Monday, November 16, 2009

Life with Crows

It was a cold February day

when the war of words began.

In reality, boxing with ghosts.

Looking back, we realized

all the crows were gone.

We had never noticed.

There were so many things we never noticed –

shadows in the room, phantoms,

influence peddlers, spreaders

of misconception, missed perceptions.

Upon reflection, we realized

we had never noticed.

The crows were gone,

migrated to a sacred tree.

Carried across the divide

by a microscopic virus ,

a name reminiscent of Cleopatra.

Black-winged corpses strewn in yards.

It was already too late for the crows

by the time when we noticed.

It was too late for everyone

when the battles raged in earnest.

Life as we knew it was shattered.

Words exploded around us.

Phantom logic taunted us until we were heaving.

Sharp accusations stabbed vitals organs.

they tried to cast us out, exterminate us,

like the crows we noticed.

Pushed to the periphery,

epithets of ugliness attached themselves

with hooked claws.

yet we limped through, bloodied,

bruised, our spirits not fully broken

as we made our way home.

We hoped no one would notice.

One sunny day in April

years after the war began,

We stood sorting through the rubble

and noticed

the crows had returned home (to us).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 10

(for Sam on his birthday)

Thirteen years ago I carried you
over the miracle waters.

We feasted on milk and honey and promises.

You whispered your name
in a language too ancient to write.

For a moment, our world was golden.

Later you said we would always be
together like apples in pie--

apples with bitterness tempered
by that sweet golden crust.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday Afternoon at the Movies

In a moment of middle-aged madness

I decide to run the flight of stairs

two at a time. Heart racing,

I am reminded of how in dreams

I can go faster if I pump my arms.

I might even be able to fly.

Breathless, I triumphantly reach the pinnacle.

But gravity has its say.

My protesting legs buckle and instantly give way,

propelling me forward on my knees.

Pride scatters in shards on the speckled carpet

where I appear to be praying before

a Technicolor poster of Johnny Depp.

No one notices.

Stunned, I collect myself, continuing

to the concession counter to meet my family.

After the movie, on the way out, I swear

Johnny Depp winked as I passed.

This time I ride the escalator.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Visiting Room

Steel and glass.
Chairs bolted together.
Nothing leaves this room
of its own free will.

A couple of cold coins
will rent a locker –
small and gun-metal gray.

Pack away the outside.
Roll your emotions tight
into the lining of your coat –
you won’t need them here –
remnants of your body
heat will hold them
as the doors click shut
behind you.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

October Morning

Dissolving poems swirl in eddies
near the edge of dreaming.

Pluvial drumming at dawn
plays cryptic cadence on windows.

Words tumble out,
pour forth from the heavens.

A squall of poetry
runs in rivulets outside,

a skeleton of a leaf
clings to the oak branch
for one last dance.

Wake up.
Tilt your head open.
Drink it all in.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

New Poem for Week 3

New Moon

They call the darkness “new” –

the ancient ones – they knew

Time takes its bites.

The sky will grow another,

and the yellow wafer

will dissolve in the morning sky

like words on our tongues.

New Moon

They call the darkness “new” –

the ancient ones – they knew

Time takes its bites.

The sky will grow another,

and the yellow wafer

will dissolve in the morning sky

like words on our tongues.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Trouble with Justice

The Trouble with Justice
(after Billy Collins)

The trouble with justice, I realized
as I watched autumn rain darken the sidewalk –
cool October breezes across my cheek
blanket of grey clouds in the sky –

The trouble with justice is
there is no justice, only smaller injustices,
no system to completely smooth the unfairness of things
which leads to battles with demons like Raktabija, so powerful
his wounds spill blood gushing a torrent of clones.

How will it ever end? How can it ever end?
We are all guilty of something.
Unless the day finally arrives
that quenches our desire for revenge
and exterminates the white ire
of religiously-inspired enthusiasts,

and there is nothing left to do
but to wallow silently
in the sins of our own indiscretion.

Justice is what eludes me
as, voiceless, I watch through the window
unable to keep truth from slinking out of the room.

Mostly, Justice makes me long for forgiveness
and I patiently wait for the Lady herself
to putdown the scales and throw off the blindfold.

