Friday, February 27, 2015

Lexiconing Hope

 
The recluse in her rare way  
said it was "the thing with feathers"
and specified a  small bird
that sang in the gale.
 
I never found it  winged
as bird or angel  but something else
that arrived in my dream.
 
A maiden draped in long folds of linen,
holding a plant soft plumed in green.
 
Most of her face was hidden
beneath fallen hair, a crystal eye
and pale mouth revealed.
 
She told me
to provide the dream and prayer
then find this flower in the marsh.
 
Spread its leaves along the door step
and let my breath become
the wind that gives them flight.
 
Spring that carries the waiting,
pinnatus in her ancient tongue.
 
 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Trappings

We, who denied the landscape 
 and saw the light of it.
                                     Joan Kane
 
The other time reaches me here, mirroring
tribal things I knew. Catkins quiver
on wet pavement -- fish wavering
near the surface. The cold water ignited by their light.
 
Mist  thrown over the  skyline catching
pigeons in its breath-- a seine cast over the shoreline
trapping what  clings to the morning tide.
The sea's after birth.
 
Straw leaves hang on the Joshua branch
long and leaning sideways in the wind -- fringe
dangles along the hide of a wedding boot . A girl
refuses to wear the ceremonious  shoe. Its fit
too close and narrow. The fleeting deer
felt in its sole.
 
The other time shadows me. Claims what I left
cannot be skinned or shelled. I am its hunt. Instinct its spear.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What I found (or interpreted) personally in reading the poetry of Jane Koan is this idea of  how the native culture, its connectivity to landscape and primal thought, cannot be denied. It is inherent, almost apart of that people's DNA. And even if they move elsewhere, restless to discover modern life with its technology and different venues, that part of them is more than shadow, a spiritual skin or shell that cannot be shed or pulled off.  That natural/wild sense of time and belief will always haunt, hunt them down. Even if there aspects of the culture that confine or conflict with their immediate needs/wishes, the overall legacy prevails. Its identity is manifested in their minds and perception. The familiar will still mirror its ways and trends in the features of a strange or new landscape. It will follow and remind in subtle but comparative ways.
 
Note -- The painting is by artist, Susan Seddons Boulet.
 
 
 

Breath


Asian women have often sung
of blossoms clustering on the trees
like snow. By now the metaphor
is ancient as the word  maiden
but  symbolizes (still) how Spring is Winter
and Winter is Spring.
 
From a distance, the white bloom
looks the same. A bride raising
her bouquet to the light, offering
what has been gathered from
the garden's burial or baptism.
 
Some birds leave then return. Strings of grass
tuned by their lift and landing. Others stay
singing consistently -- from beginning
to end, end through beginning.  Boundaries
melt or freeze into one.
 
Each year, we cross over seasons
unaware how immortality
is already written, colored and carved
on our bones.
____________________________________________
The beautiful painting is by artist, Viki Ye
 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Wheel, The Cross, The Flame

 
I provided you
with stone and timber
to craft a wheel:
 
for rolling cargo,
milling grain
telling time.
 
But you also
put two on the axel
of a chariot that raced in war.
 
That was not my intent.
 
       II
 
I provided you
with stone and timber
to carve a cross:
 
for symbolizing keys,
measuring stars
surveying land.
 
But you also
crucified thief and martyr -- (a King)
by hammering nails
into flesh and  oak
 
That was not my intent
 
III
I provided you
with stone and timber
to wake a flame:
 
for heating homes,
lighting lamps
forging steel.
 
 
But you also
bundled sticks
and built a pyre, struck flint
to burn a witch or saint;
 
the wind
clutching their  hair,
their bodies
girdled in rope
as the bramble ignited.
 
That was not my intent.
 
        IV 
     
Now they're all my sorrows
matted and bloodied
in this field
 
like  feathers
of  that sling-shot bird.
 
And the stone which killed her,
( white-throated hawk)
left in  woods
that have petrified and will not burn.
 

 


Sunday, February 15, 2015

After Viewing Lady Hamilton's Portrait And A Trip To The Country

 
The shock

of seeing a lady

draped in white silk

spinning thread

with a hen and chicks at her feet --

                             

was the same

when we found  Lisa

retired from Glamour

rising early to clean a farmhouse

and feed chickens.

 

She still put on make-up,

angora and sleek jeans

to mingle with her Brahma maids.

Yet, there was something new,

original about her. She could read

the fortune of eggs in a nest

and called each of her birds

by a magic name.

 

Beyond the barn

there was an herb garden,

(at least she termed it so)

where her hands cultivated

an ancient  plant. Its fibers

once used to craft  rope

and sail. Scroll and lamp wick.

Its leaf and flower now

sacred items, royal strains.

 

At night, she dreams

and its sprit comes to her

speaking in a tribal language,

holding an amphora

of fragrant seeds. At first light

when the cockerel sings,

she awakens knowing

what to grow, how to cure, groomed

to become a sibyl.
______________________________________________
In 1789, artist, Thomas Cheesman, painted Lady Emma Hamilton as a very elegant woman spinning wool with chicken at her feet. She was draped in  a lovely white scarf and gown performing a very common, housewifely task, rather an unnatural mix for the time period. The portrait or engraving was entitled "The Spinster" meaning a woman who cards, weaves and spins rather than the common definition or derogatory term of "old maid".

Brahma maids refers to a category of American chickens who come in an assortment of colors and patterns ranging from buff gold to red, speckled and spotted as well.

Sibyl is a term relating to a wise woman, a woman who can foresee the future, read signs and reveal truths, wisdom and trends in nature as well as the unseen world. She was often seer, botanist, and in some cases, even a spinner or weaver of fate.



Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Vixen


 

A man watches his mistress

brush her auburn hair in the lamplight.

one stroke  then another,

 

long and deliberate

as if enticing  prey.

 

Outside, the moon casts

its pewter shadow over the trees;

and a fox wails

straining to release more

than her wild cry.

 

Her voice carries

toward the canal and cobblestones

making the still water

quiver. The air smells damp;

 

and night abides the hour,

( the soft-lit house) waiting to trespass

in a dream, telling  the man

what led to this.

 

A female in his mirror

grooming herself

to appear mortal, safe from the hunt.

 

An animal clothed in  fire

that does not burn, only burnish

the dusk with fur, red hair

that once was human,

 

and styled by slim hands

that conjured, prayed too hard

to become more clever.

 

The Tale Countless Times Told

 


This story is not mine or yours

but hers. A woman who lived

when they polished pewter

and pistols before the duel.

 

Floating from age to age,

house to house, tongue to tongue --

the story becomes the ghost. Her ghost

laced and unlaced

in a changing wardrobe of words. The wheres

whens and whys -- embellished more

each time its told,  her  undergarments

embroidered with beautiful sleaze.

 

Only her shoes remain faithful,

the same pair of names

she has always travelled with. One real.

The other an alias.