Sunday, January 27, 2008
This month features Susan Marie Watkins and Hope Jordan
Susan Marie Watkins
Thou Art That
I would join the sacred cows wandering untethered
Garlands of flowers like ropes of yellow, orange & red
Draped around their necks
I would walk the deserted streets of Mohenjo-Daro in distant Sind
To hear the voices of long-departed sages
Whose spirits roam the abandoned city &
Whisper softly in the wind
Like the rustling leaves of Bodhgaya
I would drift along the reedy banks of the Ganges
In the algae-scented evening
Wearing a sari of poppy red &
A billowing orange veil of sheerest silk
I would be the center of the universe
Cloud-shrouded and mysterious
As the distant Himalayas
I would daub my forehead with sindoor &
Visit jungle-ensnared temples
To thrill beneath the swarming primal images
The teeming carvings dripping with concealed wisdom
Of things both sacred & profane
I would be an ancient, saffron-robed sadhu
One with the fecund smells that rise and settle with the breeze
While droning OM's roll over me and
Images, sacred and profane, draw me back
To the heavy, earthy smell of the cows
To their flower garlands
And to their deep rootedness in the now
The Thames, milky jade under a gray sky;
As Big Ben chimes &
Tennyson & Browning molder
Beneath their poet's slabs in Westminster
Grass & daffodils push up green shoots
In the Tower's waterless moat &
Seven ebony ravens keep mute vigil
Over the Chapel of St. Peter Ad Vincula.
In Trafalgar Square where
Lord Nelson's column stands haughtily erect,
There are pigeons everywhere,
On my head, my hands, my outstretched arms.
In last year's yellow, too-short Easter dress,
I seek Paul in Abbey Road.
Then eat crepes, alone
At a little cafe in Petticoat Lane,
Wishing I were in love
In Stratford, I walk a narrow path
Past whimpering daffodils
Trembling in a glacial wind
That penetrates my yellow dress.
'Stupid Californian', Whitney laughs,
Guiding us on
Through moss-encrusted headstones
To Trinity Chapel
Where Shakespeare's bones rot in the chancel.
That night, crossing the river
To the Black Swan,
I play my new harmonica, &
Drink too much honey-spiced wine.
I sit on Whitney's lap &
He kisses me
As the clock strikes midnight, &
So I go
Back to my hotel,
Alone in the sharp darkness
Playing a mournful riff.
I stop on the bridge & watch the Avon flow.
A stray swan like a white shadow
Floats on its inky surface &
Luminous in the moonlight,
Shiver on its banks.
& I tremble with them,
Filled with a glorious fear,
On the cusp of lust.
Susan Marie Watkins is a native Californian who recently relocated to northwest Wyoming to enjoy a simpler life. She has been a full-time educator for the past 22 years, but is now taking a break from her career to pursue her passion for writing.
Tell me of fish and evening and sorrows,
Ice-covered creeks, fast and shallow, and dark
As departures, today's or tomorrow's.
The moon was a bonfire, now it's a spark.
Give me your burdens of rain and dull cold,
Terrible truths that lie under the snow.
Words are the lovers that never grow old,
Words like the ocean, eternal and slow.
Tell me of ghosts, electricity, bones,
Fathers and children, slow blood and weeping.
Who knows the secrets that live in the stones?
Only the water, pooling and seeping
Down deep in the ribcage, under the heart,
Wave upon wave with no end and no start.
No matter what the wizard said,
I'm not smart enough for her.
It's just the two of us again.
We both grew tired of the Lion.
And the Tin Man? He was a third wheel,
balanced us out for awhile,
but that got old before we reached the Emerald City.
Kansas is a little dull after Oz,
but we travel a lot. We were hiking out west
when the dog ran off - that was hard for her.
And she's twisted her ankle in those ruby shoes
too many times to count.
She leaves them in the car now.
She doesn't listen
when I tell her she doesn't need them.
I'm a caricature of a man,
good enough to scare away the black flapping things -
but who knows how long that will last?
She watches the weather
like a farm girl, still hates tornadoes.
A windy night brings her dreams
of red skies inside hourglasses running out.
A windy night brings me dreams too -
apples hard as rocks, crows with human faces,
and dry tinder, to close to the embers.
Hope Jordan's poems have been published in such journals as Many Mountains Moving and Green Mountains Review, and her fiction appeared in the anthology Scream When You Burn. A trustee of the NH Writers Project, she is also a proud alumnus of the Chenango Valley Writers Conference at Colgate University and a long-time member of the Yogurt Poets, a writing group based in Concord, NH. She has competed in poetry slams in Boston, New York and Manchester, NH. Jordan has a dual degree in English and Magazine Journalism from Syracuse University.