To be a writer (Revised)

To be a writer
revised version

To be a writer ….

Those who would true valor see,
let them come hither.
One here will constant be,
through foul or fair weather.
There’s no discouragement
will make her once relent
her first avowed intent,
to be a writer.

Those who beset her round
with dismal stories,
do but themselves confound:
her strength the more is.
No blank page can her fright,
she’ll with a sentence fight,
and she will have a right,
to be a writer.

Rejections nor false friends
can daunt her spirit.
She knows she at the end
will a book inherit.
So critics fly away,
she’ll fear not what they say,
she’ll labor night and day
to be a writer.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
To be a writer

revised version

Comment: I first wrote this poem in January 2021. It is, of course, a rewriting of John Bunyan’s hymn / poem, To be a pilgrim from Pilgrim’s Progress. In the original version, I kept the male pronouns. However, after collaborating as the only male participant in [Quick Brown Fox] Brian Henry’s Advanced Writing Group of 13 fantastic women writers, I realized that the female pronoun was, in so many cases, the most appropriate one. I therefore made the necessary adjustments. You can find the old poem at this link – personally, I prefer the new version! https://rogermoorepoet.com/2021/01/11/to-be-a-writer/

Water

Water: such a precious commodity, and more than a commodity, the very substance of life. Without it, we shrivel and die. Vegetation struggles to survive, the desert shifts its boundaries outwards, and a high tide of sand rises to engulf the cultivated land.

In Oaxaca, Mexico, the Atoyac, the Green River, often runs dry. When it does, women kneel on the sand and pebbles and dig little holes into which the water seeps. They wait for the holes to fill and use little cups to pour that water into their buckets. These water holes are also used to wash their clothes and they hang them out on the riverbank bushes to dry beneath a burning sun.

Twice I have been in Oaxaca when the rains have not arrived. I have seen the reservoirs sink lower and lower as the sun laps up the precious liquid and no rain falls. Oaxaca, with or without rain, is a land of dry toilets, chemical toilets, chemicals to put in the tap water when you wash and peel fruit and vegetables. You drink only bottled water. It is sold to the households in forty litre bottles and hawked round the street by boys on tricycles who cry out their wares.

In Oaxaca, almost every house has its own supply of water. The flat roof, azotea, catches the rain when it falls and channels it into large internal cisternas that trap the water and keep it cool.  Water to waste is a luxury that few can afford and most water is recycled when possible in one way or another.

The rules are strict: drink nothing direct from the tap; do not clean your teeth in tap water;  beware of ice cream and ice cubes; drink only water delivered from trusted hands. In addition: eat food only from establishments with running water and a reputation for safety. Avoid street vendors, especially the little ladies in the street who cook over open fires and and change their babies’ nappies only to return to their cooking with unwashed hands … There are so many things you learn if you want to be safe and streetwise. Above all, close your nose to the delights of those wonderful street side cooking smells.

Peragua

Water seeks its final solution as it slips from cupped hands.
Does it remember when the earth was without form
and darkness was upon the face of the deep?

The waters under heaven were gathered into one place
and the firmament appeared.
Light was divided from darkness
and with the beginning of light came The Word,
and words, and the world …

… the world of water in which I was carried
until the waters broke
and the life sustaining substance drained away
throwing me from dark to light.

The valley’s parched throat longs for water,
born free, yet everywhere imprisoned:
in chains, in bottles, in tins, in jars, in frozen cubes,
its captive essence staring out with grief filled eyes.

A young boy on a tricycle bears a dozen prison cells,
each with forty captives: forty fresh clean litres of water.
“¡Peragua!” he calls. “¡Super Agua!”

He holds out his hand for money
and invites me to pay a ransom,
to set these prisoners free.

Real water yearns to be released,
to be set free from its captivity,
to trickle out of the corner of your mouth,
to drip from your chin,
to seek sanctuary in the ground.

Real water slips through your hair
and leaves you squeaky clean.
It is a mirage of palm trees upon burning sand.

It is the hot sun dragging its blood red tongue across the sky
and panting for water like a great big thirsty dog.

