Below are the all-time best Nola Perez poems as chosen by PoetrySoup members
"when the Gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers"
--line from the film "Out of Africa"
She stopped, transfixed, a breathless
butterfly pinned to a board, and she said,
"That is So beautiful!" Then, turning
to her husband as they stood in my kitchen
before an aerial photograph of L'Ile de la Cite'
shaped like a ship in the beating heart of Paris,
(young Yuppie wife of entrepreneurial architect
who owned half the houses on the street
where I lived), she asked with pleading eyes,
"Could we go someday?" Knowing the appetite
for that which lies beyond Beyond: Paris,
La Cite' Emeraude, or wherever is the personal
Shangri La, I wished I could have shared
what I've known: a second floor apartment
in an historic building in the 12th--its
circular staircase royally carpeted in red,
enclosing a tiny lift, depositing us
to a storied paradise, its rooms extending
beyond glass doors of an antechamber into
a formal salon, two stately bedrooms
with balconies, and a "bureau," birthplace
of poems, diaries of dreams, and in the interior
courtyard beneath our common windows,
open to the Paris bleu, a caged canary sang,
lusting for open sky in mornings filled
with the perfume of freshly baked pastries
and baguettes from the patisserie below.
Once, I was besotted with a man who told me
after lovemaking, "I never knew how
much yearning you needed." He divined this,
and for a time he fed that soul hunger in me, so
that it was hard when he left, and they always leave.
Ships seeking harbor, leave in their wake
a yearning in the corners of your life, which will
surely bring back Paris and everyone you have ever
loved, which will somehow, somehow, against
all odds, satiate the supplicant heart.
January & February this year,
prescription lenses lost. I count
the cost (it cost me dear).
A place for everything
and everything in its place,
my grandmother said,
but I only know
where my glasses are
when they're on my face.
It's rocking an empty flowerpot perched
in a pine tree: 'RockABye Baby in the High Top,'
its contents shell shocked in this February
of zero wind chill. It's the heart's empty nest,
cold ripple of a lake that threatens to overtake,
were it not for higher ground. We've wind
from the northeast, sharp and heartless,
harbinger of storms, but I am Barrier Island,
formed by one who taught me by salt, sea-
shell, and the sting of sand, bitter winter spray
in remembered summer. Land bound,
one learns to light where something shores us.
So here am I , despite trade winds, the Skull
and Bones of picturesque pirates, failed
story tales where even the wind lies.
In the lake one small duck, sustained by
its currents paddles my direction, drawn
by intuition or design of a kindred spirit who
would sail, dive with delight, endure
the cold solitude of seagulls at evening,
seeking harbor far from their ocean.
They are white flags signaling Yes,
You will find your heaven.
Our fig in January, entirely denuded now
like my heart in your absence, is but
more beautiful, if possible, in its seasonal
solemnity than in summer's exacting extravagance.
The trunk, grown massive in manhood, is a citadel
of strength supporting the curving bowl of its
branches as they bend back into themselves, becoming
the bare black sculpture of winter trees Hemingway
described in Paris in the Jardin of Luxembourg
where we used to walk, following in his footsteps.
These prayerful branches, grown as large as
the beanstalk giant of storybook lore, cup
the sky, making a sieve through which rain filters,
better for unobstructed passage to its
earthbound blessing, clearer for the distillation.
Above ground two massive roots, more visible
in winter definition--veins from the beating heart
of the tree--though siblings still, sprawl out
in different directions, then disappear wherever
they are traveling, who knows where? Not
climbing skyward like Jack on his leafy ladder,
but earthward out of sight toward a Southern
provenance, toward Provence, perhaps,
as if impassioned for home.
HAPPY NEW YEAR FELLOW SOUPERS!
If it hadn't been for poetry
what would I have done
with all those cliffs
I almost jumped off of--
with all the riffs
in the music of my life
I couldn't seem
to get enough of.
With all the passion
I imagined I couldn't
live without. Poetry
was the place I passed up
the junctions I might
have chosen otherwise,
when Wise had nothing
to do with it. You can
be sure of it: Poetry
saved my life.
Dark as a demon, but with the soul of
an angel, he's a Portuguese Water
Dog who's never been to sea, but, as
he oughta, he loves water, and highly
proprietary when you're watching
TV, downtime is shared, so it's his paw
on your foot, or else it's his head.
Morning ablutions, one leg in the air,
he waters a thicket, which wakes up a
cricket who begins to sing. The world
is his lavatory. Noblesse Obligatory.
It's a Water Dog thing.
for my granddog...
It's used as an afterthought, fattening festive
arrangements for Mother's Day, Easter,
someone's birthday. An underrated vine,
enhancing center-stage flowers whose star-power
doesn't wear well. It's the "coming attraction"
that's there after the clapping dies down,
replanted by doorstep or gravestone. "Grow,"
I say, "Change my life with your traveling beauty,
your common denominator, your scrawling
signature seldom sought for autographs.
Snaking around graves at our family plot,
it's an ongoing gift, out-giving the giver
with its "overwhelming darkness", reminding us
where there is life, there is also death. Surviving,
thriving in hanging pots the less hardy exit,
it surprises and delights, reaching down from limbs
of trees for soil, unchallenged there in pine straw
until tender tendrils insinuate their way
to daylight through tapestries of needles
When the ivy becomes dense, I will know
you are there: ivy of my heart, ivy of essence,
the graceful way it swings and sways, how
it takes to new habitat in the way you, Julie,
cut a swath through New York City after lifetimes
in the easy South. We are old souls, older
than the hedera, cousin to ginseng, reminder
of the movement of the heavens, the ability
to bring things together. You were shelter,
the poets' headpiece, bringing peace
to my household. Resurrection and rebirth,
Julie, in this Easter of ivy.
They know how to jimmy locks when
I'm curled in utero, creep like cats into corners
where darkness is deepest, or by the edge
of my bed where, freed from sleep's fist-
hold, I find them in the silence
keeping watch like winged messengers
of Biblical times. But they do not
bear tidings or pronouncements
in rhymes. They are silent by definition,
and sure of their mission,
you see mouths moving though no sound
is made, as when one of their company
snuggles close to my body like a lover in bed,
whispering wordless secrets
left better unsaid. Embodied,
but faceless, my nocturnal guests
come as close as we get to that Stygian
scythe. They are ghosts in the garden,
rehearsing their deathwatch
when I leave this life.
posted for Carolyn Devonshire
They are not telling her, "Take Nicole
Kidman Out" (the most beautiful girl
in the world, her special Babe)--
Not saying, "You're Charles Manson,
and do we have a job for you!"
They know she's a wordsmith
attuned to the alphabet,
and words to forge a poem,
write an essay, or sell her books
on E-Bay, whisper in streams
from faucets, banging pans,
and things that rustle
and swish. Voices from the veil,
or beyond the pale.
She guards the words
they send her, the given
words, the guileless
ones, for mantra du jour
or arbitrary notes--
of little faith, allow
her 24 hours before
calling the men
in white coats.
When you loved me, you were in absentia
most days -- then, the phone call,
and the champagne, cooling
in a bucket at some classy venue
or another, of your choosing. But first,
came the grilling on the hot-seat barstool,
as it were, designed to disillusion me
that I would matter much, underlining
how easily you could leave without
regret. Then, shifting gears,
you'd give it up, because I was a thorough-
bred, gracefully jumping your hurdles,
rewarded with your pleasure,
imagining me unintimidated, placated
by a shower of gifts: baubles of silver
and turquoise from Mexico, a gold bracelet
of singular design, a spangled scarf
I wrapped around my nude body
before lovemaking, charming you with
the child in me. But, mostly, I remember
we scribbled on each other's backs
as we lay together in the dark. I never
guessed your messages, nor you mine.
More vulnerable than you ever dreamed,
I wrote "I love you" on your skin,
knowing fingers were blind.