Friday, May 30, 2014

To Rose Fyleman On A Katydid Wing In Bright Pink Handwriting

you helped me to believe in them.
you and my Grandmother, or, at least,-
the land they lived in blossoming
always around me, near and not near,
cherished and cherry-coated, too; quite candylike-

beyond the dust bunnies under the furniture,
the reach of the Kirby vacuum
(my Grandfather's gadgeted delight) with one million
attachments sucking up the bobby pins  
my Grandfather almost curses at:
dadgummit! clink, clink clink
o pure Land of Fairyland
I still muse

I lived in too, quite naturally

the way I lived in air
setting the yellow table for the perhaps-inhabitants
and the dolls who tolerated them
with my pretend rubied spoons; lighting the pink candles
in imagination since

we couldn't play with matches or the teacups

in the china cabinet...just admire them, Girls.
it was what I'd always wear, later on
I knew, whirling and whirling into time future:
their skirts of starlight net
when I was grown, in ballet tulle
in pure shades of the Rose silver
thread of the Lavendar

(before I ever heard the words: "Dress Code "
that later I would ignore, however I could, 
if only by wearing roses in a chignon
never giving it a second thought;
not ever quite a real secretary
(they told the Agency)
though I typed with the speed
of fairy flight...

of course, if times got bad (I thought) I'd live near moss and brooks with no snakes. and eat all the berries I could find and feel quite full. and if not, then wish for tiramisu, tirra lirra

strawberries spooned on ice cream sodas,
tree house buckets of Divinity...and
drawn up in secret nooks,
the little wax bottles brimmed
with syrups of the pastille.

Rose Fyleman.  Rose Fyleman.

a secret fairy name if there ever was one:
and perfect for the agencies
who'd send you somewhere clerical indeed.
given a quarter note's chance.

have some peanut brittle straight from an apron pocket

or some candy corn, chocolate kisses, toffee chips,
butterscotch bits-some shreds of silk? to bribe the trolls
by the nasty bridge that spans immortal Beauty,
gummed stars in every colour; you deserve such thanks
for the real geography lessons: glittery rings
on the waters, in the bark of favored trees.

I'm washing the deeper Face of Things

in rosewater so many decades on
(after all my Saturday chores are done)

and stored with the lemon wafers, slices of the sun,

the milky quartz, piano music drifting like a cloud
on Saturday afternoons, I'm folding, something out of sight
in a cupboard of curious devising beside
the Christmas pomanders-

when Company comes - and then, departs,

thinking I'm out getting groceries while
I'm glitter sifting deep in due diligence to the Brothers Grimm, their friends...

sprinkling liberally with the dew from off

strange wings and ironing it all out, I will!
the wrinkled frowns of those dissatisfied still
with the uselessness of enchantment

mary angela douglas 30 may 2014;rev. 2 june 2014

Note on the poem: of course, this was all in very tiny handwriting.

Budding Artists In A Tempera Grove Play School

a gold leaf sun in the corner of the picture
lets you know it is a sunny day
in the tempera landscapes painted with

Big Brushes: Christmas laden with the blue,

the red, the green
in a kindergarten scene out of Giotto.

oh swirling, swirled in the mysterious waters that cannot dissolve

the gleam of something glowing in all the colours sparkling

the geraniums on the window sill the orange fish

in the aquarium and swimming through the air
even though you cannot name them yet,

more vivid reds and greens and unexpected blues

chagall wrote in the clouds before you were born
pink sands of the sandbox, castled, won

and the lily bouquets violet, dream shaded 

now, for you

and all the rose fragrances, child

mary angela douglas 30 may 2014

Note on the Poem: I remember the feeling when I was five years old at nursey school of being allowed to paint at large easels with big brushes in red, blue, and yellow, and mixtures of blue and yellow to make green.  I remember a room flooded with light and a feeling of spaciousness inside and out.  I lost this feeling in a junior high art class.  But now I can remember and access both feelings. Especially I remember a feeling of joy, a mysterious feeling of joy...

Thursday, May 29, 2014

After The Firebirds Leave The Paintings

after the Firebirds leave the paintings
and you are on your own
may the ghost hearts and flowers rain down,
almost undecoded:

leaving mere rubies and emeralds behind
to mark their passage;
ah the tears, whispered someone extravagant;
you said: this exotic loss.

is it your Palekh loneliness, refined.
or is it the exalted solitude;
is that the mood through
the fairy tale woods
long disregarded?

when you only you
resume the path 
and fit into your crystal shoe
the shadow tracks your
footprints made
on amethyst snows.

all this was long ago
and the sheen
of an antique brocade, ballet
unwound from a hidden spool,
Mary of all the opals shining
at the same time-

and of the lost plumage of the
red and gold.

mary angela douglas 29 may 2014;rev. 12 june 2014

Note on the poem:The opening of this poem echoes another poem I wrote, "After the Messengers Leave" and is a different exploration of the same initial emotion.  Perhaps a period post-vision, post-annunciation when you are left with the emptiness of the angel-less air, or in the case of this poem, set in a Russian setting, a situation so dire or so remote, that the firebirds have migrated from the the palekh (fairytales) paintings.  This poem also elusively, allusively refers to my feeling about Russian ballet, that feeling of ballet as holy and as being carefully passed down from one generation to the next irregardless of what is going on politically - this atmosphere.  The reference to Mary, the Mother of Jesus occurred spontaneously, I don't know why except that in viewing certain Italian Paintings of the Virgin, or in reading the Liturgy of the Hours, I always long to find other names for her, names that would have been given to other paintings that would have been painted of her, names that might have been given to other canticles composed for her, they might have even been composed and that we have mysteriously lost, but in any case, in this poem have the luster of mother of pearl.  And all the opals shining at the same time is the name I have given to the divine longing while on earth to experience your whole experience of beauty simultaneously something which I believe can be done only in a Heavenly afterlife but which makes a space in this poem for the person in a dire situation to contemplate this pearlescent, opalescent feeling and to live in it for the duration of the art work or for

the moment in which

the poem is read. The firebird seems to have ravaged my left margin. I can't explain it any other way. Perhaps it doesn't want to explained in a Note On The Poem.

Peach Swung In the Vernacular, Day After Maya Died

"Do I dare to eat a peach?"
-T.S. Eliot, The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

[to Maya Angelou and those who loved her]

go ahead on and eat that peach, Mr. Eliot
it's clear you've been away too long
from all the Peach Streets of America

and those old orchards raining their thick golden rains
it's positively Providential:it's our
hard turning of the ice cream stile;

we make our own miracles with the help of Sweet Jesus.
my oh my my my
peachalicious-charming in her Sunday hat

her caftans, gowns, long strands of beads
was she was all that and more?
whisper the children with round surprise

in their church silk voices.
every day of the week she's gone now,
from our small town.

I'll never sit down to her caramel cake
a fantasy of mine on my dessertless days.
it wasn't her poems that mattered the most

just like it wasn't the peach that really mattered to T.S.
it was the goldenness in her oozing out in a voice,
a dusky goldenness, a dark lily shining

insisting you notice something - Life!
and sit up straight.
a voice fit for Shakespeare's queens, a tragedienne's dream

but she wasn't that.
she stirred up- something -
everywhere she went and now, she's spent-

Red crayon, out of the box
her smile like a huge valentine-volcano.
her voice like dark pearls spilling over

beyond the reach of the low flyers always
daring, Mr. Eliot,
to eat that peach,

why don't you ask, for so many more-

mary angela douglas 29 may 2014;rev. 12 june 2014

She Curled Their Hair In Rags

[to my grandmother Lucy W. Young]

she curled their hair in rags;
then brushed it till it shone new penny bright.
she polished them like apples
and dressed them in sherbet colours
with moonbright petticoats stiff and starch
and sometimes,

sprayed on her cologne and pinched
fresh roses in their cheeks:
sweet maids, be good; angels can do no better;
then sent them out to play on the swing-set
in a backyard universe
with their curlicue friend,
the Dog.
while she taught music.

she wished them merry days,
these, her favorite poems...

mary angela douglas 29 may 2014

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

To The Poet On The Island Of Fire Marshals

[to Ray Bradbury]

it will not be you that is burning down

no matter how insistent the rap at the door.
it will not be you

though the ashes curl around your feet;

though the flame licks the skylines
of a destination city somewhere in Space
with multiple horizons.
slick as a brochure.

we won't be paving over

the ones who have gone before you.
here, to make way.
you wouldn't have it any other way.

there is for you, a kind of keepsake

someone called the Soul;
someone to whom there is no monument, finally- 

go where there are no sirens then.

where they won't find you with their
withered flower arrangements.
where there is no grave.

peeled back from the embers

as you turned to go the last of the
snow inscriptions glowed:

to you, on the island of fire marshals

I write with hope
that the poetry lodged in you
does not need a safe,
an executor,

a yellow helmeted friend.

ignore the rapping.
plug the exits with snow
of a winter everywhere descending.
quenching the serene high interrupters
ticking you off the rolls

mary angela douglas 28 may 2014;rev. 14 june 2014

Note on the poem: This poem can be treated kindly (I hope) as a mere footnote, variation on Ray Bradbury's masterpiece, Fahrenheit 451, the one he wanted most to be remembered by.  It is another elegy for him.  I can't seem to stop writing them.  And I know I'm just one of many in that regard.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

What To Do When Choosing A Poem For Dessert

sponge cake golden poem with cream in the middle-
should you be raspberry? or only on the outside?
sprinkled with coconut?

who could decide between

your eclair possibilities: boston creme?
a flourish of apricot

glaced dream? gone teeter-totter,

Alice, tea-tray:
a compote of cranberries-
or only at Christmas tide?

choose everything

said the little girl in red velvet
(decisively, for her size)
bright cherries embroidered
on her pockets

stuffed with them.

mary angela douglas 27 may 2014

The Incredible Pink Playhouse Rose

the incredible pink playhouse rose
into the clouds: melted strawberry
wrapped in cream

with gleaming windows

where the bluebirds streamed.
why would they sing
anywhere else?

it had peppermint towers,

a roof of plum marzipan
and no witch ever.

the door was a spun-sugar gate-

spinning, you wished yourself through.

we carried pails of the coolest shade

just to live there all summer
drinking pink lemonade.
and matching.

mary angela douglas 27 may 2014

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Soul Near Her Bright Alcove Strayed

the Soul near her bright alcove strayed
unseen by anyone
counting the dawns,
interlocking of children's beads

or rosaries.

or nurseries of pink or blue
where the treasures were stored
before the Wars

she sang without the tune
of familiar things said at the dinner table:
pass the lemon yellow butter, bread as white as
sugar snows while

scraps of tissue paper cloud unwrap the
soft poached sun; it's tremulous pink perfection...

let's open the window of the day:
we're on the brink

she said as if to no one, letting in
the quiet winds that come,

have I stayed too long, she wondered

watching the orchard greens turn red the
metronomes tick lead...

my alchemy is gone she said.

but God is still my gold

mary angela douglas 25 may 2014

Lost Things, Old Gloves, Old Fans, Pearl Opera Glasses

lost things, old gloves, old fans, pearl opera glasses
gazing on the moon; the clouds before the storm;
the autograph of God on all of it.

lost things, the glint of- something - in the rains

that childhood knew:  the mist before the glass,
the Christmas past, the snows, the stained glass

stencils on the heart.

old dressers, wardrobes, costume jewelry
played with by the children, as if it were diamond lit.
but it was, you'll still insist,
weeping your sapphire tears for the

lost years, the lawn cut grass perfume,

the scent of clover on the graduation afternoon;
the ripples on the pond when you were new:

the dew point and the dream

the gleam beyond the arches still not traveled through-
poetry understood in the high old sense of it
when the heart streamed like a banner through it all.

and why have you lost all this. the soul said to the soul

drawing her cloud shawl closer
barely uttering your own name.

whole files remain of the tortured,

the torturers
and misunderstood 
were the moments we scattered: pure gold

above the abyss

we longed to commemorate
above all else-

as if there had never been Beauty.

mary angela douglas 25 may 2014

Saturday, May 24, 2014

But Then I Spoke To His Pearl Ear

but then I spoke to His pearl ear,
always listening, about the sounds of green
near summer, verging from the spring

and the trees budding small flowers as

if they were stars and in a hushed whiteness
that could have been snow or flowers He said

I know.  I thought of that when I made them so.

and so I said to Him the words I loved the woods I loved
the small brooks undisclosed the way I felt about the Rose
the sheer idea of the Rose and He said, tears, petals opening,

onto Sunbursts, I know I thought of it so 

stitching fragrance to colour endlessly.  and it is like my heart, I cried folded into many folds
of velvet, transposed into a key I want to sing but only You

are listening.

I know, He sighed
in sunrise glistening 

mary angela douglas 24 may 2014

In The Tulip Dress In Plato's Cave

[a little after Delmore Schwarz]

in a contrary season or so it seemed
words were never good enough.
they might be gold plated,


rose-tattooed with cockatoos,
rainbow banded

as bubbles floating away from you alas,

all of these at the same time.

speaking to one or a thousand's thousand
always you went home tardy, after school's
apple cheeked child 
wondering what went wrong almost
used to it.

or back to the office where the

typewriter broke down the keys
all jammed and nobody knew
how to change the ribbon,
least of all you.

or just getting off the bus

no straight shot, either: 
headed into the tall grasses
when the bus driver through
the still-open door
shouts something after you

something uncomplimentary so the remaining passengers

can hear it and the people already home across the street 
just sitting down to their fried eggplant and
saying: I told you so....

so you feel like strawberry ice melted-

the tag-end of the birthday guests
with the most crumpled favor.
anyway. you say to yourself. anyway...

they've let you know something was missing;

something you couldn't put your finger on
even in white velvet, empire-styled
with real pearl buttons

even if you had assorted fingers

in every flavour like bright icicle pops
and could deliver by heart free ice cream
and the history of poetry in sand paintings

even if you said nothing at all

it wouldn't be solved.
or dissolved like soda pop fizz.

or only nodded.

something was wrong
a thing impossible to pinpoint
by those trading glances over your shoulder
knowingly, their Maybelline arched brows arched
more furrily.

even if you were the one who gave the garden party

and wore the perfect garden party dress: the tulip print:
flounced, with the lime green petticoats;
in the shop window for weeks 
(the one with the grass-green sash).

even if you wrote the Dictionary yourself, 

(or had ancestors that did) the first first one
by flint-light struck or scrunching down in Plato's cave

scibbling "moonlight", whispering, moonlight...

hunched away from the shadow lovers

mary angela douglas 24 may 2014;rev. 12 june 2014

P.S. of course the title occurred to me relative to the Delmore Scwartz poem as a variation on Plato's Myth of the Cave.

but - my poem occupies entirely different territories than his.r

Friday, May 23, 2014

Beautiful Speech At The End Of The Beginning

[a commencement poem]

it wasn't as if we were waiting to know
the answer to the question: will green trees
gather snow? though now, the coming summers

show, gardenia on gardenia, the lavishness
of time and are you a rose set in green leaves
or all the roses heaped on the stage of this

I was the white of the flowering tree
outside the classrooms, under the blue;

the burnished leaf deconstructed, never.
and gold illumined me
and gold illumined you and you

and were we festooned with wide ribbons
as if for the bride's decor or were we, the brides
ourselves, the instruments of a coronation
of the moment, pausing in the archway-
effortless, dreamed...

holding the moment in her hands

she turned-
as if it were in flower

mary angela douglas 23 may 2014

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Toll Softly For Christiane Sheer Rosepetaled Song

[to Christ, the Lord.

in memory of Christiane Coste, my friend (d. february 27, 1978) to be sung from tower to tower...]

oh how could we mourn you then, Christiane,
being blinded by the same sun.
somewhere there must be old carols sung. chanson-

for the princess never returning home.
and in the distance you can see
the Griefs all silver and gold
raised like pennants floating:

unmoored, the ships of goodness, truth
and beauty gliding on gilt waters to retrieve

your faith displaced as mine was
because true mandarins wished it so
in their purple gloating.
let there be worldwide lamentation.

or none at all when silent tears
blur your water-coloured imprint
bourne away on the glittering waters

since you, to a fair country returned
to the One beyond all deception;
the One who held in store for you
the fairy tale gown of simple pearl.
the unalloyed crown.

somewhere old carols must be rung

for the triumph over the world,
over all charlatans forever-

clear focus: crystal star.
rolling from tower to tower in this,
our brief exile.

oh lily snatched back with the laughing eyes,
devoutness unsurpassed. my wildflower heart
was once subdued now

tolling, tolling for the carol hid from your heart
only for a span-
the rose petaled scattering

of your hands

mary angela douglas 22 may 2014;rev. 24 may 2014 rev. 26 may 2014

Notes on the Poem: use of the word "mandarin" is not used for any ethnic sense, nor is it meant as a slur, but more in the meaning of bureaucrats, court hangers-on in a kind of anamolie, fairy tale sense, as in Hans Christian Anderson's "The Emperor's Nightingale", or "The Emperor's New Clothes" the fawning of those who praise the wrong music instinctively or agree to see what isn't there for the sake of getting along.  The circumstances of her death were surrounded by exactly this atmosphere.

