BACK TO THE EDGES OF ODDNESS

BACK TO THE EDGES OF ODDNESS

 

Since midsummer, fairies with green wings 

twinkle around my eyes all night long. 

They beg me to be invisible, 

offer me fernseed and a cap woven 

of milkweed and thistle fluff. 

The dog is restless when they are in the house, 

and my husband can’t sleep, 

and I can’t explain. The cats 

don’t seem to mind.

 

Whatever shall we do with realism, 

reason, logic, the sciences that deny 

the way things are? A cloud of demons, 

their sharp laughter, the steadfast angels 

raising their lavender shields. 

Every tree has a soul;  early in the morning

you can hear them singing to the sun. 

Their music wakes the birds. 

Angels are stars, balls of flaming gas. 

Everything is real, but more or less 

than anyone can imagine. 

God is everything. 

Nothing is mutually exclusive.

THE SWING

THE SWING

~after Marc Chagall

 

His mouth is open, mid-sentence.

The soles of his shoes are yellow,

his pants are green, his jacket

is blue. The figure behind the swing

is a brown blur. The swing

is in mid-arc, coming toward

the artist. In the ether 

above the child, three cats

and a dog named Crazy

who is brown as Earth

are springing into being. 

Crazy went away once

for a fortnight. When he got home,

he fell asleep at once. The animals

came with the swinging child

when he drove from California

to Vermont in one day.  The cats

are named Thak, Willy, and Quilly.

They all died before you were born.

 

 

 

 

 

BLACK CAT ZACH

BLACK CAT ZACH

 

 

I am the only one who spells

his name correctly:  Zachariah.

He appreciates that, and rewards me

by losing hair on a patch of his belly,

by leaving half-eaten mice on the rug,

by snagging my sweaters with his claws.

He is seven years old today.

Climber, racer, shoulder-sitter, 

keyboard menace, (;ljhd )

friend of Thumbs Magee, 

destroyer of plants and china bowls.

His beauty covers his sins.

Winter Prompt #21: A Country-Western Song

 

A COUNTRY-WESTERN SONG

Winter Prompt #21

Refrain:

He came through the night,

runnin’ all alone.

All he’d had to eat

was a thrown-out chicken bone.

 

 

This old cat has seen a lot of years

From the night I saw him first—

A streak of white across the drive,

Just fur and bones, but real alive,

All hunger, fight and thirst.

 

Refrain

 

We trapped and took him to the vet

We thought we’d set him free

When he was fixed and had his shots,

But it turned out he liked us lots—

My good old man and me.

 

Refrain

 

So now he’s sleeping on the chair

All full of fish and cream.

It goes to show that any stray

Just needs a hand along the way

To realize his dream.

 

Refrain, fading. . . .

Winter Prompts #1: Write a Proverb

A PROVERB

Proverbs 31  King James Version (KJV)

10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

 

This woman is worth her weight in rubies, all right—

she rises while it is yet night and makes the coffee,

feeds the cats and gives them medicines.

No matter how cold, she takes the dog out in the snow.

She sits then, or tries to, while her husband sleeps,

and she attempts to write and meditate.

The white cat climbs on her desk past the candle

trying to catch his tail on fire, and settles down

on her lap. The dog yelps to go out again

because the rabbits have come to feed.

Her children—her child, really, since she has

just the one—does not rise up to call her blessed.

No one rises up before she does, to call her

blessed, or anything else, for that matter.

 

January 20, 2018

The Spring St. Poets have decided to use prompts as a way of getting ready for a reading we’re doing in late February. This one is rather raw, to put it mildly.

TEN RULES FOR POETRY, #6, #7, #8

10 RULES FOR POETRY

#6

Stop being superstitious. You do not

need a special pen or a blue notebook.

You do not need a tidy study with

a writing desk, or a corner table

in a dark café. You do not need to

drink anything but water, and any

cup will do. You do not need stars aligned,

flights of birds, a yellow candle, a white stone.

You do not need melancholy or fear.

You do not need to be in love or war.

You do not need an oracle or a muse.

All you need is a word, and another word.

 

#7

You have to do something besides it.

Reading resembles it too much except

for books about the Civil War or bird-

watching. Birdwatching is good, except for

seagulls, who steal words. Robbery is okay,

but do you really need more things? Taking

care of things, in moderation, can be

helpful, except for electronic things

that claw out your eyeballs. Nobody wants

to read any poetry about that.

 

#8

Silence is essential but not absolute.

Breezes are allowed, a bit of birdsong,

some water sounds—no seagulls or faucets.

