poem22 Aug 2016 08:05 am

Night_of_the_Living_Dead

I did not ask to be Romero’s brainchild
of pestilence and fallout,
a ghoulish signifier shuffling between
the breathing and the dead.
If you shoot me, do I not bleed?
Beyond a pound of flesh I crave
for a voice. No heroes represent us,
survivors of cultural whitewash.
Where once black slaves feared
they cannot return home even in death,
your fear is that we do.

Watchtower crosshairs train us
to swarm your barbed borders
like refugees, a spectacular wave
of limbs, desperation, teeth and guts
pleading amnesty. Why deny us entry?
We mean no miscegenation,
we just want our families.
Give us at least our daily brain,
mercy. Let us walk
with heads in one piece.

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poem15 Aug 2016 08:35 am

Makasiinit_tulessa

I prepared them for D-Day
From the time they were born–
The day we had to flee.

The fire began in the horizon,
At 3am one summer night
Beneath the rising blood moon.

It devoured house after house,
Their inhabitants incinerated
Before they could scream.

Soon an orange glow flickered
From beneath the bedroom door.
Smoke flooded in like dry ice,

The scent unmistakable,
Waking me up
From a restless slumber.

I swiftly opened the windows
As Jack sped to the bathroom
To wet three towels.

Ava woke up, her eyes bleary.
I tied a rope around her waist
And lowered her like we practiced.

Smoke began to fill the room,
Looming like an angry fog monster,
Swirling around my son

As he helped me hold the rope.
Ava reached the ground, untied herself
And beckoned us to hurry,

Sirens of a fire engine
Silent and absent as
The wind that night.

I lowered Jack next.
He gave me the thumbs up
As he reached the ground

And quickly untied the knots,
Mouthing the words,
“Hurry, Mom!”

I hoped the window frame would hold.
Using the rope as a secondary support,
I rappelled down the roof

And leapt off the parapet.
The children were waiting,
Clutching me tight as we hastened

To our car parked on the street.
Houses exploded on both sides of us.
“It has begun,” Jack said solemnly.

I nodded, one eye on little Ava
Hugging her favorite stuffed cat whom
She somehow managed to smuggle along.

The spaceship was where we left it,
But we needed to be in our own form
To pilot it.

We hyperventilated
Till our human skin shed,
Our thick corrugated hides shook

And stretched
From years of compression.
Jack grinned, happy to be himself again.

I placed my hoof on the panel
As the ship sighed and started.
We had to hurry.

The Exterminators had found us,
The ones who destroyed our planet.
We were the last of our kind,

And they would not rest
Till every living thing
Was scorched and dead.

Our water-fuelled ship achieved lightspeed.
We would find another planet to hide in,
To grow and survive.

By then, the eggs would all be hatched,
And we could finally train an army
To fight back.

Little Ava cradled her stuffed cat
With her twin hooves.
She lay back

And softly meowed to her toy.
One more language learned.
One more planet lost.

Photo by Petteri Sulonen – http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=140957047&size=l, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=760246
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editorial13 Aug 2016 08:33 am

I made it from November 2015 to August 2016 without missing a regular post! Sadly, I spilled water on my lovely Mac laptop and wasn’t able to use it for a week, right when I was returning from three weeks of travel. So, no new post last week. However, a cheap mac compatible USB keyboard has me back in business, so there will be a new poem up on Monday.

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poem01 Aug 2016 07:59 am
Lawrence Alma-Tadema [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lawrence Alma-Tadema [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Every night she bathed in a tub
afloat with crimson roses.
She broke them at the throat,
set them to ride the tepid water
like boats at peace
before she let the soft robe slip,
let herself slip in, slip under.

Opening her eyes, she saw
the bodies of the blossoms bob above,
blood slowing
then crescendoing
as she held her breath,
took herself to the point
where lungs demanded answer.
One beat beyond.

That’s when they came to her.
The women.
The water a wavering barrier between them,
she remained unseen,
as if a dreamer moved amongst her dreams.

The first woman huddled underground
in a wet woolen coat,
shoulder to shoulder against anonymous others,
hat quavering while bombs shook the dank tile walls.
The bather tried to comfort her,
words bubbling out till she choked on them
and surfaced spluttering,
the connection severed.

The next night she tried again,
but the Londoner was gone.
Instead a woman in skins kneeled before a fire,
starry sky glimpsed through smoke,
heeding an elder’s tale told in an unknown tongue,
while she beaded the long black tail of her daughter’s braid,
each bead a response to the teller’s syllables,
the woman beading her own history,
a tale of love and kinship.

The bather wandered each night,
sampling lives.

Someone in green velvet and a long pale plait
fled through stone corridors,
hands red to the wrist.
Someone met her lover
in the forest shadows,
shedding jeans and vows.
Who were they?
The bather stopped asking.
Accepted them as hers.

Afterward, hair dripping onto terrycloth,
she would arrange her collection in her mind
like a gardener planning a herbaceous bed,
pretty maids all in a row,
day-lilies amongst the dormant daffodils,
ragged child beside the weeping queen.

One night rose-water brought her to
a true garden.
Somewhere. Somewhen.
Night. Summer.
Almost she could smell
these other roses, candle-white,
star-burning in the darkness
where a lady waited
—why?—
in lilac silks.

The bather swatted away
the moth-thought that this time
she had been seen.

Grey eyes insisted
on being met.
The woman spoke.
“Where are you? In what world
do you float among red roses?”

Underwater, the bather could not answer.

“Who are you?” the silken woman asked.

For the first time
in any world, someone asked,
saw her.

The next time the bather stayed under,
would not rise past the floating roses’ heads,
ignored the urgency to breathe.

Splutter and violence and upheaval done,
she opened her eyes to
the white-rose world.
Night. Summer.
Silk.
Ready to answer.

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poem25 Jul 2016 07:42 am

624px-Phobos_et_Mars_(Celestia)

the old man told her bedtimes stories of when he was a child
not much older than her and the flames cupped him
on the way home
you’d miss the open air, they told him
and Glinna believed him when he said he never did
nor the blue marble, the swirling clouds, and terra firma
it was my job already, he said, and I was not afraid
of the stars, not anymore
than I was afraid of the light that showed me the way
down the darkened hallway
and back to bed
where I dreamed of the moon, possibly transferring
to Mars, and I got my wish, you see; I’m here

and out the window, she looks
Phobos and Deimos
in the face, and Glinna is no more afraid
than the old man was
who cared for her
in Asaph Hall

the other beds are empty
their one time occupants but shadows now
splashed upon the wall
and the ink smears
their names on the contract signed by their parents
gone too into the harsh environs
buried in the rust-orange clay
not unlike their ancestors in the mines of Wales
or buried at sea
consumed by fishes and dreams of California gold
it makes no difference, in the end
it was a speck in Brownian motion that she saw
at the bottom of a telescope
earth
if only she could go there and see
where Man had begun
to struggle
and to die, but the crushing weight of it all
she couldn’t bear
no, she couldn’t bear
it was better here, with the old man
and the toys of peace, if only
she had other children
to play with

in time, in time, the old man said; but then
he’d be gone, like the others
and she’ll have grown
to take his place

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poem18 Jul 2016 07:46 am

Paolo_vetri,_museo,_1875,_03

Queenly robes,
the arms of lovers,
even skin’s soft, elastic grip
she no longer can recall.

Lurching from alley to avenue
she clumps her clumsy way,
murmurs muffled beneath
numberless folds of linen
brittle as uninked papyrus.
She has forgotten words.

Empty,
she is empty,
nothing within
except the heart
missing its metronome.
She does not tick in time
with the rest of the earth’s hours.
Like dream-people, she does not breathe;
the absent sound of inhale and exhale
dizzies her,
makes the world awry.
How could you miss so much
something you’d never really noticed?

This long wandering takes its toll:
she sloughs off wrappings
like a snake its skin,
yet no new supple self
emerges audacious and unblemished
in the wake of loss.
Her denuded brown feet
shrivel, mortified,
flesh laid bare in the most intimate revelation.

Another inch of cloth shreds;
with its end’s unwinding
an amulet for luck in the afterworld
clinks to the pavement.
She hears it
but its music has no meaning;
She doesn’t bend to retrieve it.
It would contain no clue
to what she’s searching for:
her name,
even the most trivial memory—
whether faience beads or carnelians caressed her neck,
a dear friend’s laugh,
the taste of figs,
was there a child?—
something of life,
something of self to hold onto.
Nothing comes.
Her wrappings trail her in the dirt
like the ribbons of a careless dancer.

Fumes of myrrh and cassia rise,
another amulet clinks to the ground,
as she unravels.

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poem11 Jul 2016 08:04 am

800px-Liao_dynasty_stone_dragon_sculpture

Atenlea is a peaceful place,
but still a place of man,
& deep inside, man fears nature’s fury.

So, from the very first distant clamber
they take note.

It starts as a distant murmur of tumbling rocks
that perks ears & lifts heads.
A clatter of rockslide
where no rocks are loose.
Soon it grows into the rumble
of an earthquake or tornado.

Like a field of busy mice suddenly met
by a family of hungry cats, they flee.
Slow & weak
trail behind the scatter of raucous panic.
In minutes Atenlea is left
with those few who cannot run, the left behinds.

Gradually they limp & crawl
to benches that line
the north side of the town square.
Seven humans gathered
to fight fear & meet fate.
They console
& ready themselves for anything.
Anything except what greets them.

The noise & trembling ground
are no work of nature.
They come with the Cobblestone Dragon.
Hard round sections of his being
clatter & rumble & roar
& freely roll within.

His long thick tail follows
as horizontal avalanche
as he walks slowly & deliberately
placing each step carefully
to avoid destroying the city
or the retinue of unhearing creatures
that surround him.

Fully in the town square, he stops.
Seven stare, blinking & unsure,
confused at a dragon with an entourage
as diverse as a fever dream, cleaning
the tracks of the Cobblestone Dragon.

Quietly the dragon speaks.
He asks who & why. Surprised
the seven speak haltingly at first.
But as the strangest town meeting ever
wears on
they find sharing life stories easy.

When they are through, silence falls
until one timid & bent-legged child
asks the dragon for his story.

Silently he ponders
his troubled but welcome existence.
He travels once more
the long road of his past.
He begins where he was conjured,
pieced together from commonest remains.

Suddenly
charged with life
he was born thrashing & roaring.

All fled, even she who birthed him.
He was alone.

Until he met other dragonkind
he didn’t even know
how slow & awkward he was among his kin.

Only with time did he understand
the dignity denied him in creation.
That realization began the quest
to gain what was missing.

On the way he learned that
every dignity, like every face
is unique.

Ages have passed since then
but he finds no rest.
And now
recalling his long & difficult life
he is certain he has no words
to make these humans understand.

His magics
like the stones of his creation
are of the smallest & commonest kind,
but he believes they will suffice.
From within comes a vision
charged with the heat of his desire
& tailored to each who see.

Visions would be enough but he does not stop.
He ignores the drain of his exertions
& reaches within once more.

With a touch
he heals these humans
who have given
to his heart & knowledge.

For a time he rests
but his desire never fails.
His quest resumes
with a slow walk away from the city.
Little has changed
save that his retinue
has increased by seven.

Days after his departure
the populace struggles home
amazed to find Atenlea intact.

The clever among them
find traces of the dragon’s passing.

Eventually, seven are missed.

Conclusions are drawn & stories told.
Throughout the countryside
guards & lookouts are posted.
Those brave enough, are sent to scout
but they find nothing.

In time danger fades & memory grows.

Seven stones are set in the graveyard.
Songs are written.
Tears are cried.

And as years pass
the day’s events become
but one more chapter
in the bloody legend
of the Cobblestone Dragon.

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poem04 Jul 2016 09:12 am

Anton_Seder_Blackberries,_Raspberries,_Goldfinch
the god of deep, dreamless sleep
     the goddess of crisp waking
        the god of cool, morning light

the goddess of salt and sanded waters
    the god of wave-tumbled pebbles
        the goddess of low tide treasures

the god of dappled shade
    the goddess of that breeze in those trees
        the god of the story those winds tell

the goddess of groggy heat
    the god of sweat raised and razing
        the goddess of ice on that skin

the god of bread pulled from the oven
    the goddess of summer-warm blackberries
        the god of the peach trail down your chin

the god of recall
    the goddess of remembrance
        I am alive I am alive I live

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poem27 Jun 2016 09:00 am

Bertall_ill_Les_Cygnes_sauvages2
My son, my sun, fly towards
a moon brighter than cat eyes
peering from the dark, grab
angel wings like a devil
denied so long those delicate,
delicious features.

Clouds will be your sign of royalty,
the crown upon your
heathen brow upheld, as flighty
subjects honk your praise
and name. It was your father’s,
slip into it like a shirt.

Ground left bereft of you will never
kiss your soles again, as you
are blessed. Blue, weighted sky above
will just crack open, an Easter
egg with a yolk of stars and
night to be devoured.

Will you remember your mother up
there when her hair tickles
your back as knotted rope?
When you stretch my dress and flesh
to soar and bones to steer?
Will you, at least, cry for me when it rains?

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poem20 Jun 2016 06:42 am

Wu_Zhen._Twin_Pines._180x111,4_cm._1328._National_Palace_Museum,_Taipei
girlhood maps we drew
pencil forests covering a table
no rivers or cities, just forests
of pine trees stacked arrows on arrows
parallel trunks to ground

you were a duchess and i was a robot
i was an empress and you were an elf
i was a warrior and you were a warrior made of gold

this
is the point in the story where you lose your shine
in college I learn I’m not so smart
age branches us to fond distance

but
you never did
i never did
it never did

instead we were white ghosts in rice-stepped mountains
instead we pulled weeds from the desert

now your daughter is an elf
and a warrior and a map of trees
now

we seek the linchpin of the moon

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