Truth Serum

Truth Serum

by Dorothy Neumann


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...a personal and sensitive study of passion and its exquisite colors...a journey through its many curves...

"Dorothy Neumann's poems bring us into a world of broken saints and living gods, disenchanted dreamers and strayed revelers. They convey the sound of a lover's eyes and the sense of importance in what we do for our friends, colleagues, aging pets, and dying parents. Above all they bear witness to intense feeling, stunning discoveries about one's self and others, and the connectedness of private and public. You can feel the author weighing each poem in the palm of her hand and sending it to us with radiant generosity."

William J. Kennedy, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Cornell University

"TRUTH SERUM is a complex, intimate, and haunting collection of poems that explores layers of human experience with warmth infused with deeply affecting insight. It is a colorful tapestry woven together from the strands of a rich life, a personal lifetime work of enormous power, passion, and wisdom. The reader is swept along on a bittersweet tide of honest and keen observation that reflects an introspective intensity of both the deeply personal and the universal with an absorbing integrity. The doubt, longing, and darkness of the human soul searching for light with startling imagery lingers and crackles in the air... a search for life's meaning and "it is enough"... a superb accomplishment!"

Nancy E. Flaherty Rowe, Director
TARA Project - Empowering Communities, Ending Poverty www.TARAProject.org

Dorothy Neumann is an award winning theatre director and teacher in the Washington, D.C. area.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781491728666
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 04/10/2014
Pages: 108
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.26(d)

Read an Excerpt

Truth Serum

By Dorothy Neumann

iUniverse LLC

Copyright © 2014 Dorothy Neumann
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4917-2866-6


Of Lonely Dawns

Early Poems

"For she talked to me about ...
childhood, mine and her own,
and about those years ... when
the capacity for love, in its
first youth, embraces not only
both sexes, but all and everything,
sensuous and spiritual,
and endows all things with a
spell of love and ... an ease of
transformation such as in later
years comes again only to a
chosen few and to poets."

-Herman Hesse

    To A.A.

    I have often wondered
    why this summer's day
    could not remain
    among the poplars and the evergreens,
    and why i could not stay in this place,
    unknown and unchallenged by another,
    from which i know not where i go
    nor want to know -
    a place to stay with nothing to run from,
    nor run to, a place to sit
    and occasionally pick a dandelion
    charming, but interfering
    with the quiet flow of green that surrounds;
    petal upon petal, blade upon blade beckons
    and teasing the breeze to fondle,
    i sometimes even dare to touch them
    for they like that;
    they offer tempting hours,
    for in touching their naivete,
    i feel the artless hour -
    the touch that moves the time:
    you have joined me,
    for you can bear
    the closeness of the clouds
    gently bumping the unseen air,
    and freely nudging at the stillness;
    for some the dignity is too quiet, but you belong.
    you belong ...

    thank you, ee

    is a circular (in
    termeshed maze) of
    barbed wire through which
    noone escapes:
    'till Father



    when jimmyandbobbyanddick were kids
    they lived on thesameblock
    (eighty thoid street)

    they all joinedhands
    and flew a kite:
    jimmy was white
    bobby was black
    and dick - well he looked kinda funny -
    now the kids arn't kids anymore
    (they're always fighting
    'cause they can't find that nice kite)


    the young woman
    stared in the middle
    of the (silently crushing)
    darkoaked hallway;
    white (unknown)
    white (unfelt)
    white (silent) tears
    were wrapped in wondernandwhy;
    her frightened tears wrangled why -
    the (silent door) closed
    (merely whimpering) ...

    washington square

    tender minds lost for an afternoon:
    seeking some sweet mysterious antidote
    for this mingling pure dilemma --
    the intricate myth of autumn,
    perhaps lost, perhaps caught
    in one lean and splintered day;
    such sacred anxiety of love, but vacant:
    leaves and grass
    so easily locked in towering cement,
    a friend, just one, to pour some peace,
    to wait one hour, just one;
    accurately wandering in such a home:
    some finding, but throwing away,
    others not, but loving the search --
    remembering the last pierced moment
    perishing in some profane dream, and
    impressed in the casual
    tormenting slip of immortal love --
    and who dares alter this mystery;
    for in this labyrinth of petaled dreams
    lies all suns of a sun of truth --
    the serene smile of some man immortal,
    supremely drawing margins on
    limitless sky,
    merely asking the sky to love him ...


    in the subdued dusk of quiet
    this gatherer of water for the sea
    struggles in his solitude,
    bound by the shred
    of some known lie,
    yet paralyzed
    in the shadow
    of a smile,
    a whisper of peace
    and a promise
    so silently confirmed
    in the dark
    of subtracted conversation; hoping for some
    naked recognition,
    this fool merely
    watches the waves
    unwrap and envelop
    this gift -
    and laughingly
    away ...

