Thursday, June 18, 2009

You Should Have Been Painted In A Lilac Mist

[for Anna Akhmatova]

you should have been painted in a lilac mist

looking out to sea yet-
holding the sea within.

you would have stood apart

by an open window, breathing-
the scent of pine trees where
another poet walked-

hearing the sound of the sea

holding the sea within,
its dove-grey caesuras
meted out so carefully

like the steps to the fairytale

castle and the end of the story;
your raspberry syllables spilling over

where there could be no decrees;

with your friend who loved Africa
and drew giraffes on your school
slate, possibly, who hated raspberry

jam even then;

with your small son playing

learning to walk in the
pine-needled shade;

with your other friend, who loved life

and pure delight, praising its syllables
of true delight and small feasts managed

in distress: a tin of sardines, Armenian grapes,

a miracle;
banished like a real prince:
by his side, his starling wife
hid all his poems in crummy saucepans -

and in her heart ever after

o darkened wing - o muse

o hidden stars half-turning into fire,
Cassandra, who is listening

like snow it all disappeared

shining into a farther sea
inside you
after nothing like a Golden Age
no one in any language

can explain.

I sit at my kitchen table in America

as white as you were at the
height of Terror,

Anna Akhmatova, getting paler by
the minute, in public housing
with other golden refugees of a
free nation

the kitchen radio proclaims:

"A Great Nation deserves Great Art"
I think sometimes

great art deserves a great nation;


selling my books off, one-by-one, to live;

when I get to the last book I'll go
live under a pine tree and make
books out of pine bark

but this morning

you shine on my momentary wall
the color of buttermilk
looking for Russia, still-

looking for an open window

for the sound of the sea
for an undeniable clarity
that can't be bought or sold...

Anna Akhmatova.

ask God for me

if you don't know yourself,
is it anywhere in the world

or only in

the next poem

that we live-

mary angela douglas 18 june 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Anatoly Konenko And His Rose Books

[to the artist Anatoly Konenko and his rose books]*

waiting for the beautiful ship to come

we stood on sinking continents
our eyes flooded with meteor showers

in a compact room

an artist sat
making books out of dried


children in their sleep

waiting for the beautiful ship to come
might never know

the roseleaves he was turning

at precisely the midnight
of the world

bird shadows over the blue

green melting poles could understand;
sensing the end of all auroras

they sang only for him

the artist arranging rose pages
binding with flowers the ...

with fine mauve stitching that

would not come undone

rose inscriptions

rose inscriptions
rose inscriptions

was all that God could read

mary angela douglas 13 june 2009

*a contemporary Russian artist from Omsk who makes tiny books out of dried rosepetals and other things in amazing miniture. He made a book for his wife out of rosepetals inscribed with Pushkin's poems about roses.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Any Heart Breaking Over The World Is

[to the once and shining, Russia-
to Vladimir Ashkenazy's beautiful interpretation of Prokofiev's Cinderella...]

any heart breaking over the world is

breaking off in mid-sentence
still, I believe in words:

in music tuned from words

in words inlaid in music
emerging with farthest meanings;

reduced to no one's ashes.

don't chronicle what no one

can endure, we'll be our own
country - after all - and

I will embroider former themes

while the birds come back
to the right trees

the lachrymose clouds are scattered

in cross-stitch across
a silver-threaded moon

or just lie down in a simple field

to speak my sonnets to an ear of corn
but my secrets reach the ear of the king

and life shears off

again with little warning...


my fairytale's not wound
on that spool forever,
I say

surveying the star-flecked tulle

in the closet
or the watered silks packed away

in too-opalescent legends of

the snow child's disappearance:
defending to the end

her hand-stitched manuscripts,

oh firebird lamentations, you know that I am.
there's poetry behind the lines

no matter what they say at Court;

we'll ford the invisible moat
in spite of the neighbors' opinions

and rescue everyone we knew

with songs and marzipan-

or like the children

in The Bluebird, taken in hand
by Light itself

retrace the inner light

of things unbroken even when
the birds fly off

in every wrong direction, not one of them blue,

viridescent in the glittering distance too long
eluding you

but never-mind the static

of world-wide emptiness,
your message is received

and we're illumined on the frozen stage

through your lucent pink filter


our sleeping castle-kingdoms:
it's the joy of many angels.

