This collection of poems features an omnium gatherum of themes, voices, experiences, and dramas, even including many songs, some of which I have recast as poems, while others remain as songs. The great W. B. Yeats averred that poetry results from quarreling with one’s self. Then, I suppose that the more one self-quarrels the more poems result. This being my fourth collection seems to support that notion, with likely more to come.
—owed to Emily Dickinson’s “Joy to have merited the Pain”
Earned pain fades into joy,
Gains a vivid, long liberation.
Each phase dissolving into joy –
Then paradise on the horizon.
Absolved, my eyes grow strong,
Peering into the ancient eye,
Improved and brooking no wrong
Approaching paradise, I realize.
That these eyes glimpse Thine eye
And that Thou glimpse mine atone
And attest that my brown eyes
And Thy sacred sight are one.
Thou consumest all time, remaining
Infinitely present, never astray –
An eastern spirit explaining
Morning to the day.
Evoking Thy highest peak
And the valley far below,
My voice can speak
Inside the darkest shadow,
Spiritualizing all space and time
As years drop eternally
Ghost day by ghost night
Journeying through eternity.
A Terrible Fish
“In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.” —Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror“
The nightmare repeats itself:
A daughter clamped tight to each foot
Pulling her down under
The brute waters of the dark, deep lake —
She gasps — imagines she’s drowning
While her husband watching on the levy
Wrings his hands, faints in the heavy fog.
A terrible fish looms under her nose;
She smells blood dripping
From a dozen hooks dangling
From his mouth.
His eyeballs slide out easy
As the drawer of a cash register.
Each eye-socket a window
To her own soul — $ bills
With little jackpots on them
Jump up and dance like clowns
Poking out their tongues,
Flapping campaign signs
With hammers, sickles, swastikas —
She believes – ¡Sí se puede!
Morning shivers her awake again,
Stumbling to the bathroom
Where the mirror flashes
In her face that same terrible fish
That has been catching her dreams
And throwing them back
As she chases each $,
Never quite able to grasp enough.
In Our Own Paradise
for my belovèd husband, Ronald
So, what if the sidewalks were painted yellow?
Something horribly bright might happen:
A ball of brine might replace the moon—
Yet we would still find our favorite table
At any café in any town we choose to visit.
You would still smile every time
You remember where we have been
Each year as we have followed the map—
Unfettered, unafraid, roving in Joy.
Shining mugs clinging to our Solace.
Scoffers have long been repudiated.
We have snuffed all their guesses
That we would part bitter and repentant.
You have remained my better hero,
And I have become your solid half.
I take flight in words to remind you
Of your quiet beauty, and the stars remind us
That we were long aligned to follow a shared destiny.
We have crafted on earth as near a heaven
As is allowed by this dual-powered Maya delusion.
Our home allows us to breathe, stretch, and be still,
Embracing the boundary that holds us
In the evanescent glory that the larger world tries
So hard to conceal in pettiness and selfish riots,
That work so hard at tarnishing with its lies.
From the pocked past, we have grown smooth edges.
Each a different spiritual identity, united yet unique,
We go about our days in harmony and balance,
Practicing spirit as the world traffics in mud-clod ways,
Stewing in caves of ignorance and deceit.
Forsaking the past has become a blessing
And even if we must recall certain evil acts
Practiced against us, our ark points toward Eternity,
Where we will abide in the land beyond dreams—
Yet, for now, in-but-not-of this valley of sorrows.
We are perfecting skills, leaving this Maya dream behind us;
Thus, we have learned to breathe in our own paradise.