ORIENTAR

ORIENTAR

I want to go to Orientar 

where the meadows glow purple

with frankincense flowers.

I want to watch children

laughing and singing, 

collecting the gold that falls

from the sky. No one goes hungry

in Orientar, for the orchards

of myrrh bear fruit all the year.

The kings and the queens

of Orientar are kindly and wise

and they follow their stars.

DISAPPOINTED

 

DISAPPOINTED

You were good all year.

You kept the rules, even

the ones you made up:

Always say “please’ to the dog.

Don’t eat chocolate on Tuesdays.

(new stanza)

You’ve learned all the magic words:

not only please  and thank you kindly,

Hocus Pocus and Abracadabra,

but the secret ones, the ones

you’d never dare write down.

new stanza

You know the gestures:

The morning bows 

the evening pirouettes

and everything else

in between.

(new stanza)

You believe there are enough

ponies to go around,

and more. They tell you that

 all the time. Abundance,

they tell you.

(new stanza)

So every year, you write

the letter, asking. 

It’s all you want,

you say. You’re not

greedy. And you’ve made

(new stanza)

space—a little barn,

a fenced-in pasture.

You can afford grain and hay

and apples and sugar

and vet bills.

(new stanza)

But every year,

when you wake

on that morning

and look outside

there is no pony.

(new stanza)

Only the sun rising.

Only your breath

clouding the window.

Only your beating heart.

Only the trees against the snow.

 

 

 

I paid wordpress some more money so I could format poetry properly, and I cannot do it. Sorry about the “new stanza” business, but stanzas are important. I’m asking for a refund!

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.

STORYTIME

 

STORYTIME

 

If you don’t have fairy tales, how do you live?

The Miller’s Youngest Son answers the riddles.

The Serving Girl rises from the Cinders 

to marry the Prince. If you give a cup 

of cold water to the woman at the well 

you will receive a jeweled reward. If you don’t,

you will spit serpents for the rest of your life.

If the odds are against you, you will win— 

the youngest, the fool, the poorest, outcast, 

the least likely to succeed. Isn’t it

what you want to believe, you, who like me

are all those things and more?  If you finish

the witch’s tasks and don’t ask for  answers,

she will give you all the light you need.

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. 

 

words: TO ARIADNE, WITH APOLOGIES

 

fractal

born (or borne)  or bourn, for that matter.

manipulate

stoic

TO ARIADNE, WITH APOLOGIES

Winding small and smaller

into this fractaled labyrinth—

this, and this, and oh yes

this again—I know this path,

this curve, this color.

No center, only pattern,

the bourn approached

but never reached.

If Platonic, I’d re-form

the beast, Cynic, manipulate. 

Stoic, I’d pay it no mind.

If there were a beast, 

something here not myself,

this endless ball of string.