Poema de Amor

Poema de Amor / Love Poem
Complete version

Mitla is a sacred burial place in the Oaxaca Valley. The caves in the hills above the town are said to lead directly to an underworld from which demons and devils emerge at night and by means of which humans can communicate with the souls of the dead. Mitla, in fact, is often called the city of the dead. Legend has it that if you embrace  a certain magic column in the Palace at Mitla, the time left for you to live can be measured by the distance between your fingers as they reach round the pillar and almost touch. The pillar, they say, grows and shrinks according to the length of the seeker’s life. Petrus,  a rock, in Latin, evolves into piedra, a rock or stone in Spanish: upon this rock will I build my church.

1
We walk on tiptoe round the garden
peeling free the sunlight cloud by cloud

sometimes the heart is a sacrifice of feathers
bound with blood to an ornate altar

petrus
this rock cold against my chest
piedra
centuries of glyphs alive in your face

if our arms meet round these all too human columns
what will become of us?

2
beneath your skin the woad lies as blue as this evening sky
yellow light bends low in the fields below us
each darkened pool a warrior fallen beneath the scythe

the moon paints a delicate circle
its great round open eye stands out
above the rooftops
tonight it bears an eye lid carved from  cloud

our teeth are diadems of whiteness
we tie shadows to our heels
and dance in triumph through street and square

3
daylight bends itself round rock and turns into shadow
we flourish in blocks of fire

dreaming new selves from roots and branches
we clasp each resurrection with greedy fingers
will the moon rise again tonight and will we watch?

dark angel bodies with butterfly wings
our shadows have eloped together

we can see them sitting side by side
bumping knees at a table in the zócalo

4
church bells gild the barrio‘s rooftops
our fingers reach to the skies and hold back light
we draw shadow blinds to shut out the day
night fills us with stars and silhouettes

we dream ourselves together in a silent movie
closed flesh woven from cobwebs
lies open to a tongue-slash of madness

the neighbor’s dog wakes up on the azotea
he barks bright colors as dawn declares day
and windows and balconies welcome the sun

can anyone see the dew-fresh flowers
growing from our tangled limbs?

your fingers sew a padlock on my lips
“Listen to the crackle of the rising sun!”

Click on this link to hear Roger reading on Anchor.
Poema de Amor

Fake News

 Fake News

Sometimes at night I hear deer walking across the lawn outside my bedroom window. Intruders in the garden, they rattle the feeders then walk darkly into the woods. Sometimes a coyote howls at the fingernail moon and my heart pumps sudden blood, rapid, through my veins.

            Below me, in the hall, the grandfather clock ticks the night away. I stitch myself up in my dreams, count the black sheep in the family, and iron old ghosts upon the ironing board until they are as flat as the white shirts we wore in boarding school on Sundays.

            If I close my eyes, they rise up before me, those Sunday shirts, flapping their arms, and mouthing their apologies for the sorry life they made me lead. No, I didn’t need to spend those days praying on my knees before the stations of the cross. Nor did I need to ask forgiveness for all the transgressions pulled from me, like teeth, in the Friday confessional.

            Marooned in a catholic cul-de-sac, I walked round and around in rigid circles. An academic puppet, I was trapped in the squared circle of an endless syllogism. Who locked me into this labyrinth of shifting rooms where sticky cobwebs bound windows, doors, and lips? Why did the razor blade whisper a love song to the scars crisscrossing my treacherous wrist? Who sealed my lips and swore me to secrecy?

            A tramp with a three-legged dog, I slept beneath a pier at midnight and woke to the sound of the waves rolling up the summer beach. Once, I stole a deckchair, placed it at the edge of the sea, and told the tide to cease its climbing. The moon winked a knowing eye and the waves continued to rise. Toes and ankles grew wet with wonderment and I shivered at the thought of that rising tide that would sweep me away to what unknown end?

            Last night I wrapped myself in a coward’s coat of many-colored dreams. My senses deceived me and I fell asleep in a sticky web spider-spun by that self-same moon that hid among the clouds and showed her face from time to time. My fragile fingers failed to unravel all those knots and lashings and I was a child again walking the balance beam that led from knowledge to doubt.

            A thin line divides the shark from the whale and who knows what swims beneath the keel when the night is dark and the coracle slides sightless across the sea? I gather the loose ends of my life, weave them into a subtle thread, and make myself a life-line that will bind my bones and lash my soul to my body’s fragile craft.

