Monday, June 6, 2011

upstream without water wings

get upstream
get upstream
get. up. stream.

mighty salmon fight, flash pink in
sunlight swimming, leaping, driven by
instinct to the brink, up, round &
through rapid rocks, where some ex-
hausted mate waits & all they think
(i could go for $25 a plate in a
fancy restaurant---um, no, really)

i gotta make babies
i gotta make babies
i. gotta. make. babies.

and die.

this sacrifice, blood spilt
on the altar of instinct, ritually
repeated, in psychotic dryer spin cycles,
or un-made beds, curtain spread wide,
revealing divinity, so written by the judas
priest, so he can offer sceptre blessings on
young-minded girls that know identity can be
bought on bare back one night communion,
wafers placed gingerly between lips &
washed down with the sweetest blood-ing

get upstream
get upstream
get. up. stream.

this is my body, broken (split open)
for you, as you take it, think of me
not the girl you were with last night,
or the one before, for salvation comes,
stained sheets & thorough bred, rode hard
bed raced, left wet & she wants her
quarter back, but not the change on
what she's spent, it's the same story
bought, sold & told before its time

instinct
get upstream
make babies

& it will be alright, but someone,
someones got to die, even if it is
your pride & all that makes you feel
alive, if you believe that lie, but why,
why did it have to be you?

written for Poetry Jam
and over at One Stop today Gay and Hedgewitch are discussing fre verse.

101 comments:

Just Be Real said...

I love how you say so truthfully, "I got to make babies." Life is a constant battle. Each trial seems to help us become stronger, if we are open to receiving it. Thank you Brian. Blessings.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

Some things in nature are sad. Actually a lot of things in nature are sad. The Circle of Life...

Austin said...

This is brilliant, so joyful in the despair! Love it brother.

Daniel said...

There were a couple of different drums beating against one another in this one. Curious to know the seed that gave rise to this one.

California Girl said...

this. is. divine.

DJan said...

Gotta. Make. Comment.

I agree with Daniel, I wonder where you got this one, powerful and moving as it is. Your urge to write poetry doesn't seem to be ebbing. I'm glad for that.

izzy said...

Procreate- indeed- the Salmon are amazing.Just watched a program on "Nature" about their struggles to return to their spawning grounds...It seems they are losing the battle because we have been so selfish.

Vicki Lane said...

Wow! Great on so many levels!

Peter Goulding said...

Deep, primeval and religious. A hell of a lot going on here and deserves to be read a few times to grasp it all.

annell said...

You never cease to amaze!

Brian Miller said...

nice pun there daniel...haha...people ruled by their sexual instinct to procreate and or just satisfy their libido to make themselves feel alive and or give themselves identitiy...particularly a teen came to mind as that is when it is expected but carries forward well into adulthood...kinda where it came from without divulging anyone's laundry....

Brian Miller said...

on another level its about relying only on our insticts, which i would not say is always the best route to go...

Shrinky said...

Love the urgency and grim compultion you've captured in this piece, driven, like a strong river current, the words flow beautifully.

AmyLK said...

Love this. so much going on here. So many different messages.

Slamdunk said...

Thought-provoking Brian. I like considering the parallels of nature to our lives.

And DJAN's comment was too funny.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah sometimes using your brain
Makes you avoid popping a vein
As sticking a certain anatomy part in anything that moves
Could give you a few new grooves
Either a rugrat or ten
Making you mother hen
Or some new disease
Which won't go away no matter how much you say please
So the fishy could use some thought
Before with your pants down you are caught..lol

Valerie said...

This is potent, Brian. I need to sit down and read it again.

kaykuala said...

Brian,
It is a struggle. Never can the desire to procreate be taken to such length and test, year in year out. You captured it very well!

kez said...

wow definitely makes one think although it is life and the circle of life ....religion only gets in the way ...instinct is what ultimately drives nature and us ....love the mix of subject and observation ..the way you put it across is both memorable and brilliant ..thank you

Sean Vessey said...

Thank you Brian. Great write on the circle of life. Your words captured it well. very joyful and sad.

Titus said...

The altar of instinct indeed. Rich, multi-layered work, and the insistence of the I gotta's versus the restraints done so well.
Really enjoyed it.

tracy said...

Hmm...a song. The first 3 lines made me think of a Red Hot Chili Peppers song. But deeper than the Peppers...

C Rose said...

Never felt so much for a salmon in my life ;) Great free verse, you feel the ache of that swim by the end. Love your words Brian ~ Rose

hedgewitch said...

Packed with visuals, intense and demanding as any instinct, but also dry and contained and plainspeaking--a very excellent piece and solid good writing, brian. As always, no free verse could be freer, and this one plays off its own interior structure perfectly.

TALON said...

There is that determination of life continuing at all costs. The salmon is such a great example, Brian.

Nancy said...

We live, we die, we make babies - yep that's about it.

David Allen Waters said...

cycle of life...brilliant :)

blueviolet said...

It's true for all species, isn't it? To some degree, at least.

