Poem: Another God

bed-space

Another God

by Shannon Laws

I cannot sleep
next to you
The porch light
on the other side
of the curtains
tricks me awake

You look frozen on a canvas,
painted in oils by a master,
shadows lightly brush your shape

I study the back of your head
your ear lobe
a quiet beating vein
the hairline along the neck

There’s a frame of freckles
below the shoulder blade
They look like Orion poised
with bow, arrow aimed upward

I am not your Merope taken by blind force
I am Andromeda, wrists wrapped in iron
ready for monsters to decide loves fate

Gods visit the sheets of women
a vacation from eternity
Taste the finite in the kiss,
wipe their mouths with times mist

I will lose you as I lost others

Tonight your constellation glows in porch light,
while I dream of everything I cannot have

 


orion
Orion in the night sky. The second constellation I learned as a kid after the Big Dipper. It gives me comfort to find these two in the same night, then I know I’m home.

 

Note:

Merope [mer-uh-pee]  was the daughter of Dionysus’s son Oenopion, king of Chios; Orion fell in love with her, and Oenopion refused to give her up, instead having him blinded. Orion regained his sight and sought vengeance, but was killed by Artemis, or by a scorpion, or by some other means (one of many versions of the story).

Poem: Lights Tonight

stars-milky-way

Lights Tonight

The lights this evening are not denied their time
farther away from Harris Avenue the brighter they become
Lemon juice irritates the cut on my thumb
Ghost-hitchhiker talks to my temple

How do you find harmony,
find a hole and fill it

 

He beat the Lilith out of her Eve that night
used her blood to write his scriptures

The lady’s roots scream,
I will not fall before my time.
My time is not today!

 

Lights above,
I’ll settle for a shooting star
come down, swing low
this night Split my
shadow four ways
round robin me
‘round the
Milk Way

It is not death I seek
but dancing the
true dance
true

Poetry: Sailing

Letting go
to me means
RELAXING
Do not stress
procrastinate
prolong
ignore
Let go of the tither
untie the boat
sail for open water
face temptations
fears of drowning
false beliefs
that await me
in the waves
Swells will
rock me
stars will
guide me
breeze will
cool me
Once the smell
of earth is gone
a seagull
will appear
marking the moment
my limits are
discovered

*A poem written during a poetry class 
March 2013

Star Berries

Oscar Wilde said, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”  The day before New Year’s 2013 my eyes are everywhere but the stars.  I feel like I’m in the gutter.  I am one of an estimated two million in the U.S. whose emergency unemployment benefits ended December 29th.  Now, when I was laid off from my job last March, the company gave us an official 30 days notice.  My government, however, gave folks two weeks’ notice, two weeks before Christmas, that the payments may end 12/29/12*.  On New Year Night, millions waited to see what the Congress and Senate would pull out of their ass on the eleventh hour.  It was time for a walk.

I walked down the hill toward the creek, but on this day I yearned for a new adventure.  Turning right I headed for Whatcom Falls, round trip journey is just under four miles.  The wind was light that morning and carried the scent of snow from the foothills twenty miles east.  Overcast clouds, bounce white light around the barren branches in the woods of deciduous trees that hug the walk; the bark black-wet and silent.  Deciduous means “Falling off at maturity”.  I think on this for a while.  Perhaps maturity means accepting the seasonal changes life rotates through our world, even the ugly ones.
Crows caw at Seagulls as the two families compete for stale bread thrown into the road.  The first hill rises up ahead of me; my mouth opens to take in more air as the legs dig into the incline.  Passing an old white Ford truck, parked on the curb, a waft of “dirty engine” blows across the nose.  I take the history into the lungs and carry it with me across Woburn Street.  The trails trick me as they wind aroundpass a brook that I could hear, but not see.  Oh you little spell spinner, I think.
Suddenly I find myself at the foot of a cemetery hill facing 60 or so tombstones.  This cemetery is known for its weeping angels and walking ghosts.  In the mind’s eye the dead are ghosting about enjoying the day; some sitting on their stones, resting, others socializing.  My presence startles them; their heads turn to look at what has stumbled in.  For a moment we stare at each other; the living are among the dead!  Respectfully I bow and greet them a “Good morning” then leave quickly.  Conversations with ghosts only encourage them to follow you.  I have enough ghosts.
Turning around to correct my path I cross over that tricky stream.  Winter’s debris has it covered in a blanket of “hush”, but water is only silenced by Jack’s frozen finger.
Cell phone photo of my Snowberry bushes

