Enough Angelina, drop the bouquet of harebells.
The flowers wilt as your graying hands stiffen. See, how grave
is our newborn son. We gift him a black crêpe layette.
Say Darling Edward, say, Golubushka, make me come alive.
Leave this chapel, return to his cradle, quicken your deadwood.
Come, rock his sweet little boat, croon, sladkiy bairdark.
Your shade sighs as the mourners trudge into the dark
of All Hallow's Eve. A breeze stirs the hairs on my nape. Bells
toll, the ringer incants “Unto the Church, I do You call, Death
to the grave will summon all.” Freshly turned gravel
rolls from the burial mound, the earth’s answer to life’s
reticence. Our son, whom I cradle, mutely lays.
See, the ground moves. There, there, my boy. Love's only mislaid.
Father, Mother, take the babe, go, shield him from Highgate’s darkness.
I stay. By will alone, I'll not let maggots deface beauty that lives.
My Angel, please, tug the cord housed in your coffin so the bell
will ring, rouse London’s rigor. You will waltz on this grave,
speak of Siberian winters, then scoff, roll eyes at the vigor of death.
Insubstantial lips brush the babe’s forehead, even death
cannot stay her reply. Ed’ard, Mother will take him home to lie.
A chill north wind rises as if to show your sorrow from the grave,
clawing the headstone with twigs and pebbles; clouds darken
the moon. Your shade screams; a bough whips Mother's cheek, the bell
on its gold cord is silent. Wind nigh swallows my howl, Angelina, live!
We are alone, Angel, save for those cemetery ravens which liven
roan weeds. Three nights I've troubled Highgate, plucking deadheads
from your boney wreath. Obstinate wife, revive the grieving bell.
I hear them calling Ed’ard, Come. I am torn from your stone: waylaid,
outnumbered, locked in our bedchamber. At the next darkening,
the babe's rattle rings, calling your name. I escape to your grave.
Nightclothes drenched and shoeless, I topple onto the grave.
Yea though I walk … ring, damn you, bell, ring! Curse this life!
The sky cracks open, sheet lightning pierces the craven darkness
as if in answer a mother oak’s limb shatters. The deadweight
crushes me against the granite angel where you lay.
At sunrise, church bells rang Angelus prayer from the chapel’s belfry.
Angelina, Angelina, our grown son visits our grave to honor the dead.
He is our true afterlife; all my fears have been allayed.
All is too calm and well 'til his eyes darken as he batters your bell.
Collaboration by Cyndi MacMillan and Debbie Guzzi
Stanzas 1, 3 ,5 and 7 by Cyndi MacMillan
Stanzas 2, 4, and 6 by Debbie Guzzi
If this site were a true sanctuary
then we would protect
those hunted by injustice,
prove with the activism of words
that some arrests should not happen,
that we are not immune to suffering
(sing Joy to the World, here)
We would not treat it as a retreat,
a place to hide
from the realities that others face
while we stuff ours
with more pecan pie
Pass the potatoes, please
(sing Angels We Have Heard on High, here)
If this site were a true sanctuary
then from our pulpit sacred words would erupt
with reminders of the commandments
We shall not murder
We shall not bear false witness
If this site were a true sanctuary
we’d speak in the gospel of blood,
we’d disrupt the facade of peace
and embrace our global brothers
then net each child, woman and man
who gasp and flounder
in a gory sea of violence,
in an ocean of YOUR indifference
(sing Silent Night, here)
If this site were a true sanctuary,
we would not ask our brethren
to remain silent,
in the clutch of new Romans
New Testament, Romans
(sing O Holy Night, here)
If this site were a true sanctuary
we would not let the persecuted
be lunch for lions
because they are disturbing us,
Their agony is such a bother,
Their pain breaks my heart
and a heart must remain intact,
especially during this time of year
as we describe sex and sunsets,
laugh over limericks
frost our syllabic cupcakes,
visit pages and leave comments
while our fellow soupers
hear a bomb
empty a school,
kill their good neighbour,
gut a street
(sing Away in a Manger, here)
If this site were a true sanctuary
we would widen the walls
to house each shell-shocked soul,
our pews would be packed
we’d tell each story,
we’d yell out against butcherings,
bandage the maimed
and our voices
would reach into the emptiness
we are becoming
as the bones of dehydrated children
remain on Mount Sinjar
as the cries of new babes born in mangers
by the fear and apathy of poets
by your longing for sanctuary
because – after all—it is Christmas
and it’s all about
the birth of Jesus
and virginal snow on evergreens
(sing Amazing Grace, here)
He reads voraciously
to his young children,
beholden and somewhat bewildered
by sweet progeny
their relentless leaching of his words
hungry baby birds, small peep teachings
He reads sporadically
to his father, articles from the paper,
headlines and bylines,
for his dad has cataracts, now, and velum hands
shake newsprint, making a rattling sound
too like the quiver of their cloistered skeletons,
all those remains, all those remains
There is wisdom in comics, he has found,
bucolic rings so like old church bells
tutoring fields through fog
He still tries to read
shared history in eyes,
the geography of long sighs, that topography of belly,
yes, yes, a theology that spills from parted lips
bless each rumpled sheet, that chemistry
which repeats poetry, spoken in a dialect, so rare
He remembers reading an encyclopedia
in the face of a beggar, once,
the prophetical sparking from high brows
which seemed to be only crossed currents,
a lifetime recorded, an unbound edition, A through Z
but when he turned carefully to C,
he'd found a full entry on compassion
Soon, he'll no longer read music notes
through a soft blur, playing guitar for one
a thousand times more educated then he,
this twelve year old girl, her heart
an open lecture hall,
that smile of pure academia,
may she ever be an opus angelorum,
that reaches, will ever reach,
far past mere hospice walls.
