Plodding Taurus [ My Poetry]

DEDICATIONS, PLEDGES, COMMITMENTS. For the past. For my own path. For surprises. For mistakes that worked so well. For tomorrow if I'm there. For the next real thing. Then for carrying it all through whatever is necessary. For following the little god who speaks only to me. --William Stafford

Thursday, April 25, 2019

One child (for Motlatsi), a poem by Joyce Ellen Davis

The beauty of a child can become lost
In the beauty of all those children.
—Tj Pfau

This is the story of Motlatsi
In another Africa, perhaps in an alternate universe.
Lives a beautiful dark child
With skin like smooth chocolate.
Each morning he rises from his bed
And eats the mealie pap his grandmother
Prepares as she does every day.
Today is like all the other days. She stirs,
The corn meal in the pot goes around,
And bubbles and thickens. Afterward,
His grandmother takes his small soft hand
In her large hand, and together they scatter
Corn to the chickens in the yard.

This is the story of Motlatsi.
In another Africa, perhaps in an alternate
Universe, lives this beautiful dark child
With skin like smooth chocolate.
He chases the chickens in the yard on his
Tricycle. The bell on the trike sings
A warning: I am coming! Watch out!
I come! A pin-tailed Whydah
cries from the broad leaves
And green thorns of the Kahretsana.
This is another part of the story

Of Motlatsi, in another Africa, in
An alternate universe, perhaps,
Where his grandmother sleeps in her
Wrinkled night dress. The window,
Moon-lit in the room where she sleeps
Shows her dusty shoes placed neatly
Side by side. In his bed, Motlatsi dreams
Of the little bird that flies from the kharetsana’s
Broad leaves and green thorns.
No bells sing a warning, no angels sing
A lullaby. A bullet shatters the glass, and
The sound of it interrupts Motlatsi’s dream
Sending the dream-bird to sudden flight into
Eternal darkess. He did not hear the crack
Of the bullet that took his dream.

This is the story of Motlatsi. In another Africa,
In an alternate universe, this beautiful child
Will rise to eat his grandmother’s mealie pap.
In this Africa, in this universe the broad leavesP
And green thorns must be used to wash one’s hands
After a burial. In this universe, Death is not
Embarrassed, Death is not ashamed
To take a sleeping baby.

His grandmother’s porridge remains uneaten.
His tricycle rusts in the yard

Saturday, August 09, 2014


Take this moment.
Take what you see.
Expect the unexpected.
This changes everything.
It's just some place you haven't been.
What are you supposed to do?
The loneliness of a foreign land
is a remarkable tale you've yet to write
and please is the only word you know.
In a moment of weakness you may
magnify the sounds of animals,
deer in the field, little sharp hooves,
round bellies, ears unfolding
the way irises in your garden unfold.
Be familiar with your surroundings.
Be excited -- single knots
tied along a nerve cast out
like a fishing line.
Count each knot like stars.
Words do not matter when you are
this close to home.
That photo on your desk.
Tell me:  what did you love?

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Next Day

The Next Day

For Herbert George Wells, Time Lord 

Everything that you think is here, is out there.  You live
surrounded by The Past., waiting for The Future,
for the events stored as holograms on the edges
of the universe to flow from your lives
on a continuous beam of light,

waiting endlessly for Forever, for Godot,
for the Right Man, for Superman, for the signs  
that will keep the Terrible Silence at bay, for the
Right Moment, for Jesus to return, for the bus,
for the elastic wormhole that will  tear down the walls
and take you from Now to Then,

you wait, knowing you are,  and are not part of it.
It is in no rush, although you think it is.  It passes
or it does not pass, slowly, or quickly.  You wear it
on your wrist or in your pocket, and in the lines
and wrinkles on your face.  It beats in your heart
like a drumline.

They tell you everything happens at once.
You know that Tomorrow is relative
to where you are Now and to how fast
you are moving.  You step across a threshold
and marvel at the way it all holds together.

So.  What will you make of it, if after the rain
the curtain is never drawn, and like a Time Lord,
you find you have endless expectations?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Happy Birthday Mikolaj Kopernik

Happy Birthday Mikolaj Kopernik
19 February 1473

"To know that we know what we know,
and to know that we do not know what we do not know,
that is true knowledge."  ~ Nicolaus Copernicus  

Since your birth the earth has orbited the sun
five hundred thirty-seven times.  I am sorry
Mikolaj Kopernik, that I still cannot understand
the heliocentric calculations of the cosmos.
Arcseconds.  Stellar parallax motion.

