a bundle of poems

by margueritte


"If It Be Your Will"

in memory of Leonard Cohen
& his "golden voice" we are all singing. Hallelujah


I was kind of stunned after reading this latest bundle of poems from Margueritte. I guess I wasn't expecting this level of creative energy from the "old lady" in the desert. She's in her mid-80s and must surely be losing it by now, right? Wrong. I was just listening to Itzak Perlman on the radio, talking about Beethoven's violin concerto, how each time he played it he discovered something he hadn't heard before and that that was the mark of a great work of art. He could have been describing these poems.

I've read each one several times, and I'll read them many more times, but I know I'll never get to that final reading where I think, OK, I get it, I understand all these different references, all these different worlds, nothing more to squeeze out of it. All of her poems are like that, but maybe none as fully as these. In this time of winter and white hair, she still threatens to turn off the sun and the moon, with the same audacity as the younger woman who wrote "I refuse to budge; / I'll go it alone, thank you."

That was from Coda, her book of poems from the '90s. In another of those poems she wrote, "just look into my brain once; it is all that I ask". Fascicles III is just such a view. Yes, it's an old brain now, but "it sometimes takes the frailty of old age / to gain strength," she writes. She has somehow elevated her forgetfulness and lameness into things of beauty.

They remind me of my friend David Bailin's erased drawings, a series inspired by his father who's suffering from Alzheimer's. David begins a drawing in charcoal, then wipes it out and draws another image over it, then wipes that out, draws over it, and so on, creating a kind of montage of fragments, ghosts of forgotten images.

Some of these poems are like that. Collages of contradictions: "she no longer tries to solve contradictions;" hymns to absence, "the absence that has tailed her everywhere." A transparent rhino fades to a tree full of birds with exhausted wings, "a familiar half pleasure of sinking." Loose ends are not tied up, no attempt is made to resolve an idea, to identify "who the fuck" is crawling through her veins at night, images are left hanging in the desert or the universe, "there in the throat of a sparrow," and "she doesn't even care."

If, after my first few readings, I had to characterize this whole 2016 bundle, I'd say it's about an epiphany, and the epiphany is that there is no epiphany. On the edge of indecision, she begs for Death's hands, but he turns her down. More poems first, lady. Miles to go before you sleep.

she appreciates the soaring beauty
of the vultures circling her shack

But in the end it's our own brain we're looking into. That's what makes it great art.

Warren Criswell, Dec. 2016


whoever you are

you can't ask this of me,
whoever you are crawling
through my veins at night;
I should be dreaming;
who the fuck are you;
why should I care
what you want of me;;
it's too much I tell you
(the weeds the dust the barking dogs);;
thanks for the big sky
the howling winds the tall grasses
that clean out the sockets of my eyes;
these at least are heart-felt;
these are what the fingers of sight
reach out for, to touch;
like the two seeds you sent...
packed tightly into a juniper cone.


silent wind

the voice of the wind (today)
silent in tall grasses;
nothing happens.
nobody comes,
nobody goes...
last night the light of the moon
threw itself across the valley;
it looked like snow,
but mustard's in bloom
and apricot mallow pushes its way
into Spring (or is this simply a poem);;
they came to measure her ceiling's height;
she wonders does a ceiling exist for her;
they could see her soul
shine out through her left ear
as did the soul of the javelina (yesterday);
they turned their backs on the moon;
she laughed: don't let obscurity detain you;
there are always wings feathers flying leaves;
she's thinking of London;
of the jeweler noticing her jade ring;
of flamenco guitars; dancers;
a simple bowl of rice;
there's no holding down this old mind;
it flits about willy-nilly (without boundaries);
a Saraband joins the Bouree;
Bach would have a fit;;
the Blood Moon managed to unchain
her constipated ennui;
it seems she can fly again.

