Free Verse  with Vera Ignatowitsch

When I Was Baptized

Sometimes, I can feel the lukewarm water
and see the abstract pattern in the multi-colored 
stained glass. I was no more than eleven,
but already attracted to inexplicable patterns,
patterns that made adults uncomfortable.
I arranged the baptism on my own,
perhaps without really understanding
what it meant. My closeted Jewish mother 
and atheist father were at home, performing 
their rituals of fear and misery. We are filled
with water. It flows through us—our personal rivers 
feeding oceans of consciousness, washing clean
the detritus of our humanity. Water heals—
fresh water, salt water, the water I drink every day. 
The water of baptism doesn’t mean to me 
what the minister intended, yet—when I think back 
to that day, and I recall the folds of white 
against my tender child’s skin—I am grateful. 
Whatever was sacred in that water found
a tributary to my heart when I had no one 
to protect me. It remains in my blood, 
a filtering agent splashing against the polluted 
stream of my ancestral source, creating 
inexplicable channels of patterned light.

 

Diane Elayne Dees’s poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane’s chapbook, I Can’t Recall Exactly When I Died, will be published later this year by Clare Songbirds Publishing House.

Marigold

 

Marigold.

Marigold of a crisp autumn morning, sunlight streaming in to light up her fine blond hair. Soft as a feather, translucent downy lashes framing bright blue eyes. Intelligent and knowing, newborn windows into an old soul. Named for the brilliant golden flower, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise colorless world.

Marigold of the butterfly kisses, her mother’s spitting image, apple of her father’s eye. A beautiful representation of their years together, blessing their fruitful union. Little lady in miniature, dancing through the corridors of his steely heart, the great man humbled before her tiny form.

Marigold of a thousand days. One thousand sunrises and bedtime stories. One thousand smiles and tears and nights of childish dreaming. Days as her father rose up through the ranks, Bulldog on his way to glory. The furies of battle and first world war coming to an end, a brief respite before an even greater evil rose up to take its place.

Marigold of Kensal Green, sleeping under weathered gray stone. Her mother’s anguished cries echoing through the years, her father’s resolve forged in terrible grief. A child of sunlight resting in the gentle darkness of eternity, beloved footnote shrouded within the Churchill name.

Marigold.

A. Elizabeth Herting, an aspiring freelance writer and busy mother of three living in colorful Colorado, has had over 50 short stories published. Her collection of short stories, Whistling Past the Veil, will be published soon by Adelaide Books.

Headlines

 

Gadabout God faces famous courtesan,

tits and all,

calls Moses a fraud, calls Jesus false

as the bloody cross he hung from;

tricks of the trade, snakes in the grass,

He calls them, all of them;

read all about it, it's all here,

plain as day or the sparkling night.

 

Queens leave adultery to

their daughters instead of cold millions;

read all about it, read about

flames, arson, dying firemen,

flying bullets and

dead famous entertainers,

death coming to Disneyland

in a hoop-skirt;

lapidary hoopla, it's all there,

bold as brass, stupid as paint,

creating coffins of words,

black and fleeting,

holding us briefly

and no more.

 

We ain’t talking about the good word,

boys and girls,

the gospels to come, to be told,

to be treasured;

just the daily bleating, the comings and goings,

the ratcheting of infamous feats,

retarded admirals and presidents

at home and abroad,

in big trouble, uh-oh,

stays of execution,

all kinds of sinners and whores

in the fields of earth and

at the end of the road, the end of now,

as we know it, a modest apocalypse.

Wow! And forget it.

 

God, sly as a fox and bold as a lion,

scales down his limitless circumference,

signaling from the sky,

comes down again, this time

harrowing not only hell,

but earth’s own sweet self,

not only boxing

the daily evangelists into oblivion,

but bringing to us all

His grace and terrible truth;

ripping out now with

the message of eternity;

 

none of it lasts, folks,

not a goddamned bit of it.

 

 

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, The Comstock Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The Antioch Review, The Piedmont Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. He once owned a cat that could whistle “Sweet Adeline,” use a knife and fork, and killed a postman.

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