Eros and Summer

They were always wrapped in conversation.

Speaking different languages

they delighted in the exchange itself.

 

It charged the air around them

trembling the kites

they flew into each other’s gardens.

 

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No Safe

 

There is no safe harbor;

my soul, at night, is a video game

     of flesh and blood

where I must run run run

then turn and blast you into dots

  (click-click the trigger

       I miss, I lose)

lest you inflict your kill

                           upon me

 

 

 

 

Flowering Weed

 

A surprisingly lovely flowering weed

with thistle spikes

and white cottony little tufts

branching out like Van Gogh’s almond blossoms

by the highway.

 

I’m in the car

crying.

 

Why so many tears?

No answer.

Let’s just call it

Grief and Loss.

(Dukkha. Samudaya.)

Some new exotic recipe

of grief and loss.

     Mysterious wound

           disturbed;

groundlessness, motherlessness.

 

Once—six years ago?—in a car, alone

I looked out at a beautiful, beautiful summer day

—one of those gorgeous neighborhoods

with lovingly tended greenery and 

flowers exuberantly displayed—

and felt the terror

—the sheer terror—

of no reason, and no means, to live.

Paralyzed by the panic

of exclusion from such beauty.

 

Not today:

I have reasons to live

(and am not alone

even in this car, as I cry).

But still I will be penetrated, sometimes,

by grief and loss.

 

Humanity is a weed

flowering in the dirt

by the side of the road.

Life is a beautiful, beautiful day

we ache to live.

 

   Dukkha (Sanskrit): Loss, affliction, any unpleasant experience of deficit.

    Samudaya: Grief; any negative emotion that arises when we experience affliction.

    (As per Buddhist author David Brazier.)

 

 

Night Falls

 

“It’s the most surreal thing:

At night, when it gets dark,

everyone has these places where they go

and they close their doors—

and you’re sitting there on the sidewalk,”

she said.

 

And now I wonder—

what is it like

weeks like these

when it rains

      and rains?

 

 

 

Meditation

 

Shifting vision

—unsettling experiment—

to the ever-shifting periphery

—swaying leaves and shifting saffron light—

of a tree lined street.

Eddies of movement with

each step.

 

Turning off the striving voice

of the rumination machine

in this white morning room

to feel a hand

a foot

against the sheets;

 

the present moment

—is scary

because that’s where

       our mortality is.

 

 

Bitterness

                        after Dorothy Parker

 

Burned in the yellow sun

—this merciless dirt road—

my eyes are black

 

For I loved the world

but you didn’t love me back

 

 

 

 

Brujo de Almas y del Corazon

For my husband, Claude Steiner, on his 70th birthday

 

Brujo extraño

Your heart is like the world
Very rough and very big.

Like a carnival
There are simple sweets everywhere
And cheerful music.

Like a mountain
There is gold
For those who are willing.

 

(I have known your anger

Like an avalanche of hard stones

And your devotion

Like glittering wet nuggets

In my palm.)

A fallen star
Is in your smile
And rogue's gold.

Rustic dinner you serve
In the rustic palace of your heart.

Wild inventor,
Tio Chiflado,
Patrón,
Rough and ready.

 

Loved by many
For loving many.

A shooting star
Is there in your smile
And rogue's gold.

Your heart as red as a hearth.

 

 

*Brujo de Almas y del Corazon: Sorcerer/healer of souls and of the heart.

Brujo: A rough desert shaman and sorcerer.

Extraño: weird, strange.

Tio chiflado (Mex. Slang): a zany guy

(Spanish version available on request)

 

 

 

 

Desire

 

I must be

bereft of enlightenment

ego ridden

 

I don’t want to dissolve

into the universe

 

I want life

after life after life

 

as this self

ever more fully

 

 

 

 

Rest

   after Ray Gonzalez

 

 

If the beginning is the matrix of stars that speaks for the sea, then we must face each new occurrence. The festival called “Certainty” was a great success. We strolled home as if twirling primal parasols, beside a gushing geyser which gave our minds great rest. Many suggested the hypothesis that photographs never develop, and we gazed at them until we understood that The Possible answers all queries, and we praised the brow that relinquishes its opinions. Only the zigzag flight of the sparrows carved the branch, providing implements of restoration.