It is also used to express a certain broken hearted disenchantment in a delicate way to echo the beautiful soul of the person departed (especially in contrast to her brutal murder which I have not even acknowledged in the poem for good reason as it is not paramount-when compared with the indestructibility of her soul)-

and in token of her youth.  She was barely into her late twenties at the time of her death.

The rose petaled scattering of her hands refers simultaneously to her death as well as to the rose miracles of the French saint, St. Therese of Lisieux as Christiane was from France
though she died in New York City.  

The entire poem musically I longed to set as a kind of antique French song from the Middle Ages, one of those mysterious songs that mirror so much beyond the power of common speech to convey.

This rose petal hands image is also to represent the fact that her body was found in a huge flower box, a detail that was left out of some newspaper accounts and which I have now "corrected".


seen through the periscope, spyglass:
Land of the Trembling Jewels!
how could you not believe the fairy tales
after this small flick of a childhood wrist
and rubies tumble into

topaz into emerald and the aquamarine.

surely the people in that village will be kind;
will come out to welcome you with gem-like candies.

free from the mists and the large dogs,

how they will crown you with stars.
you, the smallest one in the wood.
you, with no wand but God.

mary angela douglas 22 may 2014

Thumbelina At Christmas Tide

surely there is a way to live within the rose the
sky the cloud the honey drop
 the honeysuckle sigh

the hidden waterfall behind the Green

of the glazed over over stream 
ah but where will they send their christmas cards
all frosted with rooftop glitter:
the ones on parchment, pastel, water-coloured snows...

...snowed under,

comfy inside the Rose,

the refurbished Walnut-
how would she know?

mary angela douglas  22 may 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Dish With The Spoon And Other Things

hey diddle diddle
the cat and the fiddle
the cow jumped over the moon
the little dog laughed
to see such a sight
and the dish ran away with the spoon

-Old English Nursery Rhyme

young words in their emerald sheening grew

all cockleshell, silvered only for you
oh shine like old ivory sang the moon
the wind laughed at all your cherry ruffles.

that was before the candlestick wick

the flame that flicked the cow that kicked
the crystal bird flew

when we were new

and pages were thumbed
in starlight, shadows of starlight
and beside the rosy red.

and the world is made of posies someone said to you

nodding like a posy on your own stem;
putting the silver back into the skies;
the applesauce into the Spoon...

mary angela douglas 20 may 2014

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Dream Of Ballet, Vanishing Into Snow

the dream of ballet, like the vanishing of snows-
was melting away in subsets of the Rose;
into a land where sequined crowns were cherished;

the glitter on the wings caught momentarily,

the cygnets glowing.
the dream of ballet dissolved; dissolved,

draped tulle the soul longed to be:

sheer rose. and in the pose of Grace;
caught momentarily,

her sleeves made out of sky

on something out of view,
clear blue

and shading into the

vanishing of snow; 
subsets of the disappearing,
made of the gold of the leaves a forsaking-

no -  fit -  monument, no tracing of

the trees only once, this once,
and not, some other

a love not of earth and

leaping into light and why is there
no weeping
do you know what has been banished

I don't know where.

half-remembered, the steps turning

aimless in a forest of bare trees

that were pale green before

mary angela douglas 14 may 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Ice Cream Panes Of August Melt

the ice cream panes of august melt
i'm gazing through the isinglass
of panoramic eggs in spring
one frosted rose means everything

or rearranging under the Tree

all the presents glistening and cinnamon,
cloved the little house the dolls can't live in
because they're too excited and their

door bell rings as if it were Gabriel.

oh I'm afraid my sister cries haunted by
the red and green her angelabra prayers all
said don't be afraid I sing and sigh the angels said

now go to bed

the earth has candles round her head

mary angela douglas 13 may 2014