Grass and trees lie tended. Soaring birds
stretch their wings in an August-blue sky.
Under this peaceful scene, long ago,
I remember this road--
the march behind my young sister's coffin,
the deep purple songs as startled birds fled the nest,
and my heart seared in this slow-winged farewell.
Huddled in sorrow we walked the road back.
Deep in the winter, some years later,
like transparent black angels
we walked by my mother's bier
her flower-soft final bed.
Cloaked in snow, the wind helter-skelter,
strange birds screamed
as we walked the road back.
I played the panpipe and sang
as years of healing passed
for the two who had left home forever.
But my sorrow became all the more.
My brother wound away in mid-life--
soon my father, my heart's treasure
entered the earth as a dog howled
amid the grave mounds.
Broken, we walked the road back.
Today, under a chrysanthemum fresh sky,
as magnolias stand guard, row upon row,
I write poems, plant beans as months pull me along,
live between heaven and earth....
I see I've become old, my hair grey,
since first I walked the road back.
March 1st is a day that's very big,
It's the national day to celebrate the pig!
National pig day, don't ask me why,
Gotta honor the pigs before they die.
I don't mean any pigs any harm,
But I have no love I don't live on a farm.
If I did, I'd love to have one as a pet,
But here I'll just have a bacon baguette.
One pig we might not celebrate,
Is the pig we all love to really hate.
Cops, cops, they're always working,
The streets are never safe when they're lurking.
But what else about March? St. Patrick's day,
The day that people drink to decay.
You can maybe go to the local parade,
But I guarantee you won't be drinking lemonade.
You'll be drinking green beer and puking it up,
Then you'll be asking for yet another cup.
St. Patrick might've driven out the snakes,
But the ones you see in your head are fakes.
March 20, the first day of Spring,
Everybody come on, get up and sing!
Everybody's singing, even the birds,
We're singing in unison, we sound like nerds.
Also, Easter, time to repent,
You ate a cheese pizza right before Lent.
Easter, 1 out of 2 times you're in church a year,
And as soon as you get home you have a beer.
None of us are saints, this much has been revealed,
You pick a spring flower from a nearby field.
You're grateful that snow doesn't cover the ground,
A new year's come with the joy that you found.
Winter is something that we won't mourn,
Spring is the time to be reborn.
And so, as we enter a springtime paradise,
We say, "Winter is gone, isn't that nice?"
Till summer is here and the heat is unbearable,
And so to your mind comes a great big parable!
You won't go to church 'cause there's no air conditioner,
So you tell this to your local parishioner,
He says, "I was hoping you'd be attending,
Otherwise you're going where heat is unending!"
So you show up more often than Easter or Christmas,
Instead of isolating like you were on an isthmus.
The message you receive though not too late,
Is, "Keep your hands out of the collection plate!"
You feel like a sinner, but there's still hope,
They even made a saint out of the pope!
So March is a time, where we feel those ides,
Getting into cars and going for rides,
You don't even feel bad, when people are informing
Everyone you know about global warming!
So let the great weather be your muse,
The month is March, and it's a month that we choose!
Stand with your back to a wall, as flat as you can.
Then, stretch out your arms, palms wide open.
Now, pretend you are a man who hangs on a cross.
Look out at the world below, at some far off trees,
then the sky with wisps of indifferent clouds,
and geese, flying like a wedge of dust. Try it.
How long will you keep your arms up there without
thinking about the warm body of your lover close?
The smug smile of your enemies beats against
the pain in your arms. A melody by Bach rises up
in memory like mist. Stand with your back
to a wall and pretend you are crucified, pretend
to reach for help, but nails thwart your reach,
pretend to speak but your tongue is dry, pretend
to forgive, or to sail the white yachts in the harbor.
The wall is cold. You can't see the darkness behind,
only an audience of ordinary eyes. Maybe you pray.
Now, walk again into the business of your day.
Did you know that politics
Is nothing but tricks?
A stone-cold illusion
That spreads nothing but confusion.
It's an elitist pageantry of fog:
'Who will be our next obedient dog?'
Republicans and Democrats--
There's no difference between the rats!
Speaking through the same voice,
Pretending like we have a choice;
Trying to impress every country
With this so-called "democracy." Rule of the people (*wink* rich)--
Our famous sales pitch.
It's a charade that's tainted and flawed,
Where the disenfranchised (minority and poor) cry: fraud!
Where Diebold controls the box by remote
And the dead come back to life to vote.
Independents are always squashed,
Defamed and white-washed.
Only the elephant and the donkey?
Then, are we the monkey?
Uncle Sam screams: "Choose either A or B!!!"
Where's party number 3?
4, 5 and 6?
A typical election fix!
Welcome to America:
Home of politricks
You ask me what I will do
with my one wild and precious life.
The question comes too late.
I can't go back, undo ordinary days,
can't leap into a wave at twenty-two,
climb to the peak of Mount Olympus,
bike across Europe, sail to Lebanon
or photograph wildebeests in the Serengeti.
But I can revel in the memory
of Uncle Norman, more wild
and precious than all the approved uncles:
Uncle Norman walking with us
in fields of wild flowers and butterflies,
showing us rattlesnake eggs
in their rubbery white shells,
turning us loose to chase lightning bugs,
pointing out constellations,
pushing the rowboat from the shore,
casting a line into the water.
But Mary, your question is too big.
I can only rise at dawn, ask myself
what I will do with this one
wild and precious day.
