Please click here for the latest information regarding Benedictine University's response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
What is an Archetype?
Each archetype is represented by an image, painted by an artist.
Each image has a poem connected to the image.
A boy sits on the floor
hunched over – small,
Hoodie hides his face.
Traumatized like the
girl in the newspapers,
he too cannot speak.
An advocate works hard
to find his father, free child
hostage from metal cage
at south Texas border.
-Nancy Ann Schaefer
To change one's mind or light bulb
is one thing; to turn lead into gold
and find the elixir of life offer
For some there's the ancient quest
beyond shards in atoms to discover
who we are, where we come from
and where we're going --- a desire
to transcend good and evil boundaries
and attain the Philosopher's
Stone that reveals all mysteries
of alpha and omega
It's all about transformation:
the magic of melding mind
and spirit, unlocking several chakras
or finding the hero within,
a perfect balance mystics
and visionaries conjure—
what poets and artists seek.
Like the ancient symbol
of a snake biting its own tail,
we can complete the cycle
and align ourselves
with the pulsing spheres.
- Susan T. Moss
not a blade of grass
beneath your dusty shoes.
No dime store tinsel
to give you away.
of dancing Susie
on a displaced plaid mattress
as out of place as
an undercover angel.
Hands firmly clasped
across sharply bent knees,
holding back those
until the moment
Only the carbon black
made from bubbling poisons
deep within the earth
betrays your angelic round.
pagan god of volcanos,
terrorized that tire
into the ersatz halo
over your head.
He will surely
help us prevail
all things petroleum
into the bowels of the earth,
where they belong.
…but the paint took over
a bird protecting her eggs in the nest
then the eggs in the nest became the spots of a fawn
and the nest and the body of the fawn emerged
as she is usually seen with a deer or stag horns
upon her head. My intuitive Artemis emerged
more nurturer than warrior.
I am Artemis. One of the most respected of all ancient Greek deities.
I am the goddess of the hunt. I'm the goddess of wild animals
But first, I was a many-named pre Greek deity: protector of childbirth
And the young. In male literature and art I carry a shield, bow,
The Greeks edge me onto pottery arrayed for battle, fully clothed.
Roman art stripped me to the waist and bared my breast.
Europeans painted me nude, a feast for the lascivious eyes of men.
Yet, only a woman understands the strength in the courage of women:
the strength of her DNA, her womb, her spine. A courage
which carries humanity’s nine-month burden into the future—
and beyond. Knowledgeably, when her paint takes over, I become
the guardian: a bird protects her eggs in a nest, the eggs become
the spots of a fawn, and the nest in the body of the van emerge
…more nurturer than warrior.
when bloody words spews out
of his pouting lips
he is trying to sell
twisting truth into
and spinning scandals in the
the reality show host
is a master of inciting
a herd of lost lambs
to chase their own tails
in an endless circle
round and round
round and round...
A Trojan prince I was now I am prey,
Of eagle Zeus who's plucked my hair away,
Who now but stole my chaste within my youth.
I was shocked, in awe ravished by a God
Now I am but a sentenced to Olympus,
To dwell and hold his water cup atop,
But by his oath amongst the firmament,
I bear that cup of water for the gods!
-Michael M. Bell, Jr.
after caregiver by Karen Gehse
Roses needn't be red, white or yellow.
I see purple in them, as in lilacs and orchards.
I take a few moments to sit in my room,
empty my mind of tiring tasks,
and taste the rose-scented rippling air
of my summers and winters.
In my twilight years, I discover the shades
of my decades, noticing deep colors.
Purple is in my moods, sorrowful or peaceful,
watching sunset’s amethyst clouds
darken the roses or the butterfly’s violet
wings skimming over regal petals.
I feel roses’ moist buds, see the sound
of falling blossoms in sun and rain
during this short stay.
A Caregiver’s Dilemma
To be remembered after we are dead is but poor
recompense for being treated with contempt while
we are living. -William Hazlitt
Reaching for compassion
I stumble onto aggravation.
The paved road of patience runs out.
Emotions find expression
from lullaby like murmuring
to knife-tongued testiness.
No fiction stops me short as real life.
Like clicking metal gears, moods change
without warning into spirit-sucking
selfishness, love tinged guilt mixed
with the bitter taste of fatigue,
swallow dreams of lost opportunities.
Tenderness sits crying
in dark corners until kindness
How can I carry on? How can I not?
Archetype: Child of Nature
I Am Not Here
You see me white-haired, somewhat stooped,
looking out the window through a scrim of steady rain.
But I am not here. I'm holding my hands open
to catch maple seeds twirl down, or I'm jumping
into a pile of carmine and cadmium yellow leaves,
each jump scattering colors I'll gather up again.
Or I'm back in the arms of the apple tree,
dreaming as I eat the fruit or finger the branches.
