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Working on a new poem. This is too long and it’s a draft. But in honor of April being National Poetry Month, I’m trying to keep up with Mike Dockins’ plan to write a bunch of poems this month. So, here goes.

                                                  Hiding Juniper

Would it be a nightmare if I dreamt
I climbed upstairs, my grandparents’
Old yellow farmhouse, where I spent
Vacations and holidays in childhood,
Played board games and invented
Some of my own; knew the secret
Hiding places: Nana’s sunny ledge
A pocket amidst the juniper hid us
She pretended to be an owl, eyes
On the birds all around her, and I,
A little fox, bounding and blonde,
Skirting the fields and meadows,
Beyond their borders into moss
Havens, emerald rock shadows.

Nana brought me on the odd errand,
Trips to the “Stump Dump,” or attic,
Crossing a stream, or walking Sally,
Their yellow lab-retriever, whose
Antics included a wide sheepish
Grin, when embarrassed, down
The Woodman Road to Uncle John’s
House. We’d push the drawbridge
Upward, to enter the attic—full of
My mother’s memories, four decades’
Worth: the Nancy Drew collection,
Paper dolls (I added to the designs),
Sewing baskets, the one scary box
With the green rubber spider mask
(The precise location of which,
I was all-too aware), and full jars:
Coveted crashed glass marbles
In a spectrum of colors I liked—
Blues, greens, pinks and purples.

Would it be a nightmare, if instead,
I mounted the stairs and found: parked
At the top, your grey Toyota 4Runner,
Its front end blocking the attic door,
My escape hatch in any dreamscape,
No matter the origin, or fear, I fled
From monsters or unknown enemies,
And found my way to Nana’s secret
Hiding places: the juniper ledge,
Mossy Stump Dump, or the attic—
Especially the attic, where she once
Described a “safe room” that Grampa
Engineered: a sliding wall, or partition,
That offered a place to hide valuables
And their children, if ever necessary.
Contrary to this, my mother told me
That I imagined this, that the hidden
Room did not exist (except in Nana’s
Over-active imagination). She and I,
Both dreamy Pisces, also both had
Mercury in quirky Aquarius, Venus
In feisty Aries and nature-loving
Earth moons. So, I don’t doubt,
Nana and I conjured safety
In the simple architecture
Of our bond, hand-in-hand,
An automatic intimacy,
Hiding in the juniper.

Would it be a nightmare, if I told you,
I was frustrated to see your silver truck
Parked in my path to the attic stair,
Something, or someone, slammed
A door downstairs, in my dream,
Your truck fit in the doorframe
Of my grandparents’ bedroom.
I could not maneuver around it.
Suddenly, I found myself running
Down the hall toward the fire
Escape, only to end up in the garage.

A young man in a plaid shirt and cap
Leaned over sundry yard equipment,
He held a weed whacker in his hands,
Examining the controls. Fearing that
He would cut off my arms with it, and
Seeing nowhere to hide, I searched
For a weapon to defend myself,
As I might in any other nightmare.

I crouched low to the concrete floor,
Studying a chainsaw that resembled
My vacuum cleaner; its cord wrapped
Around an attachment, but I trembled,
Terrified, not knowing how to wield it.
Then, jean-clad shins and hiking boots
Appeared in front of me, knobby hands
Held out at his sides, an offer? A threat?
I picked up the chainsaw and pushed
It hard into his legs out of self-defense
And ran out through the open bay,
Out onto the dirt driveway. I mapped
Diversion tactics to no avail and he
Caught me by the hand, and carried me
To the 4Runner, which was now sitting
Where it belonged, realistically.

He put me in the passenger seat.
My dream self slumped, played dead,
Like one might do with a grizzly bear,
So he’s less inclined to kill (or eat).
The dream guy steered and talked,
His voice muffled (I was dreaming)
And handed me a bag he’d packed:
My odd childish hobbies, favorites,
Heirlooms, romantic novels,
The right cosmetics.

Would it be a nightmare, or
A wonderful dream, if he were real,
If this happened, and the helpful
Man with knobby hands came
For me, and found my hiding spots,
Parked his chariot by the drawbridge,
Took the time to meander awhile
In meadows while I slunk afoot
Lichen-covered granite ledges,
A blonde fox in the juniper.

For G. 

LCS

 

Poet’s note: This brings a conclusion to my role in the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge to raise funds for the literary press. But there is no time limit or deadline on making a donation. If you come across these posts after January 2014, please do consider making a donation to the nonprofit literary press. Readers may also want to see the work of the other poets participating in the challenge on a month-to-month basis. Their work, and more about the project, can be found here.  Thank you all for reading!

A Finger in Every Pie

For months, since July, I keep dreaming of a muscular guy
Who wakes me up talking; I see strong-willed arms wrap,
The kind with sleeves like loosely-rolled maps, ‘round my
Waist. He’s brought a chair (literally, it’s a ladder-back)
He collects furniture and information—a curious mind.

With each segment of the dream, I get an added sense
Of who he is, but not superficially speaking. I can feel
That he radiates warmth like a woodstove, an intense
Drive, deep and unwavering affection; it seems real.
Not one to be pushed around, he’s got presence.

By morning, I remember words exchanged
In my dream (he comes alive one-on-one); for
Example, he talks of how he would rearrange
The world, and he defends opinions with ardor.
I love a good mystery; he’s a problem-solver.

Other people move around us in this recurring dreamscape,
If they get too close, he gets cagey; the familiar—that’s
What he values most: constancy. When we make our escape,
Onto side-paths, if we’re stopped, he’s an artful negotiator,
Adept at fitting in (where I stand out), he loves a debate.

