|TABLE OF CONTENTS
XVIII:3, October, 2003
NIMROD by Gene Doty, NATURE by Gene Doty, GAS GHAZAL by Ruth Holzer, PARIS by Ruth Holzer,
SLEEK by John M. Bennett,
TORTOISE by Gino Peregrini, REQUIESCAT EN PACE
For my wife Lucy (March 4, 1930 - August 14, 2003) by
HISTORIC HOUSE by
Stench of burning petroleum blankets the hunting fields of Nimrod
Weary and bitter, the great hero Gilgamesh crosses the waters
Ezekiel lay prone before the celestial Merkavah;
The great king's gates, guarded by bearded lions, warded by wings;
We are broken and we do not heal without yet further breaking.
When Europeans followed their restless nature,
Out in space, huge rocks tumble in wiggly orbits.
Across Asia they trecked, those ancestral beings,
Thor and Odin, Zeus and Ares, warriors and kings;
Broken, Gino, all the careful towers we built to heaven.
In Union I ran clean out of gas,
Dark-faced men scowled through their beards,
A chant on their radio I could not understand.
Suddenly I knew I was hearing a ghazal
O harmony borne from Bangladesh to N.J.,
In the busy city seeking her own quietude,
Across the Pont Neuf strolls forlorn Baudelaire.
Steam from bitter coffee mingles with Gauloise smoke,
Rainflowers scattered on cemetery paths -
Ruth still remembers when she spat up blood,
From the triangular elevator, I look down from the glass outer walls. This hotel seems so large for such a small village. When I first enter the elevator on the fourth floor, I can see the encircling rice paddies. On the way down, I study the lights on the main street. Tomorrow, I will attend a meeting five kilometers south, but tonight, I seek a ramen stand to get some supper.
an artist's easel
He asks me to join him for the evening meal in the artists' enclave at the Buddhist Monastery. He wants me to talk about home to the Americans living there. I tell him that I'm in the Navy and haven't been to the states in fifteen years. He smiles. A new voice will do.
bowls of rice
On the western slope of the mountain the old buick sits on its axles, hemmed in by aged poplars and a stone wall. A striped maple holds the passenger-side back door open. The late thirty's sedan has grown the color of dirt, but the metal fights, not ready to become dirt. Covered by a piece of cardboard the back seat still works. The springs still provide some bounce for my love and I.
GREEN-UP DAY 2002
On my appointed route along the Old Claremont Road, I find a heavy plastic grocery bag. I look inside and see a dead, half-liquefied cat, a tiger by the fur that's left. I drop the putrid mess into my litterbag and, though the bag's not full, I tie it closed and leave it on the berm.
My imagination drags the smell along all day.
new shoots coming up
Place I always wanted to leave, place where I always return. Today I visit Walnut Hill, a park that rises suddenly from downtown New Britain like a mountain on a child’s game board. I was born on this hilltop forty-six years ago, in a hospital overlooking maple, oak and white pine. As I drive up the curlicue road, I see concrete stairs poured into the hillside. The stairways lead to green.
South of the hospital, a granite column topped with an eagle rises hundreds of feet. Cedar and pompom marigolds encircle the shrine to World War II veterans.
I look out over the city once called "The Hardware Capital of the World." Factories forged ball bearings, screws, bullets. What remains are undulating rows of three- and six-family houses for those who work and live here. Red brick factories are converted into apartments or medical offices. At noon, the Fafnir Bearing Company whistle shrills.
I cross a knoll to the east, rediscover the meadow and sway of bluets: a feeling I seek wherever I go. The roar of a mower interrupts.
near the band shell
I’d ride my aqua Schwinn for hours along the blue-collar, suburban streets, collecting—chestnuts, mica, amber glass shards—to admire. One June morning, the first of summer vacation, I circled Israel Putnam School. Breathing in just-mown sweetness of the soccer field, I spied on empty classrooms. Having graduated third grade, I was no longer the quiet girl at her desk. I was an adventurer, free to learn whatever life would show me. Moments later, I discovered along the path a mouse.
Only in Grimm’s fairy tales had I ever seen a mouse. It was dead, yet beautiful in its stillness. I stroked the fur and toy ears. Scooping it up with oak leaves, I rode home with it on the tail fin. We had no pets. I decided to keep the creature in a shoe box under my bed with other treasures.
Days later, during back yard kickball, I heard Mom’s vacuum cleaner drone. Suddenly, a shriek.
only that star
I arrive home after a day at the office, close the door behind me, kick off my shoes. I feel you all around me, savor our time together like a Sauvignon. After dinner I garden, pull weeds and snip off old roses. Wordless, we watch fleas swirl madly in the sunset.
Others wonder why I travel the Via Negativa of darkness and void. Did you go alone? Aren’t you seeing anyone? Loneliness is the bright room where you and I meet. Beyond personality we commune.
on this road
Here there is no murmuring surf to close a sentence left open: the charm of sunny islands is shrouded by a trackless blur of vine.
The long, slender limbs of pecan trees become her inward leaning shadow where canticles of the summer's unborn weave among them like spiders a taut, frozen stillness.
The conch that once dug with the foot of warm Aegean evenings has closed its door, the tousled locks of soft brown shoulders long untangled. Lips once moistened are the stones of a dry stream-bed, and above the town lights disappearing one by one into an abyss of interstate, an unstrung lute resonates from a corner of the night.
after miles of black highway,
and the smooth click
of lock and key,
those cool white pillows
the rain-god shares
the night is now
goes; I am
in bed alone
Sappho, Sixth Century BC
(translation by Mary Barnard)
The road to the temples of Mount Hurago, was narrow, slowing climbing upward, and flanked by magnificent trees. Trees, that seemed older, that seemed to hold tomes of history, within their leaves. These trees seemed more of everything than the trees of my urban neighborhood. My eyes were plunged, captivated and caught in the scattered light that found its way through the thickness of branches. Small pleasing patches of yellow that illuminated the spirit with the same childish joy of chasing fireflies. I walked with a new born pace, in the place of centuries of soul seeking steps. All those that had come, before me. Each step, was an anticipation, a discovery of things known and unknown. This is the way, I thought to myself. This is the way we should learn to live, as if the next step will open the gates of purpose and direction.
Mount Hurago ~
My mother-n-law C. at home - hospice style - Washington, DC. Everything very slow moving - breakfast takes all morning. It is raining, gray, the house smells of sickbed. At least I opened the shades. Everyone does the crossword puzzle. I answer the phone. I am the daughter-in-law. I wonder if I can get out of here long enough to buy a toothbrush - forgot to pack mine. A friend of mine who works with hospice had advised me - be patient.
Hanging basket of
Last night C. fell getting out of the wheelchair and we had to call 911. Three large blond bruiser guys came and lifted her. It is amazing how vibrant the world looks outside the house even on a half hour walk. The statue of an elephant with a real sparrow perched on it. A man in a business suit lying on his back on a small park of grass. The coffee shop with its glass case of pastry. Rain in the backyard - violets, dandelions, clover, ivy, a yellow flowering succulent, moss, all growing between the paving stones on the small patio. C. in the hospital bed looking translucent.
I buy two new
Doing the laundry I could pair up all my father-in-laws socks but one. I tried to hide it in the basket of clean clothes - the one missing a mate.
A more uphill feeling today - more
My father-in-law quips that the rabbi will perform the funeral, assuming
he, the rabbi, lives that long.
Reading Gretel Ehrlich’s book on Greenland. In
it she says the Inuit believe a man can become an iceberg, a shaman can become
a she-bear and come back again, but that the essential nature remains the
same. So C. has gone from being a lively old lady to a heap of needs. The
portrait of her grandson looks down from the photo - a grinning child who may
some day be a very old man.
Her hands too weak
Claire died. at 6:30 pm. My husband Rich was sitting in the room with her, doing the crossword puzzle by himself.
After the funeral parlor, there was a brief service in the cemetery and we said Kaddish. It was the first day without rain in over a week.
doubles flag, comb sob p
cloud mustered spray the
luster off the plumber
d rain the yard g ash er
an algaed bowl -
pulling you back
Every morning, birds
turning to my side,
I can see my breath -
stumbling - falling through
Winter chill -
The lone hibiscus
Looking for a prey
The morning fog rests
Chilly wind slaps
in a rut by the lilacs a tortoise reflects hot sun
REQUIESCAT EN PACE
the get-well balloon lies inert
as her confessor dispenses
and the full moon leaves its glow
a man playing
actors in top hats
in the café
an old man
quiet road -
do the fallen petals
even this morning
out of the poverty trap
the card table
after 3 long years
here at starbucks
will you ever know
A sad book
at the airport
THE OWL'S MESSAGE
soft gray feathers
home from surgery
the tinny clanging
the mass of bee balm
a van of seniors
a blue heron rises
My sons, like possums,
Despite winter chills -
I watch with envy
FIRST SCENT OF RAIN
my moods so attuned
powerless to stop
a soft rain falls
bright yellow tulips
time and distance
THIS VERY SORROW OF KNOWING THINGS
it isn't anything
taking my son
it is subdued, knowing
it is not happy
the snow piles up
how it is
you, ready as me
as we go further
blow in the wind
in depth of silence
time to write poems
white sky closes-in
spring and summer dance
sleeping beings prepare
HER LABOR OF LOVE
four of us
You are gone
Needing to stop
IN ANOTHER COUNTRY
with a camera
the kitten and I
a plane journey
LARVAL IN WAITING
larval in waiting
juxtaposing the ancient hairdo?
the initiative tickles
In memory of the gurgling Euphrates, in view of the Tigris
How about asking a difficult question:
My innermost concept and what I can express corresponds only partly
I am trying to point to the fact that there are still old lanterns for sale
May 2003 lips
calm winds in the oval of an egg already wings.
I picture her
the old woman
flat blue eyes
Posthumosity encrypts what we are primed to celebrate while toting wingspan if and only if in freeze-frame. My personal experience retains its holding pattern as a cropped-while-germinating seedling. Scampering reserved for the injurious close-up of the place where salt achieves waist depth. Wavelets dry through summer. Slapstick doves are bones of stressed errata tossed into communiqués. With cloves so near the heart, a darker sweetness trailing paths.
Pensions denied, despite the luminarias defining hillsides before hilltops
Tonight the shining presence sits before a screen and diagrams her genealogy while I read Walker Percy. It is half-eleven as they say across. I have been socializing for my business. For some hours of the day my day is less a pair of gloves than gesture that an artist thought routine unconscious of the bird defined by chaste or lustful flight.
She intuits her own whereabouts in time. The diagram she s making shows the roots and branches. I am on her chart the saplings bend as method and of course apart from thought. I have chosen something spiral that stays open while I sip and swallow green tea made by French and English and Chinese experts. Our water is reverse osmosis, and tonight I have already flossed the moment I say winter you’ll misunderstand I m wearing this once-washed shirt commemorating National History Day in Arizona.
The jet pilot who just showed up on her chart almost became an astronaut. In her childhood he let her be exposed to a wasp s nest and be stung; that, after letting her run through reeds and to be sliced up.
I do not know the Flynn or Murphy charts precisely. I would like to some time. I don t envy my young self at middle points contentment is the only thing that easily exceeds exhilaration.
The cup I drink from is classy matte black with shiny letting with an image that reads a business name and drawing of a door.
Last night one of our neighbors reported he had sixty tiles to go of the 300 total for his condominium with each tile weighing 7.5 pounds.
I have three-quarters of the old identity remaining that feels like a mere five-eighths. I drink plain, low-fat kefir on account of liking the tart taste and feeling soothed by it and I no longer worry there are sufficient writing instruments and booklets in this house plus blank CDs.
Some of the information about dates of death she knows is right here in this house. She reads what she already has aloud to herself and to me and when she taps the keys it is so delicate and feminine her white shirt made to fit a little man looks both formal and informal. Her skin and small frame make her look decades younger than chronology dictates.
I would trespass on definitions of perfume
Just now a group of butterflies
One with large, more graceful wings
as a mist about to break through
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|Poems Copyright © by Designated Authors
Page Copyright ©Jane Reichhold 2003.
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LYNX XVIII:2 June, 2003