My Jeoffry (for NaPoWriMo, Day 26)

He is the Living God.

At first glance, his body with elegant quickness
leaps up to catch the blessing.

He rolls.

He begins to consider this:
if they are clean, his paws, himself.

He rolls; he may not be interrupted.
He looks up in quest of his neighbor;
he will kiss her in kindness.

When he takes his dallying,
his business more properly begins.
For he keeps in the night
his electrical skin and glaring eyes.

He counteracts death.
He loves the sun, the Tiger.
(The Angel Tiger.)

He has a serpent, which
will not do destruction
without provocation.

For a blessing at the departure
from Egypt, every family had
one cat at least in the bag.

Love is the quickest
point of gravity
he knows.

There is nothing sweeter
than his life. He is poor.

I bless the name, Jeoffry,
the divine spirit, complete,
exceeding pure in what it wants.

He can carry a stick,
waggle, jump, catch
the hypocrite afraid
in very pernicious land.

His ears, they sting from
the passing quickness of
electricity. Light. Fire.

Electrical fire from heaven blessed him tho he cannot fly.

His motions are,
more than all the measures,
the music for life.

He can.

 

 

NaPoWriMo, Day 26 prompt: Write an erasure poem, which is where you take an existing poem and remove many of its words. For bonus points, you leave spaces where the erased words used to be. But WordPress hates long, strange lines, and I kind of like it this way. I started with For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry, by Christopher Smart, which I’ve loved for a long time. 

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Maybe the Rosemary

Time to write about religion now,
after buying bananas and escarole,
after passing up a rosemary plant
that was blooming, which I have
never seen, which sent me on a
whole series of associations
(gardens, my mother, whose name
was Rosemary; she was a pilgrim
in the garden, always a transplant
and always seeking something—
blooming vigor, a pleasant surprise
brought about by her own two hands:
Oops! Look at that—this thing I have
tended, not even knowing for sure what
it was, is now exploding in splendor.)
But anyway, I was buying onions
and carrots, basil and bread,
showing Betty, my daughter,
how the eggs we buy are cage free,
certified humane. I was cringing
at my ostentatiousness, how I
justify myself out loud, and my
children were fighting, mainly
Joseph, my son, relentlessly
needling Betty because he is
smaller and knows he is smaller.
They both got cookies anyway,
which I can’t justify except that
being smaller can be difficult,
and sometimes I am too tired
to mete out life lessons, so I
give out cookies freely and
allow cookies to be given.
Now I think maybe I’ll buy
that rosemary plant someday,
for a friend of mine who just
turned 50 and who watched
our goldfish this weekend
so he wouldn’t die, which
he likely wouldn’t have done
in three days’ time, but I felt
better with some eyes on him,
and precise instructions on
when to drop in his shelled peas,
cucumber slices. Maybe the
rosemary would grow on her deck
all summer, and she’d think of me—
perhaps even my mother, whom
she never met—each time she
stepped out to snip a sprig here
and there. Now I have to write
about what it is that I have faith in.
It’s everything I just told you, though
I’d like to add a number of things:
mainly James, my husband, across
from me at the table, and the birds
outside, singing in the gray.

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets (aka “my Tuesday thing”).

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In the Beginning, There Was

My children talk about what the beginning
of the world looked like. It was pink, says
my son, with total certainty, almost as if
he remembers the beginning of his world,
which was not the beginning of mine,
but close: If we’re talking billions of years,
then what are my 35 before he was born?
Is it possible that at age four, he can
still hold the memory? I’ve heard that
we all retain everything we’ve ever
experienced, that we only forget
because so many things are layered
over, and perhaps because to remember
so much would be unbearable, even
immobilizing. At seven, my daughter
is shedding memory so rapidly that
preschool, which once seemed
indelible—which only ended
three years ago—is now mostly
gone. This is necessary, I know:
new experiences overlapping,
overtaking, replacing the old.
But if my son could remember
far enough, beyond pink beginnings,
further back even than his dividing cells,
those of all his human relatives, past
primates, further back than mammals,
past an egg tooth and a leathery shell,
beyond a pond somewhere—the
simplest beginning of the simplest
creature—beyond all that, back
and back to atoms, and past that,
all the way to nothing, would he have
an answer? Would he see the divine,
the void, the ways in which the two
are one and the same? But this is all
too cosmic. I wanted to say a true thing,
and somehow I ended up at imaginary
space dust. As if flesh is not enough.
Flesh. Sunlight. Water. Love.

Enough.

 

 

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. Please check out the many other fine poets who link there every Tuesday p.m.!

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Purpose

Somewhere, there is
a pile of scissors,
all waiting for
a guiding hand.

Safety scissors compare
stubby tips with nail scissors;
surgical scissors and kitchen shears
talk over finer points of tendon, bone.

All have platinum-white blades,
gold handles. All lie jumbled
in a drawer, waiting, hoping
to someday be

useful.

 

 

To be linked later today at Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.

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Passing

God was in the hush under
the soft-needled pine tree that
reaches out over the sidewalk
and is now freighted with snow,
late-winter snow, wet and heavy.
Stop, I told my son. Look up.
Isn’t it quiet? Do you feel it?

But then a man, whose
irritated presence I had not
felt, appeared beside us
and then in front, having seen
that we and our grocery cart
were not going to step aside,
let him pass without

having to step into the street,
or a high drift, spilling snow down
inside his boots. Then I was
a spiritual dilettante, an oblivious
seeker of capital-E Experiences,
and everything was complicated
again, not simple after all.

 

 

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.

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Book of Myths

Over the canned announcements on the train,
she continues to tell me about the birth of Titans,
how Cronus swallowed his own babies, and how
you would think the world began with Zeus,
but he was once a baby, and the world began
instead with Gaea, Mother Earth. I wanted
to tell her that it’s all myth—not just those
ancient stories, but others, too:

the patient turtle that holds us upright,
we people made of clay and rib. So many
ways to organize a world. So many things
to understand, however we can.

Left unfinished is any idea of how
to tell her our myths, too, the ones
I spent Sundays learning, week by week,
craft by craft. Apostles’ boats of Ivory
soap, woven willow twigs signifying
something (baskets, perhaps, for loaves
and fishes?). It’s different when
the myths are still living, still asking
to be believed, when there is
a prickle you can’t deny

before you throw away the Bible tract,
when the church bells sing a song
you still remember.

Someday, I want to give her
these things, too:  a giant boat,
a pillar of salt, a god-man-ghost
leaping, unseen but recognized,

welcomed.

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.

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