Thursday, May 28, 2015

Addressing The Character



If she wishes to write well she will have to become someone....

                                                                                                      Barry Lopez


I will open the story

through your eyes

when I understand  your soul.

 

When I have prayed

with your beads,

broken bread with your dreams

in the evening light,

 

taken shelter

under the roof of your silence

only to find

 
leaks and lesions,

the tarnished silver

of a moon looming through.

 
Maiden, mother , crone

woman, wife, mistress --

 

all of  them, of you

possessed by it -- the powerless 

phase of becoming

vulnerable,

 
slipping through the ruin

of this mortal

condition -- perhaps unleashing

the shadow self.


And there, then -- I unlatch  

 the door, disrobe the notebook

of its immaculate leaf

 
and let you in,

soiled and shimmering.
_______________________________________
Beautifully provocative art-work is by artist, Florian Nicolle.

 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Snakes Used To Have Ankles


 I

Lately
Scientists
have concurred
 
that ancient snakes
had small hands
ankles, toes.

Tubular
amphorae storing
temptation

and those
appendages,
for grasping.
 
What?
I asked my husband
a scientist
as well.
    
     II

The storm light
( he said)
through which you slid
into my life.

Your own grip
lineaged from
their sleight of limb

tempting me
to taste a poem.

A swan's egg
that hatched
Helen of Troy.

An onion
Sylvia peeled,
her thumb print
impearled.
 
Those blue plums
ripe and cool
Carlos ate.

The infinitude
of salt

Pablo said
would sing
yes sing;

but I never heard
anything
 
until
I sparkled some
on an artichoke

stripping it
scale by scale
and felt a voice
shed metaphor.

Low and languid,
girthed in subtlety,
those  green whorls
of lotus

 sang, My Love,
sang  as solely yours!
___________________

This poem was inspired by a news article on line with the same title. It showcased a comprehensive study that scientists have done on the movement, bone structure and body composition of Jurassic snakes. And yes, they concluded they had tiny limbs and evolved on land rather than water. So this idea expanded into the idea of a female poet who discusses this finding with her scientist husband. He is bemused and admits that she probably, as a seductress and writer, inherited her "grip" on him from those mysterious and almost mythical creatures; thus tempting him, even leading him to taste the splendor of a poem. Something that is  unscientific and at times defies logic and reason. The allusions here range from  Virgil (The Aeneid )  to Sylvia Plath to William Carlos Williams and Pablo Neruda.

 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Illumination


 Creativity should always be a form of prayer.
                                                             Ben Okri
 

The moment unhooks her corset of wind
and leaves its blue bells dangling
in still air. Her body becomes  light
stretching through the trees
and beneath  stream water absorbing
the story that  takes shape
 
from whatever shadow
enters the scene, whatever scent
breathes through the ribs
of bulrush or willow, whatever spirit
webs briar and broken rock.
 
Disrobed and radiant, the moment
settles into her subtle craft -- waiting
for a voice, a hand and quill
to turn the greenwood's flesh
into words. A prayer, a song --
an act of creation.
_______________________________________________

Reservoir




It's become a bowl of dirt

cracking into patterns

seen on Waterford crystal

but no fluidity --  only tumbleweed

blown across the lake

like a cage skirt

discarded yet belonging

to someone glimpsed beyond

the Palo Verde trees,

light shifting from a female shape

to breathless cloud. Some woman

who first  appeared -- retracing her steps

from older days, (the homesteader's plot)

and then gusts into parched silt.

The asthma of drought.
_____________________________________________________________________
 
To me, the mystery of story telling is also what is revealed to us through the natural occurrence of things: dreams that spontaneously enter our subconscious or the landscape that enters us physically and spiritually with its wind, stillness, eerie light and smell, dust, water, and shadows; its overall feeling of loss and want. If we're open to the reception of these things, our imagination will ingest what comes and in some way, the story will be disclosed.

When I came to California, the high desert, I felt a certain kinship with the dry earth, the Joshua trees, the constant wind and  stark light. It infused me with its spirit; and now some of those elements appear again and again in my writing. The landscape's story keeps unfolding and beckoning. And though I have no known ancestral connection to this place, I feel a kinship with its unseen spirits and ancestors.

Even now when I look at a reservoir, completely dried up, but surrounded by Palo Verde trees and that "certain slant" of glare or ghostly light, I sense a presence, a story of someone who was there centuries before, someone who still haunts the place searching for something lost or seeking to relay some kind of message, especially during this historic drought. In the dust, there is still breath, something/someone that is both dead and vital someone that once was flesh but now spirit.

 






















Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Raconteur

 
They had to go down deep into the seeds of time, into the dreams of their people, into the unconscious, into the uncharted fears, and bring shapes and moods back up into the light.
                                                                                        Ben Okri
I come back at dawn
blue and spiked in shadows.
My sister, the ancient  palm
giving her leaf -- in outline
to the duskened light.
 
I come back from stories
told by  bone and feather,
stars and lightning,
 
hand-sewn hides
bleached and beaded,
 
caw and moan
bellow and whisper
storm water and stillness.
 
I come back to you
from a tribal place, a cloud
that does not bear rain
but memory. A sea gull
glides within me. He's your heart
 
cast from a dream
wanting to bring home
this spirit of words,
this maiden tongue
 
of first things known,
of syllables grown
from seed into song.

_______________________________________________
Note -- The beautiful painting is by artist, Susan Seddons Boulet.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

May Blossom

 

You were born the day after
we lit pyres, each hive
of golden sparks
told what they must cleanse.


You were born the day after
we hung wreaths
blessing the womb
of earth and woman.


You were born the day after
bundled in leaves,
Pearl blossom
( of the scarlet berry)


sylvan child,
spawn of Hawthorne's mind.

 _______________________________

Just loved the tradition and idea of Telling The Bees along with the lore of the Hawthorne tree/blossoms and Beltane Fires. A mix of thoughts came to mind when contemplating May and the emergence of the May blossom  including the 19th century writer of  The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was believed that he actually changed the spelling of his name from Hathorne ( without the w) to Hawthorne with the "w" like that of the woodland tree. He felt ancestral guilt about his great grandfather having been a hanging judge at the Witchcraft trials of the late 17th century.  Innocent people died at the hands of this judge and his terrible decisions. Nathaniel wanted to disassociate himself with that part of he family's history.



Afterlife of A Demonstration (1981)

 


It is the soul

of the souless condition...

                                   John Desmond Bernal

 

She is dead in a dead building in the dead of night.

The word becomes triple distilled extracting

the essence of ghost, ruin and stillness.

 

In the corner, a moth clings to a cobweb.

Its wings translucent and veined in green

like the scarf she wore earlier -- protesting.

 

The streets were old brick -- strewn with lilac leaves

and people marching in the cool light of Spring, The sun's flicker

serving as their candle. Somewhere else, a brass valve turned on

releasing a shot of air that erupted in flames. Something was flung

into an antique warehouse  -- gutted and muraled with graffiti.

 

No broken glass but fragments

of porcelain-pale bone. Later, she awoke here. Her shadow molted

as she watched the lace wing shimmer 

in fragility like the silken cloth -- she bought but couldn't afford.

 

Low wages led to this --

crossing over from a single word

to another kind of  holy trinity.