Anarchy and misery whispered
so softly only she could hear them.
Throwing crab apples drew attention
like running feral between cars,
like remapping streets which never gave
adequate directions or a single landmark
to show her the way home. Mother loved
the shell her baby bird had long ago broken,
a mourning dove cooing for soft pieces,
each scattered peep. Breath, the only thing
that was hers. Oh, the relief to snatch back
a bored sigh, lock it in, deny escape.
A-gore-rhythms and Form-you-la’s, school’s
strangle hold methodology of mind control.
Skip to my Lou. Skip class. Skip through
rush hour traffic. Still, no one understands.
No one speaks the language of Ash(ley).
Purge-atory is no fantasy.
Every day, the same losses:
possibility, sensitivity, civility. Hey guards,
listen to all the things she'll never say.
Words, what are they but manufactured
strings of disappointment that she chokes on?
The entire world babbles platitudes
and lawyers’ lies and vulgar chastisements.
Why speak, why waste a single breath?
They fling their crap, so she returns
the favor, knowing they will not
translate her message. They use verbs
like pepper spray and cavity search and
solitary confinement. She is nineteen,
but the numbers don’t add up, redo
the equation. Just don’t ask questions
or try to hurt yourself. Just?
Again, she feels the noose
close her throat, smiles at her secret
antidote, the open doors of unconsciousness.
A caress, this burn against the neck,
again and again, saved and saved
and saved, as though they’d noticed
the flame’s gone, as though someone cared
she’d become soot, ash, ashes.
Ashley? Ashley to ashes to ash
to dust, just dust. Just? Just. Death.
About this Poem
Ashley Smith was a troubled teen who would run into traffic, scream at people, cut classes.At 15 year, she was incarcerated for throwing crabapples at a mail man, this led to behavior which kept her in prison. She defied the system, threw feces at guards, refused to comply and strangled herself many times a day. Ashley was restrained in a chair for as long as 8 hours, forced to sleep on mattress-less bed frame, pepper sprayed, tazered and kept mostly in segregation. She would bang her head against the floor until she bled, told a phychologist she felt suicide was her only hope. She was moved 17 times between 8 facilities in only 9 months. On October 17, 2007, Ashley, aged 19, hung herself in her cell as guards merely watched, having been ordered to only intervene once she STOPPED breathing. Her death was filmed. There is currently an inquest into Ashley’s treatment and suicide. For more information-
May change come.
May change come, now.
Ghost knight, playing Tolkienesque chords
over common, white noise,
I still hear you, cosmic brother,
strumming the songs of pentagrams
from your optical guitar,
like that scene out of Star Wars,
all were always welcome at your wild bar –
interplanetary troubadours, euphoric warriors
or a ninja geek incognito, a wistful rhymer
who knew truth is seldom whispered,
and love is the only real free-artistry,
requiring no discipline, no perimeters,
no limits and no definitions
I still hear you, cosmic brother, so alive,
streaming a high volume of colours,
blue still holds a torch for you, loud and proud,
red engulfs night without one regret,
but its your delicate gold, my friend,
I can never forget
Lover, crawl from caution and bitten tongue
for reticence is the unspoken sin,
each longing unquenched, each fantasy wrung
bring to me now, let rapture begin.