The undertow of café chatter is fine,

but not the shrill of phone chat. Purring cats,

yes. Barking dogs, no. If your husband is

drilling or sawing in the next room no

matter how much you want a new tub surround,

you might as well give up.

November Writing Challenge #5

I don’t know how long I can keep this up.

 

 

November Writing Challenge #5

Cast:

Joe Medien: an NPR style interviewer

Dame Julian of Norwich, whose speech is deliberate, gentle, courteous

 

Set:

Split stage. Joe in a sound studio, Julian in a small stone-walled room with a cot, a desk with a crucifix above it, a bench, a little window open to the outdoors. Cat optional.

 

Joe:  Good afternoon. This is Joe Medien, with Anchor to Anchor. Today we’re delighted to have as our guest Julian—at least that’s the name she goes by these days. For the past ten years, Julian has lived in a little room attached to the church of Julian in Norwich. This is, I believe, the first interview she has granted, and we’re honored to have her with us. Dame Julian, thank you for joining us.

Julian: Thank you for having me.

Joe: Dame Julian—or may I call you just Julian?

Julian:  “Just Julian” would be presumptuous, since God alone is truly just. “Dame Julian” is fine.

Joe:  Oh. Well. Dame Julian, I’m wondering how you came to be shut up in your—what is called? A hermitage?

Julian: A cell. I am not a hermit. Were I a hermit, I would not be speaking with you.

Joe: Thank you for clearing that up. So, how did you come to be there?

Julian: When I was a young woman, I desired more than anything to see the passion of Jesus. I also wanted to come very close to death, and I wanted to learn to long for God. After all of those things happened, I wanted to pass the rest of my earthly life in contemplation.

Joe: Can you describe what you have in your—cell?

Julian: A bed, a desk, a bench, and above the desk an image of my Beloved.

Joe:  Ah! So would that be your late husband? I understand that you were widowed in a round of the black death.

Julian: My Beloved is my dear Lord and Mother who holds me in his wounded side.

Joe: I see. . . . .But I’m wondering about your husband.

Julian: His life is hidden in Christ.

Joe: So, would you say that your belief in Jesus was a major factor in your decision to go live in a cell?

Julian: Yes.

Joe: May I ask how you spend your time?

Julian: I ponder what my Beloved has shown me, and as I can, I write down what is most clear to me. Now and then pilgrims stop by my window and ask for my prayers. I pray with them, and I pray for them. Prayer takes much of my time. And of course there is my cat.

Joe: I want to ask you about your cat. What can you tell me?

Julian: She is good gray cat who comes and goes through the window and feeds on church mice. Every day the woman who brings my food brings her a saucer of cream. She sits on my lap when I pray, and purrs her own prayers.

Joe:  Does God answer your prayers?

Julian: How can God not answer, when God is love and desires nothing but our happiness?

Joe: Pardon my ignorance, Dame Julian, but it seems to me there is a great deal of suffering in the world. How do you account for that?

Julian: When we are in pain, we hang on the cross with our Beloved.

Joe: Okay.  (an awkward pause)  Dame Julian, if you could give one piece of advice to our listeners today, what would it be?

Julian: Remember that our blessed Lord creates all things for your joy.

Joe:  Is that all? Isn’t there something our listeners can do to, say, get closer to God?

Julian: It is not possible to be closer to God, who is our very life, and the source and spring and quenching of all our longing.

Joe:  Well, I guess that’s all we have time for today. Thank you so much, Dame Julian of Norwich, for taking time out of your. . . busy schedule to join us.

Julian: You are welcome. You are most welcome.

Joe: We’ll be right back after a break.

 

OUR HERMITESS

This sixteenth-century French cabinet
was a bequest.  Originally to keep wine,
it now holds urns
of ashes awaiting internment.

And here we have our hermitess.
Her door is closed this morning
so she will not receive you.
Perhaps if you return—

No.  She keeps no regular hours,
every audience is by chance.
I don’t know;  no one knows precisely
how she spends those days alone.  She has ink
and paper, needles and yarn, a small
black cat with white paws.
Sometimes she makes a little book,
or socks in brilliant colors that you might glimpse
between her long black skirts and her shoes—

Yes,  her books are for sale in the gift shop;
sometimes she’ll sign one.
No.  No socks.
No, she won’t let herself
be photographed.  Or sketched.
When her door is open, she may let you in.
She may let you pet her cat, if
you are quiet and ask no questions.

Now down this corridor is the choir room
with a beautiful tapestry, very old,
of Magdelene in the Resurrection garden.
We’re very fortunate to have it in our care.