you're learning to live a very long time

and the chiming air around you feels so free;
catching the silver sounds before they fall,
bright golden pears, unbruised.

catch yourself before the notes snap off, unlistened to

but here they are, glistening

all for you and the ticking clock

breaks open spilling over
in lored, jeweled singing


the air is awash with golden sparkles

the fleur-de-lis stars arise
somehow I sense
her sky-blue scene is coming...

smoothing her rose-trimmed skirts

on an improvised stair and

humming her belle epochal tune;

packing up apple blossom drifts
and tiny acorn dishes

for the Queen of Moss and

nothing this brilliant could ever be lost
on the Faberged wind

when the crystalized waltz begins again

for Our Lady of Infinite Glass-

mary angela douglas 9 june 2009

I Lost The Colors Of Giotto

[to my grandparents who raised me, in memorium]

I lost the colors of Giotto:
the steady pouring of
earnest angels; the

forerunning fuchsia
of generations of light
and fountaining ardor.

I lost the sorrowless

carmine quiet, the
rectitude of stars lapped
in lapis lazuli

the indigo stairwell of clouds.

I lost the olive branching, the

sweet cerulean days; the small
birds gathered in the lemon wind;

I lost my place at the shell pink window

and grieved for the shimmering ladder,

through the vacant castle I sought so many things
but the way was fused I lost
the sunset aureoles

the unchastening wing
then it seemed that I lost Earth
and all my tears flowed upwards

in the Space where you were not: I lost
the sundial in the shade

of Your last rose

mary angela douglas 5 june 2009

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

I Gathered Fresh Gardenias: You Were Missing

[for Virginia Woolf]

I gathered fresh gardenias: you were missing
and zinnia periled summers waved me by.

I followed down the path of your demise,

my own breath caught in trees
above the Flood

and pressed my fingertips into

your orchid-backed mirror's
perfect pearl-on-pearl

turning through each

dream-curled edge
into the whorl of
contravening years

and sallow interpreters.

o willow willow war was near
but the kindness of your mind

does not contract; the crisp

carnation rooms are still
your own:

a crystal condensation's flame

on the flung-open window; the
inlaid diaries of quartz
and rain-

all chatelained gestures foregone-

for these moonlit cloud-inscriptions
of uncalibrated grace are written
on the evening sky.

sensing your angel's churning wing,

I cried.
o rose geranium stillness

violet sky

against which lemon lovely sounds were

your apricot excursion's standing down

oh why

no second snow on snow's appearing,

starred like winter's cotillions,
only warmer...

your garnet constellations

break apart and my heart

losing this kaleidoscope

with no continuance:

the semi-precious laws remain in force.

mere sleeves of her egress remain:

sheer-beaded brocade caught
as the moment, strand by strand

too visibly dissolves.

desert me now, sotto voce,

as your angels melt in music,


then I saw

brightness brightness

every shining phrase unshunned

and drowned in Light

mary angela douglas 30-may-2 june 2009

For Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770)

["Il pleure dans mon coeur..."
-Paul Verlaine (after Rimbaud)]

Thomas Chatterton the rain

runs in rivulets off the roof
and down the colors of dreams

so obliquely

this distilled
you might remember

Thomas Chatterton

youngest brother to amending music,
so unmended

is it always raining

at the back of every poem
and just for you?
with your antique pen brand-new

your last loaf hard

as brickbats-
steeped in documents
of moon-drenched moment;

rosebud, salient madrigal

these small strawberries

in the grass
I've picked for you

your eyes pooled with treasure

only you could name.
forgive all lack of feeling:

the forgeries of the cold;

all those who meant to read you

bless from your starry attic

those who followed you, too late
the rain in this poem

and all others

mary angela douglas 1 june 2009