Secrets I will lavish with oil and salt,
doubt I will ravish as pleasure I give,
a nearer heaven will hear you exalt
as you unclench your heart, finally live.
Broach the world with that reserved façade
but what you conceal I would freely grant,
bare desires, let passion ride roughshod
and devotion will enslave and enchant.
There is no shame in flesh, in need or lust
when flesh meets soul and fear submits to trust.
For Debbie Guzzi’s Song to Poem Contest Inspired by: I would Do Anything for Love by Meatloaf Note: Theme is fantasy and trust .. and trust in fantasy... highly romantic and erotic... ; ) Hope I captured that here.
Small pleasures are kind, so very giving
for when toil erodes and drudgery wears,
I may pause and find the joy of living
in the warmth of hearth, an obliging chair.
A short respite satisfies, brings me cheer
as embers tend to each crumpled toe,
and I stretch a thought as the cat draws near,
No demands it makes and its purr is low.
Soon, I will remove each trace of cinder
from the grate , then into ash I will wade,
but folly delays and daydreams hinder
the obligations of a proper maid.
Still, best this free life, however sooty,
then the gilded bondage of my lady.
Delighted, I return to the stained glass
studio in a dream. A Maltese Seraph
is nigh, pleased by crafted canvasses
Peace plays in her illuminated laugh
for she is moved by both the fired art
and wholesome scenes piously framed
in elongated windows. Pure light darts
between beauty forged by artistic fame
and the burnished backs of horses pulling carts
on the village street. St Jacobs, a plain land
praising simplicity: a message of heart
heard in her voice, seen in the lay of hands.
But a wink teases as she lifts suncatchers,
seeing sweet figolli in each pastel patch.
*Figolli is a Maltese cookie decorated with bright icing and enjoyed at Easter.
Like two dimensional Easter Eggs ;)
This is to our friend, Charmaine, an angel of Soup, who is from Malta.
St Jacobs is a Mennonite Village. It is common to see people drive by in horse and buggy.
Old order Mennonites wear clothes of another century. The women wear prayer caps and
pinafores, calico dresses, no make up, no adornments. The men wear black suits,
black hats, solid shoes.
Don’t count every hour in the day,
make every hour in the day count.
How heavy and quick are indifferent hours,
Their tread crushes the most tender of dreams,
And though time knows not its pressing power,
It tramples the heart, yet hears not the screams.
A dancer, sculptor or siren with song
beholds the cold clock and its silent charge,
Each stage, chisel and note aches to belong
to minutes that mince, steps buoyant though large.
These tasks of days grate and night pounds abuse,
But the artist learns to dodge, buck and roll,
How clever is craft! How wily the muse,
For we, the moved, do not cower or loll.
The sun bears down and a blue moon marches,
~ Beneath their weight, my poetry arches ~
*Written Feb 12, 2012 For Paula Swanson's "Trample" Contest
I’m made of ten thousand layers, curvaceous but stretched thin,
How should I begin to reveal the shape of this maiden-lover-hag
and the landscape that few men view, behind the louvered door?
Archetypes coexist comfortably below and upon my shared skin,
First, the shrew makes minced meat of all your carnivorous ways,
Then, I become the shy virgin again until Venus takes the floor.
Morning, while I tend my child between wringing out wet dishrags,
I release the Mother Goddess, nurse and maid, maker of wee sighs,
Bending down to wipe a tear, kiss a brow, proudly raise a nation.
A chatelaine rattling keys, I walk the wide halls of imagination,
Strong and free, yet accepting of my femininity, moved to cry
by the joys and miseries of family life, twin dimensions of wife.
My hips have turned soft men to stone then have rocked them
home with urgency; the same hips that sheltered one yet born
now happily support a burdensome basket each laundry day.
Betwixt the ribs, there is still a girl, weaving daisies evermore,
Remembering ribbons tugged from her hair, a tomboy daughter,
Climbing trees, bloodied knees, leaving trails laced with laughter.
Slips out the hoyden, lacking grace and gentleness, too crass,
and the very clouds try to escape the look upon my crone’s face,
Flip and sassy, standing up for the weak, voicing world wrongs.
Daily, the lady, the broad, the nag and miss rewrite their songs,
They play their parts so aptly, leaving me and them quite satisfied,
A lifetime is horribly short, my sex gives all her love and worth,
And men quickly learn that no woman on this lovely earth
can simply be classified.
*Inspired by Alanis Morisette's "I'm a B_tch"
**For David's contest, I hope
***Began the write May 26, 2012, finished the write May 29, 2012