Sometimes I'm with my cousins chasing fireflies
across a dark lawn, rolling down a grassy slope
luxuriating in the coolness of the earth,
or lying on the lawn pointing out pictures in the clouds.
Sometimes I'm with my sister following butterflies
from flower to flower across a field, stopping
to examine sunflowers or pick up a striped rock.
Sometimes breaking Mother's rules, we're wading
with tadpoles in the bubbling water of Ralston Creek,
listening to the babble of sparrows on the bank.
Some days, snow and sun turn the park I cross
into a glistening white castle courtyard. Overcome with awe,
I rise like a ballet dancer, on tiptoe even in my boots.
Or I press a flat angel into the fluffy flakes
spread across the front yard. I flutter and fly, wings freeing me.
I rise with my vaporized breath into the air.
Right now, I'm embracing a country night, counting stars
in the Milky Way, still a child of nature, looking for the Little Bear.
A feminine wolf a masculine crow...
With thirteen stones to form the kindred soul
In Celtic braids their locks of union tight
Like seven colors, make a rainbow whole
And stars that give the sky of darkness light
While through the sight inside their orbs
Their souls are strong and righteous force
The crow that sings the sweetest chords
The wolf that calls in natures course
The whitest wolf the darkest crow
A man and woman's equal soul
Of both their nature and their heart composed
Of thornless rose of fire the heart for both
-Michael M. Bell, Jr.
A Petrachan Sonnet
Written in iambic Pentameter
To that the tale I tell, matures in verse
As nature lives, a native course within
A birth to which, the dawning does begin
That’s even deeper than a dream submersed
Before the earth was born and it dispersed
Before the tide had met the sky akin,
Before the sun and moon, became the skin
Before a man and woman's, love immersed
Was Copper Woman, human breath and womb,
Her ribbons man and woman's every hue
That every race together does consist!
From Copper Woman, nature starts to bloom
The elements of four from which it grew,
And from her birth had made this all exist!
-Michael M. Bell, Jr.
Archetype: Cosmic Blueprint
To hell with this emptiness formless and dark.
Let there be skyfire bright above stone –
Yes, that's better, that's good.
Let blue water rush, let it pour from the void,
And let sunshadow cool against rock solid shores, yes I like it.
So Day versus Night,
Hardlands assailed by clamorous waves
With the vault of the heavens containing it all,
Gilded with sunshine,
Polished all silvery, starry and moonish.
Let it be green and teeming with life.
Let the creepers and crawlers and swimmers go wild!
With these beasts of the field and birds on the wing
It's a beautiful thing if I say so my Self.
I could check the plan over once more,
But it's perfect. Perhaps
Such a delicate balance requires some maintenance,
Someone to tend to it,
Defend it and
Keep it all working the way that it should:
Perfect proportions of solid and gases,
Predator, prey, seasons and tides.
So the sheep have their shepherds,
The seas have their song,
Mankind has the knowledge.
What could go wrong?
-R. G. Ziemer
Archetype: Cyber Punk
Words from the Mermaid's Purse
Walk this tangled path of tumbled stone,
past blackberries, fuchsia, stabs of stinging nettle.
Look down on Dingle Bay, small hills of green,
cliffs above dun sands that spill white feathered edges.
Words stumble with us down the way, imperfect, patient.
They've always known our weaknesses.
Across the ocean now, I thought they might vacation
or stay abed to rest, a respite during absence.
But this morning words flash rainbows,
chant and Gaelic phrases, sing, catch fire.
They chase beside us all along the beach,
scatter seashells, brown and mauve and yellow.
A mermaid's purse onshore leaks salty words
Catch them quickly!
Scribble fleeting images before they get away.
Stubborn, or reluctant, they may hide their sparks
in shadows, In the darkness of your night. L
Listen for their comfort, what they teach us.
Somehow, these necessary words
will bring us home.
Daimon Cast as Muse
sometimes we are swept and carried
To begin, I am no god,
though even the best of them
is possessed by hard demons
making what I hide banal.
count the broken commandments
And my daimon is no god,
though compared to me,
an artist in her guidance,
she seems omnipotent.
we team as profit and baptist
Not that I am powerless,
taking from her the wisdom
to see a path, to show a face
that matches the heart inside.
others not worse for our being
but in the end, the hard days,
she provides the shield against
the whelming waters of life
on the flood plains of change.
good is the best we dare ask for
the future reporting our acts
Archetype: Dark Hippie
Raised among the trees, she knows they can hear her,
can sense her joy and pain. She feels most herself
when they canopy above her, the roots mingling
under her feet. They too know darkness and light.
She understands there is much more in this world
than what we see with our ever-deceiving eyes,
that only with the third eye can we see the depths
of Earth's soul, its mournful spirit heavy
with so much that is now passing away.
Flowers still bloom from soil and water into air,
and from fires and ash, new life may yet emerge.
