One Poem. One Planet. April 30, 2017

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30.

Everything hopeful is happening
right now in the sky above the mountains still merled with snow and rock
the clouds erecting white Potemkin spires into the blue expanse
brief fabulation gone in a moment, blown down by incoming wind
that rides the tide’s gray back,

Such beauty is not meant to last
and yet it has a purpose to make us lift our eyes to the moment
we imagine ourselves
as residents who soar through blue kingdoms at such high altitudes
we are barely seen,
so high, we must throw our voices down to earth so people know we pass.

Let go and fly as the sandhill cranes
for now we are those sandhill cranes (see them?) migrating past
the billowing towers of white
to far away paradise of delta and shore across the wide open blue,
and down below
the fledgling lovers who suddenly hear look up,
again and again, you call my name, I yours

–Arlitia Jones, April 30, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 20, 2017

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20.

Who am I to say
what is impossible?

Brushed by dawn’s grey scarf of light
I am the crazy child

who finds the message from Vienna
waiting on her phone

A metaphor is never
just a metaphor

A yellow chrysanthemum
in a crystal vase

is a proxy sun in the kitchen–
it is also the sun

-Arlitia Jones, April 20, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 19, 2017

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19.

Notebook Fragment

Across the forest floor,
beneath shadow of spruce
and mountain ash
the daughters of the wind

go forth

… … … multiply

numerous as stars
a temporary galaxy
at our feet—

anemones to us,
we are mystery at great distance
to them

–Arlitia Jones, April 19, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 17, 2017

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17.

Spring Haiku

The world did not end
in war. Dawn pinks the mountains
and the brown bear wakes

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One Poem. One Planet. April 13, 2017

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13.

The walls of the cathedral in Lima are made of stone mortared together
with a million egg whites from the sea birds that to this day
nest in perennial multitude on the nearby rocks elbowing out of the Pacific.

The workers used what they had to hand, our tour guide tells us.
Over the mountains, for instance, where there are no sea birds,
the workers cemented their cathedral with the blood of oxen.

It’s easier to crack a few eggs, than to slaughter the ox, no?
A few eggs and the leg bones of believers for bedrock under magnificence.
I raised my eyes to the domed vault. I looked a really long time.

God’s not up there, I thought—but what I say is: what did they do with the yolks?

In the catacombs it’s immediately obvious that cracked skulls
without their lower jaws, stacked one on top of the other
resemble punctured egg shells shucked of their gold.

–Arlitia Jones, April 13, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 12, 2017

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12.

She draws the outline
of Africa
in the air between us
My country is here

the tip of her finger
taps the space where Senegal
would be

I’m about to ask
if they have lions?
and if there’s tall grass
for them to stalk through?

We were the first
democratic country
in Africa

In the air between us

is her smile and a population
40 million Muslims and Christians
who catch buses and ride bicycles
in the striped shadows
of tall spires

I see her younger self
carrying shopping bags
on the street, calling out
the names of her neighbors
above a shining river of traffic.
Bonjour Bonjour

Later I google the lions
of West Africa–
only 16 left
in Niokola Kobe National Park

in the country of Senegal
in the air between us

–Arlitia Jones, April 12, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 11, 2017

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11.

Who can see?

After
bombs
falling

the clatter
downpour
of debris
dust

on jagged walls … … smoke climbing
the ladder of wind

to furl and hook
into the lungs
of the next city

over

every throat
seared

the wide-eyed stars
in first contact
people on those worlds
a thousand years
from now
screaming

-Arlitia Jones, April 11, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 8, 2017

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8.
Inside the earth
I prayed for violence
waited for the frozen rind
above me to fracture

when I heard the snow
let down its damp
runnels of bright music
tunneling downward
seeking lake bottom in my ear,
I took stock of my vertebrae
puzzled them back into place
renouncing my hunched devotion
to this myth

I wove my collarbones
back into their basket,
de-chimed my ribs
and let go the clack
curled in my hands

Enamored
of new flesh softening my sharpness
I started to suspect
I am meant for blooming

and so what happens next—
the clawing sound,
the soil tearing above me
sunlight’s thick blade cleaving
the howling of the old woman—

comes as shock—her rusted hands
clutching, lifting me out of the husk
of every wrong ever done to her

She’s kept my name all this time
and when she says it
I feel the spade striking
buried rocks.

–Arlitia Jones, April 8, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 7, 2017

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7.
Tonight, cumulus clouds mound
in rubble heaps above the inlet

The gods have ruined
their city, their shining

halls and avenues of mist
all silent and deserted

In a hundred years from now
it will be hearsay

these same gods
ever composed a song

or planted fragrant gardens.
Our generation

will be gone, in our place we will
have left folded schematics

for locks and graveyards
filled with black lung

Then, in a thousand years from now
cumulus clouds will re-open

billowing white chrysanthemums
extinct beauty sailing out from myth

–Arlitia Jones, April 7, 2017

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One Poem. One Planet. April 2, 2017

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2.
When his nurse enters his room
he does not turn to her
but remains steadfast
as any dying man can be
witnessing a revelation
only he can see

“What has happened, Herr Kafka?”

when he does not answer
she re-smooths the fever
against his skull, bringing him back
to his tremors, to his bed
while beyond the window frame
something brilliant shatters
and drops silent as snow
out of a broken sky that reveals
nothing more than average weather
for the rest of his life.

Ulcerations in his throat
have consumed his speech
weeks prior and still the healthy
converse through their memories of him
avoiding the future

Something happened in this room

but the nurse does not catch on
and shuts the drapes so he will rest.

After he is dead, the last things to go,
scraps of paper on his bedside table
how he tried to tell them
the sentence in his own handwriting

There was a bird in the room.

-Arlitia Jones
April 2, 1017

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