poem


poem11 Mar 2019 08:00 am

Deborah L. Davitt

A giant loomed in their sky, swollen,
striped, and possessed of white-staring eyes;
the children of the trees paid homage to their titan
with bark-strip baskets filled with fungal cakes
each time he stole and ate the sun,
hoping to fill him up enough with sacrifice,
that he’d vomit her back up again,
release his hostage,
as they huddled in their homes.
 
In the long dark, the cold came,
and strange things flew upon the air,
screeching creatures who swooped down
and stole the unwary, who strayed too far
from the safety of the Tree’s mazy branches,
inward-turned and crooked into a labyrinth
that only the children could follow.
 
When the sun peered over the horizon,
staining the air with bronze, the youngest gamboled
in the maze, leaping and gliding, branch to branch,
finding leaves and fruits to eat, stockpiling mushrooms
against the titan’s appetite, and drank sweet sap
from under the bark that they stripped away,
while their elders hunted the huge and clacking beetles
that bored into the Tree’s heart;
they traded those shining carapaces,
those iridescent wings,
to the maddened children who’d forsaken their Trees
for lives of stone and metal in the mountains
or lives spent wresting crops from the ground in the plains.
 
The mad ones told the children that a house of stone
was proof against the nightflyer’s rage;
that if you traveled long and far, there were lands
in which the titan never ate the sun;
the children laughed to hear such tales,
proof of the mad ones’ insanity.
 
But when their crop of fungus failed,
they wept, for they knew the titan’s hunger;
to ensure that the sun would rise once more,
they prepared for him a greater feast,
selecting the youngest of their number.
 
To their dismay, he fled the honor
of being sacrificed to the swollen monster in the sky;
he fled to the mountains before night fell,
and found to his surprise,
more welcome in a house of stone
than he’d ever felt within his Tree.
 
Three hundred cycles of light and dark passed
before he returned to his ancestral Tree,
carrying blades of blackened earthblood
and with stories and truths to tell.
 
But when he arrived, he found that his Tree
of all the forest, stood withered and sere;
the tribes who lived in other branches,
claimed that all those who had dwelled within,
had set upon each other two hundred cycles past;
some had fled to other Trees and other tribes—
the rest had fallen to lie among its roots.
 
He found their skulls and vertebrae
tangled among the lowest vines—
he asked them softly, what had passed,
if the titan had indeed punished them,
if their deaths were, in some way, his fault.
 
The wind soughed in the branches,
but the dead ceded him no answers.
And looking up at the titan above,
he left his ancestral tree once more,
never to return.

illustration is Megalith Grave in Winter by Johan Christian Dahl 1824
Share
poem04 Mar 2019 08:00 pm

Bruce Boston

Wind from the blast
ripped half the roof
off the venerable
building and broke
most of its windows.
Shelves have fallen.
Others are leaning.
Books have toppled
to the floor, spilling
their cargo of words
to an indifferent sky.
 
Snow, rain, and wind
have entered freely,
and the dampness
has invaded all.
Even deep in the
stacks a faint stench
of mildew prevails.
Wild mushrooms
sprout in the dark.
 
Librarians have long
since fled this shattered
ruin in the shattered city.
There are no students
hunched over their studies,
no old men leafing through
newspapers from cities
where they once lived,
no bored wives searching
out romance novels.
 
Yet the deserted library
still has many patrons.
Creatures small and pale
come in great numbers
to tunnel through one
volume after another,
devouring one letter
at a time until they
have the last word.

Share
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.”

Share
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.
 
Share
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
Share
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.
Share
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.

Share
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.

Share
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.

Share
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

Share

« Previous PageNext Page »