Tell Me Story Again, preview of a new poem collection

by Elizabeth Cunningham

I recently completed a poem collection, Tell Me the Story Again. The poems are song-like, set in a future (or possibly ancient) world. The narrative voices are many: grey cat, grey mouse, temple sweeper, courage singer, sorrow singer, merry drunk, morose fool, sword woman, skeleton woman, mother rain, ancient dreamer to name a few. Here are a few selections.

scribe song 

the scribe waits under the oak
watching the last leaves fall
some red, some rust, some
holding the green edge of fire 

these are the leaves
these are the leaves
of the ancient book
the story is ending
tell me the story again 

the scribe waits for the river
or mountain, the small brave mouse
or shadowing raven, ready
to write the translation 

these are the wings
these are the feet
of the unwritten book
the story’s beginning
tell me the story again 

the scribe waits, scrapes
the flesh of her story
down to the bone, her own
blood will do for the ink 

this is the bone
this is the blood
of the book she is writing
the story still spinning
tell me the story again

grey mouse song

I am the grey mouse
seed-eater, seed-keeper
I could save the world with my secret store
no one but the cat knows who I am anymore.
she might want to eat me but she sees
the shadow I cast at night
when I dance by firelight
my ears grow wide,
my nose grows long
on tree trunk legs I’m strong
I sway, still grey,
an elephant light as breeze.

temple sweeper’s song

they say the gods are gone from here
they said the gods are ghosts
dead as their devotees, but I remain
unsheltered from sun, from rain
in a roofless ruin where wildflowers
succor the last wild bees
there is pollen and leaf and snow
the gods still dance in motes of dust
I stir and sweep day after day
believing still in the slightest chance
someone will  come from far away, from long ago
to sweep me into the dance
by firelight our shadows will leap
and the gods will reappear. 

sword woman’s song

wear your life lightly
like the garment it is, don’t
clutch it to you tightly
let it ride the wind
sword woman, you say, where
is your armor, where is your shield
beloved, my armor is to yield
I fear no cliff edge
I fly from tree to tree
landing softly on a limb
death to one side, life
to the other, I love both
and fear neither, there is no strife
no shield but flashing sword
bright in the sun,if you kill me
I love you still, the same
if I kill you.

sorrow singer stands still

standing still in time, its wreckage
rushing past me, this temple,
that crusade, these bones, these bombs
exploded, this gun rusted, this crib broken
that three-legged kitchen table, this ruined painting
this scattered farmstead, rushing, rushing
I am a willow, bending and rooted,
I am lost to time, I am lost to myself.

raven talk

our talk is not idle, not
human, not sound to silence silence
but sound to make silence ring
to wring the blue from the sky
and bring it drenching down
to the bone

what is hard for the ones who only walk
is easy for us, easy
to perch on the highest rock
or the top of a dead tree
easy to float on the wind
upside down , easy
to dive to the heart of a swamp
our beaks are curved and golden
our tails, the envy of crows

but our voices, oh, our voices
part the way between worlds
veils, mists, stones, life, death
you walkers can’t fly but you can
follow our cry, follow
if you dare

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Publication News – Elizabeth Cunningham | Author Poet Counselor June 5, 2020 - 12:00 am

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