Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Four Sublime Poems by Lisa Marguerite Mora




The spell was cast decades ago. In the castle tower

covered by a sheer veil, she is beautiful. Once

she was asleep, now she is simply, dead. Once


there was hope, now there is a new paradigm. I struggle

toward the surrounding thicket of brambles and thorn sharp

as curled razors. Treacherous shiny burrs. Is there yet hope


in this, brutality? I strain my eyes to see it. This last ragged

fragment of myself. Some say I should have surrendered


long ago. But they do not know the price of such a mediocre

death. Everything half lived, half felt, half experienced. Surely now

that I have been pulled apart, ripped away, and every fibre exposed, surely


the reweaving of my spirit is the surfeit

of some storyteller's tale, gold across someone's palm,

treasure laden in the one who will fight for it.



Yesterday Paris

(the 2015 attacks)


Last night I dreamed of an old love from twenty-five years ago.

When I woke I thought, why him in particular? Yesterday in Paris,

seven teeming corners of its humanity, were stomped


ground down by a dull heeled boot. Kicked in the heart.

Film footage is sparse, but terrible. And I’m not there.


I remember how the psychic's eyes closed, a change came upon her face.

She relayed what she saw. “It is a very turbulent time in history.”


In my own mind I saw smoke as from myriad gunfire. “You worked together very closely.”

She was speaking of this man from that dream and I. “French Resistance.”


Since then I have become stronger in my history. Then I didn't know of what she spoke.

She paused. “Nazis got to you – both.” My stomach dipped


with new knowledge, still not understanding. “We were killed?” 

Violent death only to be born again, so soon. How could that be? 

“Yes.” Her demeanor calm.

“We were young?”



It was another lifetime. One I could not relate to. Delayed reaction

when tragedy drops as a bomb on the everyday. The psyche cannot assimilate


information alongside events. Paris has imposed a curfew for the first time

since 1944. The French flag flies everywhere. President Hollande promises justice.


I think of the guillotine. I think of the Nazi boot.

I've not been to Paris this time. This lifetime. I've longed for it.

But I am not there.


Its language soothes my ears, a mysterious balm of sound since childhood. 

The Seine snakes through my desires, metallic with moonlight.


In my dream, my old love said, You were the best wife I ever had.

Is he speaking of that other lifetime? I laughed. Made a joke. We do not


live in Paris now. We are Americans this time

and have not spoken in years.


Today, strains of La Marseillaise buckle my insides. Heaviness of heart

everyone is speaking of, finally infects me, and I can do nothing but weep.


Prior, I was angry, tired, bored with the cliché of violence wrecked upon so many

—a global distress. I wished to get to the root. To stop it. Staunch the blood


at its source, dismantle the ideas that bring such events into being. But today

it's personal. I have been here before.


A homeland trampled upon. This most beautiful city. Eiffel Tower stretches

its iron arm high into the sky. In 1942 I wanted to bring it down as a fist upon their tanks.


But I couldn’t then, anymore than I can now. I am not there.

So I dream. I dream instead,

of tenderness.



King Lear


Should I read King Lear, and write out each word and pause, will the world get away from me? Will I miss what is current and important? Another plane downed, election stolen, a detail of common life


slips by unaware because I am etching out each of Shakespeare's five-hundred-year-old words? Painstaking. No doubt passages of boredom, confusion. Or, if I attend this task,


will I better understand my species's conniving machinations how one hand smites the other?

And prevent another violent outcome — somewhere? Today in social media,


all 130 biographies of the recent slain. Yes, I read each one.

Paris, in particular got to me.


I say I am not like everyone else; fascinated with the most base: blood

let loose outside the body, it inks the friendly pavement, precious as rubies,


as royalty, as anything whose value is better kept from a million scintillating eyes.

But once I viewed with longing my own blood, rich with mineral


before it coagulated, still liquid with light. And knew that time does not flow backward. I want

to write out King Lear by hand. Page by page. To know the language it was wrought,


the mind that imagined such breadth of human character, its dungeons and wisdom.

It would take me a year, between this and that. Do I have such time?


Oh, what fine thing will feed me quickly, teach me truly, once and for all how to be of humanity, yet

transcend its lesser qualities? To not fail at this life, which may end tomorrow. What dense rendering,


marrow of thought, steeped in intelligence can I download before the next catastrophe?

This ancient story? And should the meaner aspects of this earth come for me,


break down my door, wish me dead for no good reason – in the end, will the tome of onion skin paper

bound in blue leather, within a billion letters pressed — shield me from bullets, from shadow?


Will centuries old characters step from the page, twine their fingers with mine, speak earnestly

of our natures? Will I hear them? Embody what even the Library in Alexandria could not preserve.


Because no one knows what each of us is made.

What we take with us to the grave.



 Winter, Winter


Winter winter where art thou?

In the folds of withered leaves


and skeletons of small birds —

feathers how they once lay upon the other


complex destiny of flight holding fast

to memory of sky song, scored symphonies we will never hear. Winter


has thou left me? Dust and cloud,

all form begins in the infinitesimal and ends


in the ephemeral. Two drops hydrogen, one drop oxygen

bits of carbon


and it changes, yet again. No form will set. Everything shifts.

How my cheek aches in its old curved bone. Winter, winter


where art thou? – My last day, how I walk through you

every year. Never with a chill of presentiment


never catching scent of cold. Light and shadow

frames my memories. Winter, I know you not.


Have refused your embrace, held at bay your beckon, Winter

my loved ones are gone


even as you breathe on my shivered skin, and proclaim that I know you.

I do not.


All time slows for me as I become laden

with what I will not give you.


Me and thee, Winter our slow battle as I garner your wisdom,

glean your knowledge


for myself.


Lisa Marguerite Mora has won prizes for poetry and fiction. She conducts workshops and offers literary services https://www.lisamargueritemora.com. Publications include Chiron Review, Rattle, Literary Mama, Public Poetry Series, California Quarterly, Cultural Weekly, Rebelle Society, Serving House Journal, a Blue Mountain Arts Poetry Prize, First Place winner Micro Fiction for Dandelion Press. Lisa was a semi-finalist for The Tom Howard/ Margaret Reid Poetry Prize 2020. Shopping around a first novel, she has caught the attention of top agents. Her prose and poetry have been nominated for Best of the Net as well as a Pushcart Prize.

1 comment:

  1. Powerful powerful in depth glimpses of the human psyche with all its darkness and terrors and wonderment.


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