Voices

A publication of The New School Institute For Retired Professionals

So Say the Ancient Chibcha

by Mireya Perez Bustillo

 

Before what was to be was
when all was omnipresent potential
like a fragrance lingering
There was Madre Abuela de Bacatá
She, Abuela to gods who birthed
Chiminigagua, formless, essence of light who yearned to give his light
Needing form he created the large black
flying ones, oily of feather, curving of beak
to slice through nebulousness
to pour forth sun-light
the flying shiny black ones
birds, he called them
were gifted a long-sight precision to guide
beaks full of incandescent breath
very vapor of sun life to sparkle air
to rain multicolor sunrays
breath that birthed us
So say the ancestors.
Others say the ancient shamans were
those first abuelos and abuelas
of the high cold Andes whose skin frosted
who shook shook seeking warmth
A shook so deep it sprouted them
a softness surfacing on their skin
a froth downy on arms, legs, torso
slowly smoothing into sleekness
strong, resilient, shiny, a flutter new
that lifted them in the light air
Plumes of power the elders say
Plumes givers to ancient teachings
Some say.
No, no others say.
It was Madre Bachué, the one who came from
the waters with the child by the hand
She the Knower when she entered the forest
where a sweetness swaying trees held her
wondering if it was the human’s song
She moved to catch the sounds
glints gliding too fast green, red, yellow, turquoise
a splendor not human a polychromed light
only feathered ones sacred to Father Sué
multicolor loros and guacamayos could emit
She knew then their plumes would crown priests, chiefs
their ceremonial mantas,
yellow reflection of Sué most powerful
So they say.

 

Mireya Perez Bustillo: Mireya’s poems invoke a powerful array of spirits. Her poetry appears in Caribbean Review, IRP Voices, Anthology of Colombian Women Poets, among others.

From the Motril Road

by Mireya Perez Bustillo

 

En medio del camino
they say Boabdil, the young Moorish
King of Granada
his soul darkened turned on the bridge
after he had turned over the keys
to the Alcázar and the Alhambra
on a silken pillow
to the conqueros Isabella and Ferdinand
that second of January in 1492
The Sun’s shadow in him
Boabdil turned turned
one last time
en medio del camino
to see the red splendor of Alhambra
the shimmer of Alcázar
Home to his ancestors for 700 years
a “paradise on earth” the sages said
where orange and jasmine scented patios and courts
where the sun and wind were freely admitted
and water, a visual and musical treat
trickled, bubbled, cascaded
in fountains, gardens and baths
to sparkle bodies and spirits
All turned over to the armored regents
their victory banners fluttering
their fighting horses reined in
their mounted minions waiting
All eyes on him, Boabdil on his black mount
rides slowly to the rocky prominence
before the bridge South
He turns for one last look
trembling, pressure rises in his chest
He turns for one last look
a sigh he can’t control spills
through quivering lips
Ay, Ay de mi Alhambra!

 

Mireya Perez Bustillo: Mireya’s poems invoke a powerful array of spirits. Her poetry appears in Caribbean Review, IRP Voices, Anthology of Colombian Women Poets, among others.

Long Gone (a pantoum)

by Mark Fischweicher

 

Huddled within their own bent and twisted ruins,
Utah Junipers let parts of themselves die
…………………………to save the rest.
Ancient leafless branches curl up close to living stems,
Remembering what could have been
…………………………………..or,
……….what once was.

Letting parts of myself die to save the rest,
Revising this and that of some forgotten vision here,
Imagining what could have been once, was,
I turn my gaze away from thoughts that only went so far.

Rewriting bits and pieces of some old notations,
Quieting the old piano
I keep my eyes averted from notes that simply linger in the air
No eulogy will raise memorials there, no stones will mark the place

The old piano…    quiet now
with all our singing done,
I eulogize, I do.     I mark this place
But moss already grows upon this tome

With all our singing done,
I huddle in my own entangled shell
The moss already growing where you had gone
our limbs uncurled, untouched by these old arms.

 

Mark Fischweicher has been scratching out poems since junior high school and still hopes it may become a regular thing.

Un Amour de Swann

by Charles Troob

 

Held captive by the whims of a faithless lover
I opened an app, found someone available:
brawny and sensual, seductive as all get-out.
I was going to send a message

via the app to Mr. Available
but my heart wasn’t in it.
I was going to send an exquisitely crafted message
perverse and passionate

but my heart wasn’t in it.
I put down the phone and turned instead to Proust
perverse and passionate
on every page of his long, winding text.

