a bundle of poems

by margueritte



for john ashery

who opened my brain to other


The old lady has been dumped by her lover, Death, and she is pissed. Left alone at the altar, she sings these songs of emptiness, like Dido abandoned by Anneas in Purcell's opera. And even though she's in the Arizona desert instead of a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, she can "hear the ocean roar through her body." They are songs of absence; absence not only of death, but also of love ("an hallucination"), belief (which "ended when she did not die" at the time she had predicted), hope ("because no mother watched over her"), mobility ("Goddess of Painful Knees"), memory ("she has forgotten de Maupassant!"), and now even her view of the mountains from her house, cut off by a neighbor who "eats with the devil" and "sleeps with the devil's mistress."

Okay, so the old lady is not as forgiving as Dido. But her songs are as beautiful. Age may have deprived Margueritte of many things, but it hasn't diminished the magical ability of her words to reveal the beauty in loss. She seems to have that unconscious "knowing deep in the bone," as Cormac McCarthy wrote in Cities of the Plain, "that beauty and loss are one." Similarly, as the "wretched old lady" hobbles further from health and youth, her fingers "no longer dancing over the strings" of her guitar, she also seems to glide closer to the wild creatures, the rabbits, the crows, the vultures, the juncos, deer, wolves, pumas and coyotes of the desert, "where only the wild beast / has a clear conscience." She receives an oracle from Mister Toad: "a glimpse of anger in his eye / shrinks our quest for a fortuitous / jaunt on this planet; this time;; / it's too late"...

It's almost as if the spirit of the desert, the Earth Mother maybe, identifying with the old lady, has chosen this New York City girl as her amanuensis. After getting this last bundle of poems back from the printer and reading them over, Margueritte wrote to me that they were better than she remembered, and "Who the fuck writes these lines?"

Warren Criswell, Jan. 2018


cosmic consciousness

the old lady, not exempt from pain,
hides in the body of a cello;
she grabs wildly at tremulos;
at the haunting moans of a basso;
grabs for the eyes of the man
dragging his soul across the strings
that are not his strings; on loan,
he makes the best of it;;
she's joining the celestrial heirarchy,
the seraphim, whose function is
contemplation; she wishes to transform
human banality into the rigor of dust
traveling a road (whirled by the wind);
or a woodpecker pounding an aged oak,
a dove that sucks the fountain dry;;
she sees herself as a particle accelerator
speeding up stars; or dark matter;;
she is her body's hostage;
somebody, please sing her a song of relief,
so she can fly free of cantankerous shackles.



I stopped somewhere, waiting for you
Walt Whitman

lacerated angel (from an infant's diary)

she was told the light of the moon
was more awesome than the sun,
so she crawled to the moon;
if she could, she would run toward
the moon, keys shimmering in the light;;
a child-hand passes softly
over the high cheek-bones
of a Russian mother (who never
touched her);; the absence of touch
is today an ambiguous wound;
while rocked by the river's undulations,
light was torn from every incarnation;
not a whisper, not a hint of the contradiction
of rocking house; of terror;
she sleeps on the glass surface of the Hudson River;
(memory of the river more vivid than love)
today she knows we need error
to make a moment collectable;;
the junco, empty of soul
lies dead on the path;
she covers it with leaves
to assure a precious moment of departure.


"And great wings beat above us in the twilight and the great wheels of heaven bore us together."
Ezra Pound 1915

corpus luteum

she was quite comfortable
in her cloak of arrogance;
some say it's a defense mechanism;
(people like to say things); but
arrogance was a tool the old lady
used to pry people off their asses,
to rest on the eye-lid of a weeping sun;;
more important was how the deer
managed to cross before the dog saw it;
the same for the javelina who crossed
an entire family, unseen by a dog
that sees everything;;
she knows this is not a village to die in
(where only the wild beast
has a clear conscience);
it wants nothing more than a meal;
the kill; and a safe lair;
it does not seek extravagance;;
it is all coming to an end;
a few drops more of rain
roll off the roof onto the arugula;
all the old lady believed, ended
when she did not die;
she disbanded the herd;
(even the instinct, extinguished);
in truth, she never had it;
she did not take part in "belong to";
was separate from;
comfortable with
the softness this brought to her;
her mind was sometimes like lace
with thoughts slipping through loops;
Morris Heights; University Heights;
Marble Hill; Riverdale; Ludlow;
Yonkers* appear as painted clowns;;;
polish the silver; remove the cob webs;
a poet is coming for dinner.

