Dark is her shop

Dark is her Shop

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I buy two liters of white mescal, cheap and rough,
without the second brewing: fire water, not smooth.
Two liters: she sells them in an old Coke bottle
she’ll seal with cellophane, and a rubber band.
Six worms I buy. Bedraggled fighters dragging
smoky trails as they plummet through a yellow sea.

In the shop next door I buy poinsettias.
When I get home, I put them in a vase
and watch them, red-eyed, watching me.
Bloodstains scratching a white-washed wall.

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Misshapen gems in a ceramic prison, their beauty
breaks me down: a fragmented world, decimated
words, metaphors born from worms and mescal.

The eyes I see are not eyes because I see them:
they are eyes because … twin brown ovals …
they watch me as they float in a liquid mirror
within the upraised glass held by my hand.

Outside, beyond the balcony,
sun -blood melts like sealing wax.
The bougainvillea strains sharp stains
through a lonesome slice of sunlight
giving birth to flamboyán and tulipán.

My lemon tree leans over to listen.
Glistening pearls of dew embellish
its morning throat. Christmas decorations
these postage-stamp minstrels, thronging
each branch, filling me with song.

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Butterflies, winged flakes of archaic paint,
flutter from temple walls leaving them barren.
Church towers, strong when terra firma shakes,
quiver insubstantial. Mescal melts the morning,
a miracle, this quiver of shimmering air.

Sacrifice

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Last night, a cataract of flame
flowed down the cathedral wall.
A wooden bull danced in the square,
sparks struck fire from his horse-hide hair.
A red speck on my shirt burned through to my skin.

Today a heart of fire burns in an iron barrel:
who will be chosen for the daily sacrifice?

A sharp blue guillotine poised between
buildings: this slice of morning sky.
Scorched circles, open mouths:
wide-open butterfly eyes burn holes
in the crowd’s dark cloud of a face.

A street musician stands in the shade
beneath the arches playing a marimba.
Sun tip-toesits danse macabre
across bamboo tubes. Sunlit bubbles
float dreams across the square.

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Daydreams

Duermeivela: that time when the waker dreams he is waking, yet is still asleep. His mind wanders through a labyrinth of old memories, streets and squares, myths and legends. It is a mythical time of great creativity. To wake up from it is to be filled with hiraeth: a longing for all that is lost and can never be recaptured.

Daydreams

The alarm clock shuffles
its pack of sleeping hours:
a clicking of claws,
needles knitting outwards
towards dawn’s guillotine.

A knife edge
this keening wind
sharpening my bones
tingling fingers and toes.

Ageing eyes refurbished
in the morning’s sky fire.
Ravishing rainbows
dazzling the eyelash of day.

Old myths grow legs.
They wander away
to gather in quiet corners,
where the wind weaves
dry leaves into endless
figures of eight.

 An old man now,
I dream of white rabbits,
running down tunnels,
escaping the hunter’s hands.

When my dreams break up,
they back into a cul-de-sac:
a wilderness of harsh black scars.

Scalpels, my finger nails, carving
red slashes on white-washed walls,
trenchant shadows, twisted dancers,
old warrior kings
bent into pipe wire shapes.



Pilgrims


Flowers from Oaxaca. They will be carried by the young girl who will place them on her head. Her brother will walk beside her on her pilgrimage around the twelve central Oaxacan shrines.

Pilgrims

On the cathedral steps,
a boy pierces his lips
with a cruel spine of cactus.

The witch doctor
catches the warm blood
in a shining bowl.

The boy’s sister
kneels before el brujo,
who blesses her
in an ancient ritual.

Walking the pilgrim road,
she will visit all twelve
central Oaxacan shrines.

On her head she will carry
this basket filled with flowers
and heavy stones.

El Brujo casts
copal on his fire.
Brother and sister
girl inhale the incense.
The witch doctor
marks their cheeks with blood.

San Pedro

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Looking back at my old photos from Oaxaca I am amazed at the contrasts between sun and shade, light and dark. I will never forget that ultimate glory: a sunbeam through a stained glass window, casting fragmented light.

San Pedro
Oaxaca

A single sunbeam descends.
Sharp blade of a heliocentric sword,
it shatters the chapel’s dark.
Fragmented light
stains me with glazed colors.

A pallid lily truncated
in the dawn’s pearly light,
Peter, the young widower,
kneels in prayer.

His head wears a halo.
His pilgrim palm
presses into the granite
forcing warming fingers
into a cradle of cold stone.

His flesh clings to
the statue’s marble hand.
A mingled maze:
marble and human veins.

Peter > petrus > piedra >
this church now a rock.

Alebrijes

Alebrijes

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This is one of the first alebrijes I bought in the zocalo (main square) in Oaxaca. He has lost his ears and probably his tongue. They started falling out so we wrapped them up carefully and now we can’t find them. He’s still a happy chappy, hough, and has been in this house for a quarter of a century. Happy Birthday Alebrije!

     Alebrijes step out from dried wood and stand in the shower of paint that falls from the brush’s tip. Yellow flash of lightning, pointillistic rain, garish colors that mirror those of the códices. The carvings take the form of fantasy figures, anthropomorphic animals, and mythological creatures.
Sometimes one individual selects the wood, carves it, then covers it in paint. Occasionally an entire family takes part in the work of making the alebrije. One person collects the wood and prepares it for carving. Another carves and sands it. A third works on the undercoat, and a fourth applies the final patterns of paint.
The great debate: does the form in the wood reveal itself to the carver or do the carvers impose their own visions on the wood? In the case of the team, do the family members debate and come to a joint conclusion?
These thoughts, exchanged with wood-carvers in Oaxaca, have led to a series of interesting conversations. What exactly is creativity? Where does it come from? Do we, as artists, impose it upon our creations? Or do we merely observe and watch as new ideas float to the surface of our minds? How does the creative mind really function? And, by extension, how much of the sub-conscious creative sequence can be placed into words?

