Imitations of Emily Dickinson

I. Inquisition

Now Clothe Myself Entirely –
Strutting in the Chapel
Father’s Stern Propriety
Forbids Our Smallest Apple.

Next I’ll fly, a Spirit Bold,
Through the Judge’s Door –
My Dress Thrown Down upon the Gold,
He sees My Secret Core.

May I then Contrive a Rule
To Free me from the Curse,
The Rope, the Rack, the Iron Tool
The Black Eternal Hearse?
Miamisburg, Ohio, 2008

II. The Woman and the Angel

I am a poor Pilgrim
In Wind and in Rain.
I came to a Town;
It stood on a Plain.

A Woman she bade me
To lie down and rest.
An Angel forbad me:
“Forsake not the Quest.

Your City has Mansions,
A well-prepared Place,
For you have been chosen
To see the Lamb’s Face.”
Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, 1980

III. Piracy

Sweet Pirate of the Female Heart,
Sweet Pirate on the Sea,
I’ll forgive your Perfidy
But not confide in Thee.

Confidence is Devil’s Arm.
Confidence’s Harm
Is Plain to See – no Camouflage –
And I refuse the Charm.
Miamisburg, Ohio, 1981

IV. Spiritess

A spiritess lives down my street,
Close upon the flowing river,
Hid behind thick walls of stone
That make my cold bones quiver.

I daily pass her oaken gate;
It has no latch or bell or card,
Nor crack to press my eye against
To spy into her yard.

A piercing song, when the wind is right,
Comes at night with ghostly lyres;
It well could be her haunting voice,
Or wind in straining wires.
Miamisburg, Ohio, 2011

V. Eve and Helen

Eve and Helen share a box
I call the egg of Nemesis.
It’s painted bright with primal scenes
From Homer, Freud and Genesis:

Warring soldiers, monarchs fallen,
Gods in gardens, slithering asps;
Baleful fathers, mothers lewd
Hide beneath the iron clasps.

Gibbon, Livy, the Evangelists:
Lust and hatred, superstition,
Lucrece raped, Hypatia savaged,
Marys mourn the Crucifixion;

Rome is sacked and Zion ravaged,
Death by sword and fire and flea,
Daughters, wives and infants butchered,
Swindlers in the Holy See.

Now when I look inside their box,
My proto-women’s sad contortions
Strike my hopeless fancy with
Man’s folly, crime and and grim misfortunes.
Miamisburg, Ohio, 2011