Friday, October 9, 2009

The Law of Unintended Consequences

A patchwork of forgotten hours, gray squares next to deep rich red. He’s barely stitched together, now, but the squares will merge to make one glorious pattern woven of the many ways he first killed more than his choices, and then rediscovered the colors of his life. In one corner of the fabric is woven a dreadful error – it’s handmade, like a Persian rug, and the inconsistencies prove it. It’s a cluster of stars and garish lights against the dark, a constellation of confusion, the black border between before and after. Now asking every morning for forgiveness, he pulls the quilt up high beneath his chin, knowing we’re all guiltier than we’d like to think, and that staying under cover doesn’t help. And so he rises to greet the unknown of the day. Note: Dedicated to a humble young man who teaches others how important it is to own our own stuff.

Lost in Translation

We’re running out of metaphors. For night, black, darkness— caliginosity is a synonym, but oh, so nonpoetic. God forbid you try a flower or a storm, even if you get specific. Oh, it’s all been done. Try translating from another language, when the right phrase can't be said. Personal pain is trite, and insignificant compared to that of others. C’mon, there was a Holocaust, and genocide’s not dead. American kids go hungry. All we can search for is a better word for hope. There are only eight notes in a scale, and they’ve all been played. Is there a term for slowing our rhythm to one minute at a time? By Lisa E. Paige © 2009 When writing this poem I thought of teenage angst, my Philosophy of the Mind course in college, and The Anxiety of Influence, by Harold Bloom. I recently read a poem in The Atlantic that directly refered to four great American poets -- no subtle allusions, even. Everyone writes one like that, and I did, once, too. A poet has to let go of feeling unoriginal, or will never write one word.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In Poland

I have been seeking the answers to the same questions for about 35 years, or since I was finishing up at Harvard, and being told by my self-important professor that my idea for my thesis wasn't good enough ... seeking the answer to why some did, and why some didn't, why some fell in step, and why some resisted, why some surrendered, and why others fought ... just didn't interest the guy. I guess I was in the wrong department, probably belonged in philosophy. And of course no answer exists, but it's still interesting to pursue what's there in the history of it all, no? Oh, well. Anyway these questions have haunted me since. I had to go there to find out I was asking the wrong questions. And I still feel unqualified either to ask the questions or comment on any of it, frankly, at all. But hey, 35 years ... I am determined to share the words, as humble as they may be. Here goes. In Poland In Oswiecim The air is thick With why it’s not my story. Yet I’ve come so far To find out how, And why. So long I’ve sought Those answers. How some could, How others couldn’t. Why some surrendered, Others fought. Some swallowed hate, Others poison, And still others silence. All of them, They hover here And like the dust Cling to my clogs. Ashes echo across The flaming August sky Like the ghostly trail behind a jet; But I'm deaf as mud. Hunger rises, But no answers. Then I see. Cornflowers would do well here If not for soil That’s steeped in sorrow. Lisa E. Paige, © 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009


In the forest He made a garden And there she grew. The house he built there Was the second one With walls for warmth And windows through which She could safely watch The wilderness. The first house traveled with him. In his arms She dreamed of rainbows. The harshest wind was just a lullaby. But slowly She added lyrics And now her song Is the melody he hears. On the new bare walls He sees her hues: The bold strokes of autumn Like leaves gone golden, The yellow tint to honey that is Just like sticky summer heat, Dazzling vermilion Like her heart. She wants serenity In moss-like green But ahead lies the waking Glow of sunrise – Roses and oranges bursting Open like her future. So much nears completion. Now through his fingers Pass the rushing blues Of soft cascading waterfalls. She wouldn’t want it, but If he could, would he reverse The current that Carries all downstream? Lisa E. Paige © September 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Virtual Namedropping and Other 21st Century Sins

