One Poem. One Planet. April 29, 2017

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29.

Nature Poem

Snowshoe Hare who lives
in the tangle of downed trees
next to the culvert where Porcupine
used to hole up in late winter
is gray

Snowshoe Hare who darts
across the mound under white birch bowed
to each other over bare ground where
White Dog sprawled in the dirt
is quiet as a ghost

Snowshoe Hare who streaks
up the driveway toward tall grass
behind the house where Bear
huffed his breath into the spongy ground
is running for her life

–Arlitia Jones, April 29, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 28, 2017

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28.

History Sonnet

Perhaps it started when Siegfried killed the lindworm—
the Horrible Serpent dead—so the town of Worms
could cobble to life with congratulatory stone
Cathedrals and Churches and Monasteries, Cloisters
then smithys, jails and burghers’ mansions in view
of high-held domes and steeples—the Pope’s monster-less realm.

The Modern World born of Empire and Martin Luther’s
insurrection—95 Theses nailed to the revered door—
now Lutherans must kill Catholics.
The Serpent claims an eye for Siegfried’s eye
and tooth for tooth for fang—the heretic—
—the hammer—the nail—the new reality
where the worm is now Authority.

–Arlitia Jones, April 28, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 21, 2017

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21.

Three kinds of flicker
today: the first in front of my car

as I left my driveway,
flare of a wing and flame colored flight

disappearing into the alder.
The second a shimmering late sun

tunneling into the volcano’s flank
way off on the distant horizon,

a fiery mouse hollowing its nest, trailing
orange tail in a lavender sky

And finally tonight this bright feather
of memory suspended in the bell jar

where I keep every beautiful piece of you
I haven’t already lost or dulled with unabashed devotion

–Arlitia Jones, April 21, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 16, 2017

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16.

Portrait of the Demi-Goddess as a Child

There came a day when my father, a powerful and wealthy king
(he was a butcher)

Lifted me up to set me high atop the back of a gleaming black mare.
(It was a Huffy banana bike. She was pink.)

She cantered and tossed her head. I smoothed her neck. Her name was Sheila.
(Her name was Sheila.)

My short legs were barely long enough to hold the curve of her ribs
(I couldn’t reach the pedals)

The King declared me confined to an Empire the breadth of a day’s ride in any direction.
(Our driveway and the street in front of the house.)

But Sheila’s mane was silver and her tail flowed like water when she ran.
(silver handlebar tassels)

Along her spine, my velvet cape flared like a blue wing wherever we went
(I tied a dishtowel around my neck)

and wherever we went we galloped. Headlong. Breathless. We ran away to Ghost Mountain
(To the top of Deadman’s Hill)

where highwaymen beat their horses and turned them out on rocky cliffs.
(mean boys always drop their bikes in the dirt)

Braggarts who blocked the way of any traveler, tested themselves against all comers.
(You know, a guy really died on this hill.)

Together, Sheila and I made up a single body of will and speed.
(Bet you’re too chicken.)

Sheila was the best of horses, she’d always done whatever I asked–
(I pointed my front tire downhill)

So, now I asked her for her cherished legs, her roaring heart. I was fearless.
(I was fearless.)

–Arlitia Jones, April 16, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 15, 2017

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15.

Eleven days ago a hostile tribe captured our myth
and replaced it with their own version

of our voluptuous Eve, our great goddess, our life-giver
who, we now believe, fell to earth from a hatch in the sky

to transform an entire mountain into an appalling blossom
of rock and fire blooming into burning air

a giant peony of smoke opening to the sun
o’ mother of the sacred boom and incinerated corpse

(whose love we now know weighs 10,000 kilos)
protect your children in this garden of misery and shame

two miles away the enemy’s child turned to see
her flash of light and felt his eardrums shatter

and five thousand miles away another tribe, despised and motherless,
is rebuilding yet another myth for their own retelling

-Arlitia Jones, April 15, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 14, 2017

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14.

Before and after have places.
—Lao Tzu (604-531 BCE)

Between fear and hope
now is where we are

now is the weight in the hand of ripened daylight
or it is the agile joke where laughter leaps from the tongue

now is the bright notes of a robin’s song spinning
inside the tornado, it’s also the mangled lawn chair

now is the blank ceiling that shelters us
when a star drops its gold coins from so high up

now is the disappearance of the moth vibrating its wings
same as it is the brown bat banked in careening flight

now is the bridge with missing slats
between birth and death–deliberate faith or folly

in between before and after, that coaxes
our first step onto the water’s back

–Arlitia Jones, April 14, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 10, 2017

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10.

Moon Fragment

If I invented a new language,
the word for heart would be
the same word for otter

the word for moon
would also be monk

the word muse,
the word duck

-Arlitia Jones, April 10, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 9, 2017

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9.
On the road going past her land
we found one sock, a filthy thing
she said belonged to the bogey man

who comes at dawn looking for work,
his whole body wrapped in socks to keep warm
a woolen mummy with a red mouth
and seeping eyes

If I needed anymore evidence
she knew all the signs for terror
l had the new mole on my elbow
proof trolls dropped out of the ducts
while I slept to lick my skin, a physic
for their warted tongues,
just like she said would happen

No neighbors in sight,
I lived the pastoral summer with her in the squat house
in the middle of the field where the sky
liked to rest its heavy blue foot

Wheat-fringed horizon on all sides,
we stayed within our bounds
so the night we heard her garden gate crash open
when I tried to go to the window
she grabbed my arm to keep me
beside her on the couch.
Pay no mind. Witches can’t abide locks

In the tent of light thrown by one lamp
we pretended not to hear, I pretended to read a book,
she pretended to darn some torn relic
as night swirled around the house,
the dark whispered and cursed, conspired
to rob the old woman blind

The next morning, on hands and knees
she scooped dirt into the heart-sized holes
where beets used to be. She re-mounded
her potato hills and clucked her tongue
damn fools went right past the cucumbers
perfectly ripe

When I asked her why would witches steal
when they could do magic, anyway
she kept her eyes on the earth
They’re hungry

Later in the afternoon heat
when I started to shiver
Means spiders running across the sun.

–Arlitia Jones, April 9, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 8, 2017

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8.
Inside the earth
I prayed for violence
waited for the frozen rind
above me to fracture

when I heard the snow
let down its damp
runnels of bright music
tunneling downward
seeking lake bottom in my ear,
I took stock of my vertebrae
puzzled them back into place
renouncing my hunched devotion
to this myth

I wove my collarbones
back into their basket,
de-chimed my ribs
and let go the clack
curled in my hands

Enamored
of new flesh softening my sharpness
I started to suspect
I am meant for blooming

and so what happens next—
the clawing sound,
the soil tearing above me
sunlight’s thick blade cleaving
the howling of the old woman—

comes as shock—her rusted hands
clutching, lifting me out of the husk
of every wrong ever done to her

She’s kept my name all this time
and when she says it
I feel the spade striking
buried rocks.

–Arlitia Jones, April 8, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 7, 2017

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7.
Tonight, cumulus clouds mound
in rubble heaps above the inlet

The gods have ruined
their city, their shining

halls and avenues of mist
all silent and deserted

In a hundred years from now
it will be hearsay

these same gods
ever composed a song

or planted fragrant gardens.
Our generation

will be gone, in our place we will
have left folded schematics

for locks and graveyards
filled with black lung

Then, in a thousand years from now
cumulus clouds will re-open

billowing white chrysanthemums
extinct beauty sailing out from myth

–Arlitia Jones, April 7, 2017

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