Pass a large Cedar, and the black chain link fence that divides the Jewish dead from Christian, there are Snowberry bushes.  Hanging heavy with their poisonous fruit on the thinnest of twigs, they droop over in a random pattern like stars.  The branches so thin, if you squint your eyes just so, the wood disappears and all you see are white dots.  In a local Native tongue the name for these berries translates to “food of the dead”,  How appropriate for these then to row up against the Bayview Cemetery fence.

Being a child of the Northwest I know not to eat white berries.  The berries do not scare me.  Today, on this day, I see them as stars.  The trail is empty as I stand surrounded by a Snowberry universe.  For a moment I float.  I am an astronaut floating outside my craft.  Floating like a leaf that navigates gently down a river, unaware of its direction or the dangers of rapids.  The leaf floats where the water takes it, the water goes where all water goes, home to the ocean.  I float.
I float…
Common Snowberry (S. albus) is an important winter food source for quail, pheasant, and grouse, but is considered poisonous to humans. The berries contain the isoquinoline alkaloid chelidonine, as well as other alkaloids. Ingesting the berries causes mild symptoms of vomiting, dizziness, and slight sedation in children. 
Interesting information here regarding NW plants:
http://www.americanprogress.org
*Under the most recent extension, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, emergency unemployment benefits will expire at the end of 2012. If Congress does not act to extend benefits, more than 2 million Americans will lose federal unemployment insurance just after Christmas with another 900,000 estimated to lose their benefits in the first three months of 2013.

Poetry Warm Up

Last Saturday I attended a class taught by Wendy Call “Self-Editors Toolkit: Improve Your Own Prose” at the Chuckanut Writers Conference.  During the class she had us do a fun poetry practice game or warm up.  Thought I would share it with you here.  I enjoyed doing this, perhaps you will also.  I find that warm ups like this loosen up the mind and place our thoughts in a good working space. 

First- draw 2 boxes that are shaped like the formats you prefer to use when you write poems.  For example- a long thin rectangle or a wide square.

Step one/first box:  write a short poem to someone close to you.  This will be like a letter to a close loved one or friend, share with them something that you believe in  This will be called “Poem A”

Step two/second box:  write a short poem to a person who is far away, physically or otherwise.  Introduce yourself not using your name & mention something about traveling.  This will be called “Poem B”

Step three:  combine the lines, writing a new “combo” poem, only fudging the verbiage slightly so to help the poem gently in this fashion: 

1st line A
1st line B
2nd line A
2nd line B
A
B
A
B
(etc)

Here is what I came up with:

Poem A
To my son, about the night we sat around our chiminea one warm summer evening:

UFO Pilots

I believe
in the stars
that moved
above the
chiminea

Planes do not
zig like
those stars
zagged
that night

Many missed
the dance
in the sky
while they
pondered
the flames
before
them

Poem B
To an unknown/future friend:

Table Setting

I wear spit up
proudly on my shoulders,
hand print of spaghetti sauce
covers my back pocket

Preparing a dinner
while mothering three,
a place setting I set for you,
my friend far away

Tonight you dine with us
and the miles shorten
so salt can be passed
one hand to another

COMBO:

I believe
I wear the spit up
of stars
proudly on my shoulders,
watching them move like
hand prints of spaghetti
above our chiminea,
slipping into the back pocket
of my memory

Enjoy!
Please also check out Wendy’s web site for more helpful ideas and inspiration:
http://www.wendycall.com/