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JOAN THE ANGEL GODDESS


A POEM BY ELIZABETH MARTINE BISHOP

Portrait of Joan the Angel Goddess

In the beginning
She merely caressed a painting
Of women playing lutes.
These paintings hung in a chapel
Painted by another gifted artiste

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MORE POEMS BY ELIZABETH:

On the Day of Judgement

Better celebrate on a day of birth
A day of death would not suffice.
As my breath catches in my chest,
Death not so perverse
As a summer wind
Blowing in from the south.

Try wearing a wisdom’s dunce cap
Inside out. Why heed the voice
Of the adulterous honey bee
And courtesans who prop
Up souls of wrong-doers?

If your intent to extinguish
The flowers of youth, remember
Petals already beggared
By a wayward thirst for life
Cannot incur further disfavor.
Don’t bother arguing
About merits of this case,
A court of law is as chaste
As a lover in an ale-house.

Consider impoverished seers
First among those who steady
The hands of palsied truth.
Don’t look back upon deeds
And those who commit misdeeds.

Shake the dust from your feet.
If an adulterous man
Finds union with god,
Far too late for him
To tout his deeds
Lending credence
To his golden chalice
Of choice.

For ill will cannot counteract
Pock-marked saplings growing
Tilted towards the ground,
Stunted within a counterfeit track
Of what use is a good heart
Beating before a stranger’s
Unruly spate of curses?

Lending an ear to a Lydian air
Might appear beguiling to a crowd
If, in the beginning, marrow and meat
Of an imposter’s dream too costly and too dear,
How can it appear pleasing to some
Must we defer to a mask of solitude
To disinter burial’s gain of intelligence?

What of wisdom’s comely serenade?
After renewing their proper worth,
When mandolin strings played before
A sullen sultan’s harem, how slight
The efforts of a talent. Distrusting poverty’s
Cross-eyed ignominy, what of the beloved?
Allowing for life’s share of liars, seers,
And prophets, if a perverse character
Already declared perverse, what harm?
Why lavish praise on everyone else?
Exiled, an actor reflects the slights
Of a mirror’s lightning flash.

Out of sorts, a sway-backed horse
Always a sway-backed creature!
A fakir carousing with jealous women
Playing imperious flutes and mandolins
Only makes things worse.

As snakes dance a roundelay
In a gorgon’s noose, knotted and tied,
Whoever clutching at straws in perfidious ways,
Better seen praising sadness than reveling
In times of distress, dark promises of wealth.
Tricksters, rabble-grousers seeking approval,
Did you ever reflect on what you were doing,
Instead of reviewing the stations of the cross?

Perhaps those imagining laughter
Convivial enough, though when convened
In a tapestry threaded through with gossiping birds,
They dare imprison churlish vagabonds, bold of tongue.
If bronze tarnishes unleashing blemish of liars,
Those who live up to the height of their powers,
How can they look the other way?

*********************************************************************

Elizabeth Martina Bishop, Ph.D

 

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