the world, the flesh

An unexpected poem.

        the world, the flesh

They did it to me when I was too young
to resist: in my name they renounced 
my skin, my heart, my lungs,
my sex, my brain, my little fingers. 
They renounced my senses, 
my fears, my hungers, my animal urgency.

They renounced the world. 
The deserts and trees, mountains and seas,
everyone who crawls and swims and flies:
denizens of the dirt, tigers and dogs and whales.
They don’t have souls the story goes,
and all that matters is what isn’t.

When the trout lily leaves emerged, 
when the bears came out of their winter dens,
when the buds swelled on the maples,
every spring we remembered our renunciation. 
How strange when the empty tomb
recalls the garden and the flesh. 

I repent. I reclaim all I was taught, 
along with the devil, to renounce. 
Beginning with this patch of ground 
where rotting trunks flower out their fruits,
where robins overturn the unraked leaves
and acorns sprout along the edges of the unmown grass.



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.

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. 
 

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.


			

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.

THE TRICKSTER IS STILL AROUND

THE TRICKSTER IS STILL AROUND

Not Loki or Enki,

not Coyote who stole fire

or Wakjunkaga who made

himself some women’s parts 

and gave birth to three sons. 

 

This one carries his tiny penis

in a jumbo jet. His wives

and daughters are plastic dolls,

his sons the undead.

He eats honor, shits coal.

His houses are built of bones.

 

Make no mistake:

somewhere under our nice

we want to be like him—

possess without limit,

rule without shame.

 

He shows us, uncovers us.

Unless we change our lives,

he will never go away.

words VARIATIONS: FOUR WORDS, THREE STANZAS

bear

grace

raven

point(ed)

VARIATIONS: FOUR WORDS, THREE STANZAS

1.

The raven has been flying to and fro 

over the earth. She has returned.

I think it will rain again. 

 

Do you know the meaning of grace?

The word you say before you eat;

the way a dancer walks in her pointed shoes.

 

The bear has been seen again.

We say “the bear” as if there were only one

running through the woods between our houses.

 

2.

It’s enough to make me believe

in Satan’s test of Job.

How much more can they bear?

 

The talking raven will not be silent.

Over and over she says 

“What’s the point? What’s the point?’

 

Like Hecate preceding and following Persephone,

grace precedes and follows us.

The question remains, “When?”

 

3.

Once I found a raven grazed by a car.

I set her in the grass, covered her with leaves.

The next day, in the same place, 

 

a raven circled me three times. 

The acknowledgement was almost more 

than I could bear. And I’ve wondered

 

since if the point was not gratitude but

taunt. “You cached me in the grass,

foul human, but see! I live.” 

 

4.

A raven pair tumbles over the yard

and the dog will not stop barking.

A bear climbs the fence and the dog is silent.

 

Raven is a trickster.

Bear is a god.

Is there a difference.

 

Walk the shore to the farthest point,

the place where sand turns to stone.

There is no limit to grace.

words: SAME STORY

orange

happiness

shallow

line

SAME STORY

I’ve known the story since second grade,

that terrible year. The teacher checking

our fingernails and handkerchiefs,

teaching nothing but tedium. Gray

and marcelled, as chained as I 

to that small-town school.

The stench of hot-lunch goulash.

White bread spread thick with margarine.

The shallow patch of backlot gravel

where we tried to play. 

 

Reading was my happiness.

Sometimes I was allowed 

to sit on the windowsill with a book.

And where would I have found

such a thing in that barren place?

I can still see the drawing clearly—

the line of the girl’s dress,

the dragon’s orange flame.

And the prince—not St. George, I think—

but it was the same tale—

the monster demanding sacrifice, 

the unexpected release.