by Michelle Mairesse


Invocation to My Muse

Sing, lovely Muse, in any key you choose.

Compose my mind. Sweep away all you find

Of palpitating gush. Give me, in trust,

Reins of your flying horse. Show me your source,

The Hippocrene. There I'll drink too, and dream

Of gods at ease on a Grecian frieze:

In seven words for love and one for duty,

We advocate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

All false gods forbid the worship of trees.

Urban Shaman's
Rainmaking Ceremony

I order the soaring machine
Unscrolling a contrail,
A line of tumbleweeds between
Fleecy cotton clouds:
Run a bolt through the billowing vapor;
Transmute it into sheets and sheets of water.

      I invoke eleven croaking crows
      To caw and amplify the waves
      That charge through power lines
      Lashed to tall poles:
      Echo a boom throughout the sky
      To shake down torrents and torrents of water.

I charge a palm sprout
Spearing through a cracked concrete driveway:
Unfurl your allegiance to sun and sky;
Infuse your roots with power
To magnetize jets and jets of water.
    I command you elements, earth, air, and fire
    To channel resurrecting water
    Through our desiccated lives.
    Let us hear the rhythms of raindrops on rooftops.
    Let us inhale the sweet cleansed air.
    Let us revel in the bright reflected light.
    We began as seeds in water.
    Now we foresee forests, fields, valleys, and towns,
    See them rainswept and drenched,
    See them shimmering with rainbows.

Fear of Flying

    My heart contracts when I behold

    A contrail in the sky.

    Fleets sweep by and graffiti write

    Upon the winds. Flying by night,
    Brighter than Venus, earthcraft roll

    Around the summer sky.

Like fireflies flashing for mates, right

Themselves via a distant voice,

While ploughing the air, long to land,

touch down, rejoice.

Taming a Poem

You thought you could call and it would come,

After you soothed the yapping dog,

Muffled the sound of the crickets' choir,
Banished the train of animals tamed

For the circus--skirted elephants,

A caged lion snarling resentment--

But the burr of thought that caught

Your breath dropped into an oubliette.

That dazzling illumination at its height

Disappeared at the speed of light.
Can Ada Lovelace's dream machines

Releasing atheneums, streaming memes,

Like surreal visions, crises, tensions,

Force truth on us from other dimensions?

Condemned Body

    My shivers are timbered.

    The roof of my mouth is caving in.

    Re-minded, the architecture of desire,

      Half-remembered, dismembered,

      Entails entrails, gases in the blood,

      And percolating purpose.

    This indelicate flesh,

    Too dense for deliquescence,

    Invites a body of light to arrive

    Before my scheduled demolition.


Onions, Renoir 1881

On a crumpled cloth, with garlic cloves, bask

Copper onions in their own glow. They shimmer,

            Radiating light. But tight plain gray garlic clasps

            To itself the hot green life at its center.

            But strip away their skins and they'll both make you cry.


      I've heard that tanks of swimming fish promote

      Tranquility in those who watch them float
Or dart about their artificial reef

Among green streamers. Do they seek relief

From blurred refractions on their glassy cage?

When they nudge transparent walls, do they gauge

Their prospects for escape or do they find
      Our puzzling antics help them to unwind?



(for turning a lunch into a feast)

    Decorate a white porcelain plate with

    Aragula and spinach intertwined with

    Ripe red Roma tomato rings sprinkled with

    Finely chopped celery flecked with black pepper.

    Crown with pale pink tiger shrimp glistening with

    Sweet and sour dressing--honey mustard and mayonnaise.

    Pass a basket of baguettes with cold sweet butter.

    Now bump glasses of excited bubbly

    For a feast.

Timed Image: Danaë

Lustrous damask tablecloths,

Muffled laughter, tinkling glasses,

Pearly faces in sequined light,

Like a Klimt portrait, freeze-frame till

Chopin arpeggios, like

Iridescent soap bubbles,

Swell and merge and disappear.

Stopping Them Dead

Startling image, lonely figure,

Dancing almost, while facing tanks,

Flagging them down and stopping them

Dead in Tienamen Square.

Weather Report

    Seas are on the rise and the ice is melting

    Faster than a polar bear can run to ground.

