Monday, July 26, 2021

Requiem for A Queen's Swan

The wall beside the Queen’s pond was adept

at keeping undesirables out; swans

flew in and landed with their huge wing spans:

enough to break a man’s arm if unkempt.

The eldest woman on castle grounds sat

and watched them every day for silken hours,

her hair was white as snow, her eyes water-

green, as she sat and stroked a long-haired cat.

Her wildest prayers she would enunciate,

and her hands were painfully gnarled I guessed,

she believed transformation was reeling

its answers in the form of art quite late—

the swans were poets: spirits effortless

at self-love, where she had little feeling.


She wrote like the web and was very old,

of a spider’s haunt, the delicate dew

hung from each strand of her mind, not askew,

although her bun contained the whisps of cold.

Elegant swans hated the velvet hounds,

the populace thought they were causing war,

disastrous occurrences, even far

off prophecies had already been found

innocent by church theology, they

only predict the future, not cause it.

Merciless, blood hounds chased down every

miserable chaste bird and made it prey;

people of Poland were not opposed, writ

words given up, eating succulent flesh.


For swans are faithful creatures, dedicate

their lives to one spouse, and raise their cygnets

splashing into the waters, calm there met: 

their words are harsh and hiss, relegated

to a library stack with fearsome beaks.

Habitual mornings are somewhat poor;

half past seven, they arrive asking for

breakfast. Their host in a house is the meek

Parish Priest, he put the swans under his

protection from twelfth century’s blood:

it is illegal to harm a swan, white,

black, or any colour—the webbed feet, a Liszt

in sleight of hand upon the keys, there could

be no other, the master, the maestro’s bride.


It is treason to hurt or maim molten

swans—played each key with firm finality

and to one soul it resounded teary

into eternity, her one stolen

perfume, that languishing fragrance of youth

when she brought a young blond runaway home

and let her sleep on the couch like a poem

for a few hours into morning. Uncouth,

we lifted our heads in the corn fields, dark

eyes watched a girl running in a sundress

until tears streamed down our faces, music

this beautiful is the texture of bark

on an oak tree, no longer are you less

for living vicariously, physic.


There is one remedy, lest you drive a

swan to its death. There are a host of tar-

black tutus that to the wood ballet barre

exact a plie in sequence, a way

so each candle in the wind bright flickers,

built up to its highest goals’ aptitude,

eventually dies in solitude.

She first bends supple, like a grey cygnet,

in imitation of the older dance,

wrinkled seeds, dancers who have come before,

deep in the ground were rooted in bras bas.

The ballet grows to a thousand’s applause,

green Earth’s oldest tree could not be deformed,

subtle rejection grew its desert claws.


On the dun outskirts of society,

she had suffered every rejection known

to humankind, there was no more wind-blown

morality to impropriety.

Was she now oil or wine, the verse would look;

and the vineyard ran purple with royal

colours, the swollen grapes bursting from toil,

the ground was sandstone and red underfoot.

The sun, setting at the eleventh hour,

it was night and the young woman, olive

in a cape rang the bell. There was silence.

She would come again, there would be power

when the young swan would know the liturgy;

she would dance without you seeing, the blind

blue eyes of chance and fate would throw their die,

she continued on without them, quite meek.

A swan’s concerted effort at swimming

is made to look quite effortless, seeming

a quiet glide through waters deep, reeming

at a classroom of old notions, dimming

lanterns with olive oil, lighting the way

by new commitments and new trust in love

that makes us human, singular above

dependency and mentoring our stay

on earth here for awhile: we are alive,

we felt pain, and knew what it was to be

swans and sacrifice for what we believed

in. We went hungry, were unrealized,

we fed the children of tomorrow, sea

swept lives full of memories, now retrieved.  

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Crucified One: Magnificat

The Renaissance would sing of you in blue

and white stained glass, with ruby crown,

the red blood of your body next ran down

to the torment of your outer flesh; you

were determined to die in every room

of the three levels of humankind: sound

doctrine made us build stone mansions, to found

hell, and earth, and heaven. Before monsoons

of spirits conjured up ideals: hours

swept away like old houses and picket

fences, marigolds flying in maize.

Your red smile, the black hair, and white powdered

face reminded me of even, crickets'

sound from a desert farmhouse in LA.  

