Monday, December 5, 2011

previously published poems

The Blue Flame (published in Skyline)

When I step there
you and I are swept
into the past
and the future
all at once.

When the joy-light
leaps from your heart
through your eyes,
it bathes me--
washes away
my well-tended walls
that you asked for.

I can't help myself.
I've always known you...
we've ruled together
in some ancient culture...
fought for the frontier
in a newer culture.

How long can you
hold off
the brilliance
of this blue flame?

I'm beginning
to fall into it
and all I want
from you is
the pleasure
of standing near.

Insufficient Funds (Hudson View)

People can die of
a broken heart
you know.

I can't afford
that look on your face.

There isn't enough
in my piggy-bank
saved up for you.

Don't hold me
that close,
I forgot where I hid
the cash under the mattress.

Don't say things like that:
a foolish girl
closed the books
on this one
a long time ago.

She got
carried away,
and spent
oh so much
all in one

In memory of Bessie, Kathleen, Addie, and Cora

Farmwoman’s Initiation (after the style of Sappho)
(Between, Journal of Pacifica Grad. Inst.)

When you were young, Bessie,
with golden hair tumbling to your knees
you caught rain in a magic bowl
and washed your hair there.
The goddess knew what you were about.
Then rain and mystery you gave my mother,
she, the sweet one, of silvery laughter’s darling,
and then to me, the uninitiated.

I was brought to rain’s softness
and you called me to be brave
go out and walk barefoot in the dew
with nothing on but my nightgown
made of pale moonlight
now diaphanous in the morning sun.

Is there no relief or understanding
of the pain in my womb, mothers?
These nymphs have dug up
the sacred sassafras root
boiled it and blessed it
given it to me to drink.
A potion from mothers to daughters
from that sacred thicket
and all is well—only good has come of these things
since Aphrodite blew her kisses.

Bears (Alchemy on Sunday--PGI)

This one I’ve never heard
but I remember the old mountain story
about the woman who is tricked
and hands her baby over the fence
to a bear who she thinks is her husband…
and I have dreams about bears
they change into people and change back
I change into a bear and change back
I sit in a tree and sing to one
until fierceness turns docile
like a puppy.
I dream of looking out a high window
below is snow
a black bear is rolling
I see the moonlight reflected
on his belly.
god, I miss those blue mountains
it’s a pain in my throat and the only place
that causes me to cry when I see it and when I don’t.

So we’re all kin and we’ve all married
our kin and we continue to find them
we continue to look for their twinkling eyes
in the hills of every place.
One may come lumbering out of a cave
give itself shape apart from the trees
look like me and feel like me.

Why do I miss it? The thing I’ve never had?
it was a distant backdrop to my childhood dramas
but a visit is a visitation
the place where mist is at dawn
where I fished on the Shenandoah
where morning glories dot even the sun.
Stories of bears reside in my flesh
what is commonplace there
becomes extraordinary elsewhere.

Aunt Han Ran may have used a broom
to chase that bear off her back porch
I’ll invite him in to sit by the fire
dust the snow from his fur
and ask for all the things he knows.
I’ll bid him stay till spring
he may tell me where the treasure is hid
or what enchantment he is in.

I am close in nature and nature
is close inside me. Woods and Mountains
become my house and call me.
if I don’t have you covering me
I dream of bears and an ancient wooden door
and my daddy calls and tells me mountain lore.

Mother Moon (Sojourn UT@Dallas & UU church cville onlin)

Shall I take up this conversation again?
A question from me
that rises to mother moon.
Yet if I cannot believe her
who can I believe?
She speaks of hope
of beauty
of change
in nightly perspective.

“Remember, I reflect,”
she says…
the conversation
doesn’t stop here
it continues
in whoever gazes
who chooses to see
to hope, to reflect…

Baptized in the James River, Richmond, Virginia 1978
(Alchemy on Sunday PGI)

The brown James
old with blood
caught my body
when I was old
with youth
standing in the current
I died to the old
rising up
I was born to the new.
Arms brought me up
too weak for such
symbols of power
we danced on the water
danced on the shore
too young
for such an old
tired brown river.

