Beneath the Surface: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 17

Inspired by John Law, “Back from Shopping” and Kerfe Roig, “Badger”

Sturdy women coated and scarved,
against the cold, damp English day. Tight-clad legs step
clop clop on water-pooled streets. The little one’s hand grasped—
everywhere unseen dangers lurk.

There will be no jumping now. Come along, her mother says,
and goes on talking about Bess’s too-soon baby, Tom’s gout,
and Will who lost his job—again.

Beneath the surface of their words, stories swim,
fish waiting to be caught,
the meanings elusive, not quite hooked.

The woolen hats and packages move with the women, yellow, red, and green
contrasts with the grey all around.
In the fine drizzle of the fretting sea,
the shops are nearly invisible,
like the badger in their garden, a fog-creature of the night.

The girl wonders if he lives beneath
the surface of the puddles. She jumps, despite her mother’s hand,

and laughs. Then a laugh bursts from her mother’s surprised O mouth.
They continue walking. It’s almost time for tea.

She will save some scraps for the badger. See if he surfaces, like love.

For Paul Brookes’s Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and read all the poems here.

She Is: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 16

In the spindrift of stars,
she’s felled, stayed by strands
silvered in the night

she circles in cycles of moon phases,
phrases repeat in her mind, bridging seen
and unseen worlds,

the doors that might open—if—
in the tides of sea and blood—there is life
flowering,

in her womb, in the earth,
the repeating petalled patterns,
the roundness of berry and belly,

the strength of limbs, rooted
to the earth, while reaching for the sky,
seeking light

she howls as it fills her. God, human,
something in-between? This is the truth—
she is what she is, and what she has always been.

She circles in cycles. Repeats.
Ever and always. She waits.

For Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 16. I was inspired by all three works. You can read all the poems here.

Magic Comes: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 12

Magic often comes unseen,
in midnight sky, a sparkling flash,
on morning beach, a treasure stash—
a seabird message left for you
in colored stones of ocean hue.

Magic often comes unexpected,
a wish upon a star, synchronicity, chance,
or perhaps more than happenstance—
that needed doggy grin, the outstretched hand—
none of it planned,

nature and nurture, combined, entwined—
reactions or fate? Other realms or in-between,
ensorcellment in the glimmering sheen—
the magic, unexpected, unseen, and seen.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 12. There were only two works of art today, and my poem is inspired by both of them. You see read the other poems here.

Looking for Clues: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 11

One step forward, round and round,
the labyrinth circles—go or stay?
In the in-between, are answers found?
Past finds future. What is the way?

The labyrinth circles—go or stay?
She’s a shadow figure lost in blues,
Past finds future. What is the way?
Where are the clues?

She’s a shadow figure lost in blues
in her mind-forests, she searches dreams–
where are the clues?
Nothing here is as it seems,

in the in-between. Are answers found
in her mind-forests? She searches dreams–
but nothing here is as it seems–
just one step forward, round and round.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge. I decided to change it up a bit, so I wrote a pantoum this time to reflect the circles of Kerfe’s work. I revised it a bit from the one posted on Paul’s site–but these are all rough drafts. I couldn’t quite work in John Law’s work for this one. You can see all the art and read all the poems here.

May Queen, NaPoWriMo, Day 10

She sleeps in a thousand blues
of forest-shadowed whispers, waiting
for the world to wake, now in-between–

and in her dreams, she listens
for sky voices, the laugh of stars and birds remembering
the rhythm of days, tiny rose-tips, yet unseen

but when, not if, they come again
dressed in honeyed gowns of golden light, lingering–
she’ll wake to take her place, sweet May Queen–

with each embrace, she color-spaces
a trace of perfume recalls her paces,
and soft poetry where she has been, always and forever green.

I haven’t done too many NaPoWriMo prompts this month because I’m writing for an Ekphrastic Challenge, and there are only so many poems I can write each day! But, I always visit the the Magnetic Poetry Oracle on Saturdays, and today she gave me this sort of folk tale poem.

The Seals: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 9

Sleek pelts silvered in moon-spray,
brown eyes see only each other, in this monochrome world
the slivered crescent’s too high, and the twinkling birds
too far away,
though their lullabies soothe
the midnight sea. There are only whispers, the susurration of the wind, the dreams of fish
that arc above the surface,
nocturnal mutterings—no danger tonight,

they touch nose to nose, then swiftly, fin-footed,
in graceful pas de deux, they dance beneath the waves.

For Day 9 of Paul Brookes Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and read all the poems here.

Philadelphia, 1793: So Much Left Unsaid, NaPoWriMo, Day 8

I want to say, Dear Mother, do not fret
I am gone, and all is set,
you think, I know, our Father’s will and rule–
but, oh I wish I lived to see my babies go to school!
And all the sisters out at play—
instead of here. The way

(my body disappeared
I seem to float without it.)

I remember now, how yellow turned my skin and eyes,
and mournful were my sighs and cries
from aching head–
and then overspread
the blackest bile from within my bowels
over all the sheets and towels. . .

and yet you tended me
till I ceased to be

me.

I no longer feel the pain.
But Mother, I wish I remained.

For the NaPoWriMo prompt today to “write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead” and for the dVerse prompt where Grace asks us to write about the body. I wasn’t going to do either prompt, but then this came to me. It’s based on letters I read that were written during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793. Many fled the city, but over 5,000 people died. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, so the epidemic subsided once the weather cooled. I remember sitting in the Quaker Archives at Haverford College reading one letter and nearly bursting into tears.

Reaching: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 8

She walked through the city bustling, teeming–
bodies electric, grumbling, gleaming,
broken hearts and dreamers dreaming
of crossing bridges, the future seeming

~just beyond reach~

she thinks, the glittering stars. The sight
so wondrous and magical. Tonight,
these constellations of silvery-white ignite–
she wishes, then reaches for the twinkling light.

A puente for Day 8 of Paul Brookes Ekphrastic Challenge. I was inspired by the work of John Law and Jane Cornwell. You can see all the art and read all the poems here.

The Flame in the Center: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 7

Inspired by Kerfe Roig “Cave” (below)

Protection from the unknown
shadows–chromatic light–reflections
formed from everything—
star-breath sighed,

they fly, butterfly-winged,
repeating patterns, mirroring,

and once again,
through endless time

in the deepest cave of heart and mind,
a center glow, you find
it like a candle flame, illuminating hope–
the dreams the stars sing–

those wondrous things
multi-hued and bright,
prisms of color
glimmering in the night.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and poems here.

Poem Up in Anti-Heroin Chic

My poem, “Small Bites,” is up in the most recent issue of Anti-Heroin Chic. My thanks to EIC James Diaz for accepting this poem, and for his consistently beautiful journal. The first anniversary of my mom’s death is in a little over a week. She died from Covid. Please get vaccinated when you can and continue to wear a mask.

You can read my poem here.

My Mom’s Last Birthday Party Remember when blowing out candles on a cake was something we did?

I’m linking this to dVerse, Open Link Night.