“January Is On the Wane” and other poems …


The Poet by Day blog

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a century of possible peace

after Muriel Ruykeyser

I have lived in the century of world wars and
into the century of “hot spots” and “conflicts”
and isolated regions of hostility and battle,
of choreographed shows of military cliché
Every day is an homage to some insanity

The media reports are conveyed with facile
intensity by hyperkinetic journalists – they
deliver easy and ominous conclusions based
on seemingly recondite facts, quickly moving
to celebrity gossip and other insipid topics

I know what it is to be exhausted by the
vain posturing of the ruling class and
the tired protestations of tribal unity and
supremacy based on accidents of birth

I know what it is to imagine peace across
the circumference of one small blue ball in
a Universe of inestimable size and breadth

I know that darkness can descend with the
speed of light and that love is more than an
anchor and that hope keeps our dreams alive

I have lived into the century where the world
has grown small, where the peacemakers are
tireless and perhaps enough hearts have grown
large … that sometimes I think I am living in
a century where peace is as possible as war

Le Fée Verte, Absinthe

in the wilderness of those green hours
gliding with the faerie muse along café
walls virescent, sighing jonquil wings of
poetry, inventing tales in the sooty red
mystery of elusive beauty, beguiled by an
opalescent brew, tangible for the poet and
the pedestrian, the same shared illusions
breaching the rosy ramparts of heaven

“A glass of absinthe is as poetical as anything in the world, what difference is there between a glass of absinthe and a sunset.” Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish writer and poet

January Is On the Wane

after Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

January is on the wane
leaving behind early dark and champagne hopes
for the genus Rosa. Wild or tame, they’re lovely.

Garden roses need pruning, solicitous cultivation ~
Layer shorter under taller, drape on trellises
and over pergolas, the promise of color and fragrance,
climbers retelling their stories in 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 thorned rose we love or the way it mirrors us
in our own beauty and flaw and our flow into decrepitude?
They remind of our mortality with blooms, ebbs, and bows
to fate, a noble death to rise again in season, after Lazarus.
Divinely fulsome, the genus Rosa, sun-lighted reflexed ~
And January? January is ever on the wane.

just toking O2 … Hallelujiah! It’s a Leonard Cohen Kind of Day

a slice of life at senior digs, the operative word there being “life” :-)

it’s a Leonard Cohen kind of day,
walkers lined up by the dinning room
like race horses at the starting gate …
the Asians worship the Lord, Jesus Christ
the Europeans embrace Vipassana

at three they’re viewing Brokeback Mountain
but i’m staying in my room, playing Hallelujah,
compressor humming in the background …
just toking O2, enjoying the complexities,
savoring the ironies, Hallelujah, Glory be

the good housekeeper

at sunrise with its shmears 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 enzyme-bombed
out of existence, the wash thrashed by
machine, then hanged or folded, put in place,
her windows wiped, her floors scrubbed,
and woe betide wee crawling creatures,
so intent is Mrs. G on genocide

the way light works

maybe a thing about particles and waves
or wave-particles and the way light works
and moves, the way soulmates’ eyes ignite
into star-dust, the way some ancient god

smiled and blinked, flicked an able wrist
to strew some billion stars across a darkly
barren sky, then asked his goddess to
suspend the yellow moon, a caress so

softly lighted, it stirred the hopeful hearts of
night-blooming lovers into endless devotion,
though for sure the years run like the cheetah
and soon-or-late all hearts quake asunder,
just as sure as moonlight and star-dust and
the way a true love fills in the fault lines

squeezing a penny

my mother never knew the names for things
the trees were just trees, the flowers just flowers,
but she knew life as a sigh and love as a linchpin
and how to get to work and maneuver in the dark,
she could squeeze a penny and was known to force
tired feet into worn shoes, she could make them dance

From the Butcher’s Blade, a prose poem

Arriving at our stop, it would spit us out, like so much cattle, regimented and ragtaged, tired and numb.  Once dumped, the rail-car doors would close behind us and we were whirled in the windy wake of the train rushing to the next station. Then, a sudden silence, and we were free to blunder our way home, a final few blocks in Gravesend, a new ‘s-Gravenzande*, if you will, but an old irony.

I’d stop at the bakery first and go on to Paul the butcher and his merchant’s rictus. His beef, he told me, “is like butter,” perfect for my carnivore husband. Paul’s face seemed bloodless to me, as if in some moment of devotion he chose to infuse the dead.

Still more child than woman, I would examine the varied cuts waiting to be bought, waiting to be devoured. I’d fancy their missing eyes, bones, and very lives crying out. These offerings of body, of blood from Paul’s steel blade to my tattered tin chalice fed me for two years on the futility of hope.

Gravesend / ‘s Granvenzande –  Gravesend is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. It was originally settled by the Dutch. The name is thought to come from ‘s-Gravenzande, a Dutch province in South Holland, Netherlands.

© 2014, poems and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved