poem


poem11 Feb 2019 08:14 pm

Marsheila Rockwell

The statue of the selkie in Mikladalurm, photo by Siegfried Rabanser

The clouds roll in
Soot and silver
As he sets the table
For two
Candlesticks and roses
Their subtle perfume lost
Beneath the scent
Of impending rain

It’s their pearl anniversary
Thirty years
Since he met her
On a tempest-tossed sea
The grey-green waves
Reflected in her eyes
Her long, dark tresses
Mocking their fury

He pulls the chair back for her
And waits
As she makes her way slowly
Across the kitchen
Leaning heavily
On a driftwood cane

She is about to sit
When the storm breaks
Lightning flashes
Thunder
Once distant
Booms
Shaking their seaside home

The power goes out
And suddenly he sees her
As he had
Once before
In all her feral
Otherworldly beauty

Limned with electricity
Night-black locks
And sea-hued eyes
Shot through with sparks
Commanding the elements
To turn aside
From his crippled vessel

Then the lights blink back on
Her image resolves
And she is herself
Hunched and wrinkled
Her eyes bright with wit
But nothing more
Her white hair captured
In an untidy bun

He adjusts his glasses
“I think
I need to get
My prescription checked,”
He says
Shaking his head
In bemusement

“Yes,” his wife
The earthbound
Lovebound
Storm goddess
Replies
With a gentle
Secret smile
“Yes, you really do.”

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poem04 Feb 2019 08:00 am
photo of statues at Suissa, By Amitabha Gupta – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64364171

Lisa Bradley

Chipping gems from the eyes of angels
Leona ransacks the sacred statuary.
The night guard was easy to overcome.
On the ceremonial brazier halfway through
his circuit of the gardens
Leona lobbed a handful
of sweet-smelling pellets.
When he warmed his face and hands
wrinkled as walnuts
the resin laid him out.
Anyone who finds him will assume
he's been felled by sleeping sickness
leaving Leona free to flit idol to idol
prying with chisel and knife
until the collection of precious irises
clicks in her pouch like chatty insects.
 
Ever testing the limits of colleagues,
Desi tries to change the terms:
Will Leona consider a trade instead?
On offer, a vial of powdered
unicorn hoof and horn said to heal
sleeping sickness if sprinkled
on the sleeper’s tongue.
No doubt the powder is real;
Desi is wily enough to source
commodities others kill for.
But Leona demands coin to buy
bread needle thread, ale millet meat,
knowing Desi haggles out of habit
(forgiving him is her own)
and the Entrepreneur of Illegality
might even think he’s doing her a favor.
 
Coins chiming like bells in her pouch
Leona crosses the cemetery.
No one dares follow after dark.
On the other side, on cobblestone streets
Leona trails millet from her pocket,
awaiting a crackle under other boots,
a shadow flushed to the corner of her eye.
Once home, she leaves her boots on.
Mama won’t mind the mud.
Mama’s sleeping and has been for months.
Even so, Mama’s eyes shine, moonlight
glinting off the mirror shards
Leona, laughing, lodged under each brow.
Why would she want Desi’s cure?
For the first time in Leona’s life
Mama looks happy to see her.
 
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poem07 Jan 2019 08:00 am

echo of thunder and those
seaside sirens going off
and you and I will have to talk
since past misdeeds are too often
buried in shallow graves

I should’ve known
and I should’ve guessed
I’ve known you too long
to play at ignorance

you grew those flowers out of old bones, didn’t you?
old bones and rotting flesh
it all makes good, black earth
until they bring out their spades
and start digging

illustration is a street mural by Alexis Diaz and Chilean artist INTI
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poem24 Dec 2018 08:02 am

She once was
Winter’s bride to be,
but she gave her heart
to Autumn.

She knows
Winter’s wrath,
his bitter-cold breath,
knows she is bound.

Winter was not pleased
to hear of her betrayal.
So with one icy blast,
he tore a hole in her throat
& then blew out her eyes.

She longs for
sweet September mornings,
sleeping lazy, sleeping late,
the smell of Autumn’s skin,
his dear touch just before
he entered her
with the bounty of
all his knowing.

illustration by Enrique Meseguer, darksouls1 on Pixabay.
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poem17 Dec 2018 07:49 am

Against the face of night, a white moon hoves
into view; a hostage, bound and fevered
by a titan’s gravitic caress.

Responding to him, trammeled
by a fellow captive’s jealous chains,
her inner ice melts, yielding
to the sweet torment
of gravity’s exquisite duress,
bending and quivering,
buckling and shivering.

Four parallel scars rake down her belly,
left by a celestial tiger’s claws;
she bleeds ice-mist in torrents,
trailing veils of crane-down behind her,
shattered wings.

She wraps herself in her mist, pressing snow
to her breast to conceal her ravaged, pockmarked skin,
bleeds out her essence to the void,
heedless in her ecstasy,
leaving a trail of frozen tears behind.

Those feathers that do return to her,
as she’s slowly devoured by her lover’s
ungentle embrace,
fall back to her skin like knives of cold stone.

