Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Poem Confesses It's Happy It Didn't Win The Contest

I don't want to wind up in the classrooms
hated by the children who have me for homework.
let me be puffy clouds rejected by the little magazines

as sappy as all get out like greeting cards used to be
slap some glitter on me, I won't mind
a big pastel smile.

runaway candy on a spree (from the candystores).
with adjectives galore. and quotes to go with:
"strew on {me} roses, roses..."

I'll be free while you're at the workshops sweating it out
when other people watch you get up to read
their blunt scissors sharpened.

watch me sommersault away
and it's a Spring day

and I don't have any work at all
to go back to. I'm stardust out of the jar;
no readings for NPR.

mary angela douglas 31 march 2016

Small Star In Lieu Of Lullaby

the weeping heard at the heart of the star
was not by us the world weary
let it be heard by someone small

a child? who can't get to sleep
and is looking out from atop a bunkbed
further, into the deep

the circus curtains halfway shoved aside
and then the star cried
I am small and weak

and who will see
to find their way on sea or land
my wavery beacon

I see! I see! sighed the child
in primer school fashion
do not cry!

mary angela douglas 31 march 2016

Never Mind That Morning Sun

[everything in this poem really happened]

never mind that morning sun
that gets in your eyes
at the same time everyday you

fight the glare of it crossing
desert concrete, several parking lots
to get to the bus you're not sure

stops at the bus stop sign
because they'll tell you
on the telephone line

of the main bus terminal
in your first week on a temp job
that may or may not become permanent

but they won't say when
your driver took a wrong turn
and is somewhere out there on

the highway: why it's different
when you move from a metro area
to a town that's small in unpredictable

ways you'll never get used to.
still, they've mockingbirds by the score
and trees with long lived branches

forming canopies everywhere.
and children who stare
at helicopters

in the shopping centers
going over
as if it were just after

the Wright brothers
finally got off the ground.

mary angela douglas 31 march 2016

In The Margins Of Song We Will Live

in the margins of Song we will live
like the small birds after the rains
chirping near the puddles on the pavement

drinking the clouds.
how can I say outloud what I feel
in the public wayfares 

the heart could be stone
that listens there
the heart could be stone

write anywhere.
write on the pages of the sun
though like icarus you melt

into the uncomprehending sea.
write yourself into the music:

mary angela douglas 31 march 2016

After Hans Andersen's "The Wild Swans"

while toying with the sand in our teacups
at the Great Feasts we were told
to make ourselves useful:

grinding cracker crumbs for the
Marvelous Meatloafs;
mixing the berried vinagrettes for the green beans

snapping to attention.
checking the pink and the bakelite stove
for the little plain cakes for our suppers.

in the fairy tale castles growing up,
life is not what it seemed
and minus the icing compared to

when we wrote on diamond slates,
waiting for our bluegreen majorities.
carol it whichever way you can

on a green strand
near the holly berries.
or at the Christmas movies' cue

and the soapflake snow whirling all around.

but you'll remember when learning
was the glasslike hills
and the golden apples rolling down. 

mary angela douglas 31 march 2016

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


fitting the cloud to the sky , the sky to the tree
will you end up with too many pieces?
or will it all fit easily and there

in the pastoral scene you will feel:
there is home, the small cottage.
the sheep feeding by the tranquil lake.

or it will take nights up late as you go through

one by one all the scenarios.
and something seems missing,
though it isn't you-

like in a dream where you can't
remember your last address
or if the next bus will wait

and your fate is
like a jigsaw puzzle
with a yawning canyon

of blank cardboard and no way
to figure out where the pieces
would go, if you could even find them.

and it begins snowing pieces of snow
on a jagged earth and is this the dearth
of making things whole and sound?

your sitting on the ground by the earthquakes.
your angels playing with the shards
of old pottery

when someone shows up over the ridge to say
come quick! in the devastating geophysical year
cave paintings had just begun to appear

on the walls of a heart.

mary angela douglas 30 march 2016


you think you are spoken to as if you mattered
then you find you're a backdrop, stage prop, sugar pop
a thing perhaps bribed with candy or

useful to know.
the wind blows.
the sun shines.

the flowers smile.
think about this, for awhile.

what do they ever ask you in return.
count them friends.

