FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, CONSIDERING THE LILIES

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER, CONSIDERING THE LILIES

The white plaster image

of crucified Jesus hangs

above the altar.  Its feet

are deep in potted Easter lilies.

 

I’ve always prefered Christus Victor

to dead Jesus, and I do not care

for potted lilies, sitting there

in their green-foil pots, trying

 

to represent Resurrection and Spring.

They smell like overheated rooms

full of unnecessary things. It’s odd—

the white lily is one symbol of Mary

 

who had no idea what she was getting into

when she said yes to the improbable task.

Look at those Renaissance paintings—

the poor girl looking up from her prayers

 

at that angel with its lily.

When I am an old lady

confined to my house or some other place,

I pray that no young minister will come

 

calling on the fifth Monday of Easter,

bearing a potted lily.

When I was a young minister,

I bore far too many,

 

though I suppose I meant well.

The old ladies, who knew a thing

or two about prayer, were,

for the most part, gracious.

ABSTRACTING

Found in Longman’s English Grammar, 1917

This paper is smooth and white;

in other words it has the qualities

of smoothness and whiteness.

The smoothness and whiteness 

cannot be separted from the paper,

but in our own minds we can think of them

as something apart.

 

Again, running

is an action, but the running cannot be

separated from the runner. It is only

in our minds that we can think of it as

something apart.

So slavery

is a state or condition that cannot

be separated from the slave, but that can

be thought of as something apart.

This drawing away

with our minds the quality from the thing

which has it, the action from the thing

which does it, or the condition from the thing

which is in it, is called abstracting. 

Now,

Pick out the abstract nouns.  

The room is twenty feet in length.

Lazy people take most trouble.

The driver behaved with cruelty.

The beauty of the scene gave us much pleasure.

A little learning is a dangerous thing.

A little weeping would ease my heart.

The quality of mercy is not strained.

There was darkness over all.

Honesty is the best policy.

The sun gives warmth.

Virtue is its own reward.

Charity covers a multitude of sins.

Wisdom is better than strength.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.

MEMERE–prompt #75

MEMERE

Prompt #75: Invent a Grandparent

 

Once she stopped a runaway horse before

the horse ran over a little boy. The boy’s

father was so grateful, he got her pregnant.

He set her up in a shack on the edge

of town and paid her every month, enough

to get groceries for herself and my dad.

That grandfather died before I was born,

and I am just as glad.

 

Memere always had dogs, stray ones she tamed.

She could tell fortunes by watching crows.

I liked visiting her. Dad didn’t mind,

but Mother worried every time.

I used to sleep in her loft

on a feather bed she made.

She taught me how to kill chickens,

how to bait a hook,

how to build a fire with wet wood.

 

Memere had different names for the stars.

She had three books:

The Oxford Book of English Verse,  

My Antonia, and

Moby Dick, which she knew by heart.

She never did believe in God, she said.

What went on in the woods and sky

gave her enough religion to get by.

PAGE 56, 2017

With thanks to contributors. You know who you are:

 

The temperature was dropping

and a light snow was falling.

Even the sky above the City

had a green tint,

and the rays of the sun were green.

It had, however, but a bare

and uninteresting church,

built in the latest and worst

period of Perpendicular,

with a slate spire and no bells to speak of.

 

The Manichee, therefore, was entirely

embedded in the visible world.

To the new generations of country

and village boys now pouring into

the university in such large numbers,

she had become, in a curious way,

an instructor in manners,–what is called

an ‘influence.’ A lady doctor dressed

in silks was an oddity, and Oscar

Maroney’s curiosity, once engaged,

had to be satisfied.

 

They asked her where she was

making for, and she answered: “You are come

to the very edge of the Wild, as some

of you may know. ….Because it is not ‘engaged’,

the Faith becomes vacuous. In the strict sense,

however, the term historical

criticism refers to the ways in which

a historian might use the New Testament

to learn about history.”

 

Italics signify the couple of little tweaks I made.

ALWAYS AWARE OF SOMETHING–a page 56 poem

This is the poem composed of lines found on page 56 by various facebook friends back in 2011.

 

ALWAYS AWARE OF SOME THING

(found on the fifth line of page 56 in various texts

during National Book Week, 2011)

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world didst rest from all thy works 

and sanctify a day of rest for all thy creatures: 

Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, 

may be duly prepared for the service of thy sanctuary, 

and that our rest here upon earth may be 

a preparation for the eternal rest promised to thy people in heaven; 

through Jesus Christ our Lord

The vision of God’s peace,

spread over all God’s creation,

opened the door to a glorious vision of history–

men stumbling and falling–

it’s been going since forever.

