Fern with simple, lobed fronds. Photo taken by...
Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes a group has to decide which direction to take, how to keep the peace and still thrive. The following new poem calls on this type of experience, set in a psychological landscape.

Between the ribs a forest dwells
not just a beating heart
a vine-strewn wood

with the odd star-flower
and fern fronds unfolding
in twilight’s tangled lace

You’d think experience a GPS
or else your dreams could light
the way but you’ve never quite

set foot here before and
sunset’s streaks of color
dissolve in depths of blue

across the possible paths
so that when another asks
what you  mean to do

all you think to do you do—
you take the hand and
turn your breath to prayer

Kathleen McCoy

The following poem was published in Night-Blooming Cereus and other poems and The Glens Falls Post-Star

Three Thousand Times

As morning unfurled
in noxious plumes,
acrid wings enshrouding

the throbbing city,
we could have sworn
a single heart stopped beating.

Surely wakefulness is near
we say as we piddle, replay,
wail, twitter, fume, turn away,

then yearn to understand
how those who had smiled
and worked and prayed beside us

had both cloaked and stoked
the flames of rage.
Now our view of Liberty

stands unobstructed, our idols
crumbled into the white soot we wear
of others’ bodies—no, our own—

one heart stopped three thousand times.
Resplendent, mysterious,
morning unfurls again in rose and blue.

Come to the table and say a prayer.
The bread is warm. Eat it. Share it.
There is plenty. If it sits too long

it grows crusty. Then the children
pick it up in hunger but
it crumbles before they can eat it,

crumbs cascading to the floor.
Their toys and books seem
haunting now, their solutions

simple—glue and time.
Tell them,
a billion times three thousand equals one.

Kathleen McCoy

Posted in Faith, Peace, Poetry, Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , |

August 6

The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after the dr...Image via Wikipedia

August 6 – poem published in Night-Blooming Cereus and other poems and Columbia Daily Tribune

August 6

I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, quoting the Bhagavad Gita

The anniversary of the morning America
bombed Hiroshima—no ground footage, just
aerial takes of a beautiful bursting sun. Cut

to stories and drawings of crippled survivors—
a woman lies supine, reaching for a hand
or perhaps a knife, to cut away

that white sun from the blue oriental sky.
The lady from the hilltop estate
wears a tattoo of exotic birds

on her back, the brand of a melted
silk kimono, and joins the hundreds running
numbly, out of time,

their watches stopped at 8:05:
the laws of magnetism froze
at the zero hour.

Near the epicenter, people dig
for the watches or teeth of relatives
to bury with their ancestors

if they can walk that far.
Then the newsreel of Oppenheimer
disowning his dazzling son

with the face of American men who have
daughters like me. But that mask seemed
to melt, a self-portrait in hell,

his face the face of a man who has seen
himself for the first time, and shuddered—
I am become

Death, the destroyer of worlds . . .

I pour steaming water into a china cup,
the teabag waiting, and watch
the silent brown cloud float to the top,

sweeten it with honey and turn
to the child at my side babbling
to a toy.

Kathleen McCoy


Why do we bother, when time is so short and the diurnal demands drain us and we hurt? Why should we continue to beat the drums for peace in our homes and in the streets? This is not a poem, but what follows is. I rarely rhyme, but I love sound, and think perhaps this one shows the childlike side of us that has to ask–why?

The toddler posts her query
with a milk aside. The grandma

notes her question to the priest,
bedside. The student rotates quotes

on his screen, outside. The poet
dotes on quests her leaders have denied.

Why wait and wail and worry if a dream
takes only some crayolas and a tiny team?

Why celebrate with showers of aerial shells
’til blackbirds come crashing, silent cymbals?

Why drop a Molotov or hurl a stone across the fence
when the humans on the other side speak peace?

Why should you defend us in technological glam
when the “enemy” doesn’t even know who I am?

Why’s a decade in Afghanistan not enough?
Does fighting show we’re great, we’re tough?

Why brood on some bloody apocalypse
when the seasons of our lives become blips

on a screen, moments in the whirl
of time? How is war good for a boy or a girl?

Does it teach them to question? To read?
To learn we’re all of clay? Or just to bleed?

Kathleen McCoy

Posted in Faith, Peace, Poetry, Politics, Writers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment | Edit

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