I will not write about the devotion of slaves to their masters, the benevolence of masters toward their slaves, the culture that leisure has allowed the masters to develop, the habit of hard work that has been instilled within the slaves. I will not write about the widows and orphans who would be destitute were it not for the slaves they own, nor of the morality that the religion of their masters has instilled in the slaves. In the cause of a greater good, I must reject both the half truths and the claptrap.
I will not esteem a human on the basis of how many other humans he owns.
I will not accept as "honor" the notion that a white man is better than a black man and the laws and codes of conduct that enforce that notion. And if the father has done wrong, the son gains no honor by repeating it.
I will never accept that I have a right to own another human merely because his skin color is different from my own.
Then by the end of this century, slavery will be rare, and the world will find slavery and slave owners repugnant.
And if anyone argues that these changes will come about not through any advance in human morality but through economic forces that have made slavery unprofitable and obsolete, I will not argue; I will only applaud the consequences.
It is 2008.
I will not write about the camaraderie of a group of men thrown together to kill or be killed. I will not write about the sacrifices of our ancestors as they fought so that our country could prevail over another. I will not watch photographs, paintings, and films that glorify war. I will not watch parades or listen to speeches that extol the virtues of those warriors. I will not reiterate the advantages that combat brings to our rural and urban poor, opportunities to see other nations of the world and to develop the habits of discipline, obedience and respect for their superiors. I will not reiterate the benefits to the peoples in the lands we conquer, the presence of our young people and the plans our leaders make for their nation's future. In the cause of a greater good, I must reject both the half truths and the claptrap.
I will not esteem a human on the basis of how many other humans he can kill.
I will not accept as "honor" the notion that a person should journey across the globe to kill people he has never met in the cause of lines drawn on a map. And if the father has done wrong, the son gains no honor by repeating it.
I will never accept that I have a right to kill another human merely because his nationality is different from my own.
Then by the end of this century, war will be rare, and the world will find warfare and warriors repugnant.
And if anyone argues that these changes will come about not through any advance in human morality but through advances in weaponry that have made warfare unprofitable and obsolete, I will not argue; I will only applaud the consequences.
Your beautiful images carved
in the ordinary hard granite rough stone, or
smooth white or black marble stone sculptures,
for that matter -
in any stone that is available,
would enthrall us
as your celestial beauty
the stones display.
You must have commanded the goldsmiths
etch all the details on the designs
of the silk muslin "Pitambara" clothes
with their silver-thread wide borders,
and the multi colored diamonds,
rubies, emeralds and sapphires embedded
in gold-silver mixed metal idols,
and also gave orders to the sculptors
to skillfully carve all the details
on the hard, black granite or
the transparent marble stone statues.
You must have given also
a strong warning to sculptors
not to paint over on
the carved sculptural images of yours
but only given special permission
to the artists to show
your heavenly beauty
in descriptive paintings and wonderful murals
on the temple walls
telling the grand life stories of yours.
The subliminal images are permanently
imprinted on the hearts and eyes of the devotees.
The carved beauty of yours,
majestically stands straight,
holding conch, wheel and a club
shown in the transparent rose marble stone -
description of which
is beyond the human comprehension.
Hoping to fill our hearts
with a flood of heavenly light
flowing from the corners of the
ever joyful and smiling eyes of yours and
aspiring to get mesmerized,
we stand in front of you.
For we have come traveling
hundreds and thousands of miles,
from four corners of the world,
to have your Devine Darshan
even before you get up from your sleep.
Instead of seeing your crystallized beauty
that enthralls every one,
we see to our amazement,
loads and loads of garlands,
bundles of bright colored cloths and
the shiny necklaces, chains and
strings of all kinds of beads
submerge you fully
like the road side grown creeper plants
growing as they like - uncontrolled and wild.
All these decorations hide you from us,
not revealing who really you look like.
You have never belittled not insulted
these decorators and the temple authorities
by refusing whatever they offered,
whether they are up to your liking or not.
What a compassionate God you are!
My only wish is to see you
in the same fashion as you appear
in the Holy City of Vaikunta
when you give audience
to the gods and over-gods.
Won't you grace me
with the good fortune
of seeing you
as I wish
at least once
while I am alive
to bless my life.
The sun god Ra at dawn
the window violates
chasing the midnight demons away.
Our strings of dreams scuttled
into the tightly-wound bags of hope
closing secrets, revealing dark lies.
The new day brings new demons,
it's only a Mystery that keeps it going.
The gossamer strands off God's finger
bind the wreckage of our daily nothings
while our struggle entangles deeper
into this spider-web called life.
However different our thoughts,
interests, or daytime worlds,
when we lie down together at night
your hand reaches for mine.
And the first thing I know each morning
is your face pressed to a breast,
my leg sandwiched between yours,
our fingers intertwined.
Comfortable with self, with you,
with being needed by you,
I am affectionately yours
and you are mine.
Skaters dart across the slender
Curve of moon. Darkness wanders
Into the furthest corners of the universe.
A violin blossoms and re-blossoms.
I cry out wanting to keep my youth
My bones like silver purses
Holding joy, my tendons-
Silk ribbons, my blood
Whipping me to speed in crimson rush.
I dance until the piano lies empty
As a seashell and I fly out of myself
In the great shining blackness.
Wind stirs my hair and bells my green skirt.
Clouds drink down the moon...it disappears.
In the dark
I know my way by heart;
I feel the balance of my body as I glide
And hold a spiral, fling my whole self
In air, curl my limbs tight
Breathing hidden starlight.
Still I see nothing
Yet I feel perfection.
(Published in Quantum Pulp, 2007
from Benedictine University)
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