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Leonore Wilson

Image Credit: Michael Cory

Persephone's Return

She had never been timorous
so when the dark satanic milk
was offered her she chugged it
down among the corn lilies
and wild onions, this girl
who played with dragon geese
and garter snakes and the god
fed her in the house of his father
the ferment of dervishes
so she could become one
singing of the philosophy
of surrender, its radiance,
the hieroglyphics of rivers,
of ten thousand paths
that dig through sandstone and
thus she became a scholar
of gargoyles, of fleas and greed,
of everything marred, harmed,
a shepherd to envy, to the ignorant,
to the gods of oil and war, those
with golden purse strings

who exploit the backs of slaves,
for she was taught well
by the master who had drugged her,
suckling that sweet milk
of rage and revenge, so when
she returned to her mother
with her whip-marks
and scars, she needed
more than just an apple
and a cigarette, she glared at her maker,
scratched at her, hot-tempered
wench, balking
for she was the daughter
of everything knowable,
her world held the veracity
of ours: mangled carcass,
retractable claw.


As a child, he chose the most inviolable
fiery-orange with black stripes;
his small feet
could not nail the stirrups
so I pressed his hands to the pole—
young voyager
and mother, we spun as the monstrance

harp crowed like a Gallic cock,
as the body pulled around the soul
wretched animal strapped
at the neck, while nearby
the fallow water and the toy train shook.
O radiant we were, gazing out
at each other as God must have
gazed over chaos, the bruise of enough
dividing the dry from the
wet, as the spirit
of creation separated from
the black of eternity, this
our animist kingdom, our garden, deceptive,
though full of promise. Here we were
dressed in sunlight, barren
in thought,
when in the distance
the cathedrals
sounded their iron bells
reminding us with every ballast-bong
we mortals were paradox:
curved doves, dying heroes,
vile, sinful and certain
of punishment.

Time Capsule 

When they open it
years from now,
when the olden days
come pouring out
will there still be
ordinary things
like wind up clocks
and packets of cigarettes,
candies, chips, and
snacks; will there be
commodities and
guarantees, banknotes
and headscarves,
tractors and combines,
bovines lowing in meadows,
children’s toys whittled
from bark, ferry rides
and merry go rounds;
will there be those
sleeping under blankets
on the sidewalk and
migrants working in the fields;
will there be quicklime and dry rot,
small country churches
and mustachioed policeman;
will there be death

with all its awareness
and birth that comes
like a bright light,
will your memory
and my memory
be contained
in our progeny
or will the days
be indifferent like
something cracked
without movement,
in other words
will the flame of life
still hold as it does
today, burning brightly
like the touch of kerosene
on paper.

Practical World

He said he wanted to know
​what they knew—those who did
​practical things like building boats
​or cleaning streets, so my son
​shaped by the sharp angles
​of academia decided to live
​on water where the red-winged
​blackbirds clung to the swaying
tulles, where the cool winds of March



​clipped the deluge of the cattail
​thickets, and where the first settlers
​of the Delta needed words to describe
​their often dire predicament:
​Disappointment Slough, Hope Trace, Poverty Road.
​Here life had been unpredictable, undependable
​and some had drowned in the sloughs,
​the desiccated bottomlands, channels, canals,...
But not my son who rose each morning
​to travel to the inner city with a team
​of riparian men to jackhammer
​the hard macadam of Oakland, to hear
​the dunch of his own blood
​drum in his ear, noggle his heart
​until the ground opened up
​like eternity, he was that driven
​my physicist, to know the gowpen of matter,
​know his fellow creaturesmen
​who ate from tin cans and drank eagerly
​from heavy thermoses as if knocking back
​the sea. This was not
​a straightjacket for him, this everyday
​grit-grail, no it deepened his thinking,
​made him love the earth more
​learning the hot ooze of the hour,
​this workbench mentality, grunt and pluck
of male heritage.




Book in the Garden


Here I knew he was up to something,

                    practicing Portuguese amongst
the narrow rows of brotherly beanstalks and blue-shadowed squash,
feuding basil and recumbent tomatoes;
flipped dictionary offering the dew-stir of words
                      restless, courageous,
my courting mid-twenties son fecund with language,
and me quizzing him through declensions/ conjugations
                in the deep rush of dusk, in the honey-drip
dawn; ah how I knew my boy’s bramble fire
meant he was not willing to water, rake, shovel or weed,
                  but to distinguish
the riddled lights of Rio where he first rustled his lover....
Oh fat splash of summertime sounds
               that shuffled him into a new culture--
renegade pup escaping indolent buttoned-down California
to fiery Brazil, drumming its amorous

            etymology, his future once fluxing finally found.





                  Ode to Mustangs  (after a photograph by Hardy Wilson)
​                                                                         Tumbling
                                               dust as one solitary
                                    scrabbles over the monolithic
            Nevada desert.​
then another, with hooves kicking hard,
                  sharp half moons
                            while phantom mice scatter into
                their canopied chamber...
             These are savages, inhospitable
                              as the earth
                                 that skrawks and crackles
                                      beneath them,
       at the stub-end of summer.
                                                    Violence incarnate
                                   of the irreverent old west--
       listen to the meteorites hiss,
         like skatepunks on half-pipes,
                                          bronze gods in their male​​​
         teeth scoured with salt
                              manes whipped by wind--
 all tantrum
                                                 a spew of emotions
        repeating this annual
                                           range ritual
                                                        as the sweet mares
                graze elsewhere
               beneath the ribs of sheer
   oblivious to the awful neighing
in the chill domain
                                          of the good gods’ dawn.
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