The Rose by Patricia Nelson

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—After Dante: Paradiso

i.
How, but by forgetting, can I leave
the yellow brightness of the center,
the white rose raveling beauty?

I who grew brighter even in its shadow
must turn earthward now,
cooling like a cloud.

That white, lost flower rests in my skin
like a shape on the distorted, moving water,
which the water does not see.

ii.
The shape and noise of the world returns:
the calls, the changes like a thudding of stairs.
After radiant stars, the eloquent hardness of a wall.

I touch it with blank, soft hands,
the sounds in the underlying wood
like a creaking of bridges.

The night lifts its black and crooked sigh.
The old confusion is above me, close as a clamor of beaks,
its meanness striving like a windmill.

iii.
What used to comfort with its distance, its lack of odor
or a shadow, its yaw of unkempt stories—
now is real. More real after my nearness to the light.

The light of the earth is to the left and small
as I go forward, and I must
love that cold which reaches out to me.

Though I am colder here, and dimmer,
I will stand, a beast with the moon around him
hitting the ground like bird strikes, with a dead light.

I will tell them the symmetrical story
with stinging and struggle, a beauty with noise
and falling. And I will love them as I tell it.

 

 

Patricia Nelson is a former attorney who now volunteers with an environmental organization. She worked for many years with the “Activist” group of poets in the San Francisco Bay Area.

 

Artwork, Isolated, by Jenn Zed.

Everyone knows a poem about sex is also a poem about death, by Shannon Phillips

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after BH

Every hour begs to be inhabited,
known, not recorded. What if every
particle in an hourglass were a consonant,
a vowel in a poem written above
and unwritten down the center, made
and unmade, like love, like a bed,
like the shapes she makes
under his hands.

Remember that song and how it
curled around the moment,
a tongue unfurled, letting go
of words so to taste the sweetness
of what is fleeting. Exquisite pleasure
is wedded to pain.

Remember that time even if
no picture exists; no poem, no picture
could convince death to be gentle,
but a good kiss just might.

 

 

Shannon Phillips is the founding editor of Picture Show Press. Her most recent chapbook, Body Parts, was published by dancing girl press in 2017. After teaching ESL for 3 years, she decided to study Arabic and hopes to one day work in the field of translation.

 

Artwork by Jenn Zed

The Emigrant’s Address To America. By Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon

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All hail to thee, noble and generous Land!
With thy prairies boundless and wide,
Thy mountains that tower like sentinels grand,
Thy lakes and thy rivers of pride!

Thy forests that hide in their dim haunted shades
New flowers of loveliness rare –
Thy fairy like dells and thy bright golden glades,
Thy warm skies as Italy’s fair.

Here Plenty has lovingly smiled on the soil,
And ‘neath her sweet, merciful reign
The brave and long suff’ring children of toil
Need labor no longer in vain.

I ask of thee shelter from lawless harm,
Food – raiment – and promise thee now,
In return, the toil of a stalwart arm,
And the sweat of an honest brow.

But think not, I pray, that this heart is bereft
Of fond recollections of home;
That I e’er can forget the dear land I have left
In the new one to which I have come.

Oh no! far away in my own sunny isle
Is a spot my affection worth,
And though dear are the scenes that around me now smile,
More dear is the place of my birth!

There hedges of hawthorn scent the sweet air,
And, thick as the stars of the night,
The daisy and primrose, with flow’rets as fair,
Gem that soil of soft verdurous light.

And there points the spire of my own village church,
That long has braved time’s iron power,
With its bright glitt’ring cross and ivy wreathed porch –
Sure refuge in sorrow’s dark hour!

Whilst memory lasts think not e’er from this breast
Can pass the fond thoughts of my home:
No! I ne’er can forget the land I have left
In the new one to which I have come!

 

Rosanna Eleanor Leprohon, 1829-1879.

 

Artwork by Jenn Zed