from Goddess Pages

Calling on Persephone

by Penn Kemp

A little early for Persephone to return
but how enticing is this pomegranate!
No wonder she was tempted to indulge!

https://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/calling-on-persephone-by-penn-kemp/

Pomegranate

Blessed be the lost ones, those who
left, in our opinion, too soon, whose
time, they say, had come. Blessed

be those whose lives have stopped
in their current form, the bodies we
know and miss. For it’s we who are

lacking, not they. Either they don’t
know any more or their essence has
dissolved to some fuller| plenitude

we too will come upon in our time.
Only the Goddess knows for sure
if we listen, if we reach out to Her.

Calling on Persephone, as seasons
darken, as night falls into autumn:
Take care of those we have lost.

*

As we age, the living dead increase,
surround us with presence, with gifts
of their kind, on offer if we realize

they are ongoing, just out of earshot,
beyond tangential vision. Out there,
behind you to one side, they linger

friendly—don’t worry— and ready
to offer advice, offer warning, offer
remarks that reflect a wider gnosis:

Archetypes of what they could have
become, given time or opportunity.
My friends, our dead are listening.

May be as memories fleshed real or
may be as hallucinatory flashes from
some other realm: does it matter?

Now that they are really no longer
matter but transcorporeal illusion,
their words, their nudges and sighs,

they still comfort us, familiar whiff,
where the senses condense off-stage
then expand beyond the peripheral.

*

May we bring their attributes to life
within us. For Persephone’s love
of flower, to surround Her in kind.

She will return; She always does, to
turn the wheel, to begin once more,
speaking the words of consolation.

May we live that gentle beauty for
her, ongoing. May She who loves
blossoms bloom again in our eyes

as we admire a purple pride of fall
garden. May Her essence enter us.
May we become what we might.

May She remember and remind us,
Mnemosyne, Goddess of memory,
inventor of the language we need

now more than ever. Speak to us.
Tell us the news in the old way we
once knew. Keep in touch, please.

©Penn Kemp

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Books Read, 2017

Ah, the season of lists…

Here’s to curling up with a good book! Happy reading…

Poetry highly recommended:
Roo Borson, Rain, road, an open boat
Susan McCaslin, Into the Open
Sharon Thesen, The Receiver
Daphne Marlatt, Reading Sveva

Some of my favourite prose this year: all by Canadian women!:

Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster
Alison Pick, Strangers With the Same Dream
Claire Cameron, The Last Neanderthal
Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Field Guide to the Small and Significant
Barbara Gowdy, Little Sister
Karen Connelly‏, The Change Room
Louise Penny, Glass Houses
Emma Donoghue, Landing

And two English writers:
Paula Cocozza, How to be human  
Margaret Drabble, The Dark Flood Rises

Not to mention the brilliant stylist, Adam Gopnik, At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York, and James King, The Way It Is: The Life of Greg Curnoe

Here’s the list: an odd mixture.  Because of a concussion, I was limited to light reading for some months. Thank goodness for audio books!

Books Read, 2017

Cecelia Ahern, Lyrebird

Yehuda Amichai, The poetry of Yehuda Amichai / edited by Robert Alter

Kelley Armstrong, A darkness absolute

John Ashbery, Commotion of the birds / new poems by John Ashbery

Kate Atkinson, Emotionally weird: a comic novel

Kate Atkinson, Started early, took my dog

Kate Atkinson, When will there be good news?

