SHE ASKED

Irina Vasilevna Shevandronova (1928–93), “Portrait of Grandmother”
Courtesy Lazare Gallery

She asked me of my grandmother if she was kind
I say that she was gentle but withdrawn of mind
A peasant really, nothing in her life seemed great
Accepting of what happened to her, of her fate

More or less not speaking, only sitting by
Almost never challenging an outright lie
But hearing it distress appearing on her face
Substance and humility would interlace

She deceased for many years I still recall
Forbearance worn around her features like a shawl—
Savage is this world and she had known its worst
Yet no outright sign that she had ever cursed

Immortal is the spirit and her spirit lives
Forever strong and patient now and she forgives


 

HOW?–FOR N.

Starling and dove in birdbath
Photo by Pavel Chichikov

Washing out the birdbath with a hose
For those who bathe with feathers for their clothes
Not most sanitary as they splash
As with their wings their bathing water dash

But we provide the water for their need
And also their provender seed to feed
It is our privilege and charity
Though not so much for water’s clarity

Let them come and leave their leavings there
Feathers and some droppings that they wear,
Disrobing in the water that we spray
Cleaner for the water fly away

There is a mind behind the bath although
Why and how a bird brain will not know


 

WHAT TRICKS?

Anne Tavoletti (Contemporary), “Down on the Farm/No Words”
Courtesy Fine Art America

Twelve hogs, eight hundred chickens
Eight dozen eggs a day,
A rural House of Commons
Farm-senate anyway

Could this be some governments
With grunts and squawks not speeches,
A butcher block for markets
What symbolism teaches?

Disrespectful of us
To have such introspection,
Even perhaps perilous
Depending on intention

Indeed it was a little farm
Of years ago, what harm?
And as for pigs and chicks
What payoffs and what tricks?


 

PRAYER

Prayer at Mealtime
Courtesy Line.17qq

The Amish use wind /waterpower
Other power sources never—
Suppose the rest of us had used
Truthful prayer, were not accused
Of lies and bribes and bald deceit
Mills that grind some dirty wheat
To bake the bread of robbery
The loaves of stale insanity?

Know the wind is blowing strong
The river flowing deep and long
Spinning turbines of our prayers—
Who more than Christ the Savior cares
And knows our supplications worth
The peril of an earthly birth?

Mule Power
Courtesy Lancaster PA.com

 

WHAT GENIUS?

Dandelion Clock after Rain
Courtesy Wallpaper Safari

The fright wig on the dandelion
Petals standing stiff upon
The flower’s whole circumference
Human terror, flower-sense

What sort of engine is the mind
By what Genius is designed?
Nature-metaphors portray
What our own facial phrases say

Dazzle-thunder bolts could be
Temper blinding you and me,
Summer rain the crying of
Longings-full forsaken love

A sort of molded porcelain
The molds of nature, woman, man


 

NAZARETH

Nazareth
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

“Nazareth!” the staff exclaimed
“Nazareth,” the town they named
Before I was baptized, or thought
That by Christ Jesus I was sought

Then to the place upon the hill
Expressly by the Lord God’s will
Since all is made to be as He
Constructs the world, impeccably

Except somehow for what we choose
To win His favor or to lose—
How can the both of them be true
Free will and His will, done and new?

The language there that time to learn
Somehow toward worship of Him turn


 

PUZZLE

R. W. Nevinson (1889–1946), “The Unending Cult of Human Sacrifice”
Courtesy Imperial War Museum, London

Count how small a time we know
Compared to hills’ unfeeling pride
We five dozen years or so
The life of Jesus, how He died

The King of bright Eternity
Frail as any human child
A lifetime brief as that we see
Forever crucifix defiled

Shattered Christ become eternal
Blood and soul and spirit-sense
Fleshly brief and fleeting-fragile
Deathlessness a recompense

Puzzle contradictory:
Deathly immortality


 

GREAT STORMS

Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura)
Photo by Tony Alter
Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

A dove sits placid on the current-leading line
To an avian a sort of perching limb
But nothing like a maple branch or knotty pine
A shallow geometric curving on a whim

Deeper, denser, darker grows a thunder dusk
Now the rain in thinnest droplets, mists begin
Every cloud above us is a rain-filled husk
Sturdier in spraying though it still seems thin

Storm approaching, Peace the symbol flies away
Yes, the world is filled with living metaphors
Almost near an April noon the sky is gray
That which empties of its meaning life restores

Storms of one kind or another great are near
Useless now and late indeed all useful fear


 

INTERLUDE?

Cuno Amiet (1868–1961), “Flower Garden”
Courtesy WikiArt

Stillness and May-sunshine now
Peace that sun filled times allow
Modulations have been made
Few of us need be afraid

Through passages from peace to peace
Confrontations now might cease
Bloody treasures put in store
Profits of another war

What then wrong about this race
That hostile interludes take place?
Or is it peace that is unique
The undisturbed and calm the freak?

Peaceful stillness, peaceful prayer
Or violence and more despair