Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.

~Polish aphorism

But this is my circus: 

the bareback rider dancing in perfect balance 

between the prancing horses, 

the spangled artists on the flying trapeze. 

The fire-eaters are mine, 

the jugglers,

the troupe riding unicycles across the wire.

The whole sideshow is mine.

These are my elephants, stolen from the forests;

these are my unhappy lions.

The clowns, of course, are mine,

emerging from their tiny car,

swarming around the ring, 

beeping their noses,

stumbling over their feet. But

the monkeys? 

No. 

Not the monkeys. 

This lot of monkeys

was never mine.

 

published on the facebook page “Rattle Poets Respond,” July 24, 2017

LIPSTICK

LIPSTICK

I bought one for the first time in decades.

Pomegranate red.

I’m wearing it.

What possesed me?

It has suddenly become important,

like the high heels Martha wore

the day she got her general’s stars.

Those men, suited or uniformed,

slick-shaved, striding to the podium,

and the unapologetic click of Martha’s heels.

This is the sound of it, I thought.

The shift. The change.

This is what it sounds like.

Did you listen close

while Nancy defended the kids?

A powerful old woman

dancing forwards. And not

just in high heels, but stilettos.

Did you listen to Emma,

the power of her stillness,

unashamed of tears?

 

Not for men’s pleasure,

these symbols of our power:

lipstick, high heels, short skirts.

Maybe it was Eve who woke me up:

This short skirt is mine. 

I am old enought to remember

Bella’s hats, first the necessity,

then the pleasure.

Maybe it was our hats,

those cute pink hats with ears.

We grabbed the derogatory,

transformed it into strength.

What change looks like.

Even tears are power.

It’s what we’re doing now

in our leggings and boots,

and running shoes and fleece,

our torn jeans and t shirts and hoodies

our shawls and scarves,

our nursing bras and aprons.

And yes, in our lipstick and four-inch heels.

Winter Prompt #26: Ripped Paper

RIPPED PAPER

In memory of Ursula K. Le Guin

Winter Prompt #26

Tear it all up—

old bills and tax returns, bank

statements, stock certificates,

manuals and guarantees.

            But don’t stop

there. Tear up all the useless

books: archaic sciences, outdated

histories, smug theologies,

the whole thick body

of masculine pronoun,

life as battle,

possession as the highest good.

Winter Prompts #10: Prophecy

PROPHECY

Winter Prompt #10

The same thing as always, saith the Lord.

You people (O my people) will never learn

You rich loll—not on ivory couches—but still you loll.  

Still you sell my poor.

Wars and rumors.

Every mountain and hill made low,  but—

and this is important—not by me.

It’s not odd

that so many of you don’t believe.

Everything I can do, you can do better.

So this is official, saith the Lord.

I give up.

You’re on your own.

I’m the one whose faith

is gone.

HOTEL POEM, 5:30 A.M.

HOTEL POEM, 5:30 A.M.

Terrible coffee from the machine in the bathroom—

it’s too early for terrible coffee from the lobby.

I can write by the bathroom light

if I sit in this chair by the door.

John still sleeps.

All night I kept waking

and drifting off again trying to remember

the words to “The Highwayman,”

who kept morphing into Paul Revere.

Romantic figures on horseback—

one all fiction, one nearly so.

Revere did not ride into Concord, for example,

and he already knew they were coming by sea.

And there were two men in the North Church tower

sending the signal in case the riders didn’t make it.

But “The Somerset, British man of war” was real,

and when they rowed across the bay, they—

he was not alone in that boat— were afraid

they would be seen “just as the moon rose.”

Who cares?

The nameless  highwayman, on the other hand—

well, the musket drives me crazy.

How could Bess reach the trigger if the musket

was beside her and her hands were behind her?

And wouldn’t the trigger be too close to the floor

for a woman “tied up to attention” to reach?

Maybe someone on some online forum

could explain, but I’d rather

think about that than a few other things

I can name, but won’t. In the meantime,

Will “the people” waken in this “hour

of darkness and peril and need”?

Or stand around “dumb as a dog”?

Except dogs are hardly ever dumb.

ANSWERING

ANSWERING

 

If someone says

You didn’t see that,

say But I did. 

And I heard it, too.

 

If someone says

Surely that’s not

what you think, say

That’s what you think.

 

If they say  

You shouldn’t feel

that way,

say Ha!

should has nothing 

to do with it.

 

If they say

You shouldn’t say

things like that,

say Just listen.

ON LEAVING FACEBOOK: part II

 

ON LEAVING FACEBOOK:  part II

I went there

when I was lonely or bored.

There.

As if it were a place

like the back porch of my house

where I sit with the dog

or The Bakery where people I know

go to drink their coffee

or the yarn shop full of color and light.

 

I liked

things there so casually,

not the way I like

a cat on my lap

or a walk in the field with the dog

or sitting beside my husband on the sofa,

each with a book and a mug of tea.

 

I could share

things there mindlessly,

not the way I share

worries and joys with Meg

when go for our morning walk

or the way I share with my Real Godmother

Eleanor when we email every morning,

or the way I share recipes and rants about the news

with my old friend Kathy

or the way I share time on the phone

with my sister or my son or my grandson

or lunch with Linda or Megaera or Carol

or pie with Jean and Mel

or energy with the Tai Chi class

or books with the Heretics

or life with the Spring St. Poets

or music with Encanto.

 

They said it was always free

but not as free as making music

or knitting socks or reading Proust

or weeding the garden.

Not free

like the smell of bread or apples,

like sunset across the meadow

and sunrise through the branches of the gingko tree.