Margaret Atwood; illustrated by Duan Petrii. A trio of tolerable tales
Margaret Atwood, Angel Catbird. Vol. 1 / story by Margaret Atwood; illustrations by Johnnie Christmas
Margaret Atwood, Angel Catbird #2: To Castle Catula
Margaret Atwood, The Burgess Shale: the Canadian writing landscape of the 1960s

Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1

Sarah Bakewell, At the existentialist café: freedom, being and apricot cocktails with Jean-Paul Sartre [and others]

Peter Balakian, Ozone journal

Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture

Gary Barwin, No TV for woodpeckers: poems

Peter S. Beagle, We Never Talk About My Brother

Peter S. Beagle, Summerlong

Ann Beattie, The state we’re in: Maine stories

Ann Beattie, The accomplished guest: stories

Brit Bennett, The Mothers

Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy: how the mind can heal the heart

David Bergen, Stranger

John Berger, Portraits: John Berger on artists

Lucia Berlin, A manual for cleaning women: selected stories; edited and with an introduction by Stephen Emerson; foreword by Lydia Davis

Jill Bialosky, Poetry will save your life: a memoir

Roo Borson, Rain, road, an open boat

David Bouchard; paintings by Kristy Cameron; music by Stephen Kakfwi; Ojibwe language by Jason and Nancy Jones. Dreamcatcher and the seven deceivers= Asabikeshiiwasp gaye awiya oga-gagwe-niisibidoon

Brian Bouldrey, editor. Inspired journeys: travel writers in search of the muse

Cynthia Bourgeault, The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three; Discovering the Radical Truth at the Heart of Christianity

Erin Bow, The Swan Riders

Melanie Brooks, Writing hard stories: celebrated memoirists who shaped art from trauma

Dan Brown, Origin: A Novel

Vanessa Brown and Jason Dickson, London: 150 Cultural Moments

Stephen Harrod Buhner, Plant intelligence and the imaginal

Jessie Burton, The Muse

Steve Burrows, A Shimmer of Hummingbirds a Birder Murder Mystery

Steve Burrows, A cast of falcon

Sharon Butala, Where I live now: a journey through love and loss to healing and hope

Claire Cameron, The Last Neanderthal

J.L. Carr, A Month in the Country

Kate Cayley, Other houses

Michael Chabon, Moonglow

Tracy Chevalier, The lady and the unicorn

Tracy Chevalier, ed. Reader, I Married Him: Stories Inspired by Jane Eyre

Pema Chödrön, The compassion book: teachings for awakening the heart

Ann Cleeves, Blue lightning

Ann Cleeves, Dead water

Lynn Coady, Who needs books?: reading in the digital age

Harlan Coben, Fool me once

Paula Cocozza, How to be human

Karen Connelly‏, The Change Room

Lynn Crosbie, The corpses of the future

Lorna Crozier, The Wrong Cat

Laura Cumming, The Vanishing Velazquez

Rachel Cusk, Transit

Ram Dass, Polishing the mirror: how to live from your spiritual heart

Wade Davis, Wade Davis: photographs

Albert Flynn DeSilver, Writing As A Path To Awakening

David Demchuk, The Bone Mother

Mary di Michele, Bicycle thieves

Lloyd M. Dickie and Paul R. Boudreau, Awakening higher consciousness: guidance from ancient Egypt and Sumer

Joan Didion, South and West

Emma Donoghue, The Lotterys Plus One

Emma Donoghue, Landing

Margaret Drabble, The Dark Flood Rises

Philip Eade, Sylvia: queen of the headhunters: an eccentric Englishwoman and her lost kingdom

Elena Ferrante, Fragments

Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey Translated by Ann Goldstein

Penelope Fitzgerald, The Bookstore

Penelope Fitzgerald, At Freddie’s

Philip Freeman, Searching for Sappho: the lost songs and world of the first woman poet: including new translations of all of Sappho’s surviving poetry

Tana French, The Trespasser

Carrie Fisher, The Princess Diarist

Penelope Fitzgerald, The bookshop

Christopher Fowler, Full Dark House

Neil Gaiman, Norse Mythology

Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop

Malin Persson Giolito, Quicksand; translated from the Swedish by Rachel Willson-Broyles.

