Made Plain Some affluence...in the poverty of their words. —Wallace Stevens No snow-globe Shakedown, Or glittered Burst of birth. No poverty Of words, Half-perceived In first light, In darkness, Or in spooled Synchronicity of flight. No bird-hurdled Thread soaring Through sky, Or dearth Of life girdled In dead stars, Brilliant, Boundless blight. No affluence Richly textured On the tongue, Sung just right. Just plain word Making— Dovetailed— Carpentered— Or splintered To reveal In every Fragment- cracked root Plain truth.
Badass Mermaid It is no night to drown in —Lorelei by Sylvia Plath Blood whirls within Whorl of ear— Ocean's sound. You, profound And under deep. Hobgoblin, Hobbling. Hobbling there Before I sleep. I, in your realm. A siren— Not yet, but Sobbing. You, Moving. Murk, Darkness, Spy's lurk. In winter, I tumbled there, Accidentally. I sang Within the sea. Fathomed I had privacy. Your ears, They bled With my Song. Homer's Odysseus Told it wrong, Or his men Told it, Innocent. Their ears Wax-sealed Against All sound. I, innocent too, Innocently Fell asleep. Dry-iced Packed In snow That does not freeze. Leagues and leagues deep. Countless. (Before that, Or after— I don't remember, And probably pointless— I used your shampoo. Smiled, and combed my hair. Your rage silvered and glinted On your teeth and eye. No matter, soon, Back home, Spring. Somehow, I didn't care.) I slept Until I woke. Chrysalis Cracked On sea floor. I, a mermaid—with wings. Lorelei. Butterfly. A terrible glistening. Beauty can be frightening. I did not know myself. Knowing all I could know. My mind A mantle Ripped off Like a sheet At night Became great, One Vast Eye. Then I could write Like a seer: Everything and everywhere. A messenger. I do not drown. Badass Mermaid, I breathe Water, I breathe air. I derange. Pitched roofs, pitched reefs. I say your name, write your nightmare. Dive back under, Scaled with your fear. My tail smacks down. Flashed lightening, Ear-rending thunder. Irritated clam creates The pearl. The pearl, in turn, creates me. Then I create. Write. Surrender. Open a universe, land and sea.
Upper Antelope Canyon Light shafted womb, Fire flood Each layer. Striature, Curved flexure. Muted ocean. Emptied chamber. Muscled sweep of sand and sandstone. Stillness after. Coolness within heat. Nothing the same, except In its essential. Beam hits one spot or several. Celestial tumble in one imperceptible Inhale, exhale. Brings us to important meditation. What do these lunged branches breathe but a blaze, Surged through Incandescent structure? Our mighty wonder cracks open its delicate shell. Glow, an expansion, tawny to indigo. No one listens more intently, or With more intention, Than to sounds of their own mortality, But silence tells us more. Author's Note: Upper Antelope Canyon, a slot canyon, is located on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona. The Navajo call this canyon Tsé bighánílíní, “the place where water runs through rocks.” Antelope are not among the wildlife here, despite the canyon's name in English. While the canyon in English is called Upper Antelope Canyon, and its companion canyon is called Lower Antelope Canyon, this name derives from the population of pronghorn that once lived in the area. Pronghorn are often referred to as antelope, and its Latin name, Antilocapra americana, means "American goat-antelope." It is, however, not a member of the goat or the antelope family, and is not related to African antelopes.
Rebirth You suspended, Mid-death. A full sun bask. Seed bursts and Births. Sprouts Its green stalk. Egg hatches New life. Naked, blind. Then you Go deep Within. No light, No tunnel. Only rebirth. You awaken, Soft snout Nudging you. Dazzle, Prize truffle From underground. This world vibrates Its re-entry welcome: Hello friend. Your heart Starts its Beat again.
Darkness As sky whittles to darkness, Light still pierces the darkness. That last exit sign, glowing. Red sun in coming darkness. Red moon a remembrance, love. Our spelled passion in darkness. We hew to light's honey, but Sky finally hews to darkness. Amber burgeoning then blues To black. Final rest. Darkness. Phantom sweetness on my tongue, Recalling you, in darkness.
Baffle Gate Dreaming mind, Genius on fire. Still, we can't Escape. What do we desire For its own sake? Every dream, more Than it means. Yet, our unlock Writhes, trapped Within the lock. Our deconstruct, Jungle amok, Mocking muck. Cabinet file Compressed, Darkening spiral, Baffle gate turning One direction only. Bars jamming every Goddamn opening. I want something Simple: fruit for Sweetness not Symbolism. Does that make me A liar as I reach, Knowing how, In this turnstile Gated prison, My fingers can Never touch The bough?
Karen Poppy has work published in The American Journal of Poetry, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, ArLiJo, Wallace Stevens Journal, and Chaleur Magazine. She has a chapbook forthcoming with Finishing Line Press, and another chapbook forthcoming with Homestead Lighthouse Press. Karen Poppy has also recently compiled her first full-length poetry collection, written her first novel, and is at work on her second poetry collection and second novel. An attorney licensed in California and Texas, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.