An Exercise in Erasure
a Poem without Posterity, a Poem in Pics
An Exercise in Erasure
a Poem without Posterity, a Poem in Pics
September 11, 2017
While Hurricane Harvey harasses Houston
While Earthquake 8.1 devastates Oaxaca
While Irma’s Eye widens over Florida Keys
and Trump remarks, “Just get out of its way”
While wildfires torch pine forests whole and
crossing continental divide, evacuate towns
While Trump’s toddler tantrums go nuclear
to defy Kim Jong-un’s asinine missile taunt
While race hatred rages in white supremacists
and America turns her tough back on Dreamers
While refugees capsize in unforgiving, fraught seas
While Britain’s Brexit divides ancient allegiances
While Buddhists slaughter Muslims in Myanmar
While women are executed in dishonorable killings
While nightmares confront war game apocalypse
and brinksmanship totters on the edge of Equinox…
Then tomatoes gleam scarlet in the green of harvest
and hummingbirds linger in sun before migrating
Caterpillar chrysalis becomes bright new Monarch,
folding and unfolding stiff wet wings for first flight
While September long shadows our yard in semi-annual
balance between light and dark. What can we maintain?
We have read about that perfect summer of 1914
before the dam burst in bloody floods of war
We recall an azure morning behind twin towers,
scorching flame brilliant on vertical pure white
We do not know recompense. We prepare equanimity
In a world out of control we are not without hope
Hope is left for last after all evils flee Pandora’s box
In calm arising before catastrophe, we sit and wait
Sitting ducks, perhaps, yet ducks with luck, imminent
ingenuity, feathers still unruffled by storm impending
Sustenance: Writers from BC and Beyond on the Subject of Food. Rachel Rose, editor. Anvil Press Publishers, October, 2017. https://alllitup.ca/books/S/Sustenance#overview,
The anthology is launching October 22 in Vancouver! Wish I could be there but my poem will have to sustain:) http://writersfest.bc.ca/festival-events/sustenance-a-feast-of-voices/
Here’s my contribution to the feast:
I would eat local food only were it not for temptation.
A green invitation of open avocado in emerald halves.
An alluring variety of mango hot to eye, cool to tongue.
The seduction of dark chocolate.
The slurped fulfilment in oyster.
The simple necessity of rice.
Otherwise, I would be content with my yard’s fall produce.
But having tasted the world’s fare, how to return unjaded
to simple pleasures that this ground offers? Beans.
Corn. Squash. Corn. Beans. The three sisters thrive.
Yes, I will eat local food mostly. Except for. Except for…
Accept. Chocolate. No chicory compares to caf頡u lait.
Ole! Import coffee; import tea! Import taunt.
On to political rant: our food too cheap, our farmers ruined.
Our eyes closed, we rest easy, spoiled ripe fruit in the docks,
turning sleepy to sun-rotten. Given so much, we reach for more
even when over full. And poems break off as the lunch bell rings.
from Luminous Entrance: a sound opera for climate change action
“Fare Trade” is published in Barbaric Cultural Practice, Quattro Books.
Source: Elegy for John Ashberry
Words in proximity to one another
take on another meaning…What you
hear at a given moment is a refraction
of what’s gone before or after.
Glorious clumps of crimson berries,
brilliant in long September light.
Sorbus domestica, mountain ash from
the prolific rose family.
“Rowan is the tree of power, causing
life and magic to flower. Not to be
forgotten, set aside, or ignored.”
The Celtic Tree calendar’s second
month. His jewel a garnet and flower
cottage pink dianthus or carnation.
Quicken Tree, the high-strung race
horse called after a folk name for Rowan.
Along with Delight of the Eye, Quickbane,
Ran Tree, Sorb Apple, Thor’s Helper,
Whitty, Wicken-Tree, Wiggin, Wiggy,
Wiky, Wild Ash, Witchbane, Witchwood.
Ogham alphabet’s second consonant, Luis.
His planet Mercury, his element Fire,
clearing the mind to open inspiration.
John Ashbery, dead at ninety:
July 28, 1927— September 3, 2017.
Language the legacy he left.
Reading is a pleasure, but to finish reading,
to come to that blank space at the end,
is also a pleasure.
May his death have been such an ease
The poem is sad because it wants to be yours, and
Lines in italic by John Ashbery.
Published on http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/09/05/poetry-991/.
More of my poems are up on http://tuckmagazine.com/tag/penn-kemp/.
Penn Kemp is an activist Canadian poet, playwright and editor. Her latest works are two plays celebrating local hero and explorer, Teresa Harris, produced in 2017 and published by Playwrights Guild of Canada. Recent books include Barbaric Cultural Practice (quattrobooks.ca/books/barbaric-cultural-practice/) and two anthologies edited, Women and Multimedia and Performing Women (http://poets.ca/feministcaucus/livingarchives/). See www.pennkemp.weebly.com.
We looked down, put on the eclipse glasses and gazed
up at the fiery crescent behind an almost round of moon.
The air imperceptively less bright but imperturbable.
By interlacing both hands, you could see five crescents
between your fingers as well as in the shadows of trees.
I showed a woman in a burka the crescents: her symbol.
What dragon has nipped a mouthful of sun? What king
must fall? If only, Trump, if only, when shadows differ.
Partial Eclipse Crescents by Amanda Chalmers
August 21, 2017
Purple spikes rampant now. Cliché bounds
garden gnomes. We drink somewhat musty
ginger tea. Second cups await, red roobos
with mint and lemon balm I’ve just plucked.
Magdalene might know this tonic, or others
similar. Her purple turban that paintings so
proudly display as her nearly royal emblem
might bob through the fields as she gathers.
Though she would have servants harvesting,
that fine curved hand not browned by sun.
Her name day conjures presence on waves
of prayer, an iconography of purple and red.
Similars, signature. Like calls to like out
of time. Speaking harmonies. Chords lift.
A decorum wealth bestows, lush richness
suggesting florid abundance, jars of unguent.
She is always depicted wrapped, self-contained
and rapt. Cups of tea cool by her side, steam
rising like plumage, like the coils of her turban.
Twenty-two is the master number in Hebrew,
a vibration that opens time with broad strokes
beyond the moment to more universal scope.
But butterfly bush flowers in her honour now.
Echinacea flourishes, blossom and root, for her
medicinal. Wise woman of herbs, of mystery.
Sing your secret through us, Lady. We are
listening. Then and now. Now and then when
we remember. When your name day reminds.
Photo: Allan Briesmaster