August 2016

poem29 Aug 2016 07:25 am


Black’s what I see first
when I peer into the depths,
before I catch the silver swimmers,
underglints of cyan or amber—
the shadings of each separate soul—
my ethereal jellyfish.

Demure Anemone, tendrils of pink
blushing crimson, forces
a foreign tenderness into my heart.
Tempest, pulsating galaxy,
encourages in me a dreadful urge to shout.

I curse this tendency to name them.
I must ignore the stirring of my own spirit
as Golden Sparrow or Purple Koi flits past.
They are not pets.
As man of science I recognize
my mind’s habit of personification.
I must refrain.

Think of mermaids.
They were just reflections, after all,
of the human desire to meet unearthly beauty,
men’s desire to possess in woman-form
the subtle shapeliness of the sea.

I cast my line,
trail my metaphysical hook
in circles, skips and starts,
like any fisherman his bait.
We don’t know yet why
some souls choose
to answer this invitation.
Those re-vivified remember nothing
of the life-between.

Do they guess my purpose?
Hunger for a second life,
or selflessly decide to serve?
Do they sense me?

I only know that some souls leap
to my line, eager
—it’s these I’ll tug
toward second corporeality—
while others flee.

Nagini, emerald temptress,
seems to sniff my line
before she darts away.
I war with myself,
yearning to catch her,
yet also wishing her to remain free,
roaming the Animasphere at will.

When I began, it was Science
I served, and humanity,
granting resurrection of a kind
to the comatose.

But I must admit that now
it is the act of fishing I love most,
observing the dance of souls
within the Great Bowl,
waiting for the tug of the line.

painting by Dmytro Ivashchenko, released under Creative Commons
poem22 Aug 2016 08:05 am


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.

poem15 Aug 2016 08:35 am


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 –, CC BY 2.0,
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.

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
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.
Ready to answer.