I put down the phone and turned instead to Proust,
burying myself in the whims of faithless lovers
on every page of his exquisitely crafted text:
brawny and sensual, seductive as all get-out.

 

This was written for Sarah White’s poetry group.  It’s a pantoum, a strict form in which stanzas are linked by lines which repeat, with some variation.  It was a struggle to put the pieces together until Proust got into it, and then everything seemed to fit.  

The Cathedral of Saint Sava

by Tom Ashley

 

A thousand times I walked past that church
its gothic beauty tucked between the streets
its bust of the esteemed Nikola Tesla
its working people with
their wants, keeping to themselves
yet always greeting with a smile
It was over, just like that
the internet, television telling a story
in pictures, not words
for words couldn’t do justice to
the fire consuming a century
of life’s tributes, births and deaths
baptisms, weddings, Sunday feasts
all gone save its perfect façade
now its lone tombstone

 

Poetry? Me? It felt like a foreign language before I stuck my toe in the water. This dimension has enriched my life and given me an added opportunity of expression and communication.

Everything You Need to Know About the 5th Grade

by Mireya Perez Bustillo

 

She knew that the vision would come on the corner elm tree because
she was so good in
school she heard that Our Lady came to the three children of Fatima
and that St. Ignatius
fell wounded then found the Lord and was saved and that St. Genevieve
saved the city of
Paris from that barbarian Attila and that St. Lucy gave her life for
her faith and they took
her eyes so why couldn’t she have the vision too so she stared at
the tree ’til her eyes
teared and when she entered the church she kissed the ground because
maybe the vision
would come then maybe the statue of Our Lady would come to life so she
always made
sure her shoes were shined and her navy uniform skirt and white blouse
immaculate and
her nails short and clean and her ears washed because she wanted to be
ready for the
vision and in classes at St. Bart’s the white habits of the Dominicans
swished through the aisles fast as the sisters drilled her in grammar,
spelling, and the exercises to focus
on the stories of the saints like the martyrdom of Joan of Arc who was
just 14 and a warrior and savior of her nation maybe that’s why she
wasn’t interested in playing jump rope but would walk around with the
sister on duty so she could catch a glimpse of the elm tree

 

 

Mireya Perez Bustillo: Mireya’s poems invoke a powerful array of spirits. Her poetry appears in Caribbean Review, IRP Voices, Anthology of Colombian Women Poets, among others.

 

December, Harlem River

by Mark Fischweicher

 

This morning all the trees got old.
Fuzzy stubble on their leafless crowns.
Snow-flakey,
dusty, and already bald, as if
the slightest wind
could end
it all.

The sky, an equal grey.
Gulls, cut from the same,
the river, too.
The train,
the steel of the bridge,
the water, all a leaden,
somber, dingy, dreary hue.
The current on its schedule, though,
still moves beneath and through.
It makes you yawn, it does
No need to be involved.

It’s hard to tell the living from the dead
along the banks;
I shudder at the stillness,
try not to think of sorrow
in winds to come

so brittle, soft, and bare.

No time to lie dormant here,

 

 
Mark Fischweicher has been scratching out poems since junior high school and still hopes it may become a regular thing.

Three Untitled Poems

by James Gould

 

alone with no one to love
longing my constant comrade
halfway fills my heart

 

sun gazed upon
burns
moon likes us to look

 

warble huddles from
driven frozen white
waiting without song
for fragrant plum petals

 

In the past, I was a patent litigator. In the present I am a motorcyclist, a world traveler, a learning-to-be-writer and a devourer of books and New York City culture.

Look at this, Bambi

by Elaine Greene Weisburg

An optimistic kindly lady
just put in some yummy hostas.

Doesn’t she know it’s our favorite thing?

We’ll leave her the boxwood–
that’ll outlast her
and the poisonous daffodils
brightening her spring.
But moving right past her
we’ll claim all the tulips,
the roses, the daylilies, peonies,
phlox…

Until she surrenders,
this lady
rocks.

 

Elaine Greene Weisburg spent about twenty years each at House & Garden (Conde Nast) and House Beautiful (Hearst) as design reporter and features editor, eventually editing a memoir column and two memoir anthologies.

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Goodbye, dear friend (to Ann Henry)

by Carol Schoen

 

As funerals go, it was cheerful
Her singing group sang
nonsense syllables
everybody clapped.
Friends read her poems
nobody understood
everybody clapped.
No need to weep
She was in charge.

 

Carol Schoen wrote her first poems for Sarah White’s study group and has been chugging along happily ever since