She lifts her arms to the trees, praying for life.
On the bright sky canvas,
sharp sword’s swirling scrolls,
your male metal glitters.
On the hilt the Holy Spirit,
giver of Life,
like the cosmic energy yoni
of Hindu goddess Shakti:
symbols of wo(man) union,
all people, one family.
You, intrepid knight,
shelter right from might
with an impaling gladius defend
we who cling to barely a widow's mite
from, yea, the sole racketeers
craving to extract and suck clean
the very marrow from our bones.
Praise be, ye knight, friend and neighbor.
We were hungry and you fed us;
unloved by others, you gave us love;
without hope, you gave us reason to hope.
-S. M. Kozubek
The Dreamer as Philosopher
a poetic response to a work of art: The Dreamer by Yelda Akacik
a useless activity,
a waste of time.
food, politics and
in the world of
world of one's
The eyes do
not see reality;
rather, they see
the world as it
could be. As it
-Bonnie J. Manion
Never minded being one step behind
my older brother and two sisters, but came
the day Eric got his driver's license,
so he could drive us to school in a beater car
Dad bought. That was a blow.
Didn't mind so much that my seventh
grade teacher asked me, "How come you don't
understand algebra? Eric got A’s in the class.”
The history teacher repeated the refrain. "Lily
and Francine learned the constitution first term. "
Old Mrs. Winslow, too. "It's an easy test, Frank.
We covered this in class last week. What's wrong"?
Felt like I oughta’ make myself a pointy hat
in art class, push my desk in the corner. Something
didn't click. What was wrong with my brain?
Wanted to quit, stay home, help dad build fences.
My folks were sticklers for school. No way could
I skip, even when I told them Eric and his friends
teased: "What's on your report card, Frank?"
One morning Eric's cranky old car wouldn't start.
Eric kick the tires and swore. "Let me look at it,"
I said. Fifteen minutes and it was running.
"Thanks Frank," he mumbled.
Dad watched from the porch. "Frank, after school
we'll go see Mike at the station. He's willing
to train someone who likes cars. I hear you can get
school credit for that kinda’ thing"
That afternoon I smashed the pointy hat
I'd been painting with yellow question marks.
Began to build a paper Mache truck.
Images painted with the rushed touch of en pleine,
but viewed here, indoors, in our frail world where
common dreams of togetherness frequently overlap.
That is what we call love. And so I look closely, amused
by its wistful feelings. Beauty. Youth. Perfection.
Art reaches in, and we reply with meanings we think we see.
Here, faceless loveliness stares, transfixed, but the two
do not touch, their eyes are obscured, but I understand.
There have been times when I, too, have failed to see.
Let them be. Let us all be for a while, lost for a moment in
the mystery of what and who another really is, let us be
lost in the story we think they tell. Let them remain
standing there motionless in innocence, poised beneath a
curvilinear dome, its grid work locked in golden smiles, maybe
for forever, caught in hesitance in their lovely pastel world.
Our world, we've learned, calls for the bolder things, lines clear,
dark as a graphite, oils that cure so slowly, and wide canvases
that will endure. But I linger over these images, their wistfulness,
those two, standing in the blink-like feel of love's start, it is a
water color, shouldering the heavy lifting of the human heart.
Archetype: Eternal Child
If Only it Were That Easy
Strap those specter skates up tight
Make them real
Make them strong and fast
Spin those steel wheels like a centrifuge
Extracting malignant cells from benign
He can't silence your shearling tongue
If you’er airborne
Can't hurt you
If you're not there
Don't worry about the other half of you
Soon you'll be united
All you must do is
Archetype: Eternal Child
Cosmic child of glee-
she gleams with gold and star dust.
Joy blooms incarnate.
Wheeling through space-time,
glowing starbursts wreathe her face
in the dance of life.
Your effervescence fills me,
I am holy, too.
Her Anger is Blue
She is anger
Old, darken, blue
A closed and locked room no one enters
She is frozen
Cold, heavy, dull,
An iceberg submerged in an ocean
She is a volcano
White hot as her fierce stare at the memory
Her lips are on fire with words she will not speak
She is tempestuous
A violet storm threatening the howl
Yet contained, held back
She is lightning
She reacts on principle, her reasons
Stuffing the rage down, still burning
She is a gift
Holding the ocean in her hands
Letting it slip through her fingers like tears
-Jill Angel Langlois
How thin and in-
the spider skin
too delicate to shield.
the body's soft shell,
sheer sugar strands
Blown glass lace,
wisps and whisperings--
Did someone say my name?
-Patrice Boyer Claeys
Embrace Your Rock
We tread on a wheel, like rodents in a cage
its cycle rarely broken –
that carrot just so far from our reach
and mythical golden rings elude us
Sisyphus embraced his rock, our wheel
his tireless purpose set his days
nights recharging him
to repeat it again, day after day for eternity.