*Estragon, in Beckett's Waiting for Godot



gangrenous grief

they all seemed to have known each other
as though they grew up together
(like the produce guy and the dairy guy
whose mothers gave birth side by side);
a kind of uninterrupted continuity
as familiar as poles flags and tree trunks
of a certain Italian painter;; *
so much pretext assaults her,
leaving grimacing footprints,
slamming doors and traps to trip over;
even the coyotes fling their souls
against the desert floor; titter when she stumbles;;
his thinking was so akin to her thoughts
it's as though he asked her permission
to formulate his own ideas;
(Nietzsche or Lucretius, for example);;
she wonders which is more hostile...
silence or speaking too softly to be heard;
surprisingly, when the voice shouted,
she did not step up to base;;
it seems she brought the wrong tools
for this planet; at this time; in this place;
she appreciates the soaring beauty
of the vultures circling her shack
and the slow trot of the javelinas
crossing their young on a dusty road;;
light has begun to disengage itself;
the door to emptiness has a loose latch;
she can enter anytime it all comes together;;;
Bella's ashes mix with ancient pottery shards
out there off Old Lonesome Road;
Bo's will rest 'neath the flapping wings of crows
that fly in the shade of San Jose Peak;;
the small grave she discovered in the desert,
circled by its owner's leash and packed with sand,
guards the votive lamp with a burned-out wick.


* Tiepolo



to wrap around thoughts
(for the seekers of enigma)

she wonders about those who give up
before birth; who continue a life in that state,
with the back of Time their last vision;;
at some point the intelligentsia will accept
the magic that can sever light;
who can resist a star out there
where half buried rocks create
more than beds for scorpions;;
should she return; dig it all up again;
has she taken on this body
for the sake of the invisible;
how many times she has awakened
having left behind body
and all else, to sink into hidden;;
so not to slave away in the same place,
she moves; keeps moving
to maintain detachment;
she is both rock and cloud:
her nimble Will hangs from the sky;;
the last time they spoke, they talked of
woodlands deep in snow;
of the tall trees creaking in the wind;
the slow c-r-a-c-k before it falls;
how she can no longer join him on trails
with stones rolling from her grasp;;
sometimes her tongue feels weighted;
refusing to wrap around thoughts;
to create words;;;
the other two (Asians),
are like a bird-couple; inseparable for life;
they are looking down on a fallen nest;
all lumps of broken shells;
the old lady says they are watching themselves
preparing to return; but she's just an old lady;
what could she know.


a turmoil of weeds

a transparent rhino is heading this way;
that horn on its snout does not look friendly;;
someone has carpeted the hills with green velvet;
(a few crazy rocks tear through the softness);
she no longer tries to solve contradictions
but the yellow fields are parched;;
she neglects to water the parsley;
sparrows line up on the fence
expectantly watching her door;
(she's forgotten them too);
she's busy trying to eviscerate the psyche;
not hers; everybody else's;
she's beginning to lose track of herself
(whatever that means);;
she knows how to forget
and does it well; one might say
she is a master of forgetfulness;;
there's the question of whether or not
the scarecrow has a heart;
she thinks it does but has no proof;
she knows for sure that its heart is broken;
a Guatemalan group works to repair it;;
in the howl of a distant twilight
birds crowd the trees with exhausted wings;
the image produces a familiar half pleasure
of sinking; day leaves the sky behind;
she doesn't even care.



remembering genuflexions

the eyes of the wolf cast light on her path
so that soul and poem merge;
(a kind of spontaneous combustion);;
I'll tell you how powerful she is:
she has detached the leaves from trees
(mid-season); with a mere glance;
lost among these leaves,
she travels a shrinking path;
her mind has not vanished
(though she fears it could);;
sometimes she feels the chill
of damp underground passages;
sometimes like a moth afire
in a candle's flame,
she disappears, only to return
as a mis-shapen tree
offered in the light of daybreak;
she offers this tree (herself),
with brown edged leaves;
with a few holes forcing light through
(for a moment of clarity):;
she knows about genuflexions;
tries to remember what she keeps forgetting;;
there too, is the stupidity of incest (non-sexual)
where politeness carries with it
the sign of the cross;;
she has taken a vow of silence;
is cloistered in a cave overlooking
a town that reeks of humanity's jeremiads;
they do not remember the pain as such;
do not dare to hate each other,
but smile and chatter
or speak in innuendoes;
they come and go as though
the comings and goings
were as important as death;
together they will die,
anointed by winged glances
from a grimacing moon.




