Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday Poem: Till life do us part

Till life do us part

A warbling note, suspended in air,
Gravity its prepaid fare.
Veins expanded, twinned cells green,
Blue lids blink blind at nature's scene.

The verse is written (now) and seems
Emboldened by the spotlight's beams,
Above reproach, beyond reversal,
Ordained, as death is, universal.

And what must come is washed in brine,
Mottled by discordant time.
Vulgar, vital insatiety -
A broad riposte to mute sobriety.


Harmonics, incidentals - friends
will dream of meeting lovers' ends.
Pallid, exposed and gone to seed,
We come to rest a breakneck speed.

With poems, gingerly, we entreat,
Then with petitions, then receipts.
Our dream selves stand aloof, aloft,
Smiles duplicitous, organs soft.

Denying endgame, we begin.
I kiss the scar across your wing,
Forgetting already what we have begun,
Drawing our strength from the same guileless sun.

Cameron Birnie

(Another from my son Cam.)


  1. Hi Pam & Cam
    I admire the discipline and restraint in this poem. It's as much in the content as in the structure. The second stanza caught me, its opening line the one that pulled me in. I read the poem as a circle, needing to go back to the beginning from the end and then around again... which I think is what you're saying about the relationship story here, Cam? I was especially moved by the final stanza and the line 'I kiss the scar across your wing.' The first two times I read it, I wanted to separate Parts I & II onto separate pages, like two individuals, but the more I read it, the more I understand they belong together. Is this an (un)intentional metaphor?

    It's been wonderful to read your work here, Cam - this poem and the ones prior to this. (Thanks, Pam x).

  2. Irritated at first, then intrigued, then engrossed - kicked self for hasty judgment, then just big respect. Most don't get as many neurons flashing in a whole poem as this guy does in a line or two, and the whole thing comes and goes in a bright absorbing flash.

    Irritated? OK, I was a bit hasty with my first flick over, but it was the rhyme, the odd, even clunky end-line rhythm. Some of it looks so disparate it seems "throwaway". Thought I got a whiff of pretentiousness…but - very quickly you see there's a shape, with the first and middle verses of the two halves riffing on music then poetry / words - and there is compression, with poem and people living and dying, but in sharp, vital particulars ("veins expanded, twinned cells green"), and deft and potent paradox ("…suspended in air / Gravity its prepaid fare.").

    The middle verse of 1 has that playful dead-pan thing going that has such vitality ("The verse is written (now) and seems / Emboldened by the spotlight's beams.") There are conceits, like Donne, and the same playful seriousness ("Pallid, exposed and gone to seed,
    We come to rest at breakneck speed" - I think that's a conceit…).
    The poem sort of detonates, explodes then wraps up at that breakneck pace, with line after line of absorbing images. Boom boom. And a big bright brainy flash with it.

  3. Well, I just like to say it and hear it and marvel at it. Thank you, P and C.