March 25, 2011

Ghost [jana]

I’m living to be invisible,
waking to disappear.
Hoping to be a cloud
a blade of grass
wanting to be lost
or anything but noticed.
Attention means only pain or pity.
What invisible really is
—a kind of suicide—
No one ever says it out loud.
They’re happy to tolerate.
Just as long as I keep quiet and
vacuum my footprints
from the carpet.
I was never here.

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March 22, 2011

At the Hotel Pescille [judd]

Lay your head back my beauty
Let the sun bake if only for
One poisonous moment
You won’t feel this angle of
Solar ray much longer for
In only four days, no three now
We go back, all the way back
(And we do not know at
This sunny juncture
What awaits us,
A nor’easter and a crowded
Newark Airport with people
Acting badly toward other people
Who happen to have wings on their
Lapels but not on their backs)
But now an angel grills
Our lunch over glowing wood
An archangel whose scarred head
Bows over the inferno
He brought us this amber wine
This Vernacia
And my love rises with
Each magnificent sip

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March 18, 2011

Santa Maria Assunta in Siena [jenna]

The train chugged away, taking the backdrop of the twenty-first century with it. Siena stretched ahead of us, small and lovely, contentedly seven hundred years old.

Once a rival to Florence, the little city of Siena was arrested by the plague, cut off before its growth boom could flourish and give it the power Florence later attained. Its architecture survives from the Middle Ages, its modern aspects—shops, cars, hip young Italians and tourists—merely layered on top or corking little holes in the structure. Terrible as the Black Death was, it left a segment of history intact that more powerful later years too often destroyed.

We climbed streets and stairs, wondering at svelte little boutiques tucked into brick walls with iron rings for tying up horses. The tiny, brightly-colored cars that Italians like to drive rattled across the cobblestones, fearless among the pedestrian traffic.

At the Il Campo piazza, a popular stop for both tourists and pigeons, we took pictures against the clock tower before heading onward. Our main goal was Siena's cathedral.

Green and white striped marble walls came into view first, rough at the tops and arches, obviously unfinished. The expansion of the duomo (Italian for cathedral) had been caught half-completed during the Black Death.

The front of the building stood facing away from us as we approached. We crossed the half-enclosed courtyard, rounded the corner, and all of us stopped to stare. Horses, bears, eagles, angels, lions, and myriad other carvings took their form from a high wall of pink marble. Biblical scenes filled in the peaks, brilliant images against gold backgrounds. It was wholly unlike anything I'd ever seen before, and though the high doors waited, it took me awhile to convince myself to look away long enough to enter.

The medieval carved stone floors, worn after centuries of booted tread, are uncovered for viewing only six weeks of the year. We got lucky. Even at the ticket booth, though, I couldn't at first drop my eyes to the floor. The walls and pillars all around me were of the same green and white stripe, with Gothic lines and points. Frescoes appeared regularly along the walls, and stars were painted into midnight blue peaked ceilings. Being American and used to finding age and grandeur in brick churches and concrete courthouses, I’d lost my breath at sight of the huge baroque wonders of Rome—but even Rome could not compete for beauty against the sharp upward focus of the older Goth.

Once through the ticket booth, I walked over to the first roped-off section of floor. There, traced into the marble, was Hermes Trismegistus. He held a book that—in Latin—said something about God the creator of all things and His Son the Holy Word. As a student of the alchemical influence on Christian literature, I nearly broke the solemn quiet with a squeal at finding the author of the Corpus Hermeticum on a cathedral floor. It was contact with the reality of the Middle Ages— when science and faith considered themselves friends, not enemies; when pagan thought was simply sifted and baptized, rather than abhorred as wholly evil.

Hermes was not my last startling discovery upon the floors. The Slaughter of the Innocents, a depiction of the murder of the baby boys in Judaea just after Christ’s birth, was difficult to look at without tears. Elsewhere, King David’s son Absalom hung caught in a tree by his hair. Men rode the philosophical Wheel of Fortune (Pat Sajack and Vanna White not included) from worldly might to poverty and back again; I had never heard of the mythic Wheel, but later learned that Christians used it to remember that the mighty will fall, and that the things of earth are only earthly.

Pillar bases, the baldacchino, music stands and gates—everything above the floor appeared to be carved or sculpted or painted. Michelangelo's St. Paul stood in one of the many corners, and at one point I peered through an iron gate into a little bit of paradise—flowers, candles, and a beautiful icon of the Madonna and Child. We lit a candle there, and stopped to pray.

Off to the side, a little library proved another treasury: illuminated chant manuscripts, enormous things meant to be read by a choir of monks all at once. The colors of illumination are like nothing else, I thought. We managed to sound out part of one of the chants together, two half-trained schola singers wrestling with quilismae and heavily flourished calligraphy.

We left the duomo with a long look back at the beautiful facade and met up with modernity long enough to stop for pizza.

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March 15, 2011

Minor Hysterics [liz]

I bled that night. Blood makes us remember we are not invincible, we do not last forever, and hurt when cut. It is our downfall—forgetting. Push it out of the mind and stay alive—survive. But all that life, warm and red, was spilled and left to dry.

A child is a gift, a joy to our tired and broken lives. Their simple need and perfect trust weakens our defenses, opening up doors for love to flood and overrun. But even in all their brilliance, they cannot give us what we need to be better; they shine a light on our good and our bad. That night I saw both.