    Graduation '65

    black bits of glass glistening in the rain-
    no longer can you saunter under willows
    and juggle your worlds of falsity and conceit;
    no longer can you linger in the lulls
    of intellectual content and smile;
    you are a princess perhaps-
    charmed by a village arch,
    pleased with the clatter of a carriage ride,
    captured in the vibrating elegance
    of a velvet gown, an opening night
    and a luminous bubble of champagne;

    you are a child perhaps -
    longing for something to explore, conquer,
    stifled by a world of reason you cannot find,

    you are a child -
    muttering whispers of peace and waiting,
    clutching wishes, worn by the wait,
    puzzled by the decayed flatness
    of an opportunity you were promised,
    frightened by the cheerless gratitude
    of those who have tasted
    the acidity of success, terrified
    that you perhaps might join
    the dank routine of suffocation and alone;

    you are a fool perhaps-
    confident that paragons of perfection
    can be formed from the young palsied minds
    of spiritual neglect and poverty;

    you are a fool - testing the moistness of a love
    but fearing pride to be conceit;
    princess, child, fool - lacking a sheepskin for a goal,
    and wondering if yourself is quite enough to smile for ...

    a winter's night

    the salient groans of bilious cigarette ashes
    are conquered by splenetic flakes of snow,
    so freefully dismissing the sombre languor of one day
    with silence; with and by such stillness,
    for this silent strain, a scabrous womb of white
    envelops the limpid shadows of a memory
    and prophecy of dream:
    for with your blithe fingers have I travelled to far-off lands
    and with you have I not spoken
    of a quite (impossible) rendezvous
    behind closed doors of sleep
    where in the corners secretly unfolds
    your simple and fascinating presence:
    the evening suns and scents of cool earth
    become reflected in soft tresses
    (gently lying) - infusing springs of wine
    into the deserts of flesh lying frozen
    (and quite buried) in the white of moving lost time:
    and your unique eyes retain freshly falling,
    instantly melting flakes of crippling dreams,
    limping in the shadows of a celebration:
    a once smile; a sometimes lonely touch;

    for can you possibly imagine
    how much of me you are
    and how your smile so instantly creates spring
    with the ease of night caressing sleep-
    hiding in nature's white womb and wandering home
    of eternal, homeless fear.

    a night: vacation

    sipping to secure the day,
    approve it, or disapprove
    or cancel it as gone
    when the wind blows ...
    it is late -
    the time has come to listen to existence
    stripped to breathing,
    subtracted sounds
    yet binding, binding in our breath;

    the word
    crumbles into silence
    and a blush,
    while cringing in the light
    of intense glance
    and such obvious love -

    the word hides itself:

    as a time for tomorrow
    crawls into a quiet corner
    persuading itself to sleep ...

    Strayed Reveler: Revisited:
    For Pope Francis

    "But when we try to erect finalities, we fall into the
    worst heresy of all - idolatry!"
    -Bishop Pike

    the constricted mangled fingers
    of audacious dawn begin their daily
    gripping of a ship's haunting groan
    for a bed ...

    and a man, entombed and lacquered,
    strolls among his misted glass caves,
    imprisoned by luminous square walls
    that shout of splendrous rectitude,
    that scream of man's magnificent attempts
    at finality, striving -
    searching for the supposed limit,
    and always, always looking;

    he glances at a wooden doorway,
    whittled and worn from the wind and wetness
    and scarcely notices a slouched,
    slumped form, hidden in the mist,
    whittled and weary by the stagnant stench
    of having been forgotten,
    by the coldness of a damp, cemented bed.
    one form, two forms, three, four
    mourning the rancor of each other,

    performing their ceremonial pantomime
    with glowering jowls and gritted mouth,
    barely conquering their futile efforts
    at yawning and standing up,

    breathing in the polluted Bowery air,
    with an unwilling wheez and sigh,
    things, resembling a man, coughing,
    overshadowed by the gritting of cold engines
    being forced to start their journey
    of return and retreat,
    scorned by the honking horns
    of impatience.

