The Danger is Seduction

dange200r

 “A pitch-perfect book.”  Kirkus

 

Weather
and karma permitting,
the haze will dissolve.  Where nothing
was, you’ll catch a glimpse
of Kachenjunga.
from “Darjeeling”

These iridescent poems reveal a life lived broadly and deeply.  Time passes. Locales change. Faces come and go.

But constants persist: the balm of sympathy, a subversive humor, a passion for understanding. Sharpe takes us along as she ranges the world, seeking knowledge and adventure from ocean reef to Himalayan peak, from Timbkutu to Moscow to home, wherever that may be.  Imprinted with childhood memories as she meets fabled potters, tea pickers, revered lamas, hibernating bears and demon-fighting dogs, the more she makes the whole world her own, the better she comes to terms with those who formed her.

There’s a reason why The Danger Is Seduction is a “collection.”  Look at it this way: one chocolate chip cookie is delicious.  Two or three?  Nearly as yummy.  But wolfing ten or a dozen?  Not a sane, single-sitting project.   Ditto with page after page of Shakespearean sonnets consumed one after the other: a sure route to mind mush.  And double ditto for book-long collections of poetry contrived to share a single theme, mood and/or form.  For me, anyway. So I vary the theme in Seduction. I vary the mood. I vary the form.  To avoid monotony.  But also because each poem has its own completeness.  As for the import of the whole of what I’ve written, here or elsewhere, too early to say.  My journey’s not over.

ORACLES

Why do they look
so wild and keep
so still

when the need
to know’s
so great?

Dumb
is smart
for oracles.

They sit.
They smile.
They dissemble.

No one
leaves
dissatisfied.


INTERSTATE

Others listen
to waves
breaking and retreating,
breaking
and retreating,
or the burble of stream water
tripping over rocks, or the twitter
and cooing of birds. They trust in nature,
played back on disc, to neutralize
the Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!
of crickets that can’t be found,
to interrupt their thoughts, thoughts, thoughts,
to override those damnable
yip-yapping dogs.

I, too,
am often wakeful.
Splashes of brightness
from high-beamed headlights
speed around the room,
outpacing a pale slow patch
that’s moon-made.
Paws
skitter and scamper
across the roof.
There’s a purring, too,
a whispery feathery sound,
a whish-whishing
that rises and fades,
rises and fades,
and a stronger, deeper whooo-ooshhh!
that overrides it, a dash
scrawled swiftly ear to ear.
Lying here,
not thrashing,
not tense and angry,
I listen to whish! whish!
and whooo-ooshhh!
and catch, too,
the high/low humming of tires
on pavement.

Sleeping so near an Interstate,
I’d need ear plugs, friends warned.
Narcotics.
Those soothing CDs.
But me,
I like this whish-whooshing,
this music of connection,
all those drivers on the road every night
taking whatever’s consigned wherever it needs to be,
by tomorrow, in the morning,
long before which
I’ll make my own transit
out of night’s drama
into sleep’s.

And those dogs,
chained,
shivering,
alone as I am?
Let them bark up chorus.
Let them serenade.
SCUBA

Goggle-eyed,
fin-footed, hooked up to hoses,
humpbacked with tank, we scissor and plunge,
ugly as urchins or squid.

Or stonefish.
“Watch out for them,”
the locals warn.

“Stay calm,”
the experts advise. “Don’t dive
too deep, linger too long,
or surface too fast.”

So many rules.
So much risk.
Do humans belong
down here, eye to eye
with parrot fish, nibbled at
by finny zebras, tickled
by sea grass, invested by a school
of twinkling jellies?

We somersault
with otters, grin back
at dolphins, probe fissures
in a coral condominium.

The danger we invite
isn’t rays or sharks or eels.
It’s the ease, the sense of power.
A single kick and you glide
where you will.
This is the old country,
and the danger is seduction.


HOOKS

Anchors have two hooks,
ice axes one. Each
prevents slippage.

A burr’s a cluster of hooks
hitching a ride
in dog fur.

Hooks are handy
for hanging coats, hats
or ideas on.

Fishermen stock hooks
of many kinds. All deliver.
Sometimes.

Fish with hooks
caught in their jaws,
have their own fish stories.


from FERRIS WHEEL AT GORKY PARK

As high
as the wheel can
we rise. We rise until,
slipping from apogee, we taste it,
this nano-second's sweet release,
this heart-stopping,
time-stopping
parole
from the heaviness
of being.

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