POEM OF THE WEEK: The Woman On My Left Is Reaching for A Roll

Processed with VSCOcam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE WOMAN ON MY LEFT IS REACHING FOR A ROLL

The woman on my left is reaching for a roll.
Her arm extends, half-grown, half made.
Her better nature reaches for white turnips,
red beets, roots mad with mud. A glade

of skittering wings blows her off her chair.
She leaves the bleeding mound of custard on her plate
and wonders how much blood is too much blood?
Her tail is growing, itching to be flicked. Too late

for feeling homesick in the bone. Too late
for dinner party chat, for well-bred conversation.
She feels the swell of egg and yolk inside her.
What wrathful god invented this migration?

Just when she thinks that wings can take her
home, she gets off track, and moves from slack
to taut. I see her now, a reflection of her former
self below the ceiling of the sea, her fins laid flat.

But look! She likes it here! This landscape rife
with fertility, her cutlery laid out to slice
a map in two and dig to China with a large and heavy
spoon. She makes it up. And down. The device

that brought her here can always take her home.
For the farther one travels, the higher chance
of cure. She consults her compass and it points
only to her center. Her arms begin to dance.

The dinner guests are infected with the tune,
Then everyone is reaching for a roll. We remove
our filaments of fear and logic. Joy is biting
the backs of our legs. We dare to see our shadows move.

–Christine Hemp
IMAGE: from the blog Mimi Eats: http://mimieats.tumblr.com/

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Before I Left My Tower for the Ground

 

Heart4

BEFORE I LEFT MY TOWER FOR THE GROUND

Before I left my tower for the ground
and walked among the grasses by the river,
I hid behind each window facing east. Around

the steps and down to cook alone,
stale rays of sun across the counter.
My blue enamel pot contained the bone

I boiled, the flesh giving way to marrow.
Broth inside blue walls. My private hoard,
skimmed and frozen into stock tomorrow.

Ravens punish me for leaving
the upright life where once I slept in sky.
They don’t see me at the cusp of evening

basting lamb, potatoes. A table set for two.
It’s flesh and bone this time. A lure
toward horizontal. Toward you.

                                     IMAGE: Christine Hemp, 2015

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: The Juggler

Jugglers Dream Calder

THE JUGGLER

Look at the juggler balancing time!
His hands intent on a touch, not a hold.
He knows suspension is his paradigm.

He throws up the terrible flames – watch them climb
in a circle of light like a big marigold.
Just look at that juggler balancing time!

Tossing his torches, mocking what’s tame,
he walks the tightrope in a ragged blindfold.
He knows suspension is his paradigm.

Round and round like a fanatical rhyme
he sends the world spinning—ah, numbers untold
see the juggler balancing. Time

and space are God’s ball and flame.
Flinging sun and moon to the vacuous cold,
he knows suspension is his paradigm.

But we all must be jugglers in pantomime,
hands ready to clutch, but brief touch is more bold
for us. And the juggler balancing time
Suspends! Suspense is his paradigm.

–Christine Hemp
   from  the Webster Review

IMAGE: “Juggler’s Dreams,” Alexander Calder, 1966; gouache and ink on paper
29 × 42 in

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Icarus

Fall of Icarus Matisse

ICARUS

It was his idea, this flying thing.
We collected feathers at night, stuffing
our pockets with mourning dove down. By day,
we’d weave and glue them with the wax
I stole after we’d shooed the bees away.

Oh, how it felt, finally, to blow off Crete
leaving a labyrinth of dead-ends:
my clumsiness with figures, father’s calm
impatience, cool logic, interminable devising.
The sea wind touched my face like balm.

He thought I’d tag along as usual,
in the wake of his careful scheme
bound by the string connecting father and son,
invisible thread I tried for years to untie.
I ached to be a good-for-something on my own.

I didn’t know I’d get drunk with the heat,
flying high, too much a son to return.
Poor Daedelus, his mouth an O below,
his hands outstretched to catch the rain
of wax. He still doesn’t know.

My wings fell, yes – I saw him hover
over the tiny splash – but by then I’d been
swallowed into love’s eye, the light I’ve come to see
as home, drowning in the yes, this swirling
white-hot where night will never find me.

And now when my father wakes
each morning, his bones still sore
from his one-time flight, his confidence undone
because the master plan fell through,
he rises to a light he never knew, his son.

by Christine Hemp

from Graven Images, A Journal of Law, Culture, and the Sacred;
and in XY Files: Poems of the Male Experience Anthology by Sherman Asher Press).

IMAGE: Henri Matisse “Icarus” 1943 guache on paper, cut-out

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Flame

ZenBrush_20150111114713 (2)

FLAME

One more dark morning.
Blowing on the fire

to make another day go.
Without stove and wood

I might not leave
my bed. The tick tick

of cast iron warming,
the sputter of fir, stave off

the muffled grey hovering
outside like a stale,

lingering guest. I can’t
get rid of clouds. The sea

is flat and dull. But I can
sustain this little flame inside

and keep it burning,
stick by seasoned stick.

 

by Christine Hemp
IMAGE: “January” by Christine Hemp; cyber ink on screen

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Persian Astrologer

Nasa Hubble Stars

PERSIAN ASTROLOGER

Alignment was everything to us and we’d not seen
the likes of such a heavenly body before. We found it
strange that Herod was more keen
about a baby than a star. My colleagues didn’t know
(nor did I) what we’d uncover on that trip, but we agreed
it wasn’t just astrology. We prayed
for signs and followed what we saw.