And along with that, to do away
with the Old Testament aphorisms
“An eye for an eye”

What a sorry group of creatures we are
demanding equity in all crimes
while awaiting karmic justice to befall
all that have wronged us,
I think as rain washes our daily dust
into storm drains beyond our sight
and it brings to mind the saying–
An eye for an eye makes everyone blind –
(which I stole from a bumper sticker
I once saw on a fall drive through the mountains)

instead of remembering to forgive seventy times seven,
spoken by one whose blood ran over the dark battlefield,
aware of the smallness of human justice,
but awaiting us with open arms.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Being Blue


Fall begins.
The breeze blowing in her soul
becomes a squall.
Empty shells wash ashore.
Larger storms are brewing off her coast.
For now the lighthouse stands.


Today I watch a Utube video
a dog playing alone
in the family swimming pool.

Running up tailored rocks
sliding down the waterfall
falling into the pool below.

Pure unbridled joy buoyed
by the crystal blue shimmer.

I want to be that dog.
Be able to jump into the azure abyss,
trust that I will paddle to its edges,
climb over the sharp stones,
and fall and rise again and again.

Instead I sink like a stone
into the bottomless indigo depths.

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Mother Used to Say

Always wear nice underthings, she said,

whenever you leave the house

just in case … of terror attack.

Maybe she said don’t expose

your nice underthings to terrorists

because they will never leave the house.

Perhaps it was always wear

your terror exposed when

you leave your nice underthings at home.

Not lingerie (too fancy)

not panties or bra (too specific)

not underwear (what boys have).

By nice she meant clean, no stains,

no holes, no worn elastic.

By leave the house she meant

go anywhere besides the yard.

By just in case she meant don’t embarrass me

if you get taken by ambulance to the hospital

because you were in some accident

where they have to strip you to get to your wounds

and you are wearing a pair of underpants

held together by safety pins.

Because they will think

“what kind of mother do you have anyway,”

which will distract them from treating you,

then you will die because the nurses and doctors

could only focus on your ratty underpants,

your neglectful mother and the fact that no one ever

told you to wear nice underpants when you leave

the house and so there you are dead because

you didn’t take the time to put on nice underpants.

And what she really meant by that

was don’t live your life in fear.

Dog Play Doggerel

I’m being dogged

by a dog star – Sirius.

Hot sticky heat

and so dog gone humid

you can dog paddle

down the sidewalk.

But this dog is gonna

have her day!

Even if it is

a dog-eat-dog world.

You know you can’t teach

an old dog new tricks,

so curb your dogma;

let sleeping dogs lie.

Tired of this doggerel?

Then it’s time

to put on the dog!

Get out your dog-eared songbook

cuz we’re going to the dogs tonight.

Meet me at the dog leg.

We’re gonna howl

at that dog gone star.

Oh hot diggety doggety dog!

Palm Sunday

Welcome to BibleLand!

A few announcements and reminders

before we get started.

Serpents have been spotted in the older sections of the park.

Please do not speak to them.

No apple picking.

Parents keep an eye on your children.

The park is not responsible for loss or damage to your eternal soul.

First aid is available in the new section of the park.

Follow signs to the Lazarus tent.

Sins are absolved daily, on the hour, in the Lazarus tent or by visiting

the wandering Jesus (please don’t touch his robes).

Remember you may not enter Sodom & Gomorrah without protective eyewear.

See Park Staff for details.

The Garden of Eden remains closed indefinitely.

Also, expect flooding in certain areas, especially during the rainy season.

For those interested in visiting the Tower of Babel, headsets are available for a small fee.

Kiosks can be found throughout the park.

Don’t forget to drop into our Loaves & Fishes Café.

It’s all you can eat!!

One last item – the crucifixion has been cancelled today on account of lightning;

however, there will be a stoning later this afternoon. Management is seeking volunteers for this event. Ask your guide for details.

Remember that we have resurrections daily (weather permitting).

Please don’t forget to stop in our gift shop on your way out –

it’s good for the soul.

Ask a salesperson about our frequent visitor rewards program.