Ahh, Vanity, thy name is Facebook. Narcissus never would have made it out after his first log on. He'd still be snapping new profile pictures to be sure he gets the absolute best angle. But don't judge. Facebook brings out the worst in all of us. Before the advent of the blog and social networking, our temptation to self-aggrandize was only satisfied in small groups, unless that is we were lucky enough to have a weekly column, or perhaps a magazine named after ourselves. But on Facebook, it's made simple and global. Follow these steps. If you are female: Get a glam shot done to use as your profile pic. Make sure you are heavily made up and wearing something appropriately avant garde but not too revealing. If you are male: Lean into the screen and let the computer capture your best side; don't shave beforehand; be sure you are only half-smiling so as to look as enigmatic as possible. Friend some random person who actually does have some decent name-recognition -- it helps if somehow you once met this person for longer than 10 seconds, but whatever -- and is so busy he or she doesn't have time to discriminate. Suddenly you're publicly best friends with the stars, rocketed to Social Status Extraordinaire. Mention obliquely that you're visiting a person, whose name you've agreed never to disclose, at his estate in Beverly Hills. The following week post that you're in a chateau outside Cannes. Once this takes on, develop your knowledge of commonly used foreign phrases, and start using them to open your posts. Friend one person with a foreign name at least each day. If you don't know anyone from a particular hotspot, make him or her up. Easy enough to do. Create a gmail account, for example, for someone named Jean-Pierre Renaud from Marseilles, download a photo of an anonymous model, and you're good to go. To show up those drones who post inanities about the weather and the recent quizzes they completed, even on your real friends' pages, and without being censured, post a quotation from Eliot's Four Quartets. Make it an obscure one. Follow it up several days later with one from Virginia Woolf. Never fall prey to the impulse to use the smiley icon. Okay, last: Post photographs of yourself in these hotspots, with recognizable celebrities in the background. Photoshop works extremely well for this step. Now you are well established, and your friend list has grown to at least 1,000. If you do not have complete strangers friending you at this point because they want to be associated with you, I will eat this post. What I haven't told you is that your real problems are only now beginning. Suddenly long-lost feuding relatives resurface from their hiding places in Pocatello and Biloxi only to expose your childhood secrets and insult one another through comments on your high-end posts. You could defriend them. It's an option. But venturing into the Defriend is a dangerous step. There are plenty of acceptable reasons to defriend even a dear friend: poor grammar or spelling for example -- cannot have that on your wall, really. Or he or she posts links to Ann Coulter's latest commentary. Or they are wall-writers, the FB equivalent of a dog who lifts his leg on a bush to mark the territory, a guy who leaves his toothbrush and razor on your vanity, or a woman who hangs her nightie on your bedpost. Or even worse: They show up too often, "liking" your status, making sweet little offsides that show you've been stringing them along while you decide which of these new 1,000 close friends you're going to date. He or she is ruining your chances with the dozens of other men/women you've been courting online! Or worst: You can't get online without being assaulted by 10 to 20 instant messaging boxes competing for your attention. All that beautiful anonymity you've crafted! For what? And then the ultimate horror happens to you. How can that be? That hot chick or steamy devil in Amsterdam DFs you. You remember ... maybe you shouldn't have quoted The Exorcist under the photo of your high school girlfriend/boyfriend ... he/she could be sending messages directly to the hottest ones on your list ... he/she could be telling the ... no ... it can't be ... the TRUTH. Your voyeuristic pleasures are now diminishing rapidy, as you are now the one being outed globally. You feel yourself sinking into a deep depression. Damn. As the word travels through cyberspace, you're exposed for having exploited the names of people you hardly knew 20 years ago, and didn't much like even then. Karma descends. Your friend list is shrinking rapidly as your FB friends flee. Don't panic. There is still one strategy available to you: Go dark. Easy to do. Here are two options: a) Post that you're in St. Petersburg visiting Svetlana/Ivan. Don't forget to alter your voicemail greeting claims, should you have shared your number with anyone (not recommended, but it could have happened). b) Go MIA, unannounced, for several days. This behavior is guaranteed to increase your popularity. Those people still deluded about your social stature will miss you so much that when you return you'll be greeted by a flurry of comments and status likes. You can return to the original steps above and start building a new posse/harem. There are plenty of fine feathered birds in the trees. Be aware that the Surgeon General as determined that FB is hazardous to your health. Documented cases include actual accomplished professionals destroyed by insomnia and international financiers who have cancelled all important conference calls while glued to FB Chat. You may be popular online, but your life has become reduced to you and that blazing, brilliant, highly lit screen, the star of your universe, the light of your life. Your eyes glow and your pupils are permanently dilated. You start imagining you are the Count of Monte Cristo. Where can you start digging with your spoon ... One last warning. If you by any chance do look like Daniel Craig or Sandra Bullock, friending others carries a very serious responsibility. Should you pull back, or worse, defriend one of them, you will cause a descent in their human value relative to the decline in the number of your posts. That's just cruel. One benefit? It's a great way to test your friendships. One day, change your profile pic to reflect that you've just been a victim of a serious fire, and now have facial scarring that will last a lifetime. Quickly, you'll find out, one by one, if your friends actually love you for you. And copyright your posts. I have lots more to say, but I only share so much information with those who are not my FB friends.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The South

I wasn't a Yankee, being of Russian decent, despite my patriotism being as passionate as that of the "Founding Fathers," and perhaps even more so than the D.A.R., as my family is eternally grateful for being welcomed as they ran from the Bolsheviks who would have taken all that they'd worked for, even their lives. Neither male (too compassionate) nor female (too assertive) by social definition of gender, I have never fit, and never trusted those who want to. They try so hard, and lose themselves in the process. An intellectual reading Christa Wolf in the German while sitting by the side of a country club pool. A Red Sox fan in New York. A townie at Harvard. In Waltham, someone from the wrong side of the tracks -- a South Sider out to prove the rest of town that no one is defined by origin. A child living in my father's garden in a neighborhood that paved over its lawns. A cyclist and pedestrian in a world of cars. A runner, but slow. A believer in the innate goodness of Germans and all they can teach us ("Wo man Buecher brennt ..."). A middle class Caucasian advocate of African American students living in poverty. I don't attempt to assimilate anymore, unlike my father, who refused to speak Russian, but much like my aunts, I am proud of my heritage -- my difference. It's not pride in the sinful sense, but the same kind of pride that inspires Gay Pride parades. Those who don't fit distrust those who seem to, as I do the smiling faces of the South. But on my recent trip to Charlottesville, VA and Durham, NC, I found myself softening in the gentleness of even the A-est of types. At Duke, the peace was audible, tangible, soothing. No one was trying to prove anything -- the South already did, and they were defeated, just like the Wehrmacht. They were humbled, they fell to their knees; like those of us who have fallen in life, like Adam and Eve, they had to accept defeat before they could achieve heavenly peace. Duke tried to change Princeton, and failed. So he founded his own school, then invited Northerners to attend. Brilliant. This Ivy of the South has a very large number of students from the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states. Also, it is neither a campus nor a wildnerness, but both. Difference there is celebrated without competition, as the great literary theorists argue is inherent in our language. And they all stand behind the Blue Devils. The Yankees were right: Working together, we can change the world. They were also wrong: It is not only by joint effort but also through trust and understanding that this peace can be born. The South There is a sweet welcome in Southern air, though Yankees resist it. The softness of the breeze in Sarah's gardens smiles like good manners. Crape myrtle seduces; the breeze, scented, intoxicates. This weather doesn't change like New England's.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


This morning heard a marvelous sermon by the minister of Second City Church in Harrisburg (Third and Verbeke, and no, it has nothing to do with Saturday Night Live, although said mininster, Jed, is often seen in sneakers while preaching). He spoke about how Paul did not thank the Phillipeans for their gift of money when he was in need. Instead, he told them they had been kind. A gift is indeed an act of kindness and generosity offered up to God (or the Universe if God is a word that frightens you) and is a gift of ourselves that expects no return. Whether it's money, something tangible, or something you offer of yourself through time or effort or even creativity, it's a gift honoring the ultimate gift that Christianity teaches us to give. Giving Reaching out by hand is a physical manifestation of affection. My children often rejected my hand to prove their independence. Extending your hand to an adult is rife with risk. It's baring your heart. It's feeling floating thickly, hovering in air. What does it mean for that kind of gift not to be taken? Is it still received? Perhaps in a way that in the moment the giver and receiver both think not possible? A daisy blossoms. A bird sings. These things are gifts. But what of poetry? Just lines of words. No roses. Just anagrams laid out upon the table. Rearranged, they are my hand reaching out again, like a blossom or a song.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Children's Stories

We read fairy tales to children To teach them to be careful. We tell stories to each other Because we can be nothing but. Charlotte's fragile web Made others see greatness Where no one had before. She didn't have to lie To make us all love Wilbur. So arachnids all We too weave our artless webs. Make them simple words Of simpler truth. Our time on earth, like Charlotte's Is so short. Be not so careful That you do not speak. How would Charlotte Have felt dying If she had never written Wilbur?