Embrace our purpose you say to me.
But it is the purpose we choose,
or does the purpose choose us?
Is your rock a shopping cart with all you possess,
or is mine the briefcase that never lightens?
For me it is not a rock to bear
but a flag to raise high, never wavering
Yes, the monotony can get to you
your arms can tire, feet can swell
from the one millionth step
and the next...
and the next.
The challenge is to be like Sisyphus –
to enjoy the hard work, the job well done.
Be persistent, work hard for your purpose.
Embrace your rock!
-Mary Beth Bretzlauf
Archetype: Harmony and Diversity in Relation to Self-Identity
Harmony and Diversity in Relation to Self-Identity
artist Cassidy Burt
Opposite poles attract,
a simple law of magnetism.
Dark dances with light,
contrast reveals depth.
Day revolves around the earth,
night salutes the rising sun.
Yin and Yang embrace to bless the Garden of God
with the fruit of Love.
Beauty rests in the blended hues
of a colorful rainbow.
When mixed elements grow in harmony,
the human spirit blossoms
-Maryland Huntsman Giese
Place your ails
in my kindness cup
and let the salve of brother– and sister-hood
coat the linings of our souls.
Ribbons of loss
shall be stowed,
and despair and dissolution disappear
from our common goals.
we will overcome;
encountering no fences,
no slanted "noes" or
It is our own favored future
that will be carved
onto the granite
annuals of our lives.
Justice shall be ours.
Black ribbons shall become green
and coat our noble intentions
as long as we can
rest our hearts
on each other’s shoulders.
Archetype: Healer of the Soul
“There's a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in
- Leonard Cohen
Her spirit lies fallow–
a barren plot of parched ground,
or some abandoned lot hemmed in by walls
that feed her darkness. In the shadows
of flute begins to play--notes flicker and fade
like fragments of some ancient music--familiar,
though she’s never heard it before.
She senses movement,
a shift in the flow of air,
a trail of warmth along her wounds.
She turns her attention toward it.
Stronger now, the music swells, seeps
into inner crevices, teases out strands
of her forgotten song.
Notes shape themselves
into droplets of water, form a trickle,
grow into rivulets that run
through thirsty cracks. They find
those seeds of wholeness planted within,
soften them until they split, sending green shoots
skyward-- seedlings leafing out
to help her breathe in the light.
Sijo, after Mijeong Field's March 1st Movement
Two fields of energy, each of separate palette of color
collide on the canvas and form cycle of movement
Pinpoints of green sprout from brown; red stabs its way into the gray.
A girl hears a spirit voice, clads herself in armor,
leads an army to victory allowing a king to claim his crown.
Rising hope smolders at the stake as she becomes a saint
Another girl listens as her village cries, enters the square,
galvanizes a nation to rise as sparks from fire fly skyward.
In prison she dies to become the face of a movement.
Yet another dares to attend school, is shot, moves a world to outrage;
One more shames a world to save itself from choking to death.
Seed sowers of moral beauty, causing a world to face its disgrace.
Spots of green, an urge on a canvass of color in motion,
A few smears of conscience, impulses of the dialectic
risking the hero's journey to be breath of movement.
Douglass and Divine Intervention
Douglass was born in Tuckahoe,
about twelve miles from Hillsborough.
He was born to be a slave, because of his race,
the whites owned him because of his black face.
As a child, he was too young to understand,
but when he was old enough, he worked the land.
Captain Thomas Auld was his first master,
and he whipped the slaves to make them work faster.
The slaves had a little food, just a little corn;
they were doomed from the day they were born.
But Frederick was unique, freedom he craved,
he dreamed of a day when no one was enslaved.
The next master he had was named Mr. Gore,
who would whip the slaves backs till sore.
Supposedly, he had an educational degree,
but what he lacked was any empathy.
One thing that Mr. Auld's wife did,
was teach Frederick ABC's as a kid.
This was something Mr. Auld forbid;
but Frederick was reading, but he kept it hid
They said, “Give the slaves an inch, they'll take an ell,”
but before you know it, Frederick could spell.
Pretty soon, he wanted to be educated as whites,
he concocted a plan to run away at night.
They hoped to escape in a canoe,
but the plan itself never went through.
Trying to escape was not being irresponsible,
but someone apparently alerted the constables.
They started tying up the rebels, one by one,
but Henry was defiant, and they pulled out guns.
He reached out and knocked the guns down,
and the guns went clattering to the ground.
But all the slaves ended up getting arrested,
and put in jail, oh how they were tested!
Instead of being brought back to his master's whip,
Frederick was sent to a harbor to build ships.
He did his job well, with workers who were white;
they felt threatened, so they started a fight.
A gang of ruffians outnumbered Fred,
he fought them all, but still he bled.
So he went on, to his own enjoyment,
to be his own boss, and find employment.