Thanks for your patience. We hope you have a divine experience here!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Elegy for Bumpy

On the most picturesque day
we remain in the house.
Now you have earned your place
in the eternal sun.
As we dot your grave with a marker,
you have already begun to chase birds
stretching your sleek blackness.
Freed from pain and immobility
You dance in our hearts once more.
Songs of your legendary exploits
—now un-sung—
leave the taste of you on our tongues.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Poems from Terrance Hayes Workshop

# 1

Every evening my mother pulled her knitting

out of the basket behind her chair.

After the dishes were washed, leftovers shelved,

she sat with her metal needles

counting stitches, colored markers, pattern rows

as if ticking off time.

Like the Fates, she measured and spun.

My life could be counted by stripes

of mittens, hats, sweaters, blankets

created in her post-prandial meditations.

When she cut her final thread,

put away her last skein of wool

I felt as if my life too had ended.

Until I lifted her needles

took up the frayed yarn

and saw her hands reflected back

as I looked out the dark window.


There we stood, dressed like Egyptians

or what we thought Egyptians should look like

from so many National Geographic magazine

pictures we used as examples,

wrapped in old curtains, jewels, tulle,

prancing around like we built the pyramids

while life in our Ohio town

rolled by on its way to middle America;

men went to work at the refinery

spewing invisible gas and smoke in the breeze

women ironed shirts and watched television

but we didn’t notice the quiet turning

because we were too busy inventing pictograms

enslaving younger brothers in our game

of carving scarabs and conquering the desert,

ancient worlds so enticing because

the glossy pictures were so clean,

unlike the peeling paint from too much sulfur

the houses abandoned when factories closed

there being no room for Egyptian princes

or slaves or kings in this Republican county

known for its prized cattle, corn and soybeans.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Alex & Buddy

He sleeps curled like a French “C”

Blond head on the pillow

Body curved to one side

His breathing nearly imperceptible.

There in the bottom of his curve

a gray tabby colors

the empty space

Curved in unison with boy

Purring while he breathes

Together they enter the world of dreams.

November 2008

Weather Report

My loss, at times, is an ocean.

It’s all I see on the horizon

stretched from East to West,

North to South.

Some days it is a river

coursing through the middle,

perhaps overflowing

its banks but soon receding.

At night it is an underground spring

Unseen, but there, silent, cold

Always underneath all thoughts.

The worst days are when it is a cyclone.

Thundering, pounding, pelting me

with reminders of wet grief.

It turns my world around

Scatters me across the landscape

Then leaves me amid the rubble.

November 2008

The Visitor

Crow came to me in a dream

my spirit guide, to show me

what I once was

thousands of years ago.

His black feathers were iridescent in moonlight

broad wings and strong beak

gestured as he spoke.

I understood in the language of sleep.

I come from earth, dark, rich

moist with worms.

I come from skies and clouds,

thunder and rain.

I come blown from the winds

borne aloft and soaring skyward.

I come from the mountains

swept along riverbeds with melting snows

trickling the byways of streams

seeping into bedrock.

I come from the volcano

out of hot lava

spilling in rivulets down the sides.

I come from the down

of a new born chick

ugly, vulnerable, helpless.

We are not so different said Crow.

We have come from the same places

We are ancient.

Find your feathers

they will free you

but you must be willing

even to be slandered,

to be case in dark shadows

I awoke

black feathers on my doorstep

Shadow of a wing

Guardian of my soul.

November 2008

Roa’s Laundry (2nd version)

“Roa, Konrad Lorenz’s raven, raided clotheslines to steal ladies’ underwear.” B. Heinrich, Mind of the Raven.

First, I want to say that it was never my fault.

I should have been in the woods that day.

There had been talk of red-tailed hawks,

so I explored the yard next door.

My therapist, I’ll call her Dr. Z,

says it comes from a deep seated instinct

conditioned by learning from my keeper.

Sexual perversion? none

she calls it classical conditioning theory.

Same as Pavlov’s dog

except the dog salivated with a bell

Maybe a bit inconvenient with all the gadgets these days

But not as embarrassing as salivating at underwear.

Secondly, I need to point out

I was never attracted specifically to ladies’ underthings,

although the shiny materials did catch my eye

waving at me like little flags in the breeze

stray lace undulating in the sun

who could ignore the sheer sensuality

of the panties’ movement

calling to me with their siren song

Roa. Roa. Roa.

