Saturday, October 29, 2016

How Will I Make The Song Outlast My Heart

to Rainer Maria Rilke

[on the Rilke translations of M.D. Herter Norton and J.B. Leishman]

how will I make the song outlast my heart
perhaps he cried
but song in the mirror quested continually,

the reverse

in fragments almost breaking into fire
or like small forest pools
and the moss besides,

their least token beckons.

rose petal from the rose tree ingathered;
far from the field itself,
the wind, unearthly desire

has lost its way, strayed into the branches
where the far flung birds are caught
and then depart,

departing never
their singing in the heart.

mary angela douglas 29 october 2016

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Perhaps There Will Be Ships In The Afternoon

perhaps there will be ships in the afternoon
with the shuttered light appearing on
the open page

of the book you wanted to read
and it will slip from your hands
when the old ghosts grieve to

gather roses from your side,
the tides of white and gold.
or will they hide

and you will go out
to look for them in the yard
having misplaced something

with a forgotten name
with the zinnias at their zenith and you,

desultory, the old wounds awakening.
but in the palace

for this instant only
a rose light abides
as it did at your beginning.

the courtiers awaken

and you are the newfallen bride
covering the orchards
with the snows of bright surmise

or the ship that floats above us all now
through a beaded treetop's door
and from earth's winters flying

that they may strive
no more

mary angela douglas 27 october 2016


I remember the flight from the dance floor, the waltz
suspended the chimes suspended and the
flight of time-

in the outer air, the snows, the waltz suspended
the angels flowing when you thought it was
the stars, the flight of the stars and the

april nights. the april nights branching
and from them
a music richly unannounced and in a dress of white

you mingle with what is left of light

and you are streaming, caught in the dreamworks
and the children's rhymes.
I remember the flights she cried from the dance

floor, the bouquets of gold tossed aside-
in haste, the dream floating toward the exits
toward the air, foaming with stars

the velvet recriminations
heard from afar
but near, and nearer,

the pale green voice of God

mary angela douglas 27 october 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Beautiful World Has Gone We Never Said

the beautiful world has gone we never said to ourselves
except when we were alone
and the clouds of cold came out

of our mouths instead of the words
lined in gold
at the school bus stops

and in our pale galoshes
pearl dimmed coats.
and dimming are the rooms we knew

and the violets strewn

the remnants of our flower chains
and classroom disdain
grows stronger.

how will we white with frost
begin to count the cost
who have barely begun

counting at all.
we are small in our cherry velvet
said the young queen

half in and half out of the fairy wood
I will, I will be good.

mary angela douglas 25 october 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Book Of What Is Left

the book of what is left
you've only just started
please feel new

let snows descend on you
refreshing, peppermint ensconced
and looking glass polished

apple bright
may you delight
as if delight were

your first word
in the New Year
and you are turning

the leaves of the book
of what is left
and the wind rustles the

pages suddenly tinged in green
and what is left=
is Everything!

mary angela douglas 24 october 2016

Theories Of Time In The Ice Cream Shoppe

[to the twenty seven flavors I passed by and
to my Grandfather, Milton B. Young]

I wanted to think through my theories of time
in the ice cream shoppes (you know,
and research there)

was it lemon stick in the Howard

Johnson's lodge, or black cherry vanilla
vanilla and were the skies deep turquoise
and the trees rimmed with jack o'lantern orange

as in a picture postcard where it all matches?
everyone has family vacations
says the world and the kids at school  but I don't listen

I'm in my own time loop festively
with my Grandfather when he
asks so benignly and I'm sure

nowhere else to anyone else ever
in any other universe;
are you sure you want lemon stick again?

mary angela douglas 24 october 2016

Where Things Turn To Gold Of Their Own Accord

I dreamed of forgotten books and cried
that I could not carry them they slipped through
and none to help

and I awoke looking to see
some evidence of a way to find them awake
alas, there was none

but me to know how tangibly they shone
how near at hand in my dream land
breaking apart so naturally

like clouds on an overcast day,
or my sister's arpeggios in the long ago.
all this was where? I hear sad scoffers say

and I reply if I may

where things turn to gold of their own accord
and not, this striving after, this continual competition
for the cracker jack prize

it just occurs without your thinking, you know,
like light on the waves, or on september days
the lemoning of leaves

and there you are.
the books were shining too.
the ones I couldn't rescue

the ones you never knew.

mary angela douglas 24 october 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

Grandmother Explains "Paprika" To Us At The Kitchen Table

the way she pronounced paprika
we imagined it a red flower,
colored very red by bearing down

hard on the crayon, a lipstick colour!
or a paper lantern at a party
or to be put in a jewelry case

with pink pearls in the topmost section
strangely gleaming.
paprika from foreign ports

part jewel, a hybrid star
punched out of a cardboard puzzle
to find out where you are

in a dizzy universe
can you guess? or is it
a beautiful dress put by

for a princess in disguise
all shimmer and net, we won't forget
paprika paprika paprika we

sang in our room outloud

dismissed from the kitchen table supper
forever forever we vowed to be "now on"
twirling and twirling like the jewel box

we knew that we were 
because of paprika, suddenly,

uttered like a magic word.

mary angela douglas 21 october 2016

A Ghost Story For Mr. Barrie

[to J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, Mary Rose...]

the filagree of Time dismantled
and the mists and not, the action rising,
the character of

mist, the voice in mist,all flower=in=a=mist
the chime-and then, gone,

disappearing then, chiming
Somewhere Else someone else
declaring undying

love but the gold of syllables flake off
into...the memory of doves
of the perhaps snows and the rooms snowing

singeing the silvers of words
of the possible impossibles
and what if it dissolves at night? 

the window is open and the

night air, the night air
the curtains billowing
but whose are they,

the children, when you turn your back
close your eyes or open them again,
then dreaming is everywhere,

nowhere on the tracks as expected
there we were
with our best handkerchiefs waving goodbye

consorting with ghost ships, walking the planks

with the painted moons in our eyes or

in between,entr'act, la sylphide through the trees
never nearer,almost, clearer,
looking back on the ballets

o! and all the orchid ways
at the islands slipping from the maps
all schoolroom wrapped

whenever you take up the book
and read the page
you thought you had

finished, look

it is never finished
we are never finished

mary angela douglas 21 october 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Dream Of The Novel

the dream of the novel was to 
have resembled lilac:
fragrant, at the open page

as loved by the children as Springtime.
the dream of the novel
was to have snowed all day on the boulevards

along the shaded ways
making it doubly cold or
to fountain to fountain 

words toward the skies
and then, to cascade downwards-
to be filled with a birthday surprise

or two, an april melange of colours,

intimations so the readers
huddled in the kitchens,
at the failing stoves

would not consider it firewood,
would keep the heart aglow
through the earth's long Winter

of forgetfulness
of the literary climes,
of the inward blossoming of cherry

or of lime...

so it dreamed.
and so it was.

mary angela douglas 20 october 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Where She Left Her Eyeglasses

[to my sister Sharon who knew all the best secrets first]

the crystal encrusted the enjeweled skies...
on saturdays in our cotillion dresses,
likewise, we wore starry

chiffon, with beaded tops
and velveteen flats.
its the flats and sharps of the

dancing schools reprised
that we knew then, the surprise
birthdays in the middle of the weeks

the after school treasures we hunted
through the house
while Grandmother gave lessons

the eternity of music to the neighborhood children
that lingers like her blue grass perfumes,
little crystal flasks where you withdrew

quicksilver princess of the nooks and crannies,

the old bureau drawers and the
aqua escritoire,
how you always knew

where she last left her eyeglasses
as if you were some magician.
having rummaged through all her hatboxes

in the afternoons.

mary angela douglas 19 october 2016

Were You

were you writing on the page of crystal
the whole time, even without knowing
and your eyes widening

took in too much light
so that you overflowed?
old stories told again are new

and fresh as each subsequent snow
they drift inside of you
dreaming, the apples cold,

the apples gold and stowed away
on paper doll rainy days
we unpacked our treasures

unfolding the theatre
cardboard winding stairs.
above them the painted moon

silk screened in lemon,

o Juliet, balcony fastened
do not breathe, Briar Rose
among the paper trees

until the evening air
is laden with stars.

mary angela douglas 19 october 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Music Box

[in memoriam, Dr. Robert J. Connelly, 1939-2016]

is everything meant to stop, then start again
like a music box repaired how could I wonder
when you had gone and there was no more rewinding;

at the edge of autumn edged in a pain fine as gold
because it was yours and the way cleared.
is this where the cacti bloom I thought

in my room hearing news you had died.
what's death you always asked each classroom day
through intimation or indirection's way

and praised our poetry, the small steps
we took with a gladdened look.

you lived when we bent our heads in the sunlight,

your students
who couldn't comprehend yet
the truth there was in books

raveling out into the yard.

now you are There

and know what we learned to think of
at odd moments perhaps
more than before, in full.

more than ever now I seem to know
we never lose consciousness, grief or joy
stepping from gold to a finer gold refined

at our appointed hour.

mary angela douglas 16 october 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Over Spoken Word

let the spoken word pour into the deserts
beyond the absurd, fractured-
the belligerent kingdoms

as if it were water.
or sway, hardly bent by storms and false alarms,
charming, yet tensile Tree

diverting us from the Flood.
it has been written in blood
by those who would not sell it out;

where are their histories now?

speak into a cloud,
a leaf, a forgotten wave
before street speech miscued

or the garish,misconstruing
carry it away:
shot down from the skies,

oh jeweled bird my Word my foreign star;
my fallen angel, phoenix, marred

mary angela douglas 15 october 2016

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Real Poetry Is A Haunted House

[to Edith Sitwell]

real poetry is a haunted house
said the princess. looking over her shoulder;
drenched in the fabled rains.

"who among all these ghosts,"
cried she (at the clavichord formerly)
in her last velvets, reverie-

"could not help but be
numbered among the musical,
I ask Thee".

oh stand in the castle door;
that's all that's left
besides the wild grasses.


whispered the Princess
and none to hear.
"real poetry is the haunted house"

she murmured to leafmold
and to the ancient spores;
the stars swung in

their windy chandeliers=
and none, and naught to fear-

"the saints must live in,
or else, turn, out of doors".

mary angela douglas 13 october  2016

P.S. This poem was written when an obscured (as the moon is obscured by clouds) fragment of Emily Dickinson's line half floated in, with me knowing only someone somewhere said something related to this. It is a musical transposition of it. The line from Emily is:

“Nature is a Haunted House - but Art - a House that tries to be haunted.” —Emily Dickinson

Well, her poetry was always haunted; she didn't have to try though she was too modest to realize or say that. The poem is dedicated to Edith Sitwell because the music of it and the odd imagery resembles that period of her poetry that seemed to be coming from a different century or even speaking from an ancient tapestry on a moldy castle wall and also was written under the influence of two documentaries I saw of Irish and Scottish castles recently with the living images of ruins in some cases, only the door and a few walls left of the original structure, and the weeds grown up around this. I also thought of Hans Andersen's The Princess and the Pea as it is sometimes theatrically presented with the Princess showing up at the castle door pre-test having walked through soaking rains.

Since That Afternoon

so it's you that will stand on the balcony
your shadows made of tinsel
mouthing the words to the song;

glistening the melody
so that others who are listening
listen in on your dreams

unconscious they have mined
a seam of gold.
and will it be the window of rose

when I look out the child in you
longs to say.
or let it be silver, the light

flittering down like glitter snow
and you and I are in the dome
as if it were Christmas suddenly

so long as it's you,
your tinseled shadows appearing
banishing fear as though

you had been an angel
for a very long time
and not only since yesterday,

in the afternoon

mary angela douglas 13 october 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016


the mist falls and then fills the winds
and I have traveled back again
after the rose red bordered hem.

and all our songs trail off into
the clearing long ago he knew
when coming to the ford of Time

and casting Ireland into rhyme.
oh, all is lost to win again
the mystery of the red rose hem.

