Monday, November 22, 2021

Requiem of the Lilith












Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com

Her flower was the lily, ominous

white, that spoke of pale stones left by moonlight,

when the toppled spades landed on the might

of what we call home, writing, venomous.

There was a churchyard, yet all was still now,

and by the darkness’s dread came Lilith fair;

they thought her but a witch and yet ensnared

by her enchantments, verse and rhyme they bow.

Her hair was fiery strawberry blond, to

the waxen marble floor. When by the fence

there came a herd of Jersey cows, and she

called them, and their bells jangling, they came through

the gate into the churchyard. The spire lent

its shadow to the falling light, and lea.

 

There was a glad flower, men in a bind—

if it were real or imagined; nigh

it produced the most frightful velvet kythe,

hallucinations of another kind,

and no one knew their meaning until dreams

were interpreted by those of the art.

They woke from their starry beds with a start

and could not discern if their nightmares, cream

of another chocolate from the night’s fist.

The problem was that peasants were so tight

with their coins that they could not entertain

royalty. Yet Lilith summoned all, list

in royal procession, walking down bright

aisle with swaths of innocent gown and train.

 

The Lilith was a beauteous blond curl

that wrapped its way around her platinum

coronet, the head whose skull was mamon

and yet ivory. Her ash produced pearl,

yet only one drop, for the inner scent

of transcendence had wreathed her to the earth

her dying day, when on a pyre of mirth

she lay. The clothing of the trees was rent

to autumn’s scarlet mood, and bounteous

sepia scarves, in colours of the weave.

She wore Eve’s clothing yet, adorned in sun’s

gold rings that haloed her; now humorous

she glanced in the mirror of the lake’s eve

and knew the moments of fairy’s pun.

 

There was a time in the beginning when

all earth had bowed to her regality,

her mind with Adam’s knew equality,

her mode had been his decent soulmate then.

Yet, when she would not marry him in moons

and acquiesced only to the wood’s haunt,

she fell short of all his desires, his wont

for a mother of children, that blue womb

submitted to the throne of his mindful

patriarchy, his husbandry, his care;

when she would not bear his children, her cool

black eyes flashed at him lightning’s silver foil. . .

the tresses of her head laid golden bare,

and with her mouth she kissed him as a fool.

 

Her power would be in her aloneness,

the desert of her hands without fruit ripe—

crimson from lime—her stateliness a gripe

she would take from ancient gnarled fruitless

mossy tree, growing from the beginning

of the world to the end of time, purple

starless, casting shadows of its cripple

who embarrassed it too, leaving a line

of shame. She would leave, then, and make self stilled,

scarce amongst the rocks and grey caverns stone

of the desert. Her planet, colourless

was another space, where no being dwelled

save the remnants of Isaiah, alone

with his parchment scroll, rolled here effortless.  

 

There we would find her, quiet as the sand

under the moon, in a desert of owls

where only jackals hide. This was her fowl,

the birds of the air she called by name, and

they followed through skies of dusty hades

in train, as if the light has held them there.

It was the end, she was the thief, and bare

his hand, he would, for his last card, of spades,

was dark Lilith. They feared her in the night

as was her way, with black claws and fearsome

beak. They pulled the shades, they held their children

close, yet they had called upon her midnight

with frightening incantations, winsome

wiles and treacherous prayers to euthendom.

 

Was there an end to this ghostly story?

The moons swirled, and rings of planets turned to

silver, yet there was only one thorough

woman dark, one—alone in her pouring

called a heaven of hell, was this necklace.

The diamonds of its setting glimmered power,

in the shallows of seas, fish like flowers

swam silver before the throne of clear glass:

he who sits at the bottom of the Great

River watched it all. He knew Lilith from

of old, and watched her hair meld with the gold

sunsets of men’s minds. Manicured estate

stretched to the wrought iron fence in green dun.

New York: this was the city of dreams run.

 

Emily Isaacson

Monday, July 26, 2021

Requiem for A Queen's Swan













Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com

__________________________________________________

 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

blue, 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 wisps 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 and arrested

miserable chaste birds and made them 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 none 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 plié in sequence, a way

a candle in the wind’s brass bell rings it,

built up to its highest goals’ aptitude,

eventually dies in solitude.

She first bends supple, like a grey cygnet,

in imitation of the older cause,

wrinkled seeds, poets who have come before,

deep in the ground were rooted and flawless.

Spoken word 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.

