By René Magritte
Inside the house our peace rumbles.
Mom and dad haunt opposite ends of the couch.
Did I mention that they’re dead?
It doesn’t matter. I’m not living either.
I go to school, play guitar, watch TV,
and argue with my sister Ag who doesn’t
argue back. The house, a still cat. Gunfire
breaks the calm. It sounds like cathedral
bells, mournful, lasting. I’m used to blue sky
and clouds even at night. I dream in
the day but have none when I fall asleep.
No one in this family dreams at night.
Dawn-chirping birds, we’re hungry,
flying off, then grabbing a branch
to watch time’s red bear raise his paw
and knock over the mailbox. Someday
we might decide to come alive. Porchlights
will shine either way. Someone may move away,
maybe me, but for now the tall tree that hides
my window wants company—who am I
to deny that wish?
TSTmpj: Your image of blue sky at night especially caught me. How do you personally come to terms with light and darkness, in your poetry and in life more generally?
Kenneth Pobo: Most everything is a balancing act. The poem is a response to Magritte’s painting where a bright sky is above a house at night—how can this be? Yet it is. And we live among very strong opposing forces, trying to find our way. Where light should be, perhaps it isn’t. Where darkness should be, perhaps light.
TSTmpj: Death seems quietly real to you, yet it is infused with hope, an intimacy beyond tears. Can you respond to this comment in the context of René Magritte's painting?
Kenneth Pobo: I think Death becomes more real as the years roll by and loss becomes more and more evident (I lost my mom last year.). Death may not be the “opposite” of life as we endure small deaths all the time. I like Magritte’s painting (well, so many of his paintings!) for putting opposites together—and instead of being put off by this, these blends of difference feel acceptable and real.
TSTmpj: Do you care to share any thoughts on timelessness?
Kenneth Pobo: Timelessness is pretty big for me. I’ve been reading books on current ideas on cosmology. Fascinating, and not being a science guy, it’s hard to wrap my head around it, but I want to keep trying. How time and space bend and dance—such great opportunities for poets! One thing I love about the creative process is how when I’m given over to writing, it feels like time no longer exists. I can put a CD on and not realize when songs end. The imagination takes me out of time—but only for… a time.
Kenneth Pobo won the 2011 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest for Ice And Gaywings, published in November 2011.