*Featured Poet: Debra Bailey

Poet’s Statement:

I am privileged to be a part of a group of women who meet every Wednesday and write. We call ourselves, “Writers Writing.” I have found this space sacred. I owe a lot of my poems to them and to the spiritual muse. Writing is healing. The whole structure heals fragments in our broken world. It’s a process. One that I love. I hope that in revealing a vision, an experience, or an emotion can help someone else connect to some sort of meaning. I hope to see the demarcation between the spiritual and physical world erased. Writing is like having a soft covering lying over the head that guides. Thank you, my women friends, for helping me write. I am also in another intimate group called Qui Prompts.

 

Clinks in Silver Buckets

The way to speak is to unlatch the senses.
Do this in silence. Leave a footprint like nature.
Turn the page of your favorite hour quietly
with reverence in the stillness of

your house.

If you must speak, speak with sounds like bees
or the cries of birds on a sunny day.
Let your language be all languages. The way
the pollen drops golden to the waiting ground.
The way the silence hums – even then, it is almost

too loud.

Get behind that hum. Go around and find the black
space where you can move freely. Observe the
inanimate object, the string as it hangs from the shade,
how patiently it waits for the heart to unlatch it

with faith.

Let your voice be the crunch of leaves, hear the
words, trust, trust, in each step. Have your ears open
for the click of the door, the turning over to reveal

a love.

In memory go to the shelling of peas, the clink in the
silver bucket. The way elbows prop on the table, the child,
a witness to the family around her.

All of us speak without words. We come into this world
with cries. We are like the trees who only need dark earth,
solid and complete, without need to extrapolate.
Let the fingerprint be like a swish through air – as if you
and I speak without prejudice those constitutional words

created before.

Maybe pictures would be a better form to communicate.
The smell of oil on canvas, a new way of saying, hello.
Just for a day, let us have a time without words.

I’m not sure the bees or the animals would choose to speak
with the alphabets we use. I yearn for their internal honing,
know that I could learn more if

I listened.

Perhaps creatures, flowers, the earth are our best
constitutions – better than our yellow markers across the
legal tablet.

I want to study them for guidance. Allow them into my
house without fear. Watch the insect legs turn. Listen to

the silence.

 

 

 

From the Briny Nets

Gathering the medallion necklace from the bestowed
platter of jewelry, gifts from our late mother, I twirl my
fingers around, hiding it under my breasts, away from
sister’s eyes.

I see cloth, tiny buttons, colors. Mother bends over a Singer
sewing machine, smells of a blue cotton ribbon fill nostrils,

I twirl it around as mother sews. I sit for hours, a girl on spread
satin, sequins shine from the window’s light, seed pearls fished
from a green-tinted ocean. I wonder – can you plan a future with
cloth and sunshine? Do the birds sing whether or not the bride lifts
the veil, kisses the standing man?

I bring mother water, she hums softly. Science book open before me,
full of atoms, molecules, symbols of value, I pull them into my chest
let them flow down my throat, arms, legs. It’s my study time with mother.

Fact: Cone shells can kill. Reaching into shallow water, my hands sparkle,
a deadly cone shell skitters away. Mother laughs at some inward image,
maybe her own wedding, her white shoes, clasped sequined purse,
ready for honeymoon and children.

Mother, I say, make me a cape, put
in the four corners this mollusk, seahorse,
starfish, this cone shell. In the middle,
white roses, something to go with the green
medicine of the sea.

We talk about how deep the ocean, how many meters down, what lies beneath.
I bring green tea, pretend we are beings that lie in salty water, smoothing sand.
Here we know we shall have all. Shadows fall across the floor, sister’s wedding
gown comes together. I kneel over colors of cloth, colors of the sea.

Here I know memory restitched, a strange creature pulled from briny nets.
In the distance, shrimp boats sail – behind play
swings, behind the shelves of stored fabric.

.

A Life without Signatures

As water turns to vapor, I turn. Observe black paper bits
flying from the open fire. All the paper in the world dissolves –

before me is the silent land, an unpretentious quiet.
It is a good hour – a space separate from worldly affairs – from
monetary gain. I pick a brown stick, a bit smudged, poke and
rotate it around, look up to the stars. I wonder if men in power
would see the black outlines of trees – a thousand years old –
a life without signatures.

Across the way is a reflecting pond, let men gather by waters,
forgo gleaming brown tables, let their faces see not their own
reflections, but deep in the pool, let them find silver fish.

They take off suits of power, roll down dark socks, wade
in warm spring water. Sparse hair slicked back, eyes hidden by
trees, pallid and veined, they meet again. Milky skin glides.

Gone are worldly papers, vanished are pens – black and unholy –
tablets are made of light beams. Seats are brown logs
given by the earth. No gauntlets thrown down. Whisperings

of the night soothe laws. Silence of the night is the news.
The cricket’s chirp is the break in – hands held over the fire, the only need.

Breezes feel clean and cool against fat jowls. Round stomachs newly
nourished, have a feeling of nature, of safe havens. Before they put back
on suits, hats, pocket pens, before they pull up dark socks, tie black

shoes, pick up brown suitcases full of paper, they join hands – not as men do –
they join hands as spirits might. The claws retract, hands become feathers, now
purple winged appendages, long gray hair of the dead falls from hats,

reminds of what happens when a dying land is moved to the back drawers,
bereaved of clean water, reminds them how poorly made laws seep into souls
and become false illuminations.

.

Hell, Fire, and Brimstone

To that person who left me a biblical pamphlet
stuck it in my front door today, I don’t know how

but this is for you. Somewhere along the way,
I saw the light. You might think of Jesus, well,
this is a different changing light

and I’m singing, I’ll fly Away, Oh, glory,
but not to any church organ grinder. This is
more lyrical, more A Cappella.

There’s no going back now, this scholar
turned into a soul needs something else –
Freed of guilt, never mind the sin, forgo

the chapel, although I really liked the bells.
I guess this is a journal poem, a note to self.

What I need is snow falling,
a walk in solitude, footsteps crunching ice,
meeting up with strangers

coming back home to myself, but –
those pine trees of my past, how they
climb up into my nose, making it burn.

 

 

Debra Bailey Featured PoetDebra Bailey lives in Louisiana, a place she loves. She is currently working on a chapbook. Her poems have been featured in The Artisan, The Swamp Lily Review, and ATRO, the Acadiana Therapeutic Riding Organization.

 

 

 

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