Philip Glass, Words without music: a memoir

James Gleick, Time Travel: A History

Rumer Godden; introduction by Phyllis Tickle, In this house of Brede

Al Gore, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

Nora Gould, Selah

Barbara Gowdy, Little Sister

Naomi Goldberg, The True Secret of Writing

Herman Goodden, Three Artists: William Kurelek, Jack Chambers & Greg Curnoe

Daisy Goodwin, Victoria

Adam Gopnik, At the Strangers’ Gate: Arrivals in New York

Robert Gottlieb, Avid Reader: A Life

Philippa Gregory, The Last Tudor

Terry Griggs, Nieve

Terry Griggs, The discovery of honey

John Grisham, Camino Island

David Grossman, A horse walks into a bar

Don Gutteridge, The way it was / poems by Don Gutteridge

Joan Haggerty, The Dancehall Years

Kang Han, The vegetarian: a novel

Graham Hancock, Magicians of the gods: the forgotten wisdom of Earth’s lost civilisation

Yuval Harari, Homo deus: a brief history of tomorrow

Michael Helm, After James

Brenda Hillman, Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire

James Hillman & Sonu Shamdasani, Lament of the dead: psychology after Jung’s Red book

Anne Hillerman, Song of the Lion

Susan Holbrook, Throaty wipes

Emma Hooper, Etta and Otto and Russell and James

Anthony Horowitz, Magpie Murders

Sarah Howe, Loop of Jade

Helen Humphreys, The river

Markus Imhoof & Claus-Peter Lieckfeld, More than honey: the survival of bees and the future of our world

Anosh Irani, The Parcel

Annie Jacobsen, Phenomena: the secret history of the U.S. government’s investigations into extrasensory perception and psychokinesis

Tama Janowitz, Scream: a memoir of glamour and dysfunction

Greg Jenkins, Theban oracle: discover the magic of the ancient alphabet that changes lives

Marni Jackson, Don’t I know you?

Paulette Jiles, News of the World

Han Kang, The Vegetarian

Rupi Kaur, Milk and Honey

James King, The Way It Is: The Life of Greg Curnoe

Naomi Klein, No is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need

Christina Baker Kline, Orphan train: a novel

Joy Kogawa, Gently to Nagasaki

Hari Kunzru, White Tears

  1. Travis Lane, Crossover: poems

John Le Carré, A Legacy of Spies

Genevieve Lehr, Stomata

Donna Leon, Death in a strange country

Donna Leon, The waters of eternal youth

Donna Leon, Falling in Love

Donna Leon, Death and Judgement

Donna Leon, Quietly in Their Sleep

Donna Leon, Drawing conclusions: a Commissario Guido Brunetti mystery

Donna Leon, The girl of his dreams

Donna Leon, Looks are deceiving

Donna Leon, Through a glass darkly

Donna Leon, Suffer the little children

Donna Leon, Earthly Remains: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery

Martine Leavitt, My book of life by Angel

Deborah Levy, Hot Milk

Penelope Lively, The purple swamp hen and other stories

Beau Lotto, Deviate: the science of seeing differently

Charles C Lovett, The Lost Book of the Grail

Robert Macfarlane, Landmarks

Kyo Maclear, Birds Art Life: A Field Guide to the Small and Significant

Karan Mahajan, The Association of Small Bombs

Henning Mankell, Quicksand: what it means to be a human being

Lee Maracle, Talking to the diaspora

Stephen Marche, The Unmade Bed: the messy truth about men and women in the 21st century

Megan Marshall, Elizabeth Bishop: a miracle for breakfast

Daphne Marlatt, Reading Sveva

Elan Mastai, All our wrong todays: a novel

Alexander McCall Smith, Precious and Grace

Alexander McCall Smith, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

Anna & Jane McGarrigle, Mountain city girls: the McGarrigle family album

Ami McKay, The Witches of New York

Adrian McKinty, The Cold Cold Ground

John McWhorter, The language hoax: why the world looks the same in any language

Lewis Mehl-Madrona, Coyote Medicine

Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior  

John Metcalf, The museum at the end of the world

Claire Messud, The Burning Girl

Anne Michaels, All We Saw

Jacob Mooney, Don’t Be Interesting

Robert Moss, Sidewalk oracles: playing with signs, symbols, and synchronicity in everyday life

Rhonda Mullins, Twenty-One Cardinals, Coach House Books. English translation of Les héritiers de la mine by Jocelyne Saucier

Alice Munro Dear life: [stories]

Haruki Murakami, Wind; Pinball: two novels

Shane Neilson, On shaving off his face: poems

Jo Nesbo, The Thirst  yuck

John Nyman, Players

Heather O’Neill, The lonely hearts hotel

David Orr, You, too, could write a poem: selected reviews and essays, 2000-2015 *

Orhan Pamuk, The Red-Haired Woman

Molly Peacock, Analyst

Louise Penny, Glass Houses

Sarah Perry, The Essex Serpent

Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Heaven

Alison Pick, Strangers With the Same Dream

Nancy Geddes Poole, The past— comes back: a memoir

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles

Steven Price, By Gaslight

Francine Prose, Mister Monkey: a novel

Philip Pullman, Mystery of the Ghost Ship

Philip Pullman, The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage

Andrew Pyper, The Only Child: A Novel

Susan Quinn, Eleanor and Hick: the love affair that shaped a First Lady

Matt Rader, Desecrations

Ian Rankin, Rather Be the Devil

Michael Redhill, Bellevue Square

Iain Reid, I’m Thinking of Ending Things

Robbie Robertson, Testimony

Eden Robinson, Son of a Trickster

Peter Robinson, In the Dark Places

Judith Rodger, Greg Curnoe: Life & Work

Arundhati Roy, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

Bernard Sanders, Our revolution: a future to believe in

George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo

Dani Shapiro, Hourglass: time, memory, marriage

Will Schwalbe, Books for Living

Will Schwalbe, The End of Your Life Book Club

Gregory Scofield, Witness, I am

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, This accident of being lost: songs and stories

Sue Sinclair, Heaven’s Thieves

Robin Sloan, Sourdough

Carolyn Smart, Careen

Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

Zadie Smith, Swing Time

Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

Rebecca Solnit, The Mother of All Questions

Linda Spalding, The Reckoning

Dana Spiotta, Innocents and Others

Mirabai Starr, Caravan of no despair: a memoir of loss and transformation

Jon Kalman Stefansson, Fish Have No Feet

D.E. Stevenson, Miss Buncle’s book

Elizabeth Strout, Anything Is Possible

Cordelia Strube, On the shores of darkness, there is light

Matthew Sullivan, Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore

Shaun Tan; foreword by Neil Gaiman, The singing bones: inspired by Grimms’ fairy tales

Deborah Tannen, You’re the only one I can tell: inside the language of women’s friendships

Charles Taylor, The language animal: the full shape of the human linguistic capacity

Susan McCaslin,
Sharon Thesen, The Receiver

Laura Thompson, The Six: The Lives of the Mitford Sisters

James Thurber, The Wonderful O

Colm Toibin, House of Names

Tomas Tranströmer, The great enigma: new collected poems; translated from Swedish by Robin Fulton

Rose Tremain, The Gustav Sonata: a novel

Jeff VanderMeer, Borne

Katherena Vermette, The Break

Karen Virag, editing Canadian English: a guide for editors, writers and everyone who works with words / editor-in-chief

Eleanor Wachtel, The Best of Writers & Company

Martin Walker, Bruno, Chief of Police

Martin Walker, Bruno, Chief of Police, Fatal pursuit: a Bruno, chief of police novel

Martin Walker, The Templars’ Last Secret: A Bruno, Chief of Police novel

Mary Walsh, Crying for the moon: a novel

Phyllis Webb, Peacock Blue, The Collected Poems

Izabella Wentz, Hashimoto’s Protocol

Hank Wesselman, Medicinemaker: mystic encounters on the Shaman’s path

Jennifer Welsh, The Return of History: Conflict, Migration, and Geopolitics in the Twenty-first Century