They got home a few minutes past six with word he didnʼt have a great day, nor did he sleep well the night before. I went out to the car to pull him from his seat—wet tears, but no longer any sobs. We went inside to chase the cat and follow colored balls across the room. Excitement, laughter, and love: I never would have known he had a bad day. I sat on the ground and fed him orange mush, stars, and drink. I changed him fresh and held him on the bed, Daddy beside and bottle in mouth. For a moment, calm and still.

BANG, BANG, BANG on the door.

He got up to get the door. I held back with the child, heart pounding, “I donʼt like the sound of that.”

I couldnʼt hear much but a woman loud and angry.

“Whereʼs your phone?”
“I donʼt know.”
“I called you several times and you didnʼt answer.”
“I must have left it in the car.” He goes to the car, opens the door, pulls from the middle compartment. “See! I forgot it in the car.”
“You knew I would be worried about him. You knew I would call....”

She went on ranting while her ten year old son waited in the car. The drive from house to house familiar but no less tiring, mother righteous and enraged—the place they were supposed to call home. He watches from behind darkened glass as dreams are dimmer and dimmer. A boy, but her man; he tries to fill what she lacks. He waits more than any of us; he longs for more than momentary peace.

“Give me my son.”
“Come on. Donʼt do this.”
“Give me my son.”
He sighs and walks into the house. He goes to the hallway, grabs the boy from my arms and passes him to mom. She grabs the boy, turns and walks toward the car. Big brother takes the boy and straps him in safely while she drives away.

The door shuts, the blood falls, and no one speaks.

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March 11, 2011

With the Sun [jake]

I was walking somewhere else,
to some deadened destination.
Blackened, bloodied feet on gravel; blindfolded,
I sauntered onward in the night.
Then, with the sun, came redirection
from darkened paths
to sunlit streets.
I was walking in the light.

I was sleeping, dead at home,
far from the knock at my door.
In the kingdom of the bed, my throne
was like a coffin, and I
the jolly corpse, fattened on
dark fruit, reinforcing
the shades behind which I hid.
Then, like a syringe, the sun
invaded my tomb with medicine,
shining through the window
like revival,
exposing death to life,
and instantly I was visible,
instantly I was light.

I was someone else, glaring into mirrors
with loving-loathing eyes,
betrothed to my
reflection, unrecognized.
“Who are you?” I begged
and mimicked back at once.
I criticized my shadow, then
dug into its shallow skin—
to exhume the cavernous cadaver from within
my open chest. I explored,
but found no rest, even on my knees.
And then, with aubade hands,
You hung a lantern in my heart, to see.
You took me, touched me warm;
members newly arranged,
I found I’d been replaced, reformed.
I’d been illumined; I’d been known.

For awhile the world burned torches in the night.
Then, with the sun, came light.

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March 8, 2011

In Memoriam [sean]

He hangs on an emaciated frame,
Spreads His arms to take the blame,
Opens His mouth and screams in
Whispered tones and it is fin.
After that, nothing was the same.
And I, I am on my knees.
And I have nothing in my lungs,
And His empty eyes are staring through me.
Does it have to end like this?
I know the cost outweighs the prize.
And even Heaven brings down darkness
Upon the isles.
My head is soaked and in my hands.
I, too, have gone astray just like a lamb
Destined for slaughter.
Like God’s adopted sons and daughters.
He is pierced and all His blood pours down
Right beside where I am, curled up upon the ground.
He limps just like a damned tree left in autumn,
Just like a dead tree left for spring.

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March 4, 2011

Daughter [tony]

tossed upon the ground like garbage
you lay there for days on end
waiting for your prince charming
to come swoop you up into his arms

isn’t that what every woman wants, to be safe
yet this one must lay here severed and broken to pieces

hoping and praying that her day will come
she lays there mindless
afraid of being hurt again
she's taken too much of a beating as it is

stripped naked, embarrassed of her self
just lying there hoping the people passing
would rather think she is dead then alive

lying there motionless with only one thing on her heart
is how she got to this point
all she has left to cherish is her own heart
and yet that is broken into pieces as well

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March 1, 2011

Experiment: The Revival of Clerihew [justin]

A few ground rules:

  1. Four relatively short lines
  2. AABB rhyme structure
  3. Feel is neo-whimsical, satirical maybe, possibly making some of that non-sense up, with a touch of “Do you mean that or are you just trying to be clever?”; compiled in a sitting with no long pondering or musing.
  4. All revivals have something new; the “biographical subjects” here are then to be somewhat personified entities though not human.
Hello Hope
I understand why you mope
It’s often hard to be the middle child
All alone when Faith abandoned and Love reviled
Glorious Gluttony
On my lips like honey
You are a virtue that shows us our worth
Against a vice, there’s no need for rebirth
Excellent Enemy
Coals on your head, ebony
True teacher of love which you launder
Your eyes remind me of my Daughter
Listen here Library
Words aren’t your primary?
There is dust on your pages and limbs, amputee
But people still flock for your collection of DVD
Goodbye Grudge
You house guest of sludge
I’d like to get stuck with you on an island in Polynesia
But as you know your death is by my common amnesia
Simulacra say...
Who will we be today?
No senses are needed in this now golden age
Cause our souls are now housed on a profile page
Christmas cause
No time to pause
Knowing not my family is like a rib with a shiv
I wonder if Jesus ever felt forced to give?

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