Entering the Poetry Portal (2)

It’s about the size of a hand cupping a snow-
flake, the first of the season, this heart
beating back the fires around her

the frozen lake, the sweep of wind rising
to quell the fear, the voices drowning
then driving, jealously guarding

the ground snow pure in its pristine skyfall
a secret bower where the moon shone
and the woods sang to her and she knew

one day she would sing back to the Voice
that sang delight from the dark unknown
lovely to the child cupping a handful of snow


Continue reading “Entering the Poetry Portal (2)”

The First Poem That Hooked, or Entering the Poetry Portal

I must have been in elementary school, one of those kids that other kids love to hate because their parents were always telling them to “be more like Dora,” you know, the girl who had skipped two grades, the “genius” kid, the one whose parents were always bragging about her (out of her hearing of course).

Continue reading “The First Poem That Hooked, or Entering the Poetry Portal”

The Ballad of the Bird and Judge Holden

image ©dorahak

The eve of Hallowe’en a bird was freed:
it wasn’t meant to be;
it had been tied to the end of a string
designed by devilry.
But up it flew o’er a bubbling brew
into the boughs of a tree.

“Where goes that bird?” Judge Holden cried
cursing all wizardry;
for its escape was not foreseen by those
of his company.
“It’s singing loud o’er field and town” said
a blackhearted mercenary.

“Then all our lies will be undone, and all
our schemes they’ll see!”
“Not all, Judge Holden,” a satyr croaked, “the bird
silenced will be,
when stirring this cauldron of discontent, to you
they’ll bow their knee.”

The bird had heard the words they said as it
flew o’erhead happily;
this people’s fate lay not in mortal hands but in
truth that would set them free.
So it louder sang, and it never feared Judge Holden
and his mercenaries.


Continue reading “The Ballad of the Bird and Judge Holden”

In Other Words (A Dark Ekphrastic)

So if you were to ask me what’s on my mind today as I write, I’d have to say Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s fifth novel. I’ve read two other of his novels, The Road and Child of God, and just this past Tuesday after a sixteen-year hiatus, his newest novel, The Passenger was released (to be read). He has a lot to say against the backdrop of the Bible, human history, Western literature, and it’s all about the human heart, the worst of it, the meager remnants of conscience in preserving “civilization,” the struggle against Evil. It’s no mystery why Blood Meridian has been compared to Melville’s Moby Dick. There’s no call to be smug about being just human. And the shame only comes when we ignore the divine, the image of God in each of us.

you say, everything’s not black and white,
drawing white shades over black night
in a ghost town where folks walk on tight-
ropes past the presidio’s edge, swallowing fright.

you say, there are safety nets, nobody gets hurt
not even ones on the highest wires lose their shirt
c’mon, a little dunk in a cesspool as you hit the dirt,
an umbrella in case of rain, keep your poise, insert

[sounds off screen, fade to …]

life: blood red.


Continue reading “In Other Words (A Dark Ekphrastic)”

Autumn Revelry

images © dorahak

So I took a trip down Jack O’Lantern Lane
Where skeletons and ghosts were raising Cain
The crows they cawed
The mockingbirds squawked
And the treetops flared like a fire engine.

So I ran back home to ink an angry complaint
Against shuffling monsters that make one faint
But I tripped over boxes
Left by masquerade foxes
And I cursed like the dickens cuz a saint I ain’t.

So then I opened my eyes, took in the wide blue skies
And I laughed at the beauty that around me lies
The anthem of the trees
As they sang in the breeze
And I thanked the Lord with my heartfelt sighs.

As if by magic my anger disappeared and the doorbell rang
And I rose from my chair with a clatter and a bang
See, I had my nutty nurse costume on
A green glowing needle and a wig of blonde
I was going trick or treatin’ with my neighborhood gang.


Continue reading “Autumn Revelry”

My Song

Genre: Poetry; Word Count: 100

poem and audio reading of “Why Am I?” ℗©2022 Dora A.K

Threads torn from a silk tapestry
a nightingale on branch of tree

Belong in other songs and rhymes
Of emperors with preternatural pastimes.

I pick my threads from a homespun quilt
Of gospel truth that frees from guilt.

It tells of One who died and rose
To save from sins and lies expose.

It warns that wealth hoarded in greed
Should be shared with those in need.

Here I sit under branch and sky
Little to my name, just this tune to ply.

At the end of my days, I’ve nothing to grieve:
it’s better to give than to receive.


Acts 20:35 NIV
[Paul said,] “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak,
remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said:
‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Continue reading “My Song”

This Woman

Glow of Hope,” Sawlaram Haldankar (1946), watercolor

She slow walks the hope
that others tango away,
with that fermented sway
she blends like warm cashmere,
sari fragrant in folds full
to embrace high-strung husband
or the frightened chit at full-speed
running into a silken bungalow,
avatar of lighthouse flashing
“no amount of grave concern
not handled here,” and behold,
juggernauts vanish beneath her feet
of frangipani, ethereal gold.


Continue reading “This Woman”

Come Hell or High Water (A Very Short Story)

Written for Sadje’s WDYS #157 photo prompt and Sammi’s Day 5 prompt of 13 Days of Samhain. Thanks to both for their inspiration to write this short story. Do check out Sammi Cox’s amusing serial mystery featuring Damon, the caretaker of a graveyard full of undead inhabitants. Click here for part 1. You won’t be disappointed.

She grew up looking at the world sideways, knowing if she saw it head-on she’d only see the mask, not the face outlined behind it. Better the warm, blemished skin than the plastic over it.

Never took anyone too seriously, neither. Not worth the trouble and trouble was all that ever brought. Better to know they’d break their word than be surprised when they did.

People wondered why she was always so placid. Why? Because she was never disappointed. And however bad folks were, they could be worse. However good they were today, it really didn’t pay to think they’d be the same tomorrow.

When the Imp came along, she adjusted. She was stuck with it. One day she opened her eyes and there it sat, twisting every nerve and joint in her body till it brought tears to her eyes.

She asked God about it. She said she felt like Job. And then she ended up covering her mouth like Job did when she realized there were things she didn’t need to know as long as God did.

The Imp turned the screws on her off and on. “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” it would say, as her footsteps got slower and slower. Then she’d get better. Then she’d get worse.

But she stopped looking at people sideways. “I solemnly swear I’m up to no good,” they’d tease, and bring her a pumpkin-face latte when she couldn’t get up in the morning.

The Imp kept up its mischief. They kept up their love. She kept thanking God for setting her straight, come hell or high water.


1 Corinthians 13:3-7, 12-13 (NIV)
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. …
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


Image credit: Valeriia @ Pexels

St. Francis of Assisi & Johnny Cash: Two Quotes

Saints and sinners anyone? Yet who can claim to be wholly one or the other?

The point of my “Two Quotes” series is to lay before you literary, artistic and/or musical juxtapositions, and let you be the judge of their similarities and their contrasts. Click here for more.

St. Francis, born to Italian nobility in the 13th century, renounced his worldly possessions and took a vow of poverty to serve God as a monk. Eventually he gathered other like-minded aristocratic scions and founded the Franciscan order of friars. He’s well known for being a lover of God’s creation, even going so far as to preach to the birds and the fishes. He wrote “The Canticle of the Creatures” in 1224 while recovering from an illness and it is the earliest piece of literature written in Italian rather than Latin, the language of the church. Dante alludes to it in Canto 11 of Purgatorio.

Many believe this is the most accurate image of St. Francis.
Listen to the Canticle of the Creatures (from Franciscan Seculars)

The Canticle of the Creatures

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honour, and all blessing.

To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.

Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.

And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendour;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.

Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your
love, and bear infirmity and tribulation.

Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.

Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

St. Francis of Assisi
Continue reading “St. Francis of Assisi & Johnny Cash: Two Quotes”

Haunted Love

Christina Rossetti, drawing by David Levine

I’ll meet you in the goblin grove
My love, if you should ask
As if to test me with a task
My love for you to prove.

My fears and frights I will forget
In truth, that you may not be grieved;
I’ll hold aloft no blame, nor false regret,
In truth my love you’ve ne’er believed.

Should I die to prove love true,
My spirit uncowed by ghosts that roost
O’er lazy bones in goblin’s brew,
My spirit on All Souls morn be loosed

To haunt you through and through!


Written in honor of Christina Rossetti, a Christian poet who is well known for her work as a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of English painters, poets, and art critics, founded in 1848. Every year when Halloween comes round her long poem, The Goblin Market, makes the rounds around the world to spook children and adults both! Shay’s Word Garden List engages us to pick three words or more from words she’s chosen from Rossetti’s poetry and Sammi’s 13 Days of Samhain for Day 2 prompts us to use the phrase “Lazy Bones.”

Dante’s “Roundabout” to Beatrice

Per dVerse’s MTB, The Roundabout:

  • Four quintains (five-line stanzas) for a total of twenty lines
  • Iambic meter throughout
  • Lines have 4;3;2;2;3 feet respectively
  • Line 5 repeats line 2
  • Rhyme scheme is aBccB bCddC cDaaD dAbbA

Naturally, given my current reading, my first thoughts flew to Dante’s unrequited love for Beatrice.

Dante and Beatrice, Henry Holiday (1883), oil on canvas

My mind rehearses all the lines
I’d say if you were mine;
Though you are not
My heart you’ve got
I’d say if you were mine.

Oh, how I long to have a sign
That you like me have fought
The love I yearn
For which I burn
That you like me have fought.

There is no wealth, no treasure sought
That would all reason spurn;
To cross the lines
And God’s designs
That would all reason spurn.

Farewell, my muse, to God I’ll turn
For Love like starlight shines;
My mind refine
My heart confine
For Love like starlight shines.

The Structure of Things

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Feeling a little ambitious today with three prompts for the price of one: Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneer’s photo prompt (100-word story), Sammi’s 13 Days of Samhain (“The Cheek of the Devil”) and Thursday’s Six Sentence Story (“Structure”). Enjoy!

Word/Sentence Count: 100 words/6 sentences; Genre: Fiction

The Structure of Things

“Mom, that lady was rude and you just let her walk without telling her off!!”

Ruth considers her outraged child.

She picks up the broken glass structure at her feet, says quietly, “I’ve always taught you to turn the other cheek, haven’t I? Someone’s got to be the first to take the hate, stop it from spreading, and I can, because Christ gives me that power.”

“But Mom, if you keep turning the other cheek, it just keeps getting bloodied!”

“Like our Master’s on the cross, and whose cheek would you rather have, Christ’s or the cheek of the Devil?”


Matthew 5:38-45:
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.
And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good,
and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Balaam To the Kindly Moon

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” — Plato
“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.” — 2 Peter 2:15 (NIV)

You set me a riddle of romance,
Kindly Moon, a beguiling trap
by the waters of Babylon
where Cartier trinkets line
red-bowed caskets made in China
riding on Charon’s ferry

by the waters of Babylon
where I hung up my Guccis
like spangled semaphores
testifying to the Sinai fire
on a holy mountain while
sipping Florentine wine in D.C.

You sent me a Utopian dream
of Jerusalem under kindly eyes
before my breakdown,
where I dwelt perennial
in the tongues of state
-craft, sightless as a stone
gargoyle with carbonized

hate, when home after home,
city after city I visited, inflaming tribal
sigils, leavening in unguarded hearts
dystopias in abandoned strollers,
palaces of discontent, malodorous
diffusion, contentious, disfiguring.

So now I frame you, with Pyrrhic ruins,
dead-to-rights from my watery
bier with the very crimes
you silver-framed me
in Chicago (Kabul or Kiev)
where all roads meet
with a gunshot and a cry.


*The October full moon is known in China as the Kindly Moon.

Continue reading “Balaam To the Kindly Moon”

The Blind Detective

On terra damnata,
the rind of a moon over
history’s purgatorial waste,

she traces the scarred earth,
the braille of ocotillo,
lizards, whinstone, curvature

of monoclines, a geologist
of cemeteries, cairns,
listening for hollow bells

marking Cain’s passage
towards nuclear holocaust
with soulless eyes.


Search and see if this does not ring of someone who’s lately been immersed in Dante and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian. It’s obvious Dante continues to influence the best of our contemporary writers, especially McCarthy, who critics have called America’s greatest contemporary novelist in a class with Hawthorne, Melville and Faulkner.

Continue reading “The Blind Detective”

The (Other) Girl Next Door

I hear Dante pass, still fresh with the horror of the infernal pit he had risen from to see the stars once more. My breath catches again.

Does he see me? Now? Ever?

I’m no Beatrice. My face proves not salvific.

I had lived too long. She, too short a time.

Would you say to her, death is quite romantic? Or, death will immortalize you in terza rima? You would not say that of me, the one overlooked in search of another.

Here in purgatorio, my envious eyes are sewn shut. My mouth is not. Yet the voices in my ears speak generosity.

So I say, as he passes, The pain that twisted me to bitter envy I unloose to blessing. May it guide you to Beatrice. Nay, may it guide you to the God of love.

And the wires loosen from my eyes.


As a young boy, the poet Dante lived next door to Beatrice who, though he never spoke to her, he loved from afar, and to whom, through his love for her, he credits his spiritual and poetic journey. I have imagined in this piece of fiction, “the other girl next door” who never caught his attention but had fallen in love with him to no avail and to her own self-destruction.

Continue reading “The (Other) Girl Next Door”

Metamorphoses in Traditional Mongolian Meter

Metamorphosis: A Gothic Tale

He gave me starlings, dark dowry,
Hidden betrayals in gardens,
Houses muttering in the rain,
Hoarding secrets in rosaries.

Then sent he catbirds three, to kill
True love, their mimicry like
The day’s news, veiled, shifting half-
Truths, eyed over coffee and tea.

Crows by the murder he hastened,
Choreographed in gothic,
Cawing incessant, evil
Conniving to see my end.

Bedeviled, accursed, he must then
Bequeath me bats, like foreigners
Bearing plagues, designed to cause fear—
But now I’m more deadly than he.


The above poem is in response to Shay’s Word Garden Word List (inspired by poet Dave Kelly) and is the first of two as I experiment with a new (to me) poetry form: the Traditional Mongolian Meter. This form requires quatrains written in lines of 7 to 8 syllables, each line head-rhymed with alliteration being a prominent element of the form. Grace at dVerse explains a head-rhyme as being “the first consonant of each line matching. However, while still alliterative, with the matched consonant heading the line, it is often seen as the first syllable in each line rhyming with the first syllable of the ensuing lines.”

Christ’s Wine

The wine that Jesus made runs sweet
To quench my thirst like rain in spring
That falls on ground which hardened lies
Till it yields to softening streams.

No Cana wedding had I to go
Nor hear His mother’s firm request
Nothing but His love for me
Nourishing remembrance brings.

See wine in cup and bread on plate
Speak His body and His blood
Shed upon the Cross for me
So from guilt, from sin to free.

Jesus is my God and King
Joy unspeakable He gives
Just to know He loves me so
Joins my heart, my soul to Him.


Top image: jplenio; bottom image: Bouf16

Hope

“Hope is the thing with feathers” – Emily Dickinson

Here’s that feathery
thing called hope again

hopping broken-winged
by stained glass as if

it could sing anew what
once in dawn’s Easter light

drew eyes to see
what the blind cannot.

*

Here it comes, ungainly, careful
of metal shards, rusty gins

of despair, pain-heaving,
the cover drawn

over buried
septic spaces, tucked fast

in stoic dissension
against bruised faith’s cries.

*

How can it be, yet it is, that limping
hope approaches still in song as if

broken wings can yet embrace
a feeble soul, shy now of inflaming

prayer yet unanswered, pinions raised
uncrippled, as if what’s seen is the unseen,

the King upon his Throne with the wounded
by His side to raise to heights unknown.


Matthew 12:18, 20
“Behold, my Servant … a bruised reed He will not break, and a smoldering wick He will not quench ….”

Romans 15:13 (NIV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Painting by Tamara Natalie Madden (1975-2017); for more on this artist and her work, click here.

Something’s Broken

A babe sat in the green grass bright
Fast held in a predator’s sight.
Is it that of a man or that of a beast?
One’s intent is murder, the other’s a feast.

In what universe would a mother bereft
Of her bonnie babe by its sudden theft
Feel her piercing grief constrained the less
Were it a man for its death to so confess?

Something’s broken, someone’s dead
Something’s taken, innocence fled.

Then is there no evil, no good to pursue
Just the surreal, “to thine own self be true”?
Don’t lose the story, oh, don’t lose the plot
It’s death that’s the enemy, one thing we’ve all got.

Nature or nurture, priest, pagan, or not
Don’t you see we all share the same rot?
In a cave or in a palace, the calling card’s the same
One way or another, we’ve lost the grand game.

Something’s broken, someone’s gone
Something’s twisted, death has won

Death robs us of meaning, or would were it the end
Since deep within we sense something round the bend;
Death is still the crucible, our evil we can’t mend
Till upside down is right side up and earth made new again.


Continue reading “Something’s Broken”