Today I Shall Wear a Green Dress

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“There are songs that come free from the blue-eyed grass,
from the dust of a thousand country roads.”

—Robert James Waller, The Bridges of Madison County

~~a rondeau quatrain~~

today I shall wear a green dress
and reread excerpts from Madison County
eat cheese and spinach pie with flaky pastry
paying less attention to the obvious

cholesterol, they say’s the cause of stress
it may be the reverse, a dearth of poetry
today I shall wear a green dress
and reread excerpts from Madison County

the media diet of desperation and duress
I’ve tossed like arsenic. Gentility
I’ll sip instead, chaw down on parody
whatever celebrates our tendency to mess…

…things up

today I shall wear a green dress
and reread excerpts from Madison County
eat cheese and spinach pie with flaky pastry
paying less attention to the obvious

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015
This genteel snapshot is the view from the reading gardens of our local library.

Anticipating Emerson

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Connecticut house

~~a pantoum~~

I hug the house of stone and memory
who’s emptying her ghosts today
escorting virtue out on teacups
giving vice and sawhorses full rein

who’s emptying her ghosts today?
the fairies at the toadstool ring will help
giving vice and sawhorses full rein
to ride the coach roads once again

the fairies at the toadstool ring will help
they showed me how to dig to China
to ride the coach roads once again
sitting council at the Puritan stone fences

they showed me how to dig to China
on the days I run away between meals
sitting council at the Puritan stone fences
anticipating tramps with Emerson

on the days I run away between meals
escorting virtue out on teacups
anticipating tramps with Emerson
I hug the house of stone and memory

~~~

Only the repeating, interweaving lines of a pantoum can come close to expressing the emotions of saying goodbye to a childhood home where nothing—and everything—seemed possible.

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

If You Were Thinking of Coming Back

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You who’ve been compared
to the greatest love poet,
were seen feeding swans
from a green canvas bag
on the jetty where the battle
of San Vicente was lost.

I wonder if you know
that drunks who rhyme badly
are trampling the flowers
we once called snowdrops.

You who’ve been remembered
as philosopher-king,
are heard in the chambers
of an ostracized nation
by cleaning women
whose husbands drowned
for the profit of sea bass.

Every night, they stroke your face
on coins that buy nothing
and tell their children
of the whispers
no senator can hear.

If you were thinking of coming back,
today would be a good day.

You’re strong enough now
to ignore the trampling. Twitches
of the dispossessed are nothing to fear.

The one or two aging cocks
who thought they could supplant you
are down, at last, to their final
grasping syllables.

Holding up a hand
against the sun, I see you,
as I always do,
through my fingers.

Today would be a very good day.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

my love has smuggled honeycomb

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honeycomb-fruit-cheese

~~a zejál~~

my love has smuggled honeycomb
sweet dripping from our ancient home
where cedar breathes on scented loam

he comes to me in waning moon
disguised in pedlar’s rags with broom
and dustbin, clanking knives and spoons
around his head a buzzing drone

I recognize as one who spies
a counterfeit with hungry eyes
who snuffles for some holy prize
denied him all these years alone

my love and I at dawn escape
while disillusioned gravitate
toward dreams that briefly satiate
I draw from him a shuddering moan

our honeyed lips and fingers tease
the bowstrings of new ecstasies
while pollen-gorgéd honeybees
to fecund, waiting queens fly home

excited that my love and I
are firmly reunited by
the downbeat of a butterfly
who drifts across the caliph’s throne

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

A Slightly Breathless Love Poem

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Reading at the cottage tattered mysteries
in pajamas while I hear you softly
cursing at the shower head that rattles
with metallic celebration, I can
only thank the convoluted histories
that ensured we would not meet until the
hinges of our armour fell, and battles
ran their full and nonessential life span,
which I do, in answer to your queries
on the strong likelihood that you and me
will have many future weekends that’ll
steam the bedroom windows—how such a man
as you could land onto this stratosphere,
I shall not question, only hold you dear.

~~~

If this is your first time at Oceantics, thank you for dropping by. If you’ve been reading my poetry for awhile, I send you a million thanks and would also like to invite you to my beautiful new website at http://www.elainestirling.com. It is a culmination of a lifetime’s love affair with the written word. Wishing you great joy!

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

Mobilized

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~~a villanelle~~

I have a corner mobilized
where heads of state in secret meet
to imagine life beyond the fear and lies.

A place where all may fraternize,
take no offense, put up their feet.
I have a corner mobilized

for quick deployment of surprise
to learn how effortless the beat
to imagine life beyond the fear and lies.

Seeing through each other’s eyes
the clearest route to universal Easy Street,
I have a corner mobilized

where all of us may visualize
the best, dance gamely over grim defeat.
To imagine life beyond the fear and lies

brings hope to everything I’ve victimized.
From hope to knowing’s a short leap.
I have a corner mobilized
to imagine life beyond the fear and lies.

