"Still life with coffee" by Albert Anker‘A Personal Relationship’ by Daniel Kemper The Society May 7, 2021 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 18 Comments . Part II of the Coffee Trilogy. (Part I can be found here.) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. —John 1:1 A light without a shadow could exist like a lonely star in lonelier space; a shadow though, like someone we have missed should need a light, as memories need a face. It’s true that someone seeing nothing more than darkness might object that darkness can exist without a light, but here we are communicating now: there must be more. There must be more than just the normal span we try so hard to grasp. Yes, here we are. Perhaps you sit right now as I once sat and rest your head against a window pane, or jotting little notes of this and that, avoid the spaces that you can’t explain. The moving finger writes… and all the while the mighty Milky Way is fading out; indeed the stars, and you, and I must fade nor have we always been. What reconciles such imperfect ends? Both faith and doubt agree that none of us has been self-made. You said, “So what if faith and doubt agree that something can’t create itself? Who cares if nothing’s been self-made?” And I, Since we were made—the stars, and you and I—then there’s a rub. Something must have always been. It’s only logical then, right? Your stare, your rolling eyes, so ready to be done but me, I just could not suppress my grin. The logic! The logic was always there! The logos as you read in John one, one. Those moments come like sugar from a spoon and though I know I can’t go back to sleep, the little tumult stirs away so soon and then the darkness seems so old, so deep and my one, tiny splash so small, so new… Outside the stars are gone and only snow is twinkling back at me. Still I’m not done with this, another piece of work, but who will hear these broken echoes, I don’t know. And yet I know I’m not the only one. Somehow the words I’ve written still seem wrong. It’s almost dawn. how can I know if this has been a letter, verse, or some love song, or a long prayer for the times I miss— and all of that, a fragile hedge against the spreading snow. “Kyrie eleison” slips out past light and darkness, shadows and stars. We all shall know at length what’s now condensed, shall know all meaning is relationships inside this little universe of ours wherein love moves the sun and all the stars. . . Daniel Kemper is a systems engineer living in California. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 18 Responses Gail May 7, 2021 I love it. Conceptually, that is. I can never find the rhythms in some of the (seemingly–to me!) more complex poems you all write. So the form has escaped me. Don’t take any account of that. For me to chase down the form of a poem is almost as preposterous as a rabbit pursuing a coyote. But I’m wanting a ‘dunamis’, too. As in . . . ‘upheld by the word of His . . .’ The system is sustained. You know, I just realized I should go read Part I; maybe I missed it. Maybe it can be squeaked into Part III? Maybe I’m out of line here?! Reply Gail May 7, 2021 I’ve read Pt. I now–the ‘power’ is definitely there in the Name. I think I’m out of my depth. Reply Daniel Kemper May 11, 2021 Hi Gail, Thank you for taking this on. This poem has more variations in meter than I like and I suspect; more revision is likely. Form-wise, it’s loosely an ode. ABABCDECDE, but not strophe, anti-strophe etc. It’s taking on a lot. If you have difficulty, know the poet is having them too! 🙂 Cynthia Erlandson May 7, 2021 Logic / logos / John one, one — the relationships of which you write are profound. And your last Dantean line is perfect. Reply Daniel Kemper May 11, 2021 Thank you Cynthia! Much appreciated. Trying to move more intensely from generic God (though derived from a ‘what’ to a ‘who’ somewhat in part 1) to a relatable one. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant May 7, 2021 Daniel, this beautiful, engaging and intriguing poem has misty messages and ethereal images that float in my periphery and tease me with their vague familiarity. I want answers. I want all the words the poem whispers to be made flesh, to sit opposite me, and to shout out the reason for our existence… but then, that would be a totally different poem. I’m sorry if my comment is strange… I feel lost and found at the same time, whatever that may mean. That’s the unusual wonder of your work… to me. Reply Daniel Kemper May 11, 2021 Hi Susan, Yes, the speaker is calling out for relationship in an imagined debate with an absent other. In a sense, an unreliable narrator, who at the end reflects on the disarray of his own discourse despite efforts to the converse, and in the emptiness of other human relationships realizes, in his relationship with God, that all meaning is relationships. That is the meaning of life, if you will. ” I want answers. I want all the words the poem whispers to be made flesh, to sit opposite me, and to shout out the reason for our existence…” I’m hoping to make a flesh answer step out of the text in the third (and then epilogue), but revision has been slow going. Reply Margaret Coats May 7, 2021 Daniel, this is indeed a piece of very careful work, yet you make it read as a conversation. It’s quite full of varied things to follow. The easiest for me here is following the stars through the stanzas to see how the heavens are moving. I hope you or someone else will identify the