love poem :: lisa russ spaar

Why was I born if it
wasn’t forever?

—Ionesco

I want to give you
more than these words
finite as husks
or a string of barbed wire.
I want you to see
the blue knot my fist made,
cast down against this page
in sunlight so bright,
it seemed to swallow
the marks I made here.
How the chuckling shadows
of full-leafed trees
swarmed around me while I wrote,
as though winter
were some remote, impossible joke;
and how they lengthened, eventually,
like the day,
into roads straight as rods,
slabs of gold, consoling sun
on either side
denying that there ever really are
any other paths
than the one we finally take.
I want to give you
what you cannot see here,
the shadow of my body
spilling across your face
when you lie under me,
as deep and intangible
as honeysuckle or any living thing
that heaps its fragrant weight
against a fence,
trusting it, forever.

what we lost :: michael ondaatje

The interior love poem
the deeper levels of the self
landscapes of daily life

dates when the abandonment
of certain principles occurred.

The rule of courtesy — how to enter
a temple or forest, how to touch
a master’s feet before lesson or performance.

The art of the drum. The art of eye-painting.
How to cut an arrow. Gestures between lovers.
The pattern of her teeth marks on his skin
drawn by a monk from memory.

The limits of betrayal. The five ways
a lover could mock an ex-lover.

Nine finger and eye gestures
to signal key emotions.

The small boats of solitude.

Lyrics that rose
from love
back into the air

naked with guile
and praise.

Our works and days.

We knew how monsoons
(south-west, north-east)
would govern behaviour

and when to discover
the knowledge of the dead

hidden in clouds,
in rivers, in unbroken rock.

All this we burned or traded for power and wealth –
from the eight compass points of vengeance

from the two levels of envy

stenciled memories :: lorna dee cervantes

     for Gra’ma

There was always fabric in your lap
and a whistle in your heart. A sweet
sap to be sucked waited in the garden.
Nymphs of newts nestled under rock,
your role as She Who Brings the Waters
intact. Between the trilling of the crickets
educating into the night and the sad sack
of cans in the mornings something grew,
flourished in the dark — vines as sturdy
as telephone wire writhed in the breezes.
You patched together a blanket of us,
sewed together the mismatched and lopped
off edges. And anger grew a twin, ripped
through the bermuda grass, something stubborn
and determined: Me, in a leather patchwork skirt,
the bitter lemon song returning to its beginning
over and over on the Howdie Doody phonograph,
a handful of bandages, a faceful of ghosts
delivered from the mirrors. How did you stand it?
All of it. Us crunching through your set life,
kids scuffling through the mounds of leave.
Always making do. Your sunshine eyes,
those stenciled memories where
we still live.

a short story of falling :: alice oswald

It is the story of the falling rain
to turn into a leaf and fall again

it is the secret of a summer shower
to steal the light and hide it in a flower

and every flower a tiny tributary
that from the ground flows green and momentary

is one of water’s wishes and this tale
hangs in a seed-head smaller than my thumbnail

if only I a passerby could pass
as clear as water through a plume of grass

to find the sunlight hidden at the tip
turning to seed a kind of lifting rain drip

then I might know like water how to balance
the weight of hope against the light of patience

water which is so raw so earthy-strong
and lurks in cast-iron tanks and leaks along

drawn under gravity towards my tongue
to cool and fill the pipe-work of this song

which is the story of the falling rain
that rises to the light and falls again