by Penn Kemp
Heart to Art
Romance of the rose in part-
icular scent, texture, hue
carried and cared
for from you.
Roses reside inside, arriving
by scent from smooth petal
scarlet or white. Roses arrive
They rest not knowing
the future as I do and so the rest
is easy before
rust nips at the coiling edge of
hope, nips and tucks, curtails, till
petal droops, curls and drops
Heart suspends suspense
and pauses, skips the beat
to bear what can’t be
The heart does not grow over.
It grows through the lump in
the throat and out the mouth—
new birth of sorts, of change.
Heart knows its kind, knows its
own, knows as well kind
words. They too can cut
clear through skin, so many
layers meaning… what?
To stay kind
of alive in metaphor— beating
beating heart, the rhythm of
survival over betrayal.
Old lays, old lies surround
and comfort, surround and
suffocate. Taken to heart,
by, in, through and cross
your word against mine.
Your Hermes to my Hestia
bests your Zeus to Hera.
Too Close for Comfort
Husband and wife are discussing the probabilities
almost calmly. Rationally. As if the heart were not
involved, involuntary upheaval, a bitter laugh. Pitter
patter on the roof, pathetic this old phallic fallacy.
A game of dominos again, of subtle dominance. You
before me or vice versus. No virtue in (this) question.
Who might die first? I am the gardener, indoor and
out. If I go first, who would take care of our plants?
You say you’ll send the dead-heads heavenward, one
at a time. Pharaohs never had it so good. I would be
sent more blooms past-it than could ever arrive alive.
They’d appear in clusters of manna, manic bunches
I would throw back down as if to descend with flowers
the still frantic ladder that is suspended beyond belief.
Now shrewdly pruning, I appraise petals for everlasting
color when dried and flattened. Though fading now, they
might be up there with me forever and a day. Day’s eye,
daisy, give me your answer, do, on petals’ potential.
For if you should, if you should, if you should die be-
fore me, I would not wish to survive. I would throw
my heart on our pyre of dead leaves. I’d fire the kiln.
I’d kill the fire. I’d throw my voice. I’d throw a fit. I’d
throw away my chance and choices. I’d definitely die.
Or I’d toss off Hera and adopt my inner Hestia hearth.
I’ve been bereft these last few days, not knowing
how to work out a perennial problem with power.
I remember a Tara dream woman who slipped out of
my left side to go strolling off along Front Street.
She is Compassion, Love, Wisdom. I need to recall her,
reclaim her, invite her to return to my heart. Come back
to my heart, Love, where you are home. There’s room.
There is room enough for two, for multitudes. For you.
Become me, I beg you. Worry my concern into peace.
Shake this rag doll out of stiff contrition back to joy.
Till bones, blood, marrow, mind all leap up to dance,
to expand and mingle with the greater Presence, gift
we are heir to if we remember to remember the Whole.
The whole that made us, not the hole we often fall into.
From her celestial seat in the Pure Land, Tara smiles,
extending a white limb of blessing, her invitation. Up.
Ula’s Orbit of Ellipsis
My granddaughter is going as Wonder Woman
for Halloween. She’s practised swinging her
Lariat of Truth so I’m reading up on Artemis,
protectress of young girls and the archetype for
our current Wonder Woman. Arrow to hand, she
alights on the mark, drawing the bow on intruders.
Artemis herds her young artoi, girls of eight or so
away from polis, the city, into wilder woods where
she reigns Queen and they her willing apprentices
stay till puberty. Artoi, little Bears, they follow
their Great Bear into the chase and Orion hides,
the hunter hunted and flung out to constellation.
My granddaughter has gone trick or treating and
returned with a gleeful sack full of eternal returns.
You can hear Penn read “Ula’s Orbit of Ellipsis” here.
Activist poet, performer and playwright Penn Kemp is the League of Canadian Poets’ Life Member and winner of their 2015 Spoken Word Artist of the year award. She is the inaugural Poet Laureate for London Ontario and a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee medal, with twenty-six books of poetry and drama published; six plays and ten CDs produced as well as award-winning videopoems.As Writer-in-Residence for Western University in Canada’s London, her project was the DVD, Luminous Entrance: a Sound Opera for Climate Change Action, Pendas Productions. Penn has performed and published her work world-wide, often as writer-in residence in Canada, Brazil, New York and India; and at festivals like the Findhorn Arts Festival. She especially loved performing at The Goddess Conference in Glastonbury! See www.mytown.ca/pennkemp