allusions. You give us John the Evangelist in your epigraph; Cynthia found Dante’s Paradiso; I see Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For those of us with serious interest in preserving tradition by bringing it up again in our poems, this is quite a treat. Also love the imagery in the first part of stanza 4, where you beautifully renew your coffee considerations. And although I appreciate the literary devices, I’m also listening closely to your profound thoughts. I will look forward to Part III, but take your time. Poems like this are worth it! Reply Daniel Kemper May 11, 2021 Thank you so much for your engagement and encouragement! I’m hoping to be able to bring it all together by the third, though this one might yet go through revisions. These traditional voices just jump into my head as the lines and concepts form. It sometimes happens so much it needs taming. Reply Mike Bryant May 8, 2021 I like this contemplative poem. Many of these same lines of thought run through my head, at night of course, unbidden. I missed the references others saw, but one stood out for me – a favorite of my Dad, “The moving finger writes” from The Rubayyat, which is about how important it is to choose your words carefully because they cannot be unheard. Words have a certain life of their own, the power of creation, or destruction, within them. That simple fact, that creative power of words argues convincingly for a Creator. “Let there be light.” And those words set our tiny universe on its tiny course, and God fashioned everything from that light so we could love, and be loved, as He does. Reply C.B. Anderson May 10, 2021 Actually, Mike, the line “The moving finger writes, and, having writ/Moves on”” is not about choosing words carefully. It is about how powerless we are to change what has already happened. Read that example from Fitzgerald’s Rubayyat (Farsi for quatrains) again: The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. The Finger here is not that of the writer, but that of the deities which take note of our fate. Reply Mike Bryant May 10, 2021 That’s very interesting C.B. I was trusting my Dad on that one. I’m going to have to do some research. Thanks for pointing that out to me. Mike Bryant May 10, 2021 C.B. I’m sure you’re right about that meaning, however, I found this interesting take: https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/56/messages/737.html In this take, the moving finger is thought to be the fickle finger of fate! Of course, either way it’s not exactly about the words we speak. I do think Dad was giving some good advice, though. Thanks. C.B. Anderson May 11, 2021 Yeah, Mike, your dad served you well. And you serve him well by recalling his instruction. Daniel Kemper May 11, 2021 Thanks Mike. I got my Rubayyat from my grandfather as it happens. Another favorite that stuck in mind: Ah Love, Could thou and I with fate conspire to grasp this sorry scheme of things entire would we not shatter it to bits and then remold it nearer to the hearts desire! The writing theme does follow through all, though I think “the moving finger was emphasizing fate”, even though it’s not inconsistent with your mention. Reply C.B. Anderson May 10, 2021 There were many things about this poem I thought were off-key, but I don’t want to get into that right now. I do, however, love excursions into speculative theology, and if you can get Evan to send you my e-mail address, or get him to send me yours, then I would gladly send you a copy of my latest book, which is filled mostly with examples of speculative theology. Reply Daniel Kemper May 11, 2021 Hi C.B., always great to see you around. I feel like I can feel the poems strong and weak points and would be grateful if you could pick one (more might be too much) off-key that I could meditate on. It might show up in a revision here or perhaps help better guide the next in the series (whose revision is coming painfully slowly). In any case, thanks for giving this a go. Reply Daniel Kemper May 11, 2021 Overall, here’s the loose gist of what I’m aiming for. S1 The miracle: That there is something at all, rather than nothing. Light exists independently; shadows are derivative. Objection: Darkness is not derivative. It could exists. Re-assertion: If darkness alone could exist, we would not be here. And we are here. Communicating S2 The missing other remembered, spoken to. All things end. As we. Just as we have an end, we have a start. We, no “thing” that exists has always exists. Self-creation is logical contradiction/fallacy. S3 But since we’re here, something must have always been here, right? Inescapable logic – logic is timeless, eternal. So THAT’s what’s always been here. (“Logic” is really a skeleton of “Logos”. That’s the drift though.) S4 Revelatory understanding returns to coffee motif. Speaker returns from reverie. S5 Speaker still feels something missing. Unclear of the purpose of such rumination. Perhaps only a defense against fear of death (the spreading snow, the speaker’s whitening hair). Christ have mercy. We all shall know a la Paul, Corinthians… Meaning/meaningfulness is relationship. Not just a cold apologetic. Poem 1 – Develops a self, a soul, touches on the ‘who-ness’ of the maker. Poem 2 – Develops the maker’s relationship nature, touches on personal, on Christ Poem 3 – Develops Jesus from pages of the past and into present sense. Epilogue – Tie it all back to the coffee Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.