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Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

And On the Third Day

“Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away. . .and I don’t know where they have put him.” John 20:13 (NIV)

Mary stayed
after the men left the empty tomb,
her sorrow rooting her to the ground
before it,
her tears no ease, no balm
for her great grief

this morning, three days
from that hilltop

for this,
this loneliness,
she waited at the foot of the cross?
for this,
this hurt beyond hurts,
she listened?

the man who speaks to her
is a stranger.

and she begs him:
where have you put him?
Where have you taken him?
Tell me!

and then the smile crosses his face,
the smile that healed her of her madness

when they first met:
He says only, Mary.

though she knows the impossibility
of escaping from Death,
that cruel ender of dreams,
she believes the promise
once and for all;
her answer is a gasp:

Teacher!
one word is enough

Poem copyright 2013 by Faire Lewis.

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Spring Thunder

a threat and solace
above the wind;
a low warm rumble

promising rain.
The pine moans a little;
the willow whips back and forth,

unnerved, cautious
of its soft new green.
Above,

birds fly unconcerned.
No matter what ill may come
they take care of business

singing indestructible hymns of good cheer
as they flash by,
oils in motion.

the dove alone
is melancholy;
above the thunder’s basso

it calls, soft and urgent,
an alto bell
lover, come to me

but there is no answer

Poem copyright 2013 by Faire Lewis.

Another pulled from my morning pages. . .

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St. Patrick and the Snakes

St Patrick 1

St. Patrick herds the snakes
like slithering sheep: catching at them
with crozier efficient as a shepherd’s crook.

no lass of Holy Ireland,
he vows,
shall be seduced by sibilant subversion

forked tongue flicking
at the end of a rainbow rope
dangling by an apple

dappled with sunlight;
no, Ireland will remain
an emerald Eden

serpentless
as it was in the beginning
until the end of time.

St Patrick 2

Poem copyright 2013 by Faire Lewis.

I was heartbroken when I found out there apparently never were any snakes in Ireland to begin with–

In any case, this poem is inspired by a long-ago St. Patrick’s Day card similar to, but not exactly like, the second image of the good saint–born a Romanized Briton, not an Irishman–driving the snakes away in an aged jalopy. On that card, he was telling one snake with a Pat, I gotta go! look on on its face Ye shoulda thought o’ that b’fore we left!

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broad, startling
as a witch’s flight,
the moth flits eerie

gray-green across the man in the moon’s face,
blotting out the left eye.
The right eye simply winks.

Frightened by its own audacity
the moth descends
like a climber riding a broken rope.

Porchlight is brighter, closer, smaller,
false flame.
The moth is singed by a cliche.

The cat sits waiting
for a mouse’s unwary stir in the grass,
not for a dizzy moth

that drops like a pretty from heaven,
a puff of dust in a dead faint,
insensible, for a moment,

to claws flashing like silver blades,
sharp as the taste of blood on a bitten lip.
Danger! danger!

The moth flutters madly.
The cat wants to inspect his pretty
and lifts a paw

like a gourmand lifts a lid
from some rare and perfumed dish.
A mistake; the moth bumbles

back toward the moon, a safer place;
the man up there doesn’t eat moths
with crackers and green cheese.

The cat gives chase too slowly.
His pretty lost, he stands
bereft,

heedless of the gold and sapphires
the moon scatters in his fur
by way of compensation.

Poem copyright 2012 by Faire Lewis.

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this morning’s light
stole my heart;

the sun rose
softer than a kiss

filtered through the yellows
that flutter by,

brightening the reds and rusts,
startling the crows

into flying westward,
blueblack flashes

pushing toward afternoon.
The yellows

chase deer into the woods.
gentle tornadoes

looping loops
in the wind’s embrace,

lifting sorrow
up to the treetops

and, laughing,
letting it go.

Poem copyright 2012 by Faire Lewis.

There were two previous “Leaf Dance” poems, but they were lost when the now defunct Blogstream site shut down. This one is impressions from my notebook for today.

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open your eyes

an imperative whisper
insistent as a kiss

open your eyes

no horror greets her slow wakening;
merely a young man clad in red,
specter of the rose still tucked in her bodice,
dewy and fragrant as when she plucked it,
tore away its thorns,
and set out laughing for the ball.

I had my death of you. . .
yet for that death
I ask no Mass, no exorcism, no expiation;

the price of my death is only a dance.
You cannot chase me from your dreams
save with a dance.

And so it begins, this pas de deux
of ghost and maiden;
no dance at the ball,
no dance ever after,
shall match the exhilaration of this!

such poses, such elongations, such lifts!
the heat of love
in his strong arms,
in the caress of his iron thigh.

all but swooning
she breathes my love. . .

but night flies
and time respects no dream,
no dance, no rose

one soft kiss placed upon her heart
and he leaves on a leap,
hanging against gravity
like a bloody drop of dew:
God’s beautiful mad clown

come daylight
the rose at her breast
is tenderly tucked away to dry
beneath an airless jar

and someday a poet will hear the tale,
this romance of a rose,
and scrawl a few lines of epitaph
ending grandly

Once, in a snowy vale
there lay entombed a rose,
the envy of kings.

Poem copyright 2012 by Faire Lewis.

Once, there was a poem called Le Spectre de la Rose by the French poet, novelist and critic Theophile Gautier.

In 1911, the great choreographer Michel Fokine was inspired to make a ballet of the poem. Set to German Romantic composer Carl Maria von Weber’s 1819 piece “Invitation to the Dance” (orchestrated in 1841 by Hector Berlioz), Fokine’s ballet premiered on April 19th, 1911, with the great Russian dancers Vaslav Nijinsky as the Specter of the Rose and Tamara Karsavina as the Girl.

Those who saw that debut never forgot Nijinsky’s exit, at which he appeared to stop in midair, at the peak of a leap–a feat he is said to have shrugged off, saying “you get up there, and then you stop.”

Gautier’s poem is one of those that really loses something in translation, and gains nothing in my extremely free adaptation, which draws more from the ballet than the poem. But I have long been fascinated with Nijinsky–God’s beautiful mad clown–better remembered for his controversial ballets L’apres-midi d’un faun (Afternoon of a Faun) and Le sacre du printemps (The Rite of Spring)–who was diagnosed within a decade of the premiere of Le Spectre de la Rose with schizophrenia and never danced again after 1920.

So I make bold to dedicate it to his memory–and that one moment when gravity seemed to suspend itself for him. 🙂

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the wind sang alone tonight,
a sighing complaint,
until the leaves, radiant
in their fall finery, rattled in raucous applause.

On the porch, woman and cat
listened to endless encores
until the light failed altogether
and dark drew down

to swallow the noise.
Autumn is the slow
rusting of the year;
soon enough the leaves

will improvise duets with the wind,
then tear free and fly
like Aladdin,
seeking the genie who hides winter in his lamp.

Poem copyright 2012 by Faire Lewis. Another from my morning pages. No ghosts, but I like it. 😉

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