Poetry Porch: Poetry


by Julia Budenz 

Father and Daughter
Hieros Gamos

        “King Orpheus” is from Book Four, “Towards Farthest Thule,” of the poem in five books, “The Gardens of Flora Baum.” 



January 1, 2004

If his lyre
Plays to the ice
Will the ice melt?

If his harp
Plays to my heart
Will my heart flame?

If his violin
Plays to the divinities
Will the gods relent?

Will their radiance
Play through the universe?




January 1, 2004

Is it nobler
To forget about the gods?

Is it more courageous
To be one’s own divinity?

Is it better
To remember everything?

I hold the holy.
I hold to the holy.

I know now
I know nothing.

After all the ugliness
There is yet beauty in the song.

Softly the holiday sun comes up.
Can some good come, go, rolling over the ocean?




Monday, January 5, 2004

Did they have to
Give up everything

Only to discover they were wrong
And have to give up everything again?

The witchhazel’s tentacles feeling for sun
Around found snow and sleet and freezing rain.

Comrade, what did you hope for?
Sister, what did you seek?

Why was a decade required
For revising the true and the good?

One moment made a solstice,
One moment made a new year.

His nineteen-thirties
Turned into the forties.

Her nineteen-fifties
Slid into the sixties.

Was entering the convent,
Was joining the communist party,

Forsaking the lane of self,
Taking the road more communal, less common,

Choosing the community
Less usual, more extreme, most on the edge,

Turning the back on the meaner mean,
Going all the way in one direction?

Myriads of routes mislead.
No single path forever proves correct.

If the red star has been reached
And the blue heaven has been transcended

Can the giver of self
Cry for, fly for, fight for

The gorge, the forest, the meadow, the mountain,
The cosmos, the common, the good, the common good,

Or must there in the end be only
The last loss, the next question?




Epiphany, 2004

The term was forever
Forty years ago this very day.
The vows were final. The term was forever.

It was the marriage.
It was the marriage to the god.
It was performed in the chapel of stone.

The marriage, the chapel, the chant, the Latin,
The candle, the banquet, the sacrifice were facts
Acting, dazzling, entrancing together.

The incense went to heaven.
The ring of gold
Encircled less the finger than the soul.

The roses of the coronal shone white.
Beneath the bloom the fluent veil gleamed black.
Amid the stone the vows were loud.

Upon the crown the flowers withered.
Out of the vows the sound faded.
The words were canceled, deleted. The mind was changed.

The heart’s shout was louder.
The heart’s candle kept on burning.
The heart’s Latin lasts forever.




January 6, 2004

In all the changes
The heart stayed
The same,

The font,
Not fossilized,
Not petrified,

Yet rock,
Yet core,
Yet point,

Yet exclamation point,
Yet vestal vial and vestal fire,
Yet flame.




January 9, 2004

I am religious. I hold no religion.
I hope in communism for us all.
I cannot be a communist. I build
Cities and I grow gardens. They are words.
I have no things. I have no thoughts. Alone
I stand on the shore. The sentences are coming.




January 9, 2004

About to step beyond the boundary
I thought I stood alone. What did I see?
Ship, bridge, reflection? There behind, beside,
Before me one who gazed both ways was phrasing
Visions of what had been, of what could be.
Which mouth was speaking more persuasively?




January 9, 2004

Was it something
To walk in the wind
And pick up the shell on the beach?
Was the shell something?
Did I hear the sea
In the shell or did I hear it in the sea?
Was the wind the thing?