Private Jokes and Hidden Meanings

The wasps swarm low
to the ground this morning,
phantoms darting in and out of the shadows
the river birch lays on the lawn,
through the sheets of summer-storm rain I can
see sun-lit clouds,
all the brighter when set-off
by their grey kin,
like a family laughing around the dinner table,
seen through the gauze of the curtains
in the front window.
The Japanese maple does not weep
as much as I remember,
and the front door used to be red,
the dog furrows her brow,
concerned about something I cannot see.

Confused? Trying to find the hidden meaning,
or the connection between
obscure verses and stretched simile?
Welcome to modern poetry,
where plain language is shunned
and muddled meanings are applauded,
simple phrases are lost to context
and obscure references are seemingly
intended only for those in on some
private joke or secret code…

…almost like wasps swarming across
a shadowed lawn,
or looking at sun-lit clouds through
a gauze curtain of rain.


Margo Roby asked for a poem using some aspect of the word “obscure”,
and sense I consider most current poetry (published in major journals) an exercise in forced obscurity…
And no, there is no obscure connection or hidden meaning in this poem,
just some images I gathered over the last few days who did not have a home in a poem yet./em>



Filed under Poetry

20 responses to “Private Jokes and Hidden Meanings

  1. I LOVE this, Mark:
    “The Japanese maple does not weep
    as much as I remember”

    And that “gauze curtain of rain.”


  2. Mark, your middle stanza sums up precisely why my work fails to be published in literary journals: I can’t do obscure! You have dared to confront the modern style gurus, and I salute you!

  3. This is clever on so many levels. Taking us through the imagery, setting up a mood (even if we don’t know why) and then yanking the rug out from under as you turn to the real truth of the poem. Bringing back those two images as similes at the end, is brilliant. Yes, I laughed, but at the same time acknowledge the seriousness of the message.

  4. Mark, this is spot on. Everything Margo said… this is brilliant.

  5. ZQ

    Interesting! Made me think… hmmm 🙂

  6. I like how you look in the mirror and stare at possibilities. In a world of endless possibilities there is plenty of room for all. Great words and very interesting.

  7. great images, and interesting meaning caught in between them.

  8. Oh dear.. I think I might be obscure myself every now and then.. but I do like simplicity to.. the scenery of a day .. how the wind feels in your face.. or just how your poem touch a nerve..

  9. You know though, minds write stories unbidden as I did to the distress of wasps who may have lost their anchor in the world. But what do wasps do–just build and swarm, kind of like writers …

  10. the cheese is melted thoroughly
    and runs orange out the bread
    as financial institutions
    double as methadone clinics
    and i have no pills
    as the dog raises its head
    & the pickle.

    i will say though, i rather like references,
    they take work — which most readers would rather
    skip with a good job, or whatever — i think
    classical poetry was riddled with it as well,
    but modernity def shies away from meaning

  11. I to find the ideas to be more importand than the clever arrangement although that is wonderful as long as the idea is clearly there too. It takes courage to write simply for the sake of clarity.

  12. I loved the imagery of the first verse……..not obscure to me, just beauty, all the way!!!! Your second verse reminds me of a comment a publisher made to me on something I submitted when I was sixteen – “I hope you wont be the kind of poet who glories in being obscure.” Ouch. Never forgot it.

  13. well, take Ezra Pound, for one. Please, take him ~

Some of what I write is true, some is fiction; most is merely possibility.

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