    dismissing and right-turning,
    this dreamer resumes his stroll,
    rambling through the twisting
    endless walls of confinement,
    a pause, a wait,
    a breathing in and stumbling,
    and up the church's steps, he enters.
    outstanding in his loneliness,
    he views the aging shepherds,
    entombed in paint-peeling walls,
    cracking marble, and the stuffy pores
    of wooden pews,
    creaking from the force
    of too much sleep and human pressure,

    resounding echoes of scourging doubts
    shouting in their last breath
    to be heard and sanctioned
    in a patriotic plea for human right.

    shepherds: barred from the warmth
    of flesh, turning colder in the years,
    chanting in honor of marble statues
    on whose faces can be seen
    an occasional flicker of a cold candle.
    shepherds: hiding behind their ceremonial robes
    of pretension - the medieval condemnation of their flock.

    and so the lambs wander,
    left behind in the journey,
    crying for a leader
    who understands their warmth

    and so the lambs pursue -
    revolving and rambling through the caves,
    rambling and returning to the cold fire
    of a vigil candle,
    obsessed with a need
    for a peaceful pasture of Camelot,
    and tortured that it possibly has been missed;

    this man, this dreamer
    must ride with the seasons -
    sometimes looming in the shadows
    of Yahweh, mourning the dried blood
    from the rotting, wooden cross,
    beating himself, and resting
    in a rocking chair of humility,
    but falling asleep from the stupor
    of a rocking monotony
    that pursues a youthful prey
    with unmoving, suffocating promises
    of Christian nobility.

    a sinless Camelot is missed:
    and whispering behind the silent fold
    of confessional drape -
    comrade, brother, comrade, brother,
    feebly whispering insincere apologies
    for being so very weak,
    so very human - so very real ...

    a Camelot gone, a Camelot to come
    and this believer seeks to open
    the musty books of blind belief
    fearing his boldness and drive
    for an answer, promised by himself this time -
    the new shepherd -
    but no mercy is shown to him

    so the dreamer turns and makes his exit,
    sent on his way by the clanging clamor
    of heavy metal doors, closing....


    as when a man strives to frame his own universe
    to claim his own moon and set of stars,
    to till the soil of Calvary
    allowing the roots to finally breathe the fresh air
    made possible by the probing ...

    as when the somber horizon
    resumes its humble function
    of breathing in, very deeply and quietly
    the sounds and sights of day
    confident that it will again,
    very gently,
    nudge the great sun from its womb:
    a Camelot arrives -
    in the very search,
    in the fear of the search,
    as when a man attempts to choose
    between a blanket of pure snow
    and the pulse of life beneath,
    and which is more real,
    the seen or the unseen,
    and which is more beautiful;
    as when attempts to choose
    between a Friday and an Easter morn,
    and does not want to choose ...


    the constricted mangled fingers
    of audacious dawn tighten their grip,
    enveloping this reveler in his city:
    shepherds, abandoning and distant,
    Popish men, some resentfully smirking
    in their pious greed,
    and God lying still in a golden case:
    the lambs scattering and starving,
    pondering this new and wondrous role:
    this noble man called "shepherd"
    this suffering man called "Christian"

    and God remains not dead, but hidden.

    Fantastic Friendship

    someone else's smile
    illumines the winged horse of time
    tracing brief, deceptive rainbows
    that hold bright fruits and berries
    and moons that won't be trampled on;

    when it all begins to fade,
    the memory invades and eludes
    like water in a leaf-cup:

    I shall cover you with leaves
    like children seeking a cloth of gold
    and hiding each other
    while the velvet rain dissolves the sun;

    you shall gather cinnamon and thyme,
    emeralds and clove -
    like children, trading armfuls of sand
    and building each other's castle
    secured from the haunting seas;

    we shall clutch each other
    and grasp the sun
    so it can't fly.

