Poems

Here is a sampling of some of my published poems. I hope you enjoy them!

As far as I can tell, we still revolve,
this planet with people sticking out all over it,
around the sun. Seems we still burn, and tan,
and crops still turn towards something in the sky
that glows warm.
Tell me if you know otherwise.

IMG_7224

Art by a teenaged me

No, don’t tell me.
In a year that feels surreal,
in a time that makes it hard to praise
the abundance of good hearts, I praise you. Knowing
in the red marrow of my white bones
it’s all I can ever do.

The curtains fall on precious lives,
musty curtains that fast obscure a score of tragic
demises and all that preceded them; lifetimes of sunrises
and sunsets, love between family members, other love;
partners, friends, a cherished pet.

All these details,
brush strokes in each personal masterpiece,
which every life is, after all.
After all, erased. We forget. We can’t hold
the knowledge that the family of man and womankind is not
wholly kind, that there are deep chemical imbalances on the
planet and in our governments.
We are off kilter, scales tipped precariously,
our hope teetering between
faith and the cable news.
Do you know otherwise?

Street justice: some prefer it to the hot heavy hand
of an unjust judge who claims a blindness as a disability
of privilege, a deafness as a way not to hear.
We turn it against each other,
the judgment. We think the more we talk
the more right we are. We are many, and the many have
much to say, mouthing the words they lately
heard are right, as if to prove to an indifferent world,
Hey, I am not one of them. I am one of you.
I implore you, tell me otherwise,
if you know.

We say things.
We say things like,” Agree with this man, this woman,
this group, or I will not look you in the eye anymore,
will not work with you, will not play with you, will unfriend.”
We say and write these things
when we know in the very marrow of our white bones
this planet with people sticking out all over it,
these people on this planet are in need,
deep need, red need, these people are
in open-weeping-sore need
of more friends, more friending. More.

We feel hopeless, frightened. I am of the we,
and we are sticking out all over this weeping planet
in raw need of more.
Tell me. Otherwise, this I know:

In a praise that makes it hard to time
the abundance of good words, I can only
let them come. And I will, and I do.
I praise you.

-Melinda Coppola

This was published in July of 2017 in I Come From the World literary journal

 

My Calling

My revolution is a quiet one.
It stems from seeds planted by spirit
before I was born. It leafs
only with the good rain of compassion
that sometimes tastes like tears. It blooms
only in the rich, common human soil,
the ground trodden and tilled by millions of sisters
and brothers who have one heart that beats
in its own time, just like mine.
Just like me.

My struggle is one tiny flexed muscle,
so small and slow it is easy not to see it.
My fight is not a fight,
rather it is a realized intention
to shut up and listen,
listen with the ears of my heart,–
that waiting garden, — so
I might then sing and chant and poem
exhortations,
urge others to quiet and still
that they may hear
that they may hear
they may hear
truth.

Listen, listen”,
truth hums in time with heartbeats,
we are one we are one we are one
and what we do to each other,
we do to ourselves.
What we visit upon ourselves
we foist on others. Let it be worthy.”

And when I am all used up and
my bag of gifts is empty,
when my body gives itself
to the fire or to the earth,
when my small voice becomes
an integral part of the great OM
which is the song the Earth
hums as she spins through space,
my piece of the great revolution–
(which I hear from my heart is all of life)–
my peace will be revolutionary.
Post script let them say
let them say
She did what she came here to do,
she shut up and heard
what it was she was called to,
what she was called for,
what she was called to be,
and though it was tiny
it was her own kind of mighty,
it was her own kind of fierce.

 

–Melinda Coppola

This, too, was published in July of 2017 in I Come From the World literary journal

 

The Mother

You wake in the middle of the night.
This is not new, I am tired and move
dreamlike to your bed, empty my pockets,
open my arms, offer water and all
that which is music for you; soothing words,
the moontime sway of muted murmured
song and dance, our odd routine.

Someone lost her only child tonight,
somewhere some mother
tightened her grasp around
small bones, soft skin still warm,
reaching down to close tiny eyes
in a final gesture of care-taking,
shielding her baby
from her own wracking grief or a last view
of this world’s injustice. Their world of
famine, war, desperate pain.

Two continents away we feel the shudder,
And I squeeze you a bit too hard,
Almost knowing why,
And millions of us everywhere
Do this dance night after night,
Reaching and holding and rocking,
Wiping the same tears.
We are all one mother,
loving and nursing and
mourning the same beloved child.

Melinda Coppola
This was published in February 2016 in Songs of Eretz

—————————————————————————————

AS IF

When you lost your hair I stopped
cutting mine, and that last Spring
every time I passed a lilac bush
I paused to bury my face in the blooms,
purple and white profusion,
my lungs filling up with their heady
sweet fragrance, your favorite,
and I’d still my breath
as if I could hold it there,
will my alveoli to a state of rigid expansion,
propel my stiff body to your bedside and then
finally exhale into your face, sweep
your pale cheeks with my long locks,
as if my simple gifts,
lilac perfume once-removed and
now wild overgrown tresses
like acts of defiance could
keep you from death and hold you here,
hold you here.

