Tribute

boulder-stream
Tribute

No muse     per se     whispers
infusions into my burning ear
not that it would be in my nature

to entice some demigoddess to swell
with lust     hover about my head
& grace me with facility in the arts

such that I might woo hearts into believing
in my sanctity (as if I’d ever assent
to some covetous little bitch’s attempts

to trademark my own     voluptuous
intellect with her dousings of silvery
moonbeams & purple pixie dust)

which isn’t to say that no one ever garners my tribute
No     of course not     for there’s always been a certain monsieur: 
Arnos     namesake of the Neoliths’ river     to move     to flow

mounting pulse    to culminating flutter
his flux of rapture & cruelty
rising like a god in me

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

Italy-Rome-Tiber-River-God-Sculpture

“Tribute” was published in the Fall 2017 edition of Harbinger Asylum. Thank you to editor Dustin Pickering and guest-editor Z. M. Wise for selecting this piece.

 

An Elegy for Birds & Bees

When a woman pretends to press her life down into a nice, tidy little package, all she accomplishes is spring-loading all her vital energy down into shadow. ‘Fine. I’m fine,’ such a woman says… Then one day, we hear she has taken up with a piccolo player and has run off to Tippicanoe to be a pool hall queen…”  Clarissa Pinkola Estés

Photo,

Photo, “Lavender Kiss,” by Kilauea Productions owner, Matthew Harper

over & over in habitual drone
i repeat a phrase in my mind that no one knows i say
because i have not told
i am saying i’m done
but this being done
is the rending burden i will never be done bearing
even though my climbing son
a speck eighty feet high in a skyline of swaying cedars
can heft the storm clouds away
from his own silvery horizon
& my seeking daughter
has tenacity enough     without me
to prize out four leaf clovers
from speciously green reaches
but i will never release
this breath of finality that i keep
choked in my throat behind earnest songs for my children
no     & i will swallow the rising bile
when the Northern Flicker perches
on our aluminum chimney top     puffed-up
so proud in those marrow-less bones
of his impervious skull’s clever     territorial ricocheting

being done happened
within my own sinew-lined pelvis
the cracked bowl
filled     drained     & refilled
with meticulously rich essences
long after anything living had been fed
the relentlessly heavy     gnawing
red slough of losing myself
to nothing     for nothing
frightened me
& so     i had the offending flesh cut out
the fossilized rind that was left is now locked
with its un-told stories
beneath eons of hardened sediments

this being done happens in spring
while i am driving alone
it happens quickly
in instants of lapsed attention
in overzealous moments of stony apathy
when windshield wipers stick unexpectedly
or when sudden     pink shafts of evening sun
transmute newborn lambs bucking fervently
for tender grass & mother’s milk
into silhouettes haunting the roadside
the being done
is all these countless     fleeting deaths
i tear into strips     soak in chewed glue
& fashion together to house myself
in a prodigal     crinkled     purgatorial prune

these tiny     stinging     imprudent suicides
should all be spirited away from their haughty blooms
& borne into the ancient hive
clutched industriously
to the undersides of fuzzy exoskeletons
there     my secret     greedy orchestrations
would become coded in sacred routines
my life programmed in dance
& propagated by ecstatic waggles & fastidious figure eights
to a crescendo of communal comprehension
of the one     seminal purpose
of the being done that shall be

done at all costs
the Queen’s Royal Jelly must be
sealed with wax in her hexagonal vaults

STEPHANIE L. HARPER

“An Elegy for Birds & Bees” made its debut appearance in Slippery Elm Literary Journal, December 2015. It was a finalist in the 2015 Slippery Elm Poetry Prize, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. 

3-DAY-QUOTE CHALLENGE

I decided to post this “Challenge” (also located on my About/Challenges page) as a single blog entry on my Home page, since I am quite pleased with how it all turned out. The quotations are from among my favorite literary influences (one representative each from poetry, fiction, and non-fiction), and the artwork is my own. Enjoy!  🙂

3-DAY-QUOTE CHALLENGE

4yearoldadult has very graciously taken it upon himself to give me a much needed swift kick in the pants, to get myself into the habit of “blogging” more regularly.  I know that this medicine will be good for me, so I thank him from the bottom of my heart for his encouragement and enthusiasm, and for his efforts to connect with people through cyber-space, to make the world a little bit better!

Day 3: From Women Who Run With the Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes

When a woman pretends to press her life down into a nice, tidy little package, all she accomplishes is spring-loading all her vital energy down into shadow. ‘Fine. I’m fine,’ such a woman says… Then one day, we hear she has taken up with a piccolo player and has run off to Tippicanoe to be a pool hall queen…

This is about how it happens.
One day, we decide that we are DONE being everything but who we are.  Unfortunately, we usually have to learn the hard way that we are really not all that into piccolo players…  We owe it to ourselves to remember who we are and what we do want to be doing, and then we have to start doing it, at all costs — because the alternative, which is existential death, is a far, far cry from a substitute for life.

The Hole

Day 2:  Excerpt from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy

Vogon poetry is of course the third worst in the Universe.  The second worst is that of the Azgoths of Kria.  During a recitation by their Poet Master Grunthos the Flatulent of his poem “Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning” four of his audience died of internal hemorrhaging, and the President of the Mid-Galactic Arts Nobbling Council survived by gnawing one of his own legs off.  Grunthos is reported to have been “disappointed” by the poem’s reception, and was about to embark on a reading of his twelve-book epic My Favorite Bathtime Gurgles when his own major intestine, in a desperate attempt to save life and civilization, leaped straight up through his neck and throttled his brain.
The very worst poetry of all perished along with its creator, Paula Nancy Millstone Jennings of Greenbridge, Essex, England, in the destruction of the planet Earth.

I very much share the view with the late, great Douglas Adams that there are some very particular offenses that one can perpetrate on the universal device of communication/language, which without exception, result in the phenomenon known as bad poetry…  For instance, I am sure that some of my renderings from my early high school days could have competed handily with the ignominious works of the Azgoths of Kria — and just for the record (in case anyone is taking notes), they have all been dispatched in flame…

Insecurity

Day 1: “On Pain”
               From Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet

   Your pain is the breaking of the shell
that encloses your understanding.
   Even as the stone of the fruit must break,
that its heart may stand in the sun, so must
you know pain.
   And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily
miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous
than your joy;
   And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your
fields.

   And you would watch with serenity through the winters
of your grief.

  • ••

   Much of your pain is self-chosen.
   It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you
heals your sick self.
   Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence
and tranquility:
   For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the
tender hand of the Unseen,
   And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been
fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with
His own sacred tears.

Kahlil Gibran has been and continues to be one of my favorite literary influences. If he had been our contemporary, today’s theorists in psychology might have made him the poster child for the “Highly Sensitive” personality type.  To me, he is a timeless and ageless genius, whose wise insights into both the seen and the Unseen have enriched my development as a writer, artist, and “Highly Sensitive” human being.  I can’t imagine anyone could read his works, particularly The Prophet, and not come away with something life-changing, every time.

Dreams Depths