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Petrarchan Hymn

The last light fades, for it is winter now;

there is a thorn-pierced shore, within the cove

with waves that overlap the tides that rove

ragged with driftwood, on a distal bronze brow.

The ocean held the saline ship’s bow;

beneath the salty waves the orcas dove

to sandy darkened depths of blue and mauve,

that rose to Magnificat’s undertow.

And the floor threw shells of alabaster

with frequent storm and violent drenches,

the greenest land was littered now with stone.

The innocent hands of trees were master,

constant arms outstretched between two branches

made of the Virgin Mother’s bluest bone.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Our Lady of the Night

She was stone and clear water flowed in shoots,

fountains of joy came from beneath her hands:

her figure, the sacred image of lands

where the Catholic tree spread its deep roots.

A vision: Fatima appeared in woods;  

walkers visited her white marble bands,

the gown that was as mystical as sands

shifting in the desert. The light that should

disperse over her form and the ’spiring pines,

would glimmer in her unseeing white eyes,

and her earthly blindness unveiled the sight

of a thousand angels, ready at signs

of her distress. To her side and her sighs

of pity—the revealing of the light.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Goose Wing II

When night fell over the nature reserve
our wings fluttered, fell, with the murky dark,
where we waited in our gaggle with stark
memory of the way we were preserved.
There was an aspen tree, leaning reserved—
and it was the scratched home of a blue lark—
pandemic sang that we would be sin-marked.
The bird song rings, we listened in, conserved.
Could there come such dulcet sweet furious
mud? We would put our righteousness away,
and don worn clothes, to walk about in torn
linen. We walked on water as curios,
we turned cinnamon into curry in a day
when no more miracles occurred but morn.

         —Emily Isaacson

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Goose Wing I

I nestled my beak in my taupe feathers,
the moon had almost risen; it was night.
The waters of Fish Trap Creek shone their bright
hue in the solstice of crisp blue winter,
the essence of the earth was as ether.
Once under the sun, now the dark's night-light 
shone cream resplendent, oval and lips tight.
Gathering, reeds still in our beaks bitter,
I padded with my webbed feet into grass
that held me like a bassinet holds child,
my maternal breast both heavy and near.
I'd glided silently through water glass,
my wing was thought as proud as I was mild,
my presence was not damp nor fraught with fear.

Emily Isaacson

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Swan Song VII: Once Upon A Time

The drifts snow-white cover my apple hair,
I have been poisoned by a fairy tale,
the skeleton of a handsome tail; 
there were vile warnings not to eat this fare,
on the tapestried green maternal chair.
The fine chocolate was dark and nightly veiled,
as a Persian queen of an empire mailed
her subjects with gossamer notions, chaired 
her conscience by a board of designs
both ornate and established, elegant. 
She kissed the Prince who turned into a frog:
he leapt, he groaned, he then his past resigned,
the worth of his life's brow, malificent . . .
and hopped away to an imperial bog. 

Swan Song VI: A Silver Sunrise

My feet were strewn with kelp on the seashore.
I watched and waited for you to come home.
The sun red rose and set in silver stone.
The setting was only what brought out more
garnet gem aspects of your secret store.
Somewhat like a girl with a new salt moan;
she has disappeared from view 'neath pine cones,
beneath the piles of bleached-pale apple cores.
Her face was decisive, she was not dew;
perhaps she would be happy elsewhere. 
She was the jewel in the Jeweller's crown; 
you worked long hours for this one ewe.
As lonely ones admit their seaward cares,
some did not admit their fear they would drown. 

Swan Song V: Water the Driftwood Flowers

Let's begin again: all society 
sound now. Throes of music are upon us;
we must resist, we must desist. We must
do nothing, we do things in piety.
Only now this came about: deity
of a plague, we must hear. You too are us.
We are all the same. We are viral lust.
We will love and mate, or we will kill three.
How now do you propose to indict us
with greater powers over life and death?
If you offer us our own fate, how could 
we refuse? We pull our hooded capes up
over our bowed heads. Now our very breath
condemns us, as partners in crime (beachwood). 

