Sunday, October 24, 2010

Breaking the Rules of Polite Company

A giggle, so innocent
at your own social impropriety.
Giggle because you have called
yourself great, aloud.

You remember only just after
that there are rules about such things,
that we are not supposed to say
these thoughts aloud.

You correct your self-referential self,
“More true would be to say Alice thinks she’s great.”

I ask your age –
another breaking of social etiquette.
You tell me two possibilities,
plus the year of your birth,
which coincides with neither.

I say, aloud,
“Even more accurate would be that Karen thinks Alice is great.”

This delights you.
You giggle anew,
the girl you once were,
eight decades ago,
sitting beside me
when we arrive
at your destination.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Vanishing Alice

These times
I am only what
we are together.

I am not
your daughter’s beloved friend
granddaughter’s mentor
your occasional preacher.

I am
car ride,
driver from one place to the next,
possibility of conversation.

I am
undemanding attention,
delight in the you of you.

And when
I drop you off,
at the place
of your arrival,
I am
no longer.

(cc) Karen G. Johnston

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Let the Foul Harpies Starve

The Harpies, feeding then upon its leaves,
Do pain create, and for the pain an outlet.
(H.W. Longfellow’s translation of
Dante’s Divine Comedy, Inferno, Canto XIII)

May their incessant
appetite remain unsated,
let them be sickened
at first taste,
let their feet catch fire
should they try to land
on the hearth
of your branches.

Let them find
sustenance elsewhere.
Perhaps among those
who damned you
without ever meeting you,
who taunted you
from afar and
to your face,
those who denounced you
before you were even born.

This knotting and twisting
we inflicted upon you
in this worldly hell,
forced within narrow confines
of who should love whom,
may it have ended the moment
you took your own life.

May you find the friends,
the allies, even the foes,
who know your true light,
and reflect it,
bright, shining,

May you find
not only the peace,
we could somehow
not afford you,
not only the justice
we denied you,
but the loving lover
meant just for you,
meant to make you
laugh ‘til you cry
and when you are crying,
make you laugh belly-busting
hiccupping guffaws.

May you find that lover
meant to hold you,
to embrace the all of you,
the whole of you,
and most assuredly,
the queer of you.

Karen G. Johnston