Power Out-[R]-age

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Power Out-[R]-age

A tree fell across the wires.
Our power went ‘poof’!
No lights. No water. No heat.
We lit a log fire and strove to keep
sub-zero temperatures at bay.

It was as if God had stepped
away from the high altar
and gone out for a coffee
at the local Tim Horton’s
leaving a deserted church
to the mercy of the elements.

Guttering candles surrender
their skimpy lives but scarcely
warm us as more snow falls.

Shadow demons creep in
with the gathering night.
Shivering beneath piled blankets,
we cling together and hope
to keep out the growing cold.

 Warning: Raw Poem

Another raw poem. We lost power at 8:30 am on Wednesday, 30 November and it returned on Friday, 2 December at 2:00 am. 42 hours without power and the temperatures not rising above +2C and dropping to -3 / -5C. No light. No heat. No water. No phone. No internet. I thought of the victorious general who announced to the tune of the bombs bursting behind him on our tv screen that “We bombed them back to the Stone Age.”

Well, here we were sitting in our own miniature stone age and mentally unprepared for the shock of what it all means. What a struggle: to light the fire, to keep it alight (day and night), to keep warm, to prepare hot food over a log fire in an insert fireplace (and us so lucky to have one; some of our neighbors didn’t), and we won’t talk about going to the bathroom! At least, I now what it means to lose power at the start of winter. However, I really don’t understand what it means not only to lose power, but to know that an enemy deliberately and callously stripped that power away.

I tried to put those thoughts into the first version of the poem, but then I took them out as I didn’t want to politicize what is right now a nature poem, pure and simple. The out-[R]-age is there, with or without those other memories and that out-[R]-age comes partly from the knowledge that our civilization, if indeed we can truly claim to be civilized, is indeed skating on very thin ice.

Pilgrim

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Pilgrim

Santiago de Compostela

She drew me out from inner darkness,
told me to rise and walk.
“But first,” she said, “your wounds.”

She washed them in laughter,
dried them with her smile.

I left that night
walking west beneath the stars
to where the red sun
dips beneath the horizon.
South I wended my way,
where winds are warmer.

Hope flowered anew each day.
Dew on the morning grass
gifted both food and water.
Birdsong raised its morning voice
to the creator and her creation.

Sunlight flooded my body.
It flowed out through my heart,
a beacon to light my way.

At night, when star song
brightened the owl’s path,
I saw my road
stretched high above me.

Pilgrim through once barren lands,
the light she lit for me
burns within me still.

 Rain, sleet, snow, ice, fire:
they’re all the same.
No lion shall me fright.
I’ll with a giant fight.

“Constant,” she said to me.
“Come wind, come weather.”

El Cristo de Carrizo

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El Cristo de Carrizo

For Tanya Cliff

“Contemplate this crucifixion.

Each time you sin
you plant a fresh
thorn in your savior’s
crown.

Each misdemeanor
spears the sacred side
or hammers a nail
in hand or foot.

Christ lives in you.
your daily misdeeds
nail him daily to the cross
he bears for you.

No death, for him,
no resurrection:
just an everlasting hanging
from these nails you daily drive.”

Cave Paintings: Altamira

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Cave Paintings
Altamira
(11,000 BCE)

Cold rock presses on shoulder and neck.
Sunshine dwindles until daylight is a distant star.
A great weight of earth weighs me down.

The tour guide strikes a crimson spark.
Firelight flickers, shadows dance, animals appear:
deer, elk, boar, buffalo.

Magic illusions
created from fat, charcoal, red ochre, ash …
how long have these huddled herds
grazed their way across these walls?

 My spirit sweats as elders anoint
my flesh with bear grease (for strength),
with greyhound hair (for speed),
with wolf blood (for tenacity on the trail).

They brush my eyes with eagle feathers.
Now I am a hunter.

I envision the animal my arrows will pierce.
My backbone arches like a bow.

 I shoot thought arrows:
my beloved dances her death dance on tip-toe.

Court Dwarfs: Velásquez

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Court Dwarfs

Calabacillas, the idot of Coria;
Francisco Lezano, the child of Vallecas;
don Diego de Acedo, the cousin;
and don Sebastián de Morra
in his red velvet coat:

a pride of lion-hearts,
these medieval jesters,
blown up
in some practical joke to
a full life size
that competes with their majesties
for our dialogue
with this time and place.

 Their captive souls
run the gauntlet
of their canvas jails.

Their eyes
recall those of Segismundo,
imprisoned in his tower,
drugged, then dragged
from darkness
to the palace’s brightness.

On his return to prison:
“Man’s greatest sin
is having been born,”
he cries.

Heir to a kingdom,
surviving in darkness,
rags and chains
binding his royal flesh:

 “Life is a dream,”
he sighs,
“and every dream,
a lie.”

Butterflies

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Butterflies

We raise our hands:
you sever them at the wrist.

We lift our arms:
you measure us for a cross.
Where do we turn?
Our fingers bleed from scratching
our skulls in bewilderment.
They catch on the thorns
you so thoughtfully provided.

Stigmata?
No, you haven’t nailed us yet.
Great barbed hooks penetrate our bellies,
inflaming our guts.

Like live bait,
threaded to tempt Leviathan,
we squirm.

Like butterflies
awaiting your chloroform jar,
we tremble

Your collector’s pin is poised:
that final thrust will skewer our flanks
and claim us under glass.

Eternally.

October Angel

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October Angel

birds peck their way
through egg shell skies
in search of summer

 ice pellets strike dead foliage

the October Angel
hangs suet from the rowan

a finger of wind
stirs stubborn leaves
whirling them round and round
in a carousel of color

she gathers her evening gown
and walks among ruined flowers

a snapdragon opens
the frosted forge of its mouth
and sprinkles the sky
with ice-hard shards of fire

Note: October Angel is from All About Angels, the poetry collection that I am currently revising for re-publication.