THE CAPTIVE MOON
(After "Dreamscape II", watercolor by Julia Cairns)
The low moon must be ransomed from the three bold
trees that have trapped and hidden the moon between
them—but the three moon-rescuers are moving in
arduous slow motion across the dreamscape to where
the sky is too heavy for the ground—where the trees
are pretending to sleep, and the caught moon seems
unaware of the three figures yearning toward it in
their red dream-dresses that serve to announce their
mission—each with an enthralling story to mesmerize
the three trees and make them release the stolen moon.
(first pub. in Peripherals, Rattlesnake Press, 2009)
on the high wall,
the low sun
blazing the stones
to fiery shadow,
will not have her;
even the moon
must leave her there,
not knowing why
or for how long
or with what loyalties
due to widows; her cries
are the harsh cries
of stolen time.
she dances till
the hem of her dress
is thoroughly ruined and
the evening crows fluster around her.
POEM FOR THREE VOICES
(After "The Grief of Cafeterias" by Donald Justice)
What does poverty care for love, she asked, and rose from
her chair and flew through the window. But he was not there
to answer. He had used the door. The room twirled in con-
fusion. The child played quietly in the dark curve of the turning.
Room after room repeated this—rooms of stolen light bulbs
and solitaire—the child turning the cards while the mother
soared against the ceiling with the white moth that was so
beautiful. We must kill it, the mother said, handing the broom
to the child.
The child learned to fly beside the moth through the scene-
changing years. The cards learned to tell their own fortune.
The rooms simply changed the walls and windows while
the mother learned to sing with the voice of the child who had
learned to harmonize.
She rose from herself on a true day of being—healed and
forlorn for all days done—for all loves loved—for all
false seeing, and opened herself like a door and went
through to her own freeing, where, for a moment, she
held fast and was not harmed, and was not sent back to
You are not the slender man
I have arrived to know;
you are as wide as a book.
How shall I begin you?
For once you are stolen from words
all over the countryside, mountains,
and tiny roads and in-between the
landscapes seen from airplanes.
And there was one star in the sky
when I arrived, as seen from the
third floor window, to be pointed to
and exclaimed over, foreign to Canada
and Mother’s one good eye.
Why are you just a book
I cannot begin? I have waited all day
for this remaining three hours behind,
wired to the difference,
and I avoid the beginning.
A new book is always savored
and waited for, or rushed at,
if time is eager. How can I narrow you
for the composition.
I will say now and you will open
your first page and speak to me,
and I will say yes or no to your thought
while I think my own.
Is this how we are to be, hesitate and
jealous, guarding ourselves from the
confrontation, set in ways that are
simply foreign, nothing to do with
eloquence or poetic realization.
THE ART OF QUESTIONS
What am I doing for myself these days? I am an
old postcard, never mailed. Too much to say.
Never arrived. Too much silence. I am having a
wonderful time. You should have stayed with me.
We would have studied the whole conversation of
ourselves late into the art of questions and answers
which are rarely true to each other. You are an old
regret I memorize. How do you like being famous?
Out in the margins of my life are descriptions and
useless explanations. Now they crowd me into a
letter so rambling and incoherent it would be better
if I had not written it to you.
THE EMPTY CANVAS
How paint a burning canvas—
the old day’s sunlight reaching now
where I would risk a flower
or try an abstract thought
upon this vacant spot
at which I stare
waiting for some image
from dimmest recollection.
Alas, the sun has lowered now
and left a formless afterglow—
making no claim, where I would put
a rose or abstract thought,
or try to paint the inexpressible….
THE DAYS LATER
the whole day made useful with work
and what it needs now
is to quit running from itself
(don’t glance in mirrors, Alice,
you’re too old for that now)
(first pub. in Little Harlequin,
Choice of Words Press, 1998)
THIS POEM, NOT MY OWN
Again I steal
words stolen by another—
recreate, rewrite, re-say.
Who will know,
its incarnations . . . . ?