Monday, June 8, 2009


once again i have words they are like Mallorcan pearls which are easily left behind but their sheen not forgotten

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Just Keep Swimming

Yes, I am still alive ... have been slaving to produce the First Ever Harrisburg Public School Foundation (HPSF) GALA -- me, an event planner? Egad! Yet with the help of Takia Colston, Bradley Krow, Joyce Davis, and Stephanie Kalina-Metzger, it is going to be a huge success, with many announcements of merit, a speech by Mayor Reed, remarks by Allison Keyes of NPR/Good Morning America/World News Tonight, and presentations to deserving students, teachers, donors, and volunteers. I'm very excited. Yesterday, however, was spent fuming over an editorial in The Patriot-News that you can read at this link: A diploma is a diploma is a diploma is evidently not true to these writers, who haven't of course set foot in a Harrisburg School District School since 1991 ... if at all. I went to a large public school in a relatively urban middle to lower class suburb of Boston. Did I have the best preparation for college? Certainly not. My daughter went to a private school right here in Harrisburg. Did she have the best preparation for college? Certainly. And it cost us. The editors challenge us to do more -- what more can be done except on a better budget? We need the community to support what the District is doing on a shoestring. Check out how much is spent per pupil in the top school districts in the country, where children are already enriched daily by families who have the means to do so. It makes me mad. There is no more a level playing field in education today as there was in 1865 or in 1965. The myth needs to be dispelled. And those who are struggling to level that field should be commended. Ahem. Thanks, Mayor Reed. Thanks, Gerald W. Kohn. Thanks, Harrisburg teachers. Thanks, donors like Derek Hathaway, Penn National Insurance, Giant Foods, Commerce Bank, PHFA, Highmark, WITF, NPR, UPS, M&T Bank, Members 1st, and all the members of the HPSF Board of Directors. Just thanks. Yet, I still had that rotten taste in my mouth. Our students were bashed. And they're all our students. So, I submitted the following today. And consequently felt somewhat better. But not completely better. That will take a while. And some good reporting on what's really going on, and why Harrisburg School District administration, teachers, and students don't get nearly the credit they deserve, whereas hatchet women like Michelle Rhee blame the teachers for not knowing what they've never been taught and then, smiling a self-satisfied corporate cat-grin, she poses on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. Fired a bunch of teachers, yep! That'll fix it all. The secret, which really isn't one: Work with the dedicated people you have to help them do what they have always hoped to do. Help the children want to learn. Lift them up, don't beat them down. June 2, 2009 Dear Editor: As Executive Director of the Harrisburg Public School Foundation (HPSF), I’m responding to your recent op-ed on the Harrisburg School District and its so-called failure to improve PSSA scores. In fact, when the Mayor took over the District, only 11 percent of the students were passing, and the District at that time had 7,000 students. As of last year, 28 percent of the students scored “proficient” and above, and another 22 percent “basic” – both of which categories are passing according to most states – and the District now has 9,000 students. For the first time, last year, fewer than 50 percent of the students scored “below basic.” While this result is still not satisfactory to teachers, District Administration, or the Mayor, it is solid progress that all involved parties are building upon in hopes of accelerating improvement. Parents and teachers know that A Child Is More Than A Test Score. Any reader interested in seeing everything first hand should call me – I’ll give you a tour. I have never seen teachers and administrators who are so dedicated and passionate about learning and their students. Otherwise I wouldn’t work to raise funds and build partnerships to help the District provide what the students need. Instead of tearing down the accomplishments of the students just before graduation, how about commending them for their resilience and determination? Also, you state that more must be done. What, exactly, beyond the intense efforts of all concerned, can be done, beyond more involvement from the community? That’s what the HPSF encourages. Visit for more information. Blog readers: Thanks for looking. I hope it meant something to you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


