The Jester

I wrote this in university, after realizing that I could write something and call it a poem, that I had a poetic voice.

The Jester

smiles and grimaces - 

juggling
balls,
words. 
emotions.

People applaud
the gesture.

Things Change

Many years ago, I had to take a course in Anglo-Saxon literature. It was intense because I was one of only 3 students so I couldn’t even skip occasionally – and I would have liked to. The only thing I remember from that course was this chorus from a long poem. As I remember it, (not according to the modern translation,) the poem was about feasting at the high table, followed by the chorus – 

“That passed away, so shall this.”

Later, another verse about being in the middle of a storm on the North Sea, followed, of course, by the chorus –

“That passed away, so shall this.”

When I think of the Biblical quote about there being a time for everything, or the Buddhist concept of impermanence, I remember the message of this Anglo-Saxon poem – everything changes; nothing stays the same.

Gethsemane Time

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Gethsemane – is a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, most famous as the place where Jesus prayed and his disciples slept the night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

I

Constant twilight,
Constant sound:
The bleeping heartbeat
Bumping along:

Gethsemane time.

Naming the losses,
Watching them grow:
The unknown husband,
The useless hands:

Gethsemane time.

Body morphing,
Mind mutating:
Light dying,
No escaping:

Gethsemane time.

II

They sit together, his arm holding her, the woman who was,
and is no longer,
to answer or demand, while
he keeps trying to share:

Gethsemane time.

He talks with his friend, as they speak of nothings
and not of wives; while they avoid
the questions that have no answers,
except endings:

Gethsemane time.

He returns to the house that looks like home
and smells of her absence
while nothing can repair the silences and spaces
waiting for him:

Gethsemane time.

Caught

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Caught between my mirror
and blackouts, my mother and hope
twisting around to glare into
headlights and greasy black highways
behind me …

I don’t want to be here, but
to stand entwined, taking Communion

as if I were holy
as if I could hide from the whale’s lesson
as if I could pray

Things Change

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Things Change

The name I used to murmur in delight
Now I sob over in the night.
Things change.

The woman I used to find so annoying
Now I watch, envious and admiring
Things change.

The work I loved and did so well
I’ve left behind; I lost the joy.
Things change.

The fear I carried so long and deep
I look at now and no longer weep.

Things change.

November – A Poem About the School Year

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I spent most of my life living the rhythms of the school year. November was always difficult. Here’s a poem I wrote a number of years ago when I was still teaching.

November in School

In November, everything crashes –
files are lost,
cars slide into each other,
suiciding squirrels shut down generators
and I
am late for school.

In November, people weep –
assignments fail,
teachers and students snarl,
work done is less than hoped,
and more,
much more, is required.

In November, we fear –
even if Christmas ever comes,
even if spring only hides behind
the winter we have to endure,
we have lost
whatever we came here to find.

Soldier Susan

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Many years ago, looking at my tendancy towards martydom in the face of emotional abuse, I wrote this poem. Somehow, this week it feels appropriate to post it.

Soldier Susan
springs forth
to protect
against wounding
against obliteration.

“Quiet,” she says,
“Quiet, there is
nothing
you
can do.

Do nothing, and
maybe, maybe
you will not
be punished.

Seeing
is dangerous:
speaking
brings pain,
wounding,
perhaps death.

Stay quiet.”

“But,” the whisperer wants
to know,
“what about this pain?
How do I become blind
to what I have seen?

How do I change
what I cannot accept?

I must act.”

Soldier Susan says,
“No, no, no, wait!
there is nothing
you
can do
that will not

bring ruin.”

The whisperer trembles
trying to close
her eyes, her mouth,
but heat, words
rush, push
forward,
fill her with straining,
demanding release,
any release.

And now she is
blind and deaf
to all except
the need to
release

the pain, the vision