It could have easily been socks or string.

Proximity to lingerie aided this process.

I was never particular – Victoria’s Secret,

Hanes, JC Penney – no pretensions on designer fabric

Nor did I differentiate between bikini, brief, cotton,

silk, printed or plain

All made me salivate.

It’s the connection between food and underwear

that I cannot seem to shake.

There are days I don’t know if I can eat

without bringing Dr. Z a small present.

I sit on my perch

exploring my childhood memories,

reviewing the symbolism in my nightly reveries,

wandering into the depths of the Corvid mind,

Dr Z reassures me that we can re-condition my response.

Honestly, I don’t know if I want to change.

I do love the tasty reward --

some meat or eggs for a pair of silken panties,

a lace-edged slip, an occasional satin brassiere.

I love the dance of freedom

lifting lingerie from laundry lines.

Dr. Z tells me not to blame myself.

It could have happened to anyone.

Curiosity may have killed the cat,

but I know men who have been jailed for less

it isn’t necessarily the action

but the thought of action

that imprisons us.


This morning I awoke

with a dream

of a poem

parked in my unconscious.

Trails of it remain

so lightly that when I focus

they dissolve.

Maybe the poem was never there at all.

The dream could have been

that I awoke with a dream

of a poem

in my mind.

Like the mirror

In the mirror

In the mirror

An image that goes to infinity

showing nothing

except what fools we are.

November 2008

Poem in search of a title

Notes dance through my open mind

and out into the world again.

Where is the line between open and raw,

vulnerable and pitiable?

We all live in a prison

To break free

Is to find another

of greater or equal value.

The music I hear is born of

Millions of years of evolution

finely tuned to express itself.

Messengers sing, they have to.

Thousands of years of enlightenment

and still we seek

to escape the pain.

To understand the necessity of infinity.

To hear, dance

the music in our minds.

November 2008

Friday, July 17, 2009

Road Kill

I cry for the dead squirrel

Who looks like he has fallen from the sky

Face down in the road.

Is he the one who ate acorns

watching me as I drank my coffee?

Now two days dead

No longer so much squirrel

As a smear on the asphalt,

I see him turn inside out

from those who feast on flesh

each taking his own turn –

flies, beetles, birds.

Car tires flatten what little remains

and by this evening I can barely

tell the squirrel from stains.

I feel guilty, I want

to bury him, save him

From the indignity of cars.

His limp body in my shoe box.

A grave in the garden bed near

the cats’ graves. But I don’t.

Instead I gingerly step over him,

around him. Park the van

a few feet farther up the block.

Afraid of what my husband will say,

what the neighbors will think

of my attachment

to a city rodent, a common pest,

I ignore my son’s young voice

who once insisted we bury every dead bird,

every squirrel, with love and ritual

because we are guardians of all we see.

I side-step that responsibility.

Instead I commemorate this moment.

The grave I should have dug,

The life I could not save.

The grey squirrel, soon forgotten,

already replaced, who I wish

I could ask to forgive me.

November 2008

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Life with Crows

It was a cold February day

when the war of words began.

War of words?

Boxing with ghosts actually.

Looking back, we realized

all the crows were gone.

We had never noticed.

So many things we never noticed –

all the shadows in the room,

Phantoms, influence peddlers,

spreaders of misconception,

missed perceptions.

Upon reflection, we realize

We had never noticed.

The crows were gone,

migrated to a sacred tree

carried across the divide

by a microscopic virus with

an exotic name – West Nile.

No Cleopatra here

Black-winged corpses strewn in yards.

When we noticed, it was too late.

It was too late for all

The war had already begun.

Life as we knew it was shattered.

Words exploded around us.

Phantom remnants of logic

taunted us until we were heaving.

Sharp accusations stabbed our vitals.

Like crows, they tried to cast us out.

Push us to the periphery.

Epithets of ugliness attached themselves

with hookèd claws.

Somehow, we limped through battle.

Bloodied, bruised, our spirits not yet broken

we made our way home.

We hoped no one would notice.

On a sunny day in April

years after the war began,

We stood sorting through the rubble

and noticed

the crows had returned home (to us).

Susan Scheid (May 2008)