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poetry reprisal revue

This last christmas, I wrote a special poetry Christmas card for all my friends and family (and even sent it to the one person who could even remotely qualify as an enemy). You can download the .pdf (with the illustrations, it's about 400k) here. However, one of the poems was called Ragged, Joyful, and it goes something like this:

Ragged, Joyful

Iím a ragged joyful lonely man
am finally a man (damn, I am!)

All my cooking skills devolved
to peanut butter sandwiches
in my warm quiet house.

Everything here is where I left it.

Including the laundry.

My broken parts crackle in a chair
reading novels about old men with broken dreams.

Now Iím riding a bike.
Mostly avoiding such impact.

At least I quit smoking
and reading too much into meaningful looks
and started praying again.

To my great surprise, a month or so later, my sister, who is in three-year retreat in upstate New York, wrote me a similar chapbook, which I may yet publish, or write a sentence longer than this one.

The point though, is that she wrote a reprisal to my poem, in the style of a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Even by myself in a room as I read it, I could not disguise my explosion of delight at reading it:

Ragged, Joyful Reprise

I'm a ragged joyful lonely nun
well, almost a nun (shouldn't jump the gun)

All my social skills devolved
to concise notes scrawled
in the brief spaces between.

Everything here is how I make it.

Including the tormas.

My broken parts cartwheel in my consciousness
reading namtars about old yogins who conquered craving.

Now I'm 'riding the horse of diligence'

Mostly falling off a lot.

At least I quit speaking
and reading so much into my own delusion
and started to feel my heart again.

As if that wasn't enough, I wrote an poem called we each have our own faithless jewels. A damn sad poem, it goes like this:

we each have our own faithless jewels

we each have our own faithless jewels

our own habits we won't admit
our own restlessness we won't fight
our own justice we hope will be performed
our own beasts with meat juice on their lips

who has more secret hurts?
surely she is the winner.
who was helped or healed the most?
surely he is lost.

And then, incredibly, in the comments, a dear friend of mine from Colorado wrote another reprisal of a poem of mine! It's a silly version that I think he wrote to cheer me up, but actually makes a great "other half" to the original. His killer version goes:

faithless jewels reprisal

We each have our own family jewels
our own nun's habit that doesn't fit
our own lantern we won't light
our own performance we hope to do justice
our own juicey lips with which we kiss the meat beasts

who more has hurt the secret?
Shirley, she is the winner
He who was most lost healed Shirley

I thought those poems were so sweet and touched me so deeply that I wanted to record them here.

Eventually I will publish all of the excellent poems and illustrations my sister sent me in her two tiny chapbooks since she's been in retreat. But I procrastinated doing this post since March, so don't hold your breath.

Okay, hold your breath for my sister's poetry. It's worth it.


that's awesome.

your sis rocks! I think about her and send her my loving support for her amazing endeavor all the time.

It still blows my mind that the little girl who was around while we were playing AD&D for hours on end is all grown up, studying to become a nun, and is balder than me :)

Got nothing but love and good wishes for her.

post the poems! post the poems!
the internest needs some more of that sweet near-nun's beauty...