Their pottery and their extraordinary

anthropomorphic clay coffins,

found in the Gaza strip,

also reveal influences from Egyptian art.

 

I had been born again

only about two years and was, as now,

searching always for truth.

The relevant history suggests

that fourteenth-century theology

is too heterogeneous and eclectic

to allow such homogenizing assumptions

to shape any study.

But no matter the occasion

or person being introduced,

the gesture itself is a powerful

sign of respect. . .

 

From the meadow came a dozen satyrs,

who reminded me painfully of Grover.

“I’m going to say a word about him,” Grace said.

“He was uncertain

about the direction of the story,

explaining that he did not ‘know

how to go on.’

I could barely recognize

his drawn face.”

 

She asked the maitre d’hotel

to set up a table near the water

in a spot of his choice,

then ordered a portable stereo tank

placed by the table.”

 

He knew about the nightmares

that haunted her after a series

of particularly brutal murders

by a killer named the Surgeon:

how he’d gotten drunk senior year

and kissed her and then

squeezed her hand so hard

it should’ve hurt but it didn’t,

it felt wonderful the way

he was holding her

and looking into her eyes.

 

She had never done any teaching before,

except Sunday-school teaching,

and she had no idea how much

she ought to be paid for it,

so Grandfather was able to pay her too much

without her knowing.

 

Spread the meat

into two uncooked pie shells

and top with pie dough.

Food that isn’t nutritious

but appears to be

thus becomes an . . INcomplete meal

day after day.

 

When the mantis had crunched up

the last shred of its victim,

it cleaned its smooth green face like a cat.

Research suggests that a reduction

in mechanoreceptor afferent input

can result in the development

of symptoms

that can be identified in the clinical setting.

The therapist said

she would probably always eat that way.

 

Baby had also begun to imitate

the playful sounds of adults –

coughing, smacking lips,

making ‘the raspberries,’ and the like.

I’ve never seen anything like it before.

from paying guests.

We’ll find the money

somehow, signor.

 

The next time you observe a horse

in action or standing still,

whether a real horse

or a visual depiction,

try looking at him through new eyes,

such as the eyes of the Hindu poet

of the Upanishads

who saw his entire world

echoed in the horse’s body.

 

We always expect

to be aware of some thing.

(When I “find” a poem, I allow myself to tweak grammar a bit.  I can also remove words, but I can’t add anything significant.  The italics in this piece indicate a change I made.  I think I got them all!)

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

~Prompt–for a book you haven’t written

 

 

First of all, I must thank my parents.

Without them, I would be normal,

and this book would not

have been possible.

 

My husband did not

comment on it, or even read it.

In fact, for the past eight months,

he has been living

in a tent in the woods.

I love you, sweetie.

Words cannot express

my gratitude.

 

My children are grown

so I thank them for not

getting in my way

(except for two hysterical

phone calls which only

kept me awake nights

for a week or so).

 

I am grateful to my agent,

despite her claim that

I was the direct cause

of her most recent breakdown.

I am not responsible for everything,

but she is responsible

for finding a home for my work.

 

All my editors—every single

one of them—have been

marvelous.

 

The Spring St. Poets

have provided occasionally helpful

feedback and comic relief for years.

Thanks, guys!

 

It takes a village

to produce a book, so I owe

a great deal to my neighbors

who put up with my midnight

hurdy-gurdy/bagpipe fests

and afternoon target practices,

and only called the police three times.

 

These poems

are for them.

 

 

MP   March 1, 2017

‘QASIDA

‘QASIDA

November. I drove through the woods alone.

The chapel had not changed—yellow stone,

pine benches, carven altar, the wide, worn

boards of the floor, pale ceilings adorned

with stenciled flowers. I watched the sun

mark the walls with pattern as it shone

through the western window, low.

Once this was a shelter from the storm

around us.  Once, with you, I won

what my heart desired. But you are gone.

On the forest paths, in shadow, once we roamed,

no need for touch or speech. Some

nights we sang by the lake while moon-

light and starlight from heaven’s dome

brushed us with silver. My voice, a golden horn,

blessed the stones with song. Oh, none

but I can praise our music well, or write this poem!

Free and wise and fair were we, born

between the mountains and the sea, who turned

the wild wood into home.

 

The Qasida is an elaborate form. This is a feeble attempt.