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

Posit: Paradise

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The following is more of a thought exercise than a poem. It began with curiosity and my long-standing aversion to the concept of critical thinking—more specifically, the idea that critical thinking renders the thinker superior. Faith-based thinking is dangerously prone to the same outcome. Even I can figure out the common denominator. I wrote this piece before looking up the word “posit” and rather like that Poseidon precedes it.
~~~
If, in Paradise, we’re going to be happy forever
and forever equals infinite; by extension, now
and then—All Time—I might as well be happy now.

If prosperity and peace are guaranteed
in Paradise, then in this moment, I might as well
be prosperous, successful, and serene.

Premise is as premise does:
thought to word and word to deed.

Here is something that I’ve noticed.
Just before my thought that thinks
and long before my word that speaks,
a spectre known as feeling rises;
energy in motion prises
bringing every colour with it
fully spectral, without limit.

But not in crashing, awful waves,
thank God, though sometimes, yes,
things overwhelm. There seems to be
some kind of bridge, a one-way
multi-coloured bridge that joins
the realm of pure emotion
to my cells so like the ocean
in their current, waves, and tides.

On this bridge I see sometimes
that there resides a permanent
interpreter, poetic, wise like Homer,
blind, an ageless, ancient arbiter
whose task by law is simple,
instant, universal, matching what
I say and do to all that powers
through me, new and flawless
as the dew manifesting or creating
everything that I believe—
as true.

So…

Knowing over there and here
are Paradise, and seeing every
wish, belief, intensive thought
I hold as dear, interpreted
while I sit here, I posit
there is nothing more
I need to do than pen
these words with tenderness
and feel my love for you…

for such is Paradise.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

The Uncountable I

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How long it’s been since I have seen the shapes
of things according to their own design;
to lazy flannel nap I’ve worn this mind
by thinking I must solve what aggravates.

Compulsions once original and fine
I’ve blunted by denominating down,
demoting love’s capacity to clown,
allowing unexamined to define

this worthy and extraordinary round
of life I know to be perpetual—
to hell, henceforth, with dim and gradual!
No purchase do I seek on spongy ground.

By simple law of preference, let’s proceed;
desire squared outnumbers myriads of need.

~~~

Note: The ancient Greeks used the term “myriad” to describe ten thousand or a hundred hundreds. Archimedes went on to say that “myriad myriads” allowed us to reach the equivalent of one hundred million. If one keeps repeating the word, of course…

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

today, the lake

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today, the lake anticipates
a force beyond this pea brain’s
scope to colour or articulate

today, the lake recalibrates
a course laid out through aeons
of expectancy and knowing

that the self-same source
who builds the arc and floats
unending opposites to meet,
collide, conceive, abide
resides in seedling form
and sprouts across two hemispheres
electrified by all that I allow to be
exactly as it chooses

laying out in concert with
prevailing tides and gravel
shore, the lake today recalls
me to a potent truth, intelligence
made singular, that nobody
can dam but me.

~~~

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

The Woman Who Swallowed a Smile

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for T and her family

There was a young woman who swallowed a smile.
I don’t know why she swallowed a smile.
Perhaps for style.

There was a young woman who swallowed a word
as chipper and sweet as a new baby bird.
She swallowed the word to protect the smile.
I don’t know why she swallowed a smile.
Perhaps for style.

There was a young woman who swallowed a secret
that smelled of bad fish and a scratchy blue blanket.
She swallowed the secret to chase the word.
She swallowed the word to protect the smile.
I don’t know why she swallowed a smile.
Perhaps for style.

There was a young woman who swallowed a dream
of building a nation where nobody screamed.
She swallowed the dream to encourage the secret.
She swallowed the secret to chase the word.
She swallowed the word to protect the smile.
I don’t know why she swallowed a smile.
Perhaps for style.

There was a young woman who swallowed a story
of princes and gold, adventure and glory.
She swallowed the story to flesh out the dream.
She swallowed the dream to encourage the secret.
She swallowed the secret to chase the word.
She swallowed the word to protect the smile.
I don’t know why she swallowed a smile.
Perhaps for style.

There was a young woman who swallowed the world
that was spinning so fast it made her hurl.
She swallowed the world to slow down the story.
She swallowed the story to flesh out the dream.
She swallowed the dream to encourage the secret.
She swallowed the secret to chase the word.
She swallowed the word to protect the smile.
I don’t know why she swallowed a smile.
Perhaps for style.

There was a young woman who swallowed time
on a beach with a tree and a book of old rhyme.
She swallowed time to better the world.
She swallowed the world to slow down the story.
She swallowed the story to flesh out the dream.
She swallowed the dream to encourage the secret.
She swallowed the secret to chase the word.
She swallowed the word to protect the smile.
I don’t know why she swallowed a smile.
I wish she’d stayed with us for one more mile.

© Elaine Stirling, 2015

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