PRAYER

PRAYER

Jesus, we need you in all your forms—

rising in beauty from seafoam,

black-tongued and stamping in battle.

We need you one-eyed, wandering in disguise.

 

Please rise again in beauty from the sea, 

steal the sacred flame and flee.

Give us your vision; open our eyes.

Split the mountains and come down. 

 

You brought us fire. We made you sorry.

Come now with Medusa’s head on your shield,

protect us from your thunder.

Mourn with us through our sorry land.

 

We need you with shuttle and spear,

cloven-hoofed, drunken and mad.

Walk beside us as we cry; hold our hand.

Crouch with us, hungry, underground,

 

and dance full of wine and song, and mad.

Jesus, meet us at the cross-road with your lamp.

Return with all the daffodils of spring.

Split the earth, drive your wild horses up.

 

Come to the crossroad and fill our cup,

add our skulls to your garland.

Ascend through the rock and carry us away.

Descend to us in all your forms.

Advertisements

COUNTRY WEDDING

COUNTRY WEDDING

~Berthe Morisot, 2019

Oil on canvas

 

Stacked blocks of whiteness 

narrow to a steeple. 

 

A white tent stretches

over blue shade. Shapes

 

of color clothe the guests. 

All around is green.

 

In the midground, 

five children scamper

 

with two yellow dogs.

Close to the frame, 

 

two women— one

in red boots— and three

 

men are playing bocce.

Their shadows are long.

 

Deep in the trees 

a robin starts a song.

ST. MOLUAG

This is more or less a work in progress, but today is St. Moluag’s feast, and I couldn’t resist.

 

 

ST MOLUAG

13th century, artist unknown

Tempera on board

He stands in his thick brown robe

before the church that bears his name.

The sky behind is gray with rain,

earth around all unflowered. 

In triumph, he holds up his severed thumb.

 

Move fourteen hundred years along—

Isle of Lewis, the sky still full of gale. 

A dozen people trail into the stony church. 

We have stood the gales a thousand years,

light in the darkness, singing in the wind.

They comfort the stranger, 

laugh at the storm:

We will stand on until the end.

For more about the church:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teampall_Mholuaidh

 

For more about St. Moluag:  http://www.earlybritishkingdoms.com/adversaries/bios/scot_pict/moluag.html

 

 

June 21st

JUNE 21st

 

They say it’s to be the longest day, but

how shall we know with the sun again

behind clouds thick as oceans. Down 

here like denizens of the deep we’re 

losing our eyes and growing weird 

appendages. Luminous lures spring

from our foreheads. Wind waves dark

fronds of weeds over our heads.

It might as well be the longest night.

We take what nourishment we can.

ONCE MORE

ONCE MORE

” . . . I am not who I was,

though some principle of being

abides. . . “

       ~Stanley Kunitz, “The Layers”

 

 

 

Is this it? Enlighten-

ment? The sudden knowledge

that despite all, despite

sadness, digestion, pain,

there is Self from which I

struggle not to stray, that

looks out from the same eyes

that I had when I was

ten and knew I was a

lone person who could cope

with whatever life I

got? So often subsumed

but here I am again,

in my bug-jacket, in

the driveway, with the dog.

Once more, it is morning.

MORNING NOISE

MORNING NOISE

~Jackson Pollock, 2019

Oil on cardboard

 

 

 

You can hear them, can’t you? Bursts of red and 

white and gray—those pickups early on the 

road, and the big silver milk truck, there, clear 

streak across. The woodchip truck that always 

uses jake brakes going down the hill—long 

black jag. And underneath and around—back-

ground and more than background—a kind of fore-

ground really—are the birds. Can you hear them? 

Sure you can. Rose-breasted grosbeak, redstart, 

red-eyed vireo, white-throated sparrow, 

goldfinch, red-bellied woodpecker, blue jay, 

and clearest, that woodthrush just out of sight.

IMAGINARY PAINTING

IMAGINARY PAINTING

 

There is no painting here.

No artist prepared

a palette, a canvas.

No ecstasy or agony

of creation.

Nothing was lugged

to a gallery. 

No one returned,

disappointed, to a garret.

It was never displayed

in hallway, drawing room,

library, museum.

