We Once Knew Purity

Like that elegant lily
white and tender — soul
bared in vulnerability.

We once were tender
white-skinned fragile,
our tiny souls groping for
and gravitating toward
all that was fresh and beautiful,
unaware of dark clouds
drifting toward us, storms
and deep-black-rain-caused
mud. Streaking, splotching —
baby-tender opaque skin —
our souls trapped in a
place of harsh-red silence
covered in deep-dark pain.

We once knew purity
and a place before sex,
lust, violence, rape. That old
white candle flickering
inside opaque souls, we
held the light tighter
with each day passing,
terrified always of a time
when lights were snuffed out.

Like that elegant lily
white and tender —
denied water under
a harsh orange heat.
The slow-burning death —
crinkled-black-brown
burning, until an almost
desiccated-withered brown flower falls,
from yellowed-drought-stem to ground.
We once were tender
white-skinned fragile
child-bodies. Bloodied
bruised to brown-purple,
rag-mouthed crusty blood
spilling across dollar store
dirty-worn sheets.

We once were like
that elegant lily,
white and tender souls,
and we sang, laughed,
cried, survived
that slow-burning death,
bled-out innocence marking
sweated-on, dirt-covered
dollar store sheets
in a virgin-red smear.

 

~July 2012

 

Artwork: Gladis110 at Photobucket can be seen here.

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Memory of Fire, 1976

journey-svetlana-novikova

Two fireplaces remain
in this house, built in the Twenties.
Their elegance long-lost,
forever-gone,
each leftover mantel
a home for knick-knacks, small
framed pictures, newly received letters.

The living room boasts a fancy
oil heater – modern,
square box of fire —
heat roaring behind tiny doors,
the ring burning bright.
Brown-box filled with fresh oil,
proudly standing
on the hearth, winner
over the old fireplace it hides —
Better than wood and coal,
used sparingly – this precious oil –
on the coldest of days.

Loyal, old dinning room stove
stays true to plain and useful.
It’s black-iron belly – gorging
itself on wood and coal,
a ritual breakfast-dinner-supper.

Each day – You
hot-top, flat-for-use practical friend.
You, I loved and understood,
as you joined me in play —
melting-and-mixing crayons
in old tin cans. Trying to find
that certain-perfect and unique color – Like
a favorite pet: I fed you, cleaned you, played
beside you on cold winter nights . . .
anticipated your warmth
on cold winter mornings.

No fireplaces remain
in this ghost of a house
wavering and faded in my old child’s mind.
Each mantel long gone,
along with the heart pills,
chipped collectable plates,
half-cut school pictures, and
several frayed pieces of unfinished-hand-tatted-lace.

 

~July 2012

 

Artwork Credits: Special thanks for the use of Journey by ©Svetlana Novikova. Please visit the artist at her website or at Fine Arts America to find out more about her work, or to purchase a print, poster, or greeting cards. Also, you can see her information on our Featured Artists Page.

 

Photography Prints

picture with Kathy, 1970’s

We are both dressed
in matching-tan-wool coats
topped-off with elegant tams.

Standing together on stone steps —
green grass thriving at our feet,
buds and blossoms from the rose bush
showing in the corner of the frame.

We are playing “dress-up”
(blistering hot and sweating
under the heavy-wool-weight),
in the famous June heat —
smiling on cue, as grandma snaps our picture,

with an ancient box camera
and old, arthritic hands.

~June 2012

nilsy art

Image by geirt.com via Flickr

Other Reading:

like books

I.

I have been reading
books about people
since I was ten. Then —
comprehension expanding — 
growing, to become
understanding of
people like books
since I was twenty.

At thirty, I could find
the villain in the story —
the hero
always a too-pristine-
perfect-caricature
of reality — the bad guy
realistically-real.

At forty, I picked you
off the shelf
of the world, opened
the last page
and started
reading the story
backwards.

II.

Playing at detective,
sifting through
the last pieces of familiar
before they start to fade.

Not so much
sentimental-nostalgic . . .
those people
those days
that life

forever gone – old ghosts
attached to my shoulders.
Muscles strain, dip
under the weight
as old smiles fade.

When the answers come
I will be
too old to live them.

I carry this
fatalistic understanding
tossed over my shoulder,
held tight like books,
in a coarse-woven rucksack. 

~Winter 2011

 

 

Derivation

I grew up in a small town.
Southern – reserved countryside
where even the roses said grace.

Each fragile part of life
exposed in natural hardship
of daily living. For years

I would believe the old adage:
Everything will be okay.

But, it wasn’t, couldn’t be,
and you knew time marched
hard forward. The end
coming on a mild February day.
Your promise to never leave me —
broken.

Three days later in a silk-lined
casket, your final sleep.
Lowered, leveled, the dirt
softly rolling down
to cover you. This deep-dark
iron-fed earth your final home.