Suddenly, he could make money in a free state,
but he still had to deal with tons of hate.
But he went on to be a writer so profound,
that he no longer had to do things underground.
In his lifetime, he was hailed as a hero;
when starting out, his life was worth zero.
Through him, many blessings did he bring,
he was the hero before Martin Luther King.
He even forgave those who were his masters,
his effect was more profound than many pastors.
He believed in the Christian god, however,
he knew God wouldn't allow slavery forever.
Rarely could anybody write as eloquent as he;
it shows what a man can do-if he gets to be free.
Who is Your Hero?
There are so many great heroes in history,
Some young, some middle-aged, some old.
But they definitely have one thing in common.
They were all unselfish and bold.
These memorable heroes don't care about medals.
They don't strive for glory or fame.
They couldn't care less who gets the glory
Or if anyone knows their name.
Who is your hero? I’d really like to know.
Who do you truly admire?
Who do you count on to set the example,
To encourage and to inspire?
Maybe you can also be a hero someday,
And give of yourself for others,
To help alleviate the pain and sorrow
Of your sisters and your brothers.
-Idella Pearl Edwards
Already newborns interpret love
in mothers’ soft words and lullabies--
humans’ first music--interpret love
in milk from nurturing breast,
tenderness of a mother's hands,
the welcome of her lap.
Already at the dawn of human history
mothers surrounded a woman giving birth
and her defenseless offspring
in the sheltering circle.
Already children came to understand
love embedded in warning and scolding voices
of mothers and the mothering.
Already our ancient ancestors called the planet
Mother Earth, and thanked her for sustenance
and music--birdsong, wind in the leaves,
rhythm of waves, water tumbling over stones,
percussion of hoof beats on the plains.
They praised the beauty of her mountains,
grasslands, flowers, trees, tide pools and streams.
They carved tools and statues from her rocks,
engraved and painted pictures in her caves,
sat around campfires telling stories of her origins,
sang her praises, silently on her beaches
or cliffs contemplating her gifts
and the source from which she came.
Increasingly they scarred her face,
dirtied her waters, wasted her gifts.
Now Mother Earth's tears melt ancient glaciers
and raise the level of her seas.
She sends winds and floods to warn us,
her beloved children, of the dangers of our behavior,
begs us to change our wayward ways,
listen again to her music
and return to love to her loving embrace.
*The first two lines are adapted from “In the Carolinas,” by Wallace Stevens from The Collected Poems
(New York: Vintage; a division of Random House, 1990), p.4.
A Meditation on the Goddess Shashti1
The Banyan tree cast mottled shadows over
the ancient red rocks smeared with layers
of vermilion powder from age is unknown
Visitors pray to the sacred stone imagining
the potent Mother Goddess in their heart.
On every sixth day of the waxing moon,
they arrive to place new garlands of marigold
on the stone and offerings of a few desperate
coins in its hollow. Mother's bring newborns,
mostly sons, to seek protections from disease
and to have breasts filled with precious milk.
Shedding shames piled on them by the society,
barren women visit in darkness before dawn
to urge for babies. Defying pollutions from
busy streets, the tree listens to prayers as it
sends its aerial roots down to the Mother Earth.
The air in the room becomes electric.
Anticipation, excitement, trepidation,
all are evident in the quickened breath
of the audience. A male figure appears
in caped formal attire. His eyes are like
the hypnotic eyes in those portraits
following one's movements across a room.
He wants to know my secrets, forgive
my doubts, offer me something of value.
With a fluid sequence of hand gestures,
his face is hidden in swirls of black satin.
A voice with no discernible source speaks
in healing whispers, positive suggestions.
Is he a show man, shaman or scientist?
It doesn't matter. I need to see him again.
Sleight of Hand
In a painting of your life as you see it
the word Imposter announces itself.
No longer the spectrum of sun-blessed sky
in your work, but this chunk of stormy black
descending on the joy of your open window.
You say I am one thing on the outside,
but another on the inside. I cannot paint
my clowns anymore.
The clown is the imposter of joy.
The painter is the imposter of the artist.
You wink, but I do not catch it.
Standing before your canvas:
lush layers of primary colors swoop
into a topping of goldish yellow, a concoction
like a tiered birthday cake, blazing candles and all.
The space is dark around the licking flames
of pain, a dark stage to enhance all that brightness?
It takes a long while of looking...
Didn't the Greeks use a black background
to better show the actors’ white masks?
My smile deepens... What joy to be duped
by the best shape-changer of all--the artist.
I fall across the canvas tripping
on my own floppy shoes. Excuse me, Pierrot.
What a splash you make in the painting!
Even your wild, yellow wig—
The Artist is in charge--the moral
of the Imposter this time:
A painting is worth a thousand words.
-Mary Jo Balistreri
The Muse Enters
Violin keys penetrate
the musician’s spine to impregnate her.