It is not real, except

as silence, out 

of the reach of sense,

a whim, a dream.

THOUGHTS WHILE WATCHIING “PINA”

 

THOUGHTS WHILE WATCHING PINA

I want to write the way she danced.

 

I want someone to move the chairs

as I move blind 

through a complicated room.

 

Words 

 

cannot suffice:  

space, limbs loose, cardboard ears,

grinning in a line.

 

I want a gown 

the color of my hair, very high heels.

I want to fall and fall and someone to catch me every single time.

 

I want water 

 

on everything:

rocks, light.  I want

my skirts thick

with the weight of water.

 

I’ve been avoiding poems.  

Look:  how small my writing has become.

 

I’m held

 

on the end

of a line.  

No matter how

I scribble, I’m held, I’m held.

I will not wear a short red dress again.

Never again that passion and that pain. 

 

Oh, let me

 

close my eyes and fall.  

Feel:

the dirt shoveled on my back.

I will bury myself:  eyes, mouth:

 

I promise

 

I won’t stand up or turn away.  

All around the rim

the seasons pass and on my back 

 

I will carry

 

a tall green tree.  

I will learn

to gesture as the seasons change.

 

No matter what I do, I can’t format this the right way. Alas. There are lots of indentations in the original. Use your imagination.

 

 

WARBLERS

~Maud Lewis, c. 1970

Latex on plywood

 

 

Nobody taught her a thing.

Look: the anatomy all wrong,

perspective strange, almost

iconic. But look closely:

that northern parula 

in the lilac bush—iridescent 

blue-gray wings, shaded orange

throat, bright eye, open beak—

you can almost hear him singing.

And the yellow warblers, symmetrical

in the white-dotted trees

framing the red barn.

It’s Spring, they’re saying,

and we’ve arrived.

 

END OF SPRING, 1930

END OF SPRING, 1930

~Mary Cassatt

 

The white-gowned girl is running away

from you. She has curly blonde hair.

Her feet are bare. Her pink sash

is untied and trails behind.

In her left hand she carries a yellow

basket, filled with a blur of green.

To her right, a lilac in full bloom,

each blossom rendered with careful

detail. You can hear her mother

calling on the hilltop behind you, 

but there’s something about the way

the child is moving. You know

she will not turn back.

PLAIN BIRD

PLAIN BIRD

 

I woke like something hatching

from a plain egg—gray, speckled

with brown. Hatched like a plain

bird, a common bird. Some kind

of sparrow, spotted like last year’s

leaves and litter. I started the coffee,

leashed the dog, stepped out

into the rain where a robin—

an ordinary bird—was singing.

LOCATION OF THE MUSE

LOCATION OF THE MUSE

 

She comes and goes? Or he?

Better: They come and go, the Muse.

Some mornings They wakes me

with Their laughter, leads me

down the road singing.

Some mornings They’re in, oh. . .

California, maybe. . . fighting

over water. Or in Poland, painting

rainbows around the head

of Their sister and brother. I don’t think

They ever goes to the white house

or congress, though it’s likely

they thrives on the Mall

among the placards and

in the quiet halls of the Museums, 

which, after all, is Their houses.

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

THE FEAST OF ST. WALPURGA

 

I have just returned

but before I sleep

I must record.

 

The moon was dark,

the sky was clouded.

Earthscent was rising

 

up from the valley

into the cold air

along the ridge.

 

We came in our silence,

lit the fire in silence. 

When they arrived,

 

we sang the words

to set them free.

While we waited then

 

for the flames to die,

while we waited

in our silence

 

with the long darkness

around us, a pair

of owls called 

 

from the forest

down in the trees.

A good omen

 

for the season to come.

The flight home

was uneventful.

BACH HEARS FOR THE FIRST TIME A JAZZ IMPROVISATION ON “SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE”

BACH HEARS FOR THE FIRST TIME 

A JAZZ IMPROVISATION ON “SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE”

 

How—how do you do that?

The beat that stays and breaks,

the theme there but not there,

inverting, stretching, sideways.

Is it sideways? And that bass line,

as if walking on organ pedals,

—that pace. Now you’re turning

it again, aren’t you? Around

the progression but there’s a—no,

wait! Oh, the intervals holding

the tension! Oh, please, please!

