what must it be like for you in your part of the world?
there is only silence, i don’t know your name, i know only
that the fire of Life makes us one in this, the human journey,
trudging through mud, by land and by sea, reaching for the sun
like entering a ritual river without a blessing or a prayer
on the street where you lived, your friends are all gone
the houses are crushed and the doves have flown
there is only silence, no children playing, no laughter
here and there a light remains to speak to us of loneliness,
yet our eyes meet in secret, our hearts open on the fringe,
one breath and the wind blows, one tear and the seas rise,
your grief drips from my eyes and i tremble with your fear
– for the Syrian refugees
One Lifetime After Another
one day, you’ll see, i’ll come back to hobnob
with ravens, to fly with the crows at the moment
of apple blossoms and the scent of magnolia ~
look for me winging among the white geese
in their practical formation, migrating to be here,
to keep house for you by the river …
i’ll be home in time for the bees in their slow heavy
search for nectar, when the grass unfurls, nib tipped ~
you’ll sense me as soft and fresh as a rose,
as gentle as a breeze of butterfly wings . . .
i’ll return to honor daisies in the depths of innocence,
i’ll be the raindrops rising dew-like on your brow ~
you’ll see me sliding happy down a comely jacaranda,
as feral as the wind circling the crape myrtle, you’ll
find me waiting, a small gray dove in the dovecot,
loving you, one lifetime after another.
The Good Housewife
at sunrise with its schmears of
cream cheese clouds against the
quince-colored morning light,
Mrs. Goldberg is out of bed ~
a military tactician in war-time,
no dust-bunny is safe, every
grease spot is enzyme-bombed,
the wash thrashed by machine,
then hung or folded, put in place,
her windows wiped, her floors scrubbed
and woe betide wee crawling creatures,
so intent is Mrs. G on genocide
From the Small Beginning
It was yesterday
that I retrieved my soul at last,
moved by the placid persuasion of a psalm
reminding me of my rootedness
in the archives of heaven
In earlier times
life lay ahead, a rhythm of reciting tones,
a paced chant before all that somber news
and facing facts and the quiet homely work
of peacemaking for your sake
But this morning
I awoke a fading mendicant nun,
reading my own rich requiem Mass,
a celebration of my heart’s trove
and your constant love
Another heartbeat or two
and I’m a whisper in your ear,
just an old story of someone who birthed you
now melting into the great Forever,
leaving only our hallowed cord
From the beginning, Son
your spirit was our most profound joy,
a fresh poem finely etched in old gold,
holding fast to beauty and grace,
faithful to your own gentle spirit
Listen now, Son, to the voice in the wind.
. . . . .Listen, Son –
How love whooshes and swirls, encircles and fills,
echoing from the small Beginning ….
into the great Forever
January Is on the Wane
after Sor Juan Inez de la Cruz
January is on the wane leaving behind early dark
and champagne hopes for the genus Rosa.
Garden roses want pruning now, solicitous cultivation.
Layer shorter under taller, drape on trellises
and over pergolas, the promise of color and scent,
climbers retelling their stories in a ballet up stone walls,
an heirloom lace of tea roses, a voluptuous panorama
rhymed with shrubs and rock roses in poetic repetition.
Feminine pulchritude: their majesties in royal reds
or sometimes subdued in pink or purple gentility,
a cadmium-yellow civil sensibility, their haute couture.
Is it the thorny rose we love or the way it mirrors us
in our own beauty and barbarism, our flow into decrepitude?
They remind of our mortality with blooms, ebbs, and bows
to destiny. A noble life, by fate transformed in season.
Divinely fulsome, that genus Rosa, sun-lighted, reflexed.
And January? January is ever on the wane.
Rosa divina que en gentil cultura
eres, con tu fragrante sutileza,
magisterio purpureo en la belleza,
enseñanza nevada a la hermosura.
Amago de la humana arquitectura,
ejemplo de la vana gentileza,
en cuyo ser unió naturaleza
la cuna alegre y triste sepultura.
¡Cuán altiva en tu pompa, presumida,
soberbia, el riesgo de morir desdeñas,
y luego desmayada y encogida
de tu caduco ser das mustias señas,
con que con docta muerte y necia vida,
viviendo engañas y muriendo enseñas!
– Sor Juan Inez de la Cruz
© 2016, English poems and illustration, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved