O welcome to me now.
You have remembered me
and are here.
Come close to the fire.
I am cold.
Hold my hands.
They are shaking to touch you.
Dry the rain from my body.
I have been standing outside
looking for you.
The bottle is only half empty.
Pour the wine.
Tell me why you have come.
Never mind the real truth,
tell me the lie.
What have you brought me
to make me love you?
Let me tell you why
I leave the door
and the windows open:
The wind is afraid to enter!
Did you know
you are braver than the wind?
(from Nocturnes, Frith Press, 1995)
Bent there with many matches
you light the green wood,
feeding it paper.
How slowly it catches.
We read the papers fast
so you can burn them. All winter
you bring in branches and scrap lumber,
balancing the result between them,
filling the old black stove
that is rib-thin but useful to us.
It isn’t a leaner year than any other,
but we are colder.
She is coming toward me with her hoop.
But I don’t like her fire-ring, or the way
she seems to burn on the other side of it.
She is wearing red tights, her bright face
smiling in the heat-waves, her too-white
skin pouring out in shimmering directions
through the flames. Her unlit hands hold
the fire-hoop steady as she bids me leap.
(first pub. in Poetry Bone, 2001)
The burnt trees—hillsides of them,
here and there a roof-top—
scorched but saved.
And the sky—thick with wind-borne
stench and flare—the fiery sunsets—
the quiet that remains—like a hum
—like the hum of a great chorus
building its crescendo
to a wail.
And how many animals were too slow?
For years the hillsides gape—for miles,
the charcoal-sketches of dead trees.
WHAT FIRE WOULD SYMBOLIZE
The glass birds on the mantle draw the vein
of dying fire that burns its fluid way
into the lifeless centers to dismay
incarnate sparrows, animate with pain;
for something moves below the lucent grain
of sculpture—call it light, or call if play
of Life—but something enters them and they
pulsate with its last efforts to sustain.
Crystal attempts what fire would symbolize;
the force that is transparent in closed wings
pumps through a strange dimension not its own.
the fire burns out—the glass birds do not rise,
for life cannot exist in soulless things;
yet, in the mirror, two glad birds are flown.
(pub. in WN&Q; The American Bard [Page Poet], 1966
and My Stranger Hands, Wagon & Star Publishers, 1967)
YEATS, BY FIRELIGHT
Ah, it is only love that he loves,
so quietly sad, so melancholy,
the drama of his loneliness,
sitting by the fireside
with a book
and letting his mind stray
—to love, of course—
those who have it
and those who do not.
He is an icon in the firelight
of such great loss.
How can he bear it!
Ah, poetry, of course—his,
and the words of others—
recalling the loves he almost had,
filling the past with memories,
perfected. He is contented enough.
He has the sympathy of the many
who feel the way he feels.
COMING TO THE FLAME
here comes death now
on its little gray wing
I can hear it down the hall
I have lit a
low candle for it…
oh moth… oh moth…
(from The Hearkeners, Charas Press, 1973)
—Medusa, with thanks to Joyce Odam for today's poems and pix, and to Robin Odam for stepping in when Joyce's email went snarky (curse those mailer daemons!). Joyce's computer woes have spawned our new Seed of the Week: Everyday Daemons. Send your poetic thoughts and pictures about same to email@example.com/. No deadline on SOWs, though—write about this or any other subject. The snakes of Medusa are always hungry!