OPEN STUDIO POEM #17

 

Open Studio Poem #17

disco

lickety-split

splendid

magenta

 

Fairies shelter behind the disco ball

hung in the portal to the kingdom of odd. 

After sunset, they emerge lickety-split,

and all night they dance through the city, 

their magenta wings flashing splendid

in the lights of streets, and traffic, and stars.

 

 

The other occupants of the Open Studio are out to get me, as you can see. But I know where that disco ball hangs, and I know the fairies, too.

THE HAWK

THE HAWK

Every day I walk with the yellow dog who understands human language but can not yet speak. Every day, or nearly every day, we saw the hawk in the dead elm trees between the hay fields or on the power line. In early spring, two hawks circled the fields. In late summer, one young hawk called hunger from the elms while one adult watched from the wire. The dog was disturbed by the hawk’s wheeling or calling, and she raised the orange ridge on her back and growled and barked. And in November, when the hay in the fields was cut short and the living oaks and the dead elms stood as outlines against the sky, on a November morning when the yellow dog and I walked down the road with the mountains on the east and the hills on the west, I found the hawk on the ground, beneath the wire, not far from the elms. The hawk’s red tail was spread, the dark and speckled wings were folded, claws curled, the sharp eyes flat, the neck broken. What shall we do? I cried, and the yellow dog answered. —Carry the hawk to the row of elms and lay it down there. And weep awhile, and I will weep with you. But only for awhile, for you shall see.— So I lifted the hawk and carried it close to my heart and I walked with the dog to where the grasses and goldenrod stalks grew tall under the trees. And there I placed the hawk. And the dog said —Good—. And for awhile we wept. And that night, the hawk came to me while I slept. Her red tail was spread acorss the Earth and her wings opened east and west as far as I could see. Her great head touched the sun. And she spoke. —You see, she said, who I am. Now you see. Your eyes open to my flight, your ears open to my cry, your heart open to my life.— And with a shout the hawk rose up, then up, beyond the sun. And when I woke, the yellow dog was curled beside me and looked at me through her brown eyes, and said —Yes. That’s how it is.—

MAGI GOING HOME

MAGI, GOING HOME
 

 

 Go home another way, 
 it told us in a dream. 
 Another way?
 

 What would an angel 
 know about ways? 
 We had to sell the camels 
 

 and the slaves. Another way 
 meant bad roads, no roads. 
 We were not accustomed 
 

 to walk, but walk we did 
 till we bought a donkey. 
 It was old and lame.
 

 We rode in turns. We were not 
 accustomed to taking turns, 
 nor to buying food ourselves. 
 

 Now and then we begged,
 and more than once 
 we slept in stables, in the straw—
 

 the only lodgings we could find 
 after we were robbed of everything. 
 But that’s another tale. 
 

OPEN STUDIO POEM #10

OPEN STUDIO POEM #10
 

 riff-raff
 heart
 glue
 synchronicity
 

 

 SYNCHRONICITY
 

 I dream of unmasked riff-raff.
 Anxiety is collaging my heart:
 scraps torn from memory,
 the flattened faces of my friends,
 a quarter of my granddaughter’s life.
 Will I ever have glue enough
 to paste it together?
 

 Emergency.
 Emergence.
 Emerge.
 Resurge.

CAMP FIRE WOMEN

CAMP FIRE WOMEN

My friend Julie is a Fire Keeper.

Sometimes all night she watches,

holds the flame at the center

of the world. It is her sacred way.

 

And mine? To search the forest,

to gather the wood: This for kindling,

this for tinder, this for cleansing,

this for a long and steady burn.


			

TIGHTROPE

TIGHT ROPE

My ancestors did this, so I can.

I’ve practiced for this all my life—

to be suspended between cliff edges

above a chasm filled with rapids and rocks.

Without a net.

I’ve done the high wire a zillion times. 

It makes no difference

whether there’s a chasm or a sawdust floor. 

The far edge is in sight.

Breathe. 

My thin-slippered feet

move along the cable.

Cloud shadows, a bird shadow.

One foot in front of the other.

Eyes ahead, toward the edge—

where someone is bending

picking at the cable with a little knife

and no one is there to stop him.

Will it hold? Will it hold?

I can not take time to be afraid.

My ancestors did this, so I can.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

One step, one step, one step

ON MY WAY





ON MY WAY


It was all so familiar—the icy road, the falling snow.
The tricycle was bigger than it used to be, less
embarrassing for an adult to ride. It took awhile
to get across the city street, awhile to see
a safe crossing under the glaze of snow.
The other side was fine, and I was on my way.


Home at last, but boxes all over the table.
I opened them one by one, each filled
with plastic things: flutophones,
cheap bath toys, disposable cups and spoons. 
Or tin automatons: monkeys playing drums, 
jumping mice, walking quacking ducks.


Box after box until the house was full.
When I awakened, I laughed at it all.
Not a nightmare, a description.
How full I am, these days, of things
I do not want or need. And how far
must I ride my little trike, in this storm.


DONA QUIXOTE

DONA QUIXOTE

Listen to Sancho, Mistress.

These are only windmills.

This is an inn, that is a basin,

what you have is a computer

glitch, a mis-behaving phone,

a broken coffee grinder,

an inconvenience. 

Look at the world as it is,

not as it never was.

Knights were brutal and mean.

Subsistance farming was hungry and hard.

The Enlightenment was a flash in the pan.

Father never knew best. 

No country has ever been great.

If you want a romantic occupation

dangerous enough even for you,

stay home and write poems.

Maybe someone will read them

and write more.

As our creator says, turning poet

is a catching and an uncurable disease.

words: SESTINA FOR THE SUMMER OF 2020

 

cap   rigid   lemon   peer   draw   meadow

 

SESTINA FOR THE SUMMER OF 2020

Like a drawing  by Van Gogh,

I stand rigid in the meadow. I wear my white cap. 

I peel a lemon, and peer at the trees.

I wear my white cap

though the brim is too rigid

for me to bend against the lemon-

brightness of the sun. I stand alone, peer

into the middle distance like a drawing

by Van Gogh of a woman in a meadow.

 

It is August, and the earth is dry. The meadow   

crackles with brown grasses capped  

with seeds. The summer draws 

to a close. Have we yet let go our rigid 

sense of what is real? My peers 

cannot guess. News sours me, like lemon.

 

When I was young, I wore lemon

cologne. I lay in this meadow 

beside a man—my peerless

lover—who wore a Greek fishing cap.

But our bones have gone rigid

with the years. We have drawn

 

living water so long. Now we draw

water grown bitter, like lemon

rind, and brackish, from a rigid

bottle. A butterfly wavers over the meadow

searching for one plant to cap 

with one pale egg. I peer

 

at her with shaded eyes, my only peer

now in this tight-drawn

season, this heated season, capped

with grasses the color of dried lemon  

peel. Under my feet, the meadow 

soil is hard, cracked, rigid

 

with the hard rigidity

of this rainless summer, a peerless

summer of an anxiety that a meadow

cannot know. The trees live on, drawing

their life from deeper water. The lemon

sun beats and beats on my white cap.