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Stone

My cracked cross gazes

At the sky

Toward that stern line of towering granite obelisks,

Polished, hard, self-important—

Rising proud from the tall grass,

 

High on the hill—

With your dates and names and places.

Born in County Cork, County Clare.

Husband of Mary, son of John.

Beloved.

 

I am nameless.

But we are all equal here.

 

Hunks of my coarse cement,

Long chipped from the iron core thrust back in the earth.

A kind soul stood me back in place,

After years of being forgotten—

Cleared the weeds, planted daisies.

Someone unknown, chose to care.

 

Here in the potter’s field, we are all young.

Small stones, small lives.

Helen, Anna, Vincenza, Michael.

They have names.

I know mine.

 

Someone once spoke it too.

And whispered it with soft breath,

Warm wind on my cheek before sleep –

Good night my love,

Rest in peace, dream of the angels.

 

I am nameless.

But we are all equal here.

 

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Short-Listed!!!

shortlisted

My thanks to the Adelaide Literary Magazine for selecting me as a shortlist winner in their annual literary contest!  You can read the anthology here.

The edition is also available for purchase on Amazon.

noroton privateWhen you finally return,

To that old place—

The musky salt smell of low tide floods back,

In a flush memory.

You did not notice it, when you lived there.

 

Twenty five years.

Then the rest you forgot.

 

Green lawns lush, perfect shag carpet—

Shrubs carved into false spires

Obscene roses and florescent hydrangeas

Curated into some artificial, perfect world.

Expensive and unreal.

 

Ten cars cluster round the neighbor’s house.

 

I never knew the man.

He was 40, three small children,

Pretty blonde wife.

Then the Saturday run, then the heart attack.

 

But the joggers still jog,

Mothers still push blonde children to the beach in red wagons,

In a slow rush, a cadence to the sea.

 

A midsummer party,

Florid balloons wafting in the stiff air.

 

A Doll’s House

dolls house2

-after Henrik Ibsen

 

You are a child, Nora.

 

Did it amuse you to see me dancing about,

Dressing up, acting?

I passed from mother’s hand to yours.

I lived by performing tricks.

 

Little lark frisking about, nibbling macaroons—

Gambler, spendthrift,

The capricious little Capri girl.

 

A song bird must sing clear and true, with no false notes.

 

Earning my keep copying the words of others,

Well into the night.

It is wonderful to work—

I almost feel like a man.

 

Play the tarantella, dance with your tambourine,

Good little songbird—

Just . . . not so violently.

 

If your little squirrel were to beg you for something—

Would you do it?

I would skip about and play all sorts of tricks,

If you would only be nice, and kind,

I would twitter from morning till night.

 

One can retrieve her character,

If she owns the crime and takes the punishment.

 

I should so love to say

Damn it all.

Wait, I just did.

 

I drink wine for breakfast.

I shave my legs clean.

I drink in my smell and stop worrying about hell.

 

Tomorrow night, when the dance is over I shall be free.

There’s something glorious in waiting for the miracle.

 

I thank you for your forgiveness.

I will think of you,

Our child, this doll house.

 

But I have other duties, equally sacred.

I no longer believe in miracles—

Other than those I deserve.

Helen

There was no money for pictures in 1933.

 

I want to know.

What color were the untamed wildflowers

Crawling up the house among the weeds?

 

They had names.

Black eyed Susan.

Daisy.

Dandelion.

 

But the faded sepia photo refuses its secrets,

So many secrets.

 

I will never know, but imagine

Your checkered dress is blue, and white.

Your mother combed your blonde hair to the side,

And fastened the big grosgrain bow.

 

You loved the touch of her rough peasant hands.

 

I want to know.

Who captured that moment?

I will never know if this was you before, or after

Your world was changed—

Your father lost to his own hand,

Janos laid out in the family room.

In the corner, among the well-wishers whispering of shame,

 

Your shy smile, pedaling in the dirt to your future.

Helen, Mommy–

Was that smile one of innocence or bravery?

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“With nowhere yet to rest my head, 

Like these, on earth I wait forlorn. “

 

-Matthew Arnold, Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse

 

It is human nature.

 

We hold fast to our safe pasts,

Wrapped in a familiar pink blanket—

Even when the soft wool becomes a stiff straightjacket,

And we are strapped and trapped.

 

Today, it transformed into a shroud—

While we mourn the end.

Crisp linen wrapped,

Sticky tulips and lilies rest on my breasts.

 

Wandering between two worlds,

One dead,

The other awaiting birth.

I peel aside the black lace veil

To light a candle for the lost.

 

Tomorrow, it will be a parachute—

Strapped snugly, as I dance out the plane.

I drop from the sky

To fly on my chrysalis wings.

 

grand guignol

We could never equal Buchenwald.

 

In those days before the war,

Everyone felt what happened onstage was impossible.

 

Our nightmares of sadism and perversion

Played out under angels at watch over the orchestra,

Our fantasies fulfilled in the private rental boxes

Once occupied by supplicating daughters of Christ—

We, aroused by the unthinkable,

The unwatchable.

 

Crimes in the madhouse

The laboratory of hallucinations

The torture garden and guillotine

The insane street urchins, prostitutes and apaches.

 

Lilly Laudanum became the most assassinated women in the world,

After she kissed the leper.

 

Shot with a rifle, raped, hanged, quartered,

Burned, cut with surgical tools, poisoned,

Devoured by a puma—

Strangled by her own perfectly matched pearls.

 

She is all of us, wandering blind

In this world afraid of the foreign, the unknown.

 

We could never imagine it possible.

Now we know these things,

And worse

Are possible in reality.