    A thinned snow blanket bares darkening ice sheets

    To the crucible of sunlight, relentless

    Alembic, changing what's solid to liquid,

    Flipping polarities, making new weather.


Brushing Mushrooms

Streaming Bach around the kitchen, I cleaned

A mound of meadow mushrooms, recalled how

Underground runners, two point three

Miles of filaments grew in one park,

Ancient birthing ground where mushrooms emerge,

From magic mycelia tunneling through earth

Like musical ligatures, whose many strands

Strike a single note, a white button mote.

Opened, its gills turn pink, purple, brown, rust,

And fling dusty parasol rings where fairies dance,

Or tipsy umbrellas for lounging elves,

Or shamans' mushrooms, conjuring visions,

Or treacherous toadstools--lethal pretenders,

Destroyers of livers, famous last meals.

Quick! I'm back at the sink, sorting the caps

And mincing the stalks to do them up brown.

For essence of mushrooms, a mellowed Duxelles,

Follow my receipt, and you'll find when done

Mushrooms and music have fused into one.

I Like to Watch Matisse

    I like to watch Matisse bringing to life

    His vision, cutting designs into time,

    Nicking and notching his massed reflections,

    Tossing a net of his mind's perceptions

    Inside and outside. A potted plant shoots

    Green leaves into a space itself creates.

    A newborn blue that penetrates the soul

    Ignites a white curtain breathing against

    A wall. Shutters bank the falling light off

    Statuettes, stopping time, where nothing is still.

    Opulent nudes flank twined arabesques.

    Goldfish swim the primal waters of life.

    A tender snail hoists its heavy house

    And creeps into the sharp sweetness of life.

    Nude dancers clasp hands and whirl around the world,

    Creating the space they make themselves.

Gazing At Gazanias

    The garden is flexing, swelling, aflame

    In sunlight, scalloped, spiked, stippled, striped.

    Imprinted with patterns of their own devise,

    Gazanias surprise with blended brush strokes,

    And plushy golden centers ringed with dots,

    Proffering pollen in a basin of light,

    Yet folding quickly when absent the sun.

    Flowers spent, gazanias mount feathered seeds

    Upon the wind, knowing they are not yet dead.



You are here:

At the midpoint of an infinite series

Or the middle of the muddle.

You may see a mirror:

Reflected there is the outer membrane

Of self, the self's reflection by the world.

Reject this useless information.

The exit is here:

You may find the egress

(not a mythical beast)

At the center. There you can glimpse

A new dimension.

Egypt's animal-headed gods

Are nothing like Aesop's foibles.

Those seeming dogs and snakes and birds   

Embody words of power:

Loyalty, wisdom, vision.

Words, silent and sounded,

Reverberate against the walls.

Yet none will guarantee your

Getting out alive.

On walls of old Egyptian tombs

Fishers and fowlers spread their nets:

Birds mark the upward flight of spirit.

Fish swim in their element

Not knowing what it is.

On labyrinth walls

The sole symbols and signs

You will find

Are carvings, initials:

Kilroy was here, and so was I.

White Light

    It sings,

    White light,

    Every key and color.

    White-hot forges,

    Geometric snowflakes,

    Gyrating galaxies,

    And contemplating mystics

    Radiate its rhythms.

    Top note of oceans and mountains,

    White winnows through nose caverns

    As strong song--

    Tuberose and jasmine.

    Break it in a prism

    For arpeggios

    Of rainbows.

Beings of Light

Two serpents wrapped together
Carry our destiny on their backs.
Nebulous, spiraling, lofting
Through honeycombed cells,
Cells where sensitive, finite nerves
Commune through corruscating dancers
Flashing their mirrors at intervaled space
Overblown with emptiness.

The dancers are numberless,
Yet are more than all the starry galaxies
Pushing and wrinkling and stretching
The space beyond us.

This tonality in cells abides:
A sunburst hidden from sight.
The mystery it tells and hides:
We are timeless beings of light.

Facts of Life

to Quinn

    It all began when Cupid aimed his dart

    Directly at your lovely mother's heart.

    A million splinters fish-tailed up a tube,

    A million swimmers spinning in the dark.

    Piercing an egg awaiting penetration,

    The winner plunged into obliteration.