(*train stations along the Hudson River after leaving NYC)

wretched old lady! fool!
she has forgotten de Maupassant!
she cannot describe the sunset
though it burns up the west horizon;;
the vultures have rented her wings
leaving her temporarily immobilized;
she thinks she looks down
upon her own corpse;
(it is merely a bird
with the face of a woman);
poor puppets, cannot function
without strings; she worries
about the puppets too;;
she's broken herself open
so often that the seams are frayed;
keeps renovating her soul
(outside of scripture);;
we, who are there, know old age;
know about bravery; just wait, it's
a-comin'; you won't be singin' halleluja;
like the title, this too,
may be an exaggeration;;
the good part is the big sky;
nobody has taken it away;
and the mountains! Majestic!



"Pain is the custodian of our undiscovered treasures (needed) to reach the power of our essence."
Dane Rudhyer

come into the light;
let me examine your soft center;
sky and wind will bear witness to the moment;;
she watched a small boy and his taller brother
walk under a cloud (shaped like an H);
the cloud, at first a menacing bear,
surrounded the small boy (crowding essence);
knowing that clouds are unpredictable,
the old lady waited; slowly, the bear
became a chain of larks; a colony of apes;
a murder of crows;; the boy needed
a rallying cheer to escape the blocking
of his brilliance;; one day, when detachment
becomes a virture; when the uncharted
becomes charted; when his brain
(shaped like a magic wand),
can direct the course of the heavens,
he will orchestrate a concerto of his own;
for sure, he will neve become a puppet;;
he knows that bygones become outworn;
must be bagged and dumped;
for he is the rustling leaves that survived winter;
thawed from cold formalities
and mocking the inevitable ash;;
tho' young, he contains the wisdom of ages;
he knows the sky is a gentle old roof,
(continuous and contiguous);
a protection and a guide;
he keeps a small section of that sky
in his back pocket; as a talisman;
(to avert evil; to bring good fortune);
it is simply a bit of splendid Aquarian magic.



just for a moment

Mister Toad, you are ugly
but I like the look in your eye;
remember, even the goose
that laid the golden egg was not perfect;
the padding on her feet
kept her detached from the flow of truth;
she looks out from her nest
understanding less than yesterday;
Listen up! this could be the split second
in which we understand it all;;
the color of his heart is fading;
(the first hint of his duplicity);
a glimpse of anger in his eye
shrinks our quest for a fortuitous
jaunt on this planet; this time;;
it's too late; your flowers cut my heart;
the slice you have taken left a scar (an
embarrassment if seen by the moon);;
the Goddess of Painful Knees
is watching a lizard; the lizard
watches the old lady; neither could move;
the smaller one, because of its size,
is frozen with fear; the old one, in plain
wonder at the size of the little guy;
his brilliance in the sun; the sheer bravery
there, clinging to hot stones;
yesterday, she watched a wild rabbit
run between the hind legs of a mule;
These are the Moments;;
she cannot get rid of the sight
of Ezra Pound locked in a cage, writing,
O woe, woe /People are born and die /
We also shall be dead soon / Therefore
let us act as if we are dead already.

See what I mean!




laughter too

no longer dancing over strings,
the bones of her fingers tighten;
the tips no longer grasp smallness;
they understand long nights; pain;
her face bruised by the winds;;
bring me roses; red roses; be sure
Ricardo has bread; the piano stays tuned;
mirrored in the sea are ghosts of
things left undone;;
she reigns over stacks of paper,
(blank ones tormenting her);
the wooden box of the confessional,
once comforting, was an hallucination,
as was love;; dignity's trampled,
yet stars remain in all things;;
the old man spoke of a lonesome crow;
(a song perhaps)
she never understood him
(except in retrospective reverie);
their love, the size of a sparrow,
each forgetting birds have wings;;
everything is getting heavier; doors;
confounded windows; even her own feet;
then to meet so suddenly, Intelligence;
sporting a smile that began in Manila
and a brain entwined with hers;
what threw her off balance were their
twin incisors (crooked in the same way)
and breathing patterns similar;;
have we all had our chance now
to divulge our first unhappiness;;
the desert has asked nothing of her
(it's what she likes best
about its diminishing cries);;
there will be nobody on their knees
for the old lady; those she truly loved
were strong and godless;;
she feels hope has vanished; perhaps
because no mother watched over her;
she watches over herelf now that she
has the courage to growl at preditors;
she hears a confusion of bird noise outside;
ah! mockingbirds to remind her of laughter.


