Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Balance Point

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Here's the balance point.
Persephone goes underground.

Bodiless, Medusa combs
the snake-tangles of her hair.

I carry bits of grain in my pocket—
seed for a mouse, or another season—

as Demeter's daughter travels
below last summer's roots

twining like Medusa tresses
in soil, almost root-bound—

wishing only to be pulled out
by the head, released.

A rabbit running snow-trails
pauses, twitches, gazes

up at the moon—that old year's
stone face—and, without meaning

to, throws back the live
light of his starry, brief eye.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

the girl a woman with an idea:
baby at breast
nest waiting
the boy
the girl’s mother as villain
the girl
the couch in the dark
the boy as hero
the kiss the hand
the girl as mother
baby at the breast
the nest waiting
the girl’s mother a dark fury
the separation
the girl in heartbreak
the boy seeking a home
to bury his fatherhood in?
the girl
the couch
the dark
the boy as hero
the mother as villain
the girl as mother
the baby at breast
the nest waiting


—Patricia Hickerson

he was passionate
lust and desire shone from his eyes
romance, expectation
big guy, muscular athletic and smart
all the trappings
loved the classics, music
a university professor
low, caressing voice
quoted Shelley his favorite poet
what a guy! his students loved him
enough to fulfill any woman’s dream

passionate he was—but not for her
only for shapely racetrack horses
mares, trotters, ponies
all the beauties
racing their hearts out
coming around the turn
snorting, fuming, wild eyed
like the gamblers sweating it out
Churchill Downs, Belmont, Bay Meadows, Golden Gate Fields
across the ocean Ascot, Bologna, Longchamp
he was everywhere placing his bets
Reno, Tahoe
at Harrah’s SportsBook, at OTB parlors
this unseemly coupling with strange creatures he never met
never shook their hooves hello
never patted them on the nose if they won for him
no appreciation
only if he lost, then blame the jockey, say it was fixed
the horse was doped

wild ride, dark dream
of winning money and throwing it away again
his dream
she wasn’t included


—Patricia Hickerson

she wants a bicycle, dolls
she wants to be wrapped up in a rug
by a boy who is 12 years old
she’s 5 but she wants this boy
he is dark he looks like an Indian
he tries to lasso her
with a rope thrown from his barn window
they play cowboys and Indians
she is the Indian princess he ties to a lamp post

she wants to be 14
carry lipstick in her purse
she wants to wear perfume
she wants to dance with boys, kiss them

she wants to write poems
she wants to drink a Manhattan
the way Daddy makes it
in a small glass with a cherry floating

she wants to read many books
she wants to stare at the stars, recite Keats
she wants to write novels
she wants to take the subway
the bus get out of town
get out of Jersey
cross the bridge to Manhattan
commute to college on Broadway
walk the lush New York streets
eat French onion soup, listen to French songs
party at fraternity houses

she wants to browse through museums
she wants to hang out in bars
she wants to get married
she wants to lean up against him

she will have babies
she will have lovers
she will marry the world
she will never be happy
that’s not what she wants


—Patricia Hickerson

starlit by Venus
her spirit wheels in the sky
installed as an evening cry
a deep bell clanging her call to pleasure

in life she sprinted across wetlands
courageous in lust, hostage to joie de vivre
the daughter from Romano
Venetian mainland swamp
kidnapped from her husband
enemy in the sometime wars
by the troubadour Sordello
on family orders they fled—
she the muse for his poetry

her untamed song
haunted by siblings debauched in Paduan blood
their reverence for murder
mayhem manslaughter massacre—
she mourned her dying countryside,
the carnage-coated landscape
pine forests painted scarlet
maples crimsoned, oaks, larches fired to ash
lapwings singed, screeched the pain of man and horse
fallen to earth

so Cunizza, bright mirror of mercy
throned in compassion,
sang the starry lyric: love protects us
here, there, with this one, that one,
4 times pawned for marriage she never sought—
connubial interment opened her soul
her voice straight from the throat
throbbed in their ears
so they would never forget
even after she died an old lady in 1279

Cunizza…child of a Ghibeline warrior,
descended from a German general,
with her own hardy abandon
released her slaves
her guttural outpour jarred women’s ears
set the tone for their peasant sound
raging against tyranny, tolled down the centuries
among leaves and flowers along the marsh paddies


—Patricia Hickerson

the rain, she says,
can’t stand the rain
as she sprints thru the park
slips down to the subway
rides across town
elbows through crowds
dodges the rain
enters Bloomingdale’s
riffles through racks
runs out to Lex
buys the Times
reads the weather report
can’t stand the rain
reaches her apartment
heats up coffee
hugs her dogs
sprawls on the couch
shuffles cards
plays the Ace
snubs the Queen
honors the King
screws the Jack
looks thru the window
admires the rain
from a distance


Today's LittleNip: 

“The older lady harrumphed. "I warned you, daughter. This scoundrel Hades is no good. You could've married the god of doctors or the god of lawyers, but noooo. You had to eat the pomegranate."
"And get stuck in the Underworld!"
"Mother, please—"
"And here it is August, and do you come home like you're supposed to? Do you ever think about your poor lonely mother?"
"DEMETER!" Hades shouted. "That is enough. You are a guest in my house."
"Oh, a house is it?" she said. "You call this dump a house? Make my daughter live in this dark, damp—"
"I told you," Hades said, grinding his teeth, "there's a war in the world above. You and Persephone are better off here with me."
"Excuse me," I broke in. "But if you're going to kill me, could you just get on with it?...”

“You know what would help this boy?" Demeter mused. "Farming."
Persephone rolled her eyes. "Mother—"
"Six months behind a plow. Excellent character building.” 

—Rick Riordan, The Last Olympian


—Medusa, with thanks to today's cooks: Katy Brown for her photos, Taylor Graham for our solstice poem, and Pat Hickerson for musing about women's lot in general.

 Mossy Fence
—Photo by Katy Brown