Friday, June 13, 2014

Liberating With Love

—Photo by Martie Odell Ingebretsen, Sacramento

(A Tribute to Maya Angelou)
—Sharon Mahany, Roseville CA

Thank you, Miss Maya,
            for sensing the profound and universal
            in your own piteous story,
            for sharing the words of eons
            after “finding your own voice within”
Thank you, Miss Maya
           for proving yourself “a child of God…
           …light shining on your face”
           for arching your “rainbow in the cloud”
           pouring out hope to the hopeless
Thank you, Miss Maya,
           for singing to us all—
           for holding up the mirror to
           our violent acts and un-American ways
Thank you, Miss Maya,
           for speaking your single truth,
           the voice of courage,
           grabbing hold of our political collars and
           shaking us down to our bones
We are grateful, Miss Maya,
           for your persistence as the “People’s Poet”
           for as a people,
           we are blinded
           by our own shadows
           and see not until shown.
           You are a great “spark of God”
           and as you have shone
           (as ember, spark and flame).
           You dared to brighten your light
           to the highest of height
We thank you, Miss Maya,
           For “liberating with love.”
           May we follow your lead and “like dust… rise.”

Quotations from the following sources in order of occurrence:
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,”  Maya Angelou
Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Soul to Soul with Dr. Maya Angelou May 2013
Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Soul to Soul with Dr. Maya Angelou May 2013
 “The Star” Kenya: Tribute to Maya Angelou, People’s Poet,” May 30, 2014
Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Soul to Soul with Dr. Maya Angelou May 2013
Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, Soul to Soul with Dr. Maya Angelou May 2013
“Still I Rise” and “Miss Calypso,” Maya Angelou

—Photo by Martie Odell Ingebretsen

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

A daughter of the sun, you are the sun
in essence, meaning you hold radiant heat
within you that self-renews, One born from the One,
the Source from the Source. You never mind defeat
but rise from your daily downing in the Ocean
Sea-goddess’s watery mantle. Daily repeat:
twist dying into a lifestart barely begun.
Cycles of self-redemption seem unsweet
except to one who strikes up holy laughter,
unsacred gusts you fire up when you hit
a fool against his foolishness, flint on flint,
and if the consequence appears of no matter,
still, did you stir blushes of guilt up from one hint?
Who pokers the coals of thought sun-red with wit?

Who pokers the coals of thought sun-red with wit,
who fans the insurgent flames into cascades,
white firefalls that render obliterate
lost Saturnine moons? Who chills the near stars to shades,
ghosts of spent light, in contrast with your radiance?
Yet this is not all your task: who made you so bold,
you toiling your daily up and down the gradients
of galaxies blessing whole worlds with heat and cold?
For you are My Lady Transubstantiation,
the coin-face of the cosmos and its obverse.
Whole comets and meteors pay you oblation,
for at your breast the highest of gods has nursed.
Angels instinctively know you for the Lasting,
the Here and the Elsewhere, Woman of Coming and Passing.

My Here and my Elsewhere, Woman of Coming and Passing,
flare of the solar wind, word of belief
and whirl of onward hope in the death of the last things,
you are the sunray daygiver and the grief
whose monotone lament’s the cricketing shrill
shrill click of hard wings upon legs, doom to twilight.
You are also the waiting, the patience, the still,
expectant, star-glistening, transitory night.
By now do you know, my Saules Meita, yourself,
the Nora-as-metaphor? Or why write at all,
if not to pass inside your guard by stealth
and speak of your lovely traits before nightfall?
My nightfall is the worst sin I can commit,
and you the daystar absolving me of it.

And you the daystar absolving me of it,
of that, and that, and this, and whatever is
the meanest thought I think up in a fit
of rage, self-pity, all the sandblasting hiss
and plume of hot fumes in me. You know too well
to stand for no tantrum-ego problem child.
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell,
says Shakespeare, but no heaven was ever wild
with this brain’s crack. My guide, you’re not just guidance;
you soften me, but you are not merely softness.
I must take time to listen: quiet abidance
you’re abundant in, when I’m lost in my lostness.
Be Saules Meita, lofting both you and me
somewhere transcendental, behind the skies, but free.