 

 

 

Forgetting

 

When your heart has lost faith

in the urging desires of men

 

and you know you don’t have

 what it takes

to satisfy a woman

 

what is there to do

but forget desire

 

 

 

 

Green Autumn

 

In this part of the world

there’s no fall season

 

instead      in September

late summer days

         alternate

with early winter days, the sky

turns grayish white

 

         the air

feels crisp and moist

with a certain scent—thrilling and rare—

like wet leaves and chopped wood

 

the air, the scent, always reminds me

 —I don’t know why—

of falling in love.

 

 

 

 

Note To A Pregnant Girl, I'll Never Send

 

If it comes up

I could say:

 

"I'm the only person I know

who fits the Otto Rank theory

of the artist's aversion

to genetic reproduction,

that it's an affront to the artist's most

deeply held ambition or

strategy..."

 

To build a fleet of ships

some great and mighty

                            a battalion

sails blazing in the sun

 

“…to jump out of, rather than reproduce, the corporeal…”

 

others small

like the ships inside of bottles

or just big enough

to hold in your hands

and place with care

upon the water.

 

(Sartre envisioned himself

becoming a book:

pages, hard cover, stiff,

solid spine.)

 

“…most deeply held ambition…”

To build, perhaps, an android body.

 

In 1976 I was eight, reading "The Avengers"

—the comic book, not the TV show—

and Janet Pym was kidnapped,

her essence poured

into a silvery android body.

 

Mrs. Pym survived but so did

the new being in the adamantium body;

strangely girlish, a metallic ingénue,

she had a tremendous

(fragile) sweetness, like a

new thing

but

forlorn.

   

White sail

a vessel

 

silvery

virgin flesh unreal

a stylized distillation

of pure personality.

 

 “…jump out of the corporeal…”

 

The subject

"I"

to speak

(forever!)

dwell forever in the present tense

 

but never again

to taste

     or feel

never again to be

caressed

     or see

a green sunny day

     or hear

the sound of the World.

 

(Nature tricks us either way.)

 

An android girl

all that remains

 

her sails waving.

 

 

 

 

Third Day In Japan

 

Delicate people

So unlike where I come from

A sea of mirrors

 

 

 

 

 

Protea and the Sea Caves

 

I will lie among the litter of bodies in your bed

upon the rocks, beside the waves

when you come in

from sunning by the sea—

 

I will seize your woman’s body

make you twist

through all your changes

you old man of the sea

 

‘til all you tricks run out

then you will tell me your secret

answer my asking

 

hold me

squeeze me while I thrash and twist

make me thrash and scream

Fire

Water

Flower

Fish

‘til I tell you a secret

I don’t even know

 

put an end to my ceaseless

thrashing change

make me real

in the cave

 

 

 

 

Ruffian

            (for C.M.S.)

 

 

At the end of the tale

when Beauty lets go

of her dreams of The Prince

and gives her heart

to The Beast

 

(he will die without her)

 

it isn’t just that she’s learned

that beauty is more than skin deep.

 

It’s that she’s ready

to exchange the pure, evanescent love

of the young swain

for the armed and dangerous desire

of a grown man.

 

The Beast may be

a prince at heart

but his physical transformation

 

(saved by her kiss)

 

is mere censorship,

to protect the reader

and little children

from the

  wedding-night

  image.

 

 

 

Paula

 

 

From behind you look

like a skinny college girl

with a flare for suede pumps and fancy dress.

 

Then one sees the blowsy white hair

and the tragic

wan

wizened

girlish face.

 

Your two-dollar finery.

 

Two years ago you stopped eating,

spent your days motionless, battling those

you imagined to be my enemies

in (and with) your mind.

 

You said phenothiazines

are made of TNT and make

your bones turn black.

 

You said that changes are taking place

among the planets and the stars,

that one day the sun did not rise at all.

 

You lost eighty pounds in three months.