mary angela douglas 30 march 2016

Neither Stone Nor Shadow

you will live in a house
neither stone nor shadow
nor by a running brook

and look at books
and look at the lamplight
blocking out the stars

but yours will be inward stars
ever drifting sifting the gold 
from the silver ones

you will take your stand
and vanish, no explanation given
into a farther land, more beautiful still

and firmly planted there
despite their whispering
bide your time

and all the greenery will be yours
the birds that chime.
the lilacs.

mary angela douglas 30 march 2016

The Wind Through The Roses Is Harplike Still

[to Mary O'Hara, premier Irish singer and harpist-
this lament for banished Song]

the wind through the roses is harplike still
though you will not credit it, I know,
dire modernists.

the moon through the slit of clouds

causes them to glow as the soul must,
through the body; this alters not.
but for you, for you- bright words are

caught in your net of subterfuge
the one for which you will become famous
and you would bury them.

and you pretend, and tell all men

these images are rust and you pursue
the reasons why
we see colours, breaking it all down

for us.

but the wind through the roses is harplike still.
the harpers return to the ruined villages
where people make out their wills

yet have nothing to pass on by way of song.
yet we will gather pearl like from the great distances
wildflowers drenched with inordinate dews,

we who recall all the tunes

and the jeweled stars in their ellipses
patient in their sparkling,disregarded.
by what laws and byways have you come

to crate the beautiful and bolt it down
where children can never find it again!
and mine the language, keeping the husk

thowing the emeralds
like discus far from the Mays
while you tote it all up:

what's to go, what's to stay.

you would wrest Heaven from God if you could.
and make little subdivisions out of it.

mary angela douglas 30 march 2016

The Jackdaws Slice The Scissored Air

[to my grandparents: Milton and Lucy Young]

the jackdaws slice the scissored air
while the beautiful stare, uncomprehending
fixed on a crystal stair through Heaven winding into

November's thunderheads.
and while the caw from branches overwhelms
those in the present tense and bent and furrowed

on their way to work

the lovely live entranced
in the memory of roses and cannot shirk
the visions vouchsafed them

in the long ago.
you in your sullen poses flee

you will, the early Spring
and all and all my loves,
my little ones

come back.
to me

in a music that is undeterred.
the earliest green, the softest Word.

mary angela douglas 30 march 2016

Then And Now

embroidering the Heavens with your dreams
you neglect the platter to entirely clean
but so did Jack before the magic beans

and then the story grew;
the stalk the generations blessed him to.
rude circumstance and head against the wind

he suffered long before the game of let's pretend
bore fruit or rather, beans
and tirades from his mother when he

spilled the cream
or bartered it for air.
and now he has a talking harp to show for it

much gold to spare!

mary angela douglas 30 march 2016

Angels Are Darning Socks In The Sunset

angels are darning socks in the sunset
you can see the ragged holes in the clouds
turn rose to gold

then drift away whole
and they mending the clouds
cannot sing out loud

until Christmas day
so we might as well play
on the swings all winter

and when the ice melts on the slide
and the icicles where they
kissed our roof

wild violets will appear
in the grasses
where our dolls sleep'

with snows of the rose petals.

mary angela douglas 30 march 2016

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

I Want To Make Butter Of The Palest Yellow

I want to make butter of the palest yellow
and stamp it with the willow tree
or with a golden seam.

cream butter, submerged in springs all summer,
ice cold lady-in-waiting for
the Elderberry Queen, the jam of

all jams, spread lightly on a honeyed crust
or the thin crusts for the gentlefolks' tea
fallen on poverty

with wild strawberries crushed
and savored to the last crumb
with a prayer and the last

of the wild mint
when winter's in the air
Christmas so near.

when we say to the ghost of our angels
pass the butter, dears.
go fish where there are no fish

and make a tricoloured wish
for the Trinity is here
asking for drawn butter

on God's asparagus.

mary angela douglas 29 march 2016

Passed Note To The Teacher's Pet In The Third Grade Just Before The Christmas Party-Confliscated

just because you've got fifteen petticoats
in double shades of the double rainbow
starched out to the moon and back

and wearing them all at the same time
makes you float about the room
at show and tell

completely defying gravity
and winning the All Schools Everywhere
Science Fair Project

doesn't mean you should get all the presents
at somebody else's birthday party.

