A long year of watching
strife. (Earth, ocean, sun
sky, the very air above
suffers.) So this means—?
Come. Could we love?
Breathe peace song
in every language?

I was feeling pretty blank this morning, so I pulled out my mystical Magnetic Poetry set. Here’s what I found in the words. PAD Chapbook Challenge Day 18 prompt is “an idea poem.”

and these things should happen in winter

Because I did not know what to say to you, I dreamed
of what I wore. I dreamed of scrubbing rust
from the shower walls, of a gallery opening
in this city of locked doors and shuttered windows.

It was black silk chiffon, in case you wondered
just how far this ego’s awkwardness extends.

I was intrigued by this dream symbols prompt at Margo Roby: Wordgathering. Apparently dreaming of clothing means you are concerned with how people perceive you…

Red shoes and silence

mean tear-water tea. Abandoned things
and I’m ready to fill any pan, pot, rift
you choose, salty-deep. The red shoe
on windblown corner, red car packed,
ocean-bound. I say it’s no proof
my heart exists; this body gushes water
from any careless wound. Like she’s not
even looking my way. Do you say I gave up?
I got tired and gave up? I say I pushed her
boat when the sea was drained dry—
with only my breath, soul’s inky shiraz.

That Thing Without Feathers

We talked of your grandma’s fading
dry-eyed, practical; of how to help
your mother. Yet grief weeps out
regardless of our attempts to sanitize
and wrap it tight

                  Why else are my dreams
only of those I’ve lost—
of making coffee for my father
wrecking my grandmother’s kitchen
in search of a bowl of sugar?


Of the din and of the darkness

Come, therefore, mournful Muses, and lament;

And sorrow feed, feeding our souls with sorrow,

Lost to all music now, since everything

From the dull confines of the drooping West

Death says he will undo and drag down low,

And whisper to their souls to go.

Aye, we must die an everlasting death

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night,

His rage, with razing your immortal town,

The burg broken and burnt to brands and ashes.

When night’s black mantle could most darkness prove

A true retreat of sorrow and despair,

Let us roll all our strength, and all

We shall new shadows make the other way.


Another cento, title from Piers Plowman. Click the last word of each line to find its source.

Amadae is dead

1. What of those who remain?

She stood by the cave mouth, weeping—No,
Ana is not one to weep. But her shoulders
curved the weight of grief she has carried
from before she knew she should grieve.

2. Ana calls it lightness

When the world lifts suddenly
from your head and you discover
all the ways you suppressed
and suspended happiness…
Is it only that he is gone
to the fathers of his people,
his body gone to mother earth?
Is it only the way he always looked
to the tree-sky when we talked
and my heart is an empty gourd?

3. How was I to answer?

To say, Rose gave me this tale and the end
was inevitable as the crumbling dirt at our feet?
She had always hoped her contained diamond
hope. Could I not have given her that diamond
just once, in the daylight?

4. Rose has no sympathy

I cannot give you what you want,
but only a whisper, a shadow beyond
the corner beyond the next corner.
You follow the breadcrumb trail
and find it peters out; you hold the thread
but stumble on the same stone
on the black cave floor. There is no
lightning gift of the gods, no comfort
in my flesh—what flesh? You dream
of soft caresses but wake cold-still
and forget everything I said.

Mathematics in Luxembourg

1. American Cemetery at Hamm: 5,076 Dead

Someone counted the dead.
Someone counted the stars
and crosses needed, the earth
that must be moved, the trees
that must be cut down and hauled away.

Someone envisioned the rubble cleared,
the quiet park, the monument
stark and white and quiet
on a raw November day.

Someone planned the shape of these rows
and how many rows to make, how to place
the curves calculated to endlessly shift
as one walks past, a parade in perfect order,
horror and pain and heartbreak and hope
smoothed away and covered with green turf.

Someone carved the names
in stone: Mike and John
and John and Jack,
Fred and Stanley
and Nancy.

Today fountains trickle and the groundskeepers
prepare for winter; they leaf-strip and prune
roses though they still bud and bloom.

2. German Cemetery at Sandweiler: 10,913 Dead

Comrades buried under huge autumnal trees
and brown-stone crosses with two names each,
two sets of birth and death dates. I stumble
over the simple subtraction, unable to unknow
that so many were only 18, 19, 20 years old.

The groundskeeper blows leaves from the path
into great piles beneath the nearest tree,
a weight and ache at the back of my throat,
madness and hate whirling loose in the world,
ghosts and demons of all our days.


Last weekend, we visited these two World War II cemeteries in Luxembourg. You can see photos of the cemeteries and learn more about them here (American cemetery) and here (German cemetery).