Eva Gallant said...

Wow. That was profound. The repeating life cycle!

Bagman and Butler said...

I really enjoyed how this grew and deepened and became so much more than salmon.

Louise said...

Brilliant poem ~ been back three times to read it! :)

Sue said...

Powerful, primal, and heart-wrenching.

I wish every young woman could know who she is. And where she comes from. And why she doesn't need to purchase her identity from someone who has nothing to give her.

"/

Mama Zen said...

Very cool!

wolfsrosebud said...

Shed a whole new light on parenting... I too loved the urgent tone of the poem.

Jannie Funster said...

Geez, Brian, that's about as great as a poem can get. Just a WOW.

Love the judas priest thoughts.

Almost speechless in Austin...

xo

NanU said...

Mmm... Get down to it!
Brilliant poem. Think I'll grill some fish tonight, too...

alivealways said...

the title to the free verse is exceptional, best of the lot.
It's beautiful how we can see the struggle, imagine swimming against the flow with no wings.

booguloo said...

So is free verse a form of automatic writing? Go make babies!! smiles

Emerging Writer said...

well, nature raw in tooth and claw or scale and fin

Bossy Betty said...

Oh my. This spoke to me big time.

Kerry O'Connor said...

Did this poem ever blow my hair back! Damn good poetry: raw, relevant. I feel like the salmon who swam up cataracts of foamy images, escaped the jaws of grizzly bears, to find the still pool of my birth place, only to die. Thanks for that!

ladyfi said...

LOL... I'm glad I'm not a salmon!

Pseudo said...

Holy shit brian, this sounds like my last year of life.

Get upstream.

Save your baby.

Get upstream.

Save your family.

Corbie said...

Brian, I really enjoyed this poem. The life a salmon so expertly portrayed in your words. Thank you for sharing the journey. ~Corbie Sinclair

drybottomgirl said...

As always, insightful, and cleverly crafted, with a message for us all....

Matty said...

Despite their efforts, they are still my favorite fish to eat. And healthy too.

repressedsoul said...

Nature is cruel, and the survival of the fittest of the swim upstream, is just a twist of the knife, because the fish dies. It dies! What a waste! What we do for the next generation. Great message here Brian!

Jessica Maybury said...

i gotta make babies
i gotta make babies
i. gotta. make. babies.

and die.

It's true! Except about the babies part. Definitely the dying part though.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Brian said,"people ruled by their sexual instinct to procreate and or just satisfy their libido to make themselves feel alive and or give themselves identity...particularly a teen came to mind as that is when it is expected but carries forward well into adulthood...

Hi! Brian...
I knew that your poem had to be much "deeper" than just about Salmon..."getting upstream"
Salmon..."i gotta make babies"
I just didn't know how deep until you explained...Thanks, for sharing!
DeeDee ;-/

Helen said...

Free verse ... and here I thought you were going to write about Oregon salmon. We eat a lot of that here.

Your poem hits at gut level, it's great!

Heather said...

this is very clever....your writing is just too good and insightful!!! hope your day is good... :)

Chef Kar said...

I think one of my all time favorites Brian ~ rich with meaning. You've now gotten me hooked on learning more about poetry and more about writing well. I've joined in on the two meme's this week...stretching myself a bit more. Hope you check it out :-)

Hugs, Karis

Friko said...

instinct is all.

Marinela said...

You played soooo beautifully with words,Brian! Love it :) :)

Claudia said...

this spoke to me very personally as the emotions seemed such familiar teenage years emotions - always driven, always feeling the need to prove sth. to others or myself - no matter if in a sexual or whatever context. yes - punched me right into the stomach and honestly needed some time to recover..

Jackie Dick said...

Such madness,isn't it..this sexual drive, the drive to procreat in all beings. Brilliant comparison juxtaposing the salmon with humans. All madness no matter how simple or complex, and in the procreation, we all die...some completely, some gradually, but procreate we must. Thanks for the odessey!

jackiedick said...

The madness of sex and procreation, from the salmon to multicellular humans...Imagry and comparison is a brilliant stroke. Thanks for the odessey!

Kodjo Deynoo. said...

Swell piece

I like the idea behind it, great written

ayala said...

So cool, Brian:)

Myrna R. said...

I have to read this a few more times. It's multidimensional. For now, it leaves me sad. Instincts driving life, like salmon, to die. Amazing write, as usual.

secret agent woman said...

Catching up. Oh, the power of the biological clock and the needs wired into us.

Maggie May said...

Glad we don't have to do that!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

darsden said...

:-)

Monkey Man said...

primitive urges

happygirl said...

Sacrifice for Life. Sacrifice.

Pastor Sharon said...

This gives Dory's favorite line in the movie NEMO a whole new thought process. . . just keep swimming. . . just keep swimming. . .

There is so much more to life than this.

Luke Prater said...

powerful imagery. Gritty and real and hard to swallow in the best way possible in places. Very free in verse... rhythm and rhyme carry downstream, almost got a rap vibe to it.

signed...bkm said...

the instincts of life...whether fish or human....life goes on..some live on, some die....the ritual of love is often lost in the process....nice write Brian...bkm

Arts web show said...