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Fake News

           

Love Song

Poema de Amor (3 & 4)

3

daylight bends itself round rock and turns into shadow

we flourish in blocks of fire

dreaming new selves from roots and branches

we clasp each resurrection with greedy fingers

will we watch the moon again tonight?

dark angel bodies with butterfly wings

our shadows have eloped together

we can see them sitting side by side

bumping each other’s knees at a table in the zócalo

4

church bells gild the barrio’s rooftops

our fingers reach to the skies and hold back light

we draw blinds to shut out the day and shadows fill us

we dream ourselves together in a silent movie

closed flesh woven from cobwebs

waiting to be opened by a slash of the tongue

the neighbour’s dog watches from the azotea

he barks bright colours as dawn opens doorways on the street

can he see the flowers growing from our tangled limbs?

your fingers sew a padlock on my lips

“Listen to the crackle of the rising sun!”

Click here for Roger’s reading on Anchor.
Poema de Amor

House of Dreams

House of Dreams

1

The clematis unfolds

bruised purple on the porch.

Jazz piano:

beneath the black

and white hammers

of ivory keys,

old wounds crack open.

A flight of feathered notes:

this dead heart

sacrificed on the lawn.

I wash fresh stains

from my fingers

with the garden hose.

2

The evening stretches out

a shadow hand.

I feel my heart

squeezed like an orange

by long, dark fingers.

Somewhere,

the whitethroat

trills its guillotine

of vertical notes.

I flap my hands in the air.

They float there,

white butterflies,

amputated

in sunlight’s

net.

3

The light fails

fast, I hold up

shorn stumps

of flowers

for the night

wind to heal.

The pale magnolia

bleeds into summer:

white petals

melting on the lawn

like snow.

Sparrow sings

an afterlife

built of spring

branches.

4

Pressed between

the pages of my dream:

a lingering scent;

the death of last

year’s delphiniums;

the tall tree

toppled in the yard;

a crab apple flower;

a shard of grass

as brittle

as a bitter tongue

at winter’s

end.

5

A leaf lies down

in a broken

corner

and fills me

with a sudden silence.

I revise

our scrimshaw history

carving fresh tales

in the ivory

of new found bones.

6

A vixen

hunts for my heart.

She digs deep

at midnight

unearthing

the dry teeth

you buried

from my borrowed

head.

Click here to hear Roger read this poem on Anchor.
House of Dreams

Striations

Striations

There are striations
in my heart, so deep,
a lizard could lie there,
unseen, and wait
for tomorrow’s sun.

A knot of
sorrow in daylight’s throat;
the heart a great stone
cast in placid water,
each ripple
knitted to its mate.

Timeless,
the worm at the apple’s core
waiting for its world to end.

Seculae seculorum:
the centuries
rushing headlong.

Matins:
wide-eyed
this owl hooting
in the face of day.

Somewhere,
I remember
a table spread for two.
Breakfast.
An open door.
“Where are you going, dear?”

Something bright has fled the world.
The sun unfurls shadows.
The blood whirls stars
around the body.

“It has gone.” she said. “The magic.
I no longer tremble at your touch.”

You can drown now
in this liquid
silence.

Or you can rage against this slow snow
whitening the dark space
where yesterday
you placed your friend.

The silver birch wades
at dawn’s bright edge.

Somewhere,
sunshine will break
a delphinium
into blossom.

Tight lips.
A blaze of anger.
A challenge spat
in the wind’s face.

High-pitched
the rabbit’s grief
in its silver snare.
The midnight moon
deep in a trance.

If only I could kick away
this death’s head,
this sow’s bladder.

Full moon
drifting
high in a cloudless sky.

A Golden Oldie
Click on this link for the original post

https://rogermoorepoet.com/2016/05/

Click on this link for Roger’s reading.
Striations

True Love

True Love

True love flows so much deeper
than an exchange of body fluids
or a handing over of ritual rings.

Our advancing lives are no longer
ruled by nature’s primal urges.
Our bodies have been taken over
by old age stiffness, aches, and pains.

Some nights, I wake up to find
she no longer breathes. I reach out
in panic, touch her gently, and when
she breathes again, I heave a sigh
redolent with love and relief.

Listen to podcast here.
True Love