Turning Point

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Sample Poems by Kim Garcia



Madonna Magdalene


Place here the virgin in her Easter petals,
the ladder of green leaves, the open throat.
I was reading; my lamp was full.  A bird
entered the room, and knocked the walls
with bright wings, drunk on sky-mindedness.

Here the story of my shame, pictured
above its tight band of explanation
no one reads. Here the stink
of animal dung on straw. Here milk,
and thorn to suck, the splintering nail.

Water to wine, we were stained
and intoxicated. Do as Love tells you.
Praise virginity lost, slow and conscious
as a strip tease. Layer by layer,
let it be done unto us. Again and again.
 



Santiago de Compostela

On the bridge a stone angel raises a sword
into a sky almost white with heat.
The stone of the bridge yells out
stone! heat!  A wet stink
comes up from the river
sucked by the sky's intolerable thirst.
The candles at the base of the angel
have run together in one pool of wax
that smokes and answers thirst with thirst.

A dog with dirty yellow fur
runs the hot stones without interest
in the angel or the sky or the smoke.
Its begging tongue half out of its mouth.
Every step a simple prayer for water.

The old woman begging in the bar
turns the men from their tapas
with her silence. They give.
One hand out, white hair pulled back
in a bun smaller than a baby's fist,
she murmurs something so quietly and endlessly
that she could only be talking to God.

The farmers are burning what is left of their fields
now that the mustard flowers are gone.
It is the smoke's fleshy billows you see, not fire.
The smoke lit somewhere within.
In the slow train on the way to
Santiago de Compostela, the smell of the burning
fields comes in the open windows with the heat.

A young man with a rope for a belt
rests his feet on the box of young hawks
he has raised from stolen eggs.
He smiles, mouth half-empty of teeth,
a tan stomach where shirt buttons are missing.
I think of the stolen eggs
in a nest halfway between heaven and earth.
Think of his body hung from this rocky place,
and want it for where it's been.

Easter pilgrims walk the road to Compostela
on their knees, moving over stones
as smooth as eggs.
Each set by hand on a day no one remembers
but the laborer whose hand lovingly set it.
The penitents think of God,
or something like God, when they feel these stones.

I catch my shoe on one placed higher than another
and stumble for no other reason I can think of
than accident. It's the body
pilgrims take to Compostela,
hoping to settle the restless soul,
which I've passed through customs
again, undeclared.



Rembrandt's Danae

She doesn't look surprised, one jeweled wrist raised,
a second hand resting on the pillow,
patting it perhaps. "Come on over here."
The way one talks to money. A forthright,
boarding house intimacy that comforts
even the immortals who lie down one
dark gold disk at a time, scale from their thoughts
a too-vast omnipotence, and get real.
The old woman catching back the curtain
is not surprised either. She's the future.
She's counting out the present's coin, knowing
that the night's shower fronts the morning's drought.
Over the bed Cupid wrings manacled
hands--no more tricks. Here blindness is banished.



Judas

i.
In the end I am almost motionless,
braiding in loops and tangles, a line,
copper-bright, between you and me.

When the world unhinged its jaws
and brought its lips together
in a withered pucker, I noticed.

Perhaps God took the old life,
the thread of the old life,
and wound it into a ball for a better soul.

Maybe good intentions can be sold
and resold
like a birthright.

ii.
Love has the acceleration of a falling body.
I thought you loved as I loved,
a single essence, a specific weight. I was sure.
I loved the things of earth that were in you.
Your words were grain, your body bread and wine.
Marketplace stuff, handled by shopkeepers.
I knew your price to the last denarius.

iii.
There are rocks within
of unknown substance.
Things that congeal and cool,
upon which hope can break.
So we love, unequally, and stumble, upon death, equally.

iv.
To tell the story of a kiss
the whole story of it, from beginning to end,
I must have time.

A kiss must slip between the pages of intention,
a moment of thoughtlessness,
within a desert of design.

Without such grace it is only the lips' mark,
a position of the organs,
no more to be remarked upon

than a rock on the ground,
or this rope joined to my hand:
the world's hard currency.

v.
They would not take the silver
they paid for my kiss,
not even for the grave I am seeking.

It is blood money, they said.
God will not touch it.

The second sweet-smelling flower of my flesh
begins its blooming. The second life
which is the body's decay.

It is a rose. Take it,
my love's last offering.

vi.
I cannot stop these colors from running
together, forming black.
I cannot stop myself from rushing
in fear through this last, slow kiss.

The pupil slowly shrinks
under the sun's radiance,
like the circle of a noose,
like the hungry plush of a kiss.



Desdemona

There is no purity without its blemish
and I loved with a darkness your skin sang.

You tasted of battle and blood, and I loved
your murderer's heart heedlessly. I sinned,

back when you questioned no cloth--you looked.
You had ears and eyes, and hands that shook

when you scored my heart, pulsing wet. I sinned
when I kissed that knife. Husband, I'm sinning yet.