Literary Yard

Search for meaning

‘Red Cinnabar’ and other poems by Theresa C. Gaynord

By: Theresa C. Gaynord


Discard my clothes, my glamorous spoils
and fate me before the dispossessed
far removed from my gowns of tulle and

Walk me toward the peak of the mountain,
strip me of my name as I watch the infinite
Open my eyes to summer mornings,

the mute child is no longer rebellious
thundering the day and breaking the
chains; she now cradles children born in
time and without hope,
orphaned of demolished huts and murdered
parents when blood red flowers ripen
among the stalks
and the posture of trees show

the prevailing wind.
Don’t look back with doubt, Spirit, Mother
of the Moon and Goddess of the Night.
Instead shed light on the marching metal men

with their hoes, machetes, and shovels.
A timber mafia has emerged

plundering ecosystems and locals.

They walk among the grotesque fantastic
figures of your nightmares;
omens of confusion and disorder,

chopping the scenery one by one
erasing it so that the river of your village
no longer speaks your name as it flows.
The land and air effaced

seething with fond farewells.
Devil’s world, and flesh unite
with incandescent stars of lemon-
yellow. Death unspoken.


I Know How the Moon Rises

The South is filled with puzzled moans
where soldiers laid their phantom bones
uncoffined, as is, as found,
strange eyed constellations
above each mound,
waning tapered glimmering cold,
frameless souls
none might touch or want to hold.
A whirl of wings by mighty fanned flies
seized the corporal softness
of their unheard cries.

Hourly posted sheets of scheduled death
haunting, daunting, taunting the next of kin
recalling the quaint old southern ways
of a babyhood’s innocent days.
A letter brought whose lines disclose,
disbanded traditions
against trooped apparitions northern bound.
Towering homes slacked with high fires,
a passionate example of martial desires.

Voices weak enough to hear the chiming of winds
tell the story of the tragedy of things,
while once they stood prest to dreams
in white columned homes of high beams,
where honor missed the pale of their faces,
drearily, wearily, eerily a brief time ago
treading back slowly
the track of their march,
hopes abound in careless air,
life beats are low and time is rare.

It was sad enough and prophetic to sight
how black tarred faces mouthed-out to the night
wholly marred by gloom and oppression,
reflecting moralists of history’s recession,
worth more than cotton or gin,
deserving respect with deeds well done,
singing spirituals under magnolia trees
royal reckoned attributes,
serene, sorrowful, and free.

Mass casualties, a pilgrimage of pain
ripening years have run,
underneath the deedful word
of a blood red sun.
We know what made us pluck the flowers
and glimpse at faces in sideboard glass,
we all pay the debt at widow’s wakes
that weep before memorial brass,
with silence on what shone behind
in a garden’s shallow brook,
a warping mirror of our dark door shall show,
some 157 years ago.


Summer in Calcutta Prose Poetry

It never feels like summer in Calcutta despite the sweltering heat. The house is bleak, and by the gardens, mounds, stones and trees a serene yellow-green glassiness chills the speech of the lovebirds.

My mother-in-law is in the kitchen boiling tea the Indian way, bringing the water to a boil, separating it from the stove before pouring it into a Bone China decanter. I see her add the exotic tea leaves and spices with care before covering it with a “tea cozy” letting it sit for three minutes, slowly brewing. She gives me a playful and reluctant look of anticipation. Once ready, she filters it into fine, delicate cups adding milk and sweetener to taste.

She takes a sip sampling the brew and smiles before offering me a spoonful. It has a unique flavor, one brought about by the variation of culture, language and customs. We both bow our heads in agreement but no words are exchanged. There is a calm in the house, on the land, not to be mistaken for peace, just a deadening quiet.

In the next room an illustration by Edmund Dulac hangs on the white wall and I dream about Queen Scheherazade telling her stories to King Shahryar. I want the same enthusiasm of an artist over the mere order of a solitary home impatient over her lover’s absence.


Quetzalcoatl’s Song

Once he spoke the language of flowers
where white maundering clouds
fleeted across the moon, high in the Heavens.

A Mazatec Indian
in the mountain range of the Sierra Mazateca
disappears in the darkness
as light comes and goes
by intervals.

Between blank walls
to regions unknown
a Shaman grumbles and expostulates
visionary insights into obscurities,
perplexities of existence,
amusing phrases
of mushroom drunkenness.

Crossed legged on the floor
close to the fire
breathing the incense
of pressed flowers,
and ages old traditions;
he speaks in the night,
of chirping crickets
who join the crying
of each falling, dying
flake of snow.


The legend of Quetzalcoatl
aflames the blue of far skies,
where fountains of fire rise up
and rise again
with sparks like stars for drops,
as the passing wheel of time
brings disconnected flowers
among chirping crickets
and blood red moons.


Adrenaline Rush

Hang loose!

Edge; with the open ocean
I flow, on my surfboard,
constant movement of deck
and water.

Colors speak in the layers
of the surface. White, I crawl.
Brown-Green, I trudge ahead,

Perpendicular sides meet a
bright red as the sun devours
the sky, with nothing between me
and the adrenaline rush.

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