Poetry

Ten Poems for the End of Time

by Grace Andreacchi

 
UNDOING

a smear of blood
a section of fine lace dendrites
cut crosswise
a leaf caught under a turning wheel
a chair without arms
a single palm leaf folded
to make a cross
you are no longer
these things
lie down upon your bed and fold your arms
to make a cross

*
INVITATION TO THE AFTERLIFE

once you were
tormented in 3D

now you’re called
saved from everything

eyes washed clean
as the sky after rain

they say there’s
love in the afterlife

beautiful garments
a blue glazed heaven

your tears in a jar
pickled and precious

a long long table
with seats for everyone

the rings of saturn
are jasper and onyx

the wings of mercury
grow from your shoulders

the Pleiades sit
beside you and chatter

your name’s on the poster
you are the guest here

you may even be
the bride at the wedding

*
HEADSHOT

a lamb with a great white head
and seven black stars for eyes
comes to the table
opens wide his mouth
inside are beasts with many horns
the lamb lies down upon the table
waves his legs in the air
as if he were dancing
just as we’re about to
plunge the knife in
vanishes

*
THE FOREST WHERE EVERYTHING VANISHES

the tree trunks bleed when you touch them
in the underbrush small mammals scurry for cover
each bears the face of someone you loved once
this is my mother
this my brother, my sister
the branches reach for you
the birds are crying but you
don’t know why
you have forgotten your name
and why you have come here
hopping on one leg
(the other is broken)
is that your hand lying alone
among the crumpled leaves
is that your head
speaking from inside the badger
a polluted stream thick with
the blood of corpses
now try to cross it
from stone to stone is just a step
you slip and the forest vanishes
falling towards a lake of fire

*
DEPARTURE LOUNGE

into an airport lounge
an invisible gamelan orchestra plays
the dance of the foolish virgins
skycaps in purple livery
bring rice cakes perfumed oranges
lotus seeds in cellophane doré
massage your feet with spikenard
draw concentric circles into
the palms of your hands
blue-winged songbirds scavenge crumbs
twittering softly their incantations
klauhi Zis…
Thautouri andirahho…
soon they will call your flight
prepare for take off

*
SIDEREUS NUNCIUS

dots begin to appear
tiny light-encrusted bits
saw-toothed seven times
it is the dots that connect the lines:
this is a werewolf, this a mermaid
this a lady’s beautiful hair
an artist should be seen
as well as heard
space is what happens
between the stars

*
BURNT OFFERINGS

at the graveside the ghosts are gathering
they set out your favourite meals
your photograph in red ribbons
your missing teeth your childhood doll
a rose coloured parasol a wad of cash
then set fire to it all
feeding the flames with rum
your brother swigs from the bottle
stumbles laughing over your grave
your little sister is crying
your children no longer grown but
small once again look on in silence
wondering where has mommy gone
they are about to cry so you sing to them
hush a bye my baby don’t you cry
your voice rises from the fire
they are comforted and pile more
fine bright things on the flames
your portrait in pastels drawn when
you were only ten
the shoes you wore to your first dance
the ones with the chrysoprase heels
your journal from the winter of starvation
and then whole bags of paper money
toys and animals
a house with swimming pool
and armed guards even a Porsche
everything burns
everything is consumed utterly
everybody’s drunk and everybody’s crying
what a send off
good-bye good bye good bye
see you in the afterlife
see you soon

*
CELESTIAL GEOGRAPHY

this is the key to the city
a large smooth golden key
like those in old flemish paintings
it opens the gate where the bright things
go in and out
this is the street where you live now
it’s paved with jasper and chrysoprase
most of the inhabitants appear to be dead
most appear to be happy
(but nobody speaks to you)
jewel bright salamanders cling to the
boughs of the trees (these too are of gold)
their ruby tongues go in and out
in and out their red eyes wink at you
the sky too is glass or gold
it hurts to look at it
you’d like to go home
but you are home now there is
no place but this one
time has been rolled up
into a great scroll kept in a secret library
you don’t have the key to that one
they said there would be love
they promised you love
so you wander the golden streets
distraught and confused in search of it
this is familiar perhaps
you are where you started
in the beginning was the word
the romance of Jesus
and the space between the stars
twelve gates to the city
some day he’ll find you

