My mother is dead
She lies still in her scarlet robes,
Smothered by her own indulgences.
Her breath, once within, sponged out
The stench of decay
Mixed with the dismay of her last days
And the perfume that overlay her sweat,
Throttle my throat with a throng of thick saliva.
The tender fingers that once orbed me,
Now in rigor expose their dirty fingernails:
Skin from the backs of the men she lay,
Stains for a heart she let betray,
And cursed chains for love’s abate.
Flesh from flesh for I am she,
As she from death does live in me.
If in her death I thus forsake
Then in her death I shall partake.
My mother is dead!
Still I stand, in throbbing life.
Slowly smothered by the silence.
My strength, flickering, wanes.
The stench of brooding breath,
sticky thighs parting in the darkness,
Supple delights in madness,
And the harnesses of haughty stresses,
Mixed with the thought of old caresses
By these lifeless yet speaking hands,
Tomorrow is buried with the thought
That once, as was ought,
I suckled upon your, now taut, breasts,
Drank from their honey sweet floating dreams
The life you now in death un-seam.
My mother is dead!
Still we both are, amid torrid endeavors
As life, like the wind, rushes by
Remembering nothing but the slights:
The points of sightlessness,
The never lights of fleshly streams,
And the wounded tears from horrid dreams
For tomorrow, from this unsealed tin, floats away.
As from her womb I did.
She is dead, and I, though still, do breathe: we fray.
Flesh from flesh, in her death partaking of life.
Dying I must away, for this stillness slays.
My beginning doesn’t define my end!
© Denis Adide 2010
Painting the self
Largely inspired by Allen Ginsberg’s Kadish, this elegy/ complaint is about the Institutional Church (historically and at present). In my experience, the whole idea of an institution with it’s hierarchies and orders, is far from ideal as it places corruptible people in positions of power and authority. Absolute power absolutely corrupts, thus the many scandals over history as well as in recent times. This theme of power abuse is what I tried to portray in the image of the sexualized mother, who is too busy having sex to care for her son.
On the flip side, I have within the poem also added a helplessness from the perspective of the son: for all the woman’s ails, she is his mother. This despair is a reflection of my own sorrow, and joy, at being a product of the broken institution. It is my ambition to serve within it, in hope that the power and authority do not corrupt me.
I chose to pepper the free verse with very stark images accompanied by a mix of strong consonance and alliteration. My choice of semantics (the sexual imagery, the idea’s of life, death and blood, breath, stillness, and sex) is drawn hugely from the bible where in many cases the Church, or the people of ancient Israel were refereed to in such ways. The poem is baroque in style, giving it a formality that contrasts the messiness of many of the details. In this version, I have tried to replace as many abstractions as I could without affecting the flow of the poem.