Lois P. Jonesis a host of Pacifica Radio’s “Poet’s Café” (KPFK 90.7 fm), and co-hosts the Moonday series in West Los Angeles. Publications include Narrative Magazine, The Warwick Review, American Poetry Journal, Nassau Review, Askew and Antioch’s Lunch Ticket with upcoming work in Eyewear. Her work won honors under judges Fiona Sampson, Kwame Dawes and others. New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear selected “Ouija” as 2010 Poem of the Year. She is the winner of the 2012 Tiferet Prize, the 2012 Liakoura Prize and is featured in The Tiferet Talk Interviews which includes Robert Pinsky and Julia Cameron with host Melissa Studdard. She is the Poetry Editor of Kyoto Journal and a multiple Pushcart nominee.
Magi, magos, maguš,
they say you were born
in a letting-go moment
when a Father knew
they needed more than magic.
When they could no longer gather
enough for the fire, you came,
an arrow of light
shot down from silence
to the great noise.
What did they know
the nameless ones
who kept vigil
as a mother pushed
your soft skull
from the hearth of her body?
Her shrieks unheard, far
from the crowded kataluma
from the shepherds
and their flocks in the fields.
The musk of afterbirth
still mingling with the hot death
of lamb and ewe, with the soft wool
of swaddling clothes as they placed you
in the wooden trough. Here you lie
in a meadow of darkness, glowing
like a child who does not know
his future. Let me hold you,
your holy gold, all that pours
Previously published in Pirene’s Fountain, Winter 2013
kataluma akin to kataluo, signifies
(a) “an inn, lodging-place,” Luke 2:7;
(b) “a guest-room,” Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11.
Grand Canyon, North Rim
At the edge of a known world
mountains repeat themselves
like old people. Each ripple
a blue syllable, a language of forgetting.
A place like this, exposed
to harsh winters and long years
of drought, begs to be how it was.
I can’t but think
standing at the chasm
above the seep willow
how the ghost water raged
like bison through the bottom
of this immense gorge.
Not from flash floods and snow melt,
but a force so powerful
the ground split open, shearing
the canyon raw. What strength could carry
massive boulders miles away?
Surely no methodical erosion,
but a truth catastrophic
leaving this maw, this mouth
to gawk. My tongue so heavy now
with dust, like a potter’s wheel in the sun,
stays mute – having nothing more to say
than two hawks circling the canyon
or the wind coaxing the last leaves
from the cottonwood below.
It’s nearly dusk and the red rock face
shifts mood, deepening with itself.
What time changes leaves a shadow,
a human sundial at a precipice. A gnomon
tilted toward a true celestial north.
December 2013 Winner
Judged by former Poet Laureat of Virginia, Kelly Cherry
Ways to Paint a Woman
A handful of sleepcorn drifts from the mouth
stammered true out towards the snow conversations. –Paul Celan
Sometimes you cannot say
what is in the heart.
Sometimes you have to paint it yellow—
listen with the eyes: honeycomb and maize,
Transform with your softest brush
the way Lorca’s bathing girl liquefies
into water–half a head in fire,
sun burning a trail from forehead to cheek.
Graze the mouth with mango. Make time to blend
and take away. Use the green of a blind man
when he says you’re beautiful
and means you’re timeless.
Show what the light gave her
washing warmth into a neck
until it’s dune, a cliffside
that holds a head of surf.
Paint as you would before you awaken,
when sunlight falls like milkweed
and you are an empty silo
letting her grain fill you–
buttery malt and biscuit
for the love of honey.
Web del Sol
First Place, September 2010
Judged by Ruth Ellen Kocher