by Kitty Jospé

Winter Window
I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?
— Rumi
All is stilled—
bare lace of branch,
pearled drops of ice
thin sheet of ice receding
to reveal a gentle silvering of sky
even the revenant rise of mist
rests quietly
framed in this opening, 
what the Norse call an eye for the wind1  

a reflection of tree line reversed
in water—
	inviting thoughts of peace
to flavor the new year—
but like this small capture of an image
framing a patient place for your eye	

a momentary pause, away from the noise,
the haste, the angers and anguish—
it restores trust that with our small eye,
we can see great visions.2  

  1the Old Norse vindauga, from vindr 'wind' and auga 'eye'.
  2paraphrase of “Look at your eyes. They are small,
  But they see enormous things.” 2nd part of Rumi verse quoted under title

Simple by the Letter
—an acrostic mockery of war inspired by Henry Reed 

Simon says
it’s simply a
matter of following
perfectly clear commands
lent to your ears with a Simon Sayseasy with only one person in charge.
Simon says Today we have naming of parts. 
Parts of arms to attack, protect. Our part, (You and I)
regardless, is to raise an arm.
Obey this simple command: jump
into line.   Don’t pay attention to my growl.
Don’t ask who this Simon is; don’t ponder simple.
Sssssss.  The snake in the grasS
Is slithering faster to bite.  You and I
Might take action at such alarM.
Prudence advises us to droP
Loyalty to Simon, examine human pitfalL: 
Every human has devil with divinE.

About this poem: It starts as an alternating acrostic/telestich, using both in stanzas 3 to mirror a sense of chaotic illogic of war and questionable leadership.  Blending the children’s game of “Simon Says”, and Henry Reed’s brilliant poem, Naming of Parts creates an invisible “Simon” who may not have our best interests at heart. 
Nothing is simple, especially this seemingly endless human history of conquest with murderous and cruel consequences. In the game, one is not supposed to act if “Simon says” is not added to a command.  It mirrors our human pitfall of reacting without paying attention to the larger picture.  

And if I were the Marchioness of Crème Brulée... 

perhaps I’d meet that poet who says, no guarantee
that things be as they be even if finding a perfect beam 

on which to balance, ridding ourselves of labels a or b—
nothing good or bad— only your midsummer night’s dream.

 And if I were Contessa di panna cotta, he might agree
 to play his guitar, whether blue or merely to seem

 so, as things, constantly shift, in varying degree
 perceived by us in dream or how we want to scheme...

 And all of this, here Truth written, fit to a T,
 becomes like custard with caramel crust— cream

of the slippery nature of truth, without guarantee
that saving grace, is to be, in a mind’s esteem,

 like playing a blue guitar, under a blue-angled tree
 strumming through the music of all that might be seen.

Go ahead, invent a title, explore how that changes key
of what could worthy, what flavor of real, to redeem.

About this poem:  A pseudonym is nothing new.  This poem started with
thinking of le Comte de Lautréamont , (1846-1870) the nom de plume of 
Isidore Lucien Ducasse, a French poet born in Uruguay whose short
life ended in Paris.  His only works, Les Chants de Maldoror 
and Poésies, had a major influence on modern arts and literature, 
particularly on the Surrealists and the Situationists.  You might suspect a
few other poets involved, such as Wallace Stevens.  The point of course,
is to invite the reader to consider possibility beyond given circumstances.      

*Crème Brûlée- Burnt Cream: a French dessert of rich custard base topped with a layer of hardened caramelized sugar     

Tossing Confetti of Kindness

It’s not Carnival, but the idea of a toss
of confetti—
	like real or imitation candy, rice
	at weddings, torn tiny shreds 
	of paper celebration, 
			 	                     came to me
one gray day when doubts took
the upper hand to chime in…
			                        It might sound
trite, but the phrase confetti of kindness
works like a charm on a two-way street—
	       a spaghetti of kindness might sound
more practical, however 
trust that kindness does work.