though earth flies in her winter sleep,
we still may sow where he had reaped
the after times he dreamed of then

with the white swans rising, after all.
mary angela douglas rev. 7 october 2016

Saturday, October 08, 2016


who could forsake this shining hour
sang roof to table
and bird to tree

in the garden of green fantasie
on the porch where we had ice cream
covered in fudge

and would not could not
hold a grudge
in the cherry sprung day

where we loved to play
with the sandbox pail
and the tea set dolls

and watch the roses bedeck
the walls and live the stories
not merrily read

and laugh so long
at the word succeed
caught by surprise

in the seesaw breeze
when all we needed to do
was breathe

the air of heaven
come down to earth.

mary angela douglas 8 october 2016

Friday, October 07, 2016

We Will Start Over

we will start over.
writing our words in chalk.
breaking off in mid sentence.

begin again.
go back to the first measure, metronome,
conscience, word, dream;

the colour green bubbling up from the springs.
and this is sun,
occluded skies, unconcluded Everything-

and tangerine peel and what you feel
when the earth is damp
after spring rains

in a bright country
first day of school
the ruled paper

fresh out of the pack.

mary angela douglas 7 october 2016

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

The Wright Brothers Raid The Kitchen Drawer, December 1903

using what was plausible, we didn't make much progress.
but there was magic in the little things:
cast off finery,multicoloured strings, the skeletons of kites

and budding twigs.the gumdrop rings, the wisp of clouds
reflected in the drains; the costume brooch without its pin
old pencil leads on days it rained

and then: old wishes long forgot, forget me nots knotted up

with pennants from Arthurian Towers,
valentine bowered, the mislaid hours
and telegrams, and garlanded,

the autographs of friends in the long ago
too sepia toned. Christmas gift wrap rewrapped,
ghost ship manifests...old kitchen mop, golden

cough drop, cabinet spice twice as nice;
lingered on for years, the panoply
of childhood tears with their candied rewards.

marbly things in jars, the medals from the war, the
whirligig scars, and ice cream bars...
paint from old toyshop windows, glue from gilt stars

pasted down,the startle of gold leaves released
in november winds and then blue jay feathering it
beach day weathering it

you said to yourselves on a day
of Christmas pageant wings and wonderings,
oh I believe

soon we will fly like the leaves...

mary angela douglas 4 october 2016

For The French Majolica Plate With Or Without Strawberries

perhaps you were painted for the Queen of Summer
in the dead of winter
so she wouldn't feel nostalgic

for the bright teas under the shade trees,
the little cakes.
for she had far to go

in a cherry frock with lace of snow
a petticoat, little shoe of pale blue satin.
oh could you break in two

would you be her heart
in pieces of french majolica?
on the shores of a kingdom

partial to strawberry vines.
let it be written in dust
on the neglected pianos

by those in slightly modern times

that she sang like a thousand larks
or like the summer rains
and cherished strawberries overmuch,

overipened, with cream or without
and served on French Majolica.

mary angela douglas 4 october 2016

Monday, October 03, 2016


requiem for the end of a line, break for the snow covering all
the white space engulfing the end of the line
the pause the caesura my little one rest at the end of

the measure

an end to singing and breathing on our own

mary angela douglas 3 october 2016

Sunday, October 02, 2016

On The Mirrors of Arvo Part And His Departure

yesterday you wrote
inscribed and ever inscribing
in the pooling of mirrors

crushing the kaleidoscopic colours
of feelings past music into an undiscovered realm
or as if angelic beings held enormous

mirrors reflecting music back
from its beginning in a universe
we could not know or forgot that we knew

or were we driven in fear from the yard of gold
by the dogs with eyes as enormous as teacups, windmills
in a neighborhood of sounds distressed
compressed our hearts, boiling with the lids on tight

so that you alone guessed and then took note
in notes as rare as certain birdsong at night
did you wake to hear? sheer

refractions of the rose, the violet, the forest shards
ah children turn again, you whispered, Christmas uncle
that you are

and then it works

the battered toy, the hidden borealis, star
no longer receding

and in your midnight watches so composed
beyond the guarded borders of our sighs
of the whirling angels, list! that we all stood still

a kind of requiem in ourselves
weeping that this music filled
an ache in the soul
never before comprehended

mary angela douglas 2 october 2016;rev.23 january 2018