Lois P. Jones

Lois Profile_nBIO

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.

 

 

Alchemist

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
transforms us.

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,

golden rainflowers.
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

 

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