Before our journey to the birth, gifts once came
with their own requirements and obligations.
To give, really, was to ask
something of someone else. But soon it was revealed
that our largesse was dwarfed by geography
more expansive than our charts could plot. In offering
our little hills, we learned that mountains sometimes
move. Giving no longer means a ledger.

Afterwards I dreamt I saw a despot
licking dust, so we steered our lathered horses
clear of Herod and his plans. And even though the sand blew
in our eyes, we kept our course for home. Everything
was different: Constellations no longer
pointed out the path. We gave up gazing
at the stars for answers. We were haunted
by an ember burning deep inside us.

by Christine Hemp
IMAGE:  NASA, ESA, the Hubble Telescope Heritage Team Photograph, “Chance Alignment Between Galaxies Mimics a Cosmic Collision” with Hubble Collaboration, and W. Keel (University of Alabama)

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Herod

Titus-Caesar-A.D.-69-79-Gold-Portrait-Aureus

HEROD

I must admit at first it threw me,
competing with a portent. (What fools
would treasure light instead of might?)
Such naiveté: Scholars trekking here
smitten with a star or some convergence
of the cosmos. Yet another fire to put out.

I sent them on their way, their caravan rife
with herbs I could have used myself. Camels
balking and desert horses restless
in the night. Meanwhile that star hummed
like a lute, vibrating on a frequency I coveted
but couldn’t always hear. I slammed the door,
closed the shutters. No way would it make
a shadow out of me. My wife said,

“No worries. They’ll be back.
Anyway, what child can match your currency,
your death squads? The bricks of that
new temple? And Rome behind you? Get real.”

I pulled her close, forgetting which wife
she was (nine? ten?) and glad to have her.
Weeks later, when those wanderers failed
to return, I glanced into my looking glass.
The eyes staring back at me were nothing
but blank gold coins.

by Christine Hemp
IMAGE: Gold Roman coin, circa A.D. 69

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Joseph

plane

JOSEPH

I’ve always been good at following directions.
House plans, for instance. I can see the shape, make
allowances for framing windows, hanging doors.
I always give the time it takes for good mortar to dry.

The structure of this plan, however, is beyond me.
No hammer or plumb bob will help. So I’ve packed us up
and we’re headed down the road. I have to say I’m glad
to leave. My neighbors whispering behind my back,

“Old Joseph! Couldn’t wait, could he?” The boys at the shop
turning tactfully as I plane a board, shavings curling
toward the east. And yet— and yet— I agreed
to go ahead. That dream I cannot shake. Now Mary’s

shapely breasts are so full and ready I can only blush.
One would not expect to find the holy nestled there!
(Such moist and glowing flesh.) I’ve never been a visionary
nor someone called to lead. Nor am I a vessel

like this girl whose face could light the sky. I guess
the closest I can get to what I feel is the song of the saw
singing timbers into working parts. Each cut-off piece
will build a solid story. But I’m worried. All along

the road people have been telling us the rooms are full,
that some folks are bedding down in barns. In my dream
I saw my clumsy feet walking down this very road.
Her water broke with mules and horses standing by.

Tonight we’re buying time. While she’s asleep my tears
could fill a bowl. It’s not sadness exactly or even fear,
but tenderness so huge my eyes ache from what
I cannot see. For if this is true— really true— what then?

by Christine Hemp                                                                                                     IMAGE: from “Woodworking Tools and Plans”  blog

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Between the Buddha and the Mary

OwnImage

BETWEEN THE BUDDHA AND THE MARY

after paintings by Sas Colby

Between the Buddha and the Mary,
silence enters, falters, then expands.
Seen together, those familiar faces carry
something new. Like outstretched hands,
one is Buddha, the other Mary.

A marriage blooms: Mary. Buddha.
Girl and boy. East and West. Faces
meeting ours in frames of gold. A
touch of Burma, Black Madonna. Places
we’ve not been pull us in. (Neruda

would understand.) The Buddha and the Mary
watch us. Soon we’re no longer out
looking in. His level gaze. Her hair. He
asks us to receive. She invites. Wide
spaces open up for us. Oh, Buddha-Man,

we get an inkling of what your silent
smile is saying, what the halo plays.
For we are in you looking out, intent
to hear the anthems all ablaze.
Years apart, you and blushing Mary sent

us eyes to finally see. Furtive virgin, holy
man, even when our lids are closed
the vision stays! You teach us slowly
lest our tiny minds forget we are poised
for eternity. Baby steps toward the Wholly

Other. Some days we awaken and look
at one another to find that you are me. I am you.
Those once apart are now the same, a book
with facing pages pressed together. Who
knew? The Buddha and the Mary remake,

transform our stumbling thoughts (Mary
in her pondering, Buddha in his calm) to mesh
with theirs. I imagine it’s their prayer
that we might see, might shiver in our flesh
and know what lies between Buddha and the Mary.

–by Christine Hemp
from THAT FALL  (Finishing Line Press)

IMAGE: Sas Colby , “In Our Own Image”
Twelve framed paintings each 9 x 12 inches, Black gesso and gold leaf on oil painted 4-ply museum board. Installation 41 x 41 inches

Poems and Ponderings

POEM OF THE WEEK: Mary

Botticelli's Annunciation

FINAL MARY1

by Christine Hemp

IMAGE: “The Annunciation” Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi) 1485, Florence, Tempera and gold on wood 7 1/2 x 12 3/8 in. (19.1 x 31.4 cm); Robert Lehman Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Poems and Ponderings