In memory
I can’t believe myself
but in the mind’s eye
I see a familiar:
the muddy James
an old waterloo-
sad city
an old tired religion
letting go
into the river it sinks.
There is comfort in murk.
Who can tell the difference
between death and re-birth
when being lost
is the song
of the river?
When having lost

murmurs from the shadows
under the tree branches?
All is symbol

for such a river.

The Missed River (Between PGI)

In the dream
the river wide
flowing quickly past
Great Aunt Grace, my father, and I
without words
watch the river flowing.

The Shenandoah
muddy river skimmed
with dancing dragonflies
surrounded by mountains
our blue and purple ridges.

The river full of memory
of generations of us.
The river flows past
with the story of time
once upon it we boated
fished for catfish
what a lot of trouble they be.

In the dream
we watched the river flow freely.
I turned to great-aunt grace
one hundred years old
puzzled as to why
she had come back from death
to be here watching with me.

She answered,
“I missed this river so much.”
My daddy behind her smiled
they had both crossed that river
but came back to join me
in the watching of the missed river.

In my end is my beginning…

T. S. Eliot, “Four Quartets”

This robe of snow and winter stars,
The devil take it, wear it too.
It might become his hole of blue.

Wallace Stevens, “Snow and Stars”
in Ideas of Order

Wilderness (Between)

Leave your name behind
enter here to seek
that which you wish
find that which
you are not looking for
do not think of intentions
or of boundaries
this is not a place
where in the dark
you can find your way
by touch
this is not familiar.

Yet in this forest
it is quiet
the silence in-between things
my breath forms a cloud
the night sky is loud
with stars and trees
stand tall speaking
with only posture
the sky now shiny black
has begun to drop feathers.
I forgot how snow
makes no sound.

Memories float through my
waiting mind:
(what is it I’ve come here for?
but to allow the cold air
to come in a snowflake pattern
through my mind
heavy with fixity)
in the garage
my brothers and I
will wax the toboggan the sleds, the skates
find the hockey sticks
tomorrow is full of plans
of nothing, but snow.
Indoors is enemy territory
land of temporary Mom
refuge for numb fingers,
then urgently must
get back outside.

Once my brothers built igloos
from the world of nothing
came a white entrance
into nothing-ness
where only children could go
so many crammed in there
that it became—something
and lost its play.

Now I feel compelled
to build my fire
dry wood is in my pack
I want to see what will happen
when I mix fire and ice.

Though I’ve built fires before
and watched them until
a chemical change
came about in my brain
and time and safety
made a home in me.

Now I want to see
how fire alters this beauty
a landscape outside me.

It is this deep painful desire
for beauty that drives me.

When the flakes hit the fire
they say “ssssss…”
I watch and the night dances
snow, trees, air, stars, fire
they watch my sudden fluidity.

I laugh as I consider
in snow-less Dallas
how stars and snow
also dance here together:

unintentional pearls.

Deep in the forest
is an enchanted princess
each night she sits
by a water-well
she takes off her mask
of ugliness and her beauty
shines forth like the day.
She weeps tears of pearl
and so unintentionally,
by happenstance,
leaves a trail
for her past
and her future
to find her.

“He stood among a crowd at Dromaair;
His heart hung all upon a silken dress,
And he had known at last some tenderness,
Before earth took him to her stony care…” W.B. Yeats

Rainy Night (Sojourn UT@Dallas)

Sparkles in the night

dark early falls

sinking deep

to feel in this mood

something primeval

the beautiful old void

delicious grey

tinkling drops

where fairies live

though this wet is

wild and gloomy

it’s an intravenous drip

to the desiccate imagination

now that my feet are warm and dry

and my heart

is all wrung out

and set before the fire

like a silken dress.

Spring for Edwin (Parabola & Skyline)

I went out to meet
the wind half-way;
something new is always
turning up,
though the crows complain.

When Mom died
Daddy went to the ocean
to meet the tossing--
the change halfway.

It should be winter
longer than this.
For a very long time
I should be buried
in snow.

It seems wrong
that the very day
you were buried
change should ripple
out in such a way--

Everything blooms in shock.

The spring equinox has come
and someone else will
be the teller of the seasons
since you are strangely silent.

Yet the master of language
you are, now speaks
in perfect metaphor—wind,
the red-bud tree, the deer
in the back yard...

You continue,
my heart is in some
snowy place.