Free of charge, and highly efficient—
reciprocal magic tossed out for the taking,
comes back to comfort when you’re aching.

I toss it out each week, watch its pearled
effect on me and all I meet in this hungry world.

About this poem: I share poetry with women at the Open Door mission shelter on Fridays. One day I came up with this:  Toss kindness around like confetti. It’s on a sign in the front hall now.

Sestina after Elizabeth Bishop  

Who knew what was wrong
what was strung out of tune
the urgent outcry of clamor
to be fed?  Rain falls on the house,
and the almanac says it is time
to plant tears in the bloomless garden.

So dry it was, you could hear the garden
ache its desire.  I know it is wrong
she said to herself after each time,
unable to harmonize discordant tune.
The rain beat on the roof of the house
the rhythm rattling and rivaling the clamor

of unreasonable demands. Unauthorized clamor
she would scour, cast out, hide in the garden.
It was elephant-sized yet invisible inside the house.
No one accused her of doing anything wrong,
yet clearly there was no clue how to fix her tune.
Things resolve, they say, given enough time.

But not her shame which grew over time
as did the madness inside the house, the clamor
now intense to keep order, to fine tune
the surface unable to fix its insides. What garden
is this where nothing is allowed to grow?  What’s wrong
became a leitmotif ignored in the house.

She says writing about a secret big as a house
without telling, is hard.  It’s not about time.
Her rule: don’t tell someone what’s wrong.
Her rule: stuff it. You have no right to clamor.
Her rule: you reap what you sow in the garden.
Her rule: practice until you correct the tune.

The perceived problem: wrong notes for the tune.
The snipped snag: an empty home. Shell of a house.
The hopeless hitch: sullied soil for the garden.
The wasted worry: disconnection over time.
Recurring issue:  the inner clang and clamor.
At the root: the sense that one is wrong.

Each time she saw a homeless man in the church garden,
sleeping, without shelter of house, she imagined the clamor
in his head. Will he find his tune? What can undo the wrong?

*Sestina:  A popular villanelle by Elizabeth Bishop is, One Art:

Hidden Birdsong in Spring

—How can spring take heart to come to a world in grief?Sara Teasdale

The birds sing return returning as dark moves 
to light, as if exiting a maze,
proclaiming, this time will be
different— a Spring Marseillaise—
a real fraternity. They sing about a
jour de gloire coming and how days
of ignominious terror will be over. How
revolution in nature need not reappraise.
It too will morph into variations on return
returning.  Can you hear each turn of phrase
in birdsong, hidden in dogwood blossom
bursting from bud.  Song joins in breezy ballets—
as if with no memory of cruelty, disregard
for fellow creatures. Let us then praise—
the artful, un-practised song, inside the bird.
As for human nature do not avert your gaze—
look beyond all its guises, angles, deeds
with good and evil power to amaze.
Go ahead. Ironize and despair, grouch and glare,
but the birds go on with their Marseillaise.

About this poem: You will hear the end rhyme repeating in the couplets “maze/days/phrase, ballets,, etc. like a ghazal, although only the similar sound, not to actual same word.  There is also Marseillaise (which if properly pronounced should not sound like “mayonnaise” ) allowing the “eye-rhyme” to do the work!. To review this revolutionary French national anthem:

Kitty Jospé loves the possibilities of language! After living and working in Europe, she delighted in teaching French (MA, NYU 1984).  Since 2008, midway in completing an MFA at Pacific University, OR, she has been moderating poetry appreciation discussions at two of the Rochester, NY Libraries.  The sessions she offered at Rundel are open each Wednesday by zoom and by limited attendence by vaccinated participants, due to Covid. Popular reader and speaker, her work appears in many anthologies and publications,  such as, The Ekphrastic Review, Atlanta Review, The Orchard Journal, Sunlight Review, and Blue Pepper.  Her latest book, Sum:1, was published by FootHills in March 2021.  A PDF with images that inspired 27 of the poems is available here: