My angels wring no hands together…
No palms clasp in prayer, no eyes downcast,
My angels do not wear robes of saffron & rainbow
Or tilt their heads, listening to prayers
My angels are bare-breasted,
Afire, ululating atop mountains
My angels are ridge runners
Light-footed & glowing.
My angels are powerful,
They carry spears.
They have no time for the puny wants of men
The small prayers of old women…
They carry orders from God!
They drive us on with buffeting wings
Like northern winds, they bite & tear our only flesh
With unholy voices they demand & command that we also
Become angels, they
Cry out to us in terrible thunder, rumbling
“Get there & do this & DON’T YOU DARE GIVE UP!”
Don’t you even THINK about that
I am behind you, these are my teeth & claws,
Don’t you dare but that you dare all for love!
I do not go gently into this dark night
I plant my feet & my hands against the doorframe
& I scream for the devils of hell to surround me
To give me strength to fight!
Even though the angels have not yet given up on me
I need the kind of raw power used when devil fights devil
I need the kind of atomic strength
And nuclear decision-making ability
That blows apart unaltering planets &
the worlds where small-minded people dwell
for this is not me,
I am Eternal Survivor,
I am the basket weave trunk of the royal palm
Dancing in the Category Five hurricane of now.
NINE MONTHS FROM CHRISTMAS
The morning breaks open
Like a dozen eggs dropped on the floor
As my conjurings arise from their yolky mess
Of raw & yellow ooze,
I will derive a sunshine of words such as has never lived before,
From ruin to resurrection,
Back to the light from which my soul began.
I know now I did not arrive on a sunny day,
Sequestered in a sweaty room while my mother dreamed of the beach,
I rode in on a storm that breathed darkness
Into blankets of rain
Shadows threatening all alive.
I know this, how?
Storms create days that enliven my soul
I speak poetry as though reciting nursery rhymes
Every stick a sign, a message,
Every hope a dream of worlds
Daring to be spoken aloud.
I walked to the beach to cast myself upon the water:
A crust of bread for fishes to devour
For gulls to scrap over
For salt to consume.
I walked to the water & I walked in
And the water spoke thusly:
Get out of here, leave me now!
I am not your sin-eater,
You have nothing to do with me
You are here to partake of me as friend? Lover? Confidante?
A sequestered cloud upon which you walk at will?
I wish none of your molecules dissolved in me,
I want no DNA from you, no “sharing”
None of your mud-thoughts to cloud my pure waters
I want none of your shit-ass perspicacity
I am pure, as you were before you took all this upon yourself
& decided to carry it as a life.
Now, if you want to come in here, get clean
Go out & fix up the world,
That’s a diff’rent story:
Then I’m all yours, Baby.
Enter at will.
SAID SMALL, FROM THE CORNER OF THE ROOM
I don’t know anyone else will ever hear these as I’ve said them
I do know that when they went through me
They were filings roughening a smooth surface
Acid drippings across my soul, ripping shreds of my life to raw,
Rendering me impossible to live with
Untenable to remain with
Beautiful only in the way of a volcano is…
Lava scraping away a mountain is…
In a way all terrible & delicate & tender, a rendering to ash.
I know I will never be forgotten for the world herself has heard these words
I’ve cried them all aloud today, bowing to the rain
I watched her take them in, smeared across her face,
like runnels of tears, a striped tattoo
Or the scars of strip-mining
And I knew these words were never mine,
Nor belonged to me,
But only sliding across the furrows of my brain
To elide from my face, finding their way
A blind man headed downhill
Surrounded by mischievous goats.
They were only a blessing for I could not bring them to be a curse
To use these to destroy would implode the world.
would destroy civilization
But then, we have never been civilized to our memories…
(For Christ’s sake, we have not ever had civilization
Tho we pretended, pulling & tugging on just the one string
Till the whole thing unraveled
As we hung onto each other’s throats
Ignoring the scrape & itch of the hunting knife
Sliding between our ribs.)
We have always shaved our dreams to blood
Too closely down, pushing into places they should never go
Where others come upon them unaware
& leaning in to see them, all are burned.
ONE ENDING TOO MANY
My broken halo is scattered at my feet.
I tore it off my head this morning, I stomped it but good
I will no longer be the representative of God’s grace
Having turned into her most terrible wrath
In a day when my beauty no longer sustains who I am
My face a roadmap to new lands & languages,
When my breasts stand no more, but flat
Against my chest like twin sacks of rice
I know that I am old. I have accepted this
Because old is only on the surface, never reaching the inside
Where the bright of me lives
And the soul of me dwells
And the answers to every question I ever asked
Glow like sparks in a fire of my own making.
I will not give up.
I will always be here, doing this
And I will have done forever.
As You bring me forth each day,
Awakening again to earth,
It will be to dwell in the past I have created,
Through the future I have not.
I am a ravine down a sharp shale hill
You can ride me to the bottom – woohoo!
Or you can scale me to the heights – Aha!
So here you are, God, here y’are,
I don’t want it anymore!
Just can’t handle it.
Just don’t want it.
Here’s the soul – take it back
Do whatever You want with it.
I don’t care
Give it away, bury it
Stick it with the stars & make it shine
I really don’t care.
The life you gave me
Has been too beautiful for words
And the life I claimed to live
Has at times not lived up to this
And the world around me that was fine
Has turned to bargains in thriftshop windows.
But you know I wore them out my own damned self.
I put them there,
Here you go, God. I am but Your face in this world…
I have moved oceans & torn down heavens,
I have grown trees & plowed meadows,
Digging up Your holiness & scattering it about
For others to find.
I’m done now.
(To be blinded with blessing is not the worst of a life
It is a one more in a world of one mores.)
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
For the price of a tank of gas, America lives
Lives in its cars & campers & broke-down trailers
Still now, with not a round tire among them.
And who has done this to us?
What heinous crimes are committed against us
That we are washed up on our glorious beaches?
Bent & twisted, medically unsound, mentally unfit
From wars not of our making
From meds not of our shaping
Whitened by the salt of our tears
Twisted by fear & lack…
How do we overcome this?
O come, God! Bring us into our living aloft as angels.
We will bend the light no more, pour it out upon us as love!