Laura M Kaminski
Author's Note: I’d like to offer these in response to May poems from Vee-Vees G. Louis Heath, Karen Paul Holmes, Jeff Burt, David Chorlton, and John Allman. As far as the optional theme of TWO, these poems all touch on duality in some way: recycling / reincarnation of a television; gathering beauty from two separate poems to arrange in a single poem-vase for Katie Armura; disintegration and disembodiment in the nocturnal desert of the mind; and separation / reunion of twins Jacob and Esau. I feel like I’ve been wrestling with angels since the May issue posted…and I feel blessed.
Being with it, not against
after G. Louis Heath's poem "I Knew A Hopi" in the May 2016 issue of Verse-Virtual
Let's trace the journey of the leaded glass
from your old RCA television.
Recycled, broken, taken and melted
at a smelter. And yes, do let's hope it
happens that way, is crushed and heated in
a Nulife furnace, lead liquefying,
pouring slowly into molds for ingots.
This process leaves the remaining molten
glass sufficiently lead-free for reuse,
to be shredded, mixed with fifteen percent
concrete, this slurry poured slowly into
molds for giant blocks, those ones with little
bumps on top like overgrown gray Legos,
pieces to fit, kit for retaining walls.
Really, Gary, we should do this, we should
take this journey. Somewhere on the freeway
our progress will be slowed by an orange
flashing light, spinning beacon on a truck
with an orange sign to warn us that its
load is oversize. And right there, atop
its flatbed trailer, in interlocking stacks,
if we stay back fifty feet and if we keep
the faith, believe, we might yet see, might
yet be blessed to witness the reincarnation
of your RCA television friend.
An Arrangement for Katie
after “Ikebana” by Karen Paul Holmes and “Three Roses” by Jeff Burt, both in the May 2016 issue of Verse-Virtual
“To me, Ikebana is part of the universal quest for peace and harmony with and among us and with the world around us. Flowers are like people. We cannot possess them; they are only ours in respect and love.” – Katsuko (“Katie”) Arimura, Discovering Ikebana, July 1964
Shin / Mother’s Rose:
Gray day in May and raining. I sit beneath the awning
at the grocery. I’m ready to see the beauty in the world.
This tall thin man emerging from a green sedan is heaven,
he goes to the other side to help his mother. Her first
foot out the door is of a cane, then they are both obscured
by the sudden blossoming of a red umbrella, burgundy
giant zinnia that shudders briefly in the breeze, then steadies.
Soe / Tropicana Rose:
A young woman with her arms crossed before her chest
jogging through the puddles toward the shelter of the store.
She’s drenched. Her hair is dripping. A young man sees
her as he’s locking up his pick-up, puts the key back in
the door, reopens it and withdraws a yellow bundle. He
takes long strides and catches up just as she arrives under
the entrance awning, offers her a loaner, a dry sweatshirt.
Tai / Climbing Tea Rose:
Another man is also getting wet, his orange vest is glossy,
he has no protection from the weather. He’s a worker, an
employee hunched over a long row of shopping carts, he’s
pushing them into the store, drying them off for use by
customers, then coming back out onto the slick black
tarmac of the lot, retrieving more. He stops a moment,
faces me. Rain drips from his eyelashes. We smile.
after David Chorlton’s “Nyctophobia” in the May 2016 issue of Verse-Virtual
Sunset is a feast of color, glorious
last supper for those who
photosynthesize. After, there’s
a shift in bandwidth,
and the night grows eyes. Three
alligator juniper who lazy-
sleep during the day
awake and strain against
those final strands
of light that bind them
to fixed-position bodies.
Their spirit-shades elongate,
stretching east against
set and quivering on their
mark, waiting for
the pistol-shot of total
dark. During day,
they’re still, their shadows sway
sedately, brindling hot sand
and rock, sipping dust motes
from the wash that runs dry along
the lower reaches of this
desert hillside. But by
early evening, they begin
into the cauldron coven
from that Scottish play we
will not name tonight,
and when last of light is gone and cloak
of pitch is cast upon the track,
those three wraiths snap free
from daytime cages.
They could be anywhere around
me, relishing invisibility, smirking
My flashlight is no
help – wherever I might
shine it, they slip out of its reaches,
encircle that round puddle
of illumination, taunting.
Beyond the beam,
the darkness thickens.
after "Jacob's Limp" by John Allman in the May 2016 issue of Verse-Virtual
Wilderness. You sleep with your head upon a rock.
Beneath your eyelids, gleaming visions gather, host
of angels climbing up and down a ladder reaching
from your pillow-stone to heaven's threshold.
First rung: even in the womb, you struggle with your
twin, try to squeeze past his position, grab his ankle.
Then second rung: young men. Esau is hungry, asks
for food, but you permit him share only the savory
scent from your bowl of lentils till he weakens, trades
for his inheritance, birthright for a bowl of beans.
Third rung: what thinks your father when he hears
of this, of how his eldest has more concern for comfort
of his stomach than his place as father's heir? Does he
surmise that Esau's too likely to be hasty, make a rash
decision, throw it all away? And what does he think
of you who value it so much you’ve taken action, claim
it for your own? Fourth rung: you feel an impostor, but
you obey your mother, slaughter two young goats as
your father nears his death. You take their hides and wear
them on your forearms as disguise. It is not your father's
failing eyes you need to fool, but rather fingers searching
to feel Esau's skin before bestowing the blessing
due the elder son. Fifth rung: Now you are blessed,
and Esau? Furious. He weeps, asks your father to retract.
But Isaac offers just the crumb that’s left, a smaller
bless. Sixth rung: your father dies. Your brother's rage is
ready to reclaim all he deems you’ve stolen, growls murder
till your mother bids you flee to Laban for a wife and job.
Fourteen rungs, each a year of labor. Your turn as victim
of deceit, you work seven years as bride price, find the one
beneath the veil is not who you’d intended. Seven more
years before you earn the right to wed her sister too. Rung
twenty-one, you leave, with wives and sons and flocks
of sheep. Far from the womb, you begin to miss your twin.
You fear he might still be bitter, so you pack up inheritance
and earnings, flocks and wealth, send it in care of servants
instruct them to present it all to Esau. Your opening hands
grasp the angelic ladder. While you sleep, your feet ascend
another rung. All you wanted, coveted, every fruit of labor —
all you send as offering to soften Esau's heart. You do not
know yet that he’s already wealthy, happy, has discovered
he never really needed that which he surrendered to you.
You do not know he no longer harbors bitterness and anger.
Another rung: you have learned something during all your
struggles. You’ve wrestled with an angel, learned another
measure: you'll give it all to heal the rift between you, give
all to once again be caught in his embrace, held in his arms
again, close as you were before you fought to be first born.
©2016 Laura M Kaminski