Fallows sounds swirl in amniotic fluid –
her talent saturates fledgling cells, Pitch
swell and propagate to a full body
as orchestrated sound rivers into
her spirit. Trembling,
she begets a vessel
-Marcia J. Pradzinski
Archetype: Nature Child
... ekphrastic, per art piece,
"Cosmic Florid" by Larry Paul King
Bursting through the shroud, ready
to face the world, to spring toward
success, I emerge new, eager.
Something happens to that plan along
the way. I look back, see the opening
waving blood-red tatters, a farewell.
No going home again, says Thomas Wolfe.
I won't press start. Live is to be lived daily.
No matter the gigantic hillocks that rise;
or the crashing tides of discouragement.
Even the years that pile on my back, heavy
as Grandma's musty old quilt, the one she
created with scraps from men’s wool suits.
I'm comforted when there’s trouble or grief,
or a sorry moment torments. I've made
connections - glad times pop up, for review.
Ambitions fulfilled - family, friends, faith send
flickers of encouragement. Those tickle my heart
while I sit and wait for the light to change.
I emerged from someone's circle of life. I've tried,
then tried again. There’ve been triumphs, and joy.
I keep on, never-stopping, only beginning.
Archetype: One Who Makes Himself a Character
Fortitude of Femininity
(Black woman no 2)
I made this bed
and I proudly sleep in it
with my dreams
a satin sheet
of fingertip beyond
of an unknown,
shall forge it
of the way.
The Freedom to Be
Infinite gender spectrum.
You are everything, Pan.
You are the river that queers
its water to the next bank.
Fish, foam, fun. Waves, current, stones.
All clear, all muddy, all mixed in your
embrace. Omnivorous unknowns float
on your androgynous surface.
We sit and watch as they pass by.
Not wanting to be defined, they
are free to be everything.
A friend told me she would has a transgender child.
Another friend has a trans husband who is
the lead vocalist in an all-trans band.
What if Jack becomes Jill? What if he is most
comfortable in another body or skin? And if he
does not change genders, does she still cry, "Mommy,"
or "Daddy," does she stand independent
and proud, a camouflaged flag pole?
Inside every trans or pan is a soft, gentle soul
that transcends the identities we label people,
that knows how to be free. Yet every moment
is measured. With every step they watch their back.
Blue River Blue
I marvel at the rivers flow.
Its rounded shape
splashing through the cold blue landscape.
A constant movement
keeps changing the waters course
sometimes drifting inland, other times
hugging, damp and blue,
against the river's edge.
It’s as if the river is searching
for something, then gives up
and curves toward home,
where blue river blue
folds into a memory.
Archetype: Predator (Church)
To him, the world is a smorgasbord –
each classroom, each dance floor,
each row of pews on Sunday
full of delectables.
He discreetly sniffs the air, drawn
to a distinct aroma, using a tiny
canape fork for sampling. Then
he digs in, ravenous.
This insatiable appetite requires
vigilance. Ever prowling, eyes peeled,
a thin string of drool hangs
from his red lower lip.
Each night he recalls the day's meals.
With a satisfied sneer, he belches out
the gluttonous remains. Each morning
he wakes, still hungry.
Was it by fate or delivered choice,
That we came to this precipice?
Did you circle around me from afar?
Assessing me for physical weakness, emotional fragility
or, simply, distraction?
Did you roll the fantasy of what you would gain,
Over and over and over in your mind
like a well-worn pebble in your hand?
Or was it an impetuous act. A reaction. A fleeting opportunity.
That led to this moment?
The force of muscle, bone, bodies.
Slamming against one another.
Together slipping, falling, resisting, striking out again.
The push and pull of this isometric embrace.
The force of your will against mine.
After all, that is what you are really after, isn't it?
My spirit, my will, my life.
To look into my eyes as I let go of it,
and hold it in your memory, your soul, forever.
that no one else can have.
This last moment.
Years have passed and now I see you in the grocery store.
Our eyes meet again.
And with a sneer,
You laugh in my face.
Go ahead, laugh.
Because we both know, don't we?
I did not succumb.
Archetypes: Protector of Traditions
Bride of Death, what is it like down there
in the Temple of Darkness, no windows, no doors,
just a cold shadow and a bucket of bones?
When hungry, you swallow the stars
with giant jaws. When cold, you wear
the purple robe stained by Persephone's
pomegranate seeds. You wear chaos
outside, your skin flayed for all to see,
your one breast suckled by bats, spiders, owls.
Tell me, Sweet Lady of the Underworld,
what did your wedding dress look like?
Did you dance with Catrina? Your followers,
obsessed with death, wear black, covet the soil,
tombstones, the very bones you guard.
And for the brave one who steals the femurs,
these skeletal offerings create a new life, new races,
new hope for all, or so the Aztec legend goes.
