Friday, August 01, 2014

Change

                                                  11.4.08


Yes, it’s happened, again: We’re rich.
November’s cidered daylight
has brought the world into deep relief.
I can see the neighbor’s fence
plastered with yellowed sweet-potato-vine leaves,
unpicked Concord grapes
still plump on the vines.
Every changed leaf begins to glow
in the soft rain that’s started to fall --
apple yellow, old gold, orange, scarlet,
forsythia's surprising bright green --
even the crumpling ferns
standing in the side yard
sound a purple note.
You can't stop the great colors of change.
Right here, even now, the old world
makes way for
the new.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Tearing the Stars Apart











It starts with a twist of arm, such a small part
won't be missed, there are so many outstretched
arms, all arms and a mouth this holder on
of sand and rock, stronger than a tide. 

A yank and the starfish departs, leaving us
the opposite of empty-handed. The prize
for an almost-stolen embrace is a hand full of loss,
what can be replaced, or if not replaced, survived.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Search Party


A foreign tourist was reported missing in the volcanic canyon Eldgjá after she failed to return to her tour bus. She had changed her clothing during the stop and her fellow travelers did not recognize her; nor did she recognize the description of herself. She took part in the weekend-long search before realizing that she was the one “missing.” Iceland Review, 8.28.12


She went looking for the one who was missing.
The brightly weak afternoon light
panned all live and inanimate shapes
sieving finer and finer golds from deep red-browns.
She kept her head down
in case a key, a ring, an earring,
bronze moss rubbed wrong, the living nap
imprinted with a misstep.
She had so little to go on: a woman, young,
dark-haired, not from here.
All weekend they walked the old wounds
of the volcanic canyon.

If you must search for yourself
go missing in a place where fire and ice
carved battle scars in water and rock.
Venture up to the impassable place
where water falls.
Make no assumptions about who is lost.
Examine the terrain as if your life depended
on it: not the fissure, the molten,
but long-cooled evidence
of who we've loved and what we’ve seen,
the black glass, that mirror too dark to read.

The Believer  May 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Medusa Cuts Her Hair

Something in the curl wants out.

                 *

You think you know something about love,
have a clear idea of your own value.
Then your friends stop speaking
when you enter a room, turn a cold eye
on your antics, your pleas, your parting curse.

                *

Lately, I’ve let myself go.
Strange thoughts spring from my scalp.
They have a life of their own.

I think about striking out, striking back.
I think about curling into a knot,
and never encircling another again.

                *

What is it I keep hearing,
in waking and in sleep?
Little voices, secrets, fears.
Every wish I ever had, every hurtful
word I’ve said.
They do not leave, but hiss in the head,
weaving together until they sprout anew.
There are lies caught in my locks;
memories of happiness, too.

               *

He said he was a hairdresser,
would trim my tresses
by looking into a mirror.
I agreed to keep my eyes lowered.
Think of it; the snip of scissors,
a strange man’s fingers,
oil of aloe, henna, citrus.
Nervous, his limbs jiggled;
I fell in love with his legs
as he circled my chair.

               *

Where is the man who cut my hair?
People tease me, say I’ve lost my head.
Now, the world softens under my stare.


from Orpheus and Company: Contemporary Poems on Greek Mythology, Deborah DeNicola, editor (University Press of New England, 1999)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Stuck













He is of the desert, a tumbleweed tuft,
scrap from some great cactus combing its hair in the wind.
His too-bright eyes recall the fervor of pilgrims

crossing parched earth; his acute lament
like the shriek of cicadas on their one afternoon of sex.
Who dares point the finger? The wisest

among us has fled the safety
of hard ground. After we are swallowed whole,
we ask: how shall I hide my nakedness, how shall

I surface? When we look up, all we see
is the temple of the ribs, that holy cave. This is the tender trap,
the place where the heart lived. Here we can swim,

really swim, in the idea of love.
The heat of happiness lingers in every cavity.
The sound of it: thump thump, thump thump: keeps

time with the breaking waves,
with the schools of fish like schools of hearts,
drifting through the sea, drifting through the nets.

Now comes the huge hand of destiny,
squirming through the opening like a giant squid.
This is it. Just when we think we’re stuck, we're caught.

( Believe It or Not)

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Pursued


They were the kind of girls
who smiled into the face of the Sun,
closed eyes against its flaring touch –
the tip feathers of the giant swan
just brushing their nape.





I find their skirts in pieces
on the ground, red and yellow,
torn from their sides as they ran
from the Gods’ hot glance,
tried underbrush for camouflage.

In gathering wind and dark
I look up from my rake.
Someone dashes past: half-clad,

still in the chase, her fleet life all
before her, almost out of reach.


copyright Jean Monahan 2013