Self-destroying, self-creating;
blinded by her rapture,
she whirls around her beloved,
entranced; while within her laboring core,
dragons struggle to birth themselves
through the caesarian cuts
left by the tiger’s surgical claws;
strive to shatter the shell of their mother,
their ice-white egg.

The heat within her heart
that engendered them,
will, in time, spell their dissolution,
when she gives herself up to her lover entirely,
dissolves herself and spreads out
as a final shimmering ring
of transitory ice.

And so, with each pass
of the orbital dance,
the universe pauses,
waiting to see
what kind of fabulous monsters
have been born.

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poem10 Dec 2018 07:33 am

On this flimsy, sea-sodden paper
I write your favorite words,
spell the color of your eyes,
the feel of your lips on mine.
But the wind won’t tell me
where you are.

I was an angry thing,
forgetful of my vows,
unwary of my passion.
Now I would call you back,
forgive you your transgressions,
as I ask forgiveness for my own lapse.
One sin should not excuse
the tempest I unleashed.

On what far shore does your body lie wrecked?
The winds won’t tell me.
I would blow you home to my arms,
let you weep repentance there;
a weeping man’s alive
and capable of redemption.

Sand will blow in upon the waves,
in years restore the shore in a new shape.
The leafless trees will bud.
Survivors will re-people the isles
that shuddered at my tantrum.
But how shall I rebuild?

They say when a wind-catcher violates
her truce with the gods
the winds keep silent forever.
They do not lie.
I strain and hear nothing,
just the creak and strain of
broken branches,
the groan of leaning timbers,
the scattering of someone’s unmoored photographs.

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poem26 Nov 2018 08:17 am

A gentle distortion draws me:
my voice, but deeper, a register
I recognize from wistful dreams.

As I sleepwalk the stone basin,
an elf owl yips, rousing me.
I glance back to the ridge where

friends wreath the campfire.
Exhausted by exile, my chosen tribe
sleeps dreamless as the night is moonless.

None misses me yet, so I spiral down
to search out my other voice.
Deep in want, I’m engulfed,

unaware I’ve entered the earth’s maw
until Death titters to itself
in bird and bat and lizard bone

snapped underfoot. Ahead
I sense a void but still I walk
the narrowing corridor, my elbows

scraping the earth’s craggy throat
and I wonder, When did I cover my ears?
Perhaps some counter-spell unwinds inside me,

for, fear remembered, I crouch to crawl
to the cenote’s oily-mirror edge.
I stare into the eye of the stone

eager to greet my siren self—surely taller,
broader-shouldered to shelter our deeper voice.
Instead, glaring back is the girl I almost forgot:

Limp-braided. Round-chested. Survivor.

She is the vessel of my dream.
To drown her is to doom him.
Both are equally Me.

I recoil from the cenote’s edge.
The hungry ghost churns my reflection,
raging but powerless to force sacrifice

from mere disappointment, not despair.
I flee the ravening dark, running
toward night, firelight, friends.

Up and out, I emerge
knowing the moon is not missing,
merely waiting.

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poem19 Nov 2018 07:34 am

The villagers, unable to tell them apart,
burned our healers and the witch
leaving no one to save us
when the Black Death finally came

Fleas mounted on rats
bent on rape and rapine
crashing through our defenses
like a stone through cathedral glass

Alone on the pyre of my wife and children
I hear their laughter and their cries
their faces surging up through the cold, gray ash
the haunting stench of good meat gone bad

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poem05 Nov 2018 05:16 am


You were too timorous for us,
old husk that weighed us down
like an anchor.
You cared what gossips whispered.
You stalled and repented and wept
when we would have leapt.

The scarlet silk called to you, true,
but in the end you had a grey soul
more suitable to prim pumps
or straight-laced oxfords
than for dancing slippers.
Seven-league boots would have done for us
almost as well
but you’d never have tugged them on.

Once the red shoes wrapped around us,
we knew we were meant for more
than sermons and solicitude,
cradles and kaffe-klatches.

So when you cried out to the woodcutter,
we rejoiced,
glad to be cut free of you at last.

Dance, now we dance!
Out of shadowed forests,
away from the cemeteries,
beyond the suburbs,
to crater’s rim and glacier’s hulk,
through blizzard and sirocco
to foreign cities’ din and crush.

You couldn’t grimace through the pain,
reach that place where you
forget the audience,
forget even yourself.
But we know—we know!—
we never needed you.
Pirouetting through the theatre of the world,
we are the Dance.

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poem29 Oct 2018 08:09 am

On every stair and fence and wall
icons and idols remind us of the fleshy
seed-stuffed bounty of our Goddess
during this her yearly festival
and sacred celebration.

Even in the chrome and marble foyer
see the altar loaded
with black and orange offerings
to Our Lady of the Winter Squash.
Our golden goddess feeds the world.

Give Her bones and blood
the best foods for the soil.
Please Her with images
of her sacred animals: crawly spiders
in massed grey webs

scattered with dry-sucked corpses,
flapping bats that feed on flowers, fruit
and blood,
and arch-backed cats
as fecund as the night.

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