And so every November followers bring fresh
flowers to your alter not to grieve the departure
of the bones, but to wish you well on your
journey from Death to the living world.
The Girl Earned an Eagle Crown
You were born cradled by towering mountains
where snow leopards leapt to score the hunt,
Stealthy black bears roamed, and a little girl,
who tries to go to school, faces severe of affront.
You were born to notice the plight of girls,
and women who could neither read nor count,
were enslaved for life and cheated by crooks.
An education for all girls was your demand.
You were born to absorb knowledge and to use
it as a fierce weapon against men threatened
by your words. Like predators in the forest,
killing you was the solution, fanatics reckoned.
You were born to protest in modern ways
with word power, yet Taliban wanted
to instill fear in girls wishing to go to school.
In a bus, a killer put a bullet in your head.
That day, did a mighty Golden Eagle soar
to the sky above you? The world mourned.
You woke up wearing the invisible Golden
Eagle crown. "I am Malala," you announced.
The Queen stands up
And lets the power of wisdom
transform her: becomes a warrior Queen,
deals with life’s countless battles
and wins--always wins.
Yes! She rises up to the moment
like a Monarch - Ruler,
Icon - Ideal...A sublime musical tune ...Star
- It is true: resilience never gives up.
Never...can't... It is her life too - we know.
And her splendor is timeless;
full of examples of dignity to show
- Womanhood, garb and many trades–
to reign over challenges ahead
with decision, mindfulness and love
for a winner always wins, always -always.
-Rafael Lantigua Medina
Archetype: Rapists Energy
Don't flatter yourself: the public victory
of your manhood over my woman's core
would have meant nothing to me, never
shame me or driven me to hide my face.
Simple theft, it might have let some see me
as the lesser of two, but only marked you
as the commonest of petty criminals
for taking what I would give willingly
to any man manly enough to ask meekly.
No, and I'll be strong enough to keep this
between us, a secret that will eat your soul
worse than any public accusation could do:
My flight was from your private abuses,
each meant to elevate you at my expense,
my change of shape a conscious choice
declaring my value as immense, limitless,
worth gods’ treasuries more than your pride.
It is I who have stolen what you cherished.
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust
William Shakespeare, Sonnet 129
Shakespeare's Lucrece was innocent and pure,
tried to defend herself, was still attacked.
She killed herself before she could not endure
memories of how her body was ransacked.
Even Demeter, great mother-goddess,
could not escape the attack of Poseidon.
Where after her rape could she find solace?
Who then was there that she could confide in?
Whether a god like Zeus (turned to horse or swan),
a slave master, prince or head of state,
don't praise someone for imitating Amnon
who raped his sister and left her disconsolate.
Like Daphne, so many women have turned
themselves into laurels, had become mute,
have thrown themselves in a fire and burned,
because of the actions of a callous brute.
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust-
a woman must watch at any hour
lest she be subject to a strong man's lust
not really for sex but a sense of power.
After a painting by Justin Decanio
Rebels are out to make war
on the way things are; darling,
like a snake shedding its skin,
aggressive as a lightning strike
crackling in a purple sky, exploding
outmoded sayings and assumptions
leaving to others the hard task
of sameness in a changing world.
Rebels are always labor in isolation,
fogged in at first by, We've never
done it that way before, the feeling
of never fitting in, but desiring
above all to suffuse the world
in a new light--like Monet when
"Impression Sunrise" hit the salons
in Paris--new brush strokes, rejected
at first, then embraced, imitated,
never duplicated--one example
of being different--one example
of a snake shedding its skin,
its fangs punctuation is of life, saying,
Listen to me, I want to freshen the air;
I'm not going away; appreciate
the old, but, say hello to the new.
See the sadness in my eyes.
I hide behind this mask
afraid to affirm
who I am
what I feel within.
My mask twists and winds
like my spirit and mind.
Will I be scorned, unloved
should I reveal myself
and all I may become?
Shall I dare be strong
even reckless to
fly free with these feathers
or stay stuck, silent and sad
beneath this mask?
-S. M. Kozubek
after Mediterranean passage by:
It is my very great privilege and honor
To create this poignant poem;
Seriously pondering what this quilt represents
Makes me grateful to have a home.
The repetitive lines of quilting represent
Migration in endless waves;
The treacherous journey across open waters
Sent many to their graves.
I wonder what it would really be like
To be a refugee;
To leave all the loved and familiar behind
And travel across the sea?
The quilt represents the endless struggle,
Whether they were weak or strong,
To continually search for a much better life,
A home where they could belong.
