By: Stephen Mead
Orchids will preserve the nectar,
lilacs, the ointments of sachets layering wrappings
as I ripen more sweetly that I ever did in life.
That was my charade then, a bouquet in the voice,
a stamen in each eye, & my lashes, petals, petals
above the budding lips & a thorny tongue
only silence could dare be equal to.
What is there left that could possibly terrify?
The supine props of my stance?
The leathery? The stiff?
What embalming I’ve made psalms of!
What better jars than these for the heart, intestines, liver, brains?
Jars of such carvings even ivory would envy
the ebony, the emerald, ceremonious through the gold
upon which they’ve painted my face.
There – purring polished in saintliness,
my limbs with their staff steering eternity,
the river of it, the winds, this whole sky a sea
is already gone swimming for any soul’s life
to call back perfumed, fertile.
Good news! Good news!
Let your plaster mask fall & at last breathe paradise.
But for Grace
No Lamentations, the usual sorrow resounding
as a bed of dread so tempting to stay in,
forgetting how a falling star ionizes its path
through black that the world’s turning enlarges.
Picture it: a planet’s dust speck suddenly receiving light
enough to flash so briefly it still steals beyond depression
& lasts in canyons of air.
Afterward the iron sky has something of gentleness
beyond passion’s electricity stirring neck hairs
& backs of knees.
Wonder then, about the progress of pilgrims
balancing pestilence or perseverance
perhaps even without genocide –
finding a thing to latch upon & bolt over.
Humanity, for once, can you cross
your primitive lengths to give an escape-artist-spirit pause
for rising another day?
If so, it is on such chance that we get up,
find slippers, shuffle off to preparations
which encourage lift, lift, launch.
A morning of plants – tight blossoms of Halloween tints
sweet in the emerald where my tiger peers with puce eyes.
A hello-smile gleams amid striations that are purrs between the petals
just over my head. Ascension is easy now, the day begun
in angel-light, the volts of wilderness this room unfurls
Coffee is a blessing, & toast, an anthem.
Birds scatter over, the leaves singing with squadrons
& what Fall is upon us in this harvest time.
Someone gave me a bag of such scents of where earth met sky.
I opened my eyes & knew.
Say it – the hum of incantation,
the swell hymn of petals unfurling
laps of scents, tongues,
texture-smooth moving over taste
buds to the territory of pores,
of visions opening for the months
of touches, the moments of mouths…
There entire lifetimes are encapsulated,
a coronation on green stalks,
the soft blades assuming light at the tips,
& more hip to living than your or than me,
except when we pause, make a bed of song
in these bulbs growing their godhead infinitely.
of sun, water, pearl
given simply to hold the jewels
that are eyes in so many features,
entire complexities of face-value hands,
the found mouths, the flesh, every shape.
Know whom, what’s hurting,
for these forms, hoping, do not, try not to
because the staggering cancers,
because the eruptions which level,
because the air waves which come
may find news more than occasionally good
& live through these drops
ascending as if bound
towards only honey sky.
(For John Holleran, in memoriam)
Stephen Mead is an Outsider multi-media artist and writer. Since the 1990s, he’s been grateful to many editors for publishing his work in print sins and eventually online. He is also grateful to have managed to keep various day jobs for the Health Insurance. Currently he is resident artist/curator for The Chroma Museum, artistic renderings of LGBTQI historical figures, organizations and allies predominantly before Stonewall, The Chroma Museum