POEMS

 

Spring

And here is the serpent again

dragging himself out from his next of darkness,

his cave under the black rocks,

his winter-death.

He slides over the pine needles.

He loops around the bunches of rising grass,

looking for the sun.

 

Well, who doesn’t want the sun after the long winter?

I step aside,

He feels the air with his soft tongue,

around the bones of his body he moves like oil,

 

Downhill he goes

toward the black mirrors of the pond.

Last night it was so cold

I woke and went out to stand in the yard,

and there was no moon.

 

So I just stood there, inside the jaw of nothing.

An owl cried in the distance,

I thought of Jesus, how he

crouched in the dark for two nights,

then floated back above the horizon.

 

There are so many stories,

more beautiful than answers.

I follow the snake down to the pond,

 

thick and musky he is

as circular as hope.

By Mary Oliver

Nephritic Sonnet

I wear an oxygen moustache, hating the cold

creep of air into my lungs, but the nurse says

I must keep breathing. I watch the slow clock

of blood through the IV tube, my insides out,

on display , my 'fluid being', my 'wine of life' -

but why would I try to make a poem of this?

I'm nothing more than a few sheets clipped

to a board, my bodily functions monitored

in words that doctors register above my head.

There's no poetry in the hospital gown, worn

thin from the rub of skin, or the urine stench

or how a person dies, without elegy or dirge,

on the other side, just a curtain between us

By Tamar Yoseloff, from The Black Place

published by Seren

The Beautiful

Into perplexity: as an itch chased round   

an oxter or early man in the cave mouth   

watching rain-drifts pour from beyond   

 

his understanding. Whether to admire   

the mere sensation, enough, or hold out   

for sweeter ornament, vessels of wonder   

 

born with that ur-charm of symmetry;   

lovely ones we ache to prize and praise,   

climb into and become because they try   

 

our day-by-day significance: some of us   

ugly and most of us plain, walked past   

in the drowned streets: pearls of paste,   

 

salted butter, secondary colors. They   

drift unapproached, gazed never-selves,   

blunt paragons of genetic industry. We   

 

desire them but cannot want such order.   

We stand, mouths open, and cannot help   

stammering our secrets, nailed to water.

By Roddy Lumsden

The World’s Houses

Girls slamming doors means I am filled with the
loss of myself and the brine of myself and the
bursting ridiculous shape of myself and the endless
embarrassing spill of myself, and what did I break

 

but boys slamming doors means only their own
reverberant exits in flutters of sawdust, putting
hinges out of alignment and shaking floors.


Girls cry from their rooms Come in, I won’t let
you in, Come in,


but boys step out onto streets wearing new, hard
hands, those rackety limbs and sprung joints.
Someone has taught them to try all the world’s
houses, someone has told them every door is
wide open and theirs for the casual slamming.

 

By Jacqueline Saphra, from All My Mad Mothers, published by Nine Arches Press

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