    The egg laid bare its implicate order

    While manifesting wisdom of creation.

    But once brought to life, you assumed your part

    In the mystery play, and without a chart.

    We all predict you will find sure footing

    Dancing on a globe, spinning in the dark.


Of What Do You Dream?

    You, lying there in your orgone box,

    Of what do you dream?

    First, I dream of oryx orgasms,

    Straight and horny,

    Then, orchidaceous orgasms,

    Running up the surface.

    Then, origami orgasms,

    Paper-thin, enfolded,

      Then, orphrey orgasms,

      Color-stitched sarongs

    Then, oriflamme orgasms,

    Flaming, melting candles.

      Then, orotund orgasms,

      Puffy and resonant.

    Then, oracular orgasms,

    Tooting muted horns.

    And, finally, Orphic orgasms,

    Purification, floodgates released.

    Want to climb in?

Buttons and All

This tryst will undo me, buttons and all. I think,

What moves should I make, what words should I say?

I'm teetering, teetering on the brink.

My ardor is cooling, if not quite extinct.

I must not attempt another replay.

This tryst will undo me, buttons and all. I think

My courage is rising--or does it sink?

My body stiffens, yet seems to sway.

    I'm teetering, teetering on the brink.

    This psychic upheaval is just a kink

    In my chemistry, hormones at play.

    This tryst will undo me, buttons and all. I think

    I'll proceed with caution. I'll calm and link

    My witless thoughts, keep feelings off display.

    I'm teetering, teetering on the brink--

    I'll conquer this passion, embalm it in ink--

    Time to write it off, make perception pay.

    This tryst will undo me, buttons and all, I think.

    I'm teetering, teetering on the brink.

    This poem is of the villanelle verse form alternating two rhymes. Five three-line stanzas alternate the refrains introduced in the first stanza. The poem ends with four lines concluding in a couplet.


  Response to Dick Cheney:

A Ballade of Three Richards

( A ballade is a verse form usually consisting of three stanzas of eight or ten lines each, along with a brief envoi with all three stanzas and the envoi ending in the same one-line refrain.)

His office holds a man-sized safe. Our veep,

Part monster, part machine, batteries nearly dead,

Steps inside to take a charge of energy to keep

At bay deadly metal fatigue and the spread

Of Trojan horses. Flashing lights, infra-red,

Scan and zap his human thoughts--"Thoughts of sheep,"

Says he, "and good shepherds feed off sheep they have led."

He is not as other men, our veep.

With bombs abroad and bombast at home, our veep

Inspires in every nation awe and dread.

He exposes hidden enemies, doctrines that creep

Unbidden into faintest heart and hardest head.

"Missiles and bioweapons in every shed

Proliferate. Evil advances while you sleep.

Without my vigilance you'd all be dead."

He is not as other men, our veep.

        Watch the fearless hunter grip his shotgun, creep

        Towards a covey of fat quail, penned and grain-fed

        For this occasion. Blinkered, blunted of beak,

        The birds try for lift-off with clipped wings outspread.

        Cheney's party blasts away at the man-bred

        Prey. Soon bloody, shredded feathers lie in a heap

        Beneath the boots of hunters, who count the dead.

        He is not as other men, our veep.


The veep:

"Witches forged me, sublimed with carbonate of lead.

Nixon's tongue and the third Richard's spleen keep

Company with their molten brew. This once said,

I am but other men enlarged. Fear me and weep."


The sanguinary Mayan priests  

Ripped out their trembling captives' hearts

And raised their trophies to the Sun

To keep His transits never-ending.

    Our city, whose streets once throbbed with dancers 

    Mirroring the paths of stars,

    Now parades titanic tanks and polished troops

    Who will keep the darkness from descending.

Petroleum Wars

Unleashed under cover of lies,
Our country's longest war
Is slowly winding down.
Rotting corpses and rubble crown
Our brand-new folly,
The monstrous embassy we left behind.

Unleashed under cover of lies,
Our country's newest wars
Rapidly ratchet up. Watch the first spoils whisked
Into Swiss bank vaults. Watch brazen bandits inflict
New plagues, new sanctions, new extortions,
New garrisons on the territory ahead.

