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Best Cyndi Macmillan Poems

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Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

DARK ANGELS OF HIGHGATE


  
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



Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

AN EDUCATED MAN

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

his wife,
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
and charity

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.







Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

THE LANGUAGE OF ASH


Anarchy and misery whispered so softly that only she could hear
their voices, so she threw crabapples at a mail man to draw attention, 
ran feral between cars, remapped streets that 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, truly. Oh, the relief to snatch a bored sigh, draw it back, 
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. Purge-atory is no fantasy. Every day, the same losses: possibility, 
sensitivity, civility. Hey guards, listen to all the things she will never say. 

Words, what the hell 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 that 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-

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/national/Ashley+Smith+death+only/8053824/story.html


May change come. 

May change come, now.


Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

SAFEWORD

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. 


Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

IF SOUP WERE REALLY A SANCTUARY -- Warning will offend some


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 
only ourselves
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 Romans
New Testament, Romans

Romans 14:10
Romans 12:18
Romans 12:17
Romans 12:21

(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
are smothered  
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)






Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

THE HOURS

                                                      Don’t count every hour in the day, 
                                                      make every hour in the day count.
                                                                                         ~Anonymous~
                                                                                                   


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


Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

MY SEX


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


Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

HER FIRST PLACE

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. 




Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

THE POET'S CREED


I will write

Though a warmonger speaks of detonation 
while locusts fly low
and a million birds are culled
and women are sold like sow
and a cross burns


I will write

While fire guts another warehouse
And a bald toddler gets more chemo
as a young man is killed for a phone
as an old man is beaten for wanting water

I will write

Because some planes do not reach their destination
And SARS steals the breath of unknown saints
Because comets still travel with tails
And the hands of sculptors remain strong and beautiful
And jails hold more than the guilty
And glory bends the trees, orchestrates crickets

I will not stop writing

Nothing will silence me

Not ridicule or indifference
Not the weeping through the walls
Not the wail of police sirens or the red of pens
Not criticism or confusion

Neither threats nor lack of understanding 
Neither love nor hate
Neither time nor space

Not even futility 
can steal or still my words, prevent their release

So as snow falls this April morn, dusts crocuses 
As coffee cools and my family sleeps,
With a tattered heart and reddened hands

I will write

from turrets and tea rooms
under the ruins of forgotten memoriums
upon the bathroom walls of sanitoriums

Until each bone snaps in the crematorium 

But when I am tossed to the wind
My ashes will sail, strangely

And, friend, even there 
I will write, again


Details | Cyndi Macmillan Poem

UNFORGOTTEN


My recollections are grifters, dragonflies glazing
glacier springs, skimming over unforgotten lands,
fleeing my inept hands that so long to just once snatch 
that fragility, but those filigree wings raze the heart.

Recollections can be Mercurochrome whims 
that heal with stings and then leave stains.
Are such things a balm and do they enflame? 
Grifters all, those yesteryears and their sly charms,
That shift alarms and then zero in for the kill.

Dragonflies soar through my dreams like they did 
at the cottage we rented the summer I turned twelve, 
before my mother changed, became ill.

Glazing the lake, the sun seemed lower there.
Glacier cubes, little ones, would click against
cups that held lemonade, but I had a secret.
Springs hid in a forest nearby, so I would trek
through woods to sip water so pure
that I was Bernadette in Lourdes.

Skimming stones over the lake, trying to 
count past two, I never succeeded.
Over and over, I would try to wake the 
Mystical Lady beneath the reeds.

Unforgotten are those days.
Lands of soft green are now gold.
Fleeing memories can’t be done.
My childhood is a menagerie of tales untold.
Inept are these words as I scribble moments
that ate melting Raisinets as the sun set.

Hands, much smaller, now flutter in mine.
That and this, she commands, and asks why
the man in the moon wants to hide.

So, I watch the magic in her unfold,
like that spring and that child from decades ago.
Long is the growing process, but short are days.
To remember those firefly evenings is to forgive,
And those campfires sparked more than conversation. 

Just once, though, I wish I could forget the rest.
Snatch that gawky girl and return her to enchantment.
Fragility deserves a second chance to sing with crickets.
But those hours are gone, and the ones I now live in
are driven by the compulsion to nurture.

Filigree wings worn by a tot remind me of journeys and 
how time’s narrow portal opens only to close.
Raze I will that autumn and its mad, destructive chill 
and I will protect one serendipitous season.

The heart we are given can be filled with such love that the
maternal trickles its way down to a girl studying dragonflies and
we hop on a boulder to sit with our former selves
shoulder to happy shoulder.  


*For Debbie Guzzi's Et Cetera Contest.


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