Janet Berry  


Heretic

the solution is fire    I walk my dog each morning    brush ticks from her    toss her
a treat as I leave for work    the day stretched thin    an obbligato    an obbligato of 
mercy and selfishness strung over prayerful percussion    flags flapping in Tibetan
breezes    the torture of monks    the righteousness of ISIS    the solution is   I play
Bach and Chopin    I tune a piano birthed in London, 1889    The workmen clad in
leather aprons    flame mahogany crafted    ivory grafted from beast to Brahms    I
measure out rice for dinner    slow simmer some vegetables and fish    the solution
is a broth of white wine and dill  a little butter with lemon I scoop the dog's dinner
from a bag of questionable kibbles   wish I had prayed a bit more   the ego of great
men   the purity of indoctrination   maybe if I had just sat still for a minute   waited
for the thrush to sing     the bats to launch their evening dance routine    I sit on the
porch the dog scents the day's end    a coda   a coda of mercy and hopefulness   the
sunset silhouettes white pines    black against pink     and orange    and red  

 

 

No Concern in this Matter

I think today I will need a new god.     I don't know what name to give her yet,  but she
will surely be a She, since all the He gods are so demanding and wanting of us to have
lots of babies and be good all the time  but sexy, when convenient   or when babies are
required, which I find very difficult and tedious.  I think today I will start anew and not
be good.   I will go to my new god's temple, which I also have not named yet, and pray
to her and notice that she is wearing a shawl of lichens and bear claws and jingle cones
which drapes past her breasts and fringes down to her bare feet.   I will be glad that she
is not beautiful, or ugly, or golden haired or dark skinned and I will see that the mirrors
on her walls are just curtained paths of water twisting past sunlight and that the incense
rising from each brass pot is just the green of a fern uncurling its fiddlehead mystery to
a winter-weary marsh.   I will stand upright.    I will explain to her my not-being-good-
ness and I will pace a little, and cry and then become sullen and silent.  Angry. Defiant. 
There will be a slight distraction as I notice three small mice    scavenging   in the piles
of crackle-dry dead leaves. The mice have no concern in this matter but they will pause
respectfully    anyway.   We all become still as we wait for her answer.     There will be
a splutter of flame which will spark    from each corner    scuttle   over to her dress hiss
upward to hair, brows, lashes  and then my god   will extend her bear-claw hand,   gash 
five deep, red lines across my face.  The mice will return to their small victories.  I will
know     I have been blessed.

 

 

Matins

One day there is a clear path between mourning dove and dinner     the smell of noodles
boiling and some vegetables in the hot soup of olive oil      I heard today that someone I
knew    committed suicide     gunshot     he had tried to pick me up at a bar     the mourn
ing doves are spending their time strutting on the newly melted snowbank the leaf mold
harboring bugs and grubs and the need to begin building slipshod nests  careless enough
to let their young fall to coyote fox house cat dog     he had a daughter who may this day
be saying Thank God or Oh God Why or maybe doesn't even know or care and why do I
except that all the people at the bar are going to his house to be sorry   this day  that
they sat with him drank with him ate with him      joked     watched his conquests and
failures. One day  there is a clear path between a bowl of noodles and the melting of
winter snow. Then there is another day.    The doves claim the arrival of Spring.    I wish
I had at least said something nice.                  


 

 

Janet Barry is a musician and poet with works most recently published in Clementine, Third Wednesday, and Snapdragon. She was Featured Poet in the Aurorean, and has received several Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations, as well as inclusion in BiLINE. Janet holds degrees in organ performance and poetry. She works as a Music Director and Piano Technician in rural NH.