It was night; the young woman, olive tow’rd,

the sun’s star was far gone at eleven—

in cape, she rang the bell. There was silence.

She would come again, there would be power—

reciting by heart an emollient;

she would speak without seeing violence.

 

A swan’s concerted effort at swimming

is made to look quite effortless, seeming

a quiet glide through waters deep, reaming

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.  


Emily Isaacson
________________________________

Author's Note: 

Emollience adj. 1. Softening and soothing, especially to the skin. 2. Making less harsh or abrasive; mollifying: the emollient approach of a diplomatic mediator.

The Free Dictionary https://www.thefreedictionary.com › emollience

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Crucified One: Magnificat















Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com

_________________________________________________

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.

Rose-red smile, the dark hair, and pale-powdered

face of evening, Lilith's flow'r, Lilibet's

cry from all lands sounds, pure oil in a haze.  


 —Emily Isaacson

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Petrarchan Hymn













Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com

________________________________

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.


 —Emily Isaacson

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Our Lady of the Night













Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com

___________________________________________________

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.


 —Emily Isaacson




Sunday, April 11, 2021

Requiem for a Royal Rose















Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com

_________________________________

Perhaps the speaker should be introduced:

departed from Greece, the far distant land,

where knighthood made him vow to win the hand

extended in favour, sea eyes, lucid—

of his lady. They would know him only

as her one handsome Duke of Edinburgh.

His calling might have been regal might, curbed,

to taste the flowers that emit honey,

to rest bouquet on whitened baby’s breath,

and to be father of both the lily

and the rose. For there are swords unwieldy,

and yet the love streams down, bright, bereft

of our days upon the earth, and how we

walked through desert sands and through snowy fields.

 

He chose to speak, and this is what he spoke:

chance forbade this favour to have his voice,

duty forbade the end to have a choice,

his children’s Bible names are what he wrote.

He was not scribe, nor poet, not a vice,

he was a consort, yet rule was quiet

leader, not daunting or pre-imminent,

but lilting his hoarse laugh rang more than twice

at the birth of a son, through these hallowed

now deserted halls. Each child would grow, leave,

for their own adult nefarious reels.

There was a book of Scripture, that mellowed

into dusty old regimented leaves,

turned grey doctrine into the grace that heals.

 

For a petal to fall from a rose bud

it must first blossom in royal red hue;

they crowned you first and always in the blue

garden, a valley—where the prophecy’s nudge

would enliven and wake us from death first;

recall the mountains—of sapphire martyred.

You were a Queen of domains uncharted,

and minions hid themselves beneath your skirts.

There was a ringing of the depth of rest—

in all your nation’s wisdom, and your smile

never betrayed your deepest warmest heart.

There was rose of cordiality’s crest

in every traversed field and forest mile,

you, in each hospitable gesture, art.

 

Her dark head bent over each sonorous

word, each syllable lent itself to sound,

the height of golden understanding crowned

beneath a tenet king incredulous—

His will to teach would be expedient:

just then, meek understanding of a verse

so solemn, vigorous, so full of mirth—

made his façade no longer lenient.

There was a poem, sacred, resting there,

beneath her ivory breast, a nation

signed their signature into her white throat,

the reputation of a crown, best here

where the brown falcons rise at her station,

and “All Hail!” becomes majority vote.

 

The rose grew up the Windsor Castle wall

breathing wine, it will stand at attention

in red salute, military mention

with glossy mahogany in the hall.

Her figure was reflected in the glass:

there were no entwined figures in a tree;

spirit of love hath at long last slain me—

I will not die—I hope but not to fast

beneath the ground, when all is lost about.

Shall I be departed, or shall veiled you?

Deep-dark rugs shall no more hear or pardon

resting footsteps, my voice shall not ring out.

English bluebells fashioned themselves in twos

for your tiara, and in your gardens.

 

She bowed her head and proclaimed eight days rest.

For all of England was the duty mourned:

she married every royal child in gown;

the call was that she nursed them at her breast.

He forbade that one stray drop fall from this

precious vial of a Queen in gossamer.

Ruby diadem and service silver

appeared at her edict, knighted thistles

in several orders bent frosted heads.

Lord and lady, sword and shield now immersed

in her regal kingdom, ornate and bold,

took from their packs needle and navy threads,

for the sea eyes would command their commerce,

while endorsing plum fairy tales untold.

 

In the dark wood where the blithe fairies hide

a noiseless purple feather fell to earth;

from under the ribcage of linear birth

that blessed diminutive blossomed bride.

