She sang to the Lord with cymbals after Holofernes
was foiled by the hand of a woman

Holofernes symbolizes the rugged root of an invading army
and unwanted intimacy, she took the man seed

Judith is a private poet who railed and raged saying, “whosever fears
the Lord will see their enemies melt like wax”

No one would mistake her closed thighs for arrogance
the beauty of her countenance was her victory

Like Persephone, she took her offering to the Underworld
knowing the humility of supplicating on others’ leavings

The head fell into seeds planted beneath her tribe
grew healing from man-brokenness into wings and leaves

Renewal every year means virginity can be reclaimed
as it regrows a flourish ascending from the soul

Spring returns thus, so no man ever claimed her after the once
she planted renewal arriving in each bloom and regrown shoot

Judith found the truth as the flowers hoisted their lips to the sun
in the season of maidenhead with its thousand new blossoms.
©marywinslow 2017 all rights reserved. This is another one that I sent to Calyx and they've lost all trace of my submission and my very existence. I'm glad to be able to share it on HP.
I feel the cold bites, mittened children yell
they’re sewing sky flowers as they run with yellow or red kites
ocean makes that great space with tides that linger over the rocks
we fashion nothing like the clouds and feel small

As storms build up I walk a coastal trail
where ashes of an old beach fire left roasted pinecones littered
an Osprey flies up above the shore’s edge  
and as I read your book, I feel the restless melody in your poems

Tides flap and slop against sand the color of worn concrete
ocean’s spoiled lives permeate everything, my skin tastes sea salt gargle
gulls and passersby all watch the waves moving towards us

I’m lingering here for too long and return to my car
clicking heels behind me in the parking lot
the castanets of other lives with their importance
arouse such unpleasant thoughts, I walk back down to the beach
hurrying until I no longer hear their rhythm

But now the fog rolls in and the ground is covered with wings
all the doors are locked when the sky drops down like this
thunder knocks in the distance saying ‘“celebrate!”
its echoes wake the clouds, rain gives an answer with applause

on the threshold of storm I turn away from the ocean and look east
a forested mountainside crowded with fading painted houses abandoned
a single car on the road with headlights, we have hundreds of days of rain here

in other words, most people forget anything but rainy weather
the chill from Alaska reaches down only in gusts but snow is distant

This Sunday when Netarts bay is full of kayaks and fishing boats
Oceanside’s patch of beach is strewn with sea grass, people with their dogs
walk amongst shed crab shells, a lone restaurant opens selling coffee and pies
none of the people in rain slickers and hoodies move off as the rain falls
©marywinslow 2017 all rights reserved. I submitted this one to Calyx magazine in October. They've apparently lost my submission and all record of my existence. I'm glad to be able to share it here.
They call me dogsbottle
don’t ask me why
it’s a story out of time
branded by eternity

Charity was my subterfuge
desperation my defense

I came here seeking refuge
terrified and angry
ready to sow the seeds
of my own defeat

But a breeze on my cheek
deterred me
the chime of the church bells
stayed my hand
some tempest of grace
soaked the parched ground
of my parents’ need

I was relieved
through generations of grief
and ill temper
given grace as thunder rolled
and lightning struck

a sweet song in the wind
soothed my mind

And me.
Not knowing the day.
A dotard of the hours.

Well and yet alive
breathing still, dear ones.
And with fiber enough
for another blessed day.
  Jun 6 Jeff Stier
I used to keep a bell jar
full of old fine fishing line
arrowheads, gold coins
and stuff not easy to find

like cherry cured shine from
my mountains of Tennessee

buried in a lunch bucket
twelve paces from the coop
waiting for the moon
who took his own sweet time

slower than a long night
listening to the same hoot
of the same old hoot owl
in the same old dying tree

knowing it was the end
of my days on the Creek
me, I could see it coming
like a dead star's light

from so long ago
I couldn’t possibly know
which old road I’d follow

so holler at me my
friends, my loves
from time to time
wherever you be

whenever your heart strings
are feeling a need
to tell this spirit of mine
your sorrows, your joys
or wishes for
better tomorrows

and I will from somewhere
be there with open arms
and ears and a heart

sewn tight with that jar
of invisible string
that binds our lives together
forever and longer than that
light from a dead star still
burning on shining so bright.
Keep on rocking in a free world, my friends.  

And james, you old coot, yes you,  put back on that black beret that looked so cool and get your ass back here to write HP some lines of your fine poetry.
Jeff Stier Apr 29
I’m a friend of darkness
lock lips with it
in a lover’s embrace

I mourn the dawn
beg favors from the twilight
hold every hope
in my uncertain hand
for a day when the sun won’t shine

And I know
by my wayward feet
by the tremors in my hand
that darkness creeps silently
up to my borders
crosses every line
and will someday defeat
my meager defenses

I have prepared my retreat
a forced march
to the grey Pacific
where everything in my life
and begins

The solemn swell of the waves
a fitting harmony
to that last sweet song.
  Apr 26 Jeff Stier
mark fishbein

Our eyes once lingered on the ancient tree
Traced to the founders of this place
Who cleared the land for farms and cemeteries,
But spared the giant elm, older than memory,
And made of it the icon of our public space.

That towering mountain of limbs and foliage!
It could be seen as a beacon in all the valley,    
Majestic in every season! Every knot in the bark,
Every root that bulged through the mossy soil
Was known in its estate in the center of town.  

Here we spent our Maydays with our newborns,
Playing in the shade of the afternoon sun.
Here we held our parades and moonlit fireworks,  
Here we gathered for a death to mourn,  
Here we found first love with lips and tongues-

There is a vengeance that exists as clouds collide!
How we wept, all of us, along with the homeless birds,
How the news was spread like fire in the landscape
That a chainsaw of light had ripped through the trunk
And split it to the core, and all fell asunder to the ground.  

We gathered, hand in hand, all held another tight,
As neighbors came in fellowship and joined the crowd;
We stood amazed at the power of nature’s gods
And the profoundness of what should never die
Lying in pieces under the open sky above.

With the fading thunder and sorrowful birds  
There we surrendered to a moment of true silence;
Surrounding the dismembered monument of ourselves,  
Hand in hand we felt the ancient soul of the tree
Rise with the smell of sap and the smoldering leaves.


What debate was held, what prizes to win,  
To fill the empty hole in our common domain!
The plans from the architects and artisans
Were posted in the daily papers, argued at the tavern;
Installations of arches with colored lights,
Fantastic sculptures of glass, Roman fountains,
Sphinxes made of iron, kaleidoscopic neon palms,
But none fit the mood of the grieving town.  

But it was a stranger, got off the bus one day,
A drifter who passed through, had a beer at Jimmy’s,  
Barely stayed an hour, and told the bartender-  
“Take the wood that remains, the body of the tree
To conceive the tallest turret ever to be seen,
An obelisk of hope, like a lighthouse on the land.”
He said, then disappeared from our history,
Never to claim his prize or our blessings.  

So it came to pass, we built the tower with its kindling
And it stands like a lightning rod to defy the storms;
A destination for tourists who crave miraculous things,    
Who climb the spiral stairs which fill the hallow core
To the tip of heaven where all the valley can be seen.
It is said to be visited by spirits of the founders,
And every sound made within its scented vaults
Has a reverberating echo heard for miles around.
Inspired by Alan Hovannes "The Ancient Tree"  Once in a while it's good to write, and read, a longer work.  Enjoy.
(Revised slightly 4/25, revised stanza structure in part II.  Thanks)
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