But the real story here begins with dreams,
your dreams and mine.  In mine,
the Arcade burns again.  And again.  Night after night,
it sends up sparks smaller than pinpricks,
the smoke of penny postcards flying like pages
of an animated flip book.  An optical illusion
into the movement of celestial bodies.
Charred walls cave in upon the pinball machines.
The photo booth.  The autographed pictures
of fabulous Sally Rand and Clark Gable.  Nudes
and Midgets.  Bagatelles and Peep Shows.

I am five.  It is night and the Milky Way is hung
like an illustrated map.  Every blooming star is a marker.
An affirmation.  In this dream I stand and watch it burn,
holding my breath.  The child in me returns.  And returns.
Forever dreaming of these visible and invisible delights
and mysteries blazing upward in the sky.  A holocaust
with no survivors.  The earth, racing around the sun,
the fires of earth so like the fires of space.  A tapestry.
A brocade of soot and cinders.

If I could bring you back, I would. I would bring back
Sally Rand and Clark Gable.  Cain and Mable.
I would resurrect the Nudes and Midgets,
untie their ashes from Orion and Saggitarius.
Bring them back on blu-ray, believing in themselves

I was five.  They thought a child would not remember,
Mikolaj Kopernik.  Now that I am seventy-five
my dreams are filled.  Still.  With starscapes
outside of this world.  I remember.  I remember everything.
And it is not like anything I have ever seen before.           

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Gull

The Gull 

Light and lacking focus
but committed to air

the gull
is blown south,
steered by a north wind away
from whatever is fixed.

Who can understand
the truth of it
but someone arbitrarily reborn
in a stranger's nest?

Who can understand
the exhilaration of feathers
above all the graffiti 
of civilation,

like a soul glimpsed,
leaving the body done?

Friday, November 09, 2012

For the Holy Spirit Loves the Rat

For the Holy Spirit Loves the Rat

Praise be to the rat at her birth
in the dim rain of the sewer, her lungs filled
at the first roll of the dice, with the Good Wind
of God, the Holy Spirit.

Jubilate, from Him will she learn
to run for her life from the cat's long teeth
and the owl's claws.  Jubilate, she will await
the Good News of her own small teeth.

And her own small eye beholds
what she cannot say, and her small ear
makes music of noise.  In the everlasting
geometric light of winter, or

in the slow, flawless light of summer,
the Holy Word of the God who loves her
leads her on the path of crumbs
into the pastures of garbage,

where she becomes Vermin,
who, if she cannot live, in His absence
can always die.  Beseiged,  she will venture
onto the decks of capsized ships, will flee

with no notion of the dark water downstairs,
nor of the wire cages upstairs, where she lends
her precious flesh to the microbes and vaccines
of Science.

At Judgement she will be blameless,
for her sweet trust in the Promise
that if any of us do,
she will live forever.

About Me

My photo
1. In dreams I am often young and thin with long blond hair. 2. In real life I am no longer young, or thin, or blonde. 3. My back hurts. 4. I hate to sleep alone. (Fortunately I don't have to!) 5. My great grandfather had 2 wives at once. 6. I wish I had more self-discipline. (I was once fired from a teaching position in a private school because they said I was "too unstructured and undisciplined." --Who, me??? Naaaahhh....) 7. I do not blame my parents for this. Once, at a parent-teacher conference, the teacher told me my little boy was "spacey." We ALL are, I told her. The whole fan damily is spacey. She thought I was kidding. I wasn't. 8. I used to travel with a theater reperatory company. My parents weren't happy about this. 9. My mother was afraid that I would run off and paint flowers on my cheeks and live in a commune, and grow vegetables. I once smoked pot. ONE TIME. 10. I don't drink or smoke. (Or swear, much. Well, I drink milk, and water, and orange juice, and stuff. Cocoa. I love Pepsi.) 11. Most of my friends are invisible. 12. I am a poet and a writer. All of my writing on these pages is copyrighted. Borrowing (without acknowledgment) is a sin.