By: Cynthia Pitman
Prologue: The Book of Omens
Behind the old car,
resting on cinderblocks
beside the barn,
lies a beaten and broken book.
Its weathered hide
won’t tell its name,
and the rain-soaked pages,
dirty and torn,
won’t reveal its secrets.
Only a few words peek out:
oracles,. . .
I read the words
and try to put them together.
The diadems of the craven oracles
are but garland wound around their heads,
soon to tighten and break their visions.
Craven garlands strangle
the diadems of the oracles,
prophesizing their doom.
Or could it be:
The craven with their diadems
fear the oracles with their garlands,
knowing the end is now near.
I wonder which message,
the old book is trying to send me.
It is warning, I am sure,
but of what, I don’t know.
Still I will continue to spin
the words within my mind
and keep my diadem well-hidden.
Behold a Pale Horse
By day, the sun will go black,
trapped by a cold halo –
By night, a blood moon will heighten
the midnight fights of feral cats.
The Four Horsemen will arrive.
The ground will grumble under their
galloping steeds as tectonic plates
stretch to claim new terrain.
The rifts will split the earth.
The masses will fall to the depths
of a bottomless abyss.
A few will flee with nowhere to go.
Soon they will slow and claw the earth
with desperate crawls.
But still the ragged prophet on the corner
will stand steady and hold high his sign:
“Repent! The End is Nigh.”
The Silver Urn
Inside this run-down cottage
we call our home
hides a sterling silver urn.
Seen or unseen, it casts its lethal spell
on all who are here.
Breathing an ominous chill,
it weaves through the rooms.
This circling stealth menace makes it clear:
there is no escape.
Held rapt by the spell of the silver urn,
we will soon wither and diminish
Some say the mask doesn’t work.
We wear it anyway.
Others say the mask only masquerades
our Selves into believing
that these totems —
which are but a bloodless sacrifice —
will save us from this mindless,
who wears such a blinding armor.
They will not.
The masses of the defiant
curse these totems,
while the fearful cling to them.
All we can see of one another
is the eyes — eyes that disguise
the Self and pierce the masks
which either are discarded too late
with a bravado bray,
or are melded to the entombed faces
by false hope.
Shelter in Place
The worst of it is the un-noise, the un-sound:
no growling lawnmowers,
no shouting children playing tag,
no barking dogs in backyards,
no blaring radios,
no cars passing by,
no stealthy squirrels
stealing seed from the bird feeder,
afraid to venture into so quiet a world,
no rain or wind or earth or fire or spirit –
the quintessential elements
of the natural world,
disturbing the vast unheard,
afraid of falling victim
to the no-threat-to-them —
only thick silence gathering,
waiting patiently to consume life.
Today I walked on water.
For the first time in too long
I went outside. No mask.
I squinted my eyes at the florescent sky,
trying to heal myself with Vitamin D
after the quarantine.
I skipped down the cracked concrete sidewalk.
My bare feet splashed and kicked
the warm summer stream
born of the sudden afternoon storm,
the kind that comes as no surprise,
so faithful is it to its eternal vow –
to always, always wash the world.
Its raging rain never fails to cleanse a path
for its innocent travelers –
we who have walked alone through fear,
ringing a leper’s bell.
The world is flat today.
No curvature of the earth
creating such primal verve
that we twirl and twirl
with outstretched arms
while we lift our faces to the sun.
No curling winds unfurl our skirts
as we dance with the wild lilacs
by the cold trickling stream.
No morning glory.
The sun has risen, but that is all.
Our spirits did not rise with it
but remained tethered to the ground.
The world is not round.
Epilogue: A Scenic View: Zoom In
A bucolic scene:
wrapped in bougainvillea
A shadowed room:
trembling with fear
A whistle of the teakettle:
brittle air breaking,
The hearth of the fire: