relaxing your gaze,

feel the sting of ancient salt

preserving memories

‘Water Memory’ by Sofia Papadopoulou

Morning After

Languorous, lascivious, like a landlocked siren in a high fever,
Drowned in a pool of forget-me-nots
in a wave of cerulean blue.
Red hot embers tamed underneath,
smothered and stifled by a blanketing heaviness
as solid as the cage of encroaching bed rails.

Like a seasick woman carried away
with the rhythmic ebb and flow
before the silken waves have a chance to wash their cool relief over the beckoning sands,
she summons Melusina to ease her restlessness.

Dissolved by something reflected for a moment
perhaps only imagined,
she fashions herself like Sedna the Sea Goddess,
creatures swimming around her,
darting in and out of the wavy tangle of her long hair,
moving like dancers with the cadence of the tides.

Something now remembered by Anaïs Nin-
“I must be a mermaid… I have no fear of depths
and a great fear of shallow living.”
Eve’s curiosity embraced, all is wide open now.

She touches her hair, rubs her eyes,
settles her core with a gentle touch,
wishing only to float out to sea in ancient bliss.

– Jean Detjen

Artwork: ‘Morning After’ by Edwina Sandys

Too Much Music?

What if you were told to stifle your dark song,
to tone down your instrument, mute the shine and tame the heat?

What if you were told that your timbre is too colorful,
keep it major over minor, pastel instead of bold?

What if you were told that your voice isn’t deep enough,
to push down the vertical, melodic and true?

What if you were told to sit still in stage corners,
relinquished for staid harmony, solo parts are not for you?

What if you were told to turn pages for the maestro,
in long-slitted, sleek black skirt with a flash of red high heel?

What if you were told that you can’t write rebellious music,
that your score is much too raw, its rough edges showing through?

What if you were told that your lyrics are quite dangerous,
too frightening for the sponsors in top hat and velvet cape?

What if you were told that your rhythms echoed Rimbaud,
too steeped in complex mythos, too irregular the beat?

What if you were told that the audience wants a bright light,
yet your stanzas speak to shadows, silhouettes behind the view?

What if you were told that your verses needed cutting,
that the patrons want your chorus to be even-timed, not blue?

What if you were told that your notes are too dissonant,
would you stifle your song, too?

– Jean Detjen

No photo description available.

[Artwork: ‘Silence’ (2017) by Vanessa Poutou]

Winter Ice

ebony mirage –
white stars and red paint,
hawk feather paintbrush

— Jean Detjen

No photo description available.
Artwork by drawingtenthousandbirds

I wrote this (deeper than I thought it would be) haiku two winters ago while lying down with a bag of ice on the back of my head over matted hair covered in blood. This was the second time I’ve been surprised at the sight of bright red blood on my fingers after slipping on black ice in my own driveway. The first time I needed stitches under my chin in the ER, this time I was a bit luckier (though very achy after such a hard fall). 

When I was about 5 or 6, I suffered a wicked fall on ice as a while skating on a creek in my backyard.  My horribly broken leg caused many months of physical and emotional misery. I remember being afraid that I would slip on my crutches and re-injure myself. My mother recalls that winter as one where I withdrew and was very sad.

Ice can certainly look beautiful but can also be a devilish trickster. As a result of the injury just before I wrote this haiku, I suffered over a year of chronic pain from concussion and whiplash. Is writing a poem about something that has hurt you multiple times making peace with it? Maybe. Perhaps I ought to do more writing about other things I need to forgive and find out.

Soul Grove

birch bark scrolls
wait in the soul grove,
anticipating a tug
on their tender newsstand.
peeling layers
of ancient wisdom,
shining bright,
forever young,
stories hidden
under the curls
meticulously penned
from a muddy pool
on a loaned plume.
sonnets haphazardly scratched
on a bumpy nub,
elegance awakened.
freckled parchment flutters,
branches unfurl,
dancing and bowing,
slender limbs reaching,
at something
beyond the tips
as roots beneath
mirror new depth.

– Jean Detjen

Image may contain: tree, outdoor and nature

Artwork by Anatoly Dverin