Swan Song IV: Fishing Boats

There was  a silent  moon.  It  had a hue   
around it;  over  the  sea the boats  bobbed
in navy waters,  and the light  house throbbed
its  sonorous  pulse,  resonant  and  true.
The ocean was  in mist,  carded grey-blue—
the yarn  of  a former  time,  women sobbed
only behind closed  doors,  as  men went  off   
to  sea. All who were  sailors,  both  genders  grew 
pale at  the task  of  fighting  viral  load
in invisible  sea monsters  everywhere. 
As  their  sense of  their  sea legs  sore  increased, 
they became  more  curt,  sea  captains  bloated 
with  disinfectant,  pride in dinnerware— 
long  tables  presided,  lilacs,  depressed. 

Swan Song III: Did the Pear Tree Survive?

This is the nicest dress you have ever 
seen in moss-wind, blowing over the cliffs;
I am standing here, there are the lows, lifts,
and great moments--there is a sound, tremor 
emanating from the mountain's side, lore
of dragons who have swallowed princesses.
The flakes of gold fell in drifts of snow, myths
two feet deep that melted, flood--more
vanquishing than all previous troubles,
crippling our deepest intentions at love,
making communion too intimate, wine
next to a poet, and winery next to bubbles
floating over the freshly mowed green, doves
on the pear tree that was wick back in time.

Swan Song II: Echo

Echo, he said. The voices of flour sacks 
reached higher on the treble clef, rising;
a utopia instead of a scream
erupted like dark on planet's backs.
There was a falling on the table, jacks
tumbled out of a little girl's fist, seams--
even berries, red threads of Levi's jeans.
Her earring collection was in a rack
in her jewelry box of green velvet,
she threaded blue and white marbled
beads on silver, and grew into a swan
from an ugly duckling, when the heat melted.
It was past giving Valentines, garbled
a new society in deep fawn. 

Swan Song: from the Ashes of Plague

I lingered over the lake as swan song,
I was a mist, the garment that I drew
when I had no boundary to wings, flew
into the wind, and collected loud drawn
out images of clothing or shroud. Throngs
eyed my scarves in lama wool, and life brewed
its own garden vegetables, lamb, for stews.
I stopped. I, life, was stopped. Sweat at the gong
trickled down my alabaster face, dust--
marble dust, blown away by the master.
My Michelangelo and his sculpting 
ceased to unnerve my patriotic cusp,
I was solid; I, the mass of stone cast,
I was iron and clay in one scything.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Have I Loved Life?

I was a Blue Rock Thrush that sang outside
the Louvre, for the art made my throat swell
and the Boreal Owl descended well
into night. Bohemian Waxwing bride
flew a trousseau the size of lengthy wide
medieval tapestries. Dotted with miel
were croissants at the long table; the belle
danced under the long windows of Versailles.
We sang a tune, a lyric of her best
versified Monday morning room lightened
by the sun through the olive velvet drapes.
The library met her moments in rest
with long-dead poets and dames to brighten
the dark--lit wax candles, 'neath my landscapes.


The alpine meadows are spun with millefleurs
and forests of pine, beech, and poplar rend
all of France fragrant, now nuanced, and send
my poems like tiny birds heavenwards.
Wrought iron slants in afternoon and mars
the manicured green's magic haunt, lend
me the whisper for a moment of a thousand
prayers 'round the property's pristine scars,
the battle wounds have gored the trench:
there are cold gashes in the weathered wood.
Light through old lace at the windows' black frame,
the thunderous sky's tenuous grey drench
down clouds scuttling past--broom-coloured oak stood
on hillsides, a missive of gated fame. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Wild Grass of France

I collected the wildflowers and sent 
them in letters to my love long lost,
I was a soldier in France, grass in frost
froze in all withered directions, bent,
there was a wind that with it, fragranced, lent
its luminous hue, its sharp brittle cost,
and to its tune a piper's pentecost--
its denial of any resistance.
It bent the winter trees, they greenly sang,
it bent the nectar spring in maritime,
it bent the gardens of Primrose-blue fleurs-- 
wind, the sea roared, the salt, the sanguine rang;
it braved the Charente coast of ocean's thyme.
I guarded your heart like an art oeuvre.

Have I Loved Death?

