by Jim Jordan April "Summer surprised us ..." T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land The worms are stiff in their grey-white slimy skin, not writhing, slow to slither deeper to escape the sharp-bladed trowel flooding their dark sleep with light and warmth. It burns their skin -- too soon, too sudden -- they would learn of spring from a slow heat sinking, grain by grain, from bright air into cold dirt, and they would stir, unconsciously, uncoil and dig. I would learn of spring by quick experience, a sudden sun, my coat too warm, the day bright, blue hyacinth upwelling. Spring is mostly theory. I learn of it skeptically, a calendar, a brochure of days, numbers, lying pictures -- sun-lit lilac blossoms, hah! April is the coldest month, straining chill drizzle through slate clouds, submerging hope in despair, pressing wakefulness back into sleep. Oh for a 10-degree, sunny day in January to burn my skin warm with sharp cold. Spring is underneath us, restless, struggling against the cold earth. Summer will startle it awake to learn that its day is over. Coffee Why this morning is the coffee so passionate ejecting black-shading-to-tan domes on a white counter field of stone fragments black tan rose dried blood cinnamon spilled cinnamon Ravenna baptistries domes stained stone black tan rose mosaics pieced fragments cinnamon blood haloed saints staring oval halo suspended below the cup bone necklace against a white throat black pool white wall I can’t remember her features ivory necklace reflecting flesh bone a ceramic moon Curing Horses James Sykes of Guiseley confessed to curing horses by writing prayers on paper to hang in their manes.* Now I shall tailor this cure to my own purposes by writing poems to excise my heart's secret bane. Though vicars denounced old false popish rite and rote, Sykes knew that in God's very words magic must dwell, as I know words may enchant and curse and cut, and order, form and ritual do cast spells. The poems will hang in lockets upon my breast, and none but me will know the aim and arrow. Each morning I'll fashion one poem the pain to suppress, to shield and calm me as they work their power. No sonnets, these will retain the tracks and tracings, faint maps, palimpsests of this disease. Therefore, no five-beat lines to govern my pacings, no rhymes to remind of soft, delightful speech, no quatrains sighing yearnings, regrets and loss, no turns except the turning of my back, no villanelles, no tolling bells in a close of nagging recurrence, endless cul-de-sac. Then for these verses I write this Invocation: Press against my bosom, words, sharp to shred my coat, my shirts. Open my flesh to cold, delve in the blood, break the necessary bones, extract my heart. Surgeon out her image that her glamour be dispersed. Tell charms against remission, stitch me shut. *Based on the description of James Sykes' confession in Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic Spring "When the hounds of spring are on winter's traces..." Algernon Charles Swinburne, from Atalanta in Calydon It's not apt. Spring is the soft season. Hounds come hard, snarling to rip the fox. But can't you just see them? Winter stands in a cloud-borne sleigh of iron, snapping the whip, easing the reins, letting them run unhindered, sounding, a babble of howls, yowls, yappings, shouting in ecstasy, ears back, tongues lolling, charging joyously heedless of sleets and gales, dragging winter northward, ascending the curve of the earth, sweeping the fields of winter's debris, uncovering a warming earth that will blossom, buds that will burst, undamning the floodtide of spring. Going Out To See the Super Moon? “The Super Blue Blood Moon Happens Wednesday…” Washington Post Not this time. I’ve seen one perigee syzygy, one so low so close we stepped back to let it pass as it cleaved the Atlantic right offshore, brushed up against the beach, knocked the tops off a stiff surf. Its swelling bow wave pelted us with hard spray and shingle, its turbulent wake surged chest-high, dislodged our feet, sucked us seaward. Riptide. I had been telling you those whitecaps are just arriving ... from Spain, and I said cast you mind over the sea, imagine that rough passage from Cape Finisterre, and you had moved closer to me, responding … pointedly that I had the wrong latitude, and in any case could not ignore easterlies, westerlies, Gulf Stream, spin, tilt, effects of the moon (tides), etc., but I caught and held your eyes in mine, and said mmm hmm ... the effects of the moon ... when that blue reddening super moon, that I imagined I had coaxed you out to see, came in hot, blasted us, as described, cooled falling into earth's shadow, and sank. Time Well Spent We would pick her up from daycare and she would ask to see the horses. We would drive over and sit in the car, near the barn, beside the fenced pasture. She would watch from the car seat, still, quiet, in study, a dimpled intelligence. One horse might look her way, twitch an ear, then stretch back down to munch grass. She did not ask to get out and go to the horses. She watched, musing, soaking it in, dappled horses in dappled shade. Jim Jordan is a member of Just Poets in Rochester where he has been a featured reader and has served as editor of the annual anthology, Le Mot Juste. His poetry has appeared there as well as in Birdsong (2017) and Moving Images: Poetry Inspired by Film (2021). In past lives, Jim has been a pilot, economics professor and consultant.