Show me how it’s done!

 

THE END OF POETRY MONTH

~a manifesto, or possibly just a rant

 

People who write poems do it ALL THE TIME.

Even when they aren’t writing.

When they’re walking, eating,

sitting in the coffee shop staring out the window.

When they’re watching movies,

running errands,

drinking with friends.

ALL THE TIME.

And once a year,

in the cruelest month,

you haul them out,

put them on display,

act like you care.

THEY ARE NOT LIKE A DISEASE

requiring an awareness month.

You do not pay them a thing

and they do not ask you to.

Maybe they should. 

Maybe they should

go on strike.

In April.

No bookstore readings,

no interviews. 

No new poems.

The extremists among them might

knock poetry books from library shelves,

might stand on street corners.

Their placards might read

 

NOT POETRY MONTH

HAVE YOU NOTICED?

LOCATIONS

LOCATIONS

“. . around the edges of oddness”

        ~A Bluebird Fairy by Emily Anderson

 

You won’t find it 

in halls of ivy, or

in the chambers of kings.

It isn’t between the covers 

of carefully curated 

volumes available only

to members with reservations.

Never in anything 

organized 

by color or size.

Never in anything glossed

or listed or rewarded. 

    But look!

It’s teetering on a tooth

from a reconstructed

conodont. Spinning

on the rim of a sixpence

balanced on a pole

balanced on the rubber

nose of a clown

riding a unicycle on 

a tightrope stretched

between a stormcloud

and the beak of a raven.

It’s lurking in the garden dirt

under the left thumbnail

of the weaver’s second

daughter. If you want it,

you might start there.

TWO POEMS ABOUT CROWS

These are not about imaginary paintings, but very real and wonderful photographs by Victoria Blewer

 

THE CROW

After Victoria Blewer’s “On the Lookout”

 

There is a world

that is not 

yours. In the dark

tree, the crow 

holds layers.

She does not 

speak

to you.

Every thing

is the universe’s 

center.

Once you see—

remember.

 

 

Night Birds

After Victoria Blewer

 

The owl keeps asking

if I’m awake. All winter

I have not been

awake, or asleep.

 

A winter of—not

discontent, nothing

with that bloody edge—

but of something flat

 

and gray, of something

like despair.  The crows

don’t ask. They

do not care.

 

In the trees, bare

or not, under the sky,

starred or not,

they sit while my world

 

sleeps. Or not.

And when I wake

in my darkness

and remember,

 

this is a kind 

of comfort,

a kind of

relief.

STILL LIFE WITH VAN GOGH’S EAR

Gala (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova), c. 1936

 

Pink chrysanthemums melt and spread

across the surface of the black-bound bible.

To the left, a clear glass jar of yellow pencils,

each with a small, fierce face and tiny

wings. The ear,

no longer fresh,

has dropped a bit of blood

on the Spanish lace table covering.

Outside the thinly-curtained window,

the sun shines over a field of what we presume

are red poppies. At least,

that’s what we’re meant to presume.

THE POET’S STUDY

THE POET’S STUDY

(oil on plywood, 4’ x 8’)

~after David Weinstock

Not a simple abstraction—

if there is such a thing 

as simply abstract—

but layered.

Ghosted.

 

Under the brown glaze, 

green—or rather,

greens—escaping 

like leaves,

blades,

tattered flags.

 

The finest edgings

of red,

fingered outward

like flame.

 

Are those human faces

in the cloudiness

at the center,

or pomegranates?

or are they cats,

or planets circling

a central sun,

or is it—a bowl?

Or is it merely the gold

at the center of everything?

THE SWING

THE SWING

~after Marc Chagall

 

His mouth is open, mid-sentence.

The soles of his shoes are yellow,

his pants are green, his jacket

is blue. The figure behind the swing

is a brown blur. The swing

is in mid-arc, coming toward

the artist. In the ether 

above the child, three cats

and a dog named Crazy

who is brown as Earth

are springing into being. 

Crazy went away once

for a fortnight. When he got home,

he fell asleep at once. The animals

came with the swinging child

when he drove from California

to Vermont in one day.  The cats

are named Thak, Willy, and Quilly.

They all died before you were born.

 

 

~Realized the next day that this is an imaginary Chagall painting. NOT Cassatt!

 

 

APRIL 10, 2019: REPORT

April 19, 2019: REPORT

 

Here in Vermont, for instance, it’s Spring. 

A robin sings in the scraggly pines

next to the drive. The sun rises through deep

pink cloud, so rain coming. Daffodil spikes,

free at last from the long weight

of snow, have pushed up through the mass of flat

leaves out by the mailbox.The dog says 

a rabbit, or something, under the yews.

The house smells like fresh coffee. The ink flows

easy, like the inconsequential

run-off brook through the woods beside the house.

The house still stands.

MORNING AFTER

(tempera, glitter, found objects on cardboard)

~after Linda Shere

Those splashes of color—

pink, green, yellow—

represent, I believe,

pajamas. Or

sleeping bags.

There’s a plate of—

cookies—on

the table.

Chocolate chip.

Or—possibly—

blueberry muffins?

No. Cookies. 

Art supplies everywhere–

paint, brushes, glue, clay.

Art everywhere.

There’s glitter on everything.

Well, almost everything.

Not on the muffins.

Cookies, I mean.

Feathers.

Coffee filters.

Small plastic animals.

3 hair ties 

or whatever

they’re called. 

Those elastic things.

I’ve never had a daughter,

so I really don’t know.

THE DOG OF CHAUVET CAVE

THE DOG OF CHAUVET CAVE

 

Only one.

Painted in yellow ochre,

her black eyes shine with calcite.

Her teats are distended with milk, 

her curved tail suggests motion.

You wouldn’t notice her.

Indeed, she was not noticed 

for years since she is small,

overshadowed by the horses,

the lions and bulls;

since she was not officially domestic

for another twenty thousand years.

Beneath her, in the dust,

a fragment of mammoth bone.

Painted above her head, 

a single handprint,

again in the yellow.

A small hand, carefully placed,

poised as if to caress.

PORTRAIT

PORTRAIT

(Neo-Realist School, mid 21st century)

ascribed to J. M. P.

 

She could be someone’s grandmother

with her pink cheeks, white hair

in a bun, the immaculate lace

 

collar fastened with a cameo.

She sits in an old-fashioned

lawn chair—a blue that clashes

 

with the blue sky and the blue

flowers of her dress. Her lips

are slightly parted in a slight

 

smile, but her eyes, as she stares

at the viewer, are challenging.

Both hands rest lightly on an

 

animal curled asleep on her lap.

It is the size of a small dog, but

do not be fooled. Notice

 

the fine brush-work.

The artist has perfectly rendered

each guard hair, each glossy quill.

THE DELPHIC ORACLE

THE DELPHIC ORACLE

~Mary Pratt, (Pre Raphaelite Sisterhood, 1848)

 

Smoke rises before the girl 

seated on her three-legged stool. 

Behind her, the cave mouth

shades into a purple dark.

 

The supplicant stands

like a pillar, her robes

still as sculpture.

Keep looking.

 

Smoke mingles

with thin cloud in the pale

sky, shaping horses.

Keep looking.

 

The supplicant’s arms are rising

toward the heavens.  Listen.

Between the sky and the cave,

the oracle has begun to speak.

EVERGLADES #5

EVERGLADES #5:  May 

 (sawgrass and oil on road-kill alligator hide)

~Ray Hudson, 2017

The birds have gone.

No golden-slippered egret,

no blue-eyed cormorant,

no wading stork shielding

dark water with her wings.

Silence is absolute.

 

Mangroves 

are weary, dusty.

In the fetid pools,

mosquitoes awaken.

Already the air

is thick with heat.

 

Alligator spoor—

dinosaur track,

tail-drag—

marks the muddy flats

like the handwriting

of the blind.

APRIL SUNRISE: VIEW FROM THE POET’S WINDOW

APRIL SUNRISE: VIEW FROM THE POET’S WINDOW

~after Emily Carr

Purple pillars and crossings,

fine traceries of lavender 

against blue-black. Just visible

through a window framed 

on the right by a spent

Christmas cactus, a patch of white,

promising gold. 

 

Where the owl blended 

into the ash at sunset,

there is no owl, 

just a feather-shaded

space where she sat 

regarding the grubby garden 

just out of sight.

RESETTING

RESETTING

1.

Not the old patterns,

but variations printed on different cloth. 

Orange fleece instead of black wool.

The kind of comfortable shoes, but red.

Yellow candles.

The same time, but silence instead.

Most of the people, but not all.

What the crows talk about.

Where the bobcat crosses the road.

Music in a different key.

Cypriot O Antiphons,

Ride of the Valkyrie.

Black currant juice, rye bread.

Things that smell like roses.

White tulips. Marigolds.

PSYCHE

PSYCHE

All right, the wind. Breath

of gods, spirits of—

the dead. essences invisible, 

 

lives of rocks and soils. 

What woods and barks and

mosses and grasses give

 

as they respire,

and asphalt and the milk

trucks and logging trucks

 

passing down the road 

at sunrise, and the sun,

above all.

 

After the night wind,

the morning breathing

of the sun.

I HAVE FOUND MY CARAVAN

I HAVE FOUND MY CARAVAN

. . . someone untied your camel last night

For I hear its gentle voice

Calling for God in the desert.

~Hafiz, trans. Daniel  Ladinsky

The camel loosed herself.

She ran off alone,

early in the morning

before I rose to load her

with the burdens of my day.

She was running free

between the dunes

as the Milky Way

faded into the silver of dawn.

When I whistled, she came,

docile, but with the wild gleam

of starlight deep

in her long-lashed eyes.

WRITING ABOUT JESUS

WRITING ABOUT JESUS

~feast of the Annunciation

 

The rules don’t measure.

The untouchable saves you

and you must do the same.

Thieves and beggars at the banquet, 

obedient sheep abandoned to wolves, 

so much wasted seed.

 

Today the sun is warm on my back.

I’m waiting at the café, for my friend.

 

Star in the East

adorns the horizon,

guides around the globe to everywhere

the redeemer is laid.

That which was before the beginning,

contains the whole,

there is nothing drifting sideways 

at some unspeakable

angle, far from the fields

of gravity and love.

 

Hail Mary, 

Fear not.

Everything

matters.

 

A woman talking on her phone in the corridor 

makes a silhouette against the light.

 

The firstborn 

made flesh.

The only story 

is ours.

 

Creeds lean away, defining.

One substance—what else?

One essence, one congealment.

Do you understand?

m=E divided by the constant

through whom we live and move.

 

The sun is warm on my back and 

I must shade the page to see. 

For the time being, 

there is nothing between me and the light.

JOSEPH TALKS ABOUT HIS OLDEST SON

JOSEPH TALKS ABOUT HIS OLDEST SON

 

After what we went through with him—

all the business with angels, and Egypt—

I was hoping things would settle down.

 

It seemed they might. I thought

maybe he could save the world

by being a good man, right here

 

in Nazareth. As time went by,

I even began to think he’d be 

a cabinet maker. He had such 

 

promise. He was careful, deliberate.

He had an instinct for how things

fit together. And he was good with

 

customers. What they wanted, what

they could afford. But then, I had

other sons to carry on, for Mary’s sake.

 

And Jesus? Well. 

It seems he made something

of himself after all.

EAST OWL

EAST OWL

. . . . she must speak

to men in the language of men with a man’s tongue,

and then they will not hear her

because they understand her.

     ~Ursula K. Le Guin, ‘While the Old Men Make Ready to Kill” 

 

Aunt, I miss you.

Not many here

speak Woman.

 

Aunt, an owl keeps flying over me.

She wants me to learn to sit still,

hunt words. Wants me to focus,

lock on. I’ve seen her

dive for frogs, sit on a branch

with a green leg dangling

from her beak. I’ve found

marks of her wings in the snow.

I’ve found the blood of rabbit.

I’ve heard her singing in the dark.

 

Aunt, my hills are covered with snow.

The men still aren’t listening

but the women keep singing

for ourselves and our nieces.

Aunt, we are learning to hunt.

We are still learning to fly.

Ash Wednesday: Trusting in the Sun

Ash Wednesday: Trusting in the Sun

 

It will return. It is

returning. Six o’clock

and already the winter candle

light is not a sharp

circle on the table.

 

It was a tough

winter, a tough fall.

Four dead, your own

new scars, the surprise

of seventy years.

 

You’re needing morning

bird song—a robin,

a cardinal. You’re needing

good news. And today

the reversal—just as the sun

 

is warming through the wind,

as the maples are giving 

their juice, your old

religion makes it Lent.

Well, all right.

 

If the meat is gone,

you might as well fast.

Someday again, days

will be longer than nights.

You just have to wait.

THIS IS THE POEM I’LL NEVER WRITE

THIS IS THE POEM I’LL NEVER WRITE

–about how they kept me

under the bed

and sang songs to make me cry and then laughed 

at me until I learned to stop. 

 

About how

the only safe place was a castle where 

every evening we watched the sun go down

while we sang Gregorian Chant and ate 

burnt marshmallows. 

 

About the teacher who 

wouldn’t let me read beyond and the teacher 

who stole my arrowheads and the teacher 

who slapped me when I played the wrong notes and 

the teacher who made a pass at everyone 

but me. 

 

About the horrible gray skirt, 

the stubby brown oxfords, the home-made prom 

dress in a shade of peach that made me look 

dead. 

 

About how

I gave birth on a ferris 

wheel while my boyfriend ate cotton candy 

and drank Coke and promised to marry me 

anyway, and didn’t. 

 

About how later 

I married for love but the next day ran 

away with a Costa Rican cowboy 

who recited poetry and really, 

truly believed in God. 

 

About how I 

grew old in the rainforest, how I lived 

on plantains and beef, and bore five daughters 

who died and one son who lived. 

   

About how we 

finally gave up making love and

the cattle ran away and the forest 

burned around us and now the only things 

that make me cry are the deaths of dogs.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

It’s about being lost.

Really, really lost.

Squandering half the family fortune

and eating pig food and crawling home 

without even a name to call your own.

And it’s about saving and working hard

and being responsible

and no one notices or cares.

It’s about getting paid the same.

It’s about being meek and poor

and hungry and sad.

It’s about being left for dead

then rescued by someone

you’d cross the street

or maybe the ocean

to avoid.

It’s about a wedding reception

with all the wrong sorts of people

but you’re there, too.

What’s that about?

 

It certainly isn’t about the rules.

It isn’t about going to church

and potlucks and biblestudies

and committee meetings.

It isn’t about being good

so you’ll go to heaven when

you die. It’s not

about saving 

your little 

soul.

 

It’s about letting everything go—

every flying buttress and rose window,

every pipe organ and bible

and prayer book and linen cloth

and silver cup—

every attitude,

every certainty,

everything you think you know—

in order to buy

one pearl.

 

It’s about bread and salt.

It’s about a lighted lamp.

CONSIGNMENT

 

 

CONSIGNMENT

One day you finally

got tired of thinking

about dying. About 

your body and its little

woes. You understood

there’s a world 

out there beyond

your skin that doesn’t

care a fig or a thistle

what you’re thinking,

where you go,

whether you live

or not.

That was the day

you consigned yourself

to your dust,

and, like Job,

declared yourself

content.

CANDLEMAS, VERMONT

CANDLEMAS, VERMONT

Clear out the Christmas clutter

so no one will die this year.

Count the candles and say a prayer.

We don’t bless the herds

or let lambs out in the cold.

It is not spring here.

Half the woodpile should remain;

half the potatoes, half the grain.

Your breath-cloud echoes

a shadow of smoke crossing

and recrossing the snow.

WHY OUR GODS

 

WHY OUR GODS

I think it’s the weather: the snow, the wind,

the cold. To be small targets, all winter

we wear our shoulders under our ears. Plans

made on sunny days come to naught when snow

fills the roads and paths and knocks out power

lines and we must stay and shovel and feed

the stoves. Our houses get smaller. Husbands

and cats take up more spaces. Complaining

dogs follow us from room to room. This is

why our gods are relentless, slow to forgive,

determining, unpredictable, hard.

Their will is as slippery as the ice.

They don’t approve when we, in our clumsy

boots and heavy jackets, try to dance.

JANUARY THAW

JANUARY THAW

   

The best snow in years,

everything shining,

simple and perfect.

It didn’t last long.

 

And now, rain. Snow to slush

to ice. I tried to tell

my old friend that winter

here is beautiful,

 

tried to get her to go out in the cold

and sun and the diamond air.

She always said that clouds

made her dizzy.

 

She died

on a sunny morning before 

the rain began.

Not a cloud in the sky.

 

 

~Remembering S.M., 10/1927-1/2019

DOUBLE SIGHT

DOUBLE SIGHT

An aberration in my eyeglasses

gives me a tiny bright star next to Venus,

down and to her right, as if

her hand is curled in a fist,

slightly raised.

 

I like to think of Venus

with a fist—a soft

Tai Chi fist with all the strength

of exquisite balance behind it.

Love-and-Beauty smiling a lazy smile,

knowing that hate-and-ugliness

is nothing but a nattering nuisance,

a foolish foe with no notion at all

of her power.

RESPONSE: A WOMEN’S PANTOUM

RESPONSE: A WOMEN’S PANTOUM

This was put together from a collection of emails exchanged by a group of older women after the synagogue shooting.

 

 

Let us be rivulets forming in the rain—

not a road that horrors walk upon.

We melt, we sink, our face slides off our bones.

We have no words, only tears and silent prayer.

 

We cannot become the road the horrors walk upon.

Remember: the magnitude of solidarity is a resurrection of massacred faith.

There are no words, only tears and silent prayer

for that temple, the store, the church, another school.

 

Solidarity is a kind of resurrection of faith

in rain on the windows and little girls playing

around a temple, a grocery store, a church, a school.

Let us not collapse to the ground. Look—

 

rain on the windows and little girls playing,

yellow chrysanthemums in the grey light.

We  must not collapse to the ground;

we must move vibrant through this year of dying.

 

Yellow chrysanthemums shine in the gray light,

a flock of crows flies against the gray sky,

vibrant, through the dying of the year

the way a leaf is picked up by the wind.

 

A flock of crows against the gray sky

melts and sinks. We rise on our bones

the way leaves are picked up by the wind,

the way rivulets form in the rain.

PRACTICE

 

PRACTICE

Let there be no routine.

Let the white cat disturb

your meditation,

the black cat interfere

with your tai chi.

May the dog demand

to go out while you’re trying

to pray. 

May your husband knock

on your study door 

because he cannot find 

his glasses. 

Your old friend will call

while you are chopping onions

in a mindful way.

Answer the phone.

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN

THE FEAST OF ST. JOHN

 

 

. . . which I will not keep

for the evangelist.

Not for the eagle looking 

down on the world

his Jesus saves with secrets.

My Jesus looks me in the eye.

He doesn’t tell me who he is,

over and over again.

He tells me who I am,

as he told, I like to think,

that sweet boy—

that fisherman who couldn’t

write in Greek—

who left his father’s boat

and followed him.

 

ADVENT, 20

ADVENT

20.

 

We make what we need:

homo fabricator is what we are.

We need a mystery now and then,

a source of nourishment, a healer,

a promise of better things.

Who is outside and who is inside

with us, and how shall we know.

Who will make it clear?

O come, Emanuel,

Desire of Nations.

Be what we need now,

someone not of our making.

We are, all of us,

outside.

ADVENT, 19

ADVENT

 

19.

   ~John 14-17

 

Well, John Gospeller, we’ve come

at last to the core. We know

that we can see. We know

that we’re unbound.

And was it worth the trouble?

 

Because, because—-

The comforter comes—

to whom? 

What is asked in your name 

is given—

to whom?

Mansions in the Father’s house?

Well, hurrah.

And how many

are shut out?

But then, this is about

the inside, isn’t it?

About the closing door.

Not about the poor old world.

Not about the wedding feast.

Salvation from the world, yes?

Stand back and watch it fall.

 

Good cheer?

I don’t think so.

Let us, as your Jesus said 

(and then didn’t,

for three more chapters),

arise and go forth.

Salty salt.

Unshuttered light.

 

 

Maybe I’ll visit the passion and resurrection after Christmas. Maybe. . .