All That Is

What do we say to death when
it insists on arriving despite the fact that we
are not ready?  We still have love
that needs to be given.  We
haven’t said all that we feel
to those who need to know.  It
is never the right time, is it?  That’s all.

(a shovel poem after Robert S. Carroll  “This Much”)

I get daily emails of poetry from several sources. I don’t have time to read them all, but I look at least one every day. Yesterday when I opened the Rattle email to the poem “This Much” by Robert S. Carroll, about the death of his father, I was stopped in my tracks. I read it over several times, and then wrote this shovel poem from the ending thought “When we love, we feel it all”. I urge you to read Carroll’s poem here.

For dVerse OLN, hosted by Sanaa, and another response to Sarah’s prompt to have a conversation with another poet/poem.

I know everyone is obsessed with Donald Trump right now, but 4000 people died yesterday in the United States from Covid-19.

Aliens

You meet me only on your own terms, describe me and put me into categories based on the systems created by the human mind.  You expect me to respond like you do, refusing to grant intelligence or even sentience to my interactions with others of my species, with the world I know, inhabit, understand.  You deny me even the dignity of knowing who I am.

The sea calls to you—it is where you came from, what you carry in the cells that form your body.  Before history begin, we were all one.  You believe in your own superiority, the pinnacle of a tree with many branches that was seeded in the ocean.  But the branches are subtle, complex.  Our paths are so divergent they intersect only on completely different layers of reality.

You consider the possibilities; I am all potential.  You struggle to reconcile body and mind; my brain is everywhere in my body, fully integrated into my entire being. We have no physical equivalence.  What makes you think your dreams are better, or more real?

what is a thought?  can
words capture it?  images,
colors, patterns—this

is music—transformations
into chords of utter joy

It took me awhile to figure out what animal to give a voice to for the earthweal challenge this week from Sherry, when animals speak. But I kept going back in my mind to a book I read last year by Peter Godfrey Smith, Other Minds, about the octopus but also about how life came to be. Cephalopods are truly alien forms of life.

They are their own canvas, their own clay, with malleable bodies that can change their skin both in color and pattern. Their mind is located throughout their body and arms, and they seem to both learn and play. Is it possible to ever truly understand their consciousness?

Nine of Wands (after Emily Dickinson)

child of my past, you
have not traveled far enough
to forget troubles

that once stood before you—ones
you could not tell from the ones

that had been left be
hind—sometimes to understand
means to leave, and some

times it requires being held
by what you could not keep—you

can never find all
the pieces to the puzzle
at the same time—but

so much remains—release what
is lost–make ways to be found

Sarah at dVerse asked us to have a conversation with a poem we read in the last year that resonated with us. Last week I was listening to some poems being read on Brain Pickings, and one particular Emily Dickinson poem, read by Patti Smith, stayed in my mind. As I listened to it several times, I wrote down the words that jumped out at me, and started to make my own poem with them. I sometimes do this when listening to poetry, and find that the emotional tone influences what I write, even if the subject I write about turns out to be totally different.

Sarah’s prompt made me return to and revise the poem, and I thought it went well with a collage I just finished too, based on the Tarot Nine of Wands. I love all kinds of cards, and the symbolism of Tarot is especially rich for the kinds of imagery I use in my collages. Nine of Wands is a card of resilience.

You can read Emily Dickinson’s poem #600, I Was Once a Child, and hear Patti Smith reading it, at Brain Pickings, here.

Joker’s Wild

sorry charlie fool s

It doesn’t matter if you say
no
in fact:  why not?
go ahead

I’m taking it with a grain of salt

It’s a blessing in disguise

I may have missed the boat but
I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it

in fact:  the sky’s the limit

And if I’m not playing
with a full deck:  so what?
I’ve got an ace in the hole

I’ve got the whole nine yards

I’ve got all the time in the world

joker s

Take a wild guess–what’s in my hand?
Gobbledygook?  Only a joke?
Hullabaloo?  Mirrors and smoke?

Juggle to play–where will they land?
Diamonds and kings?  Jack and a Trump?
Ace in the hole?  Or just a hunch?

Song and a dance–strike up the band!
Monkeys are here–business to make–
Chickens are counted–won’t calculate.

Quick!  Heads or tails?  Where do you stand?
Not fair at all?  Surely you jest–
I’m just a card–take a wild guess.

Two final fools for 2020, both from 2016. I wonder what inspired me that year? Let’s hope 2021 deals us all a better hand.

Beggar’s Ride

beggars ride s

What lies beyond up?

Shadows, a winding staircase,
a journey without end.

Clouds traveling unwalled–
a fool’s ship, a beggar’s ride,
a castle in the sky.

A reblog of my response to Sue Vincent’s photo prompt, above, from 2018.  I wanted to try one of Jane Dougherty’s “42” poems–I love a question to start a poem–so that’s the form I used here. And it’s a good reminder I should try this form again.

stairs s

I had an idea to combine brush paintings of horses with collage, although this wasn’t what I was thinking when I did the horses.  That’s usually what happens to my ideas…they go off on tangents.

horse s

Continuing this week’s Feast of Fools, inspired by the earthweal challenge.

recognizing the night

angels without bodies
heads with wings
gazing with dismay
upon humanity–

where indeed?
did they come from
will they go?
and who knows

who they are
who we are
and why we are
on opposite sides?

who is this?  who
petitions the heavens
surrounded by sky waves
encased in a floating shell

held by cherubs–
the sun waits
uncertain afraid
while multiple madonnas

hover above
the mission grounds–
what is the mission?
of this line drawn

over and under–
who drew it?
who was first
to deny kinship

to question the connection
between we and they–
is it just a matter
of transposing

the words the sounds?
what prayers must Our Lady
carry past the pleading priests?
over the waves

through the clouds
into the night
where the moon waits
patient and wise

For the earthweal challenge A FEAST OF EARTH FOOLS. Once again, I am uncertain if my answer fulfills the question. But I believe the moon, patroness of lunatics, deserves a seat at earth’s table.

Part of this poem came out of something I wrote about an engraving in the Hispanic Museum celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe. It was an unhappy scene I thought–even the angels looked distressed. The sun appeared to be attempting to hide. Only the three visions of the Lady seemed to hold any real spiritual essence. It was titled “Recognizing the Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe”–clearly what was needed was to recognize the night.

Talk Like Shakespeare Today

What fools, what fools, what fools these mortals be
what fools to mimic riches glitter fame
what fools to in those masks refinement see
what fools embraceth folly without shame

Where every likeness hath its own deceit
wherein it looketh match to opposite
pretended twin to answer in repeat
the shoe that forceth toes and heel to fit

With voices like to painted artifice
with jaws that stretcheth into polished teeth
with promises that proveth meaningless
duplicity a smile cached underneath

And will the masquerade yet come undone?
I fear the jester killeth us with fun.

The Earthweal challenge this week is titled A FEAST OF EARTH FOOLS. Brendan has asked us to “Mix your human essence with another living entity”, in the spirit of the ancient seasonal celebrations that invite reversals, chaos, and ghosts into the world in order to transform it.

I’ve often written about fools, and decided to repost some of them this week, while considering how to answer Brendan’s invitation. It’s not a bad idea this time of year to consider the folly of humankind.

This poem was written in April 2016 for Shakespeare’s birthday, and Talk Like Shakespeare Day (yes it really exists).