wrinkles in time

Nobody here; nobody there;
unless you count the old lady sharing
hot granite with bleached out coyote
bones; the work of a puma, perhaps;
she was receding from her center, slowly;
by now, she's a hidden wrinkle;
beseech her from her silent womb,
she'll pretend to be deaf;;
the others, welded together,
allow no escape; they need the critical eye
whispering ears and a tuba full of lies;
they continue with chatter-boxing;
have placed a basin at the foot of the hill,
to collect suspicions jealousies and lies;;;
how many were there, you ask; four,
counting the old lady; for sure
they've forgotten her; mystery unsolved;
vomit her into the sink; turn on the faucet;
see how easy that was;;
she never did haunt them;
she noticed their discomfort, so disappeared
dragging her weirdo-articulations;
she's not interested in the dominant world;;
nobody has asked her to account for her
bloated cells, where childhood played
hide-and-seek; the past is hopeless;
there's too much of it;
the tread is worn but she's still rolling;
in the end, she gathered a collar bone,
a spine, a long bone from the leg
and a few claws to bolster her ego.



the swan

he stood large and bold
in the center of the road,
cars slowing down to pass;
then he settled into the left lane,
confusing drivers even more;
he stretched his long white neck
(around to the back);
began a meticulous preening;;
the wet snow continued to fall;
he wagged his tail feathers;
shook off the moisture;
he was telling us something
this town had to know;
just how far he'd go to protect
the large circle of grass
that was their nest;;
the next day he stood
in front of the elementary school;
she was off their nest;
I saw four large eggs;
he wouldn't allow this intimacy;
he lifted off; skimmed my head;
joined his mate at the pond,
wings whirring and flapping;
the nest was huge;
I could have slept in it;
he didn't give me that choice.

Falmouth, Cape Cod March 29-30/1990



yes, silence is golden

the hammering started before sun-up;
then a sudden absence of splendor;
two cypress trees, gone;
a long view to the mountains, gone;
instead, slanted beams of a roof
and a man with a hammer,
watching her; this man eats with the devil;
sleeps with the devil's mistress;;
her life as she knew it, gone; (as when
the second plane hit, freedom gone);; *
she ventured out toward the hawk's perch;
to the same bird from a recent dream
who understood her silent wails;
(sacred, sober in flight from cliff
to dusty road); this place belongs to
eagles and hawks; to coyotes, the puma
and small creatures that brave it
across the road as did the tarantula today;
they accept the old lady; understand
the language of silence;
they notice her buoancy has slackened;
that her breath today was labored;
could hear the ocean roar through
her body; knew she could no longer leap
like a frog; knew she would soon disappear
as did the old man, custodian
in charge of the cycles of the moon.




the dimming path

the wolf has not been by for some time;
this left the path dim, even by day;
she depends on his constancy;
loves the way he blew that house down
(with a huff and maybe a puff, they say);;
but she is wedged in by the old lady;
can't shake her off; can push no harder
with her shuffling feet;
each week she gives up another benefit
of the living; tries to tell herself resting's
a luxury; she wants to run up a mountain;
she stops to admire a person walking
(with ease; even jauntingly);;
at 3 am she wanders the house
looking for the golden tree;
silver would do but the dream said, gold;
(specifically, gold);
all she meets are floating bodies;
wake me! I want cranes;
cranes with ruby crowns!
the old man with his walker,
speaks no English; she, no Spanish;
he shows her his face of pain; a face
that mirrors her own miserable slump;;
when the time is right
the cranes will lift off;
head for their frigid home;
she will wave them off;
the delay of her own departure
is a mytery; deplorable;
such rue; such an aching void.



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

collage by margueritte


Copyright © 2018 Margueritte

See also PRELUDIO, an introduction to the poetry of Margueritte



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