National Poetry Writing Month 2021, Day 27: Paroxysms of agnosthesia and other minor details

My Day 27 poem is my response to the prompt, which is to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. I chose several entries, and managed to address them all. The name of the entry referenced appears at the beginning of each section of the poem.

The view from outside
is as familiar as the view from within

I am both audience and movie
One yells at the screen
the other ignores such exhortations

I am prone to wondering
how this came about in the first place
only taken to excruciating extremes

In this case
who decided that fine particles bound to a substrate
could be exposed to light
then bathed in combinations of chemicals
to reveal images captured
from a focused beam of light
through a lens made of ground glass
encased in metal or plastic?

And who looked at sand
and thought it could be melted
at extremely high temperatures
and then formed into glass elements?

And who figured out how
to create such high temperatures
or how to fabricate the equipment
that could tolerate such high temperatures
and so on?

They say that the camera never lies

Eyes are less predictable
sometimes so revealing
that continuing to look feels like an intrusion
and sometimes so skilled at the disguise
you don’t know you’re looking at someone else

Sometimes eyes are welcoming
offering home and a warm bed to the weary

Those are the eyes
I am looking for

So why is it
that the closer I get
the harder I try to avoid
being drawn in?

And why do I swim towards
the impossible dream?

All the while
being pulled by the parallels I see
with those clearing the path before me
and wondering how to watch the road
and steer myself
so I can repeat my own mistakes

Then again, I will come to an end
before the road I’m on

Where it goes next
will be a mystery
for someone else to solve

Where I go next
may be a mystery
nobody can solve

What do the oddsmakers say?

(27 April 2021)



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