Showing posts from January, 2015

Heaven and Hell

Heaven + Hell
are estranged sisters
eyeing each other
across uncrossable distances.

Each gathers her allies
   mutters darkly about the other.
   Envy might glint, sometimes, in their eyes.

Heaven plants her roots, sends up fronds
   sweet green shoots
   and harvests ripe.

Hell skims lightly over the world
   undoes bindings.

Heaven seals
    with honey and wax.

Hell dissolves,
    molecules sigh into their component parts.

Heaven keeps a tidy yard,
   bakes fresh bread,

Hell, she walks out the gate,
   leaves salty footprints (no backward glance)
   in her wake.
   She forgets.

(From a classroom prompt based on X. J. Kennedy's fantastic poem, "Nothing in Heaven Functions as it Ought." I had the kids brainstorm connotations and denotations of heaven and hell, and compare them to the Hawaiian concept of the afterworld, Keaopo, which is non binary, non-human, and plural. There's one on every island.)


The hollows and rough edges on elm trees
   the startled up-look of a deer
   the shallow whisper of the creek
Come with me and see!
   200 tones of green
   from emerald to scum
whitegreen underside of oak-leaf
greenblack shine of dogwood
slick green rocks
softgreen moss
   Come with me
   lift the stones suddenly
     if the crawdads
   will startle us
   prod the soft rotten log
come with me and
   whisper secret names into the hollows
   half-glimpse fairies
   half-hear gnomes
Come and follow the narrow path
Swing a stick-sword
   swoop away the spiderwebs
or else they'll snag our mouths
and eyes
tiny spiders jeweling us
Come and hear the complete quiet
   the hush of high-up branches in the air
   the careful step of our own small feet over the earth
Come and greet the forest of my twilit child-time.

(I challenged my students to write invitations based on Leaves of Grass (Thanks Kenneth Koch!) and I wrote one too. What's the point of having a neglected blog …