After the Tempest

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042

Prospero’s cave is under construction,
the tempest now passed, his circles undrawn.
What still remains of the bleak destruction,
small fires torch while the play carries on

in a tiring rhyme, the tyrant passes
what could have proved true, if only he’d chased
the cetaceous, the seedheads of grasses
sporting the dune, and scorning less the chaste.

I now own the deed to Prospero’s cave
that echoes with tones of his final speech.
With so few willing their peacetime to brave,
our rebuilding thrives well beyond storm’s reach.

Farewell, dark crucible! New alchemy
weds high seas to cool space amicably.

~~~

The caves of Bermuda are said to have inspired Shakespeare’s setting for “The Tempest”. An instant after I took this photo, a Bermudian emerged from the cave who would have made the perfect Prospero. I dedicate this happy memory to him.

© Elaine Stirling 2015

The Fundamental Lord

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083

Let it be said
of no man
whose time has come
to repatriate
with ashes
or with blades of crushed
narcissus kept alive beyond
their expiration date
that he has need
of recollecting

no new armour
waits, the rust he gathers
in his bones
to make a home
for microbes and raw deals
has been lining the valise
for years of a richer man
who lives with no address
beneath a dead crow’s tongue

guardian of galaxies
steward of the unrefined
you need not fear
the smelter

chutes
of elemental gravity
that keep thoughts pinned
and flying in your face
like bats whose caves
are blasted to make way
for tourist lodges will restore
their rightful shape

as playing fields

of the lord
the fundamental lord
you are

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
The photograph was taken at the rear entrance of St. Peter’s Church, St. George, Bermuda.

Saturday Night at the Swizzle Inn

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180

I decided to let my fun begin
on a Saturday night at the Swizzle—
no! No, no, no, no!

I didn’t decide at the Swizzle Inn
on a Saturday night to do anything but
nurse a gingery rummy dark drink
of the house, slurp a chowder, a curry,
I couldn’t decide between fishy
or spicy…both sounded nice

but of one thing I must be
abundantly clear:
I had no intention of
knowing so dear
the commencement of fun
that had smoothly begun
with fresh mahi mahi
and Bermudian rum
chased by pale Indee ale
at a rustic wood table
beneath setting sun.

could a meal pale derision,
abolish all fear of enjoyment
perpetual, bring happiness near
enough to embrace and to tug
at my heart, and to view
on the sleeves of the good
folk around me?

well, I couldn’t have told you
what I now surely know,
how it all worked its way
into and under my sunburned
skin, which is how I began
to let the fun in on a Saturday
night at the Swizzle Inn…

postscript

to those with a penchant
for gossip and dirt,
I refuse to disclose
if I purchased the shirt—
but straight out I’ll tell you,
I’m happy to say, that I did
swagger out arm in arm
with great fun and exuberant
whim on a Saturday night
at the Swizzle Inn.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
Photograph by author

Remembering

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daffodils2

We were companions of the soul who made
us in his image, zodiac complete,
the rays of his extension. You, his feet,
the thunder twins his arms, a barricade.

The treasurer who would betray his will
incensed us all; we rubbed each other raw
until the day a quarter of us saw
what he perceives. The vision haunts me still.

Now each of us a hub, a higher grade
of understanding deems that we should meet—
the journeyer and rock, far from replete
and yet inspired. The comfort of his shade

in early years felt such a bitter pill,
forgetting sacrifice is not the law.
We are not Abraham. That was our flaw
until we walked among the daffodils.

Happy Birthday, G!

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

The Inadequate God

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casting stones

 

 

 

 

The ad read, For Sale: casting stones, a pair.
They contain the magic of what remains
of the inadequate god their prophet
praised and stalked to prove he is everywhere.

I bought the stones and gave them names,
set them on a shelf and then forgot it
till my fortunes fell and the dwindling share
of a joy I’d known turned to shooting pains.

Relief was all I sought. Desperate,
I threw my stones in anger, didn’t care
so long as someone paid, until the strain
proved god is useless and mankind crooked.

I make my living now by casting stones.
Feeling inadequate? You’re not alone.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

The Morning Tree: A Glosa

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apples_jillwagnerartdotcom_pastel painting

A tree of blood moistens the morning
where the new mother groans.
Her voice leaves crystals in the wound
and a diagram of bone in the window.

Meanwhile the coming light holds steady
and overtakes blank limits of fable that forget
the tumult of veins in its flight
toward the turbid cool of the apple.

–“Adam”, from Federico Garcia Lorca’s Primeras Canciones, 1922

~~~

The drop of ink that falls
absorbed between the fibers
of a parchment bed no pen
of yours or mine can resurrect
is spreading. Footprints of tar
pace a figure eight, delineating
nakedness that none of us can see
except in vaguely worded fantasies.
Debris across the mountain feels like warning;
a tree of blood moistens the morning

while I am still senseless
and too sensitive, I can refrain
from driving home some vagrant
point of fact no one has invited,
least of all that dead bore couple,
habit and experience. Phones
attached to hips are gathering
lone gods of randomness in droves.
Beggars with no credit offer loans
where the new mother groans

labouring to no avail, you’d think,
would set off some alarm—what child
is this? But no one’s claiming fatherhood,
and that fat bastard capital forgets
to keep his mouth closed when he chews.
What trickles from his chin is spooned
into tubes, shot straight into the veins
of pretenders to Cassandra, whose Trojan
never breaks and is still well tuned.
Her voice leaves crystals in the wound

that rub against synthetic outrage
waiting for its moment—that will never
come—of sweet approval. What tendency
is this to sprinkle vinegar upon a neighbour’s
olive grove that looks to be abandoned?
No succulent upon a fence can grow
when roots are parched of laissez-faire.
We subatomic dancers hate rehearsal,
swiftly leave behind our sold-out show
and a diagram of bone in the window.

