MATTER: A Pantoum

MATTER: A Pantoum

What gods do is make and let the pieces fall.

Billions of clocks on billions of beaches

turning as our hands move however they

move or our four legs or six or eight.

 

Billions of eyes in billions of deserts

move through their times or none and 

we move our two legs or four or six or eight and

our hearts and chloroplasts, mycelium,

 

our many eyes or none.

Our structures crystalize, the plates

and hearts and chloroplasts and mycelium

subduct and bump as we rise and fall.

 

The structure of our crystals, how the plates 

and all we do is an echo of clapping hands as we

subduct and bump and rise and fall.

With voices, silences, wavings of branches

 

we echo with our hands 

and twigs and whatever anemones use

for voices: silences? wavings of branches?

We’re all made of one matter.

 

Twigs and anemones

turn while our hands move however they

move because we’re all the matter

and making matter and falling is what we do.

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!

OPEN STUDIO POEM #13: FOR THE LAST DAY OF 2020

OPEN STUDIO POEM #13

bobble

bauble

clarity

celebration

POEM FOR THE LAST DAY OF 2020

With smiles and nods, thumbs up

and applauses, with bright baubles 

 

of technologies—our new necessities—

we’ve bobbled through this hardest time. 

 

We have more courage than we knew,

our loves are stronger than we thought.

 

Now, let us begin a celebration, now, 

as we tiptoe toward the clarity of light 

 

at the far side of this dark passageway.

We are beginning to know 

 

how tender we are; beginning

to know how gentle we can be.

With thanks to Wanda, Kathy H, David and Kathy C for their words.

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.


			

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

words: Open Studio Poem #2

with thanks to Kathy, David, Kathy, and Wanda

 

lazy

looking glass

friend

pluck

OPEN STUDIO POEM 2

Too lazy today to pay attention

to the face in the looking glass—

mirror, mirror on the wall

Does it matter what we look like?

I’m learning lately to be

my own friend. The kind

of friend I need. A friend

with pluck. Spunk. The kind

of nerve it takes to ignore

the face and see

what’s on the other side.

words: Is it too late to invent America?

sand

braid

task

invent

rife

mauve

 

 

Is it too late to invent America?

1.

While the sky outside turned mauve, 

Kushner’s Belize said, “I hate America. . . .

You come to room 1013 over at the hospital. . 

I’ll show you America. 

Terminal, crazy and mean.” 

In a city rife with AIDS, 

every day he did his tasks.

Compassion isn’t what you think.

 

2.

Nobody knows what Jesus wrote

in the sand, but the men dropped their stones

and crept away, one by one. 

No one is without sin

and it’s a commonplace to hate in others

our own grimmest angels.

I hate people who aren’t compassionate.

 

3.

America has never been great

and we’ve never had a decent metaphor.

From the beginning, the pot didn’t hold us all—

why should we stew and amalgamate? 

How about a braid—not of hair, but of water—

slow river moving over a delta, 

living streams carrying their histories,

interlacing,  winding toward one sea.

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.