‘Til a piercing in your gut

moved you to call the ambulance—

in the nick of time.

 

You have changed

your voice

your shape

so many times;

 

acquired

and inflicted

near-death scars—

 

1989, your knife in a man’s side,

our longtime acquaintance,

his blood in your clothes;

1999, a stranger’s knife

your throat

punctured and slashed

 

—I could never have imagined.

 

It’s hard for me to say

I love you

 

When I do

      now

            sometimes

it’s the white hair

and the tragic

girlish face.

 

Then I put aside

my exasperated misery,

Don’t worry, sweetie,

everything will be fine;

I’ll help you!

 

It’s hard for me to say

I love you

(what I know you need

to hear)

 

or remember

      I was your daughter

once.

 

 

*Phenothiazines: an anti-psychotic drug.

 

 

 

Psyche and Eros

 

The marrow bees

feed hotly on the flowers that her eyes

—of pond water and sky—

drape him in

 

She swims up from those

perfumed pools

to drink that nectar

and taste that flower-meat

 

And the blood bees

fill her lips with honey.

 

 

 

The Rose, the Lotus, and Rhena

 

 

She wears the emblem of the White Rose

Invisible

On her skin

Beneath rough layers of knit

And worsted wool.

 

He meditates daily in a special room

Heady with incense.

 

Rhena sharpens his pencils and buys him special tea

Brews the pot each day at noon

 

Rhena wears silk and linen

And worries about her sister

In her layers of rough wool

Her outspoken remarks

Over dinner about The Reich

And the “Fuehrer.”

 

He shakes his head softly

At the mention of his sister-in-law.

He is sitting beneath a mandala

The wheel of eternity.

 

His fourth book, “Hindu Philosophy

And Destiny” is almost complete.

(Rhena collaborates without

Ever thinking to claim

Any credit.)

 

On store fronts

Stars of yellow paint appear.

 

One night, shattered glass;

Sidewalks filled with broken windows.

A sea of shards Rhena faces,

—Men sweeping

A new world—

Must crush beneath her low-heeled shoes

In the morning

On her way to buy tea and kuchin.

 

Rhena’s sister is nowhere

To be found.

 

He is polishing his prose

Tells Rhena aphorisms

About predator and prey

Rueful, serene.

 

Rhena can barely hold the pencils,

Or remember to pour the boiling water

From the screeching kettle,

And cannot sleep,

Thinks, “What to do?

What can I do?”

 

 

Kuchin (pron. Koohen): a common cake served with tea in Germany.

 

 

 

Walk the Line

 

i.

 

I saw her walking with her man

 

By his side she feels weak

by his side she’ll be immortal

in his arms her heart beats fire

in his arms she fears she’ll burn

 

She’s loved other boys

sweet and mild.

Now this man, married, drugged-out,

wild.

 

She wants to stand for God and good;

fate put her beside a man in black.

 

ii.

 

I used to say my tastes ran from the boyish to the bisexual.

  I used to have such scruples

          left wing piety

Now I love you, marauding Minotaur, with my whole heart.

 

I don’t even bother to bring my purse—

though I imagine I’ve paid my dues

in poverty and pain

in fear and grief—

never again have feared to order French fries

or a salad

lest I fail to make the tip.

The ATM machine never repossesses my card.

 

Sometimes I get to wear your fame

such as it is

like an adornment—

in Zurich, Paris, Kyoto, Madrid,

next year Istanbul,

Groenenbach, St. Petersberg—

 

wonder how it might bleed into mine.

I was attracted to the story

the famous weds the destined to be

like a Calvinist looks for signs

to be among the elect…

 

People look at us

and imagine I’m a soul-whore

or some kind of father fucker

twisted child.

 

iii.

 

Is that how it would feel

a good Christian woman

beside the bad man of Kingsland?

 

I saw her walking with her love;

He, cocky, striding forward

she, looking over her shoulder.

 

I saw the lovers

alone

in an unseen doorway

backstage

the back of his fingers brushing her chin

their breaths mingling

lost

blind.

 

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