myth and poetry

mythopoetry Scholar


Matter & Beauty
Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine

Prelude To A Memoir
Four Poems
-Robert Romanyshyn

A Sense of Place

The web is invisible,
its threads too slender for an unfocused eye.
But the fluttering wings betray
a monarch butterfly exhausting itself
with only a small fly its lonely companion,
and myself, also trapped,
in invisible threads of sorrow
for this king,
and of obligation
to those dark avatars of the underworld
we cannot see,
but who weave our fate and our destiny.

...................******* ******* *******

Stray Lines

A boy beats a rug against a stonewall.
A dog barks nearby.
A woman in a brown dress,
bare shoulders slightly pink from the sun,
passes by.
Two old men order omelets and two glasses of red wine.
They speak to each other in a language I do not understand.
A mother eats a sandwich.
Her young daughter eats pancakes.
The waves on the beach below break on the rocks.
A child’s windmill—yellow, red, green—
turns in the breeze.
A fly lands on a little girl’s shoulder.
Her hand absentmindedly brushes it away.
A sweaty fat man steps into the street and is hit by a car.
The blood creeps into the cracks of the cobbled stones.
The man looks up at the sky.
A cloud drifts by.
His mouth is open.
The sky is blue except for the white cloud.

...................******* ******* *******

Swiss Bank Account

It was a great poem.
At least I think it was
Or maybe it was only a good enough poem.
It's gone now,
vanished because of my laziness.
It came in a dream, but I was too tired,
and anyway I did not want to disturb
the warm cocoon that sleep had fashioned around my bed,
put my feet on the cold floor, turn on the light
to search for paper and pen.
So, it slipped away, this at least good enough poem,
to that place where poems are kin to dreams,
leaving me only this sad attempt to record its absence.
Someday, perhaps, it will come again in someone else's dream,
and they, less lazy, will write it down.
If they do, and it gets published,
am I entitled to claim co-authorship?
Can I ask for a percentage of the royalties?
Why not?
Did Frost write his poems, or the poems of someone else's dreams?
And what about Yeats, or Rilke, or Sappho, or Dickinson, or Ferlinghetti?
Maybe all poems should be declared
the common property of the dreaming soul.
And maybe all the royalties should be deposited
in a secret Swiss bank account.
That would be fine with me.
Then I could make a withdrawal on those occasions
when I am not so lazy.

...................******* ******* *******

Being with a Poet

I saw Billy Collins in a pub the other day
“Sailing Alone Around the Room,”
while Lawrence Ferlinghetti was watching him
out of the corners of “A Coney Island of the Mind.”

I never knew this bar existed,
although others had whispered about it.
They said all kinds of strange things happened there.
Rumor has it that one day T.S. Eliot
actually spilled a Tom Collins on J.Alfred Prufrock,
while Emily Dickinson, listening to a frog,
shyly sipped some tea in a corner of the room near the fire.

I wish I could give you a map
showing you how to get there,
but no one really knows the way.

One day, maybe, you look sideways,
or you turn a corner when you intended to go straight down the street,
or you drop your plans for the day in the nearest trash can,
or you turn your cell phone off or even throw it away,
or you leave your identity on an empty bench in the park,
or you give all your money to the small boy with the blue balloon.

Any one of these things might do the trick.
But the real trick in the end might be
not caring if you will find your way back.

...................******* ******* *******

Prelude To A Memoir

Almost a decade ago, as I was approaching my sixties, I had a dream. In that dream I was escorted from the house of academia by a poet, whose shabby garb and tobacco stained fingers and teeth contrasted sharply with the garb and guise of the well suited and tied academics who had gathered in a dimly lit parlor of a fine, old Victorian house for a conference, and who were speaking in hushed and serious tones. This dream poet took me to the kitchen at the back end of the house where the food and drink for the august academic occasion were being prepared. The kitchen aroma was enlivening and the room was filled with bright sunlight streaming through a screen door that opened onto a street where children were playing games, old couples were strolling hand and hand and lovers were sharing a picnic feast in a park. The dream ended with the poet leaving me on the threshold between these two worlds.

The end of one decade and the beginning of another is itself a threshold moment and for the past eight years I have lingered with that dream, dreaming it forward in various ways into my life.  Re-collecting it again and again, it has meant different things at different moments, but one thing that has remained is how that dream pictured so accurately for me my life as a psychologist. More than forty years ago I found my way into psychology through the entrance door of philosophy and for the past twenty years or so I have been stumbling around looking for the exit door of poetry. In this regard, I have come to understand that psychology is and has been for me a threshold discipline and that I as a psychologist have struggled to make up my mind to be or not to be either the philosopher or the poet. The wisdom of the dream, however, was its ending, leaving me there on the threshold where I am neither philosopher nor poet, but the one who, understanding that it is not a matter of just making up one’s mind, holds the tension between the two by leaning one way on this occasion and the other way on that occasion.

At the moment as I am approaching my eighth decade, I find myself inclined toward the poet. But leaning in that direction, I have also come to understand that poet and philosopher are and have been for me as a psychologist not so much identities as they are dispositions, attitudes, ways of thinking as a psychologist who has tried to keep soul in mind. So, now at this turning point on the threshold I find myself trying to think about things, trying to look again at the world, trying to regard it poetically. In this context, the memoir for which this prelude is written is in that poetic voice and in that voice there are two books of poems that have been written during the last twenty years or so and which, for the most part, have remained private.

One book is, as one might expect, called ‘Leaning toward the Poet.’ These poems are attempts to speak to the vocation of the poetic voice; to the ways I have tried to listen to that vocation and to respond to being addressed by it. The two poems included here—‘Swiss Bank Account,’ and ‘Being with a Poet’-- are examples of that book. The other book is called ‘Stray Lines.’ This book contains poems, most of which are relatively short, that are like snapshots of ordinary moments designed to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary. They are attempts to reply in a poetic voice to the small epiphanies of daily life, to register them before they might slip away unnoticed and sink into oblivion. They are poems in service to being against forgetting. They are love poems that celebrate the erotic bonds, the chiasm, between the flesh of the body and the flesh of the world. The two examples here are: ‘ Stray Lines,’ and ‘A Sense of Place.’  

...................******* ******* *******Mythopoetry Scholar Ezine******* ******* *******

Robert Romanyshyn, PhDAuthor Bio
Robert D. Romanyshyn PhD is Senior Core Faculty at Pacifica Graduate Institute and an Affiliate Member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. He is the author of six books and numerous articles in edited volumes and professional journals. He has lectured widely in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Described by others as a master story teller, he says of himself that he entered psychology many years ago through the door of philosophy and has been struggling ever since to find his way out through the door of poetry.

His most recent book is The Wounded Researcher (2007). He is currently working on three manuscripts. The Frankenstein Prophecy offers a Jungian/Archetypal reading of the melting polar ice. Left by the Side of the Road is an anti-memoir description of the writing life in service to soul. Epiphanies in Dark Light is a collection of poems, photographs and descriptions born in reveries of the splendors of the ordinary world, a psychology of the elements in which the human is only a witness and these ordinary splendors are regarded—seen again and anew—not in the bright light of mind but in the dark light of soul.

newthe DVD –Antarctica: Inner Journeys in the Outer World

To arrange a presentation of "Anarctica" with Robert and/or for purchase of the DVD
contact Robert Romanyshyn at

also in this issue

Landscape of Myth, Dream and Imagination

Return To Table of Content
mythopoetics mythopoesis
click here for copyright statement