The bird it came from no one knew of lived—

for it was not a bird of song, but one

of prey, and on the hunt led the way on

through the dank woodlands of trees in olive.

The horses thundered down, they braved the toil

of war and on from English soil they broached

enemies undeterred—to leave, reckoned,

blood red. Fleur-de-lis ampulla their oil—

they were a solemn front in royal coach,

silvered by death, opaque blossoms beckoned.


 —Emily Isaacson

Monday, February 15, 2021

Requiem for an Aging Sea














Photo used by permission. https://armstreet.com
___________________________

I swept the tidal mass unto the shore

since beginnings of the earth: land and sea;

since sun and moon began, and first-born tree

was rooted in the soil of rich brown lore.

There was no stolid unforgiveness here,

there’s no hand of navy retribution

where we must force bloody revolution

of scarlet martyred front, the woman’s tier.

The ocean was your first love, when men left

for the sea: sailors with no worldly cares

except vast liquid horizon, dulcet

moon dipping the waters, and sunlight deft

brimming over the wooden orange barrel;

and the mast with its tall stalwart concept.

 

If the sea would cry out in white anguish,

the waves would crash in tide upon the rock,

cragging paths of the shore without prism smocked

solace, the water would be a British

maid, upon a beauteous isle oft the coast,  

lapping the sand of minute grey and brown,

standing there in her apron, her mouth frowned; 

she looked out to sea, awaiting the lost

ship, willing it to return from the storm.

It would be a mother wound, the poison

of a war that was their debt, and the loss

of so many lives. She was fragile form—

waiting there and never moved, her crimson

mouth still singing his song, stone-cold with moss.

 

The lithe seabirds fly and she stands there still,

her hands with long fingers to play the harp,

the fishermen with nets would harvest carp,

while she would strum trees oft the cliffs with ill

winds that would whip and blow the rocky shore,

the women’s skirts would dance in coloured dress

refining tastes of men put to the test—

to love women like the sea, banish whores

from London streets, and taking daughters by

the hand to revel in the marriage 

of sea and land. These are of old, ancient

as sailor’s navigation had star-ties.

The bride and groom got into their carriage,

circling planets, ivory innocent.

 

The dark waves and depths were darker than land,

the moon was elegantly fair of face,

the stars stretched out their whitened Kenmare lace,

the green of Ireland waved its gloved hand.

The daffodil of Wales bowed iron head,

and England stood, a cathedral of stone,

with panes of stained glass through which the light shone

with anointing, this wine-like honeyed mead—

and touch of grace with healing in its wings.

The Great Black-backed Gulls flew up, and soared high

above the brine, the cool dank filmy air—

they lived scavenging, but their wise call rings

with a life of salt unmarked by the dye

of indigo-scarred sea, old and austere. 

 

What was this tree of time that grew on land—

each bark-wrought branch a son with brave courage—

to seek the light, and try to lessen scourge,

integrity to their last breath; and hands

that fashioned carpentry with saws and nail.

The art of wood was resurrected mast,

and homes of quality were handsome cast,

with furniture whose legend does not fail.

Their wives were cared for when they stayed on land,

but men had dreams that made their sea-eyes wild,

they dreamt of naval ports, of setting sail—

the Riviera beckoned the Captain:

foreign harbours, oriental silk mild,

sailing the coast when the wind would not fail.

 

Africa called to men in their sleep, dreams

made them listless and seeking adventure,

they left for their oceanic nurture,

of the power that moves men from the cream

of life, a wooden house with garden flow’rs—

for the life of violence and war’s red fruit, 

for the hard clasp of the guns, swords, and brutes.

Their ships would sail from emerald towers:

the waves oft the shore, the depths, the silver

fish, the harvest of the sea—liniment,

a sun-streaked weary sky would set each night,

oils of eucalyptus and lavender

were balm of kindness, green eyes, imminent

to regain their blue-streaked morning-tide light.

 

The sea has aged with the drawing of time;

it grows restless now and creation broods

far under the water, whales die in moods,

and struggle to reach the surface of crimes

against them and their habitat. Their breath

cries out into the open—we cry save

the whales, while English boats upon the wave

of the modern world laugh. The kelp tide’s death

crackles with green iridescence and salt,

once-food does not nourish us anymore,

we hunger for the minerals of sea—

but she is lost, dark-winged like the night’s cult

as our dry bones hit the ocean’s sand floor—

we scorn their value to humanity.  


—Emily Isaacson