Brilliant, the story of the humble Salmon is an incredible one

Stranger said...

1. The only meat I eat is fish and salmon is one of my favorites. And now, I'm craving it like mad.

2. You're breaking my heart with the truth in this one, sir. Good stuff, it is.

lori said...

So, I was speechless for a bit when I first read this one...amazing it is on many levels.

Thank God we are more than our urges though not everyone seems to be a fan of self-control.

Also, I saw things in this that may not have been intended. I knew men who carried the clergy banner by day but spent nights doing things that young girls had to try to forget on Sunday...

Back to speechless...

Raivenne said...

I don't even know where to begin with this write. It teems with the desperation inherit in the scenarios given. Intense. Stark. Brilliant.

Betsy said...

This is really great..and I appreciate your own comments below. SO true.

KB said...

Least they don't know they're going to die.

Christine said...

Interesting read on a subject I was just contemplating, the life cycle and mortality, sex, and what am I really here for after all, kind of thoughts. This I have to read again.

Fragrant Liar said...

Wow. I bow in your presence. You da king.

Beachanny said...

you are the king Brian...and this is brilliant. I could write an essay of personal feelings about it, contemplations about it, the drive to write and the sexual drive and all the blah blah blah you didn't do, you just wrote it the metaphor and the madness and it is great.

And on that personal note, let me thank you for being "there" and I mean for each of us, for taking the time, and the good humor to read, write and comment. I admire you more than words can say and I still get sad when I think of my missed opportunity of hanging out with you in NYC. Hopefully there will be other days! Thank YOU...Gay

The Thirteenth Crossing said...

get.up.stream. Love that. I can "hear" it as I read it. The last bit was brilliant. Loved this piece.

Margie said...

You are just amazing!
Every day is an adventure when I come here to read your writings!
Bravo on this one!

Margie :)

Steve E said...

I'm SPEECHLESS! The wonder of your "Brian-Brain".....
PEACE!

lucychili said...

ah and sometimes the river is dry
which changes the journey
but not the destination =)

John (@bookdreamer) said...

Metaphor and free verse!

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

this free verse is good, everyone is a bit serious today. as always good read.Very strong

TechnoBabe said...

It takes a genius mind to move from salmon swimming upstream and those struggles to unfortunate lessons incorrectly teaching young people to use sex to feel alive.

Lorraine said...

oh man, now Iwon't be able to eat sushi anymore...

the walking man said...

Just a quick fly by HI...have a good one Brian.

Tammy said...

You always give me so much to think on.

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

This one is absolutely cutting...hits SO MUCH in so few lines...it makes me feel choked up in its brutal truth. It would be wrong to say it is a lovely piece cause it is so raw...but so well done in conveying the ugly reality...

JStar said...

So many realities here...You are saying so much within these words...These sins are washed away with comunion. I had a moving moment at church this weekend and that came to mind as I read this...My boyfriend who was brought up Jahovah Witness got saved at my church this weekend..The entire story is very moving...Then the other parts of this poem remind me of myself...Mistakes I have made...But with forgivness they were washed clean...

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Brian, you write with a wonderfully vivid imagination. Your words consistently flow.

CJ xx

A.Decker said...

Great! So true. It does have to be "you."

The Bug said...

This really made me think of a relative of mine - who thought the pinnacle was marriage & babies & then figured out that she didn't really know what to do with babies. I went against that instinct & decided to stay child free. Although it wasn't that hard of a decision, so maybe I didn't get that gene :)

Natasha said...

Okay...so here I am, way down the list for comment 93! Holy cow! First off...I LOVE the title you've chosen. The seriousness of the write goes completely against what I was expecting, which is awesome! Also some pretty seedy imagery as well (in my opinion) and a few phrases leave me a little more tainted than I was before the read. (Impact!)The quarter never held much appeal to me, even in my wickeder days ;) and as for the primal instinct to procreate...wouldn't life be sooo much easier if that was all we had to do! Might be I envy that salmon a little bit, and in a nice restaurant, I could sell myself for closer to $80! So, signing off from the 93rd position...an awesome write that would once again be shared with the office staff...but their enjoying vacay and I'm manning the ship :(

Margaret said...

...on the altar of instinct

Loved that!

william said...

it just gets better every time I visit :)

yellowhousecafe said...

Dang..so dig the third stanza, the weaving of the words of the lord's prayer is a nice touch of social commentary indeed. Very fine word play as well, nice one ~

Victoria said...

This is one powerful read, Brian. Wow, wow, wow!

Magpie said...

This one has my head hurting. :)

Joanna Jenkins said...

Perfect. I saw the salmon swimming up sream when we were in Alaska years ago-- It was amazing.
Cheers, jj

haikulovesongs said...

powerful. i never would have thought to use a salmon in this way. brilliant!
d

Syd said...

I often marvel at the beauty and cruelty of nature. And it applies so to us humans.