it is midnight and quiet here though 400 miles away in Cambridge, Mass., a police line crosses an ivy-covered gate and is tightly wrapped around my daughter's peace fear where yesterday lived freedom shots where yesterday lived shouts danger where yesterday lived blissful blissful blissful oblivion thereof that lovely long lost belief that life will never end for me or anyone i love or even know casually yes i remember that and spring in new england the reward for waking up for class in winter Ben and Jerry's as we walked bouquets bursting umbrellas left behind a long bike ride to Walden Pond the regret of procrastination the only thing cordoned off the grass so it would grow in thickly like the notes we'd written in our spiralbounds the courtyards full of young lovers and friends lying close to one another heads on one anothers' laps books propped open some unread some dog-eared the worst to happen a lousy final grade our national naivete is obsolete again 9/11 pounds in my heart another tower crashes and yet this is just one victim or is that so? how many students must be slain before we know that guns indeed kill children all that is evil is too close to mine and to yours always has been a cloud passes across the sun she reaches for her cardigan the young lovers who were studying or not go inside it's not even safe in there no matter how comforting his arms how will she stay warm what will she dream how can i sleep i love her so she is my breath why isn't that enough to keep her alive unhurt forever?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

May 12th is National Limerick Day!

Thank heavens for Dick Strawser, limericist extraordinaire (music assists with poetic meter, of course) for reminding us all that today is National Limerick Day! And I hadn't written one yet! But better to be late to write a limerick than to be a late limerick writer. Now lame, can't help with that ... (b)lame the form. Of American Idol I tire It drags us all into the mire Chris, Adam, or Gokey, It's all just so hokey, Though fodder for easy satire.

America Idle

Ryan Seacrest announced tonight that American Idol sponsor Exxon Mobil supported a trip to send Carrie Underwood to Africa to deliver mosquito nets to poor children. The audience cheered mindlessly: Ahh, such model corporate citizens. In 2007, the company blew away all prior records set by greedy corporations, making $1,300 per second, which translates into $10.25 billion for the year. And we are entertained. We sit on our sofas And watch them compete Like Simon we chime in And picture defeat It’s easy to find fault With notes sharp or flat With poor fashion choices Too skinny, too fat It’s up to the voters Which amateur wins Is vaulted to stardom His new life begins We wish we could be him We wish we could sing But we sit on our sofas And don’t do a thing. May 12, 2009


Looking at the horizon I see clouds Thunder Hail Instead of going indoors I head right for it The cloudburst Is cold Like my choice

Monday, May 11, 2009

Harvard Buys Yankees

(Cambridge, MA, May 11) -- In a surprise move, earlier today President Drew Faust of Harvard University announced that the Harvard Board of Overseers voted in a special meeting this weekend that Harvard will be purchasing the New York Yankees. "It's unfortunate that we'll be investing in the Yankees, despite our own origin in Yankee culture and regular presence in Yankee Magazine," Faust said. "However, we must abide by the vote of the Board of Overseers. With this huge expense in store, we'll be discontinuing the Harvard Athletics Program to compensate. After this year's stock market mishaps, and because a large portion of our Endowment was invested with Bernie Madoff, the budget simply couldn't handle both." Stipulations of the purchase, negotiated by Goldman, Sachs & Co., are that if The New York Times closes The Boston Globe, Harvard will suspend the remainder of the 2009 Yankee season. Furthermore, the Yankees are required to purchase Manny Ramirez's contract and Johnny Damon will be benched until 2010. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said: "I have already been in touch with George Steinbrenner concerning Harvard's purchase and its stipulations. It was a very unpleasant call." Steinbrenner refused to respond to repeated phone calls from The Globe. "He did agree to suspend the broadcasting of 'Sweet Caroline' during games, however," added Francona. Regarding the poor performance of the Yankees against the Red Sox so far this year, rumors abound that several Harvard students buried a baseball last used by Tim Wakefield under the new Yankee Stadium pitcher's mound. This rumor has not been confirmed. Dewey Machalot, Managing Partner of Goldman Sachs, Inc., said, "Additional rumors about Harvard purchasing Yale are untrue. They did consider it, but Yale's asking price was much too high. It was in the hundreds of thousands." "We would consider purchasing a better university," said Faust.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