*
CLOUD WRITING

dark shapes spill on a field of milk
slowly the serpent’s head emerges
slowly the moon and sun
celestial bodies seven times pointed
your mother is standing in the air
under her feet a moon
the colour of blood
the serpent has bitten her heel
wounded her
see how her head droops to one side
she’s crying now
a dark cloud is under her feet
a white cloud is over her
she says your name softly
and her breath is a cloud
on which you are written
and all your deeds
and all your empty promises

*
INVITATION TO THE DANCE

break open the burial urn
glass shards blue glazed
ice flowers
seven-pointed stars

somewhere the leaf is trapped
beneath the wheel
all this has been a distraction
you are not that

break open
the urn
a flurry of light
opus 133

the sky is falling
the stars are falling
the heart is breaking open
this is the music

slip on your dancing shoes
the ones with the chrysoprase heels
it’s time for the dance
the world is over

nobody’s crying
nobody’s missing
everyone’s singing
and everyone’s dancing

and the Angel of Death says, Come
and the Lamb that was slain says, Come
and the Burning Bush says, Come
the Lord of the Dance says, Come

*

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Grace Andreacchi is a novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Berlin Elegies. Her work appears in Horizon Review, The Literateur, Cabinet des Fées and many other fine places. Grace is also managing editor at Andromache Books and writes the literary blog AMAZING GRACE. She lives in London.

graceandreacchi.com

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jane26art by Jane Gilday

detail from Crucifixion of Kathleen

(watercolor and crayon on paper)

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Poetry

Before I Was a Woman

by Elizabeth Gassimi

 
It happened long ago,
Before I was a woman.

Another woman,
Consecrated to God – she wore his ring
And hid her hair –
Was taken and thrown down
Like a forsaken rag doll.
Her face pressed onto the cold marble floor
By a dark, lost Beast who surprised her while she prayed alone.

Her life flashed before her
As she cried and pleaded
While behind her,
He plundered her soul forever,
Sweating and groaning from the effort.

She’d been a cloistered innocent:
A grandmother’s age,
But with a child’s experience.

It happened in, of all places, God’s house,
With smooth, carved wood pews and solemn statues the only witnesses.

Her sobs, her pleas,
Echoing just steps away from
The altar where she’d labored
And knelt in adoration for so many decades.

Did the Father and the Son
Hear The Beast shouting
That he’d kill her if she refused to kneel for him
And his hatred and shame?

Did the acrid stench
Of her fear overpower the
Sweet incense perfume?

Did those adorable
Carved cherubs cover their ears
With their tiny wings
When she gave up and wished a very un-Christian wish
For death
As a single, silent, hot tear fell?

No one but she,
The Beast who took her by force,
And her God
Know exactly what happened
In those excruciating moments.

And only she knows how
She was able to forgive The Beast,
Which she told us later she did.

And even though I wasn’t a witness,
I will never forget
What The Beast did to one who believed
That being
Untouchable would save her.

Long ago,
Before I’d learned what it meant
To be a woman.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

New York City native Elizabeth Gassimi (“Liz”) left the United States in 2011, lived in Mexico City for almost a year, and has been enjoying the hot weather and fabulous food in Merida, Yucatan since 2012. Liz is a full-time teacher of English as a Foreign Language and holds a BA in English and Journalism from The City University of New York. She has always enjoyed writing and started keeping a journal at the age of ten. Several of her poems have been published in literary magazines.
She also loves gardening, photography, reading, and visiting art galleries. Sometimes on the weekends, you can spot Liz with her camera, walking around the Centro, looking for photographic opportunities.

 

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Kreso5art by Kreso Cavlovic

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