Poems by Lois Marie Harrod

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Canticle for the Cardinal

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary Spring 2012

Lois lives in the Stony Brook watershed in Hopewell, New Jersey, a sweet little town that has been here since the l8th century. Though close geographically, it seems far from the turnpike-oil-refinery New Jersey.

For his peaky cap in March gauze
above the junco capes, at the edge of the field, there, cardinal

For the cheer, cheer cheer in March fog
beyond the blue flit of obligation, thief and blessing, cardinal.

For the wet, wet, wet in March singe,
damp, his waxy wings among the cedar, cardinal.

For confession from the high ledge, tut, tut, tut,
bright sky scarlet as his churchy namesake, cardinal.

For the childlike whistle among the weeping cherry,
white blossoming among the misery, oh cardinal, cardinal.

Catalpa Leaves

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary Fall 2016

The catalpa is emptying
like a theatre

from which no one is in a rush,
leaves floating like prayers at a Quaker meeting,

one . . . one, three. . . a breath . . .
two more detached and solemn

as I once wished my parents would take leave . . .
as my heart is leaving now

lilting its way through this branch
and those, what do I love?

Not the dress of the dry ballerina,
its odd stiff grace

not this orchestrated meander,
the coffins dawdling down.

Love as Snow

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary Winter 2014-15

It must fall
It must cover

and tree

the shrunken pear

the frightened sparrow

the world wild

and shimmering
as it was

we came.

Previously published in Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment

The Crow

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary Fall 2011

The crow sat leafless
in the silent tree

while others whippoorwilled
and chickadeed

or whet, whet, whetted
the dawn

with their bloody blades
of song

until the mockingbird
like me

began singing
for the absentees

the cats and whistles,
cell phones and bells

car alarms, thistles
sirens and shells.

The mockingbird
my brother

singing for others
what he could not sing for himself.

But the crow sat leafless
in the silent tree

no song for himself
or another,

a homeless bird
his black cloak

hunched around
his thin shoulders

making us all

The Widow Laments Another Autumn

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary Fall 2016

He planted trees
to make new this world–
as many as our plot
could bear.

For he was that kind
of man, one who
husbanded his acorns
against the sky descending.

Seed against sorrow,
he said, shade to cool
the warming woe.
The little we can do.

But he did not
foresee the fall out
of his un-wiving–
the thousand leaves.

Unsweatered and bare-armed
I rake and rake.
I do not know why
I live so long.

First published in Weatherings, ed. David Chorlton and Rober S. King. Lexington, Kentucky: FutureCycle Press.

What the Elephant Sings

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary April/May 2009

I destroy
what sustains–
the grass, the trees–

as you have
taught me,
little man with a mouth.

I have learned
the thirty words
that enslave.

I spread the world
over my body–
the mud, the sea–

my brother lost his trunk.
He kneels to eat,
and soon he starves.

It has been years
since dressed in blue stones

I carried the queen.

Wind as Conceptual Artist

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary Winter 2011-12

At first it was enough
to form and reform clouds
all day, a Zen experience,
breathing OOM into the firmament
and many of his productions
though temporary
went through startling shifts,
but isn’t surprise necessary?

So Wind spent years exploring
the possibilities of mist, vapor, fog
and when he had accumulated
any number of cumulus
and grown cirrusly bored,
he picked up grit to sand knobbly pines
down to barren plain,
sculptures which Rock recorded
with his there was
and there may have been stolidity.

Since Rock,
a slow and careful craftsman,
didn’t document everything
that Wind was tossing around,
so much, too much, gone with the wind,
recently Wind began to thread plastic bags
through beech and aspen trees,
something a little more permanent,
an idea he had gotten from Water,
who was adept at weaving bottles and boxes
into mats of rushes and reeds.

Once in awhile Wind
blew an empty trash can down the street
for its uncanny rumble,
but he usually let Flood float its contents
onto someone’s mired stoop
where Mud could etch it.

Wind noticed that Ocean
was also focusing on found objects,
an huge installation of tampon shells and rubber ducks
off and on a beach in Madagascar.

That was all right, Wind supposed,
they all had to borrow from each other,
but sometimes he grew angry
at the pale imitations­–
and blew through a gallery or museum
like a typhoon,
leaving creative chaos in his wake.

Some critics panned
these works as piles of junk,
but others suggested they gave
the rest of the conceptual artists
more to work from.

After these rampages, though,
Wind would often envy
the quiet works of Puddle
who managed to recycle
Wind’s clouds with a tree or two,
but generally Wind thought
Puddle was minimal and derivative.

Puddle needed a bigger canvas.

It was Cold though
who most irritated Wind,
Cold, so adverse to change,
Cold who had lately taken up
photographing an ice cube
not melting.  What was wrong
with him? Cold better wake up
to what was going on
in the Art World, ice as a medium
was so passé, the whole
planet was heating up,
and those polar sculptures
of his were melting
bear by bear.

You Could Save on a New Sky!

by Lois Marie Harrod

From Canary June/July 2009

Internet car ad

At the lot where Skies are cheap.
I see a cute little Indigo in the last row

but the salesman tells me
the Azure’s bigger, safer.

With two children
you want protection.

So how many clouds per hour
can count on?–I try to sound

wise to his pitch–how much
thunder under the hood?

He gets out the specs.
One bolt of lightning from this baby

can toast
160,000 slabs of bread.

I don’t eat that many carbs,
I say, but it might be handy on long trips.

Oh, especially at night, he says,
when there is no moon.

I am concerned about emissions.
Any of these Skies a hybrid?

He looks confused. You know, I say
a Sky like a nectarine—half peach, half plum.

Oh, you mean the Sunset Sky—
we have lots of those with all the smog.

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