In fact, it seems to me, based on vague interpretations,
This man invests pride in his work, an interruption of his will,
Restless, a veritable expert at smoothing over altercations,
With a mischievous humor, well-developed sense of smell
And easily bruised ego, leonine and loyal in his actions.

In my dreams, I feel whiskers tickle the nape of my neck,
He craves intimacy, calm energy and doesn’t chase me;
Instead, he makes slow, deliberate advances, little checks
To mark his progress; a stubborn streak, natural-born vitality,
What qualities draw me to him—headstrong and passionate.

The dream man is full of contradictions, e.g. deeply
Rooted in his comfortable lair, his instinctual thirst
For safety and all that’s earthy—he learns quickly,
Perseveres; but he’s changeable, easily immersed
In the news of the day, odd people and water.

When I look down to examine his hands, I see the fiery lines
Hard-scrabbled and stable, his love for adventure, the outdoors,
An ability to handle equipment, gear of all kinds, the art of tying
Flies to fine fishing line. His agile fingers lead a sensual tour.
But for all I know, outside of dreams, he’s got a finger in every pie.

                                                                                

                                                                          ~Leah C. Stetson

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New Moon Tiger

When I was little, big cats were my favorite.
I liked nature programs on PBS, picture books
Depicting lions, tigers, cheetahs, and ocelots.
Once, a panther prowled through our yard
We looked out through the windows (my cat,
And I, safely inside) at the predator, whose
Shoulder blades worked like perfect gears.

Now I keep dreaming of tigers, the great
Healers of the animal kingdom. My dream
Dictionary tells me tigers represent innate
Feminine power, raw emotions, intuition,
The ‘shadow part’ of me, and sensuality,
My will-power, courage and strength.
She symbolizes ‘yin’ and moon energy.

In my dream, I walk beside her, this bengal
Tigress, black-striped, electric-wiry orange
Fur swallows my fingers as I pet the beast.
She chuffs, ears pricked and muscles flexed
We are hunting –primal instincts act fast.
Our taut muscles hold quiet power; in tune
With the mangrove, the dream-jungle forest,
Nature’s rhythms, my lineage, acute senses.

According to Chinese wisdom, the female tiger
Comes to the mystic dreamer on a vision quest
She casts dark moon spells and augers fertile
Desires in a ferocious-hearted breast; a spirit
Animal like this, gnashes her teeth, a vital
Sign, secretive and solidified—these truths
Tell a deeper story—how to trust, how to fight.

I was born the wintry month of water tigers,
The daring daughters of the zodiac, often
Found among extremely prolific writers.
She remains calm, swims through calamities
An appetite for life and a long polished tail,
Her coping mechanism, and it’s a good one
Triggers hidden aggression, coaxes the male
Rolls around for three days of mating rituals.

When I wake from the recurring dream, I realize
There was no danger; I was unafraid of the tiger,
Unpredictable she may be, I know she personifies
My spontaneity and super-adventurous vigor;
Sure enough, it takes guts, I crouch beside her,
My dream-deity, subterranean patient part of me,
Tigers don’t walk for exercise; we are hunting.

We are hunting for the dragon, the ‘yang,’
Sun and fire chi, that waits, hot-winged,
Smoke-mouthed with gleaming fangs;
The solitary tigress—in dreams,
Shows the way to sanctuary.  

Leah C. Stetson

Poet’s note: This is a work-in-progress and part of the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 Poetry Challenge to raise funds for the nonprofit literary press. Please mention my name when you make a donation. Thank you for reading and following my blog. I also encourage you to read the fine work of my fellow poets on the Tupelo Press’s 30/30 blog page here. TP Donate

Here is my 6th poem in the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge. Again, I am writing 30 poems in 30 days to support (and raise funds) for the nonprofit Tupelo Press. I’m not alone; there are 8 other poets doing TP Donatethis with me. Their poetry, along with mine, can be found at the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge blog page.  I have linked to some of the other poets’ WordPress blogs, too, under my blogroll and will be adding others as I get the links. Please support Tupelo Press. They are publishing a lot of good work and really depend on the generosity of readers, lovers of poets and kindred spirits.

Dream Sharks

Sharks swam below me in an army of shadows
All moving in one direction: the same one
I was swimming in the dark ocean.

I aimed my flashlight; its beam illuminated
Their silhouettes—unmistakable, these ghost predators
In hazy kelp-dappled moonlight. Our lives, semi-fated.

I saw their fins, recognizable shapes, their stout squarish
Faces, gills and the dorsal, pointing up at me. I swam
Endangered, a subconscious fear of role reversal.

I didn’t splash; I cut the water nose-first
And swam as though fish or a shark myself,
No longer shining a spotlight.

My senses led me, an internal system navigated,
Waves sped me—I felt propelled by some innate energy
Thrust through the water, half under, mostly submerged.

The flashlight, gone. But the sharks, my entourage
A night brigade guarded my belly. We smelled collectively,
The marked perfume of carnage, full-blooded.

We moved in “S” formations: synchronized as a school,
Gliding to white noise, slalom water-skiiers, snakes in a desert.
And when I woke, my skin felt cool.

I was one of them.

LCS   TP Subscribe

Leah

Poet. Artist. Ecoheroine. Human ecologist. Spiritual mermaid and Mystic. I write about literary ecology, wetlands, water, Romantic ecology, and quirky adventures with my dog.

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