Somewhere transcendental, behind the skies, but free,
awaits a parallel Latvian dimension,
a Latgale, Zemgale, Riga never in history
where, wreathed in birch forests, rūķīti hold session.
This is the Northern summer minus a winter
where your mischief and sunlight, Saules Meita,
rule over all, and Earth becomes no cinder
scorched crisp by unbending beams, because here Fate,
apart from the death-cycle, insulates Earth from sorrow.
Saharas dissolve from infusions of cooling vapor.
Yet you peel away clouds brooding over tomorrow,
dry teardrops before they can stain the love-letter paper.
There you can perform what here might put us at risk.
Is this why we twist our gaze away from your disk?

Why do we twist our gaze away from your disk?
Don’t stare at the sun, we’re told, or you’ll be blinded.
That is the obvious reason, and so we whisk
misguided child-eyes from too much light. We’ve minded.
But keeping our vision clear and pristine holds drawbacks,
if this is our way in all matters, always cautious.
Do voyages not mean sinkings, are there no claw-tracks
painting us in our blood? Must life be luscious,
a saunter from tree to tree for low fruit after fruit?
Lead us into our temptation after dangers:
you stride between light and night, you grow the root
whose extract makes us betray ourselves to strangers.
Teach us drift to and from the other realms:
are we not shipmates mastering strange new helms?

Are we not shipmates mastering strange new helms?
I must have the gentlemen hale and draw
with all the rest, if this tempest should overwhelm us,

cried Sir Francis Drake, in the teeth of the flaw.
He held his ship, and all other ships, in line
ready to brave and batter the Spanish Armada.
You are the light when all things clean and fine
shine down from purity blue, and, Saules Meita,
glow even obscured  behind cloud’s vineyard tangle,
the thunderhead city, the fortress of tropic depression,
the rack Shakespeare complains of, shutting off angles
—and yet you come piercing with manifold intercession.
Pray for us, Light of Lights, or leave us undone.
A daughter of the sun, you are the sun.


Today's LittleNip(s):

—Carol Frith, Sacramento

A snake? I've forgotten how to write
a serpent. Quetzal, with your feathered scales
and brother to the moon? A god, not quite
a snake. And I've forgotten how to write
about the moon, who slept with you, her light
a memory that all light somehow fails.
Bright snake, I've forgotten how to write
about you...Quetzal with your feathered scales.


A little craziness for a poet is better than a little laziness.
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


Our thanks to today's poets and Martie the Photog for livening up the Kitchen and bringing good luck to us on this, Friday the 13th. Sharon Mahany is a newcomer, and our welcome to her! B.Z. is a continuing friend who has recently gone through some surgery and whom we keep in our thoughts day by day. And Tom Goff, spry lad that he is, had a birthday this week and has his 18th anniversary with the Fair Nora this coming Sunday! Some of us were around when the lucky event took place, and are so pleased to see that it stuck. 

Tom has been musing on Medusa's contributors over the years, and here are some comments he made: I notice that besides the different formal experiments and meditations in poetry, Medusa's seems to be a haven for light verse, Robert's, and Caschwa's [to which I would add Kevin Jones' and the late Michael Cluff]—that endangered species (odd to have to say, since poetry these days so often seems fueled upon irony), but a needed one in the poetical ecosystem....

About the poem he sent us today, Tom says:
Here's a little set of ditties writ for Nora's and my anniversary (18 yrs. and counting), to the tune of ancient Latvian paganism...

Medusa's Kitchen is celebrating a bit of an anniversary itself—May 30 marked nine years that we've been cooking up poetic delights for the NorCal community (almost) every morning. Our first post was in 2005, with Carol Frith's "Quetzal" (see today's LittleNip for a reprint). That's a poem that I badgered and coaxed out of her for Rattlesnake Review's "Snake" issue—remember that? Anyway, wish Medusa a happy anniversary as she continues to get longer in the tooth.



—Photo by Martie Odell Ingebretsen