Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, Contest Judge
The golden tree holds her pose for several breaths,
each one a dazzle of wind, rise, fall, feather and run.
Meantime, time. Meanwhile, a man on a bicycle pumping hard
to get up the hill. Meanwhile, the dog tearing down the street,
leash flying behind him. Meanwhile, the equinox:
a balance point when one white plastic bag pauses
at the side of the tree, a flag or spirit or sign
before dropping down to trash again.
I stand in the backyard in tree: my right leg trembling
as it supports me, my left knee bent, leading the hip open.
I press my palms together at my heart and wish for balance
even, especially, while falling. The storm to come
cups the west side of this life. The heat of summer cups the right.
I exhale. The golden tree across the way holds very still
then surrenders everything in the wide arms of the world.
Poet's Notes: This is obviously a yoga poem, but it's also about weather, and it's one of the poems in Chasing Weather, my collaborative book with weather chaser/photographer Stephen Locke. I've drawn so much to how our bodies are our most local weather and address, our most intimate connection with earth and sky.
Editor’s Note: “Balancing on the Equinox” was previously published in Chasing Weather: Tornadoes, Tempests, and Thunderous Skies in Word and Image by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg and Stephen Locke.
Steven Wittenberg Gordon
With sword and bow and trusty lance.
When come the hungry demons--fight!
Repel the hordes as they advance.
Come down upon them as a gale,
Defend us all. You must not fail.
What would it mean for you to fail,
To fall in battle, shining knight?
The demons, howling like a gale,
Their teeth as sharp as any lance
Upon your gates they would advance.
Remember this the while you fight.
Spurred on by evil, demons fight.
While darkness reigns they will not fail
To press you hard in their advance
And ever strive to kill you, knight,
To snap your bow and break your lance,
To feed you to their hellish gale.
With wings that beat the air to gale
The wingéd ones prefer to fight
With talons long as any lance,
And hides to make your arrows fail.
Draw back your bow with strength, oh knight!
And bring them down! Halt their advance!
Relentlessly they will advance
A hundred strong before the gale.
To overcome a single knight
The demons are prepared to fight
To crush and make your spirit fail
And stick your head upon your lance.
So charge at them with lowered lance
As forth the howling hordes advance.
Though skin may split and sinews fail,
Your spirit, mighty as a gale,
Must never break in this great fight.
Show what it means to be knight.
Oh fail us not! Bring on the gale!
Lance them like boils as you fight.
We thank you in advance, oh knight.
Poet's Notes: I just never tire of the story of the noble knight, alone, facing impossible odds, everyone counting him, grimly and bravely executing his duty by riding into battle, accepting of his doom. The sestina is a difficult form to pull off, but I found the narrative sliding easily into place as I composed this one.
Mary Soon Lee
In a cardboard home
decorated by her children
she sent my daughter
four wooden mice,
like the wooden mice
we played with ourselves
when we were school friends.
I remember the spaceship
we built for my mice,
and rooms laid out
with domino walls,
tiny padded armchairs
pulled up around a fireplace,
cups smaller than my thumbnail.
I remember a rope swing
stretching to the sky
in her grandparents' garden;
the chocolate cakes
her mother baked;
and how she visited me
every day for a week
when I had chickenpox.
Poet's Notes: Rachel was one of my best friends when I was growing up. We still exchange Christmas cards and occasional emails, but haven't seen each other in a long time. (My fault, for moving to America.) I was very touched when Rachel sent my daughter little wooden mice like the ones we played with years ago, together with a cardboard mouse house that her children had decorated. I regret that our children have never met each other.