Michael McClintock


Tanka of Allusion    

                                                           with Comments by the Poet    


     seeks the center
     of every tree and rock,
     that thing we hold closest---
     the end of songs

     Allusion to the Song of Solomon ("Song of Songs") and the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes
     ("there is a time for every season . . .etc.")

     peaceable men say
     "war solves nothing"
     one wonders
     whose ashes still silt
     the rivers of Europe

     Allusion to holocaust in Europe, WWII.

     closing my book --
     I note how the clock has moved
     remorselessly away
     from the time the day was whole
     and I was immortal

     an old cocoon---
     an hour
     given to love
     of emptiness

     Allusion to Celtic (and Christian) association of cocoons and butterflies with the soul; also, with     
     Psyche of Greek myth. Symbolizing death, rebirth.

     old sea,
     in waters rhymed
     and uttered loud or soft,
     tonight your poems are muttering
     bad dreams

     Allusion to the Aegean sea and to Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey.

     reading Vergil
     is my rest, the best time
     that lucid hour
     when the sun's a chariot
     wheeling through the cedars

     Allusion to the epic poem, Aeneid, by Virgil (Vergil).

     I'm locking the door
     and sleeping in ---
     it's Monday morning
     in the financial capital
     of the Western world

     A broad allusion to Wall Street sharks, brokers and investors, and the declining US share of the  
     world's economic pie. Ref. to Sloan Wilson's novel The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit

     as a young poet
     I traveled to Innisfree
     to draw out the root:
     the lake was a small, mean place
     and no swans anywhere

     Reference to the famous poem by William Butler Yeats.

     from my palm
     she takes the apple . .  .
     and it's understood
     our time is not

     Reference to the Adam and Eve story in Genesis.

     for longevity
     I drink this tea
     of rare herbs;
     on the hazy peak
     an old pine gathers dew

     Broad allusion to Taoist tales.

     a few rubber bands
     to hold up my socks,
     I wade the shallows
     searching for the shoes I lost
     playing Crusoe with the tide

     rain stays
     all day long
     in the clouds
     I master the names
     of all "Seven Dwarves"

     when I listen to Haydn,
     all the wishes I might make
     glide into the sun
     slow, like long-limbed dreamers
     from the deep end of the woods

     such was their power
     I lost all sense of time
     reading old poems
     journeying till morning
     high in Chinese mountains

     fresh for work,
     pants belted tight,
     head clear,
     I wade into the windblown
     foam of the morning prairie 

     This poem alludes broadly to the poetry of Carl Sandburg, a poet I must admire, as "foam of the  
     morning prairie" . . . incorporating some of his imagery from Cornhuskers, etc.

     old Kong
     beats his chest
     out of clouds
     zoom the biplanes
     and the sputtering guns

     hiding his dirty nails
     in a clenched fist ---
     the limp Gatsby hat
     on its way to glorify
     the junk pile

     Allusion to F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby.

     downloading the movie
     "The Martians Attack"
     from a satellite --
     a moment to wonder who else
     may be watching tonight

     endless portraits
     of the great poets
     of long ago
     appear in the clouds
     billowing over Hunan

     a stench
     that buckles the knees --
     and so I bow
     before the cave of the bear
     on the mountain of tall pines

     Broadly, an allusion to Faulkner's famous short story, "The Bear"


     well-loved and wise,
     the careful goddess
     who in the morning
     brushes all sorrow
     from her hair

     I'll leave it to you to determine the goddess---from Greco-Roman mythology--- to whom I'm  
     comparing this woman.

     was there something
     I said or didn't say
     that brings you back
     to my thin door?
     at this hour of the night?
     A faint reference to the story of the Three Little Pigs --- in this case, the "wolf" in the tale is a 
     woman . . ."huffing and puffing", we are to imagine, presumably over some unfinished argument. 


     with a lump of clay
     wet with spit
     my fingers shape
     a rain goddess

     Broad allusion to Sumerian and other ancient creation myths.


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