Lucy Wilson is a professor of English at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. In February 2015 her collection of poems, Wind on Water: Poems on Healing Arts and Songs of Love, was published by Transcendent Zero Press. Her previous publications include a book on Caribbean women writers and approximately 20 articles on 20th century British, American, and Anglophone Caribbean literature. Her articles have appeared in a number of journals including Modern Fiction Studies, Review of Contemporary Literature, and Caribbean Quarterly. She has nearly completed a second book of poems, Poems from the Left Coast, which is slated for publication in April, 2016.
The Desert in Winter
Kissed with new snow, the high peaks
behind the local mountains
look much closer than they are—
a frozen white world
high above us.
In a poem by Yeats,* three Chinese men
climb toward a tea house on the gentle slopes
of a scenic mountain range. How unlike
Yeats’ etching in blue stone
are these austere granite piles
10,000 feet above the desert floor,
like Zen stones reaching up to heaven.
Last Ship Leaving for Byzantium
This is no country for old women:
bikini-clad girls and tattooed boys
all thinking they will live forever
and the winner gets to keep the toys.
But women of a certain age
may feel that life has passed them by
unless they find the place within
where yin meets yang and gyres collide;
where still point merges with affirming flame,
and Jesus takes the Rough Beast for a ride.
Bring Back the Goddess
When women ruled
there was no word for war.
Where is the Goddess when we really need her?
Search the universe for the usual suspects:
Lilith and Eve, Helen and Aphrodite,
Mother Mary and Mother Nature.
Goddess has been called many names
on her downward slide from deity to demon:
feckless, faithless, frail
menstrual, menopausal, maudlin
weak , willful, wily— in a word,
We need the wisdom of ages,
stories that tell the other side.
Industrial Revolution becomes oil spills and air pollution.
Christ weeps when his name is used to justify slaughter and enslavement.
The best minds in the solar system make weapons of terror
while schools deteriorate, prisons prosper,
and children die before they have lived.
It’s our turn now, ladies.
We are taking back the world.
For starters, we would like to have the goddess
restored to her rightful place.
What if the rough beast’s time is now,
and we are it?
Not anarchists or terrorists or atheists:
Should we care that Adam rejected first wife Lilith
because she tired of taking it lying down?
Is it fair that that Eve gets blamed for, well, everything?
Helen and Aphrodite remind us of the high cost of beauty,
while Mother Mary and Mother Nature pay a cruel price
for their ties to humankind.
Join us! Volunteers needed for a grassroots campaign to
Bring Back the Goddess.
Bring Back the Feminine Principle.
Men and donations welcome.
Goddess of Love
Sisters, mothers, virgins, whores,
women who write, who dance,
who run corporations and countries,
school teachers and professors,
nuns, nurses and nannies:
come to me, heed my words.
I am Aphrodite, goddess of love and fertility,
beloved by gods and mortal men as well.
My many children populate mythic discourse.
Fertility cults, sacred prostitutes,
renewable virginity, worship of beauty:
if erotic love is present, so am I.
Troy was my project, Helen the bait.
Promised power and fame by Hera and Athena,
Paris took my lure—hook, line and sinker—
when I promised him the love
of the world’s most beautiful woman.
but he quickly learned, Be careful what you wish for.
Have you loved someone so much you felt your heart would burst?
Have you ever risked all for love?
Does your beloved’s face obscure the sun and moon?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions,
then you are one of us.
Go to your beloved,kiss him gently
while you circle his neck with your arms.
Pull him toward you.
There is nothing and no one between you.
You are one person.
Alas, our bodies wear out
and our spirits move on,
but for this precious moment
let our love be like a cloud of pine-scented mist
that permeates our branches,
for the duration of love’s day.
As you climb the steps toward the summit
recall our time together and stand tall,
for you have the look of someone who is cherished
by someone like me.
Daughter of the Swan
Hello! Helen here—too hot to handle—
nobody else can hold a candle
to my beauty and charm.
Oh, I’ve done so much harm!
Some women wreck homes:
I brought down a nation.
For my part in this tragic tale
of lust and fornication,
I present this testimony
to sacred matrimony.
Good looks are envied, but take it from me
there are way better gifts than physical beauty.
I’m not talking silky hair and young-looking skin,
I’m saying breath-taking, heart-breaking,
crazy-making occasions of sin!
Like winds that whip up desert sands
then drive through mountain passes
leaving havoc in the their wake,
a beautiful woman leaves a trail
of broken dreams and sad mistakes.
This is beauty such as gods have in their DNA
and pass on to their offspring as Zeus did me.
My poor mother, lovely Leda, never
stood a chance once the Swan decided
he would have her with or without consent.
So here I stand, a product of divine lust
and human frailty, for Leda was a helpless pawn
as soon forgotten as a dream at dawn.
My sister Clytemnestra and I would laugh
at how my appearance turned men into pigs,
but we’re not laughing now.
Our laughter stopped when young Paris took off
with me in his luggage. Was it abduction or seduction?
I can hardly recall, but that event
unleashed ten years of war,
caused untold suffering,
cost countless lives,
and left a once-great city in ruins.
Murder and mayhem, rape and infidelity:
these are rewards of excessive beauty.
If you love your daughters, wish them kindness and joy,
empathy and wisdom, a sense of wonder and awe.
But most of all a heart that’s steady and true.
If they are easy on the eyes, so much better for you.