Decem Poemata – Ten Poems

by Kitty Jospé

In the Silence of the Cathedral at Tréguier

	light, shadow
magic colors ground in glass—
		Here, a chance 
	moment in the cathedral
	of Saint Tugdal, as if
	the Welsh monk himself
	decreed that the stones 
	must carry on the stories
	broken in the stained glass

and I say,  a chance
for chance angels to dance 
with echoes cast by the sun—
ruby,  cobalt, trace
of antimony.

Photo by poet taken in Tréguier, Brittany 9/2022. 

Lighting Corners

	What unlikely coherence suddenly
		when sun arrives
			to paint unswept angles with light
			up until now,  unnoticed—
			resplendent silken choreography 
		left for the sun to dazzle.
	 Sometimes it is
		in a nook, a recess, in corners 
		of our mind, we find coherence,

	unlikely directions creating small whispers 
		of perhaps where something might 
		have been otherwise.

	Even on the darkest days, 
	 	one line comes to corner another,
			for a brief moment candles
				hope in surprising ways.

 —ekphrastic response to David Delaney's painting Come on now, come on

What did you hear there,  by those leafless trees
penning their stories  in the rising mist?
Perhaps the bark of his dog? No sheep agrees
on direction, and two look out at us, insist
on being in charge of themselves if you please.
Doesn't bother the shepherd. But if one is missed
at the end of the day, that's a different bleat
to this story. Alone, he thinks of all he wished
and of all he loves, each bird, (or sheep).
I don't know where he's headed, but trust
he's playing tunes he asked his lover to teach
him, knowing when they're gone, he'll cherish
the rich harmony of their melody.
Come on Now; painting by Rochester artist and poet,
David Delaney.
Photo by Marcia Resnick from See,  a photographic book
of figures gazing into a series of different landscapes or set-ups.

-- for Marcia Resnick
I wonder what he's thinking,
if he's the one who put up 
the fence, 

wonder if the stick he's holding
is going to be part of the fence,
maybe to keep  out anyone thinking
of building in these hills.

I wonder if a hand on his hip,
the parallel triangle of the elbow
echoing the bent knee of his
crossed leg is passing 

and wonder how long
he's had that hat,
how hot it is and
whether the scrub
and pebbles hurt his

What defines us in a moment?

 Perhaps thinking
elbows out, hand on hip
one bare foot crossed in front
of the other
	 thoughts rolling
like the hills, like those shifting 
clouds  with all that possibility of 
might be
	all that could-be-food 
for musing on perhaps.
I feel the pound of his  heart in mine, 
pondering directions

I imagine  a small twitch
of the jawbone, 
an intensity in the gaze, 
a total immersion
in the perception of land 

a pause before 
the next moment. 

Photo by Marcia Resnick[1]

            the way her hair bubbles
into a cascade down her bare back,
the way the first waterfall tumbles
over the rock in youthful helter-skelter
and intriguing, the way the hip thrusts
out, shaking that left pant leg straight
just like the edge of the upper waterfall,
caught in a deliberate pose as if nothing
will shake it– and yet the water is
falling, and that bent leg will want
to resume the path.
Intriguing how those rocks—everywhere,
repeat that crook in her elbow—
whether triangled in shadow or say
that one above to her right, upper
wet, shiny rock, lower line rigid
in flatness, of set jawbone.
There’s intrigue in her defiance and
I want her to turn and face us,
tell us how she’s looking out
for herself, taking in the scene.

[1] from See,  a photographic book of figures gazing into a series of different landscapes or set-ups.  The label says, “they are faceless, but not featureless”. In 1975, she self-published See as a photographic book, learning to print halftones herself and independently distributing her work.
The epigraph for the book includes the statement: “My body simultaneously sees and is seen. That which looks at all things can also look at itself and recognize, in what it sees, the ‘other side’ of its power of looking. It sees itself seeing.” photo part of this exhibit “As it is or Could Be”
Arrangement #2 by Adam Ekberg*

How do I love thee?  Let me light the ways—
one flashlight gazing at the other, and beyond
to the shadows cast, as we echo and praise,
catch our reflection, to enter the picture, respond
to our quiet need for light and for each other—
How do we love?  It is our secret discovered
that light connects the old-fashioned lover
(that chair with arms) with the slip-covered
modern square, my rectangular camera reflected.
Look at me, this way, I asked you, to be connected
in this arrangement of radiance, chairs, so our gaze
at each other is part of the picture! Let our vow,
exchanging I do, as we continue in our maze
of years, be visible in this brief reflection now.

