No Invitation

Where he was going,
she had never been;
from whence he had come,
she had never known.

Barefoot in blue jeans,
pertly pretty and fifteen,
the mirror, her mistress,
tells her in words sounding like hers
that she is the queen—
this somnambulist in the sameness of her life.

He appears as if in a golden chariot,
a childlike man on the spectrum with him;
he is ambiguous and all put-together—
everything and nothing,
from neither here nor there,
but from some other place
where music also plays.

The mesmerism of his voice—singsong and sad—
is discordant, yet she cannot close the screen door
that separates them as a bridal veil from the groom.

That day through the screen door,
on a Sunday barbecue afternoon,
the girl who knew no religion,
could not know the Devil when she saw him.
Twas when Pride met Vanity,
and lost;
when Virginity met Debauchery,
only to lose herself.

She snaps out of her hypnotic state,
as her entire life crystallizes—
the father who spoke not at all,
the mother who spoke too much,
the sister of whom much was spoken of.
“For inasmuch as ye have done it unto
one of the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me,” Jesus said.
For the others, she has stayed;
for them, she will go.
The spell is broken, and it is all so
extremely frightening and incredibly real,
for this Arnold Friend is more real to her
than anything else had ever been.

Based on the short story, “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” by Joyce Carol Oates.

Also, an interesting analysis:  http://sittingbee.com/where-are-you-going-where-have-you-been-joyce-carol-oates/

Picnic at Hanging Garden

It isn’t quite Labor Day—
women are still wearing white,
though many wear dresses that
compete with the flowers,
perfume that commingles with
the clover that sweetens the air.

There is merry to be made,
lemonade to be drank—
tart as the cherry pies that sit cooling
on Miss Bennion’s booth.

There are games of horseshoes,
old pillowcase races,
and cupcake eating contests—
each vying for the most participants.

The young mayor—
all of thirty-one—
sweats in his Sunday suit,
as he shakes hands with the good people
of Poplarville, Missouri.
The scene is reminiscent of
A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,
except these are simpler people,
placed in modern times.

The atmosphere is charged,
kinetic.
Music from time gone by
floats on the air from
four men in red and white,
crisscrossing with the American Flag in the background—
like an optical illusion.

A pile of shoes are heaped at the foot of a tree—
the tree where half the town has carved their initials.
The children go barefoot in the muddy creek,
the boys rolling up their jeans,
the girls raising the hemlines of their dresses,
the boys trying to splash the girls,
the girls trying to run away.

Rows of tables are arrayed like the lilies of the field—
fried chicken, corn on the cob, watermelon,
and fudge that melts in the hot, hot sun.
Not the finest banquet halls in Cape Girardeau
are arrayed such as these.

The smaller children pile into the hayride,
and men raffle for picnic dates with the ladies…
and their baskets.
Miss Lilly White fetches the highest bid
for her turkey sandwiches and lukewarm coffee,
for there is always Tapper’s Drug Store
or Alice’s Diner,
whose coffeepot never sleeps.

There is no tent but the leafy shade of the poplar trees,
and the clouds that float across the blue of heaven unseen.
The cemetery is just back apiece,
yonder, towards the rock garden built by the first settlers.

The mayor’s wife rings the triangle;
it is like a cattle call.
All the little lambs come running
with their rosy, dirty cheeks,
the women like wilted flowers,
their petals sagging like wet handkerchiefs,
the men with their shirts that have darkened with sweat.

The bandstand is reconfigured,
and the final star of the night appears—
like the last blast of fireworks.
He is accompanied by two men,
his guards,
one shoe off,
one shoe on,
like Diddle Diddle Dumpling.
Nothing must happen to him,
for his appearance is why they’ve come.

Everyone gathers round,
the waning sun warring with the waxing moon
making the faces of the people glow like halos.

The children are suddenly quiet,
and everyone is instructed to hold their applause.
Introductions are made,
and silence falls over the sheep.

All that build-up,
and it is over in a second.
There is a pregnant pause
that gives birth to life and animation,
to clapping,
to making a joyous noise.

The Devil had come into their garden,
and now sways from three neckties
strung together,
boneless as a snake.
His second shoe drops just then,
but no one was listening.
No one hears.

The Honest Tree

I am who I am,
barefoot in the garden,
in the midst of the lambs.
Fruits sweet,
birds tweet,
the grass soft beneath my feet.

My husband is not with me,
for he gathers,
but toils not.

From another world we came—
a world we cannot remember.
Like the Ark of Noah that has been prophesied,
we floated through the atmosphere in a vessel,
through the starry galaxy and to this green planet.

In the center of this orchard,
there is a tree—
with fruit as white as can be.
It glows like the firmament,
like the Creator of All Things—
the only God we know,
the only God we are to know.

An asp approaches me,
slithering on the ground without a sound.
He is a beguiling creature,
and I trust his quiet nature.
He is a charmer,
“Take a bite,” he says,
“for it is sweetest above all,
and you will no more be benighted.”

I am drawn to the fruit–
to the light–
and I think, just a little one,
but it is bitter.
There is a rumble in the sky,
and I know I’ve earned the wrath of the Cloud Knitter.
“I told you not to eat of this tree,
for now you are as I once was,
and will suffer pain,
as the Earth will suffer all calamity.”

I weep,
for now the veil has been ripped off–
I am not a beautiful virgin on her wedding night,
but am a crooked old woman with hooves and claws—
a creature of many flaws.
And yet,
I have a consciousness,
an awareness I had not before,
and I am more than I was before.
The scales have fallen from my eyes,
and I see with such clarity,
true goodness and beauty.

I must get Adam to eat,
lest we be separated forever,
and this new world end with us.
I look up to the God of Kolob,
and now the Planet Earth,
praying for a respite from death–
for another birth.

“Do my will,” the Tree Weaver says,
“for what I hath joined together,
neither man nor beast may tear asunder.”

I go to do His bidding,
and find Adam tending to the flock,
and tell him, “Take, eat,
for it will seal us together forever.”

He heeds my word,
and at first bite,
he knows Death will touch our lips,
kissing us good-bye.
But this was how it was to be all along–
for we will no longer live as children,
ignorant of sin,
but will be given the chance to know wrong
and the choice to do right,
so we can be with God again.

I look up to the heavens and smile,
and God baptizes us in the rain.
“For the remission of sins,” God says,
“which hath brought about the greater good.
I baptize thee in My Name,
for I Am Who I Am.”

*I have found I gravitate towards long, narrative poems (or, if I don’t have a “story” idea, I write something short and silly).  The following is what one might refer to as a “shaggy God” poem.  This is basically the story of Genesis, told a different way (with shades of Mormonism and Scientology).  This was a fun “what-if” type of exercise.