you standing and taking note.

  9. Rushed over when I saw that you were doing Bukowski. I agree with zumpoems in that, although it’s the same theme for sure, it’s not Bukowski’s style, and that, for my taste, is good (not a big fan of Bukowski – don’t tell anyone). Your poem has more flesh and color, you show more than Bukowski does; he’s more content with telling. I like your style more than his, although I do like how he wonders why the clouds, flowers and children don’t murder the lifeless, dreamless zombies.

  10. Claudia, great job, I like Bukowski a lot- you did a good job, most certainly. Really great piece, but for me everything after the rucksacks line, which what a great word by the way, was absolutely mind-stopping-loved each and every word from that point forward- the vividness of imagery not only forced attention, it forced reflection. Great job again, thanks for the read

  11. Hi Claudia….. disturbing images here with birthing pains and umbilical cords…. I’m not very familiar with Bukowski and wouldn’t recognize his work, but Victoria was correct when she said that Claudia is recognizable in her own right because I see you all over this….. and of course it is, as always, absolutely fascinating….

  12. Claudia, It looked to me like a number of weary youngsters with their laptops being moved around. Pity not familiar with Buk but heard of him.
    Beautiful verse!


  13. In depth piece…leaves me wondering about the meaning of some of the phrases. I think its well written.

  14. This had me all the way. So many great lines and phrases. For example:
    in tiny rucksacks,
    crocodiles with razor teeth stuffed tight in laptop bags

    between is silence, and i hear their moaning

  15. Wow, Claudia…this is rich. it is emotive and mysterious. who are these aimless? our children?

    they ask for nothing
    & nothing asks for them

    wow. what a line. Punch me there, line.

    a house of tiny ants, crawling aimless on the floor
    before the wind starts howling….

    apprehensive and portentous, this. but you’re prepared (you put on your coat, despite the sunshine).

    what a strongly worded poem…words packed with connotative(s) making this an excellent piece of work. I’m glad you’re writing poetry, Claudia…I do enjoy ‘popping in’ on your verse every now and then for the surprise.

    thank you.

  16. Love this! You spur me on to read Bukowski. Though I love the visceral quality of the end, I do get a bit confused-

    between is silence, and i hear their moaning
    breathing birth pain, pale-blue, smeared,
    umbilical cord still wrapped around their neck,

    but it is so powerful both in message and image, I chalk confusion up to my deficit, not the poem’s. Beautiful work; thank you for sharing.

  17. I read your reference poem and your write last night and decided you had the style perfect and the vivid imagery does move you to near illness which is your intent! All of us should be so moving in our writing. Excellent!

  18. I don’t know who said it…above…but this is very Wallace Stevens to me, of course with your own metaphoric twists. I always feel Bukowski is shouting at me. He’s edgy but I don’t finish his poems thinking, “Wow! I want to write like that.” (sorry to all of you who do). I finish Stevens thinking -“Wow! How would I ever write like that!” And that’s pretty much how I feel when I read yours, Claudia.

  19. You have such a way of finding the poetry in the urban setting. I am not familiar with the particular poem of Bukowski’s you mention, but I am truly amazed by your talent in creating these lines.

  20. Adored this one! The bleakness, the despair….”& nothing asks for them”…just heartbreaking. I think you really captured Bukowski’s insights into our sometimes overwhelming human condition.

  21. Don’t know Bukowski, but I think I know you, or at least your imaginative way of expression. It blows my mind each time I read something of yours. This was so full of word pictures, I’m still seeing it.

  22. Hi! Claudia…Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with Charles Bukowski’s writing, but I’m familiar with your wonderful poetry [writings] and Thank-you, for sharing!
    deedee 🙂