Alebrijes

 Are they half-grasped dreams
that wake, wide eyed, to a new day’s sun?

Or are they alive and thriving
when they fall from the tree?

Does the carver fish their color and shape
from his own interior sea,
or does he watch and wait for the spirit
to emerge from its wooden cocoon
to be reborn in a fiery block of color?

Daybreak:
in a secluded corner of my waking mind,
my neighbor’s dog greets the dawn with sparks
of bright colors born from his bark.

My waking dream: dark angels with butterfly bodies,
their inverted wings spread over my head to keep me warm.
In the town square, the local artist plucks dreams
from my head and paints them on carved wood.

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Our house iguana: he is not an alebrije, but is made out of painted metal foil, carved first, and then decorated. He’s the one who guards the front door and falls upon unwanted intruders when they least expect it. Never stay home alone without one, or two, or more. But watch out if you have too many and they get hungry.

Sympathetic Magic

Nunca llueve en los bares: it never rains in the bars.

Sympathetic Magic

“Rain, we need rain.”
The bruja whirls her rain stick.
Rain drops patter one by one,
then fall faster and faster
until her bamboo sky fills
with the sound of rushing water.

An autumnal whirl of sun-dried cactus
beats against its wooden prison walls.
Heavenwards, zopilotes float
beneath gathering clouds.
Rain falls in a wisdom of pearls
cast now before us.

Scales fall from my eyes.
They land on the marimbas,
dry beneath bar arches
where wild music sounds,
half-tame rhythms,
sympathetic music
like this rainstorm released
by the bruja‘s magic hand.

Comment: Bruja: witch, witch doctor; Oro de Oaxaca: mescal, the good stuff; Zopilote: Trickster, the turkey vulture who steals fire from the gods, omnipresent in Oaxaca; Marimbas: a tuned set of bamboo instruments. But you knew all that!

Water

Not Oaxaca, but Avila, with una tromba, a meseta rainstorm, about to descend upon us. And when it descends, there is water, water, everywhere, as you can imagine from the clouds. In Oaxaca, water is precious. Tap water is to be avoided. Bottled water is to be preferred. We used to wash our vegetables in water that was specially chlorinated, also the pots and pans!

Water
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.
¡Agua!¡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.

https://rogermoorepoet.com/2016/04/28/water/

Comment: More and more competitions, publishers, and magazines are asking for ‘original material, not previously published, or self-published, even on your own blog.’ So what is a poet to do? Put up fresh material, and it is illegible for entry elsewhere. Recycle and revise old material? Now that might work. Click on the link above for the original version of this post! And yes, it has been previously published on these ages!

Queen’s Gambit

I always hated Queen Pawn openings 1. P-Q-4 – P-Q4. 2. P-QB4… the poisoned pawn.

Queen’s Gambit
the poisoned pawn

Openings are so important.
They should be magnets
drawing you in,
but sometimes they’re whirl-pools
dragging you down.

You try to hold your breath,
but you must breathe and let go,
you must go with the flow and sink
to whatever awaits you in the deep.

Down there, it’s a different world.
Light breaks its alternate shadow,
and you are the light in the darkness,
down there, where no sun shines.

You are the glow-worm,
glowing where no stars glow.
You are the line, the sinker, the hook,
the bait, the temptation that encourages
your opponents to sacrifice their own peace,
 to join you, to swim, or to drown.

Comment: To take or not to take, that is the question. It’s a long time since I read Hamlet or played competitive chess. I have forgotten many of the ins and the outs, the traps and the snares, the devils that hide in the details of ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Sometimes we must just take a chance and play by the seat of our pants. Sometimes we must try to recall all the nuances and shades of meaning. And we all know how one step leads to another and how a misstep leads to one disaster after another. Not to win or lose, but to play up, play up, and play the game. Says who? I don’t find those words in my favorite chess book: Chess for Money and Chess for Blood. The poisoned pawn, indeed: and a throw of the dice never eliminates chance / un coup de dès n’abolira jamais le hasard. Go on, take the pawn, throw the dice, I dare you.

Dreamer

Dreamer

A once-upon-a-time god struts past the table where I drowse.
Once I stole his nose, breaking it from a sacred statue.
Now I watch it cross the square: a proud beak nailed to a face.

Casting shadows on the cobbles, zopilote flies over the square.
I caught him once, dozing on a local bus filled with love-birds:
he begged me to fold his wings and let him sleep forever.

The balloon lady sits in the square selling tins of liquid soap.
Released from school, the children charm my days
blowing colored bubbles that seek freedom in the skies.

Eight Deer, eight years old, sets out on his conquests.
Nine Wind gives birth to his people, releasing them
from their underworld prison by carving a door in a tree .

Faces crowd the trees above me, as long-dead friends
come back to life, chattering like sparrows in the branches.
Roosting time and their voices slip slowly into silence.

Sometimes, at midnight, they scratch at the window
in my head and tumble through my half-awake mind.
They need me, these dreams, for I bring them to life.
Without me, the dreamer, they would surely fade and die.