Wednesday, April 27, 2016

That Dense, Dark Vine

At the Coffee Garden
—Photo by Jane Blue, Sacramento, CA

—Jane Blue

We are always seeing, always
how deceitful memory
mutates into fiction.

When I was a child, I believed
if I had the key I could walk
into a painting
and disappear there.

Big aromatic leaves of nasturtiums
encircled the house and I would
fling open the casements,
lean out and inhale the fragrance.

I never was really young
but I was innocent.

Memory is circular.
You began to call me "Fiend,"
my handsome maker.
I was no longer
what you intended.

I searched and searched
for that child I remembered
seeing my monster reflection
in cottage windows

All the way out here
in the howling winds
and the icy wastes.

(first pub. in Fragments, an internet collaboration
edited by Dean Pasch of Munich, Germany)

—Photo by Jane Blue 

—Jane Blue

This is a meditation on death.

It starts with the agapanthus, a short
agapanthus tucked under a tall agapanthus:
perhaps cousins of the same color,
perhaps a different species. Both a tropical
azure blue.

Wait, death will come, but first the one flower
of the short agapanthus hatches like a robin chick,
pecking at its green pod, which hangs on
like a shard of eggshell or the egg tooth. I can
almost hear it chirping.

We saw doves lay eggs in a basket on the porch,
the mother and father both sitting on them
and hatching them. None of the hatchlings survived.

The individual spikes of flowers of the tall agapanthus
at first almost glow, but in only a few weeks
they droop and fade; and the same
with the short agapanthus.

And a butterfly sits in the tall agapanthus,
let's say it's a Monarch although it could be
the smaller, duller Viceroy.

But let's say it's a Monarch, king of butterflies.
It twitches its wings, then folds them so that the butterfly
is just a line barely seen while it sips agapanthus nectar.
Then it opens its showy wings and lifts high
into the realm of the sky.

I have seen crowds of migrating Monarchs cling to eucalyptus,
a brilliant orange and black display in Monterey,
and some dropped laconically to the ground for a sip of dew.

And some hadn't enough energy to rise back up.
This is a meditation on death.

There are four stages to the butterfly's development
and each one is a new life, a resurrection of sorts.
And each life is very short, as all life is short.
Even ours. It is all relative.

And then, if the butterfly makes it through its four lives
it mates and dies. And the eggs hatch. And the cycle
begins again.

This is a meditation on death.

(first pub. in Fragments, an internet collaboration 
edited by Dean Pasch of Munich, Germany)


—Jane Blue

My mother dropped me off at her sister's
in the country, to be watched. I remember

chicks hiding in a box like a suit or
a wedding dress might be stored in

partitioned by flimsy cardboard strips
making little rooms for each ball of fluff.

I gingerly lifted the lid and woke the chicks
at once in a din of cheeping. And hearing

my aunt's footsteps in the hallway, quickly
dropped the lid; and then she rushed in

at the racket and the silence, opened the box
and saw the neck of one chick snapped.

Those exed-out eyes, irrevocable death. My own
lifetime murder following me down the years.

 Ginger Monster
—Photo by Jane Blue

—Jane Blue

The ants marched up from the cellar
through a crack in the bathtub caulking

twelve abreast. No wonder they're called
an army. We sprayed poison.

What else can you do? If only we were
Zen enough to whisper, "Go. Sweethearts,

you don't belong here." But instead
we committed genocide. Now

a few disoriented stragglers stumble
on the basin, zig-zag and finally

turn to inert black dots. They go to the sink
to die. And I want to cry for them.

Is this how God feels?

—Photo by Jane Blue 

—Jane Blue

Instead of a ghost they have hung
an effigy of death in the doorway.
His cowled and grinning skeleton face

slues around under the eaves like
the lynched from a tree, sailing out
on October wind that scatters dry leaves.

His arms are held out like the crucified.
His robes are black, his bones are white
and he is thin. He is so thin, he's

transparent. He revolves toward the house,
the sun piercing his robe; he revolves
toward the street, blessing the north,

the south, the east and the west.
"Come, come, you all must come
some day." But he is just tissue paper!

Death is just tissue paper! The children
scamper in and out of the house
ignoring him. They are not afraid of Death.

 Digitalis Purpurea
—Photo by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA 

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

A vibrant hummingbird-silhouette. Wings beating,
guiding her droplet body by impromptu tilts
from this dart to that dart, then into a random seating
atop that vacant space wherein she flits;
what can it be that distracts her from the downplunge,
bill penetrating the next fruit-redolent blossom?
She hovers toplofty as kites, reluctant to lunge…
or it may be from high up the vista looks awesome.
Merely a college campus wherein she hovers—
could she, as do students, have need of an overview?
What first heights do we climb finding our loves and our lovers?
No, in her world, she values the overscent:
what nectars tomorrow will string for her beads of fresh dew?
What keeps her wingbeats buzzing unspent?

Before the dark closes in, tasting of rain and ink,
much winged rumination to do—can she smell gold?
How it fuses with thin silver layers behind the cloud-fold?
The radiant medium yields her both flight and drink:
Not only the welded silver and gold cloud glows:
she’s sipping up ozone, or is it the death-of-day’s rose?…

 Fern and Iris Grove
—Photo by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan

—Tom Goff
        in memory of Charlton Ogburn, Jr., Shakespeare scholar

He seeks out the ouzel, watches where lapwings run,
when freshly hatched or just curious-close to ground.
Observes how daybreak paints choughs’ heads red with sun;
trains hawks, knows eyries where their young may be found.
He knows the feral human, yet how often staggered
by the animal’s Machiavelli calculations,
how quarrels lighter than hatpins may bleed whole nations.
For him, love’s as wayward as veers the high-soaring haggard.  

Cerinthe Major, Early Buds
—Photo by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan

—Tom Goff

A soft-voiced Iranian student, her face distressed.
She explains: her husband has died; some thirty years sick
from the Iran-Iraq War, since the day a great bomb,
a chemical bomb, burst near him with unknown toxics.
How can my benign smear of words be of help or balm?
I wonder what use to embalm him for his long rest:
the bodies our souls have left become void, turn gulf,
this gulf simply Persian-vast, left beside her where he
the man she married and loved just now beat pulse,
gave touch, stood straight though stiffened with agony,
rasping in breaths with what we might take for asthma.
From where martyrs of revolution revved with zest
sent soft-bodied motorcycles with rocket grenades
against bristling trenches. Thick as the Tigris’ reed-glades
heaved waves of boy soldiers. Into our human miasma.

The silence as Whitman affirms it: a man as divine
as myself lies dead. It must be found in the Quran.
My friend freshly widow grasps how the dense dark vine
drops its clusters. And she declares her semester goes on.  

 Eucalyptus Trio, Early Season
—Photo by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan

Today’s LittleNip:

—Tom Goff

Skaidra the sleeping beagle dreamspeaks:
soft-nosed little plaints, edgeless wee whines,
droplets that ping into steel pails brimming with leaks:
buttery brood-murmurs, raptures of feeding, desiring,
shadowy pup-bellies tucked under tails and spines.

Papaver Somniferum and Honeybee
—Photo by Stacey Jaclyn Morgan

—Medusa, with many thanks to today’s fine chefs in Medusa’s Kitchen!

 April is National Poetry Month!
Celebrate by spending some time with 
one of your poems which you've already begun—
finish it up, polish it up and send it to Medusa's Kitchen! 

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