Tuesday 21 May 2024

Five Poems by L. Lois

 



 

 

Muses 

 

the muse shows up 
puzzling from where 

 

other times I call it 
from its lair 

 

 

 

 

Oriah Told Me So in the October Sunshine  

 

Elisabeth meets 
Elizabeth 
so the belly 
of Frank 
will burst open 
in wild laughter 

 

these are things a mother 
can't imagine but her 
son did 
with Lois 
who believes the truth is 
a wise old grey wolf 
finding the way to a rainbow ending


 

 

Nothing's Perfect, Really 

 

frenetic isn't 
a bad 
state to be 
in 

 

even if it’s 
impossible 
to sustain 
with dignity 

 

 

 

Now What? 

 

I just graduated 
from a ten week 
course in domestic 
violence 
from my city's 
battered 
women's shelter 

 

I learned 
that what I 
experienced 
was violent 
abuse 

even if I never 
knew it then 

 

this was 
extremely 
helpful, appreciated 
and enlightening, 
so I asked what 
post-graduation 
course I could take 

 

only to discover 
that the non-profit 
had not thought 
ahead  
to anticipate my 
ongoing 
questions




 

Thieveries of Time, Moonbeams of Patience

  

 

"… silver clamp
to fasten this dream, end it unseen."
Agha Shahid Ali "The Correspondent"

 

standing on her tippy toes 
arms up to reach the lip of the box 
a tear slides down her cheek 
landing at her feet, beside the roll of postage stamps 

 

grandmother said to wait patiently 
Isabetty feared never waking up again 
she rubbed her eyes each morning 
as she read 

 

words scratched into the soft wooden 
walls of her prison 
"Wings will come to take you 
if the ground doesn't swallow you whole" 

 

after Gramma fell asleep 
drifting to the dust of her ancient spirit 
Isabetty counted the days 
notching the smooth cedar floorboards 

 

three times the box 
had been lifted, once moved 
twice the lid opened 
again today 

 

sudden – like the first time 
Isabetty scrambled from behind 
the Queen's head wound 
‘round the postmaster’s cardboard core 
 

blindly waving at the bright expanse 

the lid creaked on its hinge 
its deafening shrieks rebounding 
from the walls 

 

she covered her ears 
fell flat 
like a hat pin 
straight on the floor 

 

 

her grey school uniform, flaming red hair 
piled up in a halo of curls 
spilling over the jagged edge 
of the crown long since hidden 

 

a fiery red forgotten girl 
laying beside the stamps 
no one used 
the likeness of a dead Queen 

 

Gramma's words scrawled 
dust markings 
Isabetty began to cry 
quietly at first, then louder as hours passed 

 

a toy soldier stood on another bookshelf 
holding his post 
after the move to the library 
from the boy's bedroom in the old house 

 

standing guard 
unsure why 
the boy was a young man in college now 
graduating in June 

 

Garrison Commander Johnson 
used to hold a regiment 
before the unit was scattered, got separated 
he could shoot a man from ten feet 

 

with his standard-issue musket 
his bugle tied to a twisted brown cord 
hanging down his back 
for morning reveille 

 

Johnson took his bearings 
the small box on the top shelf 
of the bookcase across the unlit room 
desperate weeping 

 

coming from where the maid 
with the rosewood-handle duster 
worked earlier 
stopping to look inside from her perch on the ladder 

 

 

moonlight shone now 
through the far window 
and on clear nights like this 
the flowers in the vase on the mantel started to dance 

 

the paintings of horses on the hunt 
swayed like pendulums on heavy embroidered ribbon 
anchored to their picture hooks 
while the carpet swaths of blue appeared like a lake 
 

Isabetty's tears filled her wooden prison 
and three stamps fell away from the coil 
quickly floating to the surface 
slipping out on the cascading overflow 

 

through the crack 
between the lid and wall 
over the edge 
down the length of the bookshelf 

 

a pair of Queens caught on the frayed ends 
of tassels holding 
the heavy green velvet curtain 
wet glue stuck to loose threads 

 

and outside the window 
wispy clouds parted on the night breeze 
the full moon 
wafting its magic inside in syncopated gusts 

 

the Queen's faces 
smiled more broadly 
even as the saltiness continued to pour 
Isabetty sobbed unaware 

 

her sounds now buried 
deep under the water 
Commander Johnson watched 
the curtain billow like an unfettered jib 

 

 

he grabbed the loose threads of the closest tassel 
as the stamps, catching a puff of the breeze 
sailed towards him 
he leapt, swinging his legs up 

 

above his head 
like a high jumper 
one push and a fierce grunt 
crashing down in a heap 

 

two shelves below the pouring lidded box 
scrambling to his feet 
he grabbed the tendril of potted ivy 
rappelling up its slippery, speckled arm 

 

to heave onto the top shelf 
crouching to move sideways 
orienting himself on the far side of the box 
away from the waterfall 

 

scooting under the imposing clasp 
anchored firmly through a hole 
with a silver button 
holding tight with metal-on-metal friction 

 

a short distance away, Johnson saw 
three spools of thread and a thimble, 
he rolled them under the clasp 
two standing upright, side-by-side 

 

the thimble as a stepping stool 
kneeling on top, leaning over, 
he grabbed the third spool’s thread-end 
secured through the edge's locking slit 

 

hauled it up to the top of the tower 
laying flat on his stomach 
he hoisted the thimble in a bear hug 
repositioning it to step on 

 

Johnson popped 
the clasp open 
shoulder-blade leveraged 
against the box 

 

 

water dripping down over his stiff soldier’s cap 
his epaulettes taking the soaking 
the lid jumped up an inch 
on its old hinge 

 

pulling himself up to the lip 
he dove straight in 
diamond tears, sparkling 
bounced wall-to-wall in the water 

 

Isabetty's golden crown 
shone below her billowing ruby curls 
Commander Johnson picked her up 
pushed off from the bottom 

 

clearing the surface 
he grabbed the edge 
left arm still 
around Isabetty's waist 

 

she woke with a start 
as fresh air hit her face 
sweet dust of grandmother 
suddenly glittering in the moonbeams





              





L. Lois lives in an urban hermitage where trauma-informed themes flow during walks by the ocean. She is pivoting through her grandmother-era, figuring out why her bevy of adult children don’t have babies, nor time. Her essays have appeared in the Globe and Mail, her recent poetry In Parentheses and Woodland Pattern.

Five Poems by L. Lois

      Muses     the muse shows up   puzzling from where     other times I call it   from its lair           Oriah Told Me So in the October ...