"Above all, do not mistake me for someone else."

unfinished thoughts made visible

most that is deliverable
is not received; not even sent;;
a lovely and large raven
appeared in a dream
asking for marshmallows
which she fed him; she remembers
a mass of these black beauties
that filled two trees one English morning;
you can imagine the vocals;;
here, the Alamo tree died
without warning in this hour
of the unincorporated;
that night, the flowers
she clutched in the dark
wilted as did the night;;
she had to give up her eyes
so not to see what was there;
her ears left her some time back;
she refused the plastic ears
they are handing out;
they can all simply improve
their diction; look her in the eye;
(though weak) she hears through them
and reads their silent lips;;
now balled up in her fists
are the clipped wings of a wren
who migrated in with a scarred face
and dirt clinging to her wounds;;;
shreds of mist on the highest peaks
will disappear by noon;
it was at this time she encountered
a very young coyote separated
from the pack; they met on a dirt road;
his frightened eyes
begged her to be his mother;
an intense paralysis (for both);
he turned and headed through the brush
toward the highway (looking back once
as coyotes do);
the faces she tries to recall
fade from recognition;
a sensation flits by as a quail at dusk but
the eyes of the young coyote remain
indelibly etched at every turn of her mind...
the young coyote... the very young coyote...



she listens to the wind rushing from her throat;
notices the skin on the tips of her fingers
that draws her to darkness where she sees everything;
she hears the sound of the universe
there in the throat of the sparrow;
in the movement of rose petals as they open;
she easily gets lost in the darkness of her own eyes;
sinks into that darkness where she has seen it all;;
there was an order to take no action but
it is time for adjustments
so answer nothing without her permission;
she said, he's dead, isn't he
or he may have wandered off:
but he was there pilfering her books;
(Philosophical Investigations, gone);;
one cannot refute a toothache,
the decline of a once vibrant body,
nor the vivisection of a windfall;;
she knows a wicked genius
resides in the head of falsehood;
(it may be why the birds wear strange masks);
it may all have been an elaborate practical joke;;
that door was intended for her; it is closing;
it is the time of winter and white hair;
of reading maps etched into the faces of the ageing;
their hands, highways to the unattainable.



full moon in aquarius

for the old lady who writes these poems,
a deep discovery of human pathos came early;
deepened only by the arrival
of her own helplessness;;
you who wear diamonds; you who chatter,
who travel blindly, (not noticing detox centers
for our Native Americans, for example);
you bathe in the heat of a harping sun;
without heroic solitude; without the
"audacity of hope". (Barack Obama)
hope is for those who notice we need hope;;
you've driven her to the edge of the desert;
she's going further; everything feels too near;
they will never come inside her silence;;
she feels her worn-out shadow against the wall
(tired of repeating the image);
she begs you to look at the naked of it all;
to put aside good manners; to look into the eyes
of another; not to smile
but to seek a speck of truth
hidden in the color of the iris;;
"where he seems most to recede from humanity,
he will be found the truest to it"; (Charles Lamb)
there is a nuisance in her lap;
it may sit there to the end; she hopes not;
she will not be conquered 'till she says it all;
truth with its bare teeth, eyes wide open
with no song to distract it; truth that tears apart
the mist of illusion (for some, delusion);;
it is time to re-read Wordsworth;
we remember daffodils but miss much more;
"would he were older", for example;
in the end, it seems he said nothing;
(we must admit he said it beautifully);;
it sometimes takes the frailty of old age
to gain strength;; the doves are building a nest
in the ash tree; so lackadaisically; seemingly
bored except with each other;:
is there sound in the dry bone;
her next task is to dig it out;
she wishes to be unique; a nothing.
and especially without good manners.


"O barest earth like a blade." Yves Bonnefoy

she, who stopped crying years ago
has begun; to cry; not tears of joy
nor of sadness; but of something intangible,
unrealizable; not nostalgia; possibly for all
she had not done when she was able to;
and for the two men who never knew her;
for having missed that when it was there; boldly;
in this year of sad mouths,
she looked to magnolias for comfort;
dreaming of magnolias and roses
(that dared not speak);
the produce man spoke:
but she forgot what he said;
I saw them climb the wall together
(deftly, as does the lizard);
yet they did not speak;
in another dream, a lesser moon
exposed her as shadow;
(an absence of veneration, even consideration);;
grass grows from her mouth; replacing words;
an unutterable vastness sucks her in;
yesterday's unanswered questions
hang in the cool morning air;;
she is thinking again of absence;
the absence that has tailed her everywhere.