This Just In

Newspapers closing around the globe are reporting that the Red Sox are demanding concessions from the Yankees. (Didn't Yankees found the Red Sox? So confusing, I don't get it ... I've been insulted by Dixie Chicks for being a Yankee -- even while wearing red socks -- one in particular --you know who you are -- called me YANKEE -- for not understanding why she would fry chicken in the morning.) What concessions, what? They are not devastating to the labor class. That they cease playing "Sweet Caroline" on their loud speakers, that Derek Jeter stop strutting, at least when in Massachusetts. That certain outfielders who defected to NYC from better teams and more pleasant places and historic parks that haven't been abandoned like old gloves be allowed to grow their hair so long again that it obscures their clearly faulty vision. Without these concessions, reports are stating, the Red Sox will be forced to close the Yankees. That would be a shame. May 2009

Mother Earth Gave Us Birth

The limerick, a much underappreciated form, especially in Gender Studies, is available for constant self-amusement, and one my sister Dr. Christine V. Paige and I use as a regular form of conversation and written communication. She is better at it than I; it is perhaps the only thing, other than dentistry, sewing, close harmony vocalizing, performance arts, general niceness, and horsewomanship, at which she dominates in the never-ending battle for Sibling Superiority. As you can see I have lots of trouble acknowledging her talents. I invite you to contribute. Our editors shall review and post the worthy. Mother's Day 2009 I awakened one day with a shock To realize I'd birthed a whole flock Why don't they at college Provide us the knowledge That children your whole life will rock?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Sonnet

Since college years, I have not attempted a sonnet. I've recently determined to reinvestigate form as I've become intrigued with its implications in all aspects of living, from the artistic to the mundane. I've found that within form, I've found joy ... the confines are exquisitely freeing and connect me to the masters. The below is something I've worked on for several months. Like Shakespeare's Dark Lady, the subject is elusive ... and that's because he's every good divorced (or no longer in long-term relationship) man I've met over the past 10 years, so many of whom are my dear friends. Women in Harrisburg whine that there are no good men. It's untrue. They are ubiquitous. The problem is that they've been as wounded as have we good women. It takes a long time to be willing to open up again after having been told for years that you are unworthy. Men have a hard time saying that -- playing the victim is counter to masculinity as defined by American (and perhaps worldwide) societal expectations. But if you look closely, you will find them. Befriend them. They need us. Gentlemen Is his kind life one touched by longing still Or a still life that seeks no love of yore? A glass that is by rising tide half-filled or gardens as from drought thirsty for more? His eyes like windows all his passions show -- Of vision, caring, steadiness he's made. His smiling heart by beauty ever pleased Though love, for peace, has been the price he's paid. No light like his should ever go unknown In nights of blackness it will pierce the sky Though starved for tender recognition gone He never has forgotten its delight. Dreams waken him with silent blinding fear And friendship quiets all his unshed tears. Copyrighted material

Sunday, March 8, 2009

For Hilda

Bach's Well-Tempered Klavier
preceded Beethoven's Apassionata
and Mozart carefully but barely contained madness
In just a trill, it seemed, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
evolved into discordant cries of torment
and eerie screams for breath.
If you visit Berlin go to the Bebelplatz and you will read
Heinrich Heine's 1821 prescient verse that
"Dort, wo man Buecher verbrennt, verbrennt man am Ende auch Menschen."
Had I not read those first awkward textbook conversations
in teenaged self-consciousness and curiosity, "Ich spiele gerne Schach,"
how would I have grown to understand those chilling lines?
(They translate, roughly, as,
Where men burn books
in the end they also will burn people.)
The Bibliothek at Bebelplatz lies underground,
under Unter den Linden, and its hollow space
is filled wih empty bookshelves defying Marx -- G-d is not dead.
There hover oh so many unwritten, end-jambed poems,
hopes that exploded into shards
like shop windows and human trust on Kristallnacht.
Today glass towers rise even in far-off Boston, in the land
that would not take the broken souls despite the words that 
circle her proud lady's feet in the New York harbor.
In Berlin, just off the Ku-damm, where burlesque and Eiscafe still co-exist,
and gaps between the buildings shudder in the winter wind
stands the Kaiserwilhemskirche, stretching skyward, unrepaired, a bombed-out Gedaechtnis.
Novalis, in his Hymns to the Night, wrote that in daylight 
he lived his faith but in the night he died in fire.
But to him, it was a lost romance -- he kept his life.
How can one explain it? It's drawn me to the language and the land
for a lifetime. But one who lost her father, mother, brother, all, said she believed
her father when he said, "An educated people wouldn't do that."
That? That unspeakable "that," which the rumors whispered,
the boots struck, the dogs barked, the guns rang out,
and the chimneys spouted.
Despite it all, for her, night once again turned into day,
just like grass again grows where her feet once shuffled.
She awakens daily celebrating bread and water in her kitchen.
But when they, like she, who never forgot how to love, or how to teach us,
have at last left us behind, who will remind the next that, like in Grimm, 
the human wolf is always at the door?
It's so simple, really.
His icy breath blows down our own houses,
howling its never-ending untruth:
If they don't go, if they don't go,
it will be we, it will be we
who'll ride the rails to ashes.
Lisa E. Paige
March, 2009
Copyrighted material