mary angela douglas 29 march 2016


sassafras you want to sass somebody
anybody in town
and tell them after Sunday

sarsaparilla's going down
and you're in a children's western
the best heroine in town

and sassafras sass sass
is the only game around.
maybe it's a nursery rhyme leftover

maybe it's a jump rope rhyme in clover
maybe you'll go back in time time time
on your Grandfather's dime dime dime

and scoot out there to the curb
where the soft ice cream is served
in the purple of the day

when dreams are on the way
and you can hear the bell
and the tinkle of it swells

and it's a day of note
when Gramp makes root beer floats
and that's why I say:

sasafras sass sass
sarsapirilla's going down.

mary angela douglas 29 march 2016

Angels Churning The Butter Brickle For The First Day Of School

angels are churning the butter brickle
you think to yourself in the shaded room
and Christmas is wavering uncertain

where the door is of my homeroom
so I'll wear red and green
to school tomorrow...maybe the plaid.

nightlights in the dark
are mellow like moonlight
moonlight near the floor is making you sad

where the vents blow the warm air
always in tune
and the toys sleep wistfully

long past noon
all-knowing that soon
their guardians will depart

into the Christmas ornamented

where the bus is waiting
and the next grade up.

mary angela douglas 29 march 2016


it's like a ladder you dream of
the one that keeps slipping away
and you say "Stay!"

o but who can hear you,
the angels oblivious?
on their way?

the minor stars gliding
on the merry go round.
I have seen the double escalator

but I'm not going down
the prophets sang.
but you hang onto the rails

at the skating rink of clowns
and ask advice
and give advice

in the cafeteria.
licking the wooden spoon
free of vanilla.

hoping for another round.

mary angela douglas 29 march 2016

Those October Winds


and to Percy Bysshe Shelley for the Ode to the West Wind:]

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
-excerpted from Shelley's Ode To The West Wind

I stopped along a scarlet way with gold entwined
and other shades too many and delicate to define
the blue blue air

the chimney smoke that lingered there
and the stare of yellow pumpkins
from the porches everywhere.

and in a dream I saw the leaves, my leaves
as on a living stream and they were mine
sent from a far off Time

and so were all the trees and Shelley rose

bent to the sudden child, the chill of those
october winds I long, I longed
to find again

and all their colours swirled
a world unto themselves
of scarlet and of gold, curled with

a hint of lemon a retreating green
a pristine world
supremely indicating the Unseen.

mary angela douglas 29 march 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Better Land

You have laid out paths for our feet of the infinite agate
jeweled mosaics sparkling each to each and intricately made
of beauty past our remembering, the cooling waters.

overhead, the sapphire;emerald, close at hand
and set us down in the rose gardens of the world.
as if that weren't enough jewelry for us then

we look overhead to see the spangled evenings'
crystalline unwind and we find
in our dreams your trees wind-whispering still

and beyond, the apple blossom orchards' snows
mimic so laughingly the frozen winter woes, the laceworked
and so, the apricot and the cherry in petaling chorales

the peach and plum as vivdly strewn.

and with us as the seasons run, the fainter perfumes
in memory remain,retain the hope of their return or
sometimes as is the way in dreams

or mystical paintings, music of the triptych paneled,
all at the same time comes to view and
limned with gold from the sun; the paler gold of the moon.

but oh we look where Heaven shines and prophesies

and long to find and want to sigh disconsolately
ah there is
a better land than this.

and I stop short to say: amazed and wondering:
how could there be

mary angela douglas 28 march 2016


it's a little hard when you're expecting a cornucopia
when a few cans of tuna show up on the doorstep;
the kind that look suspiciously like

relabeled cat food.
everything helps, you tell yourself

wiping away a few tears
in time for the highlights of
the great Liturgical Years.

mary angela douglas 28 march 2016

P.S. It may be hard until you remember the parable of the Loaves and Fishes and then it becomes exciting to see how much God can help you stretch your resources! This is real.