fleeting epiphany

in this place she assigned herself,
a full regalia of emptiness
arrived on a wind
laced with torn petals;
the lowering sky obliterates North;
rain will come;
wind will attack the old lady's eyes;
miniature waterfalls will cascade
onto her home-sick shawl;;
sighs coming from the earth
confound her;
she must build special wings
to fly high to fly even higher;;
everything will be fine
as long as your reality
does not impinge on her reality;;
dare me, (she says)
I will turn off the brilliance of the sun;
the light of the moon;;

should she collect the coins
you have dropped (as would a pauper);
I say it is not coins she pursues;
it is the intangible;
the un-hoped for;
the fruit of miracles and
any movement against the current;;
clots of energy have backed up against
a sacrifice about to explode onto stage
(as an epiphany without a script, perhaps);
it exits left stage before the audience gets
how far the old lady has taken this thing.



the fealty of the wolf

she remembers the seven lakes of Yaddo
that fed her when she was hungry;
at the edge of each, she sat scribbling poems;;
she was never connected to the connected world;
she orbited nothing; nobody; she's not sure
what Bach pulled off (according to poet Salamun);
whatever the magic, it kept her in tune with forces
that kept him in and out of tune; when smothered
by contradictions, she suckled the breast of memory
buried in her right ear eye, imbedded in her spine;
she wished for a statue of all this; something indelible;;
it will take the eye of a bird(preferably a hawk)
to see, so to still the fusion of shadows at dusk;
they see but do not know her; it will be blind rumor
that announces her departure from the planet;;
she preferred talking with the wolf;
not the dog she loved and never a cat;
the wolf was patient, and like gloom, steadfast;
perhaps constant would describe the wolf best;
it was the way he clouded oblivion that impressed her;
Naco had knocked her out; she needed distance,
quiet and wind; even a harsh wind would be welcomed;;
she could not count the horns of death
though they were coming more into focus;
she's heading out to the desert once more
to join the lizard; coyote; have a few chickens again;
the excretions of these beasts ran in the blood of her veins;
she asks you not to sneer at her perseverations;
she will not hang up her strings to shrivel in the sun
nor banish the keys that sing to her;;
there will be figs for a feast and a chorus of coyotes
to enliven the evening's edge; she vows to teach
even the most vile of creatures to sing and dance;
the wolf will come by; congratulate this feat;
(he cannot dance); he'll explain in not too vulgar diction
and with allegretto glee that a child could understand,
that she is not brought low by tribulations;
if you could see... if you could see




"...if it be your will..." Leonard Cohen

the black stone (niger lapis)

she's not out there simply selling camels;
she's trying to figure out why she is out there;
right now she is scrutinizing the heavens;
the wonders and mysteries of twilight
when claws of night grab up the softness of it all;
she grapples with the minced-up rubble
that returns as a dream of old ladies
speaking in each other's tongues;
talking of nothing yet able to protest mediocrity;;
wakened by hail beating against glass,
she was at first frightened;
then happy he returned to her in this form;
for a moment she lay mesmerized; heart pounding;
she had not yet mastered the night; its length;
its darkness; its odors lingering in the curtain;;;
the sky has brought the wolves to her;
they sing and play drums,
knowing she will leave soon and will need
an escort of drummers;;
the tongue of the wolf is a kind tongue;
one comes to lick her dangling hand;
he smiled when she smiled;;
at night her severed mind flies on its own;
still able to do simple arithmetic;
still cursing the wind;;
the strange couple, bearded and bangled,
will build a hut for her where the sky
opens to embrace the pain of it all;;
she's got a pertroglyph in her pocket;
wounded, she wanders into night's darkness
with her frozen fingers caressing its roughness;
this somehow gives her the comfort
she's been hungering for.



the reproach

the desert has sucked up my silence,
leaving behind vague argumentative voices;
always pulling some trick to engage silence;
the cypress tree, seducing silence;
beckoning silence to her many branched folds;
(hide-outs for birds);:
now, my silence within; my secret silence,
is attacked by the ridiculous and repetitive
coo of the dove; this, from the place
where cypress taught me to bend with wind;;
O death! take this parched face in your hands;
guard me at this edge of indecision;
what more could you want from me?
more poems; did you say, more poems?






"This year we may need...
to worry less about being nice
and talk more about what it means
to be decent."
11/2016 Emma Roller
NY Times columnist


"...and miles to go before I sleep..."
Robert Frost



You can write to Margueritte at Box 214 Naco, AZ 85620


Copyright © 2016 Margueritte

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