* Photograph: 
Part of exhibit ADAM EKBERG: MINOR SPECTACLES on view at the
George Eastman Museum, January 14–September 3, 2023, Project Gallery
Beyond my words
                                    nothing can come
close to telling you how it feels
to be me.  A simple smile or laugh
will add an outline of something 
bigger behind them.  I'm struck dumb
by so many thoughts that seem to peel
away from any point, refuse a staff
to help with balance, take everything
in a different direction that some
might call normal.  Why it's such a big deal
to try to belong, is more complicated chaff
(that distracts us from the wheat) What bling
do we accept not really wanting it? What crumb
do we pretend will fill our hunger or seal
out those demons? And that's not the half 
of it looking at hate and history. So, I sing

with peppered sounds, consonants over vowels: 
A sings the long and short of apples 
and angst, atypical. E slides
as sandwich into yes, 
I ifs itself, O rounds out 
wonder and U?  Upon 
my word, and understanding 
everything beyond counts, U 
is us and how we are together. 

About this poem: The idea of using vowels comes from Peter Grizzi's poem
Lines Depicting Simple Happiness.  Underlying the formal repeat of rhyme in
the 4 stanzas, clearly the vowels seem happy to be free of constraint!

What to Make 

		when typos
transform ramifications
into rammed fictions

	and what to make of
manifestions of Q&A
of festering questions

	and what hand 
lands in what manuscript—
what man in management?

This could be one of those
dances where loving the addict 
is an argument with the impossible. 
	I say, Do not listen to the clamor
of claver or the clamoring of Clavering.   
						Seriously, a propos
						the inevitable complications
						not to mention frictions
	    		       of being human, that ache of
			not knowing what one should say:
		What stand to make your mark
		even if you are feeling tongue-tripped,
		brick-flicked, feeling quite bent
out of shape?  What pose
do you take? What rose picked
for thorny errors in the arsenal?

Do tell me how you make
your make over, how
you make do
in the end.

About this poem:  It all started with an idea of an erasure poem of Robinson's Clavering.  My daily notes are so scattered, but I wanted to do something with the comical typo that starts the poem. I was intrigued with the poem referenced, but also stumbled on Bukowski's poem For the Foxes, Mark Strand's Short Panegyric which put me in a jovial mood.  What is it to be human?  What to make of us? How to deal?  Make is a useful verb coupled with prepositions.  Make up your own answer, to make do.  Make over whatever you need to make your own mark.

Clavering:  a village in England but also means, "a place where clover grows". 

Before the ballet, she decorates
her hair-bun with butterflies, 
blue and copper hairstreak
peacock fritillaries
to make a kingdom of grey
liven into abundance--
                                                yes, these amazing,
                                    ephemeral, winged wonders
                        know how to taste with their feet,
                understand the language
            of flutter,
      the tremble 
of poplar.
There on her gathered tresses
the butterflies will act an abun-
dance of  gilded flames
on a Buddhist thangka.
		 Her slippered feet 
	allow us to taste 
the feeling of flight—

that oh for so brief possible 
that indeed
we were meant 
for wings.

About this poem: 
I went through my writing diary, collecting images that might fit the trio of syllables in abundance.  Recently, I have been reading about Protactile or PT, as a language in action in performance which reminds me of choreography and the idea of a dancer's chignon came to mind, first as stage, then as necessary parameter, then removed, no longer necessary, having invited the reader to imagine his/her/their scenario.   

Let us imagine this scene brings joy 

There's something 
in the way the shadows spill
                on the
and the eye lands on the 
chicks and their fluffed-feathered 
newness and the emerald and gold
pair conversing in between bites.

Not so bad here, eh? Plenty
of perches and food.
Something that feels right about
the sun having warmed the red painted brick.

Do you see how the indigo parakeets 
parade as a pair?  There they are,
by that black rectangle where the sun 
slides by without entering.

Something about the open door,
in spite of the dark.

About this poem: The prompt  for the poem was "what brings joy".   There is no one prescription for it, and yet, it is a universal we all can know, perhaps a shared joy, a sense of sacred, or an overwhelming gratitude to be alive. Looking at the play of sun on the red brick, the slant of shadows of perches in a large aviary in the Parc Thabor in Rennes immediately brought me joy in spite of a grey, cold day and troublesome arthritis. 
Even if you didn't know where the scene happened, or how big an area was open to these birds, would you too have thought "joy"?

Kitty Jospé: retired French teacher, active docent, received her MFA in poetry (2009 Pacific University, OR).  Since 2008, she has been leading workshops on art and word, and moderates weekly sessions to help people to be more attentive and appreciative readers of good poems.  At Rundel, come to Poetry Oasis for discussion of good poems every Thursday at noon.

Latest book: Sum:1 March 2021