Zoe Whittall, The Best Kind of People

Kathleen Winter, Lost in September

Jeanette Winterson, Christmas days: 12 stories and 12 feasts for 12 days

Peter Wohlleben; foreword by Tim Flannery; The hidden life of trees: what they feel, how they communicate: discoveries from a secret world

Gwendolyn Womack, The fortune teller

Diana Wynne Jones, Witch week

Jon Young; with science and audio editing by Dan Gardoqui, What the robin knows: how birds reveal the secrets of the natural world

Carlos Ruiz Zafon, The Shadow of the Wind

Jan Zwicky, The long walk

Jan Zwicky, Wittgenstein Elegies, intro: Sue Sinclair

penn-1950

Poem for Human Rights Day

Arms And The Boy

          from Barbaric Cultural Practice, Quattro Books

In our time all the world’s worst
clichés are actualised in stark paradox,
explosive irony.

I am swimming in happiness
rain cocooning my window pane

when TV presents the boy
whose eyes whose eyes

I fall through the scream as if to land

among proud and elegant peoples
divided by civil, uncivil arms.

Dispossessed of the West they thought they knew.
Dis/oriented, where do they turn?

Women and kids cleaving, cleft, bereft.
Institutions crack under cloud cover.

Shovels at a narrow grave.

“The image that struck me most
was a fourteen year old boy

just skin and bones. The men were
burying him when

crossed, his last gesture,
an ache up arms’ inner
two tears ran down his cheeks.”

That boy survived but cannot speak.
Language is lost in war, though lies thrive.

barbaric-cultural-practice_front-cover

Another Invocation

                   for all those missing and murdered

Come say hello, women. While the veils are still

thin, we welcome your presence, no longer missed

but present, with all the disappeared you stand for.

 

As if you were in the prime of life now. As if

your daughters bloomed full-grown around you.

As if your mothers were crying delighted tears.

 

And if you were here to see what has changed

and what has not, would you hide your eyes in

shame for what has been done, what has not?

 

Come into the light and tell us how you are. As

if you have life beyond what we recall or remember

before this dark December claims its own again.

Penn Kemp

http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/12/01/poetry-1150/

Renegade98 Photo

Wonder Woman

Her 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 her bow on intruders.

Artemis herds young artoi, girls of eight or so away
from polis, the city, into wide, wilder woods where she
reigns Queen and they her willing apprentices stay

snared 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 will go trick or treating and
return with a gleeful sack full of eternal returns.

Such small cosy comforts subside as the year slips
at an entrance to enchantment, the larger dark
that awaits us all. And the Greater Bear grins.

PK

Sunday, October 29 @ 7pm. I’ll be reading this poem at a Hallowe’en concert by
Patricia Green’s students. Talbot College 101, Western U.

Here’s Wonder Woman daughter and granddaughter!

Amanda kids Gavin Penn 2017

Yours, for Hallowe’en

Le Revenant

Appropriately, this piece was published on the Full Moon of October 5, 2017. Editor Aurora Stewart de Pena.

http://towncrier.puritan-magazine.com/ephemera/revenant

And I’m posting Le Revenant here on Friday, the 13th of October:)

Jake bike Island 2017 SUN

Le Revenant

“During a Lunar Eclipse conscious concerns overcome unconscious drives and the 3-D overrides the Dream Time. Of course, it’s not really possible to stifle, squelch, hold back, deny, or suppress the unconscious for very long without experiencing a psychosis of some kind.”

October 28th, late. Tonight there is a total eclipse of the moon. It is not at first visible. But as the night progresses, overcast clouds scatter, scudding across the mackerel sky, blown by a strong westerly. In a long cotton nightdress, I lie back for the spectacle on a long white deckchair. The full moon is revealed momentarily just at the height of the eclipse. A silver rim, a palimpsest of its usual silver dish. At first I think it is covered by cloud, but the earth shadow remains on the moon face like a bruise that won’t go away. Earth hides reflected light. I too am without reflection down below. No mirror but immersed, watching my own silvered, slivered shadow cast on the lawn chair. The eyes play tricks.