Monday, February 9, 2009

Valentine's Day for the Dodo Bird

Have you ever seen a peacock spread his tail feathers? Poor peahen has no chance. You might not think of turkeys as quite so … appealing, off the platter. But the male – called a gobbler, or a Tom – must have something going for him. He’s polygamous. That’s a euphemism, like for Saudis, whose cloaked and covered women outnumber even the camels that were their price. Toms strut in pairs and they can change the colors of their heads. Plus their wattles can enlarge. You can see why they will score. Now how about the falcon? Every year, the assignation at his and his mate’s urban aerie. Same time next year. All that flapping, like Leda with her swan. Could they be celebrating that they’re not extinct? But hey, at least he helps her incubate the eggs. Not at night, though. Then he hunts. So what of men – are they not birds of prey? The rule imposed on the poor fellows, Western, anyhow, is monogamy, which of course goes contrary to their nature. Like turkeys, Americanus Commonus struts in pairs, only hoping for a harem (unless he’s Mormon). Most heads have just one color hair – that is, if they’ve got any. And he’s gotta have a wing man, who will take one for the flock. In the human species, the man’s wallet the label on his jacket the table he can get the Porsche or Audi and the way he knows the somalier are important. But it’s the Western woman’s job to let real finery burst forth. Oh, the plumped and glossy lips. The collagen, push-up silky bras, satin vaginal floss. The mani-pedis, hair foils, tweezing, waxing, micro-dermabrasion, white-meat implants. Oh, the fishnets that we cast. And the stilettos, from which we just as surely gracelessly will stumble as from our self-esteem. For what? A dozen roses once a year? And protestations Hallmark bought from two-bit writers trained by afternoon TV? Or worse, the ever-popular post-coital “I love you”? (Which we all know really means, ’cause Harry told us, “Oh shit, how long before I can get out of here?” Or worse, “I’m gonna chew my arm off now.”) Under all these inhuman behaviors hides the lonely human. Hungry to be seen, heard, held. Men and women both. I know this, because I have a son. Maybe it’s not the lack of feathers, but the beating of the human heart that distinguishes man from vulture, and all the rest of nature, too. Sex isn’t love, mate, unless the love precedes the mating. So look, guys, don’t send her flowers on V-Day. (Oh, any other time is fine.) And women, hope for this: That they clothe themselves in goatskins, light a bonfire, fan it, let it flame into the night sky, harness the winds, name a star for you. And if either of you writes a poem, please remember: It’s the content, not the form. Lisa E. Paige February 2009 Copyrighted material

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Masters

The artist saw in her
all the colors he
could ever paint,
but she saw azure freedom
blazing o'er his shoulder.
Another's slippers
tapped out quarter notes
and triplets, dipping to
her partner in the waltz,
smiling, with a curtsy.
Yet another photographed
the world in black and white
to mimic his bleak inner landscape.
When she felt his cold contrasts
she wrapped herself
in shadow both for warmth and
to avoid the lens.
Like us, the pigment fades.
The gloves are wrapped in tissue.
Where is the hope
of tasting the sweet longing
of another, or of healing
someone's broken wing?
Oh, a few play jazzy sevenths
echoing the discord
between Vermeer and his young subject
painting her so bright that
the girl is not diminished
but immortal made,
and the moment, too.
How can we join the masters,
let our rhythm burst forth blindly
from our brushes,
close the shutter
against the driving rain,
awaken pulsing in the catwings
of every foggy morning
like dawn never came before?