-Melinda Coppola, published in Harpur Palate under my former name of Melinda Tromara Kirstein,2002
—————————————————————————————
Your Own Dance

It’s the little ones who unnerve me.
Small bodies flexible and strong.
They seem to leap to the top of the jungle gym, swinging
By one hand, they jump and land on two feet, laughing.
Their words weave simultaneously stories,
Negotiations, insults and shared delight.
They size each other up
Quickly and adjust accordingly,
The bully, the smart one, the prima donna.
Roles that shape them for the rest of their lives.
Around the perimeter of that same play yard
You stride, little alien, measuring
The meters with the rulers of your legs.
Your gaze is on the treetops, where leaves
Dance in the air and speak a fascinating language
Only you can hear. You stop to fling your hands
Wide, first one and then the other,
Flicking your fingers quickly in a rhythm
That must soothe your ruffled senses, must
Make sense.
In a world where making sense means making cents
The children on the play yard, the others,
Other people’s children,
Are already matriculating,
And you don’t even know
You’re left in the dust, and if you did
Know this, you would have only odd delight,
The way the fine dirt particles shimmer
In the translucent air,
The way the leaves
Dance to meet
Your frantic fingers.

-Melinda Coppola, published in Chicken Soup for the Soul; Raising Kids on the Autism Spectrum, 2012. My original title was AUTISM: Others People’s Children
———————————————————————————
Miscarriage

And now this aching,
arms circling against the dry space your
absence leaves, cold hollow in the base of
my spine as if I’d expanded bigger than
you ever were to mourn you, empty
swollen womb a testament to my
yearning and my sorrow, an internal
gravestone around which my
flowering grievings are placed
just so carefully.

Small promise, you were never mine,
I never held your vernix-covered head
against my chest, my rhythmic heart an
explosion of joy and an invitation
to praise. I never heard
your staccato music break
the air, first breath released in primal
exhalation.

My glance never embraced your tiny form,
committed to memory that first contact, eye
to amazed eye as we tumbled
headlong into our lifetime of
adventure, nurture, love.

Sweet nameless one, there is a space
pressed in my heart for you, a capsule
of sacred air that bears your traces, a
blank journal (yes, a whole one, not just a page)
I’ve tucked into my collection
to commemorate you.

The universe has its reasons.
I hardly know how I continue, cyclic
ebb and flow, quest for new growth,
your brief traces fertilizing landscape
of my sorrow, hope, and truth.

-Melinda Coppola, published in Welcome Home magazine under my former name of Melinda Tromara Kirstein, 1998

——————————————————————————————–
Say Yes

OK, listen up
I’m only going to say this once
An hour. Hourly I’ll speak until the truth of it
So saturates your knowing
that it’s all you know and all you’ll ever
know for sure. For you are surely and certainly
Everything you think you lack.
Be certain of this, in the soul of your soul,
that place where the still pond waits
like a lover, to come home to over and over and
to slip into like a deep silent dream, that quiet water
reflecting your grace.
You lack nothing. You are everything.
You are everyone you love, loved, are about to.
Love, that is.
Love that is a mirror in which
When you love
Your own perfection is held up to your smiling eyes
Like an engagement gift from God.
Say yes. Say yes. Say yes.

-Melinda Coppola published in Moments of The Soul; poems of meditation and mindfulness,2010
———————————————————————————————-
LET YOUR YOGA

Let your Yoga
Walk with you in the hours
of your mundane days
Remind you, Re-Mind you of
who and what you really are
Be your confidante
Hold you steady when the storms pummel your skin
Blanket you when the winter’s chill would
crack your bones.

Let your Yoga
Cool the flames of your anger
Keep your age a delight rather than a worry
Love you when you can’t love yourself
Take your hand and lead you along
when fear would have you freeze

Let your Yoga
Soften your hard edges
Invite breath in when resistance would keep you back
Lengthen you when you can’t reach the sun
Strengthen you when you can’t find your ground
Coax your arms open wide enough
Wide enough to embrace whatever the Universe wisely sends your way.

-Melinda Coppola published in Moments of the Soul; poems of meditation and mindfulness, 2010
———————————————————————————————
WHEN

When all the talking is over
When sweet the silence is here
When all the reaching is finished
When clouds of illusion clear

When ranting becomes old-fashioned,
When resistance drops away
When the body’s urges quiet
And we let that quiet stay

When boundaries between, dissolve
When heart is one with mind
When past and future exit
And by clear light we find

That truth as we believed it
Was never true at all,
That Busy-Mind constrains us
Divides us, makes us small

When all the words are finished,
When all the knowing ends
There’s only one real tenet
Upon which truth depends

That anything received with awe
in the moment’s fleeting embrace
Expands to guide and lead us-
We are eternal grace.

-Melinda Coppola published in Moments of the Soul; poems of meditation and mindfulness, 2010

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