The beat of my heart, flesh-torn,
forever changed, a murmur
of loss traceable — back
to the day of your leaving.

~June 2012

Your Hands

Harvey and Irene Gosnell
(My Maternal Grandparents)

After all these years,
a quarter-century past,
there is a printed-off copy
an old black-and-white photo
holding your images,
sitting framed on my desk.
I pick it up —
So genuinely the two of you
in looks, posture, characteristics
that I am
brought to heated tears —
as I hold you in my hands

Three generations
of daughters grown to life
in the house with a garden,
tea-cup roses, gladiolas, daffodils,
and tiger-lilies painting
the vast-long days lived
held in your hands.

I’m the last
almost-daughter
of your ancient, dark days —
(One born of blood-love,
One born of mercy-love,
One born of sorrow-love.)
Fifty years of little girls
becoming women
becoming lost — slipping
from your hands — but you

planted the seeds becoming traits
that would manifest and bloom
over time
like the much-loved roses
down the side of the yard.
We were all cultivated
in the same love,
the same soil.

I hold you in my hands
suddenly notice
that your hands look worn
old and tired
from all the years spent
planting and harvesting.

~May 2012

In the Dark of My Soul

Dusky non-dark lightness 
the kind that comes only
in those no-name motels, 
secret places of meeting
where the darkness
of strange rooms is muted by
lined-orange curtains, 
where parking-lot-lights caste 
ethereal shadows: 

you come quietly to bed 
like nothing uncommon exists 
in my being there drowsy 
head on your pillow,
clothed in your shirt. 

Your body, stiff in the act 
of lying down, carefully 
trying not to wake me 
from my almost-dream-state 
sleeping. Your 
warm-volatile 
spark-laden energy 
forced 
into submission -- still atomic: your skin, chest warm, 
hips touching -- 

rolling, turning, wrapping 
myself around you -- 
normal-necessary touch, 
like a moth to flame -- 
the burning-shock 
epiphany moment, 
in an old motel room --you, 
a bright-white imprint 
in the dark of my soul.

~May 2012

 

ky

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ getting yanked from some library shelves

I’ll never accept or agree with banning (burning) books. What I read is MY CHOICE – parents can prevent children from reading inappropriate materials, but “banning” in any fashion is government control over our freedoms (what few remain?)…

 

 

E L James’ kinky bondage-themed Fifty Shades trilogy is still finding a massive audience — the three books currently occupy the top spots on The New York Times best-seller list — but if you live in Wisconsin, Georgia, or Florida, you might have a harder time finding the titles in public libraries. Counties in those states, including Brevard County in Florida and Gwinnett County in Georgia, have pulled the “mommy porn” books from its libraries, deeming them “too steamy or too poorly written,” according to the AP. Other states and areas are expected to follow suit.

the type of man sex came to possess

~for MG

I thought of sex
when I first met you —
deep strides, dapper dress,
piercing eyes —
it all resonated, a chill shiver
down the depth of me &
warmth spreading deeper
with my crimson thoughts
because you are the type of man
sex came to possess,
own — carry
into closed rooms, silk beds.

The glass of wine
sparkling amber, glass bubbles
move in the glass,
the world rattles on around us
while your words fall
on the table between us
and then,
I am stunned
by the words, their rich
deep colors, meanings
moving into an acid-like Trip
in my brain. Stunned!

You have amazed me!
My words turn
around, crawl back down
into the velvet parts of me

as I realize
what you don’t –
I am too naive for this
conversation. Too distracted
with the thought of undressing
you to understand beyond lust.

Why do your words
keep spilling down, around, rolling
across the table, tumbling
to the floor
to lay like marbles
on the gleaming wood?

~April 2012 

Reading Billy Collins

Poetry is an...

Poetry is an... (Photo credit: liber(the poet);)

makes those trite phrases
in your poems glare and shine
like fools gold under a Texas moon.

Suddenly, all your poems stand up,
like age-old, long-gone Cowboys,
Yell out to the bartender:

Gimme’ a strong shot a whiskey! NOW man &
a beer for chasing down self-destruction,
to make it easier

to swallow all that black bile
you-they once considered poetry.
Reading Billy Collins makes

those dead-drought moments –
writers panic at a blank page –
rise up to a slop-house surface

in your mind. Mocking voices decry
an untalented impostor, not poet.
And then

the sun shines.
A feather-beam of light
falls across his final stanza

and hope returns — a dove-promise of the future,
whispering of a time to come
when, you too, poet-becoming, will be read.

 

~April 2012

 

Billy Collins is a wonderful poet and served as the United States Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. You can find out more about him at his website. FREE audio downloads from his collection, The Best Cigarette, may be found here