-Idella Pearl Edwards
A Moment in Fall
A quick glance upward, at what–
the shining, changing maple leaves?
a squawking V of Canada geese heading south?
a brief look at the sky, and in that split second
there I was
falling, falling, falling to catch my balance
as I caught my toe on a crack in the sidewalk
thoughts swamping my mind
while in the slowing time
the cement rose up to meet me
a cliché coming to life
the whole journey
leaving me sprawling there
studying a perhaps fateful
red line in the gray concrete –
that nondescript Rubicon
that burnt bridge
tripping me up
letting me down
that sly old Styx
sending up into the air
about my crossing
a forecast, an omen,
or just a clumsy event
The Secrets of Inscape
after Eva Reed's Seeker
Ascending into a sky-scape,
a wren carries in its beak a few scraps,
leaving found on the floor by a vending machine,
pieces it will weave into the fabric of its nest.
Instinct points the direction, experience will show it how,
evolving genius gives it flight, and such is the nature
of practical knowledge, sense of the common kind,
the wild fern’s strange attractor holding on to a course
we follow, we obey, for shelter, to eat, to procreate,
all matters of wren knows as well as any in creation.
It was given to Adam - all that one needs to know –
but eventually he found his birthright insufficient.
And Faust, too, lamenting there is more to life
than daily bread, or even calculus, sought more
than his entitled share, learning along the way
that short-cuts leave a debt that must be redeemed.
We desired to hold what lies hidden beyond
the reach of logic, below the surface of desire
past the depths of sounding lines, seeking
the secrets of inscape.
Archetype: Self - Critic
Blooming Not Drooping
Expectations were born and dreams arose
From a strange childhood outside the norm
Some throw sand on these fledgling hopes
But worst of all is when nay-sayer ways are bought
Not to stay the course and push on forth
But stagnate sadly with drooping blooms.
So now I wish that all could find
A way to cast away their doubt and hurt
So they, too, could heal their wounds
And grow to bloom their best to be
Without fear or stumbling or going back
But upward bound and forward march.
Their destiny beckons a shining star
To work with the tools given to each
And reach til the future is full of room
For all their dreamed would come true
But along the way they might hide away
In a special place, if only inside their minds.
your kaleidoscopic sky,
There are no straight lines in shadow.
Poet, without restraint,
into the pallet’s rose–
your moonless canvas–
await the final brushstroke
lead to gold.
A double-etheree stitched by Michael Escoubas
After an embroidery by Margherita Bernardi-Trahan
are we not
all obsessed with
the same things: sowing
seeds of learning, plucking
new songs, painting canvases
not seen nor thought of until we
sowers, casting seeds in faith and love,
seeds not contrived, but given from above,
find their way to earth, an exquisite stitch
tenderly needled through the hoop’s taut
fabric. We pray for soil moist in
loving openness: plowed deep
saying, Feed me with new
potential, new growth.
I'm fertile ground
please lay your
Peacocks cry at morning,
roadrunner scurries past as
I put on my sandals;
geckos dart in and out
like forsaken prompts.
Owners Kit and Arnold
Found remains of five previous pueblos
when installing a heating system.
Skeletons are on display in the basement.
Arnold says he can't bury a dead chicken
without striking ancient pottery.
At night, I smoke a cigar on the patio.
In the ground,
they're the dust that
swirls around me.
They were me before I was.
spirits begin to leave.
I'm another traveler
whose shadow will dissolve
at the birthing dawn.
Slithering around, skirting issues of existence you wind words...
Sneaking under the surface your skin breaks... you bleed black.
Black gold...you fold your hand, collect the winnings.
No remorse for sinnings
As we pray for the generations to come on bent knee,
Nothing is free as you curl round underground without a sound.
Fill empty tanks with your venom as those dreams drive ambitions
And bite future generations.
We kneel at the altar of change holding our hands up to the sun.
And beg the serpent to be crushed by the light of a new day.
Archetype: Wise Old Man
Wise Old Man
...ekphrastic, photo by Lekki Chua
Wang Baoli rests – his boots, muddy from
morning’s work, and muses, “Wherever I look
now, the world shines differently.”
Wang shakes his nakkia* toward a machine
in a neighbor’s field where once only shuiniu*
plowed. He will remain, work fields the old way.
His grandson does not kow-tow. He leaves soon
for a far-away school. “Times change,
grandfather,” he tells Wang, as if he cannot see.
A Coolie, already bent by work years, passes.
“Greetings, grandfather.” Wang bows and smiles.
And then daughter of his granddaughter brings
Wang chashui* and a rice cake. She smiles
up at the old man. “Long life, yeye* I love you.”
Wang says an ancient blessing on her small head.
A cooling breeze touches his straw hat.
Nakkia (homemade tool); Shuiniu (water buffalo); Chashui (tea water); yeye (paternal grandfather)
Archetype: Wounded Healer
The wounded healer
No shrink, fingers pressed together
intoning " I seeeeeee......",
I reach out and hear your pain
beating in mind.
I listen and my ears bleed.
Lonely and wounded,
we swim and sink in crisis
pulling others in behind
whose ears bleed.