Sitting Pretty: 9/11/2017

I love how Tuck Magazine publishes topical new political and occasional poems!
News that stays news. Now I can share this piece with you.

AFP photo

September 11, 2017

By

Penn Kemp

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

 

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Elegy for John Ashberry

For the Rowan Bard

 

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

cannot be.

 

By

Penn Kemp

 

Lines in italic by John Ashbery.

cf: http://www.thegoddesstree.com/trees/Rowan.htm

Published on http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/09/05/poetry-991/.

More of my poems are up on http://tuckmagazine.com/tag/penn-kemp/.

I’m so impressed at how quickly & professionally publishes topical poems! Thank you

 

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.

 

Poem for the partial eclipse of the sun

At the partial eclipse of the sun

for Ula

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.

Penn Kemp

Eclipse crescents by Amanda

Partial Eclipse Crescents by Amanda Chalmers

August 21, 2017

http://tuckmagazine.com/2017/08/23/poetry-976/

Ode for the Feast of Words

WORDSFEST is happening all weekend long at Museum London: see http://www.wordsfest.com/

http://www.lfpress.com/2016/11/03/words-fest-gives-instant-feedback
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!

Here, here!
Penn Kemp

http://www.lfpress.com/2016/11/02/wordsfest-authors-and-eager-fans-come-out-from-under-the-covers

wordsfest-belanger

penn-bassnett-wordsfest

3393652597_bcc236b0bf_z.jpg

Photo: Toban Black

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A poem for Wonder Woman on All Hallows

And all is Hallowed.  When the veil between the worlds is thin… this poem for you.  In Wonder.

Here’s to the magic of the changing season…

A story about this poem on http://metronews.ca/news/london/1200230/audio-london-poet-penn-kemp-talks-halloween-and-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 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 sackfull of eternal returns.

Penn Kemp

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ThanksgivingIslandgazebo2013JackolanternMarch2014

For Amanda, Ula and Kai Chalmers.

This poem is published in http://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/three-poems-from-penn-kemp/.

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Goddess Poems 2015

The summer issue of Goddess Pages is out!  http://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/three-poems-from-penn-kemp/#more-2890. Beautiful new issue, and the poems look grand. Thanks to editor Geraldine Chapman!

Goddess Poems 2015

by Penn Kemp

 Heart to Art

Urban rose

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
and rest
assured.

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
on stone.

Heart suspends suspense
and pauses, skips the beat
to bear what can’t be
born.

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.

Penn Kemp

Too Close for Comfort

Gavin and Penn - photo Daniel Kolos

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.

Penn Kemp

Re:Cognition

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.

Penn Kemp

Ula’s Orbit of Ellipsis

Sitting with Orion

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.

Penn Kemp

You can hear Penn read “Ula’s Orbit of Ellipsis” here.
Penn Kemp
 Photo: Kim Young Milani

Penn Kemp

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 and www.pennkemp.wordpress.com.

Wild Crafting Poems for SPRING!

 To celebrate SPRING, Toronto jazz pianist Bill Gilliam and I are performing my poems
from “Wild Crafting” and “Trance Dance Form: a Sound Opera”.

Come celebrate with us!

Tall Poppies 481948_10151091650089402_1953963330_nThese poems I’ll be performing with Bill Gilliam​ at East Village Coffeehouse​ this Saturday, 7-9! https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/paean-to-spring-light-eats-light-sounds-april-25/

Wild Crafting

Kore, Ostara, Flora, sing slight intimacy
of air, flights imagination will lilt with.

Goldfinches float above the daffodils,
hang upside-down on the stalk of old
sunflower to catch last fall’s last seed.

*

A flash of cardinal lilts down
to settle in a cloud of Creeping
Charlie, Gill-over-the-Ground
and sky-blue Forget-Me-Knot.

*

My daily bouquet of dandelion
satisfies the neighbour’s need

for desert of green grass and mine
for wild.

The yellow vibrant heads last
just a day, and then plunge sodden
into compost, to rot and feed more

flowers, not to go to seed and
propagate as they are raised to do.

Daily, the flowers bloom closer
and closer to the ground, as if
to speed the cycle, to seed before

the lawn mower lops off their
vibrant unmistakeable heads.

In thwarting their will to reproduce,
I celebrate their evanescent charm
and serve their leaves for lunch.

Stirring Not Stirring

Honey drips from my nose, coats
my hair in blond stiff strands.

I am standing very still calling
bees by scent.  Pheromones draw

them to collect on me, hiving off
to a giant new temporary queen,

spun down from my chin in a grand
pharaoh’s beard.  My eyes, my ears

are bee-shut, open only to their buzz.

*

What I don’t know is that I’m here
in front of a bear’s cave on the first
warm day of summer, attending

emergence, as the swarm births
from entrails of bull and bear.

Bee goddess, bear goddess, mid-
wife, be with us mid-life and beyond.

Homing to the Given

I am moving into old time
Fire embraces my shadow,
absorbs darkness into heat.

Friends linger, huddle under
our circular warmth.  10,000
years melt away in the current

climate shift.  There goes snow.
Too late for comfort, too late to
reverse trends toward entropy.

Decades, centuries speed past
future possibles into the past as
currencies of passable presents.

How to turn this tendency around.
Rapidly, rapidly.  Restraint is not
enough.  Constraint does not serve.

That’s not the story.  I’m drifting.
The ceremony commenced while
attention was off in is own helium.

I am standing before the entrance
of deep cave, a cave I recognize
only by the dark its shadow casts.

Fire gleams.  Fire climbs the walls.
Shapes dance into consistent form.
The sense of bear emerges into three

dimensions.  Someone from behind
must be holding up the bearskin for
Orsel, Artemis, Bear Woman, shape

shifter.  There is no one there but
this bear shape is now my contour.
Bear shape becomes me.  Becomes

my own, new comfort large enough
to roam back, large enough to call home.

Recurring Dream Theme

Night rustles outside our window, murmurs
and squeaks.  Whimpers follow outraged
raccoon yowl.  Orange and black streak

across the dark pane I can’t see through
into night creatures’ world, conjuring
interlaced smells of skunk, mouse, bat

disturbing our neighbour hound’s nose.
Scent leads a trail to territorial war, deep
enmities nurtured throughout the long wee

hours before dawn lifts that velvet cloth to
reveal grey, seeping shade back to clarity.
Daylight cicada notions begin threading a

brightening air.  Dragonflies wing-web
the pond.  Inside I still dream of prowling
tigress, White Goddess stalking the dark.

PK

A first taste of London’s Creative Aging Festival!  http://creativeage.ca/events/2015-creative-age-festival-london/

See https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/performance-april-25-with-penn-kemp-and-bill-gilliam-in-london-on/
https://www.facebook.com/events/1431976320430583/

https://pennkemp.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/paean-to-spring-light-eats-light-sounds-april-25/

The“Wild Crafting” poems were first published in http://www.goddess-pages.co.uk/index.php/2008-issues/8-autumn-2008/item/638-wild-crafting.

My reading is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts.
The last reading in London ON for National Poetry Month 2015!

Painting by Jim Kemp.