The full moon seemed to be oblique. The colours astonish: red swirls on the bottom and complementary green on top, curving round. Rose-red flashes along the rim of the moon. Brightness edges away the shadow, gently persistently pushing it back to the right. The clouds disperse; a planet appears in the sky just above the moon. We are edging toward Halloween and I drift into preparatory dream…

My academic cousins have invited us over for a seminar on ghosts. We crowd into the cramped living room of a cabin. They tell me in hushed tones that their mother has just died. I hadn’t known my aunt was ill but she’s a great age. Is that her, stretched out the draped kitchen table they’ve fixed up as her bier? Her face is hidden by the grey cobweb of shroud but I recognize the sharp outline of her nose. I choose a seat on the sofa where I can observe the corpse opposite. Patrick Lane and Lorna Crozier grin at me from couches across the room. They are both making notes on poetics for the occasion. At the podium, the professors take turns in an animated, pedantic discussion that focuses more on city waterfront than on the ghosts that were supposed to be their subject.

Scanning the cabin, I spot only one ghost on site, and he’s a desiccated old mummy hanging in a wall cabinet like a worn, discarded suit. There’s no time for any other speeches but the ongoing drone of professors when the service is abruptly over. Even now, as we walk past the zoo to our cars, my relations are still vying for our attention, boasting with civic pride about the proposed new developments in their city. Lorna waves goodbye as we head off in different directions to our respective towns.

In the dream, I’m disappointed because I’d come prepared to talk about my encounter with ghosts. After reading Bram Stoker when ill at fourteen with a high fever, I’d hallucinated. For three days running, at 4 pm, when my temperature was highest, a black cloud would roll out from the electrical outlet outside my bedroom. The cloud would rise and condense into a tall figure in evening dress, riding on a wave of blood that threatened to engulf me. Impervious to the scarlet roll of the breaker, Dracula rode toward me, intent, his imperious eyebrows furrowed. No gentleman, he. But before he got to me, I’d fainted.

By morning, the October yard is golden with teardrop birch leaves and the heart-shaped redbud. The unknown yellow flowers, something between a sunflower and a bolted lettuce flower, continue to bud and blossom. The bees are encouraged, returning for more and more, but slowing under the weight of pollen and the cold. Goldfinches sway on the forlorn and desiccated stalks, seeking the last black seeds from sunflower heads. Late goldenrod rise determined to flower in this unprecedented warmth. Even the surprised forsythia blossoms along the new branches, fooled by the slight frost a few weeks back into thinking this is spring. As does the careless primrose, with its circlet of magenta around a golden centre. And the last daisy, day’s eye. Give me your answer, do.

We have shifted along the spectrum toward light, despite the darkening days. September was the entire spread of red, with its roses, fuchsia, chenille plant and morning glories. A generosity of geraniums. Tomatoes and peppers began to blush. Firm tomatillos burst their lantern skin alongside a passion mix of osteospermum. And early Christmas cactus bursts against the deep splendid coleus, the extravagance of hibiscus. Now is the yellow season. Mists and mellow fruitfulness, vibrant against the persistent green.

*

My first-born was conceived at midnight on another Halloween, after a party in1969. The first month I was off the pill. As sperm trickled into my womb, I lay in the darkness and in that haze of sleepy satiety saw. A cloud descended, a cloud of children’s voices, milling, excited, clambering. A cumulus of little faces, inchoate, coming into form, coming into perspective, children appearing suddenly after a great treat. One little being was the most persistent, determined to present himself first. The others dropped back, lost their form, slipped, returned to cloud. Triumphantly, the winner declared himself, named himself, chose me as his home. Flushed with victory, his cherubic cheeks reddening. I saw this boy again, two years later, incarnated as my son. He realized himself as a toddler just as he had appeared at his conception, as form took hold.

