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.

LETTERS FROM NINEVEH

1.

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.

2.

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

3.

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

chanterelles


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

4 Comments:

At June 08, 2007 8:30 AM , Anonymous marly said...

You have published in good places...

Of course, that's not very surprising!

Perhaps somebody will see this one and the others and want to put them in a book. I would, if I had my own little private press.

 
At June 08, 2007 10:53 AM , Blogger jarvenpa said...

I used to have Hogarth Press fantasies (that is, creating something along the lines of what V & L did back in the day). Who knows.
As to good places--yes. I have been pretty much a snob about where I have sent my poems, and fortunate that some places I liked liked them. Hilda Raz at Prairie Schooner was, as I recall, the very first editor to respond with enthusiasm, back when I was but a young thing.

 
At June 09, 2007 9:12 AM , Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Yikes, this is so darn good!

I got completely lost in it, and will print it out for re-reading (the kinesthetic need must be fed.)

I hadn't seen the post before writing/posting my own short bit with card imagery -- it's always nice to see some blog synchronicities among The Young Crones.

:-)

 
At June 09, 2007 11:04 AM , Blogger jarvenpa said...

Your own card poem is excellent, Lori. I just darted over to read it. The images on cards--be they Tarot or playing cards--hit archetypal stuff, I think. (or maybe I was an English major too long, back in the day!)

 

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