So what did the rich man say
to the ferryman? I’ll be damned!
Only he wasn’t and still the river
foams in hopes that someone might
approach her self-creation
in a feathered cape with dignity.
Sir Walter and the puddle knew
Good Bess was on her way. All others
in the fractious crowd stayed petty.
Meanwhile the coming light holds steady

and the errant ink grows jittery
for having glimpsed the perfect
quill in V-formation flying over
Parry Sound. What if I dry
and flake apart before we two
can prove the world is wet?
The goose without a fleeting honk
flies on. She does not give her tail lightly.
Eggs of gold each day she brings to market
and overtakes blank limits of fable that forget.

Two things depreciate at the moment
of purchase: the second is worry.
Grinding mandibles on behalf of another
foretells a long decline toward mush
and not much else. No imagination
will fling you out of Eden. Paths of right
and wrong confuse the tenant farmer,
not the lord who views all he surveys
with potential, green and bright,
the tumult of veins in its flight.

Oh, sweet desire, now that you know
my name, let’s draw the canopy against
drunk beetles banging on their broken
schemes. Not all shells are suitable
for dyeing, though every word, I’m told,
will find its violin and grapple
for the pitch it hears in dreams
of paradise, giving way to the refugee,
nourished in his flight by sunlight’s dapple
toward the turbid cool of the apple.

~~~

This glosa borrows the first two stanzas of Garcia Lorca’s poem, “Adan”. The original Spanish can be found here. I’ve published a book of glosas, Dead to Rights, with an accompanying novella, Dead Edit Redo, which you can find here.

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
Translation by Elaine Stirling, © 2015
Image: pastel painting by Jill Wagner from http://www.jillwagnerart.com

Puppet Master

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puppet master

~~a pantoum~~

puppet master, where is your string
master, where is your puppet? Tangled
in the fictions of habitual deception
every act becomes a stutter, grim escape

master, where is your puppet? Tangled
again, you lost control of your tales
every act becomes a stutter, grim escape
from the static of the blackness where you hide

again, you lost control of your tales
I thought I heard the tapping of a new play
from the static of the blackness where you hide
but it was only rain against the shutters

every act becomes a stutter, grim escape
in the fictions of habitual deception
but it was only rain against the shutters…
puppet master, where is your string?

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
Image: Nocturnal Art of Marionettes by Fenrizulf at DeviantArt

Musings on 3.14.15 @ 9:26:53

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pi

~~a terzanelle~~

so I never learned pi as a girl
my mind was too random
adults are crazy, life is a whirl

of homework and crushes and teenybop fandom
formulas caused my throat to go dry
my mind was too random

sucking in only enough to get by
I drooled at the prose of Dickens and Poe
formulas caused my throat to go dry

I couldn’t see which way my future would go
yearning each day to spin off and away
I drooled at the prose of Dickens and Poe

until infinite space finally had its say
slamming chaotic nonsense to form poetry
yearning each day to spin off and away

draws the ratio that powers my geometry
so I never learned pi as a girl
slamming chaotic nonsense to form poetry
adults are crazy, life is a whirl

Happy Pi Day!

~~~

The rolling dips and curves of the terzanelle seemed a fun way to celebrate 3.14.15, explained with great elegance by Steven Strogatz here.

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
The image of pi in cross stitch comes from http://www.kokoba42.blogspot.com.

Discworld: In Memoriam

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terry pratchett laughing_dailyedge_dot_ie

I will get over this but not today.
The elephants have shrugged and stolen you
away someplace where Rincewind and Sam Vimes
keep summer cottages, and Carrot dines
with you and Lady Sybil’s dragons. Who
is here among us now to show the way
to operate a clacks, and lead us through
Ankh Morpork’s grubby lanes? These are rough times!
We need an ape librarian who climbs
his way through L-space—ook!—of Unseen U.
I know what Granny Weatherwax would say.
En’t dead, just traveling! I s’pose that’s true,
since DEATH and you were always best of friends.
Who laughs the hardest, kind Sir, fastest mends.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
Photo of Sir Terry Pratchett from http://www.dailyedge.ie

Who Knew the Maiden?

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Conn house winter

~~a villanelle ~~

who knew the maiden say she moved with grace
although she doesn’t live here anymore
the house is draped in silver lace

with modesty she fixed all secrets to their place
and turned away fine suitors by the score
who knew the maiden say she moved with grace

they did not see that sadness etched her face
nor hear by night fear pounding at her door
the house is draped in silver lace

in honour of a passion frozen interlaced
with love of God and distant family she adored
who knew the maiden say she moved with grace

although I wish she might have danced a pace
or two before the years took cruel score
the house is draped in silver lace

her intellect at season’s end is carving space
to greet, I’d like to think, her one and grand amour
who knew the maiden say she moved with grace
the house is draped in silver lace

~~~

Dedicated to KK

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
Photo by R. Kelley, 2015

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