    To G.

    the drone of too many televisions
    multiplied by evenings of cigarette ashes
    that are only good for stale memories
    of all the nights before ...

    seeking to touch, and you ran from me
    into your secret hideaway of sleep ...
    you have no excuse for your defense,
    and I won't ask for any -
    i seek only your forgiveness
    for my wanting to hold your beauty
    before the jealous dawn
    glances for tomorrow in your eyes:

    words are not enough ...

    so I'll trust you
    and remain quiet.


Blue Rain


"such was a poet and shall be and is

who'll solve the depths of horror to defend a sunbeam's architecture with his life; and carve immortal jungles of despair

to hold a mountain's heartbeat in his hand"

-e.e. cummings


    a quiet whimpering afternoon
    like cat
    when he crawled through the underbrush
    to reach a light and my arms:


    gentle room

    it was early in the evening,
    and our words moved like leaves
    leveled by the blue rain;
    I fell down in the wind,
    like a crumpled raincoat
    tossed into the gentle room that's you,
    where saturday nights below the world
    have no home -
    only rattling ice cubes, clinging,
    then melting in my eyes:

    you touched me
    and it was sunday.


    your hands are like the sea ...
    flushing my sun-drenched mind
    and smashing sand castles
    broken with the tide;
    softly stroking the beaches of my skin
    you leave nothing but a glistening slate
    of burgandy to glide on and paint:

    I am your empty canvas
    as your smile splashes me
    with the sun's palette
    mixing with the mist of the waves
    that are your fingers:

    I am you
    when the kiss of your touch
    encloses me:

    perhaps there is a god
    that sings to the music of your skin:

    your hands are like the sea


    an empty return of rain-reflected dreams
    shattered with the screech of jet brakes
    that turn the smiling travelers
    into strangers staring at the dark rain:

    some wonder why
    they must resume their lives alone
    after timeless dream days -
    some beg the question
    that they really didn't want to leave
    the one who waits
    at the tearandsmile-filled gates
    that people create;

    airports are too demanding -

    existing for people to say good-bye to dreams
    when all they want
    is to say good-bye to the rain ...


    i am a broken poem
    from those who couldn't listen to the wailing child
    fearful of fatherly bishops and marbled mothers,
    to the lonely child, huddling behind the wood;

    i am a broken dream
    to those who wouldn't dream:
    from sharpened pencils plotting triangles
    and endless masses of chanting,
    from blue and gold ribbons of rewards
    that couldn't comfort the longing
    for wisps of flesh hiding inside the prayer;

    I am a broken smile
    from those who couldn't smile -
    from old ladies
    hobbling down the Jesus aisle
    with tears of pain praying
    to the lightening dripping from the candle;

    I am a broken saint
    from cities not made for saints -
    from dirty crowds of noise and mumbling confessions,
    from lost friends
    seeking to hear each other's guilt
    for trying to touch;

    I am a broken god
    to those who wouldn't see;

    I am a living god,
    born from those who couldn't feel ...

    quiet poems ...

    you think we're just sitting
    in the afternoon rooms of conversation
    so you can't see the rich soft wanting
    as the sun strokes your hair;

    i'm trying to listen
    but the sun-leaves ruffling on your back
    lure me into listening
    to the violet voices of your love
    that soothe me with gentler hands;

    i wish you could feel
    the limpid fingers of my mind
    touching the piece of light
    that rests on your shoulder;

    perhaps you think we're just trifling -
    so you can't taste the sunlight in our tea,
    nor see the quite poem in my eyes ...


    you were next to me
    as i watched your careful roaming
    into a pencil-sketching world -
    pacing the same, dark, private roads
    and deepening the paths
    that make sharp-turning so difficult;
    your thoughts,
    suspended in intersecting lines,
    fearful, heavy lines,
    building cages of the past
    i couldn't understand;
    a face took shape, and then some arrows,
    pointing to each other and nowhere,
    with the time between us going nowhere ...

    you were next to me, almost leaning:
    perhaps you heard a shred of love
    whispering - point to me.


Excerpted from Truth Serum by Dorothy Neumann. Copyright © 2014 Dorothy Neumann. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


From Of Lonely Dawns,
From Blue rain,
From horizons,
From Striding,
About the Author, 93,

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