For One Coconut Cake From The 1950s

["Wouldn't it be sweet," mimicked Marjory, "if we could have the moon and about twenty stars to play jacks with?"
-Dandelion Cottage (a lovely children's novel by Carol Watson Rankin)]

for one coconut cake from the 1950s
with its solo ornamental maraschino,
I would give a kingdom.

or for a german chocolate cake
from 1961; perhaps, a few jacks
glinting in the sun,

the porch we played on.
or, better, the batters all put by,
the lemon meringue

the chocolate ice box pie.

No! Wait!
a princess gown, a real one
straight from Fairyland

embroidered with the strands
of all roses;moss velvet leaves.
a sliver of moonlight,

wedding cake wise.and underneath all these,
a cracker jack surprise?

eclairs,eclairs, a crystal stair...

but we delayed too long
in the wishing time machine
and woke up suddenly

from a really good

mary angela douglas 28 march 2016

Hill Top Again

it's the unfinished worlds they declare finished
that rankle the most
chains cranking in the night

must be somewhere they need to get to
never oiling their machines
would it be seemly to fade into

the slim branching February
of your violet dreams
if to be far from them?

whether or not,ready or not,
and after deep snows descend;

in our cherry bright scarves-

like children at the top of the hill,
here we go!

mary angela douglas 28 march 2016


you must learn a thing they cannot teach you
hammering it home in the stifling classrooms
or under the skies without a sun

you must turn inside out your pockets
to those so proud of coins
to prove to yourself

it's not you they mean to call on
but the one behind you.
it's not far, the place where you'll

be welcomed; into the books you plunge
as into water, the sky at night
what's left of twilight

after they've finished with it.

mary angela douglas 28 march 2016


they wrote of their arroyos
I fled cactus stung waiting for
all the flowers to bloom at

the same time.became interminable.
if it's not your desert
you shouldn't be there

a something acerbic hummed
along the wires and where
the dust settled, but not

in desert winds you trudged along
yes you, the one reading the poem

and you'll know what I mean
when I say that for sure
they were never

singing your song.

mary angela douglas 28 march 2016

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Could We Like Clouds, Float Over

could we like clouds, float over
chagall like above all circumstance
and would then the piano turn bright

green the screen door let the clouds in?
it is late.
the musicians tune on board for the

last time so it seems
above deck we fall in love with God
more quietly than before

and gleams from afar float across
your nightime vision violet in the waning
while no children keep score.

but somewhere we may unlatch the sky
and somewhere we'll find
that when we die

it wasn't really dying,
it was flying over.

mary angela douglas 27 march 2016

Fizz Out;Not The Fourth Of July

[to Ray Bradbury long ago, on a fire balloon night
with his Grandfather...]

fizz out bad firecrackers, in the long grass
you who wanted to see some trouble
come to pass

and brought your own flashlights to the
children who sense you coming
hide under the underpass of God

and let the trucks roll over.
you think it's all clover now
you've got whole worlds

under your thumb and that
we're on the run as if we
were your shadows, retinue.

chew toys.

but you don't view like the birds do
taking in the whole scene.
there's Someone with a heavier footfall

on the way whose keen
to confliscate your bag of tricks
your snaps and wicks

and oh, by far

He's a bigger candle than you are.

mary angela douglas 27 march 2016

To The Desecrating Hordes

scarring the face of Mary once again
what harm can you do to her now
that Christ has met his end

and overcome the wounding Worm

and suffered before her eyes
before the mocking crowd
the baby she held against her

heart, and in her arms from every worldly dart defending.
how would you be mending that, would you?
her heart I mean is scarred beyond

all superficial harm you might inflict
on her image. so there's no recompense.
think on yourselves: what kind of heroes

let the light out of the sky

and darkness in.

mary angela douglas 27 march 2016

Tears Like Rains Will Wash Away

tears like rains will wash away
wash away the stones
the jagged moments we

bruised our feet on those
and could not again, then

tears like rains will sweep by
the boats, the little boats that foundered
on the sea of dreams and you will

weep but it will count as silver to you
and the coinage under the door to
the garden where

Alice reposed
wondering at what, o what
had she passed through?

tears like dews on the flowers in the painting
you will find in the corners of your eyes
and go out into another sunrise

outside the museums where
all Beauty lies
before you, crowned with ribbons

of the May.
and on the pavements
under the stars

mary angela douglas 27 march 2016