Saturday, June 30, 2007

another poem


The summer sun was bright

sweet as licked candy those hot days

Cooling our bodies in the green waters

We closed our eyes. We believed

even the sunlight loved us. All our games

were dotted over with stars. We shone

in each other’s light & turned & turned

our hurts minor & kissed away.

It has been dark now for some time

shadows taking our hands. One

by one our friends are not here

I can’t see who it is, there, far

in that cold shade, the golden leaves

fallen all around, such tired children,

who in that darkness calls us in.

(too tired now to figure out where I first published this; I think Prairie Schooner in the last few years. will correct later if I am wrong; on deadline, but felt like flinging a poem to the winds)(well, my sense of who published this is correct, but the timing is off: this one is in the Fall 2006 Prairie Schooner. I think my sense of "a few years ago" has to do with the time between acceptance and printing; though in the case of this poem, there is a longer journey: Yankee accepted it just before their poetry editor was informed that no longer would they have a poetry page; thus it came home, and went out again, and again, and again...till resting in the friendly pages of PS)

Friday, June 22, 2007

yes, plums sneak their way into many of my poems


Smoke on the mountain

you don’t come back to me

these nights of breaking

Ours was a china passion

doomed to edges

willow leaf or crow’s feather

We did not imagine this

blue distance

landscape of blackened roses

in the year of bitter plums

They fell too early

We pretended they were sweet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wild Plums

For Frank

Plums ripen, greengage & saintrose

dangling worlds

in the leafed shade, staining

my daughter’s white dress

drawing the summer wasps, the ants

Between breakfast & lunch in this ordinary

daylight the sky splits open

or the spine, as a book.

Death changes meanings.

The end is not the same

If I were to hold you now

how light, a film of salt

& ash on my wet palms:

my young children

weigh my arms, those plum bushels

& though I look for you

straining my eyes against the late sun

& the wasps’ flash & sting

red rover, from your dark country

no one crosses over

(it is a bit like sending little paper boats out along the gutters, this flinging of old and new poems into the internet world. And I never really liked the painful game Red Rover. This was one of the poems printed a long while back in Prairie Schooner; it was on my mind because of the recent deaths in my life, including the death of the father of my highschool love. The man never liked me, for many complex reasons, yet I found I cried when the news came. And it will soon be the anniversary of dear Frank's death as well. The year has intricate memories).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Marly says one never stops revising (or something like that)


In the sepia photographs of happiness

you stand in your unaccustomed suit

married now to the heart of a new city

wearing an orchid on your lapel

We think it will last, happiness

You told me of that boyhood

shooting arrows, killing doves, brown

& sweaty among the lathered horses

When you squinted at the sun

shadows fell behind us. It’s the church

of high noon, the dazzled orchard now, &

yes, I too grew up. It’s a dizzy toss

rice and confetti, bullets & roses

your scheduled seductions

In my high cabin I repeat

the voluptuous histories of light

where morning jewels the clouds

glinting like pigeon feathers, my soft life

still iridescent, shattered, & still warm

(somewhere on her own Palace at 2:00am blog she noted that..that a poem isn't ever quite finished. Marly Youmans, that is. Now, as for this one...well, some things are still not quite there...a bit too precious at some corners, and perhaps a bit too...well, I don't know. But I like parts a bunch. )

Sunday, June 10, 2007

yeah, another poem


Darkening of the light. I haven’t seen you

for weeks. Meadows unfold brocade

acres of embroidery, brodaiea

& meadowlark. Even here, back to the sun

I keep thinking I could meet you

Yellow book says: Be crazy.

If there is no bread, taste the stones.

Suck this bitter stem. If there is no water,

Wait. Rain tastes of tears or kisses.

Missing your life, find it. Throw it away.

Hawks fly from the dark daily

double winged, single hearted

(I did a series of poems based on the hexagrams of the I Ching; Hexagram 36 is indeed "Darkening of the Light". This one was published in a relatively local magazine called Soujourners (not to be confused with the excellent spiritual/political magazine of the same name printed, I think, in DC and edited by Jim Wallis. I think.)

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

some of the nineveh poems

my dear reader Marly (who is a superb writer, both a novelist and a poet) notes how difficult it is to read poems on a screen. One wants to hold them in a book, with the sunlight dappling the beautiful heavy paper and read them in some distant and lovely place, looking up now and again to watch--oh, I don't know, to watch one's lover smile or one's children playing or the way the clouds drift against the hillsides. But failing that, I am continuing to toss a few of mine up here on this screen. The one below, in three parts, was published by Prairie Schooner a long time back. There are others in the Nineveh series, but this was my favorite.



When the Tower fell I was there

in my oleander dress leaning

from that high window

rimmed with rose & jasmine

not having your body to lean against

Here in Nineveh death takes a long time

also love, that clean unveiling

& the unfanciful bounty, body’s truth:

when the skies fell how could my broken

hands not be open

who sought you so long

against the shattered daylight.


The days go by in Nineveh

& the sharp nights

Last week the sea birds flew

here by inland light &

I could taste again the salt

dried on your skin

Then it was always summer

We tried words on innocent tongues: apple

peach, plum; bird in the wet grass

sleek hair, my new breasts

in your hands

To reconcile

death, lust, grief, love

takes such a long time

In these long dreams

I meet you, holding out a glass

empty or full, sweet, bitter

I can’t guess where we are

to meet again; some white room

or garden, some pleasant hell

accustomed as my cards

cups & swords, king here, lost queen

lost summer skies

How was it so easy once?

Now at the boundary

I hold to what is left, the broken

light through these plum trees

the empty air, the unmade

bed, door open


Against the boundaries

of our broken lands

I look for you, still water

these long times

In the south gardens

the early fruit is gone

& the foxgrapes come

& quince, scenting

the bare rooms

& unripe persimmons

bitter lantern

in the open woods

My children hunt for earthstars

the white angels & the good


which smell of your skin

Rain settles

its familiar touch

on these intimate

bends of river, crevices

of sandstone

With my hair blown

across my wet eyes

how will I know you, my life

walking the dark road

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I Return Your Secret Names

I Return Your Secret Names

It is still raining here at the western borders

drop on drop pelting the circled waters

The coltsfoot’s sweet spires flare out

beside the crossroads. Once, remember

we cut wood together here, rain sluicing

our naked faces. You were perhaps innocent

as your children. I was no more innocent

than the snake gladly in spring weather

spreading my body over the warm stones

luxurious & now & then shaken

by the seductive poisons of this world. And now

it is the time of marriage, your second wedding.

Your bride is lovely as a fig tree, a blond country.

You ask me for the angles of cold stars

You hope for stellar certainty, a silver

future, you who once crossed

this body of earth with gold, & do you

remember that savaged landscape?

I return your secret names, my life

written under your eyelids, my taste

of fir sap & young bitter ferns

erasing itself gently & forever

from your mouth, from your seeking tongue

(this poem came out some years ago in Poet Lore. And what can one do but let go, sometimes. )