It is true I loved my enemy death,
black to my white, the err to my person,
the assailant to humanity's son;
my grievance with death is it only perfects
those it loves--makes them pale, protects
them from the harsh rays of the yellow sun,
never shall they burn, cripples those who run,
all you held dear will then calloused defect.
There is a burnished French Horn at the end
when you reach the Hallmark mansion, the lake,
and the Canada geese's wild call to you.
Here you tidy rest, hands folded you bend
to the one faded cloth copy of Blake
on the table, the piano is tuned.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Morning in the Burned Cathedral

The light streams through, alas it is morning--
I cannot bear the truth in its meaning,
for I have lost my life's most precious thing:
and with it I am wrought 'till evening.
I bear the brunt of tragedian's telling,
I'd not want to be the soul's recounted fling
with crown jewels, and buried sages' grieving
over lost moments, proverbs still singing. 
There is a moment when I contemplate--
and all meaning fades in the trenches of France,
and all I love resounds, hollow as wine
no more in a chalice, bread on a plate.
My breakfast, ashes of Petite Pervenche:
wildflowers over the fields of its kind.

The Lost Church

Where have you gone, my little flock of sheep;
have you dispersed over the Vosges's pass?
Have you stayed to another river's glass?
Have you fallen down a gully so steep?
Where is the sacrament that with you keeps
you from death's harm, and with your greenest grass:
a pastureland of Liseron des Champs,
the pleasant place where White Asphodel steeps.
I wish you had waited for your shepherd,
I, standing in the ruins of the lost, 
did not see you go, nor will you to leave.
The procession for my missing, a dirge,
I singing, naive of the wind's frost
on the autumn backdrop of burnished leaves.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Mentor's Last Rite

My long ornate arms stretched to take you in,
hands welcoming with hospitality--
into the realm of Christ's divinity.
You put your two coins in the church of tin.
I ran the race of life to gaining, win,
you ran beside on personality;
tell he who made the robin and the tree
there was one more touch of madness or sin, 
you would walk no more, nor truant-wing fly;
your vestal wounds had all been scavenged, seared,
there was little left to love but a shell.
Priests would say your last rites lest you faithless die,
though the church's holy altar once was feared,
you walk into Christ's silvered arms full well.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Proverbial Contusions

Dance, dance as though the world had played a card,
we are one body, one corps the wind moves; 
we ascend when we succumb to the grooves
of higher beings, engraved oils of nard.
The precious tree became the oil and hard
as diamonds the covenant makes deep blue,
my skin has turned as cold as the dead's hue,
and still I am steaming your dark Swiss chard.
There was a moment when I doubted you:
I saw you as a distant politeness.
But now your hand has clasped my arm in life
and I die no more, I lie in ruins too:
you are my golden child of plaid kindness--
and I rush on, rising amid the strife.  

Song Of The Volta

I was divine and now I am far gone:
burned beyond recognition and accused,
left for dead as once broken and abused,
I am left with the carcass and the stone.
The chalk of my skull likely stays beyond
the years of torment and the hours of pain,
the old earth never washed away by rain,
the ancient sin not acquiesced by blood.
My innocence never belonged to me--
so can it sin? Oh can it anguished burn?
I thought to be a lovely lamb, as snows;
spring in the dun heather and the moss peat.
My towering hulk flew toward skies and churned
that the red blood has frozen in my rose.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Notre Dame's Last Singer

Our Lady, you are our noblest hero,
we swing our incense smoke for your reply
from the paradise in which you supply
our needs and our commands, how blithely so
do we insist on our own proven low
calculations, buying time on earth by
earning sterile bleak favours from God. My
home torn asunder with each gothic blow,
I was on my knees now to watch the fire
bludgeon the sky with inhuman cruelty.
We sang as city incarnadine burned,
with its altruistic Catholic spire;
we wept as Christ's face in ash was beauty,
as against us the broken stone face turned.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

From the Ashes of Notre Dame

I crossed myself and stood at the altar,
eternity wound around my finger:
the crushed moment of my solemn singer
was the moment when the burned stone faltered.
I cannot ask for more from Gibraltar,
but for one of these little ones, ringer
of the bells that call them home, rise linger
on the sweetened isle, fading light loiters
as the peals repeat and resound, silence
breaking at the notion of sound's fury.
The burnished cathedral has fallen, died;
attic to cellar smoke with violence,
the steeple tied to the dead we bury
when the beating steel heart of Paris cried.