Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The Armadillo
by Elizabeth Bishop
For Robert Lowell

This is the time of year
when almost every night
the frail, illegal fire balloons appear.
Climbing the mountain height,

rising toward a saint
still honored in these parts,
the paper chambers flush and fill with light
that comes and goes, like hearts.

Once up against the sky it's hard
to tell them from the stars—
planets, that is—the tinted ones:
Venus going down, or Mars,

or the pale green one. With a wind,
they flare and falter, wobble and toss;
but if it's still they steer between
the kite sticks of the Southern Cross,

receding, dwindling, solemnly
and steadily forsaking us,
or, in the downdraft from a peak,
suddenly turning dangerous.

Last night another big one fell.
It splattered like an egg of fire
against the cliff behind the house.
The flame ran down. We saw the pair

of owls who nest there flying up
and up, their whirling black-and-white
stained bright pink underneath, until
they shrieked up out of sight.

The ancient owls' nest must have burned.
Hastily, all alone,
a glistening armadillo left the scene,
rose-flecked, head down, tail down,

and then a baby rabbit jumped out,
short-eared, to our surprise.
So soft!—a handful of intangible ash
with fixed, ignited eyes.

Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!
O falling fire and piercing cry
and panic, and a weak mailed fist
clenched ignorant against the sky!

One Art

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Casabianca


Love's the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite "The boy stood on
the burning deck." Love's the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.

Love's the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love's the burning boy.

- Elizabeth Bishop

Friday, June 13, 2008

A poem in response to Dorothy Allison's essay: A Question of Class.


For Dorothy.


Courage, humor and love
Simply disappear
In the politics of They.

Despair must be lived
In a world that despises the weak.

They who hold dominion
Overcome and deny.

The impulse to forget/remember
Those who disappear into:
One pair of eyes
One set of hands
--Heard by no one.

Our tears form the groundnotes
In the howling cadence of
What will not change
In the nightmare world of We.

Courage soul: learn to wield.

~Karen Joyce

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Something else...too

Something else...too
You were in a dream last night.
It was a rich one with lots of color, images and textures.
It startled me but then I am not surprised.

I've expressed myself over that last two years through metaphor and poems, images and words.
But still do not feel understood or heard.


Like you said once, maybe it was the longing that was the gift.
Only my heart doesn't know the difference and for me it wasn't 'just longing'.

It was real enough.


I don't know why you want to come and disturb what's left.
The time capsule that you want to paw through, dissect or update with your 'list of things'

-Or take trophy for your new life....

For me there is only more breaking.

- Karen Joyce 2008