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!
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.
News that stays news. Now I can share this piece with you.
September 11, 2017
So Far Sitting Pretty
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.
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.
Adebe deRango Adem, Quill & Quire, December, 2016.
“Down the paths of most resistance”!
This review truly gets the book, I’m grateful to say! It’s available for $18 from
WORDSFEST is happening all weekend long at Museum London: see http://www.wordsfest.com/
Send your responses about the Festival to http://www.wordsfestzine.com/. Work for this zine will be collected from Festival-goers on Friday and Saturday, then published and launched at the Rhino Lounge in Museum London Sunday, Nov. 6, at 5pm. Whew! Here’s my poem for the zine:
Ode for the Feast of Words
Our London Muses, amused, proclaim:
Come join our Museum feast in joy
of joining, reading, weaving a way,
riding a wave, waving a welcome,
well, come in then. Here. Hear!
Attendance’s high, attention is close.
Words are our vocation, invoking
the vocative, pro vocative, calling us,
calling on us, call sure, culture, meeting
our many cultures, collected. Whatever
the weather, we conjure com pose
words worth envisioned, inclusive in
terms of the other, for all our sakes.
Describing the arc, friends collect and
meet new, gathering poets in harmony |
with other authors. Rhythm rhymes us.
Creating community, fusion delights
this spacious collective, call elect if
held in the London community bowl.
The Graces are present, spirits high.
Lift the cup and dance, sing, speak, tell
the tale told, win, write welcome.
O may the best manifest
fest if all festivity
Cheer and exult.
Hail and salute!
Photo: Toban Black