Of the three poems here, two deal - in a way - with photographs. The third deals with dreams, in the literal sense. "On an Old Picture" (like "Coming to America") is autobiographical, but the others - like most of my poems - present a "supposed person" (thanks, Emily Dickinson).

Poems About Photographs and Dreams

Steven C. Scheer

On an Old Picture
(Taken in a Refugee Camp in Austria)

Black & white, with me in the middle
Between old friends. On my left a gypsy,
A pianist (ended up in Los Angeles, I heard
Many years ago - perhaps not, who knows?)
He played the tunes that inflamed the heart
And made those inclined to sadness weep for joy.
The other (on my left) now a retired draftsman,
Engineer and clergyman and teacher,
Not a jack of all trades, but the master of some,
Living in a condo out in the woods in
The Great State of Connecticut.
And I? A Platonic-Aristotelian
German Idealistic Sturcturalist
Deconstructor? What have I learned
Since the age of sixteen but that words
Cannot tell the truth unless they lie?
Or that reality is nothing but a fiction?
Or that words are unstable, meaning
Different things (yes, the same words) in
Different contexts? The Bible is many
Books. A hateful text in the hands of those
Who find excuses in it for hating others.
A joyful text for those who are more willing
To forgive others than even themselves.
Sometimes I wonder why we don't jump
For joy when we encounter: "truth
Uncompromisingly told will always
Have its ragged edges"? Or when we find
That "memory believes before knowing
Remembers"? Or, even better, "that we
Would forgive most things if we knew [all]
The facts." I guess I need to keep on
Reading. I wonder what my old friends are
Doing now? I wonder if they realize
That there are moments when my aging
Mind (the spirit of the brain), seeing all
Those lovely thoughts in black & white,
Feels that, at least for a fleeting second,
It almost all makes perfect sense?

Snapshot, With Flash

Fast as it is, the light only goes so far,
As when the camera's flash won't penetrate
The darkness beyond the subject's face
And torso. "Cheese" won't do it. The smile,
To be real, must come from within,
From within the depths of love.

The depths of one's first love, no less.
Even if hardly remembered. But always
With the keenest of apprehensions, as if
Losing the past were paramount to death,
Which, in a way, it always already is.
History: remembered, recovered, invented.

It is always within the pale of our wishes
That we desire the impossible. The outskirts
Of the city, where parks end and the wilderness
Flows into the night - it is there that I,
Alone with what I am, meditate on what is
Not and never was nor can ever be.

The flash may have blinded my subject.
For the duration of a split second it was
As if we were to be together forever here
As well as in the darkness beyond. But
The flash in the night does not take it well,
Once lost, the memory is all we have of love.

The Id at Work

Momentarily paralyzed (except for the eyes
That move under the closed lids),
Just what is it that happens when we dream?
Where do those strange stories really come
From? And why do those get repeated that
Do get repeated from time to time? Freud
Claimed wish fulfillment as their essence.
It seems to me, though, that nothing I might
Wish for has ever happened at night.
Well, that's not really true. There are times
When I make love to a woman of
The proper proportions (she is broad where
A broad should be broad) and pent-up
Passions. At other times certain celebrities
Bestow praises on my work or me.
But mostly they just don't make sense.
No rhyme or reason in dreams at all.
Just the Id working its way clear of the
Impositions of law and order or the
Disquietude of dull realism. In which case
Let's hear it for the Id, the part of us
That's not exactly the part the girl next
Door might take to meet her parents,
The part of us that makes outlandish
Moves in the suffused light of the moon,
The part of us that writes poems, too,
Thus making fools of the words we wish
To keep from spilling the beans
On the Super Ego and its wary underling,
The poor, tormented Ego in its plight.

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Copyright 2000 - 2001 © by Steven C. Scheer. All rights reserved.

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