This tadpole swam in me, nothing but a black dot. The tadpole flourished, developed limbs. A small toad explored my innards as its own private pond. I watched from up in my head, fascinated and somewhat horrified at this invasion. The toad stopped wandering, settled into my womb, curved into a ball and concentrated on growing. Would I never know privacy again? During the day, I taught rock music lyrics to bemused Tech kids who until then had no interest in English. Night was given over to swelling. Growth comes at night, and I grew; the foetus grew. Swelling with pride, I became belly. Belly became me. Two heartbeats in me now. And then, as we watched Woodstock, the kick. Not just a kick, a drumbeat rocking to the percussion of Country Joe and the Fish.

Because of the size of the foetus, the doctor proclaimed it would be due the first of July. I waited throughout the summer, our first in the suburbs. Steam lifting off the balcony railing. Our first summer off the ground, in a high rise. In those innocent days, a high-rise was an eyrie, the height of sophistication. We settled into domesticity. I wore a loose Moroccan djellaba and wallowed like a whale. My belly continued to expand in the heat like an over-ripe tomato. Thirty pounds of belly, and my arms and legs still skinny. We painted the spare bedroom for the baby. We painted my academic cousin’s wicker basinet. We entertained bachelor friends, who stayed too long,

I was twenty-five. I thought I was ready. Married, educated, well-travelled. Ready for the next stage. And the urge was in me. My husband accommodated. Neither of us had any conception of parenthood. There were few books on the topic in 1970, aside from my mother’s Dr. Spock. None of our friends had children. But we nested. My belly pulled my intellect into its own wisdom, its will more focussed than mine, which seemed to have melted in the heat. I waited placidly. Hormones suffused my mind. I dreamed of toadlets, amphibian babies swimming through my veins, through ‘hysteria’, the original wandering womb. Wondering when, wondering if and how.

In hospital, I rode out the contracting waves for thirty-six hours. When the contractions were so close they were one crest and trough, ongoing, I left my body to float out the top of my perspiring head. Hovering on the ceiling, I watched with mild compassion the woman below writhe in a white hospital gown, her sheet twisted. Not waving but drowning. It was a long weekend and my doctor was away playing golf. When he returned, I was induced. My son was reluctantly induced into the world.

I recognize him, this revenant. A summer baby, born in Leo, ‘way past due, but once out, bursting to engage us with outstretched arms. Plump and bursting, baby Joy, baby Life, firstborn. My Syrian friend Hassan tells me that if I were Moslem, I would now be called by my son’s name. My honorific would be my role: Mother of the First-born. Out of respect, because I have delivered the son, the centre of the world. Holding this child, I believe it.

He drains my milk, sucks so eagerly that my nipples are raw and bleeding. Blood and milk trickle down from the corner of his mouth, separately, red and white. He sleeps in the cradle of my arms, satiated. The world is his womb these August days so hot neither of us can tell inside from out. We are outside in. I have known him beyond time. And I watch with the decades as he unfolds.

Penn Kemp

Poem for an Awful Inauguration

January 20, 2017

This Awful Inauguration day augurs so
dimly for us all, and we aren’t even in
the United States. The world awaits

uncertain of outcome, certain only that
meanness prevails of heart and intent.
We’ve dropped into the well of offal.

An Awful Inauguration day augurs well
for the unduly rich but poorly for poor
and dispossessed, for poor middle class.

This Awful Inauguration day augurs ill
for Obamacare, for the health of a nation,
for all illegal aliens and for alienated arts.

This Awful Inauguration day augurs dimly
for us all, and we aren’t even in the Year
of the vain Fire Rooster till January 28.

O weather vane, you parade your lies as
truth. You spin with the wind. You turn.
You twitter and trumpet trust topsy-turvy.

This Awful Inauguration day crows triumph
for the cock of the walk, king for a day, or
another four years. We withhold, withstand

his very dangerous flash in a very wide pan.
But we don’t withdraw. We march, we hold
on, hold to, truth as we know it. We refuse.

We are other. We are alien. We protest: these
Auguries of Inauguration are not innocent.

Penn Kemp

Love Hope Opt 11779840_10152952905252051_2078125788695655817_o