OLD GODS

OLD GODS

Eventually everyone abandons

old gods. The Romans did, the Greeks, the Goths.

Poor Jupiter, sad Gaut— swallowed like Metis,

or like Persephone, exiled underground.

Great Pan is dead. There is nothing new under

Helios, or Ra, or any ball

of burning gas. Old gods, all gods, are

nothing but constructions of finitude.

What is, defies each attempt. Even

the atheists fail, their ridicule grasping

straw. But still, transcending all the light

of each imagined form, outlying limits

of sense, that surface of last scattering—

there is nothing but a kindlier dark.

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WHAT I DID AFTER YOU LEFT HOME

WHAT I DID AFTER YOU LEFT HOME

Went to New Orleans,

walked alone in the early morning.

They were opening windows,

washing down the streets.

Are you ready, M’am?

An old man stood on the cobblestones,

beaming in the steaming light.

He held reins in one crinkled hand,

extended the other to me.

His brown horse shook its head, bells rang.

Ready?  For what?

 

Are you ready for a buggy ride?

I had not planned to act like a tourist,

but how could I do otherwise

in this unexpected land, this place I’ve never seen?

The people sitting above the tall red wheels

were talking and laughing together

like people in a painting, or a play.

The driver cocked his head, waiting for my answer.

I asked the cost.

There was no reason to refuse.

 

I placed my damp white hand in his,

my hand with the split lifeline,

the single crack foretelling a single child.

Twenty years ago a sibyl read my palm:

You’ll live long, but two lives, different.

You’re a musician.  And try not to be so stingy.

Yes of course I’m ready, I told him.

Boost me up.

 

You, I’m afraid, would have been

disdainful, cool.  You would not

have approved of me,

sweating in my purple dress,

gawking, singing along,

leaning out behind the horse’s bobbing feathered head

above the spinning wheels

in that impressionistic light.

 

I felt a city dawn that day,

saw men in stiletto heels and black stockings 

prancing down the shining sidewalks,

artists reaching for long moist shadows,

women like statues, painted gold.

The city smelled like fresh coffee,

sour beer, things frying in lard.

On every bright wet corner

were little children, dancing.

 

 

I wrote this a long time ago, in response to the Empty Nest. It ended up being a performance piece.

 

March 24–November 16, 1999;  Jan. 30–April 20, 2001

Quatrain Chapbook:   Sing in me, Muse, Feb. 2005

MIDSUMMER DAY

MIDSUMMER DAY

The Feast of St. John the Baptist

 

Rain again. Again. Again.

Not the gentle pitter-patter rain, but

the tropical kind, the pounding kind

that washes out roads and birds’ nests,

that splatters mud on the lettuce,

soaks gray squirrels to brown,

gives mosquitoes everything

they need but blood. I can’t

sleep in this rain. It’s something

primeval, some anxiety

about the river rising, roots

rotting, everything I know

being washed away.

IN THE CAFÉ: TRYING FOR ENLIGHTENMENT

IN THE CAFÉ: TRYING FOR ENLIGHTENMENT

~it’s like soldiers in combat—they’re scared, but they do their mission.

~a fragment overheard

 

It’s like that Hospice nurse with her to-go

latte. It’s like the pediatrician

with the plain blue mug. Who knows what they’ll see

today? It’s like that schizophrenic friend

of mine who time after time tells himself

the voices are demons Jesus casts out.

 

Look at them, will you? And tell me

you’re the only one. Oh somewhere in this

favored world the sun is shining bright—is

it here, where the north wind finally blew

away the ridiculous autumn heat,

where I can sit at a sidewalk table

 

and listen to psychobabble while I

pretend to be writing in a notebook?

 

 

September 10, 2015

April Prompts #25

April Prompts #25

Kari’s #3:  people with animal or insect characteristics

 

HOARDINGS

 

Under the eaves,

in an abandoned robin’s nest,

a flying squirrel stashes mushrooms.

 

Chipmunks carry acorns,

sunflower seeds, kernels of corn

to hoard in their holes under the garage.

 

Cherry pits

in the mitten basket,

behind the cookbooks.

 

Between the rafters

dog kibble

piled in fiberglass nests.

 

In the freezer,

blueberries and broccoli,

applesauce and greens.

 

On the shelves,

jars of pickles, pails of honey,

bottles of water, cans of beans.

April Prompts: Number 24

April Prompts #24

David’s #3:  Explain how you got here

 

HOW WE GOT HERE

 

Some of us came from the Red Sea

and some from the steppes.

We lighted fires wherever we went.

I remember the Zagros Mountains,

the shores of the Black Sea,

the dark caves in the high hills.

 

Sometimes we walked by walls of ice,

sometimes we slept in trees.

We were hungry,  and hunted.

We were frightened at night.

We were frightened of anything

we did not comprehend.

 

We made patterns on the ground.

We made pictures in the stars.

We made pictures on the stones.

We told stories to make us brave.

We sang to make us braver.

Our children are full of our songs.