A resident of NY, Stephen Mead is a published artist, writer, maker of short-collage films and sound-collage downloads. His latest P.O.D. amazon release is an art-text hybrid, “According to the Order of Nature (We too are Cosmos Made)”, a work which takes to task the words which have been used against LGBT folks from time immemorial. In 2014 he began a webpage to gather links of his poetry being published in such zines as Great Works, Unlikely Stories, Quill & Parchment, etc., in one place: Poetry on the Line, Stephen Mead For “Bracken”, his illustrated fractured fairy tale book “Tree Companions” might be of particular interest.
Sleeping With the Terrorist
Of course he was mad (most zealots are) &
Unfortunately I understand why:
Some bomb leveling his house, a grenade
For each child, his wife’s legs, brains strewn…
Vengeance is a hookworm creeping through
The innards, justice an ideal religious as lust.
Him, him, how on earth
Could I trust this man of mission with his dreams,
His fervent visions, going slowly berserk?
The truth is I don’t & the moments are odd:
His head resting against my belly whispering song
As if I was pregnant. That same head planned
The hijacking & took me hostage.
This same man slaughtered people as a symbolic gesture.
“Do you think bloodshed’s respected?” I asked.
“Or that governments feed on the fear?”
Never mind, never mind. No time for philosophy
While violence runs containing detonations in both hands.
Those hands also prayed at night & ran through my hair
As I learned not to flinch. What god can make sense
Of the duality between gentleness
& the motives for bloodshed? That spectrum spreads,
Monstrously common, making my perceptions only terrible.
Someday, if survival, if freedom happens, I may testify
Against him. Until then, biding time, listing reasons not
To kill, I work on tenderness & withstand his moods.
Here, this is his bed & I make it & think of scorpions.
I make it & quietly, yes, so humble it scares me, find
The intimacy to stay put, to cook, to serve,
If just to taste another year.
Umbrellas of Light
Overpasses, the stained glass avenues
of branch, branch, branch…
That curve now—–
a trumpet whoosh of sun through tongues
shadowing colors back to brilliance
in a hush that goes on.
It is for such senses pour
& search like rain going up
as if in a reversed film of clouds
speed itself shall vanish from.
It is for such I pass & dance
in the music of brown, bronze, ruby
miraculous as lives in the thoughts
of descending angels.
Lift arms as spokes,
hands splayed wide, hands stretched
as nylon & light, lighter still
for this festival:
Autumn, before it ends.
Vases from the furnace,
that bright blaze of glazing & I am
neither fazed or abased by the cooling
Sanskrit or the figures on each urn
frozen in the business of funeral games…
It was all ordained, the millennia of history
spell-casting what part in the demise
this civilization would enact—–
Gladiators fell, temples became edifices
& fools skirted the looters between hordes
of the hungry dying…
I match up the packs depicted in my baked
clay collection. I seal up the cracks, preserve
organs, goods of use for the pickled souls
long on their way into the next living…
Still, if they are repeating what our culture lost,
an ends by the means, what is the use?
Still, we saw it all far before this, our painted
on wood eyes gazing from totems & coffins,
a legacy of such sights bound—–
We pass them on, but is there any soul left
who is not sightless? We pass them on between
handles, spouts, lids, the trade, & our burials,
their own message to the future
should there be one,
but where have we all gone now
once risen, excavated, blowing through rites
of mystery certain enough in death as we lived
with that knowledge, & denying it
while making afterlife plans before the mouths
of our own graves