Unleashed under cover of lies,
The newest petroleum wars
Arouse more anger and sullen fears,
Shed enemies' blood, shed crocodile tears,
Send drones over every target, block the sun above,
Leave nothing but ashes below.

America, call a halt.
For hearts and souls have we.
Opposed to laws that are blood-stained,
Opposed to insatiable limbic-brained
Parasites and immortal, but soulless corporations
Crying havoc as they ravage the earth.
Blood for Oil

$850 Million US Embassy in Baghdad, with an annual budget of $1.5 Billion

US drones kill anywhere in the world

Hearts and souls have we


Walking Under Wittgenstein's Ladder

Warriors against words, Observe:

Your ice bullets melt in mid-air.

Take Note: Invisible stars are real,

And spots in your eyes are there.

To Test: Turn all these words to numbers

And shove them against the wall

Till they mumble and rumble and shout

About infinity--before blinking out.


Four Concepts of Philosophy in the Arlak Written Language

(The Arlak written language is fictitious.)

Clown skittish on shifting gravel

Means "deflation" plus learning.

Curving wing of hawk

Means "concentration" plus returning.

Big Dipper's outline

Means "one dimension" plus discerning.

Spaniel's eyes

Means "unattainable" plus yearning.


                              A Loose Pantoum

(A pantoum is a a verse form consisting of a series of quatrains in which the second
and fourth lines of each verse are repeated as the first and third lines of the next.)

Think of it as syncopation. The jig is almost up

And Father Time goes pounding down a dusty road

When a furtive rat lickety-splits across Time's path

And an uncoupled train staggers off the track.

While Father Time pounds down the dusty road

A gusty wind whips up his duster.

The recoupled train clackety-clacks down the track

And dust-devils whirl and twirl behind it.

A spray of wet arrows dampens Time's duster as

A sprinkler truck forces him to hop the curb

And the dust-devils fall beneath its spray

As if the jig were already up. Now Time

Resumes his stride far behind the sprinkler truck.

A marmalade cat streaks past a startled Time.

It looks as if the jig is up. But time revives,

And so do you. Think of it as syncopation.

Other Dimensions

Makes No Sense At All

Self-taught Heraclitus said
We never step in the same river twice,
And self-taught Faraday,
Pointing to a rainbow
Over a waterfall, proved it.
One can step in the same cow patty twice,
Specially when walking while gazing
At a radioactive moon of Jupiter,
Trying to decode its color,
A color you have never seen,
As when an orange devours an apple,
Luteus? Wounded robin's breast?
It's more than a brilliant accident
When you step over the cow patty twice.


Funerals are unbecoming.

Don't you agree?

Grotty, soggy, grieving,

Petulant, public posturing

Diminish the living.

        Colette's mother, asked to donate blossoms,

        Demanded why a neighbor's death

        Condemned her blooms to die as well.

Tanka 1

Why philosophize?

A shadow make an outline

Of itself? Eckhart

Tolle studied under six

Gurus. All of them were cats.

Tanka 2

Blake spoke with angels.

Tesla listened to Martians.

Dare we try? Only

If emerging through silence

Without the taint of echo.

Tanka 3

Dreamer, floating past

Anchorages sans moorings,

Cast off. Nothing can

Stop you. Your compass within

Prevents your drowning in air.

Haiku 1

Dew-drenched spider webs

Enlace a dry bramble-bush

With opulent gems.

Haiku 2

Jasmine scent wafts up

After rain. Leaves drift downward,

I wake with poem.

Haiku 3

A lizard seeking sunlight

Ignores mosquitoes

And goes to the source.

Drinking the
Not Quite Stillness

I drink a cup of not quite stillness

In the waking, willing morning,

Making anew the unfulfilled promise,

Investing myself with pattern and compass

For swerving at crossroads,

For testing of waters,

For tacking in tempests,

For soaring on currents

So that I can enter at last

That other dimension

Of not quite stillness

In the waking, willing morning.

Another Birth Day

Another birth day, a mercurial chance

For total transformation and enhanced

Vision. Plunge into that next dimension

Headfirst. Burke tribal ego's blind intention

To trifle and preen through life. You are worth

More than you know. Let the re-formed re-birth

Bring forth music, dancing, and mirth.

No machine can dance.