Darkness Darkness

The Fashion Institute of Technology had only one dorm, reserved for out-of-town students, so I felt lucky to have been granted a room, even if I knew it was only for the first year of my two-year program.  My roommate had sisters in the city, but had grown up upstate, in a Catholic group home, really an orphanage with all its attendant horrors.  Nothing has changed about that since the time of Dickens.

Her mother died when she was very young.  A family friend wanted to adopt her, but the Catholic Church refused to separated her from her two older sisters—the friend could not manage three more children.  Her sisters married as soon as they aged out of the system, and now lived again in the city where they had been born.  My roommate was a talented artist, and her high school art teacher encouraged her to prepare a portfolio and apply to FIT.  She wanted to be a textile designer.

Her father had abandoned the family when her mother became pregnant with a fourth child.  Unable to imagine being able to support three children, let alone four, on her own, the mother sought an abortion.  It killed her.

Her daughters had no choice but to accept the fact that both parents were permanently lost to them.  But there was a simmering anger in my roommate, a wound of loss and grief, that remained. 

I lost touch with her—we both moved around a lot after getting our associate degrees, and the internet was not even a blip on our consciousness in 1973—but I thought of her again when the decision overturning Roe v Wade was leaked to the press.

Now, as then in the 1950s, our government blames the poor for their poverty, penalizing most of all the living mothers and their living children, abandoned by fathers, or forced to flee abusive husbands and partners, condemning them to hunger and homelessness as a punishment for not being born lucky, for not having friends and family who have enough wealth and stability to pick up the pieces when they need a helping hand.

another grey sky–
spring comes late this year—crow calls
inside the graveyard

For dVerse, where Lisa asks us to consider the topic of grief.

I choose a place that is unfrequented by men

The moon has risen on the last remnants of night–
floating she brushes the heavenly stars.
The lake has widened till it almost joins the sky
and the mist rising from the water has hidden the hills.
Far off the Dipper lowers toward the river.
You’d think you’d left the earth–
body and spirit for a while have changed place
and open, open–
the world’s affairs, just waves.

A cento poem for NaPoWriMo Day 30. Thanks to Maureen Thorson for once again hosting this wonderful month of verse.

poets in order of appearance
Po Chü-i (title)
Po Chü-i
Li Po
Po Chü-i
Ou Yang Hsiu
Tu Fu
Ch’in Kuan
Po Chü-i
Li-Young Lee
Li Po

Haibun for a Reluctant Spring

The day is grey and I am swept along its ways.  Dense, impenetrable, uncertain.

And yet here is the sparrow tree.  It sings out in tangled branches of song, in a chaotic chorus with no melody but infinite cheer.

The path continues with a chill bleakness.  Robins and starlings bathe in puddles of mud.  A sudden startle of dog and wings open, rise.

The wind is relentless.  I regret dressing as if it were spring, as if winter had actually said its final farewell and relinquished its place on the wheel.  My hands dig deeper into my pockets.

Despite the lack of sun, grackles sparkle in the grass.  They watch me—curious?  wary?  amused?—as I stop to take them in.

I have a destination so I turn and travel east.  Blue jays echo my movements in a stop-and-start carousel of cries.  The moist air clings to my face.

emptying my thoughts
to make leeway for feathers–
invisible, light

Frank at dVerse asked for a haibun including the birdsongs of spring. A perfect time to bring out the birdlings.

Also linking to earthweal, where Brendan asks us to consider what serves as a commons for where we live. I would argue that every street in NYC is a commons, but the parks, especially, serve as a place where human and non-human intersect. My haibun is based on several recent walks through Central Park. Birds are everywhere (even in winter). But of course more of them and louder in spring.

the welkin ring

and could I be mistaken for a bird?–
whirled inside an everchanging sky,
suspended ocean-bound in waves of air
and carried clear, aloft, bestirred–
a vast and overwhelming need to fly
above the trees, beyond and anywhere

like rainbows cast unanchored toward the ground
my thoughts unravel, specters drawn and spare–
I try to hold my occult gravity,
but find the words, my wings, have disappeared
without a sound

A curtal sonnet for NaPoWriMo Day 16.

my life

And why not I thought to myself, why not
–Robert Creeley, “Like They Say”

in the beginning and
also in the middle and the end I wonder why
I am not
someone or something else, why I
am thinking this thought
when there is so much else to
consider in the universe that is not myself–
so much waiting to be asked why
and what and how—so much I am not

Another shovel poem for Muri’s April Scavenger Hunt. And my response to the NaPoWriMo prompt write a poem that takes the form of the opening scene of the movie of your life.

Spiraling

“A Tunnel” by Vika Muse

Is this the inside of my dream?  These days I am cautious of everything—afraid of the future, the past, afraid even of my fear.  But this is not the grey noir darkness of the usual tunnels my night journeys follow.  There are no trains to miss, no staircases to nowhere.  This passageway is alive, a cocoon of possibility opening into an illuminated aperture.

And do I see rabbits?  I was born in the Year of the Rabbit.  What will we find if we enter into that light?

happy end
ings tucked away just
in case—I
whistle on the wind–
birds echo the song

Mish at dVerse has introduced us to the art of Vika Muse:

“I wish I could have manta rays in the sky… instead of Russian bombs and military airplanes. I’ve noticed that my disturbing paintings didn’t make me happier. They cause even deeper depression. So I’ve tried to draw my future. It is bright and sunny. There are no bombs and war… Only beautiful landscapes and dreamlike sky. I hope I’ll meet such a future someday…
P.S. Be empathetic with your relatives and value your lifestyle. It’s big happiness to have mundane life and safety and independence. So simple and so valuable.”

You can find her on Instagram @get.muse She is also featured on this website http://www.inprnt.com

A tankaprose for Colleen’s #TankaTuesday prompt and for the NaPoWriMo prompt to write about the possibility of good things.

After the Deluge

The Oracle gave me five lines of a shadorma and multiple endings, all leading in the same direction. There is no resting place right now in the world created (and, increasingly, destroyed) by homo sapiens.

if life clouds
you with lonely whys,
rest between
the roots of
earth, breathing green spiritsong–
follow treepaths–walk
winter into spring–
listen to ancient
stones—wander with wind

The Distance Traveled

If I had been asked how many minutes I had been there, I could not have said.  Time did not belong to this space;  I could not measure it.

As a child I saw no contradiction in some afternoons expanding joyfully, while others stifled, impossible to escape.  Growing up meant constructing arbitrary boxes to make things fit into the space we were allowed to have.

Ask the butterfly
how it transforms the air.  Ask
the bird how its wings

capture light.  Ask the bees
about the ancient magic

of their dance.  Ask the
trees how it is that roots and
branches contain all

the maps needed to complete
the circle, sustain, abide.

Some days pass by and disappear as if they had never been.  Some days live forever.  Those are the days I seek.

For earthweal, where Sherry has asked about our wild heart.

Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by MsJadeLi.