Wendy Videlock is a writer, visual artist, teacher, and a life-long student of the world. She lives on the Western Slope of Colorado in Palisade. Her books include Nevertheless (San Jose, CA: Able Muse Press, 2011), Slingshots & Love Plums (San Jose, CA: Able Muse Press, 2015), The Dark Gnu (San Jose, CA: Able Muse Press, 2013), and a chapbook, What’s That Supposed to Mean (New York, NY: EXOT Books, 2010).
Cicada Methuselah Clan
they carry on,
but there is sound,
there’s even song
that carries on
It is the sound
of being bound,
of bending roots
and being ground
in dark perceptions
to the sound
of small mouths sipping
First published in The Lyric
Ode to the Slow
I’ve an affinity for ghosts, and so,
dwelling as we ghostly do, with the caw
and the hoo and the pinyon moon, where the freeze
and the thaw and the witness are
together alive and together entombed,
here on the edge of the high desert world
where all is stone and all is sky,
where an ancient sea was driven forth
to slowly die, here where the ruins and the peaks
have changed their names to bluff and butte,
here where the Ute had slowed their pace
to warm their bones and slake the thirst,
here where the reach of the canyon ends
or begins, as it were —like knowledge, it’s always
a rapture or a bit of a blur— (one could soar on the wing
or tumble in) here where the rolling stone knows
the floor is only made of sand, and the arc
is the mark of the fallen star,
here where the ghosts and the slopes are wan
and empty of virtue and of sin, I lower a bridge,
and watch the morning fog roll in.
Said the Sculptor
Given a freak of vision
a person can chip away at a thing
revealing the shape
that lies within:
Pallas Athena, The Thinker,
The Griffin’s Wing.
Given the inexplicable itch
to chip and chip
away at things, it’s wise to recall
one can also end up
with nothing at all.
First published in Nevertheless (San Jose, CA: Able Muse Press, 2011).
The Skin of the Boy who Changed his Destiny
— for Sherman Alexie
A child is born unto this world.
He brings with him
the skin that has been given him,
the load that has been shifted to him,
and the gift that has been offered him.
From these things the child forms
early on, a secret code,
that might in fact be better known
as salmon, or bear, or prayer,
or perhaps a kind of living law.
Heredity claims the shape of the jaw.
Geography shapes the palm of the hand.
The dying of the mother tongue
punctuates the northern star,
while all powerful Destiny
stands in the wings, in awe.
It has been said that all laboring
in service of soul
is done in the dark,
that nothing’s truer than the autumn leaf,
and the life of the mind
is best described
as a kind of collective dream. The skin
of the boy who changed his destiny
is mottled as the moth, is storied
as the mother tree, and bears the mark
of violence and legacy,
of tenderness, and melody,
where gift and load and forgiveness form
a certain solidarity,
and the closest the gifted child comes
to medicine, or remedy.
The chickadee is all about truth
The finch is a token. The albatross
is always an omen. The kestrel is mental,
the lark is luck, the grouse is dance,
the goose is quest. The need for speed
is given the peregrine, and the dove’s
been blessed with the feminine.
The quail is word, and culpability.
The crane is the dean of poetry.
The swift is the means to agility,
the waxwing mere civility,
the sparrow a nod to working class
nobility. The puffin’s the brother
of laughter, and prayer, the starling the student
of Baudelaire. The mockingbird
is the sound of redress, the grackle the uncle
of excess. The flicker is rhythm,
the ostrich is earth, the bluebird a simple
symbol of mirth. The oriole
is the fresh start. The magpie prince
of the dark arts. The swallow is home
and protection -- the vulture the priest
of purification, the heron a font
of self-reflection. The swisher belongs
to the faery realm. Resourcefulness
is the cactus wren. The pheasant is sex,
the chicken is egg, the eagle is free,
the canary the bringer of ecstasy.
The martin is peace. The stork is release.
The swan is the mother of cool discretion.
The loon is the watery voice of the moon.
The owl’s the keeper of secrets, grief,
and fresh fallen snow, and the crow
has the bones of the ancestral soul.
First published in Hudson Review and reprinted in Best American Poetry
What’s the going rate for a poem these days?
— Jack Mueller
I’ll trade you a drop of snow
for a lyrical poem,
a parking lot for a muffled moan,
the justice card
for the nine of swords
a soldier’s heart
for a kettle of gold
a kindly verb
for the face of your lord,
a Persian word for an off
a thousand tears,
a million tomes,
a drop of snow
for a lyrical poem.
First published in Rattle
What You’ve Been Given
Here lie the things you have been given:
the unabridged and the riven,
the easy breeze, the unforgiven,
the throw-away, the hard wrought,
the speed rail, the train of thought,
the all is calm and all is not,
the darkest spark, the clearest bead,
the soft shoe, the stampede,
the germ of greed, the store of thanks,
the standard flaw, the saving grace,
the perfect night, the wanting dawn,
the white noise, the black swan,
the aria, the mad song.
Do thy best.
Pass it on.
First published in Hudson Review
A Lizard in Spanish Valley
A lizard does not make a sound,
it has no song,
it does not share my love affairs
with flannel sheets,
bearded men, interlocking
silver rings, the moon,
the sea, or ink.
But sitting here the afternoon,
I’ve come to believe
